Thursday, November 29, 2018

Goalsetter

I woke up to TSK's alarm this morning. He went to the bathroom then two minutes later my own alarm went off. I waited my turn with my eyes shut. Somehow I resisted the urge to go back to sleep. I sat on the edge of the bed. Rain lashed against the window.
What was the point again? It really felt like there wasn't one except I was up in time to go to yoga. But what was the point in that? It was clearly time to enter another event.

I kissed my husband good morning and blearily remembered my Highland trail entry.  Not much chance of that with all the road rides I have been doing.

I  ate my breakfast reading Twitter. The world is turning into a useless place apart from all the brilliant people there - all ruthlessly selected by me.

I  was strict with myself. While I still didn't feel like riding to work in the rain after this weekend, I did feel like a new start and a return to yoga after a long break seemed like just the thing to justify my underused gym membership. I made it just in time in the van.

Helena's class was perfect. Enough effort to wake me up and make me feel strong and enough relaxation and stretching to re-balance my body and love of exercise for exercise sake.  I left feeling much much healthier than a 1 hour session would normally suggest.
I arrived at work only slightly worse off for dealing with idiot motorists whilst being kind to all the cyclists I encountered on my commute.

My day went well. My morning meeting was useful, pointed  it jolted a thought from last night's back-of-my-mind and I took action and people listened.

Before I left to meet a boiler man about a valve I decided to enter that race on the random off-chance I got in with the "Pretender" going around and around in my head. I did think, "wel, that'll never fly" but I booked EmVee in for an all-important service at Bike Rehab (wondering if it is the bike that needs rehab, not me). Then I went home, cleaned my bike, got stood up, called into my evening meeting and continued the day's zen until 8.30 when I started to drift off to sleep

To drag the day out ahead and cut myself some slack I thought I would just check that email before I see what other events I can enter.

Much to my joy, Alan had emailed me with my entry confirmation. I had not realised how much I wanted this until I got it. Since oooh, 2014 when I first heard of it on my way back from a Scotland holiday reccying Celtman.

So now I have it. This year's dream. Thiz year's goal. This year's thing to make me scared and I am over the moon. I will sleep well tonight.

Monday, November 26, 2018

A minibreak

We had some holiday to take.  We couldn't decide what to do with it.  We didn't really want to drive so we loaded paniers on to a bike and decided to ride to Blackpool to see the lights.  Then my mum advised me that lights probably wouldn't be on so we decided to go anyway.  We cycled over to Manchester to visit some friends' new house which involved kittens, beer and a take away, a hot shower and a snuggly bedroom.  On Saturday, the Garmin took us some wonderful routes around the major connurbations of Manchester, Preston, Wigan.  We rode along rivers, canals and disused railway lines though there were a lot of gates that got in the way and slowed us right down.  Not too bad for a 5 mile commute but really annoying for more than 10km. 

We rolled into Blackpool as it was turning dark and headed for the Travelodge (full) before resorting (no pun intended) to the Premier Inn where we payed over the odds (though not too bad) for the last room in the house.  The desk clerk took pity on us and supported us with two free breakfasts for the morning.  Another hot shower and out to Harry Ramsdens after a walk down the sea front and a chilly stroll back along the prom. 

On Sunday we headed back homeward.  Initially towards Howarth but then later towards Great Howarth (closer to Rochdale) to a second Premier Inn.  Since this was an unplanned stop, we rerouted away from Rochdale and followed the Garmin randomly for 6.43kms to Milnrow where a much more reasonable price was quoted for possibly the largest hotel room I've ever seen.

The staff continued to offer to help us carry our bikes upstairs!

Day 4 was tough getting out, partly knowing that we had two major hillclimbs to go - first into Dunford Bridge over Saddleworth Moor and second over Holmfirth to get back to Sheffield.  Changes I made to my cleats the night before were just wrong and had to be reverted although all in all, new shoe wedges I had inserted worked a treat in supporting my feet and my legs have been in much better state than I thought they would be.

