26 Aug 2013

656.34 - 666.46KM: The Number of the Beast (Grimsthorpe Castle 10K)

I suppose it was obvious after the past week from hell that after crossing the finish line on one of the toughest 10k races so far this year that my total would stand at 666kms (and 340 meters). That the event took place at GRIMsthorpe and came after a week of sacrificing goats to any and all gods in exchange for a break from the seemingly endless barrage of bad news with Jenny's health, is just a happy coincidence.

First things first, and to put my serious head on for a moment, I'm pleased to say that Jenny isn't showing any signs of lasting damage from the events of Tuesday night. Obviously we're both still very much shaken up by the ordeal, but that will pass with time. We're still waiting for an appointment with the TIA clinic which should hopefully give us some answers as to what actually happened, why it happened and what can be done to prevent it.

One thing to note that I didn't realise that until after the event on Tuesday, was that the first time the idea that she was suffering a (mini) Stroke on Tuesday entered Jenny's mind was when she glanced at the doctor's notes in the hospital, after she had recovered. I had done the frantic 'googling' behind Jenny's back and phoned for the Ambulance from outside the room, the paramedics also were talking in code when they were here, but I was still surprised to hear that Jenny was unaware of potential how serious it was.

Back to today's race, the Grimsthorpe 10K was part of a whole host of events in the Grimsthorpe Festival, including Free Hugs. Yup, that was listed as an 'attraction' on their website. Props to them though, I'm fed up with having to pay for hugs and if the past week went any worse I would have probably been hunting them down.

Being my 32nd race of the year so far, its no surprise that it was yet another first time race. Going into the race I wasn't able to/didn't try to find out much about the race, so I had no idea what to expect from the course at all. I guess it could be best summed up by what I overheard another runner say at the finish, "There's a Grimsthorpe PB and then your normal PB.". Much of the course seemed to be across undulating fields, with foot high grass making for a very challenging race. When it came to these sections I naturally slowed my pace, partly because the course dictated I did but also because I was being overly cautious. With two 10 mile races on Saturday and another ~340km to run this year I need to be avoiding injuries when I can help it.

The rest of the course was on path, which allowed for a bit of a rest from the grassy sections, but also meant I could try and pick the pace up on these sections. Thankfully my body wasn't as angry with me on today's race as it was last Tuesday's, so despite the challenging course I was able to be pushing for a faster time. Whilst having a race start and finish in the same place is great logistically, if the start involves a frantic scramble down a hill, trying to not roll your ankle, then the finish will be a slow slog back up. This was very much the case, as runner's all funnelled in single file towards the finish, trying to run on the most trodden down section of grass and their pace dictated by that of the runner in front.

It's strange to think that little over a year ago I never saw myself as a charity runner, simply because I didn't have a cause that I believed strongly enough in. Yet here I am today over halfway though running 1000km for the National Eczema Society and after my eyes were opened to the world of TIA's last Tuesday I'm begin to take more than a passing interest in the Stroke Association.

On the 22nd of September I was planning to run the Sandringham 10K but through what can only be classed as bad planning, the Hunstanton Charity Beach Run also takes place on the same day. For an area of the country that gets at best 5 races a year, to have two of them, within 10 miles of each other I might add, on the same day is just bizarre. Thankfully, the Sandringham 10K starts at 10am and the Hunstanton Beach 10K at 1pm, meaning that it could be my third (and final) 'two races on one day'...day. Initially I dismissed the Stroke Association's Hunstanton Beach Run, but after Jenny's TIA last Tuesday I thought I should include it as part of my 1000km challenge and at the same time make a small donation to the charity.

Finally I am still running my Charity Raffle, with over £400 worth of prizes and tickets only costing £1. The draw will be taking place this Saturday 31st at some point, probably after I get home from the Wold's Tough 10 and before I leave for the Double or Quit 10 Mile race outside Nottingham. So please get your tickets sooner rather than later. For more information, visit: http://runshanerun.co.uk/raffle.

As always, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/shanes1000km and donate what you can and please share news of what I am doing with others.


