26.2

It is done. On May 25th 2014, I ran/staggered/walked 26.2 miles in 5:40:16. My first marathon. And I wasn’t even last.

I learnt a lot about myself yesterday. And I learnt more about how to do endurance. (Or how not to). So I shall do my best to remember everything and write it down so that next year I can do a better job. (Next year? AAHAHAHA. Fat Bean of 2011 is laughing at that)

The Night Before

All was fine. Nerves were, obviously, pretty bad but I slept and ate and felt rested on The Morning Of.

The Morning Of

04.25am. Woke up. Remembered. Basically only dozed until 06.30 when I decided “sod it I’m getting up”.

Breakfast. Should have made more of an effort here. I’m not a breakfast person anyway and forcing a slice and a half of PB on toast down my neck at 7am, three hours before a race, was a challenge. It also wasn’t enough. Even with the addition of a banana. I was peckish at the start line. You don’t want that. You don’t want to be full but you don’t want to be fancying a burger.

The Start Line

It was pissing it down. I had my disposable poncho (thank you Kiltwalk) and my cosies on so I was warm and dry. Spirits un-dampened. I’d mentally prepped to be damp so I was ready. Around me, athletic types did sprints to warm up. Less athletic types ate haggis burgers from a burger van. (Best thing to have at the start, EMF??) and other miserable looking sods huddled together under the shelter of a nearby building. Not me though. I kept moving. Wandered up and down the starting pens to locate where me and some running buddies were starting from. Then I met Natalie. A girl who’d been at the Maggie’s Centres training day. She’d been tracking my fundraising and due to her competitive nature had raised almost the same as me. That’s £2500 ish between us. Outstanding.

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That’s us. Looking terrified.

After seeing Natalie, I ran into Claire Ellis who was fundraising for Lymfund which is the charity I will be fundraising for in 2015. We shared a hug and got a selfie for my mum (she’s on the board of MLDuk) and then basically, it was time to go!!

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We got into our pens. Like cattle. Moo. And waited. Then we all started moving forward. And waited. And then we moved a bit more. And waited.

There was lots of waiting. I was gold pen on Regent road so one of the last to be let loose.

The Race

I got over the line about 10.15.

I’d been advised to pace myself slower over the first 10 miles so initially Garmin told me I was running 12:13 min miles. That was perfect. Nice and easy and downhill.

It’s bloody hard not to peg it with all the others though. Edinburgh is downhill for the first 2-3 miles so everyone went off like a rocket. “HA ha!” I thought. “I’ll catch you all!” Just at that point I saw Rosie. Mum’s god daughter and THE BEST CHEERLEADER EVER!!! She put such a smile on my face and it was lovely to get a boost like that so early on. I may have run mile two in 10:49. Oops. Never mind. She took this pic of me looking triumphant…

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As a result of this initial sprinting from everyone, I was overtaking walkers at mile FOUR. Just as I was beginning to find my pace and regulate my breathing. I was getting into it. I was RUNNING A MARATHON.

As in training, I developed a bit of a stitch at mile 4. “A bit” being an understatement. But for the first time ever I kept myself running. Double breathing to try and get rid of it.

The next few miles were a blur. I’d run this part of the route through to Musselburgh already and I was dying to get to Portobello prom. Sea breeze, decent crowd and a nice long flat straight. By the time I got there, my stitch was fading and a quick sweaty hug off Steve Bonthrone (total nutter who was running all 4 EMF events that weekend. He’d already completed the half marathon in the morning and raced back to the start for the full) and I was high as a kite.
It was here that I saw Ironman for the first time (@ironpugsley) who I clocked a mile off with his Oakley’s. Another friendly face and some words of encouragement. I felt strong at this point. I was running 11:49 min miles. Correct pace but not slow enough to conserve.

From there it was a slog through to Prestonpans. The forecast was rain. ALL the rain. CRAZY rain. But the blistering hot sun came out.

Did I have sun cream on?

No.

So. It was hot. And sticky. And luckily the breeze kept me cool-ish. I knew I had to start taking on nutrition around mile 10 so I had a couple of a Jelly Babies and a swig of my concentrated Zero fluid in my Nutrition Pack. Sweet. Bleurgh.

