29 September. 2019
The start of our home parkrun. Not a bad place to run!
Last week I ran my 30th parkrun. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with parkrun. I do really enjoy going, and certainly after I’ve been I feel glad I have. My home run is beautiful, it’s at a National Trust Estate and running through the woods is amazing. The downside is that it also is rated as one of the hardest in the country as it is so hilly, and we get a lot of parkrun tourists. Now I am not saying I don’t like the tourists, I am proud that they come and get to share what I get to have every week. It’s just, it gets so very busy! The first hill is down a lane and when it’s wet I am afraid I’ll slip, then it’s onto a steep gravel up hill, followed by an even steeper uneven gravel downhill that goes on forever to the river at the bottom. This bit gets narrow and I am always afraid I’ll fall. This run was worse as the sun was shining between the trees and I struggled to see where I was going. I’m conscious that I’ll slow other runners down, so I try to keep to the side, often running on more bumpy ground to do so. So, in the summer months running down this bit is even harder than normal because there is a much larger group of runners out, in the winter I feel a bit safer.
It took me a long time to get to my first parkrun. I heard they were really friendly and that you could, “walk, run or jog”, but I still thought I’d be last, and show myself up. The first time I ran, I knew I could comfortably complete the distance, but that I’d definitely have to walk some of it. I enlisted my middle son, (now a super keen runner who knocks out 10k ridiculously fast) into coming with me. He said he would and was happy to run with me, but as we started, I could see him itching to get away. I told him to go and so he did after a little encouragement. I didn’t see him again until the finish line! Meanwhile I wasn’t fast enough to be at the front and not slow enough to be at the back… at one point I was worried I’d get lost in the woods as there seemed to be a spot down by the river with no signs and marshals. It was fine though. I got back and finished, feeling super proud of myself.
I’ve since gone on to improve my time, I’m not the fastest, but as they say, it isn’t a race, I’m just running against myself and I like that. The only trouble is, I am quite competitive (mainly with myself) and I get quite disappointed if I don’t get a personal best each week, Now logically, I know that I couldn’t do that week on week anyway, there is only so fast anyone can go, no matter how fast they are, but some weeks I’ve been a little bit slower, and then a bit slower again and it knocked my confidence. Combining that with lots of visitors made it easy to miss the odd week, and suddenly I realised I hadn’t been to a parkrun since the beginning of the summer.
As well as being a keen runner, my son is also happy to marshal at parkrun, and has logged many weeks as a #hivishero but again hasn’t done much over the summer. This week he suggested marshalling and checking the roster I saw that they were in need of another time keeper, so he quickly signed up. This was great, because although he offered to ride his bike there I decided I’d drive him, giving him a few extra minutes in bed and giving me a reason to go and run. It was cooler, being September, and less busy which was nice, although I did have to give myself a stern talking to several times regarding times. Eventually I settled into a rhythm and realised that getting a PB didn’t really matter, I was out, I was running, I was enjoying myself so whatever time I came in, it was better than staying at home on the sofa!
The best bit? Tea and cake with my son in the park cafe at the end!
Thanks for reading!
29 September. 2019
I'm smiling! Proof I do enjoy being out once I get there!
I’m not sure that I really like running. Well that isn’t exactly true. I do like running, in fact I love running. Especially after I’ve been out and I’m feeling all good about myself. But the getting out bit is hard. I think the actual running is okay, although I often have this little voice in my head which questions what I am doing. It often asks me why I’m running, reminds me that people looking will be laughing at me and of course that I am slower than everyone else in the world. If I can push through, which I usually do, I get to a point at about 3 miles, where something clicks and it suddenly becomes easier. Maybe it isn’t easier, maybe it’s just because I no longer have a choice, I am aware that my legs have taken me a certain distance and short of phoning someone to come and get me (which I have never done) I have no choice but to run home again. Or finish the race, but you get my point.
On the other side, I can’t say it’s just running. I love yoga class, but if you gave me a good excuse I’d find it easy not to go. I think it’s more that when I have things on my agenda it feels like I have to tick them all off my list as quickly as I can so I can clear them. It means I feel like I am rushing a lot and always on the go, sometimes it feels like I don’t really enjoy what I am doing because I am looking at what I need to be doing next.
So I’m working on mindfulness, I’m trying to be more present, but it’s hard. Who knew life would be such a challenge at times? There always seems to be something I need to learn or improve on.
