What a season it has been. I have completed a lot of goals this year, pushed myself and this has unfortunately led to my first real sporting injuries. Both injuries occurred in the later stages of marathon training and I believe had a significant impact on my race day performance.
Injury one was Achilles tendonitis in my right Achilles. This happened 3 weeks out from the Vancouver BMO Marathon. I believe it happened because I did a 35km training run at fairly high pace on the Saturday, and then I had a 10km race on the Sunday (Vancouver's Sun Run). This race involved standing around getting cold for about a half hour before the race, then trying to blast a PB 10km. I think it was this going from cold to pushing it that caused the injury.
Three weeks later, and almost no running I fronted up to the BMO Marathon to run a 3hr 6min marathon. This was followed by two months of recovery, no running, but swimming and I ramped up the cycling towards the end of the time off.
At the end of this two months I started training for the Victoria Marathon, an intense 5 month training schedule. Amongst this training I was also swimming and cycling, aiming at doing my first triathlons.
Fast forward four months and some knee/hamstring/calf pain took me to the physio which led to a wild goose chase to find the problem, messed with my running stride and generally left me in a bad place. I think the problem was caused by an imbalance in the muscular strength of my left leg, and that mixed with overuse led to this problem. Really all I needed was rest, but instead I figured getting a physio to stick needles in it would be the best option. Always looking for the quick fix rather than listening to my body and resting almost screwed me big time.
Anyways, I ended up having a good part of a month of no running before the Victoria Marathon, and missed my really long important runs. I definitely felt this on race day. My first run was a day before the race, and I was pleased to find that I could run with only a bit of pain (a week before hand I could barely take two strides). By this point I was just stoked to be lining up at the start line to try and race. There is a lot of energy at the beginning of a Marathon, I was so pumped to be at that line. Five months of training is a long time, and when you're there standing there waiting for the start gun, you think about those five months of training and all the hard work you've done! You realise that with a marathon, a lot of it isn't the race itself, but the hard training and all the fitness you build getting there.
After all that, and such a shitty lead up to the race, somehow I managed to pull a 3hr 5min personal best, not the sub 3hr that I wanted, but I am blaming that on bad training. I will have to wait until next time. The race itself was difficult. The first 25 kms was relatively easy to stick to my 4min 10sec pace, but from that point on, the wheels fell off, and I rapidly lost pace. Marathons are funny how the mind knows what the legs need to do, but the pain and fatigue just builds up and makes it ridiculously hard to press on. It becomes a mental game of convincing yourself that there isn't that far to go, or breaking it up into "manageable" chunks. In the end all I wanted to do was run the whole race, and not stop to walk, which I managed. The human body is amazing at persevering once you get going, but once it stops, it says that enough is enough. I managed to pick the pace up to a 4min 30sec pace for the last KM, but the second I crossed that line, my body just gave up. I must have looked thrashed when I crossed the line because the medics came rushing at me. I was fine, but so sore I could barely walk.
Now it is time to take a small break from running, let my legs totally repair themselves then start up again with some fundamental strength work, and then ramp up for Marathon season again next year, with the goal of running that sub 3hr race. While the weather is nice I will focus on some bike riding, and while the legs are still recovering keep the swimming up. They are the easy ones to let slide over winter anyways.