Sunday, 21 December 2014

It's just my imagination. Isn't it?

Because today's forecast was for torrential rain and gales, I very wisely did  my long(ish) run yesterday when there were only gales.  So I headed to the local forestry commission paths for a bit of off-road adventure. 

The first two miles were on a steady but gentle incline and I felt relaxed and strong...until I started hearing what sounded like a dog running up behind me.  The first couple of times, I stopped and quickly turned, ready to shout at errant dog owners but there were no humans or canines to be seen.  I became increasingly freaked out by this and my thoughts turned, as they do, to werewolves...after a half-mile of adrenaline fueled running (as though I could realistically outrun a werewolf but, hey, I wasn't thinking clearly), I realised that the sound was from the small bits of snow and ice that I was kicking up behind me with each step.  I'd like to say that this made me laugh, but I was just relieved that I wasn't about to have my jugular ripped out.

I turned off the main path onto a new-to-me path that would take me downhill to another main path.  It was a bit overgrown but looked passable until I got to the first rise; a muddy and water-logged concourse stretched before me but I thought that a REAL trail runner wouldn't be deterred by this so I sloshed onwards.  I passed two crows in a burnt-out tree, both of whom were commenting on how ridiculous it was that I was trying to keep my shoes clean, but as they were just taking the piss and not behaving in a supernatural (i.e. scary) manner, I ignored them and carried on.

I ended up walking probably a quarter-mile of this section because it was SO muddy and SO flooded that I had no choice but to detour into the slightly less squishy woods to get around the worst of it.  Still, I managed to run, jog, slide, and curse my way through enough mud to feel that I had accomplished something by the end of this section.  And then it was a right turn onto another main path that would take me back to an uphill section leading back to the main path to the car.  It should have been uneventful.  It really should have.

But as I was running up the hill to the main path, I began to hear something in the woods.  At first it sounded like a deer or maybe a pheasant and I didn't think much of it.  But then it sounded like it was moving along with me.  I kept peering into the trees but couldn't see anything, although you wouldn't see a werewolf until the very last minute, would you?  I didn't stop but maintained my running-on-the-flat pace, heart pounding (and not just from running uphill) and adrenaline flowing...and the noise in the woods continued to track me.  I have never been so glad in my life to see a dog walker as I was to see someone & their dogs coming towards me at the top of the path.

By the time that I passed the dog walker, she had her two spaniels on their leads which was a good thing, as they both were leaping and snarling and barking as they stared down the hill past me.  'That's odd,' said the dog walker, 'they never behave like that.'  No, not unless there are werewolves about...but I didn't say that, I just grimaced and huffity puffed my way to the top.  It's everyone for themselves in the big dark woods.

No scary things accosted me on my way back to the car and I didn't hear any more odd sounds.  That may be because I took off my neck buff when I got to the top of the hill as I had overheated (through fear, I'll have you know, and not because of lack of fitness), and maybe it was the buff rubbing against my jacket that was making the 'I'm coming to get you' noise.  Maybe.  But just in case, I think that I'll give that particular path a miss for a while. 

I'll bet that REAL trail runners don't have to deal with things like this.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Ignorance is bliss, except when it isn't...

It's now two months into the year after my Year of Fun Running, and here's what's been happening:

I ended up paying for a private MRI scan (thank you, unexpected work assignment, for funding this!) to get the definitive answer about what is wrong with my knee.  The scan confirmed that I do have a tear in the body of the medial meniscus as well as some roughness of the medial edge.  There was a lot of fluid behind my femur which the consultant thought might be from a resolving burst Baker's Cyst, but I don't particularly believe this because I never had any symptoms of a Baker's Cyst, burst or otherwise.  And, of course, I know best...Otherwise, my knee is in good shape with 'good preservation of cartilage thickness' and healthy tendons and ligaments.

Julie the Physio gave me a huge pep talk after seeing the results (as well as giving me some more exercises to promote fluid drainage and a better range of movement).  Her view is 'treat the knee, not the MRI,' which meant that she encouraged me to keep running as long as my knee wasn't too unhappy.  And, unless I completely misunderstood her, it's really my pain tolerance that should be the deciding factor about how much I run as opposed to some arbitrary random mileage or frequency limit.

Her final words were, 'Stop running like you have a torn meniscus!'  So that's what I've been trying to do.  And she's right, if I didn't know what the MRI showed, I wouldn't be worried at all about how my knee feels.  I've certainly run through worse pain than this before; in fact, my knee now twinges only occasionally during a run.  It's afterwards that I feel the effects and even then, it's discomfort rather than pain and generally resolves by the next day.  So, I'm up to running three times/week now with the longest run 5 miles.  And it's all going fine.

Also on the advice of Julie the Physio, I've been running off-road to give my joints a bit of a rest.  There are woods which are a five minute drive from the house but in the over ten years that I've lived here, I have never been there.  Ever.  What was I thinking????  Because running in those woods is AMAZING!  It's not just the softness underfoot, it's the lovely trees, it's the views of the distant hills, and it's realising that I really really like running uphill.  Who knew?  I've always avoided significant uphills (and downhills) on the road, partly through laziness but mainly through fear that I'd tear another calf muscle unless I stayed on the flat.  Those days are long gone, though, thanks to Chi Running and, to paraphrase Julie the Physio, 'run the legs that you have, not the ones that used to give you so much trouble.'

So, as proof of my off-road adventures, here's what I got up to on today's five mile loop:

My new trail shoes!  Very pretty, very comfy.


At the start: 1.5 miles gentle(ish) uphill, then turn right to...
A lovely half-mile downhill.
Turn right onto a flat bit for 1.5 miles, then...

Turn right again onto a lovely half-mile uphill (this is taken from the top; I did run up it!)


And then, a one-mile gentle downhill run back to the car:

And home for soup and cake.

 I still don't have any particular running goals for 2015 but I know one thing for sure:  Fun Running is still going to be part of it.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Race report: Aviemore Half Marathon

I had hoped to get in some quality runs between the 10k two weeks ago and today's HM but work, weather, and general inertia combined to see me run not one single step in the past week.  If nothing else, at least this helped the 50p-sized blood blister that I picked up during the 10k (I wore the wrong socks; I love my bamboo socks but they do not love me, which I KNOW but the turquoise socks look so nice with my pink shoes and I thought, what harm can it do, it's only 10k...) and my knee to settle down.  So, I rocked up to the start line in fine fettle and really, really looking forward to this last run in my year of Fun Running.

