Just enjoy it!

Just a quick aside before I get into the fundraising… I’m blow away by how many people read my blog on the Fertility issues. I’ve had some lovely supportive messages and thank you to everyone for that it means a lot. 

There are many reasons to exercise. And there are many methods and techniques to improving your running, your cycling and swimming. And people will tell you about them; often at great length. I’m just as guilty of this. I’ve asked people for different advice and felt overwhelmed about all the different ways of doing things. Of worrying about my heart rate and zones, of trying to understand what a brick run is, of trying to get my head round the best diet. And then I’ve preached to others at length about them, as if i’m so bloody guru who knows it all. When in truth i’m just someone whose done a bit of running, a bit of cycling and is probably a bit stubborn, with a massive chip on his shoulder.

So i’ve considered what my one tip would be, what I’d tell me, way back in the beginning if I could only give one bit of information or advice to carry forward. Its not going to improve my pbs, or make me a better runner. But I think its the key to all of it:

“Whatever you do, enjoy it.”

If I have to elaborate and expand; “It will be tough, there will be times, you will want to stop climbing a hill or stop the run or not go out. Endure those moments, because you’ll be bloody chuffed with your self if you do. And there is nothing wrong with being proud of yourself.”

See ultimately the best thing I’m finding from my runs and the cycling is the headspace. I have a lot of stress in life; as we all do. I’m working to get a permanent contract, me and my wife worry about if we can have a child, we want to move, lots of our future seems uncertain.

When I run or get on my bike, that washes away. I pound the pavement, i enjoy the air, I feel connected with the outside and get lost in what is going on, nothing matters but running or cycling. I occasionally can check my pace or focus on my cadence, but ultimately its the buzz of letting my mind switch off and feel free and content for a short spell. The worries melt away, i can focus on it, not worry about what people think of me, or if i’m doing it right, i just focus. Then I can reflect. usually after, I feel charged and better focused. This blog i’m writing after 20 miles on a turbo. I don’t feel tired, i just feel energised to do stuff.

I wish this stuff had been know to my dad, so he had an outlet.

So yes, you can do stuff to be a better runner, swimmer, cyclist, whatever. But ultimately don’t lost sight of the enjoyment of it, else it loses the magic. I’ve cycled 1664 miles this year, and run 446 miles. I assure you i wouldn’t do that if I didn’t find it enjoyable. Admittedly this is questionable if I’m sane for enjoying it but thats another story.

So as we approach the end of the year, its been nice to remember that I enjoy doing this shit and that if i didn’t I should pack it in. But I do, so the year has a few miles left in it yet.

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Lets talk about Infertility… wait don’t run away.

Now let me point out, a lot of this was more invasive and difficult for my wife, but I can only paint this story from my perspective, but the clinic have been amazing. Dr Reddy, the consultant at Cotswold fertility has been amazing to us. This blog is just to try and give some perspective into what its like to want something so bad, to have something that is natural become very clinical and have yourself feel very isolated.

This story starts off in the most cliched way. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl fall in love, boy and girl move in together. Boy and girl marry. Boy and girl buy a house and then Boy and girl decide to start a family. That was a few years ago. We couldn’t just go straight down to “business time” as the Flight of the Conchords put it. My wife has a heart condition and we had to ensure her health was just right so that the risk was minimised. So we knew this wasn’t going to be a conventional pregnancy. The clue was when we sat in a room surrounded by an army of Dr’s, in what felt like some hideous version of Dragons Den, where we had to pitch and having permission to make a baby, but we got the green light and we were all set to go, January 2016 was going to be an amazing year.

But it didn’t pan out like that.

At some point, we had to have that awkward conversation. “Something isn’t right.” and straight away I went through every cliched manly thought,  “maybe those late night bed room alone times have left me dry.” or “Well maybe cycling does have a lot to answer for.” but I tried my best to suck it up and go to the clinic.

