Taking a risk…

Before Christmas I rejoined POF (Plenty of Fish), the third attempt at online dating. Third time almost lucky. I’m back of it again, almost as quick.

It started so well – ended up dating a bloke who got past date three – and smashed his way, unknowingly, through my defences.

For the first time in I don’t know how long I was excited about dating and looking forward to seeing him and doing things and just about the possibility that I’d found someone lovely. Turns out I was in the right place emotionally but he wasn’t.

For various reasons, which are completely understandable but not mine to repeat here, he wasn’t ready for dating despite thinking he was. He freaked out and well, today it all ended so to speak.

A fleeting three weeks of dating.

I am usually pretty good at keeping my defences pretty high in the beginning of a relationship. I had a mini wobble/freak out about it earlier in the week, worried that I would end up liking him too much and end up hurting again.

Well reader. That happened. And far too quickly for my own liking.

I never expected to just feel like I had ‘fallen’ so quickly. I am upset that its over before it really started and I’m upset because he’s upset and not happy. He is such a lovely person and this just compounds the whole situation.

It feels a bit like going though the break up with the Ex and its brought back all the awful feelings and memories of that hurt – and this is after only three weeks. I took a risk to see how it would go and I am glad I did but I am now moping, feeling shook up and like I could do with a good cry.

Although – trying to look on the bright side… for him, I think dating has been the shock he needed to go get help. He’s said it himself that he didn’t seek help and that really he thinks this proves he has do. I hope he does, he really deserves to be happy but I think it is going to take a while. I haven’t dated anyone as lovely before I don’t think. This is good for him but rubbish for me because I really think we would have been a good match and I really do think I ‘fell’ for him. Quite hard.

For me though, after roping in the support team (excellent friends) – well. I suppose it shows that I have been right to be picky (good single blokes are still out there, just hiding/elusive) and that I should trust my judgement more as with the other dates I just  knew it wasn’t right, or they weren’t ‘the one’ so to speak, even when they were nice people. Its also proved that dating can be good and exciting and that I can want to see someone again. It’s proven that there are good people still out there that aren’t going to annoy the living daylights out of me in the first few days/weeks. On the negative side to this, its reminded me that it can be fun and reminded me what I’ve been missing being in a relationship/being with someone and that for the right one, I will find a way to make time.

All for the good but at this moment in time, I want to bawl my eyes out because I am heartbroken. Three weeks! Thats it. Its mental. And that makes me want to bawl even more. And no, for the cynics out there, it wasn’t the idea of being in love or a relationship – it was just him.

Back to nursing a bruised, sore and broken heart and back to square one.

Little Christmas Love-in

Christmas is a great time for reflection – in fact, the whole of December has been really.

It started early in the month, or rather late November. Not sure why, but I suddenly felt like the madness that had been autumn might finally be calming down, I felt happier and the remains of bitterness that had been lingering might finally be subsiding – don’t get me wrong, I am not entirely sure I will ever be on terms of actively encouraging my ex to anything I do/organise etc, but I may FINALLY have turned a corner. This has lead me, this morning, to consider whether I should rename my blog. Suggestions welcome.

Shocking I know.

I wrote an open letter to the ex, here on this blog, not so long ago, which in itself was cathartic. It was even noted that I was pleasant to the ex by some mates and I re-joined Plenty of Fish with no expectation but in a better state of mind – and a bit more ruthless than the first time! So now it seems I am actually dating again and for the first time in over a year – this one has got past date number 3, has yet to really annoy me, seems relatively normal and I am looking forward to seeing him this weekend. This is quite daunting as it’s a while since I’ve been in a situation where I am happy dating. What is more disconcerting is the fact that this has come at a time where I am in a really good place and more than happy single. I am just going to see how things pan out I think.