At the start:  a bit blurry, but still beautiful
I was pleasantly surprised to find one of my work friends and her husband in the start line queue.  They're just back from two weeks in Canada so we had lots to chat about as we waited for the race to start and we continued chatting as the queue slowly moved forward towards the start line.  In fact, we were gabbing so much that I forgot to turn on my Garmin and only realised that as I began to run.  Oh FFS.  I toyed with leaving it off completely - for this race, I wanted to focus on the experience rather than obsessing about mile splits - but I can't NOT have data...cue much faffing with the Garmin, stumbling over rocks as I faffed, and being blinded by the unexpected appearance of the sun as I faffed and stumbled.  In other words, my usual graceful race start.  But once the Garmin had found a satellite and was doing its thing, I resolved not to look at it at all and to run my own race in my own way.  And funnily enough, I wasn't even tempted to look until it was all over.

It took  me almost a half-mile to get the Garmin sorted and by that time, I had become mired in the midst of some slower runners who were using the flat, stone-free part of the path, forcing anyone who wanted to overtake them onto the cambered, rocky sides.  Which, to the detriment of my blister, I did.  I don't remember the paths being that rocky the last time that I did this HM, but I really struggled on them today.  It was hard to keep my footing and the glare of the low sun immediately in front of us made it hard to see what was happening on the ground.  I went over on both of my ankles a couple of times, one of which elicited a loud 'Whoa!' from the two people behind me.  Still, it could have been worse.  I saw a woman after the race with bruising and cuts to her face from a fall.  I felt like an idiot, but at least I wasn't injured.

Get. Out. Of. My Way.
While I'm complaining, I also don't remember the previous race being as crowded as it was today.  I seem to recall mainly running on my own a lot of the time, which was fine because some of the paths are so narrow that there's only room for one person.  Huh.  Not this time.  At one point, it felt like the Cairngorms' equivalent of being on the A9:  one slow person in front and a long queue behind them with nowhere to overtake.  Unlike the A9, everyone was being very polite, no one asked the slower person to step aside, and it didn't feel appropriate to do that from the middle of the queue so I relaxed into it and enjoyed the views through the trees of the loch below.

I also enjoyed the downhill bits.  Normally I brake and hold myself back and thud and jar my way to the bottom of a hill.  Today, though, I focused on light, quick steps and on relaxing my ankles and knees.  I tried to keep my hips over my ankles rather than sitting back which meant that it felt like I was leaning down the hill.  Initially scary but then it felt very joyful.  My knee held up just fine, and I overtook lots of folk.  Yay!

And then we were onto the road section.  I like road running and it was nice to be away from the rocks, and it felt like I picked up the pace.  I know that this race is advertised as mostly downhill, but IT ISN'T.  And I am convinced that the first 3 miles on the road consist of a slow, steady incline.  I think that I hated this section last time but today I enjoyed it.  I didn't struggle at all and, despite the blisters (by now, there was one on the other foot as well), steadily overtook people.  UNTIL...

Both lanes of the road are open during the race, and there are traffic cones along the left side to create a safe corridor for runners.  Last time, there was often room for at least two runners which allowed for overtaking.  Today, though, there were a lot of sections where there was only room for one runner and the marshalls were keeping an eagle eye out for people running outwith the cones so again, if you got stuck behind someone going slower than you, you were out of luck.  I did at one point leap from the road to the verge where there was a small path through the grass but this was too uneven for me to run on and, more importantly, that leap tweaked my knee.  Aaarrrggghhh!

By mile 8, my knee had developed a spectacular cramp that extended from mid-calf to mid-thigh.  I normally can run through things like this but it started to feel like my knee was going to give way beneath me.  After a a couple of times where it felt like it had started to buckle, I eventually had to stop twice to give it a good stretch.  The cramping carried on until about mile 10, but I womanfully ran through it and then it disappeared as quickly as it started.  Go figure.

The last three miles were great!  I felt strong, my cardio was not a problem, and NOW it was all downhill!  I overtook more people, waved at the marshalls and spectators, sang along to the songs on my iPod, dodged children on their bikes who seemed to view the runners as an obstacle course, resisted the urge to look at my Garmin, and generally felt very happy indeed.  I had a brief moment of thinking that I was going to fall when I ran across the grass to the finishing line because it was quite bumpy, but I managed to finish upright and smiling.

There isn't a visible digital timer for this race - what there is, is a man with a stop watch taking a very loose measure of when people cross the finishing line (gun time), as well as timing chips for a more accurate record.  I checked my Garmin and I crossed the line in 2:08; add in another 5ish for the very beginning of the race, and I expected to come in around 2:13ish.  Not the best time in the world, but okay for me.  However, I felt so despondent when I checked the online results and found myself with a time of 2:16ish.  Grump grump moan moan, completely forget how great I felt for most of this race and focus on numbers numbers numbers.  Such a healthy attitude...but THEN I found out that the online time is most likely the gun time which means that my chip time should be a bit faster...it really shouldn't matter, but it does.

So that's it.  I'm now at home, icing my knee and cursing the blisters, which hurt way more than my knee does, and waiting for the chip times to be posted.  I ran this race the way that I wanted, doing my best to be fully present and noticing and appreciating everything; even though I wish that I had been faster, I like that I ended my year of Fun Running by...having fun!

But now, it's time for a rest!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Race report: River Ness 10k

I know, I know.  Long time, no blog.  I've been coping not too gracefully with a knee thing for the past month and a half - NOT a running injury, I hasten to add, but one that has been exacerbated by my refusal to stop running.  The physio thinks that I have a minor tear of the cartilage of my left knee, caused by crouching down too quickly and deeply; my old and dried out cartilage apparently couldn't cope with the sudden stress of normal movement.  Yay for incipient old age.

Not overreacting at all.
Anyway, by the time of today's River Ness 10k, I had cut out speed work, cut back to running only twice/week (keeping one of those runs as a very slow long run), cut out running down hills, and added biscuits and cupcakes back into my diet as a consolation prize for limping around the house with a knee that refused to bend.  Oh, I was feeling soooo sorry for myself.  I sent a self-pitying email to the very patient and supportive Cathy, bemoaning my physical state and floating the idea that I should just give up on the 10k and the HM.  My running days were over; oh, woe was me.

Oops.  How embarrassing. 

I dragged myself and my cold (yep, more feeling sorry for myself) to the start line this morning and, after queuing up for the obligatory last-minute pee (whose bright idea was it, anyway, to situate the men's communal urinals so that everyone in the queue had a good view of the men using the facilities?  Not a sight that I really want to see again...) and squeezing myself into the 1hr - 1hr 30min section of the waiting runners, prepared myself for a slog of a run.

