Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Of all the gin joints, in all the towns,

...in all the world, she walks into mine.

This was my first thought when the awesome Fiona McNelis shouted "Is that you Jerry?" in the middle of a field on the edge of Kent a stones throw from Ashurst.

As you know from my previous blog I was course checking a race last Saturday and Fiona was acting as a sweeper for the same race. If you click on the picture to the left you can see us posing for a race photographer who happened to be passing at the time. You will note that I look decidedly muddier and unkempt than Fiona who always seems to be fresh and full of life...actually she was 1 mile into the course running the reverse route to start her sweep as I was finishing off and gasping for a cup of coffee having been on the trail since 7.30 that morning.

Fiona and I have a strange relationship where we often meet in the middle of a field, checkpoint or finish line. Fiona, a frighteningly intelligent person with an amazing ability to make me howl with laughter when telling me of her escapades on the field of play that we call ultrarunning and we always leave the last conversation on hold to restart where we left off a month or so later.

And that, Dear Reader, sums up long distance running when you can meet a fellow runner in the middle of field in the middle of nowhere but know you can rely on the amazing camaraderie so prevalent in the sport I so love.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Running in Pooh Country


This weekend I had the opportunity to run as a Course Checker for a new group called Trailscape whom I know little about but I had volunteered my services via Facebook request on the Trail Running Group.

I arrived in Ashurst, Kent which lies on its border with Sussex  at 7.00am and stepped into a hive of activity announcing my arrival to the Race Director and from that moment I was whipped into shape, briefed, introduced to a driver and another Course Checker, Martin, who was doing the 10km route.

Looking at the weather I decided that it was two shirts, waterproof smock, leggings, my trusty Adidas Kanadias  and Injinji socks. I was ejected from the car along with Martin and were pointed to a disused railway track to find our way. I failed at the start when it wasn't explained to me that my section (the latter 13.1 miles) actually didn't cross over the track but UNDER so ran over the top of it for about 2km but was soon pointed to the correct place by the local dog walkers.

The course was a tough one taking me over the tops of hills with the wind howling through the trees such that I could lean into it, rain pelting my face like needles and mud that squelched over your ankles in places. I was pleased to be the trailblazer as the mud was undisturbed but know if you are the fiftieth pair of feet on the trail it can be hard going.  People were few and far between but those that did cross my path were friendly.

Pooh's Bridge

I knew I was in what we Brits quaintly call "Pooh Country" in recognition of A.A. Milne's childrens' book about the adventures of a toy bear called Winnie the Pooh. To my joy I saw a finger post stating "Pooh's Bridge" and pointing me down the path I was to take and there in front of me was the famous bridge. I stopped and grabbed a few twigs and dropped them on one side to jump across to the other side to see my stick pass under, a game not really made for one but I was happy I won both of my games.

Not much more I can say other than it was great to be out on the trails by myself again and to stand at tops of hills and take stock. As I came to the end of my section I saw the runners who were racing a 10km stretch (Organised by the same people) and to join them for the run to the finish line. I hadn't realised how dehydrated I was until I got to a check point and drank like a fish.

Very pleased with my 18 miles on a very tough and in poor conditions, I have a feeling my fitness will return quite quickly as long as I keep the long runs up. 

Eeyore: Tigger, I'd be happy to tell you my secret for winning at Poohsticks.
Tigger: [eagerly] Uh, you would?
Eeyore: It's very easy. You just have to let your stick drop in a twitchy sort of way.
Tigger: Oh yeah, I forgot to twitch. That was my problem.
[twitches, then bounces]
Tigger: Hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo!
[we hear a crash]
Eeyore: Bounced again.
A.A.Milne

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Special Forces Monkey


I was looking through the internet last night and came across an article from a few years ago in which it stated that the US military had ordered soldiers to not wear training shoes in which the toes had "Their own separate compartments" which plainly meant the Vibram Five Finger series on shoes as "They gave off the wrong image"


I found the image above , and I assume was taken before the ban, of a US Special Forces dog handler leaping from a plane.....wearing none less than a pair of Monkey Feet.

It appears that the upper echelons of the said military force wanted soldiers to have all their toes in one compartment but having trained along rocky and sandy beaches, jumped into the water(for the hell of it) then run off again I can safely say the best shoes for swimming/running on unknown surfaces is by no argument the Vibram Five Finger (Monkey Feet) shoe, light weight, quick drying with tough under sole  and don't clog with mud.

