Great Birmingham 10k

So I had a pretty awesome day today running the Birmingham 10k.

I went into it with an aim of 44 minutes but I was starting to feel sceptical. My previous 10k PB was 47 minutes but that was ages ago. My recent 5k times are 21:05-21:30 consistently so 44 seemed achievable.

But I’ve been sleeping approximately 5 hours a night all week, I’ve run every day (not well rested, but mental health comes first), and I have a sore throat that started last night and hasn’t improved so I’m pretty sure I’m coming down with something… and a few days ago the weather forecast was 18 degrees and 80% humidity. Yuck.

Anyway, I smashed it. Safely sub-44 and on a flatter course would have gone sub-42 easily. Pacing was OK. I took the inclines quite slowly whereas a lot of people around me didn’t, who I subsequently re-overtook on the flat. It rained so it felt a lot cooler, which was nice. I had horrible flashbacks to the freezing rain of last year’s Birmingham half marathon when we were standing around before we started, but it was fine once we got going. I finished in position 300-ish out of 7000-ish, so I’m pretty chuffed with that.

Strava logged a 5k PB of 20:01. So why am I struggling to go sub-21 on Parkrun?!

Naturally, I have now signed up to the half marathon in October.

Pretty sure I’m going to be full of cold this time tomorrow though. The sore throat has got worse and my nose is running.


Breaking up the work posts a bit, over the past year I’ve really struggled with what my counsellor refers to as ‘self care’, i.e. doing things that you enjoy and looking after your mental and physical health.

It’s been difficult because a lot of things are more of a long term commitment. I really like plants for example, but my interest in looking after them waned because I didn’t really expect to be around to see them grow. As such, I have a lot of plants that wanted repotting this spring but they’ll have to wait until next spring now. Oh well, at least they’re all still alive. Well, most of them.

One thing I have managed to do though is keep on top of my running. Running’s great because you go outside, you get fresh air, you tire yourself out, and you feel better during and afterwards. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold, dark, raining, snowing, windy; I don’t care. I don’t miss runs unless I’m seriously incapacitated. There is obviously a long term progression with running, which is very rewarding, but there’s an immediate hit as well. The fact I could be dead next week never mattered because I got some benefit there and then.

Before all this kicked off, I was running maybe 2-3 times a week. I always enjoyed it but I was never 100% dedicated. I quickly fell into running 6-7 times a week as a coping mechanism. I’m running 40-50 miles a week right now just for the fun of it. Even when my anaemia got bad and I actually fainted after a 5k run, I still got back on the horse a couple of weeks later.

I ran a half marathon back in October and really enjoyed it. After that I started doing my local Parkrun (timed 5k) every weekend. I did the special one on Christmas day. Even feeling like my life was on the verge of ending all the time, I found myself actually looking forward to Saturday mornings. I felt kind of guilty about it because I always had the idea that I could easily be dead by Saturday in the back of my mind, but somehow I still looked forward to it anyway. I even decided that if things didn’t turn out well, I was going to leave behind a significant donation to Parkrun (which is made possible by a lot of people giving up their free time).

I feel like I’ve grown a lot in this regard. I’ve run for years but the idea of doing organised runs with other people was always intimidating for me. That’s just self confidence and general anxiety issues, I think. But here I am now, doing Parkrun every week (half way to my 50 t-shirt), I’ve got a 10k next weekend, and I’ll be doing at least one half marathon this year. I’ve also entered into the ballot for the London Marathon next year, which could be pretty awesome, and if I’m not successful with that, I’ll be looking at other marathons.

Running is probably the only thing that has consistently brought me pleasure for the past year.

Work drama

So, the mediation session was about six weeks ago now and I don’t feel it helped at all.

We were supposed to have a follow up meeting after 4 weeks but I asked to postpone it because I had other stresses in my life. I then asked to postpone it again because of various reasons and it’s going to be delayed until the end of June now.

Becky has in my opinion still been quite passive-aggressive towards me, but at a much lower level. She has talked about me to a friend at work and said she thought everything would go back to normal with me. She’s done this a few times now and it’s starting to grate because I end up having to justify myself to the friend, as she gives him the impression it’s just me refusing to get along with her. In reality, if I try to be polite to her she’ll respond with rudeness. I know this because we’ve been here twice before, and that’s exactly what happens, and I end up feeling hurt and confused. This is now the third time since January I’ve had to justify myself to the friend. I didn’t take the bait this time, I just sent her a softly worded but firm email suggesting she that speaks to me directly if she wants to improve our relationship. She replied with “noted”.

