I’m still a runner…..just with a broken leg

I was debating for few weeks if I should write about breaking my leg and not being able to run! I mean what really is there to write. Leg is broken, in a cast for few weeks. Once in pink then in blue and then back to pink again! And what comes with that, is me, fed up, upset, disappointed and most of all heartbroken runner!

But as weeks go by, I am more and more convinced that I should let go of all those emotions and thoughts and make some use of it! I want to share it. Even if only with my own future self.

So it all happened 5 weeks ago. I was in A&E looking at an x-ray photo and hearing a doctor saying “I’m sorry you have a fracture of the fibular”. And then there was another shock, 6 weeks in plaster with no weight bearing! I was given crutches and I was send home!

So how does one feel at that moment? I think I felt like something has died inside me. It was 3 weeks away from my race which I trained for for months, I was moving home in a week and starting new job in two. I mean the timing is never right but surely that was like the worst it could have been, right?Right?

Anyway in a space of few weeks I went through many emotional stages, sometimes I visited each more than once:

First it was a denial:

It’s not broken, it is just a dream and I will wake up from this nightmare any minute. I think its fair to say that this stage died the fastest. Within couple of days I knew its not a dream and on a top of plastered leg, bruises on my hands were continuous reminder of that!

Then came anger:

Why me, why now! I hate myself, I hate my body and those weak bones that had to break. Why people can train for years with no injuries and I continuously am in pain and now I am BROKEN! I was upset with how it happened,  where it happened and I was upset with people who were saying, that its my body telling me to slow down. I mean what?? I have’t even started yet. Why should I slow down or stop now? Those feelings come and go for 5 weeks now. They rarely stay with me for too long but I still have a moments when I am boiling with anger. I learn to control it but didn’t manage to get rid of it just yet.

After that the worst feeling of all: Depression

I am never gonna be the same again. I will never be as fit and I will never reach my goals. What is the point. By the time I will be fit again something else will happen, as it always does. Is there even a point in trying? Hoping? Dreaming?

Those are my dark moments and I rarely talk to anyone about them. Maybe I am a little ashamed of having them? Maybe I don’t want to show my weakness…….

And then there is the good feeling, a feeling of acceptance

Ok so this is not ideal situation! No one wants to have a broken limb but people do, everyday and I just need to deal with it. I will be out off cast soon, then physio will start and I will be running in no time. I will be strong again and the wait will be worth it! I just need to learn to be patient. If I do everything right, I will be back on track.

I try to hold on to those days! I like them, I feel strong and I feel happy. But I know sometimes the bad will come back. And I will be standing in front of my mirror feeling rubbish again. Close to tears seeing no light at the end of the tunnel. I know, I am being crazy and making things worse than they actually are. I mean, I know that I will be running again and it isn’t all that bad! But in my head I’m panicking and looking for reassurance, looking to pass those feeling to someone else, because being strong is hard work and I feel exhausted.

With all those mixed emotions sometimes I find it difficult to stay in touch with the fabulous world of running. I have days when I don’t even look at social media because, and its not easy to admit, I am simply jealous of how other’s training going. I find it hard to see the finish lines, medals and those happy smiley faces of my running friends, when I am stuck on sofa with yet another box of ice cream. I hate those moments, and I hate myself for having them. And I work really hard to not let them ruin my running spirit. I force myself to go to events, talk to people who run, race and train. Read their posts and give advice, kudos and words of encouragement. I try to stay true to who I really am because once the pink cover is off I will be back and this injury will be just a distant memory. And what will be left, is me….a runner!

