The London Marathon: The Race

My alarm was set for 5:30 – this is the earliest alarm in my phone, now whenever I have to scroll up that far, it is a reminder of what happened in London.

I changed into my running gear that was carefully laid out next to my bed, including 4 gels in my running belt. At this point making the decision not to carry my GoPro. It was a shame but I didn’t want to risk it in my belt where it might fall out or cause my belt to slip, spoiler alert, one of my gels did fall down a portaloo at the start. I also didn’t want to use the chest mount which would obscure my name.

Steve and Christine moved their things into my room which we had booked for an extra night so I would have a place to get a shower and we had somewhere to leave out bags.

The car park at Gravesend train station was almost empty and about 5 other runners were on the platform with their friends. There was a cold wind blowing which got me really anxious about being too cold. In my minds eye, there I was frozen stiff at mile 10, icicled hanging down my nose and elbows. All I was wearing on the run was my LGBT foundation vest. I knew that it would be warm enough when I started running but the anxiety was kicking in hard. I remember wanting the train journey to never end.

We got off at Maze Hill near Greenwhich and there were maybe 50-100 runners on the train, not many given the train was eight carriages long.

There were three starting areas for the marathon, Green, Blue and Red, above each area there was a coloured blimp, I was in Green the smallest area. We walked up the hill to the start zone and waited for a while before going in. I was nervous of taking off my coat and trousers but had brought a spare one to throw away at the start, the discarded clothing is all collected and given to charities. At this point we were stood between a person running as Big Ben -who would later be in the news for not fitting under the finish line – and someone running in a tent (tent man). There was also the rhino.

It was at this point I was missing my coffee, I had been too distracted to make one in the morning and I could feel its absence. Once I got into the start area however I saw a tent “for virgin staff and guests”. I wasn’t sure but went to the people at the front and gave them my name and they let me in. That was lucky, I wasn’t aware of this before but knew I might be a guest as our places were organized by virgin money lounges, who had given 2 extras to the LGBT foundation.

Inside I found fruit, lucozade, water and….. COFFEE!!! I couldn’t believe it. It was like being a VIP.

Whilst inside I rang my Mum and we talked for a while, we were both watching the various starts, wheelchair and elite women. Whilst talking I saw a lady wearing the trans pride flag I managed to talk to her after and she was running for Mermaids and a dementia research charity.

At 9:30 our start pen opened, there were 8 zones and I was in zone 2. Two ladies started talking to me which was really nice, there were helicopters buzzing around and at around 11 minutes past 10 I was across the start line.

My plan was to aim for 8 minute miles or 5:00/km, ideally starting with a 3hour 30 minute pacer and staying with them as if it was a club run. Unfortunately there were NO pacers in our starting block, I considered going back but after asking someone next to me they said they were aiming for 3:30 so I stayed put. Two ladies in the start pen started talking to me too, I think they could tell I was nervous, they had both got in through the good for age entry, which is v impressive. We talked about being nervous and cold.

Start -5k: 24:09

I stayed with one of the ladies for around a mile but slowly we drifted apart. The London Marathon starts from 3 different locations which then merge onto the main route. It was still impressive how many people had come out to cheer on just this start. I was about 100m behind Big Ben at this point, because he was going for a world record I didn’t think I would be able to keep up.

It was interesting seeing the other waves join us like tributaries. I was hoping to join with a 3:30 from another wave but only saw a 3:00 pacer so let them slowly drift ahead of me.

I was indeed finding it hard to slow down during the first 5k. Having tapered and carbed up this pace felt easy and it was my fastest 5k split in the marathon [24:09]

It might be surprising then to find out that I thought I was going to have to bail out at this point. After about 2k a pain started growing in the tendons of my left foot. I remember a run recently I had to cut short and rest for 2 weeks because of a similar feeling. My mind was in trouble because of this and I cant say with confidence that the pain really got worse or I just imagined it did. I remember seeing a medical tent at 4k and wondering if I should quickly get a paracetamol, maybe if I knock it on the head now it will prevent it from stopping me from running. I fully intended to walk the rest of the marathon even if I had to hobble. I passed the tent by.

5k-10k 24:30

There were some good signs on display, one that stuck in my mind, I saw a few times “Keep going! You are running better than the government”.

I was watching big ben pull very slowly ahead of me, maybe 300 meters ahead now. The pain in my foot seemed worse, I was also running awkwardly to try and minimise and protect it. This is never good as running awkwardly just gets you an injury elsewhere. It wasn’t that the pain was bad, it was the worry that it could get worse.

