February

After the disaster that was January was over, it was time to start looking for some silver linings. My husband told me to book some races, so that’s exactly what I did, giving me the motivation to start getting my training back on track, fighting through the fatigue that was still plaguing me as we moved into February.

To start with training was tough, running was difficult and I was having to walk up hills I could previously run up, but I persevered and the first weekend in February I took on my first organised race of 2016, the Ashford and District 10k.

Ashford and District 10k

Last year I ran this race in 53mins, but due to my lack of stamina and training lately, coupled with a cold that had reared up a few days prior to the run, I thought it was unlikely I would beat my time this year. The route was the same as in 2015, an out and back 10k on closed off country roads, a pleasant run with some hills thrown in to make it interesting (last years blog can be read here)

I felt like I was struggling from the start, mostly because breathing with a bunged up nose is fairly difficult, and I just felt slow. Just after the turn around point I got an awful stitch in my left side, which slowed me down further. I pushed on and did manage to get up the hill without stopping, and picked up the pace a little again on the downhill stretch to the finish, but I was unsurprised to find I had run the race 2 mins slower than last year. Still I had got round, and the medal this year was immense! Confidence a little knocked and worried about the next few races I have booked up in Feb, here’s hoping I can finish those too!

Ashford and District 10k Finished.
Ashford and District 10k Finished.

Another week of training followed the Ashford and District 10k which did nothing to build my confidence, my running was slow and painful, with stitches plaguing me, and a particularly pitiful PT session, where being taken up the East Hill steps turned into a slow puffed out walk rather than a run, as the next weekend rolled around I was feeling pretty crappy.

Brutal 10 – Bagshot

Despite feeling worried all week about this run, I was still looking forward to going, as it felt like a long time since I had done anything fun and muddy. I travelled with my friend Russ to the race and we had a good chat and a giggle on the way there and were in high spirits by the time we arrived despite the cold and rainy weather and early start. After hellos and hugs with some people it had been far to long since I’d last seen it was time for a warm up and run.

The course is two 5km laps that incorporate a lot of hills and a fair bit of water, I set off steady, wanting to just enjoy running again, and trotted around at a pace that was easy for me to maintain without causing me to be unable to breath (still got this stupid cold). Up steep hills, the downhill sections that followed were as challenging as the up, and through freezing water up to about waist height, leaving my feet numb! By the time I finished I was absolutely freezing, but with a massive smile on my face. The race had done what I had needed it to do, it had reminded me that I can really enjoy running. I’m really pleased I decided to tag along with Russ for this little road trip, I’d definitely do a Brutal 10 again. Finally I think I should also just say a little thank you to Tim Lovett for trying to help warm me up, with a lovely big hug and wrap in extra dryrobe warmth after I’d finished and changed and gone over to say goodbye but was unable to stop shivering. It was much appreciated!

Russ and I ready to start at Brutal 10
Russ and I ready to start at Brutal 10

Tenterden 5

The weekend after Brutal I went along with my husband to run a fairly local 5 mile road race. It was a bit chilly, and very windy as we set off over the pavements around the village of Wittersham where the race was held. The start of the race seemed to be all downhill, leaving me worried that the end would conversely be all up hill, however the ups were gentle and it turned out to be quite a nice run. The roads, although not closed off, were quiet with very little traffic, with much of the course set on little country lanes. Despite a pulled hamstring hubby Phil still managed to outstrip me running, but I did manage a sprint finish, coming in 2mins behind him to grab my medal and goody bag that contained a protein shake and cereal bar (the promised soup for finishers on the website was noticeably missing however!) Overall a nice little run to fill some time on a Sunday morning.

Tenterden 5 Finished
Tenterden 5 Finished

I intended to have an easier training week after the Tenterden 5, proceeding Judgement Day the following weekend, but I ended up doing 2 circuit classes, a PT session and taking myself out for a run where I just kept going and ended up running a half marathon distance, so I failed a bit at that!

