Learning to walk before I can run..again

Hello old friend, I have missed you.

It’s been such a long time since my last post, and looking back I can see that back in August I was in the height of enjoying the summer running! Well quite a lot has changed since then and I can safely say there has been very little to do with my favourite hobby!

In September I was told that I would need quite major surgery to correct a bunion deformity on my right foot; a process which would entail having bones in my foot broken, realigned and held back together with screws and metal work (not for the faint hearted!). I would be on crutches for at least 8 weeks not able to move around very easily. Thankfully this was not a surgery bought on by running but caused by a case of bad foot genes (cheers for that parents!). Up until recently I had gone through life relatively pain free with it but over the last few years it had got significantly worse, so I thought it was best I get it sorted early on. Faced with the prospect of putting life on hold for a while was hard enough, but how was I going to cope with not running for at least 5 months, when the previous 18 months had me being able to run weekly?!

To my surprise I had my surgery at the beginning of November and am now well into the new year and on my way to resuming normal life, so thought it was about time to revive my blog with a post about what you can busy yourself with when you’re not busy running!

Healing

IMG_0927

The scar in its early days!

So this is the most obvious one and I have to say I have been very lucky in this aspect of things. Although 10 weeks on crutches has been quite a struggle, my foot could not have healed any better and faster so far which I am so thankful of. All I can say is thank God for pain medication, mine was absolutely spot on and really helped me to get through the first three weeks following my op. I also had quite an impressive scar to show but as time goes on, it seems to be fading a little more each week and my foots edging closer to look like nothing ever happened there!

Knitting

IMG_0819This was a very timely hobby to take up as the weather began to get chillier and Christmas drew closer. Never having the patience for arts and crafts, I wasn’t sure how successful I would be at sticking it out but I actually picked it up really quickly and became quite addicted. Starting with chunky knits, I then braved a smaller needle as my confidence grew. There were, however no surprises at Christmas when it came to giving out padded looking wrapped presents to my friends and family…

Colouring in

This was another unexpected hobby which I will forever sing praises about. Before I left 12249785_10156228393880072_32382301948099028_nwork to have my op my colleagues very kindly clubbed together a hamper of boredom busters, which included a large pack of Crayola felt tip pens and a colouring book. I can honestly say that it is one of the most therapeutic exercises I have done and just an hour of colouring in a day would bring a sense of calmness and wellbeing… or maybe that was the codeine?!

Holiday planning

Having realised that I haven’t actually left the country for nearly three years, I decided that it was time to set a goal to travel and experience more this year. Although this may have been very dangerous to both my bank account and my credit card, I figured it would be great to have things to look forward to (other than declaring bankruptcy). Here’s what I have planned so far:

  1. ParisThe city break with fellow LFRs to provide moral support to the Paris Marathon runners.
  2. KenyaThe life changer to spend two weeks building a women’s refuge.
  3. UKThe weekend breaks exploring parts of the country on our doorstep and seeing friends/family.
  4. CroatiaThe sun holiday with the girls which is in development stages.

The journey back to running is slow but is definitely getting closer as I am gradually able to increase my exercise as the foot gets stronger. I am really enjoying swimming and being back in the gym doing non impact activity (especially when rewarded with a sauna). Although my brain is ready to leap back into full stride, my foot brings me back to reality and tells me when to calm down by swelling/ aching. There is a part of me that is really enjoying the break from running; the tight muscles, aches and niggles, and hopefully by the time I’m ready to get back, I’ll have learnt to appreciate it that little bit more.

Watch this space.

God Bless,

G

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Life After Half

I can do everything through him who gives me strength

Philppians 4:13

So it has been getting on for nearly three months since the 17th May and I must say it feels like a lifetime ago. I’ve read in books and magazines that it is quite usual for people to not run for months after a big race, but I really didn’t want that to be the case for me. In an attempt to beat this and to keep me motivated, I booked another half marathon even before I did the Chester Half, as well as some other exciting races to keep me entertained. The next race D Day is on 27th September and will be the Robin Hood Half.

