If you can’t run ….bikestitute

Foot’s still semi-buggered. Time to rethink – and i’m rethinking it’s rest time …. as in no running at all.

So a quick jaunt along the cliffs and down to the beach on the bike (plus a few circuits of the sand =)

It felt good just to get out and get some exercise. Who woulda thought that cycling uses so many different muscles to running – they’re all in the legs but the aches are all different.

I must admit I like cycling but for me it’s just no competition to which I prefer. Cycling feels somehow artificial, somehow cheating (and before anyone leaps on me to tell me its not true and here are the facts to prove it this is entirely a personal statement – I’m not claiming superiority of one over ‘tother in general) On a bike I don’t feel connected to the land around me, I pass through it but at a distance, even off the road I feel like a tourist rather than a native. My feet aren’t feeling the ground. the effort doesn’t feel like it’s all mine.

It’s a substitute …. but so much better than nothing!  And next week I’m off all week and already planning a ride which will allow me to scout out more running spots when i’m recovered … and maybe a cheeky bike/pint escapade 😉

Anyway I managed to grab some nice photos. Days like this I feel I named the blog well

 

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Suck it up buttercup … or just plough straight through them
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Some sort of huge cargo ship in the Bristol Channel waiting for the tide to turn
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How green is my valley?
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Clear blue skies

 

 

Green! Purest Green!

So I got home early due to it chucking it down with rain. Perfect excuse to lounge around on the sofa and rest the foot and take it generally easy. So what do I do? Go for a run!

Running in the rain (when it’s not cold and windy too) is great, especially at this time of year. You can almost hear the vegetation growing and everythings so … so …. green!

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Greener than purest green!

The foot hurt but not too bad, I think I’m trying to protect it too much from impact and curling it so tried to relax and just enjoy the green!

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Even more green!

Got to the beach and it was grey, mizzle and all.

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Mizzle approacheth

The tide was just about far enough out to have a quick run on the rocks again which was great to be able to do even if it twinged a bit.

Then on the way back I saw it!

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200 yards of pure driftwood!

The tides had been kind, so much driftwood, so few arms and working legs :/  I did scout out a few nice pieces which I may come back for but I’ll leave that up to chance. What the sea giveth the sea taketh away.

The run back was much more tiring than I thought it would be. The break has done my fitness no good but I’m sure if I take it slow and steady i’ll get there.

SPeaking of slow and steady

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Ok so it includes my quarter mile warmup and a few breaks to ogle driftwood and then failing to stop my watch but i’m happy just to be moving again!

 

 

New shoes!

This one’s specially for slowrunnergirl

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Altra Lone Peak in bright yellow! I figured I deserved a treat after the last few months (Any excuse for new running shizz)

I specifically went for these after much reading and research as I was looking for the zero drop, midsole cushion and the wide toe box – especially the wide toebox. My long toe – index toe – wiggly toe next to big toe – whatever toe that is tends to arch up and then curl over the big toe – It doesnt look right and I’m pretty sure its not good for my foot. So I figured I needed to give them some breathing room down there when they get a good pounding on a run.

I’ve only worn them for a few miles so far but they are oh so comfortable – and thats on an injured foot, I cant wait to glide around in pure bliss once I’m healed (he said in blind optimism and pretending the rest of him doesnt hurt when he runs)

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Trail clogs!

‘Supdate

Figured it was time to keep peeps in the loop (he said pretending that peeps have time to care) so here goes!  Since the Preseli Beast I decided to rest the foot again. After all I figure that the pounding it took wasn’t the best for it.

In fact it recovered pretty well but still testing a run for a few steps was painful and it felt like back to square one so I bit the bullet and went to see a physio – luckily a friend of mine .- Yes yes I should have done it before but ….I dunno why I didn’t think of it earlier.

So the verdict is probable plantar fascititis (pf) although it’s a bit of a mystery why it’s not manifesting in heel, after rest and top of foot hurts. We think it’s tied into my old  aqchilles tendonitus. Having done some more reading I’m reckoning my tendons and joints are all on the wonk.

So it’s time to say bugger rest and hello physio – from my friend and from myself.  Stretching, rolling, much ice etc  Which to be fair I’ve been doing but time to ramp it up!

When I got home last night I fancied a test run, I had new shoes which should help with my feet issues! (Will post a pic later) And after manipulating it all day in work it felt good.  I only did the 2 and a half miles to the beach (and didn’t take watch and camera as I didn’t want to pressure myself into continuing if it felt bad – that’s kinda sense for me!)

It ached and felt sore underneath but that kind of gave way after a while and I could enjoy feeling how unfit I have become! It was wonderful to be out in the sun doing “my” run again though. I took the pace really slowly and made sure I was hitting the ground with as little impact as possible. I guess I’d better get used to this if A I want to stay uninjured and B I want to progress to longer distances .  See  Slowrunnergirl I do take some notice (By the way this is a great blog to read if you’re interested in the benefits of slow running) Anyway as I said no camera –  So I better give you a stock photo as I know you all miss them :p

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Panoramic photo of Monknash Beach

I iced and stretched and rolled upon my return and then a bit of rest and the news I feel is good. Although it throbbed a bit yesterday it’s feeling fine today. I’m tempted to run again tonight but the common sense demon (As I shall now refer to it) is telling me to rehab it and not go mental again for a while and exacerbate matters.