I’m normally really excited on the lead up to an OCR race, (so much so I once blogged about it) and this was to be my first in 3 months, but I just wasn’t looking forward to it, I was feeling really detached from it all and like I didn’t really belong there, a weird and disconcerting feeling. I was hoping that I would feel better after the race.

Judgement Day Bordon – 12km

It was a really early start, and after only 3 hours sleep my mood wasn’t at its most sparkling! As I waited on the start line, rather than excitement I just felt cold and miserable about the thought of running by myself, but time waits for no man and it was soon time to cross the line and get on with the job at hand.

This was the third time I have run Judgement Day at Bordon and every single time the race has been completely different from the last one. This time we had started and would finish inside a building and we started with a decent run out before clambering over some hurdles. The race was of the usual excellent standard that I have come to expect from JD events, but I still wasn’t feeling it. The obstacles were good, the heights freaked me out and left me shaken, the monkey bars and later rope traverse hurt the hands but I did feel amazing when I didn’t fall off the traverse into the waiting water below! The one that everyone was talking about though was the sandbag carry, which took us three times out and back through a freezing cold lake. Six crossings of cold water that varied on me from knee to chest deep, all the while lugging a heavy sandbag was an interesting form of torture. The race finished with a rig, a wall and a pretty chunky medal.

This race ticked all the boxes and should have restored my love, a great course, good obstacles, wonderful strangers to help me over walls, even better friends to do likewise, or just to give me a much needed hug before, during or after, and a great group of people to travel to the race with but I’m still on a low. The highlight of my day was seeing a lot of people who have become very good friends over the past couple of years, but somewhere, somehow I’ve lost my buzz and most of my confidence and with just the Hastings half marathon left currently booked on my race calendar this year I don’t know where I’ll pop up next, I guess just watch this space!

Me with Jason, Joe, Russ and Dean - my road trip buddies from Hastings.
Me with Jason, Joe, Russ and Dean – my road trip buddies from Hastings.

January

It’s January, a new year, new challenges to face, and for me I was starting the year with a secret. Just before New Years I had found out I was pregnant. My husband and I are expecting our first baby sometime around the beginning of September, and along with the joy and excitement is my, quite frankly selfish, worry about how my body is going to change. I was kinda hoping it would take us longer to get pregnant, and give me time to get rid of the additional Christmas weight, I am pretty much terrified of getting fat again, like I used to be, and having to go through all the effort of getting the weight off again, like I had to before. Being pregnant is also going to stop me doing the obstacle races that I love, and how it will impact my training remains to be seen as the pregnancy unfolds.

With all these conflicting emotions I have decided to carry on my blog, with monthly updates, the idea being it will be an honest look at pregnancy from my point of view, including what training or running I do manage each month, how I feel about it and my musings about what the hell is going on.

So here is January, which won’t be shared until March as like I said, with the exception of family and a few close friends, my pregnancy is currently a secret. I have also told all my trainers, so that all training I am able to do is safe (worst news ever – no burpees!).  I’ve had some fairly early symptoms – I’ve been really tired, a lot, and oh my goodness, such aching boobs! They have also already grown a bit, I mean for goodness sake, they weren’t small to begin with, if they grow for the whole 9 months I’m going to topple right over! This has already made running somewhat uncomfortable, but at the moment I’ve been able to “man up” and get on with it anyway.

Me at 5 weeks, near the beginning of January
Me at 5 weeks, near the beginning of January

So to start with I was training more or less as normal, although trying to dial down the intensity, a few runs, circuits and personal training, trying to maintain my fitness. Then one evening I had a major scare when I found I was bleeding (this may be a bit TMI for some). I don’t think I had ever felt so scared before. Even though I had read (extensively) that it can be quite normal to have some bleeding, or spotting, in the first 12 weeks, nothing prepared me for the shock of seeing it. All the advice I have read says tell your doctor or midwife, but I’ve been having a bit of a palaver with the doctors which I wont go into, and by now I am shaking and crying and so grateful for my amazingly calm husband. We called 111 the NHS helpline and spoke to a lovely woman who calmed me down and gave me advice. She got a doctor to call us back, sadly the doctor was not so wonderful, he was disinterested and unsympathetic. He basically told me “well there’s not much that can be done, just try not to worry it’s probably normal, go to sleep and if you are still bleeding in the morning go to the doctors” Thankfully by morning there was no blood, but the feeling of panic was still there, I decided to stop training until I could talk to a doctor or midwife, as I couldn’t help wondering if it was caused by me running that evening, although I know in reality this was unlikely to be the case. At this point I was desperate to actually talk to a medical professional about my pregnancy and make sure everything was actually OK, I just want to get scanned and know for sure that the baby is really there, and to get to the 12 week point where the risks drop off. My worries about my own body have also been almost entirely replaced by my worry for an embryo the size of a sesame seed!

