Hope

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So it’s been a week since my last post. That’s a pretty long time in Internetland, so I feel guilty! The reason for my online silence? I now spend my days in a permanent state of alarm, due to reality having set in. The reality that I’m running a marathon in less than a fortnight. I could literally spend hours staring into space, thinking of everything and nothing; preferring to obsess over how little time I have left to go, rather than use that time constructively and do something that will actually help. This is my thing you see. I am a champion procrastinator. Here are a few examples of the bullshit promises I have made to myself, and the tasks I have told myself I’ll complete in the last year:

“Strengthening my core muscles will help me run better. I’m totally going to do 20 sit ups in the morning and before bed.”

“If I do Red Days for a fortnight, I’ll get below twelve stone and then I can just go back to Extra Easy and maintain”

“I’m going to make sure I can run 30 miles, that way I’ll know I can definitely run 26.2”

All of these make me LOL as, although achievable, they are fairly unrealistic goals. Especially as I am a lazy idiot who can’t concentrate on one thing for any more than twenty minutes. The will is there, but I never seem to find the way. Needless to say, I haven’t completed any of these tasks! It’s like when I was doing my A-Levels, I churned out the most elaborate and comprehensive study plans, but did little to no actual study. That’s why I got mediocre results. I don’t want mediocre results in New York. In my quiet moments of rational thinking, I say to myself, “Look at what you have achieved so far. Who gives a shit if it takes you five, six, or seven hours? You lined up! You’re taking part!” But it isn’t enough to take part, I want to excel. But what is excellent for me, is not necessarily excellent for others…. I feel like a fraud when I talk to other runners! They assume I have big miles under my belt, and that I’m loving it. That I am ‘a runner’. Little do they know how I secretly squirm as I recall my lamentable pace, and the fact that my longest run to date is only 18 miles. Not the thirty I told myself I would do. Sigh.

So, with 12 days left to go, how do things stand? I have no idea! I have tried my best to stick to my training plan, and I did it well for the first seven weeks, but then the aches and pains and niggles and bla bla bla started. Sometimes I’d have to cut a run short, sometimes I’d miss a run. Then I’d feel guilty, try to catch up, and end up getting frustrated and tired. Then I’d think, are these injuries even real? Or am I ‘thinking myself injured’? Are they just aches and pains that I can run through and ignore? Am I a giant drama queen? I swear, if marathon training was measured in thinking time and brain space being taken up, I would kick ALL the asses! I am just about reaching the point of “Fuck it. I don’t care anymore.” I know I can finish the race, that’s not my fear. I have read that at six and a half hours, a bus thingy goes around the course and offers a lift to the stragglers. My image is of one of those council street sweeper vehicles with the rotating brushes underneath it, clearing the streets of unsightly debris – plastic cups, gel wrappers, portly non-athletes etc. I can’t stress how much this freaks me out. So my current strategy is – try to minimise pains, whilst keeping active. Also, to try and drop as much weight as possible before the big day. Another two tall orders that will no doubt remain unfulfilled.

The content of this post isn’t really in keeping with the title is it? Not so. The Other Half pointed out to me that we will be in the US for Election Day (barely). It doesn’t seem like four years since Mr Obama was elected. It also doesn’t feel like four years since I went to New York for the first time. On the flight over, I struggled to fasten my seatbelt, I dropped my iPod shuffle on the floor before take off and was too fat to bend out of my seat and pick it up, and I spent the whole flight in various states of discomfort. Mostly due to the fact I didn’t want to use the toilet because I feared I wouldn’t fit in it! I’m not even lying! It also doesn’t seem like four years since this t shirt fitted me….

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There is hope for us all.

“But I used to be really fat!”

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This is something I wanted to shout at the two women runners who flew past me earlier. That, and, “put some feckin clothes on!” This is my gut battlecry when I feel the need to justify my chronic slow pace. I went out this evening for a four miler, complete with dodgy pelvis, hip, foot, [insert pained body part here]. I have to say, it was a gloriously dry and crisp evening; but the rapidly setting sun left a chilly run all the less appetising. Not wanting to flake and retreat to the coziness of the gym, I decided to tough it out. Long sleeves ahoy, and one of those ‘can be a bandana/ski mask/scarf/headband things around my neck for toasty effects, off I went! Brrrrrrrr!

I wasn’t long into it before two skinny, tanned, and probably beautiful girls/women trotted out around me and sped off into the sunset. One had a very short sleeved t shirt on – the other? A frickin VEST top. Exposed arms, shoulders, back and possibly front as well. Seriously. Who wears a vest top when it’s seven degrees out? And where did the tan come from? Who has time for these things?! At that point, I felt like turning back and heading home to my lovely warm radiators and my Snoopy pyjamas. The thought was only fleeting, onward I went.

