I get so frustrated with my selves. In my head, I’m the magical combination of a Michael Phelps, a Mo Farah, and a Chris Froome. Yesterday, for example, I was doing a long distance open water swim. Less than a year ago, I was literally crying as we were driving towards a lake in which I was set to swim a mere 400m. During that swim, I couldn’t catch my breath most of the time from anxiety. I had to front crawl a bit, breast stroke a bit, then tread water a bit while I calmed myself down. Now I can swim 2km with very little trouble at all. I’ll still get small bouts of anxiety if a wave splashes water into my throat or I find myself swimming over ten jelly fish, but I’ve taught myself to control the anxiety, calm down, and just keep going. So here I am yesterday doing my sea swim and thinking: I’ll bet the people on the beach think we’re so cool. I’ll bet they are wondering how we’re so fast. Then, as I scramble out of the water and onto the beach, my daughter says, “Mama, why were you swimming so slowly?”
The Michael Phelps in me was NOT happy with that comment.
That’s how it always is. I’ll be running and thinking the people on the roads must think I’m an Olympic athlete training for Tokyo. Then someone significantly older than me flies past.
I know I’m not supposed to compare myself to anyone else. My focus needs to be on making my today self stronger and faster than my last year self.
Someone tell that to Michael Phelps, please. He’s really starting to irritate me.
I’m a 48-year-old woman and I still get regular nightmares about having to study for high school or university exams. I’ve been scarred for life.
I can’t imagine that this is how things should be. I’ve heard from several friends that they have similar nightmares. I’m thinking it might be safe to assume that there are lots of people out there who also have these nightmares.
I’d like to blame our educational systems for this. There’s just too much emphasis on test results. In most countries in the world, your entire future depends on the results you get on exams you take when you’re nearing the age of 18. Most 18-year-olds have absolutely no idea what they want to do with the rest of their lives.
When I was 18, I wanted to get into something sciency. (more…)
I find it very difficult (impossible, actually) to understand people who say they really enjoy
I think this was after my first triathlon. I wasn’t even happy AFTERWARDS here.
training. I also find it very difficult (impossible, really) to understand people who get all giddy about and at races they are participating in.
Mind you, I can completely understand that going to a gym class three times a week and meeting up with the gals afterwards for coffee is a truly enjoyable experience. I also can completely understand how going to a running club twice a week and running with people at a pace you can hold a conversation at is really fun.
Those levels of effort are not the ones I’m talking about.
I’m talking about people who train for marathons, triathlons, ultramarathons, ironman races, or arduous adventures (like kayaking across the ocean or climbing really high mountains) and who are constantly going on about how enjoyable their training is. Or you go to the event and they are all bouncy and smiley just before. What the f#$@ are they all happy about? I ask myself incredulously. We’re about to put ourselves through hell! How the heck is that exciting? (more…)
“WHY DO YOU KEEP DOING THIS TO MEEEEEE?” yelled the complainer, thrashing her arms and pounding her legs on the ground. “I’M SICK AND TIRED OF IT ALLLLL!” Had there been others, she’d have made quite a public scene. Fortunately, as always, they were alone.
“You know very well why I keep doing this. Now, when you’re done throwing your little tantrum, you will get up, put on your running clothes, do your warm-up drills, and get out there and run,” said the wiser one, very matter-of-factly.
Sometimes the wiser one makes the complainer go swimming at 6:30 in the morning. Other times she makes her go cycling in pelting, freezing rain. She’s a relentless slave driver. Just as the complainer never gives up on her whining.
My training is probably more of a head battle than anything else. (more…)
I’ve started training seriously. Not that I’ve ever not trained seriously. It’s just that I’ve ramped up the seriousness level a few bars. It’s not going to be easy. Not that it ever was.
One thing I’ve noticed is that my anxiety seems more under control (I’ve had mild undiagnosed anxiety for years). I don’t know if this has anything to do with my new training program. What I do know is that I sometimes wake up in the morning feeling anxious, but that seems to go away once I’m back from training. It’s nice not feeling anxious all the time.
I’ve been getting recurrent injuries that have held me back from training the way I’d like to. Running gives me shin splints. And I’ve had on-and-off knee pain. The last time I got knee pain it stuck with me for weeks. It was bad. I gave my body the rest it needed to get back to being pain-free, while still swimming and gyming to keep a certain level of fitness. And then I decided to go to the experts.