Except, it wasn't a slog at all.  My knee performed admirably - just a couple of slight twinges on some of the early downhill sections and a slight feeling of stiffness towards the end but, otherwise, my legs felt great.  My cold didn't seem to interfere; I didn't need to stop to sneeze or to blow my nose, although a bit of surreptitious wiping was called for, and I didn't have a coughing fit until after the finish line.  Despite being very aware of how much cardio I've lost in the past month, I really did feel fine for all except the last half-mile, when I knew that I wasn't going to make it in under an hour and had an almighty 'FFS, what's the point of pushing myself then?' reaction.  I had to give myself a stern talking to in order to keep running but at least I didn't do the Walk of Sulkiness like I did in Reykjavik.

I finished in 1:01:25ish (official times are out tomorrow).  I was temporarily gutted at not being under an hour but, upon reflection, I'm satisfied with this.  Especially as, almost 6 hours later, my knee still feels only a bit stiff.

So, it looks like the Aviemore HM is back on!  I have no idea what time I'll finish in but I WILL finish, and with a smile on my face.  This will be the last race in my Year of Fun Running, and I want to enjoy every minute.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

A rambling run

I can only think of three times in my running career that I've run off-road; I like the idea of it, but I've always harboured a fear that my delicate ankles and inflexible calves wouldn't be able to cope with more varied terrain.  However, the past year has been all about breaking through physical and psychological barriers so today, after months and months of promising myself that I would do it, I finally took myself off to do a trail run.

I loaded up the car with my long run equipment (Camelbak, bottle of Lucozade, jelly babies, banana, sunglasses, running hat, phone, iPod, and camera) and drove 45 minutes to the Wellhill car park of Culbin Forest.  It's a place that I know fairly well in a walking sense, including knowing that the trails are more or less flat and well maintained, and it seemed a logical place to test out whether this trail running lark is for me.

It occurred to me, as I drove into the car park, that I had never been there in the summer.  The sheer number of shouting parents, shrieking children, and snarling dogs reminded me of why I had always given it a miss during this time of year.  However, operating on the maxim that the majority of people don't wander far from the car park in any given outdoor situation, I optimistically set off on an eight mile run.  And sure enough, as soon as I turned the first corner, I left everyone behind me and didn't see another soul until I was back in the car park at the end of the run.  Bliss!

I had my route mapped out - it's one that I've walked many times before - and I thought that I knew where all of the turnings were.  I even had a map with me.  But the forest looks different at a running pace and I got a bit disoriented, went straight where I should have turned left, and then had a not unpleasant five miles of wondering where the hell I was.  The wide forestry road that I thought I'd be running on had morphed into a lovely narrow trail, so no complaints there, and I figured that I'd eventually come across a junction that was on my map.  I didn't, not until I surprisingly ended up back at the car park, but it all felt very adventurous in a safe and contained kind of way.

I was a bit disappointed that the beach with views across Findhorn Bay that I had planned the original route to take in wasn't on my alternative route.  In fact, there were no views at all, aside from the trail and trees.  There were, however, lots and lots and lots of flies.  It wasn't too bad while I was running but, when I stopped for a drink or to dither over the map, they pinged off my head and tried to climb behind my sunglasses and a horsefly bit me twice on the arse through my tights and they generally made it so unpleasant that running was a relief. 

Culbin Forest:  trees, trees, and more trees
Findhorn Bay:  what I had hoped to see
So, what's my verdict on trail running?  I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought that I would but that could be because it was so hot (22c) and I am definitely a cool weather runner.  I wish that I had seen the bay and been able to run a bit on the beach.  But then, I liked venturing away from my usual running routes, I liked being out in nature, and I liked not having to dodge 4x4s, boy racers, and tourists driving on the wrong side of the road.

On balance, I think I'll try it again.  But next time, I'm definitely going to the beach!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Running with a half-full glass

It's been three weeks since the Midnight Sun HM, there are three months to go until the Aviemore HM, and I have to confess to feeling a bit baffled as to what I do next.  I am so used to finishing a race and then taking at least the next month off due to either injury, illness (curse you, Malta HM!), or apathy that I don't know how to structure the start of training for Aviemore.

I haven't lost any fitness because I haven't taken any time off so there's no physical  need to cut back to the usual level that I'm at when I start training for a half marathon but, psychologically, it feels wrong (and scary) to run more.  Today, for example, my brain was saying, 'You're tempting fate, you're going to get injured again!' but my body was saying, ' Eight miles?  What's the big deal?'  And it wasn't a big deal.  At all.  I did an easy eight miles out and back along the Cromarty road.  It was very windy, it was very hot, and there were so many cars forcing me off the road that it would have been faster if I had leaped into the firth to swim home - but the running itself was fine.

So, following the advice of Cathy, Paul, and Adam (who are all agreeing with each other, so they must be right), I'll keep my long runs between 8-10 miles for now.  I'm not sure what to do with the rest of the running week but, now that my ankle has mysteriously fixed itself, I have options again. 

And if the Running Gods are reading this and think that I'm being complacent, let me assure them that I am as neurotic, hypochondriacal, and pessimistic as ever - but I am getting better at running as though I am not!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

A run in the (midnight) sun: Part 2

And so we were off!  I had a vague plan for this race.  I really really really wanted to finish as close to 2 hours 10 minutes as possible which meant that I had to run at a more or less 10min/mile pace.  For 13.1 miles.  I hadn't done any speed work in training as running faster than an 11min/mile made my ankle hurt, so my brain was telling me that this was an unrealistic goal and that just to finish without puking in public (yep, I'm still haunted by the Malta HM) would be a success.  But secretly, I kind of thought that I could do it.  Slow and steady, don't get carried away, and relax.  Simple, right?

The first couple of kilometres wound through some of Reykjavik's neighbourhoods and included a bridge across the motorway.  Not hugely inspiring scenery, but it was nice that some of the local residents turned out to cheer us on.  Cathy and I more or less kept pace with each other for a lot of this.  We chatted a bit but otherwise were in our own worlds, me plugged into my iPod with its 170-180bpm songs to keep my cadence up and Cathy plugged into the thoughts inside her own head.  I kept an eye on my Garmin and was pleased that I finished the first mile in 10:06.  I finished the second mile in 9:39 and, even though my ankle had stopped hurting and I was feeling strong, I panicked.  Too fast, too fast!

