She wouldn’t believe it!

This post has been flitting through my mind without even realising it until today. I’ve partly categorised this under ‘Matters of the heart’ because it is a subject that is close to my heart – education…

Random thoughts this morning while heading to the gym to swim included the thought that one day I would like to write a book. I’m not sure if I ever will but if I do it will probably be related in some way shape or form to triathlon. I say random thought but I think it was triggered after seeing that Sean Conway’s new book is available for pre-order. This then got me thinking about who I would dedicate it to – which links in with a random tweet from someone the other day about school PE and former PE teachers.

To put this into a bit more context. The tweet in question was something along the lines of how being a chubby (fat) child, people presume you would be bad at sports – yet there she was having running an ultra as an adult. I was a chubby child, more academic than sporty. Sorry. Academic and non-sporty. I was rubbish at sports and dreaded PE. I had this the other day with some lad over on POF when I announced my dislike of team sports, he presumed that it was because I was rubbish at sport – not an uncommon assumption. He carried on to say that it didn’t matter if I was the slowest etc – I could still train and play – or words to that effect. I clearly put him in his place (don’t get me wrong, I’m not the fastest but I’m definitely a competent swimmer and reasonable cyclist). I just don’t like team sports such as netball (or football etc).

So all these thoughts and things coming together – if I wrote a book that was sports related – I would dedicate it to Mrs Houlston – one of my PE teachers from secondary school.

As you’ve probably guessed, I really did despise the majority of PE in school. Most of all team sports. Netball topping the list. Being picked last is demoralising. I hated most of it. Although ironically, considering my love hate relationship with running, I never minded XC and I loved badminton (the only sport I ever played as extra curricula at school – we were just allowed to play, it was run by the male DT teacher and with hindsight was probably rather dodgy!). That’s about it. You may have already noted – these are usually solo events. Even now I hate team sports or anything like that – although relays are fine. I put it down to school mostly but when its a solo sport, you’ve only yourself to upset/let down really, anyway this is going off point a little.

Where does Mrs H come in in all of this? Why would I dedicate a book to her?

By the time I was in Y11, I was walking a lot more, being generally more active and I’d started to lose the puppy fat that had plagued me for as long as I remember. No-one ever said I was fat or anything like that but I wasn’t slim and my mum always just called it puppy fat. There was a complete transformation in my appearance – when I show people my Y7/9/11 school pics they don’t believe its the same person.

There is one PE lesson, or rather snippet at the end of a lesson, that really stuck in my head. It was summer, we were playing rounders. Yes I’d been picked last again but as I wasn’t carrying the weight any more suddenly I was managing to run and get half/full rounders. We were walking back to the changing rooms and Mrs Houlston was walking beside me and just happened to say something along the lines of how well I’d played or compliment me on how much faster I was/fitter I seemed. I told her about the walking, she seemed impressed. I don’t quite remember the words, but I remember the feeling. I’d had a compliment/praise from a PE teacher! I was secretly proud as punch – praise was less meaningful in other subjects as I was pretty good academically. The other thing to note about Mrs H, especially compared to my other PE teacher, Mrs P, Mrs H was always more understanding of us less sporty girls – encouraging yes but never berating us for thinking we weren’t putting the effort in or make us feel awful. It’s like she knew how much we despised it and tried to make it tolerable (she did know, I’m sure of it!). Mrs P always seemed full of over-enthusiasm and had obvious favourites – the sporty ones. We always copped it.

That feeling that I got from the quiet praise and the fact she had noticed, means that Mrs H will always be a bit of a hero when I look back. Its been the comment thats stuck with me more than anything at school. It’s probably inspired me more than I realise too as I often wonder what she would make of what I get up to now! I’d like to think that she would be a little bit proud. She will have no idea just how much of a lasting impression her words have had and I would love to just bump into her one day and tell her. My inner teacher is reminded that teachers hold more sway than they realise sometimes and sometimes its the littlest things than make the biggest impact.

So if and when I do write that book… I will dedicate it to Mrs Houlston, with a massive thank you for recognising that I maybe wasn’t quite as rubbish as I thought and for just making my last term of school PE ok.

 

(I’m starting a triathlon coaching course this weekend. I don’t think she’d believe it!)

 

Triathlon X Half Relay Antics

‘Empathy is about finding echos of another person in yourself’ Mohsin Hamid

I’ve rewritten this post more times than I care to remember before publishing. For various reasons – including being too wordy! September was a very busy month – three out of five weekends saw me travelling to the Lake District, all because of some link to the Tri Club, so not all bad.

So, why was I back in the Lakes?

