Monthly Archives: January 2015

Food for Thought. A Few lessons in Life.

Yesterday (30th January 2015), I posted on Facebook that I was a little saddened that as an ultra marathoner I had only managed to go out and walk 1.89 miles in the morning. I have recently been injured with Plantar Fasciitis and as I use running as my medicine for a range of mental health problems it’s been driving me crazy. So from lunch I decided that I would have a little personal me time doing some soul searching and reconnecting back with who I am. I felt I needed to remind myself that medicine isn’t always available on a physical level but I most likely have all that I need in my mind.

Of course these lessons I learned were supposed to be personal but if anyone can take anything from them then it is worth the time to share the information with you. In case you struggle reading the images I have written underneath each one what is written on each page.

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“Lessons Learned 30th January 2015.” – ScottyRunner

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“To be appreciated for who I am and not what I have. To be grateful for who I am and not what I have.” – ScottyRunner

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“The things that money can’t buy are the things that are the most special and important.” – ScottyRunner

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“I’m nearly 30 with no career, no education and hardly any money. Am I happy? Yes. Why? because I do not abide by the norms. I am true to who I am 100%. This has safely brought me to where I am today. If others do not value this simple widowm… They are not worthy of my time have much to learn.” – ScottyRunner

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“Who am I? Most people can not describe who they are, but they can feel and sense who they are. That alone is special. – No descriptions required.” – ScottyRunner

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“Why I run? a physical, mental and spiritual journey. The only medicine required to hopefully realising where I am going… and where am I going? – I hope to never find out.” – ScottyRunner

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“It’s funny you know. I am bi-polar, and I just remembered that I am libran.” – ScottyRunner

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“Some of the things that I attach myself to who I am and represent with PRIDE. Freedom, Veganism, Vegan Runners, Running, Green Party(UK), Peace, Friends of the Earth and 100s more.” – ScottyRunner

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“I ask each and every one of you think create a world without money. What an amazing world for humans and our other living friends (animals), and what a precious gift to be left long after us to Mother Earth.” – Scotty Runner

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“We allow so many little annoyances to build up over time without ever realising it. Like somehow they are all there just to personally attack me. I think not! Just let it all go.” – ScottyRunner

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“Religion – I do not know what is and what is not. If religion brings hope then that alone is worth my, and the worlds attention.” -ScottyRunner

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“It doesn’t matter where I am going, so long as I am truthful to who I am each step of the way.” – ScottyRunner

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“The secret of happiness? How may I help?.” – ScottyRunner

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Homework. Do not forget the lessons in which you learn. Live them, breath them, share them. Make them become a part of who you are. In doing so you will enrich the lesson, you will advance the lesson, you will pass them onto others.” – ScottyRunner

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“If these lessons have failed then come back again tomorrow. Xoxo” – ScottyRunner

And just on a final note;

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“we get so wrapped up in how we are told to live our lives. I am sorry. I have failed you all, but I will not hide who I am anymore. My reason for existance is to spread Joy, Happiness, Peace and Love to everybody (and every animal) that shall ever cross or walk my paths. Be truthful to who you are and not who you are told to be. I mean it when I say I love each and every one of you, and everything will be ok.” -ScottyRunner

All in all a very productive day. I was very tired at the end of my thinking session and my mind and body exhausted. Though I found enough energy within me to walk 6 miles in the night to meet my husband outside of his work place to give him the message that I love him.
Thank you for reading.


31 Mile Canal Path. Birmingham – Worcester – Why Use a Narrowboat?

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OK So I said I’d write a report on my long run yesterday of 31 miles so here we go.

The route was across the Worcester and Birmingham Canal Towpath in the UK. With 3 off path diversions. It starts just before Bath Row in Birmingham UK and ends just along side Worcester High Street (also in the UK).

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The distance was ran in 6:31:14 (hr:min:sec) which is a similar pace (12:37 min/mi) to first time I ran it. This was the 4th time running this route. Although there wasn’t much progress on the time the terrain was much more technical than the first time. There was a lot of boggy mud and there was enough ice to top back up the Artic. Not just little bits of lite ice you that you can plod along, but sometimes thick sheets on road downhills like this. There was also plenty of ice on narrow curving downhill stone paths under bridges on the canal in which one I went right on my ass and just decided to slide down to the bottom.
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This was a ‘luxury’ route because the actual overall elevation gain was less than the loss. The gain was 768 ft and the loss was 1 145 ft. This didn’t make it any easier to the end of the course though but it was welcome of course.
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The night before the event I had a nice portion of chilli con beans and rice. I eat this all the time and I never have problems with it so was perfect comfort food for me.

