Joyful June: A Great Start!

A Brief Overview of the month so far…

Friday, 1st of June 2018

The last time I managed to run 10k was at the end of July, 2017.

Now, almost injury-free, I was determined that June 2018 would be a good month for running, and that I would increase my mileage and use this as a springboard for better training and more races throughout the rest of the year.

My PB of 46’16 was in my head…for about two seconds. Be sensible, Dan. Just cover the distance and don’t worry about pace.

I completed the run in 57’43, and I was more than happy with that. My first 10k in ten months. Onwards and upwards!

Champion

 

Saturday, 2nd of June 2018

There was some light rain in the air as I set-off for Tesco. I only needed a 35p tin of chopped tomatoes, so I took a £1 coin from the sideboard and headed out. I’d only been walking for a couple of minutes when I spotted something floating in a puddle, up ahead. Could it be? It is! It’s a tenner! And thanks to the laminate finish on the latest £10 notes, I only had to give it a quick wipe before it was ready to spend.

(Below: A photo of the original £10 note that I found).

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What a great result! I should have returned with a tin of tomatoes and 65p change. Instead, I had my tomatoes and £10.65 change.

I bet Jack’s mum wishes she’d sent me on that errand – I wouldn’t have come back with ‘magic’ beans!

Well…, it’s only the second day of June and it’s already turning-out to be the best month of the year. Could it possibly get any better? Oh, yes…

Friday, 8th of June. One week after my 10k run

After an easy 40 minute run and a couple of 3 milers during the week, it was time to increase my mileage further. I decided on a 7 mile run, which I completed in 1’02:54. Again, my overall time wasn’t important, but I was very pleased with the splits I ran from miles 4 to 7.

8 to 9 miles next time.

7 mile run splits

Tuesday, 12th of June 2018. 4:16pm

Last Monday I had a telephone interview for a job that I had applied for a few days previously. Since then, I had completed an online assessment, and a face-to-face interview and practical assessment last Thursday. I had a good feeling that all had gone well, and on the following Tuesday I received a phone call from a member of the recruitment team with a verbal offer. I accepted, and my start date will be 2nd of July.

Great! A new job, new opportunities, and over the next two weeks I get to watch England’s World Cup Campaign – in its entirety!

Unhappy England Fans

Good. I’m happy with the way the month of June is going. I’ve already clocked-up more miles than I ran in May, found a tenner and confirmed a new job. It’s time to look at booking some races:

Maraton Valencia, 2nd of December 2018

Great Eastern Run, 14th of October 2018

And any other races that I fancy in between.

D.

Next time: ’12 days a Veggie’. (23/06/18).

Alcohol: My ‘Share’.

For most people, their first experience of our most popular, legal drugs, is not a good one.

Watching my now-teenage nephews growing-up, I realise that times are changing, but when I first attended secondary school, it was very much ‘cool’ to smoke, and that’s when I first tried it, around age 12.

I hated it. I managed to inhale most of the smoke, which tasted awful, and the rest of it went into my eyes and irritated them for what seemed like ages. Like all who became fully-fledged smokers, though, I persevered and, eventually, I conditioned myself to get to a point where I actually enjoyed it. For about thirty years!

I still love a vape, though…

Vaping in Tesco

In contrast, my first experience of alcohol was, unlike most people’s, very different.

I remember it well. I was about 11 years old, and quite often on a Saturday evening my parents would take my sister and me to the social club at the site where my dad worked. There was a games room there, where the kids spent most of their time, but, inevitably, I would have to go out into the bar area to pester my dad for more change for the machines and pool table.

I loved the smell of the bar. The combination of the scent of fresh and stale beer really appealed to me. I always harangued my dad to let me try some of his, and one evening, he did.

Now, this is the point when most youngsters turn their noses up. The smell, the bitter taste, the horrible froth. Uurgh!

But not me, I loved it. I remember it as clearly as I remember the last bacon sarnie I ate (10 minutes ago).

I loved the taste, and even after just one mouthful, I remember enjoying a slightly warm, slightly hazy feeling, which would be the first of many thousands to come.

With hindsight, it’s easy to look back over the years and see that my drinking was completely different to that of my friends, but I didn’t realise it at the time, despite plenty of hints from them, and my family that I had no control over it.

Whenever we left a pub or a club, I’d make sure I finished any drinks that people were unable or unwilling to finish. The thought of leaving any abandoned, but partly-full glasses unfinished, just seemed alien to me.

Then I had the arguing, the arrogance, the bed-wetting, the drinking as soon as I’d woken-up, the gradual descent into being unsociable and the ever-decreasing circle of friends, the relationship break-ups, which were never my fault, or so I thought.

What else?, Ah, yes. The nights in police cells, usually for my own protection rather than for being under arrest, the inability to hold-down jobs, the inability to perform basic, daily tasks such as shopping, as the profuse sweating and anxiety wouldn’t allow it.

