After reflecting last month about how August felt like a slow and disjointed month, September has certainly shifted gear for me.
The month began with a big adventure challenge. I’ve done some great long distance cycling adventures but I wanted something different in 2022.
The quest for something different led me to ultra-running. The multi-faceted challenge of covering long distances on foot, navigation, endurance, sleep deprivation and nutrition seemed interesting. Plus the opportunity to spend extended periods in amazing scenery appealed too.
So being me, I set my sights high and entered the GB Ultras Snowdon Ultra® 50 Mile race.
That’s a 50 mile race over 24 hours with 2785m of ascent, including ascents of Tryfan, Snowdon, Glyder Fach and Glyder Fawr.
The race began at 6.15am in Betws-y-Coed on 3rd September. Almost 35 miles and 11 hours later I’d climbed and descended Tryfran, Snowdon (up the Pyg track, down the Miner’s) and the Glyders. This was the mountain section that I’d been most focussed on getting through. After that the gradient eased as the route returned back down the valley for a further 19 miles.
Going through checkpoint 6 at 34 miles I felt good. My legs were tired but mentally I was OK. I pulled out my head torch in anticipation of dusk and headed towards Capel Curig.
And then it all started to fall apart. The occasional stomach cramps turned really bad and I couldn’t eat or drink properly. I felt really sick and because I couldn’t take onboard any nutrition I started to lose energy. My mile pace went down and down – so by the time I got to checkpoint 7 at 41 miles I was done.
That was the point where I decided to stop. I was lurching from one side of the wide easy path to another and mentally I was in a dark place. The thought of another 9 miles with such pain and no nutrition was too much. I hitched a ride back to Betws-y-coed and registered a DNF on my first ultra.
But I’d travelled more than 41 miles, climbed nearly 11,000 feet and had a brilliant experience. I loved being in the mountains, bonding with complete strangers over shared pain and pushing myself physically and mentally further than ever before.
My legs were sore but OK. My feet were unblistered. My back was raw from the abrasion of my running vest. But it was my digestive system and nutrition choices that finished me off. Talking to a friend who’s done plenty of endurance events, I’ve got a few ideas how to address this next time around.
Mid-month I was also able to share my plans to leave TPXimpact and explore some new work challenges in 2023. It was good to be able to be open about my intentions with colleagues.
I recognised a while back that I needed to think about work and what my next career move would be. Having discussed this in January 2022 with TPXimpact founders Neal Gandhi and Olly Rigby, I then decided this June that I wanted to move on by Christmas.
I wrote more about making this choice and some thoughts about my next more here. I’m hoping to spend a bit more time in the coming months thinking about what I want to do next.
However the past few weeks at work have been particularly intense, so I’ve not had much spare time to think about 2023 though. In some ways TPXimpact has had a challenging period over the past few months, culminating in a trading update today.
I’ve spent a lot of time this month thinking about succession and watching founders experience the shifting expectations on leaders. I’m very grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to work with many founders of businesses over the past nine years – and I’ve got immense admiration for people who have the mix of vision and drive to found successful businesses.
As September ends, my focus is shifting to managing leadership transitions, working with the new CEO and CFO at TPXimpact and other senior leaders to help them become effective.
Music this month…
I’m enjoying (nu-)disco a lot at the moment. Favourite new mix is a long one – six hours of live disco with Dr Packer, Birdee, Ian Ossia & Lisa Jane – Downtown Disco Live from August 2022.
Podcasts this month…
I’ve enjoyed Tim Harford’s writing for a few years now, but this month I discovered his podcast Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford. They’re short enjoyable episodes and I’ve found them interesting to help challenge my lazy assumptions or ingrained thinking.
Reading this month…
A new favourite book this month: All That We Are: Uncovering the Hidden Truths Behind Our Behaviour at Work by Gabriella Braun. I loved this book. It’s a fascinating look at people, work and the author’s own journey – I’m increasingly drawn to the psychodynamic approach that’s at the heart of this book. I couldn’t put it down and that’s unusual for me when reading a professional book.