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On the morning of the long run I had a smoothie with 500ml water, 4 bananas, half punnet blueberries, half punnet raspberries and a large mango. I also tossed in a handful of spinach and a tablespoon of agave nectar to sweeten it more.

For the run I had a mixture of energy bars and fruit bags. I also had a packet of Vegan cola bottles. I don’t normally take sweets with me but rather what I fancy just before and I spotted these… they did the trick for later in the day. I bought coconut also for the fat but I forgot to take this with me. Never noticed and to be fair the bars are a blend of nuts and dates anyway. The fruit bags were ok but I didn’t realise that most of them were laced with sugar so I’ll get the whole dried fruits again next time rather than this overpriced candy!
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A word on gels because someone recently brought this subject up. They mentioned doesn’t food like this take longer to fuel you when you have it as a pose to gels? Yes they might, but you should never actually be allowing your body to get to the point that you must have energy right now or things will go tits up. Eating foods at regular intervals will keep you fueled much better without so many spikes. I have only ever hit the wall once when out running longer distances. I ate a bar an hour and fruit bags as and when I fancied something a little more as a treat. I have only ever used gels once and they were vile foul things! To me (and a lot of people) eating is one of the finest pleasures EVER and if I can combine my pleasure for eating along with my love for running. Well then I’m in ecstasy. Are your gels pleasing you? Well then maybe try something different. It might just work. Then again it might not. Not everyone can hold food down when running whereas I’m known for stopping at a store and buying a large pack of potato chips/crisps and eating them all in one go plodding along still running.

After the run there was a bit of a distaster with food. I ate a big pack of potato chips/crisps from the store at the end and then later had ciabatta toast and sunflower oil and then after this I had a vegan pepperoni pizza takeaway. I did keep up with my fluids though :O

For my equipment I took with me my WAA ultra bag 20L + 4L WAA front pouch. With modifications the 20L bag was 570g the cover was 40g and the front pouch was  185g making it 795g. I probably didn’t need a bag of this size for such a short distance but I am training with it as it’s the bag I will use for my longer runs and T184 Mile Endurance Race.
I also took a very basic home made first aid kit, a few sheets of toilet paper and an emergency blanket coming to 219g. I took my camera which was 100g and my phone to connect with you all when I finished 😉 Apart from these all I took was a little dinero for the train home, a thin fleece jacket, beanie hat and dry gloves to warm me up at the end. The overall weight came to 5kg without water. Then 1.5L water was all I needed.

The temperature was not much over zero or hovering around that. I decided to wear a base layer tight tshirt, a long sleeve running tshirt over that and then my waterproof outer shell jacket ontop of this. I also wore my buff as a beanie hat and wore long base layer tights. I know some people hate it but I did wear tight boxers under these too. My reason being because when I pee I don’t always manage to fully drain off when in a rush to keep going. This extra layer makes this less important. Probably something the girls didn’t want to know but I’m certain many guys have this problem too! My sneeks choice was a pair of Salomon Speedcross 3 Trail sneaks along with a pair of gaiter socks to keep crap out of them! Finally I wore a pair of cheap running gloves.
It certainly was a cold start at 7:45am just as the sun was rising. At about half way I did take off my gloves and then around mile 20 I took my hat off too.
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The morning promised good sunny clear skies to be had throughout the day and that was true for the entire journey. In fact it stayed sunny right until we got onto the train back home! Then it rained and it rained hard and was overcast!

The lack of clouds and rain didn’t make the ground any easier for running though. The mud and ice made things a bit slower throughout than we may have wanted to go. But we soldiered on and found this tricky terrain would give us a bit more of a challenge which ultimately allowed us to enjoy the experience even more.

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The first half of the run was a doddle really. We chatted and caught up on whats been going on in eachothers lives and work etc and ticked off the miles without hardly even looking at our devices.

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That’s David by the way. David hadn’t ran anything beyond 23.2 miles before this run and he said that shorter run nearly killed him. That doesn’t mean he wasn’t capable of this kind of distance though! If you ever saw any of his training runs and races he’s a pretty fast runner even when he hasn’t had much time to put in the training! He kept mentioning how he might have the speed but I have the endurance. So I was looking forward to showing him that if he slowed down a bit he’d find that wasn’t the case.

It was absolutely awesome watching us tick off the 23.2 miles and then the 26.2 mile achievements for him and then the 30 and 31 for the finish. He kept soldiering on and I’m really looking forward to seeing how he might do at this course on his own some time.

