When not training is harder than training… 

So I am now 5 days post op… that’s 5 whole days of not being able to get up and go anywhere unless someone takes me… struggling to get in and out of the shower and then sweating by the time I’ve hopped nervously down the stairs so I kinda need to shower again…

Most of you will know that on Wednesday last week I had an operation to repair a tendon in my ankle. Don’t get me wrong, pre-op I was in a bad way and the tendon needed fixing. The recovery period was supposed to be 2 weeks in a cast, 6 weeks in a boot, 3 months until I can try to run again… This sounded horrendous to me, but I’m a pretty tough cookie, I was sure I would survive…

I had the operation on Wednesday last week and it went better than anticipated! Yay! Straight into a boot, therefore technically taking a couple of weeks off my planned recovery. My boyfriend collected me from hospital the next day and I was home to start resting and recovering.

I didn’t feel too bad on Thursday, not too painful, probably still some lasting anaesthetic I came home, had a nap and managed to go out for a few hours in the evening to a Specialized womens event in their Chelmsford Concept Store. (Adam took me as I obviously can’t drive), a lovely evening with some awesome ladies and pretty bikes, just what I needed!

Friday I was tired, and it hurt!!! My ankle is swollen so the boot feels like it’s squeezing the swelling, the boot is heavy, really heavy and feels like more of a hinderance than a help! Friday was a day for sleeping and trying to cope with the pain!!

Saturday, was a long and boring day! I finished a book I started, my mum popped over to make me lunch, and in the afternoon my sister came and took me to my mums so I had some alternative company and they made me dinner!

Sunday! Adam took me out to watch the finish of the Brentwood half marathon, I had run this race last year with friends and I knew lots of people running so we headed out to see them finish! It was great to be out and about and Brentwood is a pretty hilly course so I wasn’t too sad to not be running. We had coffee at our friends James and Laura’s house afterwards (it was quite a long hop to the house my biggest challenge yet) but it was lovely to be with friends.

You would think having been out in the morning the rest of the day would pass quite quickly? But it doesn’t… I’m aware of almost every minute of every hour, and 2 movies later I was super frustrated! My weekends are normally a flurry of activity, running, cycling, horse riding, walking the dog… Not this one! With hopping limited to 5-10mins at a time getting to and from the bathroom is about my limit!

At least I have the dog to keep me company! In order to recover properly I need to find a way to stay calm whilst being inactive, I’m going to try some adult colouring today! I’m also thinking if I lie on the floor with my legs on the sofa I could maybe do some sit ups, maybe even some press ups from my knees if I hook my legs up behind me? I may wait until Adam gets home from work to trial these in case they go spectacularly wrong and I end up stuck on the floor!

Now I know I’m lucky, there is nothing seriously wrong with me, I should recover fully and therefore 6 weeks of being on the sofa with my foot in the air shouldn’t be too traumatic. There are an incredible number of inspiring people who live with very severe injuries and learn to adapt their lifestyle accordingly.

I attended a conference recently where one of the facilitators was Clare Griffiths, a wheelchair basketball athlete for team GB at the Paralympics, Clare had been a keen sportsperson when she broke her back in a horse riding accident and was paralysed. She went on to take part in 5 Paralympic Games! I sat next to Clare at dinner and her story truly is inspiring… Therefore I feel like I should not grumble.

But for now I am finding it tough, the sudden change in my lifestyle albeit temporary is affecting my mood and making me grumpy, I will try to rectify this over the next few days and I’m sure as the pain subsides and I become more mobile this will become a bit easier…

Hopefully il be back up and running in no time…


Silverstone – There’s a First Time For Everything

So this weekend unfortunately neither Jenni nor me could participate in the Silverstone Half Marathon, I was devastated but my injury is too bad to run through and with my operation this week it was a bad idea! 

So in a first for us I asked my friend Chris if he would like to do a guest post for our blog! So everyone please meet Chris, he is taking part in some amazing challenges, I hope you enjoy his post. 

It was such a shame when Helen told me she wouldn’t be running the Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon but in the long run (excuse the pun) maybe it was for the best. I’m sure she’ll be back on her feet competing again in no time. And it was lovely for her to ask me to write a guest entry for this blog so I’ll do my best. 

I’ve been raising money on and off for The Lullaby Trust over the past five years in memory of my son Tyler who passed away in 2012. They research into the cause of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (cot death). 

I’ve completed a Football Stadium Road Trip visiting every English League football stadium across 5 days whilst living in the car. The following year I did the same in Scotland meaning a total of almost 150 stadiums. In 2015 I completed a 160ft bungee jump, 10,000ft skydive, and my first ever 10k run. I’ve come a long way since that race, which took a full 1 hour and 18 minutes! You can read more about these on my own blog – Wadeyschallenge.wordpress.com

In June of 2016, I made a decision to make my next fundraiser my last one for a while so I wanted to step it up a notch from previous years. Originally it was going to be 4 big(ish) challenges, which quickly changed to 7. Currently my target is at 33 challenges… with the potential to add a couple more before 2018 appears!

