Saturday 6th February - 8.30am - Oxford.
130 runners line up ready for a 50 mile slog alongside (for most of the way) the River Thames, following a track that goes under the name of Thames Towpath. However this "towpath", is nothing like the paths you see by most other canals etc this was 40+ miles of mud, dirt trails and glassy banks, interspersed by the odd bit of road and tarmac (ideal for off-road trainers).
The one thing that was obviously missing from this race was Alex Flynn - running partner and someone to nag at for not keeping up the pace (his orders). Due to a combination of heavy cold, long office hours and a flight to JFK on Sunday morning for 2 weeks of business conferences, he needed family time and did the sensible thing and gave this race a miss. My original plan was to drive to Henley the night before and stop at Alex's, before going on to the race in the morning, however our cat was badly mauled in a fight on Thursday night, so after a trip to the vets i decided it was better to make sure he was ok, before going, so set off at 5am on Saturday morning.
I had loaded up my waistpack with Sports Beans / Chocolate covered Espresso Beans / cereal Bar / camera and filled both bottles (one water, one Nuun), spare socks, double tied shoes laces and took my place.
Once i started, after a briefing by Steve Adams, the early morning nerves vanished and i was quickly into my pace, albeit not too quick (8 min miles), and headed off along the path away from Oxford and toward CP1. The going was tough almost straight away, as the route was extremely boggy underfoot, with the kind of mud that sticks in great clumps. The scenery and company was great, chatting with Quentin for most of the way to the first CP, although something didn't feel right!!
CP1 was at Culham after 10 Miles, which we reached in 1hr 35min, and served the famous Go Beyond fruit cake - one of the best i have tasted (sorry Mum!!), and a huge incentive to get to the next CP, stopping for only a minute to refuel, we quickly moved off , my pace quickened slightly and i was off on my own, but again my leg (left) felt weak and i found myself struggling with the turns......... Finally at 17 miles, as we turned onto a footbridge across the River Thames, my left foot slide outwards at an angle and a sharp "ping" in the top of the thigh spelt the end of my race. The next 1½ miles could only be taken at a slow walk and i could feel my body temperature dropping quickly, as i could keep no pace going, so continuing to the end would be a disaster, and i have to think long term.
I made CP2, at Benson after 19 Miles in 3hrs 15, and called it a day - something a runner never wants to do, and even though another 27 runners also withdrawing on the day, its still no consolation.
However it did teach me a valuable lesson.......................
It has only been 3 weeks since the 45 mile Country to Capital Race, and in reflection, i had taken too much for granted, as my training had been low key, due to recovery and then a minor taper, and i had neglected to keep my leg strength up with other exercises, assuming that the running would suffice. The injury was a combination of heavy feet, slippery surfaces and reduced leg strength, that i should have worked on. A mistake i intend to rectify over the coming months, so I am now putting together a series of leg and core exercises to add to my gym routine and build the strength that i will need to cope with all these races i am undertaking over the next 6 months
My next race is in 3 weeks time, but thankfully the next race on 27th Feb is only a short (well compared to this one) race, the Moonlight Challenge, a 32 mile run starting at 6pm, which i will be undertaking as revenge for not finishing in 2008, after a knee strain after mis-judging a pothole. So this time "its personal". That will then be followed by a another 3 weeks off, before the Wiggle 12 hour race on 21st March. However i need to fully recover from this injury and re-assess what i do (i.e. miss the next race) as long term i have to be fully fit for the Grand Union Race at the end of May.
Finally - My Kit consisted of mainly the same as last time (why change a good set-up)
The North Face Hedgehog GTX XCR - Courtesy of Fitness Footwear
Mizuno Performance Tights
1000 Mile All Terrain Socks
X-Bionic Accumulator L/S Top - Courtesy of Ardblair Sports
Camuflaje Polar Buff - Courtesy of Buffwear UK
Will Zoë Make History & Beat The Peloton To Paris? - Zoë Romano has set herself an extraordinary challenge to raise money for the World Pediatric Project. But will she really be able to run over 1,800 mile...
20 hours ago