So much for "Bad Image" this is still a compelling picture.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Quaggy or soft and flabby

quag·gy
adj. quag·gi·er, quag·gi·est
1. Resembling a marsh; soggy.
2. Soft and flabby.

They often say that life mimics art and today was no exception. After a few emails backwards and forwards so that Duncan and I could shuffle our run together between the various happenings we call "Family Life" I finally turned up at his door, asking how far we were running was met with the usual non-committal answer of "7 or 8 or 9 or 10".

Today's pointless run was to follow the partly underground River Quaggy (Definition above)  for a few miles,the irony not missed on me who is definitely quaggy around my midriff after very little training due to my heel injury.

Great run today apart from stubbing my toe on a hidden stump in the woods which had me swearing like a trooper but I will see how it is over the next day or so.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Looking forward


Friedrichswall ,Hanover
I have decided that in 2015 I am going to take on a few challenges, my primary goal is to complete the Grand Union Canal Race once and for all but will enjoy myself along the way.

So far,
  1. Course Checker (Trailscape) 13.1 miles + 3.6 miles (10th January 2015)
  2. Dover Marathon (28th March 2015)
  3. Dover Half Marathon (28th March 2015
  4. Dover Marathon (29th March 2015)
  5. Dover 10km (29th March 2015)
  6. Hanover Marathon (19th April 2015)
  7. Grand Union Canal Race (May 2015)

Note 2-5 above, a complete mad idea to bash out 2 marathons, a half marathon and a 10km race all over one weekend.

As for no.6 I am really pleased to have costed out my stay and have even got a hotel within 50 metres of the start, see the picture above, hotel entrance on the left, martahon start across the road. Good times roll.



Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Top 50

It is this time of year when runners who are also bloggers review their year, good or bad. However, this blog entry is a little celebration for the mighty few, Andrea, Chris, Bhundu and myself who together pulled off a brilliant result this year.

I was approached by Andrea at the tail end of 2013 asking whether I knew any good trail runs up to 10km that a race could be organised. I drew a blank as the main requirement was "No Roads", which makes the list much shorter, that, along with car parking, toilets, mud (another top of the list requirement) and beautiful views, the search was on.

One day, after a training run with Andrea and Kay, we drove past a woodland area that I know well having run it on numerous occasions and I shouted "Toilets, car park, hills, lots of hills, views...this is it." The rest is history.

Andrea got to work and after a few months she told me that permission had been given to hold a race and I was given the job of working out the course which was a real conundrum as the trails were in a crisscross pattern and only covered about 4 miles. Here is the bit I am good at, planning, adapting and creating. So with my good running pal Duncan we went out on numerous runs around the woodlands overlooking Shoreham, Kent, cut corners, added switch backs, dived through a bush, threw the plans away and started again. We even set up a measuring wheel and calculated that the event was exactly 10,017 metres long!

Andrea and her husband are amazing organisers, arrows were created, maps written, posters made and much, much more. There was a team of about 20 people who gave up their time to help and marshal the runners which is amazing when you think that some club races have hundreds of helpers, we pulled it off.

I have now been informed that the Shoreham 10km Trail Race has been voted to be one of the top 50 10km races in Great Britain for 2014.(Runners World)

I am chuffed to bits.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

New Web Address


To My Dear Readers,

 Firstly, can I thank all of you that have visited and supported this blog over the years and hopefully enjoyed my ramblings, 2015 will be a great year for all of us and I have many adventures planned for you to enjoy.

For many moons my blog has had the cumbersome web address of:


which, for some of you, has been a bit of a pain to type in, so from now onwards you will be able to type in:

 The new link used to be my old website that was originally set up for fun in the early days of the internet but I found it was not easy to update on a timely basis due to my busy personal and sport life. It slowly morphed into a running site over a number of years but I have found you, the reader, came to my blog as a preference.

Nothing will change on my blog, just that it now has two links which will take you to here, so if you have save the link in your bookmarks or favourites you have nothing to do.

Monkeys and Meteors

Actual picture of a meteor
using my cam
Saturday once again saw Duncan and his son Ché, our honorary member  for the Night Run go out in search meteors in the sky. The meteors were to appear from the constellation of Gemini and are aptly called the Geminids  and were to appear in the night sky between 7.00pm and throughout the night peaking at 2.00am.

Turning up at Duncan's at 7.40 pm I was met by two very excited faces and as usual a vague plan to run "Somewhere dark"

Let's put the clock back 2 hours which saw me at my kitchen table converting my daughter's discarded iPhone 4 into a tripod mounted camera and with the addition of a 69 pence App called Slow Shutter Cam to allow long exposure shots.

