Me, a runner?

Posted on: 21 May 2018

Hello Buzzers 😀

I’m getting a bit out of sequence here as I still haven’t started to write the Shropshire Blog, but it’ll come - the memories are still crystal clear! Apologies already as this turned out be a long one as it was a huge landmark for me 😀

I left you last time just about to Tail Walk at Parkrun again. A week post SW80 and having the London 10mile next day it seemed like a good plan. I went fully dressed in hiking gear as it was a bit chilly first thing (especially in the woods) and one of our regular older walkers said she’d be there that week. She wasn’t! However, there was one older lady who said she’d mostly be walking (what a relief! It ain’t fun trying to run in hiking boots and trousers  on that course!). She set off at a jog but fortunately I could keep up by walking but by the time I’d gone 100m I was already peeling off the layers 😂😂 What an inspirational lady she was too! Last year, she had surgery, chemo and radiotherapy for bowel cancer and once recovered, decided to get fitter by coming to Parkrun. I asked her if she wanted to try and get a new PB and although her eyes lit up but she said her current PB had been hard to achieve. With a little encouragement and a few tips on her already impressive speed walking technique, and by encouraging a little more jogging on the flat and downhill bits, she crossed the finish line 7 minutes faster than ever before. The hug she gave me after was pretty emotional for us both. That’s why I love helping those at the back - always the most interesting stories and so rewarding 😊

The rest of Saturday was spent catching up with things domestic. I hadn’t even given much thought to the London Ten Mile the next morning other than how much I was looking forward to seeing HD and meeting his sister 😊 No particular worries as my fastest walk time for 10 miles was 2:45 and the cut off was 3:30 so I was fairly confident I could make it. That unexpectedly successful little run on Thursday in the Altras had also given me confidence that I’d be able to run the flats and downhills and technically should be able to get a new 10 mile PB. I wanted to enjoy this one, set in the beautiful Richmond Park. This would be the first time I’d been back there since my first event on my road to becoming a Realbuzzer. That was my first NASS fundraising event, a 5k walk. I’d torn my ACL skiing the month before but didn’t know it at the time - I thought it was a bit hard at the time! 😂😂 I got my gear packed early on Saturday evening, put my kit out for morning, had a nice hot bath then spent just over an hour applying KT tape to feet, ankles, left knee and hip and right shoulder. I really should buy shares in that company! I’ve found what method of taping currently works for me and it does make a huge difference 😊

The standard rubbish nights sleep - just under three hours in small bits with a bit of wandering around in between. It was a relief to get up and get moving. Breakfast of a pear, yoghurt and a large bowl of home made rice pud (my go to food to try and put a bit of weight back on after the SW80) as I’d have plenty of time to digest it before the 10.30 start 😊 We we’re aiming to leave at 8 but by the time I’d finished feeding cats and wild birds, it was 8.15. As it turned out, that couldn’t have worked out better though. I’d pre-booked parking at Richmond Railway Station and with little traffic on the roads, it only took 25 minutes to get there. Just as we parked up I got a text from HD saying his train was almost in Richmond 😀 Within two minutes of getting to the front of the station, HD was walking towards us. Big hugs all round - like all of you, I love this human powerhouse of support, inspiration and achievement to bits 😍 

A 2.5 mile walk to the start was a nice warm up, nice and relaxed with the conversation flowing 😊 HD asked me what my plan was. As it was only two weeks post SW80k, and I still had a bit of a cold from pre-Shropshire, I said that the best I was hoping for was fast walking with a bit of jogging on the flats and downhills. We reached the race village with loads of time to spare and it was a real privilege to meet HD’s lovely sister Nerys and her smashing friend Trish 😊 Fair old queue for the loos as you’d expect so I got that out of the way first. Then a bit of faffing getting my number on, double knotting the laces, making sure I had everything I needed in my waist belt and believe it or not, a cafe latte - I wasn’t sure of the wisdom of that but having recently found out I can drink coffee again as long as I’m exercising, why not? 😂😂

Ready to rumble

Rather than check my bag in, Richard said he’d carry it in case I needed anything while out on the course. I’ll bet he regretted that quite a few times - I still haven’t learned to pack light! He carried his own pack on his back and my considerably larger one on his front and despite the extra weight, he pegged it round the course being an absolutely awesome supporter. He kept popping up in places we least expected and were amazed how he was getting from place to place so quickly and the photos he took were brilliant 😀

We were in the last wave to start and HD had told me to run with them. I’d try for as long as I could but was under no illusions and doubted I’d be able to keep up. I seriously  underestimated HD’s amazing coaching and pacing abilities! We stayed near the back of the pen and before we knew it, we were off!

The start was a longish incline, but with the conversation and laughter starting from the off, we’d reached the top of it and I was still jogging. I was so surprised - I usually get calf pain in the first 50m but as I’d already noticed on the run a few days before, it didn’t happen in the Altras. I couldn’t quite believe how the miles started to fly by and I was still managing to keep up 😀 I’m so glad it was overcast - the weather was perfect but by the time we reached the first water station just before mile 3, I was starting to feel seriously warm. Out with the secret weapon - the cool scarf! I can’t recommend these things highly enough - soak ‘em in water, wrap ‘em around your neck and the cold is blissful. The water evaporating from the scarf keeps you cool for at least half an hour before you need to wet it again. 

