Extreme taper timeline

Wednesday: I headed out on one last trail run before marathon day.  An easy 7 miles was the aim, however we didn’t even get as far as one mile before my ankle twisted over and I ended up flat on my face.  I then hobbled back to my car and admitted defeat for completing those seven miles.  Lots of ice for the rest of the night, although I didn’t think anything was too serious as I was still capable of walking (even if it was with a slight hobble!)

Thursday: The pain was so much when I first woke that I couldn’t bear to put any weight on my right side at all without feeling light-headed and I had to slide downstairs for breakfast on my bum!  I ended up taking the day off from work as I would not be able to travel between classrooms (unless it was by sliding around on my bum!) or teach effectively.  Instead, my day became a pattern of voltarol gel, ice and rest.  I was incredibly bored and worried whilst laying out on the sofa hoping for a quick recovery.

Friday: I was back at work but sporting a thick ankle support and a limp.  I used my wheelie chair to get around the classroom and it took forever to get up and down the stairs inbetween lessons.

Saturday: I marshaled at Northampton parkrun which involved standing for longer than I had since injuring my ankle.  I continued to wear my support and wore the running trainers I will be running the marathon in, although I could feel my ankle was still slightly swollen against the sides.  I didn’t feel like I needed to limp anymore though, but instead, used limping almost as a way to protect my weaker ankle.  By Saturday I could walk up the stairs at home without problem.

Sunday: Dan and I went for a stop-start walk around a nearby village to look at the Scarecrow Festival.  By Sunday evening I could walk both up and down the stairs without any twinges.  It was also on Sunday that I discovered my Garmin would not turn on, or charge.  I asked for advice on Twitter/Facebook and contacted Garmin support as well.

Garmin Fenix not turning on

Monday: Garmin support told me to connect my Garmin to my computer and update the software on it.  They assured me that this would fix my problem.  However, I still could not turn it on so was unable to update anything.  My marathon number arrived in the post.

Mablethorpe number

Tuesday: I went for a 45 minute walk in the evening whilst wearing the running trainers I hope to wear on race day.  My injured foot felt fine.  My left foot however managed to cramp up about 20 minutes into the walk underneath the arch.  Potentially because it has been doing all of the work for the past week whilst the right foot has been out of action.  After a minute or so it was fine again and I could continue without issue.  That evening Dan said that I could use his Garmin (my old one) for the race on Sunday.  Although, after several hours of searching we still could not find the charger for Dan’s Garmin.

Today: With a busy day at school I made sure to keep the support bandage on my right ankle.  Having worn the same flat pair of shoes for work all week rather than my boots though meant that they had begun to rub.  By the time I got in the car to head home the top of my foot, just underneath my big toenail but still on the surface of my left (was) good foot was bleeding and mildly uncomfortable.  The hunt for the Garmin charger resumed after school.  It was getting rather stressful and I was rushing around.  The rushing meant that I managed to knock a heavy tin of snacks onto my left foot.  I swore a lot.  Dan then found the Garmin charger behind his Playstation.  After the ache from my knock had died down I threw on my running shorts and top and changed into my trainers.  My left foot was now uncomfortable where the cut was on my big toe.  Two plasters and some padding and it felt much better.

The run: I decided to try and pace out one mile tonight to see how my ankle felt whilst out on the road.  As I started off the slow run I could tell that my right ankle was slightly weaker than the other one and when I extended my stride the extra flick of my ankle was – not uncomfortable exactly – but I was aware that it wasn’t quite normal.  After a few minutes of easy running this feeling started to fade and I could extend my stride further.  Towards the end of the mile, my ankle began to feel ‘normal’ again and so I decided to try out a few faster strides to see if the weakness in my ankle returned.  It did not but as I lowered my pace back down to a walk again I could feel a little tension on the underneath of my foot.  This could be because I was unknowingly tensing up expecting something to happen though.

Up next: I won’t run again before Mablethorpe now.  I do intend to be on the start line though.  I am hoping that a few more days of resting from runs and several longer walks and exercises will help to build up my ankle strength again ready for Sunday.  However, I’m not going to be stupid about it.  If I need to pull out I will do so, although will be absolutely gutted if that ends up being the result of my stupidity on Wednesday night and the finale of my training cycle is a DNF.  Over one stupid misplaced foot.  :(  I know there is always ‘another marathon’, but I had planned on not necessarily running a Spring marathon next year but instead focusing on other things.  If I am unable to achieve my goal on Sunday then I shall have to rethink my plans for next year again.


Fingers are still crossed.


Scarecrows in Stanwick

Last year by chance, Dan and I happened to come across the Stanwick Scarecrow festival, just a 20 minute walk from our house.  For £3, entrants are able to display a scarecrow in their gardens for a week.  A map is then produced so that the public can go round to find all of the scarecrows within the village.  I was amazed to discover that this year there are over 100 scarecrows displayed along all of the little backstreets that make up the small village of Stanwick.

