Hello Buzzers 😁
Well, it’s been a good few weeks since I’ve blogged - every time I thought I’d found a few minutes to sit down and write, life has somehow got in the way again! So the last thing I blogged about was the Dulux Revolution Trail back at the beginning of May 😳 A lot has happened since then but I’ll try and keep it as brief as possible otherwise we’ll end up with another essay but doubtless it’ll end up that way anyway so grab yourself a cuppa and packet of biscuits!
The end of May and the whole of June was a bit busy 😂😂
26th May - Westminster Mile, which has now become an annual fixture for me - I just love the atmosphere and at only £8 to enter, is great value for money. This year was super special as I was running the event twice - once in the Special Olympics Wave with MadMax, her husband and their gorgeous boy Rukai. He was an absolute superstar - we danced almost the entire mile 😁 It was so indescribably wonderful to see him cross that finish line 😁 Bonus moment as well - Max and I managed to score a selfie with Mo before the race!
I ran again in the parkrun wave and crossed the line in 9:58 - a shiny new 29 second PB 😊 I know.....slow as right! but that’ll do for me (for those who don’t know me that well, I’ve added a bit of my backstory at the very end) - each of the three years so far I’ve got a little bit faster and hopefully I can keep that up 😊 What made it more special was for the first time ever, I’d persuaded my youngest (Ben) to run as well. He doesn’t run at all but I still only saw the back of him 🤣 Fantatsic meet up with Max, Nick and John too 😍
27th May Vitality 10k (my first road 10k). I got an early train up to town, planning to get off at Vauxhall and get the tube the 4 stops to Green Park. I was so early though that I decided that it would be a good warm up to walk instead. It was pleasantly quiet and it wasn’t until I got quite close that I saw other runners heading to the start. Now the marshals were mostly wonderful but one in particular wasn’t, absolutely refusing to let any runners across the road to the race village by the short route. Instead he sent us on a long winding detour up past the finish line then back in front of Buckingham Palace, through huge crowds of people. There were some very unhappy runners around! The bag drop was efficient, but there was no cover - bags were just being dropped into an open pen in full sunshine. Didn’t give my sandwich lunch much chance of being edible by the time I’d finished! Ah well, first world problem 😂 I was in the last pen as I had no idea what time I could do 10k in so had estimated 1:30. Once we got going the course was so unbelievably crowded but the overall atmosphere and support was brilliant 😊 My only gripe was having to go up and down on the pavement so many times to overtake other runners. With poor proprioception in my feet, there was a fair risk I’d end up flat on my face so I had to really concentrate and look at my feet so I could make sure that fall didn’t happen. At one point, there were 8 women all running hand in hand (in just bra and pants....don’t ask!) taking up the entire width of the road which seemed a bit much. The music along the course was great, as was the water sprayer but it felt so hot and I’ve never been as glad to see a finish line approaching. No sprint finish - I’d worked hard to try and keep running and finally crossed the line in 1:13:10. A long queue for a medal and goody bag and the news that they only had large and extra large tee shirts left 😕 Fortunately I was able to swap mine for a slightly smaller one with a fellow parkrunner a couple of weeks later as most people said the shirts had come up small. Although I ended up with a medium tee shirt, it’s still rather flappy 😂 I still don’t understand why when they know how many runners have entered and they know all of the sizes needed that they run out of the size you want! Bag collection was easy and just as I thought, my cheese sarnie was most unappealing so lunch had to wait until I got home 😂😂
1st June - I walked the 2k to parkrun and got a shiny new PB of 34:46, finally cracking that 35 minute mark 😁 It’s a trail course and it’s quite tough, so it’d be interesting to see what I can do on a flat course now, although I have no intention of finding out as I love my local tough lumpy trail parkrun to bits 😍
9th June - St Albans Half. My first proper run as a 60 year old 😳 This one was seriously special as HD was right by my side pacing me the whole way and what a huge privilege that was. I wasn’t feeling too great the day before race day. At the time I thought it was food reaction making me get some running training in a bit early 😂😂 As usual I’d also slept really badly the night before. I’d only run one half before (the Big Half on early March this year and achieved my goal of finishing sub 3 in 2:57:03) and my goal was to beat that time. I’d started the day with a double dose of Imodium, after shall we say an unpromising continuation of the day before, and just hoped like hell it would work! After arriving at the start area, first job was to join the very long queue for the sani-privies. That didn’t leave me feeling very reassured so a third Imodium went down the hatch. Hopefully this was just pre-race nerves! HD is the best coach on the planet bar none - he doesn’t need a watch, he’s just knows how to maintain the pace needed to achieve a goal instinctively. I know he was in a lot of pain himself that day and I’ll be forever grateful that he ran by my side because without him there, I suspect it’d have been a very different result. The course was a lot tougher that I expected - 244m of ascent - no, not hugely hilly, just long drawn out gentle hills that sapped the energy and much to my dismay, these hips still don’t like uphills at all, they