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More than simply post-140.6 blues

More than simply post-140.6 blues

It definitely doesn’t seem like I did a 140.6 mile event only 16 days ago…!

I’m in a bit of a fuggy ol’ fog today, not sure if this is going to be the wittiest/wisest/most profound post but what the heck, eh. I think everything has caught up with me and I find myself currently in a pretty low state, flat and yet nervous about something or other (mainly the request from a certain someone to join them on a six-hour motorcycle jaunt – I’ve backed out of that, but blimey it’s easy to see how my anxiety and worry about it translate into other emotional and physical symptoms. Hmm, it’s quite interesting from that angle!). I’d intended to go for a cycle this morning – well, that didn’t happen, and my B plan of going for a swim also hasn’t happened.

So what HAS happened since my 140.6?

The week after, I did a sprint triathlon – I’d dithered about whether to enter this or not, but this particular triathlon’s a bit of a tradition for me, and I suspected that I’d be annoyed with myself if I didn’t at least attempt it. The days after the 140.6 were difficult, to say the least: I knew that I would probably suffer with gastric problems and pain afterwards, as this happened with the half-ironman. It was incredibly painful, and I lay curled up in a ball for hours afterwards. Forget sore muscles etc, they were fine – the sickness, er, other stuff like passing lots of blood etc – well they weren’t fine at all.

This time, about two hours immediately after finishing the 140.6, the agony set in, and it took about five days for my insides to settle, I was in pain for ages. Couldn’t eat or drink, and it seemed as if my body was sort of eating itself. Blood and all sorts…very yucky indeed. The morning after, I felt as if I had a horrendous hangover and a stomach in deepest turmoil, so had a warm bath for as long as I could bear. I’m so glad we had a day off as I simply couldn’t function. I was weirdly craving ReadyBrek and cheese on toast (er, but not together!), although I couldn’t really eat or drink anything.

An unexpected result of the 140.6 was having a terrifically sore throat and mouth, it was like having blisters everywhere. I checked this out – informally – and it would seem that this can happen as a result of breathing hard for such an extended time. Well, you learn something new every day – but aaaargh! And, when my appetite did finally return, I couldn’t even eat or drink because of the pain in my mouth and throat…gosh, was it all worth it?

YEPPPPPPP!! Of course it was!

But…

…although the joy (and disbelief) of winning were still there, I swiftly started to dismiss the achievement. I’m doing it in my head even as I type this. And this is what I’ll do: I just can’t seem to own my achievements. Forget about anyone else belittling my achievements – I’ll do it extremely well for myself, thanks. I’ve already made many excuses as to why I won. I feel that I should’ve done it all properly, instead of leisurely stopping at feed stations and run/walking during the marathon. That I should’ve aimed for a good time, not simply merely to finish the course…I can’t even look at the trophy, as I feel I really don’t deserve it.

(My head is currently arguing like mad about this issue as I write, by the way.)

I hadn’t told many people that I was then doing this other triathlon seven days after the 140.6. I entered it a while back, as I knew the event would sell out quickly, but I only decided to go ahead with it in the morning of the tri. I’d accepted that I wouldn’t do very well (I’ve always come in the top 3 females over the last few years), but thought I really should do it anyway.

As it turned out, the swim was ok, the bike was ok…but I stopped in the run to encourage another lady who’d stopped, we ran together – and then she took off, beating me to 2nd place. GRRRR! Never again! I thought I was quite well back in the placings and took my time in the run (owing to a combination of exhaustion and over-heating in the midday sun), but a couple of girls overtook me early on the cycle, one of ’em saying something to me about the traffic…now, she said it in a particular way that irked me (!), plus they were drafting each other (they were from the same tri club). For some odd reason, I was really peeved by these aspects, a steep hill was coming and I saw them struggling – so decided to take them on. And they never caught up with me – hurrah! (And phew…)

It was such a hot, airless day, and my throat started to hurt again as I ran, so I was pretty glad it was only a short tri. Heard my name being announced as I crossed the line, with the added, “And she’s only just done an Ironman!” and that was that. A medal, t-shirt and a small trophy. Good-oh – now I could relax. Ha, yeah right…

Many people would be chuffed with that small trophy – me? I dismiss it. I wish I didn’t. If it were someone else I’d be really chuffed for them, and would sing their praises to the skies. As it’s me, I feel nowt. I feel the same if I try to write out a list of my achievements: I’ll belittle them, dismiss them, stamp all over them until there’s nothing left. And where does that get me? It’s not a martyr thing, or a victim thing – I just feel sickened by myself and who I am, and can’t see that I’ve done anything of any worth.