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About half way I wanted to pick up a Geocach in the local area as I don’t often get that far out in that direction and knew it would be an easy one right on our path so I picked that up and we signed our names on the paper and gave it a new sealed bag lol. I think this along with an electrolyte drink store stop and taking some snaps probably lost us about 15 minutes of the run but it wasn’t a race and these things added to the experience.
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Once we got to about mile 18 as per usual I began getting this real burning feeling on the bottom of my feet. Well actually it was only very mild at mile 18 through to about 23 then it was really bothering me. We reduced from running long stretches to running 5 minutes and walking 5 minutes on and off. We did this for a while and then at about mile 26 we began increasing the length of the runs by a minute or two here and there.

My feet where throbbing with a burning aching pain on the bottoms and David said that we should stop if it gets too bad. I tried to remind him that I aint stopping. I’m already in pain and might as well get a reward for it… as the inspirational speaker Eric Thomas says. “if I say I’m going to do something then I do it we are finishing this run at mile 31”.
My mind was ready for the long haul and the rest of my body was. But my feet cried. Which began to show on my face.

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So we kept going and then I realised I’d completely stopped looking at my Garmin GPS watch and when I next looked we were at 30.31 miles or something. As we got closer to 31 miles I picked up the pace and started legging it to the 31 mile mark as quickly as I could. My watch marked 31 miles and I stopped and threw my arms up in arm going “wohooo”. What an accomplishment for both of us and I believe David finished much stronger than myself.
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We then went to a local store to get something to eat on the train and to Costa to grab a quick coffee. I had a nice Americano with Soya for myself.
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Overall I know this long run doesn’t amount to a great deal. According to my training plan to prepare myself for the T184 endurance run I should be running this distance another 7 times and running beyond this up to 50 miles another 4 times. Though you need these little accomplishments to keep you focused on the bigger goals. To keep you going “hell yeah I can do this…. I have done 30 I can do anything!” This is not the case right away lol but that’s how my bipolar mind works. In fact I believe partly my bipolar helps me to keep pushing on and wanting to reach extreme levels in my running.

When I woke up today (the day after the run) I was worried I wouldn’t be able to walk much for recovery let alone a recovery run. I struggled on the last times I ran this distance. But my feet seemed to be better and I managed to get out and do a nice gentle 4 mile recovery run. I then came home and did my regular post run stretch and felt my body would benefit from an additional Vinyasa Yoga session this week to flex out my muscles and aid recovery.

Bring on the next challenge!
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Geocaching

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So as part of my training I had decided from January that for every mile I ran I would also walk. Of course this is not practical on a long run weekend. It wouldn’t be very good to go out and run 30-50 miles and then walk the same that day. I would make the miles up during the week on my shorter runs.
It all seemed a great idea at first until it came to my first day running 5 miles and walking 9. I managed to walk 3 miles and run 5. I have no problem with the running part but seriously lack motivation to actually walk for training. I can’t let this continue because when I am fast packing (run/walking long distances) I will need to be able to walk long distance as well as run. I can’t solely run the 630 miles of the South West Coastal Path in England!

Then I heard about Geocaching. Geocaching is when other people place a landmark in which you have to go and find. Sometimes they will leave something there for the seekers like a notepad and pen to write your name on.  You can also log your own for others to go and find! You can set the difficulty too.

I checked out this website called www.geocaching.com . I popped in my postcode and asked them to show me all locations within a 10 mile radius and was presented with 2007 results! I tried again within 20 miles and I got 6866 results!

I have decided to use this as a means to get me out there exploring and actually walking the mileage I’m supposed to be walking as part of my training.

The website is actually free to join. There are many you can access without being a paying member. You can print out the details and clues. As a paying member you get access to ALL activities. You can also download the details to your smart phone, smart GPS watch or GPS tracking device etc.

I’m seriously looking forward to trying this out.


A Random Winter Journey – Gear Testing

Over the winter months from October to January I run a franchise selling Calendars. Come January I had built up a few new gear items that I hadn’t had chance to test out. On Saturday 10th January 2015 I decided to go and test some of these items.

I decided to run 13 miles along the canal paths from Birmingham towards Worcester and camp out then head back the next day. It had been very windy lately and storms spread over the news. To me this seemed the perfect chance to test out some of my items near by to home. So if things go wrong I had a phone with signal to call for help… or I could simply pack up and come home. With The Pennine Way in mind at 267 miles on the diary for this year I thought it wise to test my kit against the elements here first.

