Monday, 22 March 2010

A weekend of two halves.

Saturday 20th March 2010 was grotty. After the best part of a month without any rain to speak of, it p****d down all day to undo a month’s worth of drying out within hours. It was the day of the Hardmoors 55, for which I was registered. I was thankful I’d had to cancel my participation. The conditions on the exposed North Yorkshire Moors sounded utterly grim.

It was all change on Sunday. The rain had passed and a foggy start eventually gave way to warm sunshine. It was also the day of the rescheduled Silver Jubilee Two Crosses Circuit from Tottington, near Bury. This year’s exceptional winter snowfall had caused its postponement from January for the first time in its 25-year history. I had registered but because of the clash with the Hardmoors 55, I’d cancelled it. Now I wasn’t doing the Hardmoors and this became a possible option again.

Although my right knee continued to rebel against normal day-to-day existence like negotiating staircases and sitting down, my left foot had improved to the point where I could just about walk at full speed in shoes. I decided I would have a go at the 18-mile route, so I phoned the organiser to make sure I could enter on the day.

Unsurprisingly I received a few surprised comments when I was seen at the ‘Yoof’ Centre in running attire. “You be careful and don’t do too much too soon” was the universal sentiment. They matched my sentiments perfectly. The reschedule had reduced the entries, such that the Centre was not the usual squeeze at registration. I paid my £10 EOD fee and lined up for the 8am start, in considerably more daylight and warmer temperatures than we would have got in January.

I set off running with Jenny Wyles (another one ailing with injuries, so we made a good pair), firm in the knowledge that I would retire at the next checkpoint if I felt discomfort. After all, these were my first running steps in 6 weeks and my injuries are not muscular, but bone and possibly tendon, possibly cartilage injuries that take far longer to heal (if they heal at all), so there’s no point in pushing through even mild discomfort because it will only ‘prolong the agony’.

It was sheer bliss to be out running across the countryside and through the mud again. What a feeling of freedom it gave me. I ran at an easy pace, knee gently complaining from the outset, but it felt a lot more comfortable than when negotiating stairs or when sitting down so I didn’t worry too much, that is until it shot a violent, transient stab of pain through me that was gone before I realised it had happened. My instinctive reaction was to flail both arms out sideways to cushion myself from what was no longer there. Anyone observing from behind would have thought I was trying to fly down the trail instead of run down it.

I continued to run gingerly and was beginning to feel my left foot complaining a little. Julian Brown had caught up and was obviously out for a leisurely bimble rather than a race, because he tagged along for a chat, which was nice. Both injuries were increasingly noticeable as I approached the first checkpoint, Turton Tower at just under 5 miles. I stopped there to save myself from unnecessary damage and bade farewell to Julian. That little run had taken me 50 minutes. It was a start and I felt rejuvenated. A kindly supporter there who was about to leave gave me a lift back to base. It was an expensive 5-miler but it was worth it.

I took a few pictures.

1. I got verbal feedback of the MRI scan results today – something about minor degeneration of the (anterior?) meniscus without underlying tear. That's a fat lot of good the glucosamine, chondroitin and Omega 3 fish oils have done me over the past few years, then. I just pray it's operable so I can return to running, cycling, sitting, driving and descending stairs in relative comfort. Until it gets sorted I can only languish in torment.
2. I am quite shocked at how quickly muscles lose their fitness. After 6 weeks without any running, this 5-mile gentle run has left my legs feeling as if I have run an ultra.


  1. well nick..its a start i guess and 50 lovely minutes
    hope it continues to mend

  2. Unfortunately it set me back, uc. The knee is not going to mend itself. Any running is out until the knee surgeon prognosticates on 9th April. I haven't been out of action for so long since I started running over a decade ago.

  3. keep strong! Happy Easter Nick