Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Outlaw Half - The one where it all went wrong

It all started to go wrong at about 4.20am Sunday morning when I went to put my contacts in n realised my right lens was awol.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Excuses or reality?

This very much feels like getting my excuses in early.

You see..... I have Outlaw Half in 2 weeks time..... and I haven't trained as much as I should.
Even by my lazy standards of doing the minimum I think is required

So my head is going batshit shouty.

There is noise about how I am fat.
I've seen me recently in cycling kit. It is VERY unforgiving.
Noise about how I am going to do worse than I did the 2 previous times I took part.... noise how I will be SIGNIFICANTLY slower.... not just slower in one discipline.... in all of them.

I haven't done the swim miles or the bike miles.

I am relying on the fact that I have a  fairly recent marathon PB in my legs, n the fact I have completed the event before so know what to expect and know I can do it....

Having completed it before has a complacency about it..... It sounds like I am not respecting the distance or the challenge.... so the karma police will deliver a race day from hell and I will deserve it.
Or at least that's what my head shouts say.

And if I have the day from hell, it will be because my body isn't ready.
There is little I can do now to make the slightest bit of difference.

It will be what it is.

I am trying my best to hang onto *WHY* I entered in the first place.

To support my swimmers.

To toe the start-line with people that I care about.

To chase dragonflies along the river.

To have a fab day out with my friends.

To remind myself about how much I love HPP in prep for my 2018 'flat n fast' iron distance. (Fast is relative)

To eat Jaffa Cakes on the run to make new friends n fall back in love with the stupid sport that is triathlon.... and hopefully watch people I care about fall in love with the stupid sport too.


I am still in a post Norse funk whereby no amount of tri-ing will come close.... and I need to shake that off.
I will miss the value in all things.

Comparison is the thief of joy.

And so.... here I am.... full of self loathing, having fallen back down a sadness filled hole this weekend

(I was doing so well).

I could blame the fact that some days I just don't have the capacity to train.

(Despite how well I thought I was doing, this is completely true)

I plan to get to the pool.
Regularly I plan to go. Somedays I plan to make the morning session, have the dinner session as back-up n then have a few different evening sessions available..... but such is my slackness.... I don't make it to any..... I did make it to the supermarket with my cossie under my clothes the other night..... I set off to the pool..... but then I intervened n it all went wrong.

And then I fall out with myself cos I didn't make it.
It's like a cycle of self harm and self fulfilling prophecy.

I struggle to get out on the bike.
I have run more miles this year than I have ridden.
The fear of riding on the roads becomes so consuming some days that I can't make it out the house..... so I increase my self loathing because I am such a failure..... and on it goes.
Oh.... and me in Lycra.

On and on.
And on and on.

I have tried using the urge to slice my legs as motivation.
Wanna hurt your quads?
Go do hill reps.
Squat heavy.
Something.
I know the difference though.
And I know it's not the same.

So here we are..... with my excuses.

I feel like I should lay my goals out - make myself accountable.
But they need to be achievable.... I'm ok with my head shouts n the lies my voice tells me.... but I'm trying to claim it back in writing this.... so it needs to be realistic.

Start
Finish
Smile all day
Sing on the bike
Make at least one new friend
Count dragonflies on the run (PLEASE let there be some)
Set at least one discipline PB (this can inc T1 or T2)
Set a race PB
Come in under 6.30
Come in under 6.15
Come in under 6.00
Don't shit myself (always a goal)
Beat Dave (I know I won't, but for the sake of long standing banter, this needs including)
Fuel and hydrate properly
Run the whole half marathon (except feed stations)

So that's where I am.
I will be happy with any combo of the above.

Swimming is coming on.
By the time race day rolls round, my bike miles should have exceeded my running miles.

................. To Be Continued

Monday, 17 April 2017

Manchester Marathon.

It would be so easy to write about my day, about how the weather conditions were perfect for running a marathon. To tell you all about how I still don't remember most of the route, apart from certain parts on the course - the part where I chatted with Fi  in 2015, the part where I met Sarah in 2015... and we had a realllllly long walk full of chats and smiles.

I remembered the out and back.
But it was shorter than I remember.
The whole thing was shorter than I remember.

