The decision on whether to race or not when carrying injuries is always a tough one. For me it usually comes down to factors that include
1) Is the race somewhere beautiful. That I want to run
2) Is the race important
3) Am I going to make the injury worse by running and
4) How sore will it be
Endurance Life put on an excellent series of races, deliberately stationed in areas of natural beauty. Living in Edinburgh, I do like a good castle, and the Northumberland coastal trail has castles in spades. I have not spent much time exploring this coast before, and on foot, during a race seemed an ideal way to do so. The knocks I was carrying were more annoyances rather than significant injuries. I’d been elbowed in the ribs and had my foot stood on playing football in midweek (that is what I get for having a clumsy touch!). The ribs grumbled taking a deep breath and when running quickly, whilst my foot has some interesting looking bruises.
These annoyances were blown out of the water by the prospect of a decent outing on a baby blue weather day. The van was fully frosted over, and the stars out by the time I got to sleep. Having come directly from working at the Edinburgh vs Ospreys rugby game I wasn’t sure I’d packed a pair of trainers- leaving office shoes or rugby boots as alternatives. I’d ran a few hills before in a pair of office shoes and did not fancy a repeat.
Fortunately when I woke out the Merrell’s were there, and I jumped on the bus to the start line. The route itself was a linear and varied one. The birds sang and my mood splendid at the start. After only a couple miles my race was nearly over. Having already been outwitted by one gate, I tried to jump one, and succeeded only in giving myself a fence in the baby making department.
With one thing and another- running quickly was catching my ribs a bit I ran a pretty conservative race. The course was a superb mixture of coastal trail, sandy beach, dunes, along with some mud (where would we be without mud in March) and road. It was great to see great fields for not only the ultra, but also for the marathon, half marathon and 10km- many people I spoke to said it was their first. I was a little caught up in the scenery, getting a little lost a couple times although this was entirely my own fault- the routes were well marked. I ran steadily, taking a gel every 30 minutes, and aiming for make sure I finished in 4 hrs 40 minutes as my good friends Mike and Jess McKenzie were getting married nearby- this would give me the time to scrub up.
Banburgh Castle imposes itself for many miles. Spectators can see the finishers approaching many miles off, and the encouragement was welcome. I finished in 4 hours 32 minutes, finishing first in the Ultra and well in time for the wedding.
Endurance Life put on a fantastic series of events, I can recommend trying one of them for yourself. I used Merrell’s new kit for the season, the All Out Rush trainer (review can be found on runblogger) and Science in Sport nutrition.
Good luck to everyone running races soon- next one for me is the Glasgow to Edinburgh double marathon at the start of April.