So, without any evidence that it was necessary, I slowed right down and this, plus walking through the first water stop, meant that I finished the third mile in 10:20.  Because Cathy is physically coordinated enough to be able to carry her water with her (I've tried, but I can't manage to freely move the arm and hand that are holding the water bottle, and then I get annoyed and distracted by the sound and feel of the water sloshing around), she sailed past the water station and then I watched her sail into the distance as I walked and sedately sipped from the paper cup.  That was the last that I saw of her until we met up after the race!

My memories of the race become a bit of a blur after this.  It felt like we were running uphill for most of the first half.  The 'of course it's a flat course!' advice that I had gotten at registration was SO wrong.  I did my best to embrace the hills and to float up them in a Chi Running kind of way and was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn't need to walk.  If I could figure out how to import my Garmin data to this blog, you would see that from about mile 1.5 to mile 7.5, there is a steady and consistent climb upwards.  Just goes to show that one person's flat is someone else's 'Oh FFS, not another hill.'

The first half felt like it was all into the wind as well as being significantly uphill.  I didn't do too badly at keeping a consistent pace, although I can see from my Garmin splits where the wind picked up at mile 5 and I thought about walking.  But I didn't.

After the first water station, I let go of the idea of keeping to a specific pace.  I decided to run at a speed that felt comfortable and that allowed me to take in the views because, by that point, we were running alongside a lovely stream with waterfalls.  I, again vaguely, thought that if I was feeling strong by miles 6 or 7, then I'd pick up the speed.  Or maybe I'd only do that at mile 10 if I had anything left.  Basically, I didn't have a plan.  I just wanted to have a fun run.  And that's what I proceeded to do.

I had a brilliant time.  Aside from the wind, the weather was great.  A bit sunny, a bit cloudy, a bit of misty rain towards the end.  The field was a good size:  small enough that I often could pretend that I was running on my own, but large enough that I could target runners in front of me to give me something to aim for.  The scenery was distracting in a good way - streams, flowers, fields, mountains, a golf course, Icelandic horses having a bit of a prance, and a black bunny. Fab.

Looking back to Reykjavik from the top of the Elliðaárdalur valley

Waterfalls in the Elliðaárdalur valley
Icelandic horses having a bite to eat

Watching the runners go by
Did anything go wrong?  Need you ask?  I wouldn't be me if something didn't go wrong.  Miles 7, 8, and 9 nipped along at a pace that felt easy but that was faster by almost more than a minute and a half than anything that I had done in training.  I was thrilled!  And then, at the start of mile 10, my iPod started to skip.  And then it started to freeze.  And then it froze completely.  With only three miles to go, and with my most inspirational songs still to come (deliberately organised to perk up tired legs), the bloody thing stopped working.  And this completely threw me.  I spent most of mile 10 fighting with it trying to get it to work.  I spent mile 11 fighting with thoughts of 'I need the songs, I can't run without them, I'm so tired, I just want to walk,' and I gave in and walked up a hill during the first part of mile 12.  The whole thing was purely psychological and, once I realised that (hey, it only took me 2.5 miles to figure it out), I forced myself to start running again.

Cheers, Tom!
I sang 'Runnin' Down a Dream' out loud to get my cadence and my mood back up.  I ignored my tired legs.  I ignored my blisters.  I told myself that this was a race, not a long run, and it was supposed to be hard at this point.  I told myself that I would be really hacked off with myself if I missed out on a 2:10 finish because I was having a strop over my iPod.  I focused on the woman in the pink top who had been overlapping with me since the first water station and who was now far ahead of me, and tried to catch her up.  The last 1.5 miles were good.  I was tired, I hurt, I was breathing hard but for the first time in a half marathon, I crossed the finish line feeling like I had actually run a race rather than just trying to get to the end without injuring or embarrassing myself.

I finished in 2:10:50 and with a huge smile on my face.  A 5 minute PB and only two seconds behind the woman in the pink top.  Yay for me!

Cathy finished in 2:06:18.  She and I were more or less in the middle of the pack, which is lots better than the joint last that we thought we'd manage.  Paul finished in 1:32:01 and was third in his age group. Yay for us!

I think that I'm safe in saying that we enjoyed the course, hills and all, and majorly loved Iceland.  I hear that Paul is thinking about going back at some point for an Icelandic trail race.  While that is not necessarily for me (although I'd be up for one of the multi-day walking treks through the interior), Bassman and I would be more than happy to show up to cheer him across the finish line.  Iceland...one visit is not going to be enough.

Laugavegur Ultra Marathon:  Go, Paul, Go!

Saturday, 5 July 2014

A run in the (midnight) sun: Part 1

The Reykjavik Midnight Sun Half Marathon has been and gone but here, only delayed by a couple of weeks, is my report of the race (or what my middle-aged lady brain can remember of it, anyway).  If you're looking for a travelogue of our Icelandic adventure, have a look at Bassman's blog as what follows is going to focus on what's most important - the running.

Killer spices.
My training in the couple of months before the HM went well, not that you would know that from this blog.  (I wasn't going to do anything to attract the attention of the Running Gods, and that included writing about how well things were going.)  My ankle continued to twinge for the first 20 minutes of every run but remained discomfort rather than pain and I was SO HOPEFUL that I was going to FINALLY get to the start line of a half marathon without carrying any injuries or illnesses.  Imagine my distress when, the night before we flew to Iceland, I dropped a full glass bottle of dried sage onto the top of my foot whilst engaging in a last minute panicky clean of the kitchen.  I calmly remarked to myself that that was going to bruise and that I had better be careful.  And then I dropped a second full bottle -this time of cinnamon - on the exact same spot.  Oh FFS.

In all of the excitement of getting to Reykjavik, I didn't pay any attention to my foot until we were safely tucked up in our Reykjavik 101 (that's the central area of the city) flat late Friday night.  'Bloody hell,' I said to Bassman, 'my foot is really throbbing.'  I took off my sock and was horrified to see an emerging deep purple bruise across the (now swollen) bit where my toes joined the rest of my foot.  Arrrggghhh!  A broken toe!  What if I had a broken toe?!  Another race where I was going to be injured!!!  Arrrggghhh!

Fortunately, our well stocked flat had ice cubes in the freezer so I put on my compression socks, elevated my foot, and iced it for the rest of the night.  By morning, the swelling and most of the pain were gone, but the bruise was an impressive combination of purple and green and yellow.  Phew.  Panic (and another over-reaction from me) averted.

