2nd June, 2016
I fly out to Lavaredo 3 weeks yesterday - so close now it could easily be 2 weeks yesterday - for probaby the hardest race of my 'career' to date.
The 100-miler may pip it but I'm not at all sure about that.
I've been trying to fit some sort of training in around managing these Baker's cysts because some training seems kind of essential but it's been slow progress. Having had the ultrasound scan the return visit to the GP lacked much sense of purpose or direction. They're too small to stick a needle in and pop so the advice was the usual - Ibuprofen and (I sensed this was offered up in that apologetic, fear-of-a-torrent-of-derision way you admit your favourite record is Stay by East17) 'bed rest'!
I dropped the North Downs Way 50. Very reluctantly, especially as the first aid stop is only 6.8 miles in. But had I made it a lot worse and only managed 20 miles or so that would have been catastrophic and for no training benefit.
Instead I took 2 weeks off doing nothing more than short walks and things have certainly improved. 5 runs last week and though the mileage is pitiful it's good to be moving again.
There's a section in a Richard Dawkins book (can't remember which - the God Delusion?) about superstition and how it's not just us afflicted. He describes an experiment with a pigeon in a box and a lever on the wall that rewards said pigeon with grain every time it's pecked at. Pretty soon the bird gets the connection and is pecking away like it's trying to get a tune out of it.
Then here's the clever/cruel bit.. the mad, white coated scientist turns off the link and instead a push on the level may or may not reward with grain randomly. It's not long before the creature is trying to figure out the new pattern - standing in a particular corner first, standing on one leg then pecking etc.
It's fascinating but I'm very conscious I'm doing it myself. Running on these things doesn't necessarily make them worse; resting doesn't necessarily make them better. So like the old boys in this Larson cartoon, you start thinking 'is it diet?', 'is it the weather?'. And the ashen-faced horror scenario to be uttered only in whispers.. 'is it the beer?'
I've lost count of how many times I've been told that these cysts aren't painful. That's probably true but they do cause other things to get bent out of shape and that hurts. At the moment it's a consistent and vague sense of thickness around the knee and a vertical band of tightness around the popliteal tendon when standing up and fully extending the leg.
As it stands I'm going for Lavaredo and hoping for continued improvement in what time's left.
I guess my biggest fear is that as the race starts in the pitch dark at 11pm, there's a good 5-6 hours of running to get through before you can clap your eyes on the scenery. I would hate to not make it that far!
The plan is to try a 15-20 miler at the back end of this week without pushing through any significant discomfort which will give me some confidence that this isn't a completely insane prospect. Of course it is actually a completely insane prospect, we all know that - it's 75 miles of mountain, but it will give me some confidence that it isn't.