I had three goals that I wanted to achieve after I did my half back in May:

  • Get my knee back to full strength
  • Drop the distance and focus on 5K and 10K PB’s
  • Enjoy some amazing summer runs

Although I have kept running, I must say I’ve really struggled to keep motivated enough to train and running has taken a back seat in my life to other things such as work, holidays and summer socialising! So here’s an update of where I am with the above:

Get my knee back to full strength

Well this goal is kind of a working progress. At the time of my half the knee wasn’t bad at all as I’d been taping it up for months, so I assumed all would improve quickly after the half (especially as I was going to be reducing the distance too). Actually this was quite the opposite, each run I did after the half, which in fairness was quite sparse, seemed to make the knee pain worse. There were a good few days it even ached when I hadn’t even been running, and throbbed when I was doing as much as sitting at my work desk. I was perplexed by my need to walk with limp and hold on to things when I knelt down. As I taped more on runs, I could feel it more and more even under the tape during the run. After about three weeks, I caved and booked an appointment with another physio, convinced he was going to tell me something had torn.

Again I was comforted by the physio that no serious damage had been done, and taught me that months of taping/ support had made the muscles around my knee so weak that when coupled with the lower training, any form of running was sending my knee into a state of shock.   I left with a whole host of new exercises and moves to do to increase my quad and knee strength, and within a week I had done my first run tape free. Obviously it hurt but not all pain is necessarily a bad thing, especially if to build strength in the correct way. Since then the pain has improved so much, however it still niggles after a particularly tough run or workout, but we’re getting there. Also I must say I am quite relieved to not have to wear tape now that we’re well into shorts season!

Drop the distance and focus on 5K and 10K PB’s

So again this has completely taken a back seat in my post half training plan, obviously because of the above. I have definitely dropped the distance- I haven’t ran more than 7 miles since Chester, and whats more I don’t even feel guilty about it!

Sunsets and Picnics.. Swapping my running date for a real date :)

Sunsets and Picnics.. Swapping my running date for a real date 🙂

The first few weeks after Chester I took the chance to really relish not having to run and made other things in my life a priority that I had previously neglected due to my dates with my Garmin and the road. I took up swimming and have refound my love for the gym (which have also greatly helped the above!), as well as enjoying catching up with friends and members of my family. It was lovely for them  all to say how well I was doing with my running, however I felt like such a fraud because all I was really doing was enjoying not running!

With the injury I went through a brief spell of ‘woe is me I can’t keep up with the fast runners’. Its amazing how much pressure you put on yourself when you start enjoying something! There will always be a small part of me that will compare myself to other slimmer, taller and streamline runners who seem to find it so easy, but I have learnt to appreciate that I can run, I have a relatively healthy body and I can go outside and run and see the world for its natural beauty! Since my revelation I have enjoyed being the back runner at club runs, helping with the Couch to 5K course and taken other newer runners out to show them pain and joy at the same time.

Enjoy some amazing summer runs

Colour Obstacle Rush

Colour Obstacle Rush

This is one goal that I definitely feel I have achieved. I have done some really fun races since my half. One included getting covered head to toe, ears and eyes full of powered paint on the Colour Obstacle Rush, while another was a girly indulgence at the Nike Women’s 10K, with the medal being a silver necklace!

We are enjoying it I promise...

We are enjoying it I promise…

Although running in the heat has been less than pleasant, I have also had some great runs with my fellow Leighton Fun Runners. We’ve ran in our pyjamas and gone on a 6 mile trail run which has conveniently ended at a beer festival. I have also learned to love off-road running for the beautiful countryside views, the hilarious photo opportunities and for the glowing feeling from the burning sun, coupled with the cooling breezes felt on the hills.

I’ve found motivation a hard thing to keep this summer, and I probably wouldn’t have kept running if it hadn’t been for my club organising some great runs, and keeping my legs moving. And so what if I haven’t been getting any PB’s- that’s what winter’s for right?!

This week I received my “8 weeks to go!” email from the organisers of Robin Hood Half, and I must admit it has sent me into a mild panic. Hopefully it will be enough to kick start my motivation into Half Training again.

Watch this space.

God Bless,

G

It’s Half Marathon Time!

It was about a year ago that I ran my first 5K without stopping, and here I was on the start-line of a half marathon.

