Quite a bit to get through on this post!
First, the running: Last weekend was a long bank holiday weekend due to the Queen's diamond jubilee. I had plans to run for most of the weekend, but the weather was very poor on Saturday and Sunday with torrential rain. I wasn't inspired to go out and get soaked.
However, on Monday afternoon a weather window opened up, so I jumped in my car and drove to Earl Sterndale, a small Peak District Village that also happens to be checkpoint 2 of Dusk til Dawn in October. I parked the car amidst the village celebrations. They were having a kids sports day and activities on the village green and a large steam engine was in attendance. Lots of people were having a great time and doing what they should have been doing on the holiday; relaxing.
I arrived at 1pm, and set off on the route shown below.
There was an initial steep climb out of the village then a nice steady undulating run over the hills and fields for 5 miles. It was mostly peaceful, other than passing the High Edge speedway, which was holding a bank holiday noisy stock car race. I raced past and back to some serenity before heading into an area marked "Danger of fire and explosions". There is a health a safety lab nearby but sadly no explosions today to add some excitement! I reached the half way point point and then ran back up to the road then crossed onto a wide track and ran down about a mile to a farm. From there I hit the first of my main objectives which was a steep ascent of Hollins Hill followed by a fantastic ridge run, almost to it's end. I then followed a path down and North which faded out and I realised when I got back, wasn't actually access land. So, I ended up hopping some sets of barbed wire and crossing a stream, and then heading very sharply up the Chrome Hill, which is a very distinctive "dragons back" in the area.
I ran the vast majority of it, despite the gradient, and stopped at the summit to admire the view. A couple of minutes later I was heading sharply down on the wide grassy path at a good pace, and then headed straight back up nearby Parkhouse Hill, which is a much steeper climb; some of it I was on all fours. So, I didn't run this one, but again enjoyed the great view from the top before a very steep drop straight off the North side to bag an adjoining but must smaller hill at Glutton Grange. Then, down off that before one final climb up Hytter Hill. After that it was just a half mile back to the car. Just over 10 miles and 2100ft of ascent, so a good run out.
That evening I got a phone call and was invited out to run the following day with Mike Perry a physiotherapist in stoke on trent and Clive Hevey, my former personal trainer (he got me in shape for the MDS 2008 from nothing). Mike said he wanted a 3 or 4 hour run. This is a bit further than I've done for quite a while, but agreed. We met at 8:30am the following morning, at the Roaches which is a popular climbing and walking area of the Peak District, and an area I know fairly well. The route began with an ascent of the Roaches, a run along the ridge to the trig point, then a pleasant descent to Roach End and run along a lower ridge before we cut downhill through Lud's Church, a small ravine in the forest there, and then down into Gradbach, past the youth hostel. At this point Clive bid us goodbye as he had other plans and headed back home, while me and Mike continued on with a sharp climb out of the valley then pleasant run over the fields to Wildboarclough, a small village in the shadow of Shutlinsloe (a large hill). We've both been up that hill enough times, so decided to skip that one and save our legs for the long climb up the always tiring Daneblower Hollow, to the Cat and Fiddle pub, a well known landmark on the road to Buxton. I was feeling pretty good at this point, which was about 13 miles into the run. We then headed up towards nearby trig Shining Tor, but cut down the hill into the Goyt valley just before it and began what felt like a long climb on the road to Derbyshire Bridge. Just past the bridge the road turns to a track and heads up a little more steeply to cross the road onto Axe Edge Moor. We took a slightly wrong turn and ended up on a parallel path which was boggy and difficult to run on.
We eventually got back on track but by the time we got to Axe Edge End, as it turned out about 15 miles in, and I was struggling. I was expecting only to be doing around 15 miles in total, so when I realised this later on I didn't feel quite so bad. I've had a lot of lower back and arse pain (not to put too finer point on it) for 2 months. After all the hills I was struggling to get my legs moving one in front of the other. I just had no stride length. I'd also ran out of water, and had eaten the couple of snacks I had brought along, and was starting to crash. To add to my misery I had really bad pain from what I though was my left Achillies or Soleus. All of this added up to feeling pretty ropey. Mike was better prepared and gave me some water and a little food to get me through, but the last hour to the car was very tough and slow going. I was walking all the hills no matter how small, and struggling for any pace on the flat and downhills, but back had just seized up. Eventually we got back to the car, a little over 4 and a half hours later. I was pretty ruined at this point, and headed home to revive myself with some Lucozade sport and some food. I plotted route, as seen below, and it was exactly 20 miles with almost 4000ft of ascent, so quite a lot more than I've done recently.
