I heard a quote yesterday that resonated with me “A calm sea never made a skilled sailor”. It made me think about us Buzzers – we learn much more from the tough patches and hard runs than from the easy runs; or the ones where we stay in our comfort zones.
And I’ve done more than my fair share of ‘learning’ over the past couple of years!!
So what the hell has been going on with me? I saw my doctor a couple of weeks ago and she ordered blood tests. These tests confirmed something that I had been starting to suspect….the menopause. What?! FFS! In my head I’m still 32 – I’m not old enough for this!! (although apparently 48 is plenty old enough).
The Change is upon me. No one really talks about the menopause so it was all a bit of a mystery to me until a few weeks ago. I thought it was just a few hot flushes and I guess for some women it’s not too problematic. But who knew about all the other symptoms; that they can come on so suddenly; and that they could be so debilitating such as…
- Crippling tiredness – tick
- Low mood/anxiety/depression – tick
- Insomnia – tick
- Headaches – tick
- Dizzy spells - tick
Apparently the imbalance of hormones can have a direct effect on athletic performance too. Jeez; no wonder running has been a tinsy bit of a struggle lately!
It's weird that I hesitate whether or not to be so open about all of this. Perhaps it's too much information? Too personal? But at the same time I'm shocked that no one talks about it openly when it affects half of the population eventually (and of course their partners). It all makes sense now that this is what's been going on, certainly for the past six months. But because of my complete lack of awareness I didn't realise.
I’ve started eating a more ‘menopause friendly’ diet (except cutting back on alcohol – I’m not saying goodbye to gin for anything); and taking mega vitamins. And (after doing lots of research) I’m going back to my doctor tonight to ask to go onto HRT. I hope and pray that this will rid me of some of my symptoms and give me some energy back. And I also hope that if some of my symptoms subside my running can get back on track…watch this space!
So talking of running, and on a more positive note, yesterday was the Wilmslow Half Marathon. For me this was originally a pre-cursor to the Manchester Marathon in 2 weeks but, as you know, I’ve pulled out of the Marathon.
My long runs have been such a struggle over the past few months that I had absolutely no idea what I was capable of yesterday. I did the same half marathon as my first 20 years ago in 2 hours 21 minutes. All I asked of myself yesterday was to get round without crashing and hopefully in less time than 20 years ago.
As David has said, this was his longest run for over a year. We agreed that we would try to stick to a steady pace of 9.30 minute miles for as long as possible. We would stay together until half way and that David would go off after this if need be.
We set off and our first couple of miles were around 9.10 minute miles – whoops! We talked about whether we should slow down but the pace felt very comfortable so we decided to just carry on running by feel, and go with the flow. The next few miles hovered around the 9.00 minute mile mark with a couple going well under 9 minutes. I was surprised by how fast we were going and how comfortable I felt. The weather was perfect and it was great to have David next to me. I fully expected the wheels to come crashing off at some point but decided to just enjoy the feeling of being in control and strong for as long as it lasted.
We went through 10k in 57 minutes and half way (6.55 miles) at 59.50. This was interesting – on pace for a sub 2 hour half marathon??!! Then it dawned on us the second half of the run had a fair bit of uphill (which must have meant there was a lot of downhill in that first half – hence part of the the reason for the speed!!).
I started to slow a bit during mile 7 and 8. Obviously the brief sub 2 hour fantasy was dashed by this point. I sensed that David had lots of energy and once we got to nearly 9 miles I insisted that he go ahead. He was hesitant but off he went. The last 4 miles felt like they were all uphill! It was a struggle and I was going very slowly by now but I was still going; and for that I was hugely thankful.
For that last mile or so there was nothing left in my legs - they were like lead. But I was dammed if I was going to stop running (or shuffling as it was by then!). Generally, even in the slower miles, the time past quickly and for the most part I enjoyed the race. I crossed the line in 2.10.04. This is 15 minutes slower than my half marathon PB but somehow felt like a huge achievement after my last couple of years of running; and last 6 months of feeling unwell. It’s a long time since I’ve been happy with an endurance race.
The race felt like a turning point for both me and David for completely different reasons. I’m hoping that with some treatment for my wayward hormones I can start putting the joy back into my running. Fingers and toes and everything else crossed....
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