Four days (and a few hours) after we left, we were back home to hungry cats.  Not a single car journey the whole weekend (except a lift to the takeaway with Glyn to buy the food). 

We saw the full moon many times and found new routes around towns that I never would have dreamed existed.  We saw the tower ball room (from the outside) and got evicted from the Winter Gardens (closed for a private function).  We played on the beach on our bikes (or the breakwater anyway) and spotted wildlife along the country lanes.  Coffee, tea and cake was consumed by the bucketload - all from local producers - except for Harry Ramsden's because it was too cold (and out of season) for real fish and chips. 

We dropped off the transpennine trail and I got a puncture but that was the only downside to an otherwise wonderful weekend.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Eureka! 200k

(c) all pics by Ella Wredenfors

It was two nights before the Eureka ride that I remembered I had a twitter friend in the event.  I was briefly excited and then forgot all about it in quick succession, in a mixture of work life and late night work life.

Still, I tried to look after myself the week leading up to the event, getting more and more early nights and working a little less and then going in late if I'd been up all the night thinking about work.

I finally called a stop to it, said something had to be done then gleefully set out for my parents house on Saturday afternoon, having done little prep my bike, for ride 12 of (more than) 12.

I had dinner with the parents - not the best pre-race prep of pizza and potato cakes but it seemed to do the job.  In the evening I sat in bed to try and keep warm in the draughty old farmhouse that is my family's ancestral home.  My dad stuck his head around the door to say good night and that mum would be up to let me out at 7am.  They were heading out to the pub, just as I was getting near the end of a rather depressing book that I'd been reading.  They were going out to the pub and there was me, exhausted, alone and reading a depressing book.  They left and I started to cry.  I went downstairs to be with the dog and lay on the dog-scented floor and cried and cried.  I bawled hard and the dog, despite being stroked, just stared at me like a tiny man faced with a crying woman.

Eventually I collected my thoughts, went back to bed and slept.

I was awake at 3am but went downstairs, got a glass for water and went back to bed with biscuits.  I'd put on several layers, added a blanket and turned on an electric radiator (my parents would have been horrified if they'd realised I was sleeping with the radiator on).  I'd got quite warm and sweaty and I'd actually gotten quite dehydrated, what with the crying and all.

6am came too soon of course but it was OK cos I was going out riding and I'd probably not got that far back into sleep anyway.  I realised I'd left my porridge in the car then had a momentary panic as I thought I was locked into the house.  As well as being as cold as a prison, the Farmhouse is locked up like one at night.  There was no mother to release me.  Thankfully, they had seen fit to leave the door accessible and I was able to get my porridge and nutella to see me through the morning.  Sadly I'd forgotten my coffee and had to cope with instant.

Just as I was finishing up, dad came to wish me a good ride in his PJs... awakened by the call.  It's rare I see him so early.

I was careful to make sure I had everything with me in case they weren't in when I returned home and so I didn't have to wake anyone to fetch any stuff from inside.  I tossed my keys in the back of the car and started to lift my bike up.  Toss, it was locked and my keys were in the house.  Panic set in as I realised I'd have to wake the parents up.  WHATEVER YOU DO DON'T WAKE THE PARENTS UP!!!

Memories of stealing home from night clubs at 3am came flooding back.

It didn't take me long to realise the keys were in the car but my heart was already racing.

I took my time over getting everything else ready to go, carefully removing tracky bottoms to put on cycling shoes, jersey on before helmet.  Finally I was ready to go.  Quick squirt of oil on the chain and away to ride through Whythenshawe and over to Cheadle.

I replaced my original plan to ride to the airport then follow the route backwards to the start in favour of the most direct line.  It did put me thorough Whythenshawe but there was little traffic at 7am on a Sunday morning.  Even the drunks were in bed by then.  Soon Whythenshawe morphed into Gatley then Cheadle village where cyclists started to converge on the village hall.