Days like today really don’t help. I’ve not kept to my exercise plans and I feel trapped in my flat. For the first time in about two years I’m fairly happy with my body shape and size, and I’m despondent about my ability to maintain those aspects (vain, I know, but it was ever thus). My head’s in a blimmin’ horrible fog (despite eating and drinking a decent diet, no alcohol and little sugar), and my body’s heavy and listless. Can’t concentrate and definitely can’t think clearly at all. I just want to cry but I can’t find that release. I know it’s partly to do with worrying about the future – I have big decisions to make – as well as feeling hugely like a failure about the motorbike thing (oh gosh, if there’s someone out there who’ll go out biking with me, who’ll take it easy and not get annoyed with me, please do offer your help and company – because I do so want to get out on the motorbike. I can do it, I have my full licence etc, and it’s such wonderful freedom [although I would love to name & shame one of the instructors at my training school, as he killed any confidence I had…the other instructors were fine and even the examiner complimented me on my riding]. It’s only self-consciousness, a sheer terror of annoying/holding up other motorists, and worrying about taking corners that are stopping me…), but for some reason today I have a block on getting out in public at all. I just don’t want people to see me. I don’t feel worthy enough of being out and about…although I would really like today either to be out in the sea, or out walking.

Things have been like this for so long, it’s unbearable. Folk who see me out and about see a person who’s active, achieving things…they don’t know the reality behind the façade: someone who’s terrified of others and extremely, extremely self-conscious. I went for a swim yesterday and, although the session was interrupted for various reasons, it was a sociable swim. I chatted to a lot of people and had a good-enough swim. I’d been terrified about going, but I did it nevertheless. So why can’t I do it today? I know I’d feel better for it…what a pathetic wimp. I should be making the most of my physical health, not shying away from life.

How do you all manage days like today?

My first long-distance/140.6 triathlon – done!

My first long-distance/140.6 triathlon – done!

I DID IT!!!

I’ve actually gawn and done it! My first 140.6 triathlon! And, even more weirdly and surprisingly, I was the flippin’ first female to cross the finish line…

I’m still in a bit of a surreal, other-worldly state – it’s only a few days after this 140.6 triathlon, and last weekend seems like yonks ago, and I keep forgetting what happened on that weekend anyway!

I’ve not posted for a while because I’ve been very low – I do NOT know how other mental health bloggers maintain their blog. I kept thinking that those low times were actually the ideal times to post my thoughts, because that’s the reality of living with depression and social anxiety. But I couldn’t bring myself a) to write anything of length, and b) to share my bleak mindset. It felt like I was adding to my being a burden to others.

In recent weeks, I’d had a few longish bike rides (max. distance of 90miles), and I also did one 18mile run, but these were in isolation, never as part of a brick session. So I was a tad concerned! Two weeks before the event though, I had the good fortune of animal-sitting for a few days, which helped me to have a few sessions of cycle/swim/run back-to-back, albeit at shorter distances. It was quite strange, knowing that I was doing daily longer-than-sprint-triathlons, but I do think that those days gave me a bit of a boost. It’s always a pleasure looking after those animals anyway, and it definitely helped my mood this time around!

So, back to the 140.6 day itself…although I probably should mention here that I’ve been an unpleasant person to know, especially during the week leading up to the ironman – nervy, anxious, irritable, snappy (hmm, is that just my normal state?), oh, and terrified. I’d made lists of lists, and printed out the routes, and plans (and plan B’s. And plan C’s.) of what I would need to be doing beforehand, during each stage, and during each transition. I love my folders and stationery, so this extensive planning also helped with my mood. It didn’t help that I kept checking the weather forecast, which grew worse with each check: increasing wind speeds and gusts, rain and low temperatures for the time of year. AAAAAAARGH!!

We travelled up to the location two days before, and I’m glad we did, as the journey was hellish. It did occur to me, though, that for all the hours we spent driving up there…well, the equivalent time would see me still in the midst of the ironman, hours away from finishing. That didn’t help with my mood and nerves! I’d had problems yet again with my sleep so, although I was trying not to focus on how little I’d slept in the week, it was still a concern. I don’t worry about not sleeping the night before an event: it’s whether I’ve slept much in the week before. Luckily, the hotel was quiet and we backed onto countryside – I’m forgetting that an ‘A’ road was close by – and that was quite pleasant.