A mile later, I had settled into a leisurely but constant pace, quite enjoying it all if I’m honest. The cold was a distant memory, apart from my slightly runny nose – running faster, perhaps, than I was. As I began to look forward to the nice long gentle downhill strait ahead of me, two men careered past me in the opposite direction; full of chat to each other, and dressed for summer in their shirts and tees. The fact they were relatively flying, after travelling UPhill, and still had the capacity to have the craic was quite demoralising. I could never be like any of the runners I saw tonight, with their bare arms and legs, and their eight minute miles. It’s at this point I want to roar “BUT I USED TO BE REALLY FAT! THAT’S WHY I’M SHITE! IT’S NOT MY FAULT!”

As I write, a thought has struck. Maybe it’s not because I used to be fat? Maybe I’m just shite at running? Well, not so much shite as just really slow. I only have another 24 years of either maintaining my weight or losing more before I can say I’ve been thinner longer than I was fat. I guess til that happens I can trot my tubby justifications out as much as I want to!

I’d rather be slow and interesting than fast and boring though. I get the feeling that a lot of ‘real’ runners are a bit boring. Or is that a wicked bit of prejudice on my part? I don’t care. Telling myself that the girls and boys who leave me in their wake on the roads are really a bunch of yawning bores makes me feel better as I wind my 12 minute mile way towards the least boring city in the world.

Zoom zoom.

I

Mildly Tipsy

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This will be my first, and possibly last drunkish blog post. I am currently lying on the sofa beside my huffy teenage cat who is ignoring me as he cleans his balls. Fair enough. The Star Trek Family Guy episode is on, but I have it muted because I’m listening to the new Calvin Harris / Florence and the Machine track which I just downloaded – class by the way. I had my chum Roisin round tonight for X Factor and a massive Slimming World curry, though I complemented mine with a bottle of Stowells Pinot Chardonnay; hence my merry disposition. I’m great sport when drunk. Full of hugs and over-sharing.

I’m feeling melancholy. This marathon is wrecking my head. It’s all anyone talks about, and it’s invading my headspace. The injuries are mounting, and I seem to have constant hip / lower back discomfort. I’ve spent the week in the gym, cross training my scheduled shorter runs. I have a long run of 10 miles to do tomorrow, which I have no confidence in completing at all. I’m still pissed off I had to finish short last week. Then again, I’ve done 18 miles, which is supposed to be a ‘solid base’ for the main event in November. Having said all that, I’m back at 12st 5 as of this morning which is good. My only strategy for New York is to drop as much weight as I can between now and then, and hope that being skinnier will somehow make me a super athlete. Tchaaaa……. I think I drank that bottle of wine because I’m past caring about my training plan. I’m almost looking forward to using the hangover as an excuse to lie in bed! Don’t think there’ll be a hangover though, I’m not drunk enough. That curry was huge enough to line my tummy and keep me at least 20% sober!

I’m also pissed off because a guy I worked with in The Bank died this week. He was only 40. He just collapsed in the street and died, presumably from a heart attack. Don’t get me wrong, the last time I saw him was around 2007, so we weren’t besties; but we got back in touch via Twitter a few weeks ago and were going to ‘do coffee’ and catch up etc etc. I kinda wish now that I’d been more proactive in organising that coffee. I’m sick of bad things happening to good people – I can’t think of anyone more full of life than Dee. Full of laughs and smiles, and an all round nice guy with a wicked sense of humour. My abiding memory of Dee is of him dancing on a table in Milk (Belfast) with a drink in his hand, a bouncer coming over to reprimand him, and both of them ending up half-dancing/half-hugging on the same table. His good humour was infectious!

Life is too short, and that cliche is overused. But it’s true.

God bless xxx

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0KlAI7oNtw&feature=fvwrel

One of the many tunes that remind me of the good old days

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When Slimming World Doesn’t Work – What to Do

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I haven’t written a Slimming World orientated post in a while because all my head space seems to be occupied with impending marathon panic, or ‘maranoia’ if you prefer. I can’t wait til I get home from New York, as I will be free of my training schedule and therefore free to concentrate solely on diet. Please God I can get myself back down to a neat twelve stone (or even below) for Christmas. That would truly be a Christmas miracle!

I’m averaging out at 12 stone 6 pounds these days. That’s since May, so despite sometimes being anything up to 12st 13, or as low as 12st 2; I’ve been pretty much the same weight for five months. In fact, I’ve been pretty much the same weight for a year! My shape changes, so people say I look skinnier but I know the scales don’t agree. On the days I know I’m nearer thirteen stone, I think I look like a tub. When I see lower numbers, I think I look skinny; but I bet in reality I look no different from week to week. It’s all in the mind.

