SoberMe

My Not So Secret Diary

Why Is It So Expensive Not To Drink Alcohol?

Why Is It SO Expensive Not to Drink Alcohol
Me with my family.

A couple of weekends ago we went out to eat. It was my husband’s birthday and so we booked a nice restaurant for us and the kids. Going out to eat isn’t something we do that often, in fact over the last few years we haven’t done it at all. I really struggled to go out and be surrounded by other people drinking in the early days after I stopped, but it doesn’t bother me much any more so we are getting back into the habit of it, and it’s nice. There’s six of us, and three of us are old enough to drink, so I always feel a little bit like a restaurant will be disappointed with the fact we are only ordering soft drinks. I know logically that this is a silly thing to think, but I guess I am somewhat sensitive about the issue.

In the summer we went on holiday to Spain. Every evening we ate at a different restaurant and it was a great experience. Doing this really helped me get over my issue with eating out, we tried new foods, went to different places every night and generally enjoyed the food so much more than we would have done if we had been drinking alcohol. It was a real treat, and to keep the cost down we’d often share a big bottle of water between us. We’d sometimes also have a soft drink each too, but that would be it.

Back to Saturday, and our meal out. We ordered our dinner, and looking at the drinks list, checked out our non-alcoholic options. To be clear, if our eldest son, who is 18 wanted to drink I wouldn’t have a problem with it, he just chooses not to when he is with us, and often chooses to drive when out with his friends. We had the choice of Coca Cola, Lemonade or bottled J20 or Appletiser. The prices for the unbottled drinks were for half pints, so we ordered four cokes and a lemonade for me. We were given four pints and my lemonade was a half, which was fine, but was gone quite quickly, and the kids being kids also needed some refills pretty soon. We’d looked at water on the menu but the bottles looked really expensive for the amount you got and it just wasn’t very clear.

We had two drinks each so ten drinks in total between us all evening, and the cost of those was a almost a third of the bill for our entire meal. I couldn’t believe it when checking it back, that almost £40 was spent on ten drinks. That equates to about £4 a glass! I remember when having a soft drink was the affordable option when out. The sad thing is that if it’s cheaper to drink alcohol, then it’s only going to encourage it. It feels like I am being treated unfairly for my choice. It’s sad and makes me cross that we are limited by our choice not to drink, when many pubs and bars run offers to make drinking alcohol cheaper. This might seem like a rant, I just don’t understand how it is okay to charge more for a soft drink than something alcoholic!

Maybe next time I’ll take my refillable bottle and see what they make to that!

Has anyone else experienced this, or did I just have bad luck?


Thanks for reading everyone!

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Today I came last…

Today I Came Last
At the start of parkrun this morning!

I don’t like coming last. I don’t like doing things that draw unnecessary attention to myself. I don't like, (and always think), that that people are looking or laughing at me. Running a race is usually okay because I have the cover of several others running alongside me to hide behind. I’m not that slow, or fast that I’m often on my own. Yet there is always this little voice telling me that I could be last. So a few weeks ago I thought I’d face my fear and instead of marshalling, I signed up to be a tail walker. Last night I was very nervous!

I was worried I’d be too slow, that everyone would be waiting to go home. As you may have read in my other posts, my home parkrun is hilly. Very hilly! We have a lot of people who volunteer, but we also have a fairly remote course, and cows, so those marshalling are often fairly busy! I knew I had to collect all the signs as I passed them, and hand them to other marshals along my way, but I was worried I wouldn’t be able to manage them all.

The start was interesting. It was strange to not go off as fast as I could, in fact I had to slow down from my jog and walk in a lot of places so I didn’t pressure the slower runners. We often get a lot of visitors on holiday, and many don’t expect it to be quite so hilly. Add to that the fact we have had pretty much non stop heavy rain for the past three weeks, and so our course was a bit slippy in places!

It was nice to chat with other people along the way. It was a very different experience to a normal Saturday parkrun for me, but it was great. My legs did get a bit of a mind of their own on the final stretch, and I found myself wanting to sprint to the end, despite having a handful of signs, but I held back!