Righteo – here comes Saturday: registration and the safety briefing. We also drove round the bike route twice, so I could gain some sort of idea about hills, the state of the roads and not getting lost! I’d been studying the route elevation thoroughly, and it turned out that my hopes (that them thar hills wouldn’t be as bad as the ones I ride at home) were pretty accurate. But it was clear that the crosswinds were hefty, and the trees were swaying loftily as we went by. My nerves were going crazy… I was one of the first to register, and it was quite nice seeing others coming along too and racking their bikes alongside. There was such a mix of bikes – blimmin’ fantastic specimens next to so-called ‘normal’ bikes, and there was an absence of smugness and alpha-attitudes in the area. Some swaggering was happening, yes, but in the main most of us were looking pale and rabbit-caught-in-the-headlights-ish…thankfully the safety briefing had been brought forward (owing to people’s requests that they be able to see the World Cup football instead (!). Had this not happened, then we would have been back at the hotel by about 8pm, which had been worrying me.

I did have moments of panic during the safety briefing, and in the walk down to the lake the following morning, as there were – of course – so many people there. I think I tried to block everyone else out of my mind, it was strange – but I knew I couldn’t exactly run out, as I didn’t want to make a scene and then have everyone look at me thinking, “Nutter!”…I stayed and tried to feel invisible…

See how dark and cloudy it is? Eeek!

Roll on to 4am the next morning. I followed my plan and things were ok, but I was pretty much silent. I felt so, so very, very sick. I’d chosen to do this – no one had made me. It was my choice. Why on earth was I doing it? I knew why: I wanted to prove to everyone that I’m not an utterly useless piece of nonsense, with nothing to her name. I also knew that, if I make it to a ripe old age (maybe not so ripe!), I would regret having done only a half-ironman (“only”!!!) and not having at least attempted the long distance. I told myself repeatedly in the week before that it was all ok if I didn’t finish it or if I finished beyond the cut-off time. Of course I had thoughts that it would be fab if I had a time of 11hours (double my time of the half/70.3), but I didn’t think this was very realistic! As long as I made it to the start line, and didn’t quit before I’d even started, then that was supposed to be fine. I reassured myself that I could finish after the swim (although it would’ve been an expensive ol’ swim!), and that if I carried on after that, then all well and good. I’d planned to take it easy, to stop at the feed stations during the cycle and stretch my limbs and use the loo if necessary. Oh, and smile a lot. The run? Well, that was going to be a mixture of running and walking (Ha! And how I did indeed stick to that strategy…!). If I finished, then hallelujah!!

I think one of the main things for me was that I’d expected that I would have many, nasty lows throughout the event, and had thought about how I was going to deal with them…

I’ve had to stop writing here, as it’s just really occurred to me that this ironman was a massively HUGE achievement for me, for so many reasons. I didn’t give up – although I came close…but I just couldn’t quit – and it’s two fingers up to that man who did those things to me. I’ve done it in spite of him, and he’ll never take this experience and achievement away from me.

Back to the day…with my mantras on my arm, goggles, hat, lube and watch on, we made our way down to the water. The wind was getting up, and it wasn’t cold – but the air wasn’t exactly warm either. I tried not to panic too much…it helped that people were friendly and that there was a chap swimming in a loose (!) spiderman wetsuit – blimey, all respect to him! As the minutes and seconds were counted down, a quiet voice said, “So we swim up to that buoy and back again?” – er, no! Lots of advice on where we did have to swim was given and then, oomph! The starting whatnot went off! Eeeeek! This is it!

The water was lurvely…the clarity was pretty good and it tasted nice too! I found my rhythm quite quickly and, unexpectedly, felt ok. I didn’t want to rush this bit – I knew that swimming was my thing, and that I was lucky enough not to have to push too hard in order to get a decent time. I also knew that the distance was no problem for me, thank goodness. I had a small group ahead of me and didn’t chase them, I was swimming on my own and I quite liked that. I just stayed at my own pace and enjoyed it all – even the swans who came a little too close for comfort weren’t really on my radar at that time. I started to think about the rest of the race, then told myself off as I could do nowt about it all at that time and that I was to focus on the present – I could start thinking about the transition etc in the second half of my last lap. Until then, I wanted to switch off and enjoy the feel of the water, of feeling graceful in that water, and enjoy the Level 42 song that was playing in my head!

Graceful dive in…hmmm…!

I emerged out of my final lap, finishing the 2.4mile swim in 1:07hrs – and hearing the commentator’s voice announce that I was the first female out of the water did make me trip up in surprise and disbelief!

