It may not have seemed liked it, but in my last post on Friday night I was mildly anxious about this weekend! The trip to the vet went without a hitch actually, the cat was very good, and he is now up to date with his booster jabs!!
Following that, I get kitted up and Lynds and I headed to Denbies for the final round of the Surrey XC League. The Gee’s were fighting for survival in division two as we are propping up the table. With a lot of pressure from coach Marc we actually fielded over 20 guys as we attempt to overhaul the deficit.
Gavin gave an excellent and inspiring speech to rival Gerard Butler in 300, or indeed Winston Churchill’s ‘We Shall fight them on the beaches’
We don’t want to go down a division, we want to go down in History!!
It was mesmerising, and before we knew it we were on the start line. Marc had warned that as the start was flat, wide, open and straight, that it would go off quick – and boy, was he right!! The field set off at quite a pace, and it was a little tough underfoot on a rocky track in spikes. Once on the mud the fun really began. From the main holding area it looked like an undulating route; On course it was a hell of a lot tougher than that. It was a two loop course, and at the end of the loop was a nice muddy downhill section. I was making good use of the slope, catching runners and having a blast, and then all of a sudden it happened…
…my foot went one way, and my knee (the bad one) went the other and something very uncomfortable occurred. I hobbled to the start/finish, and my race was run! I was devastated to say the least.
The rest of the team though, put on an excellent effort. We don’t have the final results in yet, and in fairness we did need to overtake two teams so I don’t know if we’ll do. But at least we put up a good show.
I spent the night with my feet up, tubigrip on my knee and blocks of ice on and off all night.
When I woke up this morning my knee didn’t feel much worse than its normal state so I decided to throw caution to the wind and head out for race day. Just so you know, the rain down here has not stopped since I wok eup so I was dressed accordingly – shorts and a raincoat. I got to the hall just before 8:30 and signed up – still hoping to do the 30. I sat at a table to pin my number on and get all my final bits together. I started chatting with the gent over the other side of the table and we decided to head off on our run.
It was at this point that we introduced ourselves and it turns out that I had set off with Henry Morris of Hardmoors, and Mastermind fame!! :-)
I kept up for just about a mile – but having explained my knee issues and my slow target pace for the day, I was happy to wish Henry well on his way. My knee did not feel all that good at all, but I was aware of it easing as I continued so I figured it just needed me to keep stretching it out. It was all going pretty well, though I had heard that a couple of miles in, that there were a few people going wrong. I was following the directions well except for one point where I got to a stile, but the instructions didn’t seem to quite match up with where I was so I dithered a bit. I was soon joined by a swathe of runners who came straight through, so I tagged on with them, and in about 2 minutes I was at the right stile!
Thankfully didn’t need the map too much, the four pages of instructions were very adequate!!
The route was really nice. Were it not raining this would make for a wonderful run! The steps to the top of the Devils Punchbowl struck fear in my heart – or more appropriately my knees!!
Just after the 8 mile mark who should I see again but Henry, from behind! Turns out he was one of those what got a bit lost and was already reading about 13 miles on his garmin. His 30 mile 5hour time was in serious jeopardy so he took off again quite quickly.
The sand tracks through the army training grounds and the golf course were suitably energy sapping, and approaching the second checkpoint I had already decided that I would switch to the 20 mile course. Better to be safe than sorry. I arrived at Tilford Village Hall and helped myself to some sandwiches. I bumped into Henry again, and confirmed my fears for my knee and said I’d be cutting the run short. It turned out he was too as the 30 was outside of his time target, and the extra 4-5 miles were taking their toll.
From here-on-in we pretty much ran together for the remaining 8 miles. It was the beauty of ultra running personified as we ran and chatted.
Having cut away from the 30 mile route I was no off the route I had plotted on the Garmin so we had to rely on the directions. We got a little confused at one point, searching desperately for the ‘green sign’. We were about to give up, then all of a sudden – there was the green sign shining like a beacon.
Minor panics aside, we made it to the finish comfortably and I was very pleased to have finished in just under 4:13 for 21 miles. This wasn’t exactly quick, but I had paused to take pictures and had not stopped the garmin at any aid stations etc.
We got rid of our shoes outside the hall and went in for some delicious hot soup, rice pudding, chocolate and fruit. Yum!!! I warmed my bones before heading out the door to make my way back to the car in the rain. By this point my knee was OK, but my right hip flexor was so tight that it hurt to stand up straight.
Oh well, another days running is down, and on the whole I feel pretty good. Rest day tomorrow means that I will be totally healed by the time I get to track on Tuesday (I hope)!!!
The only downside is that my Febulous score is not going to be 100% as I was 9 miles off my target long run mileage!