Saturday 14th December 2019 (11.47am)
Not what I want to be writing about but this is how it is and how I am. Lost. Lost in a world which is going on around me and without me whilst I struggle along in my bubbled haze. I liken it to a clip in the film Poltergeist where the young girl stares vacantly into the TV, arms out and all she sees is the black and white crackle. This is what I am looking out on to. Tunnel vision distorts my periphery. I know there is stuff going on around me but I can’t quite make it out. I am sat in a coffee shop with Olly asleep by my side, resting from his crazy beach run. He has one eye open as if to say ‘it’s ok, I am watching out for you’. I smile at him, but what does he see in these dead eyes? Pain? Sadness? mixed in with love.
A Christmas tree stands tall near to me and sitting by it a table of friends, laughing, enjoying themselves going about their normal lives. Couples drinking coffee and eating cakes. Children eating waffles and Nutella, struggling to get through a big portion whilst multi tasking with colouring books. Me, head stuck in phone writing, quietly glancing up to see that normality continues around me but not really focused.
Tonight I was supposed to be going out to my run club Christmas do, booked ages ago with my partner. A few days ago I cancelled. I can’t go. I can’t do it. Pretending to be happy is hard. Pretending to be in the Christmas spirit is hard. I would rather stay home, me and Olly, left to our own world. I am aware of other events that I am missing out on this afternoon. Somewhere where I would love to be, but that somewhere, someplace and someone no longer fits into my plans or into my future.
In the car I revert to the songs which I find comfort in. The voice of Chester Bennington, his powerful lyrics, haunted by mental illness himself and sadly a talent no longer with us. As a certain song comes on repeat, Olly looks at me as if to say ‘not again, put the Christmas tunes on mum’. I don’t. Not yet.
At times like this, I usually revert to what I know best and that’s exercise, but I am finding no comfort in that these days. Yesterday I went for a run. At times I felt like I was hyperventilating as crippling emotions ripped through me. I may go again later, if not maybe tomorrow. Who knows.
Last night I made a decision to cut ties with a lot of things, for my self preservation and healing. One of those things was my social media, but I need that to post these upbeat (PMSL) blogs. I will be on and off it over the next few weeks.
I will roll on. I will do what is best for me. I am not sure what that is yet but I have a whole heap of options available to me. Things will become clearer in the next four weeks or so. Light will shine again, I am sure of that. For now, existing is all I can do to get by each day, but if thats all I can do then that is better than nothing. Soon I will live again.
Soon George will reappear.
Wednesday 11th December 2019 (5.20pm)
Do you ever wish you could start something again, rewind time, stop in a moment? No doubt every one of you has replied yes, whether that be spending last moments with a loved one, recapturing a special memory on holiday, or reliving a special day, we all have times and moments that we would like to live through again. Some of us would not change these moments whilst some of us would do things completely differently. Irrespective of what we want, we cannot go back, what we have of those times are stored within us, both in our heads and our hearts, only recreated by memory, visions, imagery and all of those photos and status updates on social media.
I am not sure what is prompting me to write this now but like with my other blogs I am sure it will speak to someone else and not just me. This time of year I usually write about Christmas and mental wellbeing. I will, but not today. Today I want to write about ‘happiness’.
Happiness (noun) ‘state of well-being characterised by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy’. There are many words in the dictionary which describe happiness. Yet, this truly subjective word, thought or feeling needs to be experienced by more people and more often. It’s one of those feelings which you just want to bottle, then pop off the cork when you need to fill yourself up with it again. There are millions of books, articles, publications about what or how you will make you happy, but can these really help?
Everyday as you go about your activities such as work, school run, exercise, shopping, meeting with friends etc, you may look at people around you and think ‘they have it sorted’, ‘they are always happy’, ‘why can’t I be like that’. Social media is a classic example of comparing your lives to others. What is truth versus reality? At the moment I am waking around and people are talking about and preparing for Christmas. Happy faces. Stressed faces. Plans of parties, celebrations, presents, nativity and all the gubbins that goes with it. Me, I walk around in a daze, not interested, not bothered. Broken.
