Fast Forward To The Next Challenge

Hello, I’m back! I know I haven’t written anything for a while. I was using that common excuse of “When have I got the time?” I say that whilst I’m a solid four episodes into a series on Netflix! But I’ve been inspired again recently to prioritise what’s important to me and to do what makes me happy. So here I am!

But on reflection, I’ve been nonstop since my clots! I started full time work, I’ve been studying for my personal training qualification, learning how to drive (passed second time), training and trying to fit in a social life. It’s been quite a juggling act. One thing that hasn’t changed though, is my love for running. Today, I’m sat here on the sofa drinking a fit cup of tea, a day before my biggest running challenge. I’m so excited to race, I’m struggling to keep myself chilled.

Last year I wanted to give road running a go. I raced a few 10 km and 5 mile races. I even finished third in the east midlands road running league. It was fun and more importantly I got my love for racing again. With my race winnings, I brought some new running kit and some cross country spikes! I thought I might as well give cross country a go again! I had a surprisingly strong run at the first Chiltern league in Oxford, which got me selected for the Milton Keynes A team at the national cross country relays. Unfortunately I didn’t perform well in that race. But it was quite an achievement to be back running in national events when a year ago I wasn’t even walking! I had planned to do the whole cross country season. However, in true Mel fashion, a freak incident put a stop to that! (I should probably invest in some health insurance). At the time it was really painful and scary. But looking back, it is actually quite funny.

It was 3.30 am. I was half asleep. All I can remember is stretching and for some reason I grabbed my head, then suddenly there was a massive crack. From that moment on, I couldn’t move. I screamed, I honestly thought I had paralysed myself. I was screaming because of the pain, and I needed to get the attention of my parents. But they couldn’t hear me. I could only move my arms. Luckily my phone was by my hand, so I phoned the house phone. I could hear my mum saying “Oh no who’s died now”. I screamed, “Please help me!” I was in so much pain, I honestly don’t know how the human body could cope with that amount of pain. Any movement would cause painful spasms shooting into my neck and down my shoulder. The doctors said I had wry neck, and I was put on some very strong pain killers. And after seeing the physio they said that I had damaged ligaments in my neck.

By the time I was able to run and feel better again it was late December. That’s when I decided that I was going to write off my cross country season and set myself a new challenge. With full time work I’ve always struggled to get consistency with my training. I work random shifts which means I have no set routine. I wanted my new running goal to be one where I had to really properly train and not just get to race day and wing it, like I did with some of my 10 kms last year! So I entered the MK Festival of running half marathon. Since the day I entered the race, it was like something had clicked, not my neck this time lol, but figuratively. I was more focused. I knew I had to get the training in, I made no more excuses. I’ve trained smarter not harder. For the first time in years, I’ve actually trained consistently.

I don’t know how tomorrow’s half marathon will go. To be honest I don’t care. It’s served its purpose. I actually feel fit and healthy. Which means I can believe in myself and plan races for this summer. Maybe even race on the track! I don’t think the half marathon will be my distance. But (hopefully) when I cross the finish line tomorrow there will be no better feeling, because it will mean that I have seen a goal through from start to finish. And of course, I’ll have the luck of the Irish tomorrow.

If Not Now, When?

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love stationery and checklists. I rarely go shopping without buying a new notebook from Wilkos! I’m obsessed with being organised. There’s no better feeling than writing a list and ticking it all off. I’m one of those people that if I do something that isn’t even on my list I purposely write it down and tick it off! (It must be the perfectionist in me!)

When 2018 started I wrote a list of resolutions that I wanted to achieve. And I’ve stuck them in my diary so I am reminded of what they are everyday. I made a promise to myself to achieve all of them by 2019! Some are generic like be happy, but some are more challenging! And I’m pleased to say that after 4 months I’ve finally ticked off my first New Year’s resolution! I’ve bought a car! Not just any car, my dream Fiat!!! (I did want a Fiat 500 but when comparing it to the panda I went for the panda instead!). I’m so happy. I’ve worked really hard and now I’ve got my perfect Perrie panda! (My cars nickname lol).