Because we arrived on Friday and the race wasn't until Monday, we had lots of time to sightsee.  And eat.  I kind of forgot about the race as we explored the city and its restaurants and bakeries.  Especially the bakeries.  I'm not sure that what I was doing was carb loading so much as it was pastry, cake, and biscuit loading.  Cathy and Paul arrived on Sunday - they were doing the HM as well - and we met up for lunch and a pre-race sharing of anxiety.  No cakes, but that's because Cathy and I were full from the huge bucket of polenta fries, Bassman was full from a massive bowl of meatballs, and Paul was full from the burger that was as big as his head.  I tried to make time to rest in the afternoon each day, usually accompanied by a biscuit or two and a cup of tea, and by the time that Monday rolled around I felt ready to take my newly expanded muffin top for a run.

Registration was on Monday afternoon so I took the bus to Laugardalsholl (or, the sports hall) in Laugardalur (or, the swimming pool/park complex where the race started and ended).  It was all very organised and the registration queue moved quickly, leaving me plenty of time to shop and to ask one of the support staff about the course. 'Flat?  Of course it's flat.  There's just a small downhill and then an uphill in one of the valleys and then that's it.'  Ha.  If the Running Gods weren't going to get me with injury, they were going to have a go with misinformation...I met up with Cathy and Paul at registration, passed on the course (mis)information, and we shared a taxi back to our respective flats where we all tried on various running gear combinations (separately, I hasten to add, not together) before sharing a taxi, with Bassman, back to the start.

Laugardalur.  The sports hall is the white building in the centre.

My t-shirt purchase.  (Body not blogger's own.)

I had been obsessively watching the online weather the previous couple of days, tracking the rain as it moved in and out of Reykjavik.  The forecast for race evening was for rain and 18-20mph wind.  Sigh.  Just like running in the Highlands. Driving up to the sports hall, we saw a large cardboard sign fly past us through the air; hmmm, very windy indeed.  Still, at least it was sunny.  Sunny.  At 9pm.  Fabulous!

So, we did our stretches and had our photos taken by Bassman and went to the loo and did some more stretches and tried to go to the loo again but the queue was too long and the race was just about to start...so we lined up, Paul at the front with the Super Whizzy Runners and me and Cathy towards the back of the pack (but, being brave and optimistic, NOT at the very end).  A bit of a countdown, and our bruised feet and dodgy ankles (me), dodgy hamstrings (Cathy), and Super Whizzy Runner niggles (Paul) were off.

Tune in tomorrow for 13.1 miles of fun!

Monday, 12 May 2014

The price of safety

Followers of Bassman's blog will know that he recently bought a fab new motorbike helmet, and at a reasonable price too. The stylish black & white floral design makes my old boring blue helmet look even more dowdy than it already does (and it's well over 6 years old so, for safety reasons, it needs to be replaced anyway), so I decided to upgrade too.  Unfortunately, the smallest sized helmets in the shop on the day that Bassman bought his were all too big for me, so the shop ordered in a couple of extra-smalls in my preferred patterns and today I went to try them on.  Yay!
My preferred option.  Bassman has this in black & white.
Or rather, not so yay.  Because it turns out that I have a teeny tiny head.  In fact, my head is so teeny tiny that it's almost child-sized. Extra-small is too big.  Even extra-extra-smalls (which the lovely and patient biker woman managed to find under a huge stack of boxes) move around more than they should.  I was miffed and she was perplexed.  The Chief Assessor of Motorcyclists for Scotland, who had dropped into the shop for a cup of tea and a chat, was amused.  FFS.  So, here are their suggestions for what to do next:

1)  I could try a large child's helmet, which is a bit smaller than an XXS.  Woo hoo!  I could have something like this:


2)  I could wear a balaclava under the XXS to fill in the extra space. 

No.  Just...no.  Not even the lion.


3)  I could accept that the brands that the shop carries don't suit my pinhead and try the other bike shop in Inverness to see if another brand fits any better.  On the surface, this sounds reasonable but this shop only stocks the more expensive brands.  Shock horror.  How will I ever cope?  Actually, I should have known: when there is an expensive option and a less expensive option, circumstances will conspire to force me to choose the expensive option.  It's a curse, but I've learned to live with it.

Or at least make my head a normal size.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

A month of not-very-much

Here's what I've been up to in the last month:
  • I took one week off after the HM, mainly because I felt too weak and light-headed to do anything else.
  • I ran twice - 3 miles and 5 miles - the second week after the HM.  Still felt very weak and had to walk lots, plus my right ankle definitely wasn't happy.
  • I ran twice - 1.5 miles and 3 miles - the third week after the HM.  The first run was meant to be 3 miles but my ankle hurt so much that I stopped half-way through.  The second run was on the treadmill and, although my ankle ached on and off, at least it wasn't pain.
  • Rather than risk tipping my ankle niggle into injury territory, I focused on using the stationary bike, elliptical trainer, and rower at the gym as well as re-introducing weights.  It's not running, but something is better than nothing.
  • I saw Adam a week ago to see if he could figure out what is going on with my ankle.  He rattled off the name of one of the tendons in the ankle/foot, agreed with me that it was likely another ankle impingement (I had one years ago, pre-Adam, that took months to clear up), and proceeded to try to unimpinge me.  Here is my ankle, post-treatment, with apparently normal bruising and swelling:
Looks worse than it feels.  Really.


  •  Adam's instructions were to keep using the cardio machines but treat them like running sessions (e.g. do intervals on the bike) rather than just faffing around whilst watching Bargain Hunt.  He said no running for the next two weeks and repeatedly assured me that I would easily be able to start training at the beginning of April for the Reykjavik Midnight Sun Half Marathon.  I found this very difficult to believe and badgered the poor man until he gave up and said that I could run outside as long as it isn't windy (because that's when I lose my form and go over on my ankles).  Given that there are very few days anymore when it is NOT blowing a gale, this essentially amounts to me doing what I've been told.  Sigh.  He's so clever.
  • I've been trying to walk for 3 miles on the days when I'm not at the gym because this doesn't hurt and I figure that a bit of movement will be good for healing and mobilisation.  Yesterday's walk saw me try some very short bursts of jogging with the wind at my back just to see what it felt like.  My ankle felt stiff but otherwise fine, both during and after the walk.  I'll try a bit more run/walk next week and see how it goes.
Oh, and I've booked a Chi Running/Yoga weekend for the end of May (anyone want to join  me?), ordered a Yoga for Runners dvd (as the timings of the local classes are impossible for me and I've finally bowed to the inevitable conclusion that I NEED to sort out my muscle imbalances and develop at least a nodding acquaintance with core stability), and booked our plane tickets to Iceland (even though, given the way that my Year of Fun Running is going so far, we may be contending with a volcanic eruption). 

