Thursday, 11 August 2016

My current surmountable


Man it felt SO good to blog the other night.  Blogging helps me so much, and after publishing my latest post, after many an absent writing week, I felt so motivated to keep writing!

To be honest, my previous post was supposed to be my actual Bris Mara run report.  But I was writing so much about the lead up and hadn't even gotten to the event day itself yet, that I realised I would have to split it over two posts!  So I went back to the start and made
out like that was the plan all along. #thegirlwhowritestoomuch

So, I got as far as Saturday night - the night before.

Gosh I'm making out like it was a half marathon or something - but to me, at this time, a 5km event is just as surmountable.

It took me a while to get to a point of stop comparing myself.  Literally, comparing me.  I don't beat myself up for feeling that way, either.  It's natural for it to feel so shit when you've gone so far backwards to where you once were.  Whether that be in fitness or weight, or even in something completely non health related, I think it's human nature to feel some disappointment if you've gone backwards.  Especially when you'd worked so hard to get to a certain point.

What's worse than comparing though, is allowing the dwelling of it to hinder you from moving back to where you want to be!  There's nothing to be gained from feeling down about it.  Once I wrapped my head around that, it made it a bit easier to move on.  Yes, I recently was more fit, and recently was smaller, but it's a fact that I have gone backwards - and I have to accept that.

Instead of focusing my attention onto the past and why I'm not where I was, I'm trying to put most of my energy into the future, and how I can get myself to where I want to be.  Don't get me wrong - I'm an extremely emotive, feeling, human.  I do get flickers of disappointment and many moments when I compare.  I still do it, but, for the most part, I've accepted it.

If anyone doesn't know of the app 'Timehop', it's an app that can notify you of your social media posts on the current day, 1, 2, 3 + years prior.  A while ago I turned off notifications for it.  Because every memory it seemed to be bringing up for me seemed to show a smaller, fitter me, and it just made me sad.

Then Facebook got on the bandwagon, and even though I don't use it much, whenever I would open it, the first thing in my newsfeed would be a memory that Facebook "thought I'd like to see".  Like with Timehop, more often than not, the memories were again, a smaller, fitter me, and I don't need those reminders right now.  

Facebook may have well write: "Hi Kate, we thought you'd like to see where you were 3 years ago.  But you've gone backwards, haven't you?  Just a friendly reminder."

Memories are fantastic and our pasts have shaped us, but right now, while I'm a bit fragile, I don't need these surprise daily photographic reminders while I'm in the middle of trying to get back to similar states.  I can search for my photos myself, and I do.  But when Facebook 'chooses' one, it often comes as a surprise to see it at the top of my newsfeed.  One day I'll love looking back at them again, I'm sure.  But not right now.  On the weekend I finally thought to turn the memories feature off my Facebook:

Lol at my food pics...which reminds me: Also Facebook, while I'm at it, no I don't want to share the last 4 photos on my Camera Roll!  Some of the photos they suggest freak me out that I'll accidentally post them!  Does anyone know how to turn this off?

Anyway!  This whole topic started because on Friday the top thing on my newsfeed was a 'memory' video reminder that this weekend, 3 years ago, I was in fact running my first half marathon, at the same Brisbane Marathon Festival event.

To be extremely nervous about 5km, a distance I've done so many times, at the same event, knowing what I used to be able to do, is a bit disheartening.  But as I said, I've had to learn to accept it and focus on the now (and future).

Right now, this is 'my surmountable'.

Our event was very late, starting at 10:30am, while all of the other adult distances (Full, Half and 10km) started around 6am-7am.  This made me more confident, because I thought the majority of people would have left by the time we started.

I woke up late (sleep problems, augh) and also woke up feeling like I was getting sick.  It was just a sore throat, but definitely something that made me want to stay in bed even more than I already did.  I had to rush to get ready, and this, together with the fact that I'm a bit
out of practise with events, meant I was disorganised before I even left the house.

