Friday, 17 May 2013

My first Runiversary

My first Running anniversary was 17th April.  I've had this post milling around for ages but only just got round to finishing it.

I can hardly believe that I'm writing this: Running has changed a lot of things in my life.  Not just on one level, it's got into every nock and cranny of my life.  It's not necessary running itself  but it has been a catalyst for other things.  I'm in a much better place, mentally than I was before the 17th April 2012.

I have learnt so many things this last year.  On a technical level I can tell you that I over pronate, that I need to tape my dodgy foot to minimise damage caused by friction.  I've had black toenails, blisters,, almost wrecked my ipod touch when running in the pouring rain. I can tell you that my pace hasn't improved much, that I'm still not sure I like farleks, and that I am still unsure what my pace for a threshold run should be considering I run so slowly anyway.  I've learnt that I can run with the beautiful people (and occasionally overtake them. Ok it happened twice). I've also learnt that my arch nemesis is the killer stitch.  I fight this bad boy every-single-time-I-go-for-a-run.  Every dam time. I have to fight every breath to keep it under control.   He obviously went on holiday for about a month in March because he didn't bother me that much.  I thought I'd got over him, but he's back with a vengeance.  I will beat him (yes, it's a HE)  I've learnt that too.  I knew it already, but I can now be sure: I'm stubborn as hell.

I've come along way.  I started out doing 30 secs jogs between 2 mins of walking.  I finished the c25k programme and entered a 5k race in France.  I've joined Parkrun which I whole heartily recommend anyone to do.  It's just a big family who organise super friendly timed 5k races every Saturday in the UK (and beyond). Ju's incredibly impressed with it too.  I so badly want it to start in France....

Last weekend I did my first 10k race in London.  I finished in 1h05 06secs and I was thrilled! Training was going badly because of the Killer Stitch, but on the day I only stopped once for about a 10 sec walking break and Mr K.S was controlled or there abouts.

Yes, comical bib number! Must remember to get better  finishing  photos in the future!

I didn't need to lose weight particularly  but I've lost 9 kgs since I started to run.  All those times I would have liked to have lost a few pounds, I thought it was impossible.  Well, you need to move your butt for it to work so it seems.  My weight loss has divided people - my mum thinks I look great, super healthy.  My MIL preferred me avant.  Told me to do less exercise she said.  ha!  I'm still not used to my new slimmer figure. Most of my clothes are too big for me and I look ill in them because they hang off me, but I don't want to buy a lot of new stuff 'cos I'm convinced this new figure won't last long.  I'd been the same size all my adult life.  It's hard to see myself as anything but that size. I guess I'd feel better about my figure if i did indeed clothe it better!! Anywayyy...

It's a bit corny, but true.  Running makes you believe anything is possible if you work hard enough. I didn't even think a 10k was in my grasp a year ago and now I'm not ready to stop there.  I'm thinking of signing up to a Half Marathon in the autumn.  I've been practically injury free so far and until my body gives out, I'll keep running.  I'm surprised that with all my problems with my dodgy left side, i'm still ok, but I can't complain!!  

I'll just keep taking it one lop sided step at a time.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Whilst I've been away...

...I've been busy planning. :o)

Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Kiné (Health Care Encounter Series)

Without doubt, the health care professional who has changed my life in France beyond belief would be the kiné (physiotherapist)

I'm trying to remember right now what single event made me go to see the GP to ask to get a referral to the kiné, since I've had the problems all my life.  It was probably J who suggested it after hearing me complain or seeing me struggle with my 'dodgy' legs just one time too many.

I still remember clearly my first appointment.  It was in the days that I will still nervous speaking in French to strangers with 'out of the box' vocabulary and J came with me for support.

The kiné surgery has 2 treatment rooms, one gym room and a hot-tub room where patients do resistance work in the water.

For my first appointment, I was shown into one of the treatmnt rooms for a consultation where the kiné assessed my legs, prodded them and asked lots of questions about the reason behind my problems.

This was in late 2009 (I wrote about it in 2010 when my original prescription for sessions was nearly out) and since then, I've been going twice a week, every week without fail.  I lift weights by doing leg curls, I do propriceptive exercises, which basically means I work on my balance and muscle stability and memory.  I also get in the hot tub once a week (far more annoying than it sounds at 8.30am!) and do resistence training in the water.

I wish I had his legs (minus the hair!) source

couldn't help myself source

The results?  Nothing particularly visible to the untrained eye, but to me, there are huge differences.  I can now balance on my left foot for longer than half a second, my toes do not permanently 'grasp' the floor and my thigh has got stronger.  My Achilles tendon is much slimmer (it was bound with scar tissue before) and I can bend my leg slightly more before my heel raises off the floor.

