Oh dear. I’m writing this while feeling a little bruised and battered -this is definitely NOT the blog I’d planned to write this week! So where do I start?
Regular readers of my blog might remember that about 14 months ago I was lying in an operating theatre having injections into my spine in an effort to ease horrible back pain (I was diagnosed with facet joint arthropathy which has caused me to lose all the cartilage in my lower spine). I’m a big fitness fan, so when the consultant told me I should never run, or even walk any great distance ever again, I was absolutely horrified.
So, very kindly he agreed to refer me to a sports injury consultant, who thought differently. I began an intensive programme of physiotherapy, supplements and “controlled” exercise (including running on an amazing “anti-gravity”treadmill, and even walking backwards, which bizarrely helped massively!). Then, last October I went outside and ran one very slow, careful mile. I could run again!
Since then I’ve been running more and more, and when I could run for a couple of hours without stopping I decided it was time to enter a race, to prove to myself that I really was much better. Now, I could have entered a 10km or a half marathon or something sensible, couldn’t I? But being me, it had to be extreme (sigh) so I entered the Serpent Trail 50km (31 mile) ultramarathon, an off-road race over pretty rough terrain across the hills, fields and woods of Sussex and Hampshire.
Training went really well, and when the day finally arrived on Saturday it started brilliantly, despite the searing temperatures. At four miles in, I’d found a nice steady pace and was running downhill through a fairly rough bit of woodland with lots of tree roots and stones underfoot. I’d just passed a man who’d tripped and was being picked up by other runners when the lady behind me fell too, so I stopped to help and make sure she was ok. And then, just as I’d got going again, it was my turn… at speed, I literally fell flat on my face and then slid along the hard ground.
A couple of other runners immediately stopped to help and provided tissues and plasters, and I ran on to the eight mile checkpoint, arriving rather covered in blood from cuts on my face, knee and hand. The (slightly horrified!) medics there patched me up and told me I needed to stop and go to A&E as the cut on my hand in particular was fairly deep but I decided to carry on. The same happened at the 14 mile checkpoint, but again I ran on. By the 20 mile checkpoint though, things had changed a little. It was 30 degrees by this point and terribly tough going (some runners had already keeled over from heatstroke) and I was still bleeding heavily and starting to feel ill. So, with huge reluctance, I decided to quit.
I was really upset for an hour or so, then had a firm word with myself. After all, what was I doing this race for? If it had been for charity and I was being sponsored, I would have been devastated to be letting everyone down. But this race was just for me, a personal challenge to prove to myself that I’d beaten my back problem. And I’d just run 20 miles in 30 degree temperatures, 16 of them while bleeding profusely, and my back had held up wonderfully. Challenge enough for now, I think! So off I went to Petersfield Community Hospital where two absolutely lovely nurses picked stones out of the hole in my hand and closed it and my knee wound up nicely (thank you, yet again, our wonderful NHS, and happy 70th birthday!).
The butterfly stitches and bandages should come off by the end of this week and I’m hoping the cut and bruising on my lip will be coverable by make-up when I’m back at work on Saturday. Just thought I’d better warn you so that if I look a bit rough and you see me hobbling a bit on-air, you’ll know why!
Hope you’re surviving the heatwave – I’m using bucket loads of Ultrasun at the moment (it even kept me fully protected during those long, sweaty 20 miles on Saturday… no sunburn to add to the injuries, thank you Ultrasun!).
See you soon,
Love Jackie x