The final week leading up to the big day involved me following all the right rules. I scaled back the mileage, indulging in a few off-road, slow runs without feeling the guilt of not keeping up with the pacer on my Garmin. We ventured around our local countrysides, discovering parts we never knew existed and coming into contact with local wildlife (ate lots of flies and got stared at by angry cows). By Wednesday, my legs and knees felt very ready for my next pre-race ritual, a sports massage done at my local physio clinic. I was ready for it to be very painful, but actually found it really good as my knees instantly felt the benefit.

My nerves were kept much at bay on Thursday and Friday as mum had her birthday which kept my mind suitably occupied, we went for a spa day on the Friday where my body indulged even more in a back massage and pedicure (at least my feet would look good for a whole day!). As Friday night came the nerves began to creep in as I thought about everything that needed packing and the unimaginable ‘what if’ situations that could happen! After a very exhaustive list of everything I thought I could possibly need on race day (including two interchangeable outfits depending on the weather.. typical Brit), and a ritual of checking my race bag three times, I was packed. On Saturday morning I woke up feeling uneasy, stiff and full of aches and there was only one thing I could think of that would help… a run. I met a couple of LFR’s down at our local lake for a very slow 1.5 miles just to get moving. It was just the thing I needed as they settled all my fears and paranoia, assuring me that all my aches were my head.

Cows crossing the M6- that's normal!

Cows crossing the M6- that’s normal!

 Having felt 100 times better for my little jaunt, I felt relaxed, packed and ready for the journey to Chester. As the hours went by and Luke and I checked into our hotel, I could feel the race creeping closer! After going out for a classic carb load (classic pepperoni pizza) dinner and catching up with some lovely friends, we headed back to the hotel so I could carefully prepare all my race gear before heading to bed.

Race Day! 

I woke up feeling a lot more rested than I anticipated, as I’d read a lot of articles where runners have really bad nights sleep before a race. I felt grateful as I only woke up once! As I got dressed and headed for breakfast, the butterflies started again and I didn’t feel much like eating. We sat near some other runners who were having their marathon breakfasts of toast, jam and beans (not all at once!). I opted for a safe option of two Weetabix and a coffee as that was what I had before all my long training runs, its always best to stick to what you know on race day!

Why are we throwing our hands in the air?

Why are we throwing our hands in the air?

We shortly headed off after Dad and George met us at the hotel, and we didn’t need to know where to go as there was a steady flow of runners to follow. Dad and I instantly started to feel the race buzz and chatted about what we wanted out of the race. He gave me the ‘don’t worry about your time, just enjoy it’ talk and I assured him it was never about time in the first place. He also agreed he would stick with me through the miles as it was classed as ‘Daddy and Daughter day’ (surely there were more conventional things we could do?!). After arriving at the Chester racecourse there wasn’t much time for waiting around after the pre race pics and loo stops were out of the way.  Before we knew it we were heading straight to the start chute, aiming for somewhere really near the back so psychologically we would be encouraged by overtaking slower runners during the first few miles (another good idea from my experienced running father).

After what seemed like seconds to set my Garmin, we were moving in herds towards the start line, before crossing those first timing mats and starting my watch. I was doing it, I was actually running a half marathon. The first mile included a steep uphill to meet the ring road, but that didn’t bother me and me and dad were both kept distracted by chatting, laughter and joking with other friendly runners. I was all prepared for my typical struggle in the first three miles, however before I even had a chance to look at my watch they were long gone and we were heading out of Chester on the 4th mile. The road was another steady incline which seemed to level off after a while, but we kept on going. On our left dad pointed out to our view which looked out over the Welsh hills and Snowdonia. Having been at uni in Chester for three years, I never appreciated them as much as I did at this point, which made me feel so lucky to be able to run and take them in again. After 5 miles we began to run through a section where runners were on the other side of the road on their way back on route. This was a really great section of the route as greeting/ encouraging other runners completely distracted me from any tiredness or aches I might have had. We got to the half way point before we had our first minor walk just so dad could adjust his wardrobe and then carried on towards the loop back. I took on a gel at mile 7 as I could see runners in the distance who looked higher up than us, so figured there’d be a hill up ahead. Why wasn’t I feeling more tired?! I put it down to my off road training and my race adrenaline and prepared for my mile 9.5 energy crash.

