10 marathons in 10 days…day one!

A while ago, I thought it would be a good challenge to try to run ten marathons in ten days during the summer holidays so I signed up and scarily it’s come round quicker than I thought!  I’ve never attempted 10 in 10 before so was a bit nervous at the time but it seemed like a good idea as I’ve done 7 in 7 before so it seemed like a logical step.  Which it would be if I was in the same mindset and physical condition as I was when I did the 7 in 7 a few years ago; unfortunately I’m really not at the moment which is adding an extra challenge on top of the actual running.

I haven’t been feeling great recently and have spent most of the summer holidays from school either lying on my bed feeling rubbish, trying to motivate to do something productive (and usually failing), watching Bad Girls on repeat or walking up and down the canal for hours just to get out the house so the idea of running a marathon every day for ten days seemed a bit overwhelming but I’m looking at it one day at a time and just focussing on getting through that.  Really is a big challenge and I really want to complete it- my running’s been rubbish recently and hadn’t managed a full marathon in over a month, and I want to prove to myself that I can still do it.  The other bonus is that the runs are in Kent which means being away for ten days- I’ve had to move back in with my parents for the moment which isn’t the best situation but not been feeling v safe on my own, and ten days away is definitely needed!!

Anyway, back to the running!  The whole event is really well organised- it’s eight laps of a cyclopark (so you can’t get lost) and starts at 9am every morning.  I was really nervous when I got there, partly because of the running but also v tired because I hadn’t had much sleep (staying in a v noisy B+B and it was freezing last night- had to double over the duvet to make it extra thick and wore running clothes under my pyjamas so didn’t really sleep much even with Zopiclone and piriton) but it was so nice to see and catch up with running friends before the start.  Then the run started and everyone ran at their own pace- I’m mega slow atm so was running on my own for most of it.

It was HARD.  The first couple of laps especially- I felt really stiff and heavy, like I was forcing my body to move and the heat didn’t help.  I don’t usually sweat but was literally dripping and must have been really dehydrated because I didn’t need to use the toilet all day (it’s nearly 8pm now and still haven’t needed it) even though I was drinking half a litre of water every lap and have had soup and two bottles of diet Coke since I finished.  No idea what was going on and really didn’t like it!  I realised quite quickly that lack of food wasn’t helping either- my diet’s been rubbish over the last few weeks, lots of bingeing (on fruit) but been feeling v nauseous and shaky most of the time so haven’t actually ‘eaten’ much outside of bingeing which seems to be impacting on running.  So I had a cereal bar after two laps which helped a bit, and managed to pick up enough speed to count as maybe jogging rather than semi-crawling round.

During lap three, a friend I’ve run with a few times before caught up with me and made me run a bit quicker which definitely helped the overall time- thank you!!  Had two laps of semi-running with him before he went off ahead, which meant I was closer to the cut off time although still pushing it.  Energy levels were dropping again so I had another cereal bar after four laps, and another at six.  Trying to justify it by the fact that my watch was telling me I burned 3000 calories during the run so an extra 100 every other lap shouldn’t make too much difference but I’m still feeling really guilty about it and like I should have just got on with it.  But it’s a really hard balance :/ I really do want to finish the runs and need the energy to do it but I’m terrified of gaining even more weight by being greedy and eating if I don’t need it- so bloody complicated!!  Have written about this before (Running your way to body tolerance… and Thoughts about ED recovery) and it still messes with my mind.  Sometimes I wish I was still a lazy teenager who only exercised in order to burn calories instead of wanting the actual exercise part!

The last few laps were horrible- still really hot and genuinely seemed to have run out of energy.  I only just made the cut off time for the marathon which was a relief to make it but bloody scary considering it’s only day one and have got nine more attempts to go!  Really need to get into the right mindset and focus :/ no idea how though.  I think actually getting there every day and taking part is as much of a challenge as the runs themselves atm- I’m literally having to force myself to move and actually do something but it’s definitely better than being at home feeling even more rubbish which is my main motivation.  Even if I don’t manage marathons every day, it’s still a positive just to run for six hours and more than I thought I’d be able to.  Wish the bloody endorphins would kick in though!  Sorry to anyone who had to deal with me today and thank you to everyone who was so encouraging- promise I’ll try to be less negative for the rest of the week.  You know you must look like shit when three separate people ask if you’re on the right combination of medications…!

Back at the B+B now, have had soup and going to try to have some porridge before I go to bed so I’ve *hopefully* got a bit more energy for the morning.  Still feeling shit about the cereal bars though so will see how it goes :/ a couple of people commented today that I need to eat to fuel the marathons and I’m trying to see it in the context of other people- lots of people running were eating sweets or crisps every lap and they didn’t look any different afterwards (and still looked way thinner than I do atm!), and they needed it for the fuel.  Will definitely have porridge tomorrow morning and see if it makes any difference.  Bought some earplugs after the run and really hoping for a better night’s sleep tonight!  Fingers crossed tomorrow will be a bit easier…

Enduroman Run to Max- my first ever 48 hour race!!

Last weekend, I took part in an event called Enduroman Run to the Max which was my first ever 48 hour event.  WOW!  The whole atmosphere was amazing- there were people running everything from a half marathon to continuous triple Ironman and it was amazing to meet so many awesome people.  I was a bit nervous before the event- I’d never run more than 100 miles before or longer than 36 hours and it seemed a big jump but was also was massively excited to give it a try.  And I absolutely LOVED it!!  Such an amazing experience and didn’t seem like 48 hours at all.  Genuinely enjoyed nearly every minute of it and can’t wait to try another 48 hour event.  And amazingly, came second overall and first female!!  No idea how that happened but seriously was the most amazing event I’ve run in a really long time and loved (nearly) every second.

It was a lapped race which meant that straightaway, there was no chance of getting lost which was a massive relief and took out a lot of the stress.  Each lap was 1.1 miles which I thought was going to be really difficult mentally to manage the same mile over and over but the course was so varied (and hilly!) that it seemed like WAY longer than a mile and probably was given the elevation- 100ft per mile which worked out to 12 000 feet over the whole weekend: nearly three times Ben Nevis!  Scenery was seriously awesome though and definitely worth the extra effort.

I drove down to the New Forest after work and arrived about 8pm.  I started running pretty much straightaway so I could get a few laps in daylight before needing a headtorch.  It was raining lightly but not too bad, and felt really nice to be running on trails again.  The first part of the lap was mostly downhill then gentle undulating trail before the mega hills in the last part of the lap which seemed to get steeper every time!  The first part was like running through a rainforest though and really enjoyed it, so beautiful and natural.  Then it opened up into some tall trees and around the lake before up into woods again and back to the start.  Challenging but beautiful!

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The first few hours passed pretty quickly- was chatting to a few people on the route and listened to David Bowie for most of the first night, working my way through most of his early albums from Space Oddity to Heroes.  Felt really chilled and relaxed, and really helped to get into the rhythm of the run.  I didn’t really have a plan for sleep or fuelling (bad mistake I know!) and decided to see how I felt.  I didn’t feel tired at all so didn’t need to have a rest and had a couple of cereal bars to keep going.  At 20 miles, I stopped for coffee and porridge which became a 20 mile ritual that I really looked forward to by the end of the race!

It rained pretty much constantly for the first night but eased off a bit by dawn.  It was surprisingly mild though and didn’t need a jacket which was weird for me, I’m usually freezing!  It was a relief when it started to get light though and I love the feeling of running into a new day.  The rain had meant that the forest felt damp and Narnia-like which was awesome to run through although I wasn’t a fan of the midges!!  I’d moved on from Bowie to Alanis Morissette by this point and spent the next few hours working my way through all of her albums from Jagged Little Pill to havoc and bright lights.  It felt a bit surreal- it was like I’d grown with Alanis through most of her albums and was feeling a bit weird by the end so switched to Harry Potter audiobooks to reset a bit.

At 40 miles, I stopped again for coffee and porridge before heading back out.  The sun came out for a bit in the afternoon which was nice to dry off and heat up again, and Saturday passed pretty uneventfully.  I still didn’t feel tired so carried on running, and it was really cool to watch the Ironman swimmers in the lake.  Massive kudos for outdoor swimming in the morning rain!  Can’t really say much about Saturday because to be honest, the whole weekend is a bit of a blur but I know I enjoyed it and definitely listened to Blackadder Goes Forth on audiobook which made me laugh A LOT and was a definite boost.  The other completely unexpected boost came from my dad who appeared randomly with six cans of diet Coke!  Which were definitely needed towards the end of the race…  I realised by 9pm that I’d been running over 24 hours so should probably take a rest so I had a quick ‘nap’ for about an hour, didn’t sleep much of it but good to lie down.  My legs started to get sore when I got up again so had some paracetamol, more coffee and porridge then headtorch on and back out.  I was freezing and already wearing layers so a lovely woman called Karen lent me her coat for the night which really, really helped along with several pairs of gloves!

The second night was a bit more surreal and creepy.  The rain had left a lot of fog which was hard to run through in the dark because the light from the headtorch kept bouncing off it.  It was also a lot quieter on the trail- most people seemed to be sleeping in the night section so hardly saw anyone out on the course.  I did get a bit scared but a couple of awesome friends were keeping in touch via text which really, really helped.  And once I’d got more used to the dark, fog and creepy trees which was bit Blair Witch-like, it was kind of beautiful with the full moon and no clouds.  Was definitely relieved when the sun came up again though!

I’d nearly finished Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince by the morning and was relieved that the creepy cave scene happened when it was light instead of running in the dark!  Stopped again for more coffee and porridge, and kept running.  Nothing massively exciting to write about except that I was still really enjoying it and feeling more relaxed and calm than I have done in literally months.  My brain was quiet for once, no anxiety at all and mood felt pretty stable.  Whatever chemicals the brain releases in an ultra need to be bottled into medication, it’s bloody awesome!!  Works a million times better than any medication combination I’ve tried.