So we went through all of the chats and then came the day I had to provide a sample. I won’t be too graphic here, but its not like the movies. You can ‘collect’ it at home and then you have to get it to the clinic in as fast a time as possible. Now my friends know I’m a worrier, as is my wife. So imagine us two, in a car, in rush hour with a sample, trying to get across the city. Depositing an investment indeed.

So a nervy few days went by while we waited for the follow up. I cannot lie, as the Dr had my results and read them out, I was sat forward, nervous.

“I can confirm Russell your scores are perfect.”

If this was a film, I’d have danced out the room. Instead I looked at the Dr, blushed a bit and said.

“Thank you.”

And then you realise you have to put your stupid preconceptions of what it means to be a man to one side. As it dawns on your wife next to you, that if its not me that’s the problem could be her….

Ultimately, as I’ve told my wife many times; we are a team, I love her more than I can say, its her I want a family with, no one else. I will stick with her, and we will make this work.

Since that meeting (i’m not going into our details too much as its not important, nor is it my right to share that.) we have been on something called ovulation induction. Basically it involves lots of injections and controls when the woman ovulates. I’m a bit thick so i can’t explain it too well.

Basically it means our life is like the episode in Only fools and Horse where Rodney is exhausted from the pressures of meeting the diary his wife sets him.

It makes something that involves a lot of fun, emotion and pleasure bloody stressful and exhausting.

Then comes what is known as the two week wait. Where you wait to see if its worked.  Its bloody horrible- you try to relax and think about anything but.

In the meantime, you and your wife, have to see babies seemingly everywhere, Dads playing with their kids, expectant mothers having baby showers and in one moment where my wife’s twitter post went viral, horrific and ill conceived adverts.

.. and try talking to it with people. I think the last time I did was with friends and I’m a man who plays rugby. Because of what happened to my dad, I try I really do to be open and talk if stuff is on my mind but I don’t always get it right.

So I broached it in the sensible way obviously. On a stag do, with beer. Other times I’ve discussed it by text to people and you get the well meaning but miss placed “Relax guys it’ll happen.” To which I have to be well meaning and fight the urge to want to punch the person in the face.

Because its not easy to relax. We do and we try, but it takes something and makes it regimented.

We have other friends who feel bad for wanting to talk about their kids or feel bad as they don’t know what to say to us, because they struggle to empathise.

To them, all i’d like to say is, we are not monsters, all my friends have amazing kids and seeing them and hearing about them, gives me hope that one day I can bore you back about how I planned to vicariously live through my son/daughter when they become England rugby captain.

On a serious note, if you take the time to listen to us, it means a lot.

So today was the end of the latest two week wait.

The test was….

Negative,  for now.

Sorry, no happy ending yet.

This is our fourth cycle of Ovulation Induction. We have 2 to go, they are done every other month. I still choose to hope it will work. If it doesn’t we have IVF. If that doesn’t then adoption. We believe we will be good parents, so we won’t give up on this.

But that doesn’t mean its not hard at times.

So there you have it. I honestly don’t know if this blog has a point. I just needed to write. I don’t even know if anyone will read it but I hope so.

But all I can hope is if anyone else is going through it, remember you are not alone. Its ok to want it. Its ok to be upset at times. Its ok to find it unfair. People suck. But they don’t mean to. Some people will be amazing just by being themselves.

You can and will get through it. Find an outlet, it doesn’t matter what it is. Unless its illegal, I’m not endorsing becoming a smack addict. Find something that helps you.  For me its running and cycling because, as my wife tells me, I’m not content just having a cake. Although they do help.

Except you over there, if you tell me to relax.. that doesn’t really help.

#infertility

#fertilityawareness

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is hard, but more importantly its fun.

So we are a few weeks removed from me starting out on the decision to Run a Marathon, Attempt a Triathlon (Sprint) and a few tough cycles this year. And so far the training has not gone to badly. In fact I think I might actually be starting to like running.

