Sunday, 25 October 2009


It has been a long time since I last wrote - several months in fact. When life sucks you in like that it is either for good or for bad... Well, things have been tough.

As my dad's health has continued to deteriorate the family has come together more than ever. We are trying to do what families do best, as well as replace all the jobs that dedicated medical professionals should be doing, from administering injections to changing urine bags. We have even had to make diagnoses, through the lack of advice and readily available doctors. One big mess!

Aside from that every day is a roller coaster. The say bad things come in threes, but in our case it seems more like 30. Following my mum's accident in a car two weeks ago, and on the way to pick up the car from the panel beater, Duncan had an accident. To top it all up, my brother crashed his car two days later...

During positive times I keep the faith. I believe in the goodness of life, in the fact that bad times pass and in live in the hope that it will make us stronger. Stronger individually and collectively. Stronger as a couple, as a family, as people.

But during bad times I sink.


I have started to run again. Slowly and with breaks still but I can now run up to 40 mins in one day without pain. Some days. Others I have pain just walking or sitting - yet it is a lot better than before. In a metaphor for life, this overcoming of my injury, yes slowly and painfully and not without struggle or setbacks, but essentially overcoming, gives me hope.

As do good news: the birth of a baby by my friend A, who despite complications is now one super-mum! My friend C finding a job again after several difficult months of unemployment. The clouds do lift, it seems. In due course.

Friday, 24 July 2009

A busy week in the woods

Duncan and I have had a very busy week that has included hiking, camping, MRIs, sticking needles into my legs, cycling, running, seeing doctors and generally having a good old time.

The main purpose of the visit was to see a wonderful sports doctor up north in the city of Ioanning, who could help me with my back and other pain issues. However, as the area is one of the most beautiful in Greece, with forests and rivers, lakes and mountains it was only fair that we included some exploration and activities in nature. It was also a good idea as between tests and doctors' visits there was a lot of time to kill.

Now for the science part: The good news is that my two herniated discs seem to have gone into the subacute phase. That is wonerful and I was very relieved to discover that. The problem is that despite that I still have crippling sciatica. However, my nerves don't seem to have any permanent damage, despite the pain and weakness of reflexes. So... it seems that now the problem lies deep within my glutes, in a small muscle called piriformis. Those of you familiar with triathlon, running or cycling know exactly what I mean... I have chronic piriformis syndrome, whereby my muscle is choking the sciatic nerve (which at that point is as thick at an index finger would you believe it). Treatment is going to be multifactorial but I am hopeful and ready to start!

Aside from that the week was wonderful - we went climbing up mountains, camped by rivers, walked across mountain plateaus (chased by what seemed to be a million flies), saw bear tracks, met some wonderful people, slept in mountain refuges and generally had a wonderful time. Duncan and I have not had a honeymoon yet but this holiday felt like one (though probably not most people's idea of one).

Back in Athens things are a bit tougher with my dad's health taking a turn for the worse. Don't want to write much now until we know more, but worry is eating me up inside. Knowledge is power, I feel, and at the moment we are in the dark.

If anyone reading this has any suggestions for treating chronic piriformis syndrome please let me know.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


I am heading up North tomorrow, to go see the doctor who first diagnosed me. I have a million questions and a lot of observations to discuss with him. I am full of hope, though I am uncertain what exactly I am hoping for. Of course to get better, but I am not sure how...

I know there are many ways to treat herniated discs, and people have been asking me a lot why I am not having surgery. The point is that although short term, surgery would probably help, in the long term - that is in 5+ years- the prognosis is not good. I will only be 34 by then and I am expecting to be leading as active a lifestyle as I can, not having spinal fusion... So trying to keep of the surgery for as long as I can.

The day to day change is imperceptible, but it's true that I have got better and the pain is never bad enough to keep me up at night any more- that seems to be one way of measuring it.

So... let's see what the next few days bring... Fingers crossed!

