Running Blog Take 2
Royal Parks 1/2 Marathon for UP and CRPS UK
Well it’s been a very busy start to this weekend, what with having to cover a shift at my old restaurant job Friday night and working today. I thought I would be shattered but I was surprisingly energised! Enough to ask my dad if he was around to go for a run this morning when I got home from work! For once he was actually around and free so we could go. However, we had an extra runner with us today in the form of our four-legged family member, Cooper. This meant that for the first time I went running in a national park rather than on roads.
I wasn’t sure how it was going to go because of the difference in terrain but Dad and I agreed that we would run one loop and see how we felt before deciding whether to run a second loop! Dad and I hadn’t been out together for a while and we were not sure how Cooper was going to be but it was a really nice easy run, apart from the few times Cooper decided to run right under my feet!
The terrain was hilly and the ground was mostly sand which did make the run slightly harder than I have previously don however once I was in my breathing rhythm the run was almost natural! We did the first big loop followed by another smaller loop and although the lactic acid was starting to kick in. I felt like I could carry on however it was starting to get warm and Cooper was getting tired so we called it a day. We ran 2.5 miles which I was extremely happy with! And we agreed that we would both take our running gear on holiday with us next week so we could do some more training together, although it will have to be early in the morning as do not think I could run in the Italian sun!
Today I’m not writing about my marathon journey but about my normal 22-year-old life. Everyone will have to make some sacrifices in their lives; whether it is big or small and I am no different. When I was 15 I didn’t think making sacrifices would be that difficult but now at the age of 22 they do become more of a challenge. The challenge doesn’t actually come from the sacrifice, I’m pretty good at sticking to them, the challenge comes from the judgements of others!
So at the age of 22, clubbing with friends has become a part of my life and I love to dance! The issue comes with the second part of a normal night out…….alcohol! Now I do not actually like the taste of alcohol that much but in the right mood I can enjoy a vodka cranberry or two however when you are on daily epileptic medication that’s changes. Anyone on a similar medication will know that it really does not mix (trust me I tried on my 18th Birthday!) which means when I go out clubbing with my friends, I am designated driver.
Neither me or my friends are bothered by this as we all know I can still enjoy myself without the alcohol but I am still surprised by how offended others get! Constantly being asked “Why!?” or “How can you be here without drinking?” or “Come on surely you can have one?” begins to get boring and repetitive. I do not like telling people that I’m on medication as soon as I meet them, because frankly why do they need to know but in my experience people will push and push until I mention the medication. As soon as that is mentioned, people back off but I do not see why I could not just go out without drinking anyway! As long as I enjoy myself what does it matter!!
At 15 sacrificing the ability to wear high heels was not a big deal to me but now obviously I want to wear the nice heels that match my new dress when I go out clubbing! Wearing heels hurts but I can manage it but wearing heels and showing off my best dance moves is a little harder!
Luckily if I go clubbing, I go out with very close friends who know exactly what my situation is. Whenever I go out I always carry my emergency pills and my medical ID in case and my friends are always aware of this but that is not what makes me feel safe and secure when I am out. What does, is the fact that my friends are able to tell when I am struggling and so will make me take a seat, take my pills or suggest going if it was bad enough! Knowing I have that support even in that environment makes me enjoy it even more!
Tonight I went out clubbing with my best friend and we had an amazing time! However tonight was one of the nights I had to take the option of leaving when it got painful and as soon as we were out of the club, the heels came off! But it was and always will be worth it!
A nice break in the sun is what most people look forward to in the summer but for myself and other CRPS sufferers, spending time in the sun comes with its own issues.
A main complication of CRPS is hypersensitivity, which means extreme changes in temperature and exposure to direct sunlight can cause increases in pain or worse a complete flare up. This has happened to me many times in previous years however being 6 years into my disorder means I have found ways to avoid this happening or dealing with whatever does happen. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case for me last night. I am currently on holiday with my family in our lovely new house in he Italian hills! It is so lovely and the weather is amazing but this just meant I sat outside in the sun all day long yesterday!
This meant that while at dinner with my family last night I suffered a flare up in my knee and hip. Luckily we had stayed in for dinner last night so when the pain started I was able to take myself up to my own room and deal with it on my own, like I would at home. After 20 minutes I re-joined the family for ice cream and laughs just slightly frustrated and crippled!
Today I woke up knowing it was going to be a rough day, which automatically put me in a bad mood. I try not to allow myself to stay in bad moods for very long anymore as they do not help the pain but sometimes you can’t help just feeling frustrated and angry! Because my knee was still extremely painful I chose to spend the day inside out of the sun and heat, to try and calm it down. This is what frustrated me because I am on holiday, so all I should be doing is spending the day out in the sun, with a good book and dipping my feet in the pool.
As frustrating as it was to be stuck inside all day, the plan was that I did that for the day so that tomorrow I can go back out and enjoy the sun! So fingers crossed!!
