Today I am Sleepy and I probably will be all day, with perhaps a touch of Grumpy.
Why? Because I’m currently trying to process the gluten to which my body has long since told me I’m intolerant. During my last visit to the doctor I mentioned that in addition to all my other maladies I am wheat intolerant and that my uncle has Coeliac Disease. Apparently the menopause can bring on CD, so my doctor was quite insistent that I get tested as soon as possible. Did I also mention that I was menopausal? Oh it just gets better and better!
Sadly being tested for CD entails me eating as much gluten-containing food as I can for two weeks and then having a blood test. I started on Monday and, at first, didn’t notice much of a change. I was surprised, because a lot of the time I feel ill almost straightaway after eating wheat products. It’s now day five and I could sleep for Scotland. Lethargic isn’t the word; I feel totally drained and I’m struggling to get going in the mornings, even to go to my beloved gallery.
I also have a permanent stomach ache, which is just making me feel rotten. It’s not bad enough that my back is sore no matter what I’m doing but, for the next two weeks, I know I’m going to feel…well…shit. There is no better word for it!
I’m trying to make the best of it, enjoying foods I’ve forgotten I used to be able to eat. Normal and cheaper foods; cakes, biscuits, pastry – real bread! My breakfast today consisted of Tiger Loaf, lightly toasted. There is a gluten free Tiger Loaf made by Udi, but it starts to fall apart after the first couple of days. This was real bread. But, as much as I’m loving retasting these foods, I’m hating this. Roll on next Sunday!
I finally have a date to meet with the neurosurgeon up at Edinburgh to discuss my spinal surgery. It’s not until the end of March, but that means that my surgery should take place before the middle of April. It’s giving me something to focus on as my stomach churns over and over. I’m not second guessing what he will suggest, but I have been researching options just so that I can be informed when he speaks to me. I expect they hate people like me with Google on tap, but I need to understand in order to process the whole experience without going mad!
Excuse me now, I need to stand under the shower for half an hour in order to wake up!
After last week’s disastrous run and subsequent enforced rest (yes, I was a really good girl and actually put my feet up all week – I was really THAT worried!) I was more than a bit concerned by the prospect of today’s eight miler. Although R.I.C.E. and massage had helped loosen and heal my calf and Achilles so that walking was no longer painful, I hadn’t tried running since Monday last; a full week had passed by. I was finding that I could largely cope during the day, but coping left me tired out at night. I even passed up a party on Saturday, which isn’t like me at all. I was being ultra cautious.
So this morning I decided, after asking opinion on Facebook – my Jiminey Cricket – I opted for a treadmill run on the basis that whatever happened I would only ever be just within crawling distance of home! I also opted to run:walk 1:1 ratios – that’s one minute of walking to every one minute of running. I was going to finish without beating myself up; last week I’d had to take time off work because of my injury and I wasn’t doing that again!
Having set up the DVD player (Star Trek Voyager season 2) I also set up my Jeff Galloway app for the speed and interval calls. The pace was incredibly slow, I don’t know why. It was asking me to run at 8.9 kph, a pace I’ve never run at. I sped it up to 9.7 and then straight to 10.3 where, apart from a short time when I thought I was doing well and cranked it up to 11.3, it stayed. I wasn’t out to do a fast eight miles – I was just out to do eight miles and survive it!
Four kilometres in I got the chance to try my new gels from 33 Shake . These are made from chia seeds – the super powerade that the South American Indians use to fuel their running. The gels come in a pouch in a dry form, to which you carefully add water (or juice), shake up and leave to gel for 10 minutes and then they’re ready to go.
Apart from being a bit crunchy (being used to smooth and sticky sugary gels) the chia gels are great. These ones taste slightly of vanilla, Madagascan vanilla to be precise. They took maybe a bit longer to consume than a normal gel, but not by much, and I had no unpleasant after taste or indigestion. They are gluten and dairy free and also vegan. I had been a bit worried about the coconut palm sugar, being also nut intolerant, but the 33 Shake guys were very helpful and explained that there is actually no nut in the palm sugar. It’s just sugar.
