Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Cartilage Carnage

Last Sunday at 5am I woke up scared. 13.1 miles. Hills. Spectators. Rain There was really no need for me to be awake at that ridiculous hour the race started at 9am and I lived less than a 20 minute walk away. There was a good reason for me to be scared, well not scared apprehensive. Sunday April 27th was the Plymouth half Marathon, 13.1 miles of rolling hills and beautiful sea views.

I had my eye on this race for a few months and had some good training under my belt. I had bullied/talked a super fast friend into racing with me and fancied I could hang on to his coat tails for at least half way to get me round the course in less than 2 hours. That may have been the case if I had continued the good work I started. Instead a tiny error, namely not packing my running kit and then ordering a sports bra to my term address meant I got a measly 4 runs out of the last 2 and a half weeks. This may have been fine if I hadn't gone home, set up camp in the kitchen then ate and drank everything within a 3 foot radius of me. Two days before the race I weighed myself. I had gained over a kilo, felt full but fat and knew my aeorobic fitness had taken a battering. I still felt good towards the race. I can do it. Just push through the pain and hope the rain holds off.

Before I tell you about the race I have to tell you about Brighton. Last year I ran the London2Brighton 100Km. It was a brilliant experience. I met some awesome people and had a great time. The memory of the pain of blowing out my right knee barely 30km in and deciding to continue running on a diet of NSAIDS, gels and wanton abandon was a fuzzy and remote.

Race Number from the Plymouth Half... Note pyjamas in the background
Plymouth Hoe 8.40am I am ready in a loose t-shirt and running shorts. There are a lot of people around over 5000 runners and a decent load of spectators. I am nervous but given the situation I put myself in that's not expected. I squeeze into the sub 2:15 pen and wait for the bull horns. I had warmed up, hydrated and stretched. We crossed the line at a cool jog as the crowd was still fairly thick. the first couple of miles was spent weaving up through the herd. It was a fast pace, for me, but I felt okay.

Trouble started at mile 5 when I started to really feel the pace my friend was setting down. Talking was a bit more disjointed and I waved him on the just get on with it on my own. I expected to be 15 to 20 minutes behind, just under 2 minutes a mile slower. That was my first mistake. 3 days later I can't remember the exact location but somewhere in Saltram my knee went pop. I do remember catching my breath at the sudden pain and being embarrassed by the tears that sprang up. I was just shy of half way. I had a decision to make. I could protect my knee turning around to go home, or, I could plough on and finish it.

If you know me and you are reading this, you know what decision I made.

I stretched, slowed and kept on going. It was bad enough dropping off my friendly pacer earlier than I'd hoped. Many of the people I had overtaken earlier were now reeling me back in and while I yoyo-ed with some eventually they all got away. My knee was this chubby gremlin reminding me of all the sessions I missed, all the booze and food over Easter and the hard work I did put in being wasted.

I finished. I got my shiny medal. and I got my time 2:30:50 I would be lying if I said I was happy but I have a time to beat for next year. The upside of my knee is that it will take 3 to 4 weeks to be better. I happen to have 4 weeks of studying left this academic year. Now just got to put my head down for last few weeks of study and then I can pick another race...
Hungry for more...

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