09 Jan Thank You 2017. Hello 2018.
It’s 12:11am on January 1st 2018. The start of a brand new year and literally the start of new beginnings. Society suggests I should have a drink in hand, society suggests I set “New Years resolutions”, society suggests I shouldn’t be climbing a mountain in less than 2 hours time!
I am sat under my mosquito net, which is draped from the ceiling above me and surrounds my bed. My alarm is set for 1:30am and my intention was to wake then shower and commence my journey. However the New Years celebrations of fireworks and laughter have disturbed my plan therefore I begin today’s adventure by writing this piece. I am in Sri Lanka about to climb the famous Adam’s Peak!
As I look at the time in the top corner of my laptop screen it is still set to UK time and it is actually five and a half hours behind my local time, this amuses me greatly as I had no idea somewhere could be “half” behind or in front I always thought it had to be a full hour? Clearly not and I have learnt yet something else. I am always learning. I love to learn about others, I love to learn more about how our majestic miracle machines work (that is the human body by the way) and learn more and more about myself, who I am as a person and what I can offer to this world. I learn from the lessons that the successful greats are all but willing to share, I learn from their examples, from their mistakes, from their principles, which drove them to the heights they have reached. I’m talking of the likes of Dr. Wayne Dyer, Oprah Winfrey, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tony Robbins, Usain Bolt to name but a few who have achieved massive success in their respective chosen fields. The fantastic thing is when I learn from them I learn once and then when I teach to someone what I have learnt I learn twice, I teach to another I learn a third time and so on. And with repetitive learning their principles begin to stick, it’s like watching the snow fall – the first few snow flakes melt when they hit the ground yet with persistence and repetition you will soon be left with a glorious white blanket. A snowfall analogy is somewhat ironic from where I am currently located in the world! I am in Sri Lanka as it sits only a 4-hour plan ride from Dubai and it is there where I spent Christmas as that is where my brother resides and I hadn’t seen him for over two months since he last visited the UK so it was an absolute delight to be in his presence. We “hung out” like we used to! We trained together, ran together, ate together, swam together, watched the football together, walked, talked and laughed together. It was fantastic! So being over this side of the world I sought out a country that I had not yet visited and continued to book a ticket. When I knew I was coming here I thought what better way to see in the New Year than climbing a mountain at 2am to reach the peak for sunrise! I take your attention back to the opening paragraph – not exactly conforming to society!
I flew into Colombo and took a 3-hour train ride to Kandy. I bought a first class ticket for £2.50 and I enjoyed the slow, rickety journey through some of the most beautiful, lush scenery I have witnessed. Mountainsides full of tall trees and bushes, green landscapes as far as I could see and locals walking down the opposite side of the tracks. This place is like going back in time. The “lower class” carriages are packed out like sardine cans, people squeeze onto the train and are literally hanging out of the windows and doorless doorways. Hands, arms, legs, bodies are flapping in the wind, as I stood at the station waiting for my train I see people jumping on and off of moving carriages. There seem to be no rules here and everyone, I mean everyone, is looking to “help you” with the intention of making money from you!
The law of attraction sat me next to a doctor on my journey, who later treated me to a spot of lunch. He shared many stories with me of which countries he had travelled to, his experiences in different places and of his family. From his demeanor, story telling and possessions list he readily shared I could tell he had money and our conversation moved onto cars, he shared that the next car he wanted to purchase was a Mercedes Benz and that he also liked BMW’s. Being an Audi driver myself I asked him what he thought of the brand? He replied with only negative comments suggesting their models are too “box like” and a two year old Audi looks completely out dated! After his short rant about his dislikes he asked me the question “so what do you drive back home?” I paused, smiled to myself as I hesitated with my answer before continuing and replied with “an Audi!” We both laughed and during our giggles he also muttered “so you have poor taste” which was fantastic and I enjoyed our friendly banter. After our lunch we went our separate ways and now I get to write about him in this blog, what was the purpose of our paths crossing? What did I learn from him and he learn from me?