So I came last, and do you know what? It was okay! No one laughed, I got a bit closer to my parkrun milestone and I had fun. It didn’t even rain! What a great start to the weekend - and guess what, I’m tailwalking again next week!

Did anyone else parkrun this morning?

Have a lovely weekend, and thanks for reading!

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Feeling Inspired by Kipchoge!

Feeling Inspired By Kipchoge
Finishing a Half Marathon at The Eden Project last weekend. I can do so much more than I ever thought I could!

Yesterday I was listening to a programme on the Radio about Eliud Kipchoge and his amazing feat of running a sub 2 hour marathon. I was listening to it because my lovely husband heard it, thought I might be interested and text me to tell me to turn it on. With the power of catch up I didn’t miss it. I had only managed to catch bits of the race itself, but from what I did see I was amazed. What an inspiration Kipchoge is, and how lovely to see someone who looks like he is truly enjoying himself while achieving such amazing things.

I couldn’t believe that running the time of 1:59:40 didn’t earn Kipchoge a world record, but I was interested while listening to Jeremy Vine on Radio 2, to find out some of the reasons why. I hadn’t appreciated that a car leading Kipchoge and his pacer team provided a laser target on the road which allowed them to provide a form of wind break for him, allowing him to attain maximum speed without expending excess energy. It’s interesting, as listening I realised I often slide in behind other runners, slip streaming, but when I do, it doesn’t have the same effect!

I know the choice of venue was questioned as Vienna apparently had optimal weather conditions, in that it wasn’t too hot or cold, but also it was dry and relatively wind free. Also, the course seems to be an ideal track for the target time. Again, I can see why he and his team would choose this though, as I know I’d hope or maybe expect to PB on a flat road course over some of the trails I run. Now out of choice given the scenery I love a trail, I love the technicality of it, it keeps my mind focused, but I also love the adrenalin rush of sprinting along a road and achieving a time I wouldn’t be able to elsewhere. Given the choice, I know where I’d choose to run if I want a good time, so surely he was doing the same?

The programme also spoke of another runner who has been close to the previous best time of Kipchoge. It was suggested that if in a true marathon event, the two runners were to both enter, they could provide a welcome challenge for each other, being of similar pace but with a competitive element. Imagine what that race would look like!

What really struck me is the inspiration it gave me. I won’t ever be a professional athlete, but I’m not trying to be. I do think though, that I can be better than I am. Kipchoge, although a professional athlete now, wasn’t always one and in fact only began formal training with a coach at 16. Now, at 34, while not old by any means, he is also not a spring chicken. It makes me question my limitations, or the limitations I put on myself. We all limit ourselves by social expectations of age, gender and ability amongst other things. Perhaps we should instead be thinking like the hash tag #nohumanislimited it gives me a lot of hope.

Thanks for reading!

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The end. And a new beginning…

The end. And a new Beginning
Smile!

It’s hard to give up something you love. Even when that something isn’t good for you. I know that although I was worried for a long time about the amount I was drinking, it was hard to admit and ask for help because I was terrified that it would be the end for me. I couldn’t imagine a life without wine. We are encouraged by the media, amongst other things, to see alcohol as a reward, and I knew I did. It was always there for me at the end of a hard day, to reward a good day, to relax. There was always a reason. And of course like as was proved yesterday when I ran a half marathon and was given a kids juice as I didn’t want the beer they were offering, all the cool kids drink. So I must be be very boring now! Excuse my sarcasm. I just find the stigma of alcohol as a reward very annoying now I am sober. But like I said, it wasn’t always that way.

I’ve had lots of people ask me for advice and I am more than happy to give it, but to be clear, I am not qualified as a addiction counsellor, I just have my own experiences to share. I hope they help someone. Other people’s experiences were always a help to me.