I am eternally grateful for this opportunity to make my legs more functional and also quite disappointed that I never got this opportunity in my home country, the UK.  When I had my op to lengthen my Achilles tendon 12 years ago, I had 3 sessions with a physio afterwards.  I needed intensive and prolonged physio to help me with a problem I'd had from birth, but I never got it.  I see another girl every week when I go to the kiné.  She has practically the same problem as me but it has been treated all her life.  It's difficult to compare, but I do, and I wish I had her legs!  She doesn't have an ugly foot and her calves are the same size.  It just wasn't to be for me.

The kiné really has become like a member of my family.  He's seen me through unemployment, loss, joy, injury and helps me a lot by giving me advice.

I can't imagine not going to my sessions.  They've become inane to me.  A twice weekly reminder how lucky I am to be able to get great care in France and for almost free.

I have 2 lifelong goals to do with my legs.  One is to have my calves the same size, the other, to be able to walk on tiptoes.  The first, I've already been told will never happen.  The second really is stopping me fulfilling my dream to go on 'Strictly Come Dancing'.  But seriously, these dreams may seem totally banal to most.  A pipe dream to others.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The running shoe shop

I'd been looking into getting a new pair of running shoes ever since my new podiatrist said that I was injuring my feet with my old ones.  I actually was making my left big toe bleed a little each time I ran and it got worse and worse until it was pretty ugly (but not very painful all the same).

I'd gone to the usual French sports shops (decathalon, intersport etc) and was very diappointed in the choice.  I'd been researching what type of shoe I needed and there was nothing on offer that was suitable.  I knew I'd never get a great service in a sports shop, but I thought if I researched it, I could just wing it, but it wasn't as simple.

Then we were going back to the UK, on the horrid journey home to see Dad in hospital.  I didn't think at all about my shoes.  We were planning on doing a parkrun for the first time and looking in sports shops nearby but that never happened obviously.

J was really sweet and suggested we look for a shop on the route on the way home (I guess to change my ideas).  I found the addresses of a couple of places but my heart wasn't in it.  Leaving my parents was awful and I cried for the first hour of the journey.  When we pulled up outside of the citycentre specialised running shop I freaked out a little.  Emmy, who is totally unsporty with dodgy legs, was outside a specialised running shop thinking about going in.  My cheeks stung from salty tears and I was probably blotchy too and yet I was amazed by how easy it was to push the door open to go in. 

I guess I was numb from the recent events and it didn't actually phase me to be in an environmnent so unfamiliar.

I can honestly say, I had an amazing experience at the shop.  I just simply said I wanted to buy some new shoes. I was immeditely asked to remove my shoes and socks and roll up my skinny jeans to see my legs.  Again I didn't flinch.  Agghh, someone was going to see my dodgy legs.  Whatever.  He confirmed what I already knew - I over pronate and that I have one leg stronger than the other (bless him!)  He asked if I had had an operation and when that was.

He came back with two pairs of trainers.  Both Asics, but the shop sold different brands too.  The inner girlie inside me was thrilled - both pairs were cute!  Bonus.  He gave me some running socks to try on with the trainers and asked if I wore these type of socks usually (uurm, I believe I said yes, which was a fat lie - I used to wear normal socks and was quite skeptical about the running sock idea!)

He made sure that the sides of the trainer was not rubbing anywhere on my ankle and then the bit I was dreading/looking forward to.  He got me on a treadmill.  I obviously was not dressed for running at all so the mismatch of trainers and normal clothes and skinny jeans was quite ridiculous.  Whatever I thought.  He asked if I was comfortable on a treadmill, it was my first time ever, and this made him smile.  I got up to a slow jogging speed and then a camera starting filming my feet from behind to see how my feet hit the floor in the new trainers.  The idea was that my ankle was held in position at the point when my feet hit the floor and roll through without the ankle falling in (in my case).

We went through this with both pairs, retried the first pair to make sure, and I was told that for 'my style of running', the first pair was best!  I thought it was funny how he worded it because hoenstly, I don't have a style.  I run really lop sidedly and that will never change because of my dodgy legs!! Next I asked him to choose me some running socks (to add to my imaginary running sock collection) and I swear I would have bought anything. I was so numb that I just wanted someone to tell me what to do, to look after me, including the sales person in the running shop.

My new running shoes Asics GT 2170

I had a great experience in Moti, Bristol branch and I thank them so much!  J was also very impressed with the service and the care to get the correct running shoe for you.  He actually wants to go back and get a pair for himself too!!  I don't know if this type of service exists in France, it would be nice if someone could give me some info if there is.

We got back in the car and continued our sombre drive home to France but when I thought about what I had just done, a tiny smile came across me.  Things have changed for me I guess. I am how I am and I won't magically loose my dodgy legs. I've come along way this year and I don't count on stopping there.

ps:  my Dad is now home and okish.  He won't fully recover, I just hope they find a way to stabilise his problems to give him a good quality of life.

pps:  We're going back to the UK next weekend again to see him.  I won't talk about what we have planned because I just don't want to jinx it.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Don't speak too soon

I have learnt over the years to be very wary of looking forward to things.  So much so, that people would say I'm a pessimist.  I would agree to an extent, but I also do it as a self protecting mechanism.