Where in the past I'd had have my 'flat me' meticulously laid out the night before: shirt, pants, sports crop, underwear, socks, shoes, Polar, HRM strap, Medicare card, Spi-belt, cash, bib, safety pins etc. laying on top, cold water in the fridge etc etc., this morning was a runaround blur.

I gargled some Betadine for the sore throat, rummaged for some clothes I wasn't even comfortable in, grabbed some water, remembered my Polar at the last minute, found my slightly crumpled bib under some paperwork, walked out the door with money shoved down one side of my bra, safety pins down the other, ran back and grabbed a hat, all the while fumbling to make sure I had bits and pieces in my messy handbag.  Not my finest organised morning.  And pretty slack considering we were blessed with a late start time!

Anyway, I'd found and pre-booked the closest car park to the start line, and Courtney met me at the front of it, which I was so grateful for.

We started walking towards the start line, which the location of wasn't very clear.  The start and finish line locations had changed since recent years and it made for a bit of anxiety for
Free finish line fruit??
us and some other lost looking purple (5km) bibbed runners.

Thinking we started on Alice Street, we walked past a large table under a tent which had a stack of bananas and apples.  I assumed this was the finish chute, or going by the amount of fruit there, I thought it might just be a special zone for the finished Full Marathoners.

I pointed it out to Courtney, who kindly explained that no, that was in fact a market stall...we were walking through Sunday markets.  Haha, whoops!  It made sense when I saw bunches of cauliflower - I've never been given cauliflower at a finish line before. :)

We found the start line in time, and I was feeling fairly ok.  I was uncomfortable with the clothes I was wearing, a quick choice equaled a poor choice for me that day.  There was nothing that wrong with it, it was just another version of my black uniform (of course).  But my singlet underneath kept riding up, and that and my long sleeved top weren't covering my
Start line
stomach, and I fiddled with my clothes the whole time we were out there.  I felt under-confident enough without having to worry about my clothes.

As I mentioned the other day, Court and my original goal was to run 1 of the 5km.  On the day though, we decided to just see how we felt - we didn't put pressure on ourselves to stick to that, especially considering my poor preparation.

The start line began on a bridge with a small upward slope, so we walked that.  I wasn't feeling too bad.  I was so confident having a friend by my side, knowing that she wouldn't leave me.  And while I preferred a bag over my head, a cap was almost as good, and I just tried to block the world out.

Soon after the bridge, around the 1km mark, we had a very familiar (to me), visitor.

A policeman.  On a motorbike.

You had got to be kidding me.

Long time readers will know about my race experiences with police.  I adore police, but not while participating in events.  

We were barely 1km through, and already I had a police escort??

This lovely policeman followed us for a moment before riding alongside us to ask if we were in the event.  
Please just go away go away go away

One of the parts of the event we didn't like was that the race isn't blocked off.  We were walking along Brisbane's Southbank Promenade, along with random Sunday walkers, runners, cyclists, picnicking families, ice cream vendors, swimmers, people walking their dogs, promotional segways, you name it.

On one hand we blended in, but on the other it made it more difficult as there were so many obstacles to dodge.  And because we blended in, this is why the policeman had to ask if we were participants.  He said he was trying to get his bearings as he had to bring up the rear.

Of course he did.

What I mean, is, I think it's great that a policeman follows the last person, but of course that was me.  Yes, we were walking, but we were both really impressed with our pace, and we ended up knocking 4min off our time from just the day before!
Spot the police escort

Anyway, I don't know why I was surprised, it wouldn't be an event I'm in without an emergency vehicle or police escort, now, would it?

As kind as the policeman was and as much as he was just doing his job, I was just wanting to get away from him.  Funnily enough, police escorts don't help when you have rock bottom self esteem and are trying to blend in and not draw attention...!  "Eventpoliceaphobia."  A new word.  That's what I have.

Because of this, Court and I chose someone up ahead who we thought was a 5km'er, and we decided to run until we overtook them.  I don't usually set myself overtaking goals in events, but in this circumstance, anything to get away from the police was a good idea to me.

