Thursday, 28 April 2011

Sticks and stones may break my bones

Actually sticks and stones will break my bones if combined with running too much. It's official, hottest news around (aside from something in the side columns about a "Royal Wedding") I have a confirmed stress fracture on the 2nd metatarsal!

So that pretty much explains all that pain then! And you all thought I was just slacking off (only kidding!).

So what does this mean? Erm, nothing really. It was identified via X-ray, which means it has already started to heal, as this is the only way it will show up. It's actually quite a fair way into the healing process and from my point of view I can't really feel much discomfort or pain there any more.

The doctor is a tad over cautious and has made another check up appointment with me in 2 months time. I was tempted not to mention this so I don't get yelled at when I am out, but he has requested no running until then. 8 weeks! Another 8 weeks and we're already 9 weeks in! Clearly he's slightly insane (well it can't possibly be me).

I'm still in many minds about this. Healing time for a met fracture is supposed to be 6-8 weeks (a lot longer if it's a tibia). As I'm now on week 9 with no pain and only slight discomfort at times, I personally feel 8 weeks is way too long. Everything I have seen suggests that you can start run/walking once you're able to briskly walk for 1 hour without pain. I am up to 2 hours. I am going to gauge it all on feel, but as it's still a bit achy every now and then I don't intend to do anything just yet. Of course I am biased because quite clearly I have a running addiction.

Going to finish with a bit of a quote for the day, the parents of younger children might recognise it from 'The Bee Movie'

" According to all known laws of aviation, there is no way a bee should be able to fly.
It's wings are too small to get it's fat little body off the ground.
The bee of course, flies anyway
because bees don't care what humans think is impossible"

From a 'Daily Mail' article about bees. Oh and it's a picture of a bee.
This makes me think about other anomalies. Scientists say that the best body type for sprinters is a muscular build standing somewhere between 5'11 to 6'3. They say Usain Bolt doesn't have the right build to be a fast 100m runner. Not entirely sure if they've said that to his face of course, it wouldn't give them much of a head start to run away (for you fact lovers: at top speed (inc reaction time) Bolt runs the equivalent of 23mph).

So who wants to help me prove that biscuits are in fact the perfect running fuel...

Keep watching Royal Weddings (and more interestingly hard core Royalist fans that turn up 2 days before the event to start camping on the pavement)

Biscuit Nikki x

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Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Tales from the front line

The Virgin London Marathon is a truly spectacular event. With over 37,000 people successfully making it to the start line the statistics only get better from there:

750,000 bottles of water
1,250 portable toilets (and 400 urinals)
6,000 volunteers (Not including start/finish and course marshals which account for another 6,000)
7,200 Blogs!
30ish Sandhurst Joggers!

and many, many cheering crowds.

With my sign safely stashed on the Sandhurst Joggers coach, I accompanied the 50 runners to the start area at some stupid time in the morning, which I wasn't completely sure existed. Lots of nervous chattering on the way into London and a brief state of madness, when my competitive side tried to encourage the bus driver to race the other coaches (it didn't work - he's good at his job) and we were there. The organisation is second to none with clear signs (and giant balloons) guiding the runners to their correct starting zones.

With my huge sign in my hand I started my own journey to my cheering point. Having only decided on the coach that morning that I was heading for mile 17, it turned out I'd made a very good decision. Mile 17 is just in front of the Crossharbour DRL tube station and is equipped with everything a spectator needs including a pub with a live band, a wall to sit on whilst waiting and an ASDA (with toilets!). I recommend it to anyone wanting a good place to watch - I was at the front and had lots of room with no one behind me (making leaving to get the tube again very easy).

It wasn't long before the elites came zooming past. A group of kids next to me didn't really understand the difference between elites and normal runners, so the world champions were cheered along with accompanying kids shouts of 'believe in yourself - you can do it!'. If they'd ever doubted that they would finish, this hopefully gave them an added boost, as well as drawing a smile to those standing nearby.

