The Human Body: eternal source of frustration

The Human Body can do a bunch of pretty incredible things.  Like creating stomach acid  strong enough to dissolve metal (which might account for new stomach lining being produced every few days).  Or the fact that every month we are covered with a new outer layer of skin.  Or heal.

But the human body, at the moment, is a source of major frustration for me, because, at the moment, it seems to be doing nothing but malfunctioning.

Last Thursday was my rest day, which was just as well, as it was a parents’ night.  After all my appointments, I met Ian, and we made our way to his mother’s place as his sister and niece were visiting.  We stayed there for a few hours playing with his niece (puzzles, made up games, chasing her around – usual 4 year old shenanigans), before gathering our stuff and making our way to the front door.  As I was leaving, by doing nothing more adventurous than walking in a straight line, I felt an excruciating pain in my left ankle, and nearly fell over, as placing any weight on it sent waves of pain up my leg.

Thinking it was just some freak twinge, I waited a couple of moments before trying to walk on it.  Mistake.  More of the same pain.  Ian’s mum drove me home, and I hobbled upstairs and put it on ice, while Ian went off to meet some friends for a couple of hours.

As time went on, my leg started throbbing.  There was no swelling, no bruising – nothing that would make anyone think that there was anything at all wrong with my ankle/foot/leg, but it hurt, a lot, and I still couldn’t put weight on it.

Less than two weeks before an International marathon you’ve been looking forward to for months is not ideal timing for freak body issues.

I chatted with Ronnie online, and he suggested a trip to A&E, which I thought was a bit extreme, since I had no bones sticking out of my leg, and no obvious signs of trauma.  I have only been to A&E twice in my life, and both I considered worthy of the trip, though not life-threatening:

  1. Toothpick embedded in my eyeball.  It happened to be the eye I am not blind in.  I may have been in hysterics.
  2. Piece of metal jammed under my fingernail.  Finger had to be anaesthetized, and I watched in horror as the nurse detached the nail from my finger until she could shimmy the metal out.  Of course, I thought it was no big deal afterwards, as I couldn’t feel anything, so declined the painkillers offered as I left.  That was a decision I came to regret, as I lay in bed, sweating, and clutching my throbbing hand  that night.

As time went on, and I realized A&E would be pretty quiet because it was a Thursday night and payday had not happened yet (A&E get a bunch of drunken mishaps), AND my foot situation continued to deteriorate, I messaged Ronnie back and told him if he really had nothing better to do, we could swing by in case it wasn’t busy.

Two hours later, and Ronnie is helping me back to his car on these bad boys with no explanation as to why I couldn’t walk:

Stylish.

Stylish.

Fast forward a few days and things are improving.  I can now put weight on the left foot, and my walking style has gone from ‘hop’ to ‘gangsta’.  I’m too scared to even attempt a short run, so I think this week will be about being super cautious and hoping for the best come Milan.  I have already dropped a textbook AND a bottle of water on my other foot since hatching my master plan of ‘Be Careful’, so it’s going well.

If anyone has any idea what the hell I might’ve done to myself, I’m all ears.  I’m pretty much willing to try anything but homeopathy right now.

Calf Update

Because I know you’re all obsessively hitting refresh in case there’s any news on my calf (I know you’re not) – I can confirm that there is less pain when I stretch/touch my leg, but there is still definitely pain.  I tried a spin class tonight and had to bail after ten minutes, which even I found offensive.

I have done that stupid thing where you google and automatically assume the worst case scenario is what you’re going through, so this morning I either had a Grade 1,000,000,000 calf tear or DVT that would kill me in my sleep.  The fact that there is no bruising, and I can walk as though I am not in fact a cripple, tells me the first is unlikely (though I may have a minor calf strain), and the second is also unlikely, because I don’t think DVT usually comes on at the tail end of a 15 mile run.  Clearly though, I’m no doctor.

So: it’s back to rest, compression, and I might even succumb to ibuprofen, because I haven’t exercised in 2 days now, and that is problematic for me because I’m fairly sure I replaced my addiction to smoking (over 6 years and not a single cigarette -Woo!) with one for the gym.  I know, I know, all addiction is bad addiction, but I know which one I think is lesser of two evils.  Right?

