Sunday, 27 May 2012

Bristol Half Marathon

The other week I signed up to do the Bristol Half Marathon at the end of September. I've done quite a few half marathons over the years but this will be my first one since transition and so should be interesting. Technically no matter how well I do on the day it will be a personal best.

A little while ago I read on Kasmira's blog about her use of the Run Less Run Faster programme in her training so I bought a cope from Amazon and having worked through the book will be using that as the basis of my training.

The schedule calls for 3 runs a week which are all very specific in what they aim to achieve. It also requires two other non-running workouts a week as cross-training.

My plan is to run on a Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, swim on a Tuesday and Thursday and cycle on a Saturday.

Running and going to the gym have been a bit hit and miss for me since January. I've not been to the gym as regularly as paying for membership would require, which does make it a very expensive membership. In fact when I went today it had been the first time in a month that I'd been to the gym. Far too expensive a membership to not use!

So. In order to make sure that I stick to the training schedule I'm going to post start posting weekly what my training for the week is and then at the end of the week review how I did and post the following weeks schedule. That way I'll have the extra incentive to stick with my training and not let it slide.

This week the schedule is:
Monday: Rest Day
Tuesday: Swim
Wednesday: 2 miles easy, 3 miles (at short tempo pace), 1 mile easy
Thursday: Swim
Friday: 10 – 20 minutes warmup, 12 * 400 metres (with a 90 seconds rest interval between each), 10 minute cool down
Saturday: Bike ride
Sunday:  8 miles (at half marathon pace plus 20 seconds / mile)

Sunday is a long run so resting on a Monday allows me to recover which is an important part of the programme.

The Tuesday swim is where I'm going to work on endurance and simply put in the laps. Thursday will be where I work on technique. I've chosen these days as they are the mornings that the local swim club don't use the pool so there are a couple of extra lanes available for swimming, including a training lane.

I'm aiming to complete Bristol in under 2 hours and so all of the paces that I'll be training at are based on that time. Short tempo pace is 8 minute 36 seconds / mile. Pace for the Friday runs will vary depending on how far each of the repeats is, for 400 metres its 1 minute 55 seconds.

Where I live is fairly hilly so it is going to be interesting trying to complete achieve some of these paces. I might have to try and find some nice flat areas in one of the local parks or out at the local country park.

Well that's this weeks plan, with a bit more information than I'll probably use in future updates.

See you all next week when I review how I've done.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Letting it all out

Reading Kelly's update about 6 months of HRT made me think about letting my emotions out.

I've always kept my emotions under control and not allowed others to see them. While I was at school I think there were only two occasions when my emotions got the better of me and others saw.

The first was when I was at primary school and a friend and I fell out to such an extent that we ended up fighting in front of a large group of people. I don't like violence and will try to avoid it but on this occasion there was no way out and the two of us punched each other until the fight was broken up. By the time that happened I was in tears. Of course whatever had caused it was forgotten about within days and we were back to being friends again.

The second occasion was at home when I was a teenager. My father had been winding me up and I snapped. I picked up a chair and had it over my head ready to swing it at him when my mother shouted at me to put it down. My mum can be really scary when she wants and her shouting ended the matter. It was at that point that I started keeping my emotions tightly under control.

Over the years since then I've gotten very angry about somethings but I've kept it in check. I surprised everyone on a team working course once when we were going round the group and giving feedback about what we liked about each other and what we'd have liked to see the other people do that they hadn't done. When it came to me one of the guys said he'd liked how I'd stayed calm no matter what we'd been asked to do. Everyone's jaws dropped when I told them that I'd had to keep my anger under control at one point during the course due to one of the participants running down some Royal Navy personnel he was working with. I'd spent a lot of time working with people in the RN and it got me very angry to hear someone talking about them the way that he did.


As I read Kelly talking about emotions and the need to let them out I found myself thinking about when I've allowed myself to do that. As I thought about it I was shocked to find that I've only ever allowed myself to let my emotions out in front of other people since I was 16 on four occasions.

The earliest occasion that I can remember where my emotions got the better of me was when we had to put down our dog Judy. We'd taken on Judy after my grandfather died. Judy was very old and she'd reached the point where she could barely walk. We could tell she was in pain and not at all well and so the decision was made that we would take her to the vet and have her put down rather than see her suffer any longer.

My Dad and I took her to the vet's one evening. We didn't have a car and so we walked there. Judy lurching as she walked from time to time.

