Friday, 16 September 2011

Swimming is the new running

Well, it is at the moment.

I've definitely got plantar facsiitis, which is a real bummer as it took me months to recover last time.  Still, I'm feeling optimistic having got myself a Strasbourg sock on the recommendation of Alyson Dixon (Chester-le-Street & Team GB athlete), and it really seems to be helping.

It's a bit like foot bondage you wear in bed, only slightly less glamourous.  Working by stretching the tendon while you're asleep, by keeping your foot flexed all night.

Check it out here: Physioroom

So, I'm determined to be sensible (shock horror!), and get the thing sorted before returning to the track or roads.  This has seem me using the newly refurbished Birtley Swimming Centre, which isn't ideal for swimming in a straight line (dodging random older people and kids) but I'm not keeping times at the minute, so going the long way round is just fine. 

The pool itself is lovely, and at least I'm getting some kind of exercise.  I did briefly consider cycling, but then remembered the last effort, and how I've forgotten how to ride a bike.  Anyways - trying to make a bit of a go of the swimming - so I've done three sessions so far - an 'ok this is how you do it' get back in the pool bimble, then 6 x 200m, and 4 x 400m.  If nothing else I'll be working on not getting bingo-wings - my arms are getting a decent work out.

At least there's been a whole host of athletics on the telly to keep me hooked on running, and I'm off down to the quayside to watch the Junior Great North Run & Great City Games today.  It's a horrible wet morning here in the North East, so I hope the rain clears up for the kids, athletes & spectators early on. No doubt I'll be posting an update later on, or if you're following me on Twitter I'll be updating from the quayside :)

Good luck to everyone taking part!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Graceless Whippet: Space monkey?

It's been a bit of a mixed August & start to the new month, with a new parkrun, a championship race, insect woes, and foot problems.  I'll start with the highlights!

I started the month with some decent training at Jarrow, then on the 13th it was the first Durham parkrun, and it was definitely the unlucky thirteenth for me!  Its a great course, and it was a beautiful day, but with about 1k to go I felt a sharp pain in my mouth - I'd been stung by a bee on the tongue!!  What a nightmare - I managed to run to the finish in a fairly speedy time (going from 3rd to 2nd lady) but the pain in my mouth was incredible.  To cut a long story short I ended up driving myself to Durham University Hospital A&E, where the very efficient staff sorted me out.  Parkrun 5k time: 22:38

This was just as well because I was back up and running the next day at Hexham in the Northern Senior League 4E match. 
800m - 3:07.5, B runner, just to try and pick up a few points for the team. My first race of the day
200m - 37.2, should have been in the same race as Liz Page then I may have done a decent time
3000m - 13:39.5, slow going in the heat and wind. No excuse for being a little on the heavy side though
4x100m relay - 16.7, first leg for the Jarrow & Hebburn team. Finished 3rd team overall in 60.3

No rest for the wicked after that, in the Robin Hood 10k on the Monday.  I had an awful run though (hardly surprising really)  and struggled home in 50:50 - shocking time, and I was bitten by horse flies...boooo

After that I aimed for a few days rest and didn't run again till the second Durham parkrun on the 20th, coming home in 22:48, 3rd lady.

Watergate 5k was held on the 24th of August this year (It's normally September), but it's a great race and I was pleased to be taking part again.  I had a decent enough run chasing down Andrea from PB fitness for the last mile.  We pretty much sprinted through the last 800m, and she pipped me to the post in 22:53, not a great time, but off the back of all the racing I was happy enough, and I won the L35 prize as well as a gold in the VAANEE championships!

I was however starting to have some problems with my foot towards the end of the month - probably caused by running in my racers too much.  Although they're lightweight, they don't have a lot of padding, so when we set off for the Jarrow & Hebburn club time trial on the 30th I should have worn my normal trainers but didn't :/

I set off at a fairly blistering pace (by my standards) and raced through Monkton Village hoping to catch some of the other runners before we hit Campbell Park Road (it's a handicap race with the slower runners going off first).  At the top of the bridge over to Luke's Lane, Frankie (Devlin) caught me and started pushing me on.  This was a welcome addition, as I always seem to run better with someone shouting at me.  We caught Rachel just after the bottom of Mill Lane, and then started to chase Helen towards York Avenue.  At this point I was well out of my comfort zone, and my foot was starting to really hurt.  Despite the fact I caught up with Helen at the top of York Avenue, she got away again, but I came through the finish in 22:06 - a season's best by a good margin, and my best time in a couple of years.