I also read online that if it is indeed a calf strain I have, the things I should DEFINITELY AVOID in the first 72 hours are heat, massage, and stretching.  Which is fabulous, because as I assumed it was just a tight muscle, I had a steaming hot shower, stretched, and massaged the shit out of it.

Or, indeed, a man.

Or, indeed, a man.

Attempt number 2 at the gym tomorrow; Tuesday is weights day, so at least there’ll be no aggressive calf action necessary.  Wednesday I’ll try spin again, and I have a sports massage at night, so hopefully this will be something I can look back on and chortle at this weekend, during the 24 miles I have planned…

In more enthusiastic news, I bought tickets to Milan last night.  It’ll be the first International holiday Ian and I, in our 6+ years together, will take, which is exciting.  It’s also my first step in convincing him we should live around the world in various fabulous places, but baby steps.

 

Hip-ochondria

After the snot-fest that was Aviemore, I’ve been feeling pretty bad.  The cold has finally subsided, but ever since the run my right hip has been swollen, painful, and generally angry at me.  I suspect that Aviemore alone was not the cause of this, because I distinctly remember my hip being in some discomfort during Loch Ness.  After sports massage and physio, today is the first day where I have woken up without a hot throbbing in my groin (I know).  While by no means perfect, it’s an improvement.

I have been told not to do anything too strenuous by my physio until she gives me the all clear, which I’m hoping will be when I see her on Thursday, because if everything is behaving I’ll get to run the Culloden 17.46k on Sunday.  It’s meant to be a tough course, but it’ll mark the start of my long run cycle for the Texas marathon (noticeably shorter than my other training cycles thanks to Loch Ness), and also the casual start of my Ultra base training.

Anyway, my main focus from now until April is staying healthy, so that’s probably why I’m not going too crazy without my normal exercise regime.  It’s a week or so out of action, but having an end goal let’s me see the bigger picture.

Still, old habits die hard, and I have already spent hours lamenting the end of my running career after going on WedMD and looking at all possible causes of hip pain, just in case bruising and inflammation wasn’t what was wrong with me.  Never do this.  Because ‘cancer’ and ‘arthritis’ are not things you want to have floating around in your head when you’re stuck at home feeling sorry for yourself.

Finally, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has donated to Macmillan after reading my Loch Ness post, especially the people I’ve never met.  You guys are racking up the good karma, and I’m pretty sure your donation will cancel out a misdemeanour or two.  So pat yourself on the back, and go key the car of somebody who has parked like this, because it’s totally allowed*:

What an ass hat.

What an ass hat.

 

*Do this when they are not watching you.

 

If consistency is key, I suck.

Considering I have run a grand total of one excruciating, poorly executed, full marathon, I am hardly what anyone would consider to be an expert.  I am fine with that.  I have, however, done a lot of reading up on the best ways to train for a marathon, and the thing that seems to be common in all training programs, from ‘I just want to finish with my legs still attached’ to ‘5 minute miles?  No problem, sucker!’, is consistency.  Well, shit.

After Loch Ness, I had a few more races in 2012, but from about mid-November my weekly mileage dropped.  Significantly.  Part of this was down to the fact that I felt like I had earned a break, and part of it was down to my very, very, very painful calf/shin combo.  A pain that was bad enough that every time I even considered going for a run, my shins would speak up:

areyoukiddingme

This pain stayed with me through December, and while it is still lingering, the rest has made a big difference.  I’m no longer wincing every time my left foot makes contact with the ground, but it isn’t perfect – that’s why I’m getting regular sports massage where my leg is turned into mincemeat, and I cry, and I squirm, and I shout obscenities, for £38 an hour.  Bargain.

While the rest has obviously benefited me in the sense that I have less pain, I am acutely aware that I am running a little bit behind in my training, highlighted by the fact that the two lovely ladies I will be going to Paris with are currently doing some monster long runs.

Plagued with guilt, and ignoring all sensible advice, I have opted to ramp up my long runs, despite doing little more than zero miles throughout the week.  My last 3 long runs were 10.5, 15.35, and 17.5 miles.