That will happen when you run the course a whopping 47 minutes faster than your previous effort on the same route.
I finished in 4.52 - which was an 18 minute PB on Paris last spring.
In 2015 I had run, walked, shuffled, crawled Manchester in 5.35 adjusted to 5.39 when they realised that they couldn't measure properly.

I could tell you about how utterly AMAZING Mel and Bedders were in keeping me on track and sane - ok so all three of us spent 13 miles saying we were going too fast - but we all fell into that pace and it came good in the end.
I blame Allan and his singing.
We were about 20 seconds per mile too fast for the first half - which eventually added up and meant we were approx 25 seconds slower per mile in the second half.

We managed to come in on target though.
I am giving that credit to the ladies.
I just put one foot in front of the other.
Lather.
Rinse.
Repeat

My head went when we went past the cemetery - I don't know at what point that was. Mile 14 maybe.
I was busy wondering how many people had committed suicide that were buried there? How they had all died?
Mel and Bedders brought me back.
I convinced myself that emotional pain, marathon pain, leg pain.... was all the same.
It was just pain and I knew how to manage that.
Most of the time at least.

All I had to do on 2nd April was manage my pain and keep putting one foot in front of the other.
So that's what I did and I got a PB and a new shiny at the end of it.

But I don't want to blog about me.
I didn't enter Manchester for me - I entered it to support Cathy in her first marathon.

How I didn't burst with pride or into tears on race morning I will never know.
I did have eye leak.
More than Cathy was aware of.
I didn't want to set her off.
So I hid it as best I could.

When I first met Cathy in September 2014, she had run one 10km event and had another lined up.
In April 2015, she cheered like a loon when I ran my first marathon.
It was only in May 2016 did she run her first half marathon.

And here she was, toeing the start line of her first full marathon.
With 365 miles in her legs since 1st Jan 2017.
It was quite the leap.

Training had been challenging - she has 3 boys, works full time in a demanding role, has a husband who works full time and who is also training for his first 70.3.
Yet she boshed out a December run streak..... which then continued to become a 100 day run streak.

In the early stages of training, her dad had a hip replacement (as well as deteriorating Alzheimer's).
This had complications (2 broken arms and rapidly decreasing weight) and meant he was hospitalised for longer than originally anticipated.
Training involved planning to run to and from the hospital.
As well as feeding the family.....And laundry..... and cleaning..... and Christmas..... and the puppies.....
And still she ran.

I have seen video's, at the end of long runs, of an exhausted Cathy, too tired to eat.
Dave cut her chicken for her that night, such was the exhaustion.
And still she ran.

When race day rolled around, there was giddy anticipation.
'I'm never doing this again' had turned into, 'I might do this again'.

As we ran, Dave brought news from around the course - Cathy was behind us, she was smiling and enjoying. She was on target.

That'll do.

I saw Helen, Cathy's sister at about mile 21.
Helen would run the last miles with Cathy.
Full of proud.
It was shining from her as she waved us on.

*MUST. NOT. CRY.*

Cathy lives about 12 houses from the Mile 24 marker.
As I ran past her front door and my car parked in the drive, I wondered how she was doing.
I wondered how hard it would be for her to run past her home?

As we hit mile 25, Dave appeared and ran with us to the finish line - we had just enough time to get back to where he had dropped the car before Cathy came past with Helen.
Both of them were beaming.
Dave ran on with them.
My eyes leaked again.

She had done it
(there was NEVER any doubt)
She was going to make 5.30 - and make it look like the easiest thing in the world.

Cathy ran every step of her marathon - something I still can't work out how to do, 3 marathons later.
Her pacing was spot on - it dropped gradually, but was sustained and consistent.
She said it was easier than she thought it would be.

Train hard, race easy.
In practice, right there.
Proof it works.
I am so fucking proud.

We had run a half marathon 2 weeks out, working out pacing.
She ran a PB.
Double it and add a bit.
5.30 was properly achievable for the marathon.
Cathy had planned to run 2 x 8 miles and 2 x 5 miles.
She knew she could run 2 lots of 8 miles and 2 lots of 5.
Even if she had to run 8 miles, 3 lots of 5 miles followed by a park run, she knew she could do that.