I’ve also entered a few races starting in May! In all honesty I’m not that fit. Training has improved and I’ve been far more consistent over the past couple of weeks, which is a huge positive. I simply need to just keep putting in the hard work, day in day out now which will take time. But I thought I’ve got to start somewhere in terms of racing. And I want to start challenging myself and give my training some purpose. My first race is 10km, which I’ve never raced before. I don’t know how fast I can run it but all I need to do is finish it and it’ll be a PB! YAY! That will mean another resolution can be ticked off! Technically I suppose it’s a grey area if it counts as a PB. But I’m going to take it nonetheless!

It’s important to stay focused on what you want out of life no matter how realistic or dream like that might be. Life is short and time waits for no one! So if not now, when?

Patience Is A Virtue

Life can change really quickly. One day you’re smashing life, works going well and training improving. Then the next day you’re back in the hospital and booking doctors’ appointments for the next coming month. Well, that’s what happened to me. It feels like I struggle to be healthy for more than a couple of weeks! It’s incredibly frustrating. It was all going so well (as I said in my last blog!) I was working hard, squatting my heart out and starting to feel like I was getting much stronger. Even my runs were getting faster! Then all of a sudden I was working and I lost feeling in the left-hand side of my body. My blood clot leg was aching and I was standing like a flamingo. Reaching for my inhaler to try and mask the pain. This pain is different from before. It’s not sharp it’s like a dull ache. It even effects my arm. Both limbs just go dead, there’s no other way to describe the sensation. This is the third time I’ve had this happen to me since my clots in September. It’s quite scary. It’s hard not to think “Hello clots are back in town!” But this time I thought it was only sensible to go to the hospital to get it sorted and hopefully to put my mind at rest. I send my parents the text they’re so used to receiving nowadays. “Hey, have you got any plans tonight? I need to go to the hospital again lol.” My parents and I are experienced hospital goers now. We pop home so I can get my laptop so I can crack on with some work whilst waiting to be seen and we pack a feast of snacks and 2 litres of water for the evening.

At the hospital I was more scared that my clots were back that I didn’t even think that losing feeling in the whole left side of my body was anything to worry about. I waited in the waiting room with my Dad, in what felt like the hottest room known to man. It felt like I was in a sauna! But the long wait did mean I managed to write two more pages of the book that I’m writing and I finished a promo video for work! After three hours, I was called in and I absolutely loved the doctor who saw me. He was so knowledgeable and he looked like a nutty professor who kept swearing and used an Ikea tape measure to measure my calves to see if they were swollen. He reassured me that I’m clot free, and that basically my leg will continue to hurt for the foreseeable future because in clots terms it’s still early days. It was funny because he said that he sees the same people every week because they are so paranoid their clots have come back (Glad it wasn’t just me lol). It just shows how awful the experience is when you get a clot. The paranoia consumes you. At this point, I decided to myself to let the fear of getting clots again go. Otherwise it’ll only affect me and will always be in the back of mind. And that’s not healthy for anyone! As I was about to get up and leave, he then proceeded to talk about my body numbness. Turns out it’s not normal lol! I basically need to have tests to find out why I keep losing feeling in my left side. Hopefully it is something as innocent as a migraine without the headache! But they want to double check that the medication I was on for the clots hasn’t affected me in other ways. So I have a neurology appointment in April. I’m mixing it up a bit this time though, I’ll be going to Milton Keynes hospital! What fun! I’m a bit scared to have a head scan, but it is what it is and I’ll get through it with a smile on my face.

I’ll be honest it’s hard to be positive sometimes. I’ve really struggled this week. The knock backs are hard to keep taking. Its feels like I’m mentally stronger than my body. I’m ready to push on in life and training. But it’s like my body can’t keep up. So for now all I can do is be patient. I live in hope that my stubborn determination to never give up and my bounce back ability will pay off at some point!