IMG_20130127_115806

Now, before you throw a side eye in my direction, I’m not doing nothing throughout the week.  I do spin twice, weights 2-3 times, and plenty on the elliptical machine to keep fitness up.  However, it isn’t running, so I’m going to start sneaking a few extra runs in here and there to stop my training from looking like this:

Mon: gym stuff
Tues: gym stuff
Wed: gym stuff and half-assed 2 miles on a treadmill
Thurs: gym stuff
Fri: gym stuff
Sat: gym stuff
Sun: LONG ASS RUN

I mean, what I am doing just now has consistency, of sorts, but not the kind I want – running consistency.  Hopefully, as spring gets closer, I will be worried less about a spectacularly catastrophic, ass-over-head fall on the ice, and can enjoy being blinded by the early morning sun, risking a head on collision with a bus instead.

IMG_20130127_123725

This weekend will be the Forfar multi-terrain half marathon, and I’ll be running with a group of myself and three others at a relatively non-killer pace.  Our aim is to get some miles in and demolish the ‘gigantic feast’ that we are promised will be presented for hungry runners upon finishing.  A ‘drop-down’ week, if you will.

“Thank fuck.” – my legs.

Sunday Night Blues

Reasons why I am not in a particularly happy mood:

  • My shins are still not letting me run very much.  Or maybe it’s my calf?  Either way, my lower leg has been experiencing a ridiculous amount of pain, so I have not run regularly since, like, November.  Rest appears to have done nothing.  My training for the Paris Marathon should have started this week. Awesome.  On the plus side, my back, triceps, biceps, and shoulders are looking kind of buff (to me).
  • I go back to work tomorrow.  I have been off since the 22nd of December (a perk of being a teacher).  I have grown accustomed to doing whatever the hell I want to.  And daytime drinking.
  • The scratch cards Ian bought tonight?  Yeah, we didn’t win.  And yes, I know how tacky scratch cards are.

In other news, my search term results never fail to bring a smile to my face:

searchtermwtfJust in case anyone happens to stumble across this site using this search again, may I direct you here, here, or, though not necessarily ‘cycling’ lycra, here.  You’re welcome.*

*Regular readers: do not click on the links if you are at work/with your parents/not into seeing the outline of a dude’s junk in lycra.

EDIT:  You’re all a bunch of perverts:

In less than an hour!

In less than an hour!

One year anniversary, shins continue to irritate me.

Today I got a notification from WordPress letting me know that a year ago today I first created my account.  Clearly I was looking for some form of escapism from the daily grind at work near the end of term when kids start to literally go crazy about Christmas.  Every year, this pre-holiday mania chips away at my sanity until I am eating smarties (British M&M’s) out of holiday sized tubes for breakfast, and the laying out any leftovers on my desk in front of a class, and picking away at them in order of colour (orange always comes last because they taste like chocolate orange).  Have I mentioned how deliriously happy I am that I finish at 3pm on Friday?  If not: I am.

Anyway, back to the anniversary…  I am actually relatively surprised that I have remained fairly diligent about updating posts (even though I am now 100% convinced that my parents have no interest in what I write here, and only check when I fly several thousands of miles to visit them and FORCE them to read sections).  I think it’s like the adult equivalent of not turning your flour baby into pancakes over the weekend.  Well done, slut!*

In running news, my shins are still assholes, and I haven’t run in a week.  I have, however, taken to the pool to fill my evenings, and am pleased to say that despite having about, oh, 15 years between now and my last training session with my swim team, I don’t suck hard.  I can actually hear my old coach (Dave Strah of the Ponca City Sailfish, FYI) nagging me to “kick more” when I notice my legs floating effortlessly behind me as my shoulders burn.  If he ever self-googles, this might come across as creepy.

Anyway, I’m beginning to feel festive and despite my mortal shins, I am happy about a lot of things:

  • If the world doesn’t end, as the Mayans apparently predicted, then the days here start to get longer, and I really like daylight.  A lot.
  • If the world DOES end, my home insurance is due to be renewed on the 22nd, so I guess there’s always a silver lining.
  • It’s nearly Christmas break.
  • I get my secret Santa gift at work tomorrow.
  • I finished my fourth year reports today!
  • I am so tired that stuff that might normally stress me out just seems to initiate crazed laughter.
  • I just might re-discover the meaning of ‘a good night’s sleep’.
So.  Close.  To.  Sleep.