At the moment I am failing at being happy. I am trying, I am doing my best, but I am weighed down by moments and memories of this past year. Too much has happened and so much has changed. I find myself again reflecting on how I changed over the last year and why. Happier than I had been in many years, I saw a future and I saw hope, yet my ability to keep hold of this was destroyed by anxiety, stress and depression, which led to too many low moods which ate me up over time and slowly morphed me into someone I am not. That is why I sit here alone, as I pushed my partner away until I could push no further. Yet I pushed and all I wanted was the complete opposite. I pushed instead of pulling closer, confused like a door with ‘push’ ‘pull’ signs on but I still get it wrong. There is so much I have got wrong, I am not proud of this, I am disappointed in many things but I cannot go back, I cannot start again, I cannot rewrite my wrongs. I wish I could. What I can do is learn, address my failings, appreciate what I have, and each day as I look at where I am going I learn. I learn where I went wrong and how not to make the same mistakes again. I am left dealing with the consequences of mental illness, as I attempt to pick up my own pieces. I am left to deal with Christmas as plans change. I am left to go through therapy and into the new year with uncertainty as to what will happen and even where I will be.
This post isn’t intended for sympathy or for you to feel sorry for me. I hate that bollocks and it is all my doing. I write as I know many of you will feel the same.
What you can feel sorry for me for is this. We all know that the Devil made Christmas lights. Well I have two sets on my lovely decorated tree and one set has decided to stop working!! Tomorrow I will be taking all the stuff off, fighting with 2 sets of tangled lights, replacing one set and chucking everything back on. FML.
At least I have Olly 🐾
Friday 6th December 2019 (4.35pm)
I have not been able to do what I initially intended to when I started my series ‘The Road to New York’, simply because I have not finished it. I have not reported on my time in New York or the marathon itself. For those of you who follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter you would have seen my daily updates and pictures. Sufice to say, evidence of an amazing trip, an incredible marathon and an amazing journey for me. One that one day I may repeat.
Over the last month, since returning my life has plummeted into chaos. Opened up by a chasm up hurt, suicide ideation, loneliness and yet intended isolation. It has included a relationship break up, a visit to the crisis team and intervention, counselling, financial worry and a move to a different area (thankfully still close to the one I have just left) and the catalyst of all of this, concern of the work situation which hangs over my head.
Mental illness, stress, depression, anxiety, call it what you want manifests itself in different ways. Some people talk openly about what goes on in their heads, others for their own reasons chose not to. I am guilty of both. I have aways been an advocate of talking but probably over the last 6 months I have been guilty of hiding away what has been tearing around in my head. This has resulted in detrimental consequences as once again I stepped on the path of destruction without a thought or feeling of who I hurt in the meantime. Yet, there was no purpose or intention in this, I just had no idea what I was doing until after each episode of being unwell. Time of reflection afterwards is always difficult as I reply conversations or see my actions. How could the normal, nice George act in such away? Simply, I had no control. This is not an excuse. I think there are many of you out there who will relate to this. A stressor or a trigger can so quickly alter your mood state, play games with your head, make you believe something that you are not, make you act in a way that you goes against everything you were brought up to be, you stand for and believe in. I haven’t been diagnosed with any psychosis or mainia yet this is what it feels like when I am in this ‘state’. Yet, my personality, inability to adjust to situations, lack of emotional regulation and anxiety mix together to form this lethal cocktail of impulsivity.
My impulsiveness is where the danger lies for me. It is the final piece of all those traits / states I have just mentioned. It determines my actions of which are lined up on a continuum of safety to harm. Unfortunately the harm action overrides anything to do with safety initially as I jump in the car and go off for a couple of hours with no idea of what I may do. This is where I battle with the conversations in my head, similar to the fight or flight scenario. The flight involves just driving and keep driving with no idea of where I am going with the intention of running away and hiding from everyone. The fight evolves around my gorgeous boy, Olly, my rock, my lifesaver, the one who loves me, who knows, who understands and acts as my shadow not letting me out of my sight. It is Olly which brings me back to reality. I never realised how much my life would change the day I picked him up.
