There’s No Business Like Snow Business

10 Mar

I didn’t run for the rest of last week, but did a brilliant concert on the Saturday, followed by a less exciting day in chambers on Sunday.

T and I were up VERY early this Monday to fly to Norway to go cross country skiing. Tuesday was our first day, and in many ways best forgotten. T’s hope that I might have retained muscle memory from last year was dashed and a lot of the day spent with me swearing and extremely frustrated. Wednesday was a better day, mostly spent on easy trails but finishing with a big climb and descent. I still fell over a reasonable amount, but less. I was feeling pretty positive on Thursday morning and we headed off to explore part of a trail we were planning to ski the next day. The weather was vile, with no visibility and a strong wind swirling powder around. They were tough conditions for an underconfident, inexperienced skier and I really suffered. Demoralised and frozen, I crawled into bed. With a poor forecast the next morning, any hope of 2 long, back to back days to end our week had gone.

We headed out fairly late Friday morning and did some technical practice to try and improve my braking and steering and then headed off into the sheltered trails to escape the wind. It ended as a pleasant, sunny day.

And finally to yesterday: our last day. We were blessed with the best weather of the week and managed 6 hours out and about, enjoying good snow and stunning views. I even managed a lengthy descent without totally bottling it!

No time to run today after a slow journey home but hoping to see how the tendon is with some easy running.

I’ll end with a few gratuitous snow shots:

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Running Out Of Time

28 Feb

A bit of deja vu here, sadly. So, the last 2.5 weeks have been a bit mixed. The week before last I ran 60 miles and included some light speedwork. It seemed to go ok, but as the week went on I noticed the top of my right foot (around the ankle) was a bit sore. It tended to settle pretty quickly after a run, so I didn’t overly worry, and got through my 18 mile run ok, albeit I was aware of the pain, and realised (somewhat belatedly) that I’d somehow laced my new trainers differently, and so they were probably pressing on muscles/tendons that weren’t used to it. I adjusted them and hoped that would sort things out.

I started last week with a rest day and then a short, easy run on Tuesday. It was clear the tendons/muscles were still a bit achy. I ran a bit further on Wednesday and then had a sports massage. My masseuse did warn me that the massage would probably irritate the tendon a bit and I shouldn’t expect to be able to run for a few days. She wasn’t joking: walking to a meeting that evening was excruciating and walking to court the next day I was wincing, especially when I somehow jarred my leg. It did seem to settle a bit and on Friday/Saturday/Sunday I was able to cycle to and from work/meetings/rehearsals. In happier news, Z was given the all clear to put Cage Life behind him, and he was definitely pleased about this!  Here he is all blissed out on catnip, or perhaps just high on freedom!

On Monday this week things felt a bit better, and so on Tuesday I gave a short run a go. The pain was back and it stayed all day. Walking yesterday (Wednesday) was also painful, so I’ve taken the sad decision that the tendons clearly just need some time to recover, and if there’s one thing I don’t have in hand in terms of marathon preparation, it’s time. So the London Marathon is off for another year. I always knew it was a bit tight, although it’s a bitter, albeit familiar pill to swallow.

As always when injury has struck, don’t necessarily expect regular blogs. It’ll be as and when.

Life’s Small Pleasures

10 Feb

This week has been what used to be unremarkable: I’ve run 6 times covering a total of 55 miles.  But I haven’t done that sort of mileage since October, and so it feels pretty remarkable right now!

That’s the compressed version, here’s the fuller one:

On Monday I ran 5 steady miles in the evening after work.  On Tuesday I ran 12 miles, feeling surprisingly good (bearing in mind I’d done 11 miles on Saturday and 13 miles on Sunday the weekend before).  I had the pleasant luxury of a day out of court, and so this run was done in daylight.  In February it’s a rare weekday medium long run that gets done in daylight from start to finish!  On Wednesday morning I ran 5 miles to my sports massage appointment.  It was really good to finally have a massage (the last few have fallen by the wayside for unavoidable reasons: court hearings finishing later than I’d hoped and then Z having to be rushed to the vet after his accident) and the surprising news was that I’m relatively symmetrical.  Phew!

Thursday was a rest day to let my body recover from the massage (I tend to find that my legs are particularly sluggish when I have a massage for the first time in ages).  Plus I ended up having to work a bit late (10pm: definitely no time to squeeze any running into that sort of day…)  Friday was 12 miles in not amazing conditions, as the latest storm arrived, but having had over 48 hours post-massage recovery my legs felt wonderfully springy.  Saturday was 6 miles in really not great conditions: it was meant to be a recovery run anyway (i.e. as slow as it needs to be, to flush the legs out and let them loosen up), and then every now and then I’d hit a gust of wind that was so strong I was barely moving forwards at all.  I was pretty glad it was only 6 miles.  I took the rest of the morning nice and easy, pottering around at home, before heading off for a rehearsal and then amazing concert.  It was a wonderful programme (Tchaikovsky’s Romeo & Juliet Overture, Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique) and – if I say so myself – the orchestra played really well.  We were all buzzing afterwards and, had it not been for poor Z stuck in his cage at home, I would have stayed in the pub for more than 1 celebratory pint!