I'm definitely a work in progress.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Part 2: The Malta Half Marathon (or, the Running Gods laugh some more)

Right.  So.  The last post saw me feeling a bit better and ready to take on 13.1 miles.  Any strategies that I had planned - and that includes pacing, refueling, and attitude - now had to be completely revised.  Because I no longer had a time goal, and the refueling would depend on how my stomach and bowels felt, all that was left was to adjust my attitude.  I spent some time telling myself that all that I could do was see how it went, that at least I was at the start line, that it was a beautiful day, that I could finish.  That would have to be enough.

The start gate seems to be just for appearance.
The race was meant to start at 9:20 but at 9:10, there was an announcement saying that it was starting in three minutes.  Cue a mad dash by lots of people to find a place in the starting area, which was just a car park and didn't have pens or even indicators of where the different pacing groups should position themselves.  This meant that the people doing the walkathon (half-marathon distance) were interspersed with the people doing the running version.  It also meant that, within a couple of minutes of setting off, several walkathoners were knocked over by half-marathoners trying to get by them.  It was interesting to see that Maltese runners run like they drive - elbows flying, pushing, and cutting in as though they are the only people on the road.

My SENSIBLE pacing strategy was to run whatever felt comfortable, even if that meant walking.  However, my feverish, dehydrated, ILL pacing strategy was to run as though I hadn't just spent hours purging my system of toxins.  I know, what was I thinking???  Anyway, that's how I started out.  And the first four miles felt fine.  My breathing was controlled, my legs felt fresh, and I thought, 'I really might be able to do this!'  My splits for the first four miles were 10:08, 9:45, 10:12, and 10:04, and I was pleased with this.  I had a bit of water at mile 3 and a couple of sips of Powerade at Mile 4 to test out my tummy - no immediate issues were apparent.

Towards the end of mile 4, we came around a bend and there was the first of what turned out to be many hills on this 'almost flat' course.  (FFS, could race organisers PLEASE stop advertising their courses as almost flat when they blatantly ARE NOT???  I don't mind hills; I just like to know what to expect.)  I slowed my pace but kept running and made it three-quarters of the way up before my body very clearly said, 'Enough.'  This wasn't exactly Hitting the Wall but, all of a sudden, as though a switch had been turned off, I had absolutely no more energy left.  Zero.  So I walked.  And as soon as I slowed down, I felt sick.  As in, really sick.  As in, 'looking around to find some bushes to empty my guts into if necessary' sick.  The urge passed with some deep breathing and focusing on the scenery rather than on my roiling innards, and I was able to run again, although the time spent running decreased and the time spent walking increased for the rest of the race. 

I had a bit more water at mile 6 with no ill effects and decided to chance my luck with an energy gel as well.  At approximately mile 6.5, and for the next mile or so, the route went through an industrial estate.  The narrow corridors acted like a wind tunnel (for yes, there was definitely a stiff breeze blowing, as I had feared might be the case) and the lack of any spectators aside from some bemused-looking mechanics made this a difficult section.  I got through it with what felt like lots of walking but which, looking at my splits for miles 5 through 8 (10:29, 11:44, 11:24, and 11:23), probably was less than I thought at the time.

I puked.  Damn.  I could have stopped.

We came out of the industrial estate onto one of the main motorways.  There were huge queues of traffic on the other side of the motorway with a corresponding miasma of petrol and diesel fumes.  Not good for my dodgy tummy at all.  Unfortunately, the unbreathable air made me feel sicker and sicker until, at mile 8.5, I had to dash to the dividing barrier between the lanes of the motorway to do a spectacular, multi-coloured spew into the small decorative bushes that were planted there.  I hadn't realised that a stomach could hold that much liquid.  In other circumstances, I might have been quite impressed with myself.

And that was kind of the end of the race for me.  Although I felt much better for having emptied my system, I simply did not have anything left in my legs and no way of reliably getting any hydration or nutrition into myself.  I was hot, thirsty, dizzy, queasy, and crampy.  I briefly thought about quitting but, when I saw one of the marathon runners limping along in front of me - obviously in pain, unable to run - and saw him hobble on past one of the support ambulances without even slowing down...well, if he wasn't quitting, I wasn't either.

About 1 mile from the end.
From mile 9 onwards, I walked up every hill and, even on the flat and on the downhills, only was able to manage running for what felt like a couple of minutes at a time.  From mile 10 onwards, the course turned so that it was heading into the wind and stayed that way until the end.  If I had had any moisture left in my body, I would have cried.  But I didn't.  I kept on with my little run/longer walk sequences and finally, finally I saw the Finish Line around the next bend.

I might have puked into the bushes in front of hundreds of strangers but I still have some pride.  I WAS going to run the last half-mile.  And I did.  My head was spinning and my guts were rumbling, but I averaged an 8:41 pace for the last quarter-mile.  In your face, gastroenteritis! 

And then it was over.  Bassman found me, got me back to the flat, bought me some icy cold Coke (which I promptly threw up but it was worth it), and I slept for 15 hours.  We're back home now and I'm still recovering but at least I'm keeping liquids down again...and I'm pleased to report that my legs don't hurt at all.

My stats?  I finished in 2:32:18.  I was 652nd out of 1246 women, and 43rd out of 108 women in my age group.  Definitely not last, and very solidly middle of the pack.

I will never be a fast runner.  I will never be a Good for Age runner.  Even at my best, I'm still middle of the pack, so I try not to judge whether or not I've had a successful race by my time or by where I fall in the rankings.  To me, if I finish a race feeling that I have given it my all and that I have run to the absolute best of my ability on that day, then that's enough.

And for this race, on this particular day, I couldn't have done any more.

Everyone gets the same medal.  Very egalitarian.

Part 1: The Malta Half Marathon (or, the Running Gods have the last laugh)

Bassman and I left for Malta on the 20th, with me possessed of optimistic expectations for the race on the 23rd.  My training had gone well, with no injuries, only minor niggles, and a successful 13-mile run only two weeks previously.  Yes, I had come down with a stonking cold the week before we left but hey, that was a taper week anyway so there wasn't anything to be lost by missing out on a few runs.  And although I was still fairly sniffly by the time we left for the airport, it was clear that I was in the last stages of the cold and that it wouldn't be a problem come race day.  All that was left was to relax, enjoy the Maltese sunshine, and have a fun run.

Ah, the best laid plans...

