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Tantalising failure

Feeling good at 5km
[Photo courtesy of Jenny Barker]

As I went through the 8km mark, gradually closing on a bunch of runners in front of me in today's Central Coast Half Marathon, I told myself that I just had to keep going like this for another 50+ minutes and I would have a good run.  I had avoided looking at my watch so didn't know what my pace was, but club-mate Melissa was one of those I was catching and I was pretty sure she was going to run in the low 90s (final time 92:26).

Then, on a minor corner on the winding bike path, I felt a little twinge in my lower right calf.  Twinges come and go all of the time at my age, so I concentrated on maintaining my form and hoped it would go away as most others do.  Five hundred metres later it was still there, and although I had easily maintained my pace, I was starting to worry that it might be more than a twinge.  It was now moderately painful on every step.  I ran another couple of hundred metres trying to favour the calf a little and loosen it up.  That didn't work, and I knew I had to make a decision.  I could keep running and it might yet go away - maybe just a minor cramp.  But it could also get worse and if I pushed on it might become a serious injury, taking a month or two to heal.

With great frustration, I decided the risks of continuing were too great, and the rewards too small, and stopped at about the 9km mark.  Then, I had a long walk back, sharing my misery with a girl who had also dropped out, until we were lucky enough to get a lift to the finish with club-mate Jenny who had been out taking photographs.

I'm disappointed and depressed.  Disappointed that I didn't capitalise on my fitness and see what I could run for a half marathon at present.  I can speculate, but that's not reality.  Depressed because I now fear the injury will significantly hamper my preparation for the Bogong to Hotham 64km in early January.

Eight hours later, the calf is sore walking around, though not acutely painful.  I hope my DNF has indeed saved me from a worse injury.  Nevertheless, history tells me that regardless of what therapy I employ it's going to be something like three weeks before it is whole again.  I know I've had a good run for six months and was overdue for a running injury, but that doesn't make it any easier.