After the mile 9 marker I started to feel a little tired, but no where near my wall point,  so we took a short walk and carried on. At 9.5 my legs started to feel a little stiff and heavy until a girl collapsed near to us collapsed at the side of the road with dehydration. As a sea of people went to her aid, dad and I carried on in search of a first aid station, and instantly my heavy legs were put into perspective as I felt no where near as bad as the poor girl. As we re-joined the road we ran out on, we realised how much of a hill we’d climbed in those first few miles as we reached a decent stretch of downhill on the way back. This was really welcomed as I could feel my body gradually tiring. The whole race was guided by dad telling us we just needed to reach mile 12 the last mile would be run mostly on adrenaline and the crowds, which I trusted until we actually reached mile 12. The final mile was ALL uphill and definitely the hardest, made even harder by the fact I felt a little sick because I’d taken on water at every station including some Lucozade Sport at mile 10.5. I, along with other runners walked a lot of the hill until we reached the student area where dad helped me along and kept me chatting about the good old student days. At mile 12.8 I struggled with another hill but was greeted by loads of cheers including a high five from the Elite runner who came 2nd. This spurred me on until we turned onto the finishing straight where everything became a bit of a blur. I tried to take in every moment but just remember thinking ‘I’m doing it… I’m bloody doing it!’. Amongst all the cheers we heard some even louder ones coming up and they turned out to be from Georgina, Luke and Katherine which made me feel even more emotional. As I crossed the finish line I stopped my watch (not making that mistake again!) and could feel myself sobbing and sighing with relief, I could have been crying although I had no tears left so I’m not entirely sure what emotion that was.

Trying to stifle a smile but even my cheeks are tired!

Trying to stifle a smile but even my cheeks are tired!

Chester was such a great race which I would really recommend to anyone considering a half marathon. The atmosphere around the course was brilliant with support from the marshals, live bands and people even watching from the comfort of their front gardens and local villages, as well as the encouragement and friendly chats from fellow runners! The finish line was carefully placed in the heart of Chester right next to the cathedral and didn’t deliver anything less than a satisfying finish. Needless to say I will be back next year and who knows… maybe I will be doing the Marathon afterall….

God Bless,

                                                     G

Two weeks to go!

FullSizeRenderToday it all finally became very real, as I received by race pack in the post!

Since when was it May already? It only feels like yesterday when it was past midnight over Christmas that after rather a lot of wine and cheese, I signed me and dad up for the Chester Half. Obviously it didn’t sink in at the time, well until the next day anyway, when I reviewed the confirmation email. 17th May felt like such a long time away, and that by that time I would be magically transformed super fit, super slim version of my athletic self and ready to glide my way through the half marathon. Well Fairy Godmother… I’m still waiting for you! Obviously it hasn’t been as easy as that, which I quickly found out as I started the training plan and realised the importance of things such as refuelling, foam rollers, Rock Tape as well as the dreaded sprint training. Over the weeks I gradually learnt how to push my body a little bit more, cranking up the miles with the amazing support, patience and encouragement of my fellow Leighton Fun Runners. Suddenly, before I knew it, I was standing in Milton Keynes Stadium cheering my lungs out for LFR friends who were finishing their first Half in the MK Marathon, and then  it dawned on me… I’m next. So here’s what I’ve been up to in the final few weeks.

London Marathon Marshalling

Having never previously been to watch the marathon (only getting as far as watching it on the TV from the comfort of my bed with a stack of tea and toast), I was really excited to be a part of this year’s Virgin London Marathon. It was an inspirational and emotional day (made even more so by my lovely step mum having a go),and I was really impressed by the dedication and positivity of the crowd all day long.

our marshalling point, before the street was filled with sweaty people and lots of litter

our marshalling point, before the street was filled with sweaty people and lots of litter

We were marshalling between miles 21 and 22, and I quickly realised that most of the runners at that point fell into one of two extreme ends of the scale. The incredibly strong runners, who didn’t even seem to have broken a sweat or feel any sort of pain (or if they did they hid it very well), and the even stronger runners; the ones who looked absolutely exhausted and overwhelmed, yet were determined to keep putting one foot in front of the other, and really appreciated the grace from the crowd. Although it was a long day, it was definitely a memorable one, and really helped me put into perspective any doubts I ever had about running my Half. Maybe one day it will be my turn to do London!