 Back to the run with the three of us chatting and planning the best place to go and chose to go to the local nature reserve which had enough trees around to block the city lights. Finding a spot in the now frozen grass, my feet now filling the chill, Ché and I set up the iPhone using the compass for direction and looking to the sky at about 23 degrees ( I had written on a bit of paper) stood back to watch the night sky.

Ever so often one of us would point at the sky and scream "Woooah there's one" then in unison when a large one went over...magical stuff.

Soon Duncan and I were heard to grumble that our feet were actually hurting which is not unbelievable when there is about 2 mm of rubber between you and a -2 C frosted ground to run a different route via the main paths. I felt as though I wanted to stay longer but I think we had seen enough returning via a path next to the local cemetery and the bent fence of a once disputed boundary line and the gushing of an underground river yet to be explored.

Not a long run but a really fun run with geekiness, laughing and fun...good times/   

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Mojitos or Monkey Feet

"Ice is for Mojitos not Monkey Feet" the Delightful Mrs S was heard to say almost apoplectic with rage when I simply asked for her to pass 5 cubes to me so I could ice my heel.

Tonight I went to the track to test out my heel wearing my faithful Monkey Feet, possibly counter-intuitive my thinking was that if I wore them I was less likely to heel strike, but also on the other hand stretch the Achilles tendon a bit. With these two thoughts in my head I had all the intention of running very slowly in Recovery Mode and just see how it went and to drop out if necessary.

I was even seen joining in with the speed trainers for a warm up session to stretch myself and warm for my run.

Very pleased to report that it went well, no pain to report around the heel area so I have put on my trusty stretch bandage and placed a bag containing the above 5 cubes in it around the heel and Achilles to stop any swelling.

Feeling very pleased as I will now be able to join in a few Christmas related runs over the coming weeks.

Back to the track

image c/o Trailscape
Posts have been minimal in recent weeks with me suffering from a heel injury which I cannot pinpoint but it is around the side below the ankle one moment and then the Achilles so I have been resting it.

My training plans have been adapted a little to accommodate the lack of running and hope to get a run in at the track this Thursday evening to see how it is. Plans are afoot and I am pleased to announce that I will be doing some more volunteering in January 2015 for a new (to me?) race team called Trailscape who have a great tag line "Run it, Love it, live it". There RD, Hannah, put out a call for helpers on the Trail Running Association Facebook page last evening looking for them to check the 10km, half and full marathon routes 2 hours before the races started and I was quick to volunteer for the marathon check which was accepted by Hannah. I love to see so many people wanting to volunteer their services and I hope to run route with my ultrarunning buddy Fiona who is always a good laugh.

So already I have a marathon to run within the first 10 days of 2015, just what the doctor ordered. All I need now is my heel to get better.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

The Ironic Monkey

I often get the same old questions when wearing my Monkey Feet a.k.a. Vibram Fivefinger TrekSports and I have no problem explaining to people why. The main reason I love them is that they are really comfortable....apart from The Thames Meander marathon earlier this month. There is all this hype about "heel striking" and "running mid-foot" rightly or wrongly, this is not the reason for this post.

Aware that I have to put in a lot of training between now and May 2015 I have made a point of wearing my Monkey Feet for only one training run a week and so on Tuesday this week I ran 10 miles (16km) in my Merrell Glove 2 with a 9.5 mm stack as opposed with my MF's at 4mm. Instantly I noted during this run that my running style had changed to instead of my feet being directly below me saw me standing more vertically and my strides having a straighter leg on the forward swing. I complained next day and the day after that my heels hurt and then it occurred to me when putting my Merrell's on again that the exact point the heel cup touched my heel and achilles was where the bruising was.

I had been injured by the very shoes that were supposed to be protecting me from heel strike because they offered a higher stack and zero drop such that I was unaware of that heel strike. 

Time to take stock.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Heel injury?

When I first started this blog I was proud to have the tag:

The trials and tribulations of a long distance runner living in deepest, darkest Kent.

 These days I feel there are more "Trials" than "Tribulations" on here but I promise things will get a little rosier soon. Today the Delightful Mrs S dropped me off on her way to work leaving me about a mile to walk to a station a further on my line, I cared not a jot, I was early and had plenty of time. I was about to cross the road and mistimed my crossing when a cyclist jumped off the pavement causing me to stumble slightly, no problems I thought until I stood up after my train journey.......OUCH.

