Row Row Row a Marathon 9-13

Posts 9-13 (the final posts) of Row Row Row a Marathon – older blog posts about my training for  the marathon row that I kept over on Blogger.  

Post 9: I row for the candy floss

Just realised I haven’t posted about my triumphant 21K in the gym on Saturday. Took me 2 and a half hours but did it – just 97 (I think) metres short of a half marathon. I stopped at 21K because I like whole figures (plus it’s as nearest as dammit to a half marathon so I’m claiming it) 🙂

Felt great during the row. The worse thing was probably my hands – they got really stiff & I had to keep flexing them. But other than that it was fine.  Listened to another Glee podcast and then a selection of songs from…well I’m not even bothering completing the sentence. You know what I’m listening to (although there were a couple of Wicked songs in there too – just to mix it up!).When I got home had a protein powder brownie then a quorn steak with mushy peas & roasted vegetables. Then we went off to the cinema to see Rock of Ages. As a treat we bought a cute little bucket of candy floss (isn’t everything cute when it’s in a bucket – unless it’s sewage I guess??). I hadn’t had candy floss for years. Not really ideal  given my low carb diet and not I would think recommended post half marathon recovery food but I didn’t care – it was  delicious. Really loved the film too. Mind you these days I just love any musical. I even found myself enjoying Annie the other day….

The next day was not so good. From about midday felt really sick & dizzy – similar to the way I was feeling when I first started doing the longer rows. Seems to take 24 hours for the row to have an effect on me. Tried to eat lots of good stuff (stayed away from the candy floss) but it didn’t really help. On top of it I was really stressed out. We were having our fence done the next day & it was my husband’s first day in his new job, and all of a sudden the fence guy told us he needed electric so the only option was for me to either take the day off or work from home and well the whole thing stressed me out. I hate any change of plan. So from about midday I was all sick and stressed and tetchy and tired and just ugghh – not a good day. Couldn’t even face WoW (in fact it’s Tuesday today & I’ve still not been on Wow) so it was all really bad. Wish I could take these things in my stride  but I can’t. I let them upset me because I get all anxious about it. I then succeeded in making husband feel guilty which then made me feel really guilty and oh what a mess. In the end I went to bed exhausted.

Fence was done the next day though & looks lovely. So it was probably worth all the unnecessary stress…sort of 🙂

Post 10- Still rowing after all these years

Rowing- good. Diet-bad. Ug

Feel quite ill right now after eating a takeaway curry that I ordered online as a nice surprise for husband. It sounded nice on the menu- deep fried potatoes in a creamy sauce, chick peas & lentils, egg fried rice, bhajis. But it all looked and tasted like it was left over from yesterday. And the potatoes were a bit grey. We convinced ourselves that was just the way they’d been cooked – you know that very sophisticated potato cooking method that turns them all grey- all the top chefs are doing it. So we  ate it. And the thought of it is now making me feel queasy. So I’ve eaten a small tub of ice-cream and half a snickers to take the taste away. Medicinal almost.

Up the gym tomorrow for a nice big rowing session. Been just doing 45mins-1hr sessions the last few days & I feel the desperate urge to put in a longer session (this desperate urge came on particularly strong tonight after I finished off the curry, ice-cream and chocolate – what a surprise).

Can see muscles appearing on my calves & torso where previously there was one (not right this second of course – I’m not in the process of some Incredible Hulk like transformation – but generally over the past few weeks). In the mirror this morning my leg didn’t even look like my own. But it responded when I wiggled my toes so I think it was.

Need to get back to the low carb diet soon. Will start again in earnest on Sunday. Would do it tomorrow but I want to go out for breakfast tomorrow morning (I fancy Eggs Benedict with loads of coffee in Frankie & Bennys). Yes – at this eating rate I will need to row a marathon every day just to stay at a weight steady state.

Post 11-Goodbye my friend

Big day for me tomorrow. Where do I start? As Julie Andrews said, “Let’s start at the very beginning.”

Tomorrow – having a crown fitted. No not some local Welsh coronation to oust all this Jubilee shit …no a dental crown. Tomorrow is the temporary one – in a fortnight I get the proper one. This is a massive thing for me. When I was about 9  I knocked my front tooth out playing an extremely dangerous game of “Obstacles” in my friend’s back garden. Basically you jumped over a bench, then a little wall, then ran around a metal chair, and then reversed the jumping. It was great fun until the blood came. Then it got messy. On one of my  turns I caught my foot on the wall and smashed my mouth down on the edge of the metal chair – my gum went up, my tooth came down. It hurt. A lot. Funny enough (not funny then mind) the tooth did not come all the way out. But it came out a lot & jeez – how long are those front teeth. It was dangling on my lower lip. I was taken back to my house & of course terrified my father when he opened the front door- blood everywhere, a tooth resting where it had no place to be & a lip visibly swelling by the second. My father could see right away that we needed to go to the hospital & off we went. He moaned a bit in the car that I had disturbed him watching Kung Fu – remember that old David Carradine show – but I think it was just nerves. He was facing the prospect of a gummy daughter for there rest of his life and it made him edgy.

