Friday, 26 April 2013

Post-marathon post-mortem: Part Three

Miles 16 to 26.2

It all was going so beautifully.  But then, during a walk break in Mile 16, I noticed that my right knee was stiff.  When I transitioned into a run again, it immediately seized up to the point that I couldn’t bend it.  My heart sankThis is what happened after the Aviemore HM and what happened on the downhill sections when I used to hill walk.  It couldn’t be happening now, though, because I still had 10 miles to go. 

But it was happening.  I hobbled through most of Mile 16 – with lots of stops to stretch - then tried to run again at Mile 17.  Excruciating pain for the first 30 seconds, which then disappeared entirely.   I ran all of Mile 17 (because I was afraid to stop) and thought that had done the trick because my knee felt absolutely fine, so took another walk break at Mile 18.  Big mistake.  My knee seized up even worse and I ended up walking (with periodic stops to stretch) for most of Miles 18 and 19 and 20.

I wasn’t sure that I could walk the rest of the way, that’s how little I could bend my knee and how much it hurt.  I thought about quitting at this point.  I thought about going to the St John’s Ambulance station and throwing myself on their mercy because no one would expect me to try to run through this pain.  I wasn’t even upset about this; I had tried and my body had given up and now I was about to give up too but hey, I had given it a go.

But then I thought about all of the people who had sponsored me and who were cheering for me, who were waiting to hear how I had done, who had faith that I would finish.  And I remembered Tess, and how she got herself home with a fractured pelvis and dislocated hip, and what an incredible fighting spirit she had.  And I thought about my friend C’s daughter, who has cerebral palsy and has been a fighter since the very moment of her birth and who continues to fight and achieve and grow and thrive.  I couldn’t be any less of a fighter than them, or less of fighter than people were expecting me to be.

These thoughts cleared my head and I suddenly harked back to mile 17 when my knee didn’t hurt while I was running and I decided to experiment.  I gritted my teeth, dug my nails into my palms, and broke into a hobbling shuffle.  I wanted to cry because it hurt so much but, just like at mile 17, the pain eased within 30 seconds and I was pain-free. Woo hoo!

I now had a new plan:  run the remaining miles of the marathon without stopping (because, if I stopped, I feared that my knee would refuse to start back up again).

This is where the psychological struggle kicked in.  I had a constant stream of thoughts in my head saying, ‘You haven’t run 5 miles without walking in over 6 weeks, you won’t be able to do that now, you’ll hurt yourself, you’d better stop and walk, it’s too far, you’re too tired, feel how much your blisters hurt, it’s too far, you’d better stop and walk’ and so on and so on.  But I didn’t stop.  I kept on running, even though it was really more of a fast shuffle at this point.  

By Mile 23, I had settled into a slow and steady rhythm.  I had to stop and stretch once, after a downhill section made my knee hurt, and I walked a couple of times when the person in front of me stopped dead and I didn’t have the energy to veer around them or to break back into a jog, but mostly I kept moving.  Mile 23 also included the Tunnel of Yes.  If I had had the energy, I would have rolled my eyes at how naff this sounded but, to my surprise, I got all teary in the tunnel as I read the motivational slogans and could hear how loud and excited the crowd was at the other end.  ‘Pain is temporary.’  Yes, it was (unless it was a stress fracture but I wasn’t allowing myself to think about that).   

The Tunnel of Yes
I picked up my pace, only to have my head go into panic mode.  I was getting such clear messages to stop  - ‘You’ve gone far enough, you can walk the rest of the way, your hip is starting to hurt now, you’d better slow down, just a little walk, you're so tired, walking will help’ – but when I checked in with what my body was saying, it was perfectly happy to continue running.  My hip ached a bit but it certainly wasn’t painful.  My knee felt fine.  My cardio was fine.  And I really, really wanted to look strong when I ran past the PDSA cheering stand at Mile 25.  So I carried on.

