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Monday, 20 December 2010

Trying to run on Planet Hoth

I'm fully fixed now after the last episode. I'm two weeks in from my hospital release, and one week into my return to running. In the end, I took 13 days off, which aint good, but aint that bad either.

My first run was a fairly gentle 4 miler, the problem being that I felt so fresh and good that within a mile i was up to 7 - 7 1/2 min miling. I tried to slow myself down but I suppose it was the feeling of being out there again that just made me go and go. Running along the prom in the cold with no one else around certainly beat being couped up inside and I enjoyed it.

I can't say I really felt too bad the next morning either. I was expecting to have some pain in the calves and thighs as is usually the case after a lay-off but to my surprise, all was ok. I ran on my usual 4 mile route and had a sneaky look at my time at the end which was under 30 minutes. I remember half killing myself on this course just to get 30 minutes back in the days before I joined Aber AC so I'm pleased about that.

Next day was the AC Christmas Handicap 5k time trial. The afore-mentioned legs were holding up after the previous nights exertions and there was a good turnout from club members as we amassed at the 'totem pole'.

The various groups took off at their handicap time slots and I set off with Phoebe, Jos and Steve King. That was about the last I saw of any of them! Phoebe and Steve decided to go for an easy one and did a recovery jog whereas Jos did the polar opposite and took off. Imagine a drag race where the one car stalls on the start line... thats how i felt as Jos disappeared into the distance. Nevermind, I got into my own pace (something I've been forcing myself to do as it generally seems to end up in a faster result), and chugged on.

The course is familiar to all and its a nice flat 5k that can produce some fast times. Richard zoomed past on his way to what was probably a fast 18 or even a 17 but that was not enough to catch some of the early starters who held off the scratch runners.

Onto the prom and I had caught a few people, and may have even caught site of Jos somewhere by the Old College, but it was probably someone else, a high vis vest is pretty hard to distinguish from another!

On the line I came in with 19.12, my second fastest time ever on that course and one of my fastest 5k's, so all cannot be too bad!

I got out again on the Thursday (with much heavier legs this time) but siince then its all been about coping with the snow we had dumped on us here in Aberystwyth on Thursday night. Everyone is in the same boat, and some local runners have managed to get out over the weekend. Bridget even did 10 miles on Saturday according to her Facebook updates so well done to those who managed it. I feel uber guilty as I didnt venture out due to the icy conditions.

I'm gonna have to try tonight and will probably head down to the prom and knock out a few miles...see how it goes!

Monday, 6 December 2010

Spanner in the works!

Well part two of the marathon diary was supposed to show the first shades of improvement, indeed all was going well with a decent hour and 19 mins last Sunday, followed by 2 x one mile efforts on Tuesday night. What with the recent ice & snow, the official session was cancelled so I popped down the prom where the salty air had prevented the weather from ruining the last ice free pavement in Ceredigion.

Only two x 1 mile efforts I hear you say? Well the phone company had booked a call with me at 7pm and if I didn’t answer, they would treat the one month old lack of internet problem as solved, so the session was cut short and anyway, the 10k was coming up and there was the rest of the week wasn’t there?

By Wednesday morning I was in A&E having an ECG and throwing up into a pan at the same time, I think it fused the machine, they had to get a new one!  My cheeky lunchtime Double Decker had triggered an old war wound of mine – Crohns disease!
The scenario goes like this – eat something that you’re tired & weary body doesn’t quite get on with, wait a few hours and explode. A bit like getting impregnated by one of those squids in the Alien trilogy with similar consequences, but with crisps and chocolate, not squids!
Add red meat (that evenings spag bol) into the equation and the blisters in my small intestine closed up, sending the latest meal back up to the stomach and causing severe cramps.
I know this now after it being explained by the Doctors at Ysbyty Bronglais. There is no cure at present, it’s a bit like excema of the inside of the digestive system, acting like a volcano laying dormant sometimes like in my case for almost a year, lulling you into feeling you’ve beaten it, only to be struck down at the inappropriate moment.

There are options – have the offending segments cut out (!) or take a series of drugs to stall the problem. It can burn itself out in some cases, or get worse. I can’t say I’m a major sufferer compared to most, twice/three times a year I’m in pain for a few days and throw up a few times. Not nice but some people have terrible episodes and can’t really venture far from the loo at any time.

