Hello Realbuzzers 😊
It’s been a while since I blogged so thought it was about time for an update! This one should have been about the Thames Path Challenge and the build up to the Snowdonia Marathon but as you’ll see, that sadly wasn’t to be 😕 Apologies in advance for it mostly being not about running!
For a week after the Jurassic Coast Challenge (21/22 July), I took things nice and easy. The legs, muscles etc really didn’t feel too bad afterwards but the newly injured foot was pretty painful.
Volunteering as a marshal at Parkrun the following weekend was a sensible option given the new foot damage. I really wasn’t coping well with the taking it easy bit that week though. I’d confined myself to a few short local walks that first week after the challenge but was all too aware that my running definitely needed much more attention with the Snowdon marathon only 12 weeks away. At least I started to hobble faster towards the end of the week 😂😂
By happy coincidence I already had a follow up appointment with the podiatrist (about the other foot and both ankles) 9 days after the challenge ended 😊 After new x-rays on the left foot/ankle, he finally diagnosed fifth metatarsal tendinosis and recommended a new set of NHS orthotics (which are far superior to the ones I had before privately!). I confessed about the other foot and asked if he minded having a look - his eyes rolled heavenwards and the look on his face was priceless 😂😂 A stress fracture was suspected so I was sent back to X-Ray. I was so lucky that he was happy to see me again straight away once they were done. The good news was that there was no stress fracture visible so the diagnosis was yet more tendon damage 😕 I expected another telling off to be honest but it never came. Instead, he told me a friend had just taken part in his first ultra and made it sound so exciting that he was considering having a go himself. I asked if it was OK to start walking and running again and he said fine but be governed by the pain and swelling - any increase in either and I should back off for a few days before trying again. That’s my kind of specialist 😀 Straight to the appliances department after that for new moulds of both feet to be made and hopefully the insoles would be ready in a couple of weeks.
Two days later we decided to go for a night jog. At 3.5 miles, not long, but at least it was a start 😊The feet, ankles and hips weren’t at all happy. Two days after that I did my local Parkrun and they still weren’t happy but I was pretty close to my PB. Lots of ice and TLC after each outing but I already knew that resting from running for a couple of weeks would be sensible. I was tailwalker at Parkrun the week after that. Wouldn’t you just know it though - I thought I was being sensible being Tail Walker and the lady that I was accompanying pulled out at the end of the second lap despite much encouragement. So I had to run the last lap in boots to try and catch up 😬 That set things back a good few days. My ‘resting’ from running and any long walks (i.e. only walking 5k or less every day and not running at all) lasted precisely 5 days 😂😂 I went out and walked fast for just over 10 miles (time, 3:03) and the feet and ankles felt much better than I thought they would be - win 😀
Parkrun again two days later and I was a few seconds faster than my previous outing and the pain was bearable so that day (August 18th) was when I decided that running was back on the cards again. A couple of days later, I ran up to my weekly gym session - only 2.5 miles but I managed to average a 12:33/mile pace so I was happy with that 😊 Next day I did just over an 11 mile walk in 3:20 and that wasn’t too bad either so hopefully I was back on track 😊 Parkrun the next weekend saw me only 10 seconds off my PB for that course which I was delighted with as I’d worn the ‘wrong’ trainers (thought it was going to be muddy but it wasn’t and the ground was hard so not ideal for my Salomon Speedcross 😕). A few days of short walks again then the Tuesday after, I did my run for Marika. Again, only 2.5 miles but it felt great and I so wish I’d have had time to run further. Finding time to run or walk was getting difficult with the huge amount of work I was involved in on the Open Space, but at least it would help to keep me fit but I planned to start upping the mileage and frequency of runs the following week.
With 9 weeks still to go I was starting to feel good again about the Snowdon marathon. I thought I still had time though to build up to a reasonable running distance. I knew my training was never likely to be conventional because of the AS but I hoped that I’d built up enough strength and endurance through the walking Ultras and training to use a walk/run strategy in Snowdonia and cross the finish line in under 7 hours and boy was I looking forward to trying 😊
The Thames Path 100k was now a week and half away and that was our plan for more endurance training and we were both really looking forward it. However, next day, what turned out to be a total game changer happened 😢 I decided to give the drive it’s annual clean with the jet-washer. Had I used the conventional cleaning head that I usually use, I’d likely have been absolutely fine, but I didn't. I used a short handled brush head which cleaned the bricks pretty well without blasting much sand out from between the bricks (and so saved a lot of work re-sanding it all afterwards). That necessitated bending very far forwards at the hip while applying pressure to the head ......... and it took me four hours. I was sore when I’d done, but nothing I couldn’t deal with. A few hours later I couldn’t even stand up straight 😢
At first I thought I’d just overdone things as usual but over the weekend the pain in lower back, hip, groin and front of the thigh just got worse and worse. AS throws a lot of pain the way of patients, but this was in a different league being constant, not backing off at all at rest, not easing up with gentle walking and being so severe I couldn’t even walk at all but was reduced to crawling to the loo on hands and knees 😕 I still kept telling myself that I’d be fine in a couple of days (does that make me middle aged? 😂😂). By Monday morning Richard said he couldn’t bear to see me like this any more and called the doc out for a home visit (that was a first - never ever not been able to get there before 😕). The doc diagnosed a severe AS flare up and prescribed nerve-pain reducing drugs as well as the strong painkillers I already take. They didn’t help the pain but as least made me dopey so I could doze a little more.
