Tuesday 31 May 2011

I'll run if it kills me.......

I climbed onto the scales a week ago and didn't like what I saw. From a reasonable 140.8 lbs I'd soared to 145.2 lbs. The clever monitoring device further told me my body fat percentage had risen from 14.9 to 16.8 and my visceral fat from 7 to 8%. And all because I've hardly run at all over the past few weeks. A couple of visits to my regular Physio appeared to have eased the calf muscle situation a little but the doctor seemed unable to put her finger on my gut problem, a pain that bordered on excruciating in my lower abdomen whenever I exerted myself, e.g. ran.
But it was May Bank Holiday, for goodness sake.  Holidays are for enjoyment and how the heck could I enjoy myself if I couldn't run? There was only one answer to the situation - drugs. So, on Friday evening, out came those tiny but effective Voltarol tablets for the first 75mg dose which was washed down with a rather choice vintage. Not to mention a wee dram. This dose was repeated morning and evening for the next three days. The pills I hasten to add, not the alcohol.
Beside the River Wharfe
On Saturday morning I couldn't get out of bed quick enough in my anxiety to get into running gear and hit the trail. I chose a 4 mile route that was mainly flat, across fields into Grassington then back along the riverbank. I'd barely gone a mile before a nasty pain shot through the offending Rt calf muscle, as if someone had given me an almighty kick. I dropped to a walk, seething with frustration, then gritted my teeth, said a few unholy words under my breath, then broke into a jog - and sod the consequences. By some miracle the pain went away and by the time I reached the riverbank I was able to put in a few faster bursts, what I call 20's and 30's which refers to the number of times my Rt foot hits the ground. It's my own brand of fartlek. On a good day I'll get up to a hundred then reduce it by ten each time, back down to twenty, getting faster as I come down the ladder. On Saturday I only got up to 50 but I was happy with that.
On Sunday my wonderful partner was patrolling Barden Fell, on Ranger duty in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, so I ran alone - eventually. It didn't stop raining until after lunch so it seemed like I spent the whole morning ramming calories down to later convert into energy. It didn't really work. Gale force wind had me virtually running on the spot all the way up the Ghyll towards Yarnbury then, quite perversely, all the way back. After five miles I fell through the door and slumped onto a chair in a state of total exhaustion. I cannot even remember climbing into bed that night - and it was nothing to do with alcohol!
The weather on May Bank Holiday Monday was diabolical, the holiday hoardes conspicuous by their absence and our local ice cream seller having shut up shop. But our patience was rewarded around 2pm when a hole appeared in the clouds from which nothing was precipitating. We drove round to Yarnbury, parked the car and set off on a 7 mile run around Mossdale. It was a very slow start. My gut was erupting, my breathing became stertorous and I felt weak as a kitten. The first uphill section had me reeling around like someone drunk. I collided with a wall at one stage which prompted my wonderful partner to ask if I wanted to throw in the towel and go back to the car. I didn't. At a welcome downhill section my breathing pattern returned to normal so I was able to carry on at a steady pace. My calf muscle was no bother at all.
Track from Mossdale - or into Mossdale, depending which way I'm running!
The snares around the 'stink pit' at Mossdale were exactly as I'd seen them last time I passed several weeks ago, all of them disturbed and unset. The wire on one of them had been cut. It seemed to prove what I've always thought, that our local gamekeeper hardly ever inspects them let alone every 24 hours as he should do by law. The one redeeming factor was that none of them brought me to earth with an almighty bang as they have done on several occasions in the past. It's not much fun when I have to constantly be scanning the ground under my feet rather than gazing at all the wonderful views and wildlife. I wish this gamekeeper would move on. The moor would be a much better, and safer, place to run without him.
I made it back to the car but must confess there were a number of times I had to walk, mainly due to galloping guts ache. But hey, the weekend produced 16 miles of rehabilitating runs. The old legs are beginning to move again albeit not very fast, but I'll work on it, especially when we're savouring our wonderful running circuits in Cornwall during the last two weeks of June.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

If it aint broke, don't fix it!

