A Frowning Nun

Ciao! Here I am in Monza, Italy taking advantage of the fact that my husband is currently working out here (free accommodation!)

Thought I’d better try a run, seeing as the apartment is only a kilometre from the amazing Parco Reale (Royal Park). This park is so huge it contains within it the famous Monza motor racing circuit  (you know, the one that hosts the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix race. That little place).

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Parco Reala Monza

The park has marked 3Km, 5Km, 10Km and half marathon routes, making it easy to find your way around. I ran up to the park, past some curious looks from locals, and then followed the 3Km yellow markers. With the run to and from the park this made around a 5Km run – quite enough in this heat!

Route markers. Blue for 5Km and yellow for 3Km. Today was a yellow day

Route markers. Blue for 5Km and yellow for 3Km. Today was a yellow day

Always reassuring to see a defibrillator, just in case…

Photo of Defibrilator

Just in case…

There were plenty of runners in the park. Also power walkers, cyclists, mums with prams, but no inline skates today. It was well marked, it was hot, and all too soon, but very gratefully, I saw the finish marker.

Photo of finish marker

Always good to see a finish marker. Even after just 3Km

After that it was just a gentle jog back to the apartment, which included the longest stop EVER at traffic lights (good for drinking water and panting, basically). I arrived back looking like this:-

Photo after hot run

Attractive, huh?

So to sum up, It was beautiful and cool, no old men stared and no nuns frowned at me. I’m also most definitely not now a red sweaty mess and sweat did NOT drip from my elbow as I took the above selfie.*

*There may be a couple of fibs in this paragraph

 

Three runs, one swim and a triathlon.  What a week!

I’d like to just leave it at that, but in the interests of full disclosure I’d better elaborate. 

Monday was my swimming lesson,  and I enjoyed it as much as ever. Only negative was getting home,  putting my costume into the washing machine,  and realising the costume fabric was now so thin it resembled a string vest. I  immediately shamefacedly added “swimming costume” to my shopping list. 

The three runs were a short race (the Lacock relay), a long run (4 whole miles!) and a parkrun (with cake – bonus). It’s been a fair few months still I’ve managed that many runs in a week,  and my foot felt fine, if a little stiff afterwards. 

And the triathlon?  Well it’s true I was at the Bowood Triathlon on Sunday. However I wasn’t competing,  I was helping out. If you were there I probably gave you your registration pack, along with some supposedly helpful advice and a smile. I also took the chance to go down to the Lake and have a look at the swim stage. Oh my word. How scary did it look?! I watched the start of a Super Sprint swim (400m) and how far did it look?!! Think I need to keep going to my swimming lessons….in my new costume of course. 

A race report. Yes, honestly! Lacock Relay

Still technically in the first half of the year, and I’ve finally managed my first race report of the year. Actually my first race of the year. 

The Lacock Relays are a series of 3 races organised by my running club,  Chippenham Harriers. Runners are placed into teams of 3 according to how fast they can run,  so that reach team has a fast,  a medium and a slow runner. In theory, any team can win, you’ll always be running with other people of around the same speed as you, and even if you know no one else there you’ll at least have the other members of your team cheering you on. And it’s only £2. What’s not to like? 

The course is very simple but extremely pretty. Heading out of the village the entrance to Lacock  Abbey, you cross the river and then take every left turn until you’re back at the start 2.6 miles later. The hill back down into the village gives you enough momentum to thunder through the beautiful High Street (as seen in practically every period drama), frighten the tourists and sprint over the finish line. 

I confess I wasn’t running my fastest, as I know I haven’t run much lately and I’m still cautious about my foot.  However it was still a hard run and I enjoyed it. My Harriers vest had its first outing of the year, I saw friends to chat to,  and it was the most fun I’ve had whilst wearing a vest on a cold and drizzly evening for ages.*

*I think you might have to be a runner to appreciate this

With a little help from my friends (well, husband)

Well if you’ve read my previous post, you’ll know I was caught up in dithering whilst my brain was trying to help by coming up with helpful suggestions.

So did I listen to my brain? Well,  what do you think this is?

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What IS it?!

If you said it’s a tadpole, then no points to you. Mini submarine is also no points but I admire how you think it would help me back onto my bike.

Maybe this will help some more :-
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Ah! Of course, bike lights and cycle clips. Now I have an answer to the worry about taking so long to cycle the light is going, and to going on my snazzy bike in ordinary (non-lycra) clothing*

When my husband was home at the weekend I locked him in the garage until he showed me again how to change my bike’s inner tube (actually he was delighted to show me, bless him!) I also made him come out on what was for him a ridiculously short easy ride, and for me the longest ride in about a year. It actually was a lovely ride. Great route, quiet lanes, lovely café stop – I really enjoyed it.

