Playing catch up again

Posted on: 14 Apr 2017

Hello Realbuzz Superstars 😁

What incredible performances there have been already in the spring marathons. Catching up on all the blogs has been so inspirational 😊 For those of you running London, the days are passing so fast now and I guess taper madness is about to set in! I for one can't wait to cheer you all on at mile 22.5. There are going to be a fair few Buzzers there making a whole lot of noise for every one of you 😊
Well, a week away skiing and it's taken me two weeks to catch up with e-mail and reading blogs! It was an amazing week of skiing in Belle Plagne in the French Alps. Nothing like a bit of altitude training before a big challenge 😊 I went with my eldest (Rhys) this year and it was lovely to have some quality time with him 😊 We were absolutely shattered from travelling so after shopping for the very basics, we decided to eat out on the first night. We caught the telecabine down to nearby Bellecote - every restaurant we passed was virtually empty! Then we found a single restaurant that was bursting at the seams and had the most amazing steaks there. The only regret is they were so big that there was no room for afters 😂😂 
We were very lucky that it started to snow about half an hour after we got to resort and by the time we left tto go out for our meal it was absolutely bucketing it down. We looked like snowmen by the time we got back to our apartment. I woke up several times in the night and it was still snowing hard and I was like a kid at Christmas willing morning to come quickly 😀 By 7am snow had mostly stopped and about 15cm of fresh snow lay in resort. We found out later in the day that 40cm had been dumped up on the glacier around 3000m! 
                                                        View from the balcony on the first morning
Now Rhys is a lovely lad and though I'm not great at mornings myself, he is far far worse. It didn't help much that not only had the UK switched to summertime overnight, but so had France so we 'lost' two hours sleep to start with. It took until 10.45am to get him outside! I learned years ago that there's no point nagging, it makes him even slower. I also know that he doesn't stop much once he gets going so I bided my time knowing that there was still a great day ahead 😊 The resort was so quiet - no lift queues, empty slopes, loads of fresh powder, just perfect 😊 Up high that day, we were above the clouds - the only clouds we'd see for most of the week as it turned out. Mont Blanc looked absolutely stunning. I looked at the terrain all around, thinking of Sir Bolty. 
                                                             Mont Blanc looking incrediblly impressive
 After a few runs we decided to go up onto the glacier to eat our sarnies and gaze at the glory of the surrounding mountains with their fresh coat of snow and it didn't disappoint! This involves a telecabine ride as a massive unskiable valley lies between the highest chairlift and the glacier.
                                                  The view from below the glacier on day 1 ......
                                                                         ......and day 2
By the time we'd eaten, there were very few people around. A few minutes later the Piste de Secours chap came across and said that they were closing all the high lifts and pistes as the cloud was rising and visibility would soon be reduced to dangerous levels. Plan for the day foiled - we had to catch the telecabine back to the next skiable area. At least we knew where we were going to start the next morning 😊 We skied lower down for the rest of the afternoon. Rhys fell over quite a few times - it's 8 years since he's been on the slopes, but he got his lovely relaxed style back by the end of the day. Glad to say I maintained my perfect record not least because getting injured a month before a big challenge wouldn't be a good plan! My plan was to take no unnecessary risks that week.   
I won't bore you with too many more details. The rest of the week was wall to wall sunshine, with ever increasing temperatures. By the end of the week it was 18C at 2000m!! Fortunately the snow stayed in good condition high up but it did mean we couldn't make the most of the whole area (like going across to Les Arcs and skiing from top to bottom of the whole area). In the second half of the week, we even did the unpisted black (or 'Slope Natur' as they call it) up on the glacier. You literally had to start by dropping off a small cliff in the snow and I was very proud of myself. I've never ever seen moguls as big as the ones at the top of that slope. Quite how I managed to stay upright at times I have no idea, but I'm very grateful that I did (and so much for no unnecessary risks!). The apres ski was perfect - eat, hot soak then sleep 😂😂 The only nuisance was that my left knee got swollen and sore quite quickly. It was fine skiing, but walking was a different matter! 
                                                                           Unhappy knee
