Well 2014 did not have the start that I planned for. I had a few hiccups in 2013, but it ended well with a reasonable result at Tour du Helvellyn. I was in fighting form and looking forward to the next challenge; the Montane Spine Race (http://thespinerace.com/) in early January. My fighting form lasted until around 4.5 hours into the race. I was on my way down Torside Clough, tripped, hyper extended, sub-luxed my hip, hit the deck and sprawled about for a minute or so in a lot of pain. Luckily I was only about a mile from a road crossing and managed to drag and hobble my way down to it. A race Doctor was also amongst the marshals at the road crossing along with my support crew for this section (George Bate and David Bethell). I was told by the Doctor that if I was given any pain killers stronger than Ibuprofen I would be pulled from the race. I was still convinced that I would be able to walk it off after a mile or two. So I dosed up on Ibuprofen and carried on with the aid of sticks. To cut a long story short the next 6 miles were very grim for me, it took me around 4 hours to get them completed to the next road crossing. My race was done, as was I. Handing my tracker back to the race marshals was difficult for me. Still it had to be and was done; then after a hot brew and some commiserations from passing runners and a big hug of fellow competitor Jen Gaskill, my support crew bundled me in the car for the journey to the A&E.
The next few weeks went like this;
Week 1: In bed on rather heavy duty pain killers. A minimum time of at least 30minutes to get out of bed and make the toilet and return to bed! And yes the toilet was in the same house!
Week 2: More movement but only on crutches. Loo trip down to about 10 minutes.
Weeks 3-4: Managed to get rid of the crutches and move to a walking stick. Managed to start getting my sock on my left foot! Physiotherapy at NHS starts.
Weeks 5-6: Managed to ditch the walking stick (although my walking style was similar to the hunch back of Notre Dame) and got stuck into rehab exercises. Started to see Mike Perry Physiotherapist as well as NHS.
Weeks:7-8: As weeks 5-6. Walking style improved to that of Huggy Bear of the original Starsky & Hutch TV show….. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oc6rbEt7Xwc
Weeks 9-10: I decided I was strong enough to try running again……..bad idea. I was told the soft tissue and tendon damage would take 12 weeks to heal properly. I thought for some reason I would be different….nope, I am the same as everyone else. I tried to run twice, but it was too early, there was too much pain. So I heeded the experts and stopped, switched to turbo training.
Weeks 11-12: Turbo training mixed with core training. At the end of week 12 I went to Annecy with the Fell Fairy (aka Tracy Dean). It was a do or die trip for me. It ended up being a ‘do’ result. I managed to put 3 days of running together. It was the result I hoped for.
Week 13: In the words of Fat Boy Slim…Right about now…. I’ve started training again with gentle runs and a view to at least a month’s build-up of this before I progress to harder sessions.
So the overall results of the 12 weeks were a weight gain of around 9lbs, a loss of muscle mass in the legs (a very visible difference between my left-injured- leg to right leg), a general loss of fitness and a general runners low, but on the plus side plenty of time to look at my race plans for the season. I had drafted one at the beginning of January on my Spine taper, but with my hip injury and lack of fitness I had to scrap all my races planned for the first 6 months of the year. So my proposed slimmed down 2014 calendar looks something like this;
May: At some point run the Pennine Way(aka Spine route). My DNF at the Spine was a double disappointment as I was also running it to raise money for the Charity Mind. I therefore still want to complete this as a challenge to myself and honour my sponsorships. It will also be a great training session.
June 28th: World Skyrunning 80Km Championship, Chamonix, France (http://www.skyrunning.com). I will not be up to speed for this race but I have an entry. If I feel I may not have the fitness to complete I may substitute this with the first UK Skyrunning race; the V3K http://www.vegan-welsh-3000s.co.uk/
July 26th: the Montane Lakeland 50 http://www.lakeland100.com/the-lakeland-50 .This race has now become the British Ultra Trail Championships for 2014. It will be super competitive for sure. Once again it will be too soon for me to be in tip top condition but I will certainly be planning to run as best as I can on the day. It’s also going to be a great social weekend, so looking forward to this no matter what.
August 29th: UTMB, Chamonix, France, http://www.ultratrailmb.com Blinking ‘eck, I was not expecting to be doing this race! This is the first time I have put an entry into the UTMB (I was actually going to do the CCC, but the entry system showed I had 7 points, so a spur of the moment decision saw me press the UTMB button!). So much to my surprise I was drawn from the hat as it were. I should be getting somewhat fitter by about the time this race occurs, so I am looking forward to it, albeit with also rather a lot of nervousness as it will be my first 100mile race.
September 27th: Mmmm not sure maybe the RAB http://www.rabmountainmarathon.com/ but it is a week before the 3x3Ultra.
October 4th: 3x3 Ultra Skyrace, http://www.highterrainevents.co.uk as above not sure if it will be this or the RAB.
October 26th: Choice time Snowdon Marathon or Grand Trail Les Templiers 47mile Trail race (20th Anniversary Edition) http://thetempliersgreatrun.blogspot.co.uk/ . Templiers is more my thing, but I’ve never done a road marathon……
So as can be seen a bit wishy washy at the end of the year but I will make my judgment calls on the races closer to the time when I can gauge how I am running better. I will also be getting involved with a few friends challenge rounds offering support on Bob Graham and Paddy Buckley Rounds plus very excitingly the Hardrock 100. So although it is a slimmed down season, it's still going to be a busy one for sure.
I am also lucky enough to be involved in organising a Skyrace this year in the UK, The Peakskyrace http://www.peakskyrace.co.uk/ It’s an interesting transition from being a competitor to race organisor but one I am enjoying along with my co Race Directors Richard Weremiuk and Billy Craig. We hope to put on a race to remember; for all the right reasons. I’ve also been out on the course and tweaking a few parts of it to increase the elevation. At present my Garmin has a reading of around 2350metres over 29miles. So just on the cusp of an AL fell race, but with the benefit of it being a fully marked and marshalled course. More details will be posted on the web site soon.
I will end with saying thanks to all at the NHS physio department and A&E who looked after me first class, to Mike Perry for then continued physio support http://1stcontactphysiotherapy.co.uk/stokeontrent/ , my Spine Support crew-George Bate, David Bethell, & Janson Heath who were all giving up their time and resources to help me out over the days that the race would have taken…sorry the adventure didn’t happen lads, Tracy Dean for sports massage and phsio support to keep me running whilst in France. And last but by no means least all the messages of support from everyone out there I have received about getting myself back out into the running mix, including all at Buff UK and Raidlight. Cheers to you all J