I phoned up my uncle Kevin, a chiropractor in Sheffield, and explained I'd had a lot of problems for the last 2 months. I've actually been pretty worried because of the almost constant 'arse pain'. The hypochondriac in my thinking I had bowel or prostate cancer. I ended getting a health assessment to put my mind at ease. A prostate test came back negative and the bowel one is outstanding but will also be fine I'm sure. I'm too young for those conditions and don't really have any of the other symptoms. The only thing the assessment came back with was that my cholesterol was a little high 5.6; probably as a result of not always eating great food in the last few months of working away from home. I can fix that one pretty easily. Anyway, none of that has made my painful arse feel any better.
I had a couple of day rest from running, working in London then got home on Thursday night at 9pm. I went home and got changed into my running gear and waterproof jacket and went to Stoke train station where I picked up the baton for The Real Relay; an attempt to actually run all 8000 miles of the Olympic Torch route all over the UK, unlike the actual Olympic Torch which is driven between towns! I had signed up at short notice for the charity fundraising event, to run the 10.5 mile Stoke to Audley leg, running via a few different (and slightly dodgy at night) areas of Stoke that the Olympic torch route visited. I collected the Real Relay 'torch' from Abbie, who had run from nearby town Stone wearing Vibrams (brave girl).
I then set off at 11pm, and first ran into Hanley Park. The baton, as you can see, is quite long like a baseball bat and fitted with a GPS tracker (you can view the route on that website).
The weather was absolutely biblical from about 15 minutes into my 1 hour 45 minute run (I had to run a timed 10 minute mile to keep the whole affair on track). I ran through Hanley city centre, where a few drunk girls asked if it was the Olympic Torch. I told them it was but the rain had put it out! I then ran on through Cobridge and Burslem, through some slightly dodgy areas of the city where ladies of the night were picking up rough looking punters on the streets. I felt reasonably safe, as I was tooled up with what resembled a hefty baseball bat after all! I made it out to cross the main A500 road in one piece, and then headed up Porthill bank, through Bradwell, and Chesterton, where my girlfriend joined me to run the last 3 miles. We climbed up Crackely Bank to the Wedgewood monument which I run to very often. We tried to take a photo, about 00:30am. You can just about make me out, and the 20ft stone monument on the hill. We'd added this bit in just to spice up the route.
From there it was a long 2 mile run, mostly downhill on the road into Audley where I arrived about 2 minutes ahead of time, as I planned, to hand over to a girl called Clare who was then going to run 10 miles to Crewe.
So, 10.5 miles down I was just left with a long painful uphill run, which ended up being a walk towards the top of the first climb, back home. My back was seizing up again, on that 3 mile run home, rounding off almost exactly a half marathon that night, ending around 1:30 am. The weather was pretty horrible in worsening weather conditions, with even harder rain and wind. By the time I got home we both looked like drowned rats, soaked through to the bone despite waterproofs. Nothing can keep out that much water!
The following day, I was pretty sore. Sitting down and running have both been hurting for a while. Sleeping or walking is not too bad. My uncle kindly agreed to see me at 8pm last night in Sheffield. We drove over and he assessed me and found that I have inflammation all the way along my Sacroiliac joint on my right side. My Ischium (I think it's called) is really sore, it may be a result of trauma from falling on my arse a few months ago and bone flake coming off perhaps. My hip on the right is also also twisted up and rotated, and "not happy" as my uncle put it. My gluts were rock solid tight, and my lower all my lower back muscles tight as you can imagine. Laying on my stomach Kevin pulled my legs upwards to find, not unsurprisingly, that I had very limited range of motion and stride length on my right leg vs the left. It was in desperate need of attention, and is going to need several treatments to get it back to normal apparently. I had an hours worth of very painful massage and then some chiropractic adjustments, resulting is very loud and satisfying releases (cracks). I uncle then found that my left leg issue (Achilles, Soleus) was down to chronically tight popliteus and surrounding areas, so set to work on those, to the howls of pain coming from me! I felt pretty beat up after the hour, but knew it needed doing. My left leg feels much better today, but my arse pain is still there, and is going to take some time to fix. I'm just off to ice it, and take more Diclofenac. I'm hoping to get 2 more treatments next week to try and get rid of it as it's pretty miserable to be honest. Sitting down is just plain unpleasant. Seems, I've done a good job on myself this time, but hopefully in a few weeks I'll be back to normal.
Have a good week!