My first transition wasn’t the best, but I was cold and then had problems with my cycle jersey’s zip, which decided to break. An unbelievable calmness came over me and I finally mended the zip…I’d also had some calls to make about what to wear, as it was cold and rain had been forecast during the cycle stage. Humph. In the end I went for arm warmers under my cycle jersey, put on my winter gloves (I clearly don’t care about what I look like, eh) and ditched my plan to wear my waterproof cycle jacket. If it rained I’d have to make do with my very lightweight running jacket that was packed along with my spare inner tube, puncture repair kit and tools…

Headed off on the bike, narrowly falling off because my elastic bands on my tri shoe had fallen off (!), Bizarrely, my first thought when I put my foot back on the ground was, “Aargh! Now I’ve failed!”… I somehow obviously imagined I was back taking my Mod 1 motorbike test, where a foot-plant in the relevant stage is a fail. Gawd knows where my brain was at this time! It’s a triathlon, woman!

I’d told myself not to look at my cyclometer for ages, as I knew seeing single figures would have a yucky effect on my mood. That helped a bit. I just tried to get my head down and get on with it – which would’ve been great and lovely if it hadn’t been for those blimmin’ winds. So much for crosswinds, yep they were there – but so was a massive headwind. What happened to the tailwind??! Ah well…I knuckled down and tried to get through it all. Various songs played in my head (yes thank you, Enya, I’m sorry but I’ve never really been a fan…but your music did help for a fair old while, I admit. Better than Rupert the Bear, at any rate. Thanks for that agony, brain!), the scenery was wonderful (although the darkening skies and brooding, angry-looking hills/mountains in the distance were worrying, to say the least) and there were various people watching the event who, plain and simple, were fantastic – and the marshalls were lovely too, despite the grotty weather. And the people at the feed station were great, just so great. Being teased for looking like a hamster with flapjack in my gob will never sound as sweet! And thank you, the volunteer who sold me onto the idea of venturing near a jaffacake – it worked, even though I don’t think I’ll ever properly like the things!

Yes, hello!

You peeps who shouted words of encouragement – including the male cyclist who whizzed past me but said, “Looking strong there!” – well, thank you. Thank you SO MUCH. You will probably never know just how much your words boosted me and lifted me out of dark places. Thank you.

Oh dear, welling up again.

The dark places. They were foul. I had felt reasonable up until around 70miles, and then the demons struck. I questioned why I was doing such a stupid, utterly stupid thing, why I was still involved with triathlon at all when I’ve come to loathe it. I was in pain, I was a fool, why had I imagined that I could do this, I could do nothing of any worth, this would just prove to everyone that I was useless. I still had 40-odd miles to cycle, in horrible winds, and then oh my gosh there was still a marathon to run. ENOUGH.

And then I realised that I’d expected this, that my mood would plummet. I remember actually saying out loud, “This too shall pass…”. I reasoned with myself that I was going to feel bad, of course I would: after all, I’d been exercising for 4 hours and that was on top of the general and social anxiety and nerves etc. “You’re ok, you’re ok…give yourself a chance…you’ve got through ghastly stuff and this is all ok, you’re clearly strong enough ‘cos you’re here and now. And your limbs work, make the most of them. And if you don’t finish, then what? Will it really matter?” And I thought about what my psychiatrist might say to me had she been there, and thought about Paddington Bear (long story!), and I thought about my family, and about my partner, and how much support he has given me – despite nearly 7 months of anxiety and moods about this event (on top of my normal moods). I determined to come on, gal! and focus on the here and now.

And finally, after 4 laps of the cycle route, having waved and cheered on other competitors (who by now were becoming like old friends to me), I made it to the end of the last lap. Oh thank goodness – the wind had done its best, and the rain had lashed my limbs…but I’d defeated them.

Oh man: and still at least 4.5hours of exercise to do, and my worst discipline to boot. A metaphorical head-in-hands moment of agony. I emerged from the transition area and ran, nay, jogged – er, well, shuffled onto the run course. 6 laps of lake-ness and closed roads. I really did not know if I could finish this. The first lap wasn’t too bad, but I had a few moments where I couldn’t catch my breath and had a pain around my left chest and shoulder. Made it to the first feed station and shuffled on, gradually slowing down even further. Clearly, this stage was not going to be at my typical running pace!