Finally reached 100 miles at about midday which was a massive achievement since it was the furthest I’d ever run and the terrain was seriously tough to run.  I stopped for coffee and porridge (with peanut butter this time!) and it felt very weird to carry on running past 100!  I realised I only had a few hours left which felt really surreal and kind of sad because I was still loving the whole experience and didn’t want it to end.  By 44 hours though, the lack of sleep started to kick in and the trees around me started to move slowly and strangely, and there was lava creeping over the path.  The toilet block was also moving and the ground kept coming up towards me.  I took another break at the end of that lap and lay down for half a hour which really helped and the world went back to ‘normal’, or as normal as it can be when you’ve been running 44 hours straight!

I finished finally about 8pm after 110 laps- 121 miles!!!!  Officially the furthest I have ever run and considering how tough the terrain was, I’m seeing it as a MASSIVE achievement.  And not just the running- I was careful about remembering to fuel every few miles (porridge every 20 miles without skipping any, and cereal bars or peanut butter in between), took medication while running (including aripiprazole although I only had a smaller amount of quetiapine), chatted to lots of awesome people and had a genuinely amazing time.  And, incredibly, I came second overall and was first female!!  No idea how that happened but it was such an amazing weekend 😀 thank you so much to everyone at Enduroman for organising such an incredible event and can’t wait to run it again next year!!

Viking 100

Sorry again for how sporadic my blog posts are recently, really need to get back into the habit of actually writing posts instead of half-planning them then never getting round to actually writing any!  But took part in the amazing Viking 100 SVN event over the weekend which was awesome, intense and mega tough in probably equal amounts, and definitely think it deserves a blog post.  It feels a bit weird trying to write about it because the whole event seems to be stuck in ultrarunning brain scramble and there are parts of it that I can’t really remember or that seem totally confused in my head so this might be a bit of a disjointed account but I’ll try to remember as much as I can.  I’m also still totally exhausted and physically and emotionally drained so sorry in advance if it doesn’t make a lot of sense!

First and most important thing is a massive THANK YOU to all the amazing race organisers and volunteers at Saxons, Vikings and Normans.  If anyone hasn’t come across them before, they are among the friendliest, most inclusive and generally awesome running events I’ve ever taken part in.  The race organisers and volunteers are amazing and the whole atmosphere is so friendly and supportive, and I wouldn’t have even got halfway through the 100 miles without the amazing encouragement and support.  All the runners are equally amazing and supportive, and I’ve met so many incredible and inspirational people through running SVN events- you are all awesome!!

The run started at 8am which meant there was lots of time in daylight to get used to the route and get into the run which was definitely a good thing!  Weather at the start of the run was pretty much perfect for running- not too cold or windy, no rain (yet!!) and even occasional breaks in the clouds to see some blue sky.  It was a massive contrast to the absolutely FREEZING Moonlight Challenge on the same course three weeks earlier which had temperatures well below freezing and was so cold that I lost all feeling in my arms from the elbows down even with multiple pairs of gloves and it literally took fifteen minutes just to open some hand warmers to try to warm up!  Three of my fingers were white and it was the most painful cold I’ve experienced in years, and it took over seven hours just to complete a marathon so I was a bit worried about the weather being the same for the 100 miles but luckily it wasn’t and temperatures stayed several degrees above freezing even overnight which was a mega relief.

Partway into the first lap, I was lucky enough to end up running with the awesome Nick Nicholson who is one of the most crazily inspirational people I’ve ever met running.  For people who haven’t come across Nick, he’s the current Guinness World Record holder for the most marathons in a year and most 50ks in a year and is currently improving on these, so he’s a pretty awesome guy to run with!  Definitely helped to keep me sane on the first few laps when I hadn’t totally processed the fact that I was actually attempting 100 miles and considering the crazy amount of running Nick does, 100 miles in one weekend really shouldn’t be that scary…

The first part of the race was pretty uneventful; bit of rain but nothing major and the course was awesome.  The first part was muddy which became more of a challenge as the run/rain went on (more about that later!) then it was uphill to the windmill farm, back down to run down a path between fields and a main road, up to jellybean junction then down to a hilly two mile loop around the farm and back past jellybean junction to the barn which was the base aid station.  Really nice course- lots of scenery, mix of paths and fields, up and down to break up the longish flat stretch from jellybean junction to the windmill farm and nothing majorly technical apart from the mud.  Also impossible to get lost even for me which was a big bonus!  Having an extra aid station in the 10k route was also really, really helpful especially towards the end of the race when you’re absolutely exhausted and need as many positive boosts as possible.

The first major milestone in the run was passing marathon distance and was still feeling pretty good by then.  I’d got Harry Potter on my ipod and was enjoying the relative brain quiet that you only really get several hours into an ultra, and was it nice to get totally immersed in Harry’s attempt to find the diadem of Ravenclaw while the rest of the school were preparing for the Battle of Hogwarts.  I’d forgotten how many genuinely hilarious moments there are even in the most intense parts of the whole Harry Potter saga and was laughing a bit hysterically at some of the lines which *might* have looked a bit odd to anyone who saw me!  Looking back now, I think this might have been the start of when I was beginning to get a bit too hyped which didn’t kick in properly till early evening but at that point, it was just awesome to relax into the running and enjoy it.

The hardest part of long ultras for me is the fuelling bit- I can never seem to get it right and I hate how ridiculously stressful it is.  I have no idea how people can just seem to ‘get it’ without even thinking and I’ve never managed to get it properly sorted.  It’s also the first ultra I’ve done since I came off medication which seems to have had a big impact on that side of running too- usually my brain has ‘shut up’ enough by then so that I can eat things that I’d never normally eat without feeling sick or horrible but it hadn’t happened this time and I had no idea what or how much I should be eating.  From talking to other runners, I know that you should eat little and often but that didn’t seem to have any meaning whatsoever and by about six hours in, I was feeling a bit nauseous and couldn’t work out if it was from not eating enough (I’d only been fuelling at the base aid station and that was causing so much anxiety that I wasn’t even sure if I’d eaten anything at all) or from eating too much because again I wasn’t sure what I’d actually eaten!  By about 50k though, I knew I had to eat something other than salted peanuts and had two rice krispie bites which caused brain overload but did help to stop the nausea.

The sun was starting to set by then and it was nearly headtorch time which always makes me a bit nervous but luckily the timing was pretty much perfect and the next lap coincided with Nick coming out for his second 50k of the day (!) to start the pacer event.  The first lap (or two maybe?) went pretty well and was nice to chat to Nick, and he is a pretty amazing person to have as a pacer because he’s bloody brutal and kept telling me to ‘get off my fucking phone and fucking run’!  It really did help though- I have a habit of checking/rechecking my phone during the night part of ultras because usually I’m on my own and it freaks me out, and I find nightrunning really hard because everything seems a million times worse and harder but an awesome part of this sort of run is that there are usually people around or not too far away so if something did happen, someone would probably find you.  Doesn’t stop you getting paranoid though!

When we got back to the base aid station, they’d ordered Domino’s pizza.  For some totally unknown reason, I decided to have half a slice of the vegetable one (although I didn’t go as far as the cheese) and weirdly it tasted amazing.  Won’t go into too much detail but that caused complete mental overload and confusion, no idea why I even thought that pizza would be a good idea but it did give me an energy boost…to the point of going full-on hyped by halfway through the next lap.  God knows what was going on in my brain- I genuinely can’t remember it properly but I know I was talking way too much and too fast at Nick (sorry!!) and kept running too fast so I left him behind several times when he’d offered to pace me which was a bit rude and probably defeats the point of having a pacer!  I realised pretty quickly that I needed to do something about it though (possibly the only benefit of having been in A+E after going hypomanic after ultras in the past is being hyper aware of it) so I stopped at the next aid station to take Nytol and a small amount of quetiapine which I came off a couple of months ago but had some with me just in case since it was because of getting too hyped after an ultra that I was prescribed it in the first place so I always have some with my emergency first aid stuff.

I was still a bit hyped for the next lap or two but thanks to Nick’s awesome pacing, I managed to keep a relatively consistent pace over the next few hours and felt pretty good going into the night section.  Thankfully the medication worked and the hypedness didn’t go into full on over-hyped chaos but I had a bit of a weird experience where I was still a bit hyped and definitely talking way more than I usually would or should do (especially to people I hardly know 16 hours into a pretty gruelling ultra) but was also starting to ‘crash’ at the same time which is hard to describe but it’s like being simultaneously hyperactive and wanting to crawl in a bush and disappear, kind of like when you’re laughing and crying at the same time.  I think a lot of it was mid-ultra exhaustion and was definitely more emotional than I usually would be which is unusual for me during a run but not particularly unusual for a lot of people during ultras so hopefully no-one thought I was too weird or annoying!  Apart from maybe Nick who definitely had to put up with more annoyingness than anyone should have to especially at midnight in the middle of an ultra.

Just realised I’ve forgotten to mention the mud issue!  At the start and end of the route, there was a particularly muddy stretch of grass which gradually got worse as the run (and rain) went on with standing water and people running through it making it more like mud sliding than even walking.  So about halfway through the event, the route was changed to avoid the really muddy stretch which was a massive relief- I’m not coordinated even running on normal terrain and it was definitely not my favourite part of the course.  Good experience to practise on it though, and was kind of fun even though it sapped a ridiculous amount of energy.  But by most of the night laps, it had was mostly road or paths which was a lot less risky.

