Tuesday, 31 October 2017


I am in that glorious state of illness where I am kidding myself that I'm actually ok. 

So what if I have cried for 5 hours straight?

I have managed to go to the supermarket. 

I didn't buy shit food.
Or binge eat. 

I have cooked a healthy meal n eaten it. 

I have washed up. 

I have spoken to my mobile phone provider about going sim only and upgrading my handset. 

I have been for a run with the dog in the cold sunshine. 

I have plotted which swimming pools are open, when. 
So I can properly plan training for next year.

But oh my god am I raging?
I am anxious to the point of not being able to breathe. 
This sets off the crying again. 
Then I can't breathe because I'm crying.

I am hateful and filled with anger at the smallest thing. 
I have all of the swears. 
New ones.
Rehashed old ones.
Abusive ones. 
Favourite ones.

I am intolerant. 
Yet find myself being patient to those who have let me down repeatedly. 
This who failed to deliver. 
I don't have tolerance for the things I know I should and usually do. 

There is no rational behaviour.

My house is desperately untidy. 

I hate going to work. 
I am intolerant of my colleagues.
I am angry at not being supported. 
I can feel myself turning my nose up at the collusive behaviour, disheartened that I am part of this and am helpless to make it stop.
I can feel myself disengaging from the world. 
I could merrily blow at any given point. 
Something has to give. 

Currently, depression and my mental health feels like a volcano, ready to erupt. 
It could blow at any point. 
Or it could sit, dormant. 

Blowing would release all of the things. 
But it could blow for ages.
Being like Iceland and causing maximum disruption.

Or it could slowly just bubble over, for as long as it took. 

But none of this matters. 

Cos I'm ok. 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

My summer holiday - the one where i swam to France with my mates.

Water is my therapy. 
Being in it, near it, on it. 

But mainly in it.
In the outside. 

For me, swimming is not just a competitive sport, although that has its place. 

It is about being contained and held. 
Supported by the water - not having to support myself. 
About letting my troubles wash away. 

I often feel very small.
Especially when I am in a lake, with my peripheral vision filled with mountains. 

It is where I go to find my peace. 
Not necessarily in a lake with mountains. 
Urban swimming is just as effective. 
It is mainly about the water. 

Salford Quays holds its own beauty. 
In fact, for me, any body of swimmable water has magical properties. 

Often I find that my best day dreams happen in water. 
I can set off swimming and hours pass in the blink of an eye, such is my dissociation. 

I can switch off, lost in the left right rhythm. The alternate breathing adding to the tempo. 

On the flip side, swimming makes me come back to myself when i have disconnected. 
It makes me feel alive.

When I am in cold water, properly cold water, having finally found the courage to immerse myself, I feel euphoric. 

Blood racing from skin to organs, back to cold skin back to vulnerable organs, creates a fizzy burning sensation.
It demands staying in the moment and being aware of self. 

The chattering of teeth in a car park is so much more than stupidity. 
It is a shared moment with friends that make memories for a lifetime. 
It is steaming coffee from flasks.
It is woolly hats and baked goods, occasionally missing your mouth due to shivering. 

And then of course there is sea swimming. 
This has always been something that I have decreed as stupid and something that I don't want to do. 
Every time I swim in the sea, I say never again.
Yet somehow I find myself swimming in it, time and time again.

Last year when I said I was never swimming in it again, a few short days later, I found myself agreeing to be part of a channel relay. 

Fast forward 12 months and I am on the south coast with a bunch of good friends, waiting (not so patiently) for a text to say it was time for us to swim to France. 

The sea is big and scary, deep and unknown. 
It is unpredictable and behaves like a maniac.

I had boxed the channel relay swim into 1 hour blocks.

I just had to swim for an hour. 
Then rest and eat, cheer my mates on while they swam for an hour, swim again.
Lather, rinse, repeat. 

It was as easy as that. 

Except it wasn't. 
It was nothing like that.
Nor was it easy. 

Nothing can prepare you for the emotional roller-coaster of waiting.... or the sleep deprivation 
Or the impact of seasickness.

The experience of the channel was so much bigger than I had allowed myself to believe - I had been detached from the whole thing from the start. 
And here it was, kicking my arse.

I had been sick while Jayne was kicking the swim off.
Everyone had said that swimming would make any sickness more bearable.
When it was my turn to swim, the nausea was exacerbated by being rolled by the waves, my own rotation while swimming, when i turned to breathe, watching the motion of the boat - both rolling towards me as well as the up and down motion of the swell.   