I think I feel like this time, i’m at least trying to act like I know what i’m doing. I’ve brought a few books, done some researched and looked into the best ways to train. With cycling I kind of just jumped on the bike and started to peddle. This time, I’m realising I need to train properly and eat right to maximise my chance of success. By success; I mean just finishing the bloody marathon! I’m not setting the bar higher than that. I have a goal to get a pb for Ride London but that comes later. And the Dragon Ride, survive!

So, I’ve started things off with a few simple runs. I’ve done a few 5 ks, a few 10ks and a tempo run (horrific!) And I’ve started my long runs. Today I got up to 10 Miles which is a good start. I’m determined to be strict and stick to the training plan i’ve pieced together, from reading and bits I’ve picked up from friends. The first thing i’ve learnt; Everyone things they know what is best for you, so work out what is best for you and trust yourself, listen to your body, rest when you need to.

So here is a few pics of how its going:

 

 

The smile in all of these is genuine, i’m so far loving the training. I know over the coming weeks and months it’s going to get harder and test me. There will be times I’ll want to not bother or i’ll be pissed off as I struggled. But that’s ok. In the words of Snow Patrol “I’m so glad this has taken me so long, cause its the journey that has made me so strong.”

So what next? Well this week I now start to cross train. I had put cycling on the back burner while I get settled into my running routine. But now I need to get the balance right. So I’ve got to start factoring in cycling, keeping building up my long runs, sticking to the regime and I’m hopeful I can keep a balanced approach. I most importantly have to have faith in myself and not overdo or overthink what I’m doing, all stuff i’m not good at!

Then we have to start adding in Swimming! This is the thing I’m most nervous about if I’m honest. I’ve had a number of lessons and I feel my swim is coming on massively. But I can’t quite master my breathing which you know, is a bit of a problem! So that’s a focus and goal, I want the triathlon to be a success and something I enjoy. Its not very far but I think it’ll be my biggest achievement of all I’m trying to do, as my Swim has long been an albatross around my neck. But I think i’m training hard, I feel fit, i feel good. I feel like i’m approaching all of this in the right way. All I can do is (no pun intended) try!

So to sum up this post in one sentence; So far so good; but more to do.

The price of success is hard work, dedication to the job at hand, and the determination that whether we win or lose, we have applied the best of ourselves to the task at hand. – Vince Lombardi

And here we go again

So I took a break, sort of. After Ride London, I needed to relax and let it all sink in and reflect. Ponder. Did I want to do more events for charity or do I just want to enjoy exercise and settle back. I had already committed to the Dragon Ride and that was ok I could crack on with that and make that the big event this year.

I’ve just been enjoying cycling and playing touch rugby without any goal in mind. Not having to train, or do it to raise money. But that was never going to last long. I’ve been fortunate that my wife has been amazing and brought me a turbo trainer, which will help me train through out the winter on those icy and crappy days. And I’ve felt good after the Ride London, I’ve not needed as long to recover as I have in the past. And I’ve seen some friends do some amazing sporting accomplishments. When you factor in all of this, the itch was bound to return sooner or later.

And then I remember this year was a big year.. My dad would have been 70. That was it, I couldn’t let this pass up. So I thought about it. Now one of the ideas was to do a Triathlon, but i need to build to that, so I settled on a sprint Triathlon, so my swimming needs a lot of work, so that’s now a focus.

It still didn’t feel enough.

So I got offered a place on Ride London again, great I know the course, I know I can get faster, I know it can’t be as wet as last yet, I can go out and lay down a PB.

It still didn’t feel enough.

So then the charity offered me a chance to do the Manchester Marathon, now here’s a challenge. I’ve never run further than a half. Its going to test me, I have lots of training to do, and i’m building a training plan.

It still didn’t…. This is when the wife told me it as enough and as always she was right!

So tomorrow I start training and I’m looking forward to it. A lot. It’s going to be hard, its going to test me. But a challenge is meant to be.

I’ll be back with up dates, but for now should anyone wish to sponsor me you can at one of the two links below:

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

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

Ride London 2018

Its funny how things work out. I had spent the last few weeks training for a long, hot day in the saddle. As the ride got nearer it became apparent that this was very unlikely to be the case. Lots of rain was forecast. It turned out lots of rain is what we got.

