Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Suffering & The Thames Path

It was a frustrating decision not to continue this morning.  After a lovely night spent with Stella and Eugene (Bee's brother and wife) in High Wycombe, I had set an early alarm to get up and see if I could manage to plod around the block to test out my left calf.  Unfortunately the answer was no; walking was painful, let alone running!  So there was my answer; adventure over!

The last 4 days have been great fun.  Well, yesterday less so; having to stop running in a random village, somewhere you don't know, with minimal phone signal and certainly no 3G, by yourself in the rain... not fun!  Fortunately I managed to call Tom to work out where to catch a bus.  I'll re-phrase that!  Day 1-3 have been good fun anyway!

This challenge was always going to be tough.  7 marathons in 7 days?? Ha!  I've enjoyed parts of the trip.  I actually have enjoyed the running, although not the slipping and sliding on mud.  Mostly the aching has been tolerable, and blisters haven't been too bad.

I was really looking forward to the later days, running past Eton, and running through London.  I was also looking forward to finally getting to meet Doug from Orchid, the charity I've been fundraising for.  Unfortunately this one is over for me, but I'm really glad that Bee is continuing on to London, and Pippa will be coming back for the final day as well.

98.4 miles in 3.5 days... that will do for now!

Now to rest and recover.

Looks simple!
Day 1; an early start in Sheffield with Pippa.
Day 1; the source of the Thames

How far???
Day 1; it's raining in Cricklade!
Day 2; starting off in Lechlade with special guest Duncan!

Duncan even stopped to take pics of bridges!  Tadpole bridge.
Day 2; Phew!  It's lunch time!

Day 2; Eynsham Lock at 25 miles, feeling tired!
Day 3; saying goodbye to Pippa after another 29.5miles!
Day 4; Hello Bee!  New company :)
Day 5; Bee goes solo!  Outside Windsor Castle

Day 5; heading home, broken.  Hard not to smile at this though :)
I'll finish quickly by telling you all about Orchid again (in case you've forgotten... sorry!).  Orchid are a cancer charity focusing on male cancers; testicular, penile and prostate.  But I'm a girl; why am I supporting them??  I'm supporting Orchid because last year my Dad had metastatic testicular cancer.  Fortunately he received quick and effective treatment (both surgery and chemotherapy), and is currently doing very well.

Orchid help people like my Dad in a few different ways.  Firstly they offer support services to people like my Dad and their families, providing information and support.  Secondly they aim to increase awareness, running education and awareness campaigns.  If caught early testicular cancer has a significantly better outcome; so "check your chaps".   Thirdly Orchid funds a world-class research programme into male cancers.

I know so many of you have already sponsored me; thank you so so much!  It means so much to raise such a large amount of money for Orchid.  If you have a few pounds to spare and would like to sponsor me you can do so at  Thank you!  I really appreciate it!

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Thames Path Day 4; not so successful...

After a good night's sleep in our B&B it was an early start for breakfast (followed by a quick nap whilst breakfast went down).  We headed out into Goring to a grey day and made our way to the Thames.  After heavy rain overnight we faced waterlogged paths that had already been muddy but were now much worse.

Things started off steady, and my legs seemed to be working ok.  My arches eased and right Achilles pain settled after a bit of stretching. The miles ticked away nicely until Reading at about 9 miles.  From then on things seemed to get worse, and I was really struggling with my left calf.  

We stopped to refuel in Reading, before continuing onwards.  The rest didn't help, and at 13 miles I decided to call it a day.  My run was barely a shuffle and the pain was enough to make me feel sick.  Bee continued onwards, but I hoped on a bus towards High Wycombe, our bed for the night with Bee's relatives.  Bee did great in muddy conditions and rain, making it to Hurley in good time.

We've had a lovely dinner and now I need to do some stretches and see how I feel about continuing in the morning.

Monday, 16 November 2015

The Thames Path Day 3; goodbye and hello!

Day 3 has been another tough one.  No surprise there then!!

29.5miles of mud... An awful lot of mud!  After catching a bus back to Oxford (to yesterday's finishing point) we started running at about 9.30, heading out of Oxford.  It was interesting to run past all the different university boat houses, and see people rowing on the river.  Initially the path was good, but before long it became muddy and treacherous.  It's hard to stay upright when your legs are so sore!

At about 9miles/16km we decided to stop for coffee and cake; rather than one big stop two short ones seemed more preferable.  I was massaging my arches when a man had the cheek to suggest my feet were smelly!  As Pippa pointed out afterwards, he should smell my armpits!!  My socks were clean on today, my top definitely wasn't!

Back to running and the path was definitely less muddy.  We continued to struggle on.  I was feeling painful and wondering again why I was doing this.  I walked a kilometre at 22km, and again at about 30km.  We thankfully had our second break at about 34km (sorry to flit between miles and km, I work in km, Pippa in miles).  Heading back out again, we were all too aware of fast-approaching darkness and we neared the end.  We felt rather hard-done by when the lights we thought were the end turned out not to be.  Cruel!

