#SheBelievedSheCouldSoSheDid

The Exciting Thing

Today something magical happened. 

You all know of my struggle since Marathon. The damage to my hips has been significant enough to make even walking slightly Quasimodo-esque. Running has been out of the question and also largely banned by physio. Initially, it looked like running would never ever be the same. But…

Last week, I was told to try running. Gently. For a short distance. Today I did it. 

1 mile. 9:52. Mild discomfort only. I felt exactly the same elation as I did when I finished the Marathon. Except more because I wasn’t actually dying and it wasn’t the middle of a thunder storm and my sister wasn’t making me cry. 

This enormous victory happened because of one major thing: I’m a determined little bastard. 

Competitive? Me? NO!

This determination stems from my very VERY competitive nature. I’m the worst kind of competitive. I will go out of my way to win if I can. And I’m competitive with MYSELF. A good example would be a new phenomenon I’ve discovered since re-kindling my Swimming Love. 

Picture the scene: You dip into the water. You’re ready. Garmin set to Swim mode. In your peripheral vision you spot a swimmer of a similar age/build. They are head to toe in club kit. They mean business. They’ve seen you look. They know you’ve clocked them. DAMMIT. You’re already weak. So you swim. You swim hard. Fast. Relentlessly. 8 hard years of turn practice and  stroke perfection coming back to you. You overtake. A lot. Then they start to gain on you. So you push a bit harder. You’ve surpassed your planned distance for the session. You care not. YOU WILL WIN. 

Absurd. But awesome. And yes. I won.

The Determination

One thing I’ve learnt about myself over the last 6 months is that I am a lot stronger mentally than I ever thought I was. It takes a special kind of grit to push yourself to run a 5:40:16 Marathon and still be able to function at the end. (I use the term “function” VERY VERY loosely. I basically ate Pringles and Bananas constantly for 2 hours while crying like a toddler) 

It takes an even greater mental strength to realise at 5:05 hrs that you have not a hope in hell of finishing sub 5 or even sub 5:30. And when that moment is in a deserted street in Prestonpans while you stretch your seized quad beside a man dressed as a smurf, that feels pretty damn bleak. I tell you.

I wanted to run a marathon for me. I wanted to do something good with it, so I did. I helped a wonderful charity. I wanted to run a marathon to prove a point. That I COULD. I was fed up of being chubby, of telling myself I couldn’t do things. Or that I wouldn’t. I needed to change that and I am so so happy that I did. 

There’s a song on repeat on Radio 1 at the moment, and if you can get past the fact that it’s a wildly overproduced pop-fest with a slightly chavvy edge, the lyrics stick in my head…. 

“I never held back from the edge
We all hit the same line in the end
But I don’t wanna fall down too soon
Take every moment I can with you
Not over till we’re in the clear
Hold tight and let go of the fear
All the trouble we’ve left behind
We’re not gonna get home tonight”

Here’s a link to the audio… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ES8U9phh0SE

It just makes me think, I’ve let go of so much negativity and self-doubt. I actually heard myself speaking to a colleague today saying “the only thing standing in the way of you doing something, is yourself” and that is so true. Loads of people have scoffed and said “there’s no way you’d run a marathon” and “if you’re this injured do you really think you’ll ever do another one?” and I’ve realised a bit that those people don’t matter. You can do things to prove the haters wrong, and it’s a happy by-product of achieving your ambitions, but in the end, DO IT FOR YOU.

I can and WILL be #RunnerBean once more. I can and WILL be #TriathlonBean within a year. 

 

Bring. It. On. 

 

 

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Battles and Goals

I’ve been struggling a bit with a few demons lately.

First off, the age-old “oh fuck, please don’t get fat again” mill has started churning out “put that down” thoughts while eating anything remotely delicious and guilt-tripping myself for wishing I could just spend ONE SINGLE DAY on the sofa.

Secondly, and most challenging to conquer is the “WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE” thought process. I will be stuck in a circle with this until a) PhysioDan tells me I can run again and can therefore register for some 10ks and start re-training. And b) October. When I find out if I’ve got through the ballot for VLM2015.

Until such time as I can run sans crippling hip pain, I am frozen in a state of “what can I train for now?”

I’m a VERY goal-oriented individual. With an average of 1 serious promotion per year since graduating only 6 years ago, I need to know I can push myself further and higher and better. Or I get fidgety and miserable. I need things to work towards and I need things to look forward to.

It’s not all doom and gloom and endless days of nothingness, a few events round the corner are keeping me going…

• reunions and beers
• wedding of a favourite (and I’m a bridesmaid with a v posh frock)
• celebratory marathon ink
• work related travel
• spectating at the Aberfeldy Middle Distance Triathlon (an event I’m keen to do in 2015)

But. Amongst that, I WISH there were some runs I could work towards.