That left today: I worked in the morning/early afternoon and then headed out for 15 steady miles.  My legs were slightly tired, but the pace was still pretty reasonable and consistent throughout.  Although a grand total of 55 miles and a long run of 15 miles is some way short of what I’d normally be doing by this stage in a marathon campaign, it feels good to be doing the sort of mileage which might give me a chance of being in half-decent shape come London marathon time.

As for the cat, he is coping surprisingly well with cage life, and decided that his time out of the cage this afternoon whilst I worked would be spent relaxing in a small cardboard box:

I Just Called To Say…

3 Feb

The last 2 weeks seem to have been packed: Monday last but one was a long time ago!  I had a long day in court and had to dash home in order to turn around and get the cats to the vet for 6.45.  By the time T & I got home with them I was starting to feel really rough: I was hot, then cold, and absolutely exhausted.  I ate a little soup but really didn’t fancy anything else.  I had a bath and was asleep well before 9pm.  Even after 10 hours’ sleep I still didn’t feel great on Tuesday: I felt bloated despite having barely eaten and really weak.  I accepted I just wasn’t going to get a run done that day.  I did manage 9 miles on Wednesday, but felt really wiped out throughout and the pace was far from great.

On Thursday morning I felt worse, and was genuinely unsure if I was going to make it to court for a good hour or so.  Feeling marginally closer to ok, I headed downstairs and glanced at my phone.  I had 5 missed calls and 3 voicemails.  When your hear the words “I think I’ve got your cat … he’s been hit by a car” you heart flips a hundred times and you envisage so many awful things.  I got dressed as quickly as I could and T inhaled the end of his breakfast.  We had to drive 1.5 miles to collect Z (no, we had no idea he was wandering that far at night!) and then go to the vet.  On initial examination they were cautiously optimistic.  Z didn’t want to eat when he got home, but I hoped that by the afternoon he would feel better.  I went to court and then dashed home pretty much the minute the hearing finished.  Z was not looking well: his breathing was rapid and shallow and he still didn’t want food (and this boy LOVES his food as a rule).  Worried, I took him back in for another vet examination and he was admitted.  He had a pneumothorax so had to have air drawn out of his chest cavity.  X-ray the next morning, once his breathing had stabilised, showed that he had a fractured leg, which needs 4 weeks’ cage rest.  He was pleasingly happy to see me when I collected him and delighted to be home, but less happy about the cage.  All in all it been a physically and emotionally exhausting 2 days, coupled with only being able to tolerate very small, plain meals, so there was no way I was going to run.

I spent as much of the weekend as I could sat with Z, who in any event was exhausted and mostly slept.  I did pop out for a very easy 3 miles on Saturday and 4 miles on Sunday, but with T away I just didn’t feel comfortable to leave Z for long whilst he was still adjusting to the cage.

And so to this week: I’d found a wonderful cat sitter who was able to spend time with Z during the day when I was in court (I naturally had a full week of hearings!).  This enabled me to manage 5 miles on Monday, 7 miles on Wednesday (when my hands froze: I really underestimated the windchill and was fooled by the bright sunshine into thinking it might be above freezing) and 9 miles on Thursday.  Then on Friday, Bristol awoke to snow.  Rather a lot of snow by our standards:

My hearing in Taunton still went ahead, so I wasn’t back until fairly late.  By then the pavements were slushy ice-rinks, albeit in the dark it was really hard to spot the icy patches, and so it was another rest day.  I’m done with accidents and injuries, thanks!

Yesterday was icy but the roads were runnable and I managed 11 miles: my longest run of the year!  And today I topped that with 13 miles.  Perhaps I should have done 13.1 to hit that halfway point in a marathon…  Anyway, that made 45 miles over 5 runs, which is not bad going considering where I was just before Christmas.  More importantly, Z seems to be doing well (he is actually tolerating the cage so much better than I thought he would, bless him) and T is back home.  Next week looks a little quieter from a work front (I’ve requested this) and so I should be able to spend a bit more time at home with Z and get a bit more training and violin practice done.

Seeing Double

20 Jan

Last week feels like a long time ago, but for what it is worth my training log tells me I ran 6 miles on the Monday, 6 miles on the Wednesday, 7 miles on the Thursday, 6 miles on the Friday, 6 miles on the Saturday and 8 miles on the Sunday.  That makes a total of 39 miles.  My highest for quite some time!

I suppose last week feels so distant because Monday of this week was really difficult.  I blogged about the death of a school friend, although I didn’t ‘share’ the blogpost on social media, because it wasn’t really that kind of blogpost.  Her funeral was on Monday, and a funeral for a 39 year old with a young child is never going to be an easy thing.  There were a lot of tears, but also smiles as we reminisced about happy childhood memories.  I was pretty emotionally exhausted by the time I got home, albeit glad I’d been able to go.

