They say a photo speaks a thousand words. I don’t know who took the photo, but they captured amazingly where my head was at. I think I was initially confused as to how I had come second and the time wasn’t what I’m capable of, that wasn’t in my plan. I was racking my brain to work out what had happened, but this horrible feeling of disappointment was eating me alive and beginning to pull me into a hole I haven’t resurfaced from yet. I can’t explain the mixture of emotions, all I know is I don’t want to be there again. I CAN’T do it again.
It wasn’t until I began the interviews and question after question is being fired at me, asking me how I felt? What happened? But then the important question around my preparation and lead up came and I suddenly realised it had been far from ideal. The stress of a major champs build up, always leads me to pushing the limits around food choices and fasting but that never carries into holding camp/the last couple of weeks before I race. This time however, I’d done a 30 hour fast in the week of my race, I was using laxatives like they were going out of fashion (having not used them for weeks before heading out to Dubai). I was restricting my eating, going back to a 18-20 hour fasted window most days and only eating small amounts in my meals. But this left me hungry. When you’re at a championship and you spend most of your time sat in your room, boredom and hunger very quickly lead to just reaching for the first food you can find. I didn’t have many bad snacks, just cereal bars/rice cakes/philli and bread sticks/fruit. These are what I’d reach for first. But there were the bags of sweets put down for race day. 2 sweets became 4, 4 became 6, 6 became 8 and before I knew it the bag was gone. I’d be so frustrated when I reached for the sweets because I’d already eaten so many calories of better snacks trying to avoid having sweets but then caved anyway. So then the voice in my head would say keep eating and then see if you can make yourself sick. Frustratingly, I can’t always induce vomiting, so I take more laxatives and do a longer fast.
Had these choices so close to a championship been the reason I underperformed? This year I have been less in control of my disorder and my desire to binge but for the first time, this hasn’t aided my performance. I raced at a lighter weight than I’ve ever been, so I’m confused as to why things didn’t go better. A large part of me is annoyed that this disorder is controlling me and taking away from me what I love. I love pushing the boundaries and being the best athlete, I can be. But currently the athlete I was in Rio 2016 is a distant memory.
Looking back I realised that this year I’ve been more miserable than ever. Constantly thinking about my weight, constantly thinking about what I should or shouldn’t be eating, punishing myself for eating anything that’s not good, avoiding time with my family and friend through fear of having to eat or drink something I didn’t want to or because people would realise how much I was actually fasting.
Even when the numbers on the scales came down, I looked in the mirror and can see no difference. I look back through photos and can’t see where the weight has gone from. I just hit my target and set a lower one. But at what point do I stop?? This year I’ve not been a happy person. An unhappy athlete is going to struggle to perform.
Luckily, I have a great family and friends and an amazing support team. This weekend I even found time to bake cakes for my sister and aunties birthday. Baking’s something, I love but I’d become uncomfortable in my kitchen over the summer and barely bake or cook. This weekend I also made time to see friends and eat rubbish food. But I’ve also put on 2-3kg since pre 400m. So now all I want to do is a 3 day fast and I already took laxatives last night. I made a promise to myself that I’d try getting back to normal eating but on day one I’m already failing, already going back to my default setting.
So what do I do now..? I got back out there and ran the 200m 2 days after the disappointment of my 400m because I felt like I needed to race so I didn’t feel like I was being defeated by my disorder. However, I just walked away feeling more defeated. Wondering what it’s going to take to make me happy again and get me performing at my best…