The problem wasn't fitness, as I had been putting down some reasonable times in recent weeks, including a 14k threshold run that was not too far outside my best, but rather a number of injuries that were all reaching the point where training was becoming difficult. The groin was so bad I had arranged for another round of cortisone injections for late Jan, my left achilles was needing every second day off, and the pain in my right knee that had been around for 2 months was getting worse as well.
So when race day rolled around, I decided to simply just go for it, and try and hit splits for a sub 5 hour finish, hoping everything would hang together long enough. As it turned out, I simply wasn't in shape to run sub-5, particularly given the warm conditions which caused a lot of people to run below their best.
|Greens Bush outbound journey|
I started off pretty well, running in a group that included Kirstin Bull, Dan Langelaan, and Kevin Muller, but by the time we reached Greens Bush on the outward journey, my achilles was screaming and the pain was radiating all the way up my leg. The long stretch on Hyslops Road didn't improve the situation, and combined with the knee soreness on my right leg, every footfall had me wondering why I was doing this.
|Through the Rosebud street section link up|
The hike up Arthurs Seat was a welcome respite, but then it was more painful downhill to the turnaround point at Dromana, to ring the bell, and start the journey back to Cape Schanck. As I got to the top of the hill on the way back, I noticed the pain in both legs seemed to be easing off a bit, most likely due to more uphill hiking, but as I went down some steps, the first of the cramps started to appear.
|Back along Duells Road|
From pretty much the 33k mark to the finish, cramps in my calves, quads & hamstrings caused multiple stops and walking breaks, where I would have to stretch out or relax the leg until I could continue. Let me be clear - I don't believe cramps are caused by anything except going too hard for your current level of fitness or ability, and there was no doubt that today I had seriously overestimated what I was capable of.
|Raising a shuffle for the photographer|
Surprisingly, I hardly got passed at all for ages, only dropping 2 or 3 spots through Greens Bush, but after crossing Boneo Road, the cramping stops became more regular, and I probably dropped another 10-15 positions in the last 5km on the Bushrangers Bay track, as the smarter runners filtered by with monotonous regularity. Eventually, I hobbled across the line for a 5:44 28th place finish, and getting to go across with the kids was the highlight of my day.
|Being helped across the line by my cheer squad|
Much like Surf Coast, I didn't feel too disappointed with the run given my physical condition, but I knew I had to rethink my approach to training and racing. My body has just not been coping with the workload, and at some point I will need complete rest, get over the injuries as well as I can, and rebuild my gait and training program from the ground up. Running is simply becoming too painful to enjoy any more.