Distance: 10.12km | 6.29 miles

Time: 00:47:35
Official Time: N/A
Average Pace: 04:42 min/km | 7:34 min/mi
Playlist: ReVamp
Goody Bag: Water and Sweets


22 Aug 2013

646.34 - 656.34KM: Onwards to Asgarby (Bolingbroke Breaker 10k)

On Tuesday evening at 7pm I was lining up at the start for an impromptu 31st race of the year, the Bolingbroke Breaker, (relatively) fresh off the back of Friday's Sleaford Summer 10K. The race would pass without much issue, but when we returned home Jenny's body would find new and challenging ways to take centre stage. At midnight we found ourselves sat in an ambulance waiting to be taken to hospital after Jenny had suffered a minor stroke.

Completely unaware of the evening ahead

First things first, the race. My attention had been drawn to the Bolingbroke Breaker on Facebook about a week before the race. With the race taking place midweek it meant I would be rushing to the start straight after work, hoping luck was on my side and that I wouldn't miss the event this time. Fortunately with entry on the day, and an entry fee of only £3 I was willing to take that risk to get yet another race under my belt. 

The 'Breaker' described itself as having 'a very scenic but challenging course', which in running terms means only one thing: hills. My attendance at the race was once again dependant on Jenny's health, as I would need her to pick me up, and then drive to the race. Thankfully she was well enough to pick me up, and then even to come with me. On the drive to the race we entered the Lincolnshire Wold's and whilst at first I was admiring the beauty of the rolling hills, this turned to nervous laughter as I started to see race signs and realised I was on the course. Having ran the 12.12 and Newton's Fraction Half Marathon this year hill's aren't an issue when I am rested and have energy, on Tuesday I didn't. 

After parking up and then running across to sign up for the race in time, and to go to the toilet, I headed back to the car to get changed. Yet again I had been reckless with preparation prior to the event, it often gets too late, and I get too tired before I realise I haven't stretched out or use my foam roller. So as I lined up at the start line I was tired and my muscles were tight, in truth I'd have rather had been at home in front of the TV, but instead I was about to run my 31st race of the year. 

After a quick loop at the start we soon were on away towards the first hill, a nice 300ft incline in half a mile. Throughout the race I was taking it reasonably steady due to being tired and also experiencing an unnatural series of discomfort with a stitch, feeling like I was going to throw up, and needing the toilet (both). Thankfully I was soon able to run off the stitch and didn't need to disperse of fluid from any direction, and was able to focus back on the race.

I often find in races that I overtake runners whilst climbing up hills, either because I'm putting too much effort in or they are deliberately putting in less. More often than not I stay in front of those I overtake whilst going up hills, but on Tuesday there was a little on going battle between myself and another runner as I overtook or came right up behind him whilst climbing a hill, only for him to then gain ground on the flats before disappearing off into the distance on the last mile. As much as I tried there was no catching him.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Julie and the rest of the Skegness Coasters for putting the event on, being so friendly and especially for sponsoring me/buying raffle tickets. It is an event that I would certainly do again, even if it was 'challenging'.

No Frills, Just Hills

Unfortunately, yet again, the race has to take the back seat as the focus for this blog post.

As if this year wasn't already enough to deal with, last night at 10pm Jenny suffered a mini stroke. It was honestly one of the most terrifying things I've had to deal with, at times it looked like it would be the real deal.

It started about 10pm when her vision became blurred whilst she was preparing to have a shower. An hour later her vision began to return, but she then began to experience difficulty concentrating and reading anything. This soon developed into difficulty forming complete sentences, before it gradually regressed into not being able to say even simple words. Things soon begun to look serious and as I began to think about phoning for an Ambulance, Jenny suffered a panic attack and reported feeling her arm and lips go numb.

Fortunately we wouldn't have to wait long before a paramedic arrived. After performing some checks to test for a stroke, an ambulance was then called. The ambulance crew did a great job at trying to keep Jenny (and I guess me) calm and I began to feel slightly hopeful that she would be OK. When Jenny then said that she could feel her face dropping on one side my heart sank, fortunately I could see it wasn't but it was very distressing to hear.

By the time we reached the hospital she had regained most of her ability to talk and the symptoms were slowly disappearing. It then became a case of waiting a few hours for the doctors and nurses to perform their routine checks before being sent on our way and getting home about 530am.

