Tuesday, 2 February 2021

How many epiphanies??? This is the last one, I promise.

 I'm a serial epiphanist. 

Seriously though... I've made a few changes, accepted some things, and applied some common sense. The first thing I need to share is, I no longer run, and triathlon is no longer part of my plan. Why? Well... arthritis, mainly. Specifically it's the gout that I want to avoid aggravating, as each flare-up creates further permanent joint damage, and it can move way beyond the initial painful joint. I'd rather not endure that.

I've spent some time and effort in controlling the gout with diet and lifestyle. I quit drinking over three years ago and that's been a huge benefit, but I also found that quitting sugar completely, in all its forms, has been a help. It's the main trigger for me, it seems, so whatever I can do to tell gout to go and fuck itself, I have done. 

I have read the opinions of some gout sufferers and they maintain that only a very, very small number of people can control it through diet; I would love to know how many of those people went to the lengths of cutting sugar out of their diet, though. 

I digress a little. 

This means I'm selling all my tri stuff. WonderBike is a great machine, but he's also wasted on me. I just don't have the road confidence, and it's not coming any time soon. Two collisions in the past have put the fear of god into me, and a fearful rider is just not a safe one.

It also means the three races I had planned for this year will no longer have me in them. One is scheduled for the first anniversary of my mum's death, July 4th, and I thought it would be a nice way to mark the occasion. I realise now though, there is no reason to associate the two things. I can just have an awesome day, chat with her, say thanks, and go about my life.

There have been a lot of changes in the past 12 months. I mean, the world lost its shit, my folks both died, I moved to a different house, and my kids now come to visit, it's all changed. Some of those things are definitely for the better. Some things just are.

I'll miss the freedom that running brought, even though I have barely been able to do it for the last several years thanks to muscle problems, then joint pain. But it's ok, because I did it. I did something that I chose to do simply because I wanted to do something that I didn't want to do. I wanted to do something that I knew I would find really, really difficult. I started running a few months after I quit smoking, so probably October or so 2003. I didn't light up any races, I didn't place, I didn't even enjoy many races. But I loved the training, and I managed to pass that love on to a bunch of other people, who all went on to do half marathons, something they had never dreamed they would do. I'm very, very proud of that, of them.

I'm still aiming to work out, when gyms re-open. And to swim. But to do it just for fun, and for strength and health. No deadlines, just the sheer pleasure of moving, of lifting heavy shit, of doing. 

I didn't want to walk the dog the other night, but when we were out I found myself smiling, in the woods, in the dark, alone because the dog was away chasing stuff. And I reminded myself, out loud: "When in doubt, move. Just move."

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Not sport related.

So, last September I lost my sun and moon, my right hand, my heart, in my dog Millie. It was hard but I knew it would be so. I did not anticipate it being as hard as it has been though, and talking to a friend in the supermarket recently she suggested it might be because the actual event was so badly handled by the vet, it was even more traumatic than it needed to be.

Been thinking on that, and she may be right. Who knows? But it struck a chord, for sure.

The other thing I have been thinking, and which really helps, is ever so simple. See, she was my bestie, we were joined at the hip and did everything together, all day, every day. I was very rarely without her right next to me. People actually often don't speak to me because they don't recognise me without her. Well, that's what they say

Oh, yeah. That thing that helps. She was my best friend, but the thing I realised recently is that I was hers, too. How cool is that? My dog loved me, really loved me, maybe even more than I loved her. How cool is that.

Here she is.

PS: I will be blogging a lot more soon. Comment if you don't give a fuck.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

and the doctor says....

*drum roll*

It's arthritis. She hasn't said what kind (let's assume osteo, as it's in the hip joint), she has just said there are signs, it's very mild, keep doing what I'm doing - strength exercises, keep active, keep losing weight. So, I will.

But... There's a part inside me that says, I'm only 44. If I live as long as my grandad that's more than half my life with this fucking thing, and that part in my head assumes this is the only place I'll get it. Way too young for replacement, and they wait as long as they can to do that anyway as it doesn't last that long, now it's all about managing it, making the reasons it's there fucking do one, and getting on with shit.

Might go for a run tonight. Just a little one, with the dogs.

Might not.

I am seriously, seriously pissed off about the diagnosis though. Did I stay too fat/heavy for too long? Surely a factor, but then it's also in the family anyway (as is the rheumatoid variety). So can I blame my parents or... No, I'll just get on with shit and manage it as best I can.

And keep that Ironman dream alive, obv. It becomes more relevant than ever.

Friday, 22 February 2019

I'm not homicidal. Yet.

I've had some pain in my hip for a wee while. Physio said she thought it was a spur maybe, or perhaps just some inflammation of the stuff covering the ball joint.

I have done my exercises. My posterior chain is rocks now, my hips are good. But the pain persists. So next week, I have an x-ray happening, as my GP suspects it is arthritis. That would be... fucking annoying and no mistake. I would have to bring my plans forward by a year – or perhaps, perhaps, abandon them entirely in the worst case.

But I won't know for a good few weeks yet. All I do know is, it hurts. And the way the brain works, of course, I am assuming the worst.

Anyway, I just thought I would share.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

A slight sensation of unravelling.


It's been a tough few weeks. I've gone from feeling strong to the opposite; from feeling quite together, to feeling splayed and unformed.

I've had a cold for a few weeks, my voice has been patchy at best for the whole time so far. It shows no sign of buggering off either; and it's not even a good cold, it's just a low-level crapness. So no exercise, and because of deadlines (this is my busiest time of year by some distance) I have done little other than work, look after kids, and sleep.

I'm glad I deferred the races.

