Thursday, 17 March 2011

Back to work!

So now that I am recovered from Run Wales, and running well again, it's back to work!

My journey across Wales has certainly given me an insight into how hard you can train if you really want to. Not that I would consider working any of my clients that hard, not unless they asked me to anyway!

If you would like to change your life by taking on a challenge of a lifetime, then give me a call! My website can be found at . Further information on all the classes I run as well as a little background information on what I can offer you as a personal trainer can be found on the website.

Just keep on running!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

I'm still a runner!

I have just been out for my first run since finishing Run Wales. I managed 4 flat easy miles.

My legs are a little more achy and stiff than usual, and I was definitely lower in energy than I normally would be. My pace has also gone, but I can still run!

The real fear with doing an event so huge was that the aftermath would put me out of running for weeks or even months, but it seems the human body is a lot more resilient than I expected. All my aches and pains have disappeared, and my blisters are fully healed, just 8 days after my 227 mile run. It looks like I will be fine for Forest of Dean Half Marathon in a couple of weeks, and even a 31 mile ultra in Swansea on April 16th. I also have plans to do a 50 mile ultra at the beginning of May. I would like to spend the rest of the year just doing the races I fancy, maybe a few marathons which are close to home, and some offroad races.

I have thought about planning another solo event, but I think I need a break from the organisation and pressure that comes with such a big event. I have some major changes happening in my working life at the moment, so feel I have enough to contend with at the moment. Having said that, I have seriously thought about the next challenge, and knowing me I will find myself planning something before I have realised what I am doing.

I went out for lunch with a good friend on Friday, and she asked me what it was like now that Run Wales was over, how did I feel? The only way I can describe it is, that it feels like I have had an incredibly intense and wonderful holiday relationship. I am very sad it is over, but I wouldn't change a thing, and given half the chance I would rush back into it like a shot, but I realise real life has to come first. I have been so lucky to have this wonderful experience and I do hope I get the chance to have another different adventure some time soon.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Post Marathon Blues

It's hit me, I have post marathon blues.

Although my body is recovering and my legs and feet are feeling a great deal better, they are still feeling the effects of 227 miles. My blisters are very nearly healed but I can still feel them to walk on. My right knee is very stiff and sore. I had a massage with Wayne yesterday, and he confirmed what I thought, there is no damage to the knee, it is just that the vastus medialis (part of the quadriceps), is very very tight, and it is pulling on the knee and making it hurt. The reason for the tight quads was compensation for the blisters. So it just goes to show you really do have to treat every little ache and pain as a real full blown injury to avoid it turning into something nasty. Having said I ache, I managed to cycle just over 5 miles with my running club last night, albeit on the flat. I am exhausted this morning as a result, but I know my body will recover I just need to be patient.

When your body is tired, your mind often follows suit. I am dwelling on negative thoughts at the moment and finding it hard to feel positive. That is part of the process of recovery. I had to be so strong during the run, that my mind had to work really hard too, and it also needs a break now.

I knew that this would happen, so have lined up some treats to look forward to. I am doing Forest of Dean half marathon with my husband and sister in law in a little over 2 weeks time. Or if not I will be having a night away in a B&B and a good old chat with my brother in law whilst I support the other runners. I also have a couple of ultra events I will either be supporting or running in the next few months. Having something planned in the future, even if it is not actually running gives me something to look forward to, and helps me realise this blue feeling is only temporary, and a very normal part of recovery.

Everyone has been asking me what I plan to do next. I would definitely like to do something big again, but I think I need several months if not a couple of years to regroup and plan my next adventure. I do intend to have a go at some more organised events, where someone else has all the heartache of the organisation, and I just get to enjoy the running. I would like to start with a 50 miler, and maybe attempt a 100 mile race in the next year or so.

I have learnt a lot about myself on this journey, and a lot about what it takes to run 227 miles in a little over a week. I have loved every minute of the journey, and it is something I want to repeat. I always think though that distance running is about patience and control. This journey has opened up so many possibilities for me as a runner, I just need to be patient enough to explore those possibilities at a pace that my mind and body can manage!

Friday, 4 March 2011

The Aftermath

Over the last few years I have followed several blogs that describe people's ultra challenges, and I have invariably been disappointed when the challenge finishes and the blog disappears. I want to know what it's like after the event itself is over. I want to know how the runners cope when they finally stop running.

So just in case there are other people out there who feel the same way as me, and want to know what happens next, this blog is for you.

Last night I slept better than I have done since the day before the journey up to North Wales. It was pure luxury not to have to tape my feet, and massage my legs on waking. Although I did have to get up at 7am to get breakfast and see the boys off to school. The plan was to go back to bed, but in fact I just lounged around all morning in my pyjamas, something I never do. My feet were still quite swollen and painful from the blisters and all the pounding, so I spent the morning icing them too. My right quad just above my kneecap is also a little tender, and the knee very stiff, but nothing that ice and rest won't fix.