The day after I sent her that email, we had a disaster at work where somebody tried to defrost some milk in the microwave and cooked it instead, causing the carton to explode and the milk apparently got into the circuitry so the microwave stopped working. Becky discovered this and said to somebody else “some idiot has cooked the milk” in a very loud whisper within earshot of me. I am one of very few people who defrost milk in the microwave, so I’m pretty sure that was aimed at me (note: it wasn’t me, but I do know who it was). Even if it wasn’t, it’s not OK to call your colleagues idiots. Not inside the office, anyway.

There have been some discussions between her and a manager about getting some real or artificial plants in the office. I don’t know exactly what was said because I have heard all of this second hand (via the friend, so she has continued to talk about me to him), but my understanding is that a couple of days after the microwave issue, she suggested I could look after real plants. Maybe it would have been polite to ask me first?!

About a week later she actually asked me about this, but it was a bizarre conversation and she was obviously extremely uncomfortable speaking to me and didn’t mention she’d already suggested it. I think the manager must have told her to get a clear answer out of me. I just said I’d think about it (I won’t) and no more has been said yet.

To me this all seems passive-aggressive and a bit weird.

I was in two minds as to whether there was even any point in having the meeting. My counsellor advised me to postpone it and think about it rather than just cancel it, so I did. But I’m pretty sure we’re now past the point of trying to talk things out.


The next part of the work story is that HR arranged a mediation session between Becky and me. I didn’t know how to approach it, so I discussed a lot with my counsellor and she advised me to adopt a position of explaining that I found her behaviour confusing.

My personal belief is that Becky has or had romantic feelings for me and in the run up to her marriage decided she needed to put a stop to it. It would explain why she has been rude to me when I’ve tried to be polite to her, and why when I simply stopped speaking to her she became very offended and started arguments and passive-aggressive sniping. i.e. there is a lot of inconsistency coming from her because she has confused feelings she can’t manage. It would also explain why she accused me of coming on to her – projection! She definitely does a lot of that. But I can’t just come out with “well, I think you’re in love with me, let’s talk about that”, so we went with the confusion angle.

It worked about as well as you might expect: I came out even more confused. She was quite disrespectful throughout the whole session. She was annoyed with me but didn’t clearly articulate why. The only clear point she made was that I don’t say hello to her when I come into the office, which seems a bit odd because I don’t pass close enough to her for it to be natural. Afterwards I was sceptical this was a genuine point. I tried very hard not to make her defensive and I had discussed a lot with my counsellor what to focus on and how to phrase things neutrally, but it was all effectively wasted effort because Becky opened by saying everything was my fault as she puts in lots of effort to improve our relationship and I don’t return it. It was easy to rebut, I just said “can you give an example of that?” and she couldn’t. But for me, the idea wasn’t to prove her wrong, it was to try to improve things, and she went in with an attitude not conducive to that goal.

I pressed her on the fact she’d twice accused me of coming on to her and the accusation magically disappeared. She claimed she didn’t remember saying it the second time, which didn’t make me trust her any more.

I actually came out with a lot less respect for her than I had going in. I felt she handled the meeting unprofessionally while I was quite pleased with the way I handled it. We didn’t make much progress, but at the time it seemed OK because I felt like I’d done what I could.

The main outcome was that we agreed that we’d give each other space, which is all well and good, but we spend 8 hours a day in the same room. I started taking it literally and worked from home a lot, in part because I feel completely uncomfortable being anywhere near her. I don’t find her behaviour towards me predictable or professional, it causes me a lot of anxiety, and I just don’t want to deal with it.


So the biggest issue in my life right now is work. I’ve had a lot of issues with a woman I’ll call Becky. We used to get along really well, but shortly before my life imploded in other ways, she started being weird towards me. I was really patient with her for a long time, but after 3 months she’d become ruder and ruder and had started belittling me in front of people and enough was enough. I complained to my boss, who couldn’t have cared less, and I ended up moving to the other side of the office to get away from her.

I always resented having to move, because it isolated me, and shortly afterwards my anaemia got a lot worse. I was feeling dreadful, she was still being rude to me and accused me of coming on to her(!!!). I had a meltdown and called her a bully. I have mixed feelings about that in retrospect. It wasn’t tactful but it also wasn’t unjustified. I ended up taking mid-November through to the end of December off sick.

I went back in January and avoided her as much as possible. We ended up having a completely unprofessional and loud argument in the kitchen one morning at the end of January because she was upset I was avoiding her and not speaking to her. During this argument she accused me of “still” coming on to her, which was a bit silly at this point, as I had not initiated any contact with her for about 3 months.

She started making an effort to be polite to me after that, but she suddenly stopped for reasons only she understands, and started being strange and rude again. At that point I went to HR, who arranged a mediation session. I’ll post more about that next time.