Back To The Future

The first month and a bit of the new year has been full of delightful surprises! I feel like my life has changed again in such a small amount of time it’s cray cray! But wow I’m loving 2018! So where to begin? I’ll start with the best news I could possibly wish for. At the beginning of January I received a phone call from my haematology Doctor who informed me that I can officially come off my medication for my blood clots! YAY! No more setting my 5pm alarm every day to remind me to take my tablet and have a snack (My daily snack I’ll keep going though, I’ll miss eating my packet of crisps lol). At first I was buzzing, I felt free and that I was finally getting better! But soon enough paranoia kicked in. I was scared that all that was stopping me from developing another clot now, is my compression sock. I never want to go through that pain and stress ever again. The medication kept my mind at rest that I couldn’t possibly develop any more blood clots. But now I’m off of the meds. It’s vital that I keep my health and mental wellbeing as positive and healthy as can be. I’m ensuring I drink about 2 litres a day so I’m always hydrated and I’m having some me time in-between my busy schedule of full time work and training. I don’t want to feel burnt out again or mentally exhausted. By taking all these precautions I feel the little paranoid thought of getting anymore blood clots have subsided. Now I’m feeling really excited about my future plans and goals. I’m using the past heartbreak and pain to spur me on and I’m more determined to achieve success in every aspect of my life.

Once I got the all clear to stop taking my meds. I decided now’s the time to start upping my training. I mean there’s nothing holding me back anymore, so why not?! Like an excitable child on Christmas Day, I upped my training. Unfortunately my sensible head was away on holiday that week and I ran with my heart. I tried to run the highest mileage week since pre clot (It was nothing special but I was aiming for 30 miles) and I was also attempting to fit in three faster sessions (I’d only done a handful of faster sessions during my recovery), it actually gets worse….. I also wanted one of those said faster sessions to be completed on the track, which I haven’t stepped foot on since August last year (I’m face palming at my stupidity). As you can predict when I was hitting the back straight of the track on the forth 800m rep, my (“good”) calf completely pulled up. I hobbled back and it was in that moment that my brain came back off vaycay and I realised that I’d totally overdone it. I was gutted for a day. But the new positive thinking Mel kicked in. I took a step back and reflected on what I want to achieve and how I could realistically go about achieving it. So I made some decisions about my athletics. From the whole clot experience I’ve realised that I’m happy simply just putting one foot in front of another. But if I keep getting injured then I’m not going to be able to do what makes me happiest of all. I need to eliminate the injury risks. I’ve decided, for this year anyway, to step away from the track and focus on the road, and depending on my health, aim for a cross country season. I’ll try racing longer distances like 10km and maybe even a half marathon (if I’m brave/fit enough!). This break from track isn’t a permanent decision. I feel like I need to get stronger physically (It’s a good job I now work in a gym) before I can wear spikes and hit top speed. I’ll be racing distances and on a surface that I’m not experienced in, it’s a brand new challenge. I can set myself new PB’s and targets. I’m so excited! This decision also helped me make another one! I’ve joined my old athletics club! I’m back home at Milton Keynes. It’s where my heart is and where the best memories I have of the sport I love are. I can’t wait to start racing for them again! And of course me being me, I do have my eye on some club records lol! Sometimes in life you just have to go back to where you came from. Change is good sometimes as it keeps things fresh and helps to make you focus on what you want out of life.

I feel like a new person and that a weight lifted off of my shoulders when 2017 ended. All the negative energy of the past year vanished as soon as 2018 started. I’ve started the year surrounded by my amazing and supportive family, friends and boyfriend (another surprise 2018 brought me lol). I’ve actually got running goals and planned races for the summer! There is so much more to look forward to, I’d probably bore you if I was to list them all. But for now I’m going to keep working hard and let’s hope this fab start to the year continues!