So what’s next? Well the demons have been put to bed so I guess I need to get out on my own!

*contrary to popular belief I do own some clothing that isn’t sports related.

Digging, Mindfulness and a Powerpoint Presentation

So I’ve managed a few runs lately, and my swimming lessons are going, well, swimmingly, so it only remained for me to get back on my bike to complete the triathlon triplet. Frustratingly I’ve been suffering from self-sabotaging thoughts which have prevented me from just getting on with it.

One of the things I’ve missed most about running is the thinking time. I’ve always found that whilst running my mind will chew over problems, worries, and aggravations and come up with calm, sane, and sensible solutions. Funnily enough, I found that working on the allotment has had the same wondrous results. I guess this is what all this mindfulness stuff is about – not just colouring books.

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All that digging

Last week I arrived at my allotment with my brain full of ridiculous “reasons” why I couldn’t ride my bike, and spent the next few hours digging, weeding, planting and watering. As if by magic, later on that day my brain presented me with a full colour PowerPoint presentation (complete with whizzy slide transitions and sound effects) detailing exactly what I needed to do. Here are the highlights, without the eye bleeding effects:-

What if I can’t remember how to use my cleats and just fall off again? Well, a bit of practice will remind me how to get my feet out, and it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve fallen off. (Twenty first more like!)
What if I get a puncture? How about I just ask my lovely husband to show me again how to change an inner tube.
Will I look silly in my lycra gear for just a short test ride?Just buy some bargain cycle clips and then just nip out in jeans.
What if I’m out too late and it starts to get dark? Back to the bargain shop for some cheap and cheerful lights.
What if … what if … what if …. Oh for Heavens sake Lucy – this mindfulness thing is all well and good, but just get back on your bike!

If your brain could make you a PowerPoint presentation, what would it say to you? What would it say to me?!

Trying a tri?

Foot has  been feeling good, and I thought about maybe going on my bike. I was also tentatively thinking about trying out a little run.. I felt excited at the prospect, but also weirdly nervous (What if I still couldn’t cycle without pain? What if I couldn’t remember how to run? How the hell did I ever ride with clipless pedals??!)

Monday. Swim

With these thoughts rumbling around in the background, the weekend rolled by and it was Monday again – swim lesson day! This week’s excitement was being moved up into the ‘big’ class. This is the class where the teacher says things like “front crawl, breathing every third stroke, four lengths” rather than “kick from your hips, straight knees, floppy ankles, go to the life guard and back”. Still quietly thinking about floppy ankles I survived the lesson but blotted my copybook by accidentally telling a lovely (male) classmate that he was like a broken woman by the end. Whoops!

Tuesday. Bike

My daughter went to a spin class the other week, and I’d been wondering if this would be a good way to see if my foot would manage cycling without then getting stuck miles from home if it didn’t. Tuesday gave me the chance, as her friend cried off the session having already booked (and paid for) a place. Off I trundled, clutching a water bottle and towel.

The experience is summed up in the conversation I had with my (spin class loving) husband later that night:-

Him “So how was it? Was it okay?”

Me “umm. It was okay. Bit weird”

Him. “Ah. Did you try and freewheel?”

Me “ummmm. Yes. Didn’t work”

It came to me as I tried to fall asleep on Tuesday that with swimming and then cycling, I only needed a run to complete a triathlon, in the right order. So I thought, laughing to myself, “Well I could try a run tomorrow!”

Wednesday … RUN!

The thought stuck, and kept popping back into my head throughout the day. It was louder even the sensible voice which muttered “You should probably rest that foot today”. In the interests of a good story, it finally persuaded me to try a little run. 3 miles later after a torrential downpour, with a tad of walking and a smidge of Tweeting, I’d done it! My first run since January 14th this year!

So, Swim, Bike, Run – triathlon done! Three events in three days, (so slowest triathalon ever) but more importantly first run in months. I’m happy, and sitting with my foot on a bottle of iced water just in case.

N.B. I loved my run so much, I tweeted a short video with the title “I’m doing running!”, a phrase shamelessly pinched from Jay, who writes over at Born to Plod. Thanks Jay *smiles sheepishly*

Getting Emotional

If you’ve read any of my race reports you’ll know that I often feel very emotional at the start of a race, in a “I can’t believe I’m doing this!” kind of way. I also have been known to have a blub at the end of races (I’m thinking most recently at the end of last October’s Bristol to Bath marathon, when I hugged my family, snottily sobbing “Sub 5! Sub 5!”)

Today I nearly cried in my swimming lesson, and not because I was hating it, or because the big boys were splashing water in my face. Not this time. This time was with pride, and affection for my fellow swimming students.

At the end of our lesson Alison (the teacher) asked if I wanted to try swimming a whole length. Our class usually only swims half way so we’re never out of our depth, so this was a big deal.

