27 November. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Family | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
When I started running, two of our four kids started running too. Of the others, one was a baby, so I’ll let him off, and our eldest, a mountain biker couldn’t be persuaded to try two legs instead of two wheels. More recently he has passed his driving test, and become more of a car enthusiast, so I think I’ve missed my window there.
My middle two are quite keen though, and enjoy going to parkruns, and doing local races. You’ll have seen them pop up quite often in my photos if you follow me on Instagram. Katie is more than happy with 5k races, and isn’t interested in going further, although I did convince her to run 4.5 miles at The Remembrance Run which was great. It’s lovely to have her out with me, and recently she has been more confident to run on her own, so we’ve managed to sign up to a few races that have a choice of 5k or 10k depending on how many laps you choose to do. It’s fun to go to a race together, even if we aren’t running the whole thing together.
Recently someone stopped my husband at a race to ask if our son was a member of a club. They suggested he had a natural talent and he could do well with training. He isn’t, like me, he wasn’t sure whether an organised club would be too regimented for him, and whether he’d fit in. I looked around to see if there was something close to home for him, but our local clubs don’t cater for children, so it was tricky. I understand the need for children to have suitably supervised sessions, but in our area, there seems to bit a lack of serious clubs, for those that really want to progress.
More recently though Barn was approached by one of his PE teachers, a lovely lady who drives a minibus full of kids to their surf lessons every week after school, come rain or shine. Without that, they might not have got chatting about running outside of the confines of school. What came about was Barn being asked to represent his college at some local cross country races. So one Sunday we stood in the cold and watched the different age groups compete. It was brilliant!
One thing I’ve really noticed with both of my running kids, is the improvement in their self-confidence since they started running. It’s amazing seeing what a difference one activity makes to all areas of their lives. They both also marshal frequently at parkrun and that seems to have made a difference too. However, after Barn finished his race, he was so gloomy. He was disappointed he didn’t come first. I understand that, he often runs with me, often in races with people much older and he is fast. Competing with kids his own age who have been training for years was a surprise to him. And it knocked his confidence a little. His teacher introduced us to a coach, who would welcome him into their club, but Barn took a lot of convincing. He felt we were just being kind to him. However, eventually, especially after seeing the results, he realised we were telling him the truth. He’s joined the club, even though it’s not in his comfort zone. He’s been a few times now, working on his speed, rather than just his distance, as that seems to come naturally to him.
I want to be supportive, I want to tell him how proud we are, like we are of all our kids, but I really don’t want to put him off. The biggest thing for me is that they are happy. If he came last and enjoyed it, it wouldn’t bother me as long as he was happy. So I guess there is a fine line between pushing and encouraging. Getting him to join a club was a struggle, but now he knows what to expect, he is enjoying it. I wonder where his path will take him?
Thanks for reading!
27 November. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Family | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
Me and my lovely daughter.
When I stopped drinking I thought I was fixed. I thought I’d suddenly have a clear mind and a healthy body. It was strange to have so much time on my hands, but I thought it would be a good thing. (Drinking takes up a lot of time if you let it). Suddenly, I had time and space and it was like everything came crashing down. Not all at once, and not even hugely noticeable at the time, but like a dam, with a little water coming over the edge before finding a crack and seeping through, and one day washing the whole thing away.
People don’t warn you. You think the hard bit is giving up, and believe me, it is hard, but the thing is that it only works if you change too. Without a numbing agent my anxiety hit new highs and I was in a bad way for a while. While I felt good that I was no longer drinking, all that extra time gave me more time to think. I think a lot anyway, but suddenly I was going over and over old things, beating myself up about stuff I couldn’t change. I got lower and lower and my anxiety got higher and higher. It’s been hard to get back to where I was, although I’m not sure I’ll ever really be there, or that I even want to be. I was a different person then. Not a bad one, just not necessarily the one I want to be.
