Exercising for a better mental health

A scrap in the grey matter

*Picture from Pixabay*

Tuesday 8th January 2019 (5.40pm)

Once again, thank you for so many comments after yesterday’s blog. I do not like to feel negative in my writing, but unfortunately that is the reality with mental illness and thats how it is.

I am humbled by those who took time out to write to me and share their experiences. I know today has been difficult for one person in particular and if by me saying how I feel helps in someway then I know there is a reason for me doing this. The biggest thing which you can take away is that you are never alone in this world where so many suffer. Unfortunately too many suffer in silence and I hope that I can draw upon a community where we all understand each other.

I could not believe the response when I did the ‘guest blog’ series and if anyone would like the opportunity to speak out on my blog then please let me know. This can be done anonymously.

I will never forget the words that Prince Harry once said, ‘Metal illness is not defined by class’.  I have seen this in recent years as more and more people have opened up to me. I have read heartbreaking stories from emergency service professionals, teachers, doctors, artists, sports people, journalists, I could go on, but the bottom line is that it can grip anyone irrespective of where you are from or what you do for a living. It is an illness just like asthma or diabetes and I will always argue that the 1 in 4 figure is too conservative.

Over the Christmas period a police officer from my own force took his own life. I also read news of a paramedic in desperate despair who was unable to carry on and I saw the sad news on social media yesterday about a police officer from another force. There are too many people who either feel unable or ashamed to talk or to seek help, or are not getting the help asked for. 

I have always said that I never really understood what mental illness was all about until I experienced it and that is why I am now able to do something positive to help others by continuing to blog and shout out on social media. I can see where the gaps are and I can see what is wrong. One day I will be able to do and say more.

As for me, my day has been better. I was determined not to have another day like yesterday and that is where my brain cells have to fight with each other. It is like Miss Positive and Miss Negative having a full on scrap amongst the grey matter. It seriously is draining and at times I want to knock them both out.

I got my butt back into the pool this morning and I rang the hospital to chase up my knee appointment (which I have got for next week). 

A big improvement on yesterday.

Thank you, dig deep and stick in there xx 

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It’s a strange thing depression

Monday 7th January 2019 (7.26pm)

I was hoping for a more positive start to 2019. December was not a good month. My mood was generally low, apart from the odd good or happy day. I am not into this new year, new me, new resolutions, new goals, as to me it is just another day and just another year. I do not expect miracle transformations over night and depression certainly does not know one day from another.

It is a strange thing ‘depression’, I try and explain my feelings to my partner but often I cannot describe how I feel. I have used words such as an incredible sadness x 10000 and a feeling of being so low with no self worth that I see no way out of such doom. It’s hard to make sense of how days fluctuate for no apparent reason. I have used systems to score my mood but I do not know where I am with this these days. What I do know is that at the moment my motivation to do anything is shit. There are things that I want to do and need to do but if today is anything to go by these things will be waiting a while. I put no pressure on myself but all what I have planned is stuff I enjoy. If only it was as easy as sticking a rocket up my arse.

I feel like I have wasted today. Apart from two nice beach walks with Olly I have done nothing. The run I wanted to do has not happened. A phone call regarding my knee appointment did not take place as I could not be bothered to speak to anyone. A trip to the bank to change my married name back to maiden name will have to wait.

As you know, exercise has been a big thing for me, but my motivation to even put on my PE kit is sadly lacking. I could not face park run on Saturday. Yesterday I went for my first bike ride since Ironman last September but my thoughts were often drawn to the negative rather than the positive. I cannot control what enters my head but I can supposedly control on what I ruminate on, though this is easier said than done.

There are things which I have reflected on to do with work but more of this again.

I did not want this to be a negative blog but I know many of you will be feeling the same and looking for ways to get out of the doom pit. You are not alone and you never will be. I have so many things which I am thankful for. As for now I will eat my cakes, put today aside and see what tomorrow brings.

Look after yourself

Friday 21st December 2018 (12.09pm)

Its that time of year again, only 4 sleeps until the white bearded man in a red suit makes his way down the chimney to eat your mince pies and drink your whisky or milk.

