You Are An Ironman… Again

Ironman Austria 1 year and 10 months after I completed my first Ironman in Wales. A lot has happened in that time. It is actually difficult to know where to start. I guess it makes sense to go back to the day I signed up…

July 2016. I was at home with Chris and our friends Laura and Cat were all online waiting for the race sign up page to go live. IM Austria is a notoriously popular race which sells out quickly and the four of us were determined to get a slot. Chris and I had been together since IM Wales, meeting at my party the week after the race. To say we liked each other was an understatement. Chris and I were a team and we supported each other through everything. This would be our first race together.

Race entries completed and sign up emails received it was time to start thinking about training. The usual process for me, start trying to train alone, realise I am shit at following a structured plan written by me and then seek the help of a professional. In this case Philip Hatzis, founder of Tri Training Harder.

Training was hard from the start. My head never seemed to really accept that we were going to do another Ironman. My drive and passion for it didn’t come back. Every session was a struggle. I had a different set of priorities this time. Chris, Dexter our newly adopted Golden Retriever and the home we all shared. I would say the last year has essentially been an up hill battle from the start to get my fitnesss and mental strength back to IM grade.

February saw me join KPMG Banking as their Chief of Staff. The pressure and stress in comparison to my previous jobs was now incomparable. March 31st and I turned 30. April saw me desperately trying to pick up the training for the 70.3 (half distance Ironman) in Lisbon. The first bank holiday weekend of May the race arrived. It was a huge success with one of my fastest ever bike splits (sub 3 hour 90km) and an agonising half marathon in 28 degree heat.

Following that weekend my life took a decided turn for the worse. Without going into detail (some things should remain private) my relationship with the man I thought I would marry and have children with deteriorated. I found myself in a situation I would never wish upon anyone. I gave up training. I gave up on Ironman and instead got through each day smoking cigarette after cigarette, living on one meal a day, only sleeping when I took sleeping pills and eventually left London to be with my mum.

Returning to London I moved out of the place I had called home for 6 years. My mum and Dad (and sister and friends and work colleagues) were – well I wouldn’t have made it through those weeks without them. Three weeks to go to IM Austria I had a change of heart. I could still do this race. I was strong enough.

I started training again. I threw myself into every session and spent hours on the bike in my living room listening to music whilst simultaneously crying tears of determination and visualising the finish line.

Thursday last week I traveled to the race. I spent most of the flight looking out of the window with tears rolling down my face. The emotional war raging inside me was overwhelming. Ironman plus a break up does not make for a stable state of mind. Arriving into Austria was like turning a corner though. Registering for the race, being amongst the other competitors. It is an incredible atmosphere.

Sunday morning 4am. I had been awake since 2:30am. This was it. Months of sheer hell were about to come to an end. I had one aim… Get to the finish line.

Saying goodbye to your family at the start of an Ironman, for me, is one of the hardest moments of the day. I couldn’t stand still. I couldn’t stop the tears rolling down my face. My mum had tears in her eyes. My dad gave me a huge huge. Maggie and Fraser were so excited for me. “You can do it Cat”. The last words I heard from my mum.

JEEZ it is hard to write this. The tears have been rolling down my face for the last ten minutes and we haven’t even started the race yet!

So the start. Very different vibe to Wales. Serious athletes at this event. Serious faces. Serious goals. I placed myself in the 1:15 hour swim time pen. A full 15 minutes faster than IM Wales. Let’s do it.

Goggles down, race volunteer held us back and then it was GO. Into the water. Dive in head first and swim. It felt good. I was comfortable. I was gliding past people. How was this happening? This never happens. I am always overtaken. Turn the first buoy. No don’t you dare grab my ankle. Get off my back. Swim in your own space. Did you really just kick me in the mouth?! Keep swimming. Focus on the catch and pull. Hand in the water, force the water back, stop kicking so hard, you don’t need to. Into the last 1000m and it was like a water based rugby scrum. Fortunately I am no wall flower. You wanna swim over my head? I am going to elbow and kick past you.

Out the water, stop the watch, 1:18 hours. GET IN. Great start. Up the ramp, rip the wetsuit down to my waist. “CAT!!! CAT!!” Mum, Dad, Maggie, Fraser at the barrier; gave them the biggest smile and ran to my bike. Why is the water on my white transition bag a funny colour? Oh Jesus you cannot be serious. Yes. Great. Love being a woman. Here is my period. Perfect timing. Oh what? Your trisuit has white legs? EXCELLENT. No time to focus on that, get on the bike.

The bike exit/turnaround point for the IM Austria is like something from the Tour. Thousands of people are 2, 3 deep at the barriers. I can see my family, it feels awesome to see them before I get up out of the saddle and power out of town onto the first 90km loop of the bike.

The bike course is hard. So so hard. It is easily as hard as Wales and I didn’t expect it. My legs were burning and my eyes were closing after 70km. So tired. Just keep going Cat. Eat something. Drink your Iso fluids. The night before the race I spoke to my fellow Ironman friend Keith. The last thing he said to me on the phone was “there are dark mental places on an Ironman course Cat. You know there is. Never give up. You will never be alone. I will be with you in spirit the whole way round”. Well Keith, you got me round that bike. You were there, just like our old training rides. In my mind “keep going pet, you’re doing great, keep going”.

90km done. Jan Frodeno the world number 1 Kona champion screams past me surrounded by motorbikes. He has finished the full bike course. I am halfway. You’re a freak Jan!

