Had a last minute injury scare that put the whole thing into jeopardy; a swollen/sprained left ankle that seemed to come out of nowhere (I was stationary on the sofa when I first felt it) the evening before the big day.
A session of raising it onto the bed whilst I laid on the floor, printing out the race parking permit, plenty of anti-inflammatory Ibuprofen tablets, a good few hours with an ice block underneath it & Deep Freeze gel before bed (where I couldn’t switch my brain off, but at least my body was rested), then more gel & more tabs the morning of the race and a compression bandage & a couple more tabs during the race proved to be enough precaution to see me through. It was still a little swollen afterwards, plus it had weird red marks all over the outside edge?!
Thankfully it was absolutely fine for running on – even at my 5K pace – as I was concerned that if I’d still been hobbling about like the previous evening, then I’d have passed the 3hr cut-off point for race stewarding & finishers’ medals, even if mixing running with walking.
Yeah that pace: surprised myself there (injury or not) – any time I’m running in a crowd I can’t help but target the next runner to reel in! I do it when I’m walking too! All that work actively slowing my pace down during training to counter the ever increasing distances went straight out the window (once there was space to move in the 600+ field and I knew my ankle wasn’t going to go ‘snap’)!
I kept a small blonde lady in sight early on as she danced through the pack and she led me to my mates (before we then left her), Tom Bailey, a cyclist on his debut 10K, and James Lambert of Coltishall Jaguars RC, in the middle of his training for the Edinburgh Marathon.
Speaking of the 10K, pre-race I bumped into father & son duo, Craig & Rory Hill, two stalwarts of the Norwich music scene (promoter & manager and bassist & singer in a number of bands & solo work, respectively) – both almost unrecognisable without their signature thick-rimmed glasses!
Leaving Tom shortly before his route peeled away, James & I caught up a chap in fluoro yellow who was doing a good pace so I chatted to him for a while before we left James. Then later, as my extensive hill training paid off in the early lumps & bumps (elevation gains of 73metres in wk5 matching the race figure, followed by my monster 168 in wk6 & 92 in the final week), leaving him to pair up with my next target who’d been picking his way through the thinned out crowd; a bloke in black, Jess Farthing, who eventually finished just 4secs ahead of me on his 2nd half marathon.
One final partner after leaving Jess was a young lad in blue & white who told me about his wear & tear hamstring injury that might mean he’d have to walk the last section; I bumped into him in the baggage marquee afterwards to find he’d correctly predicted his predicament. But before I’d left him I’d started to feel my familiar dull left hip ache (that I’d noticed over the last few weeks; I’m left dominant, so this might be why for ankle & hip) and the first signs that my ankle wasn’t 100%. This was where James caught me back up and after passing his RC supporters in Geldeston, spurred on to gradually disappear into the distance – the marathon training paying off for him; he went on to smash his PB by 3mins but miss out on a sub 1:40 by just 3secs, annoyingly!
This was also where I dropped 2 more Ibuprofens at the 5th water station @9.1mi, about half a mile after first feeling it. I’d wondered in my blurb last week whether I’d drink as I don’t normally until post-run, but as I was bombing along I skipped the 1st 2 stations, then used the next 5 by finger-dipping and head cooling (so as not to splash sweat in my eyes by just chucking it) more than drinking – though I managed to split the cup on the final station in a mistimed grab, so only got a tiny amount!
A lovely lady offered me a tray of Jelly Babies in the final few miles, so I managed to grab 3 of those! Fluoro bloke & Jess passed me in this stretch, though somehow I closed back in on Jess without realising it (I was only passing tired full marathon runners by this point).
My goodness, the surge of energy you get when you pass through the encouraging finish line crowd; really opened up my legs there! Had to be told to “stop running!” by the lady handing out the medals as I wasn’t sure which of the mats the chip registered on, so stopped my Garmin on the 1st but kept running ’til over all 3 of them, but that meant I was right on top of her as I grabbed 1!
Can of Adnams Ghost Ship in my goody bag went down well, along with a full set of 3 flavours of a cereal bar, 2 of my own bananas & High5 2:1 electrolyte drink & a 2nd 750ml bottle of water; I’d had a High5 gel & banana just before the start too. The missus was kind enough to treat me to a Bungay Festival of Running finishers’ t-shirt along with a gorgeous beef Sunday roast, peanut butter parfait & jug of Wolf Ale (fittingly, as this was the Black Dog afterall! Plus with the Adnams representing the Suffolk side of this borderlands/Waveney Valley race & Wolf the Norfolk) at the Brooke King’s Head on the way home (thankfully she was driving too!) – not forgetting she’d also served me up a delicious scrambled eggs & fried sausages breakfast first thing that morning.
She’d been concerned that something had happened when I took ages in the changing room, but that was mostly the refueling, Deep Heat gel-ing & limited ability to move leg muscles – oh and delicate breast manoeuvres! This was my first experience of runners’ nipple, with two little red dots on mine that have since softened but are still quite delicate a day on. Tight calves & quads have made mobility difficult the following day too (despite Deep Heat, yet more tabs, a long soak in the bath & a walk to the local Aldi for the weekly shop with the missus to stretch them out), but I’m glad I really pushed it for an impressive debut time.
I’m not sure if I’ll do the Norwich Half in November (certainly the new Norwich 10K though on August bank hol) and I’ll leave stepping up to the full marathon for some time as yet – plus I’ll definitely do that as a fundraising effort and think I’ll probably pick an Alzheimer’s Society related charity, having recently seen the affect it has on my poor uncle as he cares for his diminishing wife, when visiting the Essex branch for a family wedding last midweek.
In the meantime, once the footy season is out of the way in the next couple of weeks, I’ll return to ParkRuns (not having done one since New Year’s Day) and work on getting a sub 20 time (I’ll aim for a sub 45 time come the Norwich 10K too)…
My Garmin upload:
My training uploads (inc bloggy blurb):-
My aborted training before I found out I’d missed the entry limit for the more local Broadland Half:
Bungay Black Dog RC:-
ps. This is my first WordPress blog entry, after creating the account (alongside my YouTube, Twitter, Facebook & Google+ pages) on the 1st of Jan 2014! (My SoundCloud & Mixcloud pages had been going for some time before that.) I’d thought of worthy topics to write about last year but never got round to it (story of my life), so it’s only now, having far exceeded the character limit (also the story of my life!) for notes on Garmin activities, that I’ve finally decided to break my duck. Who knows when I shall return…?