Nick finished his second 50k around 1am and left to get seem sleep before driving to another one in the morning (!) which is crazy and amazing in equal amounts.  Definitely owe him massively for the pacing and for putting up with me over the previous few laps- without the relatively even times I’d managed to make over the laps I’d run with him, I don’t think I’d have even passed 50 miles given how erratic and inconsistent my running was by that point and it definitely helped that I had that as a ‘buffer’ when my knee started to play up later on in the race and I had to walk almost an entire lap.  Thanks so much Nick!  The next couple of hours went OK; I was still listening to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and it was getting to the real intense battle part which was an intense enough distraction from the dark, and chatted to a couple of other people at various points during the laps which was also really nice.  I was still having fuelling issues though and didn’t want to risk another pizza issue so was back to salted peanuts and jelly babies for energy which I was really starting to hate!  But coffee really, really helped and needed the heat and caffeine boost.

By 3am though, my mood had started to drop and the on/off rain in the dark probably didn’t help.  I can’t remember a lot about 3am-6am apart from really struggling, finding it really difficult to keep moving and being very cold and wet.  I know I definitely cried over someone at least once but can’t remember who it was or what I said to them but I’m really sorry- I’m not usually like that!!  Was having a lot of horrible negative thoughts which didn’t help and I’m not sure if it was exhaustion, cold, quetiapine (having not taken it in two months), residual pizza anxiety, sleep deprivation or a combination but it was seriously horrible.  I did at least one lap in my dryrobe to try to stay warm and switched from Harry Potter to Alanis Morissette in an attempt to boost mood a bit but weirdly the thing that really did help was when I got to the aid station after a particularly horrible lap and had a bit of a meltdown about what to eat- my brain was total fuzz and I couldn’t even speak properly, and someone suggested eating toast.  I didn’t even have the brain power to think about it at the time so I had toast and jam which must have done something magical because half a lap later, I felt relatively human again and started to get back into the running.  I can’t remember who it was that gave me the toast but thank you so much!!

The last 20 miles were HELL.  I was so so tired, my left knee was starting to get really painful and every part of my body hurt.  I walked/jogged a lap to try to get back into it which helped a bit to loosen up now it was starting to get light again, and it always helps when it starts to get light.  My brain was still a bit scrambled and I was totally convinced I wouldn’t finish in the time but one of the organisers pointed out that even if I was moving at 2 miles an hour, I could still finish before the cut off and I was determined to keep moving even though by then I wanted to hide under a dryrobe and never come out.  I was relying on coffee and sweets to function by then and I’d worked out how many I needed to get round a lap so fuelling for once wasn’t really an issue, I think maybe because I’d already fried my brain with pizza and toast!

The last two laps seemed to take forever but I had a knee support and was taking it really slowly, and it was weirdly starting to seem like I might actually finish which hadn’t seemed like a real possibility before then.  I was absolutely exhausted and felt like I was forcing my body to keep moving every step but was back on Harry Potter and compared to fighting Voldemort, getting through less than a half marathon in six hours should be totally achievable!  It was so, so painful though and seemed to take ten times as long as it should have, and the rain really didn’t help- for a while, it was horrible steady drizzle which soaks you even though it’s not that heavy but thankfully it didn’t last too long and once it stopped, it was pretty much ideal running conditions again which also really helped.

By the last few miles, I actually felt like a normal human being again which was a massive relief!  I kind of enjoyed the last bit- partly relief that it was nearly over and that I could actually finish it, and also nice to enjoy the scenery without the stress of ‘OMG I’ve still got XXX miles to go’.  I finished in under 29 hours which was 2 hours 40 minutes faster than Samphire 100 two years ago so I was massively happy with that!  The race organisers and volunteers are genuinely amazing- I could not have done it without the support and encouragement, and thank you all so so so much.  Also massive thank you to the amazing people taking part in the run- you all did amazingly and huge WELL DONE to everyone!!  Thanks so much for the encouragement, chats and hugs from everyone during and after the race- anyone who knows me will know that I’m not a hug-type person in any way at all but I really needed it during what was a seriously tough run and thank you all so much.  You are all incredible!!

I’m still completely overwhelmed and can’t fully process it, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten to mention lots of awesome parts of the run so might end up editing this blog post at some point or adding to it but it really was an amazing event and such an incredible challenge.  100 miles is a bloody long way and it’s a really up and down experience for anyone, even people who have done it several times before.  MASSIVE congratulations to anyone who took part and to everyone doing the challenge runs- it wasn’t the easiest course and conditions, and everyone did so so well.  THANK YOU to Traviss and Rachel for organising it and to all the amazing volunteers who made it possible and made it such an amazing experience.  The atmosphere at SVN events is always awesome and I loved every minute of it however painful the run was at times.  Thank you all so much ❤

More SVN Challenge runs!

Hi guys, I’m really sorry I haven’t written a blog post in so long; haven’t been feeling great recently and getting really frustrated with (lack of) mental health support, and I don’t like posting non-positive writing so thought it would be best to give blogging a break for a while.  Also haven’t been running much recently since I cracked a rib a couple of months ago but FINALLY getting back into it and ran two awesome Saxons Vikings and Normans events last weekend which were, as usual, amazing, well organised and massively supportive.  Thanks Traviss, Rachel, Karen and everyone else who helped to organise and run the events!

I was really nervous about running the events because I hadn’t run properly in over two months and I tried to run an ultra event a couple of weeks ago but only managed 16 miles due to rib pain and cold weather, and I drove down to Kent half-expecting this weekend to be similar.  I’d had a busy week at work and was exhausted before I even got there but when I arrived in Deal and went to the B+B (which I’d booked because it was the cheapest), I was mega excited to find out that it was on the seafront!  The sunrise walk before the runs and moonlight afterwards made the trip to Kent worth it even if the running didn’t work out at all, and I was looking forward to seeing friends from other runs who were also taking part so I started to feel a bit more optimistic although still very, very nervous.

Saturday was the Betteshanger Challenge and I kept reminding myself that some (crazy) people were doing 10 marathons in 10 days and this would be their 9th so I didn’t really have anything to complain about!  I still wasn’t sure if I should aim for a marathon or ultra so I channelled my inner teen and asked the collective wisdom that is Instagram via an insta poll and the results came back as 70% ultra.  So that pretty much decided that!

One of the things I love most about SVN events is how friendly, accepting and welcoming the people are.  It’s amazing when people not only recognise you but also seem happy to see you, and it’s like you only ran with them last week instead of months ago.  And everyone is so inclusive that even though I’d one of the slowest runners on the planet, it really doesn’t feel like it and everyone is equal even though there are people there with crazy records!

When the run started it was FREEZING and I ran the first lap wearing pretty much the amount of layers you’d wear on a ski slope.  It warmed up *slightly* by the second and third laps though so I swapped my ski jacket for a lighter windproof running one and took off one of the pairs of gloves, still cold but definitely better than running like I was doing some sort of polar marathon.

The course wasn’t the most exciting in the world; it started up a hill past the visitor centre then followed a two mile cycle track and back to the start which was a bit monotonous after a while but at least you couldn’t get lost and the views weren’t terrible.  It was also really, really cold (although I was told it was much colder during the week) and my temperature regulation is a bit rubbish so I was really feeling it as the race went on.  I couldn’t seem to get into the usual rhythm but managed to settle into a relatively OK state of half-jogging and brain slowedness if not totally quiet, which seemed about as much as I could hope for.  So I carried on longer than I thought I’d be able to and started to connect more with the run as the time went on.

Part of the reason I didn’t quit at half marathon (which I seriously considered) was that I was fortunate enough to run into the awesome and inspiring Nick Nicholson who I’ve run with before on previous races and who never fails to amaze me with his pretty much constant running and amazing world records.  I’d been feeling a bit demoralised and exhausted but Nick put up with several laps of me talking pretty much random crap at him (until once again, I ditched him for coffee- I promise it’s not personal, Nick!) and decided to go for the ultra after all.  Then the sky decided to showcase its awesomeness and there was one of the most incredible sunsets I’ve ever seen which, coupled with David Bowie, made the last couple of laps feel like a sort of religious experience.  Amazing!!

As anyone who’s ever seen my Instagram page (@ultrarunning.geek) will know, I’m a bit obsessed with taking pictures of the sky and nature but this was seriously incredible.  It made the freezing start and icy wind absolutely worth it and I almost didn’t want to stop by the end even though I was physically exhausted and emotionally drained.  There’s something magical about running when the light’s an intense gold and the world seems strangely magnified and detailed, and that’s the point when I start feeling fully connected with the world around me and with God.  Took way too many photos so here are a few more!

I was absolutely exhausted by the time I got back to the B+B and after porridge, coffee and a hot shower (because my body felt like I’d spent the day in a walk-in freezer!), I was ready to go to bed at about 7pm!  I forced myself to stay awake for a few hours though, did some drawing and wrote in my diary (because I really am a throwback 90s kid!) and went to bed finally about 11pm in the hope that I might actually get some sleep.  As usual for the moment, I couldn’t get to sleep and had several fights with the duvet in an attempt to get warm (even with hot water bottles and blankets!) and it seemed like ages of listening to Harry Potter to actually fall asleep but I must have done because next thing I remember it was 3am and I was awake again.

The second day was much harder than the first.  I was physically tired even after three cups of coffee and achy from the day before, and I’d started to get a cold which didn’t help (apart from the amusement of being IDd for Lemsip!).  My mood was also pretty rubbish for no particular reason and I kind of wanted to crash and hide in Homeland DVDs for the whole day but obviously that wasn’t an option.  So I used my usual strategy of using Instagram for accountability and asked via a second insta poll if I should aim for marathon or ultra.  THANKFULLY the vote was ‘marathon’ at 57% to 43% so I set that as my target and it gave me a legitimate reason not to push for an ultra.

Sunday wasn’t quite as cold as Saturday and I didn’t have to start in a ski jacket and two pairs of gloves which was a relief!  The course was also nicer- it was a 4.3 mile loop with undulating footpath and trail which was really good to run on and again, you couldn’t really get lost.  So on one level I was enjoying the run much more than I had the previous day but I was also physically exhausted, still cold and irrationally anxious which made it really hard to settle into the running.