Today is traditionally called ‘Black Friday’ or the renamed ‘Bleak Friday’ (I have read ‘Mad Friday’ today) where office workers log off, schools are out until the new year and it is time to celebrate. There will be many Christmas parties going on over the next few days. You may enjoy, but you may hate every minute of it. If like me I would go to show my face but feel socially inept.  I didn’t get an invite to my works ‘do’ this year. Not that I would have gone anyway.  The thought would have been nice though.

Whilst for many, Christmas is a time of excitement and joy, taking time out of the work place and spending time with family. For others, it will be a time of sadness, loneliness and dread. Some people will face their first Christmas without a loved one, others will be worried about pleasing those around them, putting on ‘the happy face’ whilst secretly wanting the world to swallow them up. Some will be worried about debt which they may have landed in to buy the new gadget or toy. The person sitting at the table with a hidden eating disorder will be worried about all of the food being put in front of them. Some will sit alone and not speak to a single person all day; whilst others may drown themselves in alcohol to dull the pain.

Some tips from me

I am no trained counsellor or therapist and these points are just some things I have thought about which may help. If you have your own coping mechanisms and ideas then please draw upon them.

1. Put yourself first

This is alien to most people, especially at Christmas when you are trying to make others happy. This in itself is draining and can lead to increase stress and anxiety. If you are becoming overwhelmed then remove yourself from the situation. Take a few minutes to yourself, practice mindfulness or any other technique which you use to rebalance yourself.

2. It is ok not to be ok 

Remember you are not the first person or the last to feel the way you do. There will be many others in exactly the same position. You are not alone and you matter, no matter what you may think about yourself or the situation. Remember that it is ok not to be ok. You will get through it a better and stronger person.

3. Talk

If you need to talk to someone then please do. Never think that you are a burden, even on Christmas day.  Friends and family would rather you talk it out then suffer in silence. Don’t let things fester in your head. A festering brain has a habit of making things worse. There are always professionals working so don’t be afraid to pick up your phone.

4. Do more of what you enjoy

Make time to continue to do what helps you. That may involve going for a run or walk, reading book, listening to music or writing. There is no harm in ‘checking in’ with yourself.

5.  Everything in moderation

It is easy to overindulge at Christmas. Too much food and drink can impact on us physically and mentally. Also make sure that you get plenty of rest.

I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. Stay safe and look after yourself.

Some contacts if you need them. There are of course more and perhaps some local to your area. **Taken from Heads Together**

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Fuzzy

Tuesday 18th December 2018 (5.04pm)

I have not written for a while, not even in my journal.  I have felt flat with very little motivation, energy or enthusiasm. Even now as I write this my head is fuzzy like there is too much interference going on. I am reminded of an old back and white TV with no signal, it is like my head has become that confused box searching for a channel to light up the screen.

Why? I don’t know. You never do know with depression and that is the annoying thing. There has been no particular trigger, nothing has set me off, in fact I have just had a lovely weekend spent with family. Nothing prepares you for this and only time will get me out of it. 

I have not exercised for 3 weeks, after being hit by a virus I have not felt like it. I feel as if I have some sort of exercise hangover, maybe this past year has physically and mentally caught up with me. I feel too tired to put my trainers on which really isn’t helping my mental state. Stuck in that catch 22 situation of wanting to go but wanting to rest and knowing that if I do go then I am likely to feel better but I cannot bring myself round to it. I aiming to do something later this week, even if it is park run on Saturday. I simply need a rocket up my arse.

It is around this time of year that I plan my sport events for next. I cannot even be bothered with that. The mere thought of looking at cycle, run or swim events does not entertain me. I have some ideas as to what I may do but I cannot allow myself to commit to anything at this time. I have my final meeting with work early March and I think that this is playing on my brain more than what I think it is. Is it this that is draining me? When I receive the decision it will be 3 years since I walked out and I still know that I cannot go back.