Sunday, 5 July 2009


Today is the day I should have been out there, in Frankfurt, swimming, cycling and riding. A weight hangs on me today. I try and keep perspective, I try very hard to be happy for those who today manage to realise their dreams. But all I have is sadness, for the death of my dream.

Where is the magnanimity I normally possess, the life perspective I always keep? Where is the gratitude for all I have? Where is my strength to fight and go on and the belief that one day maybe I too will be able to race my race?

There is no fight. No noble feelings. No sympathy or gratitude. I wish with all my heart I could let go of the dream and live a life full of other dreams. I wish I could be happy for all my friends who are racing today. And yet I can't.

And it's not about today. It's about the fact that the longer I am away from it, the least likely it seems that I will ever be able to race again. A Marathon? I have enough pain after running 400 meters at the moment. A good day on the track is one when I can run 5 laps (2km) and still sleep at night.

Do I dare keep dreaming? Do I look forward to the day when I can again? Or do I strive to let go?

Monday, 22 June 2009

Life lessons

I have not had much time to write lately, I have been too busy learning some big life lessons. I have been exhausted and stressed, but I have also been getting glimpses of what life really is about and of what matters.

The biggest lessons and the most important ones, I am receiving, predictably, from my mum and dad. I am lucky to be here to witness how my dad is dealing with cancer, pain and the loss of so many things. To witness how my mum can help him. And also to witness how life goes on for everyone else, no matter what is happening on a personal level.

Lesson number 1: Pain and fear.
My father has been in extreme pain for about 6 months. Not on and off pain. Not the sort of pain you can sleep and forget. The kind of pain that cannot be treated and that has been with him 24/7. When he was in hospital for the second (or was it the third time) I went to see him one night and make sure he was well enough to sleep. I found him in agony. The level of pain was so high that an epidural, morphine and Tramadol were of no help. He was crying and clenching his teeth in bed and asking God 'why me'. It was hard to see and not knowing what to do I called his doctor, at home, despite the late hour. He was pleased to hear me and he told me that if he had the pains my father has endured he would have killed himself 6 months ago. He then sent the anaesthitist to give him something else. He eventually drifted into a sleep and I left, shaken yet relieved.
My dad is very strong, yet now, after his last surgery, which promises to be the one to make him better, he is extremely scared of pain. As an endurance athlete we learn to work with pain and to block it out, yet in my father, who has lived with it for the last few months, I saw a fear of pain. When we went in to take some of his stitches out today, I could see in his eyes he was so scared of hurting. He begged the doctor not to hurt him and cried, saying he could not take any more pain. I wonder if we are made to only be able to endure a certain level before being scared of it. I wonder if this fear will go away as he forgets. And I wonder if there are pain levels we simply cannot embrace.
The lesson is his resilience. His courage and his bravery in dealing with all that is happening. His nerve, his dreams and his will to have a normal life. Yes, he is tired. Yes, he has been in pain. But he is still able to laugh, to dream and to make plans to take us out on his boat when he is strong again. I only wish that the day comes soon.

Lesson 2: Love

My mum and dad had been married for 22 years before he seperated. Now, 6 years later they are back together and with a deep love and appreciation for each other that they never had before. It has been a big lesson to me, the love of that woman, my mother, towards her husband. She has told me, though she didn't need to say it as er actions are louder than words, that the most important thing is love and the people you love. She has taken care of him night and day and has given him, and that is his statement, exactly what he has needed. She has given him strength and courage when he had none. And I can see their deep love for each other in everything they do.
As my marriage begins, I not only hope, but I strongly believe, that we too can keep perspective in our relationship and in our life. We don't sweat the small stuff, but feel grateful for the gift of life and love (it sounds corny, but I strongly believe in that). And that is the present my parents gave me and my husband on our wedding day.