When she had entered, her A goal was to finish, her B goal was to finish before the roads re-opened.
Time had never been on the agenda.

I could learn a lot from my friend.....No - I *have* learned a lot from my friend.
About being determined and driven.
About consistency and getting it done. Regardless of the obstacles.
About pushing beyond limits and trusting the plan.
Especially if an idiot like me writes the plan.
About being strong.
So very strong and so very brave.

Throughout all of this, she has supported me through my bouts of immense sadness.
She has been one of my biggest fans, has picked me up, dusted me off, made me laugh and held my hand on more occasions than I care to think about.

I am so very proud and so very lucky to call Cathy my friend.
She is more than a friend.
She has welcomed me into her family and allowed me to find a space that feels like home.

You know when you meet someone and just fit?
Without effort and exactly as you are?
It is unconditional and full of all the good stuff.

I can't wait to plot the next marathon and look forward to all the adventures we have lined up.... and all the ones we haven't yet imagined!
I'm sure they will be many and awesome.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Brain fog update

Since posting my last blog on what depression sounds like, I have been working REALLY hard to make my head a happier place to be.

I have done all of the self care.
Literally.
All of it.

I have swum in the outside and on the inside.
Mainly in the outside.
Sometimes twice in one day.
Different puddles for maximum effect.

I have run.
I have run 26.2 miles in one go and knocked 18 minutes off my previous time. (not a completely true statement, I walked some of the 26.2 miles)
I have run with friends.
I have celebrated friends becoming marathon runners.
I have given myself blister under my toes nails which are GLORIOUS for 'self harming without actually self harming' purposes.

I have taken myself to the theater.
I have sung badly.
And loudly.
In public.

I have been to weekly flying lessons.
Oh my god, how much do I love aerial yoga.
It is the best thing ever ever ever.
I just can't hold on to the feeling when I leave the studio.
And sometimes, I don't even feel it - I just know that I love it.

N sometimes that's worse....
Knowing that you are doing something that gives you immense joy but feeling NOTHING.
It makes it pointless.

I am currently borrowing someone else's woofers.
I have 8 furry legs in the house for cuddles and playtime.
I am obsessed with paws.
Labradogs are amazing.

I have stabbed things.
Mainly wool into felt to create art, but you know..... stabby none the less.

I have ridden my bike. In the outside.
Ok, so I have been judged for being a fatty while riding my bike, and had abuse hurled at me, but hey, I know what these legs can do thanks.
My podge kept my from becoming hypothermic during Norseman.
It has kept me swimming in the outside all winter.

Podge has its place, people.
Never forget that.

Somehow I managed to be braver than my inner monologue for more than 90 minutes while I was on my bike.... in the outside, avec traffic, on real roads.
Minor victory, right there.
Fuck me, it made cycling twice as exhausting.
And I might* have been a little bit abusive back to the driver and passenger who gave me a load of grief.
What can I say?
My filter isn't working yet.

I have only cycled outside once.
But.... its more than I've done all year and seemingly, I have a 70.3 race in 6 weeks.
Oops.
Hahahahahahaha.

(I should add that I've made it onto the turbo, maybe as many as 3 times - I am NAILING the training at the moment**)

I have slept - so very much.
And sometimes, sleep has evaded me.
There is no logic to when I can or can't.
It just is.

My anxiety about certain things is still stupidly high.
My anxiety is mainly about stupid things to be fair.
I still have extremely intrusive, negative thoughts.
These are mainly about myself.
There is LOTS of wasted energy.

But...... I have stopped planning my suicide.
So that's a win.
I am still at war with myself.
But I am working REALLY hard to win that too.

Each day is a battle.
Sometimes the battles are in 5 minute bursts and its all I can do for the day.
Some I win, some I lose.
Sometimes there are a million battles.

I shall keep on keeping on.
For now at least.


* Totally was
**This is me being VERY sarcastic and telling lies.



Wednesday, 22 March 2017

What depression sounds like on a Saturday.

This post is not intended to shock, nor do I want pity or sympathy.
There are people I love dearly who suffer with mental health issues.
I suffer with poor mental health occasionally. 
I endure bouts of depression. 
I have suffered, on and off, for as long as I can remember.