I hesitate to think much about the run in this event, as it was physically and emotionally agonising. My left ankle was giving way and I had a headache from hell. I’d emerged from the swim feeling really thirsty, despite having been careful about my hydration leading up to the ironman. Strangely enough, I had drunk water at the feed stations, and I’d been drinking coconut water whilst on the bike and, whilst I felt sick, I didn’t actually throw up (you all know about my gastric/digestive problems and conditions) – but I knew that I was probably dehydrated, hence the headache and slowing down etc. I’d taken in a couple of salt tablets and I’d also eaten on the bike, and again was relieved that it had all stayed down, so to speak, but I’d taken in a maximum of only about 300 calories (I roughly estimated that I used up around 6-7000 calories during the event). But I could not take in food during the run, as my stomach was in agony and I felt that even taking sips of water was pushing my limits. I did chance upon a spare orange segment at the feed station at around 14miles in and it was heavenly…nectar…which is why I then grabbed a whole orange and gripped it for the rest of the marathon…!

So, six laps. By the end of the second lap I was in another very bad place – very bad: it’s odd to think about you-know-what when you’re shuffling along. A whole load of contradictions and messy thoughts happening.

The end/start of each lap was back in the main arena near the lake and transition area, and my partner had been there cheering and supporting me (and the others) throughout the whole day, despite the weather. I stopped, close to tears, and just told him that I couldn’t do this anymore, I had nothing left and I was in so much pain. He was very good, calmingly reassuring me that I could stop, it didn’t matter, that it was ok.

Which I then responded to with a tearful, “But I can’t quit! I’ll have failed everyone, including me! I can’t give up! I have to do this!”. Oh, very clever reverse psychology…but it worked. And wow, it worked well. Because he had given me honest, no-worries permission to stop, without any judgment, and because he clearly thought a lot of me and was obviously proud of me – well, I got on with the task. How bizarre. I thought little about it at the time, but the next day I considered it all and realised how profoundly clever his actions at that time were, if that makes sense.

The next four laps were incredibly slow. I chatted to people at the feed stations and shared pain concerns with other competitors – and the poor volunteers – and had two of the event crew (who were on their bikes keeping on eye on, and encouraging, the runners) repeatedly telling me that I was the first female. So come on, get a move on! Oh yeah, riiiiiiight. I honestly thought they were just joshing and teasing me. I couldn’t possibly see that my dreadful run would still see me being in first place.

The sun started to go down, along with the temperature, and I really began to worry about having to run in the dark. It was lovely though, to share others’ joy as they announced that they were on their final lap (some walking it) and that they were obviously going to FINISH!! I really, really was pleased for them! I can’t remember what I was thinking about during this time, the only details are that I was desperate to see my partner when I reached the end/start area each time, I was gripping a rather soggy, sweaty orange, and that at one feed station I stopped at, one spectator said to me, “You’ve done us proud, m’girl”! And yes, I did start getting teary at that – thank you for those absolutely lovely words, whoever you are.

And then…I realised I was heading back towards the main arena for the last time. I checked behind me, for some reason, went through the entrance and all I could hear were cheers and my name being shouted – “Well done!”. I turned into the shute towards the finish line, managed to find energy to sprint, heard the words, “…the first female…” and crossed that oh-blimey-so-very-welcome Finish Line. And was then told that I’d won the female 140.6…

YAAAAAYYYYYYY!!

…and then I cried in sheer relief and sheer disbelief. I’d done it. An achievement I could never have imagined…!

I’ve done it. I’ve done a long-distance triathlon, despite all the depression, social anxiety and flippin’ mad eating disorders. It can be done!!

 

Training, terrible teeth and, er, troubled toes!

Training, terrible teeth and, er, troubled toes!

Training, teeth, injuries…wow, it’s all happening – oh, and the end of my year of therapy…

I’m writing this during an enforced rest following a tooth extraction yesterday. After my treatment for the abscess a while ago, the dentist said they’d bring forward my extraction date. Well, after 15 days of hearing nowt, I felt that they were maybe extracting something else from me (sorry!) and rang up. I know! I actually made a phone call – and with success!

I was given an appointment for that day, which was perfect as it meant I could fit a swim in beforehand. Despite not having swum for about three weeks, I felt all right and my speed wasn’t that much slower than usual. Actually, it felt really good to be back in the water again, even though the pool was packed for much of the session, meaning that it was difficult to find any rhythm for quite a while.

