2021 The year horror got a whole new meaning
In horror land there is no such thing as dreams and future plans, only pain and suffering.
Although 2021 started out ok as you may already read in the 2020 blog. A second ultra on my 51th birthday in February, lots of beautiful trails, ambassador for Trail-Series and another ultra in September. March 2021 showed me that my body wasn't ready for long distance combined with high altitude. So injuries started to occur…painful moments during my trails in the mountains made me go into survival mode, something I became very good at during all my years as a runner. The how and why of the injuries is not important in this story. Injuries are not uncommon for runners, especially when testing your limits. It's how you deal with these injuries that defines what kinda runner you are.
In march I told the world that 2021 would be the year that adventures become reinvented and even though I was struggling with some knee and foot issues, the adventures were definitely on my running schedule. There was only one downside during my runs, because of the injuries, I knew that I was gonna fail, I just didn’t know when it was gonna happen. This made it very difficult for me to go along with friends. I didn’t want to spoil their trail run just because I needed to stop every once and a while to recover. But those who know me, also know that I’m not a quitter and I will keep fighting to get stronger, to beat any injury that comes my way. And that resulted in many beautiful moments with my best friends. Details can be found on my Instagram page.
But I was beaten…not by injuries…but by the enemy of jealousy and the boredom of some unknown sick individuals.
And so the horror story begins…Anyone who has an Instagram account may come across fake accounts from people who have too much time on their hands. Bad comments can hurt your feelings, but should never change a positive mindset. Although I never got bad comments on my posts, I got a lot of private messages. Let me correct…not just private messages, but mean messages (some very mean) Without going into any details, these messages always appeared after I made a post, mostly after a post regarding an injury. But later on also when someone else tagged me. It was clear to me that this person or persons were not unknown to me. Some details could only be known by people that had some kind of acquaintance with my direct friends. For months I wondered: why is this happening? Why is this happening to me? I’ve never done harm to anyone. I'm always friendly to everyone. I don’t deserve this at all. One should think that I had learned my lesson in 2020 when I experienced the same kind of harassment, but this time it was different. I guess that trollers do adjust to situations. And somehow I don’t think this was the same person(s) as before.
Harassed by quotes
You know “quotes”, right? They are supposed to contain text with a positive message. The first time I saw such a quote, I didn’t know what to think about it and I decided not to pay any attention to it. But when time passed and I tried to pick up my life, more and more quotes appeared, not always as friendly. Then I realized that this was not a random troller but someone I probably know in person. For many months I had doubts about sharing this with the world, but to give you an idea, I downloaded some of the images that were sent to me. I will spare you the gore pictures and text messages.
“Just a short selection”
2021 was not my year
As if it wasn't enough, the troller messages were the least of my problems. In Juli I began to have some strange issues with my body: heavy breathing, high heart rate, hyperventilation and pain in my chest. Weeks passed by and all medical examinations had the same result: inconclusive. Later on, this was diagnosed as a result from the Covid vaccination. It took so much energy to recover from, making it almost impossible to go along for a run with someone. I asked my friends for help but got left in the cold. Two months passed without seeing a soul. I took it hard because the only ones who did not keep silent were my troller “friends”. And the harassment continued. Nevertheless, I always kept running (or trying anyway) and that resulted in my first official ultra in September.
In the following months I got caught in a negative spiral. High stress levels, no sleep and a long time without vacation took its toll. Something I've been struggling with for a long time now and was kinda hoping that it would never reappear, took me by surprise. My intestines stopped working again. Without good working intestines, you are in trouble. In my case this will result in severe pain in my lower back. The medical world has no clue what to do with this and you become a guinea pig, one test after another…no thank you. So I tried to fix it on my own. In the past this would take me a week, maybe two, but this time, it took me almost two months. That meant two months of heavy pain. Only painkillers could keep me on my feed. I tried to stay away from these drugs as long as possible but without an OD off painkillers I'm bound to take the easy way out as I almost did years ago. One thing is for sure, as soon as they legalize self euthanasia, I’ll be on the front row for my doses and I will do it with a smile. I do not want to live a life in pain, never again. The thought of being able to choose the end of my life, gives peace in my mind. Still, I kept running…most of the time with tears in my eyes.
The trollers got their way
In November I got some strange text messages, but because I blocked alarms on all non followers chats, I didn’t notice them at first. When I did, the accounts were already removed. This time the messages were in Dutch and very direct. I will not publish the details of these messages because they are untrue and hurtful. But to give you an idea, and let me put them in my words, messages like : "a dirty man who takes pictures of women", "always running after the girls", "...stay away from the running community", “are you still alive?” ….and so on and so on. I had serious doubts if I should mention this in my blog. Not only did it have a very big impact on my mindset, it made me realize that something definitely had to change. Even though this was a lot of bullshit, it made me doubt myself, made me wonder why people think this way about me. I had no clue where this was coming from. It made the past two months of 2021 a living hell. The once so happy and social guy became bittered and anti-social. No more laughter for over two months, no more happy moments. Just a lot of pain and sadness. One starts to have doubts about just everything. Especially when the only person who is still having contact with you, is the troller himself...and the quotes still kept coming. For the first time in my life whenever I would go to a running event, I would try to stay as invisible as possible so no one would recognize me. No more social posts, no more sharing, just silence, silence in my head, hoping for some peace and quietness, hoping it would go away.