All in all the gels proved a great success. I took one at 4km and another at 8km. Normally I wouldn’t had been so gel hungry but I’d had a bad night after a gluten reaction to something I’d eaten and that had left me “empty” – ask no more! I didn’t get a super strength reaction having taken the gels, but I was left with loads of energy, so I’m classing that as a win! I’ll get to test them more as my mileage increases. What I can tell you straight away is that they are easier to open (with a plastic cap that screws back on afterwards – I’m not one for littering the course, empty gels go back in my pocket!)
I can’t tell you much about my run. It lasted for just under two episodes of Star Trek. When I tried to increase my speed my knee started to complain, so I backed off and completed the run comfortably. I wasn’t being a hero today!
I’ve cooled down and stretched out, enjoyed a massive chickpea and avocado salad. I’m feeling pretty good and I’m looking forward to a trail run on Wednesday, fingers crossed.
That’s it – the first race of 2014 is well and truly under my slightly expanded festive belt. This race has become a bit of a pilgrimage for us. The 5k I had entered was part of a much larger festival featuring some world class cross country running. Unfortunately this had meant that the entire event had been moved back a week due to TV scheduling, something which had also meant that it wasn’t worth opening my gallery after the Christmas break for a day only to close it again the next day! I know that I wasn’t the only runner who would have preferred the run to have been on the previous weekend. I hope next year that it is moved back!
We arrived at the hotel in Leith, some two miles out of the city centre, late on Friday afternoon. After checking in we went across to the Ocean Terminal (which houses shops, department stores, a large cinema complex and many restaurants) and headed for Bella Italia where I knew I could get gluten free pasta and pizza. A mixed bean salad and lemon risotto was a welcome pre-race meal – filling and packed with energy. We retired early and, having turned off the noisy ventilation, enjoyed a good night’s sleep. My only worry was sleeping in. I’d set my phone alarm to wake us up, but as it was a new phone I was worried I’d done something wrong! I hadn’t and we were eventually woken by “Oh I do like to be beside the seaside.” It was a cold, frosty but clear morning with ice on the ground and bright sunlight bouncing off the buildings around us.
We’ve got the journey to Holyrood Park down to a fine art. The 35 bus runs every 20 minutes, collecting us from immediately outside the hotel and deposits us a short walk from the park just 10 minutes later. I’d decided that catching the 10:08 bus was cutting things a little fine and so decided on the 9:58 bus instead. The race wasn’t due to start until 10:45 and I didn’t need to check my bag in as I’d put what little I needed in my rucksack and hubbie would hang onto that for me. We wandered around a little bit, but the grass was very muddy after a huge amount of rain and it was very cold. Rather than risk getting chilled I went into the baggage drop area to take off my jackets, put my phone arm band on and find a silver foil sheet from my bag to wrap around me. These are amazingly effective and more than made up for me losing two coat layers.
By the time I’d wandered to the start area the warm up had already started. I entered the back of the green corale and joined in with what I could (whilst hanging onto a silver sheet). Before I knew it the hooter had been hooted and we were off!
I’d set my Jeff Galloway 5k app to 9 min miles (which was pushing it a bit for both me and the course!) and running 4:1 intervals. The predicted finish time it had given me was just under 29 minutes. If I was fitter this might be possible, but truth is I’ve had to rein my running right back recently. This has just about cured my Plantar Fasciitis, but also left me gloriously underprepared for anything!
You run along for a quarter of a mile and then you start to climb. And climb. And climb. And climb. In fact you basically climb for three quarters of a mile going from 40m up to 125 m in that time. It’s tough and I’m incredibly envious of those people who can run the whole thing. I managed to stick to my run:walk schedule for the first two intervals, but then I got caught behind slow runners and walkers. I do wish that they would, like I do, think about others trying to get around them and move across to one side. The path is narrow and it’s packed. If you get folk running slowly, especially with running partners, they effectively form a slow moving wall in front of you. After a walk break I was stuck behind a wall and tried to run on the sift grass to the right of the path, but this just zapped my strength and I ended up walking again not long afterwards. Next year I’ll keep right across to the left and see if that helps!
My first mile reflects the hill climb, the running walls and all too frequent walk breaks and came in at 12:19. Although the climbing continues after the first mile it does so at a lesser pace. I managed to pick up my pace and stick to the set walk breaks. And enjoy the views! On the climb all you get to see are loads of backsides! Once you get to the top of the hill the whole of Lothian opens out in front of you and you feel as if you are on the top of the world. Enjoying the view also gives you chance to enjoy the race. Mile 2 came in at 10:31. Better, but my average pace was still over 11 min/mile pace.