Currently I’m out on my bike as often as my arse permits (alternate days) and beasting one of the local trails with PBs and QOMs over almost every stage I cycle now. (In both directions,
AHTHANKYOU) But this is temporary. Soon I’ll reach maximum capability and that is going to happen way before Project RoadBike is complete. Luckily (or not) I will have to re-learn it all once I get cleats. Something that scares me more than a full distance Ironman. I will now be physically clipped to the thing that repeatedly tries to kill me. GREAT.

When I’m not biking, my time is spent in the pool and gym. I swam 1600m continuously in under 38 mins this week. I’m told that’s fast. Above average. I am beginning to wonder if the pool clock is right. Garmin Swim should be with me soon enough so that I can time more accurately. Either way, the swimming comes both naturally and easily so my goals there consist of distance and pacing in order to be quicker than your average Bean. Let’s face it. If I do go onto half IM distance next year (I will.) the running will be shocking so I will need to be one of the first out of the water!!

Work will start to get I the way of training and fitness between mid July and mid October as I am on the road a lot of the time. I’m then into winter training mode. Which will now mean turbo and leaving a warm leisure centre into air that is colder than a witch’s tit. A thought that fills me with about as much excitement as football does. (Not a whole lot at all).

Anyway. At least the pool is vaguely heated. So I can spend my evenings there. And who knows, maybe I’ll be running by October!

And So It Continues…

This blog isn’t going on sabbatical until my next mission….

… Because I’m already on it.

I’d quietly, to myself, decided that I’d do another marathon before I ran 18 miles in training and somewhat significantly damaged the ligaments in my left hip, and then ended up with a rather severe bout of tonsillitis which I think pretty much screwed the rest of my training and left me an exhausted, antibiotic fuelled wreck for taper.

Then I entered the ballot for VLM2015 and told everyone. Big fucking thumbs up, Bean.

This gives me until October when it’s revealed whether or not I’ve made the cut, to get my hip better and focus on another mission. #TriathlonBean

Yep. I can feel my non-athletic friends rolling their eyes.

For me it’s not about winning, or being the fastest, or the fittest. Let’s face it, none of those are a realistic ambition. However, having shed the two stone I’d gained in my early twenties, I now need to be the fittest and leanest that I can be, for me. (Also, I like medals. I like them A LOT)

I went for my first swim speed test last week. I swam 1000m Front Crawl in just under 23minutes. Good pace. I felt strong and my technique hadn’t lost it’s edge despite the 12 year hiatus. That’s the benchmark set. I want to get to 20 minutes.

The cycling is getting faster. And I’m almost never encountering instant brain-death now. I’m bound to my MTB until such time as 1) I no longer dodge death once per ride 2) my road bike is built 3) I’m no longer terrified of clippies.

The only thing missing is running. And I miss it very, very much. Despite my initially troublesome relationship with running, it didn’t take me long to fall for it. I dropped music on long runs and enjoyed peaceful birdsong and the shade of the trees. I make it sound heavenly and problem free, which of course it wasn’t. However, the health benefits (pain aside) have been significant and it’s lead me to some amazing places and brilliant people.

I’m very lucky that most people I know are incredibly supportive. But I get a lot of concerned questions whenever I discuss my athletic ambitions.

“Aren’t you worried you will lose too much weight?” – no. Carbs are my friend. I love them too dearly to be bony.

“Are you mental?” – duh.

But the most frequent is this: “are you a bit addicted to exercise?”

I can now fully understand why people become addicted to exercising. I’ve found it incredibly hard both emotionally and physically to have to cut out running. If I don’t, I risk permanent damage to my hip until it’s repaired and strengthened. There is no accurate time frame for this, which for a control freak like me is VERY DIFFICULT. Also, it fucking hurts. But I feel like I fucking NEED to run. I threw a massive paddy last week when my quad and calf cramped just as I was getting into a fast lap of Loch Leven on the bike. Don’t think OH was *quite* prepared for waterworks combined with “FUCK SAKE I NEED TO BE ABLE TO THIS”

Is this what the Marathon has done to me? Am I now destined to wander the earth in search of the next endurance event to throw myself into?

I have my limits. I think. I just need to find out what they are….

Marathon – The Aftermath

My previous blog (26.2) was written at 6am the morning after my first ever marathon.

Social Media Meltdown

It was clear flicking through the EMF facebook page on Monday, that there were a LOT of unhappy runners. Most of them raging because the results were not going to be published publicly. This isn’t really an issue for Bean and her 5:40:16 run, but for those wishing to qualify for Boston or the likes of, its a bit shite. However, it IS the 3rd year they’ve done this. Possibly cost cutting… Which fits in with the absolute SHAMBLES that was the finishing line.

By the time I got there, no one was really manning anything. It wasn’t until I found my mum and realised how starving I was that I remembered that I was supposed to get a goody bag. They’d run out. I’d got a T shirt handed to me and asked if I wanted some water and my medal. (Are you REALLY asking if I WANT my medal? GEEZ IT.) And when I got back to my friend’s flat, I opened the Tee to find it didn’t have the distance on it. It was just the standard Finishers tee that you get as well as the distance one.