So all in all things are looking up, I feel like after over 2 months (Wow!) progress is being made. I’ve developed common sense and have learned and am still learning lessons.

I know injury posts are boooooring so kudos if you stuck it out this far!

 

 

 

Preseli Beast – Debrief (no badgers)

A couple of days later I’ve had time to think about what went well and what didn’t at the Beast Mawr on saturday. So warning this is meant as something I can read an consider before my next race and hopefully before the same race next year too. Might give some thoughts to those just starting to enter events as I am.

What went well …. I’m here to type this so I didn’t croak on a hillside somewhere?

Seriously though, getting to the venue early was good, perhaps not the few hours I did but it did give me chance to chill out and relax rather than rushing off to the start line.

Half zip running tops work for me. I tend to get very hot as I run and the ability to open up the zip to allow more airflow was great to cool down.

Recognising I was struggling and forcing myself to slow down and accept I’d be passed a lot. I’m a competitive wee beastie by nature, no-one likes being passed in a race, I think that’s natural. Realising that I was going to have to slow down because of the foot injury meaning half the field was going to pass me was hard at first to swallow. I sucked it up and told myself I was doing well to still be running at all let alone trying to hold places. As it dawned on me I was doing all I could I realised how meaningless these places were, no-one but me cared where I finished, my friends and family cared that I DID finish, once I worked that out I felt fine. (For the record I was 120 out of 179)

My attitude to others out there was good, I didn’t feel much like being cheery, it’s hard to smile through gritted teeth but I’m so happy now that I thanked and smiled at every marshall and tried to acknowledge all the people supporting from their gardens and in the streets. None of them had to be there for hours to watch me limp past but they did and I’m glad I tried to repay their support at least with a gesture. Also as I mentioned earlier in the latter stages I got passed a lot – I took the time to gauge runners coming up behind me and then stepping aside and waving them through. It felt like courtesy and the vast majority said thanks, I think it took a few by surprise and for the one or two who didn’t acknowledge me – I hope you run up a hill on a screwed up foot one day … I don’t mean that but guys if there’s someone obviously struggling and in pain a word of encouragement or thanks for stepping aside means a lot.

Nutrition – My homemade energy bars seemed to do the trick now I think about it more clearly. I struggled early on but recovered well and I had no issues with energy later on, the lack of training was the issue so i’ll keep making them and hopefully I can judge their effectiveness on a course I know well soon.

Determination – I’m proud that I finished in some shape, I have that going for me, when I read this back before my next race I need to remember I can live with the pain, my head was strong on Saturday and it will be next time.

Things that didn’t go so well

Injury – I’m an idiot and I shouldn’t have run on that foot .. There I said it. I so so wanted to do this particular race that I risked further injury, have probably set back my recovery by a way and put myself through a world of pain just to complete it.  Would I do it again   – probably as sometimes I’m not very bright. But in retrospect there was a chance I would come through unscathed and I took it, a gamble that both succeeded and failed.

Hydration – It got pretty hot what with starting off at 12.30 in the afternoon, I took a Salomon squishy bottle with me so I could drink from it and then stash it in my flip belt. The problem being the water in the bottle got very warm as it was in my hand and carrying the bottle itself was a pain. I need to rethink how i’m going to hydrate in hotter weather as I tend to chuck a Nile full of sweat out.

Out too fast – It’s pretty hard in a race not to just stay in step with those around you even if they’re hitting a pace you can’t sustain. In retrospect with little recent training and an injury I should have skulked near the back but oh no I happened to be near the front of the pen and so that’s who I ran with …. Idiot (see an idiot shaped theme here?)

You know what – I’ll leave it at those three – To be fair to myself I’m not going to beat myself up, I did what I could and If I can address these three next time I’ll be improving and that’s really all I want to do.

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I forgot I took this one – That there in the background is the Beast! I’ll be back!

 

Ahhh so thats why they call it a beast

So yesterday was my second ever race. The Preseli Beast Mawr (little beast) – How hard can 11 miles be?

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I was up with the lark as I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get there, those west Walian roads can be small and twisty. As it turns out it was a simple enough 2 hour drive in the trailmobile.

Yes thats right yesterday was also the unveiling of the trailmobile. no not a new car but a ad hoc conversion. The back of my battered old mondeo is now converted to a pre race nervecentre and also post race sleeping accomodation. This could be a fun summer!

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Note the carpet underlay with multiple sleeping bags. Also the stylish homemade curtains to block out sunlight. Also note the kit strewn everywhere and bottle of cider front right

So I was an hour or so early and just chilled out in the Trailmobile (now capitalised) and got ready while chatting with some friendly guys from Swansea who were next to me.

I had 3 main worries, the race started at 12.30 and it was getting hot and I don’t particularly like the heat, I was woefully undertrained having hardly run for two months due to my major concern my foot injury. Still nothing I could do now but give it a go!