The last Bank Holiday in August, a group of us went open water swimming. Not an usual event considering we’re triathletes, but this time, one of my friends – who doesn’t like swimming at the best of times, had a mini panic attack in the water. This led to a conversation about the fact that she had signed up to Triathlon X half and how she felt she couldn’t do it anymore. Two of us offered to do it for her if she could do it in relay. That turned out to be me. I had planned to come up anyway to cheer her on as I had nothing else on. So a couple of emails back and forth later and I was entered into Triathlon X half to do the swim! Now, TriX has a reputation. It is possibly the hardest triathlon (half and full) in the world. I definitely had the easy part. To put it in perspective, I was done with the swim by 8.44 – she was only finishing at 5pm – and she is an Age-group standard athlete for duathlon. If you want to see the elevation involved, I would just go search it if I were you.

Back to the race planning  – after a few conversations back and forth, I booked my own accommodation. It’s the first time I’ve stayed in a YHA on my own in a dorm room. I wasn’t sure what to expect but it was actually ok. It is nicer having your own room but for £27 and to be located right next to the start line, I wasn’t going to complain. I hadn’t booked breakfast knowing that I would be swimming and up early (6am to be precise). I also didn’t check out when I left for the swim. Knowing I’d be finished before 9am, I decided to wait so after swimming I could go get a shower. This turned out to be the best plan ever – who doesn’t want a warm shower after swimming in a cold lake?!

Drinking coffee and eating some oaty breakfast bar I heading over to transition and met my friends. Dressing in neoprene – literally head to toe – hat, gloves, booties as well as wetsuit was more than novel compared to normal. I had been feeling ok about the swim until the night before. Then nerves started to kick in. Although I’ve been swimming again more regularly, this was going to be my longest continuous swim since Leeds Tri in June (1500m) and the water was a lot colder than I normally like to swim in.

The actual Swim 

I can now say I have a far better understanding of what my mate feels about OW swimming.

Not that I am not empathetic – just that I have a better understanding and wish there was more I could do to help her.

Water temperature was 13.3 degrees. Coldest I’ve been swimming in for a long time, especially any distance! It was definitely warmer than it was in April though. It was a deep water start and there was about 135 of us but there wasn’t too much of a washing machine effect as normal – although I started near the back. I spent the first 3/400m wondering what on earth I was doing? Debated getting out, decided I hated OW swimming, wondered how I was going to make it all the way round etc etc. It was awful. I’m not usually negative when I’m swimming but the first part was just awful. If this is even a fraction of how those who dislike/hate swimming feel – wow. This was bad enough and I am a fairly confident swimmer and love being in the water normally.

I finally found some sort of rhythm after I got past the first triangular buoy at about 800m and started to enjoy it. I was surprisingly warm (thank you neoprene!) and took it steady – to try and save my shoulder. The last 200m were cold and long but I was apparently smiling when I got out. Was a bit annoyed with myself as my time was 44.17 and I know full well I could have done a sub 40. My mini stress at the beginning and have to physically stop a couple of times to sight properly and get my bearings definitely didn’t help. My shoulder still isn’t perfect either but it’s only twinging a bit at the moment. I really need to rest it up I think and make sure I keep stretching it out.

I will point out though, that I was smiling when I got out – and dare I say it, I finally managed to enjoy it!

Racing in relay

Racing in relay was new, but the nature of the race (see comments about about elevation), meant I was actually quite glad I’d finished. I definitely feel I had the easiest part of the race. There was a picture of my friends stood watching the swim looking so worried. It turns out they actually were. A few got out during the swim and DNF’d – that worried them. The temperature worried them. My mates nerves got to her. The picture in question is worthy of a caption competition to be fair!

I got out of the water and hung around long enough to see my friend disappear up the road on her bike and I went and got a shower and changed. It was going to be quite a long day. I wasn’t completely on my own though. My day consisted of eating and drinking and generally wandering about until about 5pm when my friend finished. I do not know how she did it, and I am in genuine awe of her achievements. She is so unassuming, quiet and quite shy – I don’t think she realises her own strength, stubbornness and determination. I suppose that’s why I love her, and was more than happy to jump in a cold lake for her. I’d do it again too!

Late night musings of the heart.

‘Remember that sometimes not getting what you want is a wonderful stroke of luck.’ – Dalai Lama

This is very much a late night musing as I’m wide awake and overthinking. I’ve lost count of how many weeks it is since he left me for another woman and despite there still being some pain and rawness – for the most part it’s gone. I’m not quite at the ‘not caring’ stage as such but I don’t think that’s far off – I’m not avoiding him as much as he’s avoiding me! However, some realisations have been made and it’s been interesting. Helped by putting the world to rights. I feel the urge to list them. Are you sitting comfortably?

Here goes….Not particularly in order….