Goodbye 2017!

Starting a new year fills me with such so much happiness. Hands down 2017 has been the worst year of my life. But in some ways it has been a year that’s taught me the most about life, people and myself. I like to think that this year has changed me for the better. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t wait to see the back of it and I’m definitely going to drink too much prosecco to celebrate the fact that I’ve survived the year…..just about!

It’s hard not to feel reflective when one year ends and a fresh new one starts. 2017 hasn’t been all bad. I graduated, started to learn how to drive, found my love for running again, got a new job (2 in fact lol) and my beautiful niece Orla was born. As much as I don’t want to write about the negatives because that’s not how I want to roll. I will say this. I’ve learnt that life is about being happy and healthy. It sounds cliché and yes I know everyone says it. I mean there’s probably a cheap plaque with this quote on it, being sold in B and M bargains. But I truly know the meaning of this now. There’s been a few times in the past couple of months that have stopped me in my tracks and made me realise how far I’ve come and how life events have changed me.

The first moment was when I was picking my mum up from work. I just blurted out randomly “I didn’t realise it wasn’t normal to not be happy every day.” When I was living at uni with my narcissist boyfriend, I hated waking up. I didn’t want to face the day. I know now that I lived every day for 3 years feeling unhappy and not even finding joy in the most simplest of things, like when your jam comes on at work or eating a family bar of aero to yourself. Now I wake up most days (I’m only human after all, sometimes life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns) buzzing and ready to be sassy with whatever the day brings.

The second realisation was when I started my first new job, which I didn’t particularly enjoy. I had to stand at the reception desk (they wouldn’t let me sit down for the 8.5 hour shift, despite giving them a doctor’s note stating that I had to because of my clots!) and I started getting this achy pain in my chest. I thought to myself “ahh no I must be stressed!” that’s when it dawned on me that I hadn’t felt this pain in a while. But I had suffered from this pain in my chest for the last 6 months of my time at uni. I was solidly stressed with my dissertation and being in a mentally abusive relationship. This meant that the smallest things would make me stressed. Because looking back I wasn’t coping with life very well. I was a shell of myself. Struggling mentally, I felt old before my time and it was like I had a chimp on my back. After that stressed filled shift, I decided to search for another job. Because I didn’t want to sacrifice my health, life is too short to be wasting time doing something that doesn’t make you happy. And you’re only young for a short amount of time, so go out there be yourself and go after what you want. Going for a new job after only 2 months is not like me at all. I’m stubborn and won’t quit anything. I mean take university. I hated that for 3 years, but my pig headedness meant that I finished it and it destroyed me in the process. I really have got a perspective of what really matters. Now I’m in a job that I love and enjoy! In the past quitting or changing my situation I would have thought I was being weak and letting myself down. But changing jobs has given my life more value and happiness.

My next pause for thought came when I was watching old family videos. I was watching me as a 10 year old running and joking. To put it simply I was bonkers and fearless. I was singing and dancing in public all the time! It’s sad as we get older we become more bogged down. I decided to make a promise to myself. Be the person my younger self would want me to be. And although I’m not totally there yet. I feel like I’m becoming that fearless women again.

At the end of October I decided to have a clear out of my phone. I kept getting that annoying message pop up that said I had no storage left! So I transferred all my pictures onto my laptop. I had 500 pictures. Mainly from my birthday night out, nothing beats a snapchat selfie with your best friend! But there was a picture of me taken the week before my dissertation deadline. I actually remember taking it. It was 2am, I had just had a mini breakdown so I thought why not take selfie lol? I honestly looked ill. I’m not brave enough to share this horrific selfie with you. However, I was grey, my eyes purple from lack of sleep. My hair flat and greasier than a family bucket at KFC. When I saw this picture it shook me how ill I looked, that I cried. I couldn’t believe that I could neglect my health and mental wellbeing so much. I was dead behind my eyes. So another promise to myself. Nothing would ever get me that unhappy ever again.

