Continuing on from my trip to North Wales recap…I’d planned to run 18 miles on the Sunday. My grandad, the legend that he is, had said he’d cycle alongside me while I ran.
Before the trip I previously asked his advice on where to find a good running route for the 18 miles I needed to run and he came back with a fantastic route (below) that was comparable to the Boston marathon elevation. My grandfather is truly inspiring. He’s 83 years old and used to be a mountain climber and mountain guide, but is still very active cycling, playing golf or walking most days. One of his most exciting jobs back in the day was taking 40 SAS men out to whittle them down to the 10 best leaders during a gruelling week’s worth of outdoor activities and traversing the 15 peaks of North Wales (which my grandad did in just one minute over nine hours!).
So my grandad is in great shape and knows his stuff when it comes to being outdoors. On Sunday morning I joined my family for breakfast while they all had normal stuff while I munched on a tasty, albeit rather sad, Trek bar and black coffee.
I would have much preferred a hot bowl of porridge but that would have meant getting up a lot earlier to allow it to digest. After quite a big meal the night before I was happy enough to settle for something small instead and get more sleep.
Ginny, my step-gran, was quite worried about my grandad going out with me as it was very cold and windy but my grandad had his plan and felt confident. He had on lots of layers (as he’d be cycling alongside me at my running pace, so fairly slowly as a cycling pace) and a rucksack with snacks, drinks and First Aid.
Ginny drove us up to to our starting point at the Great Orme and we got ourselves together.
I did my warm-up routine (leg swings and lunges etc.) while I was waiting and then decided to hop back into the car as it was very cold and windy at this elevation.
My grandad had sent me the route before the weekend and had talked it through with me, but I was still a little nervous in case I got lost if he decided to speed on ahead or turn back because of the cold. He said once we saw the sea though it was really straight forward: keep the sea on my left and continue along the path all the way to 18 miles. Even I can handle that!
We set off straight away with a fairly steep downhill for the first couple of miles. This is very similar to Boston so was a good test for me to hold myself back and not go crazy burning myself out for the following miles.
I took it nice and gentle and my grandad chatted away to me. It was really nice having the company. My grandad remarked that he was like a boxing coach cycling with me! It did seem like that way – he was able to chat away quite easily and though I could talk too it was harder for me than him. The wind though was tough going and we soon realised it would be against us the entire way.
Despite the cold wind, the views coming down the Great Orme were fantastic. It’s such a beautiful part of Britain I can’t believe more people don’t come here. Llandudno is somewhat touristy but not as much as it deserves considering all the natural beauty it has to offer.
After the first couple of miles I started feeling a bit of discomfort in my left foot, just under the arch. It felt like something was sticking in to my foot or that my trainer wasn’t hugely comfortable. As it wasn’t painful I just ignored it, thinking of stopping at some point to maybe have a fiddle and readjust.
We got to the Llandudno promenade and the wind was really tough going now. My pace was forced to slow. My grandad said he was going to make sure he wasn’t drafting me as that would be unfair training… I value that now but at the time in the thick of the wind I didn’t appreciate this When training is hard it means racing is easier!
Anyway, the wind slowed my grandad down and he dropped behind me. It’s harder to cycle into the wind than to run due to the surface area and weight I guess. I just wanted to get off the direct seafront as quickly as possible so powered on. As soon as I reached the end of the prom though I reached a hill. It was tough going! As my grandad was a distance behind I decided to take the time to check my foot out. I stopped and took my trainer off, fiddled around, felt my foot (slight niggle spot where it felt like it had been rubbing) and then put it back on and retied it back up slightly looser.
The niggle disappeared for a bit so I felt a bit happier. My grandad caught me back up and we carried on along another part of the seafront, again against the wind, but at least back on the flat.
Ginny appeared occasionally alongside us in the car to check how my grandad was doing – which was very sweet but I think exasperated my grandad a little. He’s very driven, so when he plans to do something he gives it his all to complete it.