5am and waiting for a lift home
After about 30 minutes sleep I foolishly decided it would be a good idea to go to work before being questioned why I turned up and being told to go home and sleep. I have mentioned previously on this blog about how this year is stretching me emotionally, physically and mentally far more than I could have ever have predicted. My emotions are always bubbling away just under the surface, and so when someone asked me if I was OK I just kind of broke down, not for the first time this year.

I won't pretend to hide behind some pseudo-macho bullshit and I have never been any good at hiding my emotions. Neither am I a particularly closed guy, I've often found that if I feel I can trust someone I can easily hemorrhage my entire life story in 20 minutes. Yet this year the fact that whenever I've spoken to someone in person deeply about Jenny's health, or how I'm feeling I've always been on the edge of breaking down, to me suggests that I simply do not do it enough. This is something that I am going to have to change if I am going to keep my mental, and physical, health this year and in the future.

Finally I am still running my Charity Raffle, with over £400 worth of prizes and tickets only costing £1. The draw will be taking place next week, so please get your tickets sooner rather than later. For more information, visit: http://runshanerun.co.uk/raffle.

As always, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/shanes1000km and donate what you can and please share news of what I am doing with others.


Distance: 10.00km | 6.22 miles

Time: 00:47:54
Official Time: 00:47:43
Average Pace: 04:47 min/km | 7:42 min/mi
Playlist: N/A
Goody Bag: Water and Sweets


View my run:

19 Aug 2013

636.34 - 646.34KM: The Big Three-0 (Sleaford Summer 10K)

This past Friday evening I ran my thirtieth race so far this year, the Sleaford Summer 10k, in just 33 weeks. The idea behind the 1000km challenge originally started off as me attempting to run 52 races in a year. Whilst the nature of the challenge has changed, it is still my intention to run as many races as I can in the remaining 19 weeks of the year in my quest to reach the 1000km.

As I mentioned in my review of the York 10K I had fallen into a dangerous trend of pushing myself to the limit in every single race,. This would then leave me both emotionally and physically exhausted before I even reached halfway. To keep myself in one piece for the rest of the year, physically and mentally, I decided to take my foot off the pedal for the upcoming races. This began last week with the Hermitage 10k and continued into Friday evening's Sleaford Summer 10k. The result is that I'm not only feeling a lot more comfortable on each run, but I'm also beginning to enjoy each race more. Magic.

Not quite 'Balls to the Wall'
Friday's race was the first so far this year, to memory at least, that was genuinely threatened by injury. On my run home on Wednesday I managed to completely misjudge how much clearance I needed to give a bollard when running past and ended up crashing hip first into it. Whilst it certainly hurt, it didn't seem to hamper my run home too much. It wasn't until later that night when it began to hurt to walk around the house and then later on, hurt to lay down, I began to fear that I had done some serious, if completely ridiculous damage.

Fortunately on the morning of the race most of the swelling had gone down and I was able to test the waters with a gentle 5k run into work. My hip didn't scream back at me, so I took that as a sign that all was well. When I collected my number at the start of the race I was informed that I had won a spot prize that I would have to collect once I finished. Not a bad way to start a race I guess.

This 'injury' helped me keep my pace at a more than comfortable level as I aimed to come in around 45 minutes again. For the first 5 or so miles my hip was behaving and I felt no pain, however as I began to push on for the final mile to try and catch those in front it tried to complain pitifully, but never enough to pay any attention to it. After crossing the line I headed into the pavilion in search for my spot prize and found that I had won a Marathon nutrition box. With three marathons before the end of October and having completely run out of gels it was a very timely prize.

Loads of goodies!
So yeah, that's my 30th race of the year done, where I have so far managed to collect 16 t-shirts and 15 medals. Tomorrow evening I may potentially run my 31st race, the Bolingbroke Breaker 10k. That one will rely on Jenny being well enough to drive up and meet me at work, so my attendance is tentative at best. Otherwise Race 31 is likely to come at the Grimsthorpe Castle 10k on Bank Holiday Monday.

30 Races in just 33 Weeks

I realised the other day that with three marathons falling in the next 9 weeks it would be wise for me to get my training in order. I had planned to go for a 15 mile run yesterday, but on a very rare Sunday off, tiredness got the better of my and I opted to sleep/rest instead. Still though it is vital for me to fit a 20 mile run in somewhere in between now and the end of September, for the Nottingham marathon. With my weekends mostly taken up with races, and barely any time during the week to fit this in I came up with the unorthodox solution of running two 10 mile races, the Wolds Tough 10 Miler and the Double or Quit race in one day. Not the best solution granted, but probably the only one I have.

