Hello Realbuzzers 😊
Well, just 7 days to go and the excitement (along with a healthy dose of nervousness) is growing every day. Can't wait to get started now, to see a new country, to experience a desert again, to put myself to the test 😊
Before that though, what have I been up to recently? Our last training walk was 6 days ago. I've been feeling pretty rough since having the travel shots. The meds I'm on have the ability to compromise my immune system and for the first time, I think I've noticed the effects. It also seems to have knocked all the positive effects of the meds temporarily onto touch 😕 Energy has been the biggest thing missing - huge fatigue, thrush in my mouth, throat and guts and the AS pain has returned with a vengeance - not fun at all. Thankfully, things are slowly getting better this week and I hope to be back on top form by next week 😊
So, when Richard suggested a ten miler last week (didn't want to do anything too huge in the couple of weeks pre-event so I can start with the ankle in the best possible shape), I didn't exactly feel enthusiastic. Had to be done though and if I could shamble along in the state I was in, then I would feel more confident. It was only a short drive to our starting point at Walton Bridge on the Thames Path but I still managed to fall asleep on the way 😂😂 I carried most of the kit I intend to wear during the challenge including the recommended 2 litres of water. Once we got started, at least I felt more awake, but the major muscles were all pretty achy. A sugary cup of tea halfway (Hampton Court Bridge) went down very well but it felt very strange taking a tea break after only 5 miles! The highlight of the whole thing was seeing another kingfisher, this time sitting on ropes by a large weir, happily fishing and feeding 😊 When we'd finished, I was utterly amazed that we'd done the 10 miles at 'average challenge pace', it felt far slower. I also fell asleep on the drive home as well but despite an early night, I didn't sleep too well as usual. "
The Buzzer gathering at Fulham Palace Parkrun was next day and nothing was going to stop me being there. I knew that once the adrenaline of being among Buzzers kicked in, I'd feel much better. I had to catch the 6.40am train - the local line has a slow but direct connection to Putney but they do have a habit of cancelling the odd train so I had to allow for that. Fortunately no cancellations that day so I got there a bit early and had time to nip into Cafe Nero and have a lovely cup of tea and warm up after getting a bit chilly on the train. Fulham Palace is where Action Challenge start the Thames Path 100k so as I walked into the park, I smiled remembering the excitement of that day I started there almost exactly a year before. That was when I decided that despite promising Richard I'd only walk, I was going to try and run my first 5k without walking.
Marc, Nick, Em and her Mum Eva, Jane and to my absolute delight, our Head Coach HD were already there. Big hugs all round and that wonderful feeling of easy friendship. Yve and Max soon joined us. I was so chuffed to finally meet Yve and what a wonderful lady she is 😊 It wasn't long before the briefing and then we were off. I stuck with Yve, hoping to be able to keep up. The first lap went well and I managed to keep up. The second lap started well but I knew I'd soon lose Yve, my hips were threatening to go into spasm. I'm just not used to running, especially on hard surfaces and I certainly haven't done any training for it, just dipped in and out at Parkrun as the ankle has allowed. I managed to run beyond the 2k marker (furthest I've run so far without walking) then the hips started shouting very loud. I was disappointed but not surprised that I had to take a very short walk break. If I didn't, the hips would spasm and I'd feel like a total idiot rolling around on a footpath trying to massage the hell out of them. More short walk breaks followed but only when I absolutely reached the point of imminent muscle spasms. Despite that, the third km was my fastest which really surprised me. I can remember seeing Yve and trying to speed up a bit to try and catch up again with varying degrees of success. Nick ran the last lap with me and I was so grateful for that as it really kept me focused and Nick was so wonderfully encouraging. More walk breaks during that last lap but I still managed to complete it quicker than the first one 😊 Approaching the last 200m I could see HD and a couple of the others on my left. HD grabbed my hand and it was like a power shot. Naughty Chief Coach ran there right alongside me hand in hand despite his own pain, encouraging me like only he can before letting me loose on those final yards. I honestly thought I had nothing left in the legs by then but somehow managed to find a bit of extra speed for the finish. I felt like Bambi once across the line - everyone was waiting and they'd all run so well. The huge smiles and hugs all round said it all were very justly deserved 😊 Here's the 'after' picture courtesy of Nick -
My official time came through later as 35:48, a new PB by almost three and a half minutes 😀 To say I was chuffed is an understatement and all disappointment at having had to take a few walk breaks evaporated. The lungs were fine all the way round, but I was still a bit miffed at my joints.
HD had to leave us shortly after but it speaks so much about the man that he came down to be there for us all. I'll be forever grateful to Nick for staying with me for that last lap and to HD for those yards hand in hand, for being able to run with Yve and for being able to be among Buzzers so close to my next challenge. Those memories are going to come in very useful next week 😊
We adjourned to the lovely cafe at the Bishops Palace for refreshments.
I could have happily jumped into that pool too!
I couldn't believe my luck when I saw gluten and dairy free sour cherry and pistachio cake on sale.
Well, it would have been rude not to eh? 😂😂 We had a great time catching up but all too soon it was time for us to go home. What a fantastic morning it had been! It got even better when I found that the Realbuzz Baton had arrived in the post when I got home 😊 Carrying the baton is such a huge honour and privilege. When I think of those who have carried it before me it really does raise goosebumps! One thing I do know for certain, when the going gets tough, holding that baton will give me far more power in my legs and fire in my belly 😊
So now we're on a countdown. Our race packs have arrived - that brought reality sharply into focus! We're assured that Ryanair haven't cancelled out flight (block booked by the organisers I hasten to add). The long range forecast for the challenge averages 30 to 32C and wall to wall sunshine. Today I baked my special energy bars and 'this weekend I'll be packing ready for the off next Thursday. I like the heat, but I've a feeling this challenge might be in a league of its own!
Happy training everyone 😊
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