Having failed to complete numerous attempts at posts since the 100 miler, yes in June last year. I thought it was time to get writing.
The 100 was amazing and certainly taught me a lot. Although I was happy to complete, I certainly didn’t do myself justice and need to go back one day to set the record straight. Maybe with something a bit flatter.
In November the year before I hurt my ankle, I presume it was trying to run on cobbles when tired, and it was raining and icy. Never a great idea, but your often in a hurry to finish these races. The issue seemed to go away after a period of taping and rest. Immediately after removing my calf sleeves from the 100, I could see the same ankle was swollen. I cut off the sleeves that day, there was no other way to remove them. Since then I tried to manage it with taping, short recovery, heat, ice, massage, most options. But in August it just seemed to be getting worse. I plucked up the courage to ring the health insurance (very lucky to have this through work). From here I embarked on a period of investigation and podiatry to seek a fix.
I’ve always been aware I have issues with my feet and had been offered an op to resolve tendon issues as a teen. As you can imagine I was keen to continue a conversation that suggested breaking my toes. Needles to say I progressed with years of footie without real issue, I just bandaged my ankles as they often felt weak and had thought it to be a wise choice to have made.
When seeking assistance this time, it was clear that my injury was in relation to my poor biomechanics and not just a straight forward overuse issue. This immediately set my mind wandering and with a few weeks of rest advised, I needed something to fuel my running passion, so with support from my club, I did my coaching assistant and LiRF courses. Having previously qualified as a lvl 1 endurance official in the year I was expanding my usefulness in the sport but also keeping myself involved with something I really enjoyed. I started to assist with some coaching at my club Bridgend AC. Helping with an established endurance group of teenagers. Although initially petrified, I really enjoy this and have gone on to run two sessions solo.
I’m quite a passionate person with my interests and submerse myself fully in them. I’m keen to be as helpful I can in any environment I’m involved in and coaching is a great chance to do that. Learning new ways to help support and develop junior runners into a excelling seniors. Whilst giving the club further options to help out and less workload in others.
Having convinced myself in late 2017 that I’d be fixed soon, I entered the Newport Marathon, the Vale ultra and San Dom 20. Again obviously sticking to my mantra of no long races and focusing on short. It never quite turns out like that. Newport being a local marathon and in its first year was a must, who doesn’t want to enjoy these local events and help support them. The vale ultra was my first ultra and race of marathon distance or greater. I loved it, hated it, learnt from it and wanted to go back and see how I’ve improved (or not) since then. Besides a number of club members were taking part in some capacity and would be great fun to be part of. San Dom 20 is a perfect race to gauge marathon prep and I’ve done it twice before.
Having been advised that I had a tear, clear evidence of multiple previous sprains and severely inflamed foot/ankle, I opted to try the ultrasound guided injection. No running for two weeks, then build up slowly and see. Weeks 1 & 2 were tough, Running is a huge part of my lifestyle not just a hobbit. It helps to drive my attitude, eating habits and general well being. In week 3 I walked the dogs and had a day where my foot felt worse than ever. The next day I ran and no pain. Could this be the healing process? Over the next 4 weeks I slowly increased mileage and effort. At first slight swelling, then a few odd pains by week 6, I was getting both and more frequent. I did my first training session with club at the end of week 6. I alternated pacing K’s with Claire and pushing myself. Starting with a 4:28 and finishing with a 3:39. The 3 solo efforts were 3:59, 3:47 and 3:39. Possibly too fast for a return session, but being back in the group and pushing my body harder felt brilliant. That following weekend leading into the 7th week, I had a multi terrain race. The local pudding run that had been postponed from December due to bad weather and flooding affecting access to parking and route. Having built up my mileage a bit with my two weekly runs, I felt comfortable I’d get it done, just likely not as fast. A start st the foot of the Big Dipper is daunting, but fun knowing that once you make it to the top you get to run down. This is where it all went wrong. Within seconds of descending at pace something clicked/clunked/popped in my ankle and I was in pain. Enough to stop, draw breath and stop the eyes from watering. I was concerned and annoyed. Was I broken, could I continue, was I harming myself, could I be one a burden on race Marshall’s if I couldn’t continue. After a few brief attempts to restart, which were swiftly followed by more pain, I decided to get moving. People complete greater challenges than this with all sorts of complexities and medical issues. I stopped again a mile later, again in pain with watery eyes. Whenever you stop in a race your always shown a lot of compassion and concern for your welfare by other competitors, I acknowledged and thanked all, but convinced myself I needed to pull my pants up and get it done. Being mentally strong is both my biggest strength and weakness. With the race complete I headed home, got s nice warm bath and hoped it would help fix it. A tried a few ciders for medicinal purposes too.
Tuesday this week was the follow up at the hospital to feedback on the results post injection. I had started to realise things weren’t going the way we’d hoped so had prepped myself for some news of potential fixes. I’m very lucky to have access to these experts through work and grateful for their time to look at my case. Previously we had discussed the similarities between my feet and a hereditary genetic condition but I’d not received an appointment for review yet. Having touched on this again and a review of my feet, we had the options.
Option 1, quite running.
Option 2 – have an operation to repair tendon and fix swelling. Small chance of not working but may get me running again.
Option 3 – break everything and fix my right foot back together and probably never run again.
The caveat to 1 & 2 is that if I do have this condition, option 3 will be needed in some years anyway. But if not, I’ve escaped.
Hearing those options, nothing seemed great. I explained I had a marathon and an ultra planned for April and was met with a look of dismay, clearly I had been a bit optimistic in my outlook previously, but I’m a glass half full person. Option 2 comes with 8-10 weeks recovery and option 3, 6 months. Running has become a lifestyle and a passion for me since embarking on trying to get fit about 4 years ago. It is a huge part of me life and defines me in a lot of ways.
Having consulted all the relevant parties and thinking through my options and the impact to others I picked option 2. This seems the best option given a test may prove I’ve just slightly strange feet and nothing longer term. So Feb 23rd I head to the table. Hopefully all being well it will go ahead as planned and no actions from Work or personal life will delay it. Having just started coaching too, I’m slightly apprehensive of the recovery period, being immobile for weeks and struggling to manage my mobility. I’ve no doubt I will receive huge support from those around me, but ultimately it will be my leg that don’t work properly and I’m not great at being inactive.
I’d forgotten how much it helps to write all this out, and will look to be regular here over the coming weeks/months. I’m not expecting people to read and follow, but I know I’ll enjoy reading these back in a few years.