The tooth extraction went well, touch wood (oh my, now I have images of wooden teeth – why did I choose that phrase?!), although I had expected the dentist to clean out the area as I still had an infection in the gum. I had the injections and then the tooth was pulled, after much wrangling and pressure. And that’s it! I’m hoping that it’s a simple recovery…I’d intended to run this morning, but I’ve read many warnings of blood clots being dislodged because of the increase in blood pressure. I’ll attempt a short bike ride tomorrow morning, I think.

I now have a huge gap in my mouth and only one half-tooth on that bottom side. I daren’t feel it, or even look at it. As soon as I’d left the surgery I (rather feebly) burst into tears – I’ve been in pain for such a long time, and have had so many abscesses in that area, that I think I was relieved that it was all over (I hope). But it also hurts to know that I’ve brought this upon myself. All the guilt and sadness flood back, and I feel shame and embarrassment too about it all. I can’t just hide it away in my mind as I have the tangible reminder of my past behaviours and their causes… Stupidly, and perhaps unhelpfully, I’ve also read about how tooth loss affects both functionality and facial bone structure. I have a huge dread that I’m turning into this old hag, with sunken cheeks and a slowly caving-in lower face. I’ve read about ‘bite collapse’, which can happen some of the rear teeth are missing (yep, tick that box) – this may result in the teeth at the front being squished forward. I don’t think those certain people in my life (who scoff at my distress about my teeth) really appreciate the consequences of having horrid, bad, post-bulimic teeth. It’s far, far more than mere vanity – it’s psychologically extremely distressing, and the functional damage has a deeply negative impact too.

Training-wise, I’m not entirely where I want to be, but then again it could be far worse. I’ve actually left the house! I’ve managed a few 80mile cycles, and the running (despite ever-present pain and injury) is slow but at about 15miles. I’m not concerned about the swimming really, that should be fine (famous last words eh…). When I did the half-ironman, I was diligent in doing brick sessions, usually sessions such as twenty minute runs straight after 50mile bike rides. I was fortunate then because I could do this in rural areas, which meant that there was little likelihood of people seeing me. I have great difficulty now in arriving back home and then going out for a run, because of the sheer amount of people who are around when I return chez moi. Even if I leave home at 5am, by the time I’m in my last (wheezy, painful, slow) stages of the bike ride there are – of course – more people around. I’ve also found that I’m increasingly anxious about seeing cycle groups when I’m out – I worry that they’re laughing at me, or cursing me because I’m so slow (my cycle average is about 17mph). I wave and say hi etc, as they whizz past, and tell myself that I’m only so slow because I need to maintain a zone 2 heart-rate (ahem…yeah, right!). I also tell myself that surely they’ve only just started their bike ride (PLEASE don’t tell me I’m wrong!!).

My time in therapy is now also at an end. And that important process deserves its very own post, I reckon…

Back with a vengeance

Back with a vengeance

Well, well, well… ha, three holes in the ground (yes, thanks for that – you know who you are!).

I’m back! Hurrah! After an enforced break – thanks to a laptop that’d be better used as a tray, or a toboggan, or a rather inefficient frisbee – I’ve managed to source an alternative means of keeping my blog alive. We’ll see (will be crossing my paws that this is successful. If it’s not – well, that’s a little philosophical conundrum really, ‘cos you won’t be reading this…).

It’s been a fair few weeks since I was last able to update the blog, and gosh a lot’s been happening in the meantime. I could have done with being able to write the blog, to be honest, as there have been moments of clarity and greater understanding (at least, I think there have!), and I can see how horribly harsh I have been, and am, on myself…and how this negative, harmful perspective has a profoundly horrid effect on my sense of self-worth. I can’t yet find forgiveness for what happened to me, and for the repercussions, but I am experiencing flitting moments of self-compassion. I find it very hard to like, or be fond of, or indeed be compassionate towards myself as I was at any age, or stages or points of my life…it’s not really that helpful to be like that, though.

If you look ever so, EVER so carefully, you’ll spot an early morning moon (no, not that sort…)

 

I’ve had some very low points since I last wrote: depressed moods, agitated and angry states, despair, and I have recognised just how consistently high my levels of anxiety are. I’ve borrowed a watch with a HRM (heart-rate monitor) and it was surprisingly interesting to note how elevated my heart-rate became when I was in even just a slightly stressful situation – it was also interesting to see how breathing exercises swiftly reduced that rate. It’s just that I can’t seem to translate that into stressful situations (such as my other neighbours suddenly becoming very unpleasant and making day-to-day life very yucky with their passive-aggressive actions). After a long time of being upset, worried and low about it, I’ve decided that – seeing as they won’t communicate – I’m going to try to adopt a Mona-Lisa smile and say nothing. As long as my smile isn’t interpreted as a smirk…! But it’s forced my hand, rather, and I’ve decided to move – I’m attempting not to view it as, “Meh, they’ve won”, but that they’ve enabled me to make a decision that I hope will move my life forward. I wanted to escape SmugTown (these neighbours typify this smugness), and now I’m determined to leave for pastures new.