My Last Long Run 

After my horribly lonely long 12 mile run a few weeks ago, I sighed with dread as another appeared on my training plan for last weekend. I knew that I could tackle it on my own, but I really didn’t want to. Thankfully, a few LFR friends popped up and volunteered to come with me on my voyage. We decided to get the train to a village and run back down the canal tow path, an idea that I was excited by as it was a route I hadn’t done before and there would be no horrid hills! What I didn’t account for was that there was no solid path for the first 9.5 miles, rather the surface was rocky, grassy and at points nothing other than a 6 inch wide trail. I really noticed the difference it made to my running and my body. My feet felt like they were growing more blisters by the mile, and my ankles and calves were cramping up as opposed to my thighs and my hips. Other than the tough surface and feeling like we were in the abyss, it was a really lovely run with even better company. It took us 2hrs 8mins and 11 miles to get back to LB and by that time, I’d had enough of running. It really made me think about how much I will rely on the encouragement of the crowd to pull me round those extra 2 miles on race day.

Planning race day outfit

How you look on race day should really be one of the least important things to worry about. However, I have learnt that paying close attention to what you wear can really change the way you run and find the whole experience. I find that the more comfier I am in the way I look and feel, the one less thing I have to think about when trying to have a good run.

fully customised courtesy of Miss Roff

fully customised courtesy of Miss Roff

I already have my trainers and my running vest sorted, as donated to me by the charity I’m running for. My next quest was finding a pair of running trousers that would be suitable for the day. I always used to ‘go cheap’ on trousers for running but soon learned that certain brands don’t always accommodate the short and curvy type figure that I have. They have either been too long, too thin (the material highlights every scratch of cellulite), too tight on the waist (which restricts breathing) or too loose on the waist (resulting in everything slipping and you having to do a very undignified hoik dance mid run). I saw the light when I purchased my first pair of Nike Dri-fits and instantly felt more comfortable, supported and less on show.

If only my bum looked this small in them!

If only my bum looked this small in them!

For chester I bought a pair of Nike Epic Run Printed Crops, which definitely fit the bill and have a light pattern but nothing too big that makes your legs resemble tree trunks! They also match my vest and there is no shame in a hint of coordination!

So now there is not much else I can do in preparation for Chester, other than to keep my legs moving and look after my knee. I already have butterflies just thinking about it!

God Bless

                                               Grace

PS. Find a link to my JustgGiving page here 

10 miles vs. 12 miles: What it’s like to hit the wall

This week I can say I have experienced the highs and lows of distance running. 

As Chester Half creeps ever closer, my training plan is gradually reaching its peak, as I continue to reach my furthest running distances. Lets start with last week, when I finally crept my weekend long runs up to double digits.

I felt very nervous about the prospect of running this far, as a 10 mile run seemed much further to go than a 9 miler. I turned to my running network and asked for some help from my fellow Leighton Fun Runners. Michelle and Gordon offered to take me under their wing and we planned a route from out of town up to Dunstable and back through one of the surrounding villages. I had up to that point been sticking to road running in my training, so the prospect of a largely off road run made me gulp in angst even more.

On the morning of the run, I took extra pre-run precautions, taping and applying ibuprofen gel to my knee, and ensuring I had keen supply of sun cream on my face and arms (the weather had been promising a heatwave). My running wardrobe skills have improved slightly over time according to my temperature patterns- I tend to heat up very quickly, however have a habit of getting a chill at mile 6/7; so I opted for a tee and a running jacket to give me an optional extra layer.

We set off at a very steady and talkable pace, I had advertised the run at a 10.30-11 min/ pace, however soon feared I had over sold, as I quickly realised I should go easy as my furthest run yet. I felt really good for the first two miles, until the sandy path started to incline, which I wasn’t too worried about initially until we turned a corner and it continued to climb and climb.

this is actually very uphill!

this is actually very uphill!

