Thursday, 18 February 2016

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly...

Let's start off with "the good"....and for me, it was a good time as I ran my best 10K in over 2 years on Saturday!

I have enjoyed getting out for a couple of races so far this year, but it's hard to work out how well you're running when the races are XC ones, as results are totally dependent on the course, the weather and the rest of the field. I wanted to give myself a wee test over a measured distance and so entered the Lancaster "Valentine's 10K".

Rather chilly!!!
As usual, I was full of doubts on my way to the race. I hadn't slept well the night before, the temperature was hovering around the freezing mark, and I wasn't that sure exactly where I was going. Still, nothing ventured, nothing gained, so found the sports centre, picked up my number, and did a warm up with Niall, my clubmate. Niall is quicker than me over shorter distance but I've still got the upper hand over the longer stuff.....and he's famous for going off rather quickly, so my goal was to keep him in sight for the first mile at least!

We stripped off down to club vests and shorts (though there was no way that I was being parted from my gloves), and lined up on the track. We had to run a lap and 3/4 of the track before being marshalled out along cycle paths. I've never been a fast starter but on this occasion it meant that I did have to run a lot of the first lap in lane 2/3 to try to get past people and into a rhythm.

Chasing Niall down after the 180 turn
By the time we got to a 180 degree turn at the first mile marker Niall was about 50m ahead of me, so I thought I'd never see him again. There was a short stretch alongside the river and then we turned sharp left to run along a cycle path. It seemed like it was going to be a rather lonely run for me as I could just see a couple of guys away ahead in the distance (they were easy to distinguish from the walkers on the path as only the runners had any bare limb flesh showing in the cold).

Happily finished!!!
I caught Niall up by the 2.5mile point and tried to get his to push on away from me, as his pace had definitely dropped off. He managed to move away slightly but then I passed him at the 3 mile marker....and that was it as far as social interactions in the race. I did try to smile, wave and thank any marshal I saw at the various corners (not that there were many) en route, but although I did close the gap to the man in front, it was never going to be close.

I had been hoping to run in the low 36s, but as I rounded the final corner of the track finish, I saw that I was going to duck under 36 and so I dredged up any slight element of sprint finish that I could (my pace probably didn't actually change at all).....and was rewarded with a lovely flower for crossing the line in my best time since September 2013!

I cheekily checked both the Scottish and GB V40 rankings that night but, as they say......pride goes before a fall.....and hence on to "the bad".

New sleeping attire?

Could these become my new "best friends"???
A shin niggle that evening became shin pain on the Sunday and by Monday I could hardly walk. I think it took me about 15 minutes to limp/hop/hobble from A&E round to X-ray on Monday afternoon. I initially thought I was imagining things, but my shin had actually become rather red and tender on Sunday despite icing and elevating it, so I was a good girl and took the advice to get it checked out again the hospital. What a lovely way to spend an afternoon off work.....hobbling around the hospital! Luckily no obvious stress fracture, but in all likelihood a tibialis anterior tendonitis.......which needs REST (boo hoo!)! To be fair, there was little else I could do, as I couldn't really walk at all and it was even painful to change gears in the car!

I shouldn't whinge though, as it's just a sore leg, and there are many people worse onto "the ugly"...

Riana winning the 2015 WFLWR in S Africa
I've written about the Wings For Life World Run before. I ran it at Silverstone in 2014 and then in Cape Town in 2015. Although I ran considerably further in 2015, I finished runner up to Riana Van Niekerk who outran the catcher car for 55K, and then became a friend. Unfortunately Riana was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer only a few weeks after the run, so I'm honoured to have been able to be there for her last competitive race. She was already unwell at the time, but you would not have known it. From watching her run, all you would have seen was a strong, determined athlete.....and speaking to her afterwards, she only mentioned being a little tired, and so declined coming out for a meal. From the brief time that I knew Riana, this was typical - she was a fighter through and through, and would not let many people know what she was going through  how hard she was fighting, how exhausted she was, how ill she felt or how much pain she was in.

Whenever we were in touch, she always made light of her suffering, just mentioning how much she was missing her running and how much she was looking forward to returning to it.

Due to her illness Riana was unable to run Comrades in 2015, and so all of us Nedbank ladies ran wearing pink ribbons in her honour. Unfortunately, after many aggressive cycles of chemotherapy, she lost the fight on Friday night and so it seemed only fitting to wear a pink ribbon for her in my warmup on Saturday - she was an amazing lady, athlete and friend and will be sorely missed by everyone who knew her!

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