14 September 2009

Temporary Like Achilles

Cotswold Classic 10 (miles, that is) yesterday. I prepared well, with pasta the evening before and porridge for breakfast, and I armed myself with the energy gell from last week's goodie bag - a high-caffeine one. Even so, as I lined up ("Where's the start?" "I think it's that yellow line across the road") I remarked to James that I never felt as unwilling to run as when I am about to start a race.
Last week had to be consigned to the dustbin of history, so I resolved to keep to a sensible pace. Trish mentioned how I had set off at a cracking pace seven days earlier, and other clubmates agrees, so I asked them to tell me if I was ging stupidly fast. Some hope: I left most of them well behind within the first mile or two.
It's an attractive course, though the "Cotswold" in the name should be ample warning that it will involve hills as well as lovely stone-built villages. I fell in with a lady from the local club (though she lives in London, she told me), who warned me of the ascents and gave me advance notice of the descents, and all was going very nicely at a little under 8 minute miles, until some way after the 8 mile marker, head down, arms pumping, getting up one of the hills on the balls of my feet, my right Achilles tendon issued an unmistakeable warning.
I stopped to give it a good stretch, half-thinking I wouldn't be leaving the company of the two marshalls at whose post I had paused, but (after Trish has passed by) david appeared and I tagged on with him - just like the previous week. But I had to let him go after a short distance, and I stopped to stretch again. A spectator with two young children offered me jelly babies for energy, but that didn't answer my need (even if they had been gelatin-free, which I doubt): the frustrating thing was that I had plenty in the tank, and I'd have been finishing well ahead of those clubmates but for the twinge from just above my ankle.
I did manage to run the last couple of miles, after a fashion, but what should have been an exilerating descent to the finish (discounting the last quarter-mile or so, uphill into a school site and round the playing field) was a disappointment and the final part was an ungainly limp. 1:26:43 wasn't bad, all things considered, but it failed to deliver the uplift I had been banking on. And now I have the prospect of a week or more resting before I can do any more running.
On the other hand ... 16 years ago this event was my first serious race, and in all that time I haven't had a race marred by injury. That's not too bad an injury rate.

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