Then the weather decided to make things even harder with icy rain and wind.  I had a waterproof with a hood and several layers but it was that horrible smeary rain which seems to penetrate through every layer you have so it was pretty much cold and wet whatever you did.  I was literally shivering as I was running which wasn’t fun and I’d also started to feel a bit dizzy and nauseous with tiredness which I tried unsuccessfully to combat with chocolate and Haribo- you know the run’s not going great when Haribo doesn’t work!!

One of the things that really does help when you’re feeling rubbish when running is supportive texts because it makes you feel more connected and like you’re not totally on your own running in the middle of nowhere, and thank you so so much to everyone who sent messages.  I was ready to quit at halfway again but I’d got some lovely messages from close friends and really wanted to get to at least marathon so carried on with the help of lovely friends and family.  Thank you!!

I didn’t take many photos on the second day, partly because I was exhausted and partly because it was so cold and wet that I didn’t want to take my gloves off to take a photo.  But I did get a few good ones in between rain showers and it really was a typical, damp autumn run in beautiful scenery.

By the end, I was so tired that I could hardly run straight and shivery cold, and I just wanted to finish.  The last part of the lap was a bit hilly and I could really feel it in my knees as I tried to complete in under the time limit, and the last stretch seemed to last forever.  But finally it was over and, being a Lucky Dip Challenge, there was a choice of random medals.  I didn’t really have much of a preference and couldn’t decide, and then one of the race organisers asked me if I wanted a Formula One medal!!  I’m a MASSIVE F1 fan and said yes if there was one, and she said that she’d saved me one because she knew I liked F1!  It was so so nice of her and I got a bit over-excited, acting like a ten year old on Christmas Day, jumping up and down and showing random people (ridiculous post-run emotions even for me!) then I suddenly wanted to cry.  I was still absolutely freezing which might also have contributed to the over-emotion so I went into the visitor centre and got out my blanket, hot water bottle and hand warmers which were an absolute godsend!

Once I’d warmed up a bit, I could drive home and after nearly 5 hours of driving (M25 traffic then accident on M40), I was ready to crash out.  I had a quick shower and some porridge (with blueberries, thanks to a friend’s suggestion) then went straight to bed.  Amazingly I actually fell asleep relatively quickly but that meant that I woke up ridiculously early so you can’t really win…  So worth it though!!  Was awesome to see so many people I knew and to catch up with people, and can’t wait to see you all at another SVN event soon!

Insomnia 24

Sorry this blog post is so late!  I ran Insomnia 24 back in August but have been so busy with going back to work, sorting out stuff for Open University and trying to deal with a pretty persistent mood crash that I haven’t had the energy or motivation to write a post after the race.  But it was such an amazing, magical run that I can’t not write one so going to attempt to use photos to try to channel the amazing feelings and moments over an amazing 24 hours…

The run started at midday and was in Leicestershire so for once, I didn’t have to travel too far.  I drove there on the Saturday morning and set up my tent with two hours to spare, so got chatting to some other people doing the run who were lovely as always and started to get excited.  It was hot already so I decided to leave my backpack by the start line instead of in my tent (because everything would melt) and put on sunscreen- REALLY didn’t want a repeat of last year’s ridiculous sunburn from a summer 100 miler! I wasn’t too nervous about the run because it was my fourth ultra over the summer holidays, I didn’t have any specific goals or targets and just wanted to enjoy the weekend of running.  So as midday got closer, the pre-run nerves never really got past the jittery stage and I was definitely more excited than terrified.  The course looked awesome, it was a six mile loop and the weather was amazing which is pretty miraculous for an August bank holiday weekend!

The course genuinely was amazing!  It started with a gentle downhill run across a field with a windmill then looped back behind some woods, through the trees, up the other side of the field, through more trees, over a pumpkin field, past farmland with strawberries, blackberries and probably more crops that I didn’t recognise then down through some more woods and back up to loop round yet another field.  It was undulating but not massively hilly although it was one of the most technically challenging courses I have ever run- very uneven ground in a lot of places, overgrown nettles and (obviously, since it was an ultra) mud.  But the scenery made it worth it a million times over and it was so well organised that even I couldn’t get lost!

It was HOT!!  It took a while to get used to running in the heat and was drinking a lot more than I usually would even during an ultra, but it was close to 30 degrees and hardly any clouds in the sky so definitely needed.  I’d thought ahead enough to bring a cap and sunglasses (super organised for me!) and had electrolyte tablets so was about as prepared as I could be but was still tough running across exposed fields in the heat.  But considering the last 24 hour ultra I ran was postponed overnight because of torrential rain (see Hope24 2017), this was definitely preferable and once my body had adjusted, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as previous hot races I’ve run.  Possibly because I’m not taking risperidone or quetiapine any more but it’s amazing the difference it makes!

The first few hours passed pretty quickly and it was awesome to listen to Harry Potter with no interruptions or distractions apart from amazing scenery which made it feel like I was actually running through the story.  I started to feel more relaxed than I had done in weeks (it was the last week of the summer holidays and my stress/mood levels were pretty much at breaking point by then), my brain was finally starting to slow down, the bitch in my head’s voice was less intense and I was actually beginning to feel ‘real’ and connected again.  After a couple of hours of magical running, I met a guy I’d run with on previous races and ran a lap with him which was awesome as always (thanks Nick!) and crazily inspiring given that he’s currently holding the Guinness World Records for most marathons and most ultras in a year.  By then, I was getting seriously caffeine-deprived so ditched Nick for coffee after the lap and took a quick caffeine break to fuel up for the nighttime part of the race.

After an energy boost of coffee and peanut butter, the sun was starting to set so I set off on a ‘photography lap’ which is my version of a recovery lap- slow running and lots of walking to take photos, and basically just enjoying the incredibleness of nature, God and calmness.  It was a seriously amazing sunset- genuinely one of the best I have ever seen and that’s including Aberystwyth!  The only word to describe it is MAGICAL ❤ clear skies with horizon clouds meant that the whole sky turned orange and pink, and you could connect with everything around you in a way that I’ve only ever felt mid-ultra when nature’s doing something incredible.  Can’t find the right words to describe it so I’ll stick to sharing photos instead (photos still don’t do it justice!).

After that, it got properly dark so headtorch and layers time.  Given how hot it had been during the day, it was a bit of a shock how quickly the temperature dropped thanks to the clear skies and pretty soon I was running with a growing amount of layers culminating with two long sleeved tops, a fleece, an anorak and a fleecy blanket towards dawn!  Nightrunning is my least favourite part of ultrarunning :/ not because I don’t like running at night (I actually love some aspects of it) but because I get scared and a bit paranoid on my own in the dark, especially on a course like this which was all trail and a lot of wooded areas.

I’m really lucky though that I have some seriously awesome ‘text buddies’ who are AMAZING people who don’t mind random (usually over-excited or panicky) texts during ultras and who always reply with encouraging or inspiring words, and which sometimes have been the only reason I’ve completed some of the runs I’ve taken part in.  It’s weird, even though I know that they’re nowhere near me and that even if something did happen it’s seriously unlikely that they’d be able to do anything, it feels infinitely safer to know that they’re ‘there’ even if just through a Nokia 3210 (or running in spirit if you happen to be an awesome inspiring running guru!) and it makes such a massive difference to running on your own at night.  Can’t express enough how much it helps and how amazing it is to get those texts especially when I’m physically and mentally exhausted- you know who you are and thank you so so much!!

One close friend texted some quotes about darkness which really resonated with me and helped so much with running on my own in the dark: “In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must also be present”- Francis Bacon, and “I used to be afraid of the dark until I learned that I am a light and the darkness is afraid of me”- Ephesians 5:8.  Can’t put into words how much that meant when I feeling nervous running on my own through trees at night and it really, really helped.  Another amazing friend texted to say that she had run two hours and so I wasn’t running alone, and that also really, really helped because it really is scary and lonely on your own at night!  Even though there are other people doing the run, you spread out so that you don’t really see people especially on the nighttime part so feeling connected to people in any way makes a massive difference.

I can’t remember a massive amount about running overnight apart from a few, very vivid moments which made the run probably the most magical run I have ever taken part in.  The clear skies meant that the temperature dropped quickly and it was like running through Narnia with more stars than I’ve ever seen outside of a dark sky park, cold, clear air and absolute quiet.  The stars were incredible.  I saw Orion for the first time this year which was pretty special (Orion is my all-time favourite constellation and I always use him as a ‘grounding point’ because whenever you are, you’re always looking at the same stars and he’s always roughly south-west which makes me feel safe because it helps you locate where you are, and west leads to Aberystwyth), the usual constellations like the Plough and Cassiopeia and could even see the Pleiades.

The most magical moment was when a shooting star shot across the sky so fast that I thought I’d imagined it.  It was seriously amazing- I was listening to David Bowie’s Blackstar album while running across the open field and it was totally unexpected.  Then not long after, there was another one and I could feel the amazing, infinite oneness that I can’t describe fully in words- it’s like you’re connected with God and the world around you with an intense energy that makes you feel real and safe and connected all at once.  It’s the most amazing feeling I’ve ever experienced.  The rest of the night passed in a bit of a blur and pretty soon, the sun was starting to rise and it was time for another coffee/porridge break!

If I’d thought the sunset was amazing, the sunrise was even more incredible.  It happened as quickly as the evening- quiet pre-dawn seemed to morph straight into flaming sun and morning mist.  It was equally magical as running across the stars but in a totally different way- this was surreal and unnerving, and it was a relief when the sun cut through the fog like a flaming dagger.  My absolute favourite part of a 24 hour run is the sunrise especially on a midday to midday race because the start of a new day seems to ‘reset’ any tiredness or negativity, and I could feel the underlying nighttime fear and tiredness start to ease off.