I immediately recognised Ella from her photos although her hair was less pink than I was expecting.  Instead of saying hi straight away, I went to get my brevet card to avoid the embarrassment of forgetting it then went to say hi with a hug and a chat.

We were interrupted by one of the Halifax riders from the Clwydian who wanted to congratulate me on finishing and give me kudos for getting over the moor.  By chance we were also standing next to the other rider (Brum) who empathised with the effort involved.  Again we were to see him on and off throughout the course of the day as well as one of the guys who  had been on Yorkshire via Essex.  It was a pack of familiar faces.

Ella and I set off together, chatting away, having already established that we both had a reasonable idea of what we were doing.  I hovered uncomfortably between the setting off too fast pace and sitting in behind slower riders.  They weren't actually slower, it's just I'm not used to milking the benefits of drafting so I suddenly got pulled back into the pack on the first short climb.

Us girls inevitably peeled off on our own and waved furiously at the photographer as we passed.  We talked about *everything*.  I don't usually do Audax talking but for once it was brilliant just to have a really good natter.  My initial pace boiled off but Ella pedalled light, waited on hills and occasionally rode on ahead, only to wait at the next junction.  We arrived at the Eureka cafe and both checked in then decided that, on account of her hacking cough and a tiny, sweaty space filled with other riders and a big queue, we'd take advantage of the buffer of time and push on for Bangor to get our lunch.  It was, after all, only 11am.

We did shifts at the shitter then set back out on our bikes, snacking our way over into Wales to cover the distance effectively.  I particularly enjoyed sharing the ginger flavoured oatcakes which Ella had brought.  I hmmm'd about the prospect of going all the way to Bangor, "it's probably about two hours" then we did some maths and concluded that it was a bit hit and miss but we went for it.


It was a little miserable climbing over the hills of Frodsham on account of it being quite main roadsy but once we were off and back onto lanes, turning into Welsh lanes, we rode side by side again on and off.

In Bangor, we tried the pub but they were quoting 45 hours wait for food (yes you heard), particularly it seems to anyone wearing a cycling helmet and offering to sit outside.  So we went back to the info control (the shop) to grab sandwiches, I bought fudge and a drink then sat on the doorstep of the neighbouring florist as a shower moved over us.  Somewhere there was a rainbow as the sun glinted off the opposite building.  Derby Mercury arrived and I was pretty chuffed to be going well, ahead of "The Mercury" as they referred to themselves.  Let's skim over the fact that they'd already had a cafe stop.

We continued on our way into the flood of rainbow, bright, vibrant and complete.  From there the weather only improved and I found myself removing hat and buff and changing into thinner gloves for the rest of the day.

Another two hours on from Bangor was the ice cream cafe.  I hadn't planned to stop there but then I had planned to stop near Eureka and not scoff a sandwich in a doorway.  Still, I was enjoying the avid conversation, even if I did need to up my pace a bit to always hear what Ella was saying.  Her hacking cough made her talk softly so I had to ride a close pace to hear.  Sometimes I just had to give up and drop back a bit.  I got my own back on a climb by saying I was having "a wee stop to fix something" and found her crashing through the undergrowth a few metres ahead, having stopped for a wee, thinking I was doing the same.

At the icecream cafe neither or us knew where we were going, locked our bikes to the first bit of railing opposite people sitting on sofas inside then headed into the building / compound.

Ella has never done an audax here.  I have just never been in because the place is a children's play park and too many little people make me nervous.

Small persons squealed and stumbled and crawled all over things and we rushed into the nearest building to warm our thighs and start the cafe hunt.  Just as I thought we'd made it back to our bikes (but on the other side of the glass this time), we were cordoned off with rope so I booked a table (with a helmet and sweaty coat) and Ella went to order soup and coffee / tea whilst I went outside to move the bikes into view at the *actual* bike racks next to the *actual* cyclists's entrance.