Still I had arrived in London the day before feeling confident, if a bit frantic, rushing to get my ride number etc. However that night as me and Em sat having a meal, she asked how I felt. “Good” was my reply and I really did. I didn’t have the usual nerves before a ride. I didn’t I was eager and looking forward to it. That didn’t change the next morning, as I rolled out of bed, had my porridge in a pot and cycled to the Olympic Stadium enjoying many people doing the walk of shame at 6 in the morning!

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As I queue to start, amazed at the number of people, the time thankfully went quickly. There was a breeze and I spent 20 minutes debating whether to proudly tough it out and where my jersey for Winston’s Wish or to put the jacket on. In the end the rain won out and the Jacket went on. I didn’t have time to dwell as soon enough it was my turn and the start countdown was done and I was off. What I had been training all year for had finally begun.

I quickly got into a groove. The first thing was getting used to riding in amongst so many cyclists. You ended up battling for space, having to weave into gaps to overtake and fining a spot you could maintain a pace. I got used to this quicker than I thought and actually quite enjoyed it. The main thing was having the whole road not worrying about cars it was exhilarating. I spent the whole ride like a big kid, enjoying the freedom and recalling how it felt when I first had a bike.

Before long, I was passing Trafalgar Square and hardly noticing due to the heavy rain keeping my head down, seeing someone crashing on the slick road was a timely reminder to go steady and be mindful of the conditions. Still I was pleased with my progress, whilst trying to ensure I held something back for the hills that would start from 40 miles in.

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At the first stop I checked in with Em, who helpfully told me she was having a lovely cup of coffee, cheers for that. I stocked up on food and got going. I was surprised how quick I was going, but at this point a personal best was not on my mind. I was just going to enjoy the ride and see how I went, being mindful of the weather. Having cycled in weather like this before I rather enjoyed it.

That changed on the hills, the first hill wasn’t that tough but the conditions were appalling, and descending it was tough due to the wind and road. I feel like i’m ok at descending without doing anything special, but the speed some went down shocked me.

I think this was one of the few rides I scouted ahead on and I knew Leith was going to be the toughest hill. It was hard but not the hardest. Having to weave through the cyclists made it harder, but I feel I got a good pace up it and again the descent was worse, a particular nasty crash at the bottom causing us to have to slow up abruptly.  But I was clear knowing if I got over Box, the hard work really was over. The conditions were still bad, but getting better.

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I looked at my watch and saw I was doing ok still, not amazing but ok. If I could get over Box ok I’d have a good chance of coming in under 7 hours and maybe getting close to my pb of 7 hours 47 minutes. But that was a while off.

Box Hill wasn’t tough but was a fun climb, I got up and over in a steady pace and the crowd cheering at the top keep us going. A short while later I rolled into a water stop at 75 miles. It had stopped raining and I made a decision.

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My time wasn’t bad, but I felt good and had a focus. I had a think and took the jacket off and stuffed it in the bag. I was here for Winstons Wish and I was going to give it everything in this last bit. I wasn’t going to stop now, I could finish and get a good time I was sure of it. I was still going to enjoy it, but something came over me I couldn’t quite explain and I was going to give it absolutely everything to get a good time. I was feeling fired up and emotional and I really can’t explain where it was coming from.

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And I felt like a man possessed for the last bit. In truth it was easy cycling, but I was really going for it with all I had, there was no let up. The crowds were amazing all the way, lots of cheering, support and what a difference it made. I was flying passed people and before long I was at Wimbledon and over the last hill, but I wouldn’t let myself ease up I kept on pushing the miles were rolling away and I was texting Em to keep her updated. “We are at the Finishline” that was it, no letting up now, With the in-laws and others there I wasn’t going to look bad.