I can now see what has happened and what I have done. Hindsight is simple and so is a relatively calm and half rational mind. I just wish I saw what I was doing but I was too caught up in my own stress to see past the inside of my head. That is where I have lived for too long. It was like I was box trapped inside my brain, with my fears, stress and worries wanting to escape but there was no way of any of that seeping through a membrane. Instead, all of these kept battering away at itself against the tough exterior of the skull, finding no way to reach my vocal cords to verbally communicate. I have asked myself why did I become like this when I had started to become good at talking to people. The answer is simple. Boredom. I actually got bored of myself, of having the same conversations with myself day after day. Mulling over the same problems, the same scenarios, finding different outcomes. I know life is not based on ifs, whats and maybes and too much time, effort and energy is wasted on doing this. It is because I bored myself with the same conversations in my head I felt too exhausted to talk about it at the end of the day when asked. I wanted to change the subject, I didn’t want to talk about me, as far as I was concerned I had had that conversation many times that day already. Unfortunately, this put me on shut down mode as my conversation would dry up. What could I talk about. My day involves walking Olly, some sort of exercise, working on a project, going to a coffee shop. Some days I would not speak to people. Yep that is also my choice.
All of this resulted in my downfall and a collapse in my personal life. My illness and faults became too much as I used up more lives than 5 cats. It has not changed how I feel about things and day by day I am doing my best to get by. On Monday, I faced my friends at run club for the first time since all of this happened. That was hard, but I am so grateful for such amazing support. Bit by bit I will re integrate with life but at the moment I am happy in my own bubble sorting things out. Many will say that this is not healthy, and yes I would agree, but it is my safe default position until I am ready. Am I vulnerable? Yes, I am but this will pass. I have too much going on at the moment to think about normality. I moved into a new place last Saturday and I am finding my feet there. At the moment it does not feel like home, It feels empty without the crazy pup and I look forward to his return on Sunday. I spend my days out, keeping busy. I have had many invites from friends and I apologise to you all for saying no. Time will come, and I will hunt you all down for that owe’d cake.
Today as I sat in a library doing some work (as far away from everyone in a corner) a male came and sat next to me. I would describe him as homeless from the way he dressed and due to his hygiene. I carried on with what I was doing, then something with him caught me eye. He was crying. I simply asked him if he was ok. He said he was. I told him that I could easily join him. I am not sure how long for but we just sat there in silence staring out of the window. We were no different, sitting there consumed by our own thoughts and sadness. Looking at us, me with my MacBook Pro, iPhone 11 and numerous books; him with nothing. Yet, there was nothing different between us at all. Both lost. Both searching the grey clouds ready to open up over Cardiff, both consumed. Why do I bring this up? It takes nothing to ask someone how they are and look out for someone. Perhaps I have become soft, I don’t know. What I do know, is that every time someone has asked after me, it has meant something, it has lifted me and told me that people do care and want to help. The gentleman today didn’t want conversation, but that didn’t matter, what I hope did matter was the fact that I stayed sitting there, I did not move away, I just sat there in silence with him and sometimes that is all you want.
Thursday 17th October 2019 (1.02pm)
It has been so long since I last put something together on my blog. The summer has been and gone, as I sit here in a coffee shop with the rain hitting the window. I was lucky enough to end August with a week in the sun. Why is this relevant? Well, I just thought I would pick things up here. In the time leading up to going away, I did not feel in a great place and had an appointment to see my GP on the morning of departure. I had to see another doctor as mine was off ill and I always hate going over things again. I almost didn’t bother going because of this, but I went. My appointment was at 0930am, my flight was at 1245pm. I briefly explained how I was feeling and what had been going on in my head. The Dr suggested I go to the crisis team there and then. This would have meant going to the hospital, waiting, missing my flight and then being sent home alone. This would have been much worse for me so I left the surgery with an appointment to see my regular GP on my return.
I am not saying that being away was easy. Yes, I had a lovely time, but my head still battled with the demons that were going on as I tried to suppress them and push them aside. I saw my GP when I got back and on the same day I managed to see the practice counsellor. I am waiting for a follow up appointment with Mind. I have not had any further appointments since this date.
My training still continues for New York and it is mad to think that in two weeks time I will be there. I am going away on my own. I feel that I need a break. I need time away. I need time to switch my head off because at the moment it is going bonker-doodles. I don’t know why, it is something which happens from time to time. It runs away with itself and it is hard to bring it back in to some sort of normal rhythm. It is like maxing out your heart rate on a 100m sprint, but there is no end after 10 seconds. I am working on something which I am really enjoying and it is giving me focus and keeping me busy so that is all good. On the flip side, I feel that I have lost my way a little. I have become a bit stuck, a bit bored of me. Bored of routine. I am even bored of writing that I am still waiting for decisions to be made with work.