This is my experience of a day in one of those bouts. 
My intention is to give a small insight - in the hope it helps one person feel less alone, or one person understand a little more what it might be like. 

This is my truth. 
Yours may be different.

**********************************************

It’s been a funny old couple of weeks.
Not in the haha way.
Maybe in the haha way.
I guess it’s all just a matter of perspective.
And whether you were on the receiving end.

Last Saturday was a new low.  
It’s just been a REAAAALLLLLLLLLY long week since then.

Colleagues have looked at me, wondering what might fall out of my mouth next.
Occasionally wondering if my truth will be aimed at them.
I have wondered if my darkest thoughts might fall out of my mouth….. And what the consequence of that might be.

My filter hasn’t been working very well.
My filter hasn't been working very well at all.
And I’ve been a bit dead behind the eyes.
My spark has vanished.

Thoughts have been falling out of my mouth with astonishing rapidity.
There has been a running commentary to my life.
My inner monologue has been my outer monologue.

Properly honest thoughts….. ones like…..when a man was bouncing round his girlfriend during Wilmslow Half, announcing ‘i've got loads of energy left, what's up with you?’ (she was clearly on her arse)
She told him it was hard - that they were at 6 miles and it was too hard.
He told her she needed to change her play list.
I announced (a bit too loudly?) that her playlist was fine, but she probably needed to change her boyfriend.


This blog / outpouring is probably part of the same thing - my inability to appropriately filter my thinks, sprinkled with a touch of self harm.
I have waited though - until it is safer, at least.

People do not need to know my business or my bonkersness.
And then I wonder, will it help someone else?
And then I think, will it help me?
And then I think, nobody will ever speak to you again after they have read it, they will know for certain you are a fruitbat.
And then i think, this is my blog for me and I don’t actually care what you think.
There are all of the thinks.

They come simultaneously
At volume.
Layer upon layer of chatter.
Some of it, properly meaningless drivel.
Some of it, desperately hard to ignore.


All the while I am having these thinks, there is a layer of sound, planning how best to kill me.
We could throw her off Suicide Bridge over the M62
Thats no good, think of the drivers.
She’s only just got over the height thing -  that feels a bit cruel.
Hang her.
Run away and do it.
If you don’t want to upset the M62 users, think of the person who would find you if you hung from the TRX anchor point.
Where would you run to?
Far away.
You would have to wear matching underwear. Signe would never claim you otherwise.
You could poison yourself before you drive off somewhere.
Then hang yourself
But stab and skin yourself first.
Do that.
Imagine how good it will feel when the knife slide into your bicep.
My bicep? That’s new.

And so it goes on.
And on.
And on.

All of the noise.
Relentlessly.

When I am half well, I know it isn’t real.
When my filter works a bit, I know it is there, chattering in the background.
But I can filter it out.
I can make the volume work and while it is there, I don’t have to listen to it.

But when I am properly poorly?
Oh my god.
The filter becomes useless.
The volume is up to 47.
I cannot filter what falls out of my mouth and I cannot filter the things I pay attention to.

If I’ve said ‘say words at me’ once this past 2 weeks, I’ve said it a million times.
I don’t hear what is being said.
And when I do, I don’t understand it.

My brain is too busy hearing how I should impale myself on some railings.
Or something.
It’s all too hard.

Listening,
Hearing
Processing
Understanding
Responding

Fucking hell, you want me to respond.
What was the question?

Engage filter.
DO NOT say what you ACTUALLY think.
Oh my god I’m exhausted.
Those words actually fell out of my mouth.
I don’t know what the question was and I don’t care.

MAKE IT STOP

The relentless noise makes everything so very very hard.
Working out which socks to wear.
Actually having clean socks.
Getting out of bed.
I have been so very paralysed by the noise in my head, sometimes, I can’t actually move.
Which is great.
Apart from when you need to do things.
Like go to the toilet.
When you’ve been in the same spot for over 15 hours.
Or get dressed after swimming in open water.
Whole-body inability to move is a thing.

A very scary, very real thing.
Less scary when you are trapped under the duvet.
But still scary even then.

I have to take all the energy I have in my whole body, and focus it on the limb I want to move.
It is exhausting.
All the while, there is noise screaming to be heard.
I have the worst headache.
I’ve had it for a few weeks now.
My head feels like it is filled with helium and is lifting the top of my scalp.
My crown is consumed with pressure from the inside.
Lifting.
Screaming.
Pressing.  
Did i mention the noise?