The race started from the centre of Maenclochog with a quick prerace briefing from the organiser Caz the Hat and we all had to hug people around us in a pre race show of solidarity. When you run alone these things can be awkward but luckily I was stood next to some pretty ladies.

And we were off! I take my hat off to the locals from the village who cheered and clapped us and even banged drums and rattled tambourines. After a few hundred metres of road we hit a gravelled farm track which led us to a wonderful marshy forest with single track wooden bridges throughout it. I spent most of the time just enjoying being out and praying the foot would be ok which it seemed to be, there was a slight ache but I could cope with that despite forgetting to take painkillers before setting off.

Out of the forest and the first hill, all good feeling fine. Nothing to it! Then down through a farm and through an old slate quarry. This was a lovely technical section with lots of twists and turns, ups and downs. I’d love to run this alone at my own pace when fit but was content just to be sensible and hold pace with those around me. A nice touch around here was Caz the Hat who had obviously taken a sneaky shortcut waiting to greet, encourage and fist pump every single runner going over a stile. This man has class!

Then another hill and this is where things started getting tricky as I suddenly felt awful, this was only a few miles in but I think the lack of training was starting to show itself. The gradient wasnt really enough to force a walk but it felt like there was nothing in the legs and the heat was getting to me.

I slowed and unleashed my secret weapon – My homemade chia, flax, date and raisin energy bars! (see this post for details)  I admit I found it hard to swallow the first one – mainly because like an idiot I crammed it all in my gob at once and then found I had to chew it for about 300 yards – Well it took my mind off things!

After a while I started to feel better in myself and spied another serendipitous opportunity – a fresh mountain stream. Much to the surprise of the runners around me I leaped from the track straight into it up to my calves in lovely cool water. It was worth a few seconds to drench myself.

Invigorated I reached the top of the climb and then we sailed across a beautiful mountainside towards the aid station at mile 5.

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The views at this point were simply breathtaking (If I’d had breath to take) – As I didn’t have a camera I’m borrowing this photo from the Preseli Beast website so photo credit goes to them – I’m sure Caz won’t mind)

Aaaaaand this is where the foot went …. running down and sideways on this path meant I was unbalanced with my bad foot on the uphill side and running at an angle hurt it. By the time I reached mile 5 the pain was getting bad and I was now favouring the other foot and the limp had begun.  Well I guess this is trail running, it’s going to hurt and no turning back now.

The next stage was across the moorland in the photo above in a steady climb until we hit the Beasts Back.

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Again no camera so photo taken from the Preseli Beast website – to give an idea of the climb

This hill/mountain/evil incline of ultimate pain seemed neverending. Much of it we walked, some of it I could run by staying on my toes to reduce the pain but climb it we did and what views from the top!

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Last stolen photo I promise – credit to Preseli beast website

Annoyingly my legs had come back to life and my breathing felt as good as it could be considering but the pain in my foot was now crippling me. It was time to simply dog it out for the last four or five miles or so. There’s a saying that kept running through my head at this point – It’s not the size of the dog in the fight its the size of the fight in the dog. Does anyone else get random mantras stuck in their head while running? I was telling myself that despite the fact that physically I was undertrained, injured and in a lot of pain I still had my head going for me. Time for fight in the dog to show up. I’d rather forget the downhills from that mountain. Normally I’d fly them, savour them and enjoy them but I couldnt impact the foot at all and so had to brake all the way down meaning my toes were being slammed into the toebox of my trainers causing more grief – It never rains but it pours!

Once back on level ground it was back through the forest again and into the village. And what a greeting, I was dead on my feet by this phase and just wanted to walk to alleviate the foot pain but I couldn’t give up with these people watching. It was like the whole village were in their gardens and on the road clapping and cheering. At that point it meant a lot – the whole run the marshalls and supporters had been fantastic and I tried to thank every one in passing. I limped over the line and what a relief to collapse on the grass! Now I know why they call it The Beast -even fit and uninjured that would have been a challenge.

Afterwards I waited around chatting and relaxing until the presentations. There was tea, cake, cawl all dished up by some fantastic volunteers.  In fact I have to say the whole village should be proud of the day they put on for the runners. It really felt like a close community showing their warmth to a load of strangers who pitch up to run around in their beautiful countryside.

The organisation was top notch. I take my metaphorical hat off to Caz the Hat who clearly loves the area, running and his event. He’s created something special there and I would heartily recommend it for anyone with an interest in trail running. There were of course the full beast (24 miles I think) and a 32 mile ultrabeast too. If i’m fit I’d love to try the full beast next year.

The gory details

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Slow and painful – But on the bright side I forgot to stop my watch at the finish so I can knock a few minutes off that!

Oh and the goodies – I nearly forgot the goodies – an awesome tshirt and a fantastic slate coaster! So appropriate, I’ll never forget that quarry – I’m coming back one day at speed!

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Despite the personal pain I really had a day to remember. You don’t get to say that very often. Beasted but not bested!