Sometimes I find ‘normal’ things overwhelming. I don’t take things in my stride like I should, but I’m getting there. Until recently, I hadn’t even realised how many safety nets I had put in place, so I didn’t end up feeling too challenged by an event or situation. Learning to risk things again, and letting myself try things without getting cross with myself has been a challenge, but I am getting there.
A wise and lovely lady once told me, “Don’t regret your past, it brought you to where you are today.” That meant a lot. It still does. Even on hard days and days when I remember my mistakes I am glad I am here, and that I am surrounded by my family, my lovely husband and our kids. I am one of the lucky ones.
Thanks as always for taking the time to read this.
26 November. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Family | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
So, last week I had my laser eye surgery. I’ve been thinking about it on and off for years, but money and the fact that I am VERY squeamish have put me off for a long time. It was pure chance that I saw an advert for a free no-obligation assessment, and decided to go. I didn’t think I’d be suitable, (for some reason I often seem to be the awkward one when there are criteria to meet), and I wasn’t sure if we would be able to afford it so I didn’t get too excited.
The thing with thinking something won’t happen is that you don’t get too excited about it, at least I don’t, as I am almost expecting it to go wrong, or not happen. Even when I was given my date for surgery and had met the surgeon I tried to stop myself getting carried away, I assumed it might be cancelled, or would snow and I wouldn’t get there!
I was so nervous, I didn’t even know in honesty whether I’d be able to go through with it. I have a habit of working myself up, and although I try not to think of things in worst case scenarios, all too often, my head has raced ahead to the ‘what if’s’ before I have a chance to catch up.
I’m still not quite sure how, but I got through it, and the relief I felt immediately in the recovery room was immense. I cried. I do a lot of that. When I saw my husband he was worried and thought I was hurting, but it was relief! Relief that I’d done it and relief that almost immediately I could see so much better.
I hadn’t anticipated the after effects knocking me so much though. The pain went, and although the lights had to be dim that evening, I felt okay. It was just thinking about my eyes that made me cringe. Sleeping with my googles on was supposed to protect my eyes but I was so nervous of knocking them and doing some damage.
After a couple of days, I knew that they’d be getting stronger, but if I thought too much about what they had done, I felt awful. Even closing my eyes too tightly made me nervous! After a week I was allowed to wear makeup again, and though I don’t wear a lot, I don’t really like to go out without eyeliner and mascara, I feel a bit bare without it. It was fine, I felt like me again, until the evening came and I had to take it back off!
Today it a turning point though, I went for my first run, since the day before the surgery. That’s the longest I haven’t run, well since I started running! It was only 2.6 miles, but it was fab to stretch my legs, fab to see where I was going and my eyes remained where they were supposed to be!
All in all, it’s been a funny old week, but I am super glad I faced my fears and did it.
Thanks for reading!
24 November. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Family | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
Me and my son.
When I was younger I used to enjoy volunteering for things. Perhaps I saw it as a way into something or a way up the career ladder. I’m sure I always had a reason.
When I started running I found out about parkrun. For those of you who don’t know, parkrun is a free initiative across the world where you turn up and run, walk or jog 5k. They are at 9am across the world every Saturday morning. All you need is a barcode (free) and you can have your time recorded each week. Most people have one pretty close by, even if they don’t know about it.
I was shocked to realise that there were two parkruns close to my home, and more that were in easy travelling distance, but even more shocked to realise that they were all run, every week by volunteers. I couldn’t imagine what these people got out of it, surely they had better things to do than volunteer every week? Surely they would all prefer to be out there running?
Well as I may have said, I started running in June 2018. That summer after a lot of persuasion I started parkrunning as a means to get myself out more and build myself up to my first 5k race which was in October 2018. It was a great way of improving but I always felt a little bit lacking on the community side. I don’t run with a club and thought it would be nice to have a social side to it. I struggled to break the ice at parkrun though, beyond saying hello to familiar faces.
