So it’s been a while since I posted. (About 18months) And things have changed a bit (I’m older and fatter 😉 ), but ready for a restart. I thought I’d share an email I sent to my coach a week ago which explains where MdS went off the rails, my battle with anxiety and what I’m thinking for my next challenge! Chat soon Scott 🙂
I’m BAAAACCCCKKKKK!!!!!! (Though perhaps now a little older and wiser.)
I’m certainly looking forward to our catchup in the next few weeks, and as promised I’d thought I’d give you a bit of a heads up on where I’m up to.
I’m not even sure where to start, though perhaps after Ironman UK is a good place. I loved that race and everything about it and distinctly remember a swim in one lakes in the Lake District afterwards and really enjoying being so fit and knowing that whatever I set my mind to, knowing I could do it.
Though in my mind something was still missing. I didn’t know what it was, but I needed a new challenge. At that point I was seriously throwing up MDS and an English Channel swim as my two challenges and the MDS won out because at that stage I simply couldn’t face another minute in the pool.
In retrospect, choosing MdS was both a mistake and an incredibly important learning experience for me.
It was a mistake in that I was exhausted after all the 70.3’s, 2 Ironmans and all the training without a break. I should have realised that when I couldn’t face another minute in the pool and couldn’t face the bike at all, I needed a rest. I distinctly remember telling you that if you set me a bike session I simply wouldn’t do it. (I apologise for being so rude and not trusting in your advice.)
That being said, even after completing all those races and being exhausted, something was missing and I needed to drive myself harder and further.
I put pretty much everything into my MdS training and even though it was brutally hard I just kept pushing myself. Then, towards the end of my training I had a long run which is seared into my mind. I ran from home to Wonthaggi and back on a 42C+ day, via the scenic route. It was around 80km of Sand, hills and trails. It was brutally hot, the flies were atrocious and it has to have been one of the hardest runs I’ve done. On the way back at around the 50-60km mark, I had a bit of an epiphany. I distinctly remember asking myself ‘Why am I doing this’ (most sane people wouldn’t LOL ) and got the answer ‘Because I need to be 100% engaged in life and what I’m doing to be happy’. In that moment I recognised the truth and didn’t need to run anymore, (Well that isn’t quite correct, I did need to run a bit more, as I needed to get home) didn’t need to train anymore, didn’t need to race anymore, I had my answer. I just needed to engage 100% in life and I’d be happy. I’d found my inner driver, though I’d exhausted myself completely in finding it.
In fact, I was so exhausted that a few weeks later I went to the doctor with what I thought was a minor ailment and he sent me straight to hospital, without the opportunity to Pass Go or collect my $200. Even the hospital didn’t want to let me go home. Now I know that I always get sick before a major race (remember me racing Singapore70.3 whilst recovering from Pneumonia, now that was the hardest run I’ve ever done), but in this case the Doctor and I had a very serious discussion about my health and I really didn’t fancy getting airlifted out of the Sahara, so I called the MdS off. Could I have finished the race? In my own mind I know I would have driven myself to the end, but at what cost? Looking back now, I was completely and utterly, mentally and physically exhausted.
So exhausted in fact that it has taken over 18months before I could put on a pair of running shoes again or even venture into the water for a swim (first one yesterday and I loved it).
Of course, I haven’t really rested. I’ve just moved my 100% engaged from training to other areas.
The new house has been built
I’m half way through a Building and Construction Diploma
Bass Valley Handyman now well established and whilst it’s been a tough 18months and a real learning experience, I’m permanently booked 6 months in advance. I did pickup the contract for Suncorp Insurance doing all their work down this way and had 4-5 contractors working for me for a while, but the stress and workload really got to me, so I’ve let that go and am now just have a labourer/apprentice (currently Daniel while he is looking for a ‘REAL JOB’ lol) working with me each day.