Since my last post we found out that what we initially thought was an eighth case of Eczema Herpeticum, was actually MRSA. Not exactly great news, but Jennys been issued with the correct drugs so hopefully it should fight it off.

Finally I am still running my Charity Raffle, with over £400 worth of prizes and tickets only costing £1. The draw will be taking place next week, so please get your tickets sooner rather than later. For more information, visit: http://runshanerun.co.uk/raffle.

As always, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/shanes1000km and donate what you can and please share news of what I am doing with others.


Distance: 10.00km | 6.21 miles

Time: 00:44:38
Official Time: 00:44:39
Average Pace: 04:28 min/km | 7:11 min/mi
Playlist: N/A
Goody Bag: Medal, Water, Go Natural Bar and Marathon Nutrition Box (Spot Prize)


View my run:

12 Aug 2013

626.32 - 636.32KM: The Heavy Metal Holiday (Hermitage 10K)

When I began planning out races for this year there was always one weekend that would prove to be difficult. Every August, for the past 6/7 years, Jenny and myself attend Bloodstock Open Air, a Heavy Metal festival in Derbyshire. Being stuck in a field, relatively in the middle of nowhere would prove difficult when it came to fitting in my weekly race. That was the least of our worries however, when a day or two before the festival we were seriously wondering whether Jenny was well enough to even leave the house.

Fortunately luck, or divine intervention from Odin, was on our side and at 2:30pm on Thursday we left Lincoln and headed South. Even on the way down I was realistic (or pessimistic) about the whole weekend, the fact that we had managed to get to the Hotel was victory enough. After only just recovering from a suspected eighth bout of Eczema Herpeticum I was anticipating having to pick and chose a day or sections of the day when we could go to watch some bands.

Aside from having to take an early night on the Friday, I'm pleased to say that Jenny managed to survive the entire weekend without many issues.

Apparently I was the happiest about our attendance
I expect a lot of this is down to Jenny being able to take refuge from the sun and much of the outside in the Rock Society tent. For this I can't say 'Thank You' enough to Lisa, who was more than accommodating about Jenny's situation, even upgrading us to 'VIPs' for the weekend and allowing me to bring my charity tin with me.

Many people questioned why I was still running a race when it was essentially my holiday and especially when it meant missing one of my favourite bands at the festival. The answer is simple, Jenny has no say on when her health is good or bad and it has prevented her from doing so much throughout her life. Missing one band is nothing compared to the sacrifices Jenny has had to make, even if it was my holiday I wasn't allowing myself a weekend off from doing what I've already put so much into this year. I'm just going to keep running until Jenny is 'cured'.

An insignificant sacrifice in the grand scheme of things
Fortunately I was able to find a 10k race within about 30 minutes drive of the festival, meaning I could head across to the race in the morning and then get back for the majority of the bands. The race described itself as 'playfully undulating', which essentially translates to it's uphill all the way apart from the flat or downhill bits which you won't actually notice. So whilst 16 miles away '000s of metalheads were about to be treated to some Irish Thrash Metal in the form of Gama Bomb I was lining up for my 29th race of the year. After last week's mentally challenging race I took a step back yesterday and allowed myself to enjoy a race, for what feels the first time in quite a while.

This year I'm taking any time below 45 minutes as a successful race, so with an official time of 45:55 the Hermitage 10K should fall just outside that. However taking into account the fact I, yet again, had to stop for the toilet half way round and the hills it would typically fall within the 45 minute cut off. Then when you allow for the fact that I was taking it steady and allowing myself to 'enjoy' the race it was definitely a successful race.

Is it a race I would do again? Possibly, the course was nice and challenging but unless it happens to fall on the same weekend as Bloodstock again, and I don't care whether I miss the first couple of bands, it's unlikely.