I set off last saturday to do my last long run before the marathon.
I was doing 16 miles, 18 if I felt good.
That was the plan.
The plan in my diary that had been out there before ‘this’
The sun was shining, but I struggled to get out of the house (and bed, and dressed, you get the idea)

I wasn’t feeling the love.
I wasn’t feeling anything.
Well, I was.
I was feeling like I had disconnected from myself and there was a part of me, floating, high in front of my body.
My soul was made of helium and threatening to leave myself, it was tethered by the thinnest sliver of a thread.
And a desperately heavy heart.
Made of lead.   
My heart was heavy and my head was empty.
I couldn’t make the 2 things work together.

How the hell was I meant to run 16 miles?

I got to the canal (yay!) and found myself in the midst of a local marathon.
This will either be brilliant or awful.

Someone I used to go to school with shouted my name.
He thought I was running the marathon.
Fuck.
Haha people thought I was almost finished.

I couldn’t even manage one mile.
That does wonders for your sense of failure - when people think you’re doing awesome and you’re actually in bits and a massive fraud.
I cried in the first mile.

I couldn’t pick my feet up and propel myself forward.
The layers of noise were immense.
I was hyper sensitive to all things.
There were shoots of green among the woods and trees.
Birds singing, chirruping, chattering, squawking.
Spring was doing that thing that spring does.

JUST STOP THE NOISE

The noise that should be pleasant, that should be happy was irritating me.
I didn't have any music with me.
My head noise starts again.

You need to cancel everything.
You’re a failure.
Your legs don’t work.
Just slice them like we told you to.
You’ve got razor blades at home.
Good blades.
Sharp blades.
Knives.
Your legs are useless.
Like you.
You like spring, but you can’t even feel that properly

I could hear the traffic in the distance.
And the birds.
And the noise.

Oh fucking hell this is too hard.

Go home.
Don’t you fucking dare, stay here and torture yourself.  

A runner comes towards me.
HE IS FUCKING JUGGLING.
HE IS JUGGLING WHILE RUNNING A FUCKING MARATHON

You haven’t run 2 miles yet.
Look at you.
You’re a failure.
Look at him, this is EASY for him.
What happened to your SAD going away in spring?

I can’t make myself run.
There is toooooo much other stuff going on.
My ears find a song on the wind.
It is a reggae version of My Heart Will Go On.
Nope.
No it won’t.
My heart will not go on, i will rip the fucking thing out while it beats.  
Have I really heard that?
I try tune into where it is.
It really is reggae Celine.

3 boys cycle past me.
They are about 13 years old.
They’re discussing the poo processing plant and how it would’ve paid well in the 70’s and 80’s.
I couldn’t even bring myself to run past the poo plant.
Despite the stench, I walked.  

A family comes out of Toby’s Tea Room.
Oh my god the child is screaming.
Get it away from me.
Make the child stop screaming.

I need to run.
I need to get away from that screaming noise.

Layer upon layer upon layer upon layer upon layer of overload.
I just want it to stop.

I walked 5 miles that day and ran one.
It was my slowest ever 10km.
That night, I put my face on, literally, got dressed up and went out.
I pretended everything was well in the world.
All the while, the noise remained.

I dreamt about flying that night - like a drone.
My disconnect continued.



Luckily for me (and people I come into contact with), I have had some time off work and I feel better than I did.
I am working really hard in lots of ways to make myself better.
But I am still exhausted and it is still relentless.

Today, I know that this will pass.
Saturday, I was all up for making sure it never happened again.
The thought of living with this crippling brokenness was too much to take.
I do not want to feel like this.
This is not who I am.

I have come to realise over the years (and only when I am well) that there will always be an impostor in my head.
Sometimes it is small enough to ‘just’ be wonky chemicals.
My inner superhero keeps it in check.
And sometimes it grows and it is the ultimate bad guy / villain.
I have no defenses and it consumes me.
Who I am vanishes.
I become this ‘other thing’.
The impostor takes my body as well as my brain.
Control is complete.  
We’ve all seen the films.