You may have noticed that it’s been some time since I blogged. That is because I am struggling to write a running blog right now, when I really don’t feel like much of a runner. Although I completed Edinburgh and Strathearn marathons after Manchester marathon, I don’t think I’ve ever really recovered mentally (and possibly physically), and running is a constant struggle just now. There’s also been some other things going on which are running related which aren’t helping matters, but as these are now nearly at a resolution, I’m hoping that things might start to improve. Anyway, despite not feeling like much of a runner I have in fact been doing some races, so for completeness I will give a brief summary of these! I would just like to add that I mean in no way to be derogatory or disparaging about the times I am running- this is all relative to what I used to be capable of.
· Fetch mile (7:26). I should have blogged about this at the time, because it was awesome. We did Ruchill parkrun in the morning, and I ran with a friend that I’ve been trying to convince to do parkrun for ages. He did brilliantly, and it was a great social morning. Stuart did really well and finished first, then worried he might have worked a bit too hard ahead of the mile! I had originally put an estimate of 7 minutes for the mile but realised that was going to be too much of an ask, so revised my estimate to 7:30. Given how my legs have been feeling lately, I was delighted to just duck under this to run 7:26. The best bit of the day by far was seeing Stu finally get his sub-5 at a Fetch mile. All in all it was a truly wonderful celebration of running with good friends and new faces.
· Stonehaven half (2:21:12). I was dreading this. It was a hot day, it’s a tough route, and I just couldn’t face the thought of the hills. My head I guess gave up before my body did, but my body wasn’t up to much either. Disappointed to come in even slower than the previous year. My best time at Stonehaven is under 2 hours; albeit the new route is a bit tougher, that’s still a big drop and hard to face
· Collieston 10k (1:08:41). This was a fairly last minute entry, when I saw late in the week that some places had become available. Stu was working on the Saturday and I was tailrunner at Stonehaven parkrun in the morning, so I thought I might as well spend my afternoon in some lovely scenery and earn a medal. I started off feeling surprisingly strong, and the first few kilometres I felt pretty good and maintained a reasonable pace. However as soon as we got onto the coastal path, I really struggled. It was stunning but it was quite technical running, and as it was so narrow I found it very stressful feeling the pressure of people behind me. I frequently moved to the side to let people past, terrified I was going to break a leg- one of my friends did in fact twist her ankle really badly.
Just before 3 miles, there was suddenly a short but very steep bank. I completely freaked out and just couldn’t work out how to get down it. I started to go, then stopped, then started to fall. In my panic I grabbed the plastic pole marking the route, which of course was not stable and just came with me. I managed to land on two feet at the bottom of the slope, hugely relived. I then looked down and noticed blood pouring from my hand- I had somehow managed to impale myself on the plastic pole. There was a marshal who helped bandage me up (and looked rather alarmed and suggested I might need stitches!). I was nearly halfway by now and it would probably take just as long for somebody to rescue me as it would just to get back, so I figured I would try to continue. At least it was a nice excuse to take it slowly!
So finish I did. It was painful and I felt a little woozy, but I made it back it one piece, collected my medal, freaked a few people out with my bloody bandage, then drove myself to A&E. Luckily there was no nerve damage (though it took a good two months for my thumb to feel normal again!) and I didn’t need stitches. I needed a day or two off running so I could keep my dressing dry, but in the end, it was much better than the broken leg I had feared! I now have a nice little scar to remind myself why I’m very much a road runner…
· Chapleton of Elsick 10k (1:06:53). I never should have run this race. My ITB had been niggling for a few days, and I was in no way looking forward to the race. It was a tough route on a hot day- the ups were hard work, and the downs were agony in my ITB. It was basically just a miserable day out, the only saving grace being I was marginally quicker than at Collieston- but given the medical treatment and bloody loss in that race, it was hardly a real victory!
· Dufftown 5 mile / Ballater 10. After the Chapleton 10k, I was in agony. I couldn’t bend my knee, and even walking was painful. I managed to get a sports massage on the Monday evening and he wasn’t too worried, but as the week progressed I was terrified I was on the long-term injury bench. When it had eased off a little I went for a walk, and after only a couple of miles I couldn’t even step up onto pavements. I was supposed to be doing the Dufftown 5 mile race on the Wednesday, but I ended up offshore for a couple of days, so at least didn’t have to make the decision about whether I was fit to run (I wouldn’t have been!). Offshore was 17 hour days so I had no time to think about the treadmill- probably a blessing in disguise.
