Tag Archives: Asthma

Downs and ups.

I have been hiding, again. Stupid I know but there are times when hiding is the only way I can cope. Fortunately I have come out the other side and am now able to explain all. …..

 

 

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2 weeks ago was the Cambridge half marathon. It is fair to say that this is my least favourite race for many reasons:

1. The first year I ran it I fell over and cut my knees.

2. The next year it snowed and I had an asthma attack.

3. The following year I had not recovered sufficiently from a chest infection and hated every step.

I have finished every year but for a race that is in my local city and a beautiful scenic one at that  it is far from top of my list. This year would be different though, wouldn’t it?

NO!

On the Wednesday before I got a sore throat! I increased my intake of vitamin c, had early nights and tried to be sensible. By Saturday my asthma was beginning to play up but I convinced myself it was only asthma therefore the below the neck rule was not applicable. (The general rule when running is that if you have symptoms above the neck you are OK to run. Below then not.) I woke up Saturday to a lovely sunny morning. Deep down I knew that I probably shouldn’t be running but I needed to get the miles in.

The first half was fine. I kept to 10 minute miles and was happy to plod along. The atmosphere was good, the weather was good and I was going to take it easy. All was great until about half way. I took my inhaler, once, twice and a few more times. I eventually had to walk a bit, and then a bit more. By now I was not feeling so great. The crowds were lovely and encouraging, as were the marshalls but there was no escaping that I was feeling rough.

As I looped back through the city centre for the second time I began to look forward to the next fuel stop – water and gels. Unfortunately there were no more gels….OK I can live without those but the killer was the water. They had run out of water and so were offering runners discarded bottles with the lids taken off. Ummm thanks but no thanks!

By this time I knew that even if I walked I would get round and so I kept plodding on. A puff of the blue inhaler every other step or so!

I did complete it, in 2 hours and 20 mins which is OK but my slowest ever time. The worst bit was that I felt no elation at the end at all. I literally had nothing left. I felt no elation, no achievement or even relief.

The medal however, never fails to impress.

The medal however, never fails to impress.

I got home and slept. The next couple of days were horrible. My asthma was bad and my mood rock bottom. I honestly thought that all dreams of the marathon were over. I saw a doctor who, much to my relief did say that it was only asthma and not an infection and there was nothing else I could do. I plodded on. Disrupted sleep, lots of coughing and generally feeling low.

A week later I went back to the doctor, a different one this time. He was very sympathetic and gave me some steroids. He also said that I could run although it would not be very pleasant for me. I would do no harm. Thank goodness for that. (Deep down I think that I had blamed myself for being stupid and running when I shouldn’t have.)

The difference the steroids have made is amazing. I can breathe! As I can breathe I have energy. I can smile, laugh and am actually living rather than existing. On day 2 of the steroids I went to running club. I felt so much better than I had dared hope! The next day I managed to run 16 miles in 3 blocks. (It was the only way I could fit it in.) 6 miles at 6am, 7 miles in the pm after work and before pick up and then 3 after pick up. The boost to my confidence that this gave me was immense.

It seems that my marathon journey is still on! I have come out of hiding. I can now participate in Facebook and twitter discussions about running without wanting to curl up and cry. There is still plenty of time for injury and illness to strike again but for now, my dream is alive.

Thank you for reading my moans. xxx

The Cambridge Half Marathon 2013

Last week was so very hectic and full of exciting things that it is only now that I have the chance to write about the half marathon I ran a week and a half ago! I ran this race in its debut last year (see review here). The organisers admitted that not everything was perfect last year and promised us some changes. They did deliver on these changes and mostly I have to say that improvements were made. Before going into that however, I shall go back to the beginning…

Race Day:

This year the race happened to fall on Mother’s Day here in the UK. When I signed up for the race I had not realised this although I am not sure that it would have stopped me running it anyway. I enjoy running so it was a nice way to spend the morning (in theory) although it did mean that there were no lie ins and breakfast in bed for me. The race started at 9.30!

When I went to bed the night before I was convinced that it was snowing which didn’t bode that well  for me although my husband was very quick to play it down saying it was falling too fast for snow (is this even possible?).   Waking up the next morning – it was still snowing. There was not much on the ground – just a bit had settled on the grass and cars but that did mean that it was cold 😦

You can tell what the weather was like from the clothes everyone is wearing. Shorts and t-shirts were not very prominent.

