I’m currently sat at my living room table writing this. One leg is positioned, flat footed on the wooden floor. The other is elevated on a chair, wrapped in what a friend of mine described as, ‘Brexit Bandage’.
The technical term is ‘kinesiology tape’, which is something I saw a lot of at the half marathon I ran last Sunday.
Yep. I finally did a half marathon. It was the Silverstone half marathon and it was awesome. A friend of mine had to pull out at the last minute, so I took her place. It was HARD. Physically. Mentally. Everything-lly. I got to run on the racetrack that’s welcomed many F1 legends, and got a medal and a scrummy bottle of Brazilian Guava Lucozade Sport at the end. (there was loads of other great stuff in the goody bag, but I was all about the medal and the Lucozade, it was well nice.)
I now also feel like I know what it’s like to do a really long run. So, here’s how it went.
Good pace, felt strong, was hoping for a 2hr 10m finish.
EVIL. Pure evil. The balls of my feet started to hurt, the armband holding my phone started rubbing, and I uttered ‘can we stop and walk for a bit’ for the first time. The high point was reaching a steep bridge, thinking ‘how the hell am I gonna get up that’, then somehow finding all the energy to boss said bridge at speed. Saw my Mum cheering me on which helped massively!
THE. HARDEST. MILE. Went on forever. Ankle really started to throb. Wanted it to be over. Stopped and walked for a bit. Had my first experience of gels. They’re rank. Helped a bit though.
Stopped for a wee. Mentally felt massively drained. Every second word began with F, and ended in K.
FINALLY started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. As soon as there was under 2 miles left, I knew I could do it. Physically tough, particularly when it felt like the skin between my 4th and 5th toe was going to split. Thank god it didn’t. Fast walked a little bit for around 30 seconds.
The LAST half mile
I saw the finish line in the distance, and that was that. I gathered up every last bit of energy left, and sprinted like my life depended on it. Felt ECSTATIC and exhilarated at crossing the line. My official finish time was 2hrs, 17minutes, 52 seconds. Not bad for a first timer. Even beat Ian Beale off of Eastenders. And a giant red postbox called Gavin.
I genuinely cannot describe the elation I felt at completing a half marathon. With the London Marathon getting ever closer, I needed to run it for my own sanity and peace of mind. I’m not the most confident of people, and it gave me hope that if I can run a half marathon, a full one is potentially achievable. I may not be the fastest, or fittest runner, but I felt immense pride.
The last week, however, has been challenging. Post run, as expected, you feel worn out and the aches and pains really set in. Both hips were sore, the rubbing from my armband had turned into a burning welt, and I couldn’t put pressure on my ankle at all. It was swollen and hurt like hell. I felt like a hobbling old lady.
The pain was even worse the next morning. On Tuesday, after a very limited training session , I booked in to see my Daniel at the Dulwich Chiropractic Clinic. He is FANTASTIC. I first saw him to treat whiplash after a car accident, and knew he’d sort my ankle out. It looked like I’d pulled a ligament. Out came the ultrasound, he advised me to take anti inflammatory tablets and apply an anti inflammatory gel, then strapped me up in my Brexit Bandage. Here she is, in all her union jack glory.
For the time being, I need to go back daily for ultrasound and re-positioning of the kinesiology tape. I’ll be brutally honest, it’s completely thrown my plans. There’s now less than 5 weeks to go until the Marathon, and the aim was to run 15 miles this weekend. I just had to accept that it wasn’t going to happen. Healing is far more important right now. If I ran 15 miles, it would only get worse.
This week has felt tougher mentally than it has physically. Sure, I was worn out for the first couple of days post half marathon, but I really struggled emotionally. The problems with my ankle have left me feeling rather deflated and with renewed fear that I won’t be fit enough to run the marathon. The long runs are so important! Yet, I also know that if there’s a hope in hell of completing it, resting is the best thing to do right now. It’s really frustrating when you’ve put in the training, and come this far. I haven’t helped matters by comfort eating, STUFFING MY FACE all week. My excuse is I’m carb loading, and I’m sticking to it.
To get back up and running, (no pun intended), I ran back from work on Saturday morning. It’s around 10k, and I’m not gonna lie, I winced every step of the way. While the ankle pain isn’t sharp, it’s not dull either. It’s there every time I put my left foot forward and run. I saw the chiropractor again, and he’s slightly concerned, as the pain is no longer just centred on my inner ankle. It feels like it’s travelled up the front of my shin, which hurts when it’s pressed, and I’ve also been getting pins and needles too. Heading back again today, so we’ll see what he says. It’s rather worrying though. I just want it to get better. I can’t give up now, there’s 26 miles to be run, and a wonderful charity that needs supporting! (should you wish to, you can donate here). On the other hand, I don’t want to end up in plaster either. The next few weeks are going to be interesting to say the very least.
So, that’s the latest from me. I wish it was more of a funny, lighthearted blog! Sorry about that. Right, I’m off to grab my ice pack from the freezer and pop a couple of Ibuprofen.
In the meantime, if you’re a rookie runner like me, here’s some little bits and bobs I’ve learned so far about how to prepare, and endure, a half marathon….
Eat right and hydrate. Have a good breakfast a few hours before the run. I had a bowl of Porridge, and then snacked on a banana in the hour leading up to the race. I also drank lots of water beforehand. It’s SO important to hydrate, before, during and afterwards.
If you can, run with a friend. I’ve always been a lone runner, just me, my thoughts, and music. However – I could NOT have got through the half marathon without the help of my running buddy. When you’re running a long distance it really helps to have someone by your side going through what you’re going through, and to be on hand to offer encouragement. Trust me.
Give running gels a go. They’re like the consistency of sloppy jelly, come in a variety of fruity flavours, and give you that extra bit of energy just when you need it. Worth trying them out before your event on a training run, as some people get an upset tummy from them. If you think that could happen to you, it might be worth trying the ones without caffeine.
Have a running playlist and make sure your phone is fully charged. Music gets me through the longest runs. I’m currently compiling my marathon playlist. Obviously on the day I’ll be taking in the crowds, sights and everything around me, but it’s a lifesaver to have your favourite songs on hand to get you through tough moments!
Vas up. Vaseline is a life saver. Rub it on your extremities and wherever you think may be subject to runners rub, and you’ll be SO glad you did. *makes mental note to rub it in between toes next time*
And finally – DO A BIG PRE RACE POO. Seriously. If that means adding Prunes to your breakfast, or making it happen by other means, flush Mr Hankey out. You do NOT need to be worrying about a number 2 when you’re trying to complete race number 1.
And – on that note, I’m spent! I’ll be back with another update soon, please keep your fingers, legs and toes crossed for the #AggyAnkle. Ta.