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I will be running in South Africa in a 6 day race from 16th – 22nd December 2014. My number 1 goal is to finish happy and healthy with no injury problems. I will be practicing a few different strategies and seeing how well my knee holds up to some long endurance running. So far this month it has been pretty cold and can’t wait for some heat and sunshine and running in t-shirt and shorts again. Bill is travelling with me for this one and we are back in time to spend Christmas with my sister. Baxter is having his first trip away from us and am sure he will be well walked and looked after by Ella and Geoff.
The website should give hourly updates on progress of the athletes at www.circuitraces.co.za/ and the other website involved is http://rfjhb.webs.com/ and there are also facebook sites too. Hopefully Bill will do occasional updates and tweets to update you on my progress.
Another good consistent month of training, racing every weekend, a few longer ones and finally I ran a couple of fell races. My knee behaved itself and I have been running pain free which is wonderful. A Cybex test revealed almost equal quads on eccentric work and now mainly strength improvement on the concentric side is needed. My breathing improved from last month but still a few minor episodes and taking double my medication to keep this under control.
My main race for the month, a 48 hour race, was cancelled and without trying a long race I wasn’t confident enough to tackle the 6 day race planned over the new year. Instead I entered a warmer event where it is easier to keep going if the pace is slow and not get too cold. So the Festival of Johannesburg is the planned event. There are various events from 100 miles up to 10 days. I am sticking with the 6 days to practice a new plan for sleep deprivation.
A month of mixed fortunes. My speed and distance improved. I took all of the club female V50 records to add to all my club V40 records (done as a V45 I might add!). None of these records are good performances but they are the starting blocks to improve on. The downside? My asthma played havoc in some races and a fuel blockage in my van meant it spent two weeks in a garage and I missed the Mablethorpe Marathon with no transport.
I had a slow performance in the Round Rotherham 50 mile trail race, partly due to keeping my breathing and asthma under control and partly due to my fitness and needing to finish in a reasonable state to continue training. But I finished very happy and injury free but rather tired.
It took a while to recover from the journey and try to salvage something from the year. Trans-Arabia 300km non-stop from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea caught my eye and the serious training started again and a planned schedule to take me through to this race, although some planning with my working hours would be required. But this was not to be, I never got my entry in before the event was postponed due to the political circumstances, so this is now on the backburner for a future year. Then a new local event popped up just in time, the Frostbite 48 hour trail run on a longish loop near Manchester and so this is now my planned goal, not for a good distance, but again for the experience of completing the time and keeping going and not finishing in a bad state. The idea is to use this as a training event for the Across The Years 6 day race over the new year if fitness and training goes well.
After missing the 24 hour race planned the knee took a little longer to settle down than planned. With the only planned 6 day race in the country cancelled I made a quick decision to try and take part in a 6 day race in Alaska. This was a 2-fold decision, one was to take part and experience it, not quite knowing how my fitness and my knee would hold up and secondly to gain more knowledge on how others run such races for my research. The 6 days in a Dome was a long way to travel and with going on a very tight budget could not take any support along so Bill stayed at home and looked after Baxter. As I did fly in with barely a day to get over the journey I started the race very tired and jet-lagged from the journey and found it difficult to concentrate. After a couple of short naps I really couldn’t keep running and tried a longer sleep. Not easy on the infield with the noise from an American Football match crashing within feet of me. Up again and I walked for a bit trying to learn and gain from my sleepless experience and then I sat and watched others.
My own race finished shortly after with the good news being the knee was absolutely fine. I had a great time watching and listening to others. There were some amazing performances, a stunning 48 hour world record to witness, a barefoot 24 hour world record and the organiser ran a new American indoor 6 day track record. The set up was very unique, inside a kind of big air bubble like being on the inside of a bouncy castle as the structure was constantly having air pumped into it to keep it stable and doors could not be left open as the structure would collapse.
Finally I was ready to attempt a race a little longer and more serious. I had pencilled in the Energia 24 hours in Ireland and as a precaution was advised to have an injection in my knee to prevent any damage. This had an adverse reaction in that it moved the kneecap slightly due to the fluid and prevented me from flexing my knee and despite my late entry being accepted I had to withdraw at the last minute as it wasn’t worth the risk of damaging my knee and not being able to finish. A very frustrating end to the month after some good consistent long distance runs. On a positive note this did not directly damage the knee, it was only a temporary setback and as soon at the fluid settles and dissipates the kneecap will return to its pre injection status and running will resume very soon.
Finally I was released to run longer distances and within this month I completed 4 runs of ultra-distance over 3 weeks. The first was 6 hours on a track at Eastbourne Complex at Darlington. This run went to perfection; the only downside was having my mobile phone, credit cards, cash, staff pass and parkrun tag stolen by 3 school boys on bikes from St Aiden’s Academy. With only around 30 boys cycling to school there appears no attempt to find the culprits! Five days later I ran 67 miles with “Lord Smythe” around the Durham track as he ran his longest run on the longest day. Paul is a “streaker” who runs every single day and has done for many years with crazy challenges like this thrown in. A week later it was the Durham Dales Challenge of 30 miles and some climbing, the result of this was third overall and first lady and to finish with a week later was a 50km run organised by Northern Race Walking. I was allowed to run the opposite way to the walkers and have my 50km run officially measured and accurately timed and was a most unusual event but was made to feel extremely welcome and was very novel! This was a controlled run of exactly 10km per hour for 5 hours and that is exactly what I did.
Training progressed incredibly well, power and endurance tests on the Cybex machine were improving all the time and not far from equal now. Mileage continued to improve and finally had some good consistent training with reasonable mileage and a few races up to marathon distance.
This was a consolidating month of more consistent strenthening and training but not running much further. The Cybex tests have been coming back progressively improving and my imbalances are becoming more even. I have been increasing the hill running now, not back to big hills but can skirt around the North York Moors again and pretty much running pain free. I am still splitting my time between the north east and Edinburgh and we have a new spaniel called Baxter who is adorable.
February and March
The rehabilitation began, daily strengthening exercises based on the discrepancies shown from testing on a Cybex machine. Short, slow runs on the flat and hills avoided. Initially this was running every other day starting from just 3 miles and each week adding another mile or two. Then more progress by running two consecutive days and one day off. By the end of March I had progressed to 16 miles on consecutive days but still having 2-3 rest days a week. Only slow distance work and no speedwork or hill reps but was gaining in confidence all the time and hoping to race again soon.
After a couple of injections to settle down the damage done, most of the month was spent without running and working out how to progress. There was plenty to keep me busy with commitments in Edinburgh.