The Warm Up

Having been before, and living fairly local we decided to ignore the bit that said we had to arrive at the park and ride by 7.30 only leaving the village around 7.45. We still arrived with plenty of time. There were, as promised, more toilets and we didn’t spend the whole time queuing as we had last year. In fact we had enough time to do the warm up. Now I am not normally one who bothers with participating in the warm ups but today , being cold we decided it would be a good idea. There were two problems with this: 1. the field was muddy and soggy – a bit like jumping up and down in a cold puddle and 2. The bin bags we were wearing to keep warm didn’t allow for any arm movements. You can imagine what we looked like (lol) but it did keep us a bit warmer than had we stood around doing nothing!

The Start

Having enough time to get to the start this year we were able to find the correct pen and had a bit of time chatting before the race started. At last years event the course narrowed down very quickly at the start which had made it very hard to get into a rhythm. This year was much better and we were saved the dodging around people dance.

The Race

As is very easy to do we set off at quite a pace – in fact the split times for the first 6 miles were all sub 9min miles. Far too fast! That combined with the weather meant that I was finding it increasingly hard to catch my breath. My blue inhaler was having quite a work out itself as I struggled to fill my lungs with air. By 8 miles I could no longer keep the pace up and I was becoming dizzy. It was very clear that I would have to stop for a bit. I urged my partner on not wanting to hold her up too much and walked for a while. By now I was at the stage where had I seen some St John’s Ambulance people I would have stopped. Unfortunately (or fortunately) there were none to be seen so I walked for a bit and then, once I had my lungs working a bit more efficiently again I set off. Unfortunately I was no longer able to sustain my efforts and did a run – walk – jog to the end.

The Organisation

Despite not being able to find any help when I could really have done with it I really think that the organisation was good this year. There were water and refueling stations regularly placed around the course. The water that they provided was not in those silly plastic cups that you cannot drink out of  without stopping but in pouches:

These clever little pouches are easy to drink from and ‘close up’ when not needed so you do not get water everywhere. They are the perfect thing for runners. I was really impressed. I was also very grateful for a gel halfway around – the first time that I have been provided with one of these in a race ever.

Summary:

The race organisers had listened to the feedback from last year and had put the necessary changes in place. Brilliant. But what about me?

The positives:

1. I finished against all the odds.

2. I didn’t fall over!

The negatives:

1. I didn’t do it in under two hours like I had hoped.

2. I had an asthma attack and felt awful. (Paula Radcliff apparently has asthma and her lung capacity can be reduced by 12% which most people would not notice. At home my capacity was reduced by 40% and I was feeling a bit better then!)

A bit of bling like this always makes it worth it

A bit of bling like this always makes it worth it.

Close up of medal

 

Saffron Walden 10k

 

Last Sunday I ran my first ever 10k race. The good news to this is that whatever time I ran would be a PB! The not so good news was that I did not really read the small print before signing up.

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Trusting

I trusted my friend who said their were a ‘couple ‘ of hills but you get a free t-shirt. Sounded good to me. However, when we arrived and I read the posters properly it said that it is a ‘challenging course’! Hmmm. I did, however know that it was a trail run (90%) so didn’t expect a quick time.

My t-shirt!

The Start

The start was well sign-posted and we went down, having registered easily with plenty of time to spare. There are no chips provided in this race but I had my trusty Garmin with me. I don’t know about you but I really hate the first mile or so until everyone spreads out a bit. It is just so stressful having people all around you, pulling out in front without any warning and  having to get around those running slower than you.

Hills

We immediately set off up a hill, off the road from the start. The track was one of those with two wheel tracks and the uneven  middle. This restricted the amount of movement you could do easily to dodge other people. The wind was also a factor during this race as it was quite strong and took my breath away at times.

The Course

The first part of the course was there and back which was a bit disconcerting when I first realised this. It is always hard running when you can see all the runners that are ahead of you. Of course it is easier when the tables are turned. I also liked the fact that there were a lot of hills at the start but on the way back there were fewer and it felt as if you were running downhill more of the time. That is to say until mile 5 (ish) when they somehow managed to import a mountain to the Essex countryside! I kid you not. I think nearly everyone walked for a bit up that hill. It was probably quicker than running it.

 

Negatives

The only main negative that I can think of is that there were parts of the course that were totally single file with no room at all for manoeuver. I didn’t have a particular problem except that (and here comes my excuse) I had a bit of an asthma attack and did not have my inhaler. As we got further around I found it harder going as my lungs closed up and was a bit conscious that I may well be holding those behind me up. Not a feeling I liked very much.

My number – the cross shows that I had collected my t-shirt, not that I was disqualified!

Summary

Overall I enjoyed the race and I would run it again. It reinforced that I can run faster than I think when pushed. (Yes, even with an asthma attack!) I completed it in under an hour which I was really pleased with, taking into account the hills and my lungs. I did apologise to my friend. 🙂

Did you run this race, or have you run any recently? What were your experiences?