We overnighted at one of the large, anonymous, but relatively comfortable hotels at Gatwick airport and arrived in Malta at noon on the 21st.  After a wild taxi ride to our hotel (the Pebbles Boutique Aparthotel) - everyone drives in their own bubble and acts as though they are the only car on the road but, somehow, it seems to work - we were pleasantly surprised to find that we had been upgraded from the studio flat that I had originally booked to a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom flat with a balcony that overlooked the harbour.  It was perfect, aside from the raucous laughter and karaoke that pumped out of the restaurant/nightclub on the ground floor until 2am most nights.  But I always travel with my trusty earplugs, so even being above Party Central wasn't enough to daunt my optimism.

Bassman has written about our touristy activities on his blog, so anyone who is interested can read about them there.  Instead, I am going to move on to the night before the race.  WARNING:  If you have an aversion to hearing about bodily functions, you might want to read the next bit with one eye closed.

We had had huge pizzas for dinner (I couldn't finish mine, which should tell you something about how huge it was) and I was feeling uncomfortably full, even a bit unwell, when we went to bed.  I woke up at 2am feeling REALLY unwell - nauseated and stomach and intestinal cramps - and spent the next four hours tossing and turning, but telling myself that this was just a reaction to having eaten too much.  At 5:45am - an hour before the alarm was due to go off - I flung myself from the bed and barely made to the loo in time.  Oh my.  As Bassman so delicately put it in his blog, evacuations from both ends.  Big time.

In between trips to the loo, I carried on with my race preparations just in case this was something that would work itself out of my system in the next hour.  I tried to eat a bit of banana, but that came straight back up.  I tried to drink a bit of water - same reaction.  No way was I going to try the porridge!  Instead, in my (with hindsight) dehydrated, feverish, and ILL state, I decided that I would take four energy gels with me instead of the two that I had planned - because these would of course make up for the complete lack of food in my body - as well as an energy bar and some sport jelly beans.  No, I don't know what I was thinking, either.

At 7:30am, I tried to get out the door but had to detour into the loo at the last minute.  Fortunately, by this point, the diarrhea had pretty much finished (mainly because there wasn't anything left to be gotten rid of) and I decided that I wasn't feeling too bad, so I tucked a 20 Euro note into my SpiBelt just in case I had to get a taxi back to the flat and scuttled off to the bus.  After a twisty, turny, bumpy ride to the start in Mdina, I was feeling well enough to sip and keep down some water.  I tried a nibble of the energy bar but that CLEARLY was not a good idea.  However, although I felt queasy and crampy and light headed, I wasn't in urgent need of the facilities.  Maybe the worst had passed and now, as they say, adrenaline would carry me around the course.


Ah, the best laid plans indeed...


Friday, 7 February 2014

Tired, but not from running

Today I:
  • Took my car in for its MOT at 9.30am.
  • Was asked if I wanted to have it serviced at the same time, as the next service is due at the end of the month anyway.  Said yes.
  • Went for a 7 mile run along the Caledonian Canal while I was waiting for the results.
Caledonian Canal: flat, but windy

  • Really enjoyed the run.  One mile each of warm-up and cool-down, with five miles at a 9:45 to 10:00/mile pace in between which, for me, is a Really Good Thing.  Nothing hurt.  And none of the dogs that I passed tried to bite me.
  • Took a phone call from the dealership.  Car failed its MOT because it needs a new tyre.  I had feared that it would need four, so this was good news.  What wasn't good news was that the dealership doesn't carry tyres so would have to source one from somewhere else, and the MOT guy could only do the retest at the end of the day.  Was asked to phone them back later in the afternoon to make sure that they could get me another tyre.  Sigh.
  • Managed to cope with the poor changing room and shower facilities at the Aquadome with only minimal cursing.  Having to keep pushing the button in the shower to keep the water flowing?  Doable.  Having to keep dodging around the other patrons of the changing room because it is TOO SMALL for more than a few people at a time?  I was gracious.  Having to spend £1 for 3 minutes of hair dryer time because there wasn't an electrical outlet to plug in my own hair dryer, and then to find that the cord for the hair dryer wasn't long enough for me to see myself in the mirror so that I had to dry my hair by feel, and then to find that I only had enough change for one go at the hair dryer so my hair was still wet when I left the building?  FFS.
  • Phoned the dealership but no one knew what was going on because the service department were all at lunch.  Agreed that I would collect the car tomorrow rather than live in hope that I would be able to collect it by the end of the day.
  • Had to shlep my heavy gym bag and even heavier Fossil bag 1.5 miles from the Aquadome to the High Street.  (I hadn't factored needing to shlep into my packing calculations.  I assumed that I would have had my car by this point.)  My right shoulder seized up but my legs enjoyed the walk.
Stylish, but deadly

  • Had a lovely lunch of pasta salad with sundried tomatoes, courgettes, and feta cheese.  And churros with dark chocolate dipping sauce.  And a huge cappuccino.  Was tempted to have a nap at the table after that.
  • Made my way to the bus depot so that I could get home.  Listened to an underdressed young woman have a very loud conversation via her mobile about how LIKE, UTTERLY OFFENDED, LIKE REALLY UPSET, YOU KNOW? she was at having been accused of flirting with someone else's boyfriend.  LIKE, WE'RE JUST FRIENDS, RIGHT?  AND I WAS, LIKE, HIS FRIEND BEFORE HE STARTED WITH HER, RIGHT?  IT, LIKE, DIDN'T MEAN ANYTHING, YOU KNOW?  I WAS, LIKE, JUST BEING FRIENDLY, RIGHT?
  • Listened to more SHOUTING one-sided conversations from her on the way back home - because of course she sat in the seat behind me on the bus - because three different people phoned her to update her with what The Girlfriend had been saying about her behaviour. BUT I'M, LIKE, INNOCENT, RIGHT?  IT DIDN'T, LIKE, MEAN ANYTHING, RIGHT?  Sheesh. 
  • Was very very glad to get home.  Many thanks to Bassman for collecting me at the bus stop so that I didn't have to drag my bags home on foot, and for making me a medicinal Blackwood's Superior Strength Gin & Tonic.
Many good things come from Shetland.

And now?  My legs feel surprisingly relaxed, but I am finding it increasingly difficult to move my shoulder and neck.  A handbag-induced injury?  Oh, the shame.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Almost there...