Whatever happens with this decision I have made my mind up to progress certain things. I have been stuck in limbo for long enough and it is time to put some ideas into practice. This excites me and gives me something to look forward to but the reins are still firmly attached.

I had my medication dosage adjusted a few weeks ago (lowered), so whether this has played a part in things I do not know. I am still going to my emotional regulation therapy sessions, I have 3 left after Christmas and I am undecided if I have got anything from it.

All of this coincides with a blip I had a few weeks ago where I ended up in a place where I did not want to be. My head exploded as I took myself off in the car, my thoughts and behaviour reminiscent of what I used to do 12+ months ago. I thought I had moved on from this, and it frightened me realising that I hadn’t. 

I am sure that I will dig myself out of this episode soon and once again I am grateful for those I have around me. I know I will have my fast daps and PE kit back on within the next day or so (or when it stops raining). Once I do then I know I am back on track. Until then it is about self care, Christmas shopping and tucking into tins of sweets.

Left Behind

Picture shows all three journals 

9th November 2018

**This was written today at 2.03pm in my journal**

Firstly I cannot believe that it has been 1 year and 2 days since I last wrote in my book. During this time all of my blogs have gone out live without any retrospective entries. There are both positives and negatives to this. Whilst a positive is that you get to read what I am feeling at the time, a negative is that I am often not true to self. To me it is important not to upset or worry those around me if I start using words such as ‘help, despair, hurt, suicidal, self harm, or destructive behaviour’.

By writing in my journal, I can put a protective barrier around myself and when I am ready to make my thoughts and feelings public then I know that I am safe and there is no need to worry. Just like how I used to do things in the early writing / blogging days. Using my journal allows me to say it exactly how it is allowing me to get all the rumblings out of my head without having to think about a careful edit.

The best way to sum up how I am feeling at the moment is that of being ‘left behind’. I have previously read a book titled this. It focused on people left behind after ‘the rapture’ and how they faced difficult times and suffering. This is where I feel like I am; stuck, being unable to move on like my feet are superglued to the floor and my brain is on pause.

I use social media a lot, it is part of what I do, it is part of my profile of standing up for those struggling with a mental illness, especially within the police service. I also use it positively to document that my ill health has not stopped me from becoming an Ironman, 2 x London marathon finisher and a survivor. The whole social media game is important to me as a blogger, a writer, and of course I like to see what people are up to. I take a great deal of news and factual information from it and I have learned (mostly) to screen out negativity and things which stir and upset my brain.

This is where I come on to feeling stuck and/or left behind. I see my employers post stuff on Twitter celebrating award ceremonies, promotions, documenting good work and arrests. This is hard for me as it is a world I was once part of. A world I lived for, yet a world I almost died for. It hurts when I see people getting promoted who I worked with, knowing that it could have and should have been me. It is not jealousy, as I wish everyone well in their career. It is the fact that these people are able to move forward with their lives, jobs and families and I can’t. The easy answer would be to unfollow everyone and everything to do with work, but I do not want to have to do that, not yet anyway. I have a lot of friends in ‘the job’ but  people drift and I see this happening month by month. 

Whilst I stand here with what feels like thick superglue stuck to the bottom my trainers and unable to metaphorically move one foot in front of the other, I ask myself if I would like my previous life and high pressure job back. I like the idea of it, but there is no way that my head can take the reality of it. To return would be like putting me in a pressure cooker waiting for the time when the lid blows off. I can no longer deal with demand, or spin 100 plates on my little toe, whilst balancing a book on my head and cooking a Mary Berry special sponge cake.

Yet, two and a half years after walking out, it still hurts, the pain of reality is still there. I didn’t achieve what I wanted to achieve and feel like I have failed. This is what saddens me when I see what I do on social media. I have lost a massive part of my life. As my final meeting to determine my future gets closer I can feel myself become more tense, stressed and anxious. I am unable to manage my depression like I have been doing recently. My hands are slipping from the anchors which I have gripped on to and I do not know what to do about it.

