Blimey - how time flies. As usual, I suddenly looked at this little blog and realised that a longer time that I'd meant to had passed since I last posted. Stupid life. Or actually, stupid lack of internet at home - it makes it harder to find time to write, since it's hard work doing posts from the ol' Pie-phone.
Um, yeah, life has been a little crazy the last 10 or so days. I had a chest infection that knocked me flat on my back - I literally didn't get out of my pjyamas from Friday night til Sunday evening that weekend, and the only reason I did then was to stagger to the local cinema to watch The Artist, before staggering home and straight back to bed.
That in turn meant no exercise. I didn't take any time off work, but the walking to and from the office was hard enough work to deter me from wanting to do anything more. My chest felt tight still and my cough positively rattled. Marvellous. That in turn affected my eating. After several weeks of being on it, and breaking back into the 12's I got distracted and mopey and let it slide a bit. Pancake day passed with homemade pancakes and hot chocolate sauce (one of the few sauces I'm any good at making!). Ice-cream soothed my throat. Actually, lets be honest - ice-cream soothed my feelings. It wasn't paticularly pretty - just off-kilter each and every day, and the scales showed it on Friday - 1 step forward and several back.
As always with life, just as you get one thing sorted, another area comes crashing down, so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised that having sorted out the house, and by extension my budget, the thing with Chris came grinding to a halt last week. I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about it - especially as he seems to have gone AWOL rather than actually break up with me (but I think we can all be adult and read that for what it is). The clues have been there for the last couple of weeks as he seems to have got increasingly distant, so I guess it didn't come as a huge surprise, but whether it's due to him losing interest or freaking out, who knows. What I do know is that I can't make him change his mind, so I have to deal with it as best I can. We have a lot of mutual friends and I'll be seeing him at a wedding in April, so I have to take the best tack to make things easy on everybody - that seems to be just letting it go and not pushing the issue so that it's less awkward when we have to see each other. I'm sad about it, as I obviously liked the guy, but I also have my pride, and know that I deserve more than that, so I'm not wallowing too much. Positive attitude and all.
I had an action-packed weekend to take my mind off it instead. On Saturday, I went surfing with some of the girls at Saunton, on a gloriously beautiful day. The conditions were great, the company was fun and a great time was had. Saturday night I went out with a load of the surf club guys and enjoyed a dance and letting my hair down. I didn't actually think I'd drunk that much, but my head told me otherwise on Sunday!
Aaaaah - Sunday. Day of the worst run I've ever done! In my stubborness, I decided that having had 10 days off from training (and any activity at all) I'd just jump straight back into my training plan with the long run I missed the weekend before, which also happened to be the longest run of the training plan. 1hr 50mins of running. In retrospect, that wasn't such a great idea, but I decided to do it anyway and that I'd just take it slow and walk as needed if it was hard. I totally underestimated how hard it would be.
I remembered how well my 90min run went 2 weeks ago, and thought it would be fine. I didn't factor in 10 days off from any running, a hangover, the wrong food, big hills, aching muscles from 2 hours surfing the day before and the remainder of a chest full of phlegm. Brilliant.
I waited to run until about 1pm, and had a big bowl of porridge for breakfast at about 11.30. It turns out that, for me at least, porridge is completely the wrong fuel to run on. I don't get any energy from it. This happened once before, when I did the duathlon last June, and I just felt like I was running on empty, but I hadn't twigged exactly what it was at the time. Now I know. So I set off feeling like the fuel tank was pretty empty. My legs felt tired, with no bounce at all and I generally felt heavy, and the Lucozade didn't seem to do much to lift the gloom. I ran up to the Downs and decided to go for it anyway, and set off down (and I mean doooooooooooooown) the long hill at the back which would take me out on my loop. One big loop with no shortcut back. My hips started to hurt after the first mile of pounding down the steep hill, but I kept going. Down and down. And then up. I hadn't expected there to be an up, as I'd assumed from the map that it would be down and out, and back and up. Not so much.
The road seemed to go on forever, and I started to panic that I'd missed my turn somewhere. I was supposed to be heading back to the Portway to run back into town by the river, but couldn't even see it. I thought I'd found it, but obviously picked the wrong cross road, as instead of reaching a road junction, I had to run up slippery steps to come back on to it at a viaduct. I was now an hour out on my run, and as far away as I'd get from home and at the bottom of the hill to boot, and my energy totally failed. Just tottering along for short sections seemed too much. My feet were starting to hurt and if I'd seen a taxi, I'd have hailed it. I just didn't see how I was going to make it home. In my mind, I'd thought that reaching the Portway would mean I was "nearly done". But it just kept unrolling, and I remembered then from plotting it on the map, that it's actually 2 or 3 miles before you even get back to the Suspension Bridge. And then you can start back up the hill. Bad times. Somehow I kept tottering along, on the basis that something is better than nothing. Run a bit. Slowly. Walk a bit. Force myself to run a bit more. Other runners were passing me easily, but there was nothing to do but keep going.
Eventually, I reached the bridge, and revised my plan. I felt so bad, that I thought it would be better to take the nearly vertical steps back up the gorge and then "run" back across the flat through Clifton Village to get home, than continuing to run along the gorge and come up a gentler hill further along. Climbing steps actually felt like a break. Somehow I kept it together until I got back to my local Sainsbury's where, at 1hr 45mins, I stopped. I was done.
The funny thing with the run was this - at some points I actually thought to myself that this long-distance running thing is quite nice. Peaceful and easy. And just 10 mins later I'd be wondering how I'd keep going any further. My mind seemed to fluctuate between the two states, and looking back I'm glad I just kept grinding the steps out to take me home.
In an odd way, I'm glad it was so evil, as I know that no other run of my training, and even the half itself, will probably be as bad as that one, and I still survived it. I proved to myself that my mental strength was enough to keep me going when times were bad. It wasn't a fast run, in fact it was one of my slowest, but it was another new longest distance for me, at just over 8 miles. 13 min miles. On the day of the half-marathon, I won't have a hangover, and I won't have a chest infection and a 10 day break before. There won't be hills, and I'll have eaten a better breakfast. I won't have surfed the day before. And there'll be a huge crowd of supporters and other runners to carry me along.
(I'm running for Alzheimer's Society in memory of my mum - you could, if you wanted to, add a £ or two of sponsorship here http://www.justgiving.com/Suzanne-Fontaine0 )
And so we enter this week. My muscles are sure sore (and in fact, I conked out for 9 horus of solid sleep after the run on Sunday night), but I'm back on track. My eating needs taking in hand again, and now my chest is clearing a bit I'm back to moving. I did yoga yesterday, and I'm back to following the training plan, as I start to taper for the race in just under 2 weeks (eeeek!). I'm here and still kicking and screaming my way through life. Looking at it positively, it might be over with Chris, but in a small way I feel relieved that I don't have to feel guilty about how busy my weekends are for the next few months. There will always be challenges, and I'll continue to meet them head on.
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