UkRunChat Running Weekend in Eastbourne June 2015

I was waiting for this weekend with a lot of anticipation and a little fear. I spoke to most of participants on tweeter, some I could call my twitter friends. But it would be first time when we meet in person. Would we get along, would we have enough to talk about? And then I realised, we are all passionate runners, silence shouldn’t be a problem at all…
We arrived to Eastborne in an early Friday evening and once unpacked we headed Welcometo a pub for dinner. Great start as food was delicious and we all chatted about our journey and what the weekend might bring. The evening gone fast and because next day we had lots of running to do, we all went to bed pretty quickly.
We woke up on Saturday bright and early and after some light breakfast we made our way to a Eastbourne ParkRun. I was excited as it was my first time. I heard so many things about park run and finally I was to run it! I was aiming for a PB too, was training hard to beat my sub 25min 5k so I was extra happy to learn that they had pacers running that weekend. I kept Eastbourne ParkRunvery close to sub 24min pacer and didn’t let go to the end! It was a great run, hard and challenging at times but having someone run with you, definitely made it easier. I finished as first lady in my age group and 8th overall with lovely sub 24min finish!
But this wasn’t the end of my running that morning. Karen, who lives in Eastbourne, guided our 10 mile run back on the bike. Myself Sherie, David and Annabeth set off to a beautiful run along the seafront back to hostel. Others went back by a car to get the breakfast ready!
In the afternoon we had some relax time and then we were welcomed by local Kundalini yoga teacher. It was hard session, I do find it difficult to relax and focus on my breathing. The poses were a challenge, not only for me but the feeling after,  was indeed, very special. Chanting and meditation session followed soon after. I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed chanting and how blissfully calm I felt afterwards.
Once the hard work was done, it was the bake off time. I was very lucky to be on the judging panel. Cakes, cupcakes and cookies were all amazing and it was hard job to pick a winner….but vegan cake done it!
After way too much cake we headed to a local park for some mindful running techniques. Annabeth showed us different tool to help improve our running and stay focused when the going gets tough. I was pleased that those tips I could use as soon as on our long Sunday run.
After day filled with running, chanting, meditating and cake eating we relaxed with a glass of wine before disappearing to our beds for much needed sleep.
We woke up on Sunday morning to yet another beautiful day. Before packing we all went for 6 mile trail run on the stunning South Downs Way. Karen led our way as we enjoyed the views. It was lovely to run on trails, and I think everyone’s legs South Downsthank us for the soft cushioning.  In no time we were back on the train, heading for London. Another great weekend was over. Till the next time. Because I realised, that this is why being a runner is so great. The passion for the sport, connects you not only with the nature but also with fabulous people. And those won’t disappear, there is always going to be someone willing to pack a bag and head for the trails…

South Downs- Run Fast Training weekend February 2015

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the weekend away with Run Fast team, in fact I was a bit scared that I might not be good enough or fast enough. I didn’t have to worry at all.

The weekend was organised fantastically well. Tom, one of the managers and fantastic runner not only shared his running tips with everyone, but also cooked traditional Kenyan dinner for us all…..and it was good! He was always happy to answer never ending questions about running, gear, training, nutrition and being fast, really fast. Peter the founder of Run Fast team was very supportive and made sure each one of our needs were met and accommodated.

On Saturday morning we woke up at 6am and headed for the downs. It was glorious morning, sun was shining and the crisp fresh air was all around us. Slow jog of about 3km took us to lovely hills just at the bottom of seven sisters. The hills didn’t look too bad, but soon I realized that those were not to be underestimated. We had hard hill session on beautiful South Downs hills. Pete took plenty of time to teach us the best way to run up and down the hills and those tips I use ever since. I learnt not to be scared of the hills and if I only approach them with an open mind I will learn to love them. I am still waiting for this day to come…..but lose no hope, it will, eventually!

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We run back taking the Beachy Head marathon route. It was tough after the hill session, but stunning views kept us all going….and the thought of breakfast kept us going even faster. Food was great, and as Tom says you can eat peanut butter with everything….porridge, shake, toast! And boy it was good!

After our bellies got full we had some time for ourselves and we just talked, laughed and started to get to know each other.