Whilst I have continued to run, I am having problems with my left knee. This one has already had an ACL reconstruction, a tumour removed, numerous cartilage procedures and in 2014 I had a tibial osteotomy as the knee was slipping out of position. Unfortunately, the tracking appears out on it again as it annoyingly slips out of alignment causing some grief. Thankfully, it finds a way to pop back in again. Of course this will not stop me in my quest to complete the 26.2 of New York but it is something I could do without.
Friday 18th October (11.56 am)
I am now sat in Starbucks trying to warm up (above picture) after running almost 8 miles this morning in the torrential rain and wind. I have been home and showed and now gulping down my 89 degree hot chocolate. Sometimes a run goes your way, you hit the sweet spot and feel like you are bouncing along. Today, was not one of those days, it was a running through treacle day. I am not blaming the weather (as dry for the first half), I just felt preoccupied, lost in my own world, of what I don’t know. I only wish I could explain this better. I cut the run short and pretty much sprinted the last 3 miles home.
Still feel lost, still feel like running away.
I wish my legs would run as fast as my head.
Since I last wrote, I have sold my apartment and jumped off the property ladder. There is only so long one can go without pay. I managed 19 months. This goes without saying that there have been some big changes in my life, as I box away memories of the 14 years which I spent living there. Thankfully the happy ones far outweigh the bad. Many of which will stay with me, such as meeting someone very special, and bringing Olly home for the first time. Many hours were spent filming for Mind Over Marathon there, and surreal moments like chatting with Nick Knowles on my sofa. All important parts of my life which have shaped the way I am today.
I reflect on the situation which I now find myself in and I am forever thankful for who and what I have around me. I am ok, I will be ok, and I will move on from whatever this blip is all about. I have New York to look forward to as my running will now will taper off over the next week. As for what happens when I get home and how I am, I will deal with that as and when.
Time to get back to my hot chocolate. Have a good weekend all x
Friday 23rd August 2019 (12.52pm)
Over the last few weeks the training has continued which at times has not been easy as I have battled frustrations with performance. What I am doing, which I know I should not be doing is comparing myself to where I was at last year. Obviously last year I was one month out from Ironman Wales and in a good place physically after working hard all year.
Earlier in the month I took part in Ride London 100. An epic closed road ride around London and Surrey. Considering my bike training has been poor this year I was happy with how it went. There were a couple of tough climbs which tested the legs and at one point I even gave in and walked. No harm in that. I made sure that I adequately fulled making good use of the feed hubs. My plan was to get around the route and bag the medal at the end. I was not concerned by time or positioning and I do not know what my official time was.
Having run the London Marathon and swam 2 miles of the Serpentine, finishing the ride entered me in to the London Classics Hall of Fame. By finishing all three of the London events I proudly picked up the biggest medal that I have ever seen. It was lovely to be recognised by ‘London marathon events’ as when I crossed the finish line, I was taken off to the VIP area, given both of my medals, interviewed and papped. I will be forever grateful to the BBC, The Royal Foundation and Heads Together for the platform which I was given in 2017. Without this, these events would have passed me by.
I have been asked which is the best event out of the three and I must say that it is the marathon. The prestige, the global recognition, the history and the spirit make it special. I missed doing it this year but maybe one day soon I will be on the start line once again.
I am excited to see what New York will bring but I am confident that it will reach the heights of London. As September nears and time ticks by I will gradually need to ramp up the training. At the moment I am training 5 days a week, a mixture of swimming and running. My run times vary between 45 minutes and 1 hr 45 but I also like to chuck a leisurely park run in on a Saturday morning to finish the week off.
Yesterday, I got just over 11 miles into my 1hr 45 but I found it really hard. I did not fuel myself properly and ended up having to stop off at a shop to grab a bottle of water. I can usually run this distance no problem but yesterday the tank was empty and I could have easily walked the last couple of miles. My head would not let me though as I struggled on. This is just proof of an off day which we all experience from time to time.
Today I was supposed to be swimming a 1600m recovery swim, but I have passed this up. I have the opportunity to sea swim with some others later so I will see how things go.
As for the head, its battles on, nothing really stable about it. It has no idea how it is going to be from one day to the next. Yet strangely or maybe somewhat contradictory it often gives advanced warning. Maybe I need to be better at giving others advanced warning too.