Many of the people I hang around with now, did not know me as a police officer so they are unable to see the differences in me or understand the difficulties I currently face. They did not know me as the professional in the uniform or the suit working long hours. They did not see me come home after dealing with complex child abuse cases or dealing with bereaved relatives or victims of burglary. They have no idea of the hours I put in to do the best job I could. They didn’t walk with me through promotion exams and interviews. This life defined me and made me the person I am. All they know is Georgie from the gym, the beach with Olly, from Mind over Marathon or Ironman. Do they really know what makes me tick? I don’t suppose it matters as these people have become great friends and sources of support (often without them knowing).

This feeling of being left behind does not only relate to work. I look at my friends who are doing things that I would like to do; but I cannot. I am unable to plan. I have no idea what my future will be about and where I fit into the bigger picture. Such things grate on my brain. Lost and stuck in an evolving world with a head that does not have the ability to see one day from the next. Often racked with guilt and emotion as I keep inside what really goes on until the bubble bursts. Waiting, continually waiting for the next bubble to come along. One day, I know it will not burst. I await that day.

All of this instability has once again caused me to back off, isolate myself, and deal with things my way, in the only way I know and that is on my own.

People envy me and what I have achieved, apparently I inspire people. I do not see that. I am just being me, trying to get by in the only I can. So much has changed in me and around me over recent years. There are things that I embrace positively and there are things which I do not like. I am trying to change some attitudes, behaviours and emotions. I am trying to be a better person but this will not happen over night and this frustrates me. Yet again the circle of gloom or the spiral of defeat strikes. My current therapy is trying to address this and only time will tell. 

I was not going to put this blog out today but I felt I needed to. There are things which I wanted to say. I will continue to write in my journal and then publish when I feel the time is right. If you do not hear from me for days or weeks do not worry, I have not gone anywhere. I am writing behind the scenes. 

It is time for me to get back to being honest with myself for a while. I have lost me and need to reframe and work things out in my brain. Time to invest in what is important and that is finding progress and the way ahead.

Catch you soon xx  

The story behind the Ironman tattoo

Friday 2nd November 2018 (11.47pm)

I am not a fan of tattoos and I never thought I would have one, let alone one which symbolises a 140.6 mile Ironman. I am someone who does not particularly follow trend, does not do what others do and plays it safe when it comes to everlasting decisions.

Having a tattoo seems to be the done thing after an Ironman and people who have them do it for their own personal reasons. For me, I thought to have a brand stuck to you for life was a bit odd. I mean, you wouldn’t walk around with the Starbucks or McDonald’s logo tattooed to your arm (I apologise to those who have, I am obviously out of the loop). So for me it was a no go and not something which I looked to do… until 2 weeks ago.

So why the 360 change?

I decided that I wanted something that would have meaning which could act as a reminder to what I have achieved. I don’t necessarily mean on the day itself, of course that it is important, but I wanted it to reflect what I went through in the 12 months leading up to it. I wanted something to look at as a reminder that whatever mood I am in, however low or desperate I feel, I am stronger than what I think, and if I can do an Ironman than I can get through anything.

The mental and physical challenges I faced are well documented in previous blogs so I won’t dwell on that too much.

I never know when I am going to blog, I have no plan or set days. If I have an idea or the words are there then I will, and today is one of those days. I woke up with very little motivation to hit what was on my training programme. In fact I felt a bit rubbish, work related reasons, and when this happens I get knocked back to the hole which I have worked my way out of. Suffice to say, I got my shit together and made the journey across the city to the gym. Still with very little motivation for my strength and conditioning session.

Today, I had one of those ‘you can do this’ reminders as I accidentally caught site of my wrist whilst doing a dead bug. Seeing my tattoo gave me a sharp reminder that I am stronger than I think and that I am bigger and better than the stuff going on externally which I cannot control.

When faced with adversity, pain or suffering I can look down at my wrist and appreciate that nothing can be as bad as what I went through that day. An event which battered me physically and took every bit of my mental toughness to succeed. When I look back to the months of training, I could have easily thrown in the towel (along with the wetsuit into the sea) but I didn’t, my desire to succeed over powered every negative thought in the end and won out.