By the following Monday I was still climbing the walls so went to see a different doc as mine was on holiday. The only way I could walk at all was bent over forwards and she was so concerned. She thought that maybe and blown a disc in my lower back, trapping a nerve, hence the thigh pain. She explained that the only way to get an emergency MRI was to be admitted to hospital via A&E, so much as that went against the grain, that’s where I ended up. 11 hours after arriving at A&E I was finally admitted. The scan was carried out next day and just laying still was horrendous. The results came in the next day - yes, several discs are bulging in there but none of them enough to trap nerves and be causing the pain so next day I was discharged with no clue as to what the pain was, still only able to walk a few steps at a time bent forwards and I still find it difficult to understand why they didn’t seem interested in finding the cause of the pain. Sadly our local hospital, despite having wonderful staff, is a failing one and is renowned for this kind of thing. One thing for sure though, the Thames Path Challenge was definitely off now 😢 Fortunately we’ve been allowed to defer to next year but I still felt angry and cheated at being let down by this body again 😢
Next day I was straight back to see the same doctor who recommended a pelvic ultrasound and hip scan as the pain was most definitely now starting to focus more into the hip and groin and thigh. The doc suggested going back to A&E but to be honest I didn’t want to spend another 3 days in hospital - it hadn’t been a terribly good experience that week and I really didn’t want to take up a bed as genuinely sick people or someone waiting for an orthopaedic op needed it far more than I did. She said that emergency scans would take 4 to 6 weeks 😫 Nothing for it but to have them done privately then - I really needed answers fast not only because of the immediate pain, because of the effect it was having on whether I’d be able to run Snowdon at all. If I’d just pulled something, there’d still be hope. Next day, the ultrasound was scheduled for the morning and the MRI for the late afternoon. Happy to say that the ultrasound showed nothing but normality. I’ll never forget the MRI as long as I live. No knee support allowed, my ankles had to be strapped together and a heavy plate put across my hips so I couldn’t even twitch. 40 minutes of very embarrassing groaning later, it was done. Back at the docs the next morning, I finally had an answer. I have a 2.5cm tear in the hip labrum (a band of cartilage surrounding the hip joint) ...... b*****! Every time the hip moves, the loose ends move causing pain and irritating the obturator nerve (supplying the thigh) and the psoas muscle 😕 She immediately made an urgent referral to the hospital for me and the appointment came through a few days later.....for November 30th 😫
Two things the following week cheered me up a bit - the first the Ralbuzz meet up at St Albans Parkrun. What a superb morning it was seeing our Buzzers running in memory of Marika 💜 The other was getting my insoles. The chap in the workshop was an ex-runner and bless him, he’d made me a pair for running and a pair for walking - what a hugely wonderful thing to do 😍
Without question there was no way I was going to be able to run or even walk the Snowdonia Marathon now and I felt so defeated. With a very heavy heart indeed, I sold my Snowdon place on 😢😢 At least I made another runners day though 😊 I contacted the organisers and they were brilliant and have said that although I couldn’t defer, I could have a place for next year without the online application scramble, which is so incredibly kind, so I will be back! Meanwhile, the pain was as bad as ever and the end of November seemed light years away. I saw a specialist privately a week later at the end of September. He wanted to stick a steroid shot in there but unfortunately I’m allergic to them so that wasn’t a option. Instead, he recommended four weeks of 50% weight bearing on crutches with a lot of rest (as if there’s a choice!) to see if would start to settle. After two weeks there wasn’t a single iota of improvement, the effects on the AS were getting steadily worse and sleep was still reduced one or two hours a night in small bits (even I can’t cope with that little, I need at least 3 hours to function). My knee started to be very badly affected by the muscle loss and became scarily unstable so I brought the follow up appointment forwards by a week to yesterday. Now I think the specialist finally understands the complications! The tear can’t heal itself as it has very little blood supply so the sensible option is surgery to either repair it or clip off the flappy ends. Date to be arranged but just knowing it can be sorted has made a huge difference to my mindset. I will get fixed, it will get better and I will get back to walking and running 😊
One of the things that really got to me was at the time of the injury I was only 12 miles off my 1000 recorded miles for the year and I wanted that so badly. Never to be deterred, once I had crutches, those 12 miles got done a few km at a time and I’m very very proud of that 😊 I don’t think I’ll manage to complete the 1200 mile virtual challenge that I also entered (by December 31st)l but never say never 😊
Now I’m looking forward to the Snowdon weekend (not long now!), to putting all my efforts into supporting all of you amazing Buzzers with sweaty hugs, cowbells, home made energy bars and cake and to meeting up again 😀 I’ll definitely be feeling envy as you go past, but I’ll also be feeling such a huge amount of pride watching the best bunch of friends one could ever hope for go past. Who else but Buzzers would choose certain miles to run for me. I love you guys ❤️
I’m also so very hugely proud of Richard - his first marathon at age 66 and what a marathon to take part in! Look after him for me please - he doesn’t have the self-belief but I have enough for both of us and I know he’ll do both himself and the Buzzers proud. He’s gone from running a max of 10km to running 15 miles with no problems, no soreness, and he’s got loads of endurance and mental strength from the Ultras that have gone before, he just doesn’t realise it yet 😍 My first running marathon will have to wait - like so many, no ballot place for London either, but one way or another, a marathon will be done next year before Snowdonia 😊
Happy tapering/training and see many of you very very soon 😀 xxx
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