      I wish I was more computer literate, or even literate. I thought it might be a good idea whilst I've still got the galloping trots and swollen calf muscle -  and therefore not running - to set about uncluttering my hard drive. There were zillions of unwanted pictures in there amounting to zillions of megabytes of trash I thought might be slowing down my system. Best to get rid of them.  So I spent a happy couple of hours, or was it days, zapping them out of my system. Album after album of web pictures were sent scuttering down to the bottom left hand corner of my screen, where the Recycle Bin lives, then launched into their own little corner of eternity never to be seen again.
      A little later I reckoned it was time I updated my Blog, not that anything exciting or newsworthy had happened. I just thought people who regularly read my ramblings in such exotic places as Moldova, Tajikistan, Brunei Darussalam, Thailand and the Russian Federation might sink to depths of despair should they leap out of bed anxious to learn of my latest exploits (albeit such mundane things like massaging my calf muscle and popping pills in between visits to the loo) only to find there was nothing there to brighten up their mornings.
Old Runningfox in his den - having a break from fixing this Blog
      Anyhow, to my great horror, all the used pictures I'd merrily deleted from my web albums had also disappeared from my Blog. All that was left was a lot of empty boxes with utterly meaningless captions underneath. I'd mistakenly supposed once the pictures were published on the internet, they were stuck there forever and ever, Amen.  Not so.
      So in case anyone has been wondering why I haven't posted lately it's (a) because this is supposedly a running Blog, and I haven't really done any running to write about and (b) I've been busy hunting and retrieving pictures from various sources to make my Blog look semi-respectable again. Needless to say they're not always the same pictures as before. Most of the originals are floating around somewhere in cyber space and I've no intentions of nipping up there to retrieve them. Well, not just yet! 

Friday 13 May 2011

A funny owd week.....

Running the Mossdale track.....
It started off well enough last Friday, the occasion of my 79th birthday (God, have I been around that long?) when my wonderful partner and I went for a  six mile run to Appletreewick and back to mark the occasion. I felt fine, energetic enough to turn the run into a fartlek session with lots of fast bursts and short uphill sprints. I was even beginning to think it was time to get back onto the track. Next year I'll be moving into the MV80 category and I'd like to have a go at the British 800m record if I can maintain my fitness. Evening was a social affair at our local hostelry, the Clarendon, where I was treated to a mouth-watering rib-eye steak and a wee drop of the hard stuff, MacAllan malt whisky, two of my favourite luxuries.
Mountain pansies
On Saturday things started to turn a bit pear-shaped. After less than two miles of a planned 10 mile run I felt an ominous ache in my Rt calf muscle. The call of a ring ouzel gave me an excuse to walk while trying to locate it but, when I started to run again, the ache was still there. In hindsight I should have quit running and walked gently back home but instead I carried on jogging but reduced the distance to less than five miles. Encountering my first ring ouzels of the year and seeing my first swifts did nothing to raise my spirits. Nor did the bright yellow mountain pansies that dotted the moorland trail.
By Sunday morning the ache had evolved into a pain as I made my way around Grimwith reservoir with a very pronounced limp. Running was out of the question. Time for rest, a bag of frozen peas and elevation. I was not a happy bunny though I was hopping - hopping mad!
...and where I'd like to be running
On Tuesday things got worse. To compound my miserable state, brought on by not being able to run, my tummy problem returned with a vengeance, so much so that I daren't for the life in me venture very far away from the loo! On Thursday, with great difficulty, I managed to make an appointment at our local surgery to see a doctor, supposedly at 11am. My regular GP was fully booked  but such was the urgency I agreed to see one of the other doctors who turned out to be a lady, a very young lady!  "She's running a bit late" I was told as I checked in to the surgery.  She sure was.  It was 12.15 and another loo visit later when I eventually got to see her - by which time my anxiety levels were rocketing through the roof.  "Are you alright with just me, or would you like someone else present" she asked as she screened my semi-nude body ready for an internal examination of the offending orifice. I felt so rotten I couldn't care less who was there. Just get on with it or, if you'll excuse the pun, let's get to the bottom of this. 
I was expecting to come away with a prescription for powerful anti-biotics but instead I was given a little tube into which I was asked to provide a 'sample' for analysis, or culture, at our local Path Lab. So, it will be another six days before we get the results by which time I'll probably have flushed myself down the loo!  
So, in the great scheme of things, did mother nature give me a nasty bowel infection to prevent me running until my calf muscle heals, or did she give me a painful limp to stop my gallop until all the nasty little tummy bugs have been well and truly zapped?  Answers on an e-card please!