So that’s why I decided to get one … to remind myself that I can do whatever I put my mind to and that I am a survivor.

My next consideration was what to have done. I wanted something small and simple and which could be hidden should I have to. I knew all I wanted was the ‘M dot’ but not sure in what way. After trawling the hundreds of Ironman tattoos on the internet I came up with the one as depicted.

From here I go on knowing that what I have been through and have achieved has defined me as a person, a better person than what I was 1 year ago. There is still some way to go, but my little reminder shows me that whatever it is I can do it.

You can to xx

Laying it on the line

Monday 29th October 2018 (12.55pm)

Not every blog I write I publish. Sometimes I type or put pen to paper to express my feelings. It’s a way of getting the jumble out of my head instead of it whirling around, festering and becoming a bigger problem. At times I wish my head was not so active. It still has this ability to not want to switch off as it becomes ingrained in a deeper trauma. Sometimes I do not want to share for fear of worrying those who read so I will only make my words public when I am in a safe place and back on even ground.  Secondly, I have a private life which others are a part of, and whilst I am careful about what I publish about myself I have to consider those around me.

I suppose the above paragraph is preempting what may be coming and the reasons for me saying this now rather than on Saturday. Nothing bad has happened, I have not done anything stupid or wrong, it is just that my thoughts fell down the rabbit hole and I could not see an easy way out. Things started to spiral on Tuesday, nothing started it, it is just classic depression winging its way towards the head where its brews waiting to erupt. 

My usual barriers enclosed around, hiding me from reality and the outside world, where nobody or nothing could penetrate. The switch had been clicked causing shut down mode to those close to me; yet I was still able to function when I needed to, putting on that face to avoid having to answer questions. To those around I looked and appeared like all was good with the world, but inside I was on my way to destructing.

I pushed away my partner saying that I needed time alone, I could offer no explanation as to why, I couldn’t, as I did not know what to say. I could not even formulate things in my own head, let alone verbalise it. I have got years of experiencing me and how I react to my head and what I do. Others are new to this, they are still learning and understanding, quite often not knowing what to say or do for the best. My monosyllabic answers to questions reverberating around my own head, as I sunk deeper for acting the way I did. Mental illness is a minefield, I hate experiencing the ups and downs. I live for the plateaus and the days of happiness which come and go. I am not expecting a rosey world and happy feelings topped with glitter. I am a realist and I know such euphoria does not exist without chemical (often illegal) intervention. 

What I am talking about is what really happens when the switch uncontrollably goes and the rational mind turns into one of wanting to self harm and hurt. There were times towards the end of last week when I was thinking about what I could do to myself. I could have easily reached into my drug cabinet or got in the car to run away. The overwhelming desire that I had to escape my head pulled me in so many different directions. Once again, I would look at Olly as he lay next to me without a care in the world. The unconditional love he expresses with his eyes made me feel guilty for having such negative thoughts. I had to dig deep into my resources, empty myself of the hate I had for myself and reach out to my partner who I had pushed away days before. I felt saved when on the phone she said “lets go and get fishcake and chips”. I knew then I that I would be ok, we would be ok as I did my best to explain myself. Such a simple gesture on Saturday evening  spun my world back to where it should be.

I could have easily said no to the chips, in fact the old stubborn me would have which would have caused me more misery and pain and the circle would have repeated itself until I would have dug a way out (maybe).

As for now, I am doing ok. I am sat in a coffee shop as I write just having spoken to my best buddy. I have been to the gym, put the Wonder Woman pants back on and this afternoon I will take a walk with Olly, watching him as he runs with freedom and joy. Maybe I should be more like Olly, maybe I should forget the worries and stress of everyday life, pin my ears back and run into the wind with a smile on my face and without a care in the world.

Maybe just maybe.

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Where is my motivation?