The work situation continues with me being in the same place as I was at the beginning of 2018, though this time it is with a different diagnosis. I am waiting to see the Selected Medical Practitioner (SMP) who again will decide (a) if I am unfit for work and (b) is this permanent in line with police pension regulations.
I have no idea when this appointment will be but I hope it is soon as I just want some resolution to this all.
Monday 22nd July 2019 (11.05am)
I have just realised how long it has been since I last wrote on here. Fear not, I have been putting pen to paper in my journal for something which I will blog when the time is right.
Things have been busy. I have been keeping active by running the hot and hilly marathon as part of Tenby Long Course Weekend. Under the humid conditions and stupid gradients I was happy with how it all went (picture shows me walking up one of the many massive hills). I paced it and fuelled it well with the aim of getting through it with no pain or injury. There is nothing I plan on changing with strategy as I continue through the next 15 weeks of NY training. I have two events prior to this, with Ride London coming up in 13 days time. I have massively neglected my bike in favour of running, swimming, and with a distinct lack of mojo the 100 miles from London to Surrey and back could be rather painful. I am sure I have enough in my tank to wing it on the day, well that is what I am hoping for anyway.
Since my marathon three weeks ago I feel as if my legs don’t want to spin around very quickly. They feel as if they are not moving at a rate as what they should be. Heavy and fatigued comes to mind. I have rested them for a few days and just been swimming. I plan on doing a few miles tomorrow so hoping for better things.
In terms of where I am mentally, I am not doing too bad. I saw a Psychiatrist on 19th June who reported and agreed with the diagnosis of Phobic Anxiety given by the police medical appeal board. The Psychiatrist advised that it would be in my best interests to consider a different career. No evidence was found of ADHD; however there is evidence of traits of an emotionally unstable personality.
It has taken over three years for what now appears to be the correct diagnosis and one which I actually agree with. Unfortunately nothing else can be done regarding forms of treatment or medication but finally knowing what the issue is, with agreement from two Psychiatrists helps. The only thing that will help the phobic anxiety to the workplace is not to be there. I am seeing my force medical DR (FMA) on August 6th and will await further direction as to what will happen next.
People have commented that I look and appear happier these days. Whilst I stress out about my situation and have the ability to go off the rails, from rational to suicidal in a matter of seconds, I agree that on the whole I do feel better. I am nothing like I was, yet I must accept that my mental illness and my personality will not change, it is how I now manage it, is what is my saving grace. There are many people and of course Olly around me who I thank for that.
I got myself out on Saturday evening with a meal with some others from run club. I am impressed that I said I would go and even more impressed that I turned up. I had a good time and enjoyed myself but knew when the time was right to be able to leave. I am grateful to these people who know and support me.
For now continue to plod on in my own way and in my own world. My days are not planned and at the moment I am taking things day by day. I don’t particularly like this lack of structure or routine and I am finding that I am eating way too much ice cream whilst sitting in the garden on sunny days.
Nothing wrong with that is there 🙂
Thursday 27th June 2019 (3.18pm)
On my run today I asked myself many times why on earth do I decide to do these stupid things? The answer is always there and it is simple. I need to do it mentally, I need a challenge, a focus and an event to look forward to.
I knew as I left the house this morning and started running into a manic headwind it was going to be a tough run. I can usually get a sense on how things will go in the first 5 minutes, and today it was no different. Feeling tired with heavy legs did not stand me in good stead for the 3ish hours or 16-18 miles which I wanted to do.
There were many times where I could have just turned around and called it a day but I would not allow myself to give in to those thoughts that would have been detrimental for me. My next event, The Wales marathon is only 9 days away and I did not want to leave my final long run any longer.
My head was away with the fairies as I spun things around in my mind. I have a lot going on at the moment. I have a meeting next week with work to discuss where we go from here, though the same conclusions apply that I am medically unfit for work as documented by GP and psychiatrists. Returning to the police would be detrimental to my health, and life. I have had all the treatment available to me and for any chance of some sort of recovery of this phobic anxiety towards the work place, there is only really one solution.
There was other stuff whizzing around my head and not even my iTunes playlist could distract me today. I also found that I was watch watching as if every time I looked down at my Garmin 3 miles would have miraculously appeared. No such luck.
I had an idea of the route I wanted to take but I would change this along the way depending on how I felt. I took some of the trails which were part of the Vale ultra marathon which I did in April. It was good to be back on the coastal path and for maybe a few minutes I enjoyed myself.
