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Musician. Triathlete. Almost.
Musician. Triathlete. Almost.

Manchester Marathon: Race Analysis

Bishmanby BishmanMay 1st 2012
Result: DNF
10K - 00:43:08
10miles - 1:10:53

Woke up 6:45 feeling really good. Had breakfast of porridge with honey, seeds and fruit (Yum). Looked out the window and the weather was shit. Hard rain, hard wind, gloomy clouds looking like they would take a week to pass. Weather forecast had predicted rain from 9am until 8pm. This was a lie because as soon as I stepped outside to walk to the tram stop at half 7 it was already raining. BUT... I was in the North and I was about to run a marathon. If ever there was a time when "mustn't grumble" was applicable, it was now.

After some wrong turns coming out of the tram stop at the other end I got to the start line about a minute before the start and positioned myself ahead of the 3:15 pace makers but behind the 3:00. Bang. The gun went and we were off.

Settled into my stride pretty nicely - almost straight into it. My Endomondo sports tracker shows only about a mile before I really settled into a 7min/mile pace. I had set a best case scenario time of 3:00, but realistically expected closer to 3:15 or even 3:30 given the conditions. I felt good and strong as we headed out of Manchester, past Old Trafford football ground (given some of the language, I guess I was running next to some City fans). Around 4-5 miles in I started to get quite warm - I had left my fleece on, with charity t-shirt on top but also with a helly hanson base layer at the bottom. Just had boxers and running shorts on my legs because I feel that running requires wearing shorts, whatever the weather.

Perhaps leaving the fleece on wasn't such a good idea. I got heavy in the rain so probably didn't keep me much warmer than I would have been with just the base and t-shirt, and it added extra weight.

Anyway, I kept running. Took water at the first fuelling station, energy drink at the second, water and gel at the third. Around about 8 miles in my hip was starting to feel really painful, and not in a way that was telling me I was just pushing myself hard, something which I could be strong and withstand, this was a pain that was telling me something had gone wrong. After 9 miles I had a couple of short stops to stretch out my legs and hips before picking up the pace again but I was not feeling good anymore. The hip had got worse and was sending pain down my leg, behind my knee to the underside of my foot. Obviously at 10 miles I was on 1:10, so still on track for a good time, but I passed the 10 mile mark I slowed down to a walk it then took me 35 minutes to struggle through the next two and a half miles, despite cheers of encouragement from the crowd and fellow runners (C'mon pal, dig in!) I decided that as useful as their advice was, it would be better to drop out than to walk the remaining 14 miles.

I approached a marshal and they didn't know what to do. He advised I carry on walking for a bit and ask the marshals further down for assistance. I limped slightly further down the road before an altogether more helpful steward grabbed me and told me she was a doctor and that she lived in the house she was stood outside of. There were quite a few marshals around, so she was able to stay with me and invited me into her home out of the cold and the wet and gave me tea and flapjack made by her daughter. I sat there and got warm before she drove me to the tram station to get the tram back to the start. She really cheered me up and helped me out massively - some people are so kind. I don't know what I would have done without her as it didn't seem like they had a plan of action for runners dropping out, or if they did it wasn't made clear to the marshals.

This was my first (and last!) DNF and it seriously frustrated me. I was really prepared for the run - I had tapered really well, carb loaded over the week before and spent a lot of time relaxing (taper is quickly becoming my favourite part of training), I slept well in the nights before and nutritionally was constantly fuelling during the run - both water and sports drink. When I dropped out I was not tired as though I had run just under half a marathon - I genuinely feel as though I could have continued at the 7min/mile pace for the rest of the race had my hip not vetoed it.

So that's the story. The next bit is just for me, but if you're as geeky as I am you might be interested in it..

How do I feel now?
Two days after the run I have a few aches. Oddly enough, my knee didn't hurt that night. I took some ibuprofen and went for a pint. Spent a total of 8 hours the next day sitting on coaches travelling back to Bristol via London (took the opportunity to throw in a cheeky concert on the way home).

Walking around London, having been sat for the 5 hours from Manchester, was painful. Especially walking down stairs, which seemed to really hurt the knee joint. It tended to loosen up and actually hurt less the more I walked on it. The same thing happened getting back to Bristol.

I cycled to work today (total of 8 miles) and it felt good. I barely noticed any problem with any joint - knee or hip. What I have noticed as well is a pain in my other foot which has been there since Sunday night - it's almost like that feeling when you wear leather shoes and do them up too tight which causes the laces push the leather into your foot resulting in a stinging feeling.

What caused the injury?
I had been having a bit of trouble in the month or so before but had genuinely thought it had fully cleared up. I had been given a lesson in hip stretches by a piano pupil of mine who happened to be a physiotherapist (who has done alot of research into triathletes!) which had really helped the situation. Obviously it wasn't completely clear, since it came back with a vengeance.

It could be shoes. I had a gait analysis done at Moti and bought new shoes after the Bath Half. I suppose they haven't really been run in properly but I can't remember whether the hip pain originally came as a result of a bike crash on 24th March or the new shoes on 13th March. Possibly a combination of the two. The fact that I have one side painful joints and a painful foot on the other leg suggests it might be the shoes.

With hindsight, my stretching was not very thorough. I found a spot out of the wind to do a few stretches before I started to run but think I should have started running slower and built up the pace over a longer distance considering the conditions of biting cold wind and heavy rain. I just wanted to get warm and perhaps this is what actually cost me.

Where to from here?
Going to the doctors tomorrow morning and I will go from there. I'll probably start a regime of stretching and hip strength exercises to get it back in shape. Possibly some yoga or something similar as well. Certainly no running for a while but it seems like an active recovery is the best option - rest and stretches. This will obviously include a reduction in cycling and swimming.

I am already signed upto the Edinburgh Marathon on the 27th May but whether or not I will actually go through with this and run it I haven't decided yet. It would be a good morale boost to finish it - I still have never run the full distance in one go - but I don't want to push too hard and ruin any recovery progress I've made. The priority races are the triathlons starting in June so the most important thing is that I want to be fit for these.
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