Jekyll and Hyde

I know I should be working and not writing this, but I can’t concentrate. Why can’t I concentrate? Because I’m sitting upright. I know, strange right? Usually, you can find me hunched over my desk or slumped in my chair, butt glued firmly in a non-running friendly pose. So you’re sitting upright and now you can’t concentrate. What’s the correlation? The correlation has something to do with a young lady who, at first glance seems kind and serene, but is, upon closer inspection, a sadistic slave master who delights in other’s suffering. I’ll tell you how I came to know this Dr Jekyll and Miss Hyde person.
You’ll remember that I’m injured. I know, I’m always injured. But seriously. I’m injured. Injured to the point of not being able to walk down stairs or bend down to pick up my grandson or anything normal people with normal knees are able to do. And what have I been doing about this injury? Well I’m running less. I’m walking instead of running, but I’m not walking with any amount of commitment or enthusiasm. And I’m complaining a lot. My colleague told me to go get my injury sorted because I was a grump as a result of not running.  I think Illuminati Michelle got tired of my complaining and she scheduled a course for her and I and a few others with a biokineticist. She’s recently had hamstring issues and has also been walking…a lot so the course would be good for both of us. If the truth be told, I think she just gets a kick out of seeing me suffer.
In parallel to this, I went to see Francis, my other physio. She sent me for x-rays and it turns out I’m old and there are signs that I’m getting osteo arthritis. Can you believe that? How disgusting! If that weren’t enough, I noticed that my eyesight was blurry when I was reading something on my phone on the weekend. How could this be happening to me? Francis gave me an exercise that is so difficult to do, I wept when I attempted them in her rooms. She stopped only marginally short of telling me to stop whining like a Stuart Hodge  drama student.  Since then, I’ve been weeping without an audience every night in my bedroom while attempting these awful exercises.
Illuminati Michelle set up the course for Monday mornings at 6am and Friday afternoons at 5.30pm. Well that’s how my brain heard it anyway. So on Thursday evening, I packed my bags for the next day very excited to be attending my first biokinetics class the next afternoon. I was tired so I went to bed early and thought I could get a good night’s rest in and get to work early. I set my alarm for 5am, all set to get to work early. I snoozed it. And I snoozed it again. I snoozed my second alarm too. And I snoozed that a second time too. And then my phone rang. I work in the type of job that might attract a 5.38ish phone call and so I sat up and answered the phone trying to sound coherent.
Hello. It’s Brenda speaking.
The voice on the other end whispered, Brenda where are you?
I beg your pardon?
Where are you? You have class.
Who is this?
It’s Michelle.
What class?
But that’s only tonight?
No. It’s now.
But you told me 5.30pm.
No. It’s 5.30am.
……………long pause. Okay, well start without me. I’m on my way.
I got dressed (In the clothes that were packed in the bag) and made it to class which is normally 15 minutes away from my house in the space of 10 minutes. I walked in to the class, still asleep, greeted everyone embarrassed and sat down and started doing whatever I was told to do. The nice lady on the mat next to me was trying to help, but I was so fast asleep and my being untimely plucked from my slumber, was starting to manifest as irritation. My self-preservation lobe in my brain was not yet awake and so I simply did whatever I was told. I smiled politely at everyone when I left and went back home to shower and start the day over. About 15 minutes into my drive to work, I woke up. I woke up and realized that my abs were on fire. In fact, I had difficulty even reaching for my gear lever. Oh my word!! What had I just done to myself?
The rest of the weekend I spent feeling like I was strapped into a corset of Elizabethan proportions. I couldn’t cough. I couldn’t bend. I couldn’t stabilize myself in a vehicle without groaning. I sneezed and yelped only 4 times. After that I determined I should simply stop breathing through my nose so that I wouldn’t sneeze. The amount of pain I was in, I fully expected to see a chiseled 6 pack of bricks staring back at me from the mirror. Alas, a 6 pack of muffins is still attached to my abdomen, reminding me of how far I have to go.
And now it’s Monday and 6am has come and gone and I’ve experienced Fatima in all her Jekyll and Hydeishness. And this time, sadly, I was fully conscious. She laughed at least 3 times at my suffering. Thankfully, Illuminati Michelle was also in pain. After one of the exercises, Michelle asked, “What muscle is this supposed to be working, because everything’s on fire?” Fatima Hyde laughed at that. Fatima Jekyll asked “Are you okay?” several times, but I got that feeling she was only asking that because of some kind of professional legal obligation rather than having any sort of compassion for my pallid complexion and my watering eyes. I became a clock watcher. I couldn’t wait for 6.45 to appear on the clock. This was torture. I’ve been punched in the ribs and I’m sure my spine is bruised. A rabid dog has taken a bite out of my right butt and there is a furnace smoldering in both my calf muscles. I’m not entirely sure if I’m starving hungry or if this is just a muscle that is attempting to leave my abdomen.
Friday is coming and I don’t think I can face this. I may accidentally amputate my toe so that I don’t have to face Jekyll and Hyde again on Friday.  I have, however, been able to walk down stairs today without pain for the first time in about 3 months. I am sitting upright without much effort and I can feel that I’m standing up straighter. Nice. This Jekyll and Hyde thing might be working. All the complaining wasn’t. So maybe I’ll just brave it one more time on Friday and then stop torturing myself.
Yours in the love of ……look, I’m struggling to find the joy in this, but I’m sure its coming. I’m liking going down stairs at least.