I am unbelievably weary. I don't want to sleep, I just can't move very fast! My brain is also a bit slow. It's a shame really because the weather is beautiful, and if I had the energy I'd love to be out in it. I did walk about half a mile to the shops at lunchtime, and the blister on my little toe was painful. I hope that by Monday that will have subsided a bit. Already my feet are looking more normal, and the swelling is reducing. I am still wearing compression tights to be on the safe side though. I have a massage booked for Monday, so hopefully I will be walking more normally by Tuesday.

The day so far has been punctuated by well done texts and phonecalls. I feel honoured that my run has been of interest to so many people.I even got 2 cards wishing me congratulations. The cards must have been sent before I finished to arrive today - they obviously had confidence in me that I would finish!

The only down side to the day was realising this morning that both my husband and I forgot to vote in the Welsh referendum! I guess we had other things to think about.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Day 8 - 14 miles

The finish line in Cardiff
Just a short plod into Cardiff from yesterday's finish point West Aberthaw.

I got up early and it was a mad dash to get everything and everyone into the car and en route for the start. My husband and sons were my support crew for the day. Unlike any other day so far I also had company for the whole run from Women's Running Network runners and leaders and one of the charity workers.

I met Gayle in Gileston standing on the side of the road. I had massaged my legs and taped my feet whilst sat in a traffic jam on the M4, goodness knows what the other motorists thought I was doing! Apparently whilst waiting for me to arrive Gayle had met a couple of villagers, who stopped her and asked if she were with the runner who finished here last night. I was the talk of the village! Which was handy, as Gayle was able to knock on one of the villager's doors and ask if I was able to use their toilet before we left. Thank goodness I'd caused a stir.

The route this morning was definitely the least scenic start I'd had so far, as it was a major A road around Cardiff airport. There were a lot of huge trucks and white vans intent it seemed on getting somewhere very fast. For the first time I had drivers gesturing for me to get off the road. Although I had as much right to be there as they did, I would much rather have been running on quiet country lanes, but I had somewhere I needed to be, and this was the quickest way to get there, so I concentrated hard on staying upright and negotiating the roundabouts as safely as possible.

After 6 miles or so Gayle left me, and I met Amy from Swansea Women's Aid. It was lovely to have so many new people to talk to, and the next few miles went quickly. Amy mentioned that she had not been running for very long, so the hill we did in Dinas Powys was her first! She did brilliantly.

In Dinas we were met by Erika and runners from her group, some of whom had taken the time off work to be there. They brought not only a donation for the charities, but also a large banner, which in the icy wind today was very brave of them to carry all the way into Cardiff. After a quick refuel we were off on the final leg of what had been an amazing week.

In Cardiff centre, there was a manic half hour whilst we loitered in various supermarkets and museums until the finish line was set up properly and we then ran round the corner into Roald Dahl Plas with Erika's group following holding the banner stating the mileage I'd completed, and I finished my 8 day run with as much of a sprint finish as I could muster. Quite surreal.

Glad to see my family again.
It was lovely to see so many people there. Wayne and Clare my sports massage therapists, my family including my Mum and Dad, representatives from the charities, as well as some of the charities' service users, the people I was really running for. A few friends who worked in Cardiff had also come along, which was lovely. What was most bizarre was a group of 8-9 people in white hoodies who all came along to cheer. One of them introduced himself at the end as a group who were doing exactly the same run as I had just completed but up and back. The only difference being they were running it as a relay, so I think they were a bit surprised to find I had run it on my own.

After tea, cakes, photos and speeches it was back to normal life.

I've had my burger and chips, my huge bowl of cereal, a decent cup of tea and a shower. I am too tired to talk right now, but I have had the most amazing week. It's difficult to express how astonishing and wonderful the experience has been. I don't have a big enough repertoire of superlatives to describe it adequately. What I can say though is, I want to do it all again!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Day 7 - 29 miles

The time is now 9.15pm and I am sitting in front of the computer eating cereal. I didn't get home until 8.20pm from my wonderful massage with Clare, who did a brilliant job. I can even walk down stairs unaided! I have eaten and sorted the route for tomorrow, but I still have to sort my kit, food, and support crew stuff for tomorrow.

I am tired, so I do hope this blog makes sense.

I was with two running friends Sheila and Julie from the start on Fabian Way today, which is a horrible long straight dual carriageway. I was stiff, and completely exhausted. I usually finish the day on a grandad shuffle but today I started that way too. Sheila and Julie accompanied me to the beginning of Port Talbot and then I was on my own. The weather was fantastic, bright sunny and cold. I managed to speed up the shuffle a bit til I was almost running by Margam, and I was greeted there by Clare my sports therapist who had threatened to jump out at me.

Helen was crewing for me again today, and we had the map sorted well, with Clare on board for a bit too the running was easy. They met me regularly and dealt neatly with the old lady who protested when they parked in the busstop. Clare also very kindly lent me her ipod for the day, as even though I have 185 songs on mine, I'd listened to them all at least 3 times already.