Lesson 3: Teaching and learning

I have always maintained that I learn from my pupils. Children have a resilience that I envy and a thirst for life that rejuvenates me. I consider myself lucky to be able to do the job I do (I am a primary school teacher) and I feel privileged that these kids let me into their worlds and lives. Often they teach me how to approach life and I have wanted to write about that - an entry called happiness.
Occasionaly however, they teach me something big. I made the mistake to ask a leading question on Tuesday, obviously fishing for an answer to help me introduce a topic. The question was: 'What is the biggest present you can give somebody?' Some kids become very good at answering questions the way adults want them to and sure enough, I had several hands up. A little girl successfully gave me the answer that I was after: 'Love'. I was ready to start my "teaching" but a hand at the back was not going down. I had to ask the little girl, one of my most charismatic pupils, what she had in mind. In a small, yet certain voice, she said: 'It depends on what the other person needs'. And she is so right. 'If a person is in the desert dying of thirst, the biggest present is surely water', she continued. Think about that. Think about what the little girl of seven knew. Think about that in your every day lives, in your relationships... If only we were all a bit more aware of what others need and not just of what we want to give.

I have come out of quite a dark time with the help of those around me, my husband, my close friends, my family and the spiritual guidance of D's mum who helped me at a very difficult time. Thank you to those for knowing what to give me exactly when I needed it. The sun is shining again and I feel happy, grateful and ready to live life. My mountain bike was riden again after months of rest. :)

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Random thoughts...

The last couple of weeks have floored me. I have felt like I have been in a tunnel and cannot see the light. Well, the good news is, the light is finally there! My dad is out of hospital and hopefully in the care of a decent doctor who will help him recover. The wedding was cancelled, then brought forward in a mere 24 hours. Work seems to be going well, despite lack of sleep and physical and emotional exhaustion. All is good!

My dad has been in hospital. Not first world hospitals where you get nurses and people to assist you when you need something, but a Greek hospital, where your relatives are your nurse. I am getting more and more disillusioned with this place and this experience confirmed that. The statistics I read this week, also helped: Greece has the highest tax and NI contributions of about 150 countries surveyed, at 46% for a married couple with no children with only one income! Yet we have the lowest spending for health, education and welfare!!! And topping the corruption list (with 26% of people saying that they bribe regularly to have jobs done) followed by Mexico with 22%. The counrty coming third has 8%... 

I think Greece has lost the game and change is not imminent, nor -it seems some days- possible. I despair.

Ok, so this was going to be a post about the last few weeks... I have been feeling exhausted, yet spend half my time feeling hyper. Can't sleep. Haven't been able to exercise much - a swim here and there, some gym work and some Pilates at home. 

The back has been better, I am told because of the weather. I have stayed away from activities I know aggravate it, but the patterns seem all wrong lately and the pain seems to have moved to lower down in my leg. Have not had time to call my doctor. 

Goals for the next week: get three swimming sessions in, organise wedding, finish reports, get married. 

Trying to keep it simple and concentrate on the essentials! 

Monday, 11 May 2009

The personal stuff...

I have been off for a while. Fighting personal demons... and various viral infections. As with my immune system, my resistence to the little, everyday hardships of life seems greatly diminished at the moment. I occasionally look at myself and see a bitter, stressed and generally not very happy person. Not only do I not like it, I also know that the people around me are getting affected by it. 

I don't know if it is my lack of training and racing that is making me unhappy, or some other deep seated something... What I do know is that I choose not to live like this. So I'm back. And I am ready to be happy. To be able to get up in the morning and be glad to be alive. Ok... so I don't have my runs and rides, that heightened sense of well-being I used to get after a hard run on the mountain, or the beautiful feeling after a long summer's day on the saddle. I might or might not have it again. But my life cannot be ruled by that.

And so I need to concentrate on all the positives. Because I am not a quitter. Tri might or might not come. But I can still be active, albeit not to the same degree. 

My walk today was painful. My foot went numb only after 12 minutes of race-walking. The good news is, the pain went away after I got back and rested. Walking the Marathon might or might not be feasible. I have to be open and see how it goes. I need to be flexible with my goals. It could just have been the terrain - one does not normally race-walk on hills like the ones surrounding our house. So maybe I stay on the track. Again... I just need to wait and see.