Then began the slow and steady flow of the mass runners. I take my imaginary hat off to each and every one of you. The sun had come out to contradict the UK's rainy habit and boy was it hot hot hot. Many runners were struggling to cope with dehydration, but the vast majority just kept on going, aided by the frantic cheering crowds eager to help and motivate those to do something that they themselves might never achieve.

It's a really humbling experience watching people loosing their voices and getting blisters on their hands as they cheer for strangers they will probably never meet. An old man stood next to me waiting to see his granddaughter and was doing his best to shout out every name he could read from runners' vest tops!

I found it really difficult to spot the people I knew - often to the stage where they were practically waving in my face before I noticed them. I did my best to cheer everyone and try to provide added support to those that I knew (and could see), but the sheer amount of people becomes hypnotizing after a while. Soon I was ready to do a battle of my own as I attempted to transverse London on the Underground carrying a huge sign.

For once people were helpful (a rarity on London transport on any other day) as they made room for me (although being bashed on the head by a huge cheering sign does tend to make you move) and I enjoyed the banter that usually went along the lines of "running 26.2 miles? Pah they should try spectating!" and various other jokes that we all found very funny at the time but now I think about them they were pretty rubbish.

I found a few Sandhurst Joggers lounging (nice word for collapse) in St. James Park and I set up the 'meeting point' for the return coach journey. My crowd management skills turned out to be pretty poor as I did my best to round everyone up ready for the journey back to the coach. It is probably safe to say that it's a good job I am not organising the marathon, or the start would be delayed by hours whilst I waited for people that had got out of bed late or got stuck in the traffic!

Then to top the day off I sent the majority of the group off to the coach and then followed up with about 6 runners who I then got a little bit lost. Lesson learned: Marathon runners do not enjoy walking more than they have to after a race. My bad - we all know my navigational skills are on par with a goldfish though so I can't really be to blame.

So (mostly) we all got back safely. I had a wonderful day and am so so proud of all our runners who completed the course. I wont list you all because just like coach monitoring I am bound to forget someone, but you're all amazing and I hope your legs have recovered a bit now. I also want to mention all the volunteers we provided for the finish line - good work guys! Having helped marshal before I know it's a long old day but hopefully an extremely rewarding one and I can't wait to (hopefully) see some of you at the finish line next year!

Oh and as a shameful self-plug the sign made it into the Guardian newspaper write up:

Well I wasn't just going to let that pass was I?

So how can I sum the day up?
Long (in both distance, time and the queues for the tube)
Proud - for both our capital city putting on an amazing effort and for all the runners and volunteers.

So we all know spectating isn't really my thing, although I seem to be getting the hang of it, but there is no where I would have rather been on Sunday.

Here's to joining you all next year!

Keep inspiring!

Biscuit Nikki x

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Here we go!

Wasn't sure if I'd get this in on time but couldn't resist the chance to wish all those running in marathons tomorrow the very very best of luck.
I am so excited for you all and I hope all your races go well - whatever your personal target!

People have asked me if I'm going to be sad when watching the London Marathon tomorrow - but you know what? It's not my race and was obviously never meant to be. So instead I am SUPER hyped for the rest of you.

If you're running in London I will do my best to cheer for you - I don't know where I will be standing yet, so it'll hopefully come as a nice surprise when you hear me yelling and see this....(drum roll) THE Official Sandhurst Support team sign:

Go Sandhurst Go!

And you haven't even seen the pole it's going to be on yet! (ok ok keep calm and carry on)

Oh yes, several hours of painting, cutting cardboard and using up all the duct tape in the house and my master  piece is finished! The mug is from my 'thank god I've finished' cup of tea and should give it a bit of perspective - oh yes it's HUGE. If people don't know who Sandhurst Joggers are now they soon will!

So I hope you're all resting and good luck! Do the sign proud!