Physically though, I was starting to feel the impact of running for God knows how many hours (my brain was mush by then) and was feeling exhausted, dizzy and nauseous.  I was 10 laps in and needed to decide if I was going to stop at 12 laps or try to aim for 14 by the end of the 24 hours (I can’t stop on 13 laps because it’s bad luck).  It was pushing it a bit tight to aim for the 14 laps and I was feeling physically horrible but mentally I was feeling better than I had done in months and I really, really didn’t want to lose that feeling.  So I decided to go for the 14 laps and see how far I could go.  The dizziness was a pretty big problem though and I walked the remainder of that lap to see if it would help.  I tried to eat a cereal bar but immediately felt more nauseous, and ate some Haribo in mild desperation and amazingly, I felt better almost straight away!  It was incredible so I ate some more Haribo then started to run slowly again, and pretty soon I was feeling like I’d just started the run instead of being nearly 20 hours in!

The temperature rose almost as quickly as it had dropped the night before and pretty soon I was running in just a T-shirt and shorts again.  It was so hot that the Haribo had melted which made it taste like food from Heaven (seriously- melted Haribo is actually the most amazing food ever and even beats peanut butter!) and that fuelled me of the rest of the race.  I didn’t want to stop running ever- the light was like golden syrup, the mist was like running through somewhere Gothic and magical, and the whole world was amazing.  I was seriously hyped by that point (probably Haribo-related!) and having the most amazing run of my life.  It passed way too quickly though, and suddenly it was midday and I was finishing my final lap.  Really, really didn’t want the race to end!

Then the weirdest thing of the whole race happened: I was first female!!  That was so, so strange and felt totally wrong- I had to get it checked several times over before I could believe it.  I have never won a race in my life, and definitely not running!  The closest I’ve ever got was 3rd in hoop skipping on sports day in Year 2- every running race I ever took part in at school, I was last or close to last and I am really not a natural athlete.  But I actually did come first female in this one (still can’t believe it!) and got a £50 voucher for a running shop which is amazing given that nearly all my money goes on running stuff!  Such an incredible feeling, and really does show how positive and inclusive ultrarunning is.

THANK YOU so so much to everyone from Go Ultra events for organising such an amazing race and can’t wait to take part again next year!!  INCREDIBLE running event, so well organised, so friendly and amazing people ❤

Running your way to body tolerance…

This isn’t a v long or in depth post, sorry- I ran another ultramarathon over the weekend, have only had 3 hours sleep since Friday and ran 74 miles in that time so I’m pretty exhausted atm!  Wanted to write a quick post about this though because I’m realising more and more that it’s probably the biggest positive factor in preventing an ED (re)lapse (can you relapse if you’ve never really recovered fully?) and I wrote an instagram post about it earlier without really thinking about it.


^YES!!!  I bought these pyjamas literally straight after the run when I was on the way to a B+B, realised I’d forgotten pyjamas and went into Primark to get some.  I was absolutely exhausted, over-emotional and slightly zoned out at the time, and I bought these without really considering what they were like because I liked the unicorn on them and I was post-ultra high and zenlike so nothing really mattered.  It was only later today when I got home from work and looked at them properly that I realised it’s basically a crop top and hot pants!  

I’ve NEVER worn anything like that before but I’ve been feeling kind of ambivalent about my body over the last few days- yes, I hate how it makes me feel and I still feel horrible and uncomfortable all the time especially in the heat but it can run a really, really long way even if I didn’t manage to whole 100 mile event (I stopped at 74 miles because I was starting to feel really ill and my knee was sore).  It’s heavier than I’ve ever been used to and I still feel physically sick if I look in a mirror but without it, I couldn’t run the distances I do which is the most positive part of my life.  Distance running is the best form of mood stabiliser I’ve come across including several different medications I’ve been prescribed over the last few years and I need it to help prevent meltdowns or over-emotion ‘attacks’.  And without the weight, I wouldn’t be able to do that so it’s a bit of a catch 22!  Don’t really have an answer but trying to channel the positivity while wearing the pyjamas… 🦄

Escape from Meriden- channelling my inner Shell Dockley!!

Sorry I haven’t updated this in a few weeks; had a few issues logging into my account for some reason so haven’t been able to access it to update but *hopefully* sorted now!  Which is good because I’ve been wanting to write this post about a run I did last week ever since I finished although maybe it is a good thing I’ve had to wait a bit because I was seriously hyped after the run and maybe the blog post wouldn’t have made a lot of sense.  It was an amazing run though!!


It’s a run I’ve done before called Escape from Meriden and it’s a jailbreak-style run- you get 24 hours to get as far from Meriden (near Coventry) as you can on foot starting at midnight.  Last time I did it was in November and it was FREEZING, dark, foggy and pretty scary so I was really nervous about doing it again but summer’s definitely a way better time to do it, and it went so much better than the winter version.  It starts in a village hall and I got there pretty early because I was so nervous, and got chatting to a couple of people who I’d met on runs before which is always nice.  One of the things I really, really love about ultras is how friendly and accepting people are, and how they make you feel totally ‘legitimate’ for being there instead of a complete amateur which is how I always feel.  It was raining pretty heavily outside so nice to wait indoors until midnight!  Quick pre-race briefing (basically: don’t die and remember to post back your tracker) then headtorch and waterproofs on and out to the Cross to start…


I’d written the first part of my route on a post-it note sized piece of paper which I had in my pocket and luckily I live close to Meriden anyway so know most of the country roads around there.  I was heading for Warwick down back roads to avoid cars as much as possible while it was still dark and rainy (although God knows why anyone would be driving country lanes at half midnight on a Friday night!).  At the beginning, there were quite a few people headed in the same direction but pretty soon people started to split and I was running on my own towards Balsall Common.  I was feeling physically pretty good- the coffee I’d downed just before I left the house seemed to be kicking in and although it was wet, it wasn’t cold at all which coming from me means it must have been practically summer!  The rain was a bit annoying because it was covering the lenses of my glasses making it hard to see, so I took them off for a while on the basis that I’d probably see better without them given that it was dark anyway.

It’s a really weird feeling running on your own down country lanes at night, and I don’t think I’ve really experienced it fully totally on my own before.  I’ve done off-road running at night and organised events, but never totally alone down narrow roads with no streetlights or pavements and the nearest village a few miles away.  It was pretty scary but not in the same ‘OMG I’m going to die’ was as the November version or the rainy, muddy nighttime trail running from Hope24 2017.  This was more of a creepy, surreal scariness like you get playing horror games on consoles- like a jumpy, nervous adrenaline but slightly detached like you’re not really ‘there’ at all.  I was definitely relieved to get to the streetlights of Balsall Common although there was about 7 miles of lanes to get through after that till I reached the canal at Warwick which was my first real ‘checkpoint’.  I was hoping to follow the canal as far as possible on the basis that I couldn’t really get lost which felt a lot safer!


By the time I got close to Warwick, it was raining like a deluge shower and I was absolutely soaked.  For the second ultra in a row, I was realising that my ‘waterproofs’ really aren’t and even my spare clothes were damp in my backpack.  So I decided to take a quick detour and go via my house to dry off a bit, change socks and put on some dry clothes.  I knew they would be wet again within ten minutes but it’s worth it just for the slight warmth that comes with drying off and dry feet for as long as possible helps to prevent blisters.  I spent a bit longer than I’d planned to giving my cat some attention and refilling my water pack, and found it pretty hard to get going again even though I was only a couple of hours in!

I finally psyched up to going back out in the rain and headed towards the canal.  It’s the part that I run on an almost daily basis so I know it pretty well but even still it’s scarier on your own at 3am.  The rain had eased off a bit which helped and I tried to relax into the rhythm of running in absolute quiet of pre-dawn darkness.  It felt really surreal and I put on some more upbeat music than I’d usually listen to but which really helped to start enjoying the running again even though I was still pretty scared.  By the time it started to get light at about 4.30am, I’d run through Warwick and out of Leamington and was starting to feel like I was actually getting somewhere!


Sunrise (or more accurately, just before) is my absolute favourite time to run and the rain had stopped completely by then so I took my waterproof off, switched to David Bowie’s Lazarus soundtrack and started to really connect with the run.  It sounds really weird and spiritual to describe, but there’s this amazing feeling you get sometimes when you’re running and everything seems to ‘sync’ and you feel totally relaxed, connected and calm in a way I’ve never experienced outside of running.  Sunrise is always pretty magical but especially when it’s a ‘slow’ sunrise because of clouds or mist and you get a gradual lightening of the air around you then an orange-purple tinge to the clouds before it actually starts to get light.  There was a lot of mist on the canal and it was so still before the birds started up, and I stopped briefly to really breathe in the morning before relaxed running again.



By 5.30, the sun had started to come up properly and it was feeling like daylight again, and I had a sudden realisation that I’d made it through the scary night and could be anyone out for a morning jog by the canal which felt suddenly a lot safer.  I got a weird burst of energy from that and hardly noticed the next few miles.  I’d started to get hungry so ate a cereal bar from my mammoth stash in my backpack (had enough food for 24 hours in the form of cereal bars, salted nuts, dried fruit and dolly mixtures!) and drank some more water.  It was exactly 6am by then and I made a ‘rule’ to eat something every hour even if it was just a small amount because I’ve had too many runs recently where I’ve felt sick from not eating enough but feeling too nauseous to eat anything which is the worst thing running ever.

The main issue I had once I’d left Leamington was that I genuinely had no idea where I was.  I knew that I was heading past Southam and towards Daventry but my geography knowledge really isn’t great and I didn’t really have any idea where that was, and there wasn’t enough phone signal to check Google maps (the ordnance survey map I’d borrowed from a geography teacher at school only covered as far as Leamington) so I carried on running and hoped I’d see some sort of map or sign soon.  At about 7.15am, I ran past a boat where someone was on board and I asked him where I was.  He probably thought I was really stupid but said I was leading towards Napton which I’d seen on some online maps so thanked him and carried on running.  I had a bit more signal so risked using my iPhone (which I usually have turned off for ultras to save battery for emergencies) to check Google maps which said there was a reasonably straight road from Napton to Wheedon Bec which would mean I could hopefully refill water and get coffee from somewhere so I started to check every canal sign for that.  Much as the canal really was pretty, I was getting thirsty and caffeine-deprived!