Back at Bloodstock. Ready to Rock.
For the second year it a row Bloodstock felt a bit flat to Jenny and myself. It seems to have come down to a combination of no longer camping, due to Jenny's health making this impossible and an increasingly weaker lineup. This year in particular it barely feels like it happened as we were both mentally and physically tired going into it, it was more of a relief than anything. The festival has essentially become our 'Heavy Metal' holiday each year, neither of us can remember the last time we had a true holiday. After it was very much in doubt this year it was great to just have three days where we could stick two fingers up at Jenny's illness in the name of 'Heavy Metal'.

You certainly won't find too many holidays that include watching a Danish gentleman, fast approaching his 60s, wearing makeup and signing falsetto, all in the name of entertainment.

Long live the King
It was a very important victory to have over Jenny's illness. So far the year has been filled with very few positives, for it to have taken away the one thing we were both looking forward to all year would have been heart breaking.

So now it's back to reality; hoovering the bed every morning, hoovering up after everywhere Jenny's been on the evening, washing towels every day, trying to fit a day's worth of housework and caring for Jenny into a couple of hours and never quite having the energy to do any of it.

Only about 1/4 of all the skin I hoovered this morning

As always, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/shanes1000km and donate what you can and please share news of what I am doing with others.


Distance: 10.00km | 6.20 miles

Time: 00:45:39
Official Time: 00:45:55
Average Pace: 04:33 min/km | 7:20 min/mi
Playlist: N/A
Goody Bag: T-shirt and Flapjack


View my run:

8 Aug 2013

July Review (550.38 - 616.32KM)

July was a strange month. After a mishap with a cargo net, pond and a £300 camera it turned in to the most expensive month of the year. Despite two races in one day and an epic trek across the Peak District it was also one of my shortest distance covered months of the year.

For those of you who would prefer not to read, check out my video review of July instead.

The month would get off to a relatively slow start as I ha d no race planned for the first weekend, and instead would run a solo 10k with the intention of resting up for some big weekends ahead. My first race of the month was originally scheduled to take place on the evening of Wednesday 10th. I was planning on driving to the start of the race after work, although roadworks and a traffic accident lead to some extreme levels of congestion and what would have been a 5 minute drive home took 50 minutes and I had to abandon my plans.

Fortunately I wouldn't have to wait long until my next (or first) race, as that weekend I had lined up the Berghaus 12.12, a twelve mile race across the Peak District. It was a race I had been looking forward to for quite some time, after falling in love with the idea with running across the area a few months ago. When the day finally came I was excited, even bought a new pair of shoes for the occasion, but mostly nervous. The website warned that you would need experience navigating as well as a whole host of equipment, and with the massive climbs it was going to be one of the most difficult races of the year.

Luckily most of these fears were unfounded, I got slightly lost and went the wrong way once, but for the most part it was an issue free race. With all the running I'm doing this year I'm very rarely going into a race feeling 100%, this race was no different, but it is definitely one I'd look to run again on less tired legs.

Reaching the summit of another hill
The next weekend saw another unprecedented event in this challenge with two races in one day. The first was the Rother Valley 10K, a different event to the one cancelled earlier in the year, and my third time running round the lakes so far. Throughout this challenge I have been hoping to inspire friends, family and perhaps even strangers to take up running and maybe run a race with me. It was a surprise however when I managed to coax my mum out of running retirement to enter this race, even more of a surprise when my sister said she'd run it too.

The race was a fairly standard affair, two and a bit times around the lake meant that it wasn't the most exciting of races. Initially I planned to try and run sub 40 as it was simple, flat course but after trying and failing, again, after the first mile or so I slowed the pace down a bit and focussed on the not tiring myself out too much for the race later in the afternoon.

Just finished and already looking towards race #2
My second race of the day, the Sheffield Man of Steel 10K, would take place a mere 5 and a bit hours after my first race. It was one of a handful of 'obstacle' races I am entering this year, simply because of the increased cost of the events. As it was one of two races on the same day I planned to record the day and create some form of video blog to help publicise my fundraising, so borrowed a GoPro camera from a client at work. 

Genuinely impressed I managed these
After a tough first lap that involved climbing over walls, crawling through cargo nets, crossing a pond, running up impossibly steep hills, carrying sandbags and successfully navigating a set of monkey bars I continued round for the second lap. Whilst the first lap was challenging, the second would be disastrous. The camera got caught in the net whilst crossing the pond and as the runner behind me jumped in and grabbed the cargo net to pull himself under, the camera went with and was lost to the depths of the pond forever.