I am going into this week positive. I have been enjoying swimming and I will start building up distance to see if I can complete the 5km open water swim in Lake Plastira in the summer and beat my time from last time. 

Being part at the Schiniathlon was great. Being a volunteer was hard and very emotional for me. Again. I wish I could grow out of it and leave the bitterness behind and be able to just enjoy being there. It feels like that sort of maturity is very far away from where I am at the moment.
I can aspire to that! 

Friday, 24 April 2009

The answer to my question: Thoughts from my last ride

Today might have done me a big favour. It hit me: I am not an athlete. Not in body. Not in mind. My body is weak. My mind even weaker. I have lost the will to fight for it - I am getting sick of picking up the pieces (and I am pretty sure everyone around me is too). 

Before I gave up rowing my dad had told me that the sign of the good warrior is to be able to keep going through adversity, but also to know when to give up. Wise words, coming back to haunt me. I think the time has come. After 40 mins of riding in tears, not from pain but from the realisation that I just cannot do it any more, it might be time. 

It feels like a bad break up. It feels like I have been in an emotionally abusive relationship. My affections have not been returned for two years. The sport has not been giving back - the pleasure has gone, lost in the fear of pain, the depressive state I sink to when the pain inevitably comes. Yet once in a while I get a sign, which keeps me going and traps me in the cycle. This is all probably non-sensical to most. 

Maybe I owe it to myself. Maybe I owe it to Duncan too. To strive to be happy away from sport. To define myself in some other way. 

Riddled with 'I think' and 'maybes'. I am not truly ready to let go. But maybe I need to, in order to find something else. Just like a bad relationship. 

Last ride? Maybe. 

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Life, triathlon, bugs and other stories.

Last weekend we had our first mini-tri camp (as at Schinias. I have to say that I don't normally like working weekends after a long week at school but this was different!
The weekend was aimed at beginner's who had little or no triathlon experience to practise some basic skills, not just the individual sports, but the transitions between them. The secondary aim of the course that was not mentioned in the ad (sneaky!) was to infect people with the bug. Of course we didn't know that at the time.

The weekend went well, partly because we had a great bunch of people who were very enthusiastic and keen to learn (could it just be the type of person attracted to the sport, though, I ask myself) and partly because the subject matter itself is simply awesome! Duncan and I feel very passionate about it, and I think that came across. We both love the sport and take from it different elements for our life. Duncan loves the training. He likes getting out there and doing the long hard miles on the ride. He loves running on the mountain at all times of day and has now even come to enjoy the occasional swim.

I love training too, but the cherry on the cake for me is always the race. Not in the sense of the competition itself, but the race as the goal. I love the discipline and commitment it takes to make it to the startline and, if all goes well, to the finish line too. I love the strength of mind you need to make it through a tough workout, knowing that at the end of it lies a better raceday

I loved the weekend. Every minute of it (ok... not so much the mosquito bites...)! I loved the group swim, loved the ride, loved the chat. But most of all I loved transmiting to people my passion. I think it worked too! 

My non-triathlon friends find this corny, but it is true. Tri does change your life. In a good way. It has certainly changed mine. I have taken so much from it and I feel now might be the time to show the way to other people too. Is that almost evangelical? I hope not. Join us on the beach next weekend if you fancy :)


I have been ill for the last few days. It has been going around school for weeks, I have had 80% of my class off at some point for several days each and I was dreading getting the sore throat and high temperature that seemed to be very contagious. Well, it wasn't to happen, though I fought it as much as I could, repeatedly going to school feeling pretty ill, then coming home and sleeping for 16 hours then back to school the next day. Trips had to be led, Easter eggs had to be packed, chickens had to be finished (!!). I was sent home on Friday morning with a temperature of 39.6. Spent two days in bed in absolute pain (does anyone know if radiclopathy gets worse with a fever? It certainlyfelt that way!) and I am now (after a strong dose of antibiotics) back in the land of the living. Doesn't the air smell sweet when you're well? 