I kind of lost interest in blogging over the last month because I was dealing with a litany of 'ooh, I'm injured,' 'phew, no, I'm not injured,' 'ooh, I'm afraid that I might be developing an injury,' and so on.  It's irritating enough to have to live through it and probably even more irritating to read about it.  However, now that there's a bit less than three weeks to go until the Malta Half Marathon, it's time for a recap (complete, of course, with some whingeing; otherwise, how could you ever be sure that it was me writing this?). 

Last week's runs, including one of 6 miles (with 4 miles of intervals) and an 11 mile long run, went well.   This triggered a 'phew, I'm not injured' reaction because the week before that - which was a reduced mileage week and therefore meant to be EASY and RELAXING - was SO HARD and made my legs feel SO HORRIBLE that I was convinced that I would never make it to the Malta start line.  My left leg hurt and ached from the hip flexor ('oh no, it's my marathon injury returned to haunt me!') to the ankle.  My calf cramped up so tight on one of the easy runs that I had visions of it tearing again.  Both ankles ached as though they had been sprained.  The only thing that felt good was my plantar fascia.

I'm still not sure what that week was all about, unless it was my legs really really wanting a week off and me not listening.

Regardless of what the issue was, I seem to be fine now.  Last week's runs felt good with only very minor and very fleeting niggles.  I had my pre-race massage and MOT with Adam this afternoon (brought forward by me after panicking about my calf) and was a bit embarrassed as he couldn't find anything wrong with my legs at all.  There was some residual tightness in my hamstrings and calves, but that was a reflection of usage, not injury.  The conclusion?  A clean bill of running health.

I'm feeling so superstitious about getting to the start line injury-free that I'm not allowing myself to feel excited about it in case I draw the attention of the Running Gods.  And yet, when I see pictures like this...

Sliema, the city where we are staying & where the race ends

Or this...
Valletta, across the water from where we are staying
Or this...
Mdina, where the Half Marathon starts
what can I say except, 'Yes, I am mega-thrilled!'

Sunday, 5 January 2014

A focus on form

I've been consulting Dr Google and Nurse YouTube about my not-quite-plantar-fasciitis, looking for different stretches and strengthening exercises to do (as well as looking for - and finding - people who say, 'Of course you can run through it!').  During my searches, I came across a different application of KT tape for arch support, a video by a foot doctor which demonstrated the massage techniques that Adam used on me last week, and advice from Danny Dreyer, Mr Chi Running himself, to walk barefoot on gravel for 5 to 10 minutes.  (This apparently acts as a mini-massage to break up any adhesions in the plantar fascia.  Really.)  I also kept reading about the importance about decreasing both distance and speed while you are healing.  Bummer.

Poppity poppity pop
Still, I am nothing if not sensible.  I have been doing my stretches religiously but last night I also used the cross-friction massage technique; I used it in a much more gentle and tentative way than Adam did but damned if I too didn't feel the bubbles along the plantar tendon that he had quite merrily popped.  So I popped them too.  It didn't exactly hurt but it did make me shiver.  Not quite as much as the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard might do, but it was close.  However, whether it's coincidence or not, my arch didn't wake me up in the middle of the night with major aching and cramping.

Today, then, was my long run.  I used the new taping configuration and found it much more comfortable than the previous one, which was so irritating that I stopped in the middle of my 5 mile run on Friday to rip it from my foot.  I'm not enthusiastic about decreasing my long-run distance - I have a half-marathon to train for after all - but I did stick at the 8 miles that I've done for the last two long runs and did drop my pace by 60sec/mile.  It felt like a really, really slow jog but rather than grumble about this to myself for 8 miles, I used the time to focus on my form.

Chi running is big on body sensing, which involves doing a series of scans for any areas of tension or stress in your body and then relaxing them.  Body sensing also helps you to keep track of what your posture is doing and of where your feet are landing.  What I discovered was that, as long as I kept my strides short and my turnover high (as a good Chi runner is meant to do), there was no tension in my ankles and feet at all.  The first sign of a heel strike made my arch tighten; reverting to midfoot striking made it relax.  I also carry a huge amount of tension in my shoulders and neck, and relaxing them also meant that my lower body relaxed too.

So I finished the run - on a beautiful cold, crisp, windless day - with feet that felt relaxed and that certainly weren't hurting.  Even now, almost five hours later, my arch feels okay.  I'm aware of it being a bit stiff but that's about it.  The big test is how it feels in the next 48 hours, but I am cautiously optimistic that I've now turned the corner.

Just to be sure, though, I'll be out walking barefoot along my neighbour's gravel driveway tomorrow.


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Return of The Bumblebees

The ache in my left medial arch has been a fairly constant niggle since my last post.  It doesn't bother me at all when I'm running - and I even completed a quick(ish) and strong 8 miles before Christmas - but it had begun to ache so much at night that it was keeping me awake.  I decided to take some days off running, but this didn't help and the ache kept getting worse.  Finally, on 30 December, I broke down and texted Adam.

When I saw him a couple of weeks ago, he couldn't really find anything wrong aside from some plantar fascia tightness and was confident that things should resolve themselves fairly quickly; in fact, he was so confident about this that we arranged our next appointment for well into January.  Fortunately, he had a cancellation the afternoon of the 30th and I went along with some trepidation, fearful that he would diagnose plantar fasciitis and tell me to stop running.

Thirty minutes of towel-bitingly painful massage later, I got the good news.  While there is 'plantar fascia involvement,' this has not YET developed into the dreaded PF.  Adam found some scar tissue this time (Adam:  'It feels just like the bubbles in bubble wrap; time to pop the bubbles!'  Me:  'Aaarrrggghhh!') and the usual tightness, but nothing that unduly concerned him and nothing that made him think that I needed to stop running.  There are, however, some adjustments to be made.

I need to diligently use my therapeutic rolling pin to roll out the plantar fascias on both feet on a regular basis.  I need to stretch my calf, achilles, and plantar fascia several times a day.  I need to keep my long runs to single digits for the next couple of weeks.  And I need to break out The Bumblebees, with their 12mm heel-toe drop and better support, at least for the next week or so, to give my foot a bit of a rest.

It's all eminently sensible and I'm happy to comply.  I've been rolling and stretching away the last couple of days, and dug The Bumblebees out from under the stairs for today's 3 mile easy run.  (I was taken aback all over again by how yellow they are but, hey, this is a medical emergency; fashion gives way in the face of not-quite-plantar-fasciitis.)  Everything felt fine, and my legs felt fresh after their 5-day holiday from running. 

Post-run, my arch still feels okay which is a good sign.  Fingers crossed that whatever Adam did has put me on the road to recovery...Here's to staying below the Running Gods' radar in 2014!