In the afternoon we had a visit from Noel Thatcher and Scott Newton. Both great runners and physiotherapists gave  a great presentation on why we get injured and how to deal with injuries. Something I think every runner had to deal with at some point. Their input was fantastic and we had plenty of time to ask them any questions that we normally wouldn’t have a chance to.

In the evening we went for another run, to loosen up our legs…..well it felt more like another hill session but with the views to die for it was 100% worth it. Running to the sunset on the Downs was amazing experience. We all kept together, waiting for one another and by this point I knew I made some great friends for more than just a weekend.

On Sunday morning we all headed for Seven Sister’s route. We could run as much or as little depending on our own abilities. The route even though tough was very pretty. English countryside steals your heart. You cannot help but keep going. Every time I thought I can’t run any more, my soul was screaming, few more steps, just look how wonderful this is, don’t stop, keep going. And I did, just a little bit more.

The South Downs is amazing place with breath taking views and I could not be happier than spending whole weekend there. But it wasn’t only about running. I met lovely people, who are equally passionate about the sport and trails. We talked for hours about our experiences, races and future goals. We discussed the challenges of work commitments and running schedules, we shared our thoughts on nutrition and cross training. We were like little family and months later I am still keeping in touch with most of them. The weekend taught me that running is not a lonely sport, we are great community where one looks out for another. This was one of the best running weekends I’ve ever been too. I met amazing people and I run on one of the most beautiful English trails. I look forward to other weekends away, with more running, more food and more fabulous runners.

Peak District Weekend November 2014

My friend asked me “Do you fancy going away? Maybe some little adventure?” After amazing trip to Ireland I was hungry for more so of course I said yes without even thinking about the technicalities of time, place and cost. Going away is what I needed so we started to plan.

It was my friend who made the final decision of going to Peak District. I will have to be honest here saying that the idea of the place did not gave me the thrill I was looking for. I went there once before and it was great place but I wasn’t as excited this time. Nevertheless, before we knew it, we were on the train to Hope. We arrived late afternoon to peach black, cold and wet middle of nowhere. Yes, my friend told me to get my waterproofs…..you will need them more than ever. Glad I listened. Anyway a little, or if we are talking about that evening, a lot of rain wouldn’t ruin our weekend.

Then we met our landlords

Passing by MAM Farm

Passing by MAM Farm
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. And what is it with everyone up north? Do they teach them politeness at school? Or is it us in London that are just too busy to even say hello to one another? I think we are missing out a lot. Gary, our landlord for the weekend, was simply amazing. Funny and could cook. His scramble eggs were amazing. Or maybe its because his hens were happy too? That evening he drove us to town…pointed us to pubs where we could find people of our age and spoke to managers to look after us. And of course they did. 5* service all around Castleton.

Next morning we were ready for our adventure. We needed to get to Edale to start our way up the pennine way. We decided to walk. About 10 minutes later we were in the middle of the fields deep in the mud. Looking at the map back in the B&B we thought it will take only about an hour to get to Edale. Of course neither of us could actually read a map so no wonder that two hours later we nearly gave up of ever finding our starting point. Do I wish I took a car? No, not really. The way between Castleton and Edale is simply amazing. We passed the famous Mom Tor which is beautiful and we came across what I can only say insane bikers who challenge themselves riding up the hill so steep that I got pain in my legs by just looking at them. I laughed at one of them that they must be crazy to be doing it to themselves and had to know why? He said that the ride down is worth the pain and I should try and then I would know. Lets just say I took his word for it and not planning on actually checking it out. Haven’t lost my mind just yet.