At mile 12, the Maggie’s Centres bunch were waiting to shout and cheer for me. That was BRILLIANT! I was buzzing. Big thumbs up for the camera and a smile. And then “LOOKING GOOD, BEAN!” Came from the crowd to my right. Ironman had somehow teleported to mile 12. Brilliant boost. Thank you, D.

I’d just started to see the elites coming back the other way at this point, which was really cool. And I later discovered that one had dropped to the floor beside my mum, writhing in agony shouting for help. His muscles had gone into spasm and mum, being a very talented lady with arms and legs and other bits, was able to fix him!!

At mile 13 I was walking to take on water and I heard “GO BEEEEEEAAAAAN” from the distance. My family! With a GIANT sign! Amazing. So off I went again. Decent pace. Feeling good.

At mile 14 I saw my colleague Lesley and her hubby Dave which was brilliant. They took my picture and I was STILL smiling!

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The next few miles were harder than I’d imagined. Seeing huge throngs of people coming back towards you and knowing you had 6 miles to the turn? That SUCKS. And the way the route goes you can see miles ahead. Still headed in my direction. Still can’t see the turn.

Garmin died around mile 18. Which was fine because by that point I was just trying to focus on putting one foot in front of the other and not falling asleep in a shaded hedgerow at the side of the road.

I’d seen my family again as I was approaching the turn which was lovely. But on my way back down past them after the BEAUTIFUL Gosford estate (which I hated every quiet minute of) I was a wreck. For the first time ever I hit The Wall. Hard. I wanted to stop. I hurt. My little sister gave me a hug and I burst into tears.

It was at this point I got irritable. Which is unlike me. (HAHAHA). Here is a comprehensive list of things which started to annoy me:

“It’s just around the corner” remarks from the crowds. This was fine when there was a mile marker “just around the corner” but more often than not, there wasn’t. And I had no Garmin so I had no idea where I was. And EMF had located their mile markers so infrequently that at one point I went from mile 16 to mile 20 without seeing one. Not easy.

Scuffing. Other runners scuffing their feet along. Slightly unsympathetic but I was too hot and very sleepy. STOP SCUFFING YOUR FEET LIFT THEM OFF THE GROUND I screamed in my head. If I’d brought my iPod (I didn’t because IT WAS SUPPOSED TO PISS DOWN) I’d have fired on a playlist at this point.

That’s pretty much all that annoyed me.

At mile 20, the sweeper bus passed the other way following the stragglers who were at their mile 12. Ouch. One guy in a lion costume was refusing to get in. That was quite entertaining.

After mile 20, I was in unchartered territory. My hamstrings seized at mile 22 and I had to stop and stretch beside a man dressed as a smurf. And then at mile 24 something wobbled and pinged in my left knee. But I kept going. I ran from mile 24 to the finish.

Ran is probably an exaggeration. I stumbled. That’s right. I stumbled to the finish line. As I got to the corner and onto the finishing matt, the heavens opened with a huge crack of thunder. I pegged it as fast as I could (not fast) to the line and crossed it with my arms out like a sodding Olympian.

All the hard work. All the pain. Everything was over. Someone thrust a medal at me and then I was being lifted up by Brian and my sister who’d somehow managed to get through security into the Runners Only bit.

Here’s me having just cried quite a lot.

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From there it was a 2 mile walk to my friends house where mum massaged my legs and feet which were cramping out of control. I also had a salt bath to help drain the fluid from my joints.

I went through my phone which had all got a bit mental. So lovely to have so much support!!

So. It’s the morning after. Moving is, at best, difficult. I can’t bend my legs. And the sunburn on my arms has blistered. Which is super lovely. But. I have a medal dangling above my bed that weighs the same as my car. And. I’m a marathon runner. And I’m so proud.

Although I’ve never given birth, I will controversially compare this type of pain to that. Because I’m sure as shit going to want to forget how much this hurts before I do it again!!!