So far I’ve refused drugs and have tried to eat healthy. I got cocky recently and started fish & chips at the Dolphin and other delights – all with no problem but in the end it came back.
So although my system is fast recovering, they won’t let me out for the weekend and it’s goodbye to the 10k and any training for a few more days. I’m on a liquid diet for a few days, possibly followed by blender food for a while after that to give my system a break. Because it’s inflammation, it’s a clot risk until they are happy. I feel fine again but they know best. It’s snowing outside anyway and the 10k has a pitch inspection tomorrow.

So all being well, I’ll be back into the routine without any aftershocks (very rare), just with the lingering feeling that it can comeback if I risk a chocolate digestive with my tea after my next training session!
So it’s a few more nights of fending off the Aliens ala Sigourney then a chat with the consultant to see what to do.

Onwards and upwards!

Thursday, 25 November 2010

It's in the post

Blog 1 of a marathon training diary that should see me through to the Flora London Marathon on April the sumthing 2011.
After winning a lucky dip style draw within the Aberystwyth Athletic Club to run for the club in next years event, I finally filled in the relevent paperwork last night and and waved goodbye to 41 british pence for the stamp and twenty eight pounds for the entry fee, so as they say, there's no turning back now.

Fellow Aber AC runner Dan Burgess also won a spot. We are of similar age, ability and also posses fairly equal amounts of excess body hair, so I guess it's nice that we get to train and run together in the same edition of the race.

I've been submitting an entry for this race for years, with the thinking that I'll drop everything and go for it should my number ever come up. It's not me, or maybe it is now that I am getting longer in the tooth. The old me would complain about the length of a 400 sprint effort on a Tuesday night speed session. 10k was my absolute performance limit and 10 milers were done with no feeling from the waist down.

So i want to do it well, thats my new professional attitude speaking. If i manage it remains to be seen. My shins haven't got the best track record thanks to my plain refusal to wear moulded shoe inserts as a 5 year old which were meant to cure my flat feet. We'll see how it goes.

I started running again after a summer of doing my first choice sport of cycling. After the Teifi 10 in May, I didn't run anywhere apart from the Spar on Northgate Street, from Cambrian Tyres on er, Northgate Street until September the 7th, so although fit, my running muscles were in hibernation.

I've been rudely awakening them gradually as per most winters, Tuesday speed night and one other run usually at the weekend. It suddenly dawned on me that this is nowhere near enough for the Marathon. For 10k's yes maybe, but this required more, much more.

So I've been forcing myself to run at weekends for no less than one hour, without any stops and at a fairly fast pace of about 7.30 min miling pace. It's hard but doable (just), but the problem is recovery. My calves hurt, hips, knees etc etc. I'm putting it down to 'adaption' from cycling, and into week three of this new four times a week regime, the shins are creaking but there are no major issues to report.

Last Tuesday night was a pyramid session at Erw Goch. Brian Ashton insistst that I keep up with speed work as it will improve my stride and enable me to push on and change pace should I need to on the big day, and who am I to argue, the man has run well under three hours for a marathon and so I'll take all his knowledge in as red.

I was volunteered into the group containing the club fastmen and we zoomed around at a good pace, some efforts done at sub 5 min pace! :

That free Powerbar i nabbed from a customer at work did it's job and enabled me to do the second set of intervals at the same pace as the first - nice and consistant.

I haven't yet set a target time for London. I'm going to give the thing the utmost respect. I know people who've crashed & burned, who are far better runners than me. It's double the distance I've ever run before but on the other hand, I''ve been racing road bikes for the best part of 20 years, I've completed the Welsh Road Race Champs twice, in 1992 and 2005 when it was flat out for four hours, over 100 miles of pain, and the Dragon Ride in 2010 in 6hours 21 minutes!! So why am I scared? Because it's bone jarring running, unlike cycling where the bike takes the road shock. I'm thinking 6 hours on the bike is around the same on the body as a 3hour marathon would be.....

Time to get for an easy 5 miles, I'm full of lurgy but it's not life threatening so I'll plod on & write some more when there is sufficient progress!!!