Saturday, 17 December 2011

The Black Mountains - Not the read you would expect

 The Black Mountains - not the read you would expect !

I have been amazed at the response to my blog, on the blog site, the personal messages, text and comments I have received THANK YOU

During a social evening with BMF (British Military Fitness) pals I was complimented on my blog by a friend she kindly said that she "wanted to keep on turning the pages" I'm stunned I really don't expect my writing to merit such appreciation, thanks Amanda. I replied with a thanks and stating that I was trying to keep it light-hearted, I don't want to bore people and it's not as dark as it could be.-laugh in the face of adversity and all of that.  I was surprised by her additional response "you should write about it" that short exchange stayed with me and I am aware that I minimise what being me is like and try to maintain a sense of humour about the whole long term health condition thing that makes such an impact on my life. I have to say when I'm really depressed my sense of humour deserts me or can become quiet acute think of the well known comediennes or entertainers with depression; John Cleese, Spike Milligan, Stephen Fry, Ruby Wax etc. To be honest I'm not that funny but depression can attune to the absurd - black humour.

Back to the Black Mountains, the dark side - the side of the mountain where the sun does not shine. It's really hard to describe clinical depression, it's so much more than feeling low, lost, anxious, not motivated etc, it also has a profound physical impact and for each person it impacts in different way

For me it is now part of my life that has taken many years to accept that it is so prevalent in my life and that I have had to develop strategies to enable me to function alongside the rest of the world. It is a very rare day when I do not have to think about gauging how I feel - which to some extent is instinctive now, ( I hessen to add I don't sit on the edge of the bed and think how do I feel today?  to indulgent for me.) I deal with it and work through the day or half day at a time.

Whats it like to be depressed?, there are no real words that can describe the depth and the difficulties it can present - for me it is a syndrome of complete fatigue, low self-esteem and confidence, negativity, acute anxiety, confusion, darkness, limited concentration and finding it at times to make sense of life along with eating crap (which makes you feel more crap) - so don't!! aching joints, feeling sick, headaches and panic attacks - God what a barrel of fun. So pile all these issues together and they could create quiet a mountain which has to be climbed everyday without training for it, when your are tired and you can't navigate; talk of relentless progression! - it's one large black mountain to overcome.

 When I describe not being able to get out of the door it's not just lacking motivation its more than that, walking in treacle whilst tired to the point of your legs are lead, and bashing yourself over  the head with the low self-esteem mallet and having an internal dialogue - so I want to run? not really, its it cold,? am I tired?, I hate the roads, where shall I run? and who bricked up the front front door making it impossible to get through?

Organising my time to train is hard (I know common to proper ultra runners so I'm not mad after all)
managing work takes such a huge effort and commonly I try to excel to compensate, so that my work, integrity, and professionalism cannot be questioned, the stigma does mean your decision making processes are questioned and at times concentration is so difficult - a working day is totally knackering, I tend to be a perfectionist and never satisfied with what I do or achieve.

I have been pushed to breaking point in 2 jobs; so much for the charity sector. I now work for myself so at least I don't have office politics to contend with. I work from home and its the best place for me to be. I have to accept I don't really have a career and won't earn that much. I know depression has decimated my career and some of the opportunities I had.

However combining work and training is a struggle and I feel I should be working not running or training. I want to go out for a jog in the day as I tend to end up working at night but feel guilty and need time to fit in all the different elements you need to develop a small business not so much a black mountain but a treadmill in hell.

So this is a blog I didn't think I would write, as there are no real ways of describing what its like to be clinically depressed. But I do get through, my wonderful family and running are a large part of that. Running has transformed my health, I hate being a slow crap runner and seeing everyone I
have ever run with over take me either from the start or eventually they do - that is hard to take at times. I really want to be good at something. I love my training at BMF there is a banter in the group and the trainers know how to push you, as I tend to run alone I enjoy being part of a team when racing round the park with a log.!!!

But I do love the trails, the views, the descent's, the weather, the mountains - is it really me up here?
I pinch myself. I often been in the hills and mountains on my own (yes I leave a route behind) I can map read ( including getting lost) and what confidence this gives me is amazing. So not all mountains are black some are big and green made of granite and have to be conquered.

I have a really amazing family wonderful family who support my running I have a partner who supports this mad woman so I can take to the hills and believes in me to cope with what is thrown at me, now that is love.