From a running perspective, I ran 7 miles on Tuesday morning, 6 miles on Wednesday morning, 9 miles on Thursday evening and 6 miles on Friday evening.  I also cycled to and from work every day.  I’m not sure if my quads have got used to the cycling again just yet: it probably doesn’t help that I live on top of a hill and the climb home is a bit of a beast which certainly gets the heartrate up and the quads burning (quite a lot of people in Bristol have this issue/problem/training benefit, depending on your perspective).

For some reason I felt really flat yesterday, and it took until just after normal lunchtime for me to get out of the door to run.  Once I got going, it went well: 10 miles @ 7.52m/m.  Yes, a double digit run for the first time since probably November.  Certainly my first completely pain free double digit run in over 10 weeks!  In the evening I had a lovely concert: playing in the Marriage of Figaro for a local small opera company.  It’s hard to get to the end of Figaro without smiling, and eventually my mood lifted.  It was a very good workout for the arms: for most of the 2.5 hours I was playing!

This morning I was up fairly early to squeeze in 8 miles ahead of a rehearsal and then an afternoon of working.  The 8 miles ended up at the same pace as yesterday, although I was consciously pushing the pace because I knew I was cutting it fine to get 8 miles in and still leave on time to cycle to my rehearsal!

That makes 46 miles for the week, which is within spitting distance of the 50+ mile weeks which form the basis of my marathon training.  It’s still too early to tell if I’m going to get enough fitness back to make starting the London marathon worthwhile.  I want to, because I’ve not raced a marathon in nearly 2 years (London 2017 was the last one) – in fact, I’ve not really raced much at all in nearly 2 years! – but I also don’t want to start unless I am fairly sure I can finish in a reasonable time.  It’s something I’ll have to keep under review for the next 6-8 weeks as I continue to try and rebuild the miles and my fitness without my body breaking down.

Every Step Of The Way…

7 Jan

So, I began last week with 6 miles of run/walking on Monday. On Tuesday I also did 6 miles of run/ walking: as I said in last week’s blog, that session (which kickstarted 2019) was 4 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking. On Wednesday I covered the 6 miles as 4 mintes of running and 45 seconds of walking. I rested on Thursday: partly overdue a rest day, but also because for some reason I was sick on Wednesday. Lovely. On Friday, I was up (or down?) to 4 minutes of running and 30 seconds of walking.

This meant that come the weekend I felt able to try a continuous 6 mile run. And it was fine. So fine I did it again on Sunday! I even cycled into chambers and back afterwards (it’s fair to say 2 months of practically no cycling showed on the hills…).

Normally 36 miles of plodding and 1 cycle commute would be not just nothing special, but frankly a bit of a worry. Right now it’s an amazing feeling.

That Was The Year That Was

1 Jan

Welcome, 2019.

As for 2018, in pure running terms, it was far from ideal.  There were too many months where I did little or no running (January, February, May, November and December spring to mind, as I covered fewer than 100 miles in each of them).  I raced only a handful of times.  I covered a total of 1,640 miles, which is very little for someone who would usually run at least 200 miles a month (in 2017 my Garmin reckons I ran 2,354 miles and in 2016 the figure was 2,775).  And yet, having – perhaps appropriately – read Richard Askwith’s thought-provoking Running Free over the Christmas/New Year break, fundamentally, it has been healthy to reappraise my relationship with running.  Yes, there was a brief time in September/October when, as I rediscovered my fitness and speed/speed endurance returned, I did feel like one part of me was back, but the part of me which I really missed this year was the me that could run at all.  Running fast or (by my standards) well, is the icing on the cake,.  Woman cannot live by icing alone: in fact, woman can live fairly well without icing, but gets miserable without cake (to stretch the metaphor a little further!).

I’ve ended this year by returning to training through run/walking (let’s face it, after a 6 week lay-off with only a few sessions of aqua-jogging, I’m pretty unconditioned for running just now). I’ve managed 7 sessions and have built up to covering 6 miles, running for 4 minutes and walking for 1 minute.  The most recent session (this morning) was actually a fairly reasonable pace (8.11m/m, including the walking bits, so the running must be well under 8m/m aka standard plod pace).  Yes, I can tell my fitness is almost non-existent compared to where I was even 2 months ago.  But I genuinely feel so blessed to have my health and happiness right now.

In life terms, this year there have been some tragic losses, and difficult news for several people close to me, but also some wonderful plusses: most notably moving in with T, and then – just in the last few weeks – getting our two lovely cats, Z and J.

And as for plans for this year?  Well, I have a place in the London marathon (although if I don’t break 90 for the half or 3.15 for the marathon this year, my eligibility for the national championship race expires: that’s sobering!), and for what it is worth I have a schedule pinned up on the wall to cover the period up to that race.  But it all depends on how the next 4 months go.  My main aim is simply to not have enormous gaps in my training this year.