Why do all of this?

Do you ever have those moments in your life that make you feel old? You know that moment where someone from a younger generation is ignorant of something you took for granted, like not knowing what dial up Internet is, or who when you talk fondly of the glory days of sport and mention some obscure 90s footballer and they have no idea who they are.

The moment that made me take stock and have that wow moment…. Realising its been 26 years since my dad died and that I’m not far off the age he was when he died. Its funny how memory works. There are things I can remember vividly about dad, often its things you wish you could block out, I’d love for example not to remember so vividly the day he died or the fact that no matter how hard I try I’ll never forget that moment at 11 years old of walking into the funeral directors and seeing dad in a coffin prepared for his funeral. I can remember the pain, there has never been anything quite like it. There are moments I wish I could remember better, I have to try very hard to remember his laugh for example, or what he sounded like. I wish I had listened when he bollocked me as a kid and could remember any of those lectures he gave me. They were dull at the time but now I’d give anything to hear one of his bits of wisdom.

I often wonder what he’d think of me. For example I voted remain. Dad? Well Dad would have voted leave but I think he’d have been ok with that. He was his own man, he didn’t suffer fools and I got my sarcasm and wit from him. My stubborn streak? Dad. My shyness? Dad. He always pushed me to want better, to do better than he did. Yes that’s most parents, but like all of you, my dad was the best dad.

You see some of my drive in life, some of what defines me as a person, the reason I want to do well and continue to push.. I want his approval. I want that moment where he’d be sat with a pint and look at me and say. “I’m proud of you.” and  its never going to come.

The thing with losing someone to suicide is that its  so sudden. They’re there one minute, the next there is a gaping hole in your life, where they used to be and you strive to fill it and doing that..well,  simply put it can fuck you up.

I learnt a long time ago, all of the above, that striving to fill a void is an exercise in futility. It won’t go away. Its part of me now. Dad left a line in his suicide note. It wasn’t a big thing to him as he wrote it, but it said (I was about to start secondary school) (this is paraphrased as I’ve not read the note in years, nor do I have any desire to) “Make me proud at your new school.” That first bit makes me proud, it was stuck in my head. It gnawed at me for years and I put so much pressure on myself, to achieve something that I couldn’t do.

Thanks to Winston’s Wish I had help and support to deal with that, to learn how to deal with grief. They don’t make things magically better, but give you tools to cope with grief and to accept there is a void in your life, where a loved one, once was. But ultimately you have to move forward with life.

For me, even after counselling, I spent a long time trying to live my life to please my dad. I ate to cope and I look back now and realise I wasn’t happy. Then something changed, I started doing stuff for myself, I started playing rugby, I studied for my masters, I got in shape, I met Em as a result, and things started to fall together. You know what?  By being my own man, I think I might finally have started doing what I set out to do.

So when I do these challenges I do it for a number of reasons I guess:

  • To give back to a charity that let me live a normal life
  • For dad
  • For me

I guess the biggest message I’ve learnt from losing Dad (and forgive me as this is a bit cheesy) Life is precious, and I didn’t realise that straight away and I don’t remember it all the time. I can be miserable and rude and ignorant to others but ultimately I try to remember people can be taken away just like that, so appreciate them while you have them.  If there is something you want to do and you can do it; go and bloody do it. If you fail, so what? At least you tried. (n.b sometimes you might need to listen to people though- my first idea back when I first wanted to give back to Winston’s wish was cycle around Cambodia and Vietnam… Em helpfully pointed out that this might be an ambitious first step).. so I guess lesson 2 is have an amazing person to support you and keep you on level ground.

So it helps me cope, its an outlet and if as a side effect it helps to raise money so more people can have support to cope, then.. well I’m going to keep asking for you all to support and sponsor me.

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

 

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50 days to go! AKA oh look at that wall I’m about to run into.

That’s how long I have until I am at the starting line of the London Marathon. Or 7 Weeks. I’m not sure which is the more scary way to put it. I’ve been preparing well, but still so much to do; In terms of both the training and fundraising.

Every time I do these events, I reach a point, it’s normally about halfway through, where the training gets a bit harder, you plateau. And the same with the fundraising. It goes well to start, you see big improvements, money comes in. Then it starts to level, the distance hurts a little more each time you increase, you don’t make the strides in performance you were, it gets harder to get donations. This slips into you head, this isn’t going as well as I thought, Am i up to this, can I over come this, will I get through this, have I done enough, Am i asking too much, am I annoying people constantly going on about it. Am i letting people down, am I letting myself down?