The PDSA cheering stand was loud and fabulous!  Bassman was there, looking fabulous himself in a PDSA t-shirt, and I ran over for a kiss (and to give him my Spibelt, as I was tired of faffing around with it) and for a quick chat with the volunteers.  This really boosted my spirits but, unfortunately, stopping made my knee seize up again.  It hurt so much and I was so close to the end…again, with gritted teeth and clenched fists, I broke into a hobbling shuffle.  Only 1.2 miles to go.

I felt like I was going in slow motion for this last section.  It seemed like it never was going to end.  At the ‘800m to go!’ sign, the crowd was going wild and urging the runners to pick up the pace, reminding us that we were almost there.  I briefly got caught up in this because I have no idea how far 800m actually is (I operate in feet and miles, not metres and kilometres) and I thought that the finish line was imminent.  Once I consulted my Garmin, however, and realised that I had a whole ½ mile to go yet, I put myself back into automatic mode.  I would have liked to up the pace for this last bit, but I simply didn't have anything left.

And then there were 200m to go and I could see the finish line.  I didn’t notice the time above it or the crowds to either side or who was running next to me.  I just felt light and grateful and happy and crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes and a smile on my face.  I had done it. 

I have one of these!
Despite my dodgy knee (which cleared up by the next day), dodgy ankle (which was swollen for a couple of days and still aches), three blisters (which didn't hurt as much as the ones that I had during the Aviemore HM), and traumatised hip flexors (which hurt so much the next day that I couldn't put weight on that leg and almost had to be lifted in and out of the taxi to the train station by Bassman and the taxi driver but which has now settled down nicely - so no, it's not a stress fracture)...despite all of this, I had the most amazing day and it's still sinking in that I DID A MARATHON!!!

A HUGE thank you to everyone who supported and believed in me - you are stars!  And since this hopefully is my first marathon rather than my last, you'll get to be stars all over again next year.  Hurrah!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Post-marathon post-mortem: Part Two

And the Big Day dawned…at 5am, to be precise.  I woke up with a migraine.  Hurrah.  My body’s last ditch attempt to give me an excuse to not run.  Was I going to listen to it?  Maybe.

It took almost an hour to shower, dress (I chose the A400 Skins capri compression tights because they fit better across my stomach than the A200s and the full-length tights would have been too warm, and I wore a pair of my new wicking underwear as they couldn’t possibly chafe worse than my old cotton ones), tape up my achilles and calf, and put some blister plasters on my big toes.

Breakfast was a quiet affair; Bassman gallantly accompanied me but I was too nervous for any conversation.  I attempted to have my usual pre-long run breakfast of porridge and toast, but the porridge was vile and I could only manage half a bowl.  My tummy was in too much turmoil to risk anything new so I pocketed a banana for later, went back to our room to collect my kit bag, and then back to the lobby to wait for the bus transport to the start.  I felt like a scruffy newbie – I was wearing an old sweatshirt and old jogging bottoms over my running clothes to keep warm (as suggested by the VLM website, Runners’ World, and Paul) – but everyone else was wearing just their running gear.  At least obsessing about clothes kept me from thinking too much about what might lie ahead.

And then I was on the coach.  It was a quiet drive to the start and I did some relaxation exercises to calm my stomach and to relax my shoulders.  Once there, it was easy to find the Blue Start – Blue, Red, and Green had appropriately coloured blimps flying above them – and I realised that it was too late to run away.  I finally accepted it:  I was going to be running this marathon.  And with that,  my migraine - and my anxiety - disappeared.

The first thing that I did in the holding area was go for a pee.  There was a sign for ‘Female Urinals’ and there was no queue, so I poked my head around the corner to see what was what.  Yikes.  There was a box with disposable cardboard She-Wees for our use (you can click on the link, but don’t hold me responsible for your reaction) and I’d always been curious about them, so I had a go…all I can say is, I’m glad that I’m not a guy.  Judging from the reactions of the women around me, they felt much the same. 