Keep running (all 26.2 miles)

Biscuit Nikki x

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Caption Competition

Well it's a caption competition in the sense that the prize is a bit rubbish!

Firstly let me say a HUGE congratulations to all the runners that completed the Brighton and Paris marathons in the blistering heat on Sunday. Well Done guys you all did brilliantly! I hope you're all getting some well earned rest at the moment and have managed to tackle the stairs at least once (to get up to bed obviously).

To all of you running marathons this weekend: Best of luck, I hope your tapering periods are going well and aren't too frustrating and just remember how jealous I am of you all!

As we all know I will now be propping up the support side of the London Marathon this weekend and taking up my responsibilities as Sandhurst Joggers Support Team. And in light of that I need your help!

I have a huge piece of cardboard at work, that's destiny is to become a London Marathon cheering sign - but what to put on it? Let me know your suggestions on here or via facebook and the best one will get to be on the board. I'll keep it a secret until Sunday to give you all something to look out for on the course!

Oh and here's a bit of inspiration for you all - let's try to get something original and funnier than this lot!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Let's start from the very beginning.

Wow - what perfect weather! Every bone in my body, except for maybe one suspect little foot bone that shall remain anonymous, wants to run.
Run and run and run and run.
I'm actually at the stage (and Jon can confirm this) of dreaming (and ever so slightly sleep talking) about running. I've been hugely inspired by the 'Born to Run' book that Paul A. has lent me and am about half way through reading it. I am now fascinated by ultra marathons, obsessed with the Raramuri (or Tarahumaras) and ever so slightly keen on running (just slightly you understand).
I highly recommend it - even if you're not even remotely interested in running, as it's just a really really good story.

Speaking of stories - why did I start running?

As I've eluded to before, it all started when my car broke down. I drive an MG, you may have heard them referred to as Rovers. Anyway product identity issues aside, they are prone to head gasket issues and 'Prone' is an understatement, as mine ended up in and out of various car hospitals for almost 3 months. In that time I had to find an alternative way of getting to work and it was spring/summer, I worked 3 miles from home and I needed more exercise. So I started walking.

It began with just trying to walk there and back in quicker and quicker times. I then progressed to running small sections, especially when I had to get home for something. I didn't realise at the time - but I was effectively using the walk-run technique until I was able to fully run the full 3 miles home.

Eventually my car was fixed, but I carried on running. It then began to get dark in the evenings and I realised that I didn't feel too safe running alone and would also enjoy a bit of company and advice to help me progress. It was then that I joined Sandhurst Joggers and have never looked back.

This weekend there will be several Joggers runner various marathons - Brighton being one.
GOOD LUCK to you all and have a fantastic run - remember to enjoy yourselves :-)

Foot update!
Carl 'Magic Hands' Bradshaw thinks we've been progressing well on the foot injury to the stage where I am allowed to try walking (or walking for more than the 30 min I have limited myself to). You may think that's no big deal, but this weekend I've never been more excited about the prospect of rambling along walking. With the beautiful weather, the timing was perfect to amble out the door and go for a little wander. My intention was to walk briskly for 1 hour, unless anything (namely the foot) started hurting or twinging, then I would stop.

So I set out and was reminded about how lucky I was to be living amongst such beautiful wildlife. I hardly saw another soul for the first part and was even tempted to remove my trainers and walk along in socks for a while, to see what difference it would make. Around that exact moment two mountain bikers shot past, looking slightly more confused as they overtook the walker carrying her trainers. As I was approaching a gravelly section and didn't want to risk being the cause of any biking crashes, I decided to put my shoes back on and finish what turned out to be an 1hr 50 min walk. With no foot pain!
Oh yes! It was so hard not to break into a run and get over excited, but if this injury experience has taught me anything, it's how to listen to your body and not rush or push things. So I stuck to the happy walking and snapped a few pictures on the way:

Race you to the top? (Taken from my iphone)
So I feel like the end of this injury phase is close and I'm starting to build up the basic blocks towards running again.