It was a nice straight line down to Pyle, with a little bit of a headwind, but as I woke up, so did my legs, and I managed pretty well. I did however manage to take a wrong turn around Pyle somewhere and nearly ended up on the motorway, not my finest moment. I was finding today that Helen would tell me the route for the next 2 miles, I would repeat it back to her, and then run off and promptly go the wrong way. This is what hundreds of running miles does to your brain!

The next section was just lots of nasty A roads with lots of traffic, punctuated by a cup of tea in a car showroom, blagged by Helen, and cheers and waves from passers by again sorted by Helen. She was actually running into every shop/cafe/pub/service station I passed telling them what I was doing, then dragging them out onto the road to cheer me on, and boy did it help!!!!

The next miles passed in a blur of ever increasing muscle aches, my body was just slowly becoming tighter and tighter and more and more sore. I rounded the corner at Gileston with just a mile to go, and it began to sink in what I was about to do. I expected to run the last mile with tears streaming down my face, instead I ran it at the speedy pace of about 12 min miles (as fast as my weary legs and feet would go) and saw the sea ahead of me. Helen was shouting from her car to passers by what I was doing and I ran onto the beach at West Aberthaw the most southern point of Wales to the cheers of a man with a model aircraft, a woman with a dog, and a granny and granddaughter at their front door, cheering and shouting. It couldn't have been better!! The elation, and sheer joy of seeing the sea again was indescribable. I really had run from north to south, 215 miles in a week. The man with the model aircraft said "you've got a car, you should use it you know!" Too true!!

To top the day off, my phone rang, it was the news reporter Claire Pearson I'd done the interview with at Swansea Sound, (again arranged by Helen), wanting to interview me on having completed my challenge. So standing on the shingle looking out at the wonderful sea in the sunshine, I told her how I felt...... invincible!

So all I have to do now, is run just 14 miles into Cardiff tomorrow, accompanied all the way by various WRN runners, and charity workers, and meet my friends and family and charity representatives in the Millenium Centre for tea and cakes. I am so lucky.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Day 6 - 33 miles

Running into Swansea city centre
I was very nervous starting today. Having looked at the route last night I realised I had around 34 miles to run today, which seemed such a long way. My right foot was quite swollen on waking, and didn't seem to be going down much even with icing.

Today was a very good day. My legs behaved, my foot settled down and the miles got done.

The weather was fantastic, cold, clear and wonderful to run in.

I had 6 miles to Llandeilo, then another 5 til I met Jenny a runner friend in Llandybie. Meeting her was so lovely, so great to talk to someone for more than 5 minutes at a time whilst I stuffed my face. She had half the village out of the village shop to cheer me on when I arrived, so lovely.

After leaving Jenny I ran along the base of the Black Mountains by Garnswllt. The road was slightly undulating and my right knee which had been a problem yesterday began to bother me. I tried my best to ignore it, but it just wouldn't go away, so I took 2 ibuprofen. I always advise my runners never to take painkillers whilst running, but then I don't know many people who run ultras. Anyway, whatever the rights and wrongs of it, it worked, and the discomfort from my blisters went, my gait improved, and my knee stopped hurting.

Once I was inside the Swansea County border I started running roads I knew well. Before I knew it I was in Gorseinon, and feeling strong. I rounded a corner and there was a group of my runners and walkers come to cheer me on! It was so lovely to see them, they were so encouraging and cheerful, thankyou for your support!! Helen who was supporting for me for the day, had phoned Swansea Sound Radio station, and on my way past they asked me to pop in for a quick interview (which will be on air tomorrow). They even made me a cup of tea! I had no idea how ordinary the inside of a radio station was though, looked like any other office. Having sat down for a good 15 minutes I was a little worried how standing and walking and eventually running would be, but I shouldn't have worried, I was fine!

Running well.
I was now on a high and running well. I knew another group of runners was waiting for me at Carmarthen road ready to take me down the High Street to the running shop, where my husband and youngest son was waiting with friends. It was gone in a flash, and there I was running into Swansea town centre, I thought I might cry, but all I could do was grin from ear to ear. My son had made a banner with "Welcome Home Mum" on it, and runners, walkers and friends were all there, as well as Melanie Walters and an Evening Post Photographer. When the photographer asked Melanie and I to run like superman down the High Street holding collecting tins and each other's hand, I politely declined, stating that if I tried any super hero stunts after 180 odd miles I might never run again! Instead he settled for an exaggerated shuffle from me, and a photo of the boys banner.

With Melanie Walters and Simon Franks.
Simon Franks at "Up & Running" had organised some biscuits for me (which my son ate!), and a welcoming cup of tea. After my allotted 20 minutes though, I really needed to finish the run for the day.

Helen and Ann joined me for what was supposed to be the last 2 miles, but in fact turned out to be 3. Their support was invaluable.In the last half mile I was really struggling, and had resorted to a mad woman shuffle/mumble approach to running, when Nina another friend literally jumped out the bushes at me. She was just the impetus I needed to finish. After a quick hug I ran to the finish and the support car at the Visteon gates. I have never been so pleased to be jumped out at! Nina was an angel from the bushes!!

It has been another eventful, but brilliant day, rounded off with another great massage from Clare. I have just 2 days left now, and just 45 miles.