So at about 7.30, I left the canal to run to who knows where.  The road had seemed pretty straight on the map but LONG (about 12 miles) which really wasn’t the most fun running I’ve ever had a pretty scary at times where the road was busy, but after about an hour it turned into rollercoaster-style country lanes which are pretty fun to run and you get to walk the inclines so double win!  I’d filled up water just as I left the canal but it was started to get warm already and I was starting to worry about when I’d next get a chance to fill it up.  I was also starting to get pretty tired by this point and really, really wanted to find some coffee.

By 8.15, a sign said I’d reached Northamptonshire which was a relief because I was starting to think that Warwickshire was the biggest county in the world!  The lanes near Daventry and Newnham were really pretty but it was definitely a relief to get to Wheedon Bec where I was going to rejoin the canal.  I got a take-out coffee from a cafe which was AMAZING and took a quick break to put on sunscreen as the sun really was out by now, then ran down a lane and saw lots of lambs which was really nice, and I rejoined the canal pretty soon after that.  Saw lots more wildlife- swans and cygnets, and a cow drinking from the river- which was awesome after too long on roads. So I followed the canal for a while; nothing majorly interesting to write about but really, really peaceful and scenic.



Once the coffee had kicked in, I started to relax into the running again and realised how lucky I am that my body is capable of running for hours at a time and really connect with and enjoy it, and that’s something I need to keep reminding myself of more often.  Genuinely can’t put into words how amazing it is.  And for me, the most amazing part of running is that the ‘bitch in my head’ actually shuts up for a while and I get hours of relative brain quiet which is the most incredible thing ever and it only really happens when I’m running ultras which is a big reason why I run so many of them!  I am so thankful to my body for being able to run ultras, and to the person who got me into distance running in the first place (you know who you are).

I’d totally lost track of where I was by then and to be totally honest, the next few hours are a bit of a blur.  I know I was heading towards Oxford and that I passed Kettering (got chatting to an amazing woman with purple hair whose partner was in the Marines and still said there’s no way he could run 24 hours!), and the canal blurred into a green heat haze of summer running.  There were taps at some of the locks to fill up water which was a relief because it really was hot during the day, and I met some awesome people on canal boats some of whom offered to fill up water from their supply which was really, really nice of them.  At some point, I reached Stoke Bruene (I think that’s what it’s called?) which had a cafe and toilets which is a massive plus as anyone who’s ever run an ultra will realise!

So I got another coffee which was definitely needed, and completely impulsively bought a Magnum.  Anyone who knows me will know that this is completely out of character- I hate milk, haven’t eaten any form of ice cream in over 11 years and usually the idea of mixing protein (ice cream) with carbohydrate (chocolate) would send my brain into total meltdown with which bit I’m meant to eat first and how but weirdly none of that mattered and I just wanted something cold and minty because it was so bloody hot.  And at the time, it was one of the most amazing things I’d ever eaten although the idea of eating another one now makes me physically retch!  Weird how running totally changes your perception of EVERYTHING.


By mid-afternoon, it was too hot to run properly so I jogged-walked for a bit until it started to cool down a bit.  I was getting through most of my water pretty quickly and added some electrolytes so I wouldn’t get too dizzy, and ate some salted peanuts for extra sodium (and the inevitable giggling about the irony of salted peanuts before exercise definitely gave me a boost- WB friends will get that!).  This was probably the part of the run I found the hardest because of the heat which also meant that tiredness started to kick in, and I was really glad when it started to get cloudy at about 5pm and less humid.  I got a diet Coke and started running more again, and I genuinely couldn’t believe I’d been running for 15 hours!

I knew I was headed towards Milton Keynes where I’d planned to leave the river again and run down roads towards London to see how far I could get because I didn’t want to be running parts of the canal I didn’t know on my own in the dark, and it really felt like I was actually travelling away from the midlands finally.  I got to Milton Keynes about 7pm and started to try to navigate the subway system which is an absolute maze and got lost so many times!!  It was started to get darker now and I really didn’t feel safe running through underpasses I didn’t know when I was totally exhausted and not sure I could outrun anyone, and I started to feel really anxious.  Then, totally randomly, a guy on a bike asked me if I wanted to go for a drink later (?!) which was v v strange considering I’d run 18 hours by then and probably looked absolute sh*t but made me laugh which was definitely a good boost.  I said I couldn’t and carried on running, but couldn’t stop giggling at the irony that the only time I’ve ever been asked out in my whole 30 years of being alive is 18 hours into a 14 hour run!


I FINALLY made it out of Milton Keynes just as the sun was starting to set and was feeling really anxious and panicky by then.  I was also feeling jittery-high which is a weird combination that I haven’t had in a while, and started to feel like I was connecting with God in an amazing way that probably sounds really stupid and ridiculous but I’ve felt it running before and it really is an incredible and literally awesome feeling.  I know a lot of people will say it’s just endorphins and coincidence or that I’ve gone too ‘high’ but this time it really did feel like God was helping me and I’ve even got photographic proof!  At first, I just needed some inspiration and connection, and there were the most amazing sunsets I’ve seen in a really, really long time.  The sky looked like it was on fire and the photos really don’t do it justice.  I felt so amazingly connected and ‘oneness’ which is really hard to put into words.


Then the road changed from how it was on Google maps and I had to try three different directions until I was finally heading south-east again, and I started to get really anxious again. Then out of nowhere, there was a cloud rainbow in a sunset sky which is one of the most amazing and rare natural phenomenons possible and something I’ve never seen before in my life. I’ve seen cloud rainbows three times before but never at sunset, and it was one of the most magical experiences of my life. I could really feel God with me as I was running and I kept thanking Them as I kept going and it felt like I was breathing in some of God’s greatness. I was running faster than I usually would at that point in an ultra but I was still scared especially as it was getting really dark now and I had a weird energy that meant I could keep running even though I was physically exhausted.


The last couple of hours was down an A road which I couldn’t really avoid and there was no real walkway beside it so I was running just outside the white line which was absolutely terrifying. I was convinced I was going to get hit or that someone would stop their car and pull me in, and I tried to focus on just getting past that stretch of road. Then, amazingly, a pathway opened up by roadside separated by a barrier which was so so incredible and made me feel so much safer even though it was still pretty scary running. It genuinely felt like God was looking out for me which sounds stupid I know, but that’s what it felt like.  


And at the same time, I got some texts of encouragement from AWESOME people (you know who you are!) which made a massive, massive difference and really helped to feel safer because it was like people were there running with you so THANK YOU!!!!! I can’t really remember much of the last bit of the run except that I made it to Dunstable *just* (literally got there exactly as my watch hit midnight!) and I was feeling super-hyped, amazing, jittery, scared and thankful all at the same time. 62 miles as the crow flies but amazingly 96.67 miles actual distance!! I met my dad who was driving back from the Isle of Wight and had really kindly offered to pick me up on the way, and slept the whole way back in the car. Total crash but amazing run!


This blog post REALLY doesn’t do the run justice- it was amazing, magical and had so many different moods that I really can’t put it into words.  I am so, so grateful that my body is capable of running that far and that I have amazing friends who send incredibly supportive and encouraging texts when I really need a boost (or if I’m irrationally panicking about nothing), and thank you all so so so much!!

Hope24 2017

WOW!!  Ran the incredible Hope24 race last weekend and it was AMAZING ❤ just as awesome as last year (see Hope24: a 24 hour run in Newnham Park, Devon).  It’s a 24 hour race held in Devon and is my absolute favourite running event of all time- it’s got everything: day and night running, awesome scenery, woodland trails, bluebells, friendly and inclusive atmosphere, really well organised, technically challenging running but also suitable for beginner trail runners…basically everything you could want in a running event!  MASSIVE thanks to Danny Slay for organising it 😀

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Started off a bit of an eventful weekend and wasn’t sure I was even going to get to Plymouth!  Had had a bit of a rubbish week last week moodwise- several meltdowns, a pretty major paranoia attack and two panic attacks meaning that I hadn’t slept much at all during the week, and was really looking forward to 24 hours of just running.  I left the house Friday evening to get the train to Birmingham and then to Plymouth, but just as I got to Birmingham Moor Street I realised I’d forgotten to bring medication with me.  Sometimes that’s not a massive problem and I can manage a couple of days without it but given how unpredictable my moods and thoughts had been last week, I was a bit nervous about risking three days without quetiapine in particular.  Luckily I was a bit early into Birmingham and went to a pharmacy to ask for advice; maybe not the best idea because the pharmacist basically told me not to go to Plymouth until I’d gone to a walk in centre to try to get a prescription or A+E to see a mental health liaison if they wouldn’t prescribe antipsychotics without a psychiatric report, but I really didn’t have time to find a walk in centre before the train and I didn’t want to waste A+E time.  So I bought some herbal sedative tablets and some Nytol, and hoped that would do as a temporary measure until Sunday.  Running’s a pretty good mood stabiliser anyway and I was going to be doing A LOT of that in the meantime!

So I finally got to the station and tried to get my tickets via the mobile app but it wouldn’t open.  Don’t have the energy to go into it now and the whole thing seems a bit blurred and surreal because of panic, so am going to copy and paste my FB status from Friday night: “NEVER try to book tickets with Cross Country online!!!  Bought them in advance online because it was so much cheaper than the crazy expensive train fare, and it said I had to download the app to get the ticket in the ‘My tickets’ section.  So I did but the app wouldn’t let me sign in even though I reset the password, deleted and redownloaded it several times and tried two different email addresses.