When I realised that the 2015 scarecrow festival fell this weekend I made sure we kept a little time free to see what creations the village of Stanwick had come up with in 2015!

Rather than overdo things with my recent ankle injury, this year we decided to drive down to Stanwick and then walk between the houses, as the majority of scarecrows are fairly close together and it would allow me to gently exercise my ankle but with no fear about ever being far from transport if I started to feel any pain or discomfort.

Here are just a handful of the scarecrows from this year’s Scarecrow festival…

Scarecrow festival in Stanwick Scarecrow festival in StanwickScarecrow festival in StanwickScarecrow festival in StanwickScarecrow festival in StanwickScarecrow festival in StanwickScarecrow festival in Stanwick Scarecrow festival in StanwickThey are so creative!  I feel like I want us to move to Stanwick just so that we can take part in the festival next year!

Have you ever made a scarecrow before?
Does your town/village hold any similar events?

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Feet up Saturday

I hate putting my feet up and watching TV.  I hate putting my feet up even more when I can see that the washing up needs doing, there is laundry to be dried and I haven’t even thought what I’m going to do for tea.

I’ve tried to be pretty sensible over the past couple of days since my fall though, and luckily it seems to be paying off.  On Thursday I struggled to stand without feeling dizzy from the pain, on Friday I returned to work and hobbled about the school grounds, which gradually got easier throughout the day.  I had some fantastic classes on Friday and I love my optional GCSE ICT class that little bit more for helping each other out and allowing me time to get from one student to the next around my classroom.  I’m really enjoying my year 10 class this year and I can’t wait to see them achieve the fantastic marks they deserve in the Summer term.  By Friday evening my ankle was feeling much looser and I could turn it a lot more freely than I had been able to earlier on in the day.  This morning I felt like I didn’t really need to be limping/hobbling around at all.  Occasionally throughout the day I’ve turned my foot a little sharply and a slight twinge has made me remember that I need to be careful, but essentially my limp today was more of a protection exercise – trying to make sure that I don’t put too much pressure on my ankle too soon, to risk not making it to the marathon next weekend.

I hate putting my feet up and doing nothing, but I would hate not making it to the marathon start line a whole lot more.

I did head over to help marshal at Northampton parkrun this morning though.  If I can’t run, I can still marshal.  I tried to take the weight off of my poorly side whilst standing and cheering runners through my marshal point, but I think that unless my marshal point was going to involve a lot of twisting and turning my right ankle, I would probably have been fine anyway.  (Wary about talking too soon here though!…)
Marshaling at Northampton parkrun

I always find it hard to shout “Well done!” to each group of runners and not look like a wally.  I vary it now and again to “Good work guys!” but generally I just tend to be pretty smiley and repeat the same shout out over and over again for 40 minutes when I marshal.  The only time I feel ‘natural’ congratulating/encouraging runners is when I’m out there running myself as well or having just completed my run and cheering the tail runners in.

This was only the second time I have marshaled at Northampton parkrun, and I was placed in the same spot as last time – on the finishing straight, just before reaching the play-park.  At this point you see runners at about 3k into the run and then about 200m before the finish as they come round for the second loop.

Marshaling at Northampton parkrunBoth times I’ve marshaled here I’ve found myself chatting to lots of non-parkrunners who are interested in knowing what is going on.  I’m pretty certain that I convinced a non-parkrunner today to go home and print off a barcode for next week!

At midday there was also going to be a Rainbow colour run held at the park, so whilst cheering on the runners I had to ensure the vans driving across the field to set up for the event didn’t disrupt our run.  When one of the Rainbow organisers came to speak to me to see if there was a number she could ring to find out if any of our marshals would go back and volunteer at the Rainbow run in a few hours’ time I told her that it didn’t really work like that and that there wasn’t any number to call.  I hope she managed to get enough marshals though…!

I had travelled up to the parkrun with Jenny and when I arrived, also met up with Lindsay.  I’ve paced Lindsay a few times at parkrun in the past, and she has gradually been chipping away this year at the 36 minutes it took her to run the course back in April.  Her ultimate dream was to run a sub 30minute time, and over the past few months she has mastered the 10k distance and begun training towards a half marathon.Lindsay going sub 30minutes for a 5k PB at parkrun

I was so happy for her when she walked over to my marshal point following the run to exclaim that she had burst into happy tears after crossing the line when she saw that her watch displayed a sub 30minute 5k time, taking nearly a minute and a half off from her previous PB of 31:16.  Hard work does pay off!  :)

Lindsay going sub 30minutes for a 5k PB at parkrunFollowing the parkrun, Jenny and I stopped by Magee Street Bakery for a drink and cake.  It’s a ritual now.