I spent the rest of my time in the holding area standing in a queue for the porta-loos, sitting on the grass in the sun (thankful for the bin bags that I got at the Q&A yesterday because the grass was quite wet), queuing for the loos again, and repeatingthat sequence until time ran out.  I was glad that I had my old clothes with me, even though I still felt that I stood out as the sole scruffy person there, as there was quite a cold wind and the temperature was 3 degrees. 

And then it was time to go to our pens.  I found pen 9 – way in the back with the slow runners – and did some Chi exercises and joint mobilisation exercises while we were waiting to get started.  There was meant to be a 30 second silence right before the start to show our respect for the folks who were at the Boston Marathon, but we never heard an announcement for it nor did we hear anything that indicated that the race had started.  We eventually started shuffling forward, moving into a fast walk, with the arch that indicated the start line coming into view ahead.  And then, 16 minutes after the official start, I was off!  

I was waaaay behind these runners.

Miles 1 to 5:  My plan was to do a 4 min run/1 min walk from the beginning, keeping my pace between an 11.30 and 12.00 min/mile.  I stuck to this, but I hadn’t been prepared for how wrong it felt to be walking so early, especially when everyone else was speeding ahead.  For once, though, I wasn’t the last person in the race - but I was definitely in the last 50!

The crowd was loud and encouraging, but it all felt a bit surreal.  I still couldn’t believe that I was there and I couldn’t believe that I was about to run 26.2 miles on less-than-adequate training.  Rather than focus on that, though, I chose instead to focus on each mile as it came.  I wanted to be exactly where I was and to fully experience as much of this first marathon – and the atmosphere that everyone talks about as being unique to London – as possible.

One of Rhino Sam's friends
During Mile 2, I overtook a woman on crutches with her foot in a boot.  Stress fracture.  During Mile 3, I overtook another woman on crutches who had a sign on her back that said, ‘I broke my toe, that’s why I’m so slow.’  I felt humbled by this; it wouldn’t have occurred to me to do the race no matter what.  At Mile 3, the 4:58 pacing group came thundering past me.  At Mile 5, Rhino Sam lumbered past.  As did Homer Simpson.  And a Storm Trooper.  And some Army guys carrying huge rucksacks.  Elvis kept pace with me for a while, then overtook me too.  At least I was managing to go faster than the women on crutches.

Physical update:  By Mile 3 I was fairly certain that my hip was going to be okay.  It ached a bit to start with but quickly settled down to a vague stiffness.  By Mile 5, I noticed that there was a blister hot spot on both of my big toes (sensibly covered with Compeed) and on the side of my left foot near the ball (which wasn’t covered with Compeed because I had never had a blister there before).  And the lacing of the left shoe was really bothering me.  I decided to carry on for a bit longer in case it all dissipated, but I didn’t think that it was a good sign that my shoes were hurting me so early in the race. 

Miles 5 to 10:

In general, these were good miles.  I felt strong, the run/walk combination was working well, and it was a beautiful day for a run.  There was no point in thinking about how far I had left to run; instead, I thought about how much I love running and how this was just another long run but with better weather than I was used to. 

Same race but different Mankini Man
The Cutty Sark was at Mile 6.5 and I waited to feel impressed by it but, well, it was just a big ship.  There were lots of people here, drinking and cheering and throwing their plastic pint glasses into the road.  During Mile 7, I found myself running behind a portly gentleman in a mankini; I overtook him because I didn't think that I could bear to look at his bottom for the next 19 miles but he did make me appreciate my new running underwear which were staying firmly in place.
Somewhere around Mile 8 or 9, I caught up with the 4:58 pacing group!  I didn’t expect that I could keep up with them for the rest of the distance, but I was heartened to realise that run/walking wasn’t particularly slowing me down.  