Monday 22nd October 2018 (11.46am)

It’s been a while as I have not had the motivation or words to write. Even now I don’t really know what I am going to say. I guess you could say that things are a bit flat, like I am sitting on a plateau waiting for something to happen. What that is I do not know. My events are done which ended with Cardiff half marathon a few weeks ago. I am running (or walking) a 5k on Saturday for The Royal British Legion and the Poppy Appeal and apart from that I have no other concrete plans for events for next year. There is something in the planning phase but I will update on that when I know more and everything is confirmed.

I am still working with my Ironman coach as I need his structure and planning in my daily routine. Today I started back on a program in anticipation for 2019. I am not putting any pressure on myself to do what I did this year. 2018 was incredible and it took a lot of dedication, hours and commitment and at the moment I am not interested in putting myself through all of that again. I would like to do something in a different country and have looked at marathons in Paris, New York and Berlin. I have been extremely fortunate to have run London the last two years but perhaps now it is time to run other roads, and get a mini break out of it. 

Last Wednesday I returned from a week away in Dubai. It was a last minute book as I decided that I needed to get away to physically recover and mentally reset. Things were starting to get on top of me and my head felt too consumed by everything. It was racing around with no escape. I felt plagued by physical and mental exhaustion and I could only feel things getting worse. I went on my own and my days consisted of lying on my sun bed, eating and reading books. Perfect in hot temperatures. My P.E kit came away with me but stayed in the wardrobe. I had no energy or motivation to do anything. I don’t think I have ever felt so demotivated than what I have over the last few weeks. I just have no energy to do anything so I am hoping that my training program will give me a good kick up the ass.

On Thursday I began my Emotional Regulation Therapy course. This should be interesting considering my emotions have been drained from me over the last few years. It is 12 weeks long so hopefully I can grab some useful tools from it.

I had my routine appointment with GP earlier. We discussed my blood test results which I had done before I went away and I am being sent for a head scan to rule out anything with regards to my constant brain ache. It is likely to be down to stress and tension with everything going on so I am not particularly bothered. My medication has also been dropped a dose to see if that will keep me more awake. 

I am conscious that this all sounds a bit doom and gloom but it isn’t. I am ok. My relationship is great, Olly continues to entertain and I am always grateful for the people I have around me.

Thoughts just Thoughts

Thursday 27th September 2018 (1.11pm)

Participating in events takes me away from reality. It puts me in a time and space away from the real world. A world where things are about enjoying the moment around you, being out in the fresh air with other likeminded people achieving a goal whatever that may be. For me training is the same, it provides a stimulus which can block out the negativity which I may be feeling. That is not to say negative thoughts don’t creep in during a run, bike or swim, they do. It is the way that I am able to deal with them at that time that matters. 

I have to remember that they are only thoughts, of which we have about 60,000 a day. Thoughts can’t harm me, they are fleeting and most of the time they are irrelevant or they don’t interfere with my conscious thinking. Some thoughts stick and they whirl around as I try to think of processes to work my way around them. This is otherwise known in my world as ‘brain drain’ which pulls you down which tires you out mentally and physically.

This is where I am stuck now, I have thoughts in my head which I cannot work out. Thoughts of work, thoughts of my future and even thoughts about my relationship. Things that I cannot change, things that are stopping me from being me. Things which are holding me back from a purposeful life, things which are halting my recovery. Stressors as I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night. You may be alarmed that I am taking about my relationship in this way and this may not make much sense but stay with me. 

My relationship with my partner is not just about the two of us, but my head becomes the gooseberry in the background. It interferes with everything, attacking me. If my head is shit, so is my mood and shut down mode surfaces. I don’t want to talk (or do I), I don’t want to see her (or do I), I want time away (or do I). Too many confusing and conflicting messages which can cause the brain signal box to burn out. 

I go back to where I started; exercise. For that hour, two hours, 15hrs 19, whatever it maybe I am able to be me. I am able to process things quicker, my head is clearer and I feel that I am actually a functioning human being. I am coming to the end of my 12 challenges in 12 months and it is that that has kept me relatively sane in my mad world (as well as Olly of course). At the moment I have no goal, I feel stagnant, not helped by a continuous banging head. I have been to the gym this morning just to see if that would help. 