I ran out of my Tailwind drink at 14 miles, just as I was approaching home but I knew that I could not stop. My head and my legs argued and as always the head came out on top. I chucked another 2.5 miles to finish quite conveniently outside a coffee shop on Barry Island. Here I slugged down a tin of diet coke and walked the rest of the way home (thankfully not far).
It was Shakira who said that the hips don’t lie and I couldn’t agree more as mine are feeling a tad angry with me at the moment. Knees held up ok thankfully but I must have looked a bit strange on my walk with Olly earlier as I waddled along.
I am experienced enough to know that not every run will go my way. It won’t always be easy but the runs where I really have to dig deep to find that extra energy and motivation from somewhere are the ones that make me stronger. They are the runs which I know I could have easily bottled for an extra hour or two in bed. They are the runs which you remember when you collect that medal at the end of an event.
When I look back on the 12 months of training which I did for Ironman, it is the sessions which I did not want to do that have stayed with me. The sessions in the freezing cold winter where I had to do hill sprints, swim 2800m in a cold pool, or spend 90 minutes on the Wattbike, it is those sessions that got me over the finish line. I cannot remember the ‘so called easy ones’.
I could easily say that today was a rubbish run, but it wasn’t. I did it and I am proud of that.
No matter how rubbish you think your training session was, you always feel better afterwards.
On a happy note, I have now booked my hotel in New York and I am looking forward to reading this book.
Monday 24th June 2019 (1143am)
It is the day after doing one of those things where you run 13.1 miles with lots of other random people for a t-shirt and a medal. Yep, yesterday, I completed Swansea half marathon for the second time after doing it back in 2017
It was not on my list of events to do at the beginning of the year, and I ended up entering it quite late on knowing many people who had entered. The flat, scenic route of the Mumbles and Swansea seafront is always an attraction (providing no head wind or rain) so I stuck it on the calendar as a training run in preparation for the Wales Marathon as part of Tenby Long course weekend in 2 weeks time.
Taking it seriously, and not changing my diet, my Saturday night food consisted of burgers and sausages done on the BBQ followed by ice cream, chocolate and half a tube of pringles. I pinned my number (3372) on my shirt, got the rest of my clothes ready, put my daps by the back door and cola power shots in my pouch and that was me ready to get up and go in the morning.
Olly was excited by the 6.20 am alarm, looking at me somewhat surprised or bemused as to why (a) I had an alarm and (b) what the hell was I doing up that early. Anyhow, he scoffed down his breakfast in one lump as I shovelled in my pre match breakfast (1 x chocolate brioche). I have never been a breakfast eater and I find it hard to poke down lumpy porridge early in the morning so I am able to run for a few hours on very little. I have trained this and so I am used to it.
I hate any sort of rushing and have to be early to places, especially when there is any sort of faff with parking. The race started at 10am, the pens opened at 0930 so as planned, myself, partner and Olly arrived at 8am. I had not looked at the route but knew that there was a different finish area than 2 years ago. I didn’t realise that the start had also changed but by following other runners and supporters we managed to get to the start in plenty of time. Olly’s excitement continued as he had to sniff and wee on every bit of grass, tree, or wall along the way so by the time I was in the pen my feet had already covered 2 miles.
Pre run fun
I do not get nervous, I do not have 19 pre match toilet stops (just in case), I just turn up and run. My Pen, C, was for runners who would finish within two hours, so I parked myself next to two friends from run club. We chatted, took selfies, listened to the Welsh National anthem and laughed about random sh*t.
Crossing the start line and the first mile or two is always difficult as you get swept up in the atmosphere and the fast pace of the run. I had to reign my pace in, be sensible and just get the job done with no injury. It took me until about mile 3 to settle as the runners spread out and I got into the rhythm I wanted to be in. It was a cloudy day but it was extremely warm and humid. Not ideal, but again it was about being sensible and taking in the right amount of fluid.
My support crew were at mile 3 (Olly missed me as he was too busy sniffing) but it was good to get a wave and some encouragement.
A wave to my support at mile 3
The route took us West of Swansea to the Mumbles along the main road before turning around at 7 miles to head back along the coast path. As it got hotter, I resorted to chucking water over my head, as well as drinking what I could. The cola power shots gave me an extra burst as I went into the last third of the run. I started to struggle around mile 8 with a headache, more than likely down to dehydration and I felt sick. I was grateful of the water station not long after to get me back on track. I knew that I just had to dig in. A few times I looked down at my Ironman tattoo to give myself a reminder of what I could do and to just get on with it. This gave me the proverbial telling off when my head started to wander.