I remember the advice from Didsbury runners, to be mindful and enjoy the event. I may never get to do it again. Distracting myself was pretty easy to do given I was running the London Marathon and looking at the landmarks, runners and crowds of supporters really helped take my mind away. I even saw some of the landmarks I had looked up before the race, but mainly the insane people cheering us on. I have talked about my experience at the great north run where people were laughing at me, but here I was getting a tonne of “Go Sofie!”. Every now and then I would make eye contact to the people cheering that and it was super nice. This was where I realised leaving the camera was a good idea, the “go Sofie” cheering was repeated all the way to the end I am so glad my camera wasn’t obscuring my name.

One of the main bits I remember from the start is running around the cutty sark. The crowds were amazing. Although the pain/worry was there I was finding it easy to take my mind away. As well as some television cameras on giant arms there were a lot of bands too and the drums would give me a real adrenaline boost.

I was getting emotional every now and then and almost crying, the support was so great and it was beginning to hit me that I was running the London Marathon. The thing I have watched so many times through my life and been inspired to do what those people on TV were doing. After a number of years of also being depressed seeing those people and wishing I could do it, drinking away my feelings. I was here, doing it, inspiring people. It was emotional.

10-15k 24:33

OK I wanted the pain gone in the marathon and now I am writing this I want it gone here too, so I will show what is going on and let you know that after passing the London bridge, it was gone completely.

Here is a graph of the ground contact time balance, the ratio of how long my left foot was on the floor compared to the right. You can see that red dip near the start. My left foot was only down 47% of the time because I was compensating to protect it. Its quite a useful graph because you can see where the pain was during the race.

I remember hoping that I could run the race free of injury and deciding to just take my mind away from it so that hopefully my form would return to normal and as you can see on the graph, it did.

I think it was on this stretch, nearly at 10 miles that I passed tent man, the bananas in pyjamas accompanied me instead. I was holding steady compared to big ben too, he was still about 300meters ahead of me.

Generally through the whole race, people were overtaking me. Not whizzing past but I was definitely slightly slower than the crowd. I was OK with this and tried not to block the route. I would find 2 people running together and follow them. Some time later I would be on my own. I would find some other people to follow. Its surprising how in a crowd of 1000’s of runners, you don’t often come across people running the exact pace you feel up to. But it was nice, I felt like an island or a cruise ship, sometimes out at sea, sometimes docked up taking in the landmarks.

15k to 20 24:42 to halfway (21.1k)

There was a marker at every kilometer and every mile and at the 10 mile marker someone who looked like a body builder and sounded like a personal trainer shouted “10 miles now everybody remember to fuel up, take a gel”.

I remember thinking, that person must be shouting the same thing every 20 seconds or so. I was grateful and did obey though and had my second gel, or third if you include the one that fell down the portaloo in the start area.

The closer we got to 20k the louder the support was, I was still crying at parts but around 19k you could no longer hear individual names being called, it was constant cheering and banners and people.

About 100m from the 20k marker I heard someone shout “almost halfway now come on london bridge just ahead”. I was approaching a moment that will be stuck in my head forever.

We turned a corner and london bridge was ahead of us. The cheering got louder, I was now on London bridge and it was a roar. I started crying on london bridge. I was mindful, I looked at the bridge itself, realised how unlikely it would be to get to run down the middle of it again. How nice it looked. Heard the roar of humanity urging us on. This must be the feeling you get in the olympics when a stadium of people if urging you on.

I was smiling my head off.

Halfway to 25k 19:46

Just after the bridge you hit the half marathon point. It was here that a few vans passed on the other side of the road going in the opposite direction. I looked over a few moments later and there was Eulid Kipchoge. He was looking over at us as we cheered him on. The look of concentration in his eyes was so inspiring and the reaction from everyone including the runners was crazy. I wasn’t running now, I was flying. Anything felt possible.

25 -30k 25:51

This is where I could see the wall approaching. I tried to run through it like harry potters platform 9 3/4. It almost worked.

Spotting Phil and Laura after hearing a Sofie brought me some more speed. Thanks both for coming and offering a place to stay as well as showing us the start area in greenwich.

I was feeling tired. When running long distances I tend to settle into it, and it can be a bit like sitting in a chair, your legs just do the work. This was true since the pain went. I was looking around a lot and seeing the sights and taking the crowds in. But now I was also thinking about the end.

I was actually glad to have gotten to 30k before getting tired in some of my slower training runs I had felt this way at 21k. What had happened was my muscled were coming to the end of their glycogen stores and I was transitioning to fat burning to keep going. I was becoming necessary to shift gears to eke out whatever I had left. This was the wall.