I now have a very painful heel, well not exactly the heel but the section between my ankle bone and my heel on the outside. A real searing which is very tender such that I will have to wear sandals tomorrow!

So, in true runner's fashion, I denied it existed and went to the running track with the idea of getting in 30 minutes of gentle running. No, after about 600 metres I chose to give up and went to visit the Delightful Mrs S (Senior) a.k.a My Mum.

Running has to wait for a bit.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

When you sweat no one can see you cry.

Went to the track tonight and silently ran track pyramids:

1600 metres
1200 metres
800 metres
400 metres
0 metres (2 minute rest)
400 metres
800 metres
1200 metres
1600 metres

All at above threshold so it was beginning to hurt a little on the last 1200 and 1600 metres sections. 

The track was covered with a thin veil of mist that by the end was covered in fog which rolled off the enclosing park such that I could not see the other end by the finish of my run. The other track users were doing some kind of painful fartlek routine, the coach peeping his whistle every time they had to run or jog. I chose to run alone with my thoughts when all of a sudden this horrendous flood of emotion popped into my head like a bubble and then for no reason tears ran down my face, silent weeping on a silent track. No one noticed thankfully because when you sweat no one can see you cry.

I left the track content with my 8,000 metre (5 mile) run especially after last night's hill reps and run.

As for my tears, I left them on the track with my sweat and the fog where they shall remain for now.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

More a carthorse than a racehorse

The start of November was unusually warm this year but the temperatures have now dropped to the average of about 6 centigrade in the evening so why did I decide to go out in shorts and a t-shirt?

This evening is hill training night so it is not about distance but quality to strengthen my legs and get some much needed cardio work in. The great thing about these runs is that a group of people meet about 400 metres from my doorstep having run about 2 miles as a warm up, I however decided to leave a little earlier and get a 3 kms in before meeting. I have to admit that was the hardest 3kms I have done of late which saw me plodding up the hill like an old carthorse pulling a dray but by the time I had met the others I found I was really warmed up, stretched enough to do 10 x 50 metre hill reps, which is not big stuff but it felt good to get the legs moving and the heart pumping.

Long way to go from here but it feels that the underlying fitness remains that I need to build on. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Tunnels, Guns and Monkey Feet

Today's run was one of our more unusual ones which found Duncan and I  out on the Thames Path again, however this time along a part of it I have missed on previous runs.

We started out from Eltham train station and pointed north towards the Woolwich Ferry and in doing so passed the scenes of two very vicious and bloody murders both making England look up and see massive changes in the law and the direction it moved as a country. The first was the murder of Steven Lawrence in 1993 at the hands of vicious, racist thugs and 20 years later, in 2013, just down the road a few yards that of Drummer Lee Rigby who was hacked to death by religious fanatics outside his barracks. Both sobering thoughts as we trundled on towards the river.

The run was quite a hard one for me today, my medication making me sluggish and hard to wake was still creeping through my veins, Duncan on good form, ever patient as I slowly warmed up and began to run in full. However, we had a purpose today and that was to reach Gallions Hill in Thamesmead a twenty metre high hillock created from "recycled excavated material" with a spiral path which leads to the summit. I loved the concept of "recycled excavated material" which really means that it was a big pile of rubble, topsoil and scrap that was made during the building of the surrounding estate. Still a nice target for the day and the turn around having passed the Woolwich Arsenal where cannons and munitions were made for the British to find their Empire all those years back.

The highlight of the run, for me at least, was the off piste run through the subfluvial tunnel at Woolwich which connects Woolwich to the north bank of the Thames which saw us pegging it along the tunnel at speed to rise on the far bank to find a cafe.

The journey back to the car was not the highlight as I puffed and wheezed up the hill, Duncan almost skipping but nonetheless a great run with plenty of distractions to keep us on form.

GUCR training starts in full next week with the traditional first day a rest day.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

GUCR 2015 - The journey begins


Picture the scene on Sunday just gone when I suddenly realised that the ballot draw for the Grand Union Canal Run (GUCR) was to be held on Monday at 19:30hrs, a sudden flurry of activity on my side checking the questions and answers set by the Race Director, Dick Kearn, who makes sure we have all read the various documentation he sends. It appears I passed when I was notified that the ballot had been drawn and on checking the GUCR website tonight found my name on the list................again.
 