 It's not the mountain we conquer is ourselves" normal blogging service will be resumed shortly. I'm behind with my November update.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

I'll start training next week !!! the good intention guide.

OK so I have signed up for the lakeland 50 on 04/10/11 after much self doubt and wondering if it would be worth it. A really good friend who has similar health problems to me has also signed up, there lies a problem for my head; they are a much better runner than me, quiet good at training; managed to stick with the running club, is training on the fells, doing cross country and I admire how they cope. 
So I think (I know its not logical) they will absolutely finish hours ahead of me. Am I competing with a friend NO !!! but for me I introduce friends to events and then find I'm lagging behind again, this I hasten to add is a mind set of someone with depression, we can be very good at putting ourselves down, then again I have seen many women who start out on a running journey also put themselves down and lack confidence, WHY do we do this Girls (and boys)?

I was determined that signing on the dotted line for the 50 would give me the impetus to train and to try to get my training on a more regular basis. I tend to be an inconsistent trainer, in my head I am training like Paula Radcliffe in reality at the moment I manage to get a BMF (British Military Fitness) training session in and a 5k per week. Mileage what mileage? I tell myself I need some strength training -will go to the gym, long runs on Sunday, and loose some weight guess what all that will start on Monday as well.

Each week I think I will catch up with work; (I am now self employed and can manage my health better working from home) and then I will feel a bit better, then I will really no really get down to some serious training starting on Monday, I sound like a member of diet club ! Monday arrives what happens someone has stolen my motivation - was completing the 50 in 2009 in my imagination I ask myself?

So training which was supposed to have started in ernest in October looks a little thin (that is paper thin) on the ground. I am really struggling to step foot out of the door. I am forcing myself to BMF because at least I meet a friendly face and the instructors get you through the session and we have a laugh as well. At the moment there is a definite block in my mind for getting the running shoes on, when I do I beat myself up on how crap I am running - god this is 

When I chat to people I am so enthusiastic about long distance events they think I am mad in that "wow your mad - I couldn't so that" sort of way.  I must at times in my mission to encourage all to "have a go, go on you know you want to" seem like I've been there done that; I'm not a big headed I still just can't believe I can jog on hill and the buzz you get. So not the start I wanted for the big 50 training plan - but I will start on MONDAY.

October Training Summary
Week 1: 1st - 9th      Training miles 5
                                BMF sessions  1
                                Race miles 18 Coniston trail race (2nd) Reservoir Jogs in 
                                Glossop (9th) both 9 miles
Week 2:10th -16th    Training miles 15
                                BMF sessions 0 (away in Wales)
Week 3:17th - 23rd   Training miles 12.5
                                BMF sessions  1
Week 4:24th - 30th   Training miles 11
                                BMF sessions 1
Sleepless Nights: lost count .

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Where there's a slow runner there hope for us all !!!

The start of this blogg is to give you some background to me the "runner" (LOL) and the person. I have never written a diary and have a weired pathological fear of writing about myself so this is the out of the comfort zone, but one that I hope in some tiny way encourages others to get out there, walk, jog, run, you just don't know what you can achieve. If I can you can.

My beautiful granddaughter
Ok so I became a grandma (10 years ago) then decided I'm not going to be old, grey and start knitting!! I know totally an ageist stereotype, it took a further 3 years to take up some form of exercise - running, I'll correct that jogging, much to the surprise of my family and friends not to mention myself, however I did recieve words of encouragement "you don't get of your backside to go to the bar! whats all this running about" I perseverved and ran a Manchester 10k what a buzz, got a medal and had to do another event to check it wasn't a mistake, there lies the start of my fitness and health journey.

Now for clarification purposes when I say "ran" lets be honest in reality its a jog with a powerwalk & crawl approach but it works for me and not much has changed except me.

I won't bore you with races, medals, times and paces surffice to say I have 3 running speeds which I know other 'atheletes' have easy runs, tempo sessions and speed training well I have very slow, slow, and good jog sort of paces. I did join a running club and stuck with it for about 4 years but ended up leaving once I felt like the "village idiot" (my term for me) for turning out at races and always being the last runner for the club I got demoralised and left. I must stress here it was not club members who made me feel like that it was how I felt that caused this move. 