Again I spotted a trans flag and there was Christine and Steve cheering me on

30 -35k 27:32

Difficulties were kicking in and I was wanting it to end. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the energy, although I was tired. Instead my muscles were just not responding and that was causing me to run with bad form and slow down. This is what seperates the marathon from any shorter distance for me. In a shorter race I slow down because of a battle wit lactic acid buildup, or I have reached V02max, or I have run out of energy. In the marathon my muscles just stop responding, they don’t care if I feel like I can go on.

I knew this would happen however and my strategy was to enjoy where I am and what I am doing. The support was awesome, the sights were awesome and I knew so many people were tracking me at home and from Didsbury Runners. So thank you all because this stopped my pace from falling off a cliff.

35 – 40k

Almost there, as I passed the 37km marker I told myself “just a parkrun left, I can do a parkrun any day”. I had to be totally focussed on not stopping at this point. I am really happy how I kept my pace at 5:52 per k. This was my slowest pace during the marathon. It could easily have been below 6:30. The crowds were still amazing and I was really digging in. I didn’t have the presence of mind to appreciate my surroundings at this point, focussing on just running and not stopping was all I could do.

40-42.2k

The last bit.

I was almost there.

My muscles were on fire, I was heel-striking badly because I couldn’t lift my thigh up, the muscles above my knee were red hot.

Somehow I sped up instead of slowing down to 5:45/k. I don’t know where that came from.

Everyone was going crazy at the side of the road. I could see famous london landmarks and couldn’t figure out what they were. I would be lost if I wasn’t penned in on all side with thousands of people to follow.

Once we turned onto the final few hundred meters I knew where I was. I remember seeing this on TV so many times and trying to will my energy from the couch into whichever runner was finishing. It was emotional. I was doing this. I saw someone being wheeled off on a chair, also a number of people being helped across the line. I can’t imagine getting so far to run out just before the end.

I used the rest of my energy ready for a sprint finish, but there was nothing left, I’d used everything.

Finished 3:38:20

Over the line.. Stopping was such a weird thing to do after running for 3:38:20. It was welcome though. One of the medical staff followed me and kept asking if I was OK. I felt faint and all my muscles seemed to take a rest, even the ones I hadn’t used. I kept telling her yes and smiling at her and thanking her but she followed me a while. I must have looked as faint as I felt. Through a funnel I went, picking up my medal and goodie bag.

After that I got emotional, it was as if everything I have been through over the past few years hit me. Fortunately I was too exhausted, so then did what I do after any good race, went and got lost. Faster than you could lose a pen or a hairbrush, faster even than I lost that screw bit one time. I had to ask for directions, my legs were failing, my temperature was plummeting, even though it wasn’t that cold. My other superpower is freezing to death in reasonably warm temperatures.

I found Christine and Steve and as I started to put my shoes back on I was stricken by the worst crampsatan could devise. I very nearly screamed and fell over, it went up my whole leg and then the other. I had to limp around and keep my legs moving to fend it off. Eventually we got the train back to gravesend.

I have come a long way and am almost not the same person.

I want to thank everyone who donated, which is what made this so amazing, raising money for the LGBT foundation, including Stafani who donated offline as well as all those below. Thanks also to the Virgin Money Lounges Manchester and Jennifer Quinn for giving places to the LGBT foundation for the London Marathon and providing lots of support with fundraising. Thanks to Solomons bar on Wilmslow road, Mary and Archie bar of Burton road Manchester for hosting collection boxes and being extremely nice as well as everyone who donated that way! Everyone who has supported me, Didsbury Runners and Cafe Diagnosis.

Thank you to all the staff and volunteers at the LGBT foundation for all of your support you are all amazing.

It was a long drive back to Scunthorpe, and then to Skipton.

The nicest thing was seeing an increase in number of runners down the Mersey after the London Marathon. If you have been inspired to run by the London Marathon, I can recommend trying couch to 5k.

Thank you for reading and waiting, fortunately I got all the details down after the race, it then took me months to finish off but hopefully it has been worth the wait.

London Marathon: 1/2 Getting There

Wow, I ran the London Marathon! I was there! I will spit this up into the lead up and then into the marathon itself in the next post. It turns out writing about the london martathon is itself a marathon. I think splitting it up is quite helpful.

In the weeks leading to the marathon I began to get nervous, nervous about getting there, getting my race pack, getting to the start, running a marathon. I stopped going out as much, stopped eating properly. This is something I have always struggled with. The idea of getting to London and doing everything was scary.