My son started his Duke of Edinburgh Award at the start of the last school year, and to start with I still ran each week while he took on different roles. Then one week I saw the roster looking empty and before I thought too much about it, I put my name down. I don’t know what I was expecting, and certainly nothing hit me straightaway, but after a few weeks, I realised that I no longer felt like an outsider. Parkrun suddenly started to feel a little bit like it was mine too. It no longer mattered that I didn’t know anyone, it didn’t matter that I wasn’t the fastest. Instead, I was part of the community, I was out there, helping to make an event happen, come rain or shine. That feels pretty good.
Thanks for reading!
23 November. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
Just about to embark on a trail half marathon back in August!
Plastic bottles at races seem to be an increasing problem or maybe it’s just that we are becoming more aware. I’m aware that a lot of races that I’ve participated in have moved away from bottles, and instead use compostable cups with easy access points to collect the used ones. Perhaps not so much on short races, but certainly on long ones the best option would be taking your own bottle or maybe a reusable cup for the water stations. I’m aware this is encouraged at longer races and I can’t see it being a problem when you are carrying a bag of some kind. I have a lovely rucksack I use mostly for trail running or running long distances. It isn’t heavy, but means I can load up with plenty of water and sweets and I also have somewhere to put my rubbish! I’d looked for ages before buying one, as they can be so expensive, but I got my Aonjie one for about £20, it’s lasted so well, and is so comfortable, PM me if you want me to send you the link.
A couple of months ago I ran a 10k where we were supplied with plastic water bottles which were handed out at the half way point. It was surprising because the amount of water was actually too much for me mid-run and I drink quite a lot of water. It felt a waste to just bin them straight away, but many did. I ran with mine for longer but then realised there was no where to deposit them. We were told to toss them to the side of the road to be collected by marshals later, but the throwing of them turned them into missiles as they were thrown half full into the curb, sometimes bouncing back under the feet of the runners. With thousands of runners this was a potential hazard. As were the bottle lids that were dropped by some runners as the bottles were opened which became really tricky underfoot. This of course is without mentioning other waste that gets dropped like gel sachets and wrappers.
I know this event, as well as the half-marathon event by the same organisers choose to provide water bottles, perhaps due to their sponsors, but it doesn’t sit well with me in this day and age that the use of single use plastic is promoted in this way to such a captive audience. I also think that as a potential hazard, that organisers should be thinking about providing alternatives for the safety of the runners. As a runner, I don’t want to trip and fall at any time, but especially when running in such close proximity to so many other runners, which could make any accident much worse.
So it looks like some events might be changing the way they do things, I thought this article from the BBC was quite interesting.
As always, thanks for reading!
21 November. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
No more glasses for me!
So, I’m not allowed to run for a week or so... and no, before you ask, I’m not injured. It’s self inflicted, but it’s good, better than good actually, although I wasn’t saying that on Monday when it felt like someone had washed my eyeballs with onions! I had laser eye surgery! No more glasses for me! No more misting up when going indoors from the cold, actually being able to see properly when I run, and no more wishing I had windscreen wipers when it rains!
I don’t like to wear my glasses when I run as I am afraid of what will happen if I fall. A few months ago my daughter helped a lady who fell at our local parkrun, bless her, she had black eyes and a badly cut nose as a result of running in glasses so it didn’t help how I already felt. That doesn’t make it any easier though, and I struggled to see well, especially in the autumn when the leaves are all on the ground. It’s beautiful, but I’m never quite sure exactly what I am about to tread on!
I saw an advert and decided to go for the consultation, I was told one in four people weren’t able to have surgery and wasn’t sure if that would apply to me, with astigmatism and one eye considerably worse than the other. I shouldn’t have worried, it was all good and I was given the go ahead.
In passing I mentioned to my surgeon that I suffer from anxiety. I didn’t want to really, but I like people to know that I really don’t mean to ask the same question several times, it’s just hard for me to be sure I have understood everything. So I tend to ask again. And sometimes again. I told him I was worried. He was very matter of fact and told me that I had two choices, the first was, “Get over it!”, and the second, “Don’t have the surgery.” However unsympathetic it seemed, he was right, no one was making me go!
