It's been quite some time since my last post, due to initial laziness, a planned rest period and finally thanks to a spell in my local hospital.
Recovery from my race in October was really good and I was happy to end my racing year on that note. With Nikki & Ali away and the year winding down, I decided to take some time out of training, instead walking the dog, swimming, with just a few short runs pencilled in. November was also my 40th birthday. I had a big night out with loads of my friends and was rather pleased I was one of the last standing at 4am, although only just!
One of the things that has made me love running was meeting and running with like-minded people, realising that training does not have to be all work and no play, and that you can learn so much from people who might approach things differently to you but have found things that work for them by experience. We had been trying to persuade Laura to come for a run with us for a while as we wanted to share this with her. I totally understand her reluctance - I have felt that myself with friends that I know are better runners than me - but I got over that hurdle this year and realised how much I got out of it.
We started off at Montroc, up to Tre le Champ, down to le Buet. Despite having not run since the marathon in June, Helen still put us all to shame, trotting up the hills while we puffed behind her. We cut up to the Col des Possettes, hitting quite a bit of snow on the way, stopping for some filming, then hurtled down the front of le Tour which was sunny and just so much fun. Laura has signed up for the Cham marathon this summer, so I know this will be one of the first of many training runs together.
My plantar fasciitis had been playing up since the middle of the summer, so I finally went to see the doc about it, got some silicone heel cups and physio prescribed. It's a funny old condition and he didn't seem overly concerned about it, but knowing a friend who has had it really badly, I wanted to make sure I tried to do something about it over the winter. I have been icing, stretching and massaging it daily as well as wearing a night splint which stops the familiar morning pain. It really doesn't hurt to run or walk on! There is a lot of discussion about the cause - inadequate cushioning in shoes, too much cushioning in shoes, tight calves, standing on your feet all day etc etc. Personally I know the day mine started and it was when I attempted a tough training run with a lot of steep uphill. I think I simply strained the affected ligament while trying to compensate for knee pain in the other leg. But who knows.
The winter started well. Nikki & I finally got kitted up for ski-touring and we managed a few short ski-tours, just up the piste power walks, but it felt like great hill training. I had a lovely day with 15 other girls, saw Kilian Jornet training and even did a night time tour with Leila dog who loved chasing me on the ski back down! I was also doing a bit of X-country skiing. I had a lovely first day in Italy with Ali and her boyfriend Eric and had since been doing evening routes with Ali in our head torches, again chased by Leila. After a boozy Xmas, I gave up drinking for January, confirmed my place in the CCC in August this year and was looking forward to my fittest year ever.
Then on 10th Jan I started feeling a bit rough. Everyone had the flu, friends I knew had been knocked out for a couple of weeks, so I wasn't really surprised. But it felt like more than flu, so when I couldn't get into work on the Monday, I went to the doctor. Then again on the Friday. I was coughing, my throat felt raw and I didn't eat anything for a week. Andy was away so I even had to call in dog walkers as I had no energy. After 10 days I was then struggling to breathe so, getting scared, I decided a second opinion was called for. Luckily for me a lovely doctor lives downstairs and he was kind enough to pop up and see me. After a quick check-up he suspected pneumonia and called an ambulance straight away so that I would have oxygen on the way to hospital. After scans and x-rays I ended up in and out of Intensive Care for a week, eventually coughed up a massive green lump, went through 5 different types of antibiotics, oxygen fed to me for most of that time, picked up an allergy and finally escaped hospital after 17 long days. The doctors were baffled how I caught it, why it was so persistent and didn't want to let go of me and why so many relatively young, fit, healthy people were being admitted with it this year rather than the usual bunch of oldies. I am back home now and starting the slow path to recovery. The doctors were reluctant to send me home, back to snow, cold and a higher altitude, but my breathing is fine and I am sure I'll stop coughing soon.
Interestingly, Ali who suffers from mild asthma, has just been advised not to run or X-country ski in the base of the valley at the moment due to all the pollution. I had been doing lots of just that recently - maybe it had an affect, on top of the flu?
I'm clearly quite concerned about my health now. Not an ideal start to a year that is going to contain my biggest race to date as well as several others. And will I have any long-terms issues with my lungs, breathing, sport? But I am going to take things super slowly, not even attempt to run for weeks, maybe months, build slowly, float around in the pool and when strong enough try the turbo trainer with zero resistance. At the moment I can barely make it round the flat so I know it's some time away yet! Hopefully once Spring is here I will be strong enough to start training again, fingers crossed. Right now I am just happy to be alive, surrounded by great friends and family and putting my feet up for the first time in years. At least my plantar fasciitis is getting a rest - every cloud!