Physical update:  My hip felt great.  No pain or stiffness or discomfort.  It was like it had never been hurt. Thank you, Mr Rocktape Physio!  The blisters weren’t feeling any worse but my left shoe was so tight across the top that I started to get pins and needles in my foot, and I had to stop to loosen the lacing.  More concerning, my right ankle started to feel stiff and achey between Miles 6 and 7, almost as though I had a slight sprain.  I tried to address this by doing some Chi focusing to relax my ankle, assuming that I had tensed up with the excitement of running, but it didn’t help.  I tried to think back as to what might have caused this – and remembered stepping into a pothole a mile earlier as I tried to avoid being hit in the face by the deflated helium balloons that were tied to the ponytail of the woman in front of me.

Miles 10 to 16:  Shortly before Mile 11, I had to stop for a loo break.  I had been needing to stop since Mile 3 but was waiting for shorter queues; however, it didn’t look as though this was going to happen any time soon.  (And, indeed, it didn’t.  There were loos every couple of miles and all of them had huge waits.)  It took 10 minutes to get to the front, during which my hip started to seize up, and then probably another couple of minutes to do my business, readjust my tights and Spibelt, and stretch a bit.  If I had been going for a particular time, I would have been really miffed by the delay (alternatively, I could have tried harder to keep running); as it was, I did my best to stay calm and to avoid being bowled over by the passing runners who were weaving in and out of the loo queues.

After the loos, the crowd became a bit sparse and quiet so I plugged myself into my iPod to help to get me moving again.  I loosened up after five minutes and, before I knew it, I was crossing Tower Bridge at Mile 12.5.  It was a bit of a shock to the system, coming round the bend after a quiet stretch to the raucous shouts and applause on Tower Bridge.  Just like with the Cutty Sark, I waited to be impressed by this iconic section of the race but I ended up being more focused on not tripping on the red mats lying across the road in several places.  Still, all of the charity groups lining both sides of the bridge were hugely energetic and encouraging of all the runners, not just their own particular ones, and I tried to look perky in case I ended up on TV.

I knew that Bassman, Cathy, and Paul would be at Mile 13 and sure enough, there they were, waving and cheering; I waved back, gave them a big thumbs up and a big smile.  It was great to see them and great to be able to indicate that I was feeling good, that my legs were feeling okay, and that I felt confident that I could get to the end. 

The next couple of miles were challenging in that the streets became narrower and twistier.  Lots of people were run/walking by this point but, unlike me who always politely moved to the outside before I started to walk, they did their walking without any thought to who might be coming up behind them.  I lost count of the number of times that I had to come to a sudden halt to avoid slamming into someone and could feel myself becoming irritated with having to keep asking people who were walking three and four abreast to move out of the way so that I could get through.  Despite this - and I wouldn't be me if I weren't annoyed about something - I really did feel like I was just out for a long run, and I enjoyed the sun and my relaxed pace.  I also was pleased to note that this run felt easier than a lot of my long training runs.  I was having fun!

Physical update:  My left shoe still was bothering me, this time because it was too loose and I could feel my foot sliding around in it.  This was not helping my blisters.  Aside from tightening up when I stopped for the loo, my hip continued to feel absolutely fine. My energy level was good and my cardio certainly wasn't being challenged; what could possibly go wrong?

TOMORROW’S INSTALLMENT:  Miles 16 to 26.2 (or, 'Oops, I spoke too soon!')

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Post-marathon post-mortem: Part One

It’s hard to know where to begin as there is so much that I want to say, so much that I want to remember, and so much that I am still processing, but let me start by starting at the end…I successfully completed the 2013 Virgin London Marathon!  I would like to say that I ran it but that would be using ‘run’ in its loosest possible sense.  What I more accurately did was run, shuffle, walk, and hobble my way to an official finishing time of 5:50.  While this isn't the time that I was hoping for, it is a time that I am happy with.  For now.

I'm going to do two or three posts over the next two or three days about My First Marathon, and they're going to be quite lengthy ones.  Settle back with a cup of tea, then, and read on...