My first real experience of this was passing my driving test.  It was the first time I was taking it and two weeks later I was scheduled to have the operation on my achilles tendon. If I failed the driving test, I wouldn't get to do another test for months after.  I was so convinced I would fail that when the driving examinier annonced that I'd passesd, all I did was sigh loudly and put my head against the headrest in relief.  Even my driving instructor who was waiting outside the car thought I'd failed going by my reaction.  I protect myself so much that I can't even see the situations where I should be proud and celebrate!

A few years ago, I blogged about how happy I was to be going to Mexico to see a friend and have a holiday of a lifetime, only to blog a few days later to say that we couldn't go due to the huge ash cloud sitting over Europe.  I'm sure a lot of you remember only too well too.

And so it strikes again.  I was really happy in my last post to say I was going home and I was going to do a 5km race.  In fact, we were going back to the UK to collect my parents as they were going to spend a month in France with us.  They came for the first time this time last year for 2 weeks and absolutely loved it.  We'd be planning it for so long and everyone was very excited, planning and organising.

My mum rang me 2 days before we were driving back to the UK to say my Dad was in hospital and that they wouldn't be coming after all.  I was a total wreck on the drive home 2 days later.  I spent the next 4 days ruled by visiting hours in the hospital and witnessing horrible scenes.  We had to come back to France on the Monday and needless to say it was a heart wrenching, tear filled, sobbing 7 hour drive. 

Dad came out of hospital a week later and is now at home.  It was pretty ugly at a point but he is getting better although due to his continung poor health, he will never fully 'recover'.  Sometimes you just have to be happy with the basics in life.

I have been a misery for 2 weeks since all this happened and I've lost weight (funny for someone who thought it was impossible to lose weight - hell, I've tried and failed before) I'm not sleeping well, I have spots (I never have spots) and all this time I have terrible guilt that I can't be there with them.  My Dad feels bad that he's caused trouble for everyone and mum feels awful that she hasn't been able to come to France and help me.  She hates that I'm on my own in France and that she can't help me out like most Mums do with their daughters.

All in all, it's been a pretty terrible 2 weeks.  I don't like to get excited about things or talk about them (on my blog) just in case they don't work out.  I don't like talking about my personal problems either.  In fact, I don't like sharing too much of my life or putting photos at all on this blog because of people who have hurt me so bad in the past and I don't want them to find this blog.

In fact, I am wondering why I have a blog at all today.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

First race highs

On Sunday 9th September I completed my first official 5km since my very first one, 7 years ago.

To say my life has changed since then is somewhat of an understatement, right?!

As I am always playing catchup on my blog, here are some insights and things I learnt about myself, running, life during the course of the 5km race.

Always be sure of the race date.  For weeks before the race I was preparing for the race to be on Saturday 8th.  I'd been on the website, the race was on the 8th right?!  Wrong.  As we were looking up where to park on the Friday, my face fell.  It was actually on the Sunday.  Needless to say I felt really stupid (but secretly pleased as it meant I got a lie in on Saturday which was badly needed.)

Learning new crafts.  I learnt to tie a metal magnetic timer into my shoe laces and feel very sporty in doing so

J had already promised to stay with me for the whole race.  He had not trained at all for it, maybe going out with me 3 times in total, his longest run 20 mins at Emmy pace.  He is just one of those annoying sporty people who is naturally fit and let's face it, he could have ran ahead of me with sure ease.

It was a gorgeous day! (J actually ran ahead to take this not so flattering photo of me. Show off)

We lined up with the other 5km runners at the back as practically everyone in the race was a club runner.  This is another point, although I already kind of knew this with the lack of 5km races in France...

5km is serious business.  Everyone was there to win!  I still am not used to this and I don't think I want to be.  I run because I can, and I am truly humbled every time I watch the marathon and see all the interviews with the amazing people running for charity.  In France, this does not happen.  As a result, the runners were practically all club runners.  Meaning....

I was almost last!  Out of about 90 people doing the 5km, I came a very honourable 82nd!  And I was dam proud!  J came in just in front of me.  I was incredibly proud to say I overtook about 5 people in the last 1km!  It was a killer though. 

I'd totally lost my bearings with how far I had left to run and what with the hill at the end I wanted to give up.  J said it was just round the corner and when I rounded it I heard my name being called out by the compere who had read my race number.  It felt very cool and gave me a huge boost and a buzz!