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I was looking at my watch and realised I was well about my time, I was going to do it! IT felt good, but I didn’t ease. The last bit was a blur of noise and awe. Riding up the Mall, as fast as I could (admittedly not that fast but still) was such a rush and I’ll never forget going over the finishly hearing Em shout me and raising a hand of acknowledgement.

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I’d done it and it was an amazing feeling. Quick the watch, I was stunned 6 Hours and 6 Minutes, I hadn’t just beaten my time I had destroyed it!

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But the important part, at my last check I have raised £840 and Team Winston in total have raised just shy of £10,000 I can really believe what such a small group of us have done.

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And Dad, that was for you. I will admit to getting a bit emotional as I came round the Mall thinking of him. I wish he could have been there, but he wasn’t and I hope I did him proud. Instead I had my amazing wife and her family to greet me which was wonderful and I cannot thank Em enough for being my biggest supporter. She puts up with a lot with my training, stressing and stupid ideas.

And to anyone who has read, supported or donated thank you!

This isn’t the end, I have a few other ideas of fundraising I’d like to do, and I have a Dragon to slay next. But for now I’m going to enjoy a few weeks of cycling with no reason other than cycling.

 

 

 

Sometimes its more than a bike ride

I miss my dad. I miss him everyday. I miss the opportunity to talk to him about rugby. To take the piss and have him take the piss. To tell him I love him. Most of all I miss never getting to go have a pint with him.

When he took his own life he left us a note. I haven’t read it for years. I can’t remember it, I don’t want to remember it. But the gist of it was how much he loved me and how proud of me he was and how he knew I’d make him proud.

When you read that at 11 Its a lot to take, it puts a chip on your shoulder. It makes you strive to reach an unobtainable goal. I’ll never know if he is proud of me. Now none of this is meant to be self-pity, its  just how it is. I’m aware of it, I’m ok with it now. Thanks to love, help and support from my amazing family, Wife and Winston’s Wish.

But I’m always going to try to make my dad proud and I’m always going to take that statement literally. If I do stuff I try to always give my best. I may not be the best cyclist, the fittest, the best rugby player, the smartest, the person things comes easier to. But I’m a stubborn sod, who will always give 100%. Or at least I like to think so. Cause I take after my dad and that statement gives me a chip on my shoulder.

Not that said, there is a time when that rolls away and I can enjoy pushing myself. On the bike is one of those times. I feel a connection to my dad, I can’t explain it, and it might seem odd. But its there, in the same way it is if I go up Robinswood Hill. Its not like I can pop round to talk to him, so i’ll take what I can get.

All of this is blessed by the fact that I get to pay if forward to the charity, thanks to all of you amazing lot. Today I’m looking at my total and am blown away to have raised £722. And the whole of Team Winston have raised over £7000. That’s mind blowing to me.

When I agreed to speak to the TV and radio for Winston’s Wish about a year ago, I knew it might have moments of being tough, of taking me to raw memories. But seeing stuff like that brings a smile to my face. Its reconnected me to some happy memories. Its reminded me that cycling can just be fun.

I don’t know how fast I’ll go round on Sunday. It could be hot as hell and its silly to try and push myself beyond my limits. All I can promise you is that I will do my best to earn every pound people have raised.

So I hope you can all see that this is much more to me than a bike ride and its very special to me. And thank you for helping with that.

I’ll be back after the ride with more of an update.

Russ

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/russell-brookes4

 

 

 

One week to go.

This time next week I should be well on my way around Ride London. I’m nervous and excited by the prospect. I am eager to go and I feel like I’ve trained well for it.

This week is all about getting ready. I’ve trained as hard as I can allowing for life and everything else. I think cycling wise I am in the best shape I have been. We will see how it goes. I’d like to get a good time, but the ride is so much more than that. So all i can do this week is eat right, taper, be ready mentally and make sure i enjoy the experience.

It has obviously made me think of dad a lot preparing for this and I am keeping that in my mind and making sure I enjoy this.

I want to say thank you to everyone. For following me on this journey, for sponsoring me and for reading.

I will be back with an update after the ride but till then, once again thank you!