Myself and the doctor were brought together on purpose, that I know for sure, as coincidences are not part of my vocabulary. In my opinion everything is done on purpose, with a purpose, for a purpose. Take the positioning of the Earth for example; we are positioned in an exact position that we aren’t too close to the sun that we all combust into flames and we aren’t too far away either that we freeze to death. Another example I like to use is how the law of gravity is enforced to the exact amount that a) we do not float away, and b) we aren’t pinned to the ground being unable to move. How can those two examples be described as coincidences? That was planned, that was done on purpose!
Back to the hike – it was sensational and by far the highlight of my adventure. There were thousands making their journey to the peak of the mountain all with a common goal. There is a temple at the summit in which the illustrious sacred golden footprint is contained. People queue for hours just to catch a glimpse of their treasure. I was up there pretty early so my wait wasn’t too bad. Yet it was cold and a strict barefoot zone made it rather chilly! I wandered in and was in awe of just how spiritual the people are in Sri Lanka. It was a magnificent site for sure, these guys literally worship this monument. It is incredible just how much belief and faith they show in their religion.
When I made my exit from the temple I had a choice to make; wait for the sunrise which would have been another 2 hours or head back down and beat the crowds on the descent. I opted for the latter and powered down the mountain. There were people sleeping at many stages of the walk down and little shops lined the steep steps, many offering soups and local food. There was a fantastic sense of unity with young people, old people, very elderly, children of all ages all coming together and helping each other both on the way up and back down. I was greeted with friendly smiles, gestures and regular shouts of “come on, come on” by the local people, who knows what this was referring to? But I took it in a welcoming way and always smiled and waved back in their direction.
The sun started to rise when I was almost at the bottom and the path looked completely different in the light of day. I was the first one back from my hotel and when I entered one of the staff apologised to me as he didn’t know I would complete the ascent so quickly and therefore have to wait two hours for sunrise (it was on his recommendation I left at 2am). I assured him that it was not a problem and I was happy to make my way back down and still see a fantastic sunrise from close to the bottom. His actual words were “this is not normal sir” and I made a silent response to myself “who wants to be normal!?” whilst sharing a smile with him.
Normal…..what a fascinating word! For me this belongs to the same family of words such as “average”, “settle” and “ok”. It is a word most people would associate with themselves and daren’t attempt anything “abnormal” from the fear of being judged by others. What a crazy way to live! Living your life by what others think of you, this is massively related to self-esteem, self-respect and self-love in the fact that those who opt for a “normal” way of living most probably have very little of the three “selfs”. In my opinion if you are to accept average, ok and normal you are disrespecting what you own as a human being. You have the potential to dive into the depths of the human bodies capabilities yet most choose to barely scratch the surface. I could write pages and pages about this topic however my point I am making relates to a courageous bunch of people who I am privileged to call my friends. A group of people who are far far away from normal and a group of people who are diving deeper and deeper to really test what the human body is capable of.