The following Sunday I was down to do Ballater 10. Almost as quickly as it arrived, my ITB pain had gone, and by the Saturday I was pain free. I was incredibly grateful, but also worried about aggravating it again. And for what seemed like the nth race in a row, I was dreading what I knew was going to be a slow, heavy legged slog. So I made the decision not to run. This was a difficult day- everything got on top of me, and I pretty much spent the day on the sofa intermittently crying and napping. Mental health can be a fragile thing, and this was a sharp reminder that I need to look after myself.
· Aberlour 10 mile (1:50:18). One of the reasons I had been keen to do Ballater 10 was that I am part of a running club at work which is a points-based competition. You get bonus points if you complete the 6 standard distances (5k, 5 mile, 10k, 10 mile, half marathon, marathon). Part of the reason I allowed myself not to do Ballater was the thought that I could do the Aberlour 10 mile race, a cheap, low key race on a Saturday afternoon, which is part of their highland games. So I headed up to Elgin early, did Elgin parkrun, then on to Aberlour, where I struggled round the race. There was a long steady uphill for the first couple of miles, then a very steep downhill- this was completely wasted on me as I pretty much walked down, still fearful after my Collieston incident. The tail runner (yes I was dead last here) was right up behind me, and at some points overtaking me, which was rather stressful. After a few miles we joined the Speyside Way and she thankfully stopped, and I joined up with another runner who was keen for the company.
She was lovely and happily babbled away for the next few miles, as I just tried to keep my legs moving forward. I eventually sent her on ahead in the last mile, and I finally finished, dead last, in a personal worst for 10 miles. At least I got a fab little bottle opener key ring, and my 10 mile distance.
· Dyce half marathon (2:22:40). My head wasn’t in a great place for this race, because of all the stuff that’s going on with Metro. But luckily I had the company of my lovely friend Michelle, and although the race was much harder than it should have been for the pace, I had a great time chatting away to her and it was much more pleasant than previous races.
· Hatton gala 10k (1:00:05). This was a fun day out with a good crowd, but it was somewhat depressing to be over a minute a mile slower than the last time I did the race (at that point I thought my running wasn’t going very well- if only I knew!). I was also disappointed to just miss the hour- I thought I was going to do it, but then it measured ever so slightly long! Still, I had a reasonably strong finish and my head didn’t totally give up at least.
· Union Street Mile (7:40). I don’t have much to say about this. I was hoping to at least get 7:30 but I just had nothing. This is 55 seconds slower than my PB, and even a good 30 seconds slower than last year. Putting it into perspective, last year I had run my longest ultra a week before, and I had a chest infection. The Strava title “Will running ever not suck again” says it all really.
· Great Aberdeen Run half marathon (2:21:53). I had decided to run this race with my mum, as I knew it was going to be a struggle and was keen for the company. In the end, I couldn’t even keep up with her, and sent her on ahead after 8 miles or so. Run/walking along the beach into a headwind, trying not to cry, was a particular low point. At least it was marginally quicker than Dyce I guess… And actually, it was a good day out. It was fab taking part in a race where I knew so many faces, both running and volunteering, and I hope this race continues to be a success.
· Portlethen 5 mile Run. Finally- a happy tale! I wasn’t sure what to do with this race, as I just wanted to enjoy it. In the end I decided to stick with Maz and see if I could bully her round in a good time. Maz is a fantastic runner and capable of so much more than she believes, so she’s a good candidate for bullying. It was one of my best decisions as she did brilliantly, running so strongly and passing people all the way round and annihilating her goal time. I couldn’t keep up with her on the big hill near the end! I really enjoyed it and it actually felt good to run a well-paced, strong race- I wasn’t as within my capabilities as Maz thought I was!
And that brings us to present day. I’m currently running 20-30 miles a week (compared to my usual 40-50) but pretty much every mile is a struggle. I have to force myself out every time- although this week has been good as I’ve been spoiled with some great company on all of my runs, and that has made a difference. Last weekend I managed my longest “run” since June of 14.5 miles, but I did a 2/1 run/walk and it wasn’t as easy as it should have been.
I’m dearly hoping that if I just keep plugging away, things will eventually get easier. Paces that used to be my easy pace are now a struggle, paces that I used to be able to race at are a distant dream. It’s not like I’ve been injured (a few days of ITBS aside!) or had any other issues. I have put on about 10 pounds since Manchester which isn’t helping, but I’m still not exactly overweight. For what it’s worth, I gave blood a while back so I know my iron levels are fine.
I used to be a runner. I really hope I find her again.