It’s been a hell of a few weeks as I tentatively took my first steps back into training after my unfortunate fracture. To say that I was nervous would be a gross understatement, infact I’d pretty much lost all confidence in my ability as an athlete. I was nervous about getting out on the bike, what if I fall and re-injure myself? I was down about running becuase I had become so unfit ( that’s what enforced rest does to my psyche, anyone else have that problem ? ) and I still haven’t had the confidence to ‘risk’ the wrist swimming yet, something I need to address this week.
So with my confidence at an all time low I picked myself up and forced myself to join Andy H out on the bike. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to grip the handlebars ( especially on the hills ) or that my arm would ache, however fear of falling was at the forefront of my mind. After an hour or so of that first ride ( we ended up doing 3 hours and covering over 40 miles ) I began to relax. On the descents I’d hang back just incase there was any ice, and in places there was, but thankfully I stayed upright. By the end of the ride I was knackered and sucking Andy’s rear wheel like my life depended it on it. But I’d made it. Supping my post ride REGO I reflected that I’d gone further and longer than I was wanting but that for the majority of the ride I felt comfortable, maybe I wasn’t as unfit as I thought?
Since then I’ve been out again with Andy for a 2 hour ride, and felt so much stronger. In a true test of my nerve I also put 24 miles in after work last week on the deserted unlit lanes around Dolphinholme and Quornmore. It was freezing but I managed to navigate around any ice by the combination of moonlight and my high powered ay-up lights and sheer good fortune. I probably would have gone up into the Trough of Bowland and onto some of the tough fells but I need to re-index my gears, having discoverred on the latest ride with Andy that I couldn’t change into the granny ring – an essential for a climber like myself.
Running for one of the few times in my life has felt like torture over the last couple of weeks, until this past Saturday that is. I don’t know why but since my fall ( which was caused when running ) I seemed to have been mentally scared to put a foot out of the door. Maybe it’s because I’m carrying a little extra weight at the moment, so that every stride is a bit harder than it should be. Maybe it’s the aching knees that constantly plague me post run or maybe I’d just burnt myself out? Personally I think it’s fear of the upcoming marathon, yes I know I’ve ran them before, and yes I know I’m an Ironman BUT at the moment I have a mental block against running in the London Marathon. I just don’t see the point when I have an Ironman to compete in a few months later. It’s a hell of a distraction, and lets face it when you can’t get excited about the biggest race in the world then maybe just maybe it’s time to find a new hobby??
So I’d completed a few shorter runs including the first headtorch outing of the year with Andy H but in the back of my mind I kept hearing “You have a 20 mile race in March and a marathon in April”. My longest run since November had only been eight miles, how was I going to cope with the massive distances ahead of me ? I just had to suck it up and get on with it. So last Monday night after work I set off and ended up running 10 miles in 1:25, and felt comfortable – apart from being drenched to the skin. I poured water out of my shoes and backpack when I finished. My mind was racing, if I could run that and then could keep it up then I’d survive the Trimpell 20 and London and be able to move towards the Outlaw without much damage. My mood lightened somewhat.
The big test came this Saturday, my ‘other’ training partner Lesley who is doing London and Trimpell emailed to ask if I fancied a long run. With my confidence at rock bottom I wanted to say No, but I knew I had to say yes and really test myself. Andy H’s son Gareth would also be joining us as he prepared for the Bath half-marathon. He was obviously very keen as he was ready to run in his shorts ( he would change in tracksters ) in the sub zero conditions. I on the other hand had tights on, a compression base layer, a thermal cycling jersey and a goretex running jacket, oh and gloves ! And even as the sun rose over the River Lune I didn’t regret my clothing choice – it was still cold !
The pace was steady and the three of us chatted about all sorts of topics, work, holidays, football, what I’d said about them both in my book, you know the usual sort of topics. We headed out along the frozen canal before reaching the village of Halton, crossing back over the river we followed it all the way to the end and to the sea at Glasson Dock. The last mile or so Lesley upped the pace ( still massively within Gareth’s comfort zone ) but I was flagging, determined however not to slow them down. We reached the car park at Condor Green and said goodbye to Gareth as he headed home whilst myself and Lesley doubled back to add some extra miles on. We eventually made it back to my house and had covered just shy of 16.5 miles in 2:19. My confidence was renewed, if I could keep that pace up I’d get round the marathon in about 4 hours. Trimpell 20 should take approx 3 hours and then as Andy H always says “The last 6 of the marathon will always take an hour at least.” Hopefully going to get again next Saturday for a repeat performance with Lesley.
My legs have been aching since Saturday, should have put my compression socks on sooner. I managed to walk the 3.5 miles to work this morning and I plan on slowly running it home tonight as a recovery run. I’ll report back tomorrow IF I’m in one piece.
So I think I’ve come out the other side of my mental fog, I know I won’t set the world on fire at London, but I feel more confident now that’ll finish without disgracing myself……and in all honesty that’s all I’m bothered about.