Friday 19 April 2013:   

Today I registered at the Expo for the marathon.  I couldn't believe that I was there and got a bit teary as I joined the crowd of would-be marathoners walking towards the entrance.  I collected my race number (19901), timing chip, and the first of a bazillion ‘good luck’ wishes that I would get over the next three days from the amazing crew who help this race to go so smoothly.  Inside the Expo, I visited the Less Bounce stall; I'm a member of their Facebook Marathon group and a goody bag had been promised.  Free stuff taken care of, I then began to shop.  I bought a turquoise vest from Less Bounce, two pairs of purpose-made  running underwear from Falke (having finally become fed up with my usual cotton pants that ride up and chafe), another version of the SpiBelt (this one with loops to hold my gels), and a pair of fluorescent pink Cep compression calf sleeves.  

Yep, this is where it hurts.
I also visited the Rocktape clinic, on Adam's advice, looking for suggestions on how to tape my hip flexors.  After a couple of questions and having me do a couple of stretches, the physio and his boss (who just happened to be passing and who just happens to be the head of the Sports Physio professional body) diagnosed an extremely tight psoas muscle as the main culprit.  No point in taping it as it's too deep to respond to taping but Mr Physio and Mr Head Sports Physio thought that a Psoas Release (the less painful version) was in order.  I had to strip down to my pants (the cotton, chafing, riding up ones), covered my modesty with a small towel and, to the interest and amusement of the watching crowd, Mr Physio proceeded to stretch my recalcitrant psoas.  Ouch ouch ouch.  I'm glad that they didn't go for the more painful version.  But afterwards...I was walking without pain.  None.  At all.  Mr Physio said that this would get me round the marathon, no problem.  I could have kissed him.  But I didn't.

Push down with the right hand and push away with the left.  Biiiig stretch.
I pretty much skipped my way around the rest of the Expo, revelling in my new hip.  I skipped past the KT tape stand, turned my head to watch them tape up someone's Achilles tendon, and literally skipped into Michel Roux Jr who had his head turned to watch the same thing.  I smiled a 'sorry' at him before I realised who he was, and he twinkled his Michel Roux Jr smile at me to say 'sorry' back, and we went our separate ways.  I could have kissed him too.  But I didn't.

I'm siiiiingin' in the rain...
I made it back to the hotel without spending any more money but also, unfortunately, without my specs which I lost somewhere in the vast Expo hall.  This was especially unfortunate as Bassman and I were going to the theatre that night to see Singin' in the Rain and the world gets blurry beyond the end of my arm without my specs.  My trusty prescription sunglasses had to be pressed into service and, between them and a £1 pair of rented binoculars, I could see the action on stage with the added benefit of feeling like a celeb as I sat with sunglasses on in the dark.  The show was amazing and was the perfect distraction from pre-marathon nerves.  And I bought a Singin' in the Rain umbrella as a souvenir.  Happy happy happy!

Saturday 20 April 2013:

We were up early, as we had a 10am walking tour of the finish line and associated areas to go to. The tour took about an hour and a half and my hip held up well.  No pain, just some residual stiffness.  Lunch was at Pizza Express for my traditional pre-long run pizza.  Then we went back to the hotel where Bassman watched with bemusement as I dithered over which compression tights to wear for the race.  I had three pairs to choose from, all of which fit slightly differently from each other, and choosing the wrong ones could result in major discomfort during the race.  Bassman suggested that I was using this as a displacement activity for my nerves; he might say that, but I couldn't possibly comment.

Our friends Cathy and Paul met us at the hotel for tea and cake at 4pm and we had a look at the photobook that they had done of their recent trip to Venice.  Gorgeous, just gorgeous...and there's a marathon there too...Cathy and Paul both are runners, with Paul having run vast numbers of marathons including multiple London marathons, so there was lots of talk about running.  And about nerves.  And much sharing of information by Paul about what to expect before and during the race.  I went off at 5pm to a Marathon Q&A session that was being put on by the hotel, which didn't really tell me anything that I didn't already know from Paul although they did hand out some big green bin bags for the next day, and it was another useful distraction from pre-marathon nerves.  We then met up with Cathy and Paul again for dinner at a fab Vietnamese restaurant, where I had a big bowl of glass noodles, tofu, and veg with a peanut sauce.  Majorly yummy!

