The day after Jedburgh Half Marathon I had my follow-up appointment at the physio for my foot. I had been pleasantly surprised that it had held up so well during the race, so much so that I had convinced myself that it was not fractured. How could I run a half marathon with a fractured foot and it feel no worse after the race than it did the previous day?

Less than 24 hours after a tough race the runner within was back in control of my brain and I was ready to get the ice baths out for another few days and prepare for Strathaven 10k, one of my favourite races of the year. The physio had other ideas. I did indeed have a stress fracture and the reduction in the symptoms post race are apparently as much because of the increased blood flow. He was very quickly able to pinpoint the troublesome area and cause me some acute pain. My foot was going to need “a few weeks” to recover. Hopefully 3-4 weeks but in bad cases this could be longer. I was initially still pushing for Strathaven and he humoured me and suggested I see how it was by the end of the week after some rest. Even while I lay on the table having the foot treated I decided that the recovery period ought to start immediately.

Previous injuries have taught me that the stated recovery time usually means the time until when you are actually allowed to jog gently for 10 minutes or so, not when you can actually start to really run. I was already thinking that I might need 6 weeks before I could re-start training. With Edinburgh marathon getting ever-closer, I need to be training in earnest by early in the New Year, if not before.

Another practical consideration was that I had a busy period of business travel coming up and this would actually be a good time to rest and not feel like I was going mad with lack of exercise. I am now allowed to swim, but cross-trainer, rowing and cycling are off limits along with the obvious ban on running, at least until my physio review appointment next week. I am taking the chance to rest my legs a little and mentally re-charge a bit.

After all, it’s still 197 days till Edinburgh Marathon.

 

I am a little late in providing my report on the Jedburgh Half Marathon, but it has been a busy week. This would be the race where nothing really fell into place. The day started off well enough. While my previously reported stress fracture of the metatarsal was not without pain it had improved significantly. When we started out for Jedburgh the conditions were bright and dry and we arrived in town in plenty of time. Parking proved a bit tricky and we spent around 10 minutes getting a spot about 5 minutes further away from registration. The registration then took around 10 minutes more than expected. Somehow or other the distribution of numbers all seemed to be for the table marked 401-650 and the queue for numbers and chips went out the clubhouse door. It was now only 35 minutes or so to the start and we had to get back to our kit at the car and do final prep. Another walk through what has to be said is a lovely town.

My own prep included testing out my foot. I had promised myself that I would not run if I did not feel able to run fluently. I had my custom gel protector fitted but it didn’t feel comfortable, even without my body weight on my foot. A slight jog on the return to the car had indicated that this may be a race too far for me. Once I got properly laced up and tried it out, I had to concede that running was a mess. The discomfort was such that I was running with a limping gait. I tried up and down the street a few times, could get no stride going and speed was nowhere near where it would need to be. In a final desperate attempt to race I removed the gel padding, laced up and tried again. Amazingly, the foot felt immediate relief and I could run freely. I hollered out in surprise and got on with a very, very rushed last minute preparation. Warm-up consisted of a run through town to a final toilet stop and then heading for the starting line. On the way I found that my Suunto had unexpectedly reset and had decided that we were now at 9pm at some date in 2003. Just great…..

After the loo and on the walk to the start line I reset the Suunto again and connected to the heart rate monitor and the foot pod. All went well until it reset again after 20 seconds and back I went to 2003. Standing in the huddle at the start I gave it one last attempt and all was well with the foot pod detected and heart rate displayed. Phew!!

The race started and we wound our way through town. Once we crested the first hill and headed out of the town centre I checked my pace and was a little disappointed to find my watch back in 2003 and the displayed time at 9.01pm. I decided to live with it – a sound decision given I had no other choice – and run with only a 9pm start as my point of reference.  For a runner that checks the data every minute or so, this was going to be a shock, and for 13 miles!

I wanted to hit splits of around 6:20 for as many miles as possible to give myself a chance of 1:25. Even taking my lack of granularity in timing into account the first 3-4 miles were close to the goal. After 5 miles I felt my foot very uncomfortable and seriously considered what the most convenient way to drop out would be. All of a sudden I had someone on my shoulder with a pace that seemed to resonate and the next thing I was feeling fine again. There was a long mainly downhill straight somewhere around 6 miles and I ran this section well and at a good pace. I even found time to chat to a fellow runner, who warned me that mile 11 was the tough one but after that it was downhill into town. At the turn after the loop I was suddenly running into a breeze. It was not exactly windy, but there was a significant breeze that had not evident earlier. there had certainly been no evidence of any breeze helping me along so far. All of a sudden I was now facing the prospect of the return journey along the straight, this time into a breeze and slightly uphill. This was my worst part of the race and I lost something like 10 places in around 1-2 miles. Around 9 iles I realised that I still had a chance at 1:25 if I could improve the pace. The 11th mile was harder and slightly uphill but really was not too tough. At this point I then noticed the runners ahead of me heading uphill. Up a steep hill. A steep hill that went up a long way. It was then that I realised that my fellow runner’s warning was intended for an obstacle at the 11th mile marker and not the 11th mile. My big push through what I thought was the toughest part had left me a little fatigued and trying to run up a big hill in the 12th mile of a race. I had a runner pass me like I was going backwards and probably 3-4 pass me o this hill section.

At the top of the hill I gave myself a kick up the backside and pushed for the last mile and a bit. I knew 1:25 was gone, but perhaps 1:26? For a small town, the approach into Jedburgh seems to last for a very long time. I did manage to pass a few people in the last mile but I was feeling tired and crossed the finish line beating 1:29 by only a whisker.

With hindsight this was a solid performance for me. I was a little disappointed at my lack of leg speed around the 7-9 mile segment and need to do more work on speed when fatigued. I lost some consistency in my pace due to the foot and this cost me a few minutes and I have to accept that the course was more hilly than I had expected. I had also taken a significant step towards my goal of the full marathon in Edinburgh, but I will need to do a lot more work.