Monday, 31 January 2011

Toes, and losing your mind.

My toes hurt.

I broke one of my middle toes down the length of the bone in a freak canoeing accident in my 20s, and it's telling me all about it now! When I run anything over about 6 miles it just aches. It is quite bent and I suspect it is banging against the side of the shoe, and squashing the other toes too. Wayne, my sports masseur suggested taping it to keep it straight, so he's going to have a go at that next week and see if it works.

If anything is going to fall apart on my run across Wales it's going to be my feet.

My sports massages have been getting more and more painful, and that's not just because Wayne is a sadist (although I am wondering!). I am just so tight and sore after 100 miles a week. Goodness knows what  I will be like after 225 miles.

I am also slowly losing my mind.

"Men and women who race at distances longer than marathons—also known as ultrarunners—are by reputation and reality a strange, obsessive, and somewhat socially awkward lot."

Had a long chat with Lowri about the quote above, especially the socially awkward bit. We neither of us felt we fitted that particular description, but then we could be deeply in denial. But definitely obsessive, oh yes.

Over the last week, it seems the running has slowly eroded both my memory and my IQ level. I forget simple things, miss obvious jokes, and my reaction time seems to be working at a glacial pace. Oh well, it'll all be worth it in the end!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Running with Lowri Morgan

Lowri and I at 25 miles
 Several months ago Lowri Morgan the S4C presenter agreed to support my run across Wales. Yesterday she emailed me and suggested we do a run together. What a fantastic suggestion! She joined me for 25 miles around the Gower this morning in the middle of her 31 mile run. The 4.5 hours we were running went in a flash!

I think we covered a fair range of subjects with ultra running being right up there. She is doing a 350 mile race in Yukon Canada, in the arctic circle in March, so she's in the midst of some heavy mileage.

It was so good to have a chat about schedules, and miles, and how tough ultra running is mentally, and talk to someone who knows. Last year she competed in the Jungle marathon, a 5 day ultra. It was filmed for S4C, and I watched the programme avidly. She is one tough runner, but she's also human, and a great laugh!

If we can we will run together again. Having the company of a likeminded runner was a real pleasure. I'm not sure I'm quite at her level though, as she measures her runs not in miles, but in hours! The thought of running for 8-10 hours (which she does in training), is mind boggling. There's a big difference between running a marathon and running an ultra or a multiday event, but the great thing about running is, there really are no limits. Company on a run is good, stimulating, interesting company is great - today's was a great run.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

The Power of a Smile!

Fantastic sunrise this morning!
I was dreading the run this morning, as I expected it to be hard given what my week has been like, but it was a fab run. I ran to the Saturday WRN group, where the girls were great company. The large group of French men wandering round the docks as we passed proved to be good entertainment too, as they congratulated us on our physical prowess!
A few of the girls ran on after the group for a few miles too, which was great. Then a comedy podcast got me the last 3 miles back to my car.
I couldn't help it again, I was laughing out loud. People were very friendly, several said hello. Amazing what a smile can do.

Friday, 21 January 2011

When the going gets tough - pretend!

You wouldn't think I needed to blog anything about tough going during an easy week, but I had an all time low today.

I had a moment of reality, when it hit me full force that whilst it is lovely spending my time phoning local companies for raffle prizes, and having chats with media types...... I am actually going to have to run the length of an entire country! What was I thinking?

No, ok, I know exactly what I was thinking. It's long, it's hard, that'll be a challenge, sign up before you really think about it. And then, a few weeks before the event, think about it, and panic.

Planning to run 225 miles in a little over 7 days, is scary!

At the moment, when I am permanently dog tired, eating constantly, and spending a lot of my time aching, all I can think about are the tough bits. All I wanted to do today was go out for a short plod with my group, maybe 3 miles, then go home and rest. However I had 10 miles to do, and I just couldn't get out of the front door. Thank goodness I had a group to lead, or I might well not have run at all.

I am tired, really really tired. Physically, but especially emotionally.