I happily wheeled one big and one not-so-big happy bikes around the corner and locked them back up.  By the time I was back at the table, coffee was placed and soup was arriving.  Abject bliss.

My thoughts of cake were diverted to the fact that I had a lot of junk food to get through on the bike on the way back.  I'd only consumed one piece of fudge and had Haribo and the leftover zombie chocolate left over from Halloween to get through yet.  Somewhere in my handlebar bag, a Frankenstein was having a fight with a gummy-bear and I might be called upon to invigilate.



"How are you doing?" my pal asked me.  "OK, bit tired", I confessed.  Off the lanes, she towed me along a straight carriageway.  I was grateful for the wheel to get me out of a headwind and away from traffic as soon as possible.  Wjilst she describes herself as "Manchester's premier fat female cyclist", on twitter, she really isn't and is fucking strong to drag me around like a rag doll like that.

Back on the lanes we rode side by side and continued our conversation.  Occasionally, when I had to let a car past, I had to sprint back on because I was enjoying the story of how she met Spandelles so much.  As night caught us up and the lights went on, the conversations calmed down and each of us did turns on the front, if only because we both like leading.  I probably got a bit annoying but it's only that I'm used to tri training so much, putting myself on the front when I'm out with TSK, getting used to being face to the wind.



Finally, as we entered back into Cheshire known-territory around Minshull Vernon, disaster struck and I experienced the familiar flaccid feeling of a snapped gear cable in a lever-housing.  Absolutely zero response from my derailleur whatsoever, I was stuck in a big gear.

We took to a driveway and I threaded the new cable through but couldn't find the end of the old cable somewhere inside the lever.  Looking under the lever, there was a hatch that I had never investigated before.  Although every single screw and adjuster nut on the dura-ace groupset has a hex-wrench head for Allen keys, this one that I needed had a cross screwdriver head.  I could've screamed!

Finally, after about 45 minutes of dicking-about, chatting, laughing, talking to the homeowner whose driveway we were using, I conceded to ride single speed to the next bit of civilisation.

At first it was a challenge, then a chore, then I started doing the maths on how long I had to keep going for and really concluded I couldn't keep it up for 3 more hours.  It was already dark and I was just sore.

A fellow audaxer passed and I managed to catch him up and ask if he had a screwdriver.  He didn't but he recommended I talk to his dad, a little further back who would definitely have one.  I realised I had seen his dad riding in the hills around Sheffield before..  What a pleasure.

We carried on, knowing the next info control was a garage.  Eventually I had the bright idea to adjust my temporary cable arrangement to a different gear since I wasn't using my big ring at all on the flat and I was getting sick of getting off to walk up any hill steeper than 7%.

I cranked the derailleur across and re-tightened the screw.  Much better.  I could definitely consider riding another 3 hours like *that*.  For some time I span out on the flats at 18-21 kph before dropping into the little ring and getting as far up all the hills as I could - actually I was making most of them but after my earlier exertions, the spinning out on the flat was really starting to grate and average speed was suffering as a result.  At the petrol station I resolved to try and fix the lever but failing that, to stick myself in a slightly higher gear.



The petrol station attendee was great.  She found me the only screwdriver they had and let me exchange cans of coke when I actually (horror of horrors) bought low sugar coke.  I don't drink the stuff often enough so had no idea what I was doing.  That Ella girl was a bad (great) influence.  It was exactly what I needed.  The crisps I bought were also exactly what we both needed so I repayed the ginger oatcake favour from the morning whilst working on my rear derailleur.

We hauled out of the petrol station and onto what felt like some of the biggest climbs in Cheshire.  Well, they were on single speed anyway.  On the third one I felt the cable slip in its housing and crunch crunch I jumped up two gears.  Time for another little walk.