Did it? No. My ‘go to place’ let me down.

What I am learning is that such a ‘go to’ place, sport or events may not always be there for me. This is what I have to accept. Exercise may not always be the answer, and thankfully I have my writing to gobbledegook it all out. Same goes for you out there. Don’t feel frustrated, let down or a failure because of such thoughts. Reframe them and put your effort and energy into something else, this could be as simple as sitting down reading (which I will do later as Olly will be in the spa), walking or whatever you enjoy.

Don’t dwell on those thoughts, tell them to get lost (or something else). This is what I am doing. 

Thinking and worrying about things gets you nowhere. 

A bit like a rocking horse really.

Olly’s road to Ironpup

My human mum sent me away on holidays again to Tenby while she prepared herself for one of her biggest challenges to become an “Ironman”. I get so excited about going to Tenby as I get so spoiled by my Nanny and Bampi but I also know that my human mum will miss me loads as she attached a Fitbark (Fitbit) tracker to my collar before I left just to keep an eye on what I was doing and how my training was going.

On arrival in Tenby I quickly checked out the house and garden. All the plants had been lifted off the ground onto tubs so I now have to cock my leg up even higher to water the plants. My bed and toys have been put in the kitchen but don’t know why they continue to do this as the only place I am going to sleep is on their bed.

I am also in training to be an Ironpup so I need to get the miles in. On my first morning I was dragged off the bed and pushed into the garden for a quick pee but was back on their bed before Bampi could finish making the tea. I’m not a morning dog, in fact I like to laze around until midday when I start coming to life.

On day one, like most days, I’m driven to town, my Nanny goes one way for coffee with her friends while Bampi and I go for a walk. Today I am dragged onto the South Beach but I’m not up for a long walk. If there were more dogs around to sniff I might have wanted to stay but after a couple of stretches I dig my feet in and decide its time to go home. My thoughts are in Barry where all my doggy friends are.

My days are structured much like my human mum, I get out walking three times a day although two would suit me better. On one evening walk with Bampi I picked up a large clump of cut grass which I had planned to take home to play around with but the human tried to get it out of my mouth. I don’t like people trying to open my mouth or sticking their fingers down my throat so I bit him. As soon as I did it I was immediately sorry as he was jumping around looking for a hanky. He was not happy with me and he virtually dragged me home only to be put in the garden in the dark. After a couple of minutes he came looking for me but I had hidden from him under the garden table and I would not go to him. Nanny then came looking for me and after some persuasion I went back into the warm house with her where I spent the rest of the evening lying on her lap and completely ignoring Bampi.

Next day all was forgotten and we were friends again so off we went to Giltar Point, this is one of my favourite walks. For those dogs out there get your humans to park in Penally station car park, which is free, cross the railway line and follow the path to the headland keeping the MOD firing range on your right. No need for a lead as I run free and fast and there are loads of places to stop and sniff. The views of Tenby and Caldy Island from the top are beautiful. My favourite run is down the sandy cliff face from the top of the headland, through the wooded area to the beach below where a fresh water stream runs into the sea. When we do this walk I leave Bampi behind and watch from the beach for him to make his way slowly down the narrow path. When he catches up with me he says that the next day we will do it again as he has spotted loads of blackberries that Nanny would like to make a tart with.

My Ironman pup training also takes me to Manobier beach which is dominated by a castle overlooking the sandy bay with loads of rocky pools for me to explore. On the path leading to the beach I spot where a horse has left a huge mound of poo which I try to get to but I’m dragged away. There is something about horses and foxes poo that I am attracted to. On the beach I do find some and the race is on to avoid Bampi from catching me. I’m too fast for him while I dodge in and out of people sitting in their deck chairs and kicking up sand while they watch the sun go down. I know he is not happy but he leaves me to it while they both take a rest.