First up was to reach the summit of a mere 3,718m high active volcano. Mount Teide in Tenerife was the setting. I reached the summit in 5.5 hours, whilst battling against the heat, altitude and my own stamina levels.

Then came two 10k runs in quick succession. The MoRun in Greenwich Park, and the Kelly Holmes Trust 10k in London’s Olympic Park. On both occasions I managed a new PB.

Then came my first Obstacle Course Race, Mud n Madness in Upminster. I used this as an eye opener to OCR’s and to help me with my future challenges.

My final challenge before I conquered my first half marathon was another 10k run in Greenwich Park which I once again achieved a new PB which stands at 53:53.

Next up…. Silverstone

My training for this had wavered a little in the previous couple of weeks so I wasn’t in the best possible shape so I was slightly nervous, especially as I hadn’t run more than 10 miles in one session before. 

The day didn’t get off to a good start due to the torrential downpour of rain whilst driving along the M1. Visibility was minimal so a steady stroll along the motorway was needed. Maybe this helped with my pacing during the race? Who knows.

I pulled up in the car park in awe of the grandstands at this iconic circuit. As a big Formula 1 fan, to run here was the perfect setting for my first half marathon. Along with my partner Becky, and children, Ruby and Bella we waited for the rain to ease off a little before heading to the track. Thousands of people were all heading in the same direction so we just followed them, hoping they were heading towards the Pit area. 

At 11.15am they all gave me a kiss and wished me luck as they headed towards the grandstand at Copse Corner, and I headed into the track. The rain continued to pour and a light breeze made it seem a lot colder than it actually was. My warm up consisted of a couple of small jogs and stretches followed by strolling around trying to pass the time. 

The Pit Straight was broken into sections for our estimated finish time so I took my place between the 2:10 and 2:20 signposts. I thought I was being slightly unrealistic and would more than likely finish closer to 2:30 but I like to push myself past my capabilities. Although my confidence took a major blow when I heard that around half of the people racing were using this race as a warm up for The London Marathon in April.

At 11.56am I heard the klaxon for the wheelchair race to begin and then us runners all shuffled forward towards the start line. My nerves were off the scale at this point thinking I’d bitten off a lot more than I could chew but the was no way I could back out.

12.00pm on the dot and as the legendary Formula One theme tune “The Chain” by Fleetwood Mac was blaring out, the klaxon sounded again. It took a couple of minutes to start moving due to sheer amount of people running. When I finally crossed the start line when the race had already been underway for almost 3 minutes. I started my stopwatch and away I went.

The first 2 miles through Maggots, Becketts, Hangar Straight and Stowe Corner were slightly downhill and I managed to keep an 8:50/mile pace. I realised that I wouldn’t be able to keep this up throughout the race but decided on the ‘worry about it later’ strategy and pushed on.

I was feeling quite good and looking at the grandstands and picturing in my mind legends like Schumacher, Senna, Vettel & Hamilton all whizzing round the same corners that I was, was exhilarating. The only difference being they average a speed of 180mph…. and I was averaging 6mph!

After we passed through the pit lane and onto the 6 mile mark I slowed to a walking speed to have a drink and a quick recovery period. I had just recorded what would turn out to be my fastest mile of the race at 8:38. The sun was now out and drying the track so thankfully the annoying ‘squelch’ sound from hundreds of trainers around me had finally stopped. 

Miles 7 to 10 really seemed to drag as the course took us around the footpaths on the outside of the circuit. No scenery, no iconic bends and not many spectators to cheer us on. Just a long winding pathway with grass verge that was being used as a makeshift toilet area. As we passed the 10 mile point there was hoards of people cheering us on but I kept hearing,

“Well done Gavin”

“Keep going Gavin”

“Blimey! This Gavin has got some fans”, I thought.

Then all of a sudden a bloke dressed as a great big Royal Mail Postbox came running past with the word Gavin written on it. That explains a lot! But there was no way a bloody Postbox was going to beat me!

We finally got back onto the track for our final lap when I hit a bit of a wall. Not from exhaustion but from shooting pains up my legs and in my right foot. There was only 2.5 miles to go and until that point I was on course to finish in under two hours. I had to change my running style into a strange shuffle in order to keep moving. But the sub two hour time would prove to be elusive. 

With the finish in sight, there was an ambulance on the track and a man lying on the floor being treated. This just highlights the dangers of not hydrating enough or preparing properly. This could easily have been me. As I shuffled past the 13 mile point, I broke into a sprint finish. I do not know where the energy came from or where the pain went, but it did. People were cheering me on as I burst through the pack of runners approaching the finish line.

And waiting at the finish line with beaming smiles and bursting with pride, was my family. What a perfect way to end my most challenging run so far.

Helen again here – I would like to say a massive well done to Chris on his first half marathon and a huge thank you to him for writing this post for us! 

If you would like to sponsor Chris his fundraising link is here

Tokyo Marathon

One of our aims is to run all 6 of the Abbott World Marathon Majors. That’s the London, New York, Tokyo, Boston, Berlin and Chicago marathons. We have both run London individually and we did Chicago together in October 2016. We both entered the ballot for Tokyo but unfortunately only I got a space (Helen). With tour company spaces being like gold dust this left me without Jenni for this race.