Turnaround point, crowds are going MENTAL after Jan went past and the music is BLASTING. Mum, Dad, Maggie, Fraser are at the barrier making up 70% of the total noise hahaha. I give them a thumbs up and a smile and set off on the second loop. My legs are screaming. My brain is tired. The hills are relentless. But —- the downhills are mine this time. Full aero position. No brakes. 68km/h. It is amazing how fast my 70kg frame can get a bike down a hill. Screaming past other competitors and shouting to get out the way (apparently people don’t realise you have to stay right unless overtaking – I was overtaking – get out the damn way). Last 20km. Head down. High gear. Work the legs. Picking off people every few minutes. Cars beeping at me in support on the other side of the road where the traffic was still flowing. Get to transition, get to transition.

Off the bike. A sub 7 hour bike. Going well. Stay strong.

I had spare clothes in my transition bag. Ruined Trisuit off. BLACK run gear on. Goddammit, I wanted to wear that Trisuit for the run! Humph. No time for this; Out onto the course. Oh my god this is hard. My feet. I can’t feel my toes. My calf muscles feel like they are on fire.

The house we had rented was on the run course. Pure fluke. It meant I knew at 4km I would see my family. Run to them. Keep running. There they are. They went crazy. They had made signs. I told them I was ok and ran on. There was an aid station with food and drink and soaked sponges to cool down every 2.5km. Run to every aid station Cat. Just keep going. 3rd aid station I broke down. The tears came. I was hyperventilating. I wanted to see Chris. I don’t want to be out here alone. German man comes over and pulls me forward. Talking to me in German and saying something along the lines of “it is ok – come on”. I started running again.

10km – that’s a quarter done. 15km – that’s a third done. Keep going. Stop crying, you can’t breathe if you cry. There’s my family. They believe in me. Keep going. There’s Chris, he is telling me to keep going. Just keep going. Laura is on the run course! I hadn’t seen her all day. Such a relief. Everyone is off the bike safely and now it’s one foot in front of the other for 26 miles.

Last 12km to go. Mum, Dad, Maggie, Fraser have screamed at me for the last time. They are going to the finish line. Watch says 12:30hours. You can do this in 14 hours Cat. You can do this. Keith is in my head. Steady away Cat. Keep moving forward. Everyone that wished me good luck in the lead up to this is with me. Jess, my oldest dearest friend who will never let me give up. Lizi, who has held me up through the break up, never let me feel alone. Lizi who was so worried about me months ago because she could see I was sinking. You’re here Cat. You’re doing it. You are going to get to that finish line.

Last 8 km. I am walking. I told myself I would walk to the final turn point and run the last 4km to the finish line. I stuck to my word. The nausea was overwhelming. The verge of the road has never looked like such an enticing bed. Don’t throw up. Don’t throw up. Nearly there.

2km to go. Pick up the pace. You’re nearly there.

1km to go, back into the park where the finish line is. Complete strangers are screaming my name as I force myself to RUN.

Into the barriers. Chris is there. Go get it Cat.

Turn left and the lights are blinding. The music is deafening.

There is my family. They are screaming. They have the signs.

I am on the red carpet. The finish line archway is in front of me. The pain is nearly over. Paul Kaye calls my name “Cat Macpherson – You Are An Ironman”. I run up the ramp, I scream, I scream again. I have done it. 14 hours. 2 hours and 19 minutes faster than Wales.

Medal around my neck, helped over to the foil blankets and water. And then I hear Maggie. They are here. I walk out of the finish line area and my dad hugs me. He is crying. I can hear him. My absolute hero of a father. My mum holds onto me and cries. You did it Cat. You did it. Maggie, my sister, who spent the whole day filming, photographing, facebooking so everyone would know how I was getting on. We hug and hug and even Fraser get’s in on the hug action. Top bloke.

It’s over. The Ironman I had given up hope on. I had done it.

The rest of the evening was spent getting my kit and getting back to the house. I did eventually throw up when I got home. Delightful. A day of gels and cola and red bull and watermelon will do that to your stomach. Toast, three mouthfuls of tea and bed.

The messages I have had from people before, during and after this event have blown my mind. It has been utterly unbelievable. I am a very very lucky girl and I will NEVER forget the people that were there for me when I wanted to give up and they wouldn’t let me. I also have to mention Emma Hughes. The girl working for the charity I chose to support. She has tirelessly promoted the cause since I said I’d like to raise the money for Little Hospice Hoima. Of course if anyone wants to donate the link is at the end of the page.

I have to thank my family. And actually I would like to dedicate this entire piece of writing and the race result to them. My mum and dad weren’t mad keen on the idea of my doing another Ironman (!!!). But they have supported me unconditionally throughout. When my world fell apart before the race they picked up the pieces. They helped get me back on solid ground. They are always there for me. I will never be able to tell them in words what they mean to me but I love you.

And finally I want to remind everyone I know… Never doubt yourself. Never give up.

……You are so much stronger than you think.

All love, C xx

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/CatMacpherson

x

 

Advertisements
You Are An Ironman… Again

What Happens When You Go Vegan

I started typing this really self deprecating opening blurb here but changed my mind. Frankly I see no need to say “oh I know, Vegan, so lame”. It isn’t lame actually. I don’t want to preach. I have no reason to. Instead I thought I would do a kind of timeline of events that led to me making this decision because some people are super into it, some people think it’s annoying as f**k and some people just don’t get it. All cool. Lemme explain…

Image result for vegan meme

Let’s start a few months back. I can’t actually remember the precise date but it doesn’t matter anyway. So Chris and I love a documentary, cue Netflix and Cowspiracy. If you haven’t seen it I would strongly suggest you watch it. Not to be changed into a vegan warrior but just to learn about where our food comes from. I am a foodie. I love food. I can eat for Britain and there isn’t much I don’t love. However, after watching that programme I couldn’t help but feel “something” towards the food I was eating. It is hard to put my finger on it but I knew I wasn’t totally comfortable with having animal products in every single mouthful of food I consumed throughout the day anymore. Eggs and salmon for breakfast, yoghurt for snacks, chicken for lunch, sushi for dinner etc etc.