I felt my breath quickening, I looked at my watch; we’d only hit mile 2.25 and it had started to rain- what have I got myself in to?! Even without my glasses on I could see that there was no peak to this hill! Thankfully my friends were very patient with me and kept on chatting to me to keep me occupied. Finally we got to Dunstable and past my dreaded 3 mile mark when I started to feel better, until we started climbing again! It wasn’t until mile 4 that we got to the top of the hill and were greeted by a long slope down into Totternhoe. The rain had downed into a full on downpour, so much so that my optimistic suncream was now dripping into my eyes and making them sting. However I didn’t care that I couldn’t see, I was cool and I was able to breathe and talk, Bliss! After that the miles seemed to melt away as we went over the chalk hills and saw some amazing views.. so much better than the road! We had to add on a bit of extra to enable me to get to 10 miles, and yes I was tired by the end but I felt as though I could have carried on!

This weeks long run was up to 12 miles and I felt ready to tackle it. I had planned another off road route and Luke had offered to cycle and meet me at mile points which I was very grateful for as I wouldn’t  be totally on my own! I mentally broke down the route into three 4 mile chunks to make the distance seem less daunting. The first three miles were about as hard as any initial three miles of my runs, made slightly less comfortable by the heat of the sun on my face and a spot of hay-fever making my nose run. After three miles I stopped briefly to adjust wardrobe, blow nose and take a slug of water. I realised that choosing to wear my sunglasses was a really good idea, its surprising how much more comfortable you are when you are not squinting! After that the earphones went back in and another 0.6 miles down the route Luke caught me up, surprised at how far I had actually got!

The next 3 miles were great as I got into a really good pace with the aid of my iPod on shuffle. By mile 6, I met up with Luke again as we left the canal and were about to start our incline into the woods.

Very much needed on a hot day!

Very much needed on a hot day!

I took on some more water as I was really needing it, thankfully he bought extra as I had almost gone through my 500ml bottle! I also had half of my gel that I had bought to try out (thanks Debbie!) as I knew there was a big hill ahead.

Off we went again and started the soft sandy climb into the woods and the next 4 miles were a tough mixture of undulating sandy textures under my feet, which I ran and walked short parts, taking on more and more water (surely I would need a wee soon?!).

We got to mile 8 and were out of the woods and on our way home back down the canal. Before we started our last stretch I had the other half of my gel which really seemed to help my legs carry me along for the next 1.5 miles. Heading back down the road and meeting the canal, I realised how much the temperature had climbed while we had been under the trees. By mile 9, I really began to feel myself slow and the tiredness in my legs really dragged in my hips. I knew Luke was meeting me at the next pub, but that stretch of canal seemed to go on forever. My body felt heavier and my eyesight started to blur and that’s when the doubtful thoughts started to flood into my head:

  • I’m only on mile 9.. I’ve still got to run 3 miles!
  • If I collapse here I wonder how long it’ll take someone to find me?
  • Thats it… when I get to the pub I’m calling a taxi to come and pick me up.
  • Does it still count if I jump in the canal?

That’s it… I’d finally hit the wall.

I got to the canal and was just about to give up when Luke re-assured me with water that I was absolutely smashing it and that I needed to ‘stop moaning and eat a banana’. Too tired to argue, I agreed and complied. I walked for a few minutes, trying to digest this foreign object I had just stuffed down. And then something amazing happened.. I started running again. Yes I was probably going slower than ever but I ran through mile 10 and then got to mile 11. Taking on more water, I carried on and saw nothing other than getting to Lukes house and the run being over. I ignored the bad thoughts in my head and looked at my watch as it creeped from 11.3 miles to 11.6, 11.7, 11.86, 11.92 and then as I got to Lukes drive, the watch bleeped to 12.0 miles!

I never knew I could feel so many emotions during one run, and I never knew my body could take on so much water (2 litres!) without needing a wee! One thing I do know is that I will do this half marathon and I will prove to my body that I am a runner!

God Bless,

G

Running through the pain

And yes I mean both physical and mental.

So the last few weeks have been quite a running roller coaster for me. I struggled quite a lot since being ill back in February and with a nasty flare up of tendonitis on my knee. I have been managing to stick to my Half Marathon training plan and keeping up with the mileage, however I have seemed to hit a wall with my confidence and building my pace up. I’m sure running is like seasons and it definitely feels like I’ve had my running winter.

