Sunday, 24 September 2017

Race Report: The Robin Hood Marathon

Today was the Robin Hood Marathon. A dose of norovirus meant I wasn't able to do it last year, so I felt I had unfinished business and, as (apparently) the tenth fastest in the UK, it seemed a pretty good bet to get the sub-3 monkey off my back.

Alas, it was not to be, and the monkey remains. I hit the wall - hard - at mile 10 and from that point on I was dealing with zero energy as well as muscles that were cramping because they were running on vapour. Towards the end I also had to deal with G.I. issues caused by downing Lucozade to try and get myself out of the hole, and feet that just seemed surprisingly beaten up; it felt like the outer edge of both were bruised. I limped home in a fairly pedestrian 3:24:02 according to my watch - chip time pending - having missed all of my goals other than "don't die"; even that felt touch and go at one point!

Such is distance running. I've had races where I've expected it to be awful due to lack of training and I've actually done really well: Kielder HM in 2015 after becoming a dad for the first time a month earlier, and Kielder Dark Skies 2017 after a broken toe-induced multi-week hiatus from training, are two that spring to mind, earning me a PB (at the time) and 6th place respectively. You have to take the rough with the smooth in this sport, and I enjoyed the day, especially given that Rachel had a brilliant outing at the Half.

That said, I do find it useful to try and figure out what went wrong, so here we go...

My sleep habits are atrocious 
G.A.D. means that, at times, I'm surviving on at best three hours sleep a night. That'll stick a spanner in the works of any training cycle!

I had a cold
For the week beforehand, we all had a fairly mild cold. Nothing drastic, and certainly nothing like norovirus, but not ideal for a hard effort. 

I had tapered off SSRIs in the two weeks prior
SSRIs were causing me some undesirable side effects - not to mention not actually helping much - but withdrawal from SSRIs can be unpleasant too. Timing wasn't the best, but I wanted shot of them. Given that they literally altered my body chemistry, it's not beyond the realms of possibility that coming off them played a big part in what happened. 

My trainers - Asics DS-Racers - had mild medial posts
I don't like stability shoes, but having been unimpressed with Inov8's road shoes, and the durability of the Saucony Type-A I had originally intended to run in, my choices were limited and these seemed like they wouldn't be too troublesome. I did do training runs in them, and they were fine, but given the bruised sensation on the outside of my foot and also under the arch, I reckon they were not an ideal choice, and will be shying away from such things in the future.

I've tried to do too many different things
I wasn't focused on road marathons. I've been more interested in trail, particularly ultras, and fell, and the distance and terrain deserve respect. It was a remarkable display of hubris on my part to think that I could essentially rock up on the day, on minimal specific training, and be competitive. Even Sage Canaday, known for his "any surface, any distance" mantra, was caught out by this when he missed the Olympic Trials qualifying standard due to trying to train for M.U.T. runs at the same time, and missing an O.T.Q. is going to sting a bit.

So there we go. It's not a failure if you learn from it, and I've learned a lot. XC kicks off next weekend, which I'm really looking forward to. Time to lick my wounds so far as road marathons are concerned and come back more focused in a year or two.

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