In hindsight, I should take a note of the things I’ve learnt for next time:

1. Sun cream. If the weather forecast is shit, PUT IT ON ANYWAY. This is WORSE than the legs because it hurts ALL the time. It’s like having a Chinese burn down my whole arm ALL the time.

2. Nutrition. Pringles saved my life. Most sports nutrition is sweet. Obviously. It’s the quickest way to get essential sugars and salts into the body in a tasty way. Except gels are not tasty. Apart from the lime High5. And the isogel I got at mile 23 (wasn’t a gel. It was too watery.) was DISGUSTING. So Pringles and shot blocks will be the way for the next marathon.

3. Hydration. I pretty much nailed this. I needed to pee within an hour of finishing the marathon and I take that as a good sign. I drank water at all the stations but rarely took in the full 330ml they gave you. However I wasn’t unbearably thirsty at any point.

4. I will hurt. I didn’t realise how much I’d hurt. Apparently it’s normal not to be able to go from seated to standing and vice versa.

5. Body temp. It won’t regulate now. I’m frozen and in 5 minutes I’ll be too hot.

6. Beer. All I could think about at mile 25 was beer. I’d have taken a pint, easy.

Overall, I had a brilliant day. It really was life changing. I feel like a different person. Like I’ve physically and mentally achieved something I never thought was possible. AND….. I DIDN’T SHIT MYSELF!!! (Massively relieved about that…)

I want have an Oscars moment to say a thank you to everyone who has been so wonderful over the last year.

Mum, Dad, Lissie, Sean and Brian who have driven me to places to run, who have run and cycled with me and picked me up when I couldn’t get up.

Rosie, Sarah, Janie and Emily – the Belchamber girls who never fail to be wonderful and supportive.

My Emily. For making me laugh and worry about shitting myself.

My colleagues for listening to me harp on about this bloody marathon for a year. And for being there on the day to shout at me.

Ironman – for your endless encouragement and support and wisdom. You really are a Marathon Angel.

The Twittersphere for all the support and love.

And a special mention for those that I did this for: Granny, Grandad, John, Sean and Mum.

She believed she could, SO SHE DID.

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Tomorrow.

Tomorrow is Sunday.

Tomorrow is May 25th 2014.

Tomorrow I will get up at 06.45 and put on my lycra, just like I have done most Sundays since August last year.  

Except……… Tomorrow I will run my very first Marathon. 

All week I’ve been partaking in the same conversation with everyone I speak to…. “How are you feeling?” – “Nervous” – “Oh. You’ll be fine.You should be excited” – “I am”. 

It’s so brilliant to have so much support. I’d also like to point out that I’m currently sitting on a running total of £1200 for Maggie’s Centres between online and offline donations. So if you’ve donated, thank you SO much. However I’ve repeated myself so many times that I got to the stage where I didn’t know how I was feeling. 

I have had a week of ups and downs. My hips and lower back were very sore last weekend so I rested. I knew I had a sports massage on Tuesday and a Physio appt on Thursday, so I hoped I’d feel better by Friday and actually be able to enjoy my final week of tapering. However, the pain level was such that I really couldn’t relax. 

The Sports Massage

You know it’s going to be an experience when the first thing the therapist says is “This isn’t going to be relaxing”. I’ve had deep tissue massages before, but not while I’d actually been in pain and OH MY WORD it hurt. I knew it would. And I knew I’d be sore for 24-48 hours afterwards. I wasn’t *quite* prepared. The massage itself was TREMENDOUS but I couldn’t really move on Wednesday without wincing. I drank 2 litres of water on Wednesday and Thursday which helped the muscles to recover. And after Pilates on Wednesday night I started to feel much better. 

Thursday Physio

“You are NOT allowed to go on holiday while I’m training EVER again” I said. “I am a disaster”. Once I’d got through catching PhysioDan up on the previous two weeks of mountain bike accidents, limping, half marathons, headaches and sports massages, PhysioDan said “Your job for the next 3 days is not to injure yourself”. Luckily there were no needles or scary spine cracking. Just some rather ouchy stretches. Done. Good lucks said, off I went. 