So. Close. To. Sleep.

*Note to self: shortening ‘medalslut’ in order to create a term of endearment does not work.

Festive Cheer!

As I type this post, I am full of festive spirit (beer)!  Christmas is only 17 days away, and I’m starting to get excited (having banned even a sniff of the ‘C’ word in my classroom until December).  I get really cranky about Christmas stuff being on display/Christmas music being played/literally anything to do with Christmas if it isn’t December, because I think that all the overexposure sucks the joy out of the holiday.  So my ban on Christmas until recently means I am extra stoked this year, even though I’m staying here in Scotland for a change (last year I was in Australia, and I started this blog just before I left, and the year before that I was in Houston).

Because I’ll be staying at home this year, I figured it was about time I get a Christmas tree.  Now, my vacuum cleaner broke about a week and a half ago (I have since bought a dustbuster as a miniature hero to step in until the Dyson engineer can come out), and my flat is tiny, so there was never going to be a real tree.  Most artificial trees were also way too big, and by the time I hit the shops, most of the small ones had sold out.  So I was glad that, a few nights ago, on a whim, I went to a shop a little out of the way and managed to bag their last 3 foot artificial tree in stock.  And to those of you with houses, no, that is not a typo, my tree is three feet tall.  Behold the beauty:

IMG_20121206_205513And yes, it sits on top of some shelves, but I have a tree, and I have presents (including one from my Fetch secret Santa!) underneath it.  That, for me, is commitment to the season!  As is my chosen headwear for today:

IMG_20121208_175749Now, this wasn’t for any old walk about Aberdeen city center.  No, no, no, this was to go and watch my friend Dylan, and my other friend Iain (who I go to spin class with) sing in the Granite City Chorus at Aberdeen Art Gallery this afternoon.  The group sang a half hour set of Christmas songs and were really good!  Despite the fact that my friend Dylan has been singing with the group for well over a year, this is the first time I’ve seen them perform:

IMG_20121208_171728I also have a feeling Dylan is the youngest member of the group…

In running news, my butt building has been going well, and I had a sports massage on Thursday where I was told there was a noticeable improvement to my shins and calves.  They had been feeling pretty good during my few short runs so I thought I’d try a 5 mile run on Friday night.  Along the icy pavements.  And at points in cold, sleety rain.  This is what the streets looked like on Wednesday night:

IMG_20121205_224209It snowed more overnight, and after people walking on the sidewalks the next day, combined with a very cold following night, it became like trying to walk on a wet ice rink.  At some points during my run I was literally pulling myself along the ground using a wall next to the sidewalk (so not my fastest 5 miles), but there were still some runnable sections.  Apart from the conditions, the run was fairly good.  Not much shin pain, not too out of breath.  And then I woke up this morning.

My left calf has been unbelievably tight and tender today, so I’m not sure if it’s just sore from the massage and run, or what.  I managed to do a step class and Body Pump this morning without much issue, but I have a Santa run (thankfully only 6k) to get through tomorrow, and possibly a few extra miles earlier in the day, so I’d really like the pain to go away!  I’ll hit the foam roller a bit tonight and slip into something sexy (compression socks) tonight.  Hopefully that’ll help.  If not, tomorrow is going to be a bit sore.

Hope everyone else is having a good weekend in the run up to Christmas!

Operation Maximize Gluteus: situation critical.

So those shine splints that were plaguing me before the Loch Ness marathon?  Yeah, they never really went away, and despite trying to ignore them like a trooper, they continue to suck any enjoyment out of running for me.  The guy who does my sports massages has put it down to extra-tight calves since they’re doing all of the work.  Which means that one muscle group is on a one-way train to Lazy Town.  The guilty party?  My glutes.

