Sunday, 12 October 2014

Long time no see - what a lazy blogger

Crikey, I can't believe it's over a year since my last post.  Why?  Well it's been a busy year with our Neverest Girls project!  I guess most of you reading this will know about this by now, but for those who don't check us out at  To sum it up, 7 girls got together, chose a local charity to support (A Chacun Son Everest), had lots of fun raising money (€16,700 to be exact), went to Nepal, trekked for 2 weeks to Everest Base Camp and ran the world's highest marathon.  Phew!

Seriously, I'm making light of what was a thrilling, tough, busy, fun and fantastic year.  We worked so hard to raise that money, had a lot of amazing people supporting us and are very fortunate girls to have had the opportunity to experience all of that.  Nepal was beautiful, hectic, emotional and far tougher than we'd expected.  Altitude sickness hit most of us (although I was lucky enough to avoid it) and the weather at Base Camp itself was so bad that we had to evacuate at speed across an avalanche field, getting hideously sunburnt along the way.  And that was all the day before the race.  Anyway, full details can be read on the website blog so I won't repeat it here, but blimey, what an experience.  Thank god we had each other through all that - I know that I strengthened 6 wonderful friendships and that we learnt things about each other on that trip that we cannot repeat in polite company!

That was in May and on my return I was really looking forward to a summer of running, benefiting from being marathon-fit and altitude ready from Nepal.  The Everest Marathon itself wasn't tough because of the distance, but because of the snowy, rocky terrain.  I didn't push the pace very hard and as a result it didn't take long to recover on our return.  The altitude had not adversely affected my still sensitive lungs and I felt the best I had in ages during our time in Nepal, which was totally unexpected.  My lungs seemed to thrive on the clean air and got better and better the higher we went.  June was great and I definitely felt like the Chamonix hills and relatively low altitude were a piece of cake for running compared to Nepal.  My main aim for the summer was training for the North Face TDS in August and had lots of training planned with the girls throughout June & July.  However I took a tumble during the Chamonix Cross at the end of June, spraining my ankle, and this minor injury effectively wrote off my summer running plans.

It's hard to admit that my body takes longer to fix itself than it used to and I was convinced I'd be back up and running a few weeks later.  Unsurprisingly I had to cancel a long-time planned UTMB recce 3 weeks later, watching the girls run without me.  After a further 2 weeks I was just about able to run on the flat again, but downhill was really painful.  I basically attempted to cram-train for the TDS in a couple of weeks, taking lifts to avoid any downhill and not allowing enough time to taper.  Add to that a very busy working month and on race day my body and mind felt anything but race-ready.  Needless to say I did not finish the TDS.  I did complete 50km which I was pretty pleased with, but I was slow, tired, not eating adequately, ran out of water and my ankle did not feel at all stable enough to take me through the night.  The course was beautiful though and I will definitely return one day to give it a proper go.

3 months on and my ankle is finally getting there so I am planning one final race to try and boost my confidence.  I have to admit that I've been quite down in the dumps since the TDS.  After struggling with my health all last year, it's really frustrating getting injured in a year that I was so looking forward to and promised so much more.  My lungs are still an issue too, requiring twice-daily medication and no sign of the persistent cough leaving me, although thankfully my doctor agrees that running is good for them.  Whatever life throws at me, I am a runner now and I just can't stop running.  I really miss it when I don't do it and even when I'm injured, I can't let it go, which is totally counter-productive.  It's such a part of me and I love it too much.  I think only other runners can truly understand that.  Not running affects my mind even more than my body and it's a total base requirement for me.  I need it.

However, I know that I must learn to stop comparing myself to others and their achievements.  Everyone is different, my body definitely does not behave as it did 2 years ago, I can't push it as hard as I'd like to anymore and I should accept that and appreciate the fact that I am still here and still able to do what I love.  That's a lot more than most and I should be grateful.  Running gives me so much joy and I love the friendships I've made, places I've seen and courses I've conquered.  But it's a tough pill to swallow when I'm constantly reminded that many of my running friends are going from strength to strength, achieving great things, which clearly they thoroughly deserve.  I admit it, I'm jealous!  I want to be there myself, going bigger and better, not just congratulating others on doing so as I chase time barriers.  Yes I know that's stupid, after all I've been through, but I can't help it.  I've never been one to be satisfied with my lot.  I always want more, but I do need to accept my new limits.

So enough of my wallowing.  Tomorrow is another day and 2015 is another year.  I am going to Colorado for the Transrockies Run with the Neverest Girls and that is going to be awesome.  190km, 6000m+ over 6 days at altitude.  Bring it on!