Well………I think I need to explain and apologise for the last few week’s absence. It’s been busy and somewhat challenging! After the Covid palaver and my ear disaster, it really felt as if things were on the up. I was feeling strong, motivated and thoroughly looking forward to a crazy, busy weekend at the Milton Keynes Marathon Weekend with friends, and then the fun that is always the local excitement of the Market Drayton 10k, followed by a fabulous weekend tackling the trails of the Lake District.
After an enjoyable couple of runs with club, and a lovely spin round the village with local running buddy Nikki, I was 100% ready for action, and set off buzzing with an early morning coffee and some very loud AC/DC playing in the car. First stop was Market Harborough parkrun, with my Down South running ‘family’ where we enjoyed a trot round in the sunshine, some laughs and a good breakfast before the journey to Bedford for an overnight stop prior to the planned weekend of racing – the 5km ‘Rocket’ followed by the Marathon Relay in which I was Leg 3 of a team of 4
The 5km went well – it was cool and a bit damp, but the course is straight out, point-to-point, and after the first little slope, is relatively flat. My fabulous friend and weekend host Leese and her son Olly both smashed brilliant PB’s (Olly was, quite frankly, just a blur……!) and I was excited to come in just above 27 minutes, the fastest 5km I’ve run in a couple of years. Satisfied, but having left plenty in the tank for the following day’s relay………
Bank Holiday Monday dawned dry and relatively bright, and the four of us were coordinated with military precision. Honestly, I had never considered the logistics of moving four runners across a busy town in one vehicle, dropping and collecting them at the various checkpoints to make the changeovers, and it is testament to Leese and her organisational skills that we were consistently at the right place at exactly the right time – it still makes me twitch just thinking about it! Leg 1 (Davina) and Leg 2 (Leese) performed brilliantly, both hitting 10km PB’s………..and then it was time. I was ready and waiting, and the changeover from Leese was seamless. I even had a little plan as I wasn’t familiar with the route or the elevation – keep the first mile just around the ten minute mark to warm up, and then give it everything I had! What is the they say about the best laid plans…?
Mile 1, to be fair, went completely to plan – just under ten minutes and feeling good. However, totally unexpectedly a little way into the second mile, it all went wrong. I didn’t fall. I didn’t trip, lose my balance or land awkwardly. The ground was flat and I was doing nothing other than running steadily. But suddenly, something like I imagine a gunshot to feel, tore through my left leg from calf to hip and left me breathless. I slowed right down, shook it out and set off again, assuming it was cramp, and made the ill advised decision to ‘run it off’ (Note: this is NOT something you should ever do. Just don’t. Seriously, don’t do it!) It didn’t feel right – the initial shock of pain had gone, but there was a constant niggling that I couldn’t pinpoint, which just wouldn’t ease. And there were still over 4 miles to go. There followed 50 minutes of swearing, crying and desperately trying to find myself a running gait which didn’t hurt. There wasn’t one. I flitted between running really slowly as the less painful option, and speeding up because I so desperately wanted it to be over. If I’d been running solo, I would have pulled out, but I had no idea where I was and was very conscious that thus far, our team were smashing the race. I’m a bloody minded idiot and I just didn’t want to give up. I walked on a few occasions, and by the time I got to the end and handed the baton over to Lou C, I was in tears, pretty much convinced the world had ended.
But of course, back in the real world, it wasn’t the end – Lou C went on to gallop round her leg and we finished together at the MK Stadium (with me limping at the back!) in a brilliant time of 4 hours, 7 minutes and 6 seconds. We placed 9th out of 26 female teams! I’d actually finished the 6.4 mile Leg from Hell in 1 hour 6 minutes and despite the pain, came away from the weekend with three medals, a t shirt, a hoody and a bag of snacks. We’d had such fun, and it had been a brilliant experience.
I made my way home, trying to shut down the little voice in the back of my head which was telling me I was injured, and quickly made an appointment with trusted local sports physio Jen Ellison (if you don’t already know her, she’s highly recommend – find her on Facebook as ‘Relief Therapy’ – she has fierce, pointy little fingers, but she really knows her stuff and I think she looks after pretty well everyone in MDRC! It looks as if my muscles haven’t been supporting my joints as well as they should have been, and my knee and hip joints have been overloaded as a result. I have a load of strengthening exercises to do, and plenty of swimming. I’ll keep cycling, and fingers crossed things will settle down. I made the heartbreaking but necessary decision to drop out of the Market Drayton 10k, but cheered on my Southern visitors and the many club runners who took part. I’ve dropped from my trail half marathon race to the 10k distance, as it has no time cutoff so I can walk it if I need to – there’s a whole weekend of trail running festival fun and I really don’t want to miss out!
I’ve had a few panics over the last couple of weeks, which is the main reason for blog silence. Running helped me when my mental health was at a low, and the fear of losing my positivity if I can’t run has been at the forefront of my mind since Milton Keynes. It has brought me fitness, friendship and new found enthusiasm for life, and the possibility of not having those things in my life, even if only temporarily, has been quite frightening.
I’m determined however, that this is merely a blip in my running adventure, and I’ll be back very soon, irritatingly cheerful and full of enthusiasm! If nothing else, recent events have taught me the following –
1. Respect your body – and when it says it’s hurting, stop what you’re doing!
2. Just in case – find yourself a great physio – you never know when you might need them!
3. For Christ’s sake, do your stretches and strength/conditioning exercises!
Stay safe, run strong, and I’ll catch up with you all next week!
Lou 🧡 🖤