My pack came to about 8.5kg in total (minus 1L water I carried). The run was a nice easy pace for me at about 11:50 mins/mile.

The route was really windy in parts and I can not begin to tell you how well my new jacket held up! I was wearing the Marmot Essence Waterproof Jacket. This weighs just 168g in a medium size. It’s the best jacket I have ever worn for exercise. Many jackets I have had in the past have been piss wet through with rain on the outside and inside (even when they were “waterproof”?) and piss wet through on the inside with sweat. So the arms stick to your skin all soppy and wet and you are wondering why the hell you even bothered wearing it in the first place!? This jacket solved the problem. I also like the fact it has a supported hardback piece on the hood at the front to make it like a cap so rain doesn’t just go right in your face. The jacket also has a front zip pocket. It would have been more handy if it was horizontal. It gets covered up with my ultra bag front pouch but I did find it useful for my phone later on while pitching my tent bivvy.

I also wore my Buff multipurpose head piece to keep my head warm yet wick away sweat. This is a level 1 piece and I bought it particularly as it is synthetic. They do a lot of wool ones which I can’t use due to being Vegan.
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I was running in new sneaks. I have Asics Gel Nimbus 16s which are great for road but I knew they wouldn’t hold up on wet and muddy trails. I opted for the Salomon Speedcross 3s in Grey again after extensive research. They certainly didn’t let me down! I did this run in Asics a few months ago doing the full length canal from Birmingham to Worcester over 30 miles. The Asics Gel Nimbus didn’t hold up. I was slipping and sliding everywhere on mud and it wasn’t long before my sneaks were soaked inside. The Salomon stayed dry for the whole thing in similar conditions and gave me terrific grip on the boggy muddy areas. I love the fact it has a drawstring for the laces. If you get something in your sneak you can quickly and easily take them off and get the debris out to stop getting a hot spot and ultimately a blister. With traditional lacing up systems if you do the same you quickly damage the heels on the sneaks. One thing I would note is they can get a tiny bit slippery on wet road if your running on mixed terrain. You do quickly get used to them so it’s nothing too much to worry about. Also they don’t safeguard your feet well from sharp objects like rocks. If your foot lands right by the side of a sharp rock it can touch the side of your foot. One time I got a sharp stabbing pain on mine.
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The route put me perfectly where I wanted to be at mile 13 in a wooded area where I could hide. See you can hardly even see my tent. I arrived as I’d planned with about 30 mins before sunset and 55-60 mins before it got really dark. The tent is the Snugpak Lonosphere 1 man bivvy tent. I had spent a lot of time trying to work out what sleeping combo to do like  tent, bivvy, tarp etc. The big complaints I found with a lot of sleeping arrangements was condensation soaking the inside of their sleeping pad. As it happens it got dark at 5pm and I was inside my tent until around 2am (more on that later). The air was 2oC and it rained for a while too. There wasn’t a drop of condensation in the tent from what I could tell. Also my sleeping bag was completely dry (another typical complaint). It took about 8 minutes to put up which will be quicker next time. The thing that’s surprising with this is how much space you get inside it. It could easily sleep 2 people at my size slim build 5 ft 6 in. There was also plenty of room for my bag and dirty sneaks! The overall pack weight for the entire thing is 1.51kg but with modifications I brought it down to about 1.33. I didn’t need the peg bag, tent bag, pole bag, excess pegs and repair kit. I can take off another 132g by changing the pegs to 1g titanium pegs as the ones that came were 12g each!

Ultimately I want to get the  Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1. It’s overall weight being just 552g! It’s the worlds lightest 2 skin tent and stands up well to some mean weather. However with that comes price and I am now currently saving up to buy this model towards the end of 2015.
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It’s been a while since I got to just enjoy a night sky. I took up the chance while I could on this occasion though. This time before it got fully dark and again later when it was pitch black and the sky was clear so I could see the stars.
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Friends were telling me “your mad, you would be better to wait until summer or spring to go out camping there’s a storm”. Indeed there is and that’s why I headed out to test nearer home. Funnily though weather doesn’t scare me that often. I am more afraid of folklore creatures that lurk in the night than weather. Every once in a while I would see the Rake in my mind and start to worry a bit! Especially when I needed to go pee!
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The one thing that let me down on this journey was my sleeping bag. To be fair to the bag it is a 1 season sleeping bag and I wanted to test it’s limits. I was crazy to think it would even hold up to 1-3oC! I did think with lots of layers and fleece I would at least be warm enough if the bag didn’t help me. I was wrong and although the temp stayed roughly the same at 2oC for hours…. I began to get colder. I thought I would be fine until the morning but later on I began to shiver and then I knew it was time to pack up and head back. Which I did at about 2am. That’s not all bad. I got practice running in the dark while tired. That’ll come in very useful during my endurance race events.

