Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Marathon Des Alpes-Maritimes, Nice – Cannes

Well, I guess its safe to say that I over estimated my fitness and under estimated the demands of a marathon.

My preparation for the marathon wasn’t the best. I only managed four runs, the longest of which (26k) was, until the marathon, the furthest I’ve ever run before. I had wanted to do a final 32k run, which I thought would be a good indication of how my legs would hold up on the marathon, but my blister got too big and I decided to let it heal.

Although 26k was the furthest I’ve ever run, I felt strong through out and thought I was fit enough to manage another 16k. My captain found this funny and looked at me if I was mad, but I knew best. Well so I thought!

By the time race day rolled around, my blister had shed the old dead skin to reveal a new, soft, pink layer. It really needed more time, but it was good enough. When registering for the marathon, I had a little wander round the expo and fortunately picked up some blister plasters, called Compeed. I’m normally skeptical about products like these, but needs must. The patches stood up to the huge test and passed with flying colours.  After the marathon, I had no discomfort, pain or extra blisters in the area, which was a huge, but pleasant surprise.

I was shocked at how many people ran the marathon and it made me wonder how it would feel to be part of the London Marathon. It was hard to get into any kind of rhythm in the first couple of k, as people were all over the place, weaving in and out. By about 3k it had calmed down a little, but I still had to concentrate on what the other runners around me were doing.

Around the 7k mark I had settled into my groove. I was finding the pace easy to maintain and decided to push a little harder so that I was on the heal of my pacesetter. At about 12k my groin/pelvic area started to feel tight. I hoped that it would just feel uncomfortable for a few k’s and start to ease of. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case and it gradually got worse. As a result of the stiffness my legs felt heavy and it was an effort to run. By the 16k mark my pace had slowed to 05:30 /km, which was 00:30 slower than it should have been. Still I continued on and at the half way mark I was clocked at 01:50. I knew now that a 03:30 finish wouldn’t happen but I was still hopeful of a sub 04:00.

My pelvic/groin pain continued to worsen and by 26k I was in agony. I can’t remember exactly when the 04:00 pace setter over took me, but when he did I felt crushed and finally allowed myself to walk and try and ease the pain.  I was so annoyed that my body had finally decided to break when it mattered. I couldn’t understand why it was happening because apart from my blister, I’ve never experienced any running related injuries.  Even now, the only explanation I can think of is that I hadn’t run for two weeks prior to the marathon due to my blister and on my first run back I pushed too hard.

This didn’t occur to me at the time and I struggled to come to term with what was happening. Apart from the stiffness and pain, I felt fine. I was running so slowly that my breathing was nowhere close to a pant and I knew that if my legs would loosen, I could pick up the pace. For a long time now I was being constantly over taken. Mentally, I wasn’t in a good place, and watching people breeze past me mad it worse. I’d be lying if I said the thought of quitting hadn’t crossed my mind (to be fair that’s what I wanted to do when the 04:00 pacesetter went past) but I dug deep and made it to the finish line in 04:31.

I’m not, or will ever be proud of the time I completed this marathon in. I know a lot of people don’t agree with this, but I’m a competitive guy and I know I can do better. I know now that I attempted to run 42k at a pace that would have been a push to maintain for 21k. Still, I wouldn’t change what happened. I’d prefer to blow up like I did and come away with a lesson learnt, than to have finished in a quicker time, but be left wondering if I could have done more. I gave it my all on the day and I can be proud of that.