The Comeback Queen

This is how one of my runner friends referred to me today. I’ve been the queen for some time, apparently because in one photograph I looked slightly like Helen Mirren (from a distance and with a squint!) However today I was proud to be known as The Comeback Queen.

And the reason for that is very simple; today I ran my first 10k race in five years.

I chose the hardest of the 10k races I could. Why? Well I thought it would be a good gauge of how I am, fitness-wise. All of my training had been done on the flat, or fairly flat anyway. Running the many hills of Jedburgh was going to be a challenge and, if you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll understand that I don’t run from a challenge. Sometimes I run headlong towards it, ignoring all advice!

I won’t be sharing a blow by blow of the event. It was cold, windy, sunny and hilly (have I mentioned the hills enough yet?) It was actually perfect running weather, apart from the wind (and the hills).

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Before! I can’t tell you how nervous I was!

I ran Run/Walk/Run intervals, which I altered as I ran – the first time I’ve done this more than once in a race. It kept me on target, right to the end. If anyone was at all snooty about the fact that I was walking at regular intervals, they soon got to see my backside as I went past them!

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Coming into the finish straight

I completed my six point two miles in 74:07, which is just six minutes more than my slowest pre-op time. That is a great time! I am still overweight, carrying a stone more than I should be, so I’m looking forward to some faster running (although the recently consumed celebratory chocolate fudge cake might slow that accomplishment down a tad!)

 

 

One down.

What’s next?!

Small Gains

Yesterday I walked to the pub. I was so excited about it, I put it on Facebook and my friends congratulated me on my huge achievement. I had walked to the pub! It was a considered walk and, at times, strange as I adopted a cycling type step to help me through the soreness towards the end. I got there though and going back was altogether easier, thanks to the few shandies I had!

The pub is barely a quarter of a mile away.

Since my lumbar nerve root injection two weeks ago I’ve not noticed any real difference. I was told it could take up to two weeks to take effect. Last week I walked the dog from my shop in Dumfries to the parcel office and back, which was a huge achievement, but I suffered afterwards and had clearly overdone it. Until yesterday I hadn’t really tried again.

This morning, as a I rolled over, my back gave an almighty crack. It’s done this before and in the back of my mind that crack is the undoing of the natural bone fusion which will mean I don’t have to have surgery. I hate it. And I’m partly too frightened to find out and partly too mortified to go to a very busy neurosurgeon and tell him that “My back cracked.” If I mentioned it to my husband I know he would dismiss it as nothing and I’d feel foolish, which is why I’m telling all of you instead – like admitting guilt to a secret diary.

However, despite my enormous crack (I thank you!) I actually feel fine this morning. No soreness in my hip or legs, just a nagging pain in my back which I feel more and more these days. I lay on my left side for the first time in a year and a half this morning. I can’t remember looking at the bedroom from that angle! Today, as it’s gloriously warm and sunny and my day off, I shall attempt to mow the grass out the back (which neither of us has yet attempted this year and which is in danger of being declared a Nature Reserve!)

I’ve approached a couple of gyms in the town about membership. I’ve never joined a gym for anything other than casual membership, so to commit to a year’s worth of use is a big step. The two I looked at were like chalk and cheese, one tiny and crowded – the other huge and roomy. Despite a slightly larger cost and being slightly further away, I’m going for membership of the bigger gym. My initial idea was that if I went to the nearer and smaller leisure based gym, I could leave the dog in the shop on hot days and walk there. The further away large chain gym will mean me having to drive out and then drive back to collect the dog. It’s not too far and he’s used to being at the shop.

I got on the scales yesterday for the first time in ages and got a very pleasant surprise. I’ve not been dieting, or even watching what I eat, and lately have been bringing a lot of takeaways home, but I’ve actually lost weight! I’m still a full stone heavier than I was when I was running, but less than I was post-Christmas. I think I’ve actually been too busy to eat!

Tonight I shall buy myself a swimming costume. The two I have are yonks old and should be consigned to the bin. I shall also get out my running leggings and see what still fits! Mr Khan, the neurosurgeon, was very specific in what I’m allowed to do and said I’m to try treadmill walking (initially on the flat), stationary cycling (I’m allowed to use the Spin Bikes too!) and swimming using a variety of strokes. When I start to improve I can join a pilates group and use a hilly programme on the treadmill. I know I’ll feel as if I’m starting again at the gym, but I shall make a point of wearing every half marathon T-shirt I’ve won, just to quietly let people know where I’ve been.

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Festive Fat Felling

It sounds far more adventurous than calling it weight watching, doesn’t it? I’m Festive Fat Felling!

Since last writing I’ve really stuck to my calorie reduced living. I’m not dieting as such; all I do is note down the calories in what I eat, try to stay around 1200 calories a day and drink plenty of water. Sometimes I’m just over and most times I’m just under. I’m still eating platefuls of delicious food and drinking my beloved gin and, most importantly, I don’t feel as if I’m dieting. For instance, tonight I’m having an Indian takeaway meal and I have plenty of calories left in the bank for a gin or two!