just plain hurt 😕 The countryside around St Albans though is really beautiful an the support on the course from the public and marshals was marvellous and that combined with the great chat with HD helped so much. We even had our own support in the later miles from our very own big Marc P on his bike and that was brilliant 😁 All went OK until about mile 4.5 when I realised that 3 Imodium were not going to be enough. Oh that (hilarious in retrospect) eyeing up of hedgerows, realising there’s virtually no cover and wondering if you can possibly hang on 😂😂 HD assured me that a mile ahead lay a couple of sani-privies under a road bridge and let’s just say the relief was huge when we got there! On we went, me thinking that any problems were now definitely behind me. A few minutes last a seriously weird thing happened - a bit scary to be honest 😬 Waves of pins and needles began travelling down both legs and I had to stop. HD propped me up for bit - no idea what caused it, but it passed after a couple of minutes and on we went again, cautiously walking a few yards before jogging on. All I can think of is that some nerve in my back got temporarily upset - just hope it never happens again! Another couple of miles and I rapidly realised that my gut ordeal wasn’t quite yet done with me 😳 Again, about a mile to survive to a sani-privy (this time on top of road bridge!). I must admit this was having a big effect on energy levels and my legs began to feel so heavy. No way was I letting our Head Coach down though, no way at all. I can’t even remember much of those last 5 miles but I know that I started walking more than I ran. HD would get me to run to another marker then we fast walked again for a bit and finally, we reached the approach to the finish in the park. By now my legs were like jelly and HD was encouraging me to give one last push for the line. There was just nothing left but at least I managed a stumbling run (not helped by the rough grass) and finally, hand in hand, we were over the line in 2:50:14 😁 Medals, ice lollies & tee shirts given and I was absolutely over the moon to have knocked 6:49 off my half marathon time 😁 I know HD will deny it, but that really was down to his skill, encouragement and incredible coaching so massive massive thanks HD. That day will always hold a very special place in my memory 😘😘
I didn’t realise it at the time but the gut episode, likely some kind of bug, marked the start of the worst and longest flare up in the 2.5 years that I’ve been on the magic meds 😕 Could it have been made worse by the half? Possibly. Would it stop me? Not a chance in hell 🤣🤣
15th June - HU5k - a tremendous meeting of Realbuzz legends 😍 One of the real highlights of my calendar now so if you’ve never been - do try and come along 😊 A fab run on part of the Cotswold Way in a gorgeous village with a great Buzzer get together afterwards 😁 Again, all I wanted to do was to try and improve my course time again. It wasn’t an easy day with the bones but delighted to say that I finished in 35:10 (new course PB by 1:01). It was also a tremendous pleasure to run with our lovely Buzzer JWA 😊 Can’t wait to do it all again next year 😁
23rd June - Weybridge 10k - a local one advertised as fast and flat. Given the state of the bones, all I wanted to do was be able to finish 😂 1500 runners and a mass start! That was a little chaotic to say the least. Still, I know my place and started near the back. It was mostly on closed roads but the open road section was just plain horrible - being on a pavement that was like the Bay of Biscay with its endless dropped kerbs as well as the general ups and downs. Not a lot of elevation granted (34m), but enough to annoy when you were expecting flat. The traffic fumes were pretty lousy too and conditions were hot and sticky. At the bottom of the biggest hill, I think I surprised the marshals at the water station by emptying several cups of water straight down my back and front 😂😂 Managed to bring it home in 1:16:00 and I was quite happy with that considering how I felt that day and even managed a big old smiley Barber finish. Several parkrun friends had also run and it was really good to meet up afterwards and go for a coffee together 😊
30th June - Woking Lion’s Martian 10k. A local trail race on nearby Horsell Common - the location in HG Wells’ ‘War of the Worlds’, where the Martians landed. Well I didn’t see any mysterious landing capsules (although the Maclaren HQ building there is pretty futuristic 😂) but it was a fab location. No parking at the start so Richard dropped me off nearby while he used local knowledge to find parking. Registration was all on the day and it was a kind of self sign-in thing on laptops which I’ve never met before. Number given with lots of apologies that they’d run out of safety pins! Quick riffle through my backpack and I found four rattling around in there. I gave two to another runner. At least I got there early enough to be only on a queue of about 15. By the time I’d registered and dropped my bag, the queue was at least 50 people long! The queues for the few sani-privies were even longer and the two queues rapidly got confused as long snakes of people formed. The race was supposed to start at 9am and at 8.55 I was still queuing for the loo with many many others plus there were still people waiting to register! They announced a 15 minute start delay so everyone could be accommodated thank goodness. Again a mass start which led to some short waits at pinch points on the early part of the course. It was all good natured though and I really wasn’t pushing for a time on this one. The AS flare was as bad as ever - a huge lack of energy, fatigue plus the ankle and left knee had been playing up badly for several weeks by now despite taping. A wonderful setting running over heathland with the heather in full bloom, through quiet forests, a slog through the very sandpit where Wells’ Martians were supposed to have landed, through the open fields of a visitor centre and finally back to Maclaren and the finish. From somewhere I found the energy to not exactly sprint the finish, but speed up enough to overtake the couple in front, try and grin for the camera and Barber over the line in 1:18:01 😁 Boy was I glad to finish that one! Runners gut had been making its presence felt from km 2 and I think I ran to the sani-privies faster than I ran in the whole 10k 🤣🤣