However the best bit about this race is the last mile. It’s downhill. Well pretty much all downhill. Flat out downhill. Magic! I picked up my heels and leaned into the hill and went for it as safely as I could. I felt good. No heel or calf pain, but a little hip pain in my right hip. It was nothing that was going to slow me down. My best pace was 7:04 min/mile.
The last third of a mile is on the flat and I must admit I was tiring out. Last year I had my hubbie to spur on to the finish and this spurred me on. This year it was all about me. I had to focus on catching someone ahead of me, so I randomly chose a girl ahead and raced to catch her. Amazingly I caught her as we crossed the line. My last mile was 8:34, one of the fastest miles I’ve ever run.
My 3:13 miles came in at 32:34.2 Garmin time, 32:35 chip time giving me an overall pace of 10:25 min/mile. I am happy with that. If I’d had less time off through injury, trained more and covered more miles I might have been a little disappointed not to get closer to 30 minutes, but instead I accepted the time gratefully. I’d knocked 4 minutes off last year’s time (chaperoning my hubbie), run my own race (pretty much) and not suffered any real pain as a result. Today I’m a bit stiff in the right hip flexor and unsurprisingly my quads are aching like mad! I’ve done 30 minutes of yoga this morning which has helped with the muscle ache and stiffness. At least the aches show that I tried very hard!
I received an excellent Goodie Bag as ever, complete with a T-shirt and medal. Unfortunately there wasn’t one thing in the bag I could eat – everything either had nuts or gluten in it! Hubbie thinks that it’s Christmas all over again!
We didn’t stay to watch the cross country. We had to get back to the hotel so that I could shower and vacate the room before 2pm. As it was we were out before 1 o’clock and then went for a very cheap lunch at the Handmade Burger Company in the Ocean Terminal. I’d been given a voucher for a £1 burger which meant that we only paid full cost for one meal. On the menu there were a few gluten free vegetarian/vegan options and I chose a chickpea and quinoa burger – which was delicious. Highly recommended!
Will I do this next year? Yes, of course! It’s expensive for a 5k, but not as expensive as some events I’ve recently seen advertised. I’m determined to conquer that climb! I’d love to knock a minute off my time, at least! Above all I like the fact that we are in a city I love. We make a weekend of it – enjoy relaxing in familiar places, visiting favourite haunts. It’s not just about a race; it’s about tradition.
On Saturday I’ll be running in BUPA’s Great Winter Run in Edinburgh. It’s a race I’ve done for the last couple of years, chaperoning my reluctant running husband around the demanding route up and around an extinct volcano in Scotland’s capital city. ‘Chaperoning’ isn’t maybe the best word I could pick – ‘bullying’ is probably more apt. Poor Grant. At the end of the first race in 2011 he said he thought he would die, after last year’s he thought he was going to be sick. How annoying, then, that I looked (and felt) as if I could run it again! Last year he announced that enough was enough, he wasn’t a runner (even though his 5k PB was an impressive 32:19 – not bad for someone who only trained for this race) and next year he’d be support crew. Although I miss bullying him (although I’m sure I can find other times/ways to do that), I’m quite pleased that this year I will be running my own race.
However this week has been a bit of a anti-climax. Our 16 year old Collie dog, Badger, has spent the last couple of weeks quickly deteriorating health-wise and our usual plans to make a weekend of this race went straight out of the window. He was our priority. We changed our plans to travelling the two hours to Edinburgh early on race morning and then coming home immediately afterwards. My son would be on hand to watch him whilst we were away. Sedated anyway, having suffered repeated seizures since before Christmas, he didn’t go far or do anything for that matter.
Yesterday, though, we made the sad decision to let him go. The seizures weren’t improving, the drugs weren’t working and the dog he once was, the happy go lucky bouncy Collie, was disappearing behind a veil of age inflicted maladies. We didn’t want that, for him or for us. He crossed the Rainbow Bridge last night. And we miss him.