Image result for cowspiracy meme

After watching Cowspiracy we went on to watch Forks over Knives, Food Inc, Fed Up, Food Matters and a few others. I read some books, primarily Born to Run. I started listening to podcasts by Rich Roll. The more I learned the more interested I became.

Here’s an example of something I learned from The China Study:

It looked at mortality rates from cancer and other chronic diseases from 1973–75 in 65 counties in China; the data was correlated with 1983–84 dietary surveys and blood work from 100 people in each county.

The research was conducted in those counties because they had genetically similar populations that tended, over generations, to live and eat in the same way in the same place.

The study concluded that counties with a high consumption of animal-based foods in 1983–84 were more likely to have had higher death rates from “Western” diseases as of 1973–75, while the opposite was true for counties that ate more plant-based foods.

In a nutshell… Plant based = very little cancer… Animal product western diet = heaps of cancer.

Image result for i hate cancer meme

No thanks. Cancer is fucking shit. Sorry for the swearing Mum but I think you might even let this one slide. Cancer is fucking shit. The day a close family member of mine is diagnosed with cancer is the day my heart breaks into a thousand pieces likely to never be repaired. Cancer terrifies me. To be clear, I realise being vegan isn’t going to safeguard me from cancer but shit if it’s going to help? Hell yes I’ll eat some plants and chuck out the milk and the chicken.

Image result for pass the broccoli meme

So onto what happened next. I went through my cupboards, freezer, fridge, shelves…. I got all the stuff I didn’t want anymore and I either gave it away or I binned it. I downloaded some apps for vegan recipes (Forks over Knives have a GREAT one that even makes you a shopping list), I made a vegan board on Pinterest, I googled which coffee shops and restaurants near my office had vegan options (Pret and Itsu are my new best friends). Then I waved goodbye to my lean muscle and mentally prepared myself for massive fat gain because all those carbs and no chicken would see that happen…

Image result for pinterest meme

Three weeks later at 7.30am with Tom Wright (my strength coach) and standing on the scales… Wait…. what? I had lost 5kgs or half a stone depending on which you prefer. I knew I had been feeling a little leaner but yowza and happy days. To be fair my choice to eat plant based went hand in hand with picking up Ironman training again BUT I never dropped that much weight when previously Ironman training and certainly not as quickly.

Image result for scales meme

I picked up some weights… then I picked up some heavier weights. What the ****? Oh right yeah no worries – I am stronger than ever but haven’t so much as looked at a protein shake or a chicken salad in nearly a month. Cool.

I used to go to bed and complain that my acid reflux was killer. Every night the same. Oh right yeah that’s gone now. Can’t remember the last time I had heartburn actually.

I sleep like a baby now. My dreams can be pretty mental though. Last night a crocodile lived in our spare room and it came into our room and tried to bite my foot so I fed it a pillow and it went back to it’s room and climbed into the dogs cage and pulled a blanket over itself. Sure.

My energy levels are balanced. I rarely crave stuff at work and when I do I stuff my face with avocado wraps or Nakd bars or whatever else I fancy.

I eat carbs. A LOT of carbs. I may also turn into an avocado. I never count calories or macros now. EVER. I can’t remember the last time I checked the calorie count of something. If this seems impossible to you then consider the fact I had an eating disorder for over a decade and could recite the calorific content of pretty much ANY food item. It is VERY liberating eating what I want and thoroughly enjoying it.

Image result for got any more of them carbs

Social media is ALIVE with people doing the vegan thing. Deliciously Ella is all vegan, did you know that? Me either. Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, Pinterest boards…. the options are endless and I am loving learning new cooking techniques.

Finally and most importantly…. the food.

No – I don’t really miss cheese. Seriously.

I eat like a goddam queen. ‘Cos I am a goddam queen. Nope – I can’t get away with phrases like that. But I really do eat well. A few of my favourites and the links to the recipes are below:

Image result for chipotle vegan

Oh and when I do feel like being a pig aaall of the below are vegan:

  • Bourbon biscuits
  • Oreos
  • Kettle chips
  • McDonald’s chips
  • Nesquik chocolate milk powder
  • Bisto Gravy granules (yes really)
  • Green & Blacks 80% Dark Chocolate
  • Skittles
  • Starburst
  • Millions
  • Metcalfe’s Popcorn
  • Hobnobs
  • Ritz Crackers
  • Marmite
  • Lotus Biscuit Spread
  • Peanut Butter
  • New York Bagels (most of them)

The list goes on and on and on…

Image result for all the food i can eat meme

The only tricky part? Dining out – easily solved by calling or emailing the restaurant before you go. See?

vegan

 

So…. try it – don’t try it…. It is of course up to the individual but if you DO try it then let me know?! I am still super new to this but I am loving it. My mum even booked a vegetarian restaurant for our family meal at the weekend – super weird seeing my steak eating, red wine drinking Dad getting excited by the thai fritters and koftas…. all vegan. Who knew eh?