I spent about 5 to 10 minutes on my hands and knees searching for the camera during the race before eventually giving up. My Dad has since been back to the pond with a handmade rake, fashioned from a netball post, and after half an hour of scraping the bottom of the lake still returned empty handed.

Not actually my Dad
What was supposed to be a weekend of celebration, with two races in a day and breaking the 600km barrier instead turned into a rather sour one.

The final race of the month would be at the Heckington Show 10 Mile Road Race.The race was part of a weekend of activities and events as part of the largest Village show in the country, so in a way I guess I was an attraction. Aside from bizarrely running around the inside of the arena twice, almost as if we were being paraded, the race was a fairly standard affair. One bit of note from the race was that I finally managed to beat a runner that I had seen at around 15 of my 27 races so far this year. He always seemed to be 20 - 40 seconds in front of me, so to finally finish a race in front felt like an achievement, even if the score is still 14 -1.

Elsewhere this month I was invited back on to BBC Lincolnshire for a follow up interview, having recently reached the halfway stage. You can listen to interview that in the YouTube video above.

I am also still currently holding my Charity Raffle with over £400 worth of prizes. Tickets only cost £1, and any donations received this month will be automatically entered into the draw. There are a whole host of prizes suitable for familys, couples or individuals so please check it out. I have worked very hard sourcing all these prizes in an attempt to give something back to those that have sponsored me, so it would be a shame for them to go to waste.

As always, please visit my JustGiving page and donate what you can. If you can't donate then please share my JustGiving page and news of what I'm doing with others, in case they can. The only way we can end the suffering that Jenny and millions of others go through on a daily basis is with your help.

July Stats:

1000KM Challenge Distance: 65.94KM

Time Running Total: 06:04:55
Total Running Distance: 239.93KM
Bananas Eaten: 34
Races: 4
T-Shirts: 3
Medals: 2

1000km Challenge Stats:

1000KM Challenge Distance: 616.23KM

Time Running Total: 52:56:54
Total Running Distance: 1312.74KM
Bananas Eaten: 302
Races: 27
T-Shirts: 14
Medals: 13


A look ahead to July

Confirmed Races
04/08 - York 10K

11/08 - Hermitage 10K
16/08 - Sleaford Striders Summer 10K

Unconfirmed Races

18/08 - Belpher Rugby Rover 30K
26/08 - Grimsthorpe Castle 10K
31/08 - Wolds Tough 10 Mile

5 Aug 2013

616.32 - 626.34KM - Running on Empty (York 10K)

My 28th race of the year would see me head up North for the York 10K. As I entered the final third of the year, I was looking for a strong race that would give my challenge a well needed boost. The reality was somewhat different; after an emotionally and physically tiring week a 4am start was at the bottom of my agenda. 

At 9:30am, the York 10K had an unusually early start for a 10K. Taking into account my tendency to always make myself late, a potential two hour journey and road closures, on Saturday evening I despairingly set my alarm for 4am. When I woke on Sunday it almost felt like a dream, getting up when it's dark during the middle of Summer is a special level of horrible. My breakfast that morning would consist of a couple of weetabix, topped up with a small helping a Fruit 'n Fibre, a can of Energy Drink and a large portion of disbelief.

I arrived at the start little under two hours before the start of the race and, after a quick visit to the portaloo, I sat on the grass and began to psych myself up and more importantly to try and keep myself awake. Slowly the crowds began to gather and the pre race atmosphere began to arrive. Whilst just an hour earlier I was able to use the toilets without queueing, the line that had formed by half 8 had to be seen to be believed.

With about half an hour to go until race time runners began to be directed towards the start line, with the strong, experienced runners, and the foolishly overambitious runners, such as myself, ushered to the front ahead of time. The signs were there from the beginning that it would be a tough run, but as ever I chose to ignore them and still felt confident of running sub 40. Somehow I had got it into my head that the course was flat, after speaking to some runners after the race I wasn't the only one. Whilst it certainly wasn't hilly, the windy roads followed by mild ascents and a persistent headwind weren't ideal conditions.