Totals for the week, 205km (128 miles) skied in six days, vertical distance skied 32,837m (107,734 feet) - like skiing down Everest 3.7 times for those of you who like the numbers 😊 Top speed recorded was 68kph (42.3mph) - a new PB and the big surprise was that it didn't feel a fraction as scary as last year 😁 It's also a distance and vertical descent PB by a huge margin, so in the end, the later starts didn't really matter so much 😊 Rhys topped out at 50mph and was very proud of himself (although still miffed that he couldn't beat young Ben's 53mph from last year) - higher than my terminal velocity I reckon being a lightweight 😂😂 
The journey back to Blighty was smooth and efficient and I think Richard was very glad to have me back home again, especially in one piece! So, I knew I needed to get back to training in fairly short order! The knee was settling, although going up and downstairs was still really painful. That particular knee has been operated on 6 times now, has no medial meniscus, had an ACL reconstruction four years ago and is arthritic.  My knee caps don't sit well in their patellar grooves so every time the backs of the kneecaps are smoothed, within a few years they gets pretty raggy again. After a couple of days back home, walking didn't feel too bad so we planned our longest training walk yet for Wednesday 5th. The only concession made to the knee was that rather than throwing in a few hills as we should have been doing, we stuck to the local canal. We walked from home to Frimley Park and back, a total of 28.2 miles (45.4km) in 8:07 (plus 1:40 stopped time looking at wildlife). Not a bad average pace with a dodgy knee really 😊 Pleasant enough walk apart from one old lady on a bike! The towpath is absolutely plastered with signs saying 'cyclists must give way to pedestrians', 'cyclists dismount' under every bridge and 'please cycle considerately'. Hmm, this is one of my bugbears - the number of times we've almost been wiped out by cyclists whizzing under bridges towards us and I'm convinced that maybe only 1 in 20 have bells to warn you of their presence. It's not the first time I've had words with a cyclist but this was possibly in the most ridiculous situation. The old lady was cycling towards me and I could see that she wasn't going to move, despite the path being wide and clear. I certainly wasn't going to move so we came head to head. In an imperious tone she shouted that I was walking on the wrong side of the footpath! Richard says that I answered something like "Madam, there in no wrong side of the footpath and if you read the multitude of signs that you keep passing, I think you'll find that you are obliged to give way to we lowly pedestrians". Mightily civilised of me I thought 😂😂 I walked on feeling extremely indignant and swearing to myself but at least the adrenaline from the encounter really upped my pace for the next km 😂😂 By bedtime, the knee swelling was back with a vengeance and now it was a case of tackling stairs one at a time and it hurt to walk on as well. Lots of ice, Voltarol gel. Looking at the situation realistically, I made the decision to start the taper early to give it the chance to settle as best it can - very frustrating indeed! 
Richard thought I was bonkers going down to Brighton on Sunday to give our Buzzers a shout but he accepted that nothing was going to stop me. Knee suitably braced and compressed, I still had a great day despite 7 hours on my feet. The swelling wasn't too bad afterwards but it was pretty irritated again. It was well worth it to meet up with Marika, then Maxine, to exchange big Buzzer hugs with HD and Simmy at miles 2 and 25 as well as give loads of other runners encouragement. Very pleased to say I didn't see the chap running in a bow tie and thong 😂😂😂
                                               Marathon Day, Brighton (pic courtesy of Simmy)
More ice, more Voltarol gel and everything is going the right way again 😊 I did 3 miles locally on Tuesday to loosen it up a bit and that went OKish 😊 Yesterday we decided to do a short and steady local walk to see how my knee would behave. It was probably my slowest 5.5 miles ever (1:46) but on the whole things are still going the right way. So now all I have to do is be relatively sensible for the next two weeks and hope that I have the mental strength to get through whatever crops up during the 106km Isle of Wight Challenge on the 29th. Not exactly the training plan I had in mind but no point stressing about it. Tomorrow I've volunteered as tail runner at our local Parkrun as I did the week before going away - that should give the knee a decent workout 😊
                                                  I wish the Parkrun hi viz were just a bit smaller! 
The weekend before the challenge is London - and I'm ridiculously excited at the prospect of cheering on our runners, of strengthening friendships and meeting those of you I haven't yet met in person. What a day it's going to be - a day of heroes 😊
Happy Easter and happy training everyone 😊

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