Monday, 6 April 2009

What makes an athlete?

I keep asking myself - what makes an athlete? 

I have always considered myself an athlete - from my early teenage years, when I first tasted the sweet obsession that is sport, to these last couple of years through struggling with rehabilitation. In my mind that is what I am. But for others?

Physically my body still looks like an athlete's body. It's a big joke, because it looks exactly the same when I could swim, bike and run 70.3 miles in a day and then do it again next week! 

My brain is also the same. I still think about training, I plan my training as I did, I look forward to it (possibly more now than before) and I talk as I did when I was training 18 hour weeks, not 8. 

Does the race make the athlete? With the exception of a sprint I managed to sneak in last September, I have largely been in the sidelines for the last 2 years. No racing. Plans to race, but all of them foiled. Pulling out of IMDE officially this week too. 

Maybe it's the psyche that makes the athlete. And my psyche has been feeding off this time off. It has been making me stronger, though (I won't lie) I have also had dark spots when I thought I will never be the same again, I will never get to a startline in my life. I crave the training. I desire the pain of muscles straining to accomplish. I miss the mental game of pushing myself through to the next clear spot in my race. 

Because as in life so in a race you go through dark spots and you go through clear spots. What matters is that in the dark spots you remember that things are bound to change. Sooner or later.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

One foot on the ground

Walking is the new running! For  me at least. If you had told me a few years back that I would be ecstatic to have gone for a walk I would have laughed, but that's my current reality. 
I had been thinking about it for a while, as I know that moderate walking (as in walking to work, walking round the shops sort of pace) is good for my back. Both literature and my body agree on that. However every time I had tried to walk with a faster pace I always ended up running... It always seemed the obvious progression... why try and walk faster when you can just run? (The painful truth  for me was so that I could avoid sleepless nights if I could keep one foot on the ground)

Having read the international rac walking rules it all became clearer. The technique is very different to normal walking - race walking is very different. I have been practising proper race walking technique and I have found that it gives me no pain!!! No pain during my walks. No pain after either! Bingo!!

The other thing I discovered is that I could go quite fast. Ok... so not 4 min k's for me... but I could walk at a pace of 8km/hr. Of course I quickly started computing Marathon times (less than 5.15!) and Ironman cut off times. Ok... so the IM might have to wait until I can sit comfortably on a bike for a bit longer than 2 hours... but the Marathon would be a challenge.  

That aside, my radiating pain has been getting less and less. In fact I had none today - something that hasn't happened in a while - almost two years (given my level of activity today and the amount of sitting down - in the car nonetheless - that I had to do). 

I am hoping to be able to make the startline at Schiniathlon, the sprint race on 9th May! 

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

On Happiness

I was planning a post on happiness but after this last week my thoughts on the subject keep evading me. 

A young boy died this week, in the most tragic circumstances one can imagine. It was the biggest reminder that life can be so grossly unfair. 

The one thing I want to take away and have been thinking about it almost constantly is how grateful we should all be. I know... it sounds like preaching. But just for a second let's sit down and think of all the things we are grateful for - let's just see just how lucky we are. For the people around us. For our friends and family. For the fact that we are up in the morning to see another day. It's not sentimental, it's the truth. 

My list is getting longer and longer this week. And I am grateful for the last few days of no pain. I guess they are a luxury for many. 

Off to the pool now.  

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Get off that bike!

Last Sunday was the first day of Spring. It was also my first long ride on the road bike for... quite a while. Long enough for me not to remember when I was last well enough to attempt anything more than an hour on the bike. In fact I made it pretty clear that I wanted to go for 90 mins, but group dynamics and the first glorious day of spring made resistance futile: I was in for the whole ride. 