When we arrived at the vet's my Dad told them what we were there for and we took a seat to wait. Judy kept looking up at me with soulful and trusting eyes. Eventually when we were called I couldn't take it any more and left my Dad to take her in to the vet while I went outside, put on my sunglasses, leaned against the wall and let my eyes fill with tears. I kept the glasses on all the way home and went straight to my bedroom and cried for half an hour before I got myself back under control.

The thing that always struck me about that day afterwards was that I could get so emotional about Judy dying but had never felt as emotional when My grandparents had died.


The next occasion that I got emotional in front of someone was when I split up from my ex-fiancee Marina. We'd been together for about 6 months, had got engaged, she'd gotten pregnant and then had a miscarriage. It felt so right being together and then I realised she was seeing someone behind my back, and even towards the end right in front of me. She denied everything but I couldn't trust her anymore.

The day we finally split up I went to collect my things from her place and as I packed my bag the two of us were in tears. She was sorry but I couldn't trust her and didn't want to be in a relationship where I would always be wondering about her relationships with others.

Leaving her was the hardest thing I ever did. I was an emotional wreck for weeks afterwards. My friends were very supportive and put up with me being a complete and utter ass at times, especially one of my closest friends who I upset hugely while we were out for a drink one evening by overstepping the bounds of decency.


The third time that I allowed someone to see me getting emotional was the night before my son's Christening. Six months previously he had been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia.

I've always been of the opinion that a child should be old enough to understand what is happening when they are being Christened, even if its their parents making the decision to get them Christened. As a result I'd always refused to allow R to be Christened when he was a baby.

When he was diagnosed with A.L.L. I agreed to him being Christened once we he had got through all three of the intensive treatment phases that he had to have. I agreed to the Christening because it would give everyone something to look forward to after such a rough time.

The night before the Christening we'd had all of my family and my in-laws at our house for dinner. My parents and sister had gone to the bed and breakfast they were staying at which left us with my in-laws at our house.

Everyone had had a few drinks and as we got to the end of the evening my other half had gotten emotional about the fact that R was being Christened. Her Mum began to comfort her and told her that I had finally realised that I'd been wrong not to get him Christened and that it was the right Christian thing to do.

I listened to my mother-in-law telling her all of this until I couldn't take any more and had to leave the room.

I was followed into the kitchen by my other half's Step-dad. As we stood there I told him that his wife was wrong, I'd not changed my mind and I'd only agreed to the Christening to give everyone something to  look forward to. At that point tears started flowing and I lost control. For about the next 30 seconds I struggled to get myself back under control and just managed it and got back to a semblance of normality seconds before my mother-in-law walked into the kitchen. The rest of the evening passed without incident but I came very close to cancelling the Christening that evening.


The last occasion that I allowed my emotions to get the better of me was when R had completed treatment for his A.L.L after he had relapsed and then within months it had returned. He'd been having headaches and so we'd eventually ended up at Bristol Children's Hospital for him to have a lumber puncture as a precautionary check. Nobody believed that he could have relapsed so quickly after completing treatment.

When we sat with the consultant to go over the test results she told us the bad news. She then went on the tell us that we could either do nothing and it would be a matter of time before the Leukaemia would claim him or we try and find a bone marrow donor, with all the risks that a transplant would entail and only a 30% chance that he would get through it and the cancer would be gotten rid of.

My other half was distraught at the news and I had was left to contact our immediate family to give them the news. I managed to contact my mother-in-law and inform her as my other half wanted her Mum to come to the hospital straight away.

When I contacted my Mum and Dad and gave them the news I managed to get part way through the conversation when I broke down and couldn't carry on talking to them. I had hung up and simply stood there trying to get my emotions back under control before I could call them back and finish the conversation.


I know that I've had a few other occasions where my emotions have got the better of me but on each of those times I've been alone. I shed tears when my other half told me that she'd always pretended that she could deal with my female side when in fact she couldn't. I swore to myself as I stood in the garden shedding tears that I'd never ever allow someone to hurt me like that again.

I got angry and shouted at God, at 3am while driving to Bristol on my own, when we were first told that R had Leukaemia. I shed tears in the early hours of the morning while praying to God that he would get R through his bone marrow transplant.

Seeing my son stood at the front of the crowd near Big Ben when I ran the London Marathon last because he had been allowed out of hospital for an hour to see me run past made me choke up as I ran onwards towards The Mall.

I've gotten depressed and scared and tearful at various points while working up to transitioning at the beginning of this year because things have not gone to plan and people have let me down or made things difficult for me.