So off we walked some more and when we nearly lost hope of ever finding the place there it was the ever so beautiful sign of Edale. Whop whop I thought as the idea of being lost again wasn’t as appealing

Got there at last

Got there at last
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. We walked through some houses and reached the fields. I have to admit I was a bit confused. There was no shops no pennine way signs no nothing! So we kept walking eventually finding the sign to train station. We made it. Edale was very small village with couple of pubs and a shop and that’s it. But hey I wasn’t there for the pubs and shops, well not until later, later I was all for the pubs!! But at this time I wanted to see the beauty, the birds, the nature and some challenge. After stocking up in the shop we headed up. It wasn’t more than few minutes walk before I knew I was in the right place at the right time. It was sunny November day. Colours of the trees, flowers and bushes were in full variety of reds, orange yellows and greens and the mix was just mind blowing. What I enjoyed the most was the silence…..being in London you don’t even realise how much noise you take all day. This silent natural world, ever so beautiful was a lot to take. It was taking over my body and I could feel how all my senses starting to work overtime to take it all in.

The walk was amazing and challenging as it was raining a lot. The stream turned into more of a river and we had to think hard how to cross it. And then the rain came! I looked at Miriam and we just laughed. We loved it. I had Goosebumps on my skin not from cold but from the excitement. I felt I was starting to belong to this beautiful place.

Finally under way

Finally under way
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It was again like walking around my own home garden. We walked faster and eventually I started to run. I loved every step, every stone and just kept running higher and higher until I was on the top. The views were breath-taking. And just when Miriam joined me the sun broke free from behind the clouds and we both stood in ave of such an amazing view that no words could describe it! The wind and cold didn’t matter we were taking everything that was around us with biggest smiles on our faces. Untill we actually got really cold and decided that maybe its time to start walking back unless we want to stay and freeze.

The journey back was even more challenging. We didn’t thought that if we got up the mountain we will have to come back down. My face when someone pointed the way down to me had nothing but pure disbelieve. How can we go down such a steep way. I thought there will have to be another way. But there wasn’t. And then a group of guys passed us. We followed them laughing that we will have to keep close just in case we would need their help. Which we did couple of times. We had to keep brave face so we don’t look like total city wimps but what was going on inside of me was totally different story. We got back to Edale just as it got dark. And an offer of going to a pub was not the one we could say no to.

It was perfect cosy place with real fires and great company. I can honestly say that when I was sitting there after the day of walking I really felt happiest. The simplicity of this beautiful walk was what I missed and what I want to experience more and more. That is the life I see myself having! Eventually, one day…..simple, slow and ever so beautiful.

Yes we were thereCrossing was a bit of a challengeMade it to the topViews from the topAnd here comes the sunCastleton was ready for ChristmasMore sun!! More amazing viewsAt the top of the Mom Tor

The Black Peak January 2015

This wasn’t how I planned it. And because of that I was scared. I like to be in control of the situation and this time it was not meant to be. Of course I could just return tickets and stay home but why would I do that? Instead I came to Peak District trying to make the most of what was in front of me and do the only thing I felt comfortable doing – run!

The morning was glorious, sun shining and a little snow left from night before covering the paths and trees. Marcia sorted me out with great breakfast as I packed my bag. I started down the easy Longdendale trail which followed the route along reservoir paths under the slopes of Bleaklow and Black Hill. The valley was following old Woodhead railway and it was stunning. I’ve cut this trail short as I really wanted to follow the Pennine Way towards the Black Hill. The run was great and easy. I was about 5 miles in and felt great. I’ve turned towards the hills and soon could feel the beginning of the incline, had to slow down but kept running

Beautiful start of my run

Beautiful start of my run
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. With the total elevation of nearly 600 meters I knew it was just matter of time when I would have to walk. The climb was demanding but I loved the challenge and was very proud I could follow the map. I have studied this map the night before….looked pretty straight forward. However what map didn’t tell me was once you move passed the Laddow Rocks the way towards the summit can be very boggy after the rain. But what I found most challenging was actually the snow. It covered pretty much the whole trail and of course it looked beautiful but the problem was I could not see what was underneath it. I was still confident, smiling, humming songs, taking pictures, running…. until I slipped. I lost my balance and couldn’t regain it. I went flying down the rocks, desperately trying to catch on to something. It was painful. My bum hurt, I got drenched straight away and lost my cool, just a little. It could have been worse, at least I didn’t break any bones. So I carried on. However, this was only beginning of the troubles. I kept falling into half frozen puddles of mud which hurt. My feet were getting colder and colder and I had to carry on running just to keep myself warm. And that was when the snow started to fall. A lot of snow.