To cut a long story short I did get the opportunity through the club to run the London Marathon in 2007 it took me 5hr 35mins with what I thought was a hamstring injury - surgery soon after revealed it was far from that. But aching legs, sore hamstrings I LOVED it, from mile 20 onwards was just the best I couldn't believe I was covering more than 20 miles the last 6 miles were awesome - I felt like hell at finish but I soon came back for more - I found I can keep going and then later found trail running.

My MOTIVATION  I am not a natural runner as you can tell from my assessment of myself, lets face it when you feel as though the only thing that doesn't hurt is your eyelashes -then what the hell am I doing plodding on? It's what running has done for my health and confidence that has kept me going. I have suffered from clinical depression for as long as I can remember and had to take anti-depressants in various doses for years,I don't tell my family or my friends I just try to cope with the most debilitating illness that causes panic attacks, erodes confidence, well being, my career and health, at times it saps all my energy just to get through a day.I still refer to myself as "fighting my health".

Through running I dropped some weight and reduced the medication I have to take and found my self-esteem. Like many women I didn't take time for me but I found my family didn't fall apart because I took some time to train in fact I think they are a bit proud. I have met some fanastic people and been to beautiful places. Through trail running my love of the odd ramble/hike has grown into an obsession with mountains and hills, I'm a slow climber (no surprise there then) but the buzz of descending down a trail path makes you feel amazing I still can't believe that it's me as hikers step to one side and smile at you in that 'your mad to do that way' as I pass yelling thanks!!

  THE LAKELAND JOURNEY ( bet you thought I would never get here)

I entered the Lakeland 50 in 2009 I can't remember why I think I was so fed up of being at the back of every race AND that I wanted to prove I could achieve something. I can map read but the thought of crossing the fells on my own at night was to say the least scary. I trained with lots of power walking and got to the start line, proud family and friends on the sideline - the challenge was controlling the panic and not backing out before I'd taken one step. I hated it until got I through Pooley Bridge, then out on the hills panic gone I plodded on met people, laughed, admired the views and jogged, walked 50 miles - thanks to Danny who I buddied up with (he can't read a map that well) 19hrs 25mins later I crossed the finish line and buzzed for 6 months after- totally AWESOME.
This positive impact on my health is what kept me going until March 2010 where I found I had to have an emergency total hystercomy - I tried to get back on my feet but ended up taking months off not being able to 'run' has had a massive impact. I have put some of the weight back on and well over 18 months later I still have not got a decent level of fitness, I am constantly exhausted, especially as the surgery has left serious adhesions (scar tissue) that is painful and the only way the pain get under control is to go into hospital and be filled with morphine, I got quite depressed with the lack of exercise, my answer to all of this is to get on the start line of the Lakeland 50 for 2011(my place from 2010 was deferred).

Its always worth the up for the views

Naturally after a period of rubbish health the first thing you would think of is a 50 mile race over a hill or two - isn't it?
I did try to attempt to maintain a consistent training pattern building up to the event and did quiet well on the June recce weekend, coupled with an attempt at the National 3 peaks the week before where I completed Ben Nevis, wasnt well on Sca Fell and completed Snowdon.

My last long run was the lakeland trails coniston trail marathon which I crawled round as the tiredness had hit me again like a sledge hammer, it took forever.

At the end of July I was back on that start line, lovely hot sun perfect, the nerves were pumping with an atmosphere of excited nervous anticipation for us all as we clap and admired the 100'ers coming through Dalemain. The new route round the estate was good and we were soon through Pooley Bridge and on the hills at checkpoint 1(for 50ers) plenty of bananas, cake and drinks and ready to aim to Mardale Head with just Fusedale and High Kop to get over. As I climbed my foot felt sore and I felt so tired I was leaning on my sticks, having to stop and really struggling I had literally had slowed to a crawl. By Mardale Head I felt so sick and dizzy I had to drop out with the voice of my dad echoing in my ears "don't take risks on the mountains its the lives of mountain rescue that you are risking if they have to come for you." Ok a bit extreme considering it was pretty good weather it was me not feeling pretty and totally gutted. I has beaten myself up and forced myself round events, been in and out of hospital to get ready for this only to feel so sick as I had to take pain killers. I don't regret stopping as I felt like hell, But...  
Pooley Bridge 2009

.... there is unfinished business and I find myself signing up for          50 more lakeland miles in July 2012.

"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves"    Edmund Hillary

This blog documents my journey to UTLD 50: 2012 (next entry won't be so lengthy!!)