The good AND the BAD

Posted: July 4, 2017 in Iron Man, Training, Triathlon

Triathlon Tales – the ups and downs of life in the saddle.  In 2010 in the aftermath of my bike crash, Carli (my then girlfriend, now wife) set up this blog for me and this was the name she gave it.

But with the exception of the first entry, IM Lanza crash, where you see me smashed up and in a bad way and Challenge Henley 2013, nearly, in fact all of my blog entries have been positive ones.  This is not because everything that has happened to me has been positive.  It is just that I have only chosen to write about positive things.  So much for the ‘downs of life in the saddle’!

It feels great to write positive stories of success and happiness, but the reality is that is not real life.  With the good always comes the bad.  Since 2012, I have had quite a few terrible race experiences and not surprisingly, no desire to share these experiences with anyone.  I think it is just human nature.

Anyway, on to 2017.  As always I had thought long and hard about how to approach the year.  The work / family / training balance is an almost impossible equation to answer. But after a couple of years getting this very wrong, I finally felt like I had found balance to this ‘almost’ impossible equation.  My answer, kind of like healthy eating, was everything in moderation.  Well relative moderation anyway….

So things were going well and my form was probably the best it has ever been.  I was hitting power PB’s in the few local TT races I had done (420W for 10 miles and 390W for 25 miles) and I had even managed to sneak a win at the Dambuster triathlon

Dambuster.jpg

This was a great day racing topped of with A LOT of beer being poured over my head!!!!!

Things were looking really good.  So much so I even thought I should write a blog about  the Dambuster race.  Like I said, when things go well it is great fun writing about it!!!!

What happened next……. I did not see coming.

It was the Wednesday morning after Dambuster and I was doing some gentle stretching, when BOOM!!!!!!  Something in my back went.  Now I had meningitis a year or so back and the docs had to try and get a sample of my spinal fluid by sticking a massive needle into my back.  Twice they missed my spine and hit my sciatic nerve.  Trust me when I say that was VERY painful.  Well, the pain I was in on that Wednesday morning was pretty similar!!!  I was in a real mess and could barely move.

Carli and the girls were in Spain, my folks were in France and I needed to somehow get to work.  I made it to the car and then straight to get a sports massage, which did actually help a bit.  I struggled through the day and finally to bed, hopeful that it might be a little better the following day.

Sadly, when I woke up it was pretty much as painful as the second my back went on Wednesday.  I knew that I needed to just MTFU and start moving, so with a lot of swearing and screaming…. I did.  I made it to work and over the course of the day my back started to get a little better.  I saw a chiropractor that evening and the back was starting to feel OK 🙂  I really thought I was over the worst and on the mend.

The next morning was like ground hog day.  The pain was as bad as ever and mentally I was near breaking point.  Carli was still in Spain but she managed to get me a docs appointment and I slowly made it to the surgery in hope of some serious pain killers.  I got some and also booked in to see a top physio in the afternoon.  In true ground hog day style, my back slowly got better during the day and after seeing the physio I felt fantastic.  I would say 8/10.  This time I really thought I had cracked it and was on the mend.

The next morning…..  Saturday morning and ground hog day hit me like a truck.  It flattened me.  Without a reason to leave the house, just getting out of bed took hours.  On previous days, things had got better with movement, so I figured I just needed to MTFU and start moving once again.  The trouble was, mentally I was broken and had very little get and go left in me.  I just lay on the floor thinking – what the fuck am I going to do……..

I kept on saying to myself over and over again MTFU, MTFU, MTFU, MTFU……..  Eventually, with quite a lot of tears I made it on to my bike and started to pedal, somehow hoping for a magic fix?!?!?  I was going to beat this, I was going to beat this…. but I just couldn’t.

10 minutes later I got off my bike and this time I really did not have any fight left in me.  I went back to lying on the floor totally and utterly defeated.  I must have stayed there for hours drowning in self pity.  It is moments like this that really separate the men from the boys in terms of mental strength.  AND in this instance I would classify my self as having the mental strength of a small child.  I was like chicken little from the children’s cartoon – “the sky is falling… the sky is falling”.  Many people have to deal with much much worse than this for years and years.  Four days in and I am a complete mess.  I felt pathetic.