Hesitantly and tearfully we are remaking plans. Today is a beautiful and calm day – the first for a while here in south west Scotland. I have my running gear on and my wee dog, Murphy, is desperate to get out and run with me. Once upon a time Badger would have joined us, but eventually it became apparent that he simply couldn’t keep up anymore. Try as he might. The dog that saw my running obsession start five years ago will today join us in spirit. And I know he’ll be there. Only this time he will be able to keep up, unfettered by old age, arthritis and lung congestion. Today’s run will be for him. And I can’t stop the tears from flowing.
We’ll travel to Edinburgh tomorrow and I’ll be fuelling up at Bella Italia at the Ocean Terminal, where they cater for those of us following gluten free lives extremely well. Hubbie and Murphy Dog will form Support Crew on the day and I plan to run 3:1 ratios up and whatever I can down the hill. If I can get close to my 30:32 5k PB I’ll be happy. I haven’t trained much – thanks to Christmas, New Year and that ever present Plantar Fasciitis – so whatever I achieve will be gratefully received! My foot feels good at the moment and Monday’s trip to my chiropractor helped loosen that calf and Achilles Heel off further.
As the first day of 2014 it’s a very dull, rainy and windy one. Which is a terrible shame. I had high hopes last night in the local pub of doing fantastic things today. However I’ve long since found that plans made in the pub, Guinness in hand, are often poorly done. Instead I have cooked a hearty Lentil and Mushroom Shepherd’s Pie and started planning my race calendar. If you want my gluten free vegetarian recipe, please ask. It is delicious, even served with aging Brussel Sprouts.
The Edinburgh Half is part of a bigger running festival which also includes a 5k, 10k, a full marathon and a Team Relay (amongst other things). Last year I did the Rock’n’Roll Half in Edinburgh. It was a terrible weekend and I struggled in vain to better my GNR time on the day in gale force conditions. This year the organisers have decided to move the event to the end of June, possibly in an attempt to avoid bad weather (although as this is Scotland that mightn’t be possible!) This year, however, I thought I’d treat myself to a more PB friendly course and do it a month earlier when the weather might be a little cooler. I’ve gone the whole hog and booked the caravan into Silverknowes and bought us Park and Ride bus tickets to get us to and from the start and finish.
The Fleetwood Half Marathon takes place on the weekend after my 50th birthday so it will be my first of my fifth decade. Really I should be looking at lovely hotels and booking myself a pre and post race massage, but I’m guessing I’ll be checking out the local campsites and settling for a brisk rub down with a fluffy towel. This is known as racing on a tight budget! I don’t know much about this race at all.
Last year, in great pain, I completed the Great Cumbrian Run. This year I’m determined that my 13.1 miles won’t be as uncomfortable. It was nice to do a local half marathon (most of the local ones seem to take place on a Saturday and I have a gallery to keep open) and take in places I’d visited before in less arduous conditions. I’d like to run through the villages with more of a smile than a grimace! So that was on my ‘To Do Again’ list.
I’ve got a few other shorter races on my list – Kilomathon 13.1k, X Borders Challenge 10k (Gretna to Carlisle), Gallovidan 10k (Dumfries), Jedburgh 10k – but I haven’t entered any of those as yet. I think if I concentrate on completing three half marathons without huge problems that will be enough.
On my Daily Mile profile there is a section entitled ‘Goals’. Last year it said something like ‘To run a 5k in less than 30 minutes, a 10k in less than 60 minutes and to PB my half time”; this year it says simply
“To run my own race and not care what anyone thinks!”
That’s the only resolution I’m making, the only goal I’m setting. I’ve spent far too long worrying about what others say and think. This year I intend hold my head high and do my own thing, at my own pace.
Oh my goodness, where do I start? I’ve just completed what was a lovely half marathon route, but only just. The Great Cumbrian Run is a well attended race, with in excess of 1400 runners, which starts and finishes in Carlisle. Better than that, you actually get to start from inside Carlisle Castle, run out of the quadrangle, through the castle gates and into the centre of Carlisle city. How many races can boast that?
We arrived early, worried that we might not be able to park. In reality there was plenty of parking, although we didn’t try to get too close to the start/finish area – something I would come to regret at race finish! I collected my chip, attached that to my shiny Nikes (honestly, who wears WHITE trainers?) and took advantage of the plentiful toilets.