Nowadays social media seems to be everything and tonight the GUCR Facebook was on fire as runners announced their acceptance or rejections for the race. GUCR is going to one brilliant event next year with some very capable runners taking part and promises a major battle at the front with some extraordinary runners wanting smash personal bests.
 
My personal best will be to finish well and this time, with my 50th birthday in 2015 want to make it a very special year by finishing such that my training plan has already been written and starts next week

Monday, 10 November 2014

Thames Path and Poppies

Last week I wrote on my running club's Facebook page that I intended to run from Greenwich to the Tower of London via the Thames Path and Tower Bridge which is roughly 10km.

A few people showed interest but have a feeling the torrential rain probably made them choose not too but did have two intrepid members come along for the fun, Nicky and Emma.

I have run this route on many occasion and have got the route off to a T even with small diversions if the City Zoo near Rotherhithe is closed. Nicky and Emma were great running buddies with funny stories and conversation. I could wax lyrical about how beautiful London is at night along the river, the history and the people but you just have to take it from me that it is. I loved it when Nicky and Emma smiled when we reached the Tower Bridge after some short photo opportunities to then cross the bridge for the serious part and purpose of our run, to view the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red art installation of thousands of ceramic poppies signifying one person dying for every poppy, truly inspiring and significant.

We were not surprised to find thousands of people milling around that evening as it was mentioned that it was to be dismantled after 11th November, we quietly walked around until I saw a lovely lady wearing a Monkey hat so without thinking I shouted "Ohh a Monkey Hat, I must get a picture of it with my Monkey Feet" The photograph above had the heading in Facebook of:

This is the epitome of bemusement of someone "Going along with a joke they don't understand" when I asked this lovely lady with Monkey Hat to have a picture of me in Monkey Feet!

She was a great sport and her man friend totally taken aback with my request.

Sadly we had to leave the poppy field but returned to Greenwich by DLR to a well earned pint of cider in the pub. A great run.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Monkey Marathon

I entered the Thames Meander Marathon about 11 weeks ago fully knowing that I was not going to be pretty.

Training in the past few months has not been great and I could list a whole page of excuses from depression to it being too hot or I was overworked. I don't go in for that nonsense these days, I have nothing to prove to others but only myself and to be frank, I had lost interest in running as I was distracted by other things in my life.

I challenged myself to run a marathon with very little preparation but a burning desire to feel as though I was running again so chose the Thames Meander Winter Marathon which is not too far away . Do not be distracted by the word Winter in its title as we are having a very weird weather in the UK at present with usual averages at this time of year being 13 centigrade and were hitting 21 C when I approached the start line in Kingston, London. 

Before I start, my Monkey Feet got first place in the Barefoot running category, sadly there was no such category.

Mr Annoying

In all sports, interest groups or offices there is always a few characters who are obsessional to the point they see themselves as the "Expert" and need to tell everyone of their escapades, how what you are doing is wrong and everything they do is the right way. I tend to hang back form these people but I was just leaving Kingston station when I saw a man dressed in running kit and mentioned to him whether he was running the marathon, he was and boy did he want to tell me about every race he had done and "how experienced he was" He asked me if I was in the 100 Marathon Club and how many road marathons I had run, I said "No I am not and I have only run four road marathons" Oh, did he love that as he happened to mention he had done 4 road marathons that week already and chose to give me advice on drinks, shoes and nutrition.

His face was an absolute picture 30 minutes later when he approached me to see I was wearing my Centurion Winter 100 shirt and my Vibram Monkey Feet, he said "You told me you had only done 4 marathons mate", I said "Yes road marathons but have done over 50 trail ultras"..... he visibly shrunk 10 cms and scuttled away to probably advise people of his endeavours"

 The Race

The Thames Meander is a must for any runner with beautiful scenery, loads of distractions on the river which was very busy that day with a very big boat race such that we had support cyclists racing close to us as they bellowed support, dog walkers and race enthusiasts for about 5 miles (out and back makes 10 miles) along a stretch but we seemed to work well together.

My choice of Monkey Feet were not the best decision I had made as in some places the path had deteriorated such that there was no tarmac on it and my feet were taking a beating as my heel clonked on jutting rubble.

The checkpoint staff were great and signs were great , after all, all we needed to do was have the river on our left on the way out and on the right on the way back. I was pretty well pleased with my fitness and had run the first 14 in good pace but the continual beating and clonking of my heels on the poor running surface eventually found me walking long stretches but running the normal tarmac and/or woodland paths which effectively destroyed any good chance of a reasonable time but I kept reminding myself that this was not about time, it was about getting through it without difficulty and that is what I did, a very slow (for me) marathon on hobby running training and I got through it to meet my racing friend Fiona at the end.