But also... Fernster got a puppy just before Christmas, and tomorrow she goes to be euthanised. The poor wee girl never stood a chance thanks to the shitheads that bred her; she is a bright, sweet border collie pup, born with a likelihood of brain damage thanks to her genes, and which has manifested itself in obsessive behaviour and huge anxiety. It's like she is locked in. We know she loves us, but we also know we see less and less of her each day; we have had many conversations with experts, different vets, nurses, people working in dog rescue, collie associations, and they all agree this is about as good as her life will be, and there is every chance that she will turn nasty. Not out of choice, but out of frustration because, allied with her total deafness, she cannot be trained or have any semblance of normality in her life. Her first month or so were spectacular, Farley adores her and vice versa, but since then it's been a steep slide downhill.

I know it's the best thing, the right thing, to do, especially with very young children in the house, but still... Fuck.

In other news, there is no other news. Work remains work, everything else ticks along.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

In which I defer

It's true, I have deferred all of this year's races to 2020. April is too soon for a marathon after the back seizurey, cold-having, lung-coughing-up start to 2019 I've had. So I deferred that place, fine. I contacted the nice people at OSB Events about deferring my Holkham Half place in July, and it will cost me £75 to do so but... What are my choices exactly? And Ellesmere, the autumn half distance tri, I have not yet entered and my credit note is good to July 2020, so that's also sorted.

What does this do? It gives me the freedom to spend a year in the pool and on the bike, putting the miles in, with no deadlines or pressure. I can learn to swim, properly, for these kind of races, and hopefully, learn to love the bike part.

It takes some pressure off, it gives me a lot of freedom; there is a lot going on in other parts of life, and those other parts need some attention.

Imma still be writing shit here though, so don't go anywhere.

Monday, 31 December 2018

It's not just the bears.

Let me tell you a story. It's a tale of a ramshackle man, held together by bits of string and goodwill, trying to shift his arse and do some exercise. And it's the story of a poorly little puppy, who needed to be so worn out that she could rest. I mean, there are other characters, but let's keep it simple.
A short while ago, Fernster wanted a puppy. We'd lost Millie Dog, and she was upset, of course, so she went looking for pups, and found a very beautiful collie named Piglet on a nearby farm. Working stock on both sides, we knew she would take some exercise, but so does Farley, the huntaway. I was reticent, but Fern was insistent, so we got Piglet.

She settled in well, Farley loved her, but I realised very quickly that she was stone deaf. So we started working on how to get her to come to us, how to communicate etc.

It's gone well. She's a lovely dog, and the pair of them just love each other. She's going to be a great dog. Except… A few nights ago, she started with what I can only describe as 'episodes'; chasing things only she can see, and non-stop, all night, all day. Stopping only when she was too exhausted to continue, totally focussed on her mission. We thought, maybe she needs more time outside? More stimulation? Fernster started to blame herself, wondering if she could do more for her. A visit to the vet suggested it might be a psychological issue, and that such a thing is not uncommon in collies that suffer with deafness - it's just another congenital issue for them. At his request, I sent the vet a video, and he said yes, I believe that is a mental issue.

So, to give her some respite, she has been out a lot – 2-3 hours in the morning (and yes, I know she is very very young, but it's this or watch her burn herself out while literally bouncing off the walls and doors of the house), and another hour or so at night. Sometimes it has worked, sometimes not. She has had rectal valium (who knew that this was a thing?) which seemed to do absolutely fuck-all.

I digress. Last night, Fernster didn't feel great and I needed to run to maintain momentum. So I took Farley and Piggie to the woods, to run with me and a headtorch. It was pitch black out there, and silent except for myriad owls doing their call-and-return all around us. It was, in a word, awesome.

We set off. I didn't feel great, though I did feel strong; my stomach was going to give me a grief and I knew this. I had tried to go to the loo before I left, but nothing. A couple of minutes into the run, the only question was where would I shit, not if.

The run was great though. Ate the hills, had loads of power that was simply not there before. I know I have lost 30lbs or so, but I have run lighter than this and without this power. This is from the hip exercises I have been doing and I can seriously feel their value. I barely even felt the hills on the way out – it is more downhill than up, but the ups are pretty long and steep, yet they were no bother.

I passed what I knew was the last big-ish hill, and went on to the crossroads I was looking for, and I knew it was time. Luckily there were two posts with markings on to show which paths/walks you were on at that point, and they were squatting distance apart so I hung on and did the long drop.

Oh, the relief. But then, I thought, I have to run back to the car now, and even go into a shop... and there is absolutely nothing nearby that I can wipe with. Hmmmm.

Then I saw my saviour. And I can only say, little fella – thank goodness you dropped your glove that day on your family walk, I am forever grateful. Someone had thoughtfully put a child's glove on top of one of the posts (because yes, of course you're going to walk 1-2 miles up the woods to look for a small, mass-produced woolly glove), and it was moist from the earlier rain. In short, I had the perfect moist wipe. Perfection.

Of note here is that the run was slow, but effort was maintained; stats show that it took me 17.5 minutes to get to Poo Point, but only 18.5 minutes to run back, which features much longer, slower hills and is in fact mostly uphill. I am delighted with that. Average HR was 134, which is crazy until you see the breakdown is high 90s until the big hill, then in the low 150s for the uphill back. I guess that's why mean averages aren't used that much in sport. Even so, I'm happy with the whole thing.

Piggie was a joy to run with, as was Farley, and when they got home they both crashed out and Piggie slept most of the night. Tha'll do, Pig.

Oh, forgot to put this at the top: caution, possible TMI follows. There, that should do it.