Oh September. I was so looking forward to this month. Why? Well, September meant my first proper holiday this year. Two sunshine-filled weeks in Brazil consisting of a few days in Sao Paulo and then onto the famous beaches of Rio. Bliss.
And, my plan was to look as awesome as possible on said beaches (having convinced myself that all Brazilian women look like Gisele). To help with this, I had upped my gym sessions, I was attending yoga regularly and I had even joined a running club.
Now, I had my reservations about this whole running outside malarkey from the outset (see this post for more info) but I’d been giving running club my best shot. I’d even been doing my homework practice runs outside, rather than merrily trundling along on the treadmill at the gym.
Until running club week five.
At week five’s club I came up against a formidable opponent. I was prepared for bad weather. I was becoming adept at dodging slow-moving pedestrians and pavement-hogging pram-pushers (you don’t own the path just because you have a baby. Yes, yummy mummies of Hampstead, I’m talking to you). I was even learning not to panic every time I saw a dog. But I had forgotten about the insects.
At week five’s running club something bit me. Something nasty. A mosquito is the prime suspect. Below is a dramatic reconstruction of the incident (note: have opted not to wear running gear for dramatic reconstruction).
(Also note: obviously, the mosquito isn’t actual size. The one that attacked me was considerably larger.)
I wasn’t all that bothered about the bite at first. Bugs love me. Every time I go on holiday I end up covered in bug bites no matter how much repellent I put on.
I came home. I cleaned the bite. I carried on as normal.
The same thing the next day.
And the day after that. (Oh, and just to heighten the drama and sense of impending disaster let’s note that on this day my boyfriend toddled off to Brazil. Off he went to his conference. I would join him just a few days later).
The next day the bite itched and as the day went on, it started to swell.
By the end of the day my foot was twice its normal size and very painful. That evening I was planning to meet my boyfriend’s mum and show her around our new house.
Instead we took a trip to A&E, where a trainee doctor took a quick look at my puffed-up foot, declared it to be an allergic reaction and sent me home with some penicillin to take ‘just in case’ (she didn’t really make clear just what this was in case of).
We trundled home. The next day I got up, hobbled into work and starting taking the penicillin ‘just in case.’
It made no difference. If anything, my foot got worse.
The next day, my boyfriend’s mum (who was now stuck in London, looking after me as I couldn’t actually walk) and I went back to A&E. A nurse looked at my foot. I told her I was supposed to be flying to Brazil in two days. She laughed. Then she got a doctor.
The fully qualified, non-trainee doctor took one look at my foot, declared it to be a bad case of cellulitis and promptly started me on IV antibiotics.
Oh, and I wasn’t flying anywhere.
I tried really hard to live up to my credentials as a mind, body, spirit editor. I tried to be Zen. I tried to accept the universe’s great cosmic plan. I tried to simply ‘be in the moment’ and accept the present as it was.
Sod ‘being in the moment.’
There was no Zen.
And why did the universe have an issue with me going to Brazil?
But there was nothing I could do. No walking. No running. And no Brazil.
Fortunately, after three days of IV antibiotics my foot started to show some signs of improving and I was given the okay to fly (even more fortunately, I’d been able to rearrange my flights and travel a week later than planned).
My week in Rio was amazing, and I’m sure that relaxing on Ipanema beach did more to heal my foot than the industrial-strength quantities of penicillin I had to take.
So, at this point, I guess it would be totally understandable if I just gave up on the whole outdoor running thing. After all, I’ve been proved right (and I love it when I’m right!): running outdoors really is bad for your health. And yet, this week, after a three-week break, I found myself lacing up my trainers and joining my running group for week eight’s session.
Yes, I was slow. Yes, I was paranoid that I was going to be bitten again. Yes, I may have been the first person to run around north London while covered in tropical strength insect repellent. But I was there. And I was running.
There are only two weeks of running group left. After that, our fabulous instructor Laura is setting up an intermediate group that will take us from 5k to 10k…and I’m seriously considering joining.
It sounds as if the running bug may also have left its mark on me!
*I had never heard of this (and it’s just a wee bit different to ‘cellulite,’ which is what I thought the doctor said at first). It’s an infection of the skin’s deeper layers and underlying tissue, usually caused by bacteria that get in following a small cut, scratch or, in this case, a bug bite.