Shepshed 7 – Sunday 2nd November 2014

When I made the decision to enter this race, only a few days before it was due to take place, I was optimistic that my virus nightmare would finally be over. I was starting to feel a bit better, but on my final training run on the Thursday, I still felt “leggy”, and drained. I thought I was pushing too hard, as it felt like there was a lot of effort involved, but the reality was, it wasn’t anywhere near as quick as I thought.

I wanted to run this race well. I needed 55:30 for club gold standard. This would leave me needing one more distance for a gold certificate, and I’d found a 10k, just in case. If I was fully fit, 100%, based on my mid-summer form, it was achievable.

But I wasn’t 100%.

The sore throat hadn’t shifted, and I needed to take some paracetamol before leaving. I had a niggly cough, which could’ve been illness, or just the fact it’s late autumn, and my asthmatic lungs are sensitive first thing, and at dusk. I have increased my preventer, to combat this. Other than that, I felt “okay”.

I have also started to use my new Saucony Virrata 2 running shoes; I had so far found them comfy to run in, despite the zero drop. I put this down to wearing Converse a lot. I was looking forward to seeing how I would race in them.

I was picked up by my good friends, Lou and Gary, in plenty of time to get to Shepshed. It was wet, but started to dry up by the time we arrived. I collected my number, and bumped into several friends, who offered words of luck, encouragement, and advice. The main theme, though, was that most were running for the t-shirt. All finishers receive a good quality, technical t-shirt, which this year, wasn’t just bright green, but was long-sleeved, ideal for running at this time of year!

I made sure that I had a decent warm up. I was cold when I left the building, but by the time I had finished, I was definitely warm, maybe a little too much so! I heeded the warning signs though. The race start is downhill, and I noticed that it, or rather, I was going far too quickly. I only needed to maintain a steady pace of 7:56 per mile, or 4:56 per km. The first two miles were well below that pace, but I felt okay. I didn’t feel like I’d pushed it.

My trainers, on the other hand, were becoming a mess. The route starts from the high school, and then goes across the school playing fields, and then into the Garendon Estate, which is the home of the DeLisle family. It’s a lovely rural setting. The rain had produced lots of big puddles. Big, muddy puddles. Not only did this mess up my lovely new shoes, but it was not possible to see potholes, which were hidden under the muddy water. Worse still, some parts of the path were just covered in mud, and even on the first lap, I was already filthy! I was well and truly out of my comfort zone, goodness knows how I’ll cope with cross country!

As the route headed back to the school, and the start/finish area, or, as it was at this point, the end of the first lap, it started to climb. It was logical given the quick, downhill start! The feeling of nausea that overcame me was not expected, however. I felt so close to throwing up, I almost considered dropping out when I got back to the school. But then I thought of the t-shirt. I was definitely on for my target time, at this point, and if I kept it steady, I could pull it off. Then, as I ran back into the school, and the ground levelled off, the nausea went. “Okay,” I told myself, “just keep it steady, use the downhill to recover”.

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I managed to keep within target pace, but then the nausea overcame me again, at exactly the same spot. It felt worse, and I began to struggle up the hill again. By the time I reached the housing estate before the school, I felt awful. I saw that I had probably about 300m to go, and nearly projectile vomited. The only thing that stopped me was a bloke was overtaking me as I turned to look for a suitable place to throw up. There was no point in stopping, and with whatever strength I could muster, I crossed the line in 56:34, over a minute slower than I wanted.

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It took a good hour or so to stop feeling sick. Cliff, from Beaumont Runners, fetched me some water, and a lovely lady, Frances, fussed over me, making me feel bad for attempting to run in the first place. The problem is, it is hard to make the judgment call over whether or not to run when you are in that in-between stage. There is a time when it is blatantly obvious you shouldn’t be running. As you recover, and as long as the lungs are clear, it’s okay to resume running. I didn’t feel like I was pushing myself in the early stages, and it was the advantage of the hill that I think gave me the good start. Since Sunday, my condition has deteriorated, and I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve come down with yet another cold, or if it’s the same one fighting back. I’ve been ill for about five or six weeks, and I’m writing this from my sick bed. I’m fed up. It happens every autumn. Weeks of sore throats, temperatures, and dizziness, interspersed with moments of hope and optimism.

On the plus side, I don’t have to worry about entering another race, and getting my standard. I also have my t-shirt.

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As for my trainers, I had no problems with how they feel, but my OCD paranoia over running through muddy puddles on what is effectively farmland well and truly kicked in. I can confirm, though, that sticking them through the washing machine on a delicate cycle, at 30°C, with just detergent, has done no damage, and they look as good as new! If only the same could be said about me.

Sigh.

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