Cambridge Half – I made it!

I had requested a decent consultant appointment and a decent half marathon to feel fulfilled, and I think I pretty much got it. The consultant was great, understood the issues and agreed a regimen of block and replace until I feel better, and then radiotherapy in June after my ultra. He did say that I shouldn’t really be able to run at all with my thyroid levels as low as they were, but promised the new drugs would make me feel better.

Friday was not a good day, I felt absolutely awful (and looked it too!), to the point where my husband suggested we cancel our weekend away and just stay home. We decided to go anyway which was the right decision, a day in the sun (it was 16 deg C on Saturday in Bedfordshire!) with some owls (a present from my parents for Christmas) and some time with my lovely niece later I was a new(ish) person. I was still exhausted on sunday though and dreading the Cambridge half. While waiting for a portaloo to become available with only 2 mins left until the race started I figured if I missed the start I would just find a perch, sit down and cheer people on. Unfortunately lots of people left the queue in front of me and I had time to do the necessary and then sneak into the starting pen, foiled!

I had struggled the previous year at Cambridge, it was hot and 2 laps and has the most horrible last mile of any race I have ever done, but at least I knew what to expect. I had stated 2:30 as my goal but was going to see how I went and at least with it being laps I could have retired at 6 miles without having a long walk back.

I had decided on the trusty run 8 min walk 2 min strategy, I struggle with stamina at the moment and wanted to make sure my legs could make it. As it was this worked a treat and the first lap actually went pretty quickly, I fuelled at all the stations and just held it back until my 2 min walk, and time passed pretty quickly. The only stupid thing I had done is not fuelled properly, I’d had a couple of pieces of toast but that wasn’t enough and rather annoyingly there were no jelly babies on the course, just water and gels. Aha, I thought, I’ll try a gel – usually I avoid them as they taste like flavoured runny snot, but I was desperate so grabbed one and shoved half of it down me. I was in the process of doing this when I realised that I had forgotten that they contain caffeine – I’ve been caffeine free for nearly 4 years ago due to thyroid induced heart issues, so to suddenly have a whack of caffeine in the middle of a race probably wasn’t the best plan. I monitored my heart rate closely for the rest of the race but it seemed to be fine, or no worse than usual anyway. Bullet dodged!

I was averaging about 11 min miles for the first loop, not bad with a run walk strategy – and I carried on much the same on the second lap (I had brief thoughts of dropping out as I was tiring but decided to just get on with it). I got to about 11 miles before I started to really struggle and then the last mile was as painful as it had been last year – for some reason they throw on a horrible loop at the end so you think you are done then have to do a sharp up and downhill over a bridge, then lap round what seems like half of Cambridge before the finish arrives, honestly, it is just horrible. I knew I was near my target so just pushed on as best I could and was delighted to come in at about 2:26. It wasn’t fast, it wasn’t pretty but I had got round under target. And just have to do exactly the same again for my April marathon and I’ll be under 5 hours and qualified for May… I suspect I need to work on my stamina before that though as I was absolutely shattered afterwards. No lasting damage although my calves are tight so there will be some foam rolling in my future.  All in all a job done though, and I look forward to increased levels of health and some actual training very soon.

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Keep on keeping on

It has been a tough few months! The marathon completely banjaxed me, I thought it was fairly normal to feel a bit sluggish afterwards though, so took it easy and waited to feel motivated again. And waited… and waited… one month on I was still hating anything to do with running, and, well, hating everything really. This combined with some suspicious symptoms led me to get checked out at the GP and lo and behold, welcome my old overactive thyroid friend. Last seen in 2012 where I had hoped it had been banished never to return, it had reared its ugly head again, just as work got more complicated and just as I needed to start training for Comrades. Sigh. It’s now 4 months on and I’m starting to get better. Running was off the cards for a good 3 months due to various heart-related thyroid issues and the fact I was just too damn knackered to get out of bed let alone strap on running shoes. With some drugs my condition is managed now so I started running again, only to tweak my hamstrings which required a visit to the (lovely) physio. Then the day I went to the physio I came down with a stinking cold which I now still have, so it has all been a bit wearing. I’m due to run a half on Sunday (max distance run since the marathon was 11 very torturous miles the other weekend, uh-oh) and I think that will really be the nail in the Comrades coffin if it goes poorly, or a boost if I can actually string some miles together, we shall see. I’ve also got a consultant appointment on Thursday so will see what he says – last time it was “don’t train” but I am hoping for better news depending on today’s blood test results. We shall see.

In the meantime at least the enforced rest has sorted my errant foot out. After it still being lumpy and sore despite almost total rest (barring parkrun) I finally had an ultrasound done and was diagnosed with a Ganglion cyst. Harmless and I just need to go back if it is giving me gyp. What I thought might be the beginnings of a stress fracture in the same foot (caused by trying to avoid running on the lump I think) has sorted itself out, and my hammies are much better so as soon as I can shed this stupid cold I would like to get running again.

It’s been difficult being injured, but since my thyroid renders me incapable of pretty much anything fun I haven’t missed running so much, it’s not like if you have a broken leg and can’t run, I have lost enthusiasm for pretty much anything! So not having to drag myself out of a warm house has actually been nice, but I do miss it and want to get going. As for Comrades, we will see – the stars are going to have to align themselves in a very fortunate manner for me to even contemplate starting, but the thought of waving off my friends at the start fills me with horror, so I have to still keep it as a goal, even if it is a very distant one at present. Fingers crossed for a decent diagnosis on thursday and a decent-ish half on Sunday.