Then I thought I could use the website to get the ticket texted to my phone but after nine attempts of ‘Sorry, your request cannot be processed. Please try again later’ I decided to go to the ticket office at New Street and ask them.  The first woman I spoke to and showed my phone looked at me like I was stupid (although to be fair, I probably looked ridiculous since I was shaking and trying not to hyperventilate or cry by that point) and said it wasn’t anything to do with her, she worked for Virgin not Cross Country and I had to phone the Cross Country helpline.

By this time it was 40 mins before the train and was starting to panic a bit, and I called the helpline.  The first person I spoke to couldn’t understand anything I said (I couldn’t breathe properly and was stammering) and I felt horrible, and he kept repeating ‘I need to know the best way to help you’ over and over which made me feel worse, and I said sorry and hung up.  Did some ‘breathe box’ exercises and tried again, but the next person couldn’t understand me either and put me on hold before I could try to explain properly.

Was really panicking by then and tried for a third time, but the guy on the phone said he couldn’t do anything and that I just needed to redownload the app.  I tried to explain that I’d done that several times and that it wasn’t working, but he kept saying that he couldn’t help and I had to keep trying with the app, then he put me on hold without warning, and the phone cut out.

Was so so panicky by that point, 15 mins before the train was due and went back to the ticket office.  The woman said she couldn’t help and that I needed to keep calling the helpline, and I was so shaky, hot and dangerously close to crying by then that I just said thanks and went out again.  Then I really did start crying and hyperventilating, and started doing the breathing again and pinging a hair tie on my wrist to try to calm down.
There was a woman standing with a Virgin uniform near the ticket machines and I went over to her, and tried to explain the whole situation which was pretty difficult since I was trying really hard not to cry too much, shaking and couldn’t speak properly.  Luckily she’d seen me going in to the ticket office a few times and on the phone, and she was so so nice and calm which REALLY helped and was so amazing of her.

She looked at my phone and said she would talk to the train manager and explain that the app wasn’t working, and took me down to the platform.  She was genuinely amazing and talked about her own experiences with trains/buses and how frustrating it can be, and made me feel like I wasn’t a totally weird freak for panicking like that which was so so nice of her. S he spoke to the manager who said it was fine just to use the confirmation on my phone, and I got the train OK. SERIOUSLY relieved and so so grateful to her!!

If anyone knows a woman called Sarah who works for Virgin trains at New Street station, PLEASE tell her how amazing she is and that she deserves a pay rise!!  Seriously don’t know what I’d have done if she hadn’t helped, and she was so amazing, calm and kind even though I probably seemed like a more of a weird, panicky freak than I usually do!  Am so so grateful and going to drop a box of chocolates into the station next time I’m there.”

So I finally got to Plymouth (!) and found the B+B I’d booked.  It was late so the woman had left a key in a plant pot for me which was a relief because I didn’t have to speak to anyone (still jittery), took some Nytol and went to bed.  Found it hard to sleep and I’m not sure if it was because of nerves, anxiety, excitement or lack of quetiapine (or a combination of all of them!) and semi-dozed until it was time to get up.  Then I started to get seriously excited about the run, ate porridge and packed my CRAZY amount of food for the tent:

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Had the usual ironic giggle at the fact that I always have peanut butter during ultras (MONDAY MORNING PEANUTS!!  This won’t mean much to anyone who didn’t happen to be inpatient at WB in the mid-00s, but the apparent normality of a bag of salted peanuts at 10am on a Monday morning before going to the gym is something I don’t think any of us can forget!), and waited outside for a running friend to pick me up and give me a lift to the event (THANK YOU again!).  One of the things I absolutely love about ultras is how incredible the people are- even people you’ve only met one at an event a couple of years previously are like family, and everyone’s so amazing and accepting.  Then I set up the tent with food stores and lots of extra layers (turned out to be essential!!) and wandered round to the start line.  There were a few people I recognised from last year and from other events which was really nice, and started to get really excited about the start.  The atmosphere was incredible 🙂 it’s the most inclusive race ever and people are so lovely, and the supporters are amazing without being overwhelming which is also incredible.

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The first mile was pretty much the same as last year’s course: a ‘gentle’ uphill to the top of a field, although it looped round and up this year instead of straight up which was a nice change and gave your legs more time to adjust.  There were sheep and lambs like last year, and the views from the top of the hill were incredible.  I was lucky to meet up with a woman I got to know during the run last year and who is incredible, and we ran the first couple of laps together which was really nice (thank you!!).  It was so nice to catch up and really didn’t feel like I’d only met her once a year ago, felt like we’d known each other forever!  Made the first couple of laps go past really quickly, and I decided to use the third lap as a ‘photography’ lap because the scenery was so amazing.

After the hill, the course went through a woodland trail with lots of bluebells which was so pretty and my favourite part of the course.  There was a short section where you run through tall trees and it feels surreal and magical, like running through an enchanted wood of some sort.  The path was easy to run on (at that point) and there was a heavy woodland air that you could feel as well as breathe, and the smell of bluebells was incredible.  Could run that part forever!  Then the path opened onto a short stretch across a field and back into the woods, although the second woodland stretch was more ‘busy’ and less magical stillness than the first one.  The trees were smaller and leafier with branches bending down towards to path or overhanging, and it felt like the kind of wood you’d make treehouses or go for long walks in.  It was a bit trickier to run because of roots and rocks but there were bluebells everywhere and it felt like you were really in spring.  So, so pretty!!

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After a mostly downhill wooded trail, the course looped back around a relatively flat pathway before back up onto wooded trail again and spilling down the hill towards the campsite.  I loved the last mile: undulating wooded path along the side of a hill with glimpses of the tents through the trees then running down an open hillside towards the campsite.  Really did feel like coming back home at the end!  After that lap, I made a quick pitstop at my tent (which felt like a sauna and my peanut butter had melted!), ate  few spoonfuls of PB and grabbed a few cereal bars for my water pack.  Refilled water then back out for another lap of awesomeness.

I was feeling pretty amazing by this point: getting into the rhythm of running, loving the scenery, connecting with God and my Granda Sam through bluebells and trees, and best of all the bitch in my head seemed to have taken a nap and was nearly totally silent throughout the whole run!!  The last few races I’ve done, she’s been a bit quieter but still annoyingly there, but for the first time in probably about six months she seemed to have shut up completely and my brain was relatively quiet for the first time in AGES.  It felt AMAZING; I could think more clearly, everything seemed slowed down and manageable, and I felt calm and connected with everything instead of jittery-hyped or detached.  It really was an incredible feeling.  I decided to put Bowie’s Lazarus soundtrack on my iPod (I saw the musical last year and it was the most amazing stage show I’ve ever seen, even if it didn’t make a lot of sense at the time) and ran continuously until the album had finished.  And then amazingly, the meaning of the music started to make sense and it felt like Bowie was actually talking to me through the lyrics and the way the actors sang the words.  Won’t bore readers with too much pseudo-significant Bowie, but some things seemed really important:

  • Your only reality is your own.  You just need to come to peace with your own thoughts and learn to accept them without having to react or act on them.
  • Sometimes the most helpful and influential people in your life only exist in your own head.
  • Judging yourself is so much worse than other people’s judgments.  People are selfish and inevitably caught up in their own lives- any judgment on you is a passing comment whereas self-judgment is a poisonous seed that can control your mind from within.
  • The only true way to escape the reality of life is to fully accept it.  Any attempts to escape or numb it only lead to more suffering.
  • “We can be heroes.  Just for one day.”  The second part of that quote is the most important part: anyone can be a hero in any given moment if you only focus fully on that particular moment and don’t have the pressure of trying to be a ‘hero’ for a lifetime.  The ‘we’ is also important: ANYONE can be a ‘hero’ if they learn to make peace with their own mind in order to escape its control.  And that’s pretty much my mantra for running: accept the run for what it is, try as hard as you can but don’t put pressure on yourself to achieve any particular time/distance, relax into it.  Metaphor for running and for life!

Anyway, Bowie aside…!!  It started to rain towards the end of that lap so I put on my first layer of waterproof, ate a cereal bar and carried on.  Unfortunately the rain got gradually heavier until by the time it was dark enough to need head torches, it was pretty much impossible to see properly and I was on my fourth layer of waterproofs.  That lap was genuinely terrifying :/ I could hardly see at all (my headtorch isn’t brilliantly strong to start off with but my glasses were covered with rain so really hard to see through, and it was very, very muddy).  The first part of the lap wasn’t too bad going across the field, but going into the woods was very, very muddy and hard to navigate.  I was slipping all over the place and trying not to fall by grabbing onto tree branches, and tiptoe/climbing rather than even walking!  It was so, so scary on my own, and started to panic which really didn’t help because I was genuinely convinced I was going to die of saturation, hypothermia or falling in mud.

Then halfway through the lap (and thankfully before the main downhill part of the route), I met a running friend who had walking poles and a VERY strong headtorch, and asked if I could stick with him for the rest of the route.  He was amazing and basically let me walk right behind him so I could see where he’d put his feet, and pointed out any roots or rocks with his poles.  Made such a massive difference and felt so much safer with someone else there.  I was starting to have a bit of an ethical dilemma about what to do: I REALLY didn’t feel safe carrying on with that amount of mud and poor visibility but I felt too guilty to stop until it got light, and I knew that if I took a break, I’d never get going again.  I was feeling really trapped and stuck, and still wasn’t sure what to do by the end of the lap but thankfully when we got back to the campsite, the race had been postponed because of the conditions.  I had genuinely never been so relieved in my life and felt like crying with relief!

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They said they were going to reassess in an hour, so I went back to my tent which was SOAKED- the inside was about as wet as outside with rain and condensation and I was FREEZING.  I couldn’t stay inside the tent any longer so I took my blanket and hot water bottle to where the friend who’d given me a lift had a gazebo and a FIRE with other runners from his running club.  I sat as close to the fire as I physically could in an attempt to warm up, and made some porridge which tasted amazing.  Then we found out that the race organiser had made the very difficult decision to postpone the race until it was light (5am) and would be safer for running.  It must have been a very, very difficult decision to make but absolutely the right one.  Most people went back to tents (or home if they were local) to get some sleep, but my tent was so wet and cold that even being in it felt like I was going to die of hypothermia and I couldn’t stop shivering so I went back to the main marquee.