We ran lightly, and where we ran happened to be the spot where Court had surprised me, cheering with a sign for my first half, 3 years ago.  This was what the Facebook video that had
2013 / 2016
popped up for me on Friday was showing me.  I had screenshotted my face from the video, and I looked so happy (and fit!)  So I grabbed my phone and did a quick selfie video while we ran.  This is the difference - 3 years on, same spot on the course.

As much as we were running lightly, because we were trying to overtake, our pace was a little bit faster than I would have liked.  I told Court, and she was so good about it.  We'd overtaken a couple of people, and we started walking again, still at a pace I think we were both proud of.

I told her about how I felt at the Gold Coast Bulletin Fun Run in April, where we ran down the finish chute and it was way too fast for me. 

We decided that when we ran again later, we'd do it so very slow, to give me more of a chance to control my breathing, instead of it feeling like my heart was beating out of my chest.  I thought that if we could run slower, that I could handle 1km.  We made a plan to attempt to run from the 4km marker, to the finish line.

I say "we" a lot, but I have a feeling that a lot of the time Courtney was just doing what felt best for me.  I'm confident that she'd speak up if she didn't want to or couldn't do something.  But I was semi-aware that a lot of the event she put my best interests, capabilities and feelings on top of her own; but as a true friend, made out like she was right where I was with everything.

Overtaking had gotten us away from the police motorbike, and we soon hit the turnaround point.  I saw a police motorbike drive over the bridge we were about to go across, and I pointed it out to Court, saying I think he's gone - we were good.

Nek minnit, one rode past us!  I think there must have been two.  Either way, my Eventpoliceaphobia was under control for the rest of the event because that was the last I saw of them.  There were about 5-10 5km'ers behind us. and by the time we got over the bridge, we began merging with the later finishing (amazing) full marathoners, so the police escort was a distant memory.

We walked steadily, pepping ourselves up for running the last 1km.  I was getting so nervous between 3km and 4km, so anxious for when the 4km sign would appear.

Court was great, and just reminded me that we can go slow, and start walking if we want.  Just take it as it comes.

She reminded me of the slight hill that would come on our way to the finish line.  I groaned but didn't worry too much.

There it was
The 4km sign soon appeared, and we started running.  Just a slow, even, pace, allowing the momentum of ourselves (and gravity) leaning forward, falling over our feet, to push us forward, step by step.

We were getting closer to the finish line of course, so there were a few more spectators.  I was pretty good, all things considered, and just tried to do my own thing with Court.

Despite the majority of the 5km course being mishmashed with the public, most of the last 1km (of all events) was in fact, roped off, just for us runners.

However, as soon as we entered the official gated section, with about 700m to go, a huge family and what seemed like 6 dogs somehow also entered.  I assumed they were participants, until they stopped, blocking the whole chute, Sunday walkers at their finest.  There was a bit of a moment then, with stressed officials trying to direct them out while they pointed out our direction, and a few of us got momentarily caught up in a trap of dog leads and stationary confused humans.  A runner called out "excuse me, we're actually in the middle
Best sign ever: "Finish line ahead"
of a race here!" and somehow we got through.

That was at the bottom of "the hill".  It's definitely no Heartbreak Hill, and at a gradient that would usually be something of an annoyance to me rather than a blocker.  But this day, it seemed a lot steeper and longer than it actually was.

I tried to face the ground rather than set my sights up ahead, as it helps trick me into thinking we're running flat.  Courtney was saying encouraging stuff, coaching me up, as we still (slowly) ran.  

I was starting to get so anxious though - a combination of my unfit breathing and my mind.
This helped me so much.  Slowwww

I was so determined to run that last 1km, and I didn't want to give up.  But I was starting to feel really, really bad.  I kept facing the ground, and we were about half way up.  My chest felt like it was rising up, my heart rate I think was in the 180's, and I said to Court that I thought I was going to be sick.  She said we can walk, and was so good at coaching me, but I said no, determination ingrained by the bucketload.

I didn't mean I was going to throw up; saying "I'm going to be sick" was all I could get out, trying to describe the intensity of my breathing and panic struggle.