I thought I had been doing quite well with managing my knee pain up until the Leighton 10K, now I realise that I was only doing well at ignoring that it was actually becoming rather a large problem. It probably reached its worst the Tuesday after the 10K when LFR had their weekly club run. There was a number of route options and I knew that I needed to hit 5 miles for that night. I only managed 3.5 miles as my legs felt so tight and my knee was niggling the whole way around (not just for the first mile like it had in previous runs). After making it back to the club I felt severely sorry for myself and moped home (might have also had a cheeky sob in my car!).

The next day I felt a bit silly for my wobble the night before and decided there was no point pitying myself when there was something I could easily do about it, so I booked myself another appointment at the Brecon Clinic for the end of the week.

By Friday I was feeling much better in spirit and hastily went to my physio appointment fearing I would be told the worst- stop running. Thankfully I was not a worst case scenario and Hollie re-evaluated my tendon, massaged my quads which were very tight and gave me some ultrasound treatment. Although I had been doing strengthening exercises on my knee, the theory is that I was probably aggravating the tendon even more. I left with a whole host of new advice and exercises that would take the pressure of my knee in-between runs and strengthen my core, along with the tip to use some ibuprofen gel to target the area of pain (which I followed diligently!).

The next day Carrie and I went for an 8 miler out and back down the Canal and I was impressed by the ibuprofen gel as it cooled and reduced the inflammation on my knee. As usual a few hours later I was expecting the burning and aching pain to creep back, however I was surprised when it didn’t. Instead I went to bed dreading how bad it would feel the following day. The next day I got up and went down the stairs and… nothing! Not even a twinge! For the next few days I went easy through fear that the pain would rear it’s ugly head again, but thankfully I’ve not had anything more than a slight niggle post run which has been easily treated my new friend the ibuprofen gel! 

The weeks since have improved and I think I am finally on the other side of a few bad weeks. After I had sorted the physical pain out it was time to work on my psyche and build my confidence back up again (ofc the mental pain was greatly alleviated after the physical subsided).

I had a really good week last night, completing 17.2 miles and falling back in love (if you can call it that) with my interval/ sprint training. Luke and I went up to see my dad this weekend and we did a few nice runs including a 10K out and back down the coastal path. For those of you that may have seen my Facebook, you will have seen that I had a slight altercation with a cyclist where by we both ended up in a heap on the floor and me with a bleeding leg. I was pretty shocked and annoyed more so because I hadn’t paused my Garmin, but I dusted myself off and started running again, only to get a 10K PB which is the first PB in what seems like forever!

I don’t think I really need a conclusion, instead I will finish with a quote of my favourite running book that never fails to pick me up when I’m in my running winter:

Running is awful. It feels unnatural, unnecessary, painful. It can hijack you with breathlessness, cripple you with panic and overwhelm you with self-consciousness…It is cold and hard and unforgiving. It feels more difficult the better you get…But it is also the pleasure of being on a sunny day, feeling the prickle of the sun on your skin. It is the delight of feeling your body temperature rise despite the crisp winter breeze on your face. It is feeling the blood rush around every part of your body and coming home to a welcoming bath and a delicious curry, your skin still glowing an hour later… It is also an honour, a privilege and a gift.

An excerpt from Alexandra Heminsley’s Running Like a Girl

God bless,

G

Leighton 10K: The Family’s Race

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Yesterday was time for one of the Leighton Fun Runners’ biggest events of the year, the Leighton 10K race. The highly anticipated occasion, which is organised and hosted lovingly by all it’s own members, has been advertised since last year and had even sold out of all of its 250 places to run!

I woke up excited on Sunday morning with my clothes carefully complied according to my phones weather prediction (cloudy and a chilly 4 degrees), and made my porridge/ coffee combo. Not really taking notice of the weather, I got dressed and made my way over to race HQ, in another words one of our local upper schools. As I parked and walked up to the school, I was greeted by some florescent LFR’s who had given their time to being marshals.