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Anyway, back to business. This blog is great fun, it’s mad to think that people from all over the world read it and that Google search terms sometimes point people to it. The search terms are sometimes fantastically random – ‘Jessica Ennis favourite sausage’ being the standout one for me! Incidentally, I have never written about Jessica Ennis’ favourite sausage, possibly because I have no idea what it is – maybe I should ask?! Medal winning pork product preferences aside, the most popular search query that leads to my blog is usually “why isn’t slimming world working” or other such variations on the same theme. Given that when thing go tits up in my life, I usually head for Google immediately, I can see why people make it their first port of call when the scales aren’t moving. I have written a post about this before, but this time I’m going to be more emphatic and tell you what to do.

Right.

Q: Why isn’t Slimming World Working aka Why Are You Not Losing Weight?

A: A number of reasons – take your pick.

1. You’re fooling yourself. In other words, you’re consciously not following the plan properly. Having fruit for breakfast and a baked potato for lunch, then thinking a wee takeaway for dinner ‘won’t hurt’ wont cut it in the long run. You either follow the plan, or you don’t. Yes, have one day where you eat what you want, but for the other six days – respect the plan and it will reward you. Choosing full fat yogurts instead of Mullerlights because they’re cheaper, or not trimming the fat off bacon ‘because its a waste’ is NOT going to give you the results you so desire. So quit whining and just do it.

2. You’re not eating enough. Yes. It is possible that eating too little is causing a stagnation in your weight. You need to keep your metabolism going, and the best way to do this is to keep things interesting. Mix it up a bit food wise, don’t fall into the trap of eating the same thing all the time. Bulk your meals out with vegetables or nice bit of salad on the side, this will fill you up a bit more and keep your vitamin quota up. Not a fan of breakfast? Shock your body one or two days a week by having something small when you get up – just to kick start things. Always eat a big meal in the evenings? Why not try eating your largest meal at lunchtime and have something lighter in the evening? I’m not saying to eat less, far from it. Just mix up your routine and you’ll find your body will respond, even if it takes a day or two to catch on.

3. The C-word – Constipation. I am so sorry for talking about this! But it’s simple physics – what goes in, must come out. If it doesn’t, well you’re going to be heavier. Don’t get obsessed by this! Just remember to eat plenty of fibre (this will come in part from your Healthy Extras, so don’t neglect them) – breads, cereals, pulses, fruit and vegetables are all good sources of fibre. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water too…….to move things along. Ahem.

4. You’re getting complacent. I covered this one before in my similar post on this topic, but to sum up – you think you know Slimming World inside out and you’re taking shortcuts. This means not weighing healthy extras, underestimating syns etc. I’ve done this before, so I know the effect it can have! Every so often, do The Cheese Test. Take a clean plate, and put what you believe to be 30 grams of cheese on it. Cut a slice, or use grated cheese, but estimate a 30g portion and then weigh it to see how close you were. The results can be surprising! The same kind of test can be done using cereal. I cannot stress how little 30g of Fruit and Fibre/Bran Flakes is – it’s disheartening!

5. It’s THAT time… Yeah. I’m going all out with the icky tonight. The infamous star week can play havoc with losses, so don’t stress it. Also, the body is very mysterious. Sometimes ‘star week’ effects are felt the week before, or the week after, the actual event! Presumably you know how you roll in that respect, so work it out for yourself. Cut yourself a bit of slack on these days/weeks, but don’t use it as an excuse to go mad. You’ll regret it afterwards. Feckin hormones.

So. Once you’ve identified your problem, make a mental note of it but don’t beat yourself up. Just remind yourself of what you want to achieve and move forward. If you want to take a day to get it out of your system foodwise, then just go for it. But when you get up the next morning, get back to basics and read your books again – cover to cover. If you have any Slimming World magazines lying around, pick one up and have a wee look through it. Maybe try out a recipe you’ve forgotten about, or remind yourself of a new Healthy Extra option or branded free food that has been advertised. If you don’t have any magazines, go and buy one! Even if you get one thing out of it that helps, it will have been worth it. My go-to rescue plan when I’m stagnating or feeling out of control is to make a huge pot of Irish Stew. I mean huge. Load it with carrots and good quality floury potatoes, and simply graze on it. It’s syn free and it’s filling, and if you want to have some more vegetables on the side – rock on. The main point is, there’s a lot of it, so there’s no excuse to go hungry! If stew isn’t your thing, try a thick soup or a risotto? Don’t punish yourself for past offences either. It’s a new start, so make sure and have your syns and your Healthy Extras. Main rule: don’t go hungry. Other rule, but just as important: Don’t listen to other people. Granted, you could apply this rule to me! But I’m referring to the so-called ‘experts’ who brag and boast about how they can cheat and get away with it, or those who make up their own rules. Good for them, but find your own way.