That saw the end of my very busy month for events and July was going to be more focusing on starting training for the Thames Path 100k in September and Snowdonia Marathon in October. The flare eventually settled two weeks ago and what a huge relief that was! The plan was parkrun every week to try and work on speed, walk and run as much as possible where I had errands to run and to do a long run/walk every week, gradually building up the distance. This isn’t any kind of formal plan at all as it’s all governed by the bones. It’s definitely not tailored to a 100k walk that’s for sure! My walk training has gone right out of the window this year as everything now is run/walk or run so I’ll definitely be winging that Ultra 😂😂 I’ve truly fallen in love with how good running makes my head feel 😍 Just a shame the body rarely agrees 🤣🤣
I figured I’d start out with a 10 mile run/walk, then the week after did just over 13 miles. It was going pretty well considering ..... then a bit of a disaster last week 😬 I was watering the garden and hit my head on a large hanging basket. For reasons unknown this made me move in such a way that I subluxed the operated hip. They don’t dislocate because the structure is so poor that there’s nothing to stop the head of femur sliding in and out. It’s usually fairly painless but that one hurt like hell. Let’s just say it’s being a little slow to forgive me 😂 It hasn’t stopped me doing parkrun and smaller stuff but I’m sensible enough to have wanted to curb the distance for a week to give it time to settle a bit. With the heat last week, it was likely a very sensible decision. I really don’t do early morning runs - worst time of the day for me as AS makes you pretty stiff and sore when you’ve been resting and it takes quite a while to get going. On parkrun days I have to get up a 6 to make sure I’ve enough time to stretch and move before running.
This morning was my 68th parkrun and my sensible head told me I was going to walk it today, to look after the hip and not wind the ankle and knee up now they’d settled a bit after a few days of not running. It had rained heavily all last night and was still raining a bit so it was likely to be slippery over all those tree roots! I did a lap of the field to warm up and instinctively jogged. It didn’t feel that bad and I really did need to get going again so I decided to run/walk after all. I ended up running far more of it than I usually would, just because I was feeling bloody minded, even practicing running uphill (well, all bar the short steep rocky rooty ‘Achilles Hill’ which has to be run 3 times. Even walking, that little hill still takes me uncomfortably close to the muscles around the hips going into spasm while the bones themselves just continually mumble to themselves😕). Speaks volumes that I ran 2 minutes slower than my PB - a well thought out run/walk still works out far faster for me than mostly running!
So there we have it - finally all caught up 😊 Apologies for the length of this blog (as usual 🤣🤣). Next up is the Burcham Beeches Trail 10k in a couple of weeks. It might be a bit hilly and with the hips still not liking hills, it could be a pretty slow one, but it will get done 😊 I’m sure the swimming pool at the end will be a great incentive 😁
Have a great weekend everyone and happy training 😁😁😁
**For the newer Buzzers who don’t know my back story - I never ever thought I’d be able to run again so it’s a huge deal being able to run at all. I hadn’t run since my teens and back then was a sprinter, hurdler and high-jumper and hated distance running with a vengeance - Realbuzz has a lot to answer for 🤣🤣 Axial Spondyloarthritis/Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) is an autoimmune form of arthritis that affects the whole body - I’ve had it since I was 8 but remained undiagnosed until I was 42 (and sadly that’s a familiar story throughout the AS community). Initially, I had several years of trying different anti-inflammatory medicines that made me so sick that I couldn’t function so eventually I ended up with just painkillers and exercise as my coping mechanisms. I also have hypermobility syndrome which also causes pain and means I’m very prone to injury as my joints, as well as getting inflamed, move too far in every direction! Between the two conditions and the 21 orthopaedic surgeries that’s it’s taken to fix all sorts of damage to neck, back, shoulders, elbow, knees and hip from the 2 conditions - the odds on running ever again weren’t great so inspired by so many awesome Buzzers, I took up ultra walking. 2.5 years ago, aged 58, I was lucky enough to be put on the gold standard treatment for AS. When I started on what I call my ‘magic meds’, within 24 hours the pain levels dropped to a level where I could start to run again. I knew I’d likely be continually risking injury and still fighting the bones and soft tissue that are already damaged and I do, every single time I walk or run - that’s why I’m so damned proud to be able to run however slowly and if I walk/run or even just walk, that’s also fine - it gets me there. I’ll just keep pushing for as long as the body holds out 😁💪
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