Hot chocolate at Magee Street Bakery in NorthamptonI must say though, hot chocolate and cake always taste better after a run first.  I kind of felt like a bit of a fraud this week!

And then I returned home to spot Bella drinking from the pond.

Bella drinking from the pondThis week she has discovered the line of rocks that make up the top of the waterfall of the pond in our garden.  Every day since she has taken several trips balancing precariously across these rocks to drink from the water before it tumbles down into the main part of our pond.  I’m just waiting to see her fall in!

Any variations on ‘Well done!’ I can add to my list for the next time I marshal?!
What is your ‘dream’ 5k time?

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Speaking too soon

I’m pretty sure it’s a fact of life that if things have been running too smoothly for a while you are probably due a bump in the road.

My bump came last night whilst out on an easy trail run.  My legs felt good and were enjoying a stretch out after a long day sat behind my desk in the classroom.  Wednesdays are my light teaching day, with two hours of marking and planning time slotted into my timetable and I had felt rather cooped up all afternoon, looking forward to the run that evening.

We hadn’t even been running for five minutes when it happened.  I was concentrating on where to put my feet on the track as with all the rain we’ve had just lately the grass was overgrown in places.  I had literally thought just a few minutes earlier “I need to make sure I really watch where I’m putting my feet.  It would be rubbish if I ended up going over on my ankle this close to marathon day.”  The runner in front of me asked if I wanted to go past as we wouldn’t really be in a spot suitable for overtaking for a while.  I told her that she was fine.  I don’t even remember what she said next, but I replied.  She didn’t hear me, so I lifted my gaze from the floor to respond a little louder and then I remember going down on the ground.

Normally if I fall I prefer to get up straight away and run it off but I knew as soon as I stood that continuing my run wouldn’t be a very good idea.

Tears instantly tried to form.  I’ve worked bloody hard this marathon cycle.  I’ve done things the way I should do them.  Hell, I’ve even been stretching religiously after every run!  Kev offered to walk me back to my car and we chatted about upcoming races and about runners in the club – trying to take my mind off of the pain in my foot. I could walk, and although it was uncomfortable, I wasn’t in so much pain that I was completely unable to get back to the car and drive home.

In the privacy of my car I did cry and have a little self-pity party but had managed to feel fairly positive again by the time I got back home.  Kev seemed to think that as I could walk so freely I hadn’t done anything too serious and upon examining my foot Dan assured me he didn’t think I had obtained any ligament damage.

Ice packs and elevation before bed!

Poorly foot

I knew keeping hold of the ice packs from the Hello Fresh boxes would come in handy!

I wanted to get to bed pretty early, with the hope that I could sleep the discomfort off.  I managed to hobble fairly easily up the stairs and to bed last night.  Coming downstairs this morning was a different story though.  I woke naturally at around 4:45am and was instantly aware of my foot.  My alarm does not go off until 5:15am on a school day but I thought it best to get moving as simple tasks were likely to take longer than they usually would.  Upon rising out of bed I immediately felt very light headed from the pain and it ended up taking me three attempts to even stand up out of bed before I was able to crawl to the top of the stairs and slide down on my bum to get some breakfast from the kitchen downstairs.  Not the start to the day I was after.

After a long debate with Dan it was decided that I should not go into work today as sliding up two flights of stairs on my bottom inbetween lessons (unfortunately today is not a day where I remain teaching in the same room all day), gulping painkillers between students and teaching whilst lying on the floor were probably not the most professional methods of working.  I hate missing a day of school.  It’s so frustrating to come back in and hear that students didn’t achieve what was asked of them or that they acted up for a cover teacher.  I like things to be done just right and hate when I have to hand over my classes to somebody else, picking up the pieces on my return.  It takes much longer to provide lessons for someone else to teach as well.  I spent two hours this morning re-writing my lessons so that a non-ICT specialist would be able to deliver them.

Alongside writing my cover work this morning I applied ice for a twenty minute stint, followed by applying a layer of Voltarol gel at 6am.  My foot is now currently raised up on the couch with orders from Dan (and several other runners!) to repeat all of the above throughout the day.

I’m still hopeful that I will make Mablethorpe Marathon next weekend.  Some sort of foolish runner dream?  I hope not!  The pain has faded considerably already.  I’m planning on spending as much of my day as possible working from the couch (or sliding around the floor on my bottom!) and therefore giving my foot a chance to heal.  My fingers are crossed that this has happened early enough that it won’t affect my chances in the marathon.  Someone out there is determined to spoil all chances of a good marathon for me this year!  First, breaking my toes four weeks before Milton Keynes and now this!

In the grand scheme of things I know this is something very minor and something much worse could have happened, but it was not part of my plan and I like working to a plan!