Does anyone else struggle with motivation for doing things they enjoy?
27 September. 2019
Freedom Racing on the Cornish cliffs - I'm number 116.
Over the years I’ve classed myself as many things, a wife, a mum, an employee… They are all things that I am proud of, that I value, and things that I think I do well, but I guess over time, it is hard to define yourself as someone or something without relying on others for that definition. To be any of those things, I always need someone else. I didn’t really have many hobbies and for a while I lost sight of who I was. It has become clear that to have something that is just mine is actually really important.
On Saturday I ran a race. It was 10 miles, which gave me quite some time on the trails in the woods by myself. I don’t run with others, which can be a good thing as I get plenty of time to myself to think, but also it can be lonely, especially when the going gets tough and there is no one to help you along. I didn’t find it as mentally challenging as I do some races. I’ve often said that my body runs better than my mind does. Sometimes it is hard to get to the start line, let alone over it and as this one was quite long I doubted myself. Especially as the first mile or so was a long drag up a hill. There were a lot of hills, and only the front runners ran these, back where I was we dropped to a fast walk. Rather than panic I just ran and before I knew it I’d settled into a nice rhythm. Some of the course was on my home parkrun course, so I knew it quite well, maybe this helped? I thought it would make it worse as every time I thought I knew where we were going we veered off in another direction. The end was possibly the most challenging as we ran past the finish at nine and a half miles and had to do another loop in the other direction before coming back the other way to cross the line! That was hard!
While it was a challenging race, I was immensely proud of running it. No one else got me round that course. I could have been at home on the sofa, watching the TV. It was a rainy Saturday so there were a lot of other things I could have done instead. I chose to run 10 miles in rain and mud and I rubbed a blister on my heel. I think I need some new trail trainers. But as I was running it dawned on me, I might not be the fastest, I might not be the fittest, but I am a runner now. That definition belongs just to me and others like me, it doesn’t rely on someone else to make me a runner. By putting my shoes on and getting out the door, no matter how long or short a run, I am doing something that I couldn’t do a year or so ago. To those of you who choose to run, no matter how fast or slow, just remember that you are always lapping those people who stay on their couch!
Thanks for reading!
23 September. 2019
Me and my little monkey!
I’d heard and read about ‘being authentic’, it features quite highly in a lot of self-help type books. The idea is that you should really own being you and show that to the world. It is a brave thing to do and the right thing, because surely all we want is to be liked for who we are? That being said, it is a hard thing. One that I find hard, I’m always worried I’m not getting things quite right, always afraid that I will be judged. I am sure a lot of people feel the same way.
Recently I posted a long blog post which was truly authentic. I re-read it, and before I could think too much more about it I posted it for all to read. Well, I wasn’t expecting it to get shared so many times, and for it to be read by so many, but I’m glad it did. It felt like a weight had been lifted, that I could finally show who I really was. My husband and children know and have always known the real me, but my anxiety does tend to mean I put up a bit of a wall with other people. On the outside I am fine, on the inside, not always quite so much, but believe me, I am so much better than before.
Writing things down helped me own my past but more importantly the fact that I have moved on and overcome a lot of challenges. It gave me strength and actually reinforced to me what I have achieved. It’s funny though, at the weekend I saw a runner I know well, and we chatted before the start of a race. I was congratulated on my post, and told it was ‘brave’. That meant a lot. I’m so grateful that bearing my thoughts and feelings is seen that way. It makes me feel proud to think I have experienced a lot, that I am still here, and if that provides a little bit of inspiration to others then I am really happy for that. Reading the experiences of others helped me a lot, and I’m glad to share with you too. It makes me feel naked though in a way because I’ve suddenly let so many people into my head. It is very strange to think so many people know my inner most thoughts and feelings.
So I guess with authenticity comes a level of vulnerability. If I allow the world to see me for who I really am, then I am not pretending, but I am taking down my armour and being me. It’s empowering to let the world see me, if not a little nerve wracking, but I guess now, what you see is what you get.
Thanks for reading.
20 September. 2019
I hope these guys don't give me any trouble tomorrow!
