Early 2020 had me running rather intermittently. I managed the remaining Street O events and as they are on tarmac etc my ankle coped fairly well.
Pendle Way in a Day was the first race in our Runfurther season. I was very keen to be there for the start of the season and because it was a race I had not done before. Jamie had been so helpful with entries for Runfurther folk and I was keen to meet him. My ankle was OK on decent ground with no sudden unexpected twists and tweaks and I enjoyed my day out even if it did mean walking a few sections I would have preferred to run.
Anglezarke Amble, a local LDWA favourite, a week later was the same: run when you can but take care especially on descents. A few weeks rest and it was 10 Reservoirs. Again a new race for me. I had hoped a fortnight with little running would have allowed things to mend but I was still unable to run properly on the rough stuff or just let rip on downhills. Very frustrating but you do what you can and appreciate being out there. Great day out on a wonderful route and in lovely scenery. Shame I left the lights on and flattened the van battery but hey ho. Thanks to the landlady for the jump leads and Chris D for using his tiny car to eventually start the huge van.The following weekend was Runfurther race 2, the Haworth Hobble.
I did not cover myself in glory here and very early pulled out by CP1 as coming off Withins Top I tweaked my ankle badly several times. It caused me to collapse in an undignified heap, cry and be so frustrated. I promised myself I would see how it was by Long Causeway... it wasn't worse and possibly had recovered very very slightly from the early uneven ground. Yes, I continued. Apparently I ran well enough to be 1st FV55 and came home with another bottle of wine.
This was the night it all changed. As I nursed a sore foot and went to bed early I knew our plans were shot to pieces. We had packed the van ready for a month away and the ferry was tomorrow. Skiing first on what promised to be superb snow and sunshine in the French Alps and then warm weather climbing in Spain. Sunday breakfast was glum as we agreed we should not drive to the ferry as we were not likely to get much further or to be able to do our activities. That night France closed the ski resorts and Spain locked down so tightly we couldn't have driven in or climbed on the crags. It was depressing emptying the van but the weather here was pretty good so we tried to be positive. It would give me a chance to mend and not run.
We went out on many cycle rides and I signed up for the Covid Trig Challenge. Every day is a school day. I found out about not only trig pillars but Inter-sectional Stations, Fundamental bench marks and more. It caused me to find some interesting routes that despite being close by I have never used before.
It gave a purpose to my cycle rides once I had done all the obvious routes that were easy to do from home which was good as I was trying not to run on my foot/ankle until I had rested it and strengthened it more. Trying to keep up with Bob on descents was frustrating. His greater body mass meant he just pulled away even if I was in my best gear and pedalling like mad. I bought a new bike- not easy in lockdown but it was good to support a local business.
My first bike with drop handle bars and I spent more on it than I did on my first car. Hopefully it will be less of a death trap than either of my first two cars. The second half of April saw longer and faster bike rides as I explored further afield and wondered why I had never done this years ago.
By the end of the month although enjoying the cycling I did really want to be running again. A couple of short local runs on easy ground suggested that things had improved. In a moment of madness I signed up for the Cockbain Accumulator. I say madness because it was Cockbain's The Hill that had broken me before Christmas.
Nobody goes out for 1 mile or even 2 so on May 1st I ran my local short loop of about 5 miles and then on the second a similar loop of about 6 miles. All seemed well and it took so little time and energy that I went out for big cycle rides too. This continued for the first fortnight in May and I fitted in trig searches where and when I could combine them. One day my miles were in the midst of a bike ride- a bit of cyclo-cross to get to a trig.
My usual routes from home almost always include some of the Guild Wheel as we live 200m from it- this is a 21 mile loop around Preston which was built to celebrate the last Guild in 2012. Usually this shared route is fairly quiet but in lockdown it became a nightmare with walkers, dogs on extended leads, family cycle groups, cyclists wanting to race and runners. Time to avoid it! I can also access the golf course, in fact a footpath runs directly across it.
This was great at the height of lockdown and I explored in full when the place was empty and enjoyed some lovely grassy loops. Sadly all too soon the groundsmen reappeared and then the golf course reopened.
By mid May the miles were obviously extending and the accumulated effort starting to show. Mark knows how to create difficult challenges that mess with your body and your head. Not wanting to travel by car to run encouraged me to find new routes from home.
I had not been on the south side of the Ribble estuary for over 20 years but have now run all the way to the Flying Fish in Longton. This was great as although I had run the Ribble Way twice as a charity event we had finished on Preston Docks both times.
This route was very much quieter than the ones in Preston and after the first few miles on the docks and Penwortham it was easy to give people 5m space never mind 2m. At some point on the 20th or 21st I appear to have done some harm whilst running this route. I have no memory of slipping on a stile or jarring but something deep in my butt was very unhappy on my return.
I decided on a plan. I was itching to get back to some hills and thought perhaps being on big climbs would let me go slower without feeling guilty. I also planned to have the fierce wind forecast behind me when I turned for home. It started well with a nice easy trot along flattish land from Brinscall to Rivington. After continuing to the Castle I turned and did some laps in the park before heading up towards the Pike. I even took time to explore the newly renovated Japanese gardens etc and the new coffee shop at Pike Cottage. So far so good. Heading up to Winter Hill mast I felt the full force of the wind and it was freezing by comparison. I collected another Covid trig and hastily dropped to get out of the wind. Except I didn't. The wind was now being funnelled round the edge and was on my side all the way to Hoorden Stoops and the road. The descent was awful for me. It was steeper than I remembered and my butt was complaining badly. Having to limp slowly and carefully also meant I was getting cold. I did start up Spiltlers Edge but the wind was so awful I wanted to escape. It a moment of madness I dropped the way I know best back towards Anglezarke- straight into the wind and still unable to run the downhill. I have never been so relieved to see the reservoirs and flattish land. My next mistake was stopping for food and a recovery. Getting going again hurt, although once I got into the groove of my shuffle and was warm again it was bearable. Not my best 22 miles even if it was nice to see the hills again. Oh and by the time I had driven home my butt had stiffened up completely and I actually struggled to get out of the car. Hmm, not good but hopefully it would be better by tomorrow.
