Hello Realbuzzers 😊
I hope that those of you in the last throes of training for Manchester, Brighton and London are all doing well - won’t be long now! I know one or two of you are fighting bugs, niggles and injuries, but keep the faith - with the right advice and action plan, hopefully you’ll feel a lot better by the big day. You’ve all got enough heart, grit and determination to carry you across the finish line ten times over 😊 I was supposed to be supporting at Brighton but a last-minute skiing trip proved too tempting so I’ll be blob watching from afar at every coffee stop! It also doubles up as altitude training for the rescheduled SW80 and as ‘rest’ for the foot and ankle as they’ll be locked tight in ski boots 😀 I can’t wait to stand at Mille 22 in London though and cheer all you heroes on 😀
Apologies already for what will doubtless be another long ramble, so get your tea and biscuits ready! 😂😂 Last time, the Shropshire Way 80k was looming and I still had a very sore left foot and I was feeling a great deal of trepidation. We left home on the Friday to drive up to Sir Bolty’s absolutely stunning guest cottage in the Shropshire Hills. Checking my e-mails on the way up, I saw that a last minute alteration to the course because of the expected bad weather meant that we’d be unlikely to reach the 21 mile checkpoint in the new allotted time of 6.5 hours, so our course would be reduced from 51 miles to 39 miles. We felt disappointed, no getting around that, but understood that safety was paramount. We arrived late in the afternoon at Sir Bolty’s and it was absolutely marvellous to see Sir and Lady Bolty and have a good catch up 😊 The final few miles getting there had been driving down streams rather than roads so none of us were in any doubt that conditions were going to be very difficult.
We were all keeping a close eye on the weather forecast and it really wasn’t looking good. The heavy rain was expected to turn to snow in the early hours of Saturday so it was going to be both horribly muddy and freezing cold as well! The forecast was worsening by the hour and at 8pm, we all received notification that sadly, the organisers had decided to postpone the event. We went to bed disappointed but appreciating the seriousness of the expected weather. When we woke up on Saturday morning, a thin covering of snow coated the ground. That would have been manageable but the wind was utterly vicious and the worst weather was expected from 4pm on Saturday, when most would still have been out on the course.
Not being ones to dwell, we all went out for a lovely five miler around the hill behind Castle Bolty. It’s a truly stunning area and the horizontal snow showers made it pretty exciting 😀 I even risked a little jog on the way back then later wished I hadn’t as that really set the foot off again 😕 Laying in our lovely warm and comfortable bed on Saturday night, listening to the wind howl and looking at the driving snow through the window, we were actually very glad that we weren’t out there on Saturday night! Daytime would have been unpleasant but doable, but trying to navigate in blizzard conditions with windchill making it feel like -14C would have been pretty much impossible and downright dangerous, so it was a good call by the organisers!
Sunday morning, we woke up to snow drifting up the windows and door. A good 9 inches of snow sat on top of the patio table so I guess that’s the minimum amount of snow that fell overnight. Despite the wind, we couldn’t resist being outdoors so helped to shift a few small drifts and I went for a toddle down the lane to the road to see how bad it was. There’s a barn halfway down the lane, where two sheep who’d had their lambs prematurely were looking happy and warm. Outside the barn, the snow drifts were about two feet deep and most of the snow had settled on sheet ice, so going up and down the lane and roads was......interesting 😂😂 But everywhere was stunningly beautiful 😊 Bird watching definitely became the order of the day. Red Kite and Buzzards overhead, and birds galore on the feeders. I don’t think I’ve ever seen 14 blackbirds all trying to feed at once! One of them spent so long trying to fend all of the others off that he probably didn’t get much to eat at all but it was so funny to watch. I confess that we were far too wimpy to try the jacuzzi out on the terrace in those conditions!