I found it frustrating though, that the moment the surgeon heard the word anxiety he wanted me to get confirmation from my GP that I was of sound mind to choose the procedure. It’s strange to get someone to sign off on something they have never treated me for. Well, not in over 15 years anyway, but that piece of paper was the make or break so I had to ask the GP to sign the form. I’m not quite sure what they based their decision on, but I was glad to know they agreed with me. I know I’m anxious, but I’m not crazy! 😂 It wasn’t the nicest procedure in the world to be honest, but given the results so far, I’d go through it all over again if I had to, although I'm relieved that I don't have to!
So, no running for a week or so, but it’ll be amazing to see where I’m going when I can run again!
Thanks for reading!
17 November. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
Just finished my first half marathon!
This is me on 20th May 2019.
I’d just finished my first half marathon. I cried. While running. I cried so hard that I could barely breathe, but I couldn’t stop to catch my breath because I was afraid people would see. They wouldn’t understand. You see, I wasn’t crying because I was sad, I was crying because I was so happy. I gulped my breath and carried on, because I was running, and that was amazing. I had treated my body badly for so many years and it still let me run over 13 miles. I was so proud, and so pleased with myself. I still have days where it is hard, although I don’t want to drink anymore, sometimes I am still a little envious of people who get to relax with a glass of wine if you know what I mean? One glass was never enough for me though, and that’s my problem.
Eleven months before this photo was taken I’d started Couch to 5k, it was hideous! I really couldn’t run, but I heard it was good for anxiety and complemented Yoga so I gave it a go. There must be a real life ‘Running Bug’ because I think it bit me, I couldn’t stop, and gradually I was able to go further. 5k became 10k, 10 miles and then I booked my first half to train for. I never imagined that I would be the sort of person out in all weathers and enjoying it. I had no idea I would ever run as far as I have.
Completing my first half marathon changed things for me. I realised that it wasn’t only my addiction that defined me, and that I could instead now define myself as a runner. What an experience, and the best bit? If I can do it, I think anyone can. Plymouth was the first of four half marathons this year and I’m already booked for next year. My competitive side wants a better time than I got this year!
Thanks for reading! Happy running everyone!
14 November. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
A beautiful evening at the beach.
Addiction is a slow moving disease. It sneaks up on you. It tricks you. It makes you question every thing you thought you knew, everything about yourself. It isolates you. It makes you think you are alone. No one really understands you any more, but how can they when you don’t explain, when you’d rather have a drink than talk? It’s easier that way, you see. Addiction is destructive. Damaging. But to start with you don’t see it and when you do, you don’t believe it, because alcohol is your friend, isn’t it? Of course it is, it makes you relax and it makes you fun. Talking is uncomfortable. It makes you face things you’d really rather not. It makes you question your choices, it makes you open up and let out the ugly truth. Drinking, (or any form of substance abuse), is easier. It makes the problem go away. Until one day it doesn’t any more.
On the other side of it, everything is new. Everything is harder. Simple things are difficult, now everything is emotional, but everything is you. There are no longer two of you, the one sober and the one tipsy (smashed). Every choice you make is yours, every decision, that’s yours too. And when you forget something, that’s okay. It happens to everyone at times, you don’t have to blame drinking for making you forget a conversation.
It’s a beautiful world out there when you choose to see it again.
Thanks for reading!
13 November. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Family | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
A runway full of runners. I'm on the right near the silver van!
Am I the only one who panics before and sometimes during a run? I think it’s getting worse. Or maybe it’s just because I’m going further and am usually a bit faster? I don’t know. All I know is that it used to be hard to get out or to get to the start line. Now, even when I do that I struggle. It honestly seems like my mind is out to get me. I feel like I won’t be able to do it, that I’ll have to stop and I won’t be able to finish whatever distance it is I’m trying to do. Even if it’s something I know I can comfortably do.
