Well today I should be running the Preseli Ultrabeast as I did last year. Sadly I won’t be. The last few months have been a race in themselves in an attempt to rehab the left leg. It’s been a process thats been tortuous with good days and bad days, I honestly believed I could run it up until the middle of this week. I did a 7 mile test run on tuesday and it felt ok. And thats the kicker it didn’t feel good it felt ok and I knew I was favouring the right leg instead. It felt a bit like running on a glass leg – I was expecting it to break at any point.
So really then on wednesday when it was aching badly I knew deep down it was over for this year. I was going to give it a go but I knew deep down that it was going to cause much more damage, 7 miles is not 32 and not 32 over extreme terrain. Not going to lie I’m gutted. I love the Preseli races and look forward to it so much every year. I told a friend a while ago it’s like my late christmas day seeing as I dont like the real one much. And now I sit here writing this instead of running out on the hills all day. Sometimes I feel like saying to hell with it I dont need to run anyway, I have Murph I can walk with him and its as good, it would remove all the disappointment and frustration of not running and racing.
But you know what, that’s feeling sorry for myself, thats giving up, thats taking the easy route and this whole thing was never about taking the easy route. It’s been a long journey and I need to remember there are lows as well as the highs. Otherwise the highs would be meaningless.
So I’m going to finish off this post with some photos of the walks we’ve done recently. I’m going to walk back out the door and start again. I’m not giving up, this was always the long haul.
And by no time I mean im not running with a watch at the moment. Its a concious decision rather than I forgot to wear it. I figure all it does really is encourage me to look at pace and distacne etc when that really doesnt matter as I come back from injury. A watch can make you feel guilty about walking and right now I need to walk every now and again to rest the soreness. Its actually surprising what a few minutes of walking can achieve in relaxing the muscles again. If I look back I had reached the point where because I could run anything and everything I just did and at faster and faster pace – because I could and it felt good. Then i’d look at the watch and think wow 7 min miles – thats awesome – as my body slowly broke apart.
Sounds so sensible but the newfound commonsense (we’ve been here before I know) isnt quite there yet as I did 10 miles or so this morning through the rain and mist – but I loved being out again and actually running. I guess Murph did too …
Im still about, I just cant run much, or at least I could but I know its not going to do me much good in the longer run. The arse still hurts .. glutes are, legs whatever. I know when its not right and there are days I can hardly feel it, Its healing just taking its damn time. I did run/walk on saturday or rather walk/run and it was good to get going again but I cant really drive off it so Id rather wait until Im confident in it.
Perhaps its taking its time to heal as I’m walking on it so much. Murph needs long walks and Im happy to oblige so I’ve donned a headtorch and he has a flashy new collar with LEDs and we’re not letting the darkness beat us. I’m reckoning we’re doing around 40 miles of walking a week still which I guess is keeping me at some sort of level of fitness. Its frustrating but there you gp – that it seems is running half the time. Either injured or in the process of injuring myself. Still if youre gonna have a layoff this is the time of year to do it. I feel bad that I dont keep up with wordpress and you lot while Im injured … I turn off from running altogether, its easier when I dont think about it so sorry about that!
So the bit you all come here for instead of me whinging about injury – The photos – in no particular order
After work yesterday I wanted to get the seven miles to Witches Point and back done and see if there was any quad pain. If I can do that I can happily start on “mid range” runs again and the news is that I only suffered the usual pains of several miles of trail and beach. The quad withstood it well although I admit I’m protecting it more than usual. I though I felt a twinge but that was more likely injury induced paranoia!
Was so happy to get back and feel I can start building up for August now. Gradually of course, I figure I still have 6 weeks of training not including a weeks taper and I should be able to return to the form of Preseli in that time easily enough. I don’t see the point in pushing my body to get close to 32 miles in training, 20 will be fine again and like Preseli the rest comes together on the day.
Have been taking it easy since last weds as I did this.
But yesterday I thought let’s go – tide was out around 4 and the blazing sun buggered off (I prefer to be cool, sun is not really my friend)
So when did 6 miles become a “short” run for me. This has happened really without me noticing. It used to be 2-3 but now I don’t even consider stopping at the beach and always go further. It’s lucky as today it took me towards Witches Point. In a cave near the waterfall I spotted something bright red. I’m like a magpie when it comes to pretty colours and thusly distracted off I went to investigate.
The red? Well that was a boring traffic bollard thingy but what’s this I spy …..
What the hell do you do with a 5ft inflatable shark apart from photograph it. Well what you do is to spend ages learning how to deflate it and then run home carrying it in your beachcombing paws. I have long since to ignore the stares of people on the beach (MY beach you tripper types) as I hurtle (cough cough) past holding my latest bit of booty.
So now I have a a deflated inflatable shark too. Not sure what I shall do with it but I will think of something I’m sure!
Sadly I didn’t have my proper camera as I can’t find my flipbelt but I took this dodgy photo for you scenery types
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
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!
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!
Got to the beach and it was grey, mizzle and all.
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!
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
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!
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
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!
So yesterday was my second ever race. The Preseli Beast Mawr (little beast) – How hard can 11 miles be?
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!
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.
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.
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!
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
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!
Despite the personal pain I really had a day to remember. You don’t get to say that very often. Beasted but not bested!