2023 Will be a very fine year. I think.

2023 Will be a very fine year. I think.

My last post was somewhat whiny – I was complaining about the horrible effect that my medication is having on me. I mean “whiny” was justified as I have been waking up in the middle of the night gasping for breath and having to drink (water) constantly as my mouth is so dry, but I thought I would pen something a little less “woe is me” today. Then I realised what I have signed up for this year and started to shit myself.

Last year I pushed myself to get fit after the horrible impact that bipolar medication was having on my weight and my energy levels. The catalyst for this was me catching sight of the size of my gut when I was on a conference call. I took a couple of shots so I could look at them later to see how fat I really was:

I looked at the pictures later and thought to myself that the camera must be fucked. So I took another snap in the downstairs bathroom:

That shocked me. I was proper overweight. Look at my face – I was shocked. 

Just after I met my wife, we went down to see her mum and stepdad in Essex. I had met them once or twice before and they were lovely, but this was the first time we’d been down to their manor: Essex. Alright babes.

When we got down there, off we trotted to a birthday barbeque that a friend of theirs was having. Now I know they won’t mind me saying this as they were shocked by the state of some of the guests as well. There was a lack of shirts, bright red tans, lots of faded and stretched tattoos, and beer guts you could rest a tray or two of beer on. And that was the ladies. The men were really scary. 

Myself and my father in law scuttled off and watched the Grand Prix in the living room as we were scared for our lives. We hoped that it would all end soon. Whilst watching the television, we witnessed the best advert for contraception we had ever seen. Not on the TV, but in the room. A young mother with her three year old in tow who was a little restless / destructive / feral / “Damian from the omen” came flying into the living room – a room which was bad enough to start off with as it was full of stuffed animals, but then became the scene for the worst display of motherhood I have ever seen. In order to placate her restless offspring, the following words came out of her mouth: “Do you want some cakey? I’ll go and get you some fucking cakey! Do you want some fucking cakey? Come on then, let’s go and get you some fucking cakey”. Lovely.

My wife thought that I was going to run a mile after that day, but I fancied the bollox off her so I let it slide 😂

Fast forward 12 years and I still can’t get over the “cakey” woman, but I was starting to look like one of those chaps; save for the tattoos and the menacing look. I can’t really do menacing, but I was starting to do fat rather well. Something had to change. So on this occasion I did decide to run, and more than a mile.

I started off by signing up for the London Winter 10k and a 10k around Dorney lake. I didn’t come last in the first one as there were about 10,000 people doing it, but I almost had a coronary trying to make it around. At Dorney lake there was a smaller field and I came third last. A somewhat overweight lady and a man in his seventies being the only two people I could outrun. I was not the epitome of health. I have expunged all pictures from the Winter 10k from the interweb, but I kept evidence of my Dorney run to make sure I never end up like that again:

I almost didn’t make it around the lake the second time – I had to dig deep to manage more than the initial 5k and that shocked me. I used to be able to run a marathon. Well like six years before. I’d done close to fuck all since 2016.

Like all normal people, I thought I’d sign up to a bunch more races, so in 2022 I did the following events:

London Winter RunLondon Duathlon Half
Windsor & Eton 10k Lake RunBristol Half Marathon
Vitality London 10kVirtual London Marathon
Henley Trail Run 10kOxford Half Marathon
ASICS London 10kMarlow Half Marathon

These tallied up to a grand total of 110 miles and helped me lose three stone. I’ll post an “after” pic once I have a six pack (so never then).

In 2023 I thought I’d go one louder, so I signed up to a few more half-marathons and a couple of marathons. Then Damian Tinsley emailed me about The Thames Path Challenge. The bastard. At the start of 2022 I could barely make it around a pan flat 10k race. “I’ve come a long way since then!” I thought. “I can do something really bloody stupid now!” I thought. So I signed up to run a 100k race in September. I originally thought: “What the hell have I done?”, but then I thought that I should really enter some more races to ensure that I am fit enough to complete it. So I entered these for 2023:

London Winter Run 10kAsics London 10k
Thames Meander MarathonThames Path Ultra Challenge 100k
Reading Half MarathonOxford Half Marathon
Maidenhead Easter 10mMarlow Half Marathon
Virtual London MarathonWindsor Trail Marathon
RideLondon-Essex 100Run Dorney Half
Cotswold Ultra 53k<fill this space with something daft>

Ok, so one of them is a bike ride, but that’s a total of 350 miles I’ve signed up for. I’ve already run a PB for the 10k, and knocked out a 4:26 marathon which is only 20 minutes slower than I managed in 2010 when I was really fit. Today I ran a 10m race in 1:27 which is starting to get into pretty decent territory. What’s more is that I’ve done this whilst running on Quetiapine that has a fairly evil sedative effect. Kind of the opposite of doping. A lot of people complain about how tired this makes them feel and how much weight they put on. But I am not a lot of people.

My aim this year is to do the Windsor Trail Marathon in under four hours, do the Dorney Half in 1:45 (which is not much longer than it took me to do 10k at the start of 2022), and make it round the Ultras somehow.

I was really scared about what I have signed up for, but now I am looking forward to all of them. Well all of them apart from the Cotswold Ultra 53k which is only half the distance of the Thames Path one, but it is up and down hills. Lots of them. No flat bits. Just hills. That is quite scary. And a 100 mile bike race – that is also a little scary. And the 100k race – that’s just stupid. I’m sure I’ll love them once I’ve done them. You’ll be able to visit me in the psychiatric ward once I’ve finished. I’ll be the one sat in the corner dribbling onto my medals. 

I know this is really boring for anyone else to read, but I am really bloody proud of myself. I took myself from a really, really dark place at the end of 2021, to feeling close to the best I have ever done in my entire life. Well, at least right now anyway. My mood can shift fairly quickly, but it has been quite good for three months which I’m happy with. And then there is the near death experience every night – that isn’t so good. I must get that sorted out. But apart from that life is good.

One of the people who has inspired me over the last six or seven years is Ben Smith from the 401 Foundation. He ran 401 marathons in 401 days to raise money for anti-bullying charities and now raises money for local mental health initiatives. When I can, I raise money for his charity, and being part of his 401 Club has really helped me over the last couple of years. Not just for helping push me forward, but also because there are a great bunch of people who support each other in the club, and on occasion get to meet up.

Ben Smith – Total Legend

He is a proper athlete who completed his first GB Ultras 50 mile race today and said it was tough (although he smashed it). I’ve entered a 62 mile race and am way older and less fit than him. Shit. I’ve a long way to go.


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