Follow the Water (Sir Titus Trot & Robin Hood Marathons)

October 10, 2016

The end of September saw me reach two milestones, running my 40th marathon and running my 30th marathon for Mind. In typical fashion I saw fit to do those in two consecutive days, by running two back to back marathons; the Sir Titus Trot and Robin Hood Marathons.

A lot has happened since my last race back in July, my therapy sessions have stopped and whilst I’m waiting for the postman to bring news of my next treatment I visited the doctor to discuss medication. Over 6 weeks ago I began taking Citalopram, after some well documented apprehensions, and recently had my dosage upped from an initial 10mg to 20mg.

It’s difficult to know whether or not they are having any positive effects, I guess the bad days aren’t as frequent but they’re still very much there. My circumstances have also changed a fair bit, I’ve addressed some long standing elephants in the room, and to a certain degree I feel that not having weekly therapy sessions might be helping me. I often found it very mentally exhausting preparing myself up for each session and then dealing with the aftermath, so not having to deal with that each week might actually be a positive thing.

After just a fortnight on the medication I was almost ready to call ‘Bingo’; dry mouth, headaches, increased sweating, insomnia, loss of energy, nausea, sleepiness, anxiety, itching, pins and needles, yawning and….sexual problems. I knew the tablets were doing…something, most of the common or very common side effects were being ticked off, but whilst most of them weren’t very severe, the main issue had been the fatigue.

On my first 6 weeks on the tablets I hadn’t been to the gym once and I only managed a handful of runs. Not because I was being lazy, but because I simply didn’t have the energy to get out of bed in the morning. When I was taking the tablets first thing it wouldn’t be until midday until I found myself stopping yawning, but since I’ve switched to taking them before bed those side affects seem to have diminished somewhat.

Sir Titus Trot (Marathon #40)
titus_canal2

For a while the Robin Hood Marathon was set to be my 40th marathon, but when I realised that my 41st marathon would be my 30th for Mind I decided to turn it into a big celebratory weekend. First up on Saturday I hopped on the train and made the short trip across to Saltaire for the Sir Titus Trot, my 5th race this year from the team at It’s Grim Up North. Like many of their other races the course takes you along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, this time starting in Saltaire and heading up towards Silsden, through Bingley, exploring areas of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal I had yet to run.

I should have known I was going to be in for a long day when I realised that the registration was taking place at Victoria Hall, the site of my infamous/non-existent IAPT session last year. Thankfully this time when I opened the door I was greeted by the sight of lots of runners, rather than an empty room.

titus_canal

The plan was to take it steady, but a month and a half of little exercise and battling the fatigue of the medication meant I was feeling leggy early on. The short incline up Bingley Five Lock Rise felt like a massive climb, and a change of terrain from towpath to uneven trail at 8 1/2 miles took more out of my legs than it should have done. I started to drop off as early as the second half of the race and with another marathon to run the following day I saw little point in trying to fight it and ended up finishing in an acceptable 4 hours 30.

Robin Hood Marathon (Marathon #30 for Mind)

Since 2008 I have run either the Robin Hood Marathon or Half Marathon 7 times, making it a regular staple of mine (and my family’s) running year. It’s a race I never want to miss, and with it being my brother’s return to marathon running (after year’s of battling injury) I made sure I would be there again.

On January 1st 2015 I began my 15 in 2015 challenge, where I intended to run 15 marathons for Mind in a calendar year. By the end of the year I had run 18 marathons and I made the decision to keep running and raising money for Mind until my initial fundraising target was met, at the very least. 21 months later and I found myself in Nottingham donning my blue Mind vest for the 30th time.

If Saturday’s marathon was a struggle then I’m not quite sure how to describe the Robin Hood Marathon. Each year the route seems to change slightly and this year was no different. All the elevation for the race seemed to come in the first 6 miles and after 3, increasingly longer climbs any energy my legs still had left from the day before had soon disappeared.

Congested climb up Castle Road

Once again it was a case of a race of two halves, whilst technically the toughest part of the race was the first 13.1 miles, my pace dropped significantly for the last 13 or so miles. When the split came at half way for the Half Marathon runners to finish or for the Marathon runners to continue running it was tough to fight the urge to pull in early. Had it been a training run there was no way I would have continued running, but stubbornness, knowledge that I could go the distance and the significance of the race were the main things that kept me going.

The last 8 miles were very tough and included a lot of stopping and starting. I began to feel nauseous and felt that every step I took was only making me feel worse. Trying to force myself to throw something up didn’t seem to be working, despite trying a couple of times. The last 5 miles slowed to a 12 – 13 minute mile pace, it felt like I was barely moving, runners were passing me and I felt awful, physically and mentally.

robinhood_geese

I didn’t have any plans or targets for the race, simply to listen to my body and run it as comfortably as I could. Finishing in 4:45 wouldn’t have been on any list at the beginning of the race, but when I crossed the line, under the circumstances it felt almost as good as a PB.

With hindsight I should have expected the races to be as tough as they were. Just not doing any exercise for that length of time alone would have made it difficult, that’s without factoring in the fact that getting out of bed most mornings has been a struggle.

Despite being my fourth double marathon, it doesn’t get much easier. The fatigue and general lack of training going into the weekend meant that very early on I was struggling. There was also little I could do to fix it, other than gritting my teeth, getting my head down and using my experience to make those 52 miles as easy as possible.

I had originally intended to release the videos for these two races individually on my YouTube channel, as I have done for the past few races I have run. However anxiety was making me it’s bitch all week and when the day(s) came, social anxiety took over and I froze whenever it was time to talk on camera. I may still piece the videos together as there is a lot of good footage, but I still have plans to use what I filmed.

Today (October 10th) is World Mental Health Day, and it is a time more than ever to focus on raising awareness of depression and the effect it and other mental illnesses have on people’s lives. Later today I will be stepping deep out of my comfort zone and sitting in front of a camera to record my first vlog and to openly discuss my mental health issues, generally as well as my current situation.

World Mental Health Day

The link if you wish to sponsor me and donate towards Mind is https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/15in15, any donations great or small are very gratefully received.

Next up for me now is the Dusk Till Dawn Ultra, which quite frankly I’m cacking myself about. Just incase, after several tough races in a row and training being non existent, I’ve booked the next week off work incase I get stuck on the top of the Peak District.

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