We were running past / through a University (QUT), and there was a shady, hidden area near some rooms off to the left, and all I wanted to do was go and hide in there.  I didn't think I had control of my breathing, and I was so close to having a panic attack it wasn't funny.  Most of my anxiety is brought on by my mind, but sometimes it's breathing induced, such as when running up hills...

Today I had the double whammy - my self talk was pretty crap, and then there was my breathing.  

I was about to hyperventilate.  All I could picture was me going off to the side, having the hugest freak out.  With Courtney still reminding me we can stop or walk, I decided that I'd prefer that (walking for a bit) over making a scene in the shade of my old Uni concrete buildings.

We began walking, and I focused so hard, really trying to calm down and take control of my breathing.  I wanted her, or something or someone, to tell me that we could do this- but I didn't dare speak as I needed moreso to breathe.  I remembered at that point that I used to write in Nicko pen on my hands things like "you've got this" - but it'd been so long in between runs that I hadn't even thought of doing that this day.

We got to the top of the hill and we continued walking, me still focusing on keeping my breathing as slow and as measured as I could.

I wanted to start running again, now that the hill was out of the way, but then we saw....a second one.  The change in course now meant a second upwards slope just before the finish line.


I am being dramatic, as it was definitely a "rise" or a "slope" as opposed to a "hill".  But the way I was feeling, it may as well have been a "mountain".

We decided to walk up it, and then run from the top to the finish line.

We got to the top, and I was still not feeling great.  I turned my video on my camera, to capture us finishing, which was handy as I was able to replay what I actually said at the time.

Despite literally being in the finish chute, and the finish line being something like 60 metres away, I was still doubting myself.  I played the video back to check exactly what I said to Court:

Kate: *constant heavy breathing*

Court: "60 metres to go"

Kate: (inaudible due to heavy breathing) "Can we do it?" 


Kate: "Can we do it?"

Court: "You can do it.  You're doing it!  Not 'can we'."

The video's on my Instagram.

And, as Court confirmed, we were doing it, we did it, and we got through the finish line.

I was a lot less out of breath than the end of the Gold Coast Bulletin Fun Run - I need to definitely be true to my pace and not push myself to the point of almost hyperventilating.  The pace we did at the end stretch was great, it was just my mind / self talk / confidence that was needing confirmation and reassurance.  Something to definitely work on.

Court worked out that she thinks we ran 1km all up, between the 3 run stints.  So we probably achieved our plan of running 1 of 5km!  Not that it was vital to do so, but it's still cool.

And, as I mentioned before, we knocked 4min off our time from the previous day at parkrun!

I'm so glad I changed to walking while going up that hill.  It's not often I give in to something like that in an event (I think this is the second time, ever), but it was worth it.  It doesn't matter.  We finished it, and I made the smartest choice at the time.

The hugest, most sincere thank you to Courtney for sticking by my side the whole way and coaching me through.  I cannot thank you enough.

To be honest, just showing up to the start line was my biggest battle.  Finishing the event was just a bonus.

The rest of the day I was as in pain and walking as slowly / limping from muscles as I was in that 1st half mara 3 years ago.  And it was just as hard.

Our 'surmountables' are all relative, hey. :)

Monday, 8 August 2016

Leading up to the Brisbane Marathon Festival

Let's just ignore the date of my previous post, and imagine that there hasn't been a gigantic gap in the Coco Butter blogging story.


Of course, my story has been continuing, I just haven't gotten as far as sharing it as regularly as I would usually like.  I obviously have so much to update you on, and that's one reason I tend to procrastinate blogging...when there's too many stories to tell, I get overwhelmed, not to mentioned afraid that my individual blog posts will take people 12 nights to read, instead of the estimated current 5. ;)

I eventually had a (belated, blonde) brainwave, that I don't need to tell you every latest story from my world in one hit (in one single blog post).  Apparently, it is possible to write shorter posts... (who knew?)

So, on my iPhone notes I currently have a list of posts that I intend to write up, one update topic at a time, starting now.  