About half an hour later I got to the summit. Result I thought to myself. I stood by the stone and decided I had to change my clothes. You know nice and dry for the journey back

Nearly at the summit of Black Hill

Nearly at the summit of Black Hill

. Trust me it was not easy or pleasant. I couldn’t even undo my shoe laces and to try to change your socks….painful. But felt so good when I’ve done it. By that point the snow was coming down hard. To get down I needed to take Western Moss route and definitely not to follow the TV mast. But the trouble was I could not see anything, no trail and no mast. I started to follow of what seemed like a trail toward the Cromwell. Unfortunately it wasn’t the trail. After some time I ended up in the middle of open land, no trail to see, hail hurting my face and more and more water and mud under my feet. I kept walking, the weather was getting worse and worse. I would be lying if I’d say I wasn’t scared but I had to keep it together as I knew once I panic it will be the end. I switched on my gps on the phone and luckily found the signal. This confirmed I was heading the right way. I got down to a valley with a stream and had to cross it. I knew it will be slippery so took every care slowly moving on the stones and reaching towards branch for balance….and still fell in. It was freezing cold. I don’t even know what I was feeling or thinking at this time. Tears just run down my cheeks and I’ve lots all the energy and strength to carry on. And if that wouldn’t be enough the lightning brighten the sky and soon after the thunder broke the silence. This is when I lost hope of ever getting back to safety or even hope of anyone ever finding me.  I screamed with anger, swore few more words that I’d like to admit to and cursed all people who needed cursing

Caught in the snow storm

Caught in the snow storm

. I could feel myself going into panic mode, my brain switching off. So I took my phone out and texted the only person I knew in Peak. I think, Ben, without even knowing was my saviour, he told me to follow where sun is as it will be where I need to get to. And I don’t really know how but just then clouds split a little and few streams of sun were shining at me. I regained my strength knowing that someone  knows of my problems and started to run again. It took another hour of more mud and hail but as long as I could see the light I wouldn’t stop.

Then I saw a trail and I saw the sign. I don’t think I’ve ever felt happier. And it’s only then I felt hungry, I took my flapjacks and ate them all while running back to B&B. When I walked through the door, Marcia looked at me and said “Oh dear God, go get the shower, I’ll put the kettle on”. I didn’t even reply….

It was very emotional day. But I now think it meant to be. Only now I can tell that Peak District, or any mountain large or small, will have my full respect it truly deserves and so will English winter. But Peak District will have a bit of my heart too, as only now I know it is a place like no other.

Not entirely aloneNo trail, no where to goWhen I found the way backOn my way upA little sun came outValley on the Longdendale trailStunning reservoir

Ireland! The Green Land August 2014

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I knew I will like it! I mean come on I watched endless Irish videos on what to see, where to eat, where to go and what to do. I even downloaded Irish music on spotify (ok, I have not listened to it once yet but I do have it just in case) I learnt a lot, and I liked what I’ve learnt!This was my first trip to Ireland, and this was my first trip alone, ever! I had to be prepared!

I arrived to Shannon just after 10 am, got car few minutes later and was on the road before 11…so far so good. Until I left motorway and hit the REAL roads of Ireland. I had no GPS so had to do the old fashioned way and read the map, read the signs and do it all while driving! Easy?…not at all! Driving in Ireland must have been the best and the worst experience ever. If you are good driver and confident one you will absolutely love it! I was just scared. But I had a car, I wanted to see all places I’ve circled on my map so I had to suck it up and learn to love it! Of course I  upset few drivers on my way. At the end of the day who would want to be stuck behind someone that is going about 40km slower than they supposed to. But hey, at least I was moving! It only took me a day to build my confidence up and next morning I was driving happily, singing (badly, and few of my friends will know that’s true) to One Direction newest song on the top of my voice, speeding through various turns, twists and bumps while exploring beautiful coastline of co. Clare, Burren and Connemara. And boy the views were getting better and better with every turn! I really was starting to Love it!!

