Wednesday, 11 May 2016

The One Where...We're On 25.58 Miles and It's Time To Go Hard Or Go Home (26 months)

I've had writer's block.

Correction: I have writer's block. Or maybe it's not so much writer's block as an overload of things to say and I just don't know how to say them which is coming out as "I cannot write".

I've been trying to think of a theme for this post; a wonderful all-encompassing metaphor that I could use to tie together all the topics that I'm going to "report" on. And I was struggling- a lot. Mainly because the subjects that I'm going to cover are so massively diverse- I couldn't think of one unifying concept to describe them all. So, I did what I always do when my brain is crying- I went for a run. Which (as always) is where I found my inspiration.

For those of you who don't know, I did this recently:

 (Look pretty good don't I? Don't worry, there are plenty of highly unflattering pictures that also exist. I am no marathon model).

I ran the London marathon. And it was amazing. And hard. And painful. And incredibly testing. But overall, it's up there as one of the most brilliant things I've done in my life. So, dear reader, I give you this post: where our life is currently a marathon.

Start to 6 miles
I think my favourite part of a race is being at the starting line, waiting to go. I thrive on the adrenaline, and the anticipation and I get really excited waiting to start. I don't think there's anything else in life that matches that feeling. Sunday 24th April was no different. It seemed to fly. Like the morning literally just seemed to disappear and all of a sudden I was running. I set off a bit too fast, and I knew I had. I was mentally telling myself to slow down, but my legs didn't seem to agree with me too much- it was still a comfortable pace, don't get me wrong, but I was very concerned about how sustainable it was going to be over the full distance. 

When I last spoke to you all, Piglet and I had left NNB and moved into a new flat. And it was great. It was somewhere that I wanted to be, there was loads of space. Piglet was happy. I'd kept her in the same nursery still, and it was even further away so that was a slight issue in terms of commuting and stuff but it was doable. Everything looked positive.

I also said that NNB wanted to talk. Which I reluctantly agreed to in the end. I anticipated a closed 10 minute verbal exchange. Short. Sharp. Bish bash bosh all done. Instead I got 6 hours. NNB wanted to start over. I did not. However, I still wanted him in Piglet's life. I asked for 6 months of freedom and then we could revisit the issue further down the line? He said no. I didn't want to revisit anything with NNB out of fear that it would deteriorate to the point that we had been at previously. However, I cautiously agreed that I would contemplate taking things very slowly and seeing if we could work back up to a place where we were both happy. There was however, one tiny fly in the ointment.

6 miles to 13.1 miles (half-way there!)
Next 7 miles were good. Managed to maintain the same pace. I hit the half-way point in around 2 hours (had been aiming for 2:15) so was really excited about that. The possibility of a 4 hour marathon time was crazy crazy crazy oh my god amazing!!!! So, massively spurred on by that. Atmosphere was incredible. There's also a massive sense of relief- for me anyway- whenever I hit half-way: the hard part is over now, you've just got to keep going until the end.

This fly was in the shape of a person. A person who I had started seeing. A person who I had assured that there was no possibility of me returning to NNB whatsoever. However, for me, it was never going to be a long term thing and the fly was quite possessive and I am very very bad with any form of feeling controlled whatsoever. Luckily (or maybe not luckily? Maybe slyly? I am a very grey type of person. Gosh, maybe this is coming across as awful- please don't think I'm awful- I'm trying my best. Mid-life crisis, anyone?) I managed to end that well (...ish) so fly was gone. Taking things slowly. All lovely. Piglet got to go and play with the cat and the rabbit at NNB's (she was v v v happy about seeing the cat again). We still had our own space to be Bones and Piglet. Great. FAB.

13.1 miles to 16 miles (The Elusive Wall)
The worst part about hitting a wall is that it comes pretty much out of nowhere. I knew I was getting tired. I could feel I was getting tired (also nauseous- v stressed at possibility of throwing up on fellow runners in public- would have died of embarrassment), but I still thought I could keep going. Reckoned I could make it comfortably to 20 miles before I really died. At 16 miles my legs basically locked. My quads refused to move. You can actually see this on pictures. I could not physically move my legs. And suddenly every single one of the 10 miles ahead of me was brutally and painfully real. And I truly could not see how I was going to face them. At 16 miles, I honestly thought I wasn't going to finish.

For those of you who are squeamish, I suggest you skip this next part. I discovered that we'd got some new neighbours. Well, not so much neighbours, as squatters in our flat. I mean, don't get me wrong, they were fun-guys, but there wasn't mush-room for them.

Yes. Those are mushrooms. Growing from the floor. My landlady had said she was coming round in the next few days to meet us, so I thought ok, that's fine, I can discuss the mushrooms with her then- maybe there is just a leak that needs fixing? Until this point however, I was not happy for Piglet to be in the flat (mushrooms = spores = damp = vile = mushrooms are absolutely disgusting why is there fungus in my life why), so I asked NNB if we could stay with him until it was sorted and he said that was fine.

Except for what happened after this point. Which was not fine. I received a text from my landlady whilst I was at work, saying that her mum was seriously ill and she wouldn't be able to meet me- she'd let me know when was more convenient. I did not want to be a burden on this woman at this time, considering that she clearly had a lot going on in her life, so I said that was fine but there were some things that I needed to discuss with her as soon as possible. What had been my wonderful escape was slowly turning into an absolute nightmare.