Friday was a weird day. I got to work and spent the morning absolutely buzzing. But by lunchtime, I was a nervous wreck. Totally unproductive. When I got home on Friday I did a shop run to pick up last minute bits and pieces for my kit. Bananas, Lucozade Sport and Powerbars for the finish line and pringles and jelly babies for my race nutrition. (Gels make me boke). Then I got home and sorted out the kit. Which I’ve done again (Three times) since. 

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So. Tomorrow. 

Tomorrow 9 months of hard work, pain, tears, shouting, thinking I can’t do it, thinking maybe I can do it, thinking I’m fucking stupid, running in the rain, running through clouds of midgies bigger than my house (the clouds. Not the midgies. THAT doesn’t bear thinking about…), extra pilates classes, weights training, cross training and being generally fit will all come to fruition. 

I have embraced the suck. (I have also moaned a LOT. So… sorry.) I have done the work. I am rested. I am well fed. I am READY. 

The weather forecast is ALL of the rain. But I’ve trained for that. And I prefer that to blistering sunshine. I have chuckable cosy and waterproof stuff to wear to the start. I’ve charged The Garmin.

After I’d published this, I decided I’d go back and add a bit in about exactly why I’ve done all this:

Cancer is a bastard. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t had to experience it in some way at some point. It’s taken my loved ones and dear friends. Too many beautiful, wonderful people have to fight this horrid thing too often. There are plenty of incredible charities and organisations working hard to find a cure, and others directly caring for patients. Maggie’s work tirelessly to provide safe havens not just for patients, but for their friends and families too. Places people can go to ask the questions they need to ask. To feel safe and welcome and relaxed. Their work is CRUCIAL. So thank you, again, for donating.
I’ve been more emotional that I thought I’d be this week (shocker) having been reminded what it’s like to lose someone incredibly special and thinking about how I would have loved John and my grandparents to see me get this far. I feel very fortunate that Mum won her fight, and will be there (possibly with bells on, but she won’t tell me what she’s wearing) to support me. And that my future brother-in-law recovered so well.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that a bit of discomfort while running a marathon is a drop in the ocean compared to what some people have to cope with every day.

I’ve done this for them.

 

Edinburgh…. BRING IT ON. 

 

Taper Madness

Right.

Following yesterday’s whiney, wallowy blog, (Terror and being hated by my own body) I manned up a bit and did some thinking and some googling. It turns out that what I am experiencing is actually a thing. I know. Shocker. Some call it a Taper Tantrum, others Taper Madness. (It’s a thing if Runners World have written about it… )

I thought I would go back to the start of tapering and talk myself through what I’ve actually experienced while reading through the article. It completely rationalised everything and I woke up today feeling still a bit bruised and tired, but much MUCH better than yesterday.

Week 1: “First week of my fortnight off work. Week after my 20mile run/walk/cry/vomit”

Symptoms: STARVING at all times. Completely exhausted. Fell off bike on day two and got a concussion (probably unrelated. I’m accident prone…) Aches and pains. Inability to walk down stairs due to quad-related difficulties.

Explanation: I’ve just completed my longest run. Ever. I’ve also just had a particularly nasty bout of tonsillitis and a week of strong antibiotics. Of COURSE my body is broken.

For Next Time: Make sure not to go out on a bike, drink plenty of fluids, eat plenty of protein and watch the carb intake. Try and maintain mileage over the week to around 30% less than previous week.

Week 2:”2nd week off work. Week after concussion and 1/2Marathon PB”

Symptoms: Craving sugar like some kind of crazed junkie. (Actually considered making sugar-butter icing JUST to eat it with a spoon. THAT is a sugar addiction…) weight gain (thank you sugar), feeling of complete and utter desolation. LOTS of tears. LOTS of tantrums. Inability to walk without a limp. Back pain, hip and knee pain, weird run, weird walk. Just fucking WEIRD. The best way to describe the pain is like being in a dream, when you are trying to run towards or away from something, and you…just….can’t….move.

Explanation: Over the last 6 months, my body has become addicted both physically and mentally to running. And now, after building up for ages, I’ve cut right back. A further 50% to what I was doing before. All of a sudden, I’m moving less and eating more. I’ve put on weight, I definitely do NOT feel strong and I’ve got these phantom aches and pains. When I should be feeling my strongest, I’m actually feeling weak and useless.