I fed the fish.
On more than one occasion. 
While swimming.
Our observer had told us that the pilot wouldn't be impressed if we were dicking about - so I did breaststroke while vomming. 
Go me.

I was genuinely scared that I would get pulled and blow it for the team - that we wouldn't be able to continue if I couldn't take control of my bodily functions. 

I wanted my swim to be over - desperately.
But oh my gawd, I didn't want to get back on that boat.....and we were only in hour 2.

Cathy got in the water and my hour was finished. 
I was sad that I hadn't enjoyed my first hour in the sea.
It was going to be a loooooong day. 

Back on the boat, I found Jayne, who by now was also stupendously seasick. 

Cathy swam.
Patrick swam. 
Jayne and I took a different anti-seasickness drug which seemed to work like magic. 

We were making good progress, the swell calmed, the sea flattened, the drugs kicked in, the sun came out.

It was becoming glorious.
I needed to be careful.
I was starting to enjoy myself.

It was soon my turn to swim again. 
Once in the water, I allowed my mind to wonder, my sense of time was waaaaay off, I felt like I had been swimming for ages, the reality was, I'd only been swimming 20 minutes - but even though I was enjoying myself, I hadn't gone to my happy place.
I still couldn't relax. 

I had seen jelly fish below me and done my best not to flinch or squeak, but when the lighthouse boat appeared behind Suva, I felt myself jump. I didn't expect another vessel to be so close.  

I got back into a rhythm and found myself drifting off to a place where a solo attempt may not be *that* horrific. 

Other than the sea sickness, a humongous rumble of thunder and the sky becoming utterly black and full of grumpy weather, some good giggles, some bizarre conversation and a floating orange laundry basket, the first 12 hours were fairly uneventful. 

Swimgo (swimming bingo) was going well, although nobody had a full house, 4 corners or a line.

Caroline was OUTSTANDING in her crewing duties.
She worked relentlessly and continuously. 
Our experience would've been very different without her presence.

We were told that Jayne was likely to land us on her 4th swim - when she didn't, I expected to on mine.
I was told to go in wearing my lights.

The sunset was beautiful from the water. 
I can close my eyes and see it. 
The pink of the boat, vivid against the vast sea and light of the sunset.
Twinkles of light bouncing everywhere. 

By the end of my hour, it was almost completely dark and the temperature had dropped CONSIDERABLY. Or maybe it just felt like that due to the tired starting to creep. 

Cathy got in and had been told that when the boat stopped, she had to swim as hard as she could. 
Simple as that.

So that's what she did. 

Trouble was, she was only breathing towards the boat - so every breath, the light on the back of her goggles vanished from sight. 
Add a wave to the mix and she vanished for longer. 

She was mulling away from the boat and starting to swim in the wrong direction - she was no longer going forward, she was swimming at an angle.

We were convinced she was being 'dragged out to sea' and was frantically trying to get back and couldn't due to the current. 

We shouted.
We hollered.
We sounded the vuvuzela.
The boat sounded the horn. 

Cathy kept on swimming. 

There were mutterings from the pilot that our swim would be extended by between 5 and 7 hours if he changed his course. 

Go get our friend. 
Go get her now please. 

The boat changed course, Cathy came closer, then all of a sudden, she was swimming in the light and we were so relieved she was OK, that there may have been an eye leak or two. 

Cathy wasn't going to make land.

Patrick got changed, got in the water and left us having the chat among ourselves as to whether we were calling it, whether we were carrying on and how we all felt about the prospect of possibly another 7 hours at sea.

We made sure we had eyes on Patrick and asked him to stay in the light - he assured us he would - until of course, the boat pulled away and left him behind (due to a lobster pot).
Then it suddenly stopped. Patrick assumed we had called it.
The reality was, he was about to make land. 
The spotlight appeared and before we knew it, he was wiggling his legs in the air while perched on a rock at a jaunty angle.  

15 hours, 23 minutes later we were done. 

We had swum the English channel.

Nobody tells you about how surreal it is, losing 24 hours or more to the sea.

The French pebble sitting above the fire, proves to me that it happened though. 

It is such a big deal, and equally, was 'just' a relay. 
I 'only' swam for 4 hours and they weren't consecutive hours.

It leaves some very big questions.
And I'm a bit frightened of what the answers might be......
As a little side note, if you have read this far and wanted to sponsor me, I'm hoping to raise a couple of quid for Alzheimer's Society. Thank you for your support.  

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.
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.

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.

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.


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.