Image result for vegan takeaway meme

C xx

P.S. Don’t think I’ve forgotten our creature friends. I have not. I am still researching this side and it isn’t a pretty picture. I think most people realise eating cheap eggs means some little bird is stuffed into a cage with dozens of other little birds and it’s pretty bloody grim but the reality of mass animal agriculture is far far worse than I ever imagined and frankly if I don’t need to kill something to eat awesome food then I ain’t gonna. Shoo little chickens! Be free!

giphy

 

What Happens When You Go Vegan

The Munchies

That title is making me think of monster munch, they were/are awesome. I’m actually sitting eating quinoa salad with peas, dill and walnuts – I am sickened by my trendy health food choices. I might punch myself in the face.

It’s bloody tasty though.

Image result for quinoa meme

I wrote a status yesterday about having completed two days of Ironman training and already recognising the dramatic increase in my appetite. But there’s something different with it this time. Last time I trained heavily and got the munchies I’d crave doughnuts and crisps and chips and macaroni cheese and sandwiches from M&S (don’t ask – I have an obsession). But this time it’s —- avocado on toast or spaghetti with olive oil and butternut squash or hummus and pitta bread… Proof reading that sentence made me hate my own written word. WHO ARE YOU?!

Image result for craving meme

It sounds SO lame (SO LAME) but honestly? Focusing on eating plant based “vegan” foods has totally changed my approach to food. I never count calories now. I never focus on eating huge quantities of veg to stop me over eating on cheese. I eat what I want and when I want it. I don’t seem to crave enormous amounts of food anymore? I am not consumed with thoughts of “I can’t eat that but I WANT that”. I don’t ever, never ever ever ever, want to become one of those people that says “oh I remember being like that but then I turned into a vegan hippie and my hair turned to solid spun gold” or some bullshit like that.

Image result for vegan as fuck

I do however truly believe that when you remove the obsession and the limitation on food you can start to build a normal balance with it again. Don’t get me wrong. Last week I ordered a chicken katsu curry, a box of chicken dim sum and some tempura prawns. Lolz. But I ate it all, felt full as an egg and didn’t feel guilty. Not in the slightest. It was awesome.

Image result for and theeeen

Don’t turn into a vegan. I mean do it if you want. But I think more importantly anyone struggling with food cravings and diet obsessions should almost remove themselves from the whole foodie/fitness industry. I am trying to put this into words that make sense. Basically eat what you want? But try and focus on the good stuff. The stuff that isn’t processed and reformed to look like the original product – I’m lookin’ at you wafer thin ham. Not exactly “eat clean” and all that hash tagging bullshit but just don’t be scared of food. Potatoes don’t make you fat. Potatoes mashed up with butter and cheese and ladled by the truck load onto a plate with sausages and gravy eaten every day – that could probably make you fat I guess… I’ve had at least three McDonald’s in the past month – I’m not fat yet. Phew.

Image result for eat clean meme

MAKE THE COOKIE – THEN EAT THE COOKIE

I’ve been trying this for a couple of months now, the whole vegany planty whole foody thing – for the most part at least, McDonald’s not quite doing vegan cheeseburgers yet but I remain hopeful. Seriously? I’m probably healthier than I’ve ever been. My weight is stable. My energy levels are good. I don’t have mental cravings (other than Japanese takeaway now and again). I eat bread. I eat pasta. I eat whole avocados mashed ONTO the bread. I’m not ripped. I’m not dropping lb’s every week. I’m just normal. And I’m totally ok with it. If my body gets leaner = cool! If not = meh. Provided I am performing well for ze Ironman nonsense and I am feeling luvlyjubbly then it’s all gravy.

Image result for pasta meme

Stressing about what we eat and how we exercise is fucking shit. Let’s be honest. It really is. And it is no way to live. Shit it’s hard to break the habit though.

Image result for i shouldnt eat that

So to give an example of how much I don’t stress these days…. Here is what I have eaten so far today (and my projection of what I will likely have for dinner). I have no idea how many calories are in this lot. I’d guess around 2500kcals?

  • Half a chocolate chip Clif bar
  • Dairy free bircher muesli from Pret
  • Small orange juice from Pret
  • Hummus and salad wrap from Pret
  • Two slices of wholegrain sourdough toast
  • Whole small avocado
  • Bag of salted kettle crisps (sue me – I love them)
  • Small box of quinoa, pea and walnut salad (I say small but really I’m about to burst)

Dinner tonight:

  • Wholewheat spaghetti with butternut squash, garlic, rosemary, olive oil and vegetable stock – and quite a lot of it probably

Image result for a lot of food meme

Now granted I did a 40 minute swim this morning and then walked the dog and then did a 30 minute spin on the bike (sweatfest) and then a 5 minute run and then I will walk the dog again tonight. BUT – not counting calories and not obsessing over being ripped is very very liberating. Instead, the only thing I am really interested in right now is getting a lot stronger on the bike and running faster. The irony here though is my clothes actually fit a bit better. My strength coach reckons my waist is a bit smaller. Cool man. Pass the oats and honey.

Image result for run faster meme

I hope this is relatable. It should be. I think the big part I am missing out on though is highlighting that things go hand in hand. Going to the gym and staring at your “booty” (if I could tie that word to a concrete block and throw it in the sea I would) whilst you squat or religiously doing a Kayla workout and then instagramming it to get loads of likes and trying week after week to drop some body fat goes hand in hand with obsessing over food. Counting calories and macros and carb content goes hand in hand with standing in front of the mirror and hating on my body because it isn’t ripped. Just to clarify, these are specific issues for ME but I know a lot of people have got in touch to say they can identify with some of the stuff I waffle on about. Go to the gym and lift heavy and eat some fucking toast if you want it. Long term the extra food will make you perform better and then you’ll FEEL better.