For Next Time: Remember that I’m on a come-down. Maintain protein levels at a higher level than normal to aid muscle recovery. Include healthy fats and carbs. The pains are mostly in my head but there is a lot of science that points towards pain coming from the body repairing itself. In the same way a scab sometimes hurts more when it’s healing. A muscle or joint hurts more during it’s recovery. So basically I’m like Wolverine at this point. Only less hairy. (No less grumpy…)

I’m now about to go into week 3. Decided to cool the running off a bit and visited mum today who worked on my pelvis, hams, quads and lower back with massage. That’s certainly eased whatever it was. Last night I walked 3 miles out and 3miles back and it took me over an hour and a half. Very frustrating but I know it’s as important to keep the joints and muscles moving as it is to let them recover.

This week is Sports Massage, final Physio, Gentle Walk/Jog/Runs and pilates with my race on Sunday 25th. Carb-loading will be kept to a relative minimum as I’m already carrying 5 extra pounds of holiday-chub and I don’t want to add strain to my ankles. (I’m certainly no heifer but every little ounce counts) I plan on increasing carb intake over this weekend and into the beginning of next week. From Wednesday onwards I shall cut back and concentrate on grazing. (Basically, instead of 3 meals (1 small, 2 medium) per day, have 4 or 5 small meals containing lighter foods with moderate carb but plenty of healthy fats) Saturday will be the same. With small snacky meals all day and porridge with honey and banana about 2 hours before bed.

 

 

Oh shiiiiiit. It’s getting real.

Also, I have now got my race number….

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I’m planning on blogging the night before if I haven’t worked myself into a pit of fear and despair…

Anyway. If you’re going to be there on Sunday 25th, look out for me. I’ll be the one smiling at the cameras and trying not to collapse in a heap….

Terror and being hated by my own body.

Brace yourselves.

This is going to be a self-absorbed whinge-fest. Again.

In 8 days, I will run the Edinburgh Marathon. (Yes. The full one. Not the half. If I was running the half I’d say “I’m going to run the Edinburgh 1/2 Marathon”)

My body is not talking to me. My hips have been getting steadily worse. I now limp constantly. Like…. Worse than my Granny did when her Arthritis was flaring up. When I went running with a friend on Tuesday this week he remarked upon how weird my run was. That’s because I can’t really move most of the lower half of my body without some kind of jabby-knotting pain somewhere. But I shouldn’t moan. Because it’s probably not that bad, right? I’m training for a marathon. It’s supposed to hurt.

This is incredibly frustrating because EVERYONE I speak to and EVERYTHING I read tells me that right now, my body should be at it’s strongest.

Well it doesn’t fucking feel like it. I can’t work on my upper body because my neck is two sneezes from seizing. I can’t work on my core because my hips are in such bad nick. I can definitely lie on the floor and stretch but that is not enough. AND MY PHYSIO IS ON SODDING HOLIDAY.

On the plus side (hoo fucking ray) I surprised my doctor mid check-up this week by announcing that yes, I did in fact run a half marathon on Saturday and yes, 4 days post-concussion I did run a PB (2:27:27 – not that good. But quicker than my previous time by 4 minutes) so I
suppose there is something good amongst all this bitter self loathing.

I go back to work on Monday and have 5 days of torturous email answering to hopefully take my mind off the upcoming Marathon. I took the decision this morning when my back started pinging below waist level, to rest this weekend and instead of a 10k, work on some basic, low impact Pilates and make sure I’m taking on plenty of fluids.

I wanted to enjoy this.

I wanted to feel good and strong and confident.

I feel sore. And fed up. And tired. And about 85 years old.

Rant over.

The trouble with Bean

I have this thing. Which is quite annoying. You see, I’m incredibly accident prone. Which is funny because I’m the most paranoid, over-careful person you’ll meet. So it’s like I make myself fall over and fall off things and get sick.

I posted last week about my bout of super delightful tonsillitis which thankfully fucked off. However, I’ve since been left with a very tickly cough and resulting sore throat.