Hey-ho, so what’s been happening? Attending a military ceremony in below-zero temperatures for 4 hours, all whilst sitting in not-very-warm clothes and hobbling along because my shoe-strap broke as I left the hotel. Tried feebly to sew the leather together with the hotel sewing-kit…it was all too futile! The parade was a strange experience: I was overcome by the end of it all (having maintained a front of ok-ness for all that time) because I could see immense pride in the parents’/relatives’/friends’ eyes, and I found it difficult to witness the support, love and encouragement being shown (and rightly so) by the families towards their particular relation. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly didn’t think that was the case for everyone on parade there – it was just that the event weirdly served to highlight what I should have experienced as a child growing up, and the event’s been helpful in that I can now quite clearly recognise that I need to grieve for all that was lacking in my, erm, environment, if that makes sense. Time, maybe, to stop using food and purging, and self-hatred, and other self-harming/destructive behaviours to mask, or manage, the anger that I’ve subconsciously had within. I want to stop, and I feel I have stopped…it’s as if I don’t need those behaviours anymore. Time too, to stop seeing the expression of anger – and other emotions – as being sooooooo bad and wrong…I feel that I need to learn how to grow, to learn how to express my needs and recognise my emotions. I was going to say “grow up all over again”, but I don’t think I have grown-up, because I didn’t have the tools to do so. All this time I’ve been floundering desperately, having given up yonks ago being able to ask for support, advice and help…because, what was the point of doing so, if I was ignored, or reprimanded, or made to feel that I was most definitely not welcome…

What else? I did a motorbike trackday – terrifying: truly, horribly terrifying…all that testosterone around me and novices who definitely were not novices. But at least I didn’t wuss out and avoid it, eh? (And yeeeeaaah, I did enjoy it really – I just need more biking experience!)

The hairpin that defied me…and several other bikers!

Training-wise…hmmm! I’ve started to up my game, really, as I was becoming really het-up about the ironman swiftly approaching. I’m not fussed about the swimming, but the cycle and run were worrying me. So I’ve had a few 50-mile cycles and one 60-miler (oh blimey…I’d still have another 52 miles to go. Ooh, plus a marathon). I take great comfort from the fact that I’m in a madly hilly area, so I’m using my high levels of elevation as encouragement (!). Ha, I don’t take great comfort from it when I’m actually out there suffering, mind! My new trusty steed turned out to be evil (towards me, that is: it’s perfectly lovely to others. Not that I’m paranoid, onnist), so I made a mad decision to snaffle a different new bike…it’s a dream, although the engine running it doesn’t do it justice, I fear. And suddenly my sitting bones have made an appearance, ow ow OWWWWW. One bruised botty. I spent most of my last ride telling myself that yes, I WOULD get a bike fit. I still haven’t. Have bought a new saddle tho’, let’s hope that helps, eh?!

I’m up to 13 miles or so for most of my runs, but that distance, as with my cycling distances, has to increase in the next few weeks. I’m definitely no fast runner, but at least I’m not stopping during these runs. I’m aiming to do more brick sessions too, and to introduce nutrition into the game-plan as well. I had a few bites of flapjack and sips of water during the 60-mile cycle, and they did let me know of their existence until I finished – but I think I have to put up with that, otherwise I’ll just not finish. PLEASE don’t advise me to adopt the high-fat-low-carb diet: my system simply loathes it, and it certainly doesn’t help with the amounts of acid-reflux I have. So there!

I’m house-animal-sitting again for a few days though, and I did just have a little achievement yesterday…I went for a run in the middle of the day! I guess it helped that I know no-one here – and that I was frustrated because I’d planned to cycle and swim, but the roads were closed. So I persevered and went for a run instead. I know! In the middle of the day, who’d have thought – yay!! And today I cycled 22 miles to a pool and back, swam two miles, then ran for 30 minutes – all on pretty tired legs too. Not bad for someone who this morning had woken to a somewhat lowered mood for no good reason. I’m quite pleased about all that.

A long ol’ post, sorry – but I just wanted to update things a bit. Hope you’re all ok out there, and thank you for coming back to read my blurb. Will aim for a more interesting, less scatter-brained and waffly post next time! And I hope you all have a lovely Easter!