After Chicago in October it seemed simple, keep the training up through the winter, run Tokyo in February… life however is not so simple and with my ankle injury getting worse and causing other injuries in my leg keeping up the training has been difficult to say the least…

So with very little distance training done (1 x 15mile run and a few 10mile runs) I headed to Tokyo pretty certain that running was a bad idea but I was so lucky to have got a ballot space and my boyfriend and mum were coming for a holiday so I really wanted to try!

We flew out on Wednesday so I would have a few days to aclimatise before the race on Sunday.

After arriving in Tokyo and checking into the hotel we headed to the Expo so I could register and pick up my number. The Expo was amazing, the halls were brightly decorated with the colours and logos of the marathon, all the runners names were written on a wall (yes I searched until I found mine)

The route was on a few of the walls, brightly in 3D highlighting the districts that the run would be taking you through and the atmosphere was fantastic! I also headed over to the Abbott stand and had my photo taken in front of the Tokyo section!

After all the official sections the Expo then had a number of merchandise stalls etc to browse around, I was good and only bought a pair of compression sleeves (which I genuinely needed). But I did have some pictures with characters that were roaming the Expo!

Saturday night I got all my kit ready, taped my legs and started hoping for the best… My ankle is incredibly weak due to the severe tear in my tendon and this has caused me to injure my shins quite dramatically, so currently walking is a bit hit or miss depending on the day, running… Ummm, yeah, that… It doesn’t happen, the pain is incredible and I’m super unstable…

Sunday morning was race day, I got up early and we had breakfast in the hotel, well I tried to have breakfast, I hate eating early in the morning!!! Then off to the start, it was really well sign posted walking through Shinjuku towards the start line and easy to find the baggage drops and start pens! I lined up in my pen and genuinely felt quite nervous! Normally when I line up I’m sure I can finish an event or I wouldn’t be there… this one was different!

After a nervous selfie and a lot of time trying to work out what the Japanese announcements meant I looked round and spotted a familiar face – Michael – he had been in Chicago with the same tour company and whilst we hadn’t really spoken in Chicago a familiar face was a welcome sight so I edged my way through the crowd and went to say hi! We made or way to the start together and figured out our initial pace was likely to be quite similar as I would be limping and he has some knee problems so would be starting slow to warm up!

To the start line we headed and soon we were jogging (hobbling in my case) onto the route and off into Tokyo! I knew I would find the first few miles tough whilst I tested out how bad my leg felt and how best to run through the pain (I do not recommend people do this – rest and recovery are very important), but what I hadn’t realised was there wasn’t going to be an easy way to do this, often after a few miles it gets easier… this didn’t and after 10km I was almost certain it wasn’t going to… I told Michael he may want to head on without me as I was pretty sure I was done, this wasn’t going well for me.

Michael said he didn’t need to head off any faster and was happy to run with me until I was completely done, so on we plodded with Michael talking to me and trying to take my mind off my issues. After just over 2 painful hours we reached the half way point, then I started to think maybe I could do it… Don’t get me wrong there was still an awfully long way to go but I had already managed half of it…

A quick stop for the loo, some painkillers and water, 2nd half of Tokyo marathon was underway!!! I was barely running, using a strange shuffly technique to keep my stride small and minimise impact on my leg, but this was working… I was still moving in the right direction!!! Michael was an amazing encouragement and hearing stories about his life to date and his achievements was truly motivational! He is also aiming for all 6 majors, he started last year with London and he only has Boston left to complete in April – I’m in awe!!!

We carried on, past the cheerleaders, dance performances and incredible volunteers who lined the course, we started counting down the distance and at 30km I started to believe that maybe it would be possible to finish this race! Something that I would never have thought at the start or at 10km!!

Another quick loo stop and some more painkillers, just an hour or so to go and we would make it… I started to feel more cheerful, getting to the end was now feeling a bit more achievable, I could hardly believe it!

As we headed towards the finish at about 41km we managed to spot my mum and Adam in the crowd!!! It was so nice to see them smiling and waving and we were so nearly finished!!

We ran (I hobbled) down the final street with big smiles on our faces and finished side by side! I absolutely can not thank Michael enough for sticking with me at my steady plod, encouraging me, believing in me and helping me to reach the finish. It’s easy for someone to think that I knew I could do it but for me this race was different. It’s hard to gauge how much is mind over matter and when you should genuinely call it quits and admit defeat, I’m sure that will happen one day, but on this occasion that was not the case! In Chicago I saw a lot of signs that said ‘go random stranger we believe in you’ and I often find sport encourages this mentality which is amazing! Micheal well and truly embodied this spirit for which I will be forever grateful!

I made it!!! My 3rd Abbott major done!!

Now it’s time to take my injury seriously, I have my operation on my ankle booked for when I get back to London so will soon be taking time to rest and recover properly.

But for now I’m super excited to have survived and am enjoying my holiday in Japan!!