Saturday, 26 October 2013

Reflections - By Andy


It’s 5 o-clock in the morning on the day that Family Mouncey will depart for a week holiday on the Spanish islands. A couple of days ago we reached our cloud-funding deadline without hitting target. It’s now 12 weeks to go till The Spine Race and clearly my brain thinks it’s a good idea to make sense of some stuff before we wrestle two very excited small boys onto a plane. So here goes:

If someone had told me four weeks ago that we’d raise £4k in pledges for what was no more than an idea on a Facebook page I’d have, at the very least, raised my eyebrows in vintage Roger Moore style. If someone had told me four weeks ago that people we’d never heard of would pledge hundreds of pounds to come and stay with Family Mouncey on the strength of an idea of a FB page, you’d be hard-pressed to stop me laughing. A lot. And finally if someone had told me four weeks ago that we’d get over 1000 folks viewing a single FB live Q & A session with some bloke who hadn’t even reached half way during his previous outing on the target race, you’d have had to wait a very long time to get any sense out of me at all.
Yet all of those things have happened.

While thirteen years on this whole self-employment lark is still very much a work-in-progress for me, one thing I do know: Activity breeds activity. It may not initially take you in the direction you think you need to go, but stuff always happens as a consequence; some of it will not be on your first choice timescale – but of it will be good. The discipline is to get out there and do.

The Spine Race schools challenge has been at least two years in the making. I’ve spend a lot of the last five years or so trying to make a triathlon-based learning program of my design fly in schools and with young people who are NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training). That’s not happened (yet) but what has happened is real interest and opportunity from a prison service battling to make any dent in a re-offending rate in this country that touches 60%.
Stuff does indeed happen: It may not be on your first choice timescale and direction, but clearly there is benefit in practicing the skills of perseverance and paying attention along the way. Thank the good lord I’m an endurance athlete then…

The school stuff alongside The Spine Race came out of being severely pissed off for wayyyyyyy too long. Work-wise I was struggling and getting worryingly good at doing periodic depression. While Charlotte was getting fulfillment from her role as a mum, Daddy wasn’t getting the same deal from his work or his sport. The boys were great distraction but I was getting leakage at a rate even Thames Water would be having kittens over. Finally I did a blank-sheet exercise – if I could marry personal drivers and professional strengths what might that look like? – and came across a pioneering program in Australia Then I DNF’ed at The Spine Race in January, re-discovered some mojo - and immediately starting plotting a return in 2014 this time with added leverage.

So I’m immeasurably proud that we now have five schools launched and chipping away at their 268 miles and there’s more cueing up. The last couple of months have also been my most consistently fulfilling for a very long time. I’ve met some great people and done some new scary fun stuff.
Last Monday was a case in point: 150 pupils at Riverside Junior School in Hebden Bridge confined to a sports hall ‘cos it’s bucketing down outside. Together with a good collection of spectating parents and the chair of school governors - they’re all mine all morning! There’s no film this time but the school took some pictures which I hope to be able to share with you – ‘cos we had a blast. Talking to the school a few days later and I get the news that the kids are running in break times and the teachers are blown away by the goal-setting stuff the pupils are coming up with and the conversations they’re still having from the morning.
The flip side is that there has been some big ole speed bumps and I’m still getting leakage:
‘But I’m still not generating much at all, ‘I said to Charlotte.
‘I know that,’ she says. ‘But we’re still OK, the boys are great, and no-one’s trying to kill us for what we believe.’ A pause and a look:
‘Does it feel right?’
Pause and slow smile from husband: ‘Yeah. Yes it feels right.’
‘Then go with it – you’ll figure out the earning bit eventually.’

On the training front two ankle injuries on the same ankle have meant running has been the stuff of fantasy. You might as well have driven a bus through my training plan. Hiking and biking has been my world, which has messed with my head periodically until I remember that blazing running speed is not really going to be a factor in this race – the ability to endure, cover the ground consistently and look after self in probably crappy conditions is considerably more important. I’m stronger than I was and I’m healthy, and if I can just manage this creaking ankle back to something near full function the final 12 weeks push will get me to where I think I need to be.
Will it be enough? Right now I don’t really care: It’s just good to enjoying the journey again.


  1. Looking forward to future postings.

  2. Great blog Andy - Sounds like this inspirational, life changing stuff attracts very similar challenges along the way ( it sure is for me ;) ) - keep plugging away, small steps ( as in the slight egde book) and your passion will drive you forward. It not easy but better than being in a J.O.B. :)