Image result for booty meme

I guess at the end of the day I’d rather be strong and healthy than lean and deprived. For a while I really didn’t agree with that statement. I was all about the lean body and the careful diet. That’s totally cool. If you are happy and you love it then – clap your hands? No but seriously, this is kind of waffly but I guess I just wanted to point out you can totally eat food and not obsess. You can totally lift or run or swim or hike and not obsess whether you burned enough calories….. I never thought I would. Ever. But I do now. Care less (about tiny details). Live more.

Image result for calories meme

If you still don’t believe me Chris and I made (vegan) double chocolate chip cookies at the weekend. 18 of them. They were massive. We ate them all in less than 36 hours…..

………zero fucks given

C xxx

Image result for cookies meme

The Munchies

History

Man I reeeeeeally wanted to call this piece “Hogwarts – A History” but that would have been 100% random and in no way would it have made any sense. Damn. Essentially I have spent the last couple of weeks having loads of conversations about Ironman. This isn’t really surprising given THREE people close to me completed 70.3’s and full distance Ironman(s) in Weymouth ten days ago and then it was Wales Ironman on Sunday just past. Man I love that place.

Image result for memories meme

But all these conversations had something in common, or at least they did with people who don’t do triathlon: “Nah I could never do an Ironman”. Yes they could. Yes YOU could and it got me thinking about my history with sport and running and competition. It’s a pretty bleak journey to be honest but I think it will resonate with some people so here goes.

Image result for i cant do that meme

I have always been an outdoorsy sort of girl. Outdoorsy NOT sporty. Growing up we didn’t have tv’s in our bedrooms, we didn’t have playstations – well – my sister had one but I wasn’t really interested for whatever reason. Family holidays were generally in Scotland, either the borders at a caravan park or the Outer Hebrides at a cottage. The borders and the caravan park meant riding our bikes round the park and the Outer Hebrides meant being on the beach and in the sea. So there are two early beginnings of triathlon related sports I guess. But it wasn’t sport. It was just being 7,9,12…whatever age I was.

Image result for kid falling off bike
OUTDOORSY

At school I did not love p.e. Especially the annual cross country run at middle school. That was pretty much the worst day of the year. I used to walk most of it and most likely complain the whole way round. I didn’t give a shit about winning that cross country run. Athletics lessons weren’t bad. I could run 100m pretty fast but I wasn’t anything special and I sure as hell didn’t do anything like that outside of school. I did ride horses though. I was good at that. Totally different kettle of fish though. It doesn’t require particularly amazing fitness unless you are going to the top level. A horse doesn’t care if you can swim 100m in less than two minutes. Trust me.

me-on-sports-day_o_809880

High school was meh. That was the start of my eating disorder and the gym obsession. I remember having 20 minutes before I had to meet someone and I asked mum to take me to the gym and wait whilst I busted out a quick cross trainer session to burn some calories. Mental that I remember that. I bet she doesn’t! Mind you… better I was burning calories than burning weed I guess.

Image result for burning calories meme

So after high school it was the usual gap year and a bit of working time and then uni. NONE of these saw me doing any competitive sport. Oh I ran the great north run one year! Yeah I “ran” that in…. 2:36 or something similar. I did not set any records on fire. I also hated it and I hated the training.

Image result for hate half marathon meme

So where the hell did Ironman come from? In truth I still can’t pinpoint exactly what led me to do it. I know I gained confidence by dropping some body fat and getting stronger in the gym. I know I started hitting minor goals like being a certain percentage of body composition and a certain weight. I hit goals with lifting stuff. They weren’t major. They had fuck all to do with triathlon but they were goals. My goals. Looking back? Not very healthy goals. Doing an intense cardio session in the gym, nearly throwing up, heading home and being advised to eat nothing so I would be leaner in the morning? Yeah that ain’t right. Don’t do that shit. If someone tells you to do that? Still don’t do that.

Image result for shit idea meme

I’ve mentioned the process of me signing up to Ironman before so I’m not gonna go into detail about all that again (in a nutshell I was inspired by someones FB post). But to the Bridie’s and the Marc’s out there saying they couldn’t do it…

ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE

Seriously though…

YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK

If you need more convincing look at Chris… Look at Cat (not me)… Look at Laura. Chris used to weigh twice what he does now. He just took THREE hours off his finishing time for full distance Ironman. He couldn’t even run a 5k a few years ago. Don’t believe me?

capture

Cat crossed the finish line in Weymouth after making the bike cut off by FOUR MINUTES. I won’t lie. I didn’t think she would make it through the marathon… Well shit… that girl proved me wrong. Damn wrong.

image1

And then Laura… the girl who read my write up from Wales last year and signed up for 70.3 in Weymouth this year and smashed it right in the teeth. She should have signed up for the bloody full distance because she would have smashed that too. Every triathlon she has done in training she has sailed through. Historically a runner? Cyclist? Swimmer? Nope. Brave though…. because she is stronger than she thinks.

It doesn’t have to be Ironman. I’m biased because I LOVE IT. It is my adopted family now. It has brought me to life. It gave me confidence. Shit it made me believe in myself. I have met my boyfriend through it. I have made life long friends through it. It’s a beast of a sport. It hurts and it makes you cry but shit does it reward you.

