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. :)


  1. Oh my you crack me up
    You and police so funny i can't believe that

    I remember you always having everything laid out the night before ... I can't believe the way your morning started lol

    And the market stall that right there I think is your finest moment lol

    Where you are now Kate is where you are ... Draw a line in the sand forgive yourself and move forward
    You know as well as I do that muscles have a memory and very quickly you will be back at your best fitness

    My heart is exploding with pride ... You did it and your ran and I don't care if it took 26hrs to run 5km you are beating all those of us who are sitting in the lounge wishing we were as brave as you ( yes I am talking about me )

    One day Kate I am going to run a 5 km just like you did... One day I am going to be like you

  2. Well done Kate! Very proud of you getting back out there. And yes, you definitely need to slow down when your breathing gets panicky - I freak myself out too as the feeling of pushing yourself & pending panic are quite similar (to me) & I have to remind myself I'm not having a panic attack, just running harder & to slow down.

    As per above, you are where you are now. Indeed give yourself permission to forgive yourself & move forward.


  3. Nice work you did it! I too am facing the disappointment of going backwards from when i started my 12wbt journey 2 years ago...but we just need to keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep showing up. You are a huge inspiration for so many Kate and you are also human - sometimes we fly sometimes we fall but it's how we pick ourselves up in those times that matters :) you got this!