And then home for an early night and to try to sleep, in preparation for the Big Day.

TOMORROW'S INSTALLMENT:  MILES 1 TO 16 (or, 'OMG, I'm running a marathon!')

Saturday, 13 April 2013

A pattern emerges

Well, I took Michelle the Physio's advice and went for a run yesterday.  I had spent the evening sending relaxing and supportive thoughts to my leg and went to bed in a good frame of mind.  I was still feeling positive as I walked out the door to start the run and was feeling positive as I walked up the hill to the road.  I felt positive as I did my warm-up stretches and as I started the Garmin.  And then I started to run.

I tried to stay positive.  I really did.  I told myself that it was only tightness, I tried to focus on listening to The Moonstone, and I tried to focus on my form and on relaxing my legs but it was no use.  I really really REALLY HURT.  I only managed to do a limping shuffle for 10 seconds or so before I had to walk.  I kept this up for a mile, telling myself all the time that I'd loosen up eventually.  I didn't.

I stopped to do a thorough stretch and to have a bit of a sniffle to myself after a mile.  If I had had my phone with me, I would have called Bassman to come and get me in the car.  I decided - again - that doing the marathon was a ridiculous idea if running hurt this much.  But I didn't have my phone so I either had to retrace my steps - which would mean going up a steep hill - or carry on.  It was a lovely day - sunny, warm, and no wind - so I resolved to have a nice walk in the sun and to enjoy the fact that at least I didn't hurt when I was walking.

After another half-mile of speedy walking, it hit me - I really didn't hurt.  I tried a tentative shuffle and felt...manageable discomfort.  I shuffled a bit further.  Same thing.  In the spirit of experimentation, I put the rest of Michelle the Physio's advice into effect.  I turned off my Garmin and switched from listening to The Moonstone to listening to my half-marathon playlist.  I was going to try Running for Fun.

And it worked.  I sang along to My Chemical Romance, Linkin Park, Eminem, Nickelback, and Queen.  I didn't worry about my speed but just ran what felt comfortable, noticing that the more I relaxed, the better my leg felt.  I generally stuck with a 4 minute run/1 minute walk except for the times when I forgot to check the time because I was feeling so good.  I ended up running for 6 miles and could have gone further.  I wasn't discomfort free, but it was okay.

This morning, I don't feel too bad.  My leg is tight and aching, but not horrrendously so.  And it really does feel like tightness today.  I don't think that I could manage to run today but then, I don't have to so that isn't really a problem.  My plan is to try a double-digit run tomorrow.  I don't have a specific number of miles in mind but I'd like to try to be out for at least two hours.  I'm looking forward to it.

What I'm learning:  1) the first couple of miles are going to hurt but nothing bad happens as a result 2) I might have to walk A LOT during those miles 3) if I can get past the first couple of miles, I will feel better and 4) distraction works.  Oh, and never give up.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Adam is right. Again.

Last Friday's two mile run felt good enough that I tried five miles on Sunday.  That too felt okay, following the usual pattern of stiff and sore for the first 10 minutes or so and then settling down into vague stiffness for the rest of the run.  My calves were quite tight and it made me laugh to realise that, just as Adam had predicted, focusing on something else made me forget about my hip.  I felt more optimistic than I had done in while, and headed off for my work in Shetland with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.

Not actual size.  But close.
And then I sat all scrunched up in a teeny tiny seat on a teeny tiny plane for an hour and a half.  By the time that I got off the plane at Sumburgh, my hip and quad had seized up and I couldn't walk without a limp.  The next morning saw me limping around the flat, limping to work, limping through the corridors at work, and whingeing to anyone who wasn't quick enough to avoid me about my distress at not being able to run. 