So the day inside on Wednesday worked!! Yesterday I was back out in the sun, swimming in the pool, and good as new! After having an extra day just to double check my knee was better, Dad and I agreed to get up early this morning to go for a run down along the sea front. We agreed to leave at 6am so we were on the sea front by 6:30am when it was still fairly mild.
I overslept slightly we didn’t actually get down to the sea front till about 7am and it was already 21 degrees!! I was hot before I even started running. The running was surprisingly easy however the heat caused some issues both in respect to the increased difficulty in breathing and also the fact my knee got very hot under my brace and so began to hurt!
We did 2.7 miles, which doesn’t seem a lot but considering the temperature, we were both shocked! I find the running a lot easier when I am with Dad as it keeps me going when if I was on my own I might give up! I am hoping this will help me on the race day!
The last 10 days since being back have been so busy, which is why I haven’t had chance to sit down and right down a blog in that time. It is also because I haven’t had chance to do anything in the last 10 days because I have been so busy with work and other things.
Today was the first evening I had free to be able to go out for a run since the run in Italy. It had been a warm day and the temperature only let up a little bit when I went out. I had a vague idea of where I was wanting to go however I didn’t make the decision on where my turning round point would be. I just wanted to run and enjoy it. I did 2.7 miles again which although isn’t much again, really was the best I felt I could do and for me that’s all I can do is my very best!
When I got back Dad was doing some skipping training and considering I have not skipped since before my injury, I thought it might be fun to try it and see how I got on! I was surprised at how good I was at it considering I have a bad knee and also had just done a run. There is a competition at my gym for the first person to do 200 skips in a minute will win a prize, so that’s my next aim!
So, this morning, I had a personal training session at the gym. My calves where so tight after my run Tuesday night and because I then walked round London shopping yesterday! Unfortunately, I am too honest and so told my personal trainer this, who then decided to stretch my legs out for me. I almost cried!
Because I had done my run, we decided to focus on weights and core work rather than my cardio. Being a rider, my core should be good however I haven’t ridden properly for about 6 months so was not very hopeful that it would be as good as I wanted it to be! However, I was pleasantly surprised! There is a challenge at the gym to see how long you can swing from two rings, that are hung from the ceiling, with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. I gave it a go thinking I would last about 2 seconds however 20 seconds later, I was still holding on! My best time today was 25 seconds, which put me as leader for the ladies! Not sure how long I will stay leader though so need to do some more sit ups I think!
Well today wasn’t a great way to end the weekend. After my positive week with my run Tuesday, seeing the psychologist on Wednesday, going to the gym on Thursday and then having another amazing night out on Friday, I was very happy and content with my week. However, this morning I woke up with my ankle tingling and my knee feeling like it had an ever-expanding amount of pressure inside it, I knew today might not be all that great! Nevertheless, I got up as normal at 5:45am, went down to my horse then went to work. While at work I began to suffer some stabbing pain within my knee and severe pain at the bottom of my ankle. I kept having to have breaks, so the work took me longer than usual. I started work normally, but left work limping and unable to put weight through my ankle.
This may seem strange to many people but this is a normal flare up for me. I will tend to be able to feel one coming now a day’s due to having had the disorder for many years but I can never tell exactly when it will happen. Therefore, I carry on doing what I am doing at that time because if I stop it might not happen for another few hours, in which time I haven’t done anything I had planned to do, which is frustrating. I will also tend to be walking normally up until the point the stabbing pain starts because I do not like making it obvious that I am in pain to others. I know how to best deal with the pain so having others surrounding me, asking me “Are you alright?” or “Can I get you anything?” doesn’t help as it just draws more attention to it which makes the pain worse because I am more stressed out. I understand it is people’s human nature to want to help someone who is clearly in pain but as many of my family and friends know, I just prefer to be ignored.
The best example I have of this is when one day about a year ago I suffered a flare up while out food shopping with my mum. I had suffered a flare up a few days before so was limping as the pain was still dying down from the last one. When I am like this I always push the trolley as I use it as a slight aid to help me get around the shop. My back or hip (I cannot remember all of them as I have so many) started to flare up and I was stuck in the middle of M&S, hunched over a trolley, crying my eyes out. Everyone began to stop and stare, wondering what was going on so my mum carried on walking, heading to one of the refrigerated sections. I slowly followed her, still crying but aware that when I started moving again people stopped staring. It was at this point, while I was feeling a giant stab in my back that my mum has walked back across to me, with two packets of sausages in her hands and said, “Which ones do you think we should get Elz?” If I wasn’t crying at the time I could have laughed but what she did worked. The pain stopped in that second so I could stand back up and look at her and tell her which ones we should get!
People will probably read this and think, why didn’t my mum instantly drop everything to make sure I was okay but the thing is this is exactly what I tell family and friends to do when I have a flare up. I hate my disorder and the attention it brings so when it does flare up, especially in public I get highly embarrassed, which causes the pain to get worse. What my mum did that day was distract me. She stopped me thinking about the pain and all the people staring at me so that I could calm myself down enough to stop the pain. And once she knew I was out of the major pain then she asked me if I was okay.