The first time I managed to stop drinking I convinced myself that moderation was the key. After all, there are so many people out there who drink for fun and seem to be fine. I was wrong. It happens so quickly, one glass becomes two or three. Suddenly you are back where you were or worse. For me moderation just isn’t an option. It takes all the confusion and guilt out of it if I just remove it completely. But that’s just me, I can’t say what would work for you.

I’ve been asked how you stop a loved one who has a problem. Simple answer? You don’t. It might not be nice to hear, but until someone is ready to stop drinking they won’t. If you try to stop someone who isn’t ready, then they will end up resenting you. They might end up feeling more alone than they already do. Dependency is isolating.

It’s a slow process, there is no right or wrong, but I believe when you realise you have a problem and can admit it, you are on the right path. At the beginning of that path though, you find you have a very long way to go. Your whole life needs to be reworked. You can’t just stop drinking and expect things to be fixed. Dependency takes a lot of your hours and you need to find things to fill the void so you don’t slip back. Hobbies, self-care, there is so much you can do, but it’s weird to have the time suddenly. I also found my mind got chaotic. When I stopped drinking I unleashed it from the years I had spent dampening it down with wine. My anxiety was released with a vengeance! Learning to be quiet and still was a challenge, I felt I should always be busy.

I guess what I am trying to say is stick with it. It isn’t easy, but it is so worth it. Amazingly worth it. Just start at day one and remember to be kind to yourself.

Much love and as always, thank you for reading.

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Apple Juice at Eden

Apple Juice at Eden
Celebrating with my kiddie juice after Eden Half!

Today was The Eden Project Half Marathon. I’ve been training for it for a while, it’s my fourth half marathon this year, but nothing could have prepared me for the weather.

It has rained almost constantly down here in Cornwall this week, and it has been proper heavy wet rain. My heart sunk a little each time I checked the forecast. But, I don’t like to give up before I’ve tried something so I went, as did hundreds of other people. We were drenched before we started!

One mile down and we entered the woods. I was grateful to get off the leaf covered lanes, I was so scared of slipping, that is until I saw where we were going. The trail turned into a mud bath for about two miles then, as we ran alongside the river, it was hard to get going and when I did I couldn’t stop!

It was such a fun race. I can’t say I’ve ever had such a good time while running over 13 miles. My time wasn’t the fastest, but under the circumstances I was really pleased with it. It felt such an achievement to be able to run that sort of distance and come out of it smiling, even if I was covered in mud.

When I got back to Eden all the finishers collected their medals, shirts and vouchers for a free pasty and a beer. I was even given some tea bags! When I mentioned to the lady handing things out that I’d prefer the tea she was surprised, so I told her I didn’t drink. She kindly told me I could get a cider instead of a beer! It takes a minute for my brain to catch up with me when I’ve been for a long run, so I just followed the other runners into the queue and waited for my free pasty.

I was lucky though, as I got to the front of the queue I saw that amongst the stacks of cans of beer, there were half a dozen bottles of kids juice. I was so pleased to get a cold drink that it didn’t matter so much that the alcohol free runners seemed to be a bit of an after thought in the eyes of the organisers. It made me laugh, kids juice for those who didn’t want a ‘proper’ drink? What sort of message does that send out?!

All in all though, a great race! I think I’ll be back next year!

How has everyone’s weekend’s been? Who else has been running and where have you been?

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Other people and public spaces…

Other people and public spaces
Fun in the water with the kids.

To the noisy lady at the swimming pool… I don’t want to hear all about how hard your life is, at top volume while you are changing your child. I’m sure it is challenging, but after the last few weeks I think I’ve heard every detail several times and I think perhaps you are either creating drama for attention, or actually just thrive off a hectic life. That’s fine, but can you keep it away from me? Or maybe try being just a little bit grateful for what you have?

I don’t need the drama to be honest. It’s taken me a long time to be as calm as I am, and it doesn’t take a lot sometimes to tip the balance. I distance myself from drama, whether it is on the TV or in person, I separate myself from people who drain me, it is enough sometimes to keep myself afloat, without propping up others too. Sometimes people and the noise they bring is all a bit overwhelming.