Just before mile 5 was the only water station where they completely uncapped the bottles - have they ever tried running with an open water bottle? 😂😂 I guess it did make wetting the scars easier though. When we reached mile five and HD said we’d done it in 65 minutes I was pretty gobsmacked. I had little confidence that I could keep it up for the second half though, surely not? Miles 5 to 8 we’re pretty undulating! Some long inclines and some nice steady downhills. On the inclines, the left hip and ankles in particular were starting to make their presence felt. A couple of very short fast walks helped to stretch out the hips flexors and although they weren’t the problem, that stretching felt really good. One of the cheering points along that stretch was in the form or two ‘tree surgeons’ hanging by ropes from the trees near the top of a hill, shouting encouragement. There were also a whole bunch of Henry the Eighths on a downhill section and a bunch of Robin Hoods just before the next water station. I’d even high fives a couple of squirrels in the first couple of miles (rather them than me in those costumes!). That kind of support really did make me smile 😊 

I’d been finding it harder than I expected on the downhills to keep the pace slower as I naturally wanted to lengthen my stride and let go a bit, but already understood the importance of keeping that steady pace. I think it was around mile 8 where there was the most wonderful downhill stretching out before us and all I wanted to do was just relax into it and let my stride lengthen naturally. So a word to HD and the ladies and I so enjoyed that downhill 😀 My only regret afterwards that I didn’t ‘Barber’ it - I really should have done! At the bottom was a young woman limping along on her own so I slowed right down to chat to her. She said she couldn’t run another step as her knees were just too painful. I talked to her briefly about AS and her eyes widened, asking me how I could run. All I could tell her is that I don’t listen to the pain, I swear at it and plod on. As HD, Nerys and Trish drew level, I joined them again (no way was I going off on my own after what they’d got me through!). Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that young woman quicken her walk, then start to jog again just behind us and she managed to stay just behind us almost to the finish 😊

Mile 8 and all still smiling 😀

Finally, just after mile 9, the last incline then the glorious gentle downhill to the finish. It was starting to sink in that I really could do this and I think I must have had the biggest most stupid smile on my face. Richard was waiting just before the finish, cheering like a good ‘un. He’d certainly put in the miles too! The biggest smile of all came as we crossed the line though, hand in hand, arms raised 😀 After a heartfelt group hug, I looked upward, knowing that my Dad would have been so very proud. I still wish more than anything that he could have seen me do these challenges. 

First stop was the loo - about 10minutes in I’d begun to regret that last coffee but somehow managed to still sip water and the juice I was carrying and still hang on until we finished! We went to sit for a while recovering, HD very kindly getting us all a drink. I had a celebratory coke - allergic to so many things, yet I can tolerate coke - crazy eh? 😂😂 Unusually for me after an event, I was starving, so ate the food I’d brought. The sun came out and it really started to warm up - I’m so glad that it stayed overcast while we ran! 

A few more photos of a very special day


All too soon, it was time to get up on our stiffening limbs and start the homeward journey. The 2.5 mile walk back to the station was a tad slower than the walk in. Mind you, HD did buy me a white Magnum from an ice cream van so that might have slowed me down a bit 😂😂 Never ever did I think I could achieve something like that and without HD, Nerys and Trish by my side, I doubt I ever would have so I can never thank them enough for that and for letting me share their special day. The stats read 10.2 miles at an average of 12:46 minute miles - so very very pleased with that as first proper ‘run’ and I’m still absolutely beaming every time I remember it and I know that is one truly special day I will never ever forget 😀

You thought that was the end didn’t you?  😂😂 Not quite! Happy to say I had virtually no muscle soreness the day after although the neck, left hip, knee, foot and both ankles have been rather cranky. I finally tried out the new custom orthotics for an hour midweek as advised. Oh my goodness, they’ve taken the foot and ankle pain right back to January levels plus resulted in pain in both Achilles too 😬 So, no more of those until I’ve seen the podiatrist again in a few weeks. I hoped that on Saturday, I’d be able to finally run all the way around our local Parkrun with what I had learned (never come anywhere close yet!). Well, I did run all but the short steep ‘Achilles Hill’ (x3) and about 5m over a particularly tree rooty bit on the third lap so that’s a major improvement 😀 The disappointing bit was it was 66 seconds slower than my course run/walk PB! Need to up my pace a bit now, especially since this coming Sunday there’s the Westminster Mile to be run. Looking forward to hopefully meeting up with our legends Nick and hopefully Marc too, then only two weeks after that a brilliant Buzzer meet up at the HU5k 😀😀😀

Meanwhile, protesting joints aside, it’s time to get back to the long walks as well as the Jurassic Coast 100k is only 8 weeks away - another blimmin’ hilly one 😬 This is the first and last time I’ll let Richard choose our long challenges  😂😂😂


Happy training and racing everyone 😊 xxx



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