by Dan Hudson

DashI crossed the line at 1hr 43 minutes on my first ever half marathon the other week and realized how huge the challenge of a full marathon really is. Having ignored all of my long suffering trainer’s advice to run the distance as a “training exercise”, I was proud of my time but it had not come without a price as I am now resting with tendinitis in my left Achilles and a daunting 5 weeks to the London Marathon.  If nothing else, my recent injury has made me more determined to complete this challenge.

Ten weeks ago, I, and my half American team mate, Asher Simons, were your typical City boys. Long hours, a few gym sessions squeezed in alongside meetings in champagne bars and coffee shops. The gym was one thing only to us both, an essential part of an unhealthy lifestyle so that we could still fit into our suits whilst enjoying the great nightlife and restaurants that London has to offer! Then, one fateful December evening, Asher’s mum asked if we would consider running the London marathon for Leukemia Care, a charity close to the family as they had lost Dan Simons, husband and father, to the disease a year earlier.

Dan was a larger than life lawyer and lecturer from Florida. An all-American hero of a man having been a National Rodeo Champion in his youth and with a wicked sense of humor, Dan had fought a brave battle for over 20 years. His loss has been felt deeply by friends, family and colleagues and our own battle with 26 miles of London tarmac seemed like the perfect way to pay tribute to him. Thus, team DASH (Dan & Ash) was born!

Training has not only been a physical but a mental battle over the last few weeks. Our fridge has been emptied of any refined sugars, processed carbs and cheese (much to my long suffering girlfriend’s annoyance!) and our diet is now a model of high protein and fresh produce. Our bodies have been destroyed by hard training runs and put back together with reels of KT tape and ice packs. My feet have gone from the soft leather of brogues to high tech New Balance runners, my body from fine wool suits to Lycra shorts. Overall, the last eight weeks have resulted in over 35 lbs. of lost weight between the two of us and over 200 miles of training.

But as for now, I am stuck applying ice packs, bandaging and am resigned to swimming and cycling as I recover from my injury for the next two weeks. I find that I am missing the road and the space that a long run affords me to think and make sense of life. I am looking on as Ash continues to get leaner and stronger and, yes, I will admit, I am envious. We have both vowed to finish the race and raise £4,000 for the charity and finish we will!

It is in moments like this as I sit quietly nursing my foot and dreading another dull swimming session that I find myself thinking of Dan Simons’ favourite poem which was read at his funeral by close friend Peter Lyons:

Out of the night that covers me

Black as the Pit from pole to pole

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud

Under the bludgeoning’s of chance

My head is bloody but unbowed

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade

And yet the menace of the years

Finds, and shall find me unafraid

It matters not how strait the gate

How charged with punishments the scroll

I am the master of my fate

I am the captain of my soul

It is William Ernest Henley’s words in Invictus that I will hold in my head as we battle through 26 long miles on 22 April knowing that at the end of the pain, it will all have been worth it…. I hope!

If you would like to support Team DASH, please click on the link below to leave a small donation (http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserProfilePage.action?userUrl=ashanddanmarathon2012) and if you would like to buy us a drink, we are both aiming to complete the Spartan race in London and Yorkshire this year.

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