I was really helped by the encouragement and donations from friends, I got lots of lovely messages, even from people I have never met. Didsbury Runners has been such a great group and a few weeks before the run I was featured in a runners spotlight which so nice it made me cry. I also just want to thank everyone who donated, it meant a lot and kept me going when things got tough.

I was incredibly nervous about getting to london so fortunately my brother and sister in law decided to come with me and support on the day. I met up with them in Scunthorpe and we drove down to Gravesend on Friday. We stayed in a hotel in Gravesend so that we had plenty of time to go to the running expo and pick up my race pack on Saturday. I was as nervous as I get, as if I had a job interview or exam.

We got the train the next day and ventured to the running expo. I picked up my running number and we wondered around picking up free things, including some deep heat I just gave to my mum and a bottle opener, some shoe laces, some Vaseline (I think!) and the marathon news.

We meet up with my friends Phil and Laura at a pub in Greenwich, it’s very nice to see them and after having the nicest veggie burger I have had, we head out to see the Cutty Sark, and wander through the maritime museum on our way to the Greenwich observatory. You can also see the start on the map below, I was in the green zone. You can see there are three starts to the london marathon and I will merge with blue around one mile, then with red around 3 miles.

On the marathon itself you run around the whole ship around the 10k point. As you can see the weather didn’t look too great the day before and the barriers were going up ready for the race.

Being in Greenwich was handy because it is where the marathon starts the next day. My main worries at this point it that I will be late, or I will freeze to death while running the marathon. It is quite windy but supposed to be calmer the next day for the marathon.

After getting back to the hotel fairly early I start worrying. I have some more of the pasta my mum had made, a good idea as you don’t want to risk much with food before a race and don’t want to eat too late if it is early the next day.

I then start to worry about whether to bring my gopro on the race or not. I realise if I wear my chest harness it will cover my name on my vest, but if I carry it in my belt I might lose it or drop it and it could become very annoying if it starts bouncing about. A little annoyance can become a big problem before 26 miles. I go for a test run with it on my chest.

I head out of the hotel and up a path I had seen, then just happen to find a nice running route behind the hotel. Theres a feeling I get before a race when I go for a run, I feel like I am completely unfit and unready. Because this has been so common and predictable since that first Manchester 10k 2 years ago. It no longer worries me too much, in fact, I am expecting it. I feel fine however. I don’t take this is a good or bad sign. There was another runner I am slowly catching up to and overtaking. As I do he talks to me and asks how I know the route. I explain myself. He seems really impressed I am doing the marathon and asks for advice getting into longer distance stuff, and says I look like an athlete! It is the first time I get a glimpse at what I am doing from the outside. He seemed really happy and inspired and I thought that is great, maybe I am inspiring people to run more. Since I started couch to 5k one of my missions has been to get people to start running. Especially those like me who have gone through life without trying it outside of school.

I turn around and come back, saying goodbye to my new friend. The purpose of this run was to get my legs to remember running and make sure nothing was aching, I had been in the back of the car for a long time coming here. It was also to see how I felt about the camera. I decided in the end to leave it and just focus on the run. This turned out to be the best choice as I found out the next day. Covering up my name on my vest would have been a bad move.

We were aiming to wake up about 5:30 the next day, I got all my stuff ready for just rolling out of bed. No need to worry about forgetting my race number or shoe tag, all my gels in my belt. I go to bed at 11 and lay there for 3 hours until I fall asleep.

So thats it, next will be the marathon itself. I have already written it up so it will be up tomorrow for everyone.

Sofies Transing the London Marathon Week 7 and 8 Training Update

I am running the London Marathon to raise money for the LGBT Foundation, please consider donating here:

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SofieLewis

Total Training: 308.8k
Week 7: 18.1k 

Week 8: 36.1k

Well, if you read my previous post. Week 7 is easy to summarise. On Monday I went for a long run. Unfortunately my foot went down a hole about 2 miles from home. I thought it might have broken my ankle but fortunately it turned out to be a sprain. Here’s the run.

My ankle swelled up overnight but I could walk on it pain free (aside from putting shoes on). I left it a week so that was my training for week 7. Fortunately I got 15k in before I went down! I jogged home to avoid freezing so that definitely counts too!

Week 8

I got back into it last week. The sprain was only effecting me if I needed to balance my foot. Like when running on uneven ground. So I tried to keep mostly to pavements, but also just to stay more alert to my footing.