On other themes of reflection – I cannot begin to really express the love that I have for my friends. I may have said this before. I am blessed with the greatest set of friends I have ever had. Some of them know me better than I know myself sometimes. When they say that friends are the family you chose for yourself I do think it’s true. My mates know me better than my extended family – and I am so lucky and blessed to have them in my life and I just don’t know how to thank them – I think cake maybe helps! They are the people that you want about you in a crisis – hopefully they know that if ever needed, I’d be there for them.

Racing wise – I might just leave that for another post.

So for now – I’ve spend December and Christmas with friends and my immediate family – chilled and content with life’s lot – and with so much to look forward to next year.

An Open Letter to the Ex

Just to give some background to how I have come to write this – I have always felt there have been things left unsaid, that I feel need to be said – for me to get off my chest to the ex just how his actions/behaviour affected me and for him to own his responsibility for his poor behaviour. I cant remain annoyed or angry forever and for the first time in a while, I am in a really good place, starting to find my mojo again and after speaking to a few mates about this – this might just be cathartic.

I even managed to be nice to him yesterday.

To my Ex,

It’s about 18 months since I had to pull you up and say ‘You don’t want to be with me anymore do you?’. This is the crux of why I have still been quite angry until recently. Your lack of balls. You behaved badly in the last few months we were together – I had put it down to stress with training and work, then one night, your behaviour was that of a complete and utter knob and I knew.

The pain in the realisation was awful. I was driving back down Castle Howard drive, heading home after swimming. The penny suddenly dropped. How I drove home I will never know.

Your lack of courage to even say to my FACE – your reply – and then to not meet and discuss this BREAK UP until the weekend? Cowardly. I still can’t believe it was me that had to insist that it was the next day. Leaving yours with only a small bag of possessions and my bike was a sad reflection of eight years together.

You said that these ‘feelings’ or lack of, had been developing for a while and that you had hoped that they would go away – so basically burying your head in the sand. Well, experience should tell you this never works. You took away ANY possibility of this being something more joint – of me having some knowledge or say in the matter. For us to figure out if there was something we could have done to have saved it. Was the eight years together not worth trying to save? Or at least put more effort into saving? Did it mean so little to you? That might be harsh but that’s how it felt. You took any choice/decision/power out of my hands. Gradually acting more of a knob and more of a recluse. With hindsight, seeing as you were soon set up with your current girlfriend, there wouldn’t have been a hope in hell either way. Not having any control of it, having it taken out of my hands made it harder to deal with.

I think there were a few give aways. Before I asked you to marry me, you were distance. You were at Christmas. Again, I put it down to stress. Maybe I should have said or asked if things were ok – but I think you would still have continued to have buried your head and not told me. I loved you so much and was excited that hopefully we would maybe be able to settle down and that things would calm down after Ironman. I asked you to marry me. Your reaction – well. I wasn’t wanting to set a date! Just some sign of commitment. To me. To us. Your reaction sticks in my head. It should have been exciting, something to celebrate. The lack lustre attention around my birthday – compared to the normal fuss. A few other things stick out too. The lack of enthusiasm about settling down together?

The signs were there really – why couldn’t you have just had the balls to say something sooner? If you knew you were developing feelings for her – why not at least try focusing on us, and trying to figure us out? I don’t even care if you actually cheated on me – its more the fact that you dragged it out.

What I have come to realise that I wasn’t the problem and there is nothing I could actually have done.  The issue is yours and yours alone and like I said to you at the time, you will probably repeat your behaviour. As soon as your current girlfriend wants more commitment from you, more than you are willing to give, you will bolt. You will likely break her heart. Unless, like your ex, she gets wise and leave you first – because this is a definite theme.

After we broke up. Sorry. After you dumped me. I lost you – and my second family (the second blow!) but equally I learned quite a bit, which opened my eyes and made me realise a LOT of things. Other things people have mentioned too, continue to help me realise that actually you probably did me a massive favour and I have probably had a lucky escape. It’s taken me a while to get to this point though.

