Days 39 and 40 - Overcoming the unexpected
“Self-compassion is like a muscle. The more we practice flexing it, especially when life doesn’t go exactly according to plan (a frequent scenario for most of us), the stronger and more resilient our compassion muscle becomes.” Sharon Salzberg
I am sitting here writing this on my second forced, unplanned non-running day. For those who are not aware on Friday night I was very sick a couple of times during the night and yesterday continued to feel very unwell. I was unable to eat all day yesterday and pretty much slept the whole day. The only thing I have put this down to was some dodgy food on Friday evening, the timings seem to fit with this, but obviously you can never be 100% certain that this was the cause. I think that if the sickness was caused by something like Norovirus, I would still be very unwell now and would not be feeling better. I have done a LFT and it was negative and I'll do another one tomorrow and Tuesday to try and be certain before I see too many more people. I am pretty sure that this is not COVID, but I would not want to put other people at risk.
I am feeling much better today and have been eating, and I think if I had to run now I could. I am not sure it would be the most fun run of my life however I am sure I could get through it.
It has been a really tough couple of days physically and mentally. Yesterday was physically really tough. The decision not run was really straight forward, since getting out of bed at all was a huge effort, the idea of running did not come in to my mind and being unable to eat anything until 1pm and then only eating a couple of bananas and a bagel all day, made the decision not to run today pretty straight forward as well. I have now made the decision to give tomorrow to recover as well to give myself the be possibility of being strong enough to finish the rest of the run as planned. I do not want to set off too soon, only to dig myself into a hole I cannot get out of and to have to take longer off later on. I am trying to eat well today even if my stomach does not really feel like it, I know that getting food into me can only be a good thing.
As I have started to feel better the mental gremlins have started to get louder coming up with ideas such as, if I am feeling better why don't I just head out and make up just 25 km of the 'lost' kms, then there's only about 70km to make up and maybe I could just run that tomorrow and get back on track, then there will be no 'gaps'. However, there is the other, more compassionate part of my mind saying, those days are gone and there is need to 'make up' those 90km, it is only me that this is problem for and it does not impact the integrity of the project. This is when the gremlins pop up with phases such as 'I am a fraud if I don't do it all' and the self critical part starts getting louder. I am really trying, with help from my support network to be comfortable with the decision we have made and am trying my hardest to step outside my our head to view this as other people see it, but this is super hard.
I have decided, or should I say, we have decided that the best thing to do is to set off as planned on Tuesday morning from Flint and start on the Wales Coastal Path, following the schedule as previously planned. If I had more flexibility over the finish date I might head back to Clifton to do the to 'lost' days, but the finish is a pretty hard deadline. This is mainly financially but also logistically. Saying that though, I think not running those two sections will be like unfinished business in my mind and so once I am home and finished, I'll head up for a weekend and complete those two sections, just so in my mind I have completed the project. I am sure this is mainly only me that will care about the completeness of the route, but to me this is important for the integrity of the project.
So what have I learnt from the last 48 hours. Firstly, I really do not like being sick! It's really unpleasant. Secondly, it has confirmed how awesome my support network is, I always knew how lucky I am to be surrounded by people who have my back and will carry the burden for a while. These passed few days has just shown me this and I am grateful for this everyday. Thirdly, this is a good lesson is listening to my own advice and trying to think about what I would say to someone else in my position. I am often so much harder and meaner to myself than I would be to anyone else. I have often wondered why this is, why do we say things to ourselves that we would never to say to anyone else? Why is it so hard to be kind to ourselves? I mean really, ultimately what is the difference between 3000km and 3090km? but those gremlins still pipe up.
Finally, thank you to everyone that has sent messages of support and well wishes, I am sorry I have not responded to you all. The messages meant so much to me. It can at times feel lonely and I have said before, it means so much to know there are people who care and would be there for me if I needed it.