 

Uplifting days

Uplifting days

Hurray, hurrah! Ran eight miles this morning – I daren’t think about having to run three times this distance plus some more, gulp – and I didn’t stop at all during the run/lollop. My time wasn’t great, but I’m still pleased with the fact that I’ve trained outside both today and yesterday, despite feeling rotten physically and mentally. It helped that fewer people were around owing to it being half-term, but it was definitely a massive struggle resisting the urge to head back indoors and hide.

I was oop t’county earlier in the week and went swimming in a pool that’s well-known to me and one of which I’m very fond (sorry, that sentence seemed all too “up with which I shall not put”!). I’d planned this swim for a couple of days and it was fine until it came to the day itself. Honestly, you’d have thought that I detest swimming, or that it was a swimming gala: bad mood, sick to my stomach at the thought of it, did not want to go etc…for the first fifty lengths or so, I felt dreadful, rotten. Out of breath and things were not working. The pool was quite empty, and yet still I felt dreadful. And then it changed – I felt strong, as if I belonged in that water, I was flowing…a chap entered the lane next to me and it seemed as if he was challenging me. Now, I have little competitive spirit – unless I think I can do it, that I can overtake them and maintain that lead. I could see him just behind but I kept my pace…and maintained it for a further ten-ish lengths and then YAY! He started to lag and fall way behind! The satisfaction is worth the physical pain, really it is. This situation happens all too rarely these days, but I’m glad I managed to get in that water and beat…well, actually, I’m really glad that I beat that grotty dread and anxiety – much more so than actually being faster than someone else.

I seem to be waking up with a hangover-type feeling, although I’ve had only (at most) seven units of alcohol since December. I’m sleeping badly again these days (insomnia has featured largely throughout my adult life, but I try to accept and go with it, and not worry about waking up in the wee early hours) and now I’ve also started to wake up during the night feeling as if I’ve been on a full-blown booze-up the previous evening…not sure what to do about this. I don’t have much sugar and avoid caffeine, I hydrate well and am not keen on bread and pasta etc, so I don’t think it’s an overload of glucose or something similar (she said vaguely). But my run this morning was shadowed by my having a constant headache. Ah well – at the time, I tried to accept and see it as a chance to test my mental strength…I can do this; I can do this; I CAN DO THIS!! It seemed to work: I made it home in one piece.

Erm, albeit with a teeny bit of toothpaste on my cheek. The shame! No wonder people stared at me…also realised that a couple of passing cyclists would have seen my dancing arms as I jogged along (ah, the joys of a running playlist that includes Nine Inch Nails, Jane’s Addiction, Genesis, er, ELO and Abba. My twenty-year-old goth self would not be impressed!).

I’m a little concerned that there’s a huge fanbase for HR-monitoring – well, my concern is more that I should be doing this too. I have a rough idea of what my heart’s up to as I exercise, but recently I’ve seen many posts on social media extolling the joys of training for weeks in (say) Zone 2, and then seeing faster times after that training. Should I be doing the same, especially with my running? I know when I’ve done interval training (my own version, natch) I’ve seen decent results quite quickly…I guess I’ll probably stick to doing that, although I need to be working on my endurance rather than speed at the mo’. 26 miles of running. Blimey. I’ve only managed 17 miles before, and that turned ugly towards the end (oh! but the joys of a cup of tea when I’d finished! Bliss!). I definitely need to be upping the ante in both running and cycling.

I had to cut short my cycle yesterday morning, as my poor beloved – but failing – bike decided to give up the ghost in terms of gears. I thought I’d be stuck in the smaller gears all the way and was about to give up, when something kicked in inside and I decided to make a go of it, despite having to stop frequently to change up manually to the bigboy gears. The previous night’s forecast had been for 8mph winds and a distinct lack of rain – oh how I laughed as I battled against the headwind and wiped the raindrops off my nose and eyelashes…hey ho, I called it a day when the fog really settled in (hmm, not really a good excuse as I had lights and all the whatnots). So, about ten miles fewer than I’d planned, but it was still two hours’ worth of training. That’ll do for me! A weekend of swimming (I hope) and bike-fixing is in store…and maybe a try out – if I can brave the masses of tourists – of my new (hush now! speak quietly, to lessen the anguish of my old lovely gear-mangling bike) steed…so please let me chuck the usual anxieties and nerves to one side, pleeeeze…

…oh sod ‘em, I can do this!