I’ve thought hard about whether to write this next bit, but I think It will help me to get it out so here it is. Sadly, after a few calm days I began to bleed again, and this time it was far worse, and came with cramps that built up into some of the worst pain I can ever remember being in. After another call to the NHS I was asked to come into hospital, to see the out of hours doctor. By the time my appointment rolled around I was in agony, with the pain coming in waves, I was hunched over, and at one point I found myself whimpering on the floor of the hospital. I was throwing up and in a bad way, and after examining me the out of hours doctor was concerned about the amount of pain I was in and referred me down to the Early Pregnancy Unit to have a more thorough examination.

Once down in the EPU I was seen by a lovely nurse who gave me the once over, took some blood and gave me some strong pain killers (which I promptly threw back up sadly) before I was seen by the doctor and given a full examination and they assessed whether I would need to be admitted for the night. They couldn’t tell me much, I was either having a miscarriage, or it was possible that everything was still OK, and they couldn’t rule out an ectopic pregnancy at this stage either (when the embryo implants outside of the uterus, in one of the oviducts). In the end they decided to send me home with some strong pain killers and the direct line for the ward so that I could phone up if the pain got unbearable or I needed any other advice, and they booked me in for an early internal scan in a couple of days. All I could do then was go home, wait and rest, all the while pretty sure that I had lost our baby.

Sadly, the scan and second blood test confirmed what in all honesty we already knew, I was no longer pregnant and although it was the news that we were expecting, it was none the less devastating. I spent the days following trying to recover both physically and emotionally, hugely grateful to my close friends and family for the support they offered. Physically I was exhausted, so tired all the time, and every time I thought I felt a bit better and tried to do something waves of exhaustion would crash over me and I’d have to sit back down. I hadn’t realised until now how much I had been looking forward to growing that bump, feeling the baby move for the first time, the whole process. My stupid worries at the beginning of the month were just that, stupid. I had to go back for one more blood test, and then a week later I had to take a test to confirm 100% I was no longer pregnant, it felt so very drawn out.

It took a couple of weeks for the fatigue to recede enough for me to start getting out and about again, starting with short walks that would leave me needing to sit down for a few hours afterwards, but was far preferable to staying cooped up. Next I went back to run club, and I struggled for the full hour but didn’t give up. The following week I went back to circuits, and despite still battling some fatigue my training scheduled is starting to get back to normal, which is helping me to feel like a normal human being again.

I don’t quite know how to finish this blog, but to sum up, this January has been one of the worst months I have ever known, along with the misery I have already detailed above, there was also a death in my family and it has felt like one bit of bad news after another, but I also want to say this – thank you. Thank you to my friends for being there for me, with visits, words of support and flowers. Thank you to the people who without knowing about anything that had happened sent me messages to check in because they noticed something wasn’t right with me as I had been too quiet and had disappeared from Facebook, thank you to my close family who knew what had happened and were there for me at the hospital and every subsequent visit, thank you to the staff on the Mirrlees ward at the Conquest for their excellent and compassionate care, thank you to my husband for looking after me despite it being his loss too, and a final thank you to my best friend Heidi, who was my rock, who spent hours visiting me, who brought me shampoo and continues to be there for me every time I need her, just as she has always been there for me throughout the years. Whether or not any of these people every read this I thank them all the same. Life goes on and will get better again with time, most of all I am thankful that January is finally over, I hope this year is all up from here!