And I’m losing weight! So far I’ve lost 8lbs or half a stone in 13 days. I should know how much that is in kilos, but I really don’t care. I’m an imperial/metric crossover kid, still old enough to remember doing imperial maths at school and still young enough to remember being shown a 50p coin and gasping at its alien form. Some things I do in imperial measure and others in metric. It’s probably annoying but, again, I don’t care.

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I’m back at work and I have to admit that the three weeks I took off at Christmas have given me a false sense of wellbeing. When I do next to nothing I feel great. I’ve been back at work a week and I’m knackered. Not just sore, but very weary. I’m getting worn out by the constant pain and there is nothing I can do about it. I take the pills I’m prescribed and have a couple of (allowed, medically and dietary) G&Ts a night and then I try and get a night’s sleep. Those of you who have endured long term chronic pain will understand that there is no position of comfort for any length of time, whether it’s standing, sitting or lying. I’ve taken to sleeping with a pillow under my knees to try and take the pressure off my back. I can’t sleep on my left side because I still have bursitis and sleeping on my front hurts my back. So I try to move between lying on my back and lying on my right side as gently as I can. It hurts whatever I do so I rarely have a really good night’s sleep and that adds to my tiredness. Something else for me to moan about!

I’m really pleased, though, with my weight loss. I’ve said that I’ll try to lose a further 30lbs, with my goal being me being even lighter than I was when all this started. I might not achieve that and, to be honest, if I could just get back to my pre-injury weight, I’d be happy. Another stone would do that, so it’s not much to ask of myself and it would probably help with  my recovery post-surgery.

I’ve no news on that front. My doctor suggested a four month wait from referral, which takes me to April time. Whether that’s to meet the neurosurgeon and discuss options or not, I don’t know. I’ve scheduled a regular doctors appointment to keep on top of pain management and developments, which is helping me feel a little more in control.

Again, if anyone wants to befriend me on MyFitnessPal, I’m Paintergirl21. I’ve amassed a few very supportive contacts already from all over the world. We support each other’s achievements and give advice when its asked for.

And, as runners, we all know about motivation…

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The Wall of Used To

My running blog has rarely been just about running. If you can be bothered to look back, like many other running blogs, it’s often been about coping with injury and how that has affected the running that I’ve done. In many ways it became a ‘victory over adversity’ type blog, living up to its title ‘A Running Battle’. Of course adversity is presently having the upper hand and a year long battle with pain has meant that this blog is now chiefly about the ups and downs of pain management! It isn’t the blog I want or ever intended to have and I’m not sure what I can do to change that.

Many of my former followers have drifted away, probably bored by the lack of running stories. If I’m honest, I’ve stopped reading many running blogs because I’m not in the right frame of mind to read them without huge pangs of envy. How I haven’t run a jogger over yet is just a feat of mind over matter and hearing how my new-to-running friends are doing is pure perjury. Of course I admire them and encourage them, but deep down I am as jealous as hell. Walking past a wall full of medals collected over the last five years doesn’t help; it’s the Wall of Used To.

Yesterday I travelled to Carlisle to talk about my disability. It’s the first time I’ve been to Carlisle in ages, certainly the first time with the mobility scooter. Planning a journey to anywhere presents a whole lot of new issues which before I wouldn’t have considered. My husband summed it up perfectly at the meeting when he said “I look at disabled people in a whole different way now.” I was asked, as part of the interview, if I would be able to go to Manchester. Yes, of course, but I would have to Google it to death, I replied. We’ve recently changed the car to an automatic which would help with driving through town. Once there, I would have to think about where could I park so that I could access areas without the need to climb stairs. Once parked, I would need to have room to get in and out of the car (opened the door to its full extent and turning round in the seat to stand up using the roof to pull myself up), and then get the mobility scooter out and together. Then I’d have to navigate a route using decent drop kerbs (because some are like steps, rather than slopes!) and pedestrian crossings (because you can’t just step off the kerb and cross) and doors that open automatically. It takes planning. Nothing in my life is spontaneous any more. Every journey, every weekend away, every night out has to be pre-planned to the nth degree. It’s tiring. And sometimes degrading.

Today I climbed on the scales and got the shock of my life. I’ve put on a grand total of two stones in weight since this time last year. Running was always my way of keeping my weight down and staying sane. I might not have always felt like going out, but I usually felt better coming in! I need to lose weight. So I’ve linked up with MyFitnessPal again. It used to be a way of logging activity rather than weight. I’m hoping that it will be again. For the moment though I need a way of controlling my calorie intake and a way of monitoring my progress. I’ve opened up on their forum and asked for support. If you read this and are a member, look for paintergirl21 and ask for friendship. I need every friend I can get.

 

One Step Forward

I’ve never felt more strongly that the old saying ‘one step forward, two steps back’ could apply more adeptly to my situation. From a post of near elation the other day, where I’d finally made tentative running steps on my trusty old treadmill after six weeks of inactivity, I struggled to walk any real distance the following day without that familiar searing pain in my left hip. It stops me dead, that’s how sore it is. I’ve been caught within sight of the car and unable to move any further towards it without several rests and tears streaming down my face. It’s no joke.