I have been given a number of stretches to ease off the calves, but I have also been told that they’ll never get the break they deserve unless:

  1. I stop running, or;
  2. My butt starts doing its share of the work.

So I have also been given some butt strengthening exercises to do.  I have been told this before, and have made a couple of half-assed (har har) efforts to stick to a regime, but the reality seems to be that if I am threatened with a running hiatus, I will do what is asked of me.

Thursday saw me return from some brutal calf massage and a foam rolling class, only to youtube some butt workouts.  Turns out there are several, and once you sift through the videos that have a target audience of 14 year old boys, there are some helpful, quick tutorials out there (even though you feel like you belong in the 80’s following along in your living room, hoping your neighbours can’t see in).  That night I did 10 minutes with Cindy, followed by another 10 minutes with Stephanie.  Friday I did 30 minutes on the elliptical trainer followed by RPM (Les Mills version of spin).  Saturday I did Body Pump and Body Attack (but I really felt my shins in attack so spent some time stretching on the power plates afterwards), and today I did the “Super Butt Workout”, despite feeling like my ass is about to fall off, and I am foam rolling my quads on the floor as I type.

In other, non-exercise news, I have been extra busy with work.  This weekend I have spent no less than 6 hours marking work, and I have another hour or two to put in before tomorrow morning if I am to be where I want to be to face the week.  My Friday night was not the most rock and roll experience I’ve ever had:

Neither was my Saturday:

You can get some pretty amusing mistakes, though.  A few of the kids had been experimenting with a thesaurus (with somewhat inaccurate results), and another seemed to misspell ‘gentle’:

Tonight (Sunday), Ian and I went to Nando’s for a late lunch/early dinner (we were being pretty lazy), and managed to catch the Christmas parade during which the lights along Union Street are switched on.  Despite the wet, freezing conditions, we stuck around for a peek:

The first set of lights being switched on

Because what parade in Scotland is complete without bagpipes?

Walking Christmas tree

So for now, running and I are not on great terms, but hopefully with some dedicated butt building, we’ll be back on track soon.  Shin splints: I will destroy you (translation: please, please, please go away)!

Baxter’s Loch Ness Marathon 2012

Time: 4:30:08

Position: 1663/2551

Medal: Yes

As I type this, my legs are still in agony.  In fact, my legs have been in agony from around the 9 mile point yesterday, and have become progressively worse.  But I’m skipping ahead.

I woke up on Saturday morning at 3:15am when Ian sent me a text message (under the influence) detailing some events of his night out in Edinburgh where he was attending a wedding that I had chosen to skip for the marathon.  I then slept on and off until my alarm went off at 5, forcing me to drag myself into the shower, and then get dressed.  Grant (because in a tiny room there really isn’t much choice) got up with me and we headed down to breakfast.

I had porridge (not appetizing at that time) and some toast and OJ.  Grant, who was only running the 10k, tortured me by having a full Scottish breakfast.  It looked delicious.  It smelled delicious.  I wanted to punch him hard in the face.  Especially as he laughed in between mouthfuls and kept talking about how delicious it was.

After breakfast, I packed everything I needed and we set off for the buses to the start of the marathon.  The Bed and Breakfast was pretty close to Bught Park, so it was only about a 10 minute walk.  At dawn:

Walking along River Ness, following all of the runner-looking types.

Ronnie, ever the keen bean, texted while we were on our way saying he was there and next to the buses.  When we eventually caught up to him he was nursing a coffee and chatting to someone he knew (he seems to know about 90% of the population in Scotland).  I decided that, since there was time, I’d use one of the toilets before the 90 minute bus journey.

The bus journey was uneventful.  I’d like to be able to say something about nerves, or feeling like it was the start of something magical, but it was just a cramped, long bus journey that I tried to sleep through (partially successfully).

In hindsight, the choice to urinate (further details removed) before the bus trip was a wise one, as the first thought upon hitting the ground and fresh air was ‘I need a slash’.  Cursing my lack of penis as I gazed at the colourful sea of dudes pissing into the bushes, I took my place at the back of a mammoth queue and steeled myself against the freezing wind.  Thank god it was going to be a tailwind!