This post doesn't explain where I've been and what I've been up to over the last couple of months, but you'll be up to date if you read each upcoming story.  Think of it like a catch up series before we get back to more real time posting as per my usual.

Tonight's story basically skips most of what's been going on and is purely my journey leading up to the Brisbane Marathon Festival (I did the 5km, not the mara!) that I did on Sunday.  It's fresh in my mind as it was just yesterday!  My next blog post will be about the actual event.  I have to give you the lead up, first. ;)

It's probably obvious to my regular readers, that I haven't been doing much running lately.  And when I say 'lately', I mean in like 18 months...  I've spoken about my little running hiatus before, but I just wanted to confirm that the hiatus has continued - there was no miraculous restart up of running in my little blogging break.  In fact, it's gotten worse.

Never a dull moment
Not only was I on reduced running due to my 18 month old knee injury and declining fitness, I then hurt my other knee, grew even less motivated, ate even more crap food, and even stopped going to boot camp regularly.  I haven't "stopped" boot camp, by any means (it's my club - my home group!)  I'm still "in it".  But if Margie gave out attendance stars, I'd have been at the principal's office every week with a handful of pink slips to give to my parents.  My turn up rate has been despicable.

Boot camp had been my only form of exercise for a while, so when I started going less and less, my fitness dropped more and more.  My parkrun attendance has also been pretty shaky.  I did 3 in January, 2 in May, and then 1 this weekend.

I've been keeping up with my Physio, but he's had to work on my back more than my knees, so I'm still no closer to fixing the knee issues, either.

And it's no surprise that as my fitness has gone downhill, my weight has gone up, at a fairly equal pace.

And just to make things even more interesting, I had a hard fall a few weeks ago (I misplaced my footing and tripped over a gutter, smacking into concrete).  Fortunately there were no broken bones, just a sprained ankle and soft tissue damage in my foot and knees.  I was unable to walk for a couple of days, and on crutches for a week, but I've recovered really well.  There's a little bit of random pain, but it's pretty much all healed, I think.

Throw into the mix the social anxiety I've been feeling (see this recent post for a little explanation; I'll speak more about it soon), and you can start to get the picture of how I was leading up to the event.

How I came about even entering is still a bit blurry, too.  Maybe I was drunk.  

I wasn't, but really, I don't exactly sound like a person who would mindfully be entering fun runs, do I?

My intentions were good...and it always helps the confidence when the Early Bird entry fee prices end a month or two in advance...

My track record with my love of events hasn't been on it's game this year.  After freaking out about and bailing on Resolution Run in January; I managed to turn up to (and complete) the Gold Coast Bulletin Fun Run in April.

I mentioned how I'd entered Mothers Day Classic (in the "I Can't Be There, But..." category), and City2South, as part of the Singapore Airlines team.  Well, I didn't manage to get to either of those...

With the Mothers Day Classic, I have no excuse.  (Well, all my excuses are listed above).  

They've sent me my medal in the mail (this is the category where you can do it yourself, any time, anywhere).  I haven't even let myself open the envelope yet, because I still intend to complete it, and won't let myself have the medal until I do so.

Me on Saturday (AFTER parkrun)
City2South I was so disappointed about.  At the last minute I ended up not being able to go as I had to be confined at home that whole weekend to prepare for some day surgery the following day.  (More on that in a later post, too!)  City2South is my absolute favourite event, and it's the first year I didn't participate in it. :(

I've got my City2South running bib and Singapore Airlines merchandise sitting next to my Mothers Day Classic sealed envelope, as like with that one, I also intend on doing my own little walk one day soon, to make up for not being able to partake in the actual event.

So by June, I'd turned up to 1 out of 4 official events that I'd entered.  My stats weren't looking favourable...