The last 2km in the dark were tough!  But we made it in Goring, 29.5miles in about 6hr30.  Hard work with the muddy conditions, and being day 3.  Yesterday the map had over-estimated the mileage by 2miles; unfortunately that wasn't the case today!

So that's 84miles done, and 100 to go.  Tomorrow is slightly shorter at 24-25miles.

Pippa has left now to go back to work, but will be returning on Thursday evening to run the final day with us.  Fortunately a fresh dose of positivity has arrived in the form of Bee, so hopefully the next few days will continue to sail by!

It's interesting watching the Thames grow, and seeing all the different birds on and around the river.  I really want to go for a swim but not sure that's a good idea!  I'd only end up even muddier and cold.

That's all for now; thanks for the messages of support; they do help!

And again, if you want to sponsor me to help raise money for Orchid you can at Sorry to keep banging on about it, but it's a great cause!  And I'd love to reach the £3000 mark!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

The Thames Path Day 2; How far???

It's been another tough day along the Thames today.  Day 2... Of 7; it's going to be a long week!!!

This morning started with a good breakfast on our hotel in Lechlade.  Then Duncan, one of my regs, turned up for the day ready to get running.  After going over the map with him and explaining that whilst we were staying in Eynsham, I'd messed the mileage, so we were going to keep going to Oxford (31 miles instead of 25...) and then catch a bus back to our hotel, we got started with a creak or two!

We headed out into the wind, and fortunately had it strongly behind us!  That was a relief!  With dry trainers (that I washed in the shower the night before), we were off!

Thankfully today the rain has stayed away.  We managed to have dry feet all day long despite impressive amounts of slipping and sliding along.  I had hoped Duncan would impress us with his musical prowess (I've heard excellent Disney renditions at work).  Sadly he was too busy trying to run and breath so I broke up into song with a bit of Elton John (yes, I am that cool!)

The miles ticked by comfortably once our aches had eased away and we stopped for lunch at Newbridge, 16 miles into the journey.  In fact Newbridge is the oldest bridge over the river and has some historical importance too; some battle or another fought here many many years ago.

After a sandwich and a drink we were back on our way.  I seemed to have found a new burst of energy and skipped through the fields for a moment or two ("who gave her lemonade??" they said...).  Disappointingly it didn't last long. By the time we reached Eynsham lock at 24 miles (where our day should have ended) my legs were feeling the pain.  Another 5 miles to Oxford had me shuffling in a pretend run (quite similar to my ironman run), before switching to a power walk for the last couple of miles.  A quick call to the husband; my legs hurt; why am I doing this?; I could have had a week off at home with you.  He laughed.

I was relieved to make it to Oxford at 29 miles (rather than the 31 miles on the map; unsure if this is because map distances are inaccurate or because of Pippa's incredible corner-cutting skills; the former I think).  We picked up snacks for tomorrow before hopping on a bus back to Eynsham, to our beds for the night.

I've showered and had a soak in the bath.  Now it's almost time for tea!

So today's thoughts from running...  It hurts!  Why am I actually doing this?  It seemed like a good idea on a night shift.  But then it wouldn't be suffering and worth you sponsoring me if it was easy would it??  Realistically I knew it would be tough, but I like tough.  I like suffering and seeing how far I can push my body.  I don't want to sit around for a week off.  I want to get outside and push myself further and further, away from work, emptying my mind.  I want to live for now.  I can switch off from life for a while, concentrating on the next few metres of ground in front of me, where to put my feet to avoid nettles or brambles or slipping in the mud.

Anyway, that's enough of that for now!  It's time to eat, then sleep!

Tomorrow is another long day at 29 miles (after catching a bus back to where we finished today).  We'll be heading to Goring-on-Thames, at which point I'll say goodbye to Pippa and Bee will join me ready for the next four days.  I've already pre-warned her that I'll be slow!

Just a little reminder that I'm raising money for Orchid, a male cancer charity.  I know it's an expensive time of year with Christmas fast approaching (feels smug inside; shopping all done!) but if you have a pound or two to spare I'd love it if you could sponsor me at to help me get that bit closer to my target of £3000.  Thanks to everyone who already has!

Saturday, 14 November 2015

The Thames Path Day 1; mud, mud, and more mud!!

It's been a wet and muddy today, slipping our way around 24.7miles of the Cotswold countryside, from Kemble to Lechlade.

We had an early start, with a 6.50am train from Sheffield, arriving into Kemble at 10am.  Having read an article in the guardian (see here) about 3 Londoners running the Thames, I was rather apprehensive about finding the source of the Thames, a headstone in the corner of a field.  Fortunately we had no problems; Pippa pointed out that this is likely due to the fact that we aren't those London types!!