At about 15 minutes to the off an official asked all the non-competitors to leave the area so I said goodbye to hubbie and went away to avoid the warm up. I wasn’t alone – lots of runners stayed well back, doing their own thing. I don’t mind warm up, what I hate are the pre-race stretches everyone is encouraged to make. You can almost hear hamstrings twanging.
We started bang on 10. The cathedral bells chimed us across the start line, the spectators cheered us on. We ran straight into the city centre, which was a delight. The route through was barriered off and lined with folk sending us off on our way. I found hubbie at the far end of the pedestrianised area, called and waved and headed off down Botchergate. It was odd running through a city I know well, running past bars and clubs I have frequented on lazier days!
I didn’t look too much at my watch. The hills caught my attention more! I had met an ex-pupil at the start who had done the race before and warned me about the hill heading out of town and another at mile 3. I think she left a few out, but those were pretty tough! We climbed up along London Road, heading towards the M6, before turning left and out into the countryside.
I hit mile 3 at an encouraging 30:22, but my plantar fasciitis was already making itself known.
We passed through the villages of Cumwhitton and Wetheral, both quite well to do areas, supported all the way by locals. I high-fived I can’t remember how many children; it was a bit like the Great North Run in that respect. The hills were hard work with many of us walking up the worst of them.
I made 6 miles in 65 minutes – again not bad pace for me, but by then my right IT Band had started to tighten up, a lot. On walk breaks I took to hitting it in order to get the blood flowing, but that worked only briefly. I was fine on the flat and on downhills, but uphill was very hard work!
I started to really struggle at mile 7, taking far too many walk breaks for a decent time. My mile times dipped to 12 and 13 minute miles as I began to limp. I felt strong – if my foot and ITB had behaved I think that I might have got a good time, but they didn’t and by mile 9 I was in pain.
I met another runner, Emma, who had been running since the beginning of the summer and was running for Ataxia, spurred on by a recent diagnosis of a young girl. We yoyoed a bit as I took walk breaks, but eventually crossed the line more or less together. At a particularly anxious stage of the race for me, at mile 11, when I was in severe pain with both my instep/heel and ITB, she came to my rescue. She ran with me through Rickerby Park, telling me about herself and then asking me about myself until we reached a hill that I just couldn’t run up. I took a walk break, but caught her up a bit further on. When she started to falter at mile 12 I took her hand and we ran together for a while until she felt better. This is the first time I’ve experienced this and without Emma’s help I might not have finished at all, despite my own determination. I needed an angel.
My app stopped short of the finish, about a mile short. I restarted it so that I could benefit from greatly needed walk breaks, but ended up just running when I could. As I ran through Bitts Park I kept Emma in my sights and just kept going. I saw hubbie as I rounded the corner into Sheepmount Stadium. I thought that I had a lap of the course to do, but it was only half a lap. I ran as fast as I could through the line, but by the end I was completely spent. I couldn’t lift my leg onto the bucket for the chip to be removed, the pain in my leg was that bad. I could hardly move, but saw hubbie just beyond the finish area.
I started to see stars and realised that this meant that I was about to pass out. I hadn’t noticed that my breathing had become rapid, shallow, raspy gasps and that I was running out of air. We made it to some seats and I took my asthma inhaler, starting to feel better within a few minutes. It was scary, but passed quickly.
The bling was very nice and I also got a T shirt which, in time honoured fashion, I am wearing!
The walk back to the car was complete murder.
Having parked at the other end of Bitts Park we had to walk for about 10 minutes. OMG. My foot ached, my ITB was taut and my hips were sore. I was a total mess! However, after a quick change of clothes, a soya milkshake and a Nature Valley bar I felt better.
Having been home for a few hours now I have bathed, applied Deep Freeze to my legs and sat for the Grand Prix with my foot on an ice pack. I’m starting to feel slightly hungry and slightly more human. I will sleep tonight. In fact, I might not make it to tonight!
Special mention has to go to EventClip, whose fab clips held my number in place, didn’t spoil my vest and looked pretty cool. I saw one other runner using them as well!
What next then? Well I am booked in to do the Jedburgh 10k at the end of October. Hopefully my foot will heal in time for that. I’m now considering buying a night splint to stretch my foot – hell, I’ve tried everything else! My next run will be a short recovery run once my foot feels better!
My husband describes me as a star struck teenager. That’s not quite true, but I have been riding on the crest of a celebrity wave since yesterday.
