My training runs

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Me and my big mouth!

Miles run over 2 weeks 43

How many times have you talked about something that you don’t want to happen and then it happens?  You tempt fate and then – BAM! It smacks you in the face. 

Well, no sooner had I blogged my last post about what every runner dreads ‘the danger zone’ and I go down with a horrendous cold with complimentary hacking cough.  I normally sail through sniffles but not this time.  Maybe it was because my body was too busy mending sore muscles that it didn’t have enough umph to see off those pesky cold bugs that had wangled their way into my body.  I felt awful so I didn’t run for a week. I hoped that by doing that, it would allow my body to attack the cold and get rid of it. 

The first run back was a 10 mile road race.  It was my birthday too, although I didn’t tell anyone. I had no nerves whatsoever as I just wanted to finish it, even if that meant walking.  I thought I’d be coughing from the off, but didn’t.  My throat burned at first and I could feel my chest wheezing a bit, but I didn’t feel ill.  My legs were very wobbly though.  I didn’t have much energy, but I just kept telling myself to go nice and easy.  I took my mind off everything by counting squashed frogs.  Not the nicest distraction, but the route was alongside the river Avon and it was mating time for frogs.  They had to cross the road to get to the river to spawn. I counted 29 that didn’t make it to the river, but instead made it to the great spawning ground in the sky.

I used a runner in front as a pacer from about five miles. She knew I was there because when we got to the hills, my wheezy chest meant I huffed and puffed to get up them. When we got to nine miles, I came alongside her. I felt obliged not to pass her as she’d done all the work and I’d just followed.  It wouldn’t be fair would it?  I was just about to open my mouth to say, ‘Don’t worry, I’m not going to overtake you’, when my competitive side kicked in.  Isn’t this what all these months of training had been all about?  Being able to finish strong? To keep going when the going got tough? Find those inner reserves when you needed them? Damn right it was!  So, head bowed, eyes to the floor I went passed her apologetically. I quite expected her to overtake me again, but it didn’t happen.  The last 400 metres were dire.  I dug deep.  I pumped my arms. I wheezed (not breezed) to the finish and fought for air when I stopped.  One of the marshalls rushed over to make sure I was OK as I was bent over double and went as white as a sheet, but after catching my breath, I was fine.

I ran a respectable 1.32 but I was shattered at the end.  And then the coughing started. It went on. And on. And on.  I could’ve hired myself out as a guard dog that night as my cough became a bark.

On the way back to the changing hall, I saw what would’ve been a fantastic birthday present.  What do you think?
My ideal birthday present

The next day, I went back up to the running club to do the normal ‘fast’ five miles.  I’d decided to give it a go, see how I got on.  I was going OK until around four miles. And then that niggle came back in my left calf.  It got tighter and tighter and as I cursed under my breath. I knew I’d have to ease off or risk it twanging. I hobbled back and did all the lower calf stretches I knew.  It was really quite painful.  Now what do I do? The marathon was four weeks and my leg hurt like hell. In the words of Dasterdly and Muttley, ‘Drat and double drat!’

The next day, my leg was as stiff as a rock and very painful to walk on. I rang the masseur who I’d booked to have a post marathon massage with.  I explained the problem:  marathon in four weeks, leg knackered! Could she help me?  I was relieved when she said she was almost sure she could and she could see me that afternoon.  Luckily I was able to get a couple of hours off work and went along. After prodding and pressing, she explained what the pain was.  As I’d increased my mileage, my body started building more muscle.  It does this by growing fibres and one of these had torn and the others had clamped over it to protect it.  That equaled pain. She pummeled my calf (there’s no other word for it) for an hour while I winced, stifled wails of agony and bit my lip.  She told me it would be sore but I was OK to run on it the next day. But she warned me – if you get stabby pains when you run, stop.

The next morning it felt like someone had used my calf as a punch bag.  I quite expected it to be black and blue as t felt bruised., But it definitely felt easier, not so tight.  So I decided to run that night. When I started running the discomfort started to grow from about mile five so at six, so I had no choice but to walk the next two miles back to the club.  I wanted to be safe not sorry.

My next run was going to be two days later and it was supposed to be my longest before the marathon - 22 miles.  When I got up that day, my calf didn’t feel too bad.  I made sure I did some dynamic stretches and had my partner on standby to pick me up.  When I first set off, it was fine, but then, as I expected, the discomfort started coming back.  At 11 miles, I was very close to making that call to be picked up as the pain had changed.  It was more like a soreness than an ache. What to do? I’d brought some Nurofen with me, but if I took them and the pain got worse, I wouldn’t know so decided against them. I thought about everything I’d read and remembered reading that all runners have niggling pains, which they run through.  So, as it wasn’t a stabby pain, I thought I’d carry on for a bit longer. The soreness did go, but the old tightness came back, but not as bad as before.  I was so thirsty though, which is a huge ‘no-no’ for runners.  I had been drinking my half water, half sports mix, but it wasn’t quenching my thirst.  So with the combination of a tight calf muscle and thirst, I decided not to do the full 22 but cut it to 20 miles which was much further than I honestly thought I’d manage when I set off. My last mile wasn’t a jog or a run, but a shuffle.

When I finished, I was close to tears.  I’m not sure if it was in frustration or the fact that I was so tired and my leg was so sore. It hurt to stretch. It hurt to walk. It hurt. I lay out on the grass and stretched my buttocks – even they hurt!  I was enjoying the warm sun on my face and the stretch when the next door neighbour turned up in a car!  I couldn’t get up quickly to save my embarrassment. Instead I rolled onto my tum, then up on my knees, one by one before finally pushing myself up off the grass making lots of old woman grunting noises. Then I staggered to the wall.  It was at that point I wondered who the heck said running was good for you! I vowed at that moment in time to only ever run a marathon once.  Once! But I said that about babies.

I’ve reached the peak of my training runs – it’s all downhill from now on. The magical taper.  The next time I run that far will be on marathon day, Sunday 10 April.  Three weeks’ time!

And just as a reminder of that fact, my race pack was waiting for me when I got home. My race number stared back at me – 3487. There's no hiding from it now.

I’ll do one more post before the race and then one after.  So, stayed tuned and keep your fingers crossed and I’ll keep my mouth firmly shut until then.

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