I think this must seem selfish to some, but actually it’s self preservation. Keeping myself in my little bubble helps. My circle is small, my husband, children, close family and work. I’ve read a lot about mental health over the years after struggling with my own. We, as humans are not meant to interact in the way that modern life dictates. We were designed to care about our small circle, our immediate family and our ‘village’. We don’t need to know the intricate details of the happenings all over the world, and yet today we are subjected to it all. We know everything, all the time. We are bombarded and it is too much for some of us to process. There is no reprieve and it is tiring. Our minds are on constant high alert for events which actually may not ever affect us, and that is on top of our daily lives.

Its children I feel for most. I’m glad I think, that I am not a teenager today. When I was young, if I had a falling out I left it at school. With my kids, they are always available. Friends and acquaintances can get to them at all times, and if they choose to put down their phones or leave a chat, then they are suddenly out of the loop. It’s sad, and frightening that a lot of their friendships are superficial. I’m not sure that I’d cope very well with that. To help, I limit my phone to one hour per day of social media, then it cuts off. That can be hard as I manage a page for work too, so it isn’t all personal, but once it’s gone I don’t check in anymore. It gives me a break and sometimes that break is all I need. Sometimes I wonder if life would be easier if I lived in a cabin on a mountain somewhere!

Anyway, thanks again for reading!

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Is it easy to spot an addict?

Is It Easy To Spot An Addict
Enjoying a walk in the woods.

When I think of a stereotypical ‘addict’ I think people tend to think the worst. It is assumed they are often homeless, without a job, literally rock bottom. I’m pretty sure that isn’t the way I looked to the world.

When I walked into my first support group meeting I didn’t know what to expect or where I was going. My usual contact wasn’t there and I didn’t know the women running the group. They asked who I was looking for, clearly trying to protect the privacy of the group and when I said why I was there, they seemed surprised. There were only six of us, and I felt like all eyes were on me.

I could get by on a daily basis out in the world, I’d already proved that by denying I had a problem for so long. I dressed smartly, had a family, a job and a house, many of the group didn’t. It was a full time job to appear normal, and it was exhausting. We introduced ourselves, and it seemed to dawn on each of us that despite our outward differences we were very similar on the inside.

Today is World Mental Health Day and I suppose my point is that many people are struggling, whether it is an addiction, anxiety, depression or something else entirely. Many people, like I was, are very good at hiding it. So good in fact, that it becomes second nature. Just because it isn’t visible, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Be kind. It matters, even if it isn’t obvious.

Thanks for reading!

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Bitten by the Running Bug! (again!)

Bitten By the Running Bug (Again)
After run yoga!

It’s funny, recently I have really struggled to be motivated to run, even though I know how much I enjoy it once I am out. First I think the weather got hotter and that made it harder. Then we were on holiday, and that was an excuse (I did run 2 miles while we were away but it was ridiculously hot!) Then I just found other reasons to make it hard work and less fun. It became a chore to go out, something I had to do, and I almost ruined it for myself.

When I first started running I noticed improvements straight away, I could run further, faster, I toned up, even if the scales didn’t change. After a while it was less noticeable and that made it harder to get the same buzz from it. When I get out of the habit of doing something I find it really difficult to motivate myself to get going again. Those little doubts starting to creep in again, making me think I couldn’t do it and that I was silly for even thinking I could.

Next Sunday I am running a half marathon, so between doubts I have been trying to train for it. In preparation, I signed up for Plymouth 10k as I enjoyed last years event and ended up booking the 5k just after as support for my daughter. Right up until the moment before I was full of doubt, luckily I ended up chatting to another Lonely Goat from my running club on the start line, which helped keep me calm. Once the starting gun went off I just started running and before I knew it I was on my way.

When I finished I was so happy with myself, the year before I had run/walked the 5k in the same place. This year I ran every step of the 10k and that was a massive improvement for me. It really reinforced that I actually could do it, no matter what my mind told me.

