It was a long run, so I’m afraid this is going to be a long post…. Let’s start with the morning of the race. There I was on the start line at 4:45 AM. The sun was coming up and all I could think about was the 100km of road in front of me. It was the fifth edition of the Hida Takayama Ultramarathon, held annually in Takayama, Japan. As a non-Japanese visitor, I felt a bit like a stranger in a strange land. But it didn’t matter. We are all equal on the starting line when stripped down to the bare essentials.
There are two full marathons offered in Hong Kong. The big one is the Hong Kong Standard Chartered Marathon and the other, smaller affair, is the China Coast Marathon. For most people, it’s a matter of choosing one or the other since they are usually only a few weeks apart. This morning I ran in the China Coast half marathon, my third time taking part in this event.
I was running strong, stronger than ever. Finding gears I didn’t know I had. Pushing harder on longer runs. I noticed improvements on my heart rate which corresponded to the feeling that I was running faster with less effort required. I was recovering quickly from hard workouts. My weight was down to lower than ever, maybe even lighter than when I was in high school 25 years ago. My marathon PR of 2:56 would be easy. Maybe it would be closer to 2:50.
In my last post I mentioned that I was suffering from a strained hamstring. I mentioned that I might not be able to run in Macau or that I might not be able to run as quickly as I had hoped. But a weird thing happened. Three days before the marathon I had to do a fair bit of walking around work and by the end of the day I noticed that my left knee was sore. No big deal, I thought, but then I woke up during the night with some fairly noticeable pain! A day later, two days before the marathon, I could not walk without feeling sharp pains coming from my inner knee area. WTF??? How did that happen? After running 70 mile weeks, how did I get injured from just walking around? I searched the internet and figured that I was suffering from an inflamed bursa (I still don’t know what it was for sure). My theory is that after I injured my hamstring, my muscles tightened up considerably and that put some strain on the knee (you can read about the chain reaction effect of hamstring and knee injuries if you check around). So I iced it like crazy and that seemed to help, but as time ticked by I was fairly certain that I was not going to be running on Sunday.
I suppose that all adventures must have their moments of crisis. For me that was last week when I managed to tweak my hamstring. Nothing serious. No dramatic popping sound and searing pain. Just a niggle and the feeling that something was definitely not right. With only two weeks to go until the marathon, this was definitely a worry.
It was a good week of training, more or less. That is until this morning when I pulled my hamstring on my last long run. Two weeks out from the marathon. Shit!
I’m now three weeks away from my goal race: Macau Marathon 2015. I just finished the last 20 mile long run and so now the training will settle down to reasonable levels.
So the key at this stage is to focus on the mental game. I’ve narrowed it down to three priorities (sorry for the blatant self-affirmation):