It's like a whole new beginning...

Keep enjoying the good weather!

Biscuit Nikki x

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Sunday, 3 April 2011

It's....Mother's Day!

Greetings biscuit fans! There's not much about running in this week but I will try to add an update on the end!

If you've just read the title and had a sudden panic it's ok - you still have a few hours to get that all important call in to your Mum and even better try to send a card. It wont arrive until next week, but if you're inventive you might be able to blame it on the clocks going forward to British Summer Time or something of that like.

My good e-blogger friend Shaman Dalie, who writes fantastic running blogs, often far better illustrated than mine with inspiring photography, sent me a challenge to write 8 little known things about myself and then pass the challenge on.

Never wanting to miss a chance to talk about myself I thought I'd accept the challenge, however given that it's Mother's day I thought I'd be a bit rebellious and write 8 little known things about my mum, safe in the knowledge that only my Dad reads this!

So here we go, 8 things about my mum, Caroline:

1. My mum is a primary school teacher. She wanted to teach right from being a young child and if my Dad has shown this to her she's probably correcting my spelling as you read this. My Auntie always jokes about how my Mum would play 'schools' as a child and set my Auntie 'pretend' assignments - but then mark and grade them anyway.

2. Her favourite chocolate bar is a 'Crunchie'. This has always stuck in my mind and whenever I see one in a shop I'm always reminded of the fact. I should probably apologise for all the Crunchie chocolate bars she's received as presents over the years - we're not very imaginative with gifts sometimes!

3. She has a secret love of the 'Jordan' reality tv programmes (and possibly now 'the only way is essex') but criticises me for liking 'Take me out'. No Likie - No Lightie Mum!

4. Mum will always fall asleep mid way through a film at home (often in the cinema as well) and then wake up near the end and want to know what's going on. If someone could create a film that has as solid start and ending but a middle mostly filled with a blank screen it would save us a lot of explaining time. (Oh this doesn't apply to anything with Colin Firth in it - weird phenomenon)

5. She can't read contour lines on maps - as discovered on our many family camping holidays when a '30 min' walk has turned into a several hour ramble, as we discover that you have to scale up the side of a vertical cliff as part of the 'lovely coastal trail' she's found.

6. She cooks brilliant 'baked maccaroni' the Maltese way (she is half Maltese) and I have never been able to get it the same when I try at home. I have therefore decided that good cooking is not particularly genetic (although may have been passed on to my sister).

7. She is a bit unlucky with cars and has had several that have leaked - causing little pools of water in the passenger side which has frozen in winter and  made a mini ice rink.  There's also been several cars that have had the habit of conking out at traffic lights. We have good experience of bump starting cars in my family!

8. I owe her more than I will ever be able to repay for all the concerts, dance shows and sports competitions she's taken me to and dutifully watched or cheered on the sidelines, as I've sung out of tune, danced out of time or run around whilst she's got very cold. I don't think I can ever say thank you, or sorry, enough!

So thanks Mum - Happy Mother's Day and you can stop adding apostrophes and commas to my blog now!

A brief running update - still no running for me :-( However the foot is getting a lot better and is almost painless now. I have an appointment booked with a specialist in another two weeks - by which point I hope to be back to running again! In the meantime I'd like to give a huge thank you to all the Sandhurst joggers who responded with brilliant suggestions to my call for inspirational reading. Paul, I am now desperate to get back on my feet and Ian W - I'm so terrified of bikes that the prospect of a triathlon is still highly unlikely.

Thanks for all your updates on the car dancing - sounds like it is going well! Keep up the good work dance fans! (If you're confused please read previous blog!)

And lastly a MASSIVE congratulations to two of our bestest bestest friends Laura and Stick - well done on finally moving into your new house guys - I hope all is going well and you're not still lost in the depths of IKEA.

Keep in touch with your Mums!

Biscuit Nikki x

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