The pain didn't get any better over the next couple of days.  I started obsessing about stress fractures again and worked myself into a tearful tizz.  I decided to withdraw from the marathon, give my leg the time that it needs to get better, and target another marathon in the autumn.  As part of this plan, I thought that it would be a good idea to make an appointment with a physio for a different (but complementary) perspective to Adam's on rehabbing this injury (and to get a second - no, make that third - opinion about whether this is a stress fracture). 

And that's where I went tonight.  Michelle the Physio was just like every other physio that I've ever seen - calm, down to earth, and knowledgeable.  She heard my story (and I'm pleased to say that I didn't cry once), made me walk around the room and do some stretches, and (just like every other physio that I've ever seen) snickered at how inflexible I am.  Then she plonked me on the table and proceeded to move my hip through various contortions in an attempt to reproduce the pain that I get when I walk.  No reproduction of pain happened.  Then she moved my good hip through various contortions which, to my surprise, felt just as stiff and occasionally uncomfortable as the bad hip.

Her verdict?  Man up and run the race. 

Like Adam, she couldn't find anything seriously wrong.  Like Adam, she thinks that tight muscles are the cause of most of the pain - tightness because there was/is a slight injury and my body is trying to protect it and tightness because I keep obsessing about and focusing on the area and expecting it to hurt.  Like Adam, she thinks that this is not a stress fracture because it would have hurt A LOT during the contortions.  And like Adam, she thinks that running the race will not cause any further damage (although it will probably hurt and I'll probably have to walk a lot). 

Her recommendations?  Get out there and run tomorrow.  Take my iPod and listen to music or to my audiobook or to anything that is going to distract me from thinking about my leg.  Run because I enjoy running.  If my leg hurts, reframe this as 'tightness' rather than 'discomfort.'  And before, during, and after the run...RELAX. 

So, it's all back on.  Time to move away from the Cupcakes of Commiseration and get myself into proper taper mode - I'm going to be running a marathon!

Farewell, my friends! 

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Slowly, slowly...

Since the Great A&E Panic of last week, I have been endeavouring to stay calm, mobile, and positive.  This was helped by a visit to Adam on Tuesday, during which he couldn't find anything wrong with my legs except general mega-tightness in my left quad.  He put this down to me walking with a funny gait as I try to protect my hip and essentially said, 'RELAX AND WALK LIKE A NORMAL PERSON!'  That's it?  That's all that I have to do???

Erm, actually, yes, it seems to be.  Once I started to pay attention to how I was walking, I realised that I was leaning forward at the hips and was hitching my left leg up to avoid bending it too much.  Using my Chi-focusing skills, I've been working on keeping a strong core and good posture and on relaxing my legs and hips when I'm walking.  Wednesday was a day of minimal discomfort and Thursday was essentially a discomfort-free day.  Coincidence?  I think not.

So, after taking a deep breath (and with Adam's admonition of  'RUN ON FRIDAY.  NO EXCUSES!' ringing in my ears), I tried another 2 mile test run on Friday.  And it was...okay.  Still sore for the first half-mile or so, but less so than when I tried last week.  The remaining mile and a half ranged from low-level discomfort to a vague feeling of stiffness in my quad.  I did notice that a slumping posture and leaning from the hips increased the discomfort, so spent a lot of time tucking in my bottom and lengthening through my spine and neck.  Unlike last week's run, I felt like I could have gone a bit further but stopped as planned; the important thing was going to be how I felt the next day.

And now it is the next day.  I delayed getting out of bed this morning because I was so fearful of a repeat of last week and I just didn't want to know.  But eventually the pressure of a 5.18kg cat on my bladder forced me to make a move and I felt...okay.  I'm a bit sore and stiff, but it gets better as I move around.  I also haven't had any painkillers yet today and, if this is what I feel like without them, it's not too bad at all.

I'm still finding it hard to believe that I'll be fit enough to run 26.2 miles in 14 days, but at least I'm now moving slowly in the right direction.