You Can’t Carry on Like This

More on the title of this post later. First let’s get up to date on what I’ve been up to.
Giants Head Marathon – Saturday 28th June 2014.
What a totally fabulous day that was. I had the option of camping the night before the event but with a choice of a free hotel room an hour away from the start or the thought of being eaten alive by midges I chose the hotel room. Only hardened campers would choose camping over a warm room and I’m definitely not a hardened happy camper!!
The forecast for the day was wet with a side of wet followed by some drizzle and maybe a shower or two. The weather I experienced was overcast at the start then light fluffy clouds with blue sky on the side. It was beautiful.
I recognised a few faces at the start but as usual with my inability to remember names I kept to myself. The race briefing was brilliant – “you will be treated as road kill” I can’t remember the sentence that had this statement in but that bit stuck! I was looking forward to the “Love Station” and it was obvious there were going to be hills in this event. I had heard all manner of horror stories about the hills on this event so my plan was to just finish. No racing, no pacing – just finish.
I started with Claire and Emma from Leighton Fun Runners (LFR) . A gentle run out of the village, a walk up the first steep hill, then we were confronted with the bathing farmers. Runners taking out phones and camera’s to immortalise the moment and we were running again. Claire was running strong and by the second aid station she was pulling away at her own pace. I was content to stay with Emma and go at her pace. The course was very well marked and the scenery was breath taking. Chalk man on the hillside (Cerne Abbas Giant) was much smaller than I imagined but now I can say I’ve seen him. The hill climbs – yes they were tough going, I’m no ultra bambi so I wasn’t skipping up the hills but I did take time to stop and look at the views this time. Wow. With the fluffy clouds and clear visibility the views were amazing. Worth every drop of sweat getting to the top of each of those hills. My knee had decided it didn’t want to cooperate by mile 10. Painkilling spray applied and things felt much better. At one of the checkpoints we met a lady who had fallen and hurt her hand. Out came the painkilling spray and compression bandage. It felt like I had more to offer than the first aid kit at the aid station!! The “Helen Grills” knick name was back haha! We met a few more weary soles after that point. We would pass a few and then they would pass us later. By that point we were travalling at a similar pace heading toward the “Love Station” at around the 20 mile mark. A long run across a field, then a road crossing and we started to see writing on the road. We were close to hugs. I’ve experienced Karen’s marathon hugs before and it’s a revitalising experience. You’ve made it this far, not long to go, grab some cake, drink, hug and get out of here before I kick you out…… hahaha!!
A couple more hills after that and at the end of a long, dusty, chalk stone filled track a guy who’s watching runners head towards the finish says “not long to go now, just another 1.5 kilometres” – hang on!! What!! The man at the top of the hill said that!! We round the corner and there’s the finish! OH!! Meters, not kilometres hahahaha!!! Finish time of 7hrs 9mins
The bling – awesome. Cerne Abbas Giant with trainers on. Memento – just as awesome. A bright blue shirt and a glass with the same picture. Only the glass has some additional coloured in “bits” lol!
I’ll be back next year. I really enjoyed this course.