Never trust an ipod + sensor that's not been calibrated.  I had lost my bearing because I rely heavily on the ipod + app telling me my progress.  I realised during the race that it was waaaay out.  It actually told me I'd finished the 5k soon after we'd gone past the 4km marker.  I was totally gutted and disppointed to think that all those time I thought I'd ran 5km without stopping, the time I almost did it in 30 mins, all those times, all those time I was no where near 5km.  This is why the last 1km was difficult for me.

When I crossed the line and heard my official timer beep merrily at the finish line I had the sense to press the calibrate button on my ipod. 

My official time was 34,24 and I'm ok with that.  I didn't get a stitch which is a miracle in itself and I didn't stop running once and I had enough in me at the end to overtake others and sprint(ish) to the finish line.

My time was about 6 minutes faster than my original 5km race in London 7 years ago so I'm good with that.  I'll never be a fast runner.  After all, I don't call them my dodgy legs for nothing! 

I learnt a lot from the experience and I can't wait to do it again!  In fact, I'm doing another one in the UK this weekend.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

C.H.A Cars, Hills and Apéros

Unfortunately the holidays have already been and gone and I'm already back at work...boooo!

We really did a tour de France this summer and I'm not sure I could do it again to be honest.  By the end I was really not travelling well!  We drove a total of 3000km.

We went from the North to Nantes (7 hours in a car) then to Cap d'agde on the South coast (10 hours in a car - horrible does not do it justice) then to Toulouse (3 hours in a car) then back up to the North (10 hours in a car).

The leg from Nantes to Cap d'agde was awful.  There is no motorway from Nantes to Bordeaux and it took forever.  When we got to Bordeaux there were traffic jams and we headed off the mototrway into Wine Countryside.  It's very pretty, but oh so windy.  I unfortunately to do not have a photo, but I was momentarily cheered up as we passed by the town of 'Condom'.  hehe.  Needless to say I was so glad to arrive in Cap d'agde and to be welcomed by the sun!

I took my running shoes on holiday as previously mentioned and did quite well.  I went running in Nantes in the beautiful countryside twice, and in Cap d'agde twice, early morning before breakfast!  Not bad for 8 days!  (It was way too hot in Toulouse to run, 28oC at 9am, not thanks). 

I was true to my word and I did attempt the hill in Cap d'adge.  I was really hard on myself because it was ridiculously difficult and I admit I walked a great deal up it.  There was a 3 km climb to the hill, then 1km steep climb.  I was worn out before I got to the foot of the steep hill. I was amazed to see quite a few other runners attempting the hill, they seemed to be doing well, gritting their teeth, but going up in a jog all the same.  I couldn't manage a lot in a jog, but I was proud to say I was at the top before 9am! 

At the foot of Mont St Loup
Admiring the view of the misty morning
Coming back was a hell of a lot easier and I managed to run all the 4km home.  :o)  Yea, I deserve no medal there!!

Away from running, our holidays were like any other.  Who says holidays, says aperos!  My healthy eating took a battering during our 10 days away.  I practically had apéro twice a day, lunch time and evening, every day.  yikes!  I love a good glass of muscat and nibbles.  uh hum. When in Rome and all that. I was a little worried getting on the scales the morning after we got back home but hallelujah, someone is looking out for me, as I had only gained half a kilo!  I honestly couldn't believe it!  Maybe this means I can have apéro more often?  hmmm, I don't think so!  ;o) J wasn't so well looked after, the scales were showing 4 kg heavier when he got home.  Opps!

Before we headed North, we spent 3 days in Toulouse to see J's bro and his family.  It was great to see them but I did come to the conclusion that I couldn't live there, ever.  In the summer they have to close the window shutters so the heat doesn't get in the house meaning you live in the dark and have to turn the lights on in the daytime.  I love sunlight and I need it to feel good.  I just couldn't cope in the summer if I lived in the South!  Another point is that when we were there, we had a siesta every afternoon.  I NEVER sleep in the afternoon.  I hate it, it's such a waste of time but the heat (35oC +) really wipes you out and you can't help but nod off for an hour after lunch.  I don't know how people in offices cope!  Finally, and it's a big one for me, I couldn't cope with the mosquitos.  Over the years, I've grown to be frigtened of them because I am severely allergic to them and require steriods to get over the bites.  As soon as night falls, they come out to play and Emmy?  She runs into the house and checks that all windows are closed.  I couldn't spend one evening outside with the others.  Another reason why I will never live in the South, if I can't make the most of the good weather!

On our way home, our air conditioning broke!  And on the day the 'canicule' was in full swing!  It started smoking in the car and we spent the whole 9 hours journey turning it on and off every 2 minutes (the length of time it stayed coldish).  We were lucky to have a can of water vapour to try to cool us off. 

It was nice to get back home to familiar noises and smells.  I really disconnected during this summer holiday, exactly what I needed because the new work year has already started like an Olympic starting pistol!

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