I’ll be honest, these monthly reviews are all starting to fall into a similar pattern now; I give a quick recap on each race I ran in the month, before talking about how Jenny’s health took another unexpected turn for the worse and then rounding it off talking about how physically, mentally and emotionally it is taking it’s toll on me. With 7 races, including two in one day, August was a very eventful month and that’s not even including a Charity Raffle, a festival and a midnight ride to A&E in an ambulance.
The month would get off to a rolling start on the 4th with the York 10K. I’m still unsure why, but the week leading up to the Sunday was a massive drain on me physically and emotionally. Nothing in particular happened, but in hindsight it was probably because of this and the fact that I was able to just soak what had happened so far this year with Jenny that it took it’s toll. The race itself was a struggle. I’ve set myself the target of running a sub 40 minute 10K this year, but at times I felt far closer to collapsing than finishing. I eventually crossed the line just under 44 minutes and was forced to reassess my approach to races in order to make it through the year.
Every year in August Jenny and myself (along with 1000s of other metalheads) head to a field in Derbyshire for the weekend for Bloodstock Open Air Festival. We’ve both been every year for the past 6/7 years, but this year our attendance was put in doubt as the week before Jenny had been suffering with a very stubborn suspected eighth case of Eczema Herpeticum. As if by some miracle Jenny’s health had cleared up enough that on Thursday we were both happy enough for her to be leaving the house and head to the festival.
On the Sunday I ran my 29th race of the year, the Hermitage 10K, missing one of my favourite bands at the festival in the process, much to many people’s bemusement. As I explained at the time though, this year is about doing what I can to raise awareness of the suffering that Jenny has to go through on a daily basis and the sacrifices that she regularly makes, so anything I have to give up along the way is insignificant.
It wasn’t all good news though, as when we returned back from the festival we learnt that Jenny wasn’t suffering from Eczema Herpeticum, but rather MRSA.
Next up was the Sleaford Summer 10K, which had the honour of being my 30th race of the year. Despite doing my best to have to cancel my attendance at the race due to injury, I lined up at 7pm ready to enjoy a race for the first time in a while. After the relatively disastrous York 10K, I approached the Sleaford Summer 10K with a fresh approach of enjoyment first, performance second. There has been too many races so far this year where I have become focussed on running it in the fastest time possible, that I stopped enjoying them and plunged myself towards physical and emotional failure. The change of approach was needed ahead of a challenging rest of the month and year to come.
Just four days later, on Tuesday 20th, I would have my next race, the Bolingbroke Breaker. Little did we know as I was lining up for my 31st race that later that night we would find ourselves in the back of an ambulance waiting to be taken to hospital after Jenny suffered a mini stroke. It was one of the most terrifying thing either of us have had to deal with, as at times in my mind there was no distinction between whether this was the real thing or not. The first signs began at 10pm, and it wouldn’t be until 5am that we would be on our way home in the taxi. Despite only getting about half an hours sleep, I made the poor decision to go to work, but I was soon sent home the emotional and physical stress of the past 12 hours was there for all to see.
I would have to wait until Bank Holiday Monday for my next race, the Grimsthorpe Castle 10K. The events of the previous Tuesday were still very much playing on me and it could be argued as to whether or not I was in the right frame of mind for another race. The challenging, mostly offroad, undulating course didn’t help matters but it some ways I guess it was therapeutic as for a brief 50 or so minutes it allowed me to forget about everything else that has happened this year and just focus on the race. The course didn’t allow for a fast time, nor did my cautious approach to it, but I was still happy enough with the time I crossed the line in. After the race I overhead another runner say “There’s a Grimsthorpe PB, and then your normal PB.” and that sums it up better than I could.
After one of the most eventful and toughest months of the year how else would I finish it off other than two 10 mile races on the last day off the month? Despite running almost every day, with three marathons coming up in less than two months I knew I had to run 20 miles between now and then. I also knew that with races almost every weekend and little time or energy to run that distance during the week I would have to come up with a tricky solution, one which meant running two 10 mile races in one day in two different counties.
The strategy for these races would be interesting, as I would have to save enough energy for the second race but also try and treat them as one complete run at marathon pace. So, at 11am on Saturday 31st I was in Lincolnshire for the Wold’s Tough 10 mile race knowing that I should be aiming to keep my pace around 7:30 minute miles and try not to get carried away with the race. Fortunately the race was easier than I expected, given that it called itself ‘tough’, there were a few significant hills but nothing too troubling and I came in a little over target at 7:36 minute miles, but after stretching thoroughly I felt fresh enough to do it all again.
For the second race I would be travelling across to Derbyshire, for the Double or Quit (10 mile) race, which started at 5pm. Due to a fair bit of travelling, drawing my raffle and generally being me I wasn’t organised enough to refuel sufficiently before the second race and lining up at the start I knew it would be a lot tougher than it ought to have been. Being mostly off road and undulating, the course for my second race also felt tougher, maybe because it was my second race of the day or maybe it just simply was. Somehow though I was able to keep my pace at a reasonable level, crossing the line just 6 minutes slower than the morning’s race, and a little outside my 8:00 minute mile average target.
Finally as I briefly mentioned in the previous section this month I drew my the prizes for my charity raffle. If you’re a fan of awkward videos be sure to check out the recording of the draw below.
Next month (September) promises to be a big one as marathon season starts up again with the Robin Hood Marathon in Nottingham at the end of the month as well as the small matter of the ‘world’s biggest half marathon’, the Great North Run. September is also host to National Eczema Week (14th – 22nd) where I plan to be very busy making a nuisance of myself and generally trying to get people’s attention. If you’re in Lincoln and like cake, or know someone that does, please check out the Bake Sale on the 21st at ASDA Living on Tritton Road. The one we hosted earlier in the year was a big success and we want this one to be an even bigger one.
As always, please visit my JustGiving page and donate what you can. If you can’t donate then please share my JustGiving page and news of what I’m doing with others, in case they can. The only way we can end the suffering that Jenny and millions of others go through on a daily basis is with your help.
1000KM Challenge Distance: 82.41KM
Time Running Total: 06:29:26
Total Running Distance: 187.59KM
Bananas Eaten: 34
1000km Challenge Stats:
1000KM Challenge Distance: 698.64KM
Time Running Total: 59:25:20
Total Running Distance: 1500.33KM
Bananas Eaten: 346
A look ahead to September
15/09 – Great North Run
29/09 – Robin Hood Marathon
22/09 – Sandringham 10K
22/09 – Hunstanton Beach Run 10K