The first hospital couldn’t help (Singleton – for you Swansea readers) – said we had to go to the casualty unit in another hospital (Morriston – again for the Swansea crowd). But they did gently clean my tooth up & I was reassured that the cleaning bit at least hadn’t hurt. Little did I know what was coming.

On our way to the other hospital we stopped to pick up my mother who had been in work (in the local shop) but who had been called out by hysterical neighbours. She took one look at me and burst into tears. “They may not be able to save it,” she said right away, her motherly reassurance skills falling to a spectacular new low. My father by now had turned to humour as a security blanket and was repeatedly calling me Bugs Bunny. I tried to laugh (although by now was quite terrified), my mother shouted at him for not taking it all seriously, he shouted back (by the way my parents divorced not long after – who knew “Obstacles” could turn out so deadly for the family unit) and in silence (apart from my mother’s gulps and sniffs) we then made our way to the hospital.

At the reception desk – filling out the forms -my mother could not speak because she was crying so hard. My father sat down- he doesn’t do forms. That left it to me to tell the receptionist all my health & family details. It was hard talking with my tooth dangling out but we got through it and I could tell the receptionist was glad I had come along (and probably wanted to slap my mother). By now it was about 6.oopm- the dentist came along (I have no idea why there was a dentist there but he was and he helped so I’m just thankful of that). He told me he would try & save the tooth but there were no guarantees. I agreed I wanted to at least have a go. He sat me in the chair, gave me several injections to numb it all as best he could and then started to push. All I remember from this bit is pain, pain & pain. There was a Mr Man sticker (Mr Happy as it happens) on the window pane & at one stage he came dancing towards me. He seemed to be enjoying it all way too much. I now hate Mr Happy. Apparently I was screaming. My mother told me later my father could take no more at this point. He grabbed the dentist roughly and said, “How much more are you doing?” and terrified the dentist into stopping. The tooth wasn’t all the way up but it was no longer touching my lip so that was an improvement. We all agreed to leave it at that, he put the equivalent of a plaster cast on it – a gum shield type thing but fixed- and we left.

What followed was about 6 weeks of the gum shield – continually looking like a boxer waiting for the bell. My mouth was swollen for ages. I was emotional and kept on asking my mother if she still loved me because I was ugly. I was also found in the bathroom pretending I was a monkey – I have strange coping mechanisms.  Then the shield came off- I was hysterical again because I thought I could feel the tooth coming out when he prised the shield off and when I looked in the mirror and saw it was longer than the other one I threw the mirror down & the dentist shouted at me and told me “It’s not Saturday night now you know.” The tooth felt shaky in the gum for weeks (I once freaked out during school dinners because I thought a chip had made it wobble) but it wasn’t dead and black (the dentist had warned me it might have died in the cast). Still I was called Fangface for some time & its slightly longer length really bothered me. I was given a splint brace – basically a metal stud stuck to the front of the tooth & a brace that fixed an elastic band under the stud to try to gently push the tooth further into the gum. That might have worked a bit but I can’t say I saw much of an improvement. Then my orthodontist said he’d just file it down a bit (they hadn’t wanted to do that in the beginning because they thought it might naturally have gone up  & then would be too short). The filing definitely improved matters. But then I was told I needed a fixed brace (because of my overbite – nothing to do with my injured tooth) and there followed more years of dentistry and teasing in school. I was given head gear – my worse fear at the time-  but thankfully only had to wear that in the night. Finally at about the age of 17 I had it all removed. I thought the hard stuff was over.

And for awhile it was but over the years my poor little tooth has become increasingly discoloured. I avoided dentists like the plague for some time after the fixed brace came off but in the end went for an x-ray- the tooth was effectively dead- the nerve  small and shrivelled. The trauma had been too much for it. And I know it sounds ridiculous but I’m really upset typing this. I feel so bad for the tooth – for what it went through and that ultimately we couldn’t save it. A few months ago (I’m 40 by the way so these few paragraphs have covered 30 years of tooth adventures …it’s not all been bad – it’s had some wonderful holidays & performed admirably in my PhD viva) I had the root cleaned out and bleach injected into it to try to bring the colour back but while there was some improvement it wasn’t right. I thought it would be ok but it still seems to be getting darker- I think the tooth enamel is too porous now and everything I eat & drink stains it. So tomorrow it’s being filed down to half its size & I’m having a crown fitted.

And I’m scared. Scared of how irrevocable it all is. Scared I will miss it. Scared I’m betraying it. And I know that all sounds ridiculous but there you go. Me and my tooth – it’s part of me but I’ve decided it’s unsightly and I’m cutting it away. What does that say about me?