I gave up donuts and pizza’s and took up running to be HEALTHY and LOOK what it’s done to me??!!

Anyway. I ran/walked/cried for 20 miles on Sunday. OH came with me and ran for the first 6 before his knee gave in. I continued to mile 10 then turned back. Mile 8 was pretty brutal. I had one of my stitches that won’t go the fuck away. Then I got a bit pukey because I was trying to push through it. OH had caught me up walking by this point and was luckily on hand to clean me up and kick my arse into moving again.

At around mile 11, the humidity was getting to me. I was fucking miserable. The midgies were unbearable and for the first time in a long time I fucking HATED running. Hated it. Then a lovely man passed by, giving his daughter a piggy back as his misses pushed a pram and said “chin up,darlin, you’re doing well” and I had to wait 5 minutes until they’d passed so I could stop and sob and have a serious fucking word with myself.

When times get tough (and they got very fucking tough that day…) a wise chap I know has given me a few techniques to try and get myself to HTFU. So. Serveral shouty swears at myself, some serious reminding myself of how lucky I am to even be able to run in the first place, and I was on my way again. Around mile 13, I stumbled upon OH again who was freezing and waiting for me. He had really fucked his knee so was in no position to run back with me. He walked and I ran/jog/walked and eventually after 20.1 miles and 4hrs 12 mins, I got home.

I hurt. I had really given that last few miles everything. But I had smashed the big mental barrier I’d built for myself from day 1. My legs were actually ok. My hip wasn’t but fuck it. I’d only have 6.1 more miles to go on the day. AND I’m ahead of sweeper bus pace…

Monday arrived and myself and OH departed for 4 days in the highlands for our joint birthday. Mountain bikes strapped to the back of the car, suitcases full of kit. Perfect.

Except I’m Bean. Which inevitably means that something will go tits up.

I’m a very nervous cyclist and after 15 years of very little bike action, I’ve recently rekindled my love of it. Albeit very slowly and not too steep, please.

OH is very confident and lacks the Fear Gene that I have in abundance. He can quite happily throw himself down the side of a mountain at speed. Me? Not so much.

So on our Birthday, we had a huge breakfast and then set out a few hours later to adventure along the Great Glen Way. The first 6 miles were flat, slightly potholed canal track. Perfect. Nice and quick. Rainy then sunny. Cold, highland air. After 6 ish miles we reached Bridge of Oich where the lovely easy path stopped and the Great Glen Way got a bit fucking mental. Pot-holed muddy grass with hardcore forestry paths, steep ascents, descents and then….. The Tree Roots. About 100m in I shouted along to OH that I wasn’t doing too well. We were on a time limit so we decided we’d head back to Fort Augustus. Easy enough?

No.

50m later, I hadn’t quite got up to enough speed to avoid the large tree roots and my front wheel slid off one, large chunky tyres failing to find grip and bedding into the mud in front of a root 6 inches high. Bang.

I came off sideways, my right shoulder hit the ground first, then my head, then my hip (which has a VERY impressive bruise). The bike landed on my hand. When I opened my eyes seconds later, OH was swearing as his already damaged knee twisted while getting his clippies off his pedals to try and get me up. I was bashed to hell but I was fine. Oh. I was also crying like a fucking toddler. “I *sob* hate *sob* this *sob* my *sob* head *sob* hurts”

“Get up, you’re ok. Take your helmet off”

No blood from my head.

“OH MY FACE IS IT MY FACE”

Typical.

My face was fine. But I was feeling VERY sick and dizzy and we both knew I’d given myself a concussion. We were at least 40 minutes cycling off road from the main road and my helmet was compromised and I had concussion so our only choice was to walk. For over an hour. Until we reached the sanctuary of a nice flat canal path. OH with his totally trashed knees and clippy shoes was not in the mood for Bean’s Concussion Banter.

“Did it look cool?”

“no”

“Oh. This is JUST like an episode of 999. Hours from anywhere.. DISASTER STRIKES”

“It’s not a disaster. you’ve bumped your head because you’re a fanny”

At one point, nausea got pretty bad so I was rushed into the shade of a tree while Mr “Just got my First Aiders Badge” used his iPhone flash bulb to check my pupil dilation.

