the eve of the big day

swimmer on block before diving into pool
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The dress hangs on the rear of the door,

Catching light that streams before it sets.

The shoes are placed like man and wife,

By the door, ready to take me where I must go

And the bags are packed to bursting full

Of things I know I will not need.

But, still excitement burns through from the core

With a raging heat that can’t be quenched.

It’s just like Christmas Eve, when as a child

Those butterflies would hold me up at night,

Knowing Santa’s on his way with gift wrapped love

And sprinkling magic dust on furniture

That in the day was dull to touch.

That fiery joy will burn all night, and for a part

Of long days yet to come. If I could sleep

I’d dance through to the main event,

Forgetting that sweet pain that stings

On the eve of a big day.

I’m running a long race tomorrow and the nerves are starting to set in. Not in a bad way, but in a way that makes me feel a little on edge; it’s like some primal part of my brain knows that something big is on the horizon.

I don’t know if you are the nervous type, but as a child I used to vomit when I got nervous. It was excruciating to want to do something really well but to struggle to do it because I would get myself into such a state. It wouldn’t matter what I was doing: exams, swim meets, Christmas; I would always end up making myself ill.

I’ve gotten better at controlling my nerves as I’ve gotten older, but I still feel that familiar twist in my stomach on the night before a race. I know it’s going to hurt, but I also know that I have nothing to fear because I know that I’m enough no matter what happens, and I never knew that to be true when I was a kid.

If you’re feeling anxious about anything, just know that you are enough too.

Much Love

Rachel xx

the end is getting close and i don’t know how i feel

grayscale photo of woman
Photo by Oliver Sjöström on Pexels.com

Crossing the second shipping lane

With heavy arms that turned a thousand times,

But now the sun is risen and the fog

Has cleared to show a sea that flickers

Under daylight’s gentle morning kiss

And that dread of hours more has disappeared,

Now I’ll sort of miss relentless strokes,

The salt that once just burned my mouth

And the cold that enveloped my heart.

All that once was pain and strife

Is suddenly the reason for my life.

The end is near, I thought I’d flow

With joy at knowing I could end

This swim, this trial that has consumed

My every waking minute and

Instead I feel the ache of love

That’s being ripped away.

I just finished my third out of four essays which means that I am almost there! I am almost finished! And I am sure that most people have reached this point in something that has felt like a slog, the moment when you know it’s almost over. And the strangest thing happens. You realise that you’re going to miss it.

I’ve had this feeling over and over and I remember is most acutely from swimming the Channel. There is this feeling when you reach French waters and you know that you’re going to make it; you suddenly want to keep going. You have struggled for twelve hours, swimming through cold and dark and shipping lanes and shoals of jellyfish and you thought that you wanted nothing more than to end it.

I think that sometimes we’re addicted to pain and we just want to put our bodies and minds through hell. It makes you feel alive to feel pain and discomfort and many of us are sometimes really frightened that we aren’t living life.

I have this feeling that I’m going to end up crying when I press send on that final essay. And then I’ll probably start searching for something else to torture myself with. Because that’s the way I am.

Much Love

Rachel xx

on being a hopeless failure

Just keep trying,

Even when it’s hard,

Even when it feels like you’ll never quite get there

Even if you never do get there

You’ll learn so much from the fall from grace

The errors you made

And the memories you’ll make

As you run through life.

So, I like to run. I’m not a very good runner, but I do love to see how far I can go. And the reason I’ve not written anything these last few days is because I was attempting a 100 mile run.

I haven’t done one in ages and I only put in a month’s training so my chances weren’t great, but I stood on the starting line and I gave it a go.

I got to 80 miles and I just ran out of steam and had to give up. I can make loads of excuses, but the truth of the matter is that I just hadn’t put the work in.

However, that doesn’t take the sting out of failing. I set out to run 100 miles and I only ran 80 and that really hurts. There is shame in having to drop out at a check point and I’ve felt crap all day.

But as I was driving home this afternoon, this Coldplay song came on and the first lines just really resonated with me. It reminded me that failure is a part of the human experience.

Every human has to fail at things and we can learn so much from the fails. My body is stronger for the run and I need to be proud for the distance I did do. I mean, who can say that they can run 80 miles? That’s a pretty cool achievement in itself.

So, my advice today would be to embrace those fails. I have a tonne of great memories that I’ll take from that run. I don’t need a medal to tell me that I did something impressive. And it’s put a fire in my belly to go again and get it done.

Much Love

Rachel xx

why would you purposely put yourself through so much pain?

I’m running 100 miles next weekend and it’s something that I’ve done to myself several times before. And the question that I get asked the most is why do it to yourself?

I’m a big fan of the pain cave and so I’ve found myself running 100 milers and swimming the English Channel on multiple occasions. I have spent time while doing these wondering what on earth it was that made me sign up. What has made up to 300 people all stand on the start line with me?

There must be something that is enticing to these people. I met one person who was on their 197th hundred mile run so it’s not like these crazy people are doing it to see if they can complete the distance.

I’m writing this because I recently watched a film on YouTube that touched on the reason why and it struck a chord with me. The guy on the film said that doing these events takes us to a dark place, and it is only when we are in this dark place that we learn about our true selves.

He said that we can learn more about ourselves in a twenty four hour event than we can in years of normal life, and I found that so true. I can go through such a journey that it can make me feel euphoric and that is quite addictive for people like me.

It’s the lows (and the highs) that I feel during runs and swims that inspire me to write and to create and that can only be a beautiful thing.

I urge you to have a go at really pushing yourself at some point so that you can really see what kind of person you are. It might just be a 5k, but push yourself to do it and really embrace the pain and the discomfort. You (probably) won’t regret it.

Much Love

Rachel xx