I dumped what I needed (high 5 gels, crappy old phone with my sim card, a tenner, and my ipod shuffle) into my fanny pack, strapped it on, and ditched my backpack at the luggage drop before scooting to the start with a mere few minutes to spare.  Before I knew it, we were shuffling our way forwards and crossing the start!

That start line looking forward (Ronnie’s photo)

This was such a crappy idea.  I could be hungover in Edinburgh in a comfortable bed with my boyfriend, is what I wish I could tell you I wasn’t thinking.  But it was.  The thought of 26 miles was not appealing, and I tried to make the most of the sunshine, downhill start, and fresh feeling in my legs that was sadly not to last beyond 9 miles.

Ronnie stuck with me at the start, and soon we got chatting to a guy in the RAF (I feel ashamed that despite finding out about his love life, wedding plans in December, and some of his goals for the future, I never found out his name) wearing a charity vest and a beanie.  It was his first marathon too.  We were soon joined by a veteran marathoner who said he’d stick by us because we had a good pace.

Our group stuck together until about mile 5 when some hills decided to join the party.  We were sticking with 9:00-9:30 minute miles, and I was feeling pretty good.  When the hills hit, I walked up the steep bits, and soon found myself left behind.  I made up lost time on the downhill sections, and soon caught back up to beanie-wearer and marathon-vet (I didn’t get his name either – I’m so terrible).  Ronnie had seemingly sped off ahead, and upon hearing this I had a bad feeling that I’d see him again later on.
Soon, marathon-vet had to take a comfort stop in the woods, so RAF-beanie and I went on ahead.  Things were going smoothly until mile 9, when I felt a sharp, stabbing pain in my left quad.  Not even in double figures, I was mildly concerned.  My left calf, shin, and arch were giving me problems from the start, but that I had expected, and as a familiar pain, I knew I could ignore it and soldier on.  But this new pain was unlike anything I’ve felt whilst running.  Like, ever.  I informed RAF-beanie of my pain, and he was very supportive, telling me to blast up the hills ‘like Rocky’, and checking frequently how I felt.  I told him I’d stick with him until mile 13, and then I would take a walk break to stretch, take a gel, and check my phone (which I had unsuccessfully tried to set to ‘silent’ before the race).
True to my word, I left him to continue ahead while I started a walk break.  I sent Grant a message to let him know I was at 13 miles.  I planned to update him so he knew roughly when to expect me at the finish.  He wanted to take a video of me finishing, despite my request for ‘photos only’.

After about 30 seconds, I tried to run again.  The result?  Eye-watering pain and the feeling that my legs no longer belonged to me.  What the fuck, legs?! I went back to walking and thought maybe another 30 seconds would sort out my legs.  Turns out I was wrong about that.  I stopped altogether and stretched for a bit, resumed walking, and then tried to run again.  Agony multiplied by about 43.  Panic was definitely starting to creep in.  And then, out of nowhere, I spotted Ronnie up ahead, walking to one side of the road.  I called out his name and hobbled up to him.

‘How are you doing?’ I asked.

‘Terrible.  Why did we agree to do this, this was a stupid idea, I am in so much pain, you’re the most horrible person on the planet for suggesting this bullshit idea to me, I hate you and I want you to die a slow, painful death, like having to run 1,000 marathons with no break only to be stabbed at the end,’ was the reply.  (NB I may be paraphrasing a bit)

‘Yeah, I’m experiencing pain too.  Want to walk a bit, jog a bit?’

‘OK.’

We struggled on for another couple of miles, but Ronnie’s belly was unhappy, possibly due to trying out new carb gels (Cliff was one of the sponsors, so there were shot block, gels, and electrolyte drinks along the route), and when he saw a couple of port-a-loos, even the queue snaking around them wasn’t enough to keep him going.  When nature calls, she makes you her bitch.  He asked if I was staying or going, as I could have also done with a bathroom break, but I knew if I stopped running, it would take a monumental effort to get started again, plus I knew I’d be walking on the uphill section after Dores, so I told him I couldn’t stop, but I’d probably see him again on the hill, and carried on.