I'm pretty sure that the hormones that I'm on now are going to make me get emotional at some points. I just need to learn that at those times then I need to get together with those people that I trust and let those emotions out. Fortunately, I've got friends now that I've let inside the barriers I've built up over the years and can really open up to.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Changing Marriage - Let the government know what you think

A while back I wrote about how there were plans to redefine marriage to allow for same sex marriages.

The government have now launched their consultation about their plans.

The online form for people to respond and the consultation document outlining their plans can be found on the Home Office website here.

It will be interesting to see how this progresses and what kind of response that the government receive.

From a completely selfish point of view the idea of same sex marriage is a welcome one as it would mean that in order to get a gender recognition certificate once I've completed my gender reassignment I don't have to get divorced with the effect that would have on my family.

If you'd like to have your say go along to the Home Office website and complete the form. 

Monday, 7 May 2012

Revenge is a dish best served cold

Last Sunday as part of Pink Kitten's support for The Revenger's Tragedy put on by Gentleman Jack Theatre company at the Bierkeller in Bristol I took the opportunity to do something that I've not done before and acted as a hostess during the 30 minutes from doors opening to the play starting properly.

I was almost totally unprepared for what faced me. I say almost as I knew that the role involved looking after the male patrons and making sure that they were happy. It also meant picking up a little bit of Italian as the play is based in the Italian court of Il Duce.

Pink Kitten has agreed to support the event by providing hostesses and pole dancers as pre-show entertainment. I was also expecting some intermission burlesque performances but it seems those has been cancelled as I discovered when I arrived and spoke with the director.

On arrival I was shown where things were by the director who explained what would be happening during the time from the doors opening until the show began.

Prior to the show starting ladies and gentleman are encouraged to move to the areas that have been designated for them. Each area has attractive, para-military style, female guards on the entrance.

The women's area has a rather good looking and very talented male singer, which for some reason seemed to be quite popular.

The guys area has pole dancers courtesy of Pink Kitten.

It took a few minutes for the guys to start to make their way into their designated area. The first three guys sat on the benches at the front of the area and quite happily watched the girls performing. Slowly the area filled up until there were about 12 guys sitting, chatting and watching the dancing.

I wasn't sure what I needed to do as everyone had a drink and were either reading their programme or watching the dancing. I chatted to a couple of guys but they all seemed happy enough.

Eventually the pre-show was over and Il Duce made his entrance. The girls who had been pole dancing and myself made our way to the room we'd stored our stuff and after they had got changed from their costumes while the audience were focussed on the performance made our escape. It would have been possible to stay to watch the play but we decided not too, besides I had an hours drive ahead of me in order to get back home.

It was definitely an interesting experience, took me well outside my comfort zone and taught me a quite a few things.

Firstly, if I'm going to try and do something with my hair to give it a bit of a retro look then I need to practice more. I'd spent most of yesterday morning and some of the afternoon with my hair in rollers. My hairstyle that I initially thought looked ok with hindsight wasn't the best. I was tempted to pull my hair back at the last minute but couldn't find the hairband I'd thrown in my bag at the last second before leaving home. Definitely need more practice with my hair. Even as I write this my hair is pulled back and is quite full where it comes out of the scrunchy.

I really need to work on developing my burlesque alter-ego, she needs a proper back history. I have some ideas for it and that will mean I have to go back to my school days and refresh my memory of the Russian that I learned. Ms Von Risque it seems is the daughter of a Russian farm girl and a German soldier from a rich family.

I also have to ignore it when I'm doing something like I was doing last night and guys read me. I noticed one of the guys at the front of the men's area turn to one of his companions and whisper as he looked at me. I can guess what he was saying and it did make me feel a little bit more self-conscious. The only way that I'm going to do that though is with practice. Practice at getting my voice to sound right, practice at getting my look right and practice at getting into character.

As a hostess I also had some guidelines as to what to wear. The instructions were corset or basque and a skirt. Well I have that so I turned up wearing a black corset and calf length black skirt. Of course I also had to wear a black bra which was showing at the top of the corset in order to help keep my breastforms in place and also to hide the fact that they are currently artificial. I was also wearing a black, lace shrug in order to hide my shoulders and arms which are definitely not feminine unless your a female athlete. All in all though it fitted the sexy but classy look that was our brief.

I'd worn a blouse to travel to and from Bristol and learned one important lesson. I might be an artificial C cup normally, something that I'm conscious of from time to time at work, but add a corset to that mix and I could give Jordan a run for her money. Not wanting to be too indelicate but sheesh, my bust was huge thanks to that corset!

The last thing that I learned from being in the men'sarea was just how much I prefer being around women rather than men. I find it a lot more comfortable and much easier to talk with women. I can talk to guys but it tends to be people that I know.