I guess I am writing about this today because I think it is important for people to understand that every person will experience pain differently to the next person. That also means we all deal with pain in different ways too. Some use pain killers, some soldier on through and some learn to manage it. However, none of these options are a wrong option if they work for the individual person. No one or the people closest to that person should be judged for how they deal with their pain, as everyone is different. Needless to say, I did not take any pain killers that day and both my family and I carried on as normal and by the end of the day my pain had halved. So, although today was full of pain, it was a good day, full of pain!
Well after yesterday I was extremely surprised to find that I got out of bed normally this morning, and then walked normally. It was a very nice quick recovery! I was just hoping it was going to last considering I had organised before the weekend to go out on a long run with my dad while at work today, and unfortunately, he hadn’t forgotten.
He said we were going to run 10km, which I think is the furthest I have ever run in one go in my life, so I was nervous already, let alone adding the fact I had been crippled in pain yesterday! But I was determined not to let him down as he is training to run with me on 8th October. Although, I was so nervous, I did not talk to anyone in the office all morning! I think everyone thought I was sick!!
At lunchtime, my dad, Jane (a colleague) and I all got changed and then we set off aiming to do 10km, with Cooper tagging along as well! The pain started off okay and I felt good. My dad even had to tell me to slow my pace down at one point, else I was going to run out of steam. The thing with my running is that my cardio fitness is actually very good considering I ride horses, have a very practical job and now go to the gym once a week but my issue is when the pain kicks in. After the first 15 minutes, I started to feel like there was a knife jammed into my knee cap, which is digging in every time I step down onto my left foot and releasing when my left foot comes off the ground again. This was happening on every step, so if you can imagine how many times that was happening while I was running you might think how on earth did I keep running. Trust me it is hard, and it takes all my energy and will to keep my left foot going in front of my right foot because I know the pain will not stop. But I also know that if I do not keep running and try my absolute hardest I will feel like I have failed and that could lead to me giving up, and right now that is just not an option for me! So, I keep running and just keep saying to myself (normally out loud) “It’s not real!”
I got about half way before the second amount of pain started. So, not only was my knee feeling like it was being ripped apart but then my hip started to feel like it was going to pop out of the socket (It would never actually do this, this is just one of the pains I suffer due to the CRPS!). I almost stopped so many times but I just kept thinking if I stop now, I won’t start again because I will want to avoid the pain. It’s always at moments like these, when I am starting to doubt myself that my amazing dad comes up beside me asking me if I am okay. It is like he knows what I am thinking and knows I need a distraction to keep me going! I never tell him I am in pain while we are running as I do not want him to make me stop but I always think secretly he knows, but he is kind enough not to say anything.
It felt like it went on for hours but then the end was in sight and it took all our strength to keep going but we did it. I thought my leg was jelly when we did make it back but I had manged to run pretty much all of it and I wasn’t sick at the end!! This is when dad checked his phone which had been recording out run and he gave a nervous sort of smile before announcing that we had run further than 10km. We had actually run 11.77km which is 7.1miles! That is half of the total amount that I have got to run! Once I had got some air back to my lungs and cooled my leg down enough that the pain began to subside, I let out a huge smile. If a year ago you told me that today I would run 7 miles I would have laughed in your face and told you to leave me alone. I could never have seen myself ever being able to achieve that but now all I want is more!! So my determination for this half marathon doubled today and there is no way I am stopping now!!
The positivity from yesterday has died down a bit! My calves are so tight I do not want to lift my feet off the ground, my knee is aching and I feel like my right foot is completely bruised!! Luckily, I had today off so after doing my horse I went home and relaxed watching movies all day. However, this evening I did have a pre-booked personal training session with my brother as my normal Thursday slot was not available this week!
I haven’t really had any pain today, which is very surprising but I was still tired after yesterday! Nevertheless, I headed off to the gym with my brother hoping for a bit of an easier session today. I did not let him know straight away this time that I had been for a run yesterday as I wanted to avoid the stretches! So instead the personal trainer made me start by skipping. This is when I wished I had asked for the stretches because both my calves and knee began to really hurt! But, I carried on and started to feel my calves loosening off although my knee was really beginning to hurt.
In the end, I had to tell him about the run (which he was impressed about) and tell him my knee was hurting with the exercises we had been doing so he adapted mine for me so I could still train while not hurting myself more. This is why I like coming to see my personal trainer because he knows that I do suffer some quite bad pain with some of the exercises but that I am also determined to carry on and try to do them, so instead of telling me to stop he just changes them and then pushes me to do my best! It may seem like a really small insignificant thing, but to me it is much more than that! It makes me feel normal at the gym which I have never felt because before coming to see him the only time I had been in a gym was when I was doing my physical physio. It also makes me enjoy the session even though I am in pain!
We did a lot of weight exercises and the personal trainer was laughing as I was using one weight less than my brother when doing the bicep curls!! Clearly all the lifting of full wheelbarrows does the trick!!