The first half went smoothly, I felt strong, climbed well, felt stable in my hips and rode smoothly and off the front. However 1.15 into it the pain started.... and it was there to stay. My back was cut in half, my leg was no longer my own and it felt heavy on  the pedal. I had no choice but to continue, but I fell behind and slowly dragged my weary behind back to the car. 

The waffles that followed helped a bit. They sweetened the pain and dissappointment of knowing that I am not ready, as well as the physical pain. I took some pain killers and resigned to a bit of discomfort for the next couple of days. It was not as bad as I feared and by Monday I was quite strong and able to train again - some walking, some cross trainer and a lot of swimming. 

Swimming seems to help, so does aqua jogging - went back to it this week and it definitely took stiffness away after a long day. The cross trainer helps too - no impact, but some movement that brings much needed nutrients to my poor disc. 

My goal has revealed itself and it is a sprint distance race in early May. I need to remind myself that all I need to do is train enough to swim 750 meters (a lot less than my current swim milage), cycle 20 kms (less than 45 mins on the bike) and run/walk 5kms. The last is the least predictable and it will depend on the day whether I walk or run, or do a combination of the two.
But I need the goal to keep me training and for the first time I need the goal to keep my training times DOWN! Never thought I'd ever do this in my life... but need to remember, this time round: less is more! 

Saturday, 28 February 2009

Springtime or something like it...

During each of my winters in England I would convince myself that once February was over it was officially  springtime. With that logic the days should be longer, the weather should  be warmer and my training should become more pleasant and hopefully more focused too. Of course I was merely lying to myself, tricking my brain into thinking that, hey, it's not that bad, spring is just round the corner.

Well, now in Greece, I have more reason to hope. First day of spring tomorrow and already I can smell spring. The blossom is out, wildflowers have started to put colour on the mountain side and the days are already longer - it is no longer dark when I get up in the morning and I can still ride well past 6 o'clock in the evening. 

Spring brings hope and this time more than before. Two years ago next week was the day I first got injured - the first sleepless night after a long run. Last year this week I was lost - no hope of getting better as my condition was worsening, left undiagnosed. 

But this year is different. I have been in rehab for 4 full months now and I am without a doubt getting stronger - I am painfree for some of the time and I am having manageable pain the rest of the time. I have been able to train (very sensibly) every single time that I have planned- have not had to skip a session for longer than 6 weeks because of pain (though I have had to cut sessions shorter, just to be on the safe side). And I am getting close to starting a more structured training plan, knowing that I will not be missing session after session with crippling pain. Maybe this springtime will bring more than hope with it. It might bring change. 

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Swings and roundabouts

It feels like I am going 3 steps forward and 2 steps back. This week has been another big reminder that I am not healed yet, that my body still needs time. 

Monday and Tuesday were fantastic. I kept repeating to Duncan how good my body felt and it kept surprising me how I had no pain, no discomfort, not even any stiffness - not one small sign that my spine has been damaged for the last 15 years. I cannot fully describe the sweet feeling of waking up without pain, the dizzying heights my mood can reach if I have managed to get through to lunchtime without the radiating pain I dread. But I felt like that on Monday night, even after 45 mins on the cross trainer (and just saying that makes me frustrated - I never thought I'd be one of those people having to go to the gym to get a work-out). Tuesday I managed a swim, kept short by a pounding headache, side-effect of a long day at school.

Wednesday I wasn't quite so lucky. I was also lazy. I skipped my quick Pilates routine in the morning, swapping it instead for a few more minutes in bed with Duncan, who was flying off to a triathlon course in London that afternoon. Big mistake! I could tell it wasn't going my way at around 10 o'clock when sitting at my desk started becoming impossible. I stood up and walked around for the rest of the day (god only knows what my pupils must think). At 4, walking home seemed to help and I felt well enough to take the mtb out for a quick ride on the mountain.

The evening was just right, the light was clear and bright and the sea looked impossibly high on the horizon. I smiled all the way round. I even sang (the benefit of mtbiking in a country where everyone else uses the mountain just as a dumping ground - there was no one around for miles). Of course only when going downhill and my breathing allowed. There was stiffness when I got home and a bit of discomfort but I took it easy and managed to sleep without painkillers. 