It was an interesting experience, everyone involved with the production was really friendly and I felt welcome and at ease. I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Would I do it again? Hmm, maybe but not for a while.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

LifeCircle 2012 - Dealing with your comfort zone

Life Circle

The latest task for the Life Circle was to look at areas where we were struggling and to do something that would take you out of your comfort zone and help get those areas moving forward.

There are two areas that are causing me lots of problems at the moment.
The first of these is my burlesque and the second is my fitness.

At the beginning of this year I went to the intermediate classes to learn to fan dance. I went to 5 sessions, with the 5th being a final practice before the Valentine's Cabaret. With hours to go to the show, and actually being in Bristol and 5 minutes from the venue, everything went wrong because I had a problem with the car window and so couldn't leave the car unattended for the best part of 7 hours. All of the effort learning the routine so that I could perform it with the others ended up being for nothing.

My problems with my burlesque fall into 3 areas.
The first is that getting to Bristol in order to attend classes is time consuming, its an hours drive each way.
The second is that finding the time or space to practice is difficult. The only place I can practice at the moment is at home in the kitchen which is the room with the biggest amount of space. With the family around having the time and privacy to practice and work on routines is limited.
Finally, my other big problem with my burlesque is that as much as I would love to perform more I'm finding that performing in the Pink Kitten shows is something that I'm happy to do as I know the other performers. Performing in other shows I'm more nervous about because I'm lacking the confidence that people would want to see me perform and enjoy my performance.

My challenge is therefore
Short to medium term:
To put in about 2 hours practice a week, either as long sessions or a series of short sessions.
To work on developing 3 fan routines.
  • Small, marabou fan dance to Claire Teal's Messin' with Fire
  • Silk veil fan dance to The Puppini Sisters' Moon River
  • Large feather fan dance to Charles Trenet's La Mer

I've thrashed out the basics of the first two routines and the third one is going to be a variation on the routine that I learnt for the Valentine's show but as a solo routine rather than a group routine.

Long term:
To perform one of these routines (Moon River) at the Pink Kitten Halloween show.
To perform at least once to a non-Pink Kitten audience by the end of the year.

The main problem I have with my fitness is that I just don't seem to have the motivation to do exercise. I'm really struggling with this at the moment as I'm paying for gym membership and not using it. I seriously need to start doing something.
When I've been to the gym so far this year its been more as my old self and not the new me. No make-up, gym clothes as unisex as possible, hair pulled back. The other day we made an appointment for my son to have a session with one of the instructors so that he could be shown how to use a couple of the weight machines. He's old enough to start using these now.
As the appointment was at lunchtime I had to come from work and so for the first time ever I went into the gym as Jenna. Ok, I was just standing around and watching my son being shown how to use the equipment and not exercising myself but it was a first step. The ground didn't open up and swallow me, nobody commented or stared.

I want to improve my fitness so that when I eventually get around to working towards some of my other sporting goals then I don't have to start from scratch.

My challenge is therefore to get to the leisure centre twice a week, once to use the gym and once to use the pool. Any other sessions will be a bonus. At a minimum I need to have been to the gym and pool 8 times over the course of a month.

The other challenge I'm going to set myself, which I want to achieve by the end of April is to have gone out for a run, the 3 mile loop I use will be enough, while wearing mineral foundation and some basic eye shadow and lipstick so that I can see if it will stand up to some serious exercise. If I can achieve that and the make-up doesn't look a mess when I've finished then I can look at setting myself the challenge of going to the gym and exercising properly as Jenna.

Late breaking news:
I've entered the Bristol Half Marathon on the 30th September so I now don't have an excuse for not doing some proper training outdoors throughout the summer. I've picked up a copy of Run Less Run Faster which requires you to do 3 days running each week and 2 other days of cross-training (swimming, cycling). I'm actually going to aim for 3 days of cross-training (2 days of swimming for about 30 minutes and one day with a cycle ride for an hour). My goal is to complete the race in under 2 hours which would be similar to my personal best for that distance. I'm also going to be raising money for CLIC. Still debating the possibility of running in fancy dress!

Even later breaking news:
I went out for a run on Sunday (29th April) in the winds and rain that we had. I wore my mineral foundation and bit of lipstick, didn't go with eye shadow. After completing the run I checked out my foundation and despite the weather and a lot of perspiration on my face, my foundation had stayed in place and hadn't gone patchy. A bit of dabbing with a paper towel and it looked pretty normal. I think a quick going over with some more powder once my face had cooled down and was nicely dry and I'd be ready to go.