Annoying.

I emailed EMF who eventually came back to me on Tuesday afternoon to say they’d post them out “asap”. It’s not that big a deal, I’d be more pissed off if I was the girl who posted to say she’d got home to somewhere in England only to find she’d been given a half tee.

Anyway. Edinburgh has the potential to be a really brilliant event. And I did love it. (Despite the fact that you’re only *in* Edinburgh for 5 miles) But it seems they get something wrong every year. I gave them very honest feedback… I’ve since had an email saying you can now choose to make your times public. But no mention of the fact that eventually the RAN OUT OF MEDALS?!! (Shocking!!!) Being a retail buyer and having to predict sell-throughs on products with no actual firm information on how many I will sell, it amazes me that they, despite knowing exactly how many people had entered each race, STILL ran out of stuff. Their predicted failure rate is obviously offensively high.

The Recovery

Moving was pretty horrible in the first few days, if I’m honest. If I was totally still in either the seated, lying down or standing positions, I was fine. Brilliant, in fact. But the transition between these three positions was tough. Yes I stretched off, and had a massage, but there’s only so much that my body will let me away with and forcing it through 26.2 miles with a dodgy hip was a bit too much for it.

I had, with some kind of stroke of genius, managed to book a physio appointment for the Monday night. I couldn’t drive so Brian had to take me and collect me. PhysioDan took one look at me and giggled. What an absolute mess I was in.

The Walk was pretty funny. Like someone had stuck a splint to my left knee. I couldn’t bend it at all. I wasn’t very brave about it either. Dan focused on stretching out my hip and working on my knee a bit and diagnosed a bit of Patella Tendonitis which ought to clear up on it’s own.

The sunburn was deep and very painful. I had a small cry each time I had to apply Aloe gel. Lesson firmly learned.

Oh. And I wore my medal ALL of Monday.

Tuesday saw small improvements to range of movement. Physio made my knee feel a bit better and my limp was starting to look less like a Quasimodo walk. Bonus.

I managed 800m of breastroke and Frontcrawl at the pool on Tuesday night. Very relaxing and I felt fast (though it’s likely that the other pool users were just REALLY slow…)

On Wednesday I returned to work, bling in tow, to regale my colleagues with many tales of Marathonning. They did pretty well. Not one person yawned. I work on the 3rd floor of a very old building and the lift is supposed to be for customers only. I kept forgetting that my knee was wobbly (I’m used to the hip… that’s been groaning on since March…) and trying to scale the stairs. Lift it was until Friday.

I didn’t do any exercise this week apart from swimming and a bit of Pilates based hip work. And by Friday I was REALLY beginning to miss running, like some kind of weird addict. But I knew my body wanted me to rest.

After work on Saturday I attempted a cycle. 14 miles around Loch Leven on my MTB. It felt MAGIC. I felt fast and strong and nothing hurt. “This is what I’ll do for a while” I told myself. So this morning I ventured out again and went anticlockwise and managed a QOM! (Unbelievably)

Setting Goals

I’m the type of person that works well to goals. If I don’t have them I tend to feel a bit lost and depressed. So all week I’ve been busy setting mini goals for myself. And bigger ones.

I want to do a triathlon next year. Plus VLM if I get a place. So swimming and cycling will now get plenty of attention while I get back to the gym and start rebuilding my hips and knees with a bit more strength. Running will be small distances for now. Just enough to keep all the parts moving but not enough to do any damage.

The First Trot

I went out and tried a mile today. Not a brilliant plan. I knew my legs would feel like lead but I wasn’t really prepared for all the weird pains that started in my pelvis and knees. Bit depressing. But as I said above, it’s time to build strength now so that for next time (and there WILL be a next time) I will be stronger, leaner and faster.

The Questions

Marathon runners. Ask yourself: what is the weirdest/funniest/most offensive question you’ve ever been asked?

Here’s a few beauties from this week: (Along with my retorts)

“YOU ran a marathon?”  – Yes. Quite surprising, isn’t it? Given my addiction to donuts and beer…

(When told I’d like to run VLM and do a tri next year) “You’re nearly 30. Shouldn’t you be thinking about having children?” – My sole purpose is not to breed. I’d actually like to achieve some life-goals before I start pro-creating and spending all my money on baby-wipes and pampers instead of Asics and Garmins.

“Doesn’t it hurt?” – Yes. “Why would you do something that hurts?” – Because it’s a marathon. Not many people get to do those. Lots of people can’t even walk. And I can. I can use my legs. So I will.

Final Thoughts

The marathon has fundamentally changed me. I’m so focused on getting stronger now. I’ve always been competitive, but I’m REALLY competitive with myself. I feel a strange sense of calm. I know now that I pushed through pain for about 2 hours just to get to a finish line. If I can do that, I can probably push myself to do almost anything. Manning up is going to become second nature, I think….