Feeling the heat between mile 6-7
There was no point thinking how many miles I had to go, my plan was to tick off each mile one by one. It is funny how your brain thinks and how you play with time and miles. At mile 10, I told myself that it was only a parkrun left (but if anything like my local park run then that would be hell). I was happy to reach mile 11, as I formulated how far that would be to and how long it would take on one of my local training runs. By the time I had played stupid mind games I had reached mile 11. A good distraction technique maybe, and what else was there to think about anyway?
Relieved to see mile 12 and ecstatic to see mile 13 (and my support crew. Olly saw me this time as he barked at me) I headed down the finish line. Time 1:58:00. In 2016 my time was 2:03:13. An improvement is an improvement. I then followed all of the other runners to pick up water, a t-shirt (rhubarb and custard sweet colour) and my medal.
Finish line in sight An excited Olly with flappy ears
Meeting back up with my partner and still a very excited Olly it was time to head home, but firstly it was a stop at McDonalds for a well deserved hot chocolate.
Reflecting on yesterday I was happy with how things went under the warm conditions. My knees held up with no significant pain. I am not quite in the form or shape I want to be but that is work in progress. There are certain things which I need to change and work on but I will get there with discipline and determination.
One tired half marathon pup
Today, I have done a mile swim as a recovery to rid of any stiffness and aches. I do not have time to do nothing, with a marathon coming up in 13 days. It is time to gather thoughts and concentrate on a long run later in the week prior to the all important taper.
To all of you runners who took on Swansea yesterday, well done and congratulations.
Human v Pup
Thursday 20th June 2019 (11am)
This maybe somewhat ironic that I have decided to start to document my journey to the New York marathon whilst sitting in a coffee shop drinking a hot chocolate with extra chocolate and sprinkles. Why have I decided to start writing about it now? Because I have booked my flights so that makes it real. On November 3rd 2019 I shall be running the largest marathon in the world along with over 50000 people.
Not surprisingly I have decided to make this my ‘A’ race this year. In 2018, it was Ironman Wales and in 2017 it was the London marathon. There have been some big ‘B’ and ‘C’ races each year but I have to pick one which will be the main focus for training, whilst all of the other events slot around it.
My plan is to blog about my progress, physically and mentally and to show that if you put your mind to something then anything is possible. I have nothing to prove, I will have no goal or time in mind, the sole purpose of my training is to keep me to a structure on a daily basis and to ensure I cross that finish line in one piece in November.
You will see that my training is not only run focused. Due to dodgy knees I build my tank, energy systems and core strength through swimming and cycling.
This week I am on a taper week for a half marathon on Sunday. I don’t necessarily have to taper for a half but I am being kind to myself. I have just done a 1600m pool swim in 30 minutes. My second 1 mile of the week. Today I felt good and could have easily gone for longer but I am trying to implement the sensible me. Swimming is great for building core muscles, strength and stability. It is where I get my upper body strength from, so even though I have not got any swim events in the calendar for this year it is a big part of my exercise week.
Swim Monday Swim Thursday
My week runs from Monday to Sunday and my Garmin records my exercise to Garmin Connect, Strava and Training Peaks. I am by no means data driven, I just like to see what I do. The good thing about Training peaks is that it takes into account fatigue score so I know if I am over or under training. You could spend ages analysing data but I have not got time for that and I really can’t be bothered. I find the best activity sets are when you just go and run, bike or swim without a plan or a care in the world. I do this more so with running as I make up a route long the way based on how I am feeling and how long I have to do. For someone who is usually so planned and organised about things this is alien but it gives perfect freedom. I urge everyone to dump the data, and not look at a watch whilst out and you will feel so much better.
I used to be consumed by PBs, times, miles etc but now I simply do not care. This was something which I learnt from taking part in mind over marathon and has been a massive part of my recovery from using exercise as a self harm.\
I am a lone exerciser, I feel more comfortable with this but I have started to go out more with a local run group who I met through park run. So many inspirational people, working hard to achieve their goals, many of who put me to shame with what they do and how they manage. It will not surprise me if I write a lot more about group runs as I continue this journey.