As you can see I am pretty much back to normal. It is less mileage than I hoped but I couldn’t run on Sunday as I helped a friend move house. I have done a half marathon this Monday which is technically week 9. So week 9 may end up seeming to be too much mileage, but its nothing to worry about. I hope to push beyond the half marathon distance (21k) on Sunday (or Monday)

The 12k run on Wednesday was with a friend, where I literally stole chocolate from a child. I will definitely have to make up for that, sorry Jose and Oscar 😉 . I had planned to run with Jose but went for a run the day before. After a couple of k with Jose I could feel like I was running on empty and got a massive craving for a mars bar. I had planned to run home also but ended up getting a tram. People were looking at me oddly as I was wearing a headtorch after running out of the woods/river.

Sorry again about the late update. Things have not been going well, its a good job I have running to fall back on. And raising money for a great cause. Thank you again to everyone who has donated.

Love you all! XXX

Sofie

Sofies Couch to 5K: Introduction

I want to tell the story of my C25K experience, including how much I weighed the routes I used and how I felt during and after. Fortunately I recorded most of this using GPS and forum posts so I can look back and see what was going on at the time.

To start with, I am 5’11” and weighed well over 105 kg when I started C25K, I was incredibly unfit. I point this out because so many people see me and say I must have always been a runner or fit. That’s a compliment and fine but I feel like a lot of people try to rule themselves out of running by mentally editing my history. And I feel like I worked hard back then so I’m not going to let people forget. Even my family who knew me as unhealthy most of my life say I have always been fit, well this is a photo of me in 2016.

I was working at the Manchester Royal infirmary at the time, I had the best job in the world, which is one that you want to do. I was a research assistant on a project hacking the Kinect, a gaming device, to make it track breathing rates of patients in the hospital. A proof of concept type of study and as a physicist into medicine I loved it. It was strange then that I was suffering from depression, and it was getting worse.

I used to walk the 4 kilometers into work everyday, and enjoyed it whilst listening to a podcast or audiobook. But the depression made this difficult, I would rather stay in bed for 20 more minutes and get a bus. This was one change that seemed to happen without me noticing, and when I did it forced me to think about things. Another was finding it harder to put my shoes on because my belly was just in the way making it hard to breathe. Walking up stairs to my flat left me breathless and sweaty. I kept having to buy larger clothes to stay comfortable. I remember deciding to walk home one day and finding it had become much more difficult, to the extent that I was shaking. Looking in the mirror I would see someone else looking back, this wasn’t me, it wasn’t fair.

I remember sometimes coming home and seeing females running past and becoming sad and depressed. “I will never be like that” I thought and I meant it in two ways. I meant it in the way that I will never be a runner again. I also meant it in the way that I wish I was born female. At the time I focussed on the running aspect, I honestly believed all men wished they were born female, it never crossed my mind that I could be transgender because all I knew about that was that you are born in the wrong body. Well, I was in for a surprise on that front and so was everyone who knew me, but that was for later. I had become resigned to being unfit and unhappy, I had tasted the world and didn’t want anymore of it, I wanted things to be simple, I wanted to be drunk. I was the loneliest person on the planet.

This carried on until the end of March 2016, I found myself in a mental health ward. It was an observation ward, with 4 of us to a room. I think I had gone to A&E because I was feeling suicidal, I had started to self harm again, cutting my arms but after 2 days they let me go, it was on April fools day, haha.. I had to make the decision between ending everything, or trying to get better mentally. With the stakes so high, I thought I have to at least try something, I might aswell right? The main thing I wanted to do at this time was to stop drinking, It had become a crutch to cope with life but I knew if I could ditch that I could make other changes too, drastic changes, but ditching alcohol would also mean facing my thoughts.

Stopping drinking was very hard, I had no brakes because I was suicidal. When you are only thinking a day, week or maybe month ahead you don’t really care about alcoholism. Contrary, actually I just wanted something to come along and kill me. I would drink most nights, I didn’t get drunk on nights before work and could do drink free days but it was getting harder. I had also began self harming again by cutting my arms. If you wanted to find me those days, my hobby was getting blackout drunk in the pub, reading comics. Somehow just by being surrounded by people in the pub I felt less lonely, even if I never talked to anyone.

I could see many benefits of not drinking, I was spending a fortune on alcohol for one thing. It would mean saving a lot of money, I was spending £50 some nights on alcohol. Dieting and losing weight, I was consuming 1,000s of calories through alcohol alone, and even more via obligatory kebabs. Along with this, I could be more active instead of drinking, I could go out for a walk instead of being hungover, burning calories, instead of consuming them.