If only he had his phone on him (which he would have if the screen hadn’t recently cracked) then I could have let him know that less than a mile further was a hotel with its toilets open to runners.  No queues AND relative luxury!  Though tempted to go in for a crap and an excuse to sit down, I continued.

And then I passed Dores.  And reached the hill.  I entertained thoughts of powering upwards, but after 20 painful, breathless paces, and with the realization that I still had several miles left, I slowed to a walk to conserve energy for the last 10k.  It was somewhere on this hill, around 19 miles, that I first started involuntarily crying.  I was in so much pain my face was a constant grimace, and I had to fight hard to keep going, and just as hard to fight back sobs of misery.  As my sun block and sweat trickled into my stinging eyes, my Garmin beeped to let me know I had run 20 miles (even though the 20 mile sign wouldn’t appear for another .2 miles due to the whole slight inaccuracy thing), and I thought just 10k to go.  Near the top of the hill, I caught up to a girl who had passed me a few times, and I her, and we gave each other pained smiles.  She was chatting to another girl and I walked the last uphill section with them.  As soon as the downhill part began, we all decided we would start running.

Loch Ness Marathon elevation profile

The pain I experienced when I tried to get going again is something I’m finding difficult to put into words.  It literally took my breath away.  It felt how I would imagine several sharp blades being plunged into your thigh might feel.  And it felt like that every time my foot hit down on the road.  The girls I was with were obviously feeling pain as well.  We all agreed that we should run through the pain until it went numb.  After a couple of horrific minutes, they both fell back to go to the bathroom, and I went ahead.  I was in desperate need of some inspiration, so out came the headphones.

Ten songs.  By the time you listen to ten songs, this hot mess of an experience will be done.  Lana Del Ray’s ‘Born to Die’ made me long for the sweet relief of death.  The Red Hot Chilli Peppers assured me that they liked pleasure spiked with pain, but I doubted they’d felt pain like mine at that moment.  Nero’s ‘Promises’ helped me start building momentum and I was shocked to look down and read 8:xx for my mile pace on my Garmin (not constantly, but at times).

I was delirious by this stage, so I can’t remember exact details.  I do remember passing the 23 mile marker and telling myself not to stop running.  I also remember soon after catching up with RAF-beanie, who was walking – and patting him on the shoulder as I passed, shouting back that if I stopped, I’d be done, and keep going ‘like Rocky!’.  I’m not sure how much of my garbled speech he heard, but he grinned (or grimaced), and set off at a jog.  When I looked back, though, he was walking again.

I remember hitting the 25 mile sign and turning into the city center, along the river, and several enthusiastic, cheering, smiling supporters were cheering everyone along.  I locked eyes with an older woman and she gave me a look of pity.  I realized that my face was still contorted, and I think I was wincing every time I took a step.  Less than ten minutes to go.  This part of the route was like the Inverness half marathon in March, which back then seemed never-ending.  I felt no differently about it at this point, but knew that the finish line was close.  As we crossed the bridge and turned, heading in the opposite direction on the other side of the river towards the end, the tailwind became a strong, unpleasant headwind, and I remember feeling grateful that we’d had the good fortune of having it behind us all day.

Attempting to smile through the pain for the photographer just after mile 25.

My legs were beginning to seize up, and it felt like I was running on peg legs.  My Garmin beeped for 26 miles, but I knew I’d have slightly further to go.  I also knew I might have a shot at making my ‘B’ goal of 4.5 hours, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t speed up.  Salt ‘n Pepa’s ‘Push it’ started at that point, and I continued grimacing and carried on.

When the finish line came into sight I was overcome with emotion.  I smiled.  I winced.  I wanted to cry.  I dread seeing the official finisher’s photo.  I heard my name called out through the speakers and used the cheers of the spectators to give me that last bit of strength to cross the finish line.  Then I cried like a baby.  Slowing to a walk, the pain I’d been ignoring for the last couple of hours suddenly became extremely noticeable.  I hobbled forwards for my medal, shuffled a bit more for my goody bag, and dragged myself far enough for a t-shirt.