Finally we spilled back into Alderley Edge and a team effort started to get us back to the finish in one piece.  Through Wilmslow we were passed unceremoniously by an Asda delivery vehicle who insisted on passing us then slowed down for every junction thereafter, including the one at the bottom of a big descent.  I swore at him, I swore at my legs, I let out a primal scream to get me up the hill then instantly felt guilty about waking up half of Wilmslow - before realising it was only 8pm... no, my point stands.  I woke up Wilmslow from its post-Sunday lunch snooze

As we neared Handforth, I desperately hoped they weren't going to make me ride Stanleylands but it wasn't in the right direction so I was relieved to just roll through Handforth at which point Ella, on sniffing Spandelles arrival in Cheadle after his long ride, left me as she said she would. I ode into Cheadle and the arrivee toute seule.  Quite frankly, I was astonished she hung around that long but I admit it was great to have a sista for company for the day.

Back at base they came out to welcome me in and I settled down to text everyone I was safe and share stories of the road, the organisers now having figured out who I was without my usual trusty sidekick in tow.  A steady stream of riders kept filtering through so there were about 12 still on the road behind me - a strong indicator of the fast pace I had gone around in, particularly having been forced to rock a big gear to the finish instead of breezing it in.

So that was it, 12 of 12.  I challenged Ella, of course, to keep going and deliver 11 more.  She sounded moderately tempted.

I can't decide if I'm excited to have December off or if I want to join in with another ride and keep my tally ticking.  I didn't think hard about work for a whole day - although I did my share of defending how exciting I find it.  What I did think about was how much I had missed riding my bike.  I made myself promises.  Ones I intend to keep on keeping.

I dwelled long enough to eat soup and some biscuits and drink a cup of hot squash.  Then packed up my stuff and headed back into the night to ride back to the Farmhouse.  Mum was back in bed and dad was mooching around in the garden when I got back.  I got changed and drank tea and told tales of a great day before hastily rushing back to Sheffield in the van.  It was all I could do to keep myself awake - though the snake pass helped my alertness.  I guess my reluctance to finish the tale is testament to my reluctance to stop riding these events.

I'll (not) end this here.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Finding it on a sparkly, misty night


I ran today. 8.6 fairly insignificant kms yet they felt the most profound of my life.  I wish I were being over-dramatic.

For the last couple of months my life has been a traumatic joke.  For a while I managed to balance my work life on a knife edge with remaining sane.  Constantly challenging myself to keep looking after myself at the same time as delivering more and more work with less and less help.  Gradually my own life ebbed away, leaving a worn out, flustered, annoyed, angry, exhausted shell of a woman I did not understand or recognise.  It was allowed to happen.  Help was offered but it was the wrong kind of help.  And so I struggled on.

Then last week I accidentally booked into the wrong hotel.

I thought I’d upgrade to a hotel in town but discovered that living in the middle of a shopping arcade and a housing estate doesn’t give me any motivation to leave on a bicycle.  Then, tragedy, I forgot my running shoes.  The easiest device to use to navigate yourself out of a ford-focus-and-2.4-children hellhole and I left them at home. 

Getting in from work at 6 to 7pm, eating then working some more then falling over on the bed only to wake at 2am, get up, do more work and then go back to bed for an hour-or-so before getting up and doing it all again.  My brain was exhausted but my body was not.

I drove to the station to pick up managers.  I drove to Worksop for a massage.  Apart from the lack of time to ride, the inclination wasn’t there.  I’ve had problems with the bike getting into its gears.  On Thursday night, in place of riding my bike, I lay on the floor next to it and stared at the ceiling then stared at the bike.  At least if I couldn’t ride it, I could fix it. 

Funnily enough, in a moment of calm I at least figured out what the problem was and fixed it… at least I think I got it.  I didn’t get to find out for on Friday, I drove home.  Still no bicycling.

I stopped in a side road to dial into the 4:30 meeting – I at least gave myself that much of the afternoon off.  Apparently it was most inconvenient of me to dial into the meeting from my motor car. I guess it meant a man had to take minutes. 