Once I was free again I looked on-line for a way to start running, there I found the Couch to 5k programme and a lovely community of people who had completed it or were on their own journey through it. And so, about a week before my 28th birthday in April 2016, I ditched the drink and started Couch to 5k. This isn’t a complete success story, I did finish and I did lose a lot of weight, but the alcohol came back. The transformation that happened during these few weeks were incredible however, and it gave me the base fitness to start running again when I once again found myself deeper into a mental hospital almost 8 months later.

This is a brief section of my life, it wasn’t the first time I had tried to get into running, but It was a big lesson for me, and at that time the longest time I managed to stay off alcohol since I was 18.

In future posts I will tell you the details I put on the C25K forum and some of the notes I took on how my dieting was going along with how I remember it. As you can see below, eventually through running I found myself, I am still finding pieces here and there.

I am doing this in the hopes that it encourages others to try C25K as you can tell I really enjoyed doing it, and even though I fell off the wagon, it really helped me start running with just the knowledge that I could still do it. As a very large person, it gave me a lot of self confidence, along with being an overweight runner I also had plenty of scars along my arms that I was extremely self conscious about.

I have seen people in their 60 and 70’s starting and loving C25K, falling in love with running in the process, ant they all believed they were never able to run. If you are thinking of starting it, then why not join in?

Lots of love to everyone,

Sofie xxxxxxx

Trans Girls London Marathon Week 4 Training Update

Total Training: 169.8k
This week: 28.2k

An update on my training during week 4.

I am running the London Marathon to raise money for the LGBT Foundation, please also consider donating here:

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SofieLewis

Things were looking good this week in terms of the injury. Leg was a little tender on Monday and Tuesday but after then it seems fine. I have also been quite lazy. Only going to the gym once! So this week I intend to finally get an official training plan.

Mentally things have been bad. I had to get some help so went to the GP and he prescribed me Mirtazapine. I needed help with my thoughts and to get to sleep. The pills did work and provided some much needed relief but are a little too powerful and had some bad side effects. I will show you what happened and the effects they seem to have had on parkrun and my resting heart rate. They tend to leave me feeling quite dizzy and clumsy for 24 hours.

This is all a little complicated by the fact I am doing my own HRT, I have no help coming from the NHS nor will my GP check my bloods.

Currently as I write this I’m having the withdrawal effects from the Mirtazapine, something I am unfortunately familiar with, but surprising after just 2 pills with a day off in between. I figure they feel more powerful since I have been off alcohol so long, and the only time I was on them was when I was drinking. The withdrawal effects are hard to explain, currently it is like my skull is groaning like a ships hull as it is crushed in ice. Whenever my heart beats I can hear and feel it in my ear a bit like my ear is letting out gas (it isn’t, don’t worry) but if I am concentrating on something else it isn’t as noticeable which is nice. That is probably why I am up at 1:15 AM writing this. So…………

RUNNING!!!!

Monday, I went again with Didsbury Runners, I decided to go on the shorter route this time at 8 minute miles. As I run there 2.5k and back I didnt want to do too much with my leg still a little dodgy. It was nice to meet everyone though and got in 10.2k overall. Apparently it was the largest turnout of Didsbury Runners, which is impressive in the cold.

Tuesday I went to the gym, I think I did an hour on the crosstrainer and came back home.

Wednesday is the day I went to the GP, I didn’t accomplish anything else and took the 1st mirtazapine that night. It got me to sleep so well that I slept for 14 hours, only waking up once for the toilet and getting back to sleep quickly. Usually the past few weeks that has kept me up for another 2 hours at least. Sleep is very important for recovery so this was good for running too.

Thursday, I went to a running injury prevention (unfortunate acronym) event at a private hospital nearby. It was free and one of the Didsbury runners had linked to it on Facebook. There was free food and the even was interesting. First 2 lectures on running injury prevention, which had a lot of new information and I will be looking in more detail. Especially surprised to hear that the current consensus is that stretching and sports massages have no effect on reducing injury risk. Conflicts what I have been practising and preaching here so look forwards to reading into that. Instead they said current advice is to do dynamic stretching and warmup. It does seem like the Spire hospital has a crack team of running specialists. They also showed evidence that running actually reduces the risk of getting bad joints as you age.

Afterwards there were practical exercise session where we did a bit of physio led pilates, which was new to me and some other workouts to help stay injury free. A lot of this I have seen variations of, including buildin up core and activating glutes aswell as improving balance or proprioceprtion, to keep the knees and joints steady as you run so as to avoid injury. All good stuff. Aparently I am good at single leg squats 🙂

I decided to run to this even on thursday and afterwards went for a longish run. I found after a few k I couldnt quite keep up with my old power, something I am blaming entirely on the Mirtazapine. I also had a stomach problem on the run, which I dont usually get fortunately, blame that on the meds too eh?