Oh, and the withdrawal in more recent years, when I had got to the point where I had spent every available penny on booze, and had to go through the hellish nightmare of withdrawal, twice resulting in seizures and a touch-and-go stay in hospital.

What a shit way to exist! Can I really look back and say, “Oh, but I enjoyed myself”? I’m not sure that I can. The only parts that I can really remember are during the years when I was taking a lot of amphetamines, which kept me standing and, relatively speaking, level-headed on so many occasions despite the amount of booze I had poured down my neck.

However…I’m lucky. I’ve got a supportive family and understanding friends, and even understanding bosses over the years. If it wasn’t for them, I’d have been on the street in my early twenties, possibly in my late teens, and there is no doubt that I wouldn’t be here now.

After countless Drinksense sessions, AA meetings, counselling and psychiatric medication, life is moving forward now, and in no small part due to exercise.

I’m sober, I’ve been running for three years now, and my running goals just will not allow alcohol to be a part of what I am trying to achieve: A happy, healthy, sociable and productive life.

D.

A Challenging 2018, So Far.

Just a short one, as I’m planning to do fortnightly training updates, starting soon…

‘Running and Sobriety’. That’s the title of my blog site, so let’s start with sobriety – and prescription medicines.

I stopped taking mood stabilisers over a year ago. I had a brief stint on anti-depressants, but I haven’t taken those for a few months. Booze? I’m not sure exactly how long I’ve been sober, but it’s been a long time for me. I know that most recovering alcoholics know the exact date that they stopped drinking. I’ve always tried to put that out of my mind, otherwise I think about it every day and I find that a struggle.

These days, I can do without the drink and other medication as long as I’m active, to a large extent with running, but walking and cycling as well.

The fact that I’ve been injured for most of the year so far (155 miles run from January to May), would normally lead me back to bad habits and dark days but, somehow, this year has been different.

I’ve hated not being able to run properly and achieve any running goals, but I have ‘self-helped’ myself through injury, mainly using hip exercises from an NHS physiotherapy programme, and I seem to have come out the other side, free of injury, still sober, medicine-free and raring to go.

My first target for June? Run 10k, for the first time since July 2017. I did that on the morning of the 1st of June…

10k 1st June

So what’s next? I’m not going to get carried away, as the last thing I want to do is to injure myself again.

My first race target will be the Great Eastern Run in October, and then I will look to register for my first marathon, probably to take place in April/May next year. In between times I’ll just concentrate on being healthy, sticking to a training plan and probably run some 10k races.

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My ultimate aim is to regain the form and level of fitness that I attained throughout 2016 and early 2017, but that is some way off from where I am now, and I’m happy to work towards it again, slowly.

Well, it’s another steady run for me this weekend before I really concentrate on getting myself in condition to train well for future races.

I’ll keep you posted…

D.

 

Back On The #Tescocustardcreams.

I don’t usually write two blog posts in such quick succession, but, buoyed by the inaugural bootcamp at my local boxing gym last week, my return to Boxercise last night and parkrun on the horizon tomorrow, I’m feeling positive.

I enjoyed Bootcamp, as it was something new, and I really delighted in going back to  Boxercise after a month off. Weather permitting, I’ll put down a marker on which to build at parkrun, with the ultimate aim of beating my current PB by mid-to-end of July (And yes, I do mean July this year!). Oh, and then Bootcamp again, approximately 45 minutes after parkrun…

Photo: I imagine parkrun will be like this. Pouring sweat, red-faced, struggling to breathe and being behind someone who I should probably be ahead of.

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Thursday, 11pm. Two and a half hours after Boxercise…

Man, I’m starving! I’ve got plenty of food in the fridge and in the cupboards, but I’ve got a serious craving for some custard creams. How could I have run-out of them? Running out of toilet paper is bad, but this oversight is on another level!

I’m very disappointed in myself.

Luckily, although sometimes not, for the recovering alcoholic, planet Earth’s largest, 24 hour Tesco is on my doorstep.

Going to buy custard creams sounds like a simple task, but it can present a problem.

Those people who have never worked in retail probably don’t realise the amount of planning that goes into the positioning of products on supermarket shelves, and the layout of the store. This is where Tesco have, in the past, had me by the short and curlies.

The evil management team at Tesco have positioned the biscuit aisle so that it leads me directly onto the ever-so-well-stocked, booze aisles, which, in turn, lead me to the self-harm checkouts. I’ve never been able to prove it, but I also believe that they have invested in some kind of hi-tech equipment, which creates a gravitational micro-climate that pulls me towards the alcohol, preventing me from exiting the biscuit aisle in the other direction, towards the relative sanctuary of the breakfast cereals.

Bastards!

The great, ancient philosopher and civil rights activist, Samuel L. Jackson, once said:

‘The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper, and the finder of lost children.”

Too true, Sammy, and still relevant to this day.