Got chatting to some amazing people in the marquee including the race organiser’s partner who was INCREDIBLE.  She was lovely and so friendly, and we work in similar jobs so had a really nice chat about that (and I ranted a bit about fidget spinners which had been driving me up the wall all week at school!).  I was so so cold and she let me sit in front of the heater, then gave me a buff and said I could curl up on a mat in the marquee which was so so nice of her and amazing; I had my blanket so curled up like a hamster with the hot water bottle and the buff made such a massive difference to the amount of heat I must have been losing from my head.  Thank you so much!!!  Stayed there till the race restarted, then went back to my tent to drop off the blanket.

It was so, so hard to motivate to start up again because it was still freezing and wet, but I put on my hoodie (which was still damp but had been in front of the heater so not too bad), got a coffee and decided to walk a lap to see how I felt.  After a mile or so, I felt a lot better and started to get back into the running again.  Early morning is my absolute favourite time of day and the sky was so clear that you’d hardly believe the weather from the night before.  It was still very muddy and slippery (although I only fell over once!), but a lot better now you could see properly.  Running through the tall tree woods with early morning mist felt like a newborn Narnia, and the stillness was incredible.  The damp in the greener woods made it feel like the world was coming back to life, and you could hear birds tweeting and lambs bleating.  Seriously amazing feeling!  Felt so ‘real’ and connected.

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The hardest part about the enforced break was that the cold and damp had made my muscles seize up a bit, and one of my knees was a bit ‘creaky’.  It got better as the morning went on though, and soon it felt almost summer-like hot as the sun came out properly.  My body doesn’t deal particularly well with temperature extremes and coming up to midday, I was starting to feel a bit ill with hands and feel still freezing numb but my body starting to overheat, but I’m not sure how much of that was linked to two days off quetiapine (I’d had similar symptoms when I stopped taking it last year) so I took some paracetamol and Nytol, and that helped a bit.  The buff was amazing and really helped to stop my head from overheating!  Definitely going to use it again next ultra…

The last couple of laps were hard because by then, I was totally exhausted and feeling the effects of no sleep and the damp cold.  But I was also feeling amazing; my brain was still quiet, I hadn’t had any obsessive or paranoid thoughts for nearly 24 hours and I was feeling calm and connected.  I even managed to finish on 13 laps which would usually be an absolute NO for me (12 or 14; odd numbers are unlucky and 13 is about as bad as it can get) which meant that ironically I came 13th place out of 148 female solo runners which I was MASSIVELY happy with.  Feeling a bit edgy about the 13 laps now though and thinking it as 65 miles doesn’t help either because it’s still an odd number and it’s 13 x 5, but at the time I had the horrible thought that I shouldn’t finish on 13 and needed to push for 14 but amazingly it wasn’t a big deal and didn’t bother me that much, which was amazing in itself.  Although if I lose a friend or really upset someone this week without realising it, that will be why…  Need to be super careful and I am being; have taken my usual anti-paranoia precautions on social media so I *touch wood* shouldn’t do anything stupid or impulsive.  Still can’t believe I ran 13 laps!!  Also really cool because last year I ran 16 in 24 hours and we lost 6 1/2 hours this year because the race was postponed, so actually ran ‘more’ in the time than I did last year!  MEGA achievement for so many reasons 🙂

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MASSIVE thanks to all the organisers and marshals for such an incredible event, and to all the awesome people I met over the weekend and who were so amazing and supportive.  THANK YOU ALL and can’t wait till next year!!! 😀

Survived the weekend!

First weekend of Lent down and it actually wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be!  I always find weekends difficult- too much time, no structure, loneliness and no distractions, and I was really nervous about trying to stick to my Lent resolutions without the structure and distraction of school to help.  It was bloody hard, especially yesterday, but nowhere near as difficult as I thought and *touch wood* have managed to stick (mostly) to the plan, no major ‘behaviours’ and even had a soya latte in Coffee Nero which was a massive personal challenge!

Saturdays are the hardest day of the week- start of the seemingly endless mass of too much time also known as the weekend, no structure, the pressing feeling that I ‘should’ be doing something productive and absolute exhaustion from the school week.  I met a friend yesterday morning which was really nice, and since it was ‘snack time’ I’d decided to have a soya latte instead of black coffee which I’d usually have.  I was really nervous about it, partly in case my friend commented (even though I know she wouldn’t) and partly because the bitch in my head kept telling me that I ‘shouldn’t drink calories’, it was an extra that I didn’t need, it was way more expensive than americano and that I was just being greedy.  I repeated in my head over and over some ‘facts’ that I’d already memorised to challenge her- that it wasn’t any worse than the banana I’d had that I’d had every breaktime at school, it was calcium and protein which are both necessary for runners, nearly everyone in Caffe Nero drinks a ‘calorie drink’ and none of them have immediately gained half a stone because of it, and that one of my closest friends who I really look up to drinks lattes at least once a day with sugar and is one of the slimmest people I know.

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Then I opened my purse and realised I’d got a fully stamped Nero card which meant a free drink, and that seemed like a good omen to get a more expensive drink so I asked for a soya latte with sugar free caramel syrup.  WOW, it tasted amazing!!  Drinking it was hard though- part of me wanted to drink it all straight away because it tasted incredible and was like liquid candy but the other part of me wanted to throw it surreptitiously out the window because it was dangerous and greedy and I wanted more.  So I drank it probably quicker than I’d meant to to get it out the way, and kind of regretted it when I realised I hadn’t really tasted it as much as I’d have liked to.  That’s the horrible part of ‘liking’ foods/drinks- it feels scary and dangerous and you want to get rid of it as fast as you can but there’s also a part of you that you don’t want to admit that wants it (I’m not sure what the best word to use to describe it- it’s not ‘enjoyment’ because of the anxiety and guilt that’s there too but there’s a definite sense of something potentially positive as well).

The rest of the day went OK- didn’t experiment too much but stuck to the plan, and tried to keep some sort of structure with school work and cross trainer.  Today was pretty uneventful- again, stuck mostly to the Lent plan and didn’t really experiment outside of what I’ve been already trying.  I haven’t been feeling great today mood-wise and found it hard to motivate to doing anything; I just want to curl up on my bed with my cat, a hot water bottle and a fleecy blanket, but I did force myself to go for a slow run in between rain showers which helped a bit.  Still feeling drained and a bit zoned but not as bad as I did this morning and without the run, I don’t think I’d have been able to stick to the meal plan.  But on the positive side, still no bingeing!!!  FIVE DAYS ❤ longest I’ve managed in nearly eight years…

Thoughts about ED recovery

I read an article online this morning that really got to me, and wanted to share it on here too with a few of my thoughts.  Really, really important when thinking about eating disorders!

Here’s a link to the article: Eating Disorder Recovery.  The part that got me was the quote “The problem in the medical community is that the ‘set point’ weight may not match the person’s ‘ideal weight’ based on their BMI. A person’s weight at their set point may be considered overweight or even obese…People have a lot of misconceptions about what it looks like to have an eating disorder and what it looks like to be in recovery from an eating disorder. The general assumption is that people who have eating disorders are visibly, dangerously skinny, and when they recover they return to a ‘normal weight’, whatever that means. This assumption is true for some people, but wildly untrue for others. There are thousands of women across the country suffering from eating disorders who don’t ‘look like’ they’re suffering from an eating disorder. There are thousands of women across the country who have recovered from eating disorders that inhabit bodies of all shapes and sizes, including bodies classified as ‘fat’ by our society. My story fits both these scenarios.”

I cried when I read the article because I can really, really relate to what it says. When I was an inpatient the second time (the only time I stayed for close to the full programme), my weight went up at nearly twice the rate of anyone else there even though I was on a reduced portion size and it didn’t stop when I got to ‘target weight’. Once you’re at target, you’re meant to start a three month stabilisation programme but because I was still panicking about the weight gain and feeling so out of control, I wasn’t allowed to start it for originally four weeks which was then extended by another four weeks. After another extension, I made the decision that I wanted to start stabilisation anyway but by then, I’d already started to relapse and I didn’t understand why I couldn’t eat even a small amount of ‘normal’ food without my weight going way above target and even the high end of the target weight band. This was ten years ago and I’m still struggling with it now, and it’s something that ED services really need to be more aware of. Some people have different ‘set points’ and metabolisms, and they really need to take that into account and have more of a focus on acceptance and psychoeducation about that rather than specific ‘target weights’ or judging people by their BMI.

I still hate my body but I’ve accepted that unless I want to stop eating or exercising completely, I can’t change it and that makes me feel frustrated and inadequate but there’s not much I can do about it.  The bitch in my head tells me that it’s because I’m naturally lazy and selfish and my body reflects that, and maybe that’s true.  I don’t know but I know that distance running is such a massive part of my life now and one of the few things that genuinely makes me feel ‘real’ and like an OK person that I’m not willing to give that up, and I need fuel to be able to run every day.  That doesn’t mean I don’t still restrict and skip meals- I do, but my body genuinely doesn’t seem to need a lot of food to stay alive and if it starts to impact on my running, I’ll eat more.  In an ultra, I eat several times the amount I usually would in a day and a lot more variety of foods, and the bitch in my head shuts up for that space of time which is another reason I love running ultras so much- the freedom from constant criticism and rules is incredible.  I have no idea what’s going to happen in the future but I think as long as I’m still running and doing things that make me feel ‘real’, I’m going with a quote from the incredible David Bowie who said that “I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.”  That’s my attitude to my body and running at the moment, and much as I feel selfish and horrible in the body I have, it means I can run over 24 hours at a time and that’s a pretty amazing feeling.