I decided to rest my foot from running for a few days as I knew I had Tynedale coming up, but I also had a couple of golf competitions to play in on the 28th and 2nd, and I think that 18 holes each of those days didn't help much.  So when Sunday came round and my foot still wasn't right, I opted for the daft runners idea that I'd just "try to get round" and "take it easy". LOL

When has a runner in with a chance of a medal ever just tried to get round.  This was the British Master's 10 mile championships afterall, and I was damn well gonna give it my best shot.

So in true Graceless Whippet fashion, I took off like a lunatic at the start, gritted my teeth, assumed I was Mo Farah in spirit at least, and hung on like Murphy with newly exhumed pigs trotter (another grim but true story for a later date).

Maybe I wasn't Mo Farah, but for the first 5k I was floating along on a mixture of lovely fresh coffee from the Hexham Sports Centre, and the heady scent of the liberal application of Tiger Balm on my poor aching foot.  When I got into my (ridiculously fast) stride, I sailed past a couple of ladies who've outwitted me all season, and settled into a canny (but so obviously stupid) pace alongside Mick "the machine" Joyce from my running club.  See - here we are newish the start, with the mighty Joe Prudham right beside us (pic from :

This decent pace lasted right until the downhill section into Corbridge, where my now protesting foot decided it wasn't going to put up with me punishing it, and gave me the same kind of pain last experienced when I jumped off a roof onto a rusty nail when I was 14.  I can still remember how it felt, and it definitely does feel the same as plantar facsiitis.

Determined not to let a mere niggle rob me of the chance of a medal, I pushed on up the hill, trying not to let Mick get too far out of sight.  helpfully he pointed at Maggie Lorraine (Gateshead Harriers) who I've been chasing all season, and the target was now to try and stick with her (or at least keep her in my sights) for the rest of the race.

The foot was now desperately trying to think of new and interesting ways to get me to stop, but the little bugger wasn't getting away with it, and I pushed on regardless.  I could hear Andy's voice in my head saying "You shouldn't be running that race today" and me saying "I'm just going to take it easy", as I pushed on up the hill, with the heavy breathing Kerry from Tynebridge Harriers sitting on my shoulder, then me chasing her downhill after the first water station.  I was definitely taking it easy on the downhill bits cause it was bloody excruciating.

I always had Maggie in my sights though, and she was like the carrot dangling on the stick just to keep me going.  Kerry managed to get away from me, and Malcolm said hi as he went by at seven miles.  I chatted to the guys from Low Fell, and to a few others, cursed my foot, and thanked the kids at the water stations.  Ten miles is a bloody long way when you've been training for 5k, and not much else, but it's achievable, and I didn't stop on the final hill, just kept on plodding.  Rob K from Tynebridge flew past with no more than 400m to go, and I really tried to hang on to his coat tails, coming through the finish in a quicker time than last year: 78:58.  Not a patch on my best time, but surprising to have made it under 80 minutes.

Having pushed on through the finish, the foot now decided enough was enough, erected a picket line and refused to budge.  I took off my shoes and poured cold water over my now throbbing extremities.  Many thanks to Mick for helping me through the race, to David from South Shields Harriers for the cooling spray for my foot, and to Mr & mrs Prudham for giving me a lift back to my car in Prudhoe - most appreciated.!

So...was it worth the effort?

I think so:

British Masters silver in the L35 category.

Of course now I can hardly walk, and I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself.

Still, it was worth the effort, and the painkillers are making me feel like a bit like a space monkey, so I don't feel so bad about not being able to run ;)  I'm sure I'll be back up and running in no time...