I updated my colleagues and promised to finish a piece of work either this weekend or on Monday.  It wasn’t going to get done on Monday. 

I stopped off at the bike shop to buy a bit for my other bike and tried to make conversation but all I could think was how little I had ridden my bike and how little time I would have to fix this part to my bike. 

By the time I got home I wanted to cry.  I ate my dinner and fell into bed exhausted.  At 2am I was wide awake.

I got up and made the first changes to the document.  I worked for 2 hours before going back to bed at 4:30 and sleeping until 7:30.  I got up more exhausted than when I’d gone to bed but I had to eat.  I got the laptop out again and finished the document and sent it out.  I worked on the bike for the shortest amount of time possible.  I didn’t even test ride it.  I was supposed to be going out but I really couldn’t face it.  On the other hand I knew that friends were exactly what I needed right now so I went out.  I was exactly right. 

The walk to my friends’ house was tough though.  I enjoyed every moment of it.  Finally one foot was falling in front of the other; the breeze made me put my gloves on.  The freakishly warm air made me regret wearing my down coat.  Bonfires were on the air.  Happy families passed us by with children ensconced in waterproof fleecy onesies with welly boots on their feet.  It was the weekend before bonfire night.

I love bonfire night.  I love bonfire night more than Christmas.  Normally I know exactly when the free firework display is on in town.  Normally I have all the plans set out.  This year, I haven’t had time to think of it.  This year Christmas is likely to be ruined the same way.

My friends fed me.  I’d eaten nothing but a pot noodle and some cereal and toast all day.  I stared at a fire, chatted, wandered around the corner to get the best look at the fireworks and spent 15 minutes sitting on the pavement leaning on a wall and watching the sparkles glide through the air, enjoying the booms, banks and crackles. 

Then I returned to the party for sparklers.

A lovely lady called Rita shared her stories with me and said sweet things like, “women like you are forging the future, you’re what will make it better for women who follow” and I nearly cried.  Not because she made me feel special (she did and she’s right) but because I am sad that when I was her age, 25 years ago, I thought that women like my boss were forging the future, that she would make it better for women who follow”.  Current status: Things feel a whole lot worse right now.

I didn’t drink a lot – despite buying enough to sink me, I drank one bottle of beer and a bottle of some lowly alcoholic level.  I daren’t drink anymore, it just makes the sleepless nights worse.  So we walked home, early enough to go racing tomorrow, early enough to be thankful that I didn’t get shit faced and make a fool of myself / cry / spend the weekend cursing the waste of time being hungover.  Early enough that we weren’t so tired we got a taxi.  Instead we walked our way home through the glorious winter evening, yawning our way up the hill and fell into bed as soon as we got in.

This morning I woke up thankful for a full nights’ sleep.  From midnight till 7:30 am.  Abject bliss.  Clearly exhaustion is the key.  Clearly I cannot live this life without exercise.  Still, the bike looked at me and I knew I needed to work.  Here is my balance at the moment – I do what makes me feel least guilty.

My hair and body smelled of smoke.  Despite the light weighted night, I felt like I’d been clubbing pissed and smoked 20 fags.  Exhaustion from the week sat on me heavy and as soon as TSK asked if I wanted to go out racing, the answer was honest: No.

Last week I forced myself but I was worried that if I forced myself this week I would never actually survive another week at work.  Starting tired and sore, no.  I needed to start this week rested but ahead of the game.  I got my laptop out but I did promise myself I wouldn’t do too much.

TSK did the right thing and gave me advance warning of lunch so at 11:45 I negotiated myself one last action and then extracted myself from work by 12:30.  We walked up the hill at which point my body crashed.  Yesterday’s starvation combined with a small breakfast and all that exercise last night did not bode well.  I was teary again in the cafĂ© but thankfully I recognised it as low sugar.  A burger and chips sorted me out.