Heading way back to May 2017. It was the day of the Rock N Roll Liverpool Marathon and Half Marathon. I was in training for my first 70.3 Iron Man and so cycled 60KM to the start line and then ran in the Half Marathon, one of the ACE squad members (Liam) was also running in the Half Marathon having completed the 5K the day before and another ACE member (Sue) was running her first full Marathon after we had been working together through her training program for the previous 4/5 months. It was a great day full of success and triumph especially for Sue as she had recently turned 50, a magnificent achievement! The next day we all gathered together for a bit of outdoor training still buzzing form the previous days achievements. After our usual Monday night session we were in conversation and a seed was planted that would change all of our lives forever! Liam mentioned that Rock N Roll also host a Marathon and Half Marathon in Las Vegas! This was all I needed to hear and my quick response to him was “I’m in if you are!” That night we conversed via text and he shared that he had his mind set on the Half Marathon, a few texts later and he had committed to the full! So there was two of us setting the intention of running the Las Vegas Marathon in November 2017. I quickly shared the news with some of the team what our plans were and before I knew it there was 7 of us committing to the Marathon and a further 5 committing to the Half Marathon. Taking action, saying you are going to do something and following through, being a man of your word. This is why I love what I do every single day, why I am so passionate about helping and guiding people to achieve success and why I am so determined to create my own personal legend. Out of the 7 running the Marathon I was the only one who had ever done the distance before, the other 6 had ran a maximum of 13.1 miles. I knew what I needed to drill home the most, and that is just what it takes to complete a full marathon. It is so much more than running 26.2 miles! It is a huge mindset challenge; you have to be in the right frame of mind. I have been asked before about my previous races “when did you know you were going to finish the race?” and my response is always “at the start line.” You need to know and be confident that you have done the training runs, prepared correctly and your body is primed and ready to run the 26.2. It angers me when I hear of people saying they’ve done no training for a marathon, this is disrespecting the event and everyone else who has spent months preparing for it. Discipline, focus and prioritising your training has to be shown and I am delighted to say it was. Each Sunday we got together and we ran. Early starts, late starts, howling winds, rain, calmness and sunshine. It didn’t matter, whatever the conditions we trained. I planned the route every week and sent it to the group as to mentally prepare for the journey ahead, Liam took responsibility of planning water stations along our route and would head out on Saturday evenings to hide the water bottles from the public eye in secret locations and week after week, month after month the training distance runs grew and so did morale, so did the confidence and so did the belief. With out a doubt there were hurdles and obstacles along the journey for everybody to overcome, some had tougher challenges than others but when we arrived in Vegas on November 10th just two days before the event everybody was physically ready and even more so – mentally prepared to endure the challenge ahead.
The Las Vegas Marathon route is tough. The first 10 miles are incredible as you run down the famous strip and the crowds are cheering, the lights, glitz and glammer associated with Sin City are in full throttle creating a very special atmosphere. After the 10-mile marker we veered off the strip and into the industrial area of the city. It was dark, there were no crowds to cheer you on and it was barren. This is when the mental toughness had to kick in. At one point at around miles 20-24 we were circling and intertwining around a huge piece of unused land for about 3.5 miles! It was extremely taxing and myself along with all the other competitors begged for the finish line! Once back on the strip there was a slight de-tour once again before the finishing straight of just over half a mile. The finish line was outside The Mirage Hotel and when I could see the sign of the resort I was relieved that I was about to complete my 5th, and toughest, marathon. I crossed the line not caring what time I had done! I had set out from the beginning to beat my PB and that I did but by a mere 31 seconds. Job done I thought and I was happy that race was over! We were all staying at The Monte Carlo Hotel and our post race meeting point was a bar opposite the hotel so I commenced my very slow walk to greet everyone. The Half Marathon runners from our team were already there and it was fantastic to see the delight on their faces as for three of them it had been the first time they had taken part in such an event. And one by one the Marathon runners entered into the bar, 3, 4, 5 of us just waiting for the last two….and then they appeared – smiles from ear to ear! I knew that had been a tough race so I knew for sure that everyone else would have found it tough too! And the stories and race experiences that everyone shared backed up my theory but never the less we all sat there having just completed the Las Vegas Marathon and Half Marathon 2017 – it was a beautiful site and a beautiful thing to be part of.
I won my first body building competition, on my 3rd attempt, in 2017. I became a triathlete in 2017. I completed my first 70.3 Iron Man in 2017. Yet my greatest achievement of the year was The Las Vegas Rock N Roll Marathon and Half Marathon – no question! Firstly I doubt there are many people on the planet who have done what I have done this year as most people specialise in one area and focus on that, which by the way is fantastic. But to have achieved in many areas of fitness makes me proud. And to have been involved with, and lead, a group of people who had only ran a maximum of 13.1 miles (some had only ran a maximum of 6!) and to make sure they knew they were capable, to build their self-confidence, to assist with their accountability, to keep them on their toes, to push them enough but not too far, to help keep them motivated, to assist with their self-worth, to offer guidance with nutrition, to watch as they became independent, to witness as they became marathoners was a super sonic experience for me. I doubt again that there is a fitness group anywhere on the planet that have come together like we did for this and endure the hours of training, overcome the hurdles, become like a family and ultimately achieve what we set out to do. 12 people, of whom none of us knew each other only 20 months ago, travelled over 5000 miles to conquer Las Vegas! This is up there with the very best of my personal accolades and I thank each and every one of those involved for making the whole experience extra extra special. You are all indeed ACE Legends!
