Ready? For a marathon?

It’s been a while since my last update. I finished March full of hope and promise. I was on track to increasing my miles in April, during which my longest ever run was planned. All of this was heading towards the virtual Newport marathon, completable any time in May, with Hayley and I planning on Sunday 23rd. The stars had aligned – it was a marathon on the training plan anyway, and we felt extremely smug that we’d get a medal for our efforts.

Throughout March, Hayley and I would wax lyrical about how “we could totally run a sub 5hr marathon,” and, on slightly less confident days, “at least a sub 5.5…” I’d add gems such as, “well, ideally I’d like to beat my mum’s time, but she beat Steve Redgrave so I’m not sure we will this time.”

April started just as optimistically, albeit with a slight irritating pain in my back. Hayley and I ran a 5k on Friday 2nd (Good Friday), and though it bothered me a bit, I didn’t see an issue with completing our planned 16 miles on Easter Sunday. Little did I know what was about to hit me…

Readers with a sensitive disposition may wish to stop reading this section and click here to get to May. April wasn’t pretty, and I’m including the (graphic to some) photos to go with it. Mainly because I’m super nosy myself, and I’d want details if I was reading this on someone else’s blog.

I was woken on Easter Saturday by an excruciating pain in the right side of my lower back, hip, and inner thigh. There was no injury, no visible cause, and I thought a day of painkillers would help. However, it just kept getting worse. After bursting into tears due to the pain multiple times, Dan finally convinced me to ring NHS Direct. After a lot of questions I didn’t answer properly, they told me to ring out of hours. Over an hour later, the GP on the phone said to find a Pharmacy open on Easter Sunday, and to take Co-codamol. It was only at this point I messaged Hayley to let her know I probably wouldn’t make a run on Sunday.

The problem is, I was triaged wrong. Many Autistic people struggle with pain scales, and describing their pain in general. I gave a talk about this for NHS Wales’ equality week, and told them that you may as well have asked me to rate my pain on a scale of llama to pineapple; the numerical scale of from 1 (no pain) to 10 (worst pain imaginable) means nothing to me, especially when my imagination can come into it.

By Easter Sunday, the pain had spread down the inside of my right leg, and a rash had developed on my foot. I’m no stranger to rashes as I have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, but this wasn’t a mast cell rash. It was hot. I could barely walk, and the pain had me in tears. I called out of hours again, going through all of the same issues I talked about previously, but this time they wanted to see me.

The Dr wasn’t happy with my temperature or my heart rate (consistently over 100bpm), but as my blood pressure was okay he sent me home with an oral antibiotic prescription telling me that if I vomited, the rash spread, or the pain didn’t subside I needed to call back to arrange going to hospital.

The rash had spread by the time I got from his office to the car. Surely he didn’t mean that though? I got home, immediately took the antibiotics and drew around the redness with a sharpie. That evening it had broken the barrier and started going up my leg. Did he mean that? Or did my whole leg have to go red? Surely he doesn’t mean this sort of spread. I told myself I was reading into it too much, even though I felt sick, I was sweating so much I was soaking my clothes and the bedsheets, had the shakes, and was in agony. I decided to go to bed and I’d see how it was in the morning.

On Monday morning I felt awful and the redness had spread further, yet I still didn’t trust myself. By this time walking was all but impossible. I had to crawl to the bathroom. Yet due to past experience, I was still worried I was making a fuss about nothing.  I sent a photo to my mum, who convinced me to ring out of hours again. They asked for an emailed photo, and immediately told me to go into hospital.

It turns out that my CRP (an infection marker) was “very high” (I now know it was 183), and that I had a nasty case of cellulitis. My month of running turned into a month of recovery. I had more days on antibiotics (8 days on IV, 5 days on oral) than the number of miles I managed to run in the whole of April (12). It’s the last week of May and my foot is still a slightly odd colour, and a bit bigger than it should be, but I am able to run again.

Let's leave a gap for the people who didn't want to see the pics...

Fingers crossed this was a big enough gap...

Backstory and medical bit over. Now it’s purely running related with no more gross (to some) photos.

My first mini run was 23rd April. My rheumatologist signed me off as long as I took it easy, and Hayley and I had planned to run to our other running buddy, Ele’s, wedding. We’re all Jeffers, and we’d decided to wear dresses over our running gear and call it Jeffreying. While running to the venue was off the cards, we did our Jeffreying around the grounds – just over a mile at a sensible 14:40/mile pace.

The next day, Hayley and I did two miles at a faster (but by no means speedy) 12:33/mile. I was already thinking about the Newport marathon, making backup plans just in case we couldn’t do it. There were two options at sign up: do it in one go, or do it over the month. We’d signed up for the former, but planned to ask Run4Wales if we could change our mind if needed. Hayley emailed them and they agreed, but we were (are) still determined to do it in one go.


By 2nd May I was up to five miles, 8 by 9th, and on 16th Hayley got me around a half marathon. It wasn’t pretty, but I had such a sense of achievement. We spent a lot of the time talking about how we’d do a marathon, and came up with a plan:

  • Tailwind
  • Slow pace (12:30-13:00/mile)
  • Walk some miles if needed

This may not be the most robust plan in the world, but it’s what we’ve got. Some ladies from our fantastic running group – She Runs: Cardiff – have said they’ll try to join us for some of it. I’ve done rough route timings based on 13:00/mile, and hope that we have luck on our side. With just over 10 miles done on 22nd, we’re semi-confident we’ll get around. Our longest run to date was in December and was just over 17 miles, but we have a lot of half marathons in our legs, and more stubbornness than a pack of mules. I heard that under training is better than over training, and regardless of the accuracy I’m clinging to it right now. I’m definitely nervous, but there’s no cut off time, and as long as we finish we get the medal.

If you’re Cardiff based and you’re out and about on Sunday 30th May, and you see two women being ridiculous with a GoPro, or crying with fatigue, please tell us we can do it. But don’t forget we’re Jeffers, so walk intervals are all part of the plan 😉.

Here’s the video from our first post-cellulitis half:

April Stats

Amongst all of this we still have September’s ultra in mind, so here are some up-to-date stats:

  • 01 miles this month, 188.86 miles in training to date
  • 2h 28 m running time this month, 36h 6m running in training to date
  • 319 feet of elevation this month, 12,732 feet of elevation in training to date

May Stats So Far

  • 8 miles so far this month, 254.66 miles in training to date
  • 13h 8m running time so far this month, 49h 14m running in training to date
  • 2,090 feet of elevation so far this month, 14,822 feet of elevation in training to date

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