Thursday, 3 March 2016

"Do as I Say", don't "Do as I Do"...

It's only when you cannot do something that you realise how much it means to you. I think of running as a hobby I have, but as I've been injured and not able to run at all this week, I have come to realise what an important part if my life it is. It's not the lack of training or the fact that I can see my race targets disappearing off into space, but more the fact that running is my "de-stress" for the rest of life. It enables me to switch off from work and other dramas, and also gives my week a bit of structured routine. I've almost found myself lost as to the days of the week when I've not been running. 

I've been trying to be good and rest my leg, but it's not been easy, especially as Dumfries definitely lacks the facilities for any rehab/cross training. The sports/leisure complex was closed for emergency repairs over 18 months ago and there's no sign of any work actually being done on it. This means that there is no real public gym to speak of, and the "temporary" pool which was constructed in a carpark is only 1.2m deep, hence aquajogging isn't possible. I fully admit that this set of circumstances, along with the usual pressures of GP work, has got me down and probably made me a bit of a nightmare to know over the past few weeks.
A random Maltese statue

I had originally planned to run the Malta halfmarathon as a target race. I had wanted to find a good spring marathon which wasn't going to be cancelled due to ice/snow and so it seemed ideal. Unfortunately, 2 weeks of not being able to run (and indeed walk for some of it) isn't quite the same as a planned 2 week taper. I'd already booked and paid for my flights and accommodation so I decided to go and enjoy a weekend away in the warmth anyway (and sneaked in my running know...."in case").

My leg had been gradually improving and it was no longer painful to walk around (well, not too much anyway), and I knew it would be really tough to watch everyone else race and not take part......and, let's face it, I wasn't mentally strong enough to do I picked up my race number on the Saturday night.

Using ice hadn't really been helping (apart from making my leg cold) but warmth had, so I got up early on the Sunday morning, soaked in a got bath, dosed up on painkillers and headed off to meet my friends Alister and Jacquie for the 7:45am bus to the start. Jacquie had also been injured and in two minds about running, so we couldn't believe we were actually going to start and see how things went. It was forecast to be about 22 degrees so we knew that if we had to stop running and just walk to the finish, then at least we wouldn't get cold. 

Yeay, back in running gear ;-)
As we waited for the buses, it did seem rather windier than expected.....there were whitecaps on every small section of water between boats in the harbour. This meant that hanging around for an hour (the buses dropped us off an hour before the start) at the highest point on the island was rather chilly.

There were no specific pens/corrals, but I found my way to the front and made sure I was at the edge of the crowds as we started the race. Luckily for me, we started with a bit of climb, which slowed down some of the "chargers" and I didn't get pushed around much. I was dreading the fact that it is marketed as a "downhill race" as my leg had been much more sore when walking down hills than up them.

Maybe it was the painkillers, or maybe it was due to the 2 weeks of rest, but as we started the first steep descent I didn't seem to be in pain and so smoothly passed the other ladies. If it had been any other race profile, I would think that my first couple of miles were way too fast, but I thought that holding myself back would probably do my leg more damage so I just tried to relax into the descents and let myself go at whatever pace felt comfortable. 

For a downhill course, there were still a remarkable number of uphills, but the main thing that slowed everyone down was the incredible strong wind. The problem with the race being a point to point race, was that we had to battle a headwind for most of the run. It was little comfort to be told that the wind usually blows the other way and has assisted runners in many other years. The wind direction also meant that it was coming from Africa so it also held the heat and the sand from the direction of the Sahara. 

I'm used to running on my own, but on a couple of occasions it really did feel like I just had to put my head down and fight to move forwards at any speed at all. I knew that I was leading the ladies' race, but I still found myself blocked and cut up by male runners at various points over the course. The full marathon had started 1hr 45 mins ahead of us, and the routes converged, so before long we were weaving in amongst them as well. 

The last few kilometres around the waterfront seemed to take forever, but finally I spotted the finish line up ahead. I struggled with my leg pain on the final steep descent to sea level, but by that point I wasn't going to let myself DNF. I passed a lady accompanied by a cyclist and realised that she must be in the top 3 of the marathon, but I didn't think any ladies in my race had overtaken me.

Just happy to make the line!!!
I heard my name announced as I ran in, but that was all the ceremony there was, so I didn't actually get confirmation of my position until the award presentation that evening. I got my finishers medal and was then escorted to the medical tent as I was limping. They gave me some lucozade thinking that I had cramp, but I didn't stay long as I wanted to go and cheer Alister and Jacquie in. Being handed a hot Quorn meal and a fruit smoothie right after finishing was a definite first for me (and it definitely didn't agree with the codeine I'd taken as me had severe stomach cramps later) but at least it lined my stomach in preparation for some post-race anaesthetic refreshment with the others!

I'm definitely suffering leg-wise for having run ("do as I say" rather than "do as I do") but I did enjoy actually getting out there and running, and my woes were all put completely into perspective that day - as my thoughts go to the family of the English man who collapsed and passed away just before the end of the race.

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