SMR crew run Tuesday
I also have a good bunch of friends who I sea swim with and coming into the warmer months this will be something that I will report on. I have done a few already this year and will look to continue with this as part of my training.
The same goes for cycling. I need to keep that going as in August I have ‘Ride London’. 100 miles of cycling. I have only done a few rides this year but after the Wales marathon in Tenby in July, I will have a few weeks to get my bike legs going (nervously laughs). I will then get the run daps back out for the last couple of months of running.
Wish me luck x
Wednesday 5th June 2019 (1.48pm)
To those who saw me acting as normal on the weekend at running and swimming I hid what was going on inside my head well (I think). To those who saw me in the middle of what I would describe as a psychotic (not medically diagnosed) episode then I sincerely apologise for such irrational and out of control behaviour that I just wanted to be hated. After all I deserved to be (or so I thought).
Sitting here now and reflecting on the last few days is hard. It has taken an appointment with my GP, an ever understanding partner, and a massive frightening look back on my behalf to try and understand what went on. Whilst outside of these four walls all appeared fine as I continued with my exercise and smiling over my social media accounts, inside was definitely not the picture portrayed as I looked at ways to hurt myself.
Yes I feel a fake or a phoney for this but that is the nature of mental illness and many of you will understand the face we put on. However, all along its make belief, as secretly inside the brain everything is rapidly firing off in different directions.
To keep some sort of rational thinking and behaviour in public was hard but I knew I had to face the world rather than hide away. This would have been detrimental allowing for more thinking time, which inevitably would have been negative.
On Saturday evening I felt such hatred towards myself I just wanted to die. If there was an impulsive way (as to where I was at the time) of me quickly ending things then I really don’t think I would be sitting here now. I was scared and frightened about what was going on with me. Shaking with fear, shouting for help but not wanting it, needing to be locked up for my own safety, but not wanting it.
Behaviour is the outcome of an emotion, and whatever I was dealing with at the time reflected in my behaviour. I will not say what went on and what I did, but I can assure you that I am now all good, safe, and that no criminal offences took place.
Everything I did was directed at the hate, low self worth and self esteem that I have towards myself. The byproduct of this was to self destruct and hurt myself in whatever way I could, unfortunately causing collateral damage along the way.
This is where I am at now. My days roll into one another. I cannot work. I cannot earn money. I cannot do voluntary work. I cannot proceed with my sports massage for free. My hands are tied, not contributing anything to society, feeling a waste of time, feeling fed up in my own bubble. Frustrated as I wait for another psychiatrist appointment (19th June) to see where this leads and how this will effect things with my current employers or any decisions I may make. I am receiving no pay, I am receiving no benefits (as I can lift my arms above my head, feed myself and walk 100m).
I exercise and write to give me something to do, something which I know that I can do to increase my self confidence and give me structure. Of course I have Olly who makes me smile everyday.
My GP is of the opinion that what I experienced on the weekend was not psychosis or mania but an outpouring of everything that had been bubbling up inside me over the last few weeks. It all comes back to my future and not knowing where I am going and what I am doing. The pot exploded so to speak and it did so pretty spectacular. I cannot recall ever being so scared and out of control with my own head. It felt like I had been possessed and some horrific monster had invaded my body and taken over. I could not stop what was happening at the time and if I had I been a bystander I would have seriously been thinking WTF. I never want to experience that again.
As for now, the ‘calm, in control, rational’ George sits here trying to express what went on. It is hard to comprehend.
Why am I making this public and admitting how bad things were? I don’t know really. I suppose to reach out to those who have been there, are there, may go there. To say that for me it was an ‘episode’ of such heightened anxiety and stress that triggered such intense emotions which altered my behaviour that much it caused me want to die.
What got me out of it? Time, having faith that it would pass and in my ability to regain control of what was controlling me. Also knowing that I didn’t really want to harm myself or die, it was just the emotion or the behaviour taking over. The following day I was able to rationalise and verbalise what had happened and talking it through with my partner when I was ready helped immensely.
Some may think that this is crazy but sea swimming in cold water at 8.30 on Sunday morning also helped to remove the fuzz from my head (laughs). I took the featured picture whilst swimming.
*** Always seek professional help and guidance if you are experiencing emotions, thoughts, feelings or behaviour which may put yourself or others at risk ***