Pur­su­ing a dream

Speights Coast to Coast 2009

Adventure - - Adventure -

In the pur­suit of both fol­low­ing a dream and chal­leng­ing my­self to an ex­treme, I en­tered the Speight’s Coast to Coast 2009. My name is Jeremy Cronin (Jezz) I am 23 and about to share with you my jour­ney and ex­pe­ri­ences as I set out on my mis­sion to com­plete the long­est day Speight’s Coast to Coast.

Al­though I dis­liked and strug­gled my way through school, my real in­ter­est and pas­sion was for the out­doors. From a swim­ming back­ground, I com­pleted some long swims in “the deep blue” which in­evitably lead me to a half ‘iron-man’ at 18. Af­ter com­plet­ing that, to pur­sue en­durance work evolved. I have al­ways loved sport and been an ac­tive com­peti­tor and at 19 I be­came dis­cov­ered I could add ad­ven­ture and en­durance racing to­gether, the race to re­ally push me was go­ing to be the world multi sport Speight’s Coast to Coast Com­pe­ti­tion.

For eight months I ate, breathed, dreamed, trained, worked and thought about the Coast to Coast. I put my surf­board, skate­board, moun­tain bike, par­ties, late nights and re­ally any­thing that may have hin­dered my train­ing or rest days to the side. Dur­ing those months prior to the race it be­came ob­vi­ous to me that it wasn’t just about train­ing then racing, it was a jour­ney through which I would dis­cover my strengths and weak­nesses, both men­tally and phys­i­cally. I learnt that my lim­its can be pushed and worked at in or­der to fur­ther my achieve­ments. I re­al­ized, through­out the lead up to the be­ing in the right head-space at­tributes to the lim­its placed and the out­comes gained.

An im­por­tant as­pect of train­ing was con­nected to the fact that I was con­tin­u­ally eval­u­at­ing and mon­i­tor­ing my own work ethic. Be­cause I was train­ing alone, day in and day out, I had to re­main ob­jec­tive enough to en­sure that when my coach had set a full in­ten­sity train­ing I was push­ing my body to that limit. But I could not stop there, I had to push past full in­ten­sity and then go that bit fur­ther still.

Time man­age­ment be­came cru­cial as I squeezed Uni­ver­sity, train­ing, work­ing and then be­ing so­cia­ble into 24hours a day over 7days in a week. Dur­ing those vul­ner­a­ble or weak mo­ments when I was tired or lack­ing in mo­ti­va­tion and en­ergy, I had to search deep within to pick my­self up. Be­ing able to do this has helps me face day-to-day chal­lenges in a pos­i­tive and happy way.

THE DAY DAWNED

that I had trained for and learnt, the Stand­ing on the start line at Ku­mara at 5.45am wait­ing for the starter gun to sound, ap­pre­hen­sion, ex­cite­ment and ner­vous­ness all com­peted within me. The gun went and off we all went, fo­cused on the task at hand. From this we went straight into the 55km road bike.

I joined a siz­able group and took off for the hills, all was go­ing great and I was cycling well un­til I hit a large bump in the road and both my wa­ter bot­tles fell out and into the ditch. A quick

de­ci­sion to stay with the group “strong cold head wind and work­ing alone-not ready to head for the hills and al­though the tran­si­tion was fast and slick I knew I was al­ready lack­ing in hy­dra­tion. An hour thirty into the run, af­ter pound­ing out at a good speed, I felt my body take a turn for the worse. I be­came aware that the food and hy­dra­tion that I was try­ing to put in was tak­ing its time to pro­vide en­ergy. I felt I had hit a wall, my body slowed as I kept run­ning on, try­ing to push through it. Three food and hy­dra­tion on board.

When I hit the next 15km bike, be­cause weari­ness was tak­ing its toll I didn’t go to plan and con­cern over cut-off times now en­tered the equa­tion. When I ar­rived at the next leg, the 67 km kayak down a grade two river, I was feel­ing ok but not great. My men­tal stamina was play­ing up and prov­ing harder than usual to get on top of.

off I went. I was in my zone even though I had the pres­sure of the cut-off times con­stantly with me. Know­ing that I needed to work hard or I would be pulled out, I pulled my­self to­gether, fo­cused on my breath­ing and took my mind off the shal­low river. I squashed neg­a­tive thoughts and dug it in my throat tight­ened and my heart pounded as I car­ried on giv­ing it all that I had in my tank, and more.

pull off the river you have run out of time”. My body went limp, emo­tions ran wild through­out my ex­hausted 69kg body, so many thoughts and and my own hopes all surged through me. The emo­tions of 14hours and 3min­utes of go­ing as hard as I pos­si­bly could go threat­ened to swamp me. I was the sec­ond com­peti­tor at that cut off point and I missed the cut off time by only three min­utes. Three min­utes. I pulled my­self to­gether and slowly hopped out of my kayak. I was in­formed that my sup­port crew, who had been en­cour­ag­ing me and help­ing me at ev­ery tran­si­tion along the way, were now on their way to col­lect me and take me from the race.

They ar­rived and the dis­ap­point­ment I felt was mir­rored for me on their faces. They en­gulfed me and held me up. My part­ner and ev­ery sin­gle per­son in my fam­ily were there with me. We all cried and talked and

RE­FLEC­TION

with coaches, spon­sors, my men­tor, pre­vi­ous Coast to Coast ath­letes, fam­ily and friends I re­al­ize that I was not as men­tally pre­pared as I could en­durance or tough­ness that I strug­gled with.

Be­fore the race, know­ing that I was the sec­ond to youngest, I thought I would be ad­van­taged or have a phys­i­cal edge on the older com­peti­tors. How­ever they had a wiser out­look and a more ex­pe­ri­enced ap­proach

than me. While I had thought about how to adapt when things did not that would be on the day. At each ob­sta­cle, from the loss of wa­ter bot­tles, to the cycling group dy­namic, to the in­abil­ity take in food or hy­dra­tion, to the low­ness of the river, to the un­known ter­rain, I felt small amounts of

tough­ness. To do this I need to com­pete in more races and gain ex­pe­ri­ence in deal­ing with chal­lenges at ‘race-pace’. I need to spend more time in the places where I com­pete in or­der to have a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing and body aware­ness of the chal­lenges of the par­tic­u­lar ter­rain I will be en­coun­ter­ing. I need to be able to af­ford to spend time in the South Is­land and have guides work through the en­tire course chal­lenges with me.

THANKS TO…

com­pe­ti­tion, I thought I could go it alone and do it all for my­self! I was stub­born, too proud to ask for help or even ac­cept help from those will­ing to as­sist. I have al­ways be­lieved that if I wanted some­thing I had to work for it. How­ever, af­ter train­ing for two months, some­thing changed in me and I re­al­ized that go­ing it alone was not an op­tion for this event.

My part­ner and I ven­tured out into the spon­sor­ship world and I was im­mensely grate­ful be­cause the sup­port I re­ceived made it pos­si­ble for me to travel to Christchur­ch and re­turn, as well as to be comfortabl­e coach Mark Southerlan­d, Jan Keys at JKK racing kayaks for an amaz­ing spon­sor­ing my Cantaberry com­pres­sion gear, Chris Cox for his guided trips through the run and be­ing a men­tor/ role-model, Meier sport for pro­vid­ing train­ing and race gear, Ad­ven­ture Mag­a­zine for en­cour­ag­ing me to write ‘my story’ and guid­ing me in the right di­rec­tion, my friends and fam­ily for un­con­di­tional sup­port. Thank you all so much. In 2010 I will com­plete what I have started be­cause of your gen­eros­ity and be­lief in me.

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