The miles ticked by. The foot niggle reappeared and I started to worry. It was annoying me and I couldn’t seem to shake it. Eventually my grandad called it a day with cycling as the wind was so relentless and Ginny was persistent that he’d get cold cycling so slowly alongside me. I think he stopped around 10 miles. Ginny had stopped ahead and we could see the boot was open, basically her saying, “End of the road. Time to stop”. Hehe. In the distance I could see where I was heading (Rhyl) as the route just wrapped along the seafront so I was in no danger of getting lost. But now that I was alone I felt the demons come into my head.
This foot niggle… what was it? Was it serious? Was I making it worse running? Should I try and get to the end regardless? Would my grandparents think I failed?
After a mile of umm’ing and arr’ing I decided that the best thing to do was stop. The niggle wasn’t going away and 7-8 more miles of running on it wouldn’t help at all and could compromise later weeks of training. I rang my grandparents and they said they’d meet me at the next car park as I was now on an enclosed cycle/walkway away from the road. When I got there I sat down, took my trainer off and poked and prodded. Hmm, very tender and painful if I poked hard.
A man started walking over to me, quickly saying “don’t worry, I’m not trying to chat you up! I think I know what’s happening here though”. He looked vaguely familiar. “Running injury?” he asked. I nodded sadly. “I’ve been there many times! I’m a past runner too.”
He gave me some solid advice about icing and elevating. He also kindly offered me a phone or a lift but I assured him I had people coming for me. I asked about his running and he said he doesn’t run as much anymore now he was a bit older but he likes to stay involved through race photography. Ah ha! I knew where I’d seen him before. I mentioned that I ran Conwy parkrun the day before and he smiled and said he’d been the photographer there. What a small world! It was lovely to chat to him.
Then my grandparents picked me up. I felt like a huge failure and had a huge amount of disappointment for not completing the entire 18 miles. My grandad was frustrated too as he had wanted a good cycle as well but found the wind just too much in the end.
I managed 12 miles in the end (8.38min/mile pace) which were tough in the wind and mentally tough with all the injury fears flowing through my mind. I’m actually quite grateful for the wind because I think if it had been a perfectly still day my choice for stopping might not have happened as soon, if at all. The wind had mentally drained me and not having my grandad alongside me wasn’t as fun.
I know I did the right thing stopping. I don’t believe I have an injury, I reckon it’s a niggle that might take a few days or possibly a week of rest to calm down (FINGER’S CROSSED). I wasn’t limping at the end, my gait wasn’t changed, it just felt like something had kept battering against a certain spot in my foot for too long. And today (Wednesday) it feels much better, still not 100% but barely noticeable.
I wore a different pair of trainers for this run. I’m so annoyed at myself. I saw on Strava that my older Brooks had only been worn just over 100 miles and I thought, to save money, I should wear them out a bit before having to buy new trainers. I forgot that they were my gym shoes for a long time and that there was probably a reason I no longer ran in them. What an idiot. Though I don’t know for sure if it was the trainers it’s the only thing I can think of as it’s sort of out of the blue. Perhaps the steep downhill at the start aggravated something? Who knows! What I do know is I’ve purchased a new pair of trainers that I trust.
Ahh well, as per usual injury prone Anna picks up a niggle. But on the plus side, it’s a small niggle (I’m confident but not certain…) and I have about nine weeks until Boston so it’s not panic stations yet
Anyway, the run, despite not ending as I wanted and being tough with the wind, was a fantastic experience. Running with my grandad was great and 12 miles is still a good distance. I also felt like I could have gone on and on (which is another frustration that it was just my foot letting me down rather than anything else). The scenery was beautiful and I enjoyed it. So not a fail at all!
Importantly, it didn’t take away from the enjoyable and fun weekend I had with my family anyway!
Have you ever run with someone who was on a bike?
Have you ever had a foot issue before?
Do you enjoy spending time with your grandparents?