Slow Coach.


What’s a Girl to Wear On a Bridge too Far?

I’ve decided to run the Comrades Marathon in a fabulous pair of silver heels which I originally bought for my sister, Melissa’s 40th birthday party. They fit me really well, are not too high, have a reasonable amount of stability, are quite comfortable and, most of all, they look fabulous, darling! I know. It’s not in any of the Comrades coaching books. I’ve already told you that I don’t do conventional. But heels? Silver ones? So ask me why. Go on. Ask me. Because Saturday night I went out dancing with my friend, Tammy, for her bachelorette party. I wore the heels because they went with my pants and the mardi gras theme for her party. Saturday night was the first time that I have walked pain free in three weeks!

Perhaps Kosmos was a bridge too far on this journey of mine to the Comrades marathon.  I knew it at Kosmos at the 60km mark. I knew it the day after and I especially knew it two weeks ago when my ankle and achilles and everything south of my left knee started shouting obscenities at me. This has been the most terrible time since I first lifted my backside off my couch. Not even the stress fractures when I first started were as awful as this time.

And I have felt so alone. Everyone around has been sympathetic and concerned enough.  I’ve discovered a great deal about my friends in this time. It’s been a lonely time because recently, my whole world has become about running. Most of my friends are so because I run. And those that are not running friends have felt quite helpless. Of course, when you’re injured and being forced to rest, two days seems like the two weeks before pay day. I ran on a Friday and then cried on Andrew’s couch on the following Tuesday because I felt like my Comrades journey was over. He stopped only slightly short of telling me to get a grip and an ounce of perspective.

I turned to crutches at one point because I was in so much pain with each step that the thought of putting my left foot on the ground filled me with horror. Physio Clare-Anne and Ross Tucker’s book had told me to do eccentric heel raises off a step. Clare-Anne told me to do 30, Ross told me to do 3 sets of 15, Francis told me to do whatever Clare-Anne told me twice a day. I did what Ross said 3 times a day. Obsessively. I even did obsessive obsessively. And do you know how dreadful those exercises are? The three you do in the physio’s rooms seem harmless. Get to ten in a row and it feels like someone is pouring hydrochloric acid down your leg. I would do fifteen on one leg and then hop around the bathroom huffing and puffing in the hope that I could breathe off the steam from the burning sensation wracking my muscles. And then you do it all over again on each leg….twice! And then you do it for breakfast, lunch and supper! Twenty days later, there’s less drama in the bathroom in the form of hopping and huffing, but they’re still frikken sore. Today I managed 30 in a row for the first time. But only once.

Maya Angelou once wrote, “You will face many defeats in your life, but never let yourself be defeated.” I felt defeated. I felt like all the hard work and all the progress I’d made since Kaapsehoop was in a dustbin on the pavement and 2014 would be just one more Comrades marathon that I entered and DNS.

Then last Saturday, Christien (not a running-specific friend) feeling helpless, but as invested in my Comrades journey as me gave me the first part of the miracle drug. She gave me this aromatherapy spray. Thinking about that spray makes me picture cool, green meadows of soft grass with little yellow flowers everywhere. That stuff is the miracle drug. Composed entirely of hippie-like aromatherapy oils, it eases pain like a shot of morphine. I’m not entirely sure how much healing power it has, bit I don’t give a damn. That stuff allowed me to put my heel down and it reduced some of the inflammation which had made my ankle look like it had swallowed a tennis ball. It’s called Spray On Relief and it’s made by Aromatic Apothecary (sounds like hippie shit). I’ve ordered 16 litres: 8 litres for my bath on 31 May and 8 litres for my evening bath on 1 June. I wonder if I spray it on my hair then my hair won’t be so big….*thinking* Anyway.

The spray on relief offered temporary reprieve from the pain. The hundreds of daily calf raises seemed to be doing nothing.  I was still walking in pain every step on my left leg was excruciating. The two short runs I managed were done so at the incredibly impressive average pace of 7:30/km. And I only managed 8kms on the better of those two runs.

This was a total disaster. It was like I had gone back a whole year. I cried every day. I hated seeing all the Whatsapp groups sharing the details of their respective runs. I was angry with the world when I saw runners on the road. Whenever the Comrades Facebook page posted the number of days to Comrades, I had a panic attack. I just never imagined I would ever be able to run again. All my progress. All my hard work.

So now my hard work continues. But it has changed. I’m having to commit at a totally new level. I have to jump around with a ball between my feet. I have to swim. Do you know how boring it is swimming lengths? Up and down. Up and down. No trees. No houses. Just water, pool tiles and shouting coaches. No-one talks to anyone else. Infinitely boring. Today I had an interesting swim because I got a cramp in my foot! This is a totally new level of commitment. An hour every second day. Argh!

Will I be able to run Comrades? I’m not sure.  Clare-Anne was quite firm about the fact that I am very injured. It’s all in my couch potato butt. My glutes have never really left the couch. I’m almost totally off the couch. The only thing left to move off my couch is my ass. I’m doing the most ridiculous exercises (complete with hydrochloric acid, hopping, huffing and my dog trying to grab the ball from between my feet) to get that final piece of meat off the couch and to the starting line at Comrades. This month, the journey will continue but will not be so on the road, but in a swimming pool. Wish me luck. I’ll see you on the road at the end of April. I’ll be the one in the fabulous silver heels.

Yours in the tough journey to that start line.

The Slow Coach