“Have a crack at it and see what happens…..”

So much has happened in the last month that I really should blog more regularly but my training plan is full (understatement) and I also have to work as well as be a Mum and Wife so I genuinely struggle for time. But a lot HAS happened and so I’ve decided to split this into more than one blog, otherwise, you’ll need to take a break whilst reading it!

This post will focus on running.

As you know, I have been unable to run following the fall 2 days before the Big Half in London. I have been seeing a physio (who has been magnificent, even though he clearly thinks I am barking mad) who has gradually put me back together in the weeks since the fall. I’ve been a good student and have diligently completed all of my daily exercises, calf raises on the stairs, balancing on one foot, pushing my knee forward until it touches the wall to increase the ankle’s mobility amongst other things until, quite honestly, I was sick and tired of it. Dr Crane has played his part also as each PT session has also included some ankle rehab. I don’t know what it’s called, but in the gym there is a piece of equipment that is essentially half a large beach ball on a tray. I have stood on it to balance and then rocked my ankle back and forward (making it ache, but not hurt) and we have focused on weights that strengthened my ankles whilst not twisting them in any way. One thing I didn’t know, and may be useful for you if you ever become injured in a similar way, is that any machine in the gym which has yellow around it’s bottom is a “rehab” machine. It seems to be gentler so as not to irritate any injuries and I have spent a fair chunk of time on the rehab cross trainer in the gym as I have desperately tried to preserve my running fitness.

Finally, nearly 3 weeks ago and exactly 6 weeks after my fall, the physio said I could start run/walking on the foot. Apparently, although it was weak, at this point the only real way to strengthen it properly was to run on it, but CAREFULLY, he stressed.

The following Wednesday (17th April) was the first opportunity I had to try and I completed 30 minutes at 1 minute run and 1 minute walk. The first 5 minutes were quite uncomfortable and I was feeling a bit desperate and wondering whether I should stop, when suddenly it loosened and the pain subsided.  I was able to run fairly freely and it was as though my ankle had needed a very thorough warm-up but now it was ready for action. I managed 3.5k in 30 minutes even with 15 minutes of walking and I was pleased. Analysis of my stats showed that when I was running, I was running very fast. I had no idea whether this was residual fitness or pent up excitement at finally being able to run again, but whatever it was, I just knew that I felt happy. The Bristol 10k was fast approaching and long suffering readers of this blog will know that I have a bit of a history with this race. I was desperate to run it, even if I was only to run/walk it as a training run for the 113 triathlon (which has a half marathon at the end of it) and I wanted that medal. This year even more important as my youngest sister Queenie had signed up for it for the first time and I had promised to run it with her, so all the more of an incentive to get my knackered ankle moving.

The weekend after was Easter and I was away with almost all of my family (immediate and extendedElizabeth and I at Butlins) for a 4 days and 3 nights of absolute chaos at Butlins. The weather was hot and we all had a brilliant time. Queenie and I managed to sneak away for a 5k as I was keen to test my ankle over a greater distance whilst still keeping to the run/walking strategy and although I could feel the extra 1500m in my ankle later in the day, I managed it. Queenie was feeling happy as she didn’t want to run the Bristol 10k on her own and I finally felt positive about my running.

As always though, these things never follow a straight line and the next run was absolute pants. I only managed 1600m and my ankle hurt the entire time. As I was due to be out on a cycle later that same day, I decided to call it a day at just under a mile for fear of damaging myself and my mood was dark again and my confidence plummeted. But I knew I needed to keep trying and so I decided that company on the run might help distract me and so I reached out to the mighty network of “This Mum Runs” lovely runners and asked if anyone fancied a slow run/walk the following Friday. One lovely Mum, Scottie, did and we chatted away as we ran/walked and before we knew it we had run for an hour. Once again, I was riding high. On the Sunday, my eldest daughter (inspired by watching the London Marathon on the TV earlier that morning) came with me for 7.6k of run 2 mins walk 1 minute and again my ankle seemed to be ok. It was also my daughter’s longest ever run as she has never run more than 5k before, so this was an added bonus as she was also feeling full of confidence and achievement.

On Monday, at PT I was relaying all of my runs to Dr Crane who then deftly demonstrated that he is absolutely the right PT for me. I had carefully been telling him that I was going to run the 10k which was the following Sunday, but was promising to be careful and only run/walk it, when he said that as long as the physio was happy (and I was seeing the physio later that week) that I shouldn’t plan to run/walk it, I should “have a crack” at it and see how I get on. He said that I would “be surprised at how much running I would be able to do”. I was elated and felt like I had been given permission to run! Physio duly signed me off a couple of days later, although strapped my ankle up with magic tape (kinesiology tape) as a precaution, but I was ready.

As usual, at this point, all sorts of plans and ambitions started to flood my mind. Could I run the whole thing? Could I keep up with my younger sister? Could I even get a PB? Should I try for a PB? And as much as I tried to ignore them, they kept nagging at me.