I would like to tell you about the sleeping bag though as I think it’s absolutely awesome! It’s the OMM Mountain Raid 1.0 Sleeping Bag. Being Vegan I struggled looking for a decent light weight non down sleeping bag. This weighs in for me at just 345g! It is also EXTREMELY compact as you can see against my Garmin Fenix 2! The fabric feels orgasmic. I couldn’t stop stroking it! I highly recommend it but as personal preference I’d say anything over 12oC  for minimum comfort. Though I have to test that so don’t take my word for it yet! feel free to try though. Everyone’s ability to maintain heat is different. There’s a new sleeping bag coming out soon that weighs just 400g and is made by Nordisk the model is called Oscar and it will be a 3 season synthetic bag! I emailed them and they said it will become available from about March 2015!
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Lessons learned
• If a sleeping bag is one season(summer) don’t use it in winter!.
• Bubble wrap works really well as a sleeping pad but don’t rely on it in winter.
• Vegan Marshmallows really agree with me as a post run treat when out there.
• I need more food next time for similar journey… especially if not passing a Spar where I can buy crisps 😉
• Make sure I tip-toe stomp the area flat first. I was on a slant and kept sliding down to the side of the tent when inside. (though the space was generally good nice and hidden by these bushes).
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Things to learn
• I need to work out a better system for packing my items so there’s more space. My bag was filled to capacity and I didn’t carry much food. I do think 20L is ample but more thought needed.
• I need to do some more digging about the sleeping bag issue. I think it will be the Nordisk Oscar 3 season bag but there’s no harm in having a bit more of a look around.

Conclusion
So it was a bit of a random outing this one but storms are random often times and I needed to seize the opportunity. Will I go out and do it again? You bet I will! I just need to make a few adjustments first. I have a few months yet before I run the Grand Union Canal National Trail.


The Running Bug

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“I never knew I’d enjoy running so much. I can run 15 minutes non stop now! I’m awesome… how far is a marathon?”
“26.2 miles”
“OK I’m going to run 100!” – ScottyRunner

This is how my mind works. I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing because as soon as I was able to run 30 miles I decided I wanted to run 184 miles. So I registered onto the T184 Endurance Race. A 184 mile self supported challenge across the entire length of the Thames National Trail. This starts in London at the Thames barrier and ends at Thames Head in the Cotswold National Park. Every time I am able to run a little further my goal becomes less important and I set myself an even bigger task than before.

So running 15 minutes back in 2013 was a huge deal for me. I was that typical guy who got out of breath walking up stairs or chasing down that bus! Oh and the bus journey would only be for a half mile! I never exercised. I began smoking when I was 13 years old. From 16 I started drinking a lot going to nightclubs and bars several times a week. When I was 18 I started to use a range of drugs including amphetamines, cocaine, LSD, ketamine, ecstasy and MDMA. On most weekends in London I would take these all on the same weekend and in large quantities! Along with 40-50 smokes and what seemed like several barrels of alcohol.

So that was hitting rock bottom. Trying to scrape through the emotional scars of an abusive childhood! Trying to find myself and who I wanted to become. It was a long journey and the journey ahead is even longer but as my path begins to unfold I see who I am becoming and it’s much greater the human I once was. I am here to share my experiences with you.

In my head I am a pro! But I am really not. I live and breath ‘pro-ness’ as it’s what helps me keep going. Just a word of caution not to try some of the things I do without careful consideration. I believe I may be bipolar so I will do some extreme things which seem completely reasonable to me….. it’s one way to learn I guess. I believe my abusive childhood along with my mental health issues are what are pushing me to become much more than I told I’d be as a child.  I have tried everything and given up on everything I ever did, mainly because I didn’t love it. My mental health tricked me into believing I loved something and then when my poles switched I gave up and loss interest. Even after convincing everyone around me that THIS WAS IT. This is what I loved!. Often times I am not sure if I love something or just manic. I do know that I never do things that I do not enjoy. I never listen to the norms of “this and that is life get over it”. No I’m sorry life is to be enjoyed and to enjoy every moment you can. When I’m manic, I want to run, and when I am depressed I want to run. Running is my life and the one of those few things I have truly stuck to.

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