When I started running round the block to help me lose weight, it never crossed my mind that I would end up with a wardrobe full of lycra, more trainers than shoes, and a developing sports massage habit. Oh and I would have put a considerable amount of money on me not wearing pink - ever.
I never thought that I would seriously ever contemplate running a marathon, never mind start seriously training for one.
And I never ever thought I'd end up running round Arthur's Seat in a light suit and a head torch training for an event in the Edinburgh International Festival. I could conceivably have turned up in the Fringe during my rather more flamboyant years, but the Festival proper is something rather different.
Who'd have thought it - me in the Edinburgh International Festival! Me a performer in The Speed of Light!
Well I did and I am. Next month, if I'm spared and well, I'll join hundreds of other runners in a spectacular light show on Arthur's Seat. We'll all be running up and down and round and round Salisbury Crags lit up like Christmas trees, bringing sport and art together as we become the human components of a massive light show. We'll be fire flys, light houses, hubs and sparks and it is going to be awesome and a bit scary.
Sunday was a rehearsal and I spent 3 hours with two fantastic run leaders and the one and only White group knocking seven bells out of my calves as we trudged up hills, skited down mud slides and tried valiantly to get the right distance between each other. The running was like nothing I'd done before and was quite an experience.
There's one more practice next month and then the performances start. Mine is an early one. I've got a bit of hill work to do before then so I'm mugging up on my Chi Running coach Nick's advice on hills.
I know I have to be careful with hills, so this challenge is more mental than it is physical to be frank. And even though we only ran for about an hour max, my calves were a bit tight after an afternoon on the hills and I was worried I might have set my injury off. The thought of the injury got me into a cold shower (closest I could get to an ice bath!) and I only cross trained for the rest of the week. The rest and an excellent sports massage from Lizelle set me right. I am now under strict orders to stretch at least 10 minutes for every hour I'm out there and have booked regular sports massages. I've also re started my daily yoga routine.
It's funny. A week or so ago I'd started thinking about a marathon next year. I don't have the caring responsibilities I had and have a lot more time so I don't have to rush about quite as much as before. The Speed of Light event wasn't something I'd really thought about much until last Sunday. But I realised on Monday morning when my calves were nipping like mad and the memory of the injury loomed large, that unless I have one clear focus, I'm back on the bench and probably for longer than 3 months. Speed of Light is serious hill work for me. I need to focus on getting hill-fit for 10 August. Not distance, not speed, hills. I've learnt the hard way to respect hills and that I must focus on one thing at a time.
Chi Running is all about going with the flow of energy when you run, being aligned and focussed on your goal. Since I stopped thinking about doing a marathon and instead focussed on my running form, things have got interesting. Who'd have thought that a holiday run would bring me face to face with a moose? Who'd have thought that the injury that led me to shelve my marathon hopes would have me running up and down an extinct volcano lit up like a firework in front of an audience.
I got injured because I didn't respect hills. My head pushed my body beyond its limits. My legs understand the power of hills; my head is getting there - slowly. I've come to understand that distance is not my forte, it pushes my body and my mind much harder than speedy shorter runs do. So if I am going to do more than a half, my head has to learn to listen to and respect my body. Hills are my big challenge and teacher on that journey.
Ever since Nick and I did my first Chi running session on North Berwick beach in March, I've been learning to follow my feet not my head. So far so unpredictable. Since my injury, I have a little niggle in my calf to guide me. I'll trust the wisdom in my body as I tackle the hills of Salisbury Crags and onto my next adventure! Maybe even a marathon one day.
Running this week - 3 hour hill session and then only cross train and walking until today when I did a slow and flat 8 and a bit miles in my super duper compression socks. The calf was fine and I finished with a hill and then a little sprint. Onwards and upwards!