After the split, I was became very ill, very quickly. There is no diet quite like the heartbreak diet. Mind you, being well under the 10 stone mark was fun. The emotional pain lasted longer. I physically got stronger but remained emotionally broken for a long time. The hurt, pain and anger that comes with any break up. Some of it still remains.

My friends saved me. Completely and utterly. I am eternally grateful for their love and support, which has been solid and dependable – even today. They have let me be myself and helped me heal, despite the scars that remain.

Over time, I found my feet. My reaction was to go buy a bike, buy a business and prove that I could manage without you. Prove myself capable. Since you dumped me, I have done more than I could ever possibly imagine me doing. After your first IM, you said that the next year would be about my racing and you supporting me. You never did. You decided you were doing IM again and I supported you. In fact, in all honesty, I think you (unintentionally) held me back and I forgot who I was. I been away on my own, I’ve traveled on my own. I own and run a business. I have tried new things I never thought I would. I have done my half-iron and done races I have wanted to do – even going off on my own to race. I have focused on me and found that I am stronger and more capable than I ever knew. I have had so much more fun and I have found my spontaneity! I have the closest, best group of friends that rallied round and supported me and still do.

The only thing you said was that was actually truthful was that I deserved better.  I did deserve better and I continue to deserve better. Heaven forbid any bloke trying to date me now.

No longer will I bend over backwards and do all the chasing – because lets face it, I did most of the running in our relationship. No longer will I forget who I am and I will do things for me.

It has been a long journey to get to where I am.

I want to let it go – I do, but equally I just want you to acknowledge the suffering you inflicted – to know – what ever you may have been torturing yourself with before the break up, is not a patch on the effect it had on me. You could have had the guts to say something sooner.

I have grown. I am me. On my own, independent and strong. Brave and unafraid.

Remaining bitter doesn’t serve a purpose and the bitterness is fading. I am not sure how far off I am of forgiving – and doubt I will ever forget – but at this moment in time I think your problems are probably far bigger than any of mine.

Finally – what ever has happened in the past has happened and nothing will change that. I am far better off without you, but avoiding events that there is a likelihood we are both going to be at or want to be at, serves no purpose. I hated for a long, long time, but this has changed to something I’m not sure about. I am not sure how I feel, only that writing this has helped.

I’ve read this back and it sounds harsh in places but I felt it needed to be said. Time is a healer to an extent – and I am not sure I am completely there – just don’t expect me to ever hold you in the same regard I once did. Actions tend to speak louder than words.

Your Ex.

(Lack of) Winter Training

There’s no two ways about it. This winter I am really struggling to keep up with any regular training. Work has been so busy and just life in general getting in the way. Dark evenings don’t really help matters either as the motivation to get going and moving just aren’t there. Days are shorter in term of light but do actually feel shorter too.

I know I’m not the only one.

I’m hoping that once Christmas is out of the way – my mojo will come back a bit more. I am already planning next year and really want to do better than I have been and aim to be more consistent. Improving across everything would be good!

More sleep. Better training. More consistency. That’s the basic plan.

I Spy

Most of my generation and older will be familiar with the I Spy books by Michelin (or rather now by Collins in association with Michelin) and if you are not familiar with the books, you should certainly be familiar with the game.

I have spent a LOT of time at triathlons and other various races, at which, hanging around can just be simply quite boring. There have been a few occasions when I have been with mates where I have mentioned that I should write my own I Spy book for others in a similar position but equally as an athlete racing – playing I Spy is pretty fun!

So, here it is. It is, as it stands, a bit of ‘tongue in cheek’ and as much as I would LOVE to publish this as an actual book, I am not sure Collins would be too game for it. I may just email them any way to ask.

I Spy…..

