Sunday, 26 September 2010

The Wales Marathon

What a fantastic event!

A little hillier than I was expecting, especially the long tough hill at mile 20ish.

This was a training run for me, with 10 miles on Friday and another 15 on Saturday, the aim was to follow my body and finish feeling good, possibly ready to run again on Monday. So I guessed that would mean a finish time of around 5 hours.

The day didn't start particularly well. I went to the wrong registration place to find it was closed, then managed to fall over a curb once I'd found the right place. I jumped up quick, and pretended I hadn't fallen over, whilst cursing myself inside as my knees were banged, and a bit painful. A swift hobble round the corner confirmed there was nothing too wrong with them though, thank goodness.

The start was small only 200 runners, but in the gorgeous if chilly sun, with the drum band and cheering crowds it was very exciting and atmospheric. Two flat or downhill miles led us out of Tenby until we hit the first hill, and boy what a hill. It just seemed to go on for ever and ever, and it was steep. Once on top of the ridge it undulated towards Pembroke. The route really was very pretty, and the support fantastic. As the field had spread out pretty well by half way I ran down Pembroke high street to cheers and claps, almost completely on my own, so I felt like an Olympian.

The second half was warmer, with a tail wind, and had 2 nasty climbs, but plenty of views still and more runners as the half runners had now joined us.

I felt comfortable and chatty all the way round, nothing hurt and my breathing was fine, so when I looked at my watch in the last 2 miles to realise the time, I was very suprised. I managed 4.38 without seeming to try too hard, and the legs are a little achy but fine. Last year I struggled to manage 4.50 in Snowdonia. This year I can pull 4.38 out of the bag in amongst 51 miles over 3 days. I think I may be getting fitter.

I am hoping that as I am up and down stairs ok, and nothing is aching too much, that after a massage first thing tomorrow morning I may be ok to run tomorrow evening with club, but we shall see.

Oh yes, I also found out on Friday that I have passed the interview and I have been selected as a UK Athletics Coach Education Tutor, so that's 2 whole weekends away in October. I'm already planning when I can squeeze in the running!

Sunday, 19 September 2010

An Easy week

A step back week this week, so just 46 miles.

Had an interview in Solihull yesterday for a tutoring position with UK Athletics, and the 6 hours driving over 2 days and sitting around, plus the stress of the interview has left me absolutely exhausted, more tired than 82 miles!

This week it's 73 miles with the Wales Marathon on Sunday. Oh and I've lost 4 pounds in weight this week, not quite sure why this week, but I'm thinking my body has finally caught up with the mileage I'm asking it to do, and dropped some excess fat. I reckon I have another half stone of weight that I could lose without being scrawny, we will see if I lose any more next week, and then worry about my food intake. I am eating very well, not stinting on anything, but maybe I need to look at higher protein foods, and eat more often.

Anyway, I need a nice relaxing afternoon, shame I have 5 pairs of school trousers to take down instead!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Running with Chris Moon MBE and other stories

What a week!

82 miles in 7 days, and still in one piece. 69 of the 74 miles I had planned to do since last Monday.

This week I had the opportunity to run with Chris Moon, a double amputee and amazing ultra athlete on his Post Office 1000 mile challenge . That's 36 miles every day for 30 days. Having read a small article on his arrival in Swansea on Thursday I googled him and managed to get in contact with his business. Through them I was able to contact his support team and arranged to meet Chris at Wetlands at 7.30am on the Thursday. We ran along the coastal path towards Loughor, getting wet feet in the exceptionally high tide, through Gowerton and down the cycle track to the front, where it was straight along Swansea Bay and into town.

He is an amazingly determined man, with extreme mental strength, and of course he's quite fit too. We ran for a couple of hours together, chatting mostly about running. We stopped on the way for him to do a radio interview and a bit of filming before arriving at Swansea Post Office. I then dashed to work, and he went on to run another 22 miles!