Thank goodness for Sir Bolty’s Landrover! That meant we could still get to the pub on Sunday evening for a pre-planned dinner, and lush it was too 😊 It certainly was a interesting drive, the snow having drifted impressively through the hedges making wonderful natural sculptures. The local farmer had been through though with the bucket on his tractor and made the road passable 😊
We didn’t know if we’d be able to get home on Monday as planned. The stream flowing down the road at the bottom of Sir Bolty’s lane had become a 20 foot long frozen pond overnight! With a bit of work between us, we got most of the water to drain, then Sir Bolty flattened a heap of frozen soil and ice dropped by the tractor in the middle of the road with the Landy. By the time we were all packed, the sun had come out and helped to melt some of the snow and ice on the road. The few miles down the snowy single track lane to the main road were passable with care and we only slid once so kudos to Richard! New drifts had blown into the track but thankfully, all were soft and fluffy. The drive home was much easier and trouble free once we left the Shropshire Hills. So, the event will now take place on 28th/29th April. Having seen the size of some of the hills I still feel a bit apprehensive but better than I did. Let’s just hope that by the end of April it’s a little warmer and drier 😂😂
So, training wise - not brilliant basically! I ran/walked one Parkrun on March 10th. I was stiff and sore, the foot wasn’t good and it was very very muddy. Being quite a challenging trail course full of tree roots and mud I was also a little cautious with the SW80 looming! I was a bit disappointed with the time of 40:27 before realised I hadn’t actually ran since January 13th! I’m still not supposed to but I’m out of patience 😂 Last week I was Tail Walker again and expected a steady 5k -wrong! No walkers at all last week so I did my fastest walking then pelted down the hills to keep up. Didn’t help the foot but it was fun 😂😂
March 1st to 4th - 17 miles, March 5th to 11th - a bit better at just over 30 miles, March 12th to 18th - a paltry 20 miles, March 19th to 25th - a rather better 36 miles and so far this week only a meagre 7 miles 😕 The biggest week included a 12.5 Mile walk in the North Downs around Elstead, Milford and the curious village of Peper Harow. This church in this tiny ‘village’ has what is believed to be the oldest Yew tree in England, thought to be just over 100 years old. It also has a wonderful cricket pitch, cricket having been played here since 1727! Originally, this was a large Manor house which was sold to property developers in 1944. All residences seem to be either former workers cottages or redeveloped barns and the main house itself was eventually converted into flats, so no new development here! A very pretty extremely quiet but almost spooky feeling little village and definitely worth a visit - not least because the grounds were landscaped by Lancelot (Capability) Brown. The many remaining Cedars of Lebanon were planted as seedlings from pots in 1735! Got to admit, I found that walk seriously hard. The left foot kicked off big time within a couple of miles so I decided to stick with shorter local walks after that as well as resolved to go and have a chat with the doc - I really need to know what’s going on in there as it definitely no longer felt like any PF I’ve had before 😕
So, off to the docs last Friday and after a quick look-see, decided to refer me to musculoskeletal services as he too though PF wasn’t quite the right diagnosis, the right ankle was routinely kicking off as well plus the problems were getting worse. He warned me that the wait to be even triaged by a physio to see if I needed to see the main man would be 6 months +, then it could be another 6 month wait for that appointment. Rich and I had already talked about the possibility of being referred and decided that self-pay it would have to be if needed as with a lot of challenges lined up, I need to know what the problem is as quickly as possible to avoid further problems. So, there I was seeing the lower limb orthopod on Monday evening! Lovely bloke who after he looked at and prodded both feet and ankles said that best case scenario is that I have peroneal (autocorrect keeps wanting to change that to something a little more risqué 😂😂) tendonitis. Bad news is that it’s in both feet and ankles - he found sore bits I didn’t even know existed. He also explained that’s why the right ankle still keeps getting sore and my right foot goes totally numb after walking a few miles (the tendon swells, trapping the peroneal nerve). He also said that’s why I got the stress fractured ankle last year, describing it as ‘inevitable’ with the distances walked, being hypermobile and having high arches - the perfect storm 😕 Worst case scenario is that the left foot has a stress fractured 5th metatarsal and that will mean total rest. Just hoping it will be the lesser of two weevils (sorry, favourite house saying having an entomologist for a son) as then I’ll just need custom made orthotics to fix the problem. Interestingly, he also said that this is why I keep getting those horrible blisters under my little toes and the very sore calluses under the little toe joints. Funny thing is although it’s pretty sore to walk on, it’s much more sore at rest and aches like the devil. Still, at least I can’t limp on both legs so my gait is still relatively even 😂😂 So, MRI scans next Wednesday then I get the results on Thursday. Cross your fingers for me!
Meanwhile, I have Action Challenge’s 25 Mile Easter Walk lined up on Saturday! I did mention it to the orthopod. He stuck his fingers in his ears and said he hadn’t heard that, meanwhile to strap up tight and try not to cause any further damage. I guess he knows a determined glint in the eye when he sees one -my kind of guy 😂😂 I’m doing this one alone as I wanted to do this one to try and see how hard I can push myself and that still stands, mission unchanged 😊 For anyone interested, my bib number is 1283 and there’ll be tracking at https://www.theeasterwalk.com/timing-tracking. No live blobs to watch but you’ll be able to see if and when I reach the checkpoints and finish 😊
Happy training everyone 😊
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