I was in such a pitiable state that the woman at the information desk offered to escort me to the baggage pick up (I gladly accepted her help).  Once I had found my bag, I called Grant, who told me he’d seen me finish and would wait for Ronnie to get a photo.  He had managed a PB for his 10k and was feeling pretty smug.  I’m amazed his calorific brekkie didn’t weigh him down!  I headed for the massage tent.  Even the 20 minute estimated wait wasn’t enough to put me off parting with a tenner.  I was stiffer than Charlie Sheen in a whorehouse.  At least I was reassured by the other pathetic creatures around me, as we gave each other knowing looks through weak smiles.

While I was waiting for my number to be called, Ronnie and Grant arrived at the tent.  Ronnie managed to cross the line in 4:56:39 – slower than he had hoped, but he was glad to have the experience behind him at that point!  Plus, it’s decent going for having his longest training run at just over 17 miles!  Ronnie left to sort himself out, and I was called up for my rub down.  Worth every penny.  For sure.

Once I’d hobbled back outside, Grant and I found Ronnie chatting to someone else he knew (of course) and he gave us a lift back to the B&B, where the landlady had promised me a shower.

When we arrived, she looked pretty amused at the state I was in, handed me a towel, and pointed me in the direction of the shower room.  UP A FUCKING FLIGHT OF STAIRS. I grabbed my toiletries, and 15 minutes later, I was locking the bathroom door and switching on the shower for one of the best, but also most painful washing experiences to date.  More crying ensued at this point.

Once I’d managed to get downstairs, we decided to set off for home.  I’m amazed I didn’t fall asleep, and we got in just after 7.  Luckily, Ian had made it back and was waiting at mine, so I had much-needed assistance getting myself and all of my belongings up the stairs.  We went out for a curry (delicious) and beer (also delicious), and then we hobbled back where I did very little, and went to bed.  Considering the pain I was in, I was delighted when I saw my mail:

Rejection magazine for a ballot place in the London Marathon

Today (Monday) at work was ridiculous.  I had to walk up stairs like a geriatric, and I had to walk down them backwards.  I had many a strange look from some of my pupils (and some of the staff), but I made it through the day, and now I’m lounging on my sofa, where I intend to stay for the remainder of the evening.  Caressing my medal.

Trying not to dwell on the fact that I’m running a marathon in nine days. Did I mention I’m running a marathon?

There are 9 days until my first marathon and I am calmly freaking out.  This basically equates to looking 100% laid back, but inside my brain my thoughts are basically an endless stream of what-the-fuck’s.  I know my physio said to avoid running (and any impact activities) until the big day after the Crathes half, but I am a grown ass woman, and I can make adult decisions on my own, thank you very much!
Translation: Last night I went for an 8.5 mile run in the rain on the trails at Hazelhead Park.

The colder weather is coming in, the sun was out (when I started), and I guess I needed to know that I could still run a decent distance without collapsing in a heap of pain.  Plus, I figured if I was going to create more pain, it would be better to test things this week rather than merely days before the marathon.  It turns out my calf/shin is still sore, but it has majorly improved since last week (and the 2, 3, maybe 4 weeks – how long did I ignore this – before).  So I might have to have another test run (like 6-7 miles) this weekend, and then maybe a short run next week.  You know, just to be sure, or something.

Anyway, in less boring injury related news, I am celebrating my Friday off (I get Monday off too, thank you September long weekend!) in style!  I went to an abs class this morning and then did Body Pump.  After that I met Ian for lunch (a curry and beer – still in my gym kit, nothing but class), and I’m feeling suitably merry as I type!  I also picked up some essentials for next weekend (and have one or two things I’m going back into town for later).  These include:

  • high 5 gels, even though they have Cliff Shots along the course – I am not used to them.
  • Smuckers peanut butter and jelly (strawberry) from a shop that sells unhealthy American food for about 10 times the retail price.  This is my ultimate pre-race meal, with bread, obviously.
  • a cheap ipod shuffle, for ONLY running tunes, and so that I don’t risk destroying my fancy (and not cheap) Sony mp3 player
  • New running tights (because why not?)
  • Beer (for my fridge, to greet me upon arrival back home)

Anyway, the beer I consumed with lunch is telling me I need a siesta before I head back out, so I think I’ll get on that, STAT!