Another fortnight has flown by since I last blogged. I’ve run just under fifty miles in the last two weeks, and to be honest, I’ve not enjoyed all of it.
I was worried about week six because it was half term and we went away for a few days with the children to Edinburgh. (Note, I was actually worried about fitting the runs in, not worried about being away with the family, although that in itself is always a mixture of emotions when you throw six hour car journeys and a pair of over excited, energetic chimp like boys into the mix.)
The week six training plan included two three mile runs, one six mile, and then a twelve mile long run at the weekend. Any cross training would be in the medium of walking around the Scottish capital. I only managed a three mile jog while I was there, because I don’t want this marathon thing to become something that makes the rest of the family suffer by missing out on doing things because I have to fit a run in. Instead, I am the one that has to go out early so that we can still do everything we wanted to do during the day. So a three mile early morning run was then followed by a day of walking around the hilliest zoo I have ever visited, what a treat for the legs.
I decided that after a day in the car driving home to Rugby on the Wednesday, surely a nice six mile jog would be just the ticket. Thinking that I had a good four hours at least before I would be starting my run, I treated myself to a Cornish pasty for lunch during a service station pit stop. Nice.
Without wanting to sound too much like a dick, this marathon training is “a journey” for me. I’m learning so much that I didn’t know before. One of the lessons that I have learnt is that a Cornish pasty will sit in the stomach like a bowling ball for about eighteen hours after eating it and then explode from the body with the power of a rocket.
When we eventually pulled up in the drive way after a respectable journey time home from Edinburgh, the thought of running six miles with a pasty lined stomach was not a happy one. I decided to stick to the treadmill so that I would always be close to the toilet, should an evacuation occur. Every single step was heinous. I veered from wanting to vom to wanting to poop with every minute that passed. The pasty repeated on me continuously and I sweated meat copiously. A horrific experience. I’m just grateful that I didn’t go for the chicken balti pasty. Just think of the mess that would have made.
After the horror that was Pasty gate, the next morning’s 6am pre work three mile jog was almost pleasant. The midweek runs for this week were all complete with only the weekend twelve miler left to go.
The only glitch in the plan was two days of work and a Friday night work do prior to this. Massive sacrifices on my part were made at this work Gala dinner for the sake of this marathon training:
- I wore flat shoes so as not to aggravate my ankle
- I wore a long dress when I didn’t want to, because of the flat shoes
- I only drank the free gin until 10:30 pm and then switched to water
- I had a sausage sandwich for breakfast rather than a full English, which was almost painful, but with Pasty gate not yet a dim and distant memory, I didn’t want to make the same mistake in the same week.
So as you can see, I was very sensible. The other great thing was that I was sharing a room (and, as it turned out a bed) with my lovely friend and work colleague, Charlotte. Charlotte is actually the person who inspired me to sign up for this whole sorry business in the first place. This time last year, she was in the middle of training for her first marathon, and she did so brilliantly. I loved reading her updates about how it was going, and I spent a lot of the time in Nottingham picking her brain for tips. Yes, I did ask her about running pants.
Anyway, after a great night in Nottingham, Charlotte dropped me back off at home, not at all ready for this run. I was very lucky that the Anti Blogger, Mildred, was not only free but also happy to just be ‘on call’ to run when I got home, because I don’t think I could have managed this one alone after two hours of sleep.
Fortunately it was freezing cold but sunny and we plodded around our local reservoir, catching up on all the half term news. I was going to take a photo for you all of the lovely view, but Mildred insisted on treating you all to a picture of me and the local alpacas instead.
And so week six came to an end. And I was very, very glad. No more pasties for the foreseeable.
Week seven loomed with media threats of the Beast From The East. Mildred was away with work and so a week of treadmill running beckoned. As it happened, the promise of snow turned out to be true and I was very glad to have the treadmill to hand, as boring as it can be. The plan called for a three, a four and a seven miler midweek, and a ten mile long run at the weekend. Actually it didn’t call for this at all, it was supposed to be a half marathon race week, but Mildred and I are running the Milton Keynes half next Sunday so we just switched around the plan for week seven and eight.
I have been noticing that my legs were starting to feel really heavy and sluggish. Going from running just one short midweek run and one weekend run to four runs a week was bound to make a difference, but if I’m feeling like this now, what will I be like in two months time? I decided that perhaps a sports massage would be beneficial. People keep (well, like two people) saying that a sports massage is a really good thing to help prevent injury and that you leave feeling fantastic. I too want to feel fantastic! My appointment was booked for the Friday, on my rest day, so I plodded through the midweek runs as usual, and included an interval run as a little treat to myself.
Oh no wait, I still hate them.
On Friday, I walked up the hill to see the massage therapist. All I knew is that this was probably going to smart a bit, a far cry from my beloved hot stones massages.
It all started off very pleasantly, with her giving me advice about my ankle and some strengthening exercises to do. She then massaged my legs as we chatted away about running and cycling (her preferred sport). It was more firm than a normal massage, but relaxing all the time.
“Right, now generally your muscles feel quite good. You do have a few knots in your left calf which I’m just going to work out.”
This, my friends, is where things got brutal.
She got me to shuffle down the bed a bit so that my ankles were hanging off the bed. And then, I can only think that she got a knife and stabbed it right in my calf. Or possibly just her thumb, but it felt like a knife.
“Just flex your ankle back and forth.”
My foot was shaking with the effort, it was excruciating. But after a few seconds and a few flexes, it suddenly felt absolutely fine. I must say at this point that it is a Very Good Thing Indeed that Pasty gate was the previous week, as with a dodgy stomach, the shock of this moment might have had very unpleasant consequences. I can only suggest that if you decide to have a sports massage, make sure you are in fine fettle and braced for any sudden shocks.
We went through this torture three more times, before she declared that I was knot free and ready to go. She thinks that the knots might have been the reason for my sore ankle. After showing me a few good stretches which I am to do after every run, I was on my way home, feeling not quite fabulous, but definitely better than I felt before I went.
The next day, I climbed onto the treadmill absolutely dreading a ten mile run to nowhere, but I actually felt great! My legs didn’t feel like lead, my knot free calves were happy to run and I bounced my way through ten and a half miles without any issues.
So another discovery made – a sports massage is definitely worth having. I will be going back in a few weeks’ time for another beasting, and I will see her again after my last training run before the marathon.
We had friends around last night for dinner, and Annie (flapjack Annie) arrived bearing the most delicious lemon drizzle cake because she reads this blog and can take a very heavy hint. This is the part of marathon training that I am enjoying the most, and perhaps this is why people keep on running marathons? They can’t give up the carbs afterwards. (Carrot cake next week, Annie?)
As you know, I am putting myself through this “journey” because I am trying to raise money for Crohns and Colitis UK. Thank you so very much to everyone who has sponsored me so far, I am so grateful to you all. If you would like to sponsor me, the link is here. If you would prefer to send me baked goods instead, that is just as appreciated.