Tomorrow I’m running a 10 mile race. It seemed like a good idea when I booked it. It fits in nicely with my current half marathon training and it’s local so I thought, ‘Why not?’ But now it is happening tomorrow it seems like a much bigger thing. There is a time limit which stresses me out. Most of the races I do don’t have limits which means there is no pressure. I’ve never been last, but I always have the worry that I will be. I just don’t quite trust my body to finish the distance. I keep imagine being pulled off the course by the marshals.
I did my first 10 miler back in February having had a really bad chest infection. There wasn’t a time limit so I decided even if I had to walk it, I would do it and it would be fine. My middle son surprised me at the two mile mark, he wasn’t old enough to run with me, so I couldn’t sign him up, but he decided to do it anyway, without an incentive of a medal at the end, just to make sure I was all right. Love him. It lightened the feel of the race for me and we finished in a fairly respectable time, although I was the only one who ran through the finish funnel. I will try to beat it next year!
Since then I’ve run three half marathons, and I have my fourth in October. It’s built on my confidence because I know I can run the distance, even though I am not the fastest, I am happy with my times, and it gives me room for improvement. It’s just the fear… I’ve checked the weather, it is set for rain, but at least I won’t get hot. I’m trying to look for positives here!
It’s a Saturday which is more commonly known in our house as parkrun day. I’ve decided running 3 miles as a warm up to the 10 miler might be a little excessive for me, so I’ve put my name down to marshal instead. My running son was already down, so I’d most likely be driving him there anyway, I might as well stay to help. It’s a good feeling to be able to give something back and I really feel like it gives us a little ownership over our homerun. The only thing is I’d quite like a lay-in, at least I have Sunday for that!
Thanks for reading!
16 September. 2019
After an evening race at the beach.
I think the title of my blog and Facebook page might give away the fact that I’m a little cautious about sharing what I write. I know I’ve posted online, but I’d mistakenly thought I could do it somewhat anonymously! I’d always intended to share with others who I am, but just not yet, my anxious self needed a little reassurance first that what I’ve written is okay to share. I’m often afraid that I’ll upset, offend or give too much away and embarrass myself. Before I go on, I want to thank everyone who took the time to like, comment or DM me about that post. It means so much to me that you all read it and I really enjoyed talking to everyone. I hope I didn’t miss anyone and I hope it helps!
I’m proud to be part of The Lonely Goat Running Club (Go goats!). We are an inclusive group who don’t always meet or run together, but instead chat online. It is a super supportive group and people (goats) share a lot in our chat, always without judgement, I’ve never known such a diverse group to be so united in their support of each other. We were featured in Runners World a few months ago and since then our group has grown to over 12,000! Anyway, I digress. Last night I shared my most recent blog post with the goats. I felt that if I asked for honest opinions, that I’d either realise my writing is rubbish and stop, or I’d get a few comments that made me feel I could continue. I wasn’t expecting what I got! Last night (and this morning) I have received such a huge out pouring of love from so many people. It means so much to me that my words might give hope to people out there going through experiences similar to mine.
Writing is a challenge, as it means I am admitting to a lot of things. It means letting people in, and allowing them to know me. That’s not something I am good at. In my darkest place, I realised that a lot of the people who ‘knew’ me really didn’t, the friends I thought I had disappeared and some took advantage of my vulnerability. It made me shut myself off, I don’t like being vulnerable, or at least admitting to it, and keeping everyone (except those closest to me) at arms length made it easier to deal with. It feels now, like I’ve admitted everything, that a weight has been lifted. Believe me, I didn’t intend for my post to be shared so far and wide last night, but maybe it is a good thing. Maybe it needed to happen.
Gratitude plays such a big part of my life now. Every night, I make sure I find time to find things to be grateful for throughout the previous day. Sometimes they are big things, sometimes they are small, but even on the most rotten of days there are things! I think that this habit makes me really notice the positives in life, for example the weather, I love the changes in weather, recently running across the cliffs one evening while the wind blew made me feel so alive! Such a small thing, but so special. Obviously I am grateful for my family, and my health, something that a few years ago I might not have had. There are many things I could add to it, but last night I added everyone that I spoke to about my writing. It made me feel very special, so thank you.
Thanks for reading!
15 September. 2019
It's been a hard few years, but I think the worst is over now.