Deep down you know the truth and you know you have to ride it out. That it’ll pass. But that doesn’t stop you. Like now you worry you should be training more or plugging more. But both are not advisable. Over train and you risk injury. Bug people too much and you piss them off. So what can you do?

Stick to the plan. I’ve hit 18.5 miles on a long run. On Tuesday I took 2.25 minutes off my pb. So far so good, don’t panic now, 7 weeks is plenty. You just need to get to 20 miles, keep eating and recovering well. You are going in the right direction.

And don’t be afraid to mix up the training. Today I didn’t feel like a long run so went out on the bike and I forgot how much I love cycling and the change was nice. I know next week I have to get back to a long run, and now I’m looking forward to it and thinking about the next cycle too.

Fundraising, prizes are coming in, donations are coming in. I’m nearly a quarter of the way there, £460. And I’ve not done anything yet, I have the quiz to come. I have the events to come. I have people I know who will donate who just haven’t yet. And I know I will keep working.

Mostly though, I think about how much I want to cross those lines. To run up the Mall in London and know I’ve done something I didn’t ever thing I’d do, Run a Marathon. I want to complete the Dragon Ride, to do an Ultra Endurance Cycle and to then get a personal best at Ride London and Cycle under 6 Hours. If these were easy it wouldn’t be fun! I know I can do this .

So I know I have a long way to go and this is part of it. The self-doubt but I will come through it. I’ve done it before so I can do it now.

The there are 3 main motivations. I’m doing it for the charity, sure I want to raise money for them and I owe them more than I can ever express. I’m doing in for my dad, I want him to be proud.

But ultimately, I’m doing it for me, and the person I used to be:

 

Dublin 2006

That was me in Dublin in 2006, around my Birthday. I was massively out of shape and probably way more unhappy than I realised. Back then I thought a lot of stuff wasn’t achievable.

Now this is me:

 

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Its been a big change and required me to push myself a lot in 12 years. So I feel I have to keep going, to prove to the old me, we can do all that stuff we used to think we couldn’t.

So this is my motivation and the thing that keeps me going. The reason I run when its cold and wet and I don’t want to. Cause I want to finish, I want to do this and if that means doing some hard stuff… so be it.

Not a machine

I’m by no means an expert, but I’ve done a few endurance events now and when you talk about these sort of things to people, often you get a few clichés about it. One that was new to me the other day when I remarked I’d run 15 miles, was said by a co-worker as I was making my morning coffee:

“Wow you are a machine.”

Now at the time I didn’t think much about this, I was bleary eyed sleepy and ironically sore from my run two days prior so we carried on talking. something about it must have bugged me and gnawed at me, because, wel, I’m blogging about it!

… and I think its this; I’m most definitely not a machine!

A machine, to me could just crack on with the training, smash the miles, devoid of emotional responses, need the odd bit of tuning up, but for the most part just crack on with it- It would complete all the tasks in front of it and move onto the next one.

That is most certainly not me. For the most part, I enjoy the training but there are days when I really don’t want to do it, it might be raining or cold, or I might be tired, or had a tough day at work. The last thing I want to do is train. Often I make myself, but if I was a machine I wouldn’t do that. I also have days where fundraising is a pain, or exercise is a pain, or i get annoyed be cause I have real life responsibilities (I mean for some reason my wife likes to spend time with me!)

I think the long and short of it is; I know I’m going to have good and bad days on this journey. Some days I’ll smash the training and feel amazing for it. Other days like yesterday, getting out and getting a run done is enough in itself, I might just not train as I don’t feel up to it.I think if I see myself as some machine that can do all of this, I will become complacent or I won’t respect the challenges infront of me. I’m fitter than I’ve probably ever been, but I might hit a wall, or get ill, or start to lose form.

If that is the case being a machine won’t get through that, but being human will. Digging deep and remembering why i’m doing what I’m doing and being mentally resilient, that’s going to do that. When there is that mile that seems to go on forever, or that hill that just never ends; that’s when my mentality is going to come to the fore.

#RideLondon
#LondonMarathon
#DragonRide
#Myadventures

 

 

 

Making Progress… one mile at a time

Its crazy to think that 20 days of 2019 have already gone by. Crazier still to think its only just over 2 weeks to me and Em escape to Iceland for a much needed holiday. Even crazier is its only 13 weeks till the London Marathon. I also have to be aware of the dragon ride looming not to far after that. So certainly lots to keep me busy, before you add in the fundraising and work and a life with the wife in to the mix!