Massive love. C xxx

THE ULTIMATE GOOSEBUMPS AND TEARS VIDEO

YOU – CAN – DO – IT

History

Can Of Worms

I’m going to open one today. And I know some people will think it should be kept private and I know some people may not agree with everything I say but that is OK. God I hate it when things rhyme unintentionally. Sound like some shit middle class female Eminem.

Image result for word meme

So depression sucks. Massively. It’s been all over the media for some time now about discussing the elephant in the room. And that’s cool. I get it. People struggle on their own and thing’s go from bad to worse. But what about the people who don’t struggle on their own? I have an amazing family. An amazing boyfriend. Friends. Work place. Home. I am not hard done by financially in fact I have a pretty incredible lifestyle.

Image result for life is good meme

This week I went to the doctors after having a bit of a melt down. I am back on my anti-depressants. Yes it’s shit. No it isn’t what I want. I lasted a month off them and I, along with everyone else, thought I was doing pretty well. Funny how the bastard just sneaks up on you and gets you right when you think you’re totally fine.

Image result for prozac meme

The hardest part, for me, is that my depression (I feel like putting it in quotation marks) isn’t remotely what I expected depression to be like. I don’t sit at home crying. I don’t mope. I’m not “depressed” (there we go!). Mine takes it time. It makes me feel irritable, short tempered, aggressive, emotional. It is like a pendulum swinging between wanting to put my fist through a wall to bursting into tears at my desk on Tuesday morning when someone asked if I was OK (I was unusually quiet). I mean what is that? How is that depression? What a stupid word. It should really just be called… I dunno…. Confusion.

Image result for mood swings meme

It took me a long time to realise my mental health probably wasn’t squeaky clean. For years we had the eating disorders, the mild self harm, the mood swings. Looking back it’s pretty damn obvious. Anyone who knows me or has spoken to me though knows me as loud, confident, smiley, chatty…. I’d like to think I’m the person someone comes to for chats about whatever… ‘cos you know – I can chat… a lot. I’m not socially awkward. I don’t come across as sad or depressed or quiet or any of the things people assume go hand in hand. I never really talk about it because most of the time it isn’t even on my radar.

My confusion (going with that term) doesn’t rule my life. It doesn’t break my friendships or my relationships. Well not currently at least. But it has done in the past. In summer time 2015 I had the toughest few weeks I’ve experienced. Being signed off work and not leaving the house or speaking to anyone are pretty extreme behavioural changes for me. Yoga, mindfulness, my family and a handful of amazing friends all helped. But, as much as I hate to admit it, so did medication. I remember talking to my mum about Ironman – “but I don’t want any of my emotions or feelings if I cross the finish line to be pumped up or dampened down by these shitty pills!”. Turns out…. that’s not how it works and I needn’t have worried because that finish line was better than anything … ever … in the whole world.

Image result for not leaving house meme

To the best of my knowledge and the way I like to think about it…. confusion/depression is the result of a chemical imbalance in your brain. Long story short my brain lets certain chemicals flow freely but others get blocked, I can only assume these are the happy mellow chemicals. So cheers for that brain. Super helpful.

Image result for good job meme

Ironman and just intense training in general had a huuuuuuuuge impact on my mental health. In fact it is probably the biggest contributor to an improvement in my emotional stability for as long as I can remember. But as a very wise person on FB of all places pointed out recently; whilst exercise releases endorphin’s and endorphin’s make us happy… sometimes it isn’t enough. What the shit is this woman on about??

Capture

Mmmmmm good one Hopkins… Surprisingly these didn’t go down very well in the twittersphere. I get where she is coming from. Because she is clearly an egocentric moron. She has never considered other people might not be horrific clones of her and therefore she doesn’t understand. Riiiiiight… I totally get it. I actually do. I was speaking to a friend of mine last night, I won’t name her but she gets it. She gets the confusion. I actually really struggle to even put it into words. What it’s like. It isn’t as simple as feeling SAD or not wanting to leave the HOUSE. It isn’t lying on the SOFA all day. It’s a whole ton of stuff that just warps your day to day mental stability. And it fucking sucks.

Image result for robin williams depression

Anyway, I wanted to write about this. And let anyone out there know that it’s totally cool. Yeah I did an Ironman. Yeah I am trying to be super healthy and eat vegan stuff. Yeah I sign up to do weird challenges. But it ain’t all glory. Some days are really fucking shit. Some days I sit and watch Chris (boyfriend) head out on his bike for a 5 hour training ride and I want to cry. I dunno why, but I do. I think it’s to do with being hard on myself maybe? I should be out training 24/7 or something? Whatever it is it’s a completely irrational response. The other day I dropped a plate haphazardly into the dishwasher by mistake and it made a horrid clanging noise. My reaction? I had to clench my fists, close my eyes and breathe slowly through my nose three or four times. ‘Cos that’s normal right? No it isn’t. Should have seen Chris’s face…

Image result for terrified cat

I guess the end story is I’m not going to sit about and say “fuck… I’m on meds… I’m ‘depressed’…. this is shit”. There is zero to be gained by that. I’m just gonna crack on. I’m currently tracking down some psych and psychiatry help to try and sort these weird emotional/mental traits long term… largely because I refuse to be on meds forever.

Image result for nope  meme

So – if you get where I’m coming from with any of this. Or you feel shit. Or sad. Or angry. Or stressed out of your mind because you don’t look the way you want to. Or you don’t perform the way you want to. Or just whatever. It’s cool. There are loads of other people feeling shit and sad and angry sometimes too. And let’s be honest – it always get’s better… even if it is only short term…..

I will eventually make things better long term though….