Thursday was another glorious day so I decided to go for a "run". I guess 2 years ago it wouldn't qualify as running (pace of 6' 40"/km) but now it is the most I have been able to do since last time I was brave enough to try running, on New Year's day. I managed about 16 mins before the pain started. I walked and ran home... and kicked every stone on my way. I knew from experience that if I got pain during the run the worse was yet to come. As the evening progressed I got more and more discomfort and the pain started hitting my lower leg. A functional pain, a pain I could live with, in fact a pain I HAVE been living with, but a pain I dreaded feeling, because it was proof that I wasn't well yet - that I was still a long way from healing. 

Read this on one of the tri-forums about herniated disc pain and wanted to share:

 It's interesting that when you have this sort of condition you develop an acute sence of all sorts of different levels of pain all across the scale. The pain that sends you to bed. The pain that is just there. The pain that is strong but leaves you functional. The pain that you know you are going to need some medication to get through your day... and so on. You learn to deal with it all and find your own little routines for coping. Every now and then you also get days when you are completely and totally pain free - it's a depp and delicious feeling. You wonder how you got there, but you are not sure. "

I think I am moving forward. My pain has been less disabling. I am mostly able to do what I want (apart from runnig and riding for extended amounts of time... oh... and sitting down, though last week I managed the cinema with no pain). In fact I know I am moving forward: I have more good days than bad these days. And I have those delicious pain free days that lift me up and keep me going. 

Sunday, 15 February 2009

At the races

Like kids drawn to a sweetshop, Duncan and I went to a running race today. Neither of us could race - Duncan had an accident 3 months ago while playing rugby (...) which left him with partial eyesight and a total ban on exercise. The ban has been an eye-opener (excuse the pun) as he has been able to see what my world has been like. It has driven us both crazy. 

The running race was organised by some friends of ours and we had promised to be there to help. So, no sleep-in on Sunday morning, we were out into the snowy mountain to set up, help marshal, register, hand out t-shirts and generally do a lot of backstage work. 

I felt like a kid in a sweetshop no longer. I felt like a deprived adult, on a permanent diet, being able to touch and smell and look at the sweets... but not eat. I chatted with the runners before, I helped them up after the finish, I gave them water, I heard as they complained about their perfomance, all the while jealous to the core of the fact that they could and I couldn't. 

I heard of people dissappointed with their race, talking about minutes and seconds they could have saved and it reminded me of me a while ago. Of the times that getting to the finish line was the goal, the driving force. And I realised how goals change over time. My goal is now the startline. 

Monday, 9 February 2009

The long and winding road

It's been a long time since I have been able to train, but this weekend gave me hope. And hope, it seems, has been the only thing that has kept me going since my injury back in June 2007. That and the patience and support of my partner, Duncan.

My activity has been limited, but I am slowly progressing towards being able to do more and more. There were times, especially last October, when I had days when I was unable to get our of bed, let alone walk, swim or do anything vaguely active. And I guess it's those days I have to keep in mind when I get frustrated that I cannot run - there are now several more activities that I can perform without pain.

Pilates has been my savior, and I recommend anyone with back trouble to get involved. It was in fact not advisable to start while I still had radiating pain, but I did and the results were felt from the first 5 weeks. I now perform the mat sequence religiously every morning - it sets me up and makes me feel strong for the day.

So, last week, for the first time in about 6 months, I got back onto the road bike. Although I hoped with all my heart that I would get no pain (during or after) I had been in that place before several times in the last two years, when after 10 minutes in the saddle I would get the all-too-familiar pain and tingling down the leg. I waited... and waited... and it never came! Not after 20 minutes, not after 30, not after the first hour.

I stopped while I was ahead. And felt ecstatic. Like I had won a race. And in a way I had.

The road is long and winding.