Now sat in the nations capital – Colombo, I begin to cement my 2018 targets and goals. I aim to improve in every sense of the word, not just with my health and sporting achievements but with all other areas of my life also. My relationship goals, professional goals, self-development goals all need working on in order to become a better human being and tap into the endless opportunities we have the right pursue. There is a phrase which is expressed an awful lot, maybe you have used it – “I’m only human” and the only time I ever hear this is when someone has given in to temptation, let themselves down or been undisciplined. It is a kop out of a phrase. Why wouldn’t we use this after completing a marathon or an amazing event which has taken discipline to accomplish? That is where the phrase is better suited. We have 206 bones in our body, between 640 and 850 muscles and 5 major organs all working in unity with the sole purpose to allow us to function to the best of our abilities. Isn’t it time our minds joined the ride also and instead of doing everything to go against the grain we actually partnered up like a team and began to excel? How many times have you wanted the responsibility and again used a phrase such as “if you want something doing then do it yourself”. Well now you can take control, it is completely your choice how you think, how you respond, what you eat, whether you get up or stay in bed, whether you go to the gym or watch TV. These are all things you can take responsibility for, not forgetting that thoughts are things and you process around 60,000 thoughts every single day! So if thoughts are things and you get what you focus on (or think about) then why do most people think about what they don’t want instead of what they do want? Thoughts such as;
- I don’t want to smoke anymore
- I don’t want to be fat anymore
- I don’t want to be broke anymore
The subconscious mind will not process negativity and therefore removing the word “don’t” from the above phrases is actually what you are thinking about! Instead you must think like this;
- I am a healthy non-smoker
- I am a fit, lean person carrying a few extra lbs at the moment
- I am wealthy and earn enough money to……(fill in the blank)
Speaking about the term thinking, the great Henry Ford once said “If you think you can or you think you can’t either way you are right”. Now allow me to relate this back to the Sri Lanken lifestyle, since I arrived here I have seen herds of motorcycles, scooters and tuk tuks, each of which have no seat belts and the scooters and motorcycles are usually crammed full of people wearing zero safety wear. When the driver jumps on his vehicle and invites his family members onto the bike as well do you think he is thinking that he will be involved in a crash today or one of his loved ones will fall off? Absolutely not! He is thinking that everything will work out how he intends, they arrive at their destination safely and nothing bad will occur. We can learn from this way of thinking, not to go and jump on scooters and motorbikes by the dozen, but to have confidence in ourselves, thinking positively and knowing we have the capabilities to make things happen for us. How you think and what you think about will determine what you attract into your life! And that is why I am thinking ahead to April 8th 2018 with noting but positive, exciting and successful thoughts. It is then when I will complete my 6th marathon in the beautiful city of Paris. I will make sure to knock a big chunk off my PB this time around and I have set the goal at 3 hours 30 minutes. I will be accompanied by a lot of the crowd who went to Vegas plus one or two additional people as well. I will travel there to add another chapter to my life story, to grow my personal legend that little bit more and to create another magical memory. Did I mention I am going to cycle home too, yes Paris to Liverpool! 2018 is going to be a fantastic year because I am setting the intention for it to be just that. I am in control and I am setting my own rules, following my own path and fulfilling my destiny – trust me there is still so much more learning and developing to do, I am merely a pawn in the grand scheme of things but what I know for sure is that this pawn will keep working his way across the chess board and never ever give up!
I wish you all a very happy and successful 2018,
Best Wishes as always,