Anyway. Hours of scary middle-of-nowhere-ness later, we arrived back at our cottage and I was chucked in a car and driven very quickly to Raigmore where a very lovely doctor lady examined me thoroughly and told me I’d be fine.

She also mentioned that I was very lucky to have been wearing a helmet and wearing it properly. Any looser, there’d have been brain damage.

When I told her I was training to run the Edinburgh Marathon, could I go for a run later? She said “NO! Rest. And no more bikes…”

Brilliant. Think I’ll hang my shiny new replacement helmet up until AFTER May 25th…

Damage Sustained to Forward RHS of hemlet. This was a slow crash at no more than 8mph on a track. The rock I hit with my Right temple was the size of a tennis ball.

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My Right Shin/Calf… (thankfully no muscle bruising)Image

The bruise on my Right hand. I didn’t use it to break the fall. My reflexes aren’t that quick. Instead I broke the fall of my carbon fibre handle bars, which, as it turns out, are quite heavy when attached to a bike….

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My shiny new Bell Ventura helmet.

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Problematic Tonsils and Mental Toughness

I’m awake. At 4am. With crippling anxiety.

Having just read (and fed back on, because nice) this blog by my pal @ironpugsley http://wp.me/p1gXGi-jc I’ve started to get a bit fidgety. (I’d like to point out that the blog didn’t make me anxious, my brain does that shit to itself. Which is grand) Dougie has just come through a particularly tough two weeks and his strength and focus was shaken. (He’s manned up and is all better now) It’s made me think about my own battles and how I can look to changing the way I let things get to me.

I’ve battled a lot since the dark days of January when running was almost as shit an experience as being pinned down and tortured by a physio. When the weather was so bad that I once cried and swore very loudly at the clouds, 50mph wind and rain/hail for 12 miles. This last two weeks have been tough mentally and physically. An oncoming bout of sniffles and then subsequent derailment via the lovely puss-coated joy of Tonsillitis have reduced me, at points, to tears of frustration and hatred of my poor body that’s actually been incredibly strong and put up with a lot of shit.

I went for a walk (I now have THE TICKLIEST COUGH EVER and running irritates it) with my OH this evening who was asking lots of questions about how my training was progressing. He’s a cyclist with zero interest in using his feet to get around so he struggles to understand what makes me get up at 6am for PB on toast and a 4 hour jog (actually when you think about it, that IS a bit mental).

I explained that I’ve seen a huge change in myself mentally, physically and emotionally.

60% of my fight has been mental barriers like pain threshold and “shit the weather is awful can I actually do this?” The rest has been physical. Riddled with PosTib pain so bad I had to phone Brian after 2 miles one grim Thursday because I couldn’t walk. Hip displaysia and chronic ligament rubbing (my left hip clunks with every single step now.) which my physio says is irreversible damage. But I fought through it.

I know many of you will run ultras, quadrathlons and become ironmen and then do more mental things, so a wee bit of running will pale in comparison. But I’ve started to feel incredibly proud and humbled by what I’ve achieved. The anxiety I am struggling with at 4am on a Saturday when I have to get up at 6 and go to work, is borne from the fact that 3 weeks on Sunday is Marathon day and I will probably no longer be at my physical peak thanks to medical set backs.

However. This time last year I was post Kiltwalk with 16lbs still to lose and unable to run a mile. Now I weigh less than I did aged 17 and I ran 18 miles on Sunday walking only to skip a flood and battle with energy gels. I’ve done that. No one else. Me. With added support from friends and family and delicious jelly babies.

So. I’ll now be focussing on Sunday. I’m armed with a ventolin inhaler to relax my windpipe and hopefully stem the cough. Sunday will probably be a bit emotional. I’m preparing to hurt. Mentally a physically. Taper starts on Monday. And then it’s off to Fort Augustus in the highlands for a cycling holiday and some much needed R&R. (It’s also my 28th birthday on the 6th but no biggie…)

In the mean time, keep strong, keep going and keep smiling.

She believed she could, so she did.