 Lessons learnt

  • Try and stay away from Know It Alls
  • Do some proper training runs before entering a marathon, at the age of 49 years the fitness is quicker to lose than when you are 39
  • At least think about your shoes sensibly
  • Enjoy it 
Well done Hermes Running, great race

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Oh!....that is all she said

Ten weeks ago I realised I was totally demotivated and running held no interest to me so I contacted my good running pal Gemma who is a personal trainer by trade and a brilliant runner.

The conversation went thus:

Jerry  - "Motivate me"
Gemma  - "Piss off and go for a bloody run.."
Gemma  - "What's up? Lacking running mojo?"
Jerry  - "No, I am a big fat lard arse"
Gemma  - "Try marathon PB???? Good for winter. Speed feels awesome to work on..."
Jerry  -  "OK, sounds good, like it"
Gemma  - "Ha! Well that was simple!"

A plan was hatched and I entered one of the only marathons in the south east of England in November, The Thames Meander I just forgot to tell the Delightful Mrs S.....until this evening.

All she said was "Oh!"

Aaargh I hate when she say "Oh!"

So with limited training, no chance of a PB, a pair of Monkey Feet I will be running a marathon on Saturday

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Depression, running and its aftermath

Exactly one year ago today I left work, tears running down my face, a belly full of rage, a splitting headache and a feeling of worthlessness.

This had been building up for some time, my fitness was amazing with recent 30 mile runs for training to race at the Winter100, I even stopped in the middle of a race, my knees buckling under me, not from physical tiredness, but that of a mental anguish, my head screaming as to why I was beating myself up this way. The basics were that I was just mentally tired, the strain of the past 2 years of long hours, short deadlines, extra work hours and low esteem. This topped with [still] suffering from flash backs when in the Police of dead bodies impaled on tree stumps from a train crash, the body of a young woman smashed on the pavement at the hands of her boyfriend pushing out of a window and having taken a vicious beating with a snooker cue and boots....the horrible spectre of post traumatic stress disorder that ebbs and flows through my life. I stood on the station and screamed in my head "Normal people just don't act this way, nobody cries on a platform whilst shaking"

I have suffered this for over 20 years, the depression ebbing and flowing, knocking you like a cricket bat to the skull as it over runs your senses with a quick dig at the solar plexus for good measure. The picture above is not of me physically tired but one where I continually scowled at the world, my jaw ached from grinding my teeth, my upper lip twitched and I was angry, yes, just fucking angry at the world. This was my face 3 days after I left work, tears running down my face, a splitting headache and a feeling of worthlessness, this is the face that the Delightful Mrs S used to comment on as I sighed and moped around, here is a line in the sand when I physically and mentally shut down, call it a nervous breakdown, call it what you want. The next week I was ordered to stay at home by my doctor, a week where I slept more hours than I was awake when medication tried its best to put the lions and demons back in the cage that was my sanity.

Friends were scarce, many knowing I was "mentally" ill, some stayed close whilst others melted into the background not sure what to say when all I wanted was someone to talk to. Medication helped but muted my emotions to just being OK, a Band Aid for the mind, whilst keeping the delicate emotions safe were just that, not a cure but a temporary fix.

One year later
Yes I still cry secretly when alone in the house or on a trail run, I feel less angry with the world and the people in it, something that still harks back to the time that bastard struck me the third time across the back of head with that snooker cue as his brother stamped on the back of my knees and then my ribs. I still have panic attacks in shopping centres, if somewhat less in scale from 20 years ago but nonetheless are still present as I race to the door....."Never let them get between you and the door" I silently scream inside.

Now, with a change of medication, I find that the mute button has been switched off and whilst still feeling vulnerable mentally have seen a rise in my need to get running again, enjoy it for the freedom it gives me to silence my doubts and anxiety. I still think it funny that I can go out in the middle of the night with just a head torch, a bottle of water and a map in the middle of nowhere with no problems but become a gibbering wreck in  shopping mall.

And that picture
Yes, I still scowl sometimes, I still cower away from crowds, I fear counselling as I don't want to scratch the scab that the Band Aid covers to reveal old emotions, old wounds, no...the rage I once (and still have if less evident) had, the guilt and the fears are still there and I expect will always be there.

Do not see this blog as a call for sympathy, I don't want sympathy, I don't want that.