C xx

A few things that help me:

  1. Feeling ragey? Scream into a pillow and really go for it
  2. Feeling weepy? Let it out man. Watch something hella sad and bawl your eyes out but make sure it ends well e.g. Lion King WIN
  3. Rest. Don’t be hard on yourself. Exhausted? Take a damn nap
  4. Get.Out.Side – probably the hardest and most important
  5. Yoga – go to a class on your own and just let it happen. I prefer alone as it means I focus rather than chat or lark about with my buddy on the mat next to me
  6. Get a massage – my friend that I spoke to last night swears by this. Another friend of mine gets manicures. It’s little things to be kind to yourself
  7. Eat well – pretty self explanatory. Yesterday I ate a full bag of Crinkle cut salted crisps. You know those huge bags? Yeah. Didn’t feel well after that…
  8. Stay away from the alcohol. Cannot stress this enough
  9. Be around people that make you smile and support you. Ditch the people that let you down at the last minute or are just a bit average – in fact ditch anyone that doesn’t make you happy all the time because frankly life is too damn short – Brad know’s the score….

Image result for see ya meme

Can Of Worms

Wholefoods WholeRIPOFF

Man alive – did you see my Facebook post today about my lunch from Wholefoods? Mental. Like proper mental. A box vegetables cost me over £8. It wasn’t even a big box. It was probably the size of an average hard back book. That is not helpful but you get the idea. WELL – that won’t be happening again. I make better food at home… See the end of this post for my current favourite dinner.

Image result for wholefoods meme

So I’ve pretty much carried on with this whole vegan thing y’know. I’m quite liking it. I wake up less tired, I don’t wanna nap at work, the inflamed area of my hip seems to have gone away (running makes it agro and I have ran every day this week with no issues). To be fair, these could all be the product of something else, I am not a scientist but they do correlate with the studies surrounding vegan lifestyles. Anyhoo… the MAIN thing, actually two main things I am loving the most are 1. The food is stupid cheap to make at home and 2. I can eat what and when I like. Sounds pretty obvious but considering I’ve spent years depriving myself and monitoring every morsel this is super awesome.

Image result for can i eat that meme

I’m gonna go hit up Camden Market tonight with my buddy Laura. They have this new thing called Kerb, from what I can tell it is basically street food. But there is this Vegan mexican company that looks ridiculously awesome. (http://www.kerbfood.com/traders/kerbanists/club-mexicana/)

Look I know what you are probably thinking… what the fuck is she on about? Vegan? Shut up already. I totally get it. This time last year I was telling three of my buddies that going vegan was a BAD idea. But the reality is, it’s cheaper, it’s healthier and it’s gonna be a huge food movement over the next few years. Watch some documentaries like Forks over Knives and Cowspiracy. Then read some stuff by Rich Roll. It’s just damn interesting to be honest. I am not gonna throw out my leather bags. I’m not gonna announce to strangers that I don’t eat animals. Shit I probably WILL eat some animals in the future. I’m just not gonna put labels on stuff. Right now I’m eating some plants. Cool? Grand!

Image result for just eating some plants

Right moving on. I have been crap at posting stuff on here recently. It isn’t even recent. That’s bullshit. I guess I run out of steam with writing some times and just cannot be arsed? But then I remember how much I love it and I have a moment in the day where I think “yeeeeeeeah let’s go write something” and it just starts pouring out of me. Verbal nonsense. With the word vegan and Ironman thrown in randomly for good measure.

Image result for writing blog meme

Oh my god! As if this wasn’t my first point of information… we got a dog! Well kind of. His name is Dexter and we are looking after him for the forseeable future. I LOVE HIM. He is 11 months old and just brilliant. So, as a result of that I have been running and walking MILES every day. I’m loving it! And we are taking him with us to the countryside this weekend so that should be pretty interesting given his attention span to his name being called is currently none existent. Ha.

Had some more interesting conversations over the past few weeks. Mum always throws up some good ones e.g. she was watching something on the tv about someone not putting limits on themselves. I love that shit. Take a conversation with a friend today. She was commenting on my Facebook status about swimming the North Channel (do not ask) and she goes “I could never do that – plus I am too unfit”. Nah. Doesn’t matter. Two years ago I could lift stuff but I couldn’t ride a bike or run for shit. Just takes time and perseverance.

Image result for lapping everyone on the couch

So yeah – swimming the north channel. That’s the bit between Ireland and Scotland. The straight cut distance to swim is 20km which seems pretty manageable. However, if the tides muck about it’s more like 45km. Gulp. I am looking at a training plan to take me through to 2018. Next year is off the cards with Ironman so at least I will have some time to get my ass in some seawater. Just gotta get my head round the jellyfish and the potential for shite weather.

Image result for swimming through jellyfish

I mentioned earlier about my current favourite dinner… check this out. Imagine all the awesome parts of a burrito. Now throw them in a bowl. Now add some avocado. Bit more avocado. Naaaah go on heap it on. Ta daaaaaa…. Vegan Burrito Bowls. Shit these are good.

Spicy Sweet Potato and Green Rice Burrito Bowls

simple-sweet-potato-green-rice-burrito-bowls

For the rice I get these bad boys from Waitrose….

Image result for waitrose whole grain rice packet

They are about 70p…. I chuck them in a frying pan with the other stuff for the green rice. WAY quicker and still lushy. If I am feeling EXTRA fancy i will smack some tomatos with a knife, rip up some coriander and squish a wedge of lime into a bowl and call it salsa to go in the bowl too. Oh and then some sweetcorn. Aaand then some salted tortilla chips. IS IT HOME TIME YET?!

giphy.gif

Vegan food = not all plain brown rice and chickpeas. Mind you chickpeas are cheeeeeeeeap and hummus is liiiiiiiiiiife. Haha oh my god who am I….