Thankfully the training is coming on well. Yesterday was a big psychological goal hit. I managed to hit 15 Miles on my long run. I’d gone out thinking if I hit a half Marathon Distance, I would be happy, but by luck more than Judgement myself and my running partner over calculated the distance and by the time I hit the finish line, I had 15 miles in my legs! I felt super chuffed at the time, knowing I’d been able to push it that far and find that distance at this point in my training without feeling I’d over done it. Of course the reality hits later that I still have to find another 11 miles, but if you can’t enjoy the moments of achievement on the journey, then its pointless doing all of this.

I think the fact I hit this by accident was good, because there was a moment when I realised we were still a distance from home and this was the distance we would have to do. But because I had to get home, there was nothing doing, but to shrug my shoulders, get my head down and just get on with it. If I’d had to do the distance knowingly, It might have been that bit harder psychologically. Even the rain was rather cathartic, you learn to accept the weather is what it is and that its not an excuse, if it pisses down on the day of the Marathon, I’m running in it, so I need to accept that and just get on with it. A good mental trick I learnt is to go “But that doesn’t bother me.” It really does help and helps you adjust your mindset and focus on the things that really do matter to you.

 

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Now I know I can hit that distance, with 11 more miles to find and the weather isn’t a factor.  But crucially yesterday it felt like I had more in my legs. The key is not to over do it though, so it was good to hold back. I’m not worrying about pace at this point just distance. I’d by lying if I don’t get those moments of self-doubt, can I really do this, will I hit the fundraising targets, do people believe in me. But you just have to keep plugging away. I’m only human I’ll get those moments and I have to just plug away. None of that will matter when I cross the finish line.

In addition, I’m slowly upping the distance on the turbo trainer and the climbing too, which is good strength wise for both running and cycling. The cycling I’m more confident on, I’ve done distances before, but I know I have to work on developing my climbing legs. And being confident is not the same, as respecting the Dragon Ride. Its a tough route and probably beaten people who are more capable than I on a bike, so I’m making sure I’m prepared.

So I’m feeling it today, but being sensible and resting, before I go again next week. I got recommended a good book, which is helping with the mental aspect of the running. So far I’m finding it ok, It has its tough moments, but I still feel fresh and strong. So we will see how that progresses.

The fundraising is slow at this point, but that’s to be expected, I am in the process of organising a few things to hit my goal, including a quiz details of which can be found below should you wish to attend:

https://www.facebook.com/events/241352773430085/

As always if you want to sponsor me you can at:

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

 

 

So long and thanks for all the Fish 2018, Time for 2019.

So 2018 has been and gone, It like all years do, had its ups and downs. I got a new job, had some lovely holidays and times with my beautiful wife. And we have had some tough times in our continuing quest to start a family. But like all journeys, if you don’t enjoy the ride, its not worth it. So all in all I’m happy. The quest to have a child is going to be an going one, it will be frustrating, it will test us, we will have good and bad times with it, but if we know it is massively out of our hands in many ways and all we can do is to just keep swimming, doing what we can and making sure we support each other. In many ways its made us closer than we’ve ever been and i’m fortunate to have such an amazing wife to get through it.

But that’s the sad(ish) part. The rest of the year was good. I went and kicked the ass out of Ride London, made a good amount of money for Winstons Wish as a result and then got into running.

So lets crunch some numbers

2018 Cycling Total: So this year I rode (including Zwift miles) 1755.9 Miles which wasn’t a record for me but the most since 2013 so i’m pleased

2018 Running total: 405.8 Miles, which is by far the most i’ve done.

So this year I have a challenging year, but one I’m excited by, but at the end of the year I had some amazing news. I’m now running the London Marathon. Luckily as this is only a week after the Manchester Marathon that I was training for, I don’t really have to adapt anything in training. But i’m very excited and now all set to get my fundraising hat on and raise as much as I can.

*cough*

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

*cough*

Sorry about that.

So my year now looks like this:

  • February: Iceland (gotta have some downtime!)
  • 28th April – London Marathon
  • 19th May – Sprint Triathlon
  • 9th June – Dragon Ride
  • 4th August – Ride London

I’ve no doubt it will be tough, I know my wife worries how tough it will be, but I believe if I keep training sensibly, I will be fine. Obviously I have to think that and the proof will be in the pudding! But I spent too long when I was younger not testing myself and I am enjoying the training. My main concern is ensuring I hit my fundraising targets, but all I can do is plug away like I do at the training and just see what happens. I’ll give it all my best that’s all I can do.

So for now that’s it, but I will be back soon with updates and pleas for sponsorship.

Till then I leave you with a quote from my favourite movie:

“What day is it?”
“It’s today.”
“Oh, my favorite day.”

– Christopher Robin & Pooh

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.

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