With one day to go before by human mother arrives, my Bampi goes off to play bowls so its Nanny’s turn to take me on my run. She decides to take me into the field alongside the house. The field is earmarked for housing development which is a shame as its a playground for many animals, birds and other wildlife but people need housing unfortunately at our expense. The field is big and Nanny does not like being in it by herself but I try to remind her that I will look after her but we still end up jogging around it.

I had a restless nights sleep as the next day my human mum was arriving. The day saw loads of activity in the kitchen as a chicken dinner was being prepared, which I always look forward to and the cooking of a blackberry and apple pie which I help pick on Giltar Point. Like myself my human mother gets spoiled when she come home. When she walked through the door I had so many hugs I knew she had missed me.

The day before Ironman Sunday we all walk down to town to visit the Expo tent to buy some goodies. I get myself an Ironman snood as a belated birthday present while the humans buy tee-shirts. Human mum and her friend then spent the afternoon relaxing playing pool badly from what I can see. My human mum leaves me later to go off to her hotel to chill out by herself and organize her kit for the big day tomorrow. I give her a great big kissie.

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It’s Sunday September 9th and the big day is here. I’m forced out of bed at 5.30am, dressed in my new Ironman snood and ready to go within a half an hour. Treats have been put into pockets and the long day begins.

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When we get to town I have never seen so many people, we have to make our way to the North Walk to watch my human mum swim the first leg of the Ironman which means walking through a forest of people that goes on for miles. I am only small and all these people are towering over me, I’m scared and what is making it worse is that I can hear cow bells, clappers and banging things going off. We finally arrive at our vantage point to see the swimmers take to the water. Its like watching a shoal of piranhas after a piece of meat, the water is boiling. My human mum is being tracked so we know she is doing well and is going to finish in a good time.

We leave the sea front to make our way into the town to see my human mum head for the bike transition station. I see here coming down the road and start barking but she is looking the wrong way but finally turns to wave to me. Now that I started barking I can’t stop so loads of treats are forced into my mouth. Some minutes later she passes on her bike but with so many people about she doesn’t see me.

With my mum now heading out into the country we head home, this is another mile walk all up hill for breakfast. I know that my training is going to pay off today. After a bowl of meaty delights and a little rest we are off again to the Bell’s Corner to watch the first bike riders come in heading for transition and the slower ones complete lap one. The race leaders are on the marathon leg of the race when my human mum comes into view on her bike which starts me barking again. She is doing well. After a period of barking at the bikes we decide to pop home for a drink.

Having had a short break we head back to town to see the leading runners. Again we head for the crowds which are scary. I am about to cross the road when a runner appears, I get excited and jump out and frighten the startled runner who was none other than the women’s champion Lucy Gossage. I was then put on a very short lead. Sorry Lucy.

I needed a rest by now and as my human mum had some time before her transition from bike to run I pulled my supporting family towards the Bowling Club. This is a “no dogs allowed club” but I get special treatment as I’ve been called a “squirrel” here since I was a little pup. I managed to get some sleep on the lap of the chairman before we go back out to cheer our human cyclist over the last 100 metres of the bike ride. Again I could not contain my barking on seeing her pumping the air with her fist knowing that she had cracked the hardest part of the race.

After a little wait my human was out of transition and heading out on her marathon run but not before she gave me a great big cuddle or as my Nanny would say a “cwtch”. With 4 laps of running in and out of town we set out for a vantage point not far from home. After getting some chairs to sit by the roadside I was getting tired and grumpy barking at all the runners so I was taken home for an hour to get some sleep.

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It was dark when the door opened and I had my lead put back on. We were off for the final stage of Ironman Wales. We got to a position on the finish line and with Bampi carrying me we waited for my best friend to complete a challenge she had trained for a year. I saw her as she hit the red carpet and barked as loud as I could, she had done it, I hear her name being shouted out….Georgie Lloyd you are an Ironman. I barked and barked my love. After loads of hugs and kisses we made the mile long walk home only for me to collapse on the rug at home and fall a sleep. I had done my Ironman and my human was a legend with the medal around her neck.

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