A couple of weekends ago I ran The Cornwall Air Ambulance Runway Run with my son. Last year it was the first official race I booked for us to do, although due to bad weather it was postponed and we ran another race first. Anyway, it was our ‘first’ 5K and we raised a lot of money for the Air Ambulance New Helicopter Appeal. I struggled on that race, because it was so flat, there weren’t any hills where I could comfortably slow down for a minute to catch my breath. It was cold too and I felt so slow. It wasn’t until I finished that I realised that I had clocked one of my fastest ever 5k times.
This year they didn’t offer the 5k option and knowing we could both happily run 10k I signed us both up. I didn’t realise it was an 8am start and of course we had to be there before that, so it was still quite dark! But it makes sense that they got the runners clear of the runway before the airport opened for the day. The sun came up and it was a dry day as we waited for the race to start, which was lovely as we had been experiencing pretty much non-stop rain before that. We met some other members of our running club and waited with them, I knew I wouldn’t be as fast as they are, but it was nice to be part of the group.
The race itself was interesting, it went up and down the runway, and in and out alongside some of the hangars. The difficulty with it being so open is that you could see many of the people in front and behind you, so it almost felt like we weren’t moving. There were more inclines than I expected from a runway, but in hindsight it makes sense that they were there for drainage. At one point I saw my son and a friend coming back the other way and we waved, he was just flying along effortlessly as he does. I have no idea how he does it! Meanwhile, I started to think too much and began to really struggle for breath. The more I thought, the more I realised I couldn’t get a breath, which made me panic more. I properly scared myself before managing to get it under control and pull myself back. I managed to keep running, and luckily as it was so busy, I fell into step with some other runners. Concentrating on the sound of our feet really helped.
At one point as we ran beneath the wings of several airplanes, all belonging to Thomas Cook, they seemed to be parked there for storage. It’s sad to think of a company that was around for so long disappearing like it did and it was eerie to be beneath them. Last summer we went to Spain with Thomas Cook, we weren’t one of the many families affected by the company’s closure, but it was sad to think that it may have been one of the last holidays provided by the company.
So, like many people, I struggle with anxiety amongst other things. Running helps but it isn’t a cure, yet. I guess I’ll just keep on keeping on. There isn’t much else I can do! Oh, and would you believe, for that race, I only went and got a 10k PB!
Thanks for reading.
11 November. 2019 • Category: Running | Addiction | Mental Health | Mindfulness | Anxiety | Authenticity | Sobriety
Remembrance Run on the Beach.
I haven’t written in a while. I’m never sure whether what I write is any good, if any one really wants to read it and in fact, I’m not sure really if I should be writing some of the things I have. It’s strange letting you all in to my thoughts and feelings. I don’t have a tendency to let too many people in, but in some ways it feels nice too, like I’m able to let go of things a bit. So after a lot of thinking, I’ve decided to keep writing, I mean, no one has to read it, right?
Yesterday I ran The St Michaels Mount Remembrance Run. For anyone that knows Cornwall, you’ll know that The Mount sits on an island out from Marazion, and the run was four and a half miles along the beach from there and back.
We started at 11:02am, just after the two minute silence and everyone was asked to wear something red. It was a beautiful way to commemorate the day, all of the chatter at the start of the race stopped immediately at the blow of a whistle. The only sound was that of the waves, until the sound of a horn ended the silence and started the race. Dressed in red, it looked like poppies had been scattered across the beach.
It was a beautiful run, harder going than I had imagined, as the sand was difficult to run on, and the tide was coming in. My daughter Katie ran with me and it was so lovely to be able to chat with her, for once not worrying about a time, but just enjoying the lovely sunshine and scenery. I’d warned her we would get wet feet, but at one point there was a river crossing that came up over our knees. The current was so strong it almost whipped my feet away, probably due to the heavy rains we’ve had lately. Luckily we both kept our footing, which was great as I had my phone and car key in my pocket! It was a beautiful morning though, we were so lucky to have a break in the almost continuous wind and rain we’ve had and enjoy the sunshine even if it was still a little cold.
What a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning and a beautiful way to remember.
Thanks for reading!