This year I have become so engrossed in the idea of running a sub 40 10k, that I repeatedly run myself into trouble later on. Sunday's race was more of the same, a 6 minute 10 second opening mile put me in good stead for the rest of the race, or it would have had I not used pretty much all my energy up in that first mile.

Whilst my legs felt reasonably fresh (for a change) the rest of me felt 'empty'. It's a strange feeling to try and describe, but I felt completely void  physically and mentally and the rest of the race was a far greater struggle than it should have been. After a trying week, the last thing I needed was a bad race, but that's what I was facing as each mile became tougher, and slower, than the last before eventually stumbling over the line just under 44 minutes.

All smiles (on the outside)
This all brings me to the crux of my post; that for the first time so far this year, as the emotional, mental and physical strain began to become too much, I began to question whether I could continue.

Exactly why this week was so tiring though, I'm not sure, Jenny has certainly had worse weeks with her health. On Sunday however, after a tough week where I consistently felt like I was on the edge of a breakdown, there were various points throughout the race where I felt much closer to collapsing than finishing. I thought that my body (and mind) was about to buckle under all the pressure it has been under this year and I might actually have to stop and give up.

When I started signing up for races this year and began laying out the plans for 1000km of running I gave little thought to how physically demanding the running would be. I knew that given luck with injuries I would be able to cover the distance, even though I had yet to run a full marathon at the end of last year. However with a decent training plan and a strict diet I would have no issues with getting my fitness levels up to the required standard.

Whilst I could, and perhaps should, have predicted the physical toll this year would take, the emotional and mental toll has come as somewhat of a surprise. After a very tough couple months with Jenny's health last year we both hit rock bottom, emotionally and mentally. This was the motivation behind all my fundraising this year. Little did we know that this year we would reach all new lows. I never thought that her health would be able to deteriorate much further than it did last year, but after starting Topical Steroid Withdrawal a few months ago, I have begun to appreciate how 'easy' those times were.

This month it felt like it would become a matter of when, not if, I would finally crack under the pressure. Throughout this year the emotion of the situation has gotten the better of me and I've just had to sit there and let it all pour out, more times that I can even care to mention. The emotional, mental and physical pressure has been pulling me in different directions and I fear that sooner, rather than later they will pull too hard and I will not be able to recover. 

At the moment I'm spending every waking second when I'm not at work either running (race or training), researching potential future races, helping wash/feed/water and generally care for Jenny, hoovering every single day (her bed every night), doing endless amounts of washing every day, all manners of housework and then taking the odd minute here and there to feed myself. Most days I'm operating on between 4 and 5 hours sleep, either through stress or simply being too busy to go to bed.

In truth I feel like I'm running out of steam a little on the fundraising front. I, naively, half expected most of the fundraising this year to handle itself. I knew I would face a struggle convincing people that the cause was worthy, but that was why I chose the '1000KM Challenge'. I could have run just one, or a handful of races, but instead I chose to try and enter one (sometimes two or three) races every weekend to draw attention to myself, the cause and that there is a lot more to eczema than meets the eye. I felt that the extra efforts I am going to fundraise this year would make people look beyond their pre-existing knowledge of the condition and into why I'm go to such lengths. Unfortunately, for the most case so far this doesn't seem to have been true.

I just really feel like I need a break, to take just an entire month away from life to fully recharge, before coming back and tackling this all head on. Unfortunately I do not have that luxury. This weekend we are supposed to be going to Bloodstock Open Air Festival, a Heavy Metal festival that we both regularly attend, but for the first time in 8 years our attendance is very much in doubt. After a terrible year the only thing we've been looking forward to all year and only thing that we have that typically resembles a 'holiday' looks like being snatched away from us.

I hope next week to be able to recall how we were able to go, how Jenny recovered in time and we were both able to enjoy ourselves. However in truth, we both remain more than a little pessimistic about the situation.

For the next couple of races I plan to try and take a step back, run a comfortable race and just try and enjoy running again.

As always, please visit http://www.justgiving.com/shanes1000km and donate what you can and please share news of what I am doing with others.


Distance: 10.02km | 6.22 miles

Time: 00:43:53
Official Time: 00:43:51
Average Pace: 04:22 min/km | 7:03 min/mi
Playlist: Amon Amarth
Goody Bag: T-shirt, Medal, Bottle of Water, Energy Drink, Chocolate Bar and Energy Bar