The last moment came on November 15th, it was the day the Victoria Secret store opened in Milton Keynes. And I went up there by myself and spent £150 on new underwear. Why is this significant? Well, because this is when I realised how controlling my ex was. (He didn’t let me spend my OWN hard earned money on myself, or anyone else for that matter, then he would shout at me regularly and ignored me for a few weeks because I had some savings! I simply couldn’t do anything right) So here I was in the most luxurious lingerie shop buying myself £150 worth of the fittest underwear for myself because it makes me feel good about myself (plus I wanted the free tote bag lol). I felt empowered. I can do what I want when I want. I’m in control of my life.

2017 has been a year of lessons and mistakes. But I’ve come through it a stronger and more positive person. I’ll approach 2018 as a new better version of myself. My goals are to be driving my smooth green Fiat 500. Then run a PB in any distance. And in my end of season break jet off to New York (staying at the Hilton of course!) to spend my own money in Nike. 2018 I can’t wait to be sassy with you!

Full Circle

Another day off work spent at the hospital. It seems like it’s the norm now to work, then when I have a day off I treat myself by going to the Doctors or hospital. I spend so much of my spare time at my local Doctors I’m bffs with the receptionists. But this hospital visit is different. I’m finally getting my answers. Why did I get my blood clots? It’s the day of my haematology appointment. I’m sat in the waiting room and like déjà vu I’m the youngest in there by about 30 years. Because of the snow the Doctor is late. So I’m sat drinking a lush cup of tea that the receptionist made me, whilst listening to Elvis Presley on the radio. I can’t help but smile as Elvis was my Nan’s favourite. I automatically feel more relaxed.

The appointment was pretty simple. I just had to explain what happened and my life story. I almost felt like saying “Just read my blog love, it explains everything!” I continue to recite my first blog to her, whilst my mum added in about my family history of blood clots. 15 minutes of talking and getting checked over. The conclusions were in (drum roll please). There were three causes. The main one being the pill. As soon as I discovered I had the clots back in September I had to come off the pill straight away. I had been on it for about 8 years and stupidly I didn’t use it correctly. I was very good at “forgetting to take a break” sometimes I went 40 odd days without stopping! (Insert monkey covering eyes emoji here!). The second reason was hereditary. I shouldn’t have even been put on the pill in first place because of my family history with blood clots! Then lastly it was dehydration. This doesn’t surprise me. I neglected my health when I was trying to complete my Uni degree. Then spent a large amount of time sobbing about certain life events after I graduated but I still carried on trying to force myself to train when honestly I wasn’t physically or mentally capable of pushing myself. I was far too stubborn to stop running. Looking back now I was so stressed, I’m not surprised my health went downhill.

My appointment finished at 10 am. I looked at my mum we were both thinking the same thing. “Let’s go and get that McDonalds breakfast.” It sounds silly but I actually got emosh eating my double sausage and egg mcmuffin. It was like I’d done a full circle. I couldn’t help reflect on what a journey this year has been. But I’ve come through it a stronger and wiser person.

So what now? Well, I have to continue my meds for a little bit longer. I have to be careful if I go on a long haul flight, potentially having to have injections in my legs before my travels. If I’m lucky enough to jet off on holiday anywhere. Also, not that I’m planning to pop one out anytime soon but I’d have to take medication if I ever get preggers. The clots are still there as they take such a long time to go! Basically, it’s simply something that I’ll have to monitor and be aware of for the rest of my life. I’ll continue to spend my days off at the Doctors until at least February. This week I’m having an ECG to check my innocent heart murmur. As my heart rate is quite low at the moment! (Running against the heart murmur doesn’t have the same ring to it!) But hopefully that is nothing to worry about. Maybe it’s me getting some kind of fitness back (I can dream lol). Getting closure on my clots has made me feel like I can really push on with my life and training. I’m feeling positive and more determined than ever. So let’s do this!