About six years ago, I wondered if I had a drink problem. I knew I drank a lot, but my husband also enjoyed a beer in the evening and it seemed normal to have one or two drinks in the evening to relax after a long day at work and stress with the kids. The thing was, I had a good job and a tidy house, I had happy kids and things were okay, so I decided I was being silly, and that I was fine. It’s easy for me to worry about silly things due to my anxiety so I put it down to that.
About five years ago, I wondered again. By this time I’d got a different job. I’d told myself if I had further to drive, I’d have to get up earlier, therefore I’d drink less. I made a great friend at work, she’d talk with me in the mornings, maybe one of us or both of us would feel a little worse for wear. We’d encourage each other to have a night without, and we’d both mean it, but we worked in stressful roles, and each day was fraught. (Not an excuse!) By the evening, we’d be on the phone to each other reassuring each other that it was just one glass. It never was.
I read a book, it was dedicated to the women for whom one glass was never enough and always too many. That was me. One glass became two or three, and before long, two bottles of white wine every night. Every night. Fourteen bottles minimum in the recycling, just for me. But my house was clean, I had a job and a husband, happy kids. I couldn’t have a problem. I just ‘liked’ a drink. Even when I was on my own.
About four years ago I hit rock bottom. I’ve always had difficulties with anxiety, and depression. I’ve never felt like I fitted in that well with anyone, except that is my husband, my rock who has stood by me through everything, and believe me, I haven’t made things easy for him. I spoke to him, more than once over the years about drinking, and the amount I drank. He supported me, and together we’d abstain for a few days, managing about three by memory. I found this super challenging but I’d do it just about and then having proved that I could do without, I’d have a drink to celebrate. We live in a culture where alcohol is everywhere, you drink to celebrate, to relax, to commiserate, because you’ve had a hard day, because you’ve had an easy day. The list is endless, and it makes stopping hard, because everyone else is doing it. I never drank in the day, I hate to admit I was possibly still a little drunk in the morning from the amount I’d had the night before, but I never drank before 6pm. Then it became 5pm, then 4pm. It’s a slippery slope. I hated wine at this point. I hated the hold it had over me, I couldn’t reconcile how much I hated something I wanted so badly. Nothing was the same without it, I couldn’t relax, I couldn’t be calm. It was my saviour, to know I’d made it through the day and I could have my reward. It was strange though when the reward never seemed enough and then when I started to forget. My family would remind me of things I had said or done, but I had no recollection. I felt like I was losing my mind, my only constant was my bottle or two of wine. I stopped going out. It was work, home, kids, wine. I knew something needed to change.
I shut myself away one day and phoned a support group for help. I was at the end of the line and needed help. I couldn’t do it on my own anymore. I played out the worst case scenarios of what would happen now I’d admitted I needed help. It terrified me. What I wasn’t expected was a three month wait for help, and when it came, being told in a meeting to keep drinking. As I was drinking so much at the time, it would have been dangerous to stop. This only confused me further, I was so angry then, at myself, at wine, at life, but mostly myself for letting the situation get so bad.
Eventually I had cut down enough to be prescribed Antabuse from the doctor. Effectively if you take it and then drink you’ll be really very sick. Taking that gave me back a little of the control. I knew that if I willingly took that, I’d not be able, (without risking my life), to drink. It was the first time, in a long time, that I felt a little bit in control.
Recovery was the hardest thing in the world I have ever done. It was also the best thing. I’ve been sober for over three years now and I know that I am 100% me all the time, any mistakes I make, any stupid things I say, that’s me, not wine saying them. I’ve not only had to stop drinking, but basically relearn the way I approach things. Alcohol is so ingrained into our society that we assume there is something wrong with someone when they don’t drink, unless they are the designated driver. It took me a long time to see that I wasn’t boring because I wasn’t drinking. It was also hard to find something to do with all the time I had now. Sitting mindlessly in front of the TV in the evening was not enough anymore. Harder still was dealing with anxiety on a daily basis, rather than drinking to keep my mind sedated. Nowadays that is the tricky thing, alcohol played such a part in being a buffer for me, I didn’t have to over think things because I couldn’t, self-medicating calmed me. Now there is no buffer, it’s just me, doing the best I can, and living with the consequences. I try my best, but like everyone, I do make mistakes. Day by day, I am getting there. It is certainly easier now, even though I’m still caught off guard by old thought patterns.
To anyone out there who is going through something similar, keep going, it is worth it, even though it is hard. Remember too, be kind to yourself.
Thanks for reading!