It was around this time aswell that I started applying for new jobs. I mentioned before that I'm looking at returning to do a second masters, and with the hours that I was currently doing that wouldn't be feasible. I think I've mentioned aswelll the way the staffing situation works- literally functioning on a skeleton crew constantly, and for me I just wanted something easy to go alongside masters. I didn't want work to be an additional stress in my life. So, I got a new job. Old job asked me to stay for a couple of weeks just to let them get sorted which I agreed to. My last shift was going to be the day before I went down to London for the marathon.

16 miles to 21 miles
Hell. Agony. Blind to the end. The end was nowhere. There was no end. Failure. That was a big thing. My body had failed me. I was so angry. I hated my legs. Honestly, I think that during those five miles, if someone had offered to amputate my legs, I would have agreed to it. I have never ever ever experienced anything so frustrating in my life as those five miles. Like I said before, the atmosphere was incredible, and people were cheering you on but I could have just cried. I thought I was done.

This is kind of where I was in life as well to be honest. Waiting to start that job. It was another pub within the same company but a different brand. And I found myself really not wanting to start the job. Mainly because, ok so it would be less stressful, but likelihood is I'd be working a similar amount of hours, and the shifts wouldn't necessarily be good for me seeing Piglet, and I would still have to work weekends so I wouldn't see her then either so what was the point?

And I STILL had mushrooms in my flat. My dad had a look at the external walls for me and basically said- no, no, Bones- there's no leak there. Massive structural issues. Entire bathroom is full of damp. They've painted over the mould. Only way it can be fixed is by knocking the entire extensiom down and rebuilding it. Oh, I also found a dehumidifier in a cupboard. So clearly it's been an issue for a while...

Can you even believe this happens? Like, who ACTUALLY has MUSHROOMS GROWING OUT OF THEIR FLOOR?! MUSHROOMS FOR GODS SAKE!!!!! REAL LIVE BREATHING (ok, ok, so they're not actually breathing) MUSHROOMS!!!!!

I really don't like mushrooms.

21 miles to 25.58 miles
"You, Bones- you don't give up. You are not a quitter. YOU CAN DO THIS, AND YOU WILL DO THIS, AND YOUR LEGS WILL WORK". Walk 50 run 50. That was the model employed here- walk 50 steps, run 50 steps. Just keep going. And as it went on, it got easier. Walk 50 run 75. Walk 50 run 100. Walk 50 run 200 (think that one shot me right back down to walk 50 run 50 though). Forget the time, just keep going. Just finish. Do. Not. Quit.

So, here's a bit of a turn out for the books. I had an epiphany. And I realised that I've been an idiot. Working stupid hours does not make me independent- it means I am missing out on my baby. And I don't want to miss out on my baby. I also looked into everything financially, and as soon as NNB starts his proper teaching job, if I am living with him then I lose all of funding for nursery. So, I suggested something semi-crazy: what if I stop working? What if I don't work, and take Piglet out of nursery? When the time comes for me to start my course, I can find a nursery by uni that she can go to for two days a week or however many hours is needed (course is part-time over 2 years), and then I can keep her at home with me the rest of the time. I get to see her. I can teach her to read. We can do fun things together- such as going to the Cat Cafe:

At some point over the Summer I am going to look at picking up something part-time like a couple of evenings a week just for pocket money, but basically I asked NNB if he would be ok with being the sole financial provider for us all. And he said yes.

So I did it. I am now unemployed. Piglet no longer goes to nursery. It is a learning curve for (well, mainly me right now) but we're getting there. It's nice to see her a lot more. NNB and I are having some teething issues. But I knew that we would. And I have to bite my tongue. I have a plan, and in order to do what I want to do, and still be able to appreciate my daughter I have to make some huge sacrifices. And for the time being I can do this.

My landlady was supposed to meet me last week, again to discuss the mushrooms. She cancelled 10 minutes before she was due to arrive. She was supposed to meet me last night between 6-7pm; at 6:55 she informed me that she wouldn't be able to make it until 7:30pm. I am now supposed to be seeing her tonight. I like to believe the best in people, but I am getting suspicious. I believe she knows exactly what I am going to say. I want out of that contract. I cannot have my child living somewhere with damp; and I highly doubt that she is going to spend however much demolishing and rebuilding an extension. If she contests my leaving, I am calling the environmental health department. I have a plan, I simply have not had the chance to execute it yet.

The Final Kilometre 

I sprinted. You have to sprint. It's like the rules of running or something. You go hard or you go home. And as soon as I saw that sign, I ran like I never had before (I say this- I probably still looked like a dying antelope). I lied before when I said the start of a race was the best bit- the final kilometre is. That's when you learn who you really are, and just what you can do. Crossing the finish line?(Which happened at 4:47 btw- seriously huge huge huge wall) It's a nice bonus at the end (apart from seriously you turn into an emotional wreck and start crying because you can't work out which way Victoria is- all v embarassing. How am I even a functional human? I don't even know).

So, here's where we are. We're entering that final kilometre. We've got 1000m to get rid of mushrooms, cram Chemistry back into our brains, learn that the rabbit is called "rabbit" and not "cat", and use the potty for wee wees (and not the floor).

Here's where we go hard (can't go home really cos...y'know mushrooms?)

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