Back To Basics

I’m happiest when I’m running, especially if it’s raining. Because when the weather is bad, in that moment it feels like you’re the only person in the world to be out running. You feel hard core because staying in and watching EastEnders would’ve been the easier option (especially when you have a secret crush on Max Branning!). But you chose to run instead. So when the Doctor told me I’d need at least 4 weeks’ rest it was pretty gutting, but unfortunately I’m fairly used to having time off training due to all the injuries. But this time was different, it wasn’t a simple injury. It was more serious. I had no choice but to accept the time off and treat my comeback to running and the clots with patience and respect. I knew I’d have to start entirely from scratch, because even walking at the time was impossible, due to the pain! But cruelly I wasn’t allowed to put my leg up and binge watch box sets for over a month. I had to force myself to walk every hour. I was in so much pain, but I had to ironically not listen to my body, and fight against it just to take one step. The first couple of days I couldn’t walk without holding on to my dad whilst screaming every time my left leg touched the floor. My first target I set myself was to walk the whole duration of the advert breaks whilst watching Coronation Street (it was a Wednesday so EastEnders wasn’t on lol). Through the tears and after losing my voice in the process, I managed to achieve my target!

Luckily the medication and pain killers kicked in, and after a week and a half I set target number two! I walked to my local shop which is just under a mile each way, unaided and as a reward I bought myself a packet of frazzles. It took about an hour to complete the walk. But it really felt like a break through moment. After that milestone, I then set myself a goal to walk 5000-8000 steps a day. Don’t get me wrong, the leg was still painful and twitching constantly, but it was starting to get more bearable. So when it came to my 4 week check up at the hospital, where I was given Sally the sexy compression sock, I also received the good news that I could run! However, because Sally the sock was incredibly tight, it caused me so much pain in my leg, it was like day one all over again! So speed dial to my DVT nurse, and was told I have to wait another week to be able to run to let the pain subside. I’m usually a really impatient person. I’m usually like, “I want to be fit, I want to race well now, I want to buy an Aston Martin now” that kind of thing! But this time I had to do what’s best for me and my recovery, and that is to be patient. That’s one of the main things I’ve learnt about this whole experience. I’ve learnt to be more relaxed about life and not sweat the small stuff. Which has actually really changed my life for the better!

After what felt like ten years, my extra week off was over, my leg pain settled down. I put my running kit on, dusted off my trainers and with music blasting through my ears I started to …..walk. I was scared to run ok! I admit it, I was nervous. I was thinking what if I can’t remember how to run? What if I fall over? But as my irrational thinking was starting to get out of hand. ‘Don’t stop me now’ by Queen came on my iPod and just like that I started to run. Anyone closest to me knows the significance of this song to me. I can’t race without listening to it. I was even cool enough to share my love for this song and wrote to Athletics Weekly when I was 13 and won letter of the week (I’d do anything to delay doing my maths homework!). That day I ended up running 8×1 minute run/walk. But most importantly my leg was ok!

From then I kept to the same pattern, mixing up the training with running and walking. But the biggest difficulty I have when I run now is that at any time I start to get a dead leg. It’s a really weird sensation. My overall power on my left side has decreased generally. But it’s like my left leg is almost on a delay, so as I tire I start scuffing the ground with my trainers. When I hear this more than 3 times, it’s like an alarm clock to say that I’ve got about 3 minutes running left in me. But 3 and a bit weeks later I can now run 5 miles! I know this is baby mileage but for now I’m celebrating how far I’ve come. My leg is starting to get stronger and more responsive too! I still have to take each day at a time, because working as well as training my whole left side gets tired quickly. So I have to take extra rest days throughout the week. I’m hoping by the end of December I’ll be able to put together a more normal consistent training week. But for now I might try and jog a park run and I need to start hitting the gym! (It’s all about the squats!). I know it’ll be a long slow journey but I’m excited to see what the future holds in every aspect of my life!