I nodded excitedly, and after being instructed on what to do if I felt too tired to continue to the end, I set off doing backstroke. I successfully reached the end, and only then realised that Alison had swum up alongside me to make sure I was okay (bless her!). I reached the end, turned around triumphantly and the rest of my class all cheered. As an encore I then swam all the way back doing front crawl. I was delighted with myself, my classmates were cheering and congratulating me. I felt awesome!

As if I couldn’t feel any better about myself, as we left the pool a lady who’s only been coming for a few weeks spoke to me. This lady started off simply walking in the water with a float, and on this day managed to take her feet off the floor and kick herself along. She told me she’d been in an accident when she was 11 and had been scared of water ever since. She said seeing me swim my two lengths had inspired her to keep on trying so that one day she could do that. I was welling up at this point, I can tell you.

Who knew swimming could be so emotional? And who knew it could demonstrate the power of a good teacher and supportive class mates? Right, I’m all inspired now. Off to find a time to practice with Floaty McFloatface.
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I am “Captain Speedy”

I have been spending my birthday money, and today I bought myself this:-

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Can’t wait to get myself down to the pool with this beauty*. I am officially, in the words of Eddie Izzard, “Captain Speedy”**.

*Obviously I look just as sleek when swimming as the lady on the packaging.

** Eddie Izzard on swimming at school :- ”I swam widths and lengths, more of a widths person myself… It used to be, “Well, we’re going to go swimming. All of you kids who can swim, off you go and look very lean and fit and cut through the water like… things that cut through the water. All of you, fat kids, here’s a bit of a puddle. In you go and humiliate yourselves in the shallow end… We’ve got this float thing, a white, batted paddle, and you get in the shallow end… (mimes going in the shallow end of pool) and do widths across… Oh, it was terrible! It was an aqua zima frame, it was. You get to the side… (panting and turning around) And you just crawl like a really slow waiter or something, you know? You had two positions, this position or Captain Speedy! (mimes bowing down head and pushing paddle) ”

Introducing Physio Phil with his Magic Fingers of Pain

Warning – this post contains photos of my foot, and is not for those of a nervous disposition. Or a fear of feet. Or physio tape.

Yes the title gave it away. I’ve been to the physio. I am fed up with my foot still hurting and decided that maybe just rest wasn’t going to magically cure it.

I have more or less followed the doctor’s advice after my visit in January in that I definitely haven’t run, haven’t cycled and have barely walked. However, I confess I have thought about running. Mainly when I’ve seen other people out in lycra and I’ve snarled (to myself, not at the runner) and then sulked. Despite this self sacrifice, my foot wasn’t feeling any better and with a ski holiday coming up I was getting desperate.

I turned to Doctor Google and decided I should try taping my foot to try and support the sore bit. Thanks to a lovely running friend, who incidentally is another Lucy, I got hold of some physio tape and set to. I give you exhibit A

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Despite an admirable amount of tape it didn’t help. In fact my foot felt worse

In desperation I rang the physio hoping for an appointment next week, and the Patron Saint of Desperate Injured Runners (St Nike? St Brooks? St Ron of Hill??) must have been looking out for me because they had a free appointment that day. I hastily removed my taping efforts and scuttled down there.

As I squirmed on the table I remembered Physio Phil had Magic Fingers of Pain. He dug into my foot causing me to gasp and bite my lip and even mutter “ooooooOOOOOO!” once or twice. It did hurt – lots – but I’m very British and don’t like to cause a fuss.* Apparently I have collapsed the arch of my foot, and the pain is from all sorts of ligaments that I’ve upset. As well as his efforts to sort things out manually I have to do the balancing on the stairs exercise as often as I can, put ice on my foot for 15 minutes every two hours, roll my spikey ball under my foot whenever I can, and go back in ten days time. Phil said this was far enough away that… he paused at this point, and I continued for him “far enough away that I’ll forget how much it hurt today”. He agreed rather too quickly for my liking. Physios are sadists***, but if he fixes my foot that’s fine by me.

He also did his own version of taping my foot.

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In better news, my swimming lessons are going well. I still haven’t drowned (always a positive) and I even got a double thumbs up from the teacher last week. I suspect I still look like a drowning insect but for brief moments I actually feel like I’m swimming. Face in the water, arms and legs flailing, but actually moving through the water. I’ll be back there tomorrow, goggles on face and professional tape on leg.

*I’m also obviously “well ‘ard” as I gave birth to my son 15 years ago with no pain relief.**

** Not as impressive as it sounds, as at one point I did moan that I couldn’t do it, and had to be told by the scary midwife that the pain would only stop once I’d pushed the baby out. Harsh.

***I wonder if Physio Phil was a midwife in a previous life?