The Bristol 10k is a big race. 13000 people run it each year. It’s very well supported and you are cheered pretty much from the moment you set off until you cross the finish line. I love it, but my youngest sister is not a fan of crowds and so I needed to take this into account and I was a bit unsure how to manage this. Then the Tequila Queen, who has been injured recently, messaged me to ask if I would like her to run with me and my sister and what times were we hoping for? This was brilliant news. This Mum Runs were providing the pacers for 75, 80 and 90 minutes and Queenie wanted to get under 80 minutes and this is what I had promised her that I would help her achieve. But the 80 minute pacer (who I know and is an absolute legend by the way) would be in the throng of the crowds, which Queenie would not enjoy. So the Tequila Queen and I quickly made a plan that we would set off on the run at the very back of the pink wave (or party wave as I like to call it) and TQ would be in charge of the pacing. The race is chip timed so it doesn’t matter what time you start, but starting at the back meant that there wouldn’t be 2000 people snapping at our heels which would hopefully help my sister and not put extra pressure on her in her first ever big race. My good friend Twin Mum was also running and kindly said she’d run with us too.

As we set off, I inwardly grumbled about the hot sun beating down on us. I had been checking the weather all week and it was supposed to be cloudy and cool – it most certainly was not. If anyone reading this has just got engaged, I strongly recommend that you choose the day of the Bristol 10k to get married as it is always ridiculously sunny and hot.

Things were going ok, Queenie was flying and I knew we were well on target for even my PB and so tried to relax into the run. The problem was that my ankle wasn’t comfortable. The day before I had been to the birthday party of SwimDad and I had got quite cold as we had sat in the garden. As I now know from the X-ray that was taken of my ankle when I initially fell, I have arthritis in both ankles and it seems that it is aggravated by the cold. My ankle wasn’t happy the morning of the 10k and at 4k I made the difficult, but ultimately sensible decision to not chase my PB. There was some hasty discussions between the Tequila Queen and myself when I asked her to keep running with Queenie so she could get her time. I didn’t want to compromise my ankle and I felt that if I kept running at the speed we were running at, I would be jeopardising not only this race, but ultimately the triathlon. I also wasn’t sure I could keep the same speed up, if I’m being honest,  as 4 run/walks in 8 weeks isn’t the best preparation for a 10k and my run fitness certainly was not where I would have liked it to have been. Queenie didn’t want to leave me and was quite tearful, but I urged her on and I knew she was in very safe hands with the Tequila Queen. Finally they ran ahead and Twin Mum and I relaxed a little.

We dropped the pace a little, only by about 10-15 seconds per kilometre, but it made a difference to my ankle and we were able to carry on. We walked twice I think (possibly 3 times) over the whole race and on the whole I am happy with how the race went. TwinMum usually runs 10k in about an hour and so she chatted to me easily as we made our way up Cumberland Road, which is definitely the most unpleasant part of the course. Lots of people were cheering and shouting to us and as we approached 9k I saw my family, all screaming at us.

Me running at Bristol 10k

Suddenly I became emotional. I have no idea why, but tears were pouring down my face, but we pushed on as I waved promising to see them at the end. By this point, I’d had enough and just wanted the race over with. I went into a sprint finish by the Hippodrome, which is much too early and I really paid the price. By the time I crossed the finish line I was close to being sick and then hugged TwinMum and had a little cry. I really didn’t think that I would have been running that race when I fell and so suddenly the emotions were strong. I ran the Bristol 10k in 80 minute and 56 seconds. This is my third fastest time for ANY 10k ever and only 2 minutes off my all time PB so all in all I’m pretty happy with it. Queenie smashed her time and took 5 minutes off her 10k time coming in well under 80 minutes. She was so strong and determined and I was very proud to call her my sister on Sunday. Enormous thanks to the Tequila Queen for selflessly pacing my sister. Tequila’s will be on me as a thank you (but after the triathlon!!) TwinMum was a legend. It’s lovely when you run with your friends. We had a good old catch up during the run and she was wonderful, keeping me going and also carrying my water bottle over the final 3k of the race. Thank you.

Jo and I medals

So we are now at 4 and half weeks to the Triathlon and (touch wood) my ankle seems fine. The 10k seemed to do it the world of good and it is definitely stronger which is a huge relief. I now just have the small task of getting back up to being able to run 13 miles in the next 4 weeks. It’s a big ask, but as you have probably guessed by now, unless something goes horribly wrong in the next month, it is no longer my intention to just complete the swim and the bike in June as a training exercise for the Weymouth 70.3 in September, I am intending to complete the entire triathlon in June as well. My training plan over the next 4 weeks is intense and has lots of running in it including a couple of long runs, which I intend to complete by way of a trusty Parkrun Sandwich to and from Eastville Parkrun. Maybe I’ll see you there?

I’ll keep you informed and will blog more regularly, I promise, over the next 4 weeks as panic sets in as we get closer to the 9th June.

Let the countdown commence……

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