Well, it's been a while. I took a bit of a holiday after Bala and as Summer turned into Winter, so my right shoulder turned into a complete mess. I have blamed the weather at Bala for a lot of it - five hours of only breathing to the right can't have helped matters - but I know myself well enough to know quite a lot has been an RSI flare from far too much tablet and smartphone use. I did very little swim training and even less running in Autumn, despite having booked two 5kms and a 10km (which became 5km). Admittedly they were "fun" runs (does that word ever apply to running?) which involved dressing up at Glow In The Park, Run In The Dark and the Man Utd Santa Run, but I was embarrassingly unfit at this point, struggling with stitch and pain in my Achilles as well as my shoulder. I was not put forward for grading at karate in November, either. To be honest I was relieved as I was definitely underperforming.
By Christmas, despite retraining myself into bilateral breathing whilst doing the 22 miles of the Aspire Challenge, I was virtually locked up and in a great deal of pain. I couldn't raise my arms over my head without stabbing pain in my arm, and I was crying into my goggles before completing a mile. I saw my physio, who started the process of unlocking the culprit - my sternocleidomastoid, which was referring pain all down my arm and linking up to the carpel tunnel inflammation already lurking. A team mate took pity on me and exchanged an acupuncture session for cake, lifting the unbearable constant headaches. I've never been so grateful to be stabbed. A few more sessions of physio and suddenly I was returning to swimming form; able to cope with USWIM's indoor sessions and start thinking about the 2016 season.
I dithered a lot and finally set my sights on Ullswater with the BLDSA, a seven-miler - it seems a logical next step after Bala and before Windermere. I've also decided to do Coniston again, but with BLDSA instead of Chillswim - though I loved the 2014 swim, I hear the event has got quite a lot bigger and I'm not a fan of huge groups. I like having my own kayaker. I've yet to book these or find a 'yakker for Ullswater, but I remain hopeful despite a bit of a flare-up right now caused by wearing a wetsuit at the USWIM opener this weekend. I set a new pool 5km PB recently - finally got it under 2hrs by a whisker! so I'm interested to see how it translates to open water.
In the rush of feeling better in January, I did an utterly stupid thing.
Seriously? I entered not just a half-marathon, but the half-marathon? The one that's so important in the family?
I am an idiot.
But I am taking it seriously. That's a lot of money to throw away on not training! I hope to re-crack 10km and beyond this week - I've got good support, great shoes, better kit, I track with Strava and I have an awesome playlist. I had entered a 10km in Blackpool, but it was cancelled so now I'm having a rematch with Great Manchester at the end of May. I hope that'll help me cope with the noise and hectic atmosphere at Great North, anyhow. I can't say I like running yet, but I am definitely becoming more competent and there are moments when it's quite pleasing. It's still more about sheer stubbornness than anything else, though. And I figure if I can conquer a half marathon I'll be in much better shape for karate. I worry about fitting the training in as I'm also in the middle of finding work, doing other work and selling the house, but I will just have to suck it up and get on with it.
Last but definitely not least, I finally figured out heian godan, pulled my head out of my arse and took my purple/white (4th kyu) grading along with Eldest last month. In all honesty I do think it was less punishing than the last one I watched, but I think my fitness has also improved so I was better able to pace myself. I was pretty satisfied with the technical aspects but I'm well aware my sparring needs a lot of work before I'm ready for brown belt. I'm hoping to take that towards the end of the year.
I don't do enough yoga and I haven't kayaked for ages. These things make me sad. On the happy side Eldest represented her school in the local swimming gala and both girls are going great at karate. We've booked Iron Kids again and I'm doing a whole weekend's kayak escort at Bala, too. So lots coming up - but I will be keeping my monthly date with the physio, that's for sure!