October

So, shin splints, or whatever they are, most painful injury ever! I ended September with a pain in my leg and a hope that in October I would turn my backslide of the past few months around, but the pain in my leg stuck around. In fact it was so painful that after a day at work I would be in tears. I couldn’t run, couldn’t motivate myself to exercise at home, and consoled myself with more bad eating and drinking.

In truth I’ve been in something of a black cloud. I don’t seem to be able to shake it, exercise would normal help these black moods from taking hold too much, but I couldn’t do it. So here I am eating more, drinking more and exercising much less. It doesn’t take a genius to work out what that was going to do to my body. I don’t need scales to tell me I’ve slipped back further than ever, my clothes and the mirror are doing an admirable job of keeping me informed. My mood got worse. Anyone who has stopped to ask me how I’m doing and probed past my cursory “I’m fine” lately has been subjected to a negativity sh*t storm and I don’t seem to be able to stop. It’s like I need people to know that I know that I’m doing badly, so they won’t have to think it behind my back, “god she has let herself go” but this is not how I wan’t to be, I need my positivity back.

I had to drop out of the 1066 way to Battle run,  although my leg  was now, finally, mostly pain free, and well enough for some short runs, it was in no way up to 17 tough cross country miles with little to no training, this was gutting as it was a one off race, still I was back to training again, a bit, and running, what could go wrong… a cold. A stinking cold! Nothing major, just enough to make me feel lousy and put me on the bench… again! Now the only races I have this month are coming up fast and I’m sick! I have signed up to Judgement Day 6k and 18k to let me complete the set having already run a 12k earlier this year, but I find myself worrying not about the race but about the pictures, and how bad they are going to make me feel about myself when I see them. My motivation has gone completely and I’m wondering if I should even bother going at the weekend, I feel fat and unfit and not at all confident in my ability to get round the tough terrain at Pippingford.

A friend, trying to help, set me a challenge to think of 3 positive things about myself or that I did well during the day for the next week before going to sleep. I thought about this as I read the message he had sent me and couldn’t come up with a single thing, at which point I actually burst into tears, although I’ve agreed to try, the black cloud is dense right now and I can’t see through the fog, so I started writing this to try and shut my brain up and help me sleep, one of those blogs that could be considered a bit of an overshare but is somehow cathartic to get it all out – and who reads these anymore anyway right? So JD is up next, and maybe it will restore some motivation and confidence, or maybe I’ll be back onto another self imposed OCR embargo, bring on the weekend… I guess…

Judgement Day 6km

I dragged my tired butt out of bed Saturday morning to travel to Pippingford for the first race of the weekend, travelling with friends who were running the 12km race, I got to spend a chilled out morning in some pleasant October sunshine  watching people race before it was my turn. I was just about to start the warm up when Tom Littlewood from Mudstacle came over and asked me if I’d like to wait and run with the Mudstacle crew instead, which is how, half an hour later I found myself amidst a sea of yellow slowly jogging out onto the course.

I had an absolute blast, with rules thrown in such as “grenade” where we all had to hit the deck anytime someone yelled it, and “Shark” where you had to get yourself of the ground. It was quite slow going but I don’t know that I’ve ever laughed so much during a race. Highlights included Mark Leinster fully submerging in mud and attempting to swim in it, before getting stuck (the muddy kiss on the cheek afterwards as we were both balancing on a tyre after someone shouted shark was also lovely!) and when George Trotter decided to abandon his reputation as a gentleman with a very determined attempt to knock me off the slackline into the water bellow. I don’t know how I held on, but in the end he was the one who got wet, while I managed to get successfully to the other side.

Clinging on for dear life and laughing my head off
Clinging on for dear life and laughing my head off

It took an hour and a half to cover the 6km course but I laughed all the way round and am incredibly grateful to Tom for suggesting I joined everyone for the fun lap.

Finished with a massive smile on my face
Finished with a massive smile on my face

Judgement Day 18k  20k

It’s fair to say that my second day of racing didn’t go as well as my first. I was super lucky that my friend Chris Rudd was able to make the race and decided to run with me, because without him I’m not convinced I’d have made the finish line.

We set off in the first wave, and within the first mile I was struggling a bit to breath properly, my cold, whilst much improved, was making itself felt in my chest. I was already wondering about getting my first DNF but I really wanted that medal, so with Chris’s encouragement I continued. The first 6k were the same as yesterday, with an increase in the length of the bucket carry thrown in for good measure. It was certainly faster going and we reached the monkey bars in good time. I had a go but soon fell off, my grip letting me down once again.

At least I tried!
At least I tried!

We carried on, but I could really feel the lack of training lately and was sorely lacking the ability to breath. I told Chris he could ditch me if he liked, but he refused to budge. We covered some beautiful tough trails through the hills of Pippingford, with some very technical running on every kind of surface. We waded through, swam through, climbed out of and jumped into a lot of very cold water, but the sun was shining despite it being late October and I was never cold for long.

My most triumphant moment was scaling two inverted walls completely unaided – something I’ve not done before, but pride comes before a fall, and shortly after this I turned my ankle. The same one I turned a few months ago at Dirty Dozen. The pain was sharp and immediate. I had to slow to a complete walk for a while, until the pain subsided enough for me to pick up a slow jog where the terrain allowed.

We struggled over a few more obstacles, both flagging with a lack of energy, stumbling up hills and cursing the fact that the course was so long! We finally crested a hill and found ourselves at the technical rig, I didn’t even try, I knew I’d just fall off and potentially hurt my ankle more, so it was a slow hobble around the penalty loop for me, Chris joining me after coming off the rig. We were then off down the hill towards the event village, with a brief stop at a keg carry (which I also failed, my back was seizing up and I just couldn’t lift it, despite usually being OK with carries). Then it was into the event village and faced with a rope traverse strung between two high walls. I had already completed an earlier rope traverse, so after some deliberation I decided I wanted to try, however when I got to the top of the wall (with help) I froze. I couldn’t get myself onto the rope and I couldn’t get down. In the end with help from Chris, and our friend Del, I was half lifted back down to the ground in tears! Chris and I went arm in arm down to the ninja rings which were the final obstacle, and tears were streaming down my face. I felt so useless, tired, in pain and generally pathetic. At this point I was grabbed in a massive hug by Tom Littlewood who was finished and watching the rings (second blog mention there 🙂 ) and without trying the rings, Chris and I took hands to cross the finish line. By this point I was just done. People can say what they like about me skipping obstacles but had I fallen off I don’t think I would be able to walk at all!

I’m so eternally grateful to Chris for staying with me the whole race, as I got more and more slow and pathetic. He really is a true friend and great running partner. The blue medal, to complete my trio of JD medals this year was very hard earned and has probably cost me another week or so of training, but the race was great and JD delivered once again!

JD trio done!
JD trio done!

After finishing I ran into the fabulous Adam Luck who took one look at my face and grabbed me in a huge hug, then after asking if I was OK insisted on taking me to a medic to get bandaged up. I got a few more hugs in with various people then it was time to hit the road.

All in all, despite the race being fantastic, for me it was a bit of a personal disaster. I don’t know how I got myself over that finish line, and it’s been a while since I finished a race in tears. With yet another injury to sort out, I think my black cloud is going nowhere for a while, and another race brake is now on the cards. I just can’t do it! C’est la vie!