Wednesday was the penultimate day of my long, exhausting challenge. Over the last few days thoughts have turned to what happens now, in just a day or so it will be over and I will get out of bed and not have a triathlon to do any more.
My brain, as well as my body, has become accustomed to the routine. Knowing that a major part of my day will be based around a huge physical effort and achievement. It is so close there is a strong mixture of sadness, satisfaction and relief.
My body is telling me it is time to stop. I ache and the exhaustion is significant. So, with these mixed emotions I headed to the gym to do my 99th Olympic-distance triathlon in 99 consecutive days.
It was also to be the last at my local gym where staff and its customers must think I am now part of the equipment. I was under time pressures as my work deadline was today and there was a massive amount to do.
As I prepared to start my watch on the swim, I took a few moments to reflect on the nearly 8,000 lengths of that pool I had done as part of the challenge, and how it will be a mental struggle when I next get in and not simply swim continuously for a mile.
I also reflected on why I had done what I did and the friends, families and colleagues of officers I had met around the country, particularly the Bramma family and Don Maclure, just two of the relatives of over 4,000 police officers and staff who have lost their lives while serving in their communities.
So I began this triathlon feeling very tired and stiff but with huge motivation. The time for the swim was not very fast but I was still in reflective mood.
It was then onto the Wattbike and I started strongly. A 1 hour 9 minute 40.2km ride was pretty standard before jumping on the treadmill for the 10km run.
I decided to ease into the run a little more cautiously than I wanted as I suddenly feared the tragedy of getting injured on this last element before the final triathlon. But I gradually increased the pace to complete it in 47 minutes. There were a couple of moments when the hamstring tightened and I decided not to increase the speed as much as I normally do over the last kilometre.
After finishing number 99 I chalked off the effort on the board in the gym’s reception and the satisfaction was immense.
I have paid tribute to those officers and staff who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect us on this date in the past. And, on each day of my challenge, it has become very clear just how much Northern Ireland has suffered disproportionately compared to any other area in the UK. So, on February 6, the anniversary of the death of three officers from the province, I dedicated this triathlon to those who have served and continue to serve in very difficult circumstances there.
The full list of those who died on this date is:
1976 – Sergeant James Blakely – Royal Ulster Constabulary, GC
1911 – Police Constable John Brand – Metropolitan Police
1980 – Police Constable Glenn Corder – Durham Constabulary
1980 – Police Constable James Cumming – Tayside Police
1921 – Special Constable John Cummings – Ulster Special Constabulary
1966 – Police Constable Thomas Jackson – Metropolitan Police
1984 – Police Constable Stephen Jones – Metropolitan Police
1981 – Reserve Constable Charles Lewis – Royal Ulster Constabulary, GC
1882 – Inspector James McElligott – Metropolitan Police
There is just one more triathlon to do on Thursday February 7, which will finish at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire. Together with officers and staff from Staffordshire Police, I will attempt to share our progress on social media, check out @PolicePEditor on Twitter.
So I am almost there. If you have not done so already, it is a perfect time to donate to help see the fitting tribute to every officer and member of staff who has lost their life be built at the Arboretum. You can make a direct donation through my Justgiving page here. Thank you.