Carli kept on telling me to call a friend.  Chat to the people I never have the time to talk to.  “Call Dave Mc, he always makes you laugh”  etc… But I was hearing none of it.  Surely, nobody would want to talk to me in my sorry state.  So I called nobody, got out the violins and just went on feeling sorry for myself.

Somewhere in all this, my very good friend Alex Gattas came to the forefront of my mind.  Alex took his own life in January 2016.  He was a complete legend of a guy.  The life and soul of every party and one of the kindest people I have ever had the pleasure to know.  Alex taking his own life came completely out of nowhere.  He had talked to no one, told no one about his struggles.

Now we all have ups and downs in life.  We all love a good happy story.  But nobody wants to share the bad ones.  Nobody wants to phone up a mate and spend the whole phone conversation moaning about how shit everything is.  But we all have bad moments.  Some people have moments worse than others, but at the end of the day it really does help to have a person on the end of a phone to talk to.

On that Saturday, Carli kept on telling me to call someone.  Half of me felt like I really needed to just spend hours complaining and moaning about how shit my back was and how it might never get better… ‘the sky is falling’.  But there was no way I was going to call up a friend to spend the day moaning to them.  Stupid really, as that is what friends are for.  In that moment I really got the importance of talking.  Maybe not to a friend, but to somebody.  That is where charities like CALM come into the mix.

So this brings me on to the reason for this long drawn out soap story about my back, which by the way is much much better 10 days on (As I said Chris ‘chicken little’ Goodfellow – the sky is falling, the sky is falling…..) and that is mental health.

Sometimes, it is important to share the bad stuff as well as the good stuff, and if like me you find yourself in a dark place, not wanting to talk to a friend but wanting to

logo-black CALM

talk to someone, perhaps pick up the phone and call the people at CALM.  Talking about ‘it’ might just help……

Now please don’t get me wrong, I was not in a suicidal state on that Saturday morning.  I was just really blue and feeling very sorry for myself.  My back got better after a few more days and all was good in my world once again.  Mini crisis over 🙂

The reason for writing this blog was because in my sorry state I found that I could suddenly relate to why, when people are depressed, they don’t want to call out for help.  Just as I did not really want to give my friends a call on that Saturday morning to cheer me up.  I thought I would just suck it up and deal with it by myself and in so doing I spent the whole bloody day miserable.  What I should have done is pick up the phone, catch up with old friends, have someone take the piss out of me for being such an old woman, start to laugh and before long I would have realised I was being a complete arse.

So there you go.  I hope I have explained myself OK and before I go, I would like to pass you over to a very good friend of mine Dave Mc. who puts Alex’s story into words better than I ever could.  Over to you big man..

 

Dave, Alex and I were great friends and when Dave gave me a call thinking of doing a challenge in order to raise money for CALM, he asked what I thought about the idea of doing a Ironman???

Now for those of you that don’t know Dave, he is a big rugby playing guy built for power NOT endurance.  So doing a Ironman or even a Ironman 70.3 is a BIG challenge.  I said, ‘the idea of Dave doing an Ironman would have Alex pissing himself laughing.  He would have thought it was a fantastically brilliant but crazy idea’.  I did point out that with the arrival of his second child late last year, maybe starting with an Ironman 70.3 would be the most sensible approach.  Surprisingly, and much to his wife’s relief,  he followed my advice and on the 23rd July Dave is racing a half ironman.  I have been honoured to have been part of his journey thus far getting him ready for the race.  He is raising money for the charity CALM and for those of you interested in helping this cause, please see the link below:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/david-macaulay2?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=fundraisingpage&utm_content=David-Macaulay2&utm_campaign=pfp-share

https://www.thecalmzone.net/

Dave – Good luck big man.  Hope you smash it out of the water.  Alex would be proud…..

 

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Comments
  1. Kerry jones says:

    Love your words Chris glad you are ok always talk because there is always someone to listen xxx

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