And if you’ve been fooling yourself, don’t yap about it. If you want to do it, do it. If you don’t, don’t. If you’re the type that thrives on having something to yap about all the time, then good for you, but think of the effect it has on the rest of us!

That’s enough yapping from me. For now. Hope this has helped!

Support

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A brief update: Sundays long run of eighteen miles went surprisingly well. An average pace of 13mins 38secs per mile saw me finish up in just over four hours. Yes, it’s a ridiculously long time to spend running (as such), and there are a lot of runners who would be embarrassed to run at anything more than a ten minute mile- but it’s important to get things in perspective. I ran my first 5k in May. Seven months later, I’m going to be running a marathon. That’s a fairly exponential journey in fitness! I tend to forget this, and get bogged down in berating myself for being slow and generally inconsistent, but it’s no mean feat when you think about it. It’s also proof that anything is possible. Anyway, I’m really glad I finished the distance. I’m starting now to think about how this marathon is going to go, what I should wear, what I should eat/drink throughout and so on. It’s definitely all in the mind, so creating a positive feeling before starting the run is crucial. I like my little routine beforehand: a decent Slimming World fry and a good coffee about two hours before I go, coupled with a shower and careful selection of the running outfit. I don’t know if its an OCD thing, or a big-girls-blouse thing, but I like everything to match colourwise! I don’t feel right otherwise!

With a twenty mile run coming up this Sunday, I’m finding it a little difficult to formulate routes that will take in the full miles. Ideally, I would leave the house and do enough miles to leave me with a three mile ‘back home again’ straight; but no matter what way I go, that means a good two miles of uphill. I know in a way that’s probably a good thing, but the mental toll of the inevitable walking would throw me off. There’s nothing worse that being ‘on schedule’ for say 80% of the run, only to slow up at the end. I know it flies in the face of my opening paragraph, but I don’t like seeing my average pace take a nosedive compared to previous runs. I shall have to get my thinking cap on! Running around the local area can be both fascinating and incredibly boring, therefore effecting overall enthusiasm/enjoyment. I had plenty to keep me occupied on Sunday, between squirrels, rats, and semi-decomposed kittens (very unpleasant); not only that, but as I ran through Newry City, preparations were in full swing for the arrival of Jedward! Unfortunately, I didn’t bump into those two squirrels, who would have no doubt joined me on my plod.

I did bump into a lady who’s daughters I went to primary school with though, just around mile three of the run. Now I’ve never had a full conversation with the woman, but I know her to see and would always say hello. I could see her in the distance and as I got closer, I said hello but kept jogging slowly as it was one of those ‘do I stop/does she know me’ moments! She gave me a big broad smile and said “Lianne! I’m following your blog and it’s brilliant! Fair play to you!” I actually can’t put into words how much that made me smile. I was embarrassed in a way, because of the compliment, and bewildered at the same time by the fact that this lady actually reads the nonsense on here! It’s surreal! I think I have severely underestimated the effect of broadband access in South Armagh! Mental note: no slagging anyone off online – the world is getting smaller by the second. Seriously though, getting support like that is worth it’s weight in gold, or miles in this case.

Since the article in the paper, I’ve been getting lots of kind words and praise from both strangers and people I’ve known for years. I’ve also had lots of donations, which is genuinely humbling and really appreciated. I don’t like putting people on the spot for donations, partly because of the times we live in and partly because I didn’t enlist in this event with the sole motivation of raising money for charity. Having said that, because absolutely all of the money raised will go directly to the charities I’ve chosen, I don’t feel bad about accepting it. Speaking of which, I’m readying myself to head out to my old primary school this afternoon. I received a phonecall yesterday from my Primary One teacher, Mrs Delaney, where she told me they had read the article in the paper and that the school would like to make a donation. Given I left the school in 1994, and have only visited a few times since that, to say I’m chuffed is an understatement. I loved that school, and although there are much larger and more cosmopolitan schools in the area; I’m very proud to say that’s where I was I taught. Not many people can say that.

I shall have to keep my profanity in check for this visit. Despite receiving excellent instruction in St Malachys, I realise the colourful nature of my writing does not suit everyone. However, sometimes the only word that fits is a bad one! So to anyone reading this who didn’t realise McCooey likes to swear, please accept my apologies.

Thank you to everyone who has donated money, kind words, thoughts and/or prayers to the BigFatMarathon attempt. You don’t know how much they are all appreciated.

McCooey

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Proof of the 18 miler!