Thats when I looked at my resting heart rate. It has risen quite high due to all the transphobia related stress from media and online. Usually I expect it to be in the low 40’s when I am training but the day after mirtazapine it spiked low. What us computer chess nerds call a moob.

Resting HR moobing after taking meds

Also I should point out that 47 and above is high for me, this is what I would expect if I was overtraining and what I was seeing late into training for the Manchester marathon last year. Usually my Resting HR is below 45 during training, when I have stopped training due to injury or before a race it goes to below 40 once I got down to 32 for 1 day.

So I believe my resting heart rate is high due to the anxiety I am having, which I can believe, I can feel it pounding most of the day and it is racing at night as my mind goes over things. So its not surprising the drugs reduced it, because after taking them I felt dulled. I didn’t feel good, I just didn’t really feel, and it was a big relief. I do think there was a further reduction due to the drug itself though. Mainly because that is what I want to blame my poor runs on, the one on thursday and also parkrun.

Saturday, I went to parkrun. After taking the mirtazapine I fell asleep at about 9, unheard of for me. I woke up on time but felt very unsteady due to the drugs. They make me feel a bit like being drunk I suppose but not fun, for example when trying to type I often miss the key I am aiming for, I cant focus my eyes quite so well, etc, this lasts for about 24 hours after taking them. I decided to go anyway, If people were volunteering I had better go! I ran hard and tried to get a PB but it just wasn’t in me, and I am definitely blaming the mirtazapine so there! I still did it in around 21:45 and thanks to Kim for adding me to the results after my barcode seemed to have failed.

So I have been calming myself without drugs and doing some writing, it has been partially successful!

Running video coming soon, and more on my own C25k journey.

Hope everyone is doing well, it has been lovely hearing from people who have started C25K because of my blog, let me know how you are getting on and lots of love to everyone!!!!!!

Sofie,

XXXXXXXX

Trans Girls London Marathon Week 3 Training Update

Total Training: 141.6k
This week: 27.8k

An update on my training during week 3.

A completely unrelated photo. Do you like my glasses?

This one is a bit late, this week was extremely difficult regarding my transition. After a 17 month wait I had my first appointment at the Leeds Gender Identity Clinic (GIC) on Tuesday, which ended up being a triage so I can see a Dr and get help. Now I’m in another waiting list to see the Dr… which will take “12 months maybe more”. My GP wont give me a bridging prescription for HRT and I felt very close to cracking. Will write more about this and what I plan to do separately.

My running has reduced this week. I can feel shin splints beginning in my left leg so taking it easy. Because of this I also went to the Withington Physio to get a sports massage on Friday. They are so nice there and despite not seeing me for months they remembered me and correctly gendered me which was awesome. Recommended to any other LGBT people in Didsbury/Withington area

One of my problems is that my flat is cold most of the time so once I get back from a run I find it very hard to do my usual foam rolling and stretching. This has meant that knots are building up and my muscles are getting stiffer. A sports massage is a good way to help with that, loosening up the muscles and getting the blood flow back to help them recover properly.

Week 3 has therefore been mostly cross training at the gym. I went 5 times and run there and back which adds 1k of running every time.
Wednesday I did an hour on the treadmill at the gym with an uphill bit at the end.

I was feeling so lousy and had so little sleep that I missed parkrun on Saturday, which made me feel worse as my running club was doing a parkrun in blue event to raise money for Mind. (Blue Monday)

Sunday I went for a 9k run to celebrate a huge show of solidarity for trans people that spontaneously happened online. After transphobic tweeter Graham Linehan who once wrote Father Ted, petitioned the national lottery to revoke funding for transgender childrens charity Mermaids. A youtuber hbomberguy started a charity stream playing Donkey Kong 64 to completion. He expected to raise around $5,000 however the outpouring of support surprised everyone. In the end raising over $345,000 for Mermaids. The CEO of mermaids joined in at times and talked of how she kept suicide watch over her daughter and why it inspired her to make sure no other parents or children had to suffer in the same way. Later in the stream famous people were coming on to support trans rights including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who won the biggest upset victory in the US 2018 midterm-election. Despite this Graham continues to lie, telling his followers that Mermaids gives untested drugs to children. Mermaids provides support groups, I honestly feel he would prefer trans children to commit suicide rather than get support from Mermaids.

During the stream #ThankyouGraham and #Mermaids trended globally on twitter for unwittingly raising awareness of transphobia and mermaids.
This has been the biggest outpour of pro trans sentiment I have ever seen, it was so promising and I was so close to breaking point from transphobia and lack of anything from NHS.