Image result for shut up already

If you DO wanna make some hummus here’s my complicated recipe.

Put a can of chickpeas (water from the can too), a clove of garlic, a tablespoon of tahini, a tablespoon of olive oil and the juice of 1/2 a lemon in a food processor. Press blitz. Ta daaaaaa! You just got an instant dip, sandwich filling, salad dressing and generally amazing fridge tenant. Put some in a wrap with some avocado and sea salt. Thank me later.

Big luuuuuuuuuuurve. C xx

Image result for dont wanna write meme

Wholefoods WholeRIPOFF

Blunt Honesty

Apparently this is what my blog is famous for. Or at least with my friend Laura. I’ve only known her for around 6 months and we met through my blog (sounds like some weird 2k16 lesbian romcom… it ain’t). Laura reckons:

Capture

This makes me laugh… “the dark side of it all”. Darth Macpherson over here. I see her point though and my other friend Neil reckoned something similar. They both like my blog because apparently I am very honest. Well good.

a3de6cbff726e4761483576844f1292e2cea36dfdee333074bc954ed0216648b

I really struggle with some of the Instagram accounts and blog sites out there these days. I know people are trying to spread positivity and health and hope and that’s great! But some of us don’t need it rammed down our throats. Take the vegan stuff for example. You have GOT to have a sense of humour about stuff. Well I think you do anyway. I experiment and change my mind so often I KNOW people think it’s funny. My mother thinks I’m mental. So does Tom (trainer). But it’s all fine because at the end of the day we do what makes us happy. Otherwise what’s the bloody point. I rock up to my training sessions with Tom and declare I am going to save the world through barefoot running and lentils… Well – you never know.

84266505

So on the subject of honesty I have been having some chats with myself recently. Chats with yourself are important. My chats have been considering the future. Because I am a vegan yoga warrior namaste love love happiness health and positive light. NO. The future and what I am good at and what I enjoy. This year I have spent some time “helping” two girls as they train for their first Ironman events. Now stop rolling your eyes. I am fully aware that I have completed ONE Ironman and I am not about to become some expert coach any day soon. However – I do know my fair share of stuff about doubting yourself, waking up questioning whether you can do something and all other mental conversations in your own head.

70715624

SO – on that subject I started thinking how I might be able to do more with that side of things…

People say, and I fully agree, that the hardest part of an Ironman or marathon or ultra event or whatever you think is impossible is actually the mental strength required to keep going. Funnily enough I have read a few books recently which focus on three different blokes and their experience with this stuff*. There are so many training guides and exercises and advice forums for getting your body fit… but what about your mind?

Just at work yesterday someone said to me “HOW did you start a marathon after swimming and cycling those distances” and I said you don’t really focus on that. You focus on the fact you made the bike cut off (!!!) and you are on the final leg of one of the hardest things you’ve ever done. If that makes sense.

download (2)

So I am contemplating studying Sports Psychology… yes, because why the hell not. I was talking to Cat and Laura (future Ironman’s’s’s’s’s’ers) yesterday about the importance of visualisation and staying clear and calm and focused. AGAIN. Not an expert. Just my experience thus far… anyway I realised that this stuff really gets me. I can put myself into such a mentally charged state that I want to go and run for hours or sprint on a bike… all by concentrating on the feeling of crossing a finish line or smashing a strength session.

I am going off on a tangent again. Dammit. It’s so hard to stay focused when your brain just wants to shout random nonsense at you = “doughnuts with sprinkles!” … brain what the HELL are you talking about? We have no time for doughnuts right now and we don’t even LIKE sprinkles.

ap,550x550,12x16,1,transparent,t.u2

Oh actually I do have some news. This is for anyone out there that has struggled with depression or anxiety or just feeling down right sad. You’d have to be blind and deaf to not realise I have just spent two weeks in Australia. Prior to heading over there I was trying to wean myself off my antidepressants. Well….. they are now long gone. It has taken me a damn long time to get here. But hello. This is happy face talking. Sans medication. There is light at the end of the tunnel.

instant-antidepressant_o_1045049

Pretty good times and I am pretty excited for what is coming up next. I have my mega 10km swim on Sunday and then Ironman Weymouth in September to support my boyfriend, Cat and Laura and then training starts all over again for Ironman Austria next July. I have a very good feeling about this. Clear goal. Mentally and physically stronger. As a Facebook acquaintance said – “2017… the year of the Cat”. Well, that would certainly be pretty cool. Meow.

a7f69ee7fa0e5843836af8ae5d977c

Do you know – Vegan/plant based food is also pretty cool. It’s cheap and it’s actually refreshing looking up recipes without checking the fucking macros and calorie content. Another friend of mine has recently given up macro and calorie counting. Fair play to her. Damn liberating. I still try and channel the expression “Athletes EAT and TRAIN. They don’t DIET and EXERCISE”. I recently read somewhere that anyone with legs is an athlete. Powerful but pretty misguided when you consider the achievement of our paralympians. EVERYONE is an athlete. Except dead people, cos, y’know, they dead. But start looking at yourself as an athlete and change your mindset. It’s way better….

…..honestly

85146249174486601fd6lj6Klc

C xx

(* Finding Ultra by Rich Roll, Born to Run by Chris McDougall and Eat and Run by Scott Jurek)

Blunt Honesty