The run with Chris allowed me to see that ultra endurance is as much about determination and the will to succeed as it is about physical fitness. For a man who lost his arm and leg clearing mines in Mozambique he can run blinking fast! It also showed me what it might actually be like to run across Wales. The constant focus you need to do something that challenging, and how you have to involve as many people as possible to help make it a success. It was an incredibly inspiring run, and an extremely interesting one, but above all it made me realise how Chris Moon, and other endurance athletes are not superhuman, just ordinary people who work very hard at doing extraordinary things, quite awe inspiring. I hope to have some photos and maybe video from the run for the blog soon.

That all happened on the Thursday, so I managed 14 miles with Chris. On the Friday I had 16 miles to do, which was tough. Towards the end of the run when I was just about to leave the cycle track and head uphill and home I bumped into Lowri Morgan the S4C presenter who ran the Jungle Marathon in Brazil last year. I had watched the S4C coverage of her run with interest, and had emailed her to ask if she would support the RunWales. So bumping into her was a godsend, she introduced herself and declared she'd love to support the run!! Which is fantastic news.

I'm ecstatic to have Lowri and Chris on board and willing to support the RunWales challenge, their support will be a huge boost to the event, and a huge boost to my confidence knowing there are other endurance athletes out there who believe I can do it!!

Today I did another 18 miles, helped along by the WRN long slow run group. I couldn't persuade myself to do the extra 4 miles needed for the 22 I had planned, it was getting late and I felt I had added to my training by upping my 3 day total from 45 miles 2 weeks ago to 48 today. My legs were also still sore from the sports massage I had yesterday which was quite definitely the most painful massage I've ever had. I came very close to screaming abuse at Wayne my masseur and for a few moments I most definitely hated him! However, my knee was fine for 48 miles in 3 days, which given the problems I had last week, I'm very pleased with.

Next week I only have 45 miles to do. What used to be a peak week in marathon training now feels like a rest. Then the Wales Marathon the following Sunday. I'm stiff, sore and tired, but happy!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

It nearly went all pear shaped...

When I said last time that I felt much better for taking it easy, that didn't include how I felt running a day later. Certainly getting up and down stairs and carrying on normal life was easier, but then having taken Monday off from running after 45 miles in 3 days, I ran on Tuesday and for the first time in years I was in pain. A specific, knee centred pain. It was, quite frankly horrible.

For the first half mile of the run the inside of my left knee just below the kneecap was painful, not achy, but sharp pain. After the first half mile it loosened and it was just uncomfortable, but the whole of the rest of my legs felt "wrong", achy tired and all out of kilter.

So what did I do? Well of course, I did what any self respecting neurotic runner would do, I panicked!

This panicking involved several short run/walks riven with doubt and worry, constant running up and down my hall and dining room trying to convince myself I'd recovered overnight, and huge dollops of self doubt. I ran twice on Wednesday, then decided I couldn't cope with the stress and took to my bike until I saw Wayne on Friday, my fantastic sports massage therapist. Just hearing from Wayne that a hamstring had tightened and was pulling at the insertion point, and that no knee ligaments were involved was a huge relief.

One excruciatingly painful sports massage later and I was back running. Looking back on the last 6 weeks of the school holidays, the camping, kayaking, and body surfing hadn't done my muscles any good, add to that pretty high mileage, and only 2 sports massages, and minimal strength work and my muscles had tightened up to painful levels. I have learnt my lesson, the shcool holidays are hard, and I need to look after myself a bit better.

So having run a couple of 3 milers on Friday and Saturday I ran Bristol Half Marathon today with Lynne who has spent the last year recovering from a brain haemorrhage. It was fantastic, Lynne was fantastic, and my knee held up. We took it easy and got Lynne across the line in 2.23, with a strong last couple of miles and a sprint finish, so job done. My knee was complaining a bit from mile 11, and for a couple of hours after the race the muscles around the knee spasmed quite painfully making me look like the Ministry of Funny Walks, but it feels much better now, just a bit stiff. So with another sports massage booked for Friday I am far more confident that I can run the planned 74 miles this week. Mind you, just typing 74 makes me panic, and I instantly want to qualify it by saying I may only do 20 this week if the knee falls apart, ah well........ maybe panic is part of a runner's life?