Bullshit with numbers
Most runners love statistics about their mileage, speed, progress, etc… Of course my Garmin keeps track of these running stats, but I also keep track of some very different kinds of numbers. Why “bullshit”? Well, numbers don't lie…they prove that the trollers are wrong about me.
My numbers for 2021
- 88 runs or hikes were recorded by my Garmin.
- 17 times I ran together with a friend or friends.
- 9 out of 17 with my dearest running buddy.
- Always the same people - 6 women, 1 guy - all close friends.
- Only 25 Instagram posts, even though my camera always comes along to record my trail memories. That's just over 25% off all my runs.
- 16 times I asked people to join me for an adventurous trail, 15 times they chose not to come along for several reasons. Mostly because their partner didn’t want them to.
- 3 times a running date never showed up leaving me all by myself on a trail run.
- Running distance approx. 1900km which is my all time lowest.
- I drove my car approx. 14400km (895miles) to go on my trail adventures.
- Approx. 13000km I was completely by myself.
So about running with women…I’m gonna be brief. I only run with friends. I treat my female friends with the most respect. So whatever these trollers are trying to accomplish by making me look bad, it may have worked in 2020 & 2021 but let me be clear that 2022 will be different. I’m pretty fat up with this bullshit.
2021 in a nutshell
Was 2021 a disaster? No, not completely. I had some very good times, many beautiful adventurous trails, 2 ultra’s, … It was the year I had to struggle with illnesses rather than injuries, 4 months of illnesses in total. So, I did not reach my 75K ultra distance goal. I’m not sad about it. But I am sad about the way Instagram works, how it can be abused, how still unknown individuals use it to kick me when I am down.
Last negative thoughts
“When life kicks you in the groin so many times, it’s bound to leave marks”. With a body that is damaged beyond repair, it’s hard to set goals or make plans. If your body refuses to work with you and you are in constant pain, it becomes hard to train and set goals. Especially when the pain is not caused by an injury but by an issue that the medical world doesn’t seem to understand. When seeing others work hard, get stronger and make their dreams come true, you support them all the way because that’s what the running community expects from you. Unfortunately this doesn’t work the other way around...four months of silence says it all.
The running community is a strange phenomenon. You are a runner or you are not. Injured runners are no runners and will be forgotten. Even though most people will contradict this, reality says otherwise… It's a hard world…. But hey…life goes on. Thanks to all the trollers, I learned that it’s better to have a few good friends, then a 1000 followers who don’t give shit about your well-being. I guess that covid brings out the worst in people, but it also brings out the best in some people…those are my real friends.
2022 what to expect
I don’t expect anything. I will live my life from day to day.
I will continue to seek beautiful trails and adventures.
One thing's for sure, I’ve proven myself that I am resilient, that I’m a fighter. My physical deficiencies may control my life from time to time, it will be tough, it will hurt, but it's my life and I have to make the best out of that small part that is left of it.
No goals, no stress, just having fun and finding that smile on my face again.
It's time for a full reset. Reset my life and start from scratch
And for those trying so hard to harass me…no…I’m not gonna give up my Instagram account just to please you. It tells the story of my running and hiking adventures, but it also tells the story of my struggles and my fights. It's my personal running diary, I'll do whatever I want with it. And regarding “Mr cameraman” (to say it nicely) and the many hateful messages about me and my GoPro…if I want to carry a camera with me that's my choice, if I want to take beautiful pictures of my running friends that's my choice and my gift to them, if you have a problem with this, that’s your problem not mine. Get a life. Covid is not an excuse to be unfriendly, Covid is not an excuse to stay away from friends. Covid showed us our true self…look in the mirror…what do you see.
As my stories are always based on fragments from my diary...written as they occur…many chapters are removed before publishing. Why? At the moment that they are written, there is lots of anger and grief involved, it's full of emotion. I write them at the moment they occur in a way that most wouldn’t understand but at the way they happend or the way I experienced them. Many months later when I review them, they are rewritten and some (in this case many) chapters are left out. Although they are very important and has to written, for the outside world it could mean social suicide if published.
Some things are better left unspoken.
I realize that most of this post is written in a very negative tone, and many will judge me for this, but I don’t care. I've learned To write down every negative aspect in my life, so I can give it a place. I use it as my wakeup call.
You can turn any negative into positive, but you cannot turn constant pain and suffering into pleasure. The only thing you can do is make the best out of a bad situation.
Negative thoughts will not get you anywhere, so... let a positive mindset win this battle.
The running photographer has spoken.
Now, let's live by looking back at beautiful memories and creating new ones.
Let tears become joy.
For those who reached the bottom of this blog…Thank you, be well, smile and have a great life.