Ten minutes later we went off on the 5k. I ran with my daughter, totally at her pace, and it was so much fun! We chatted all the way round. I knew what to expect so could forewarn her of hills and encourage her. It was brilliant. Especially when another runner ran into the bus lane (closed roads) and shouted very loudly, “I’m a bus!”

The thing is, it inspired me again. It showed me what I can do when I stop worrying, or overthinking. I actually feel excited to go out and run again! It gave me back that running bug, although I am sure when it is time for me to go out later, that little nagging doubt will also crawl back in. Hopefully I’ll be able to quieten it down this time!

As always, thanks for reading. It means a lot to me!

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The Ballot

The Ballot
Me and Katie half way through her first road race.

Like many others when I first started running I thought getting to 5k would be a huge achievement and it was. Like many people, I thought it would be enough to go from a non-runner to one that could do 5k without walking. It was for a time, and then I decided to tackle a 10k. Then a half. I never wanted to run a half marathon, or so I thought. They were for serious runners, but the idea took hold and I just wanted to see if I could. It gave me something to focus my training on, an end goal to work towards. Once I’d done it I was amazed that I could do something like that. Me, a runner for only a year could run 13.1 miles. That was pretty cool and it was enough. But then a few weeks later I watched the London Marathon on TV. It was inspiring, the runners at the front moving like machines, covering double the distance in less time than I had run my half. I was watching as Hayley Carruthers fell at the end, and willed her to make it over the line. A professional runner, but one who still worked and had a life outside of training, she made me wonder if I could do it.

That feeling didn’t go away and as soon as it opened I entered the ballot. I didn’t even wait to get home, I was out in a carpark waiting to pick my son up from the end of a Duke of Edinburgh expedition on a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon. I just knew I had to get my name down. I didn’t realise I’d have to wait over five months to know if I was successful.

I’ve been waiting patiently to find out the ballot results as I know so many other people have, but it has made me question why exactly the ballot is done in this way. I know it is a successful event and so many people want to run it, but why not make it a little more available to the average runners out there too? If I don’t get a place, I can run for a charity, but because they have to pay so much for their places they want thousands of pounds raised in return. I understand that they need to maximise their return, but when these charities are chosen from a list and not one close to my heart, it doesn’t seem genuine, it seems like a means to an end. Putting so much effort into fundraising would take time too, and like many, I find it hard to fit training around life, work and family, so to put more demands on my time would be difficult, as would the stress of having to reach a target or lose my place. I don’t think that would help my anxiety at all.

It seems that a fairer option would be to have so many places open on a first come first served basis, and after that maybe open the ballot? At least then the early birds would get a chance. Even if the tickets cost more, I’ve heard of other marathons that actually give people a place when they have been unsuccessful on so many previous occasions. This seems like a fairer option. I know many people would like to run on several occasions, but for many, once would be enough.

So it brings me to the question, do I actually want to support this ballot, which I think is actually quite unfair, or do I want to find a marathon that I can just buy a place for and run, and enjoy the experience. What do you think?

Today the results begin to go out. Some already know if they are in or not. I don’t. As soon as I find out, I’ll let you know. Happy running!

Thanks for reading! Xxx

Two Race Sunday

Two Race Sunday
Finish photo with my two runners.

Today is the first anniversary of my first ever race - the Plymouth 5k. It was the first official run I had done, and I was nervous! I wasn’t sure how well I’d do, having only ever done parkruns. I wasn’t sure how it would be running on a road in a race as I hadn’t done anything like it before. I worried I would be last. I worried that people would laugh at me. I was mainly afraid I’d embarrass myself. I ran with my son, Barn. He was 13 then and had also just started running. We ran together, slowing down at the hills and walking where we needed to. Towards the end I encouraged him to go off, and eventually he did, after a lot of persuasion and sprinted off towards the end. It was the first time we had a glimpse of how fast he might be. Running down the last straight to the finish people called my name, it was an amazing feeling. And I didn’t come last!