20140826_154500I was staying in lovely village called Ballyvaughan…very charming place with couple of shops and few pubs! I decided to go for a walk around the town. And its so true what they say about Irish people, they are very friendly bunch and will want to to know you as soon as possible. Within few minutes instead of my walk around village I ended up in a car with couple of ladies who dared me to walk the Burren hills (only if my fitness level allows, they questioned). They were not easily convinced that I in fact can walk for more than an hour and just said will see when you get back. That was it. I had to prove them wrong.

What I did not consider even for a second was not the fact that walking could be hard, it was in fact ok, but the20140826_120519 area I knew nothing about. I was lost for the first time (overall couple more times) after about two hours, I have not met single person, or even an animal for that matter! So I just kept walking. It took another hour before I saw few cows (surely that must be a good sign -I thought to myself), however it wasn’t until two hours later when I managed to come across some people. At that point I was hungry and very very tired! My shoes were hurting my feet, and frankly I just wanted to cry. And then I saw it. The 20140826_144158sign for the Ailwee Caves and cheese shop. I was so happy….they had cheese there, it meant that I wasn’t hungry for much longer! And if you ever have a chance to visit you have to try the piri piri cheese, so creamy tasting! It was like eating little bits of heaven. Five hours later I was back at my B&B and both ladies welcomed me grinning. I never admitted that I was lost. I lied, lied that I went to see caves and had lunch in there and that’s why it took me so long to get back. I don’t think they believed me but they just smiled and said they happy to see me back….

What was great for me as single traveller was the fact that people are very nosey and want to know what up to. That was my fear before I went away.The fear of not having anyone to talk to! Unnecessary, now I know. You sit at the bar and the locals will be very interested in everything you do. I met some wonderful people while drinking Guinness and listening to live traditional Irish music. Those evenings were my favourite. I loved listening to Irish stories (well as much as I could understand their strong Irish accent) and just having a laugh. They made me feel at home, like I belonged. I was part of their little community even if it was just for few days!  20140827_073531

I drove up and down Western Ireland from Ennis and Doolin, through Burren, Galway all the way to Roundstone finishing at Clifden. The towns are small and it only takes few minutes to walk them…but they are charming and have that amazing feel good factor. Whenever you stop, you find some amazing views, funny looking buildings covered in pastel paints. Pubs are very traditional, and all have amazing soups with home made soda breads (which are to die for). The landscape when you drive from one town to another are just amazing. The smell of flowers, herbs mixed with green grass and ocean are indescribable! You just have to be there and try to take it all in….again and again as there is nothing quite like that! Pure nature….nothing else!

For my last day in Ireland I have left a little tourist treat for myself. The Cliffs of Moher. They are known to be 20140829_114745Ireland’s most visited natural attraction. So my expectations were high! I arrived there around midday. Walked up passing the visitors centre and my heart has dropped. I remember the feeling of sadness….where are they??? The fog was so thick it actually covered the whole of the cliffs. So that was it. My cherry on a top of the ice cream was covered by the thick layer of the whipped cream ( and I am not big fan of whipped cream). I had two options, one  was to walk the cliffs anyway without actually seeing them and two turn around, and just accept that it was not meant to be. I think forever I will be grateful that I decided to walk. The fog has dropped eventually and when it did, what I saw was just magical. It captured my heart and I am more than sure it will hold it for really long time!20140829_120823

My trip was over…I have fast found myself at Shannon airport drinking my last pint of Guinness. Then I realised that not for once I did feel alone. I suppose Ireland is like a mother, that takes you in her arms and is protecting you with everything it has…the green grass, the beautiful flowers, brightest stars and friendliest people….I wasn’t alone. Not even for a minute because I was home.