And this was it. All 50kms of the Royal Parks Ultra. My first ultra. In fact, my first marathon. Now I hurt, but particularly my left knee and hip, which I hurt yesterday. And that’s where my race went downhill.
The truth is that I didn’t start my race to plan, and that might have contributed to my eventual injury. I had decided to try and run even pace of 7:00-7:12 minute kilometers the whole race. Instead, my first 15 kms looked like this:
That’s not 7:00-7:12 minute kilometers.
Coupled with that, just before the 10km aid station I fell over and skinned both knees (this is from around 18km later, and after having washed the blood streaks off my legs.)
At that same point I looked like this:
And Mr. Neon said this on Facebook:
In truth (and hindsight) I didn’t feel that dodgy. In fact, I felt pretty good. This was around 28kms, I’d just seen my friend Jo, who was marshalling, I’d hit ‘home turf’ (that is, path I run regularly) and I was cruising. I was running steadily (though too fast, really). I’d listening to music for only 4kms (I was determined to only use the music when I needed a boost, and not just because.) So up until this point I don’t have too much to say.
You will notice, however, that I am eating a Calippo. That thing saved my life – the cool, icy, sugary goodness. There were a number of runners (both in and not in the race) who commented on it, mainly asking where I got it. It must have looked pretty funny, a lady running along eating an icypole. But there you go.
So, just after the 30km mark I slipped – I didn’t think too much of it, after my 10km tumble I’d slipped over another half a dozen times without hitting the deck again. Two steps later it dawned on me that I’d actually done something to myself. What I think happened is that when I tried to recover from the slip I landed weirdly on my left leg and twisted my knee. It hurt. I kept running, but with ever increasing walk breaks.
The big problem, I soon discovered, was not my knee but my hips. I’d changed my running style to compensate for my knee and my hips decided that they weren’t too happy about that.
About this point I met George, another Mind runner, who had also injured his knee. Together we ran, walked, hobbled, talked, and encouraged each other through the last 20ish kms.
I don’t remember too much about it, but I do remember running – suddenly light and full of energy – down towards the finish line, and crossing with George and a high-5.
So, that’s it. I finished my first marathon and my first ultra in one day. I hurt, I didn’t cry, and I’m super proud of my achievement. What’s next? A better time, a stronger run, more training.
It might sound silly but yesterday’s race has really inspired me to take my running more seriously. Perhaps join a gym, try and finally make it to Parkrun, do some speedwork, love my long runs.
Make the most of my running club.
And now, I want to run – because I love running. And, now I’m an ultra runner.