We’re on holiday, staying at a campsite at Brora in Sutherland. It’s 50 odd miles north of Inverness and 40 odd miles short of John O’Groats, so not far off the top of the country. We arrived on Thursday and went for an exploratory walk out of the campsite to be greeted by a beautiful, fairly clean, sandy beach beyond the golf course that lies between the campsite and the shore. Please don’t tell anyone how wonderful the beach is because every time I’ve been down there it’s been deserted. There’s two miles of brilliant running when the tide is out, four if you turn round and go back. Apparently there’s another mile if you head up to the golf course.
On Friday morning I donned my Sketcher GoRun minimal trainers, collected my eager to run Jack Russell and headed beachwards. Unfortunately the tide was in and this made running quite difficult. It certainly slowed me down, especially when the sand was either too dry or too full of water. Finding a middle ground was difficult. However I persevered and managed a reasonable 5k in 35 minutes without trying too hard.
I wondered about heading out on Saturday as well, but as my hip flexor has been really tight of late, I decided instead to spend the day doing some walking and stretching. We walked two miles along the beach and a further three into town and back.
On waking on Sunday morning I could see that it was going to be another scorcher (we’ve been experiencing wonderful weather in the UK over the last few days) and decided that an early run along the beach was the best idea, so again I donned my GoRuns and hitched up the dog. We ran south along the beach to its farthest point before you have to turn towards the town and from there I could see a runner heading along the cliff towards us. Murphy hasn’t been very well behaved when he sees people on the beach, I don’t know why other than the one guy he did run after was walking in a really aggressive way – arms and legs flying about. I was wary of him chasing the runner (and perhaps biting him) so I kept an eye on how far behind us the other runner was. He wasn’t making up much ground, but by then I was throwing a few intervals into the mix, effectively stopping and starting. I decided to stop, put Murphy on the lead and let the runner past.
But the runner didn’t pass. Instead he stopped and came across to chat. And when he did I suddenly realised that I was talking to Ally McCoist, the ex-Scotland soccer player and the now Rangers manager. He asked me how long the beach was and, after me acknowledging who he was – OK, I admit it, I told him I was a big fan – we chatted a bit more before he shook my hand and ran on. The dog wasn’t at all bothered by him, so I chanced it and let him off the lead and followed Ally along the beach. By the time he reached the end of the beach I’d caught him up again and so I asked if he minded me running back with him as our pace was so similar. We chatted as we ran, about our families, the team, running and such-like. It was a very pleasant run and I wondered if should run at this easy pace with a partner more often. I felt comfortable and happy to run.
I left Mr McCoist’s company half way back to get back to the campsite, although I was happy for the company and the pleasant chat. Ally came across as a nice bloke, easy going and, well, ordinary. He wasn’t a “celebrity” in the bad sense of the word. He asked me as many questions about me and my life as I asked him about his (although I was careful not to be intrusive – I’m sure no one in his position likes being grilled about his personal life. I restricted my questions to his professional life.) We shook hands again and told each other how nice it was to meet each other. I wasn’t starstruck, just happy to have met a nice guy to run with.
Delighted to be running with me, as you can see.
As you can imagine I was eager to get back and tell my husband who I’d been running with. So eager I managed to walk across a fairway with golfers teeing off. Oops. They missed me and I’m here to tell the tale!
The rest of the day was spent watching Andy Murray win the Wimbledon Men’s Title and Vettel win the F1 German Grand Prix and feeling decidedly unwell. After returning from my run we had a sausage breakfast. When I ate mine I sensed something was wrong, they just didn’t taste quite right. Subsequently I spent too much time on the loo or curled up in a sleeping bag yesterday afternoon and evening. I feel better today, although I’ve put my 8 mile long run on hold until later or maybe even tomorrow when my strength will have built up a bit more. I don’t think that I have enough in reserve at the moment.
Where I run depends on the tides. I could do several lengths of the beach or I could venture out into Brora. I know that it’s three miles into town and back, but I still need another five. I may have to buy a map or get a decent interweb signal at a local cafe in order to research possibilities. Heading out blind, I’ve found, isn’t a good idea when you’re running in an area you’ve never really been to before.
In the meantime I’m enjoying the sun and the peace. Life is grand.