Mentally, I was getting panic/anxiety attacks about 6 months ago, and I hadn’t had a full night’s sleep without waking up 10-20 times per night in about 20 years, so I finally went to the Doctor. The first time I saw him, he just suggested counselling etc. The second time he saw me about 3 days later, I was in a full flight ‘manic’ anxiety attack and he put me on Mirtazapine tablets (15mg which is the lowest dose) which is an anti anxiety/antideppressent and I have to say they have been brilliant for me. The first week was rough, I slept for pretty much the whole week and felt like I had the worst case of jet lag ever (which is saying something with the amount of travelling I’ve done). But over a period of months, they have calmed me amazingly and I’m sleeping soundly every night. I’m even waking refreshed in a morning. A feeling I never knew existed.
In general I’m mentally feeling good, though and this is perhaps a bit hard to explain, perhaps the word is ‘fragile’. I know life is full and I’m already busy, and I’m ready for a new adventure but don’t want to push myself over the edge again.
There are some downsides though. I’ve stacked on the weight, mainly through a bad diet, but the tablets don’t help (weight gain is a major side effect). I am also feeling that I’m ready to start coming off the tablets, but I am conscious that the Doctor wants me to run a full 6 month course before weaning me off them. I’ll be having that discussion with him in the next few weeks.
Physically, I’ve done no real training for 18months and have lost my cardio and my muscle mass (fat mass is good though 😉 ). I am active every day, though the knees get a bit sore hundreds of squats, kneeling I do on a daily basis. I did pickup a niggle on the inside of both knees at the end of the MdS training, which seemed to disappear for a while but I can get sore there after a week of tiling on my knees. It may need attention, and a physio visit or two.
I am now exercising for about 20min per day, (I’m just following an intro sprint tri program at the moment) and whilst 20min is short by any standards, it’s enough for where I’m at and I’m actually really enjoying it. I even had my first swim yesterday which was an open water and it felt GREAT!
My flexibility is shot, my elbow is good for lifting whiskey on a Friday afternoon (no it’s ok I’ve stopped drinking completely), but outside of that I’m feeling very inflexible.
My diet has improved dramatically over the past couple of weeks as well, I’ve gone back to Paleo again and it’s really agreeing with me. The weight is starting to fall off me and hopefully I’ll have more than 1 T’Shirt and 1 Pair of shorts in my wardrobe that will fit me before we meet. (Otherwise I recommend you sitting upwind of me 😉 )
I apologise for the long winded ‘where I’ve been’ explanation, now to where do I want to go and why the change?
The reason my couch potato to athlete switch got flipped again is because Emma just did her first 5km run. She trained herself for it without any help from anyone and dragged me to the city as a spectator to watch her. Can I say I was nothing but inspired (not to say a bit emotional) watching her. She has always been an amazing child, but something about watching her run, relit the fire in me………
So….. Long term goal is an English Channel swim? Why? Simply because swimming is my strength, and ever since I was a child I’ve wanted to do it (I also wanted to climb Everest and be an Astronaut, but after reading all the books on the subjects and talking to mountaineers/pilots etc, I think I can die peacefully without attempting those) and it’s a big challenge but doable. The workup time for this swim based on booking Pilot’s etc is about 2 years, which would also work well with the finances as this isn’t a cheap exercise.
The second one is Escape from Alcatraz. Again this race has fascinated me to be able to ‘Escape from the inescapable prison’ and also that they basically push you off the back of the paddle steamer into San Francisco bay and your only choice is to swim back to shore. There are also big things in the water (I’ve seen them), so everyone is in a bit of a rush to get to land. I’ve seen this race as a spectator a couple of years ago whilst the swim is a bit harder than Ironman, it’s not much more. Worst case is you get swept out to sea under the Golden Gate bridge and get a much bigger swim to get back home. (The race organisers called that value for money, ie you get more swim than you paid for) The biggest challenge with this race is getting into it. It’s a lottery entry system (unless I can get a podium in as an Age Grouper/Clydesdale in Beijing Olympic Tri) so it could take a couple of years to get into. The lottery for next year is closed so the earliest would be 2019.
There are a number of other ‘unfinished’ projects that I’d like to get back to, ie IMNZ and the North Face 100, but both of those seem a little bit too difficult mentally for me to face at the moment. Which is funny because the Channel will perhaps be harder than each of them. Perhaps, this is simply because I know what’s needed to achieve IMNZ and NF100.
Enjoy your holiday, or if you’re reading this now that you’re back, I’ll see you soon.