Tuesday 3 May 2011

I'm ashamed to say......

..... we never got to Keswick to run the ½ marathon on May 1st. A painful swelling on the ball of my wonderful partner's foot put paid to any thoughts she might have had about running it whilst a persistent tummy bug thwarted my plans. Being a blue-blooded Yorkshireman I'm not sure which hurt most, the abdominal pain or the mental anguish of having paid my entry fee and not getting my money's worth from it!  I could have run, while my partner spectated, but there's no way I could have given of my best. I'll freely admit, I don't race for fun. I might RUN for fun in all seasons through our beautiful countryside but when it comes to racing it's a bit more serious, it hurts, and I'll go through hell to get into the prize list. Some would call me a pot hunter and I suppose I am, but if that's what encourages me to run and keep fit well into my dotage, then so be it.  It's better than the alternative!
Street Party
So what did we do over the May Bank Holiday? Well, quite a lot really. It began on Friday with a wonderful Street Party that brought out almost everyone in the village for a three hour spree of wining and dining. There were a couple of brief interruptions, the first for mass participation in a funny sort of game called Heads and Tails, the second for a hilarious Duck Race where a dog jumped into the water and rendered the result void by decapitating two of the participants. There was a re-run while the offending animal was kept under control. I'd refused to 'buy' a duck on the grounds that none of them had any known form!  All this fun and frivolity was in celebration of some helicopter pilot who was marrying the woman he lived with.
Saturday was 'Three Peaks' day when we drove to Horton-in-Ribblesdale to watch my favourite race. We arrived ¾ hr before it was scheduled to start and couldn't believe the amount of traffic being funnelled into three large fields. Competitors from farther afield had camped overnight to make the 10 o'clock start.  A huge marquee (that cost the Association £2,000 to hire), a smaller one for registration, a Start and Finish gantry, trade stalls and loud speaker system were all in situ ready for the 'Off'. The whole shebang covered several acres of ground while 763 runners, plus an equal number of followers and spectators milled around.  I couldn't help thinking how vastly different this was from my first experience of the race in 1956 when there were just 23 starters and the entire 'furniture' consisted of the Entry Secretary's table and chair in a field behind the Hill Inn at Chapel-le-Dale.
Dog among the ducks
Although there was warm sunshine out of the wind it was cold and blustery on the tops, particularly on the highest summit, Whernside, where runners were in danger of being blown over. It didn't seem to bother Tom Owens of Shettlestone Harriers who skipped down the summit rocks of Ingleborough and disappeared across the moor before I could get a picture of him. I've never been more impressed!  No-one had a cat in hells chance of catching him as he went on to win the men's race by almost three minutes in 2.53.54. Young Robbie Simpson of Deeside Runners was second. Anna Frost, a Kiwi who specializes in mountain races, was equally impressive in the Lady's event. Her winning time was 3.30.00, four minutes ahead of Helen Fines of Calder Valley Fell Runners.  My old mate Bill Wade of Holmfirth Harriers, a few days short of his 70th birthday, got a rousing reception as he crossed the Finish line in 5.38.32.  The amazing Wendy Dodds had 281 runners behind her when setting a new LV60 record of 4.34.01.  Such achievements invariably evoke the odd tear as I watch them striding proudly down the finishing field to all the well-earned cheers. I know exactly how they feel as I reel with nostalgia and wish I was young again. Then again, if the Three Peaks Race Association ever introduce an MV80 category.......!
Sunday was declared a day of relaxation. Well, sort of. After numerous eruptions of my tummy problem over the past 24 hours I reckoned it a good idea to give Chapel a miss in the morning, thus retaining my stainless reputation! Instead, I took myself for a bumbly run in the great outdoor church of Grassington Moor to boost my spirits in the more natural surroundings of sun and wind and wild music.  Eight miles was all I could manage in my weakened state. The rest of the day was spent in a sheltered corner of the garden soaking up healing sunshine whilst partaking of copious amounts of fluid to flush out the offending bugs.  It seemed to work for on Monday we set off from Grimwith reservoir for a 10 mile walk/run around the nether regions of Wig Stones and Cranberry Moss, on the Nidderdale border, where we got hopelessly off route in the trackless bogs but still enjoyed our wild situation in glorious weather. My strength appears to be returning.  Roll on the next race.