I pulled out of this year’s Brathay 10in10 on the morning of day 5, this had always been a possibility as I came into the event with an injury to my medial ligament on my left knee. Even though I was braced for this possibility, I still felt a little deflated. I decided to stay up at Brathay Hall to help support the remaining runners.
In my spare time whilst helping out, I was able to take advantage of the facilities available around me on site at Brathay Hall, I had some regular dips in the ice bath and treatment courtesy of Vikash, my physio for the 10in10 challenge. Over the coming few days the swelling went down and the pain reduced. Although I knew it would be some weeks before I would be fully recovered, I made the decision to run the main ASICS Windermere Marathon with hundreds of other runners on day 10. This was certainly not the sensible thing to do but something I felt I needed to.
When competing in the Brathay 10in10 I don’t consider it a race against the other runners, I consider them as my team mates. I consider we are all in it together and the challenge is simply to complete the course 10 times. In a way, I consider this tough hilly course as the competition. With dropping out I felt like the course had beaten me and I didn’t like this. To run the last day was like me getting in the last word. It also meant I would have completed 5 of the 10 days making it seem like a draw, 5 for me and 5 for the course. Which is a much better result than losing 6 to 4!
Vikash kindly taped up my knee the night before to hopefully help support the injury with instructions to take it easy. When I have done the 10in10 I miss the mass start and its atmosphere so it was great to be able to soak it up. There were lots of friends around and it was nice to catch up with them. I liked the range of comments I got, from “Great to see you running after dropping out” to “You shouldn’t be running.” There was certainly a lot of shock on peoples’ faces which I liked and added to my own excitement and the importance of the race to me.
The race started and I felt energised by the atmosphere and wanted to show the course that it hadn’t won and just what I could do. Over the 4 marathons during the 10in10 I had kept feeling tired and my pace had been poor. Even though still injured I wanted to do something better, a more normal faster time (sorry Vikash). I started off running strong and even ran up Devils Gallop, the biggest hill on the course at mile 7.
The section of the course I like the most is between mile 8 and 10 where the road is quiet, there is some beautiful natural woodland here and it is downhill. Sadly, the downhill wasn’t the best conditions for me today and aggravated my knee. The further I went down the mile long hill the worse it got. By the time I had completed the hill my knee was very sore. The rest of the course up to half way was relatively flat, this eased the pain in my knee and allowed me to continue to run at a good pace, getting me to half way in a respectable 1 hour 46 minutes.
The third quarter of the course is probably the toughest section, it just keeps going either up or down like a rollercoaster. Every downhill made my knee hurt more. I tried all sorts of alterations to my stride pattern and the way my feet landed to reduce the pain but it was intense at the point of landing each stride.
By the time I had got out of this section of the course and to Bowness the pain and the effort had drained me and I sadly decided to just coast the last few miles to finish and simply enjoy the scenery for one last time this year. Finally, I came up the drive and on to the lawn of Brathay Hall to be received by a wonderful cheering crowd. My finishing time was 3 hours 53 minutes 12 seconds, slow for me but my fastest time on the course this year. It was also a nice feeling to know I’m the first 10in10 runner to have dropped out of the event, yet still manage to return to run the final day.
I have been analysing my running at Brathay this year wondering why I have felt so tired towards the end of each lap as I’m not normally like this. It has taken me all week but finally I think I have come to the conclusion that ass my knee is sore I’m mentally having to cope with the pain and concentrate on altering my running style and how I land my feet each step to minimise the discomfort. This means I’m using different muscles to normal, my calves and knees less whilst my quads and glutes more. All this is tiring me out both mentally and physically by the time I’ve run 20 to 22 miles.
I understand I need a rest and to fully recover to get over these problems to run normally and faster once again. This will be my plan now and hopefully in a month or so I will be back running normally, enjoying myself and running faster. I’m sure Vikash and head physio Adam will be relieved to hear this!!