The Bits In-between

Things have been a bit shit of late. You may or may not recall that I finished day 2 of the Race to the Tower double marathon weekend strapped up and limping. Physio and osteo sessions followed and I didn’t run a step for what would turn out to be 5 weeks. Shocking really, considering from March to October I am ordinarily running a race a fortnight and should have, during this period, been ticking off the marathons on my race to the 100 Marathon Club. Sense prevailed.

Sense, he says in his best Christopher Walken voice, since when do you have sense?

And I followed all the advice, I stretched and exercised. I did my rehab and took the painkillers, and strapped it up, and DID NOT RUN. I decided to be sensible, heed the warnings of the good people I surround myself with and so I started cancelling races.

I first transferred my spot at the final running of the PICNIC MARATHON, billed as the UKs most difficult, that boasts half the field dropping to the half after the first hill.

I cancelled the hotels for the Saturn Running STAR RUNS  – EPISODE IV A NEW RUN, and the GOBLING KING Labyrinth 6 and 7 hour races.

Stoke on Trent Festival of Running was an utter clusterfuck of an unforeseen magnitude. The RD was bananas. No comms. The comms we did get we got from the Twitter volunteers, who had no idea what was going on. Many of us bailed on that one. And so STOKE ON TRENT MARATHON was also off my list.

The SUMMER PHOENIX 6 hour race at Walton on Thames was cancelled, another marathon opportunity at the venue where I completed the 12 in 12 last year.

And the LEIGH TRACK MARATHON was a race too far for me. I bungled it down to the half, and then did not run it at all.

I know a period of injury or sickness can hamper your racing year, but that post Tower period, combined with my current lurgy, has meant I missed 6 marathons and are therefore 6 behind my 100MC plan.

The thing is that I WANT to run. I want to run these races. I am not spending more time coming up with excuses and lies of how to get out of them. I am furious with the situation and glad to be fortunate enough to book my races up to a year in advance. I still have a cracking year ahead of me.

  • PRIDE 10K
  • HOTH – HELL ON THE HUMBER
  • MERREL NIGHT RACE
  • LOCH NESS MARATHON
  • GREEN MAN ULTRA
  • CHELMSFORD MARATHON
  • YORK BONFIRE 10K
  • ATHENS MARATHON
  • SAN SEBASTIAN MARATHON
  • NOTTINGHAM MARATHON

So I do still have 5 marathons and 2 ultras this year to come, will be running in 4 countries but that doesn’t always make you feel better, not when your injury starts to finally subside, you run 3 10Ks (Ware, British and the Guinness World Record attempt I MOVE LONDON RELAY), and then you get sick again… but first…. Leigh.

At least I achieved something during this period… a leg over…. I mean…

Leigh

Last weekend I was signed up originally for the Leigh Track Marathon. The Twins Colin and Keith would be there, Secret Marathoner possibly, and from the St Illtyds Crew Bri Shaw and Ant. Matt Bowman would also be joining and soon I was booked into a hotel, and a marathon that I really could not run. And so I dropped it down to the half. Rach Shaw, Rachee Vee, Bri and Ant were also running a Tough Mudder and so I bowed to peer pressure and signed up to that too. A 2 race weekend was exactly what a post-injury Darren needed. And so I got all the gear for Mudder, packed up my race kit for the mara and headed north.

The LURGY

This sucks, and not in a good way. 2 weeks ago I joined Gary (WelshinLondon) and Jenni Morris at the Mile End Parkrun. It was during what the press called the POLLEN BOMB and was as hot as hell. Pollution was at a high (it is London after all) and after a sweaty run around Parkrun