The charity I’m rowing for is  Changing Faces  – the charity that supports people with disfigurements. Is there an hypocrisy in me doing that and yet changing my tooth? Shouldn’t I just accept my tooth for what it is? Is it ok to do what you can to feel comfortable in your own skin or it is terribly shallow and superficial to even think that way when people are having to deal with serious problems? I don’t have any answers to this. I only know I’m committed to doing what I’m doing tomorrow but I’m scared I’m going to cry in the chair- cry not at the pain of whatever is happening but crying because I’m losing a friend. But maybe what I am losing is a whole piece of history – that time with my parents in the car- one of my last memories of them doing anything together with me as parents and even then they were at each other’s throats. The fact my father cared enough to attack the dentist …I don’t get examples of my father’s care very often. I don’t know. Is it that after my parents divorced and I became more and more estranged from them as they made new lives with new partners my tooth stayed with me. It was there with me all the time, through it all. But after tomorrow it will be gone. And I feel really sad.

Post 12-Changing Faces
The charity I am rowing the marathon for is Changing Faces. You can read more about it here I do urge you to go along to see what the charity is all about and what it’s trying to do regarding public attitudes to people with disfiguring conditions. I’ve also just set up my Just Giving page. It can be found here 
So if you want to sponsor my rowing machine marathon (in October) then please do go along to the donation page – it is for an extremely worthwhile charity that is actually changing lives and aspires  to change society – it doesn’t get much bigger than that.Other news: I’ve signed up  for proper rowing lessons – starting tomorrow. While I am rowing fair distances I’m concerned about my technique so tomorrow morning I’m off to the rowing club for the first of 9 lessons to get me rowing properly & then actually get me out on the water (wow fresh air!).  I’m looking  forward to it  but very nervous about it too. I’m shy in my non work setting when I meet new people (in work the manager in me takes over I guess – she’s more competent than the non work me). This anxiety annoys the crap out of me. I’m also guesting on a World of Warcraft podcast at the end of the month & I’m already terrified about that too. Can’t believe I’m going to spend all of July fretting. What a summer (although with the weather we’ve been having what else is there to do?).But the irony of it all doesn’t escape me either.  I’m trying to raise money for  Changing Faces as part of their October Face your Fear campaign. The principle behind this is that “people with an unusual appearance may fear social situations and find it hard to deal with the seemingly constant staring, comments and questions from other people. People with disfigurements often have to face and overcome a fear.” My own social anxiety is absolutely insignificant in comparison but part of this fundraising activity for me personally is to make me  put myself out there more in uncomfortable situations to support a charity that is supporting people who have to do this daily. For more on the Face your Fear campaign please see here tomorrow I’m going to take a deep breath & go down to the river & introduce myself and have my first lesson.  And hopefully I won’t fall in the water.

Post 13-The cake mix got where?

I know I’ve been totally lax – in writing about rowing and, it seems, in actually doing some rowing. Firstly I did go for a proper rowing lesson down the Marina but after one lesson decided real life rowing (you know with water & stuff) wasn’t for me. And even though I learnt some good tips for proper technique I found I really did not enjoy my rowing on the erg when I tried to put them into practice. So I’ve reverted to my usual free spirited erg technique – I enjoy it, it gets me where I need to go (i.e. nowhere but at least I’m racking up the meters) & that’ll do.
But I am having a top of my thigh muscle ache at 40 mins into each row. Those of you more sensible than me will probably point out that if my technique was right that might not happen, To that I will do my usual shrug and take a painkiller.
In tooth news- permanent crown now fitted & looks really nice although still feels weird in my mouth a good week after being fitted & in quiet moments I insist on probing it with my tongue. But I’ll get used to it I suppose. I do feel more confident smiling which has got to be a good thing (no one wants to see me scowling at them every morning because I’m not confident enough to rearrange my face into another expression).
The diet is officially broken this week because husband has been making cakes for his work’s open day & last night I could not resist licking the bowl, licking the spoon, in fact licking everything cake mix had touched (though that led to some dubious claims on his part…..). And then of course eating the cakes (I did let him take some to the open day). So I’m in desperate need of a good workout up the gym on Sat or Sun (ideally both I know).
I’m also now addicted to low sugar energy drinks. How bad for you are they? There seems to be loads of B vitamins in them which is a good thing isn’t it? I know there’s lots of caffeine but that doesn’t really seem to have an effect on me (I say typing furiously after drinking just half a can).
 So cake mix and low sugar energy drinks – the right fuel for a marathon row…..? 🙂

And that’s the end of the Row Row Row a Marathon blog posts. If you’ve missed how the enterprise  all turned out (despite cake mix & low energy drinks) see here –  I did it Adriaaan I did it 🙂


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