Pre Race

  • Registration Tent – filled with hardy volunteers, mostly lovely and supportive – especially at Tri Club organised races. They understand!
  • Lost race licences and stressed athletes looking for said race licence (pre-race nerves).
  • Sleepy looking spouses and families who have been dragged along for the day.
  • Someone eating a banana/gel/breakfast.
  • The über-keen triathlete, rocking up with a full TT bike set up, with matching disc wheel for a super-sprint.
  • Lost safety pins. You can never have enough. Really!
  • The panic-strikened athlete who has forgotten *inserts important piece of kit* = panic-strikened athlete.
  • Discussion of race tactics – this is just a scare tactic…
  • Technical officials telling people to move their kit! Don’t try to mark your spot people! It’s just not on…. although that bright pink bar tape….
  • Race briefing – nod and turn up – usually a wise idea (like reading the race pack).
  • Maps of the race – because sign posting may be hazardous or you may want to just scare yourself about the elevation…. that you didn’t check before you raced.
  • LONG queues for the toilets – and possibly even someone sharing wet wipes – this happened at my last big race. He was a hero.
  • The athlete asking someone to help them into their wetsuit/zip it up. Common occurrence!
  • The athlete who has forgotten their body glide and asking if anyone has any lube to help them out!

Swim

  • Forgotten or lost googles. Take two pairs. This is sage advice.
  • The swimmers doing breast stroke – and feeling smug that your front crawl is OH SO GRACEFUL.
  • People swimming. Obviously.
  • Lost swim caps!!
  • Pontoons/deep water starts.
  • The swimmer who put a swim time down that was a bit too ambitious. We all know someone who will do this, claiming adrenaline will kick in on the day….
  • The swimmer who does extra laps in a pool based tri or swims a lot further than needed in OW. I know several who have done this!
  • A swimmer getting kicked. Inevitable, especially in open water. Rude people. Just rude – although some people see this as a sport in itself.
  • The swim being cancelled due to blue green algae or some other reason. Come on people – we are supposed to be hardy triathletes. Who wants to do a duathlon?
  • Swim cut short due to weather/other reason unfathomable to mankind – although at the inaugural (and only) Edinburgh 70.3 – I saw the sea and, well, yeah… wise move!
  • Swim buoys that cannot be seen. Without my glasses, I am NOT going to see that buoy around that far distant corner….
  • Kayakers – wise people. Usually lovely too. Major kudos to those supporting LONG swims.
  • A swimmer going the wrong way! (Bonus points if more than 3 swimmers are following) – watch the buoys people – I’ve seen this happen.
  • Flipflops littering the start line. Honestly do NOT understand why getting from T1 to the start isn’t given more thought in some races.

Transition  (T1)

  • Lost athletes. Walking transition before a race is a GOOD IDEA for a reason.
  • Athletes fiddling over watches – common in T2 as well. I’ve only just got the hang of mine.
  • Athletes who sit down to put on cycling shoes – again this is me. I am a very lazy triathlete.
  • The triathletes who have managed to master the art of keeping their shoes on their bike and put them on as they mount.
  • The technical official reminding people to put their helmets on before touching their bikes.
  • The athlete getting told off for mounting too soon.

Bike

  • A hybrid/mountain bike – especially in super/sprint triathlons – sometimes the sign of a novice/doing it for the sheer hell of it. It goes to prove that it doesn’t matter if you haven’t got the swankiest bike – I love seeing people getting involved.
  • An aero bike/TT bike – love the variety actually and the ‘oooooo that’s nice’ – I don’t get bike envy much any more but can appreciate a nice bike. It’s more amusing though in small local races when it might not be so serious that some people take it so seriously… if that makes sense.
  • Clip on TT bars – I’ve given mine away to a mate now I have a TT bike. I never really got on with them in terms of my position on the bike, but definitely useful and not to be sniffed at.
  • Trainers! Not every triathlete is there with cleats etc – does make for SPEEDY transitions though.
  • Drafting in a non-drafting race – just don’t. It isn’t a group ride.
  • Pointy helmets – you know what I mean! Aero/marginal gains! I will admit that I have been looking at new helmets…
  • Full kit w*nkers – I have nothing against this – I am just too tight to buy full club race kit. In all honesty though, in triathlon, it could just be a club trisuit… always good from a support point of view though as it makes athletes in your own club easier to spot and often volunteers and general supporter are far more likely to support in terms of ‘Go York!’ etc.
  • Lost water bottles. Easy done.
  • Gel wrappers strewn on the road side – actually against the rule – and littering is bad anyway – you managed to carrying this far, you can take it home!