Realisations about ‘us’/him/our relationship:

  • As soon as a relationship requires commitment or work – he bolts. Turns out it’s a (very) reoccurring pattern. So why did we last so long you ask? I’m too laid back.
  • He’ll do the same to her. I await karma striking. When it does, I’ll probably be past caring, but it will.
  • On the same theme, he will grow into a lonely, old man. I did tell him this. He agreed.
  • He’ll never admit it, but I think one day he’ll regret what he’s done. Maybe not now – but one day. See above.
  • Both of them and their mates know what they’ve done isn’t on – trying to blend in and clearly feeling awkward. It’s obvious they all knew something was going on before I did. Genuinely don’t believe that they didn’t act/do anything before he left me.
  • He’s a complete coward (putting it mildly) and a poor example to good men out there despite appearances. Who knew eh?
  • Apparently eight years isn’t worth fighting for. It is apparently acceptable to just bury your head in the sand and hope problems will magically go away.
  • I put more effort in than him.
  • He put me in situations where clearly he aimed to spend time with her while appearing to spend time with me.
  • Turns out I was the supportive one. More on this below.
  • This list could go on but it would get very bitchy and sweary. So I shall leave it at that.

Realisations about my mates and myself.

  • I was too bloody nice! This harks back to last point above. I can’t think of one race that I did because I wanted to, that he didn’t, that he came and supported me at. I either did same races as him or he did same race as me. There’s been things I’ve really wanted to do (SUP) that he’s had no interest in and he hasn’t supported me in (although I’ll admit he was quite supportive while I did my PGCE – the levels of support given to him between career change and triathlon make his support seriously pale in comparison!). I also did 95% of the running in our relationship too and when I was stressing every week about kit I needed – absolutely no understanding whatsoever about how this was starting to affect me.
  • I have THE greatest friends in the world. Honestly. There’s a core bunch of about 7 or 8 people that, without them, I’d be in a far worse place. They have listened and supported without moaning – at least to me – about it. Been sympathetic, got me out doing stuff and generally been all round awesome. Some of this has also come from unexpected places as well – so beyond that core 7/8 people there has been some wider support from club mates/Twitter and beyond that has surprised me and helped me. Checking in on me and making sure to nag me to eat/stay positive/tell me exactly what I’ve needed to hear. I am eternally grateful.
  • I’ve pretty much put the voodoo doll away (this relates to a conversation at a TT a few weeks ago – ‘You’re going to have to put that voodoo doll away eventually’ after a long moan about what o should have done.
  • Staying on the theme of friends. They really are the family you choose for yourself. Surrounding yourself with good people is a great healer.
  • I am made of stronger stuff than I realise. Coming out of the pit of despair that was the break up – a friend mentioned this week about how strong I’ve been dealing with things and rising above things. My world was shattered to the core and it’s foundations when he left me. I’ve had no choice but to rebuild it. No point in hanging around. There maybe odd tweaks on the way but life is for living.
  • My self esteem/confidence isn’t too bad but even I need an ego boost occasionally. Turns out I am actually desirable and not at all past it. Not that I ever thought I was past it but I was beginning to wonder if there was something wrong with me!
  • Being single for the first time as a fully fledged adult is interesting and actually fun – I’ve not had time to sit and dwell too much – I’m too busy doing so much random stuff – and things I want to do! I don’t have to hang around waiting for anyone, I can go meet new people, I don’t have to consider anyone else.
  • Which leads on to – any future relationship – I need to remember to be my own person and do what makes me happy more. Life is too short to be a sheep that merely follows. I did too much of that.
  • I can, in fact, look after my bikes myself and sort out stuff. And be organised. Far more self reliant.
  • I’ve less patience for nonsense.
  • Did I mention I have the best mates ever?
  • I am braver than I realise too. I’ve big plans and they are scary. With little to lose – why not?
  • There are still plenty of single blokes out there. That’s been an interesting wake up call! I’m seeing life/dating in a whole different light and I’ve a better sense of self and just what I don’t want. Probably more so than what I do want actually.
  • I’ve spent more time with my cousins – this is quite a big deal actually as there’s a group that are close and I always wanted to be in their crowd – they’ve always looked out for me but it’s really come into its own recently. Definitely feel much closer – and at the end of the day, family and friends – ultimately relationships are are what matter and the love that goes with it.
  • Love heals.
  • My heart will recover. My heart is recovering.

Yes I wanted to marry him and yes I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. There were a lot of things I thought I wanted. I can’t really regret anything. I’ve gained/learnt/done more than I could have imagined over last 8 years. But it’s beginning to look like I’ve had a lucky escape – everything happens for a reason and it may just turn out to be the greatest stroke of luck it happening now!