We walked for miles around and into town.  We walked along Frog Walk which follows a riverside path and I listened to the stream.  A little bird blew through my brain with its song like fresh air and again I felt alive.  I didn’t for one moment regret my decision for the day.  A nice bit of gentle exercise.  I felt I was giving my body permission to move again.  Nothing that was going to do any damage – physically or mentally – but just enough.   I did some shopping which made me happy.  A simple pair of everyday earrings to replace and odd pair.  £20 on a fountain pen since I’m sick of losing expensive good ones.

Then we walked home.  Still I enjoyed every step.  The temperature got warmer and my coat came off and by the time we got home I was determined to find myself another space in this day – to earn myself the time to go for a run.  I got changed almost immediately and went back out.

I ran up first, through the edge of the woods where I could still just make out enough under-foot to see where I was going without falling over.  The thought of someone trying to attack me was laughable; they wouldn’t be able to keep their footing.  I knew this like the back of my hand. 

Up through the allotments where the children streamed down the hill screaming, “I can smell the bonfire!”  Through the horse yard where I walked carefully to avoid making anyone jump.  Dropping down the bridle path the light really had gone as I stepped off a stile and snicked my foot between a rock and the dry stone wall.  The head torch went on.  Onto the clifftop run around the quarry then a short jog along the A57.  For once my immediate surroundings were not the distraction.  Up and down the valley I watched the fireworks cast out into the fog, blotting in the wet sky like psychiatrist’s patterns in the mist.  Were they telling me I was crazy?

I descended, finally feeling a little cold in the dark air and without any load on my legs.  The gloves went back on and I rolled my sleeves back down but I was too happy now to be upset with the cold.  I was ecstatic to have my shoes careering through the crisp leaves as their white backs glistened back at my headtorch.  Suddenly I felt abject joy.

I stopped to capture my joy in case it fleeted away.  It was a challenge. 


Along the bottom of the valley, with kids and families again.  Dogs’ wild eyes reflecting off my torch light turning the happiest and softest of family Labradors into the Hound of the Baskervilles, the lumens reflecting off teeth in the smiling, panting mouths of pups.  They all had a fuss off me.

When I reached the mill pond my legs were beginning to tire.  I realised I wasn’t on the 7k loop but on the 8-9km loop.  My ankles and knees were aching and I was starting to run with sloppy form.  I was worn out.  Rather than keep plodding away at the same bad form, I put in a stint of perfect running.  It was fast but it was “easy”.  I’d been plodding so long that consciously “running well” was introducing all kinds of new muscle groups and giving my worn bumbling muscles a rest.  It didn’t last long.  It really didn’t last long but it brought me to a new state of mind. 

I could feel the tangled mess of my brain straightening itself out into tangible strands.  I didn’t solve any mind blowing problems but suddenly I found peace.  My project no longer mattered. I matter. 
My deadline is irrelevant compared to my lifeline.
I have done my best.  I have asked for help (and it was denied).  I have learned a lot (it has done nothing for my trust issues!).

By the time I reached the Rivelin Park the free firework display had begun.  Whizz bang.  I took the opportunity to do some stretching, ease my tired legs whilst I watched the fireworks go off somewhere good.  Usually the golf club have a “do”… or the posh people on the park at Crookes.  Down at the bottom of the valley by the allotments, some others were just having a bonfire of garden stuff.  It was tempting to go and join them but probably not advised in shorts.

My final run was through the park where dog walkers still streamed out.  I remembered how much I missed going to Scotland, running and walking in the real hills.  I made myself some promises to do more fell races this year.  They were good promises.  Ones I will keep.  Most importantly I felt like I had rescued myself from the brink.  Abject exhaustion is an after-effect of my run today.  With a brain already fatigued beyond belief, my body does now actually match – which is a relief.  I will sleep tonight – potentially for the second time in a row… but even if I do not, I have learned something massive this week.  I have learned just how broken I can be and still survive and I have learned just how unacceptable it is to be there… and I have promised myself, more than anything else, I will never, ever, ever, go there again.

I am still alive.