Hope that everyone's training is going well. There have been some superb and very inspiring blogs recently and a massive well done to you all putting in the tough miles last weekend.
The magic medicine has really damped down the inflammatory part of the AS pain and is really helping. I had my second shot last Friday and still no adverse reactions which is brilliant. One more shot under supervision then any danger of reaction should be done with 😊 To not have the constant aching at rest is still a real novelty and a great relief 😊 The pain from joint damage and hypermobility remains the same but I'm just grateful for any pain reduction. Before I started the treatment I was so nervous that it might change who I am, that I might become lazy. I forgot about the joint damage/hypermobility stuff and let's just say that there's no danger of becoming lazy! So, now that I know that there are no horrendous side effects from the magic meds, I've finally booked a couple of challenges for this year so can now let you know a rough plan for my year.
9th April - possibly supporting at Brighton marathon
23rd April - supporting at the VLM
29th April Isle of Wight 52k Coastal Path Challenge.
17th June HU5k
13th & 14th October, The Saharan Challenge - back to back marathons in the stunning Draa valley in Morocco. The whole trip lasts from the 12th to the 16th. After booking it I had a great moment of doubt and uncertainty, wondering if I was even capable of doing it but that didn't last long. Now I'm just plain excited and I'm sure I'll enjoy every minute 😊
28th/29th October weekend - supporting at the Snowdonia marathon + Snowdonia walk
There's a big gap in there between April and October challenge-wise so I'm trying my best sneaky persuasive powers on Richard to try and squeeze in another couple somewhere 😜
The first challenge of the year was the 20km London Winter Walk in January. The distance wasn't the challenge - the dreadful weather and the protesting bones certainly made up for the lack of distance 😂😂 The second challenge is just under 10 weeks away and involves hills - 52km of coastal path with 2500 feet of ascent. Richard reassured me with a big grin saying "less than Snowdon over a longer distance" (true, the Llanberis path was 2772 feet over 6.5km, so looking at it like that puts in in perspective 😊). He's really starting to get into these challenges. He even admitted last week that last year he resented spending so much time training but now he really looks forward to it 😊
Winter training so far has been mostly on the flats of the local canals and Thames Path. Our closest decent hilly areas are the Chilterns and North Downs and are both chalk. Chalk mud is just sooooo horrible to walk on - I swear it's the most slippery substance known to man! I've being trying to avoid endless mud as far as possible as one wrong slip could put me out for months, but the next few weeks must see a return to the hills. Even good walking boots don't have the superb grip of trail shoes, but for distance my unstable ankles need the support of boots. I just hope that spring really is just around the corner now and that things start to dry up a bit.
We had to miss out our long walk in the first week of February as Richard pulled something in his back while pulling brambles up and wasn't happy about it 😕 Lots of shorter walks fitted in for me that week to try and make up for it!
Saturday 4th Feb, local Parkrun. I ran the most I'd managed so far, just short sections alternating with fast walking. As I came in to the finish I knew it should have been my fastest yet as I started Runmeter a good 5 seconds before the start and stopped it 42 seconds after I finished and it showed 42.35 but my official time given was as 42.26 - 5 seconds slower than my best 😕 I know I should be doing this for the fun and exercise but I desperately want to improve and so I was really disappointed. Gave myself a good talking to and resolved that I'd just have to try harder next week. My aim is to try and run a little more of the course each week and hopefully that will very slowly bring the times down. Don't get me wrong, I'm still really enjoying the local Parkrun immensely as it's more of a trail through the woods. It's also been incredibly muddy lately but it has the best downhill section at the end of each of the three woodland laps. This is the section that I first ran down. It's the only bit where I can rely on my feet to pick themselves up high enough not to trip over them. Remembering Rob's 'relax and let go' advice for running down hills works an absolute treat and it feels like being a big kid again, I just love it 😀 I met a pretty special young man on this one too, 79 year old Syd Wheeler from Chepstow Harriers who was visiting he area. He kept joking that I could walk faster than he could run bless him 😊 He became an international cross country athlete at the age of 70! You can read more about this amazing chap here
Monday 6th February and we'd organised a last minute trip across the channel to pick up more bread supplies (and wine for Richard of course). The hours sitting in the car were horrible so the discomfort of travel doesn't seem to have changed much yet, but hopefully it will improve. As soon as our wheels were on French soil, an orange warning light flashed up on the dashboard. A quick check said it was an engine problem and to get it to a dealer in the next few days. If it turned red, we'd have to stop and get towed. So that was a nervous day but thankfully the light stayed amber and we had a pleasant day across there 😊
Thursday 9th Feb and our long walk day. I'd started with a cold on Tuesday evening but liberal use of the evil Vicks First defence seemed to be keeping it in check. You have to be fairly masochistic to use that stuff but it does seem to work. We parked up at Walton Bridge by the Thames then walked up to Kingston Bridge and back again along the Thames Path. Crikey it was chilly, with snow blowing in the idle wind. There was quite a sense of deja vu after the previous walk two weeks before. This time though there were far fewer water birds - they had the sense to be somewhere warmer 😂😂 16.2 miles done in 4:23 with about 25 minutes of stoppage to east a sandwich and have a look at the impressive film set in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace. They were filming for 'Sherlock and Watson', a light hearted take on Sherlock Holmes that will be released late next year. It was quite amusing seeing tens of actors in Victorian costume strolling up and down the footpath drinking coffee, eating fish and chips or talking on their phones. On our outward leg we were a bit miffed to be overtaken by a tiny woman with a huge bustle who went past us at a speed suggesting she had castors under that voluminous skirt somewhere! I must admit that I was so glad when we finished as back and hip weren't terribly happy on the return leg no matter how much I tried to watch my posture.
Friday 10th Feb - the car had to go into the garage to try and identify the engine problem - it had been working absolutely fine all week and getting good mpg as well so we weren't particularly worried. We knew in advance that they had no courtesy cars available and that they couldn't operate their usual pick up service so we took the opportunity to walk the six miles home, stopping for a cheeky cuppa in Costa on the way back. The cold I'd tangled with for the past few days finally packed its bags and there was no residual stiffness from the day before so that was pleasing, but the back and hip were certainly looking forward to the top up of magic meds in the afternoon 😊 No reaction to it again and again no side effects afterwards, which is just so brilliant. Only one more shot under supervision before I can finally do it at home on my own 😊
Saturday 11th Feb and Parkrun time again. Richard missed out this week as he'd upset his back again when we were pulling up brambles on the Open Space again midweek (the week before after the original injury, he did take part and had no pain at all during the run but stiffened up badly afterwards). I reckon the thought of all the extra mud this week put him off and boy was it muddier than ever!! It felt quite good to nip past the few people who were tiptoeing carefully through the deeper bits. They were also being very careful going down the hill but I just let fly and absolutely loved it. That downhill makes me feel so strong. I've never been able to rely on my knees like I can now and that feels so good. Still no slips and trips so I'm very pleased with myself. I ran a few more sections than the week before. My rule has become run until my neck nags then walk fast until it settles a bit then try again. I was delighted to finish in 41:00, 1:21 faster than my previous best - still a long way to go but I won't stop trying 😊
So that's me pretty much up to date. Not sure where we'll be out walking this week but it's time to start building the mileage and time on the feet up a bit in preparation for April's challenge.
Have a great week and happy training everyone 😊