Enigma Double Marathon – Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th July 2014
This weekend had been booked as my test weekend for Lakeland 50. If I couldn’t manage this marathon double then as far as I was concerned I had no right being out on the hills in the Lake District. It wasn’t about fitness or determination it was about giving me the courage and confirmation that I had worked hard enough to make it further than I had last year in the Lakeland 50.
The Enigma Marathons are usually seven and a half laps around Caldecotte Lake in Milton Keynes. The first day was an early start and a number of things made it a very interesting challenge. The weather felt like one side of the lake was dry and the other side had constant rain. My favourite purple running tights had decided my thighs were far too much to contain and I ended up with chafing in a crucial place!! My first experience using Vaseline to prevent further damage was an experience to remember!! My right knee was great up till 15 miles this time. Painkilling spray and it was manageable again. With just under two laps to go Lesley appeared and kept me company. The distraction of company on those last two laps was fabulous. I managed a strong finish and day one was finished in 5hrs 22mins
The second day was tough. I wasn’t sore from the previous day. I was tired. A hot bath and massage on my legs had kept me moving freely but by morning both knees were complaining about the mileage. I had dug out my knee brace from years ago and put it on the knee that was complaining the most, my left knee. I got ready to go and headed out the door. The weather was going to be dry at least. Tub of Vaseline ready, electrolytes ready, me…..not so ready. There were a number of people there doing both days and it was obvious who they were from how fast we all started. The fresh ultra bambi’s skipped away and the rest of us shuffled up to running pace. My first lap was awful. Full of pain from my right knee. I thought I’d sorted this out with the knee brace……… oh!! It’s on the left knee! Sigh! A quick changeover at the aid station and the knee brace is on the correct knee. By the time I’m half way around the lake my knee is feeling much better. Dimwit!! I was joined by Kelly at this point and she had me laughing like crazy woman. Running comedy, nothing is better when I’m tired and want to stop than to have someone like Kelly make me laugh and forget everything but keeping hold of my pee!! Two laps later and I’m refreshed and shuffling along nicely. A lap or so later and Lesley, Mariam and Glyn join me for a lap of the lake as well. Thank you so much. The distraction of chatting away and shuffling away was fabulous. The day was getting hot and Lesley and Mariam had just run the Milton Keynes Half Marathon to then come and join me for a lap of the lake. Thank you, thank you, thank you. It was greatly appreciated. I had a lap to go and it really felt like I was running on empty. One more time past this bench, past the bridge, past the pond and so on until it was the last few hundred meters. Then out of nowhere my stride lengthened, the arms swinging, breathing deep and pushing myself to the limit to just finish this thing. Get it over with. I have no idea where this comes from but up to that point I was ready to walk to the finish. I felt like I was hanging onto a runaway horse racing home and no way of stopping!! A not too shabby finish of 5hrs 55mins.
So – I managed to break the spell of quitting. I also managed to complete my first double marathon weekend. Still not sure how but with the help of Kelly, Lesley, Mariam and Glyn it felt much easier than I had expected. Due the reoccurring knee issue I booked myself in to see a local physio last week for some deep tissue massage to see if that would help. I’ve recovered over the weekend and my knee is feeling much better. Next week is Fairlands Valley challenge. 27 miles of navigating to get me in the mood for Lakeland50 the following weekend. Woohoo!!!

My last post highlights that I have periods of quiet. Where I really don’t like to express what I’ve been up to for fear of judgement. Oh here’s another blog on some random subject, why don’t they just find something better to do – kind of thing. This blog sometimes feels like an effort in stupidity and narcissism. So yeah, this blog is a bit narcissistic but I also know that I’m forgetting things more lately. I’ve gone through and read some old posts and thought “I don’t remember that at all” which is scary but also a gentle reminder that I need to keep at this. This is worth the effort. Don’t stop!

The post title. You can’t carry on like this.
My marathon double weekend highlighted that I put myself through an immense amount of suffering for what appears to be a bit of metal on a ribbon. Well, no!! No it’s not!! Hearing “It’s not normal. Why put yourself through all that suffering when you can sit back and relax for the weekend”.
Have you ever heard that before? Along with so many other statements that doubt the amazing ability of the human body to just keep on ticking. I can understand why people say these things because I sometimes ask myself the exact same thing. I’m not ignoring the fact that my body is being put through an immense amount of suffering but……yes……BUT the alternative is just as destructive and quite astoundingly encouraged!!! Sit, chill out, don’t worry, munch on this, chill, don’t worry, munch on this, chill……. When my body is unable to carry on then yes, yes I will chill and munch and look back on all the amazing things my body has carried me through. That’s if I can remember anything hahaha!! I push myself to extremes because I can. It’s as simple as that. No one is forcing me to do any of these things. I can count on one hand the number of people who have actively encouraged me to do bonkers events. All of the suffering is for me. To prove to myself that I am not weak. Of course I enjoy the bling, that small item of proof that I did it. My personal record of achievement that has no meaning to anyone else but me. I’m not an elite athlete, I’m not even a fast runner, I’m a loving wife, mother, office worker, friend who enjoys the thrill of picking personal challenges that are just a little bit scary, that push forward, that keep me moving, that show me parts of the world I had no reason to visit until now. Why not! Rant over. Time to grab a cup of tea and “CHILL” hahahaha!
Keep on running.

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