I know there will be good bits of the Run Wales experience, but I can't let myself think of them yet. It's like hoping for a good result in an exam. You sit the exam and do the best you can, then spend weeks assuming you've failed, because it's much easier to accept defeat early and get on with a plan to deal with it, than to cope with disappointment when your hopes have been too high. Think I might be a pessimist!

This ultra running business is all about controlling your mind, and your thoughts. Whilst I know all this about myself, and accept it, I also am learning how best to manage my thoughts, and keep myself positive (even if I don't sound very positive at the moment). Secretly I am very very excited, but I don't want to let that excitement explode just yet, because I need it for the event itself, to keep me going through the dark moments. So I suppose by concentrating on the tough bits I am making sure I do get out and train properly. My run today was actually pretty good. I didn't want to run, I felt exhausted, but I did it anyway, and finished with a fast mile. If I can get myself going when there's noone else around and go on after a club when everyone else is going home to a nice warm shower and something to eat, then I think I can run Wales, when hopefully I will have loads of help and support.

The lesson I have learnt today is - if you think you can't do it, pretend you can until you've managed to do it anyway!

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

This isn't easy!

So this week was supposed to be an easy week. So far I have run 19 miles over 3 days.

I have never felt so achy, stiff, tired and hungry. How is that easy??

Today's run was 10 miles. I had intended to run somewhere scenic having a little more time than usual to drive somewhere nice. However on waking to a very hard frost I had to stick to pavements that had been warmed by traffic, and that had seen a bit of sun, although I did manage to make it down to the Loughour estuary which was very pretty.

I haven't been down this way since my pre running days, when I used to push my son in his buggy through this riverside park. It was quite a revelation to find that the park had a whole other section that I had never explored with my son. It just goes to show how unadventurous I was before I was a runner!

Saturday, 15 January 2011

100 miles - Done!! and some scary dogs.

I can't quite believe it. It does seem ridiculous. But, it's true. I have run a grand total of 100 miles this week.

I now feel I will be able to run across Wales.

The challenge this week has most definitely been a mental challenge more so than a physical one. The temptation to allow all those negative thoughts to flood into your brain whilst you are running, and give in to the feelings of tiredness is overwhelming at times. I have been having some very strange dreams recently where I am incredibly angry, and just shout and shout at the top of my voice. I'm sure it's because I am spending large chunks of my day holding everything together, and staying mentally strong, that all that raw emotion is released in my dreams. Thank goodness I'm not getting so angry in real life! I feel very sorry for my dream adversaries, they really do get an ear bashing!

I have been overwhelmed by the kindness of the people around me. My running friends have gone out of their way, especially Mandy, to keep me motivated, to feed me, run with me, count the miles for me. It has been fantastic. Strangers have offered to run sections of the challenge with me. Aquaintances (I'm sure that's not spelt right, but I'm too tired to check) have sponsored me. It's getting very real!

I have an easy week next week, just 45 miles, with a sports massage and a trip to the podiatrist planned to check everything is ok. I am looking forward to some runs of less than 26 miles.

One thing that didn't go to plan on the run today, was being accosted, or maybe I should say attacked by 4 large dogs. I met them on last Saturday's run as well. Whilst running down the cycle track, and almost at the seafront, they rounded a corner, barking, growling, baring their teeth and jumping up at me. They circled me, and had me at a complete standstill. One of them was wearing a muzzle. On jumping up, they reached my shoulder, and dug their claws into my legs. The owner was completely ineffectual, and totally unapologetic. Last week he commented I'd given the dogs a fright, this week when I said he should keep the dogs on a lead if he couldn't control them, he muttered something about not expecting to see runners at this time in the morning. It was clear from their behaviour that they thought I was a threat to their owner, and were protecting him. I was scared, and appalled, that anyone could allow their animals to be so out of control, and not even consider apologising! Unbelievable.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Bruised, battered, but still running!

Why oh why do I fall over so much???

4 miles into a 15 miler today, I saw a kerb and I promptly fell over it. Luckily the only bit that hit the ground hard was my right knee. I hit a bit of muddy grass with my left arm and hand, so the damage was thankfully limited. I spent a few minutes walking round in circles waiting for my knee to stop throbbing and trying to decide what to do. I tried a few paces, and it wasn't so bad, so I decided to run to the next junction about half a mile away, and decide whether to cut the run short, or to carry on with the rest of the 15.

