My last entry ended with me heading for the hills of Wales … friends offered a place to stay and their wonderful readymade family was far too much to resist. We originally thought I’d head over in November, see how things go, but as Mark Drakeford announced the borders were shutting, off I went with no time to spare. Turns out, I did manage to get my wish of a bit of 5k action in a different country; due to relocation rather than a cheeky weekend break for an international ParkRun (but it still counts!).
So, I’m now based in Snowdonia National Park and unsurprisingly for a girl used to the flat expanse of Merseyside, the hills certainly represented the first challenge. This is closely followed by my slow attempts at learning some basic Welsh! OK, back to the challenge – luckily, I’ve joined a family of runners, and the adults (in age if not mentality!) Nina and Russell set off to help me along my journey. 5k route set, Nina and I would set off running (a term loosely used) at 8 am each morning – same route, different chat. These have been some of my funniest times by far, hanging out with my friend of over 20 years, seeing the sunrise, smiling about the previous evenings fun and mulling over the day ahead. Made all the better by arriving home for exercises with my PT (Russell), a quick coffee and debrief (and on a good day cheerleading) with the kids before school. I have also had wonderful times on longer weekend runs, giving my fell running shoes a good run out (coupled with sunrise hiking) to witness some of the best views around. All in all, some good for the soul times for sure.
As I said back in Blog One, I do like to set challenges within challenges. Not knowing how long I’d be in Snowdonia, I thought I’d try and run the 5km each day I was here (rather than the usual alternating swim, bike, run). As I murmured about possibly just running it each day, a friend jokingly asked how long before we would be back hearing tales of my virtual physio (yes it really was a thing and my strangest Zoom experience in Lockdown One) and me hobbling around the hills. “Don’t worry I said, I’ve learnt from last time, I’ve spent enough time not being able to run, to risk injury – I’ll stop if the pain begins”. What I didn’t bank on was my brain! I was so focussed on the daily challenge that I found myself blocking out the niggles and eventually the pain until ultimately the body screamed no. I have no major injury (or funny/dramatic/vaguely interesting story) to report but my body (more accurately my calf/shin/ankle depending on which day you ask!) just gave up on running after a 30 day back-to-back running streak and unfortunately hasn’t cooperated since!
So, when I say I’m not running …. I’m pretty much not walking unaided. Hearing I had a possible stress fracture, I headed to Argos on Christmas Eve; buying a pair of crutches was not the last minute Christmas shopping I had planned! (also, who knew Argos sell crutches?!?)
Me being me, my first thought was what about the bike – please tell me I can still do it? Yes, the physio said but 5km only, try and keep it flat (mmmm not exactly easy living in the mountains!) and definitely no stand up pedalling (no worry there, he’s obviously not seen me riding a bike – think child on stabilisers). So I devised three road routes, the flattest I can find and given I’m on fast, unlit country roads, I set out on a quest to make myself as bright as possible with new bike lights, two Hi-Viz jackets, a fully reflective jacket (a true sight!) and body lights. I’m definitely taking the Be Safe Be Seen mantra from my cycling proficiency days to heart!
So my latest streak is not the one I set out for, I’m on week 10 of biking only… and no sign of running returning any time soon. Restricted to no more than the required 5km, the latest challenge certainly isn’t in the distance but more the rigour of ensuring I don’t miss a day of the 5k challenge. I’ve also lost the option to have new adventures and the challenge of exploring new places – this is what was motivating me and feels like a real blow. So, the boredom of the route, coupled with some really bad weather (yes I did cycle in that snow picture!) has probably made this the toughest part of the challenge to date. So whilst I would do anything to be back running, I didn’t want this to all be easy, and it’s certainly hasn’t been!
I’m sorry this hasn’t been full of adventure or given you much of a chance to laugh at my expense. Although I often laugh at myself on the crutches, so you are forgiven for doing the same. When I was first thinking about writing a blog, to try and raise awareness and donations for Claire House I wanted it to be genuine and thought it important to document the true ups and downs – and believe me, it is really hard not running! But I am just so grateful that I can continue and equally as grateful to all those who reminded me it was OK to stop and to the “TEP on the (Park) Run” gang, who have offered to stand in my place if needed. I even have a Turbo Trainer on standby if needed… albeit it still being in the box (although indoor challenges are definitely not part of the plan)! Thankfully I have not needed any aids so far but the reassurance, support and kind (and funny!) words of encouragement, have helped get me through.
As this is published I have done 332 days, the end (28th February) is in sight … if you have 20/20 vision at least! So I’m nearly there and as are you readers. I think you also deserve kudos for making it through my monthly musing, so thanks for sticking with me! But who really deserves our support, kudos and virtual hi-fives is Claire House for all they do. They are the real reason I have been doing this. The donations received so far have been fantastic and are spurring me on. Please do keep them coming if you feel able by visiting our JustGiving Page.
Until the next time…
Diloch (that bit of Welsh I’ve got down at least!)