There isn't any sign of the Thames at the source, but before long a small stream appeared.  "Is that it?" Pippa exclaimed loudly.  Yep, that's the start of the Thames!  We've followed the Thames on and off through the Cotswold countryside, over many muddy fields and meadows, along bridalways, tracks and small country roads, plus a rather hair-raising 2km along the very busy A631!

We stopped for a quick lunch in Cricklade after 22km, in a quaint local cafe.  After lunch we re-appeared into heavier rain with waterproofs on, ready to face the world and keep running!  The mud certainly slowed us down, slipping and sliding across fields, following the river.  We both chose to wear our road shoes.  I had bought some trail shoes which might have been more preferable, but hadn't done enough mileage yet in them and didn't want to risk sore feet.

We rejoined the Thames just before Lechlade to find the river looking much bigger and muddier now.    I could see the church spire in the distance and knew that our destination for the day wasn't far away! Phew!  As my legs were feeling tired, I was slowing down and my right glut was feeling pretty tight!

We staggered into Lechlade after 4hr 32 of running, much quicker than I'd expected.  It helps that Pippa is faster than me so I just followed behind, just keep on plodding!  I've showered, cleaned some stuff, and stretched.  Now it's time for dinner!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Running The Thames Path; Pleasure or Pain?

It's a grey, drizzly afternoon in Sheffield, and I've climbed back into bed for an unsuccessful afternoon nap.  It's been another tiring week at work, with seven 10-hour late shifts in a row.  Finally I am off!  I am exhausted!

In two days time (well actually one-and-a-half) I'll be heading down to Kemble, a small village in the Cotswolds, to start yet another of my foolish challenges!  Fortunately I have today and tomorrow to rest, and organise a few final bits and pieces.    Hopefully I won't be too tired!

I'm now off for a whole week from work.  I had intended to go and do some relaxing cycling somewhere warm.  But Tall Mark found out that he had to go to the Falklands and couldn't come anymore, and Clare then realised she should probably use her annual leave to go away with her boyfriend (pfft!).  So during a set of A&E nights in August I was looking at different ideas, and chatting to 2 nurses (Pippa and Bee) who are both big runners.  Well it's fair to say running is definitely my weakness in triathlon!  What better way to improve than spend a week running!

After looking at various options, I decided I'd run the Thames Path.  Its 184 miles long, so approximately 7 marathons in 7 days.  Yes it's flat, yes it will not be as interesting as Scotland, but it's November!  Really???  Scotland in November!!!  Have you seen the weather forecast??

Well in fact I have seen the weather forecast, and am all too aware of the fast approaching 'Storm Abigail'.  It's been a mild autumn so far, but it looks like I'll be in for a damp week!

I will be running from Kemble, the source of the Thames, all the way to London, finishing at the Thames Barrier.  I returned to work with my grand idea and a map purchased from a local outdoor shop in a state of night-shift delirium; that was me committed!!  I told Pippa and Bee about my big plan, and was very surprised when they said they would like to come too!  So no more solo-suffering for me!  I've got company!  Pippa will be joining me for day 1 through to 3, and then also coming back to run day 7.  As Pippa leaves, Bee appears to keep me company for the rest of the journey all the way to London.  Duncan (one of my seniors at work) is also making a guest appearance on day 2 as well!

A diagrammatic representation of our week... how hard could it be?? ;)

I'm not sure what to expect with the running.  I know I can keep going when I hurt; I've done that enough times this year already.  Multiple marathons though?  I don't know how my body (my knees in particular) will cope... but I have ibuprofen tablets and gel ready to go.

I'm pretty much sorted now, I just need to pack my bag.  I've written, and then re-written a kit list, and have even practise-packed with Bee!  Here's hoping the weather turns out better than it looks, and our tired bodies can just keep on running!  I'm looking forward to a gin & tonic on the train home next Friday.

I'll be running in my Orchid vest again, hoping to raise a bit more money for Orchid.  Thanks to everyone who has already sponsored me; so far I've raised a massive £2,369!  But I'd love to reach £3000, so please help if you can!  Orchid are a male cancer charity, who aim to raise awareness of, support people with, and carry out research about male cancers; testicular, penile and prostate.

This time last year my Dad was undergoing chemotherapy for metastatic testicular cancer.  He had his last chemotherapy treatment on Christmas eve, and looked rough over Christmas.  It was good news in January when he got the all clear!  In a month's time we go back to hospital to find out the results of his annual CT scan, to check that things are still ok.  As a medic, and as a worried daughter, I'm obviously anxious about this, but hopefully everything will be fine.  

In the meantime, if you want to help make my suffering more worthwhile, and help support Orchid's awesome work, you can sponsor me at  Thank you!

Dad & myself at the end of Cotswold 226