It's now that time when we all reflect on the year gone by, what we've achieved, what we haven't and what we want to change for the next one.  

This year for me has all been about running and the lead up to Snowdonia Marathon.   At the beginning of the year, this was my goal.  To complete Snowdonia and raise money for Addaction all in memory of my dad.   Anyone who has been reading my blog posts from the beginning will know what a struggle the start of the year was for me.  Following two months of pretty heavy drinking, I had a new goal to change my behaviours whilst still training for the marathon.  Change my drinking habits, be a better person, stop hurting people, try to get a handle on my head and mental health.  And I did do well.  And also not so well.  

My first alcohol free stint lasted 67 days. Not too shabby!  I thought this is great, I've done so well.  Alas, as you all know I went straight back to the same behaviours when I started drinking again (See: To Drink or Not to Drink) and so I tried again.  The next stint lasted 47 days (See: Drinking -Anxiety - Run Fails) and the final stint lasted something like 23 days.  My original plan was to not drink until Snowdonia was done.  JB and I went away to Majorca for a break - and a half marathon -  a couple of weeks before Snowdonia and I had some drinks on the last couple of days.  Didn't go nuts.  Just JB and I enjoying ourselves, which was great.  

Following Snowdonia, the drinking has all been a bit stop/start.  My behaviour is still the same. I feel like nothing has changed -  with my drinking, with my head.  Everything.  I've been thinking recently that compared to the beginning of the year, I am now worse off as I am so aware of all my issues whereas previously I was blind to it all - or burying my head in the sand and not willing to deal with anything that was going on.    By knowing all of the issues, or having a better awareness of them, it makes me more tempted to forget.  The bad thoughts I have return to me daily and I am in a constant battle in my head that I fear I'm losing.  

Perhaps being aware is a good thing though, I'm not sure.   I was talking with someone about this and they very correctly pointed out to me that all of this is progress and I should focus on this progress rather than where I thought I'd be. Me being more aware of my triggers, more aware of my issues and the depth to which they affect me and more aware of how much I want to move forward. This is all progress.

It is also quite incredible that I am speaking with anyone about this.  Or even that I am writing this blog.  It's important to be open and this blog is my open diary for all to see.  Not too long ago I did regret starting the blog - or adapting it to include my mental health and drinking struggles - as it meant everyone knew what was going on in my life, knew my failings. They were in my head.  I don't want anyone in my head.  I don't even want me in my head.  But writing the blog is a tool.  A useful tool for me to collect my thoughts, look back on how far I've come, and yes focus on the progress I've made, both mentally and physically.

Mentally, I'm not going to be "fixed" straight away - the dream, of course, would be to have all the answers now, but does this happen for anyone? Absolutely not. I need to find a way to calm myself - particularly when the anxiety hits me hard and the bad thoughts could take over. I'm sure I'll get there. It's going to take time and I will forever be asking for you all to stick with me.

And physically? Well - I will still praise myself for all I've achieved, no matter how I feel about everything else. Running is like another part of me. It's a me I'm still not used to, but I'm doing it.

I completed 23 separate running events this year (and one cycling event): 2 x 5K; 2 x 5 mile; 8 x 10K; 2 x 10 mile; 8 x half marathon; and one full marathon. Eight half marathons! In my third year of running.   In 2016 I completed 14 events, including my first marathon, and just three half marathons.   I really stepped it up for 2017.  What a year!  I also got a 10K PB and a half marathon PB this year.  And I ran a bloody marathon.  A marathon.  A tough marathon.  I trained.  I fought the battles in my head during this training.  During the marathon.  I almost beat them.  

I think I've only achieved so much by joining a running club.  It got me back out there.  I ran.  Never fast - I'm a wondrous plodder, but I ran.  Thanks to the club.   I really love this club.  They're so supportive of me and I love to support all of them.  It's incredible seeing everyone achieve so much.

And they've got me back out there now.  Since Snowdonia I've been struggling.  I have been down.  I have been injured.  I didn't run at all.  Then I went out on Christmas Eve.  My first proper run since Snowdonia.    I volunteered to lead the club for a 4 mile trail route - stupid really, as I had no idea where I was going or even if I could run 4 miles.  But I went out there.  With a great bunch of people.  We ran.  We got lost.  We got muddy.  We finished.  It was great.  It was a start.

I was then persuaded to head out this week on a trail run with some of the more experienced runners in the club and some non-club members.  I don't ever run with these guys.  It was deemed a social run, but their "social pace" is my "flat out can only run a mile pace." BUT, we did it, we stopped, cracked on and it got done.  The run also went up that horrible hill I went up on my 19 miles in October.  Horrendous.  I walked up it again.  And was slower this time round.  Pffft. was good to be out and have my legs moving again.  

The next goal will be to head out on my own for a short one and see what happens.  I was hoping this would happen today, but my head got the better of me.  I missed my medication yesterday and it's put me on edge today.  Only took today's dose a couple of hours ago and I feel super wired.  Probably not the best time to be completing the blog, but oh well. 

And that's where I am.  I have my goal races for 2018.  The first big one will be MK Marathon in May.  Come join me!  I am an ambassador for the marathon this year. My face is on their website!  Have a look:  I know the training I need to do.  I have it planned out and I will blog more about this, the training, the race.   This is my focus.  

Hopefully with focusing on running and the marathon, this will stop me drinking for a while - I've done it before, I can do it again.  And with that, it will help my head.  

I can do this. 


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