But today, after a few days of rest and recuperation, I feel well enough to give another short run a try. I’m nothing if not determined; I will get back on track. I’m actually thinking of a two mile trail run with my faithful running partner, Murphy Dog, and, if I can persuade him, my hubbie. Having hubbie there will restrict my speed and stop me from doing anything silly.

Last year I ran 473 miles. I had wanted to round that up to 500 by Hogmanay, but it wasn’t to be. 473 was my total and I’m proud of that. I’ve run further in a year and trained for less races, but it’s not the quantity that’s important anymore, it’s the quality.

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2014 was a strange running year for me. I started the year with Plantar Fasciitis, which took an age to heal, and then picked up various injuries as I trained for three half marathons. I’d planned on a few more shorter races, but injuries and illnesses got in the way and I managed only a 5k and a 10k at either end of the season. I learned to listen to my body and opt out of races, missing two 10ks in mid-season. It took me a couple of frightening asthma attacks to start listening, but I got there. I finished the year with Bursitis on the hip, taking me into 2015 with a wince and a limp.

I’ve no idea what 2015 has in store for me, it’s probably better that I don’t know. I have decided to scale things down a bit though and just aim for one half marathon in October and concentrate more on improving my speed over shorter distances. I’ll be looking at more 5k and 10k races and I’m looking at some trail races too. Maybe I just overdid things last year and I’m paying the price now. I do vow to enjoy running in 2015, it’s the only resolution I’m making. Running with a smile has to be better than running with a grimace!

My 3 Rs: Recovery, Reassessment and Reinvigoration.

After almost two weeks of enduring a cold and struggling to do much more than get through a day’s work, I’m ready to start running again.

At least I think I am!

I’m actually sitting here changed and ready to run, waiting on my iPhone charging before I head off…to the bottom of the garden and my treadmill. My cold is still firmly lodged on my chest and it’s causing me to cough, which of course affects my breathing. I frightened myself a week past Sunday when I ran the Fleetwood Half – I really shouldn’t have run feeling the way I did. But I did.

I’m heading out to the treadmill so that I am in control of the distance, the speed and the location. I’m trying to be sensible!

I’ve looked at my running programme and I’ve decided to follow the finisher’s plan again. I’m not in the right place (yet) to look at improving. So far every half I’ve done since doing the Great North Run in 2012 has been worse. I just want to finish one around the 2:20-2:24 mark. I’ve not been far away, but far enough to make me feel as if I’ve been running backwards for a while. And I realise that there are valid excuses for this; valid excuses don’t make me feel any better.

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The cunning plan.

So my plan looks a bit like this! Long runs of 4, 12.5, 4, 14 and 5 miles before my race, all at 2:30/1 ratios and 11 min/mile pace hopefully giving me a 2:24 race time.

I’m trying to lose a bit of weight so I’m watching my calorie intake and portion size and plotting these on the My Fitness Pal app. If I lost a stone I think I’d be happier as well as lighter. I don’t look in the mirror wishing I was a stone lighter, I look OK, but I feel as if I’m ‘hauling ass’ at the moment. I’m naturally heavy. I don’t look my weight, I don’t think. People are generally surprised to hear how heavy I am and I realise that I am probably more muscly than a lot of the people who are surprised.

I know I need to tone my core; I do keep going on about that! I will try. No promises on that!

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Lastly I am going to restart the Kinetic Revolution 30 Day Challenge in an effort to loosen myself up. It was working, but I had to stop. I will try and fit in the 15 – 20 minutes a day!

See you later!

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Heading down to the gym, on a perfect running day – sacrilegious!

Nifty at Fifty

Yesterday was my birthday.

Not just any birthday, but what’s known as a ‘significant birthday’.

Yesterday I turned 50.

I was very precise about the whole turning 50 affair. I was born at 12:45 on 21 August 1964, which meant that I turned 50 at 12:45 on 21 August 2014. Until the hand ticked across the 12:45 minute time, I was still just 49!

Not that age really bothers me. I’m good for 50, I don’t feel whatever 50 is meant to feel and I’m certainly fitter and healthier than some people half my age, so actually I’m in a good place so far as crossing this decade is concerned. I look at my active (and slightly mad) parents at the ages of 70 and 75 and see myself continuing in this slightly crazed fashion for some time to come!

A very good friend gave me a fabulous gift to drink my morning pint of tea from. A ‘nifty at fifty’ mug and matching coaster. Despite the fact that this morning I am victim of a stinking cold, I’m still feeling nifty at fifty and, come Sunday, when I run another 13.1 miles for Diabetes UK I will still feel nifty at fifty. I might feel a bit less than nifty immediately afterwards, but what the heck!

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So today when you read this post you might look across to the right and see that my Gravatar has changed. I am now fifty.

And if you look up to the site title you will see that I’m no longer a forty something woman running to save her life, now I’m a fifty something woman.

Necessary changes, but insignificant in the big scheme of things.

Age is just a number.