At the next junction, it was a little stiff but much better, so on I went. Then it started raining again. Looking at my bloodstained socks I figured my knee was probably a bit cut. My running tights had saved me from too much damage, but now they were wet and rubbing on open wounds (albeit small ones). Anyone who has experienced chafing whilst running, will know how much this stings. Still at least the pain was all on the surface of the skin. I decided to continue the run, only cutting off a couple of miles at a moment of weakness, when it felt like the skin on my knees was being rubbed with acid.

So, I did 13 miles, and now have a pretty stiff knee. Being an old hand at this falling over lark, I'm sure it will be stiff for the rest of the day, and either ready to run again tomorrow, or Friday, but we will see. I have full range of movement, just residual stiffness from the bruise. It was definitely tiredness that made me fall. If only I could have 12 hours sleep a night, then I could run forever!!

Not only can you see the bruises in the photo, but all the old scars too!

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The route

In the last few weeks I have been recruiting people to keep me company on the run. So far I have someone for most days, and the last 3 days are looking especially busy. North Wales is looking a bit sparse though, so I would really appreciate some more company from anyone willing to run or cycle with me in the first 2-3 days.

If anyone would like a copy of my intended route then just email me on .

Below is a list of places I will be running to and from to give you an idea of where I will be on each day.

Day 1 - Thursday 24th February - Bull Bay, Anglesey to Llanberis.
Day 2 - Friday 25th February - Llanberis to Trawsfynydd, just north of Dolgellau.
Day 3 - Saturday 26th February - Dolgellau to Machynlleth.
Day 4 - Sunday 27th February - Machynlleth to just north of Tregaron.
Day 5 - Monday 28th February - Tregaron to Cwmdu north of Llandeilo.
Day 6 - Tuesday 1st March - Llandeilo to Swansea.
Day 7 - Wednesday 2nd March - Swansea to Aberthaw east of Barry.
Day 8 - Thursday 3rd March - Barry to the Welsh Assembly, Cardiff.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Promotional Video - Run Wales - what it's all about!

Video courtesy of Lorne Guy - Goodguys Production Co.

95 miles this week

Yet again my body has amazed me by completing a gruelling week of running. 95 miles for the week - done and dusted!

Yesterday I ran 22 miles. It was supposed to be 24, but it was a dreadful run, and I just didn't have enough time to run the extra 2 miles. On Thursday I had foolishly not eaten well enough, and ended up leading a power walking group with not enough fuel in the tank. I felt lightheaded, wobbly, absolutely starving and exhausted. All because I missed my afternoon sandwiches (a couple of peanut butter sandwiches mid afternoon is essential for the ultra runner!) The knock on effect was that I was really low on energy for Friday's run too. The legs were fine, no real aches or pains, it was just really really hard.

I learnt my lesson, ate like a horse on Friday night, and added the missed mileage to my run today to make it 27 miles in total. I planned well, downloaded a couple of hours of comedy podcasts, arranged to run with a group at around 9 miles, then picked up Mandy for the last 6 miles (she's a star!) 5 and a bit hours later, 27 miles all done.

I am now comfortable in my compression recovery leggings, feeling relieved I've managed another week's training. Only 3 hard weeks left before I taper for the run itself.

I have been lucky enough to manage to get another article in the South Wales Evening Post for Monday as well, which will help with the fundraising I am sure. The money is coming in, and it would be great to get more than £1000 for what are 2 incredibly deserving charities that protect and support the most vulnerable women and children in the community. If you haven't already donated please follow the links at the side of this page and make a difference to the life of a woman or child at risk of violence.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Curry Evening - 07/02/11

Tickets are now on sale for a Charity Curry Evening at the Mumbai in Blackpill on Monday 7th February at 7pm. It's just £15 a ticket for a 2 course buffet meal with raffle and competitions with prizes.

Everyone is welcome. 50% of the ticket price will go to the RunWales Challenge chosen charities.

Please contact me to purchase your tickets.