Sammy L J

 

Knowing that I was going to mention Tesco and its fine custard creams more than once in this post, it occurred to me that I should probably apply to the supermarket giant to become a brand ambassador. I’ve seen plenty of people doing this on social media, and they have inspired to write a short piece, which will form a part of my application, thus:

Fuelled by #tescocustardcreams, I set-off early for my 5k run. If is wasn’t for my #tescocustardcreams, I’d have probably made it no further than my front door. I started to feel quite tired after 1km. Luckily, I’d put some #tescocustardcreams in my pocket, having anticipated this gradual decrease in energy levels. Wow, what a boost, having just eaten another two #tescocustardcreams I feel like a new athlete. Powered-on by my #tescocustardcreams, I completed my 5k run in a new PB time! Thank you, #tescocustardcreams !

What do you think? I would say that I’m a natural, but I’d be lying. I would never have been able to write this without the mental and physical energy provided by my #tescocustardcreams. 

Custard Creams                        Tesco Custard Creams. £0.45, from all larger Tesco stores.

Thanks to those of you who provided some very positive feedback on my last post. Much appreciated!

More not-so amusing musings to follow in May…

D.

March Misery, April Mania!

Out of the frying pan, into the fire…

March was a miserable month.

Injury and depression, I’m not sure which came first, are a bad combination. I spent most of the month being unable to run or cycle. Even walking was painful. I had to stop going to my Boxercise classes and spent most days having to force myself out of bed, and then the rest of the day trying to avoid speaking to people or attempting to go about a normal daily life.

In 31 days I managed to run 19.64, painful miles. I didn’t attend a single Boxercise class, which meant missing the people there, as well as the exercise itself.

The positive, and it’s a huge one, is that I had another sober month. I’ve no idea how I managed it in the circumstances, but I did, despite temptation always being just around the corner*** Well done, me!

*** A slight digression: My spectrum of friends and acquaintances goes from one extreme to the other, with everything else in between. I could be out shopping, for example, and bump into a ‘running friend’, then, five minutes later, come across an ‘addict friend’, and it’s when I come across the addict friend that temptation rears its ugly head.

Photo: Me, vaping and, therefore, looking irresistible to the opposite sex.

Vaping in Tesco

I was at the Pharmacy counter in Tesco a couple of weeks ago, stocking-up on my vaping refills, when a woman’s foot connected with my backside. It was an ‘addict friend’ of mine, who goes there most days for her methadone.

“Come and sit down”, she said.

As I did, I couldn’t help but notice the 1.5l bottle of vodka in her carrier bag. “Fancy some of this?”, she said, showing me the Red Bull can in her hand. “It’s half-full of voddy”.

Here comes the temptation. After a very long pause, during which I thought of snatching it out of her hand, having that first mouthful and then spending the rest of the day blissfully drunk, I managed to say “No, thanks”.

She’s an alcoholic and a heroin addict, so she knows how incredibly difficult abstinence can be, and that’s why she didn’t try to encourage me to take the drink. It’s not so straightforward with a ‘non-addict’, as they will usually say something like “go on, just have one, you’ll be fine”.

“I said no. Fuck off!”

Digression over***

And here comes April…

Boom! Mania! Manic, racing thoughts, a potentially critical  increase in heart rate, absolute insomnia, a sudden enthusiasm for even the most mundane of daily tasks, all over social media, on the phone to family and friends, Bootcamp on the first Saturday of the month and back on the roads, running, albeit for very short periods and despite injury.

Calm down, Dan, just try to calm down…

I can never see this mood change coming, although I have learnt to try and manage it. There doesn’t seem to be a trigger, and no signs that my mood is going to change. It just does!

Experience has taught me that periods of ultra-high mood can be dangerous, and possibly harmful to others. Not in a physical sense, but (buzz-phrase alert) ‘my ‘filter’ tends to disappear, and I verbalise or write whatever comes into my head, usually without considering the consequences. I can, at times, become the stereotype of an arrogant Yorkshireman that we all (outside of the county) like to mock.

Photo: An opinionated, flat-capped, ridiculously moustachioed Yorkshireman, with a head full of outrageously pompous, irrational opinions…and his dog.

Yorkshireman

“‘Ah ser what ah larke, and ah larke what I ser”!

(Translation, Yorkshire to English: I say what I like, and I like what I say).

That’s why I used the phrase ‘out of the frying pan, into the fire’, earlier, because I’m not sure if the depression or the high mood is worse. I am certainly much more likely to upset people when I’m manic. Not that it is ever my intention to do so, but I just can’t help it.

One thing is for sure. I am currently, zealously, re-evaluating my running goals. I’m not going to consider running a 10k, HM or above for the foreseeable future. I think I will concentrate on my 5k PB, which is currently 21’03, and look to beat that within three months. This should be achievable, presuming that I stay injury-free.

That, along with Boxercise and Bootcamp are my new priorities. If I can stick to that, injury-free, then the moods, low or high, should at least be controllable, if not curable.

Okay, my head is about to explode. I apologise if you’ve taken the time to read this, only to find that it makes NO sense!

I’m mentally exhausted for the time being, so I won’t go back and proofread it!

D.