I’m now working with a triathlon coach! It’s so interesting working with someone who actually understands this stuff. We had many email exchanges, a few phone calls and we went together to a physiotherapy center in town that treats British Olympic athletes. The physio examined me at length on two separate visits and then wrote a very long report about all the things that are wrong with me (there were a lot). It took a lot of self-pep-talking to see the positive side to that report. It’s obvious that giving birth to four children has affected my body. Falling off my bike and dislocating my shoulder has also. (more…)
I’ve learned to numb myself to most of the horrible news we hear almost everyday now. I try to avoid the details and only have a general idea of the goings-on. I convince myself that these events, no matter how frequent, are really only rare. It’s only because we’ve become hyper-connected that we hear about every bad thing in the world. I tell myself that bad things have been happening in the world since the world began, but that good things and good people are what make up the majority on this planet. I tell myself that the voice of evil is just very loud while the voice of good is apparently meek, otherwise we’d all have a very different perception of our world.
I watch the news, find out about the terror attacks, the wars, and the dirty politicians and pretend that I can still live a good life without having to deal with all that. If I told myself otherwise, I’d just feel so helpless. No. I already feel helpless in a way. I’d feel too helpless.
I can numb myself to the news. I’ve been fortunate enough for most of the bad stuff to be at least an arm’s-length away from me that I can I just get on with things.
I can numb myself to the news. But I am completely incapable of numbing myself to the hatred, intolerance, bigotry and encouragement of or incitement to violence I now often see from people I think of being “just like you and me”. There seems to be so much of it and it’s everywhere. Social media has opened up doors to what’s really going on in the minds of people. It’s like it’s opened the floodgates that previously held in check all the crazy thoughts people hold inside and try not to let out in public.
There’s so much hatred. There’s so much anger.
There is a context to the hatred and anger. They aren’t borne of nothing. But that hatred and anger aren’t solving the world’s problems. They are fuel to the fire. Why can’t people see that? (more…)
Only recently did I realize that it’s a country I love to hate. I have a lot of baggage with Saudi Arabia and I so wanted to remain angry at it. But even as I got on my first flight back to the country in around 15 years, I found myself unable to quell the little bit of mounting excitement that I felt about going back.
I first went to Saudi Arabia in the 70s. I went to the 7th and 8th grades there. Before that we lived in the US. We returned afterwards to the States but went back to Saudi Arabia, where I spent my last year of schooling (11th grade) before I went off to university in Cairo, Egypt. My father remained for most of the rest of his life. He only left when his health no longer allowed him to continue teaching at university, many years after the typical retirement age.
My story with Saudi Arabia is complicated. I think I actually liked it as a young girl. During my younger years, I thrived on change. I’ve never been able to relate to children or their parents who worry about changing schools and leaving friends behind. My way of thinking was that my friends would remain my friends for life, no matter where I ended up in the world. Moving somewhere else only meant that I got to make even more friends.
Saudi Arabia was so different from anything I ever knew. But it was an adventure. (more…)
I don’t think anyone who hasn’t been in the same position realizes just how much people give up to immigrate to another country. Sometimes, perhaps always, even immigrants take years before they realize how much they’ve given up.
People immigrate for so many different reasons. Some immigrate for a better education for themselves or for their children. Others immigrate for economic reasons. Others leave their countries as a result of political conflict, insecurity or war. Yet others may just need a new beginning.
Whatever the reason, I’m willing to guess there’s a certain amount of trauma involved in uprooting oneself to try to settle down somewhere that could be significantly different from what one has known.
I know I have been traumatized by the circumstances in Egypt post-revolution and by my decision to leave and try to settle in the UK.
It’s now been five years since I’ve started going back and forth between the two countries and two-and-a-half since I officially started settling in the UK. Only a few weeks ago my husband said something about one day settling down in Egypt again. My response was visceral: “I never ever ever want to live in that country again.”
After spending last month in Egypt, I think my relationship with my country may slowly be on the mend. (more…)
What is it about human beings and all our contradictions?
I’ve been feeling a bit mellow the past few days. A bit itchy. Yes. Mellow AND itchy. I feel down. I don’t want to do anything. But I’m really really itching for an adventure.
Just now, after flicking through my Facebook feed, I thought, “All I want to do is to go somewhere where I can completely distance myself from other human beings.” Yet only 30 minutes earlier I told my husband, “I need to get out and go somewhere where there are other human beings.”
Yesterday I was watching Come Dine With Me on TV. One of the contestants lived in a beautiful old home in the English countryside. She had her own lake in her back garden. So I thought, “I’d love to have a grand old house in the English countryside with my own lake.” The reality is that when my husband and I got serious about buying a larger home, I ended up feeling completely overwhelmed, I couldn’t find anything that lived up to the much smaller house we currently have, and I was the one who decided that we’re fine just where we are. So it was mission abort.
I love beautiful things. I love walking through the shops and looking at all the wondrous things that have been created by my fellow man. Then I look at the price tag and realize there was no way on earth I’d be willing to spend that kind of money on something no matter how nice it was. (more…)