Transition (T2)

  • A technical official or volunteer reminding someone to take their helmet off
  • Stretchy/Elastic laces – time saver in T2 if you are that keen.
  • Wetsuits strewn all over – it tends to still be reasonably tidy after T1…
  • Bikes racked wrong way.
  • Someone scoffing a gel or food before heading out to run.

Run

  • Run/walkers (this was me at my last race!) – nothing wrong with this at all.
  • Runners flinging themselves down the descents. This happens all the time anyway – free speed!
  • Walking runners until they see support or get near the finish line.
  • High-fiving support especially from small children.
  • Awesome support banners – way more common on the run – love them! The more insulting the better!
  • Someone handing out haribo/jelly sweets – yes we love you.
  • Amazing marshals who are dancing and enjoying it as much as you aren’t – there was one couple at Outlaw X this year on the back section of the run who were just incredible – I do not know how they kept it up.
  • ‘Only a parkrun left to go’ – yes I know – knowing doesn’t help!
  • Stretchy/elastic laces – mentioned again as they are just cool.

The end!

  • Hands up in the air in celebration of surviving – you all know what pose I mean!
  • The joyous support crew who finally think that they can go home – we all know that this is a big lie and that there is about to be lots of faffing and reviewing of said race.
  • Post race queue for a massage – thankfully I was so late/slow, the queue was minimal – I quite often skip them though.
  • Athletes who put on their race t-shirt on as soon as humanly possible, along side medal – yes you!.
  • Comparing results with friends/clubmates/rivals/enemies, and comparing to the nth degree.
  • Someone making excuses for times – everyone is usually guilty of this at some point. My run time at my last race was due to injury – but I was expecting a DNF.
  • Someone doubled up about to be sick – obviously raced hard and given it their all (me post XC or a CX race).

 

Other random things to look out for:

  • Bored spouses/children who have been brought along under duress with the promise/lure of food.
  • Varying degrees of race t-shirt bragging. Martyn Brunt wrote an article for Triathlon 220 on the subject of race t-shirt hierarchy.
  • Limping.
  • Athletes wondering around in Dryrobes or similar – they really are nice bits of kit post race!
  • A mass of VW Transporters in various colours. Definitely a popular mode of transport – I keep jokingly saying that if I had £5 for every one I saw/spotted on the road, I would be a well off woman. I stand by this, as my trip to the gym alone would have made me £20 tonight.
  • People consuming random looking concoctions post race.
  • Random things in post race goodie bags/pre-race goodie bags.
  • Random post-race prizes instead of a medal eg. A paperweight…..
  • Race branding on the most random of items (Ironman I am thinking of you!)

 

I am sure I have missed some bits off here to be quite honest, so I may add to it. This list has been in my head all summer – I jokingly said about adding bike brands are some are more rare than others (Ridleys are pretty thin on the ground in triathlon but in CX, common as muck!!) but then this would be a VERY long list.

Taking the Farm Girl out of the Country

And plonking her into a city is always going to be interesting.

Last weekend I headed off to London on some rather cheap tickets. It was a bit of a whim booking really but one that turned out to be rather good! Having a rail card is pretty useful! Less than £30 return (ok I used my nectar points but so what?!) and first class on the way back? Winning!

I’ve re-written this post a couple of times, as I don’t think anyone really wants a detailed blog of the ins and outs of my trip but decided to note down some of my observations instead.

Going out of your comfort zone – I am, at heart, a country girl and a northerner. I am usually happier travelling north rather than south. Equally, for some reason, I found myself nervous about this trip – it was a bit more of the unknown. Edinburgh I have done a few times and it is smaller than London! But like someone on my Facebook said, it does do you good to reach out of your comfort zone and they are right.