It wasn't. Staying local seemed wise and I thought this might be my last Accumulator day. I set off round the Guild Wheel in iffy weather with drizzle and strong winds. At least there were fewer people braving the elements and the wind was initially on my back. It wasn't comfortable but I did get to Brockholes which is about half way before feeling real pain. From then it seemed that every step jarred me and to ease my butt other things were compensating. Along D'Urton Lane my lower back was agony. It was here that I met two friends- Anne out walking and Cath in the car. I must have looked a right state because both were concerned and Cath offered me strong pain relief and a lift home. No chance, I had invested over 240 miles in this challenge so far, it couldn't go to waste! Only 8 days left now, surely I could do it.
Sunday's forecast was better so it was time to find a quieter route and to go early to avoid any heat and the crowds.
I opted for the 'old' canal with an out and back to just beyond Bilsborrow. I would normally hate the idea of out and back but for this challenge there was something almost comforting in knowing that once I turned all I had to do was run home.
There was lots of wildlife to distract me plus a few fishermen and walkers. I ticked off the markers that I knew quite well and turned just before Barton Grange marina and the A6. Running back I found wild gooseberries and then bumped into friends. Stopping for a chat was a mistake as getting going again was not easy. Still another day done and only 7 to do.
Again I went early, mostly to avoid the worst of the heat. South of the river was very quiet and once into my shuffle I enjoyed myself.
Somehow I missed a sign to continue to Tarleton Lock and I couldn't fave lumpy fields, herds of cows and stiles so I ran on lanes to Walmer Bridge.
I stopped for a bite to eat at Flintstones and then predictably seized up again (no idea why the car is there).
Still, I made it home and collapsed for the afternoon. Big cheers to those doing this challenge and still working.
The next day was back on the Guild Wheel but by the river path to add some length and get more solitude. It was a bit lumpy for my butt but by now I knew what worked and settled into my slow shuffle trying not to actually stop. Bits of the GW are wonderful but it seems that running it at the moment means I hit a bad spot mentally about half way round. There is also far too much tarmac which I would usually dislike but this did help now, except for the short steep drops on the eastern section.
I couldn't face the GW again and so on the 27th settled for loops of Lea Town, the canal, a bit of GW, Haslam Park, Ashton park and a bit on local streets. They are building a western by pass and I am getting to know some of the workmen quite well as I meet them on the canal and also in Lea Town.
This variety seemed to break the distance into manageable chunks. Both days I set my alarm and set off crazy early before I could change my mind.
It worked well and despite arriving home in a bit of a state I completed both days before the worst of the heat and before the crowds. I was home in time for brunch in the garden before a shower and stretches etc.
I had hoped to spend the 29th, my birthday, doing an interesting route on the hills even if it took me all day but I knew this was not now an option. I set off very early- did half the miles and called in at CP home for breakfast and to see family and open presents.
Setting off again wasn't easy buy I had only left myself 14 miles and I concentrated on whittling this down into single figures.
Bob met me out on the canal. I spent the afternoon- once showered eating, drinking and lazing in the sun.
I wasn't in much state to do more. A facebook friend had been messaging me physio advice and so there were stretches and exercises too. It was nice to find somebody who didn't just say STOP and really wanted me to complete the challenge. I owe her many thanks for this.
The last two days just had to be done. I knew they would be tough but I was determined to not fail and DNF at this late stage. I had 470 miles running/ shuffling in May already. How hard could another 61 be?
|Never thought I would post a strava trace like this!|
Bob appeared en route home from his bike ride which was a nice surprise. He also cooked me yet another eggy brunch to eat in the garden while I had a shower and did some stretching. The cycle arena was strange, very different to what I am used to and to what I enjoy but it fit the need for now and it worked. I couldn't think of a better plan for the final day, although I was worried I might not be able to lift my leg and cycle safely.
And then there was one, day left. Another super early alarm call and off I went with my bike loaded up with goodies again. I knew it could be done and that I just had to knuckle down and see it through.
Stopping and starting was torture so I tried to eat and drink on the move with just short detours to collect stuff from where I had hidden my bike.
I also realised that I could cut out the one small downhill by doing the section near the running track as an out and back.
I concentrated on enjoying the count down... 5 laps done so only 5 more sets to do. 10 miles done, you are nearly half way. 15 miles done only 3 more sets, then 2, then 6 more laps...
Near the end Bob arrived (I think I had 2 miles left) and it was lovely to see him. He offered encouragement and took photos. He also retrieved my bike for me and ensured I could safely cycle home. Yes! Job done. I was so pleased to have stuck it out. 530 miles in May and almost as many on the bike in the first half of the month too.
Now I just need to mend. Some core and stretching but mostly for the first days just rest. Luckily it was still sunny enough to lie around, mow the lawns etc. By Wednesday evening and three days of no real exercise I needed to escape and so ventured out on a short easy bike ride round the local lanes for an hour. Cycling doesn't seem to aggravate my butt anything like as much. Thursday saw a change in the weather and also a determined effort to start exercises to resolve my injury. Today after 3 days of stretch, strength and core my reward was an blast on the bike on an amazing evening. My only sorrow was that my iphone had no charge and so I took no photos (but look at all those achievements)
If you fancy the Accumulator Mark is organising it again for July. He also has several other challenges at Cockbain Events (The Hard Stuff). Not sure what I will do for the rest of June or July yet....