The big finish, AKA the place where the magic happens

The big finish, AKA the place where the magic happens

Instantly I felt the pre-race buzz as I was impressed by the carefully crafted and very professional finish line. The rest of  the pre-race rituals followed the same well organised suit- no long queues for the loos or baggage storage. The race packs were handed out in a very timely manner and came equipped with safety pins for your race number, and mine was even personalised!IMG_1985

There is honestly no better feeling before a race (especially when you’re the nervous type like me) than to be relaxed and assured that there’s no waiting in line or rushing to get to the start. This all comes from a well organised event which this one really was. Organised by runners for runners is definitely the way to go.

After everyone had registered, the runners eagerly went in force to the starting line, which was at a lower school about 1km away. This was a great way to warm up and Debbie and I took a leisurely plod down. It was then that we realised how wrong my phone’s weather prediction had been- it was turning to be a beautifully sunny day and the temperature was creeping up: I was starting to regret my long sleeved base layer! As we the start line the school car park was filled with a range of many excited runners, including groups of different sports club members in their colours. For some it was their first ever race, for others it was a training run for marathon season. In true LFR tradition, we came together for a couple of group photos, before dispersing to take up our starting positions.

After a short and sweet briefing by Tam and his megaphone, we got ready and were set off to run. For the first few minutes, we moved in a herd along a residential road. Within a matter of moments we were heading out of the town on a main national speed limit road and had all broken up into single file. Having run this route the week before, I was prepared for the challenge ahead, but I wasn’t prepared for how hot I would be. Thankfully enough I applied sun cream but that didn’t stop my face and my arms feeling the heat of the sun. The first mile was delightful, peeling off from the main road to take smell of farms down a country lane. I started to struggle in the second mile as I was running completely solo, but this is about normal for me as I always find the first three miles the most grueling. As I considered stopping for a short walk, I turned a corner to see the cross road section up ahead, lined with many familiar faces- the LFR marshals. As they saw me coming and began to cheer me on, it was definitely the boost I needed.

an example of some excellent marshaling in the road- who needs road safety awareness?

an example of some excellent marshaling in the road- who needs road safety awareness when you have these guys?

For the rest of the run, there were marshals after every hill and every turn, willing to lend words of encouragement and smiling faces to keep me going.

The route was described as ‘undulating’, which I found to be a massive understatement as there were two mountainous hills to overcome on the route. The first was over a km long of steady incline, with many corners when you think you’ve made it to the top, and it keeps on climbing.

at the top of Eastern Way

at the top of Eastern Way

I must say the view at the top was pretty amazing and looked over the whole town. I had to get a fellow runner to take a pic- Thanks Ceri!

After we thought the worst was over, we were soon greeted with our next challenge after a brief down hill treat; Shenley Hill. For anyone outside of Leighton, it’s a short but very sharp hill, which I think looks worse than it is (although a lot of people would disagree). Once I reached the brow of the hill, there was another familiar LFR picture ready who got a rather unflattering snap of me and offered me more words of encouragement. From then on it was a fast stretch back to the finish, being downhill and flat, it was very welcome after a tough route!

After a sprint finish, I felt knackered: I had no muscle aches or pains but I spent most of the run pacing myself so that I couldn’t keep up conversation other than a few words. I even forgot to stop my watch until Debbie prompted me, so wasn’t sure of my time and to be honest, I wasn’t too bothered about it- my body knew I had worked hard and I felt like I had really pushed myself.

*Mushy Conclusion Alert*

When I was looking for a title for this post, I began to think about being part of the Leighton Fun Runners and how we are like a big family. With our Facebook group and the extra social events we do, it’s like having our own community which we can all support each other with. They are there to encourage you when you are struggling, to share joy with when you get a PB, and answer any small niggling questions you may have when running. I honestly believe without their support I would never have dreamed of even doing a 10k let alone entering a half Marathon. If you read this and are just starting out, or if you did the race at the weekend, I would urge you to think about coming along on a Tuesday night, or going to another local club, as it may help you more than you will ever know!

God Bless,

Grace

P.S Photography was courtesy of Claire Amos, and all proceedings from the race go to the clubs chosen charity, to make a small donation, please click here.

It wouldnt be a race without an LFR group photo!

It wouldnt be a race without an LFR group photo!