After those two latest failed race entries, I sat down on a fairly positive feeling Friday night and drew up a new, very rough plan on how to work myself back up to where I was with running.  (I think) the plan was something like this (with boot camp running in between):
  • A couple of parkrun's: walking
  • A couple of parkrun's: walk/run/walk/run intervals
  • Brisbane Marathon Festival: 5km event: walk 4km + run 1km (straight)
  • Lakes College Fun Run: 2km event: run 2km (straight)

The list went on, but that was pretty much the start of it.  

parkrun crowd gathering... :o
My beautiful friend @courtsgetsfit (Courtney) was doing her own planning around the same time, and we conversed, and decided to do the Brisbane Marathon Festival together.  She had the same in her plan: aim to run 1km of the 5km event.

So, we entered.

I had no problem entering.  You know, because of the direct mathematical correlation between confidence and how much time before entering an event there is before you actually need to participate.  No fear!

But then all the above stuff happened; I didn't go to parkrun, I didn't go to boot camp, I ate shit, I got a bit bigger, my social anxiety increased, I had the fall, I had some other upsetting stuff take my focus, blah blah blah, and before you know it, it was two weeks before Bris Mara.

Lucky my plan was rough, because I sure as hell didn't stick to it!

The best things ever: turn around points
Court asked if I wanted to do parkrun with her the week before.  I was going to be interstate so I genuinely couldn't, but we rain-checked our parkrun date for the following week, which was to be the day before Bris Mara.

When I agreed to this, it was still a good week and a half away, so my concern level wasn't too high.  

I'm so good at ignoring things until the date looms near...

As the weekend grew closer, I started getting anxious.  I wasn't worried about the running aspect, that dream disappeared with the training I didn't do.  But the anxiety of showing up to start lines in my "black uniform" was getting more and more apparent.  Also, two days in a row?  (Saturday = parkrun, Sunday = Bris Mara.)

As I got dressed on Saturday morning, I texted Court "I'll love you at breakfast" which was code for "I hate you right now".  

Court and I after parkrun on Saturday
Unfortunately I'm a nice person who won't let people down, which is quite a detrimental character flaw when it comes to wanting to sleep in on Saturday mornings when a friend has planned to meet you to exercise.  And I'd already postponed us from the previous weekend.

To be really honest, as much as I just said that I don't let people down; I was so not wanting to do it, that if Courtney and I didn't have 4 things scheduled straight after parkrun together, I very well may have tried to bail on her.  (Sorry, Court!)  I did it for our schedule. ;)

I turned up as ninja as I could be, with a hoodie over my head and dark sunnies, (over the top of my black uniform, of course).  

And, we did it.  If the photos on the course of me weren't so horrendous, I would share them here, but I didn't realise just how "fitted" my hoodie / jumper was. :(

I mentioned to Court as we started that I was actually unsure I could even walk 5km!  As it'd been 10 weeks since I'd even done that!  I could, I was fine, we were fine, but I was so glad when it was over.

Seriously, this meal...
As much as I hated getting myself there, I was excited that I could tick one more parkrun off my goal of getting to my 50th parkrun by the end of this year (this was number 36 .... 14 to go). :)

And I was also excited about one of our events being our planned breakfast afterwards.  Truly, I could have easily have had a "When Harry Met Sally" moment in The Coffee Club, if I was any louder in the way that I was drooling and making noises over my bacon and eggs!  Our breakfast was a.m.a.z.i.n.g.

There is no way I would have turned up to parkrun on Saturday if it weren't for Court.  As much as it's me who wants to achieve these goals, at the moment getting myself out of bed is on the
An actual sloth
upper end of the hard scale.  And as much as I was (temporarily) cursing her under my breath as I brushed my hair at 6am on Saturday, I am so grateful to her.  Social anxiety, a black uniform and an unconditioned body with the fitness of a sleeping sloth are not confidence boosting factors to help me to turn up to start lines.

We got on with the rest of our day, and I tried to forget that I had to do it all over again, the following morning.

However this start line was going to have a lot more people, and it also had a much later start time, a start time where temperature wise, a ninja hoodie would just not work.

I hopped into bed, (genuinely) wishing I could turn up the next day with a bag over my head.
But I remembered that I'm claustrophobic, so I turned over and tried to get some sleep anyway.  

I'd deal with it in the morning.


Next post: My 2016 Brisbane Marathon Festival report...