It also got me to go on a run to celebrate feeling OK for the first time in about 3 weeks. Up until this weekend I haven’t been able to go for 10 minutes without all the horrible transphobia going through my mine, like having an imaginary conversation with a TERF, then catching myself doing it. I wake up at night for a wee and then it happens again, my heart races and I can’t get back to sleep. It has truly been horrible.

So that covers week 3, disappointing from the running standpoint but I will get through. Fitness wise I feel good, the break from running over Christmas has improved me somehow, Its just a shame I seem to be getting injured again. More cross-trainer this week. I also want to make another running video!

Here is the link to my fundraising page please help if you can donate.

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SofieLewis

Love you all XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Sofie

London Marathon Week 2: Training Update

Total Training: 113.8k
This week: 39.2k

An update on my training during week 2.

In case you missed it I made a video of one of my training runs last week, check it out :p

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ge_vVdMgB1I&t=1s

It was extremely nice to be back with the Didsbury Runners on Monday. It has been 9 weeks since I last made it, due to my injury and being in Skipton/running the Bolton Abbey half. No wonder I missed it so much. I was unsure what group to join but went back into the fast long run group and was glad I did as it felt very manageable. Running there and back as well totalled 15.5k, so a nice long run.

On Tuesday I met a friend in town and say my fist tattoo being done. I also picked up some calligraphy stuff and have been trying that out.

On Wednesday I went on another longish run of 13.2k. This was up-river on a route I used to do a lot. I feel like it has been a long time since I did that route too so it was nice to see all those familiar sights. Speed wise I went a little too fast, but I felt great. I need to slow down a little this week on these long runs as I am feeling it in my legs. At this stage coming back from an injury, slow and steady is the way to go. I have a lot of easy gains as my fitness comes back while pushing too hard only increases my risk of injury.

On Thursday and Friday I ran to the gym and did 1 hour on the cross trainer. I am glad I have that resource to be able to do cardio whilst not pounding my legs. I really want to try and get into cycling for this reason.

On Saturday I was feeling super low, there had been another attack on transgender people by the press. I managed to get out of bed and go to Fletcher Moss parkrun though. This time I wasn’t late. I jogged 2.5k there as a warmup and then went for it. It has been a while since I went for a PB at parkrun but this was one of those times. My watch was just over 21minutes but the official time was 20:59. I am very happy with that as it is a slower course with a hill that you do twice. I was speaking to someone after who said it was about 50 seconds slower for him than South Manchester parkrun so I am nearly on PB shape to get a sub 20 minute 5k. Really feels like the rest and x-mas eating has done me good.

I spoke to people after and then just cried on the way home. When transphobic things like that happen in the press I feel like someone has poured boiling water over me in the city centre, and nobody thinks there is anything wrong with it. It is a traumatic event. It then brings up all the previous times it has happened and just plays around in my mind. I need to start doing mindfulness exercises again as I have lapsed on that front.

I managed to get to Trans Mcr at the LGBT Foundation after parkrun which was helpful and emotional. If transphobic people were witness to the struggles that people go through then they would quickly change their minds. Of course the true phsychopaths would still want to enjoy themselves on twitter or line their pockets by creating a controversy, and as they are cowards there is nothing like punching down. My human rights are not controversial. I did not choose to be trans.

If you don’t know by now, I am raising money for the wonderful LGBT Foundation by running the London Marathon, the training of which I am banging on about here. (See I can be just like Shakespeare) Check out my donation page:

https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SofieLewis

Thank you to everyone who has donated I love you!!!!

Yesterday (Sunday) I could feel some pain in my left leg. It isn’t an injury but I need to back down a bit. So I ran to the gym again (0.5k each way) and did an hour on the crosstrainer. The pain is probably because I haven’t been stretching and foam rolling enough. Primarily because my flat is so cold so the first thing I want to do is shower and wrap up. So I will probably skip Didsbury runners today and go to the gym. I then want to get a sports massage this week, just being proactive. You do learn a lot about listening to your body when you start running for me by going through the full process of getting and injury. This time I can tell that shin splints are likely if I don’t loosen my muscles.

So almost 40k in week 2, I will try to hold at 40k for week 3 slowing down a tad on the easy runs. Still no official plan, sorry, but don’t panic. I need to figure out my limits in this human host body (sarcasm). I am not really from out of space you know….

I have my first appointment at the GIC tomorrow so wish me luck, it has been a long wait. I have been coming across doubt’s analyzing them and overcoming them, which has been nice. The hardest parts are really society and my depression.

Muchest of love to you all! XXXX