Traveling by train – I love it, when it works and people are interesting. The woman sat next to me was using the time to work. Fair enough. The couple sat opposite me – matching hoodies, did NOT say a word to each other the whole journey. The chap to my right slept much of the way and the carriage in general was reasonably quiet. First class on the way home – amazing. No surprises there as I love traveling first. This time though, I made full use of having a first class lounge with complimentary food and drink! Same with food on the train. Its even better when you don’t feel robbed in terms of the cost of your ticket. £35 isn’t bad and its even better when you use nectar points and only pay £15!

London museums – I love that so many of them are free! I still have a few museums on my list that I would like to go and see and there are plenty of sights I would like to go see but I feel far more confident about going and seeing them and getting around London now I have done it on my own. I will be going back. Even if it’s just for the buildings. Which are amazing in themselves. The British Museum was a bit underwhelming but the Natural History Museum is brilliant!

The West End – just the area itself is pretty cool and I loved wandering around (this applies to Covent Garden too) – I made a last minute decision to go see Matilda the Musical – it really was amazing! The set was magic and the children just amazing. It was really well told, incorporating two intertwining tales of Miss Honey’s past and Matilda’s present – but in a different way to the book and the film. It really was special and unlike seeing productions in my home town.

The people – so I did meet someone down in London who I’ve been speaking to over Twitter for months. He was as lovely as expected and just fab/awesome company – went swimming, went for a wonder, coffee, cake etc. Was actually gutted to have to part ways. He definitely didn’t fit in with the general. I get that native Londoners are just trying to get about their day in a city that attracts a lot of tourist but wow! Rude, uncommunicative, miserable – especially compared to home! We have new neighbours who have commented that one of the things they noticed about moving north was how much more friendly people are and open! Kind of confirms that north/south stereotype really. One guy though in the local Tesco Express – NEVER SPOKE A WORD to me throughout the whole transaction. His days must really drag!

The noise and the traffic – is intense all the time compared to home. Even through the night. Who would want to drive in London? Or cycle actually? Although apparently the cycling isn’t as bad as I am making it out, but still! Don’t get me wrong, I like the Underground (even if it bites) and the ease of getting around but coupled with the height of the buildings – it is still quite a claustrophobic place to be when you are used to open fields and space.

On the plus side – I will be heading back again. The National Portrait Gallery is one of my favourite galleries and there is still a lot I want to see. I know my sister would like to go, so after my first solo trip – it won’t seem so daunting next time!

I was glad though, to be home on Saturday night, for the peace and the darkness. Looking out on the field behind my house – drilled and ready for the next crop, the hedges marking boundaries and the trees standing tall is home.

Off Season!

I have done very little in the last two weeks in the form of training – and despite a bike ride yesterday, with a bit of UCI World Championships inspiration in the form of cycling through floods…. I have only been to stretch and yoga. I have, however, spent quite a bit of time catching up on some bits and pieces and reminding myself that there is time, or rather life, outside of training too.

I would like to say my mojo is back, but that’s a bit of a lie. Today I really am just tired and I’ve no real idea why. My bike needs cleaning, my accounts need sorting out, I have some marking to do but still, motivation is not quite there for anything. It’ll come back I am sure but at the moment I am just procrastinating. I suppose I need to get back into a routine as everything seems a bit up in the air.

I also think I am just feeling a bit ‘blurgh’ and unmotivated due to the time of year and recent poor diet. Autumn is definitely here. I was supposed to go to a gig on Thursday but couldn’t be bothered and at the moment I am not feeling particularly excited about going to London on Friday. There is nothing big planned on the near horizon and things at work are a bit up in the air. I suppose I am just in a bit of a lull/dip of general tiredness and fed-up-ness that I know will pass.

I suspect I just need a bit of a plan of action and to figure out a new autumn/winter routine!

It’ll all come good!

In the meantime, I’m off to hibernate for a while!