This year I decided to run the same race again, but as I’ve upped my distance over the last year, I signed up for the 10k instead of the 5k. I am not the fastest, but I am a lot faster than I was (at times), so I was looking forward to it. My lovely daughter Katie has started running this year and is getting much more confident, but is not keen on running further than 4 miles, so the 10k was out of the question for her, despite me trying to convince her. Knowing how much I’d enjoyed it last year I signed them both up for the 5k. Barn knew what to expect and was just planning on smashing his time from last year, while Katie was more nervous, as like me, she didn’t know what to expect from the event and wondered whether it would be overwhelming. So, in the spirit of encouragement, I signed up for the 5k too.

In my head I thought it would be a good plan. I’ve got a half marathon coming up, so I thought I’d use these two races as training, but in practice it made me more than a little nervous. Until now, I hadn’t run the same race twice and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to do both, when really I should be more confident. I have run further before. It’s just nerve wracking running on closed streets when people are watching!

Well, to cut the story short, I am super proud of all of us. I was really happy with my 10k time and once finished I had enough time to change my race number over before going out again on the 5k. Katie and I ran together the whole way. It was lovely. She slowed down a couple of times, but considering she has a stinking cold, I am not surprised! I would have done the same! Barn started with us but that was the last time we saw him, until the lead car passed us with the front runners coming back the other way, giving us an opportunity for a quick high five and a few words of encouragement.

A lot of people can do more, but for someone who didn’t think they could run 5k not so long ago, running two races in one day is a great feeling! I’m looking forward to next year!

What races have you all done this weekend?

Thanks for reading!
xx

My Thoughts on Go Sober For October

My Thoughts on Go Sober For October
Chilling at the beach with my little man.

As many of you know, I don’t drink. So when I see Go Sober for October adverts, although I see what I think is a good cause, I also see a reminder of something I couldn’t do for a long time, and by that I mean stopping drinking. I signed up for at least two years, knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I thought that by signing up, some sort of magic wand would be waved and I’d be able to drink soft drinks for the rest of the month without wanting anything more, and my problem would be fixed. How much easier that would have been than going through recovery!

I recently saw a post from someone excited to start Stoptober, wondering if cutting out alcohol would help make any improvement on their running. I was interested in this too, although I started running after I stopped drinking, so it wouldn’t affect me in the same way. I was really surprised at the amount of different opinions to it! So many people out there don’t drink at all, many having used Stoptober as a stepping stone and then just not started again. Others are more training orientated and use races as a guide to how much or little they should be drinking. Some, clearly happy with where they are at, are just happy to, in the words of one gentleman, ‘crack on’. It isn’t envy I feel any more when I read comments like that, (it used to be, and not so long ago), I’m not sure that it’s pity, but there’s definitely an element of sadness that people would choose to drink to excess. Now I have a clear head, I’d rather keep it. It took a long time to get it and it isn’t always perfect, but it is certainly a lot better without wine. I do understand though that not everyone is the same.

What stood out the most to me was someone questioning the reasoning having a month off. The point was that if someone doesn’t have a problem with drinking then a month is nothing, and shouldn’t need to be celebrated. It makes me wonder just how ingrained alcohol is in our society that it is the norm that ‘everyone’ drinks and so stopping for a month becomes nothing more than a game?

It’s a great cause, all the fundraising helping Macmillan, but I do wonder if drinking wasn’t so much a part of our society, would we need Stoptober, or Dry January? Although maybe they are a helpful excuse to help people recognise when they have a problem? Reading through the website, they promote the benefits of being sober, including clearer head, more energy, better sleep, weight loss, personal achievement and helping those with cancer, but I was so disappointed to read that they offer a ‘Golden Ticket’ that you can buy if you have an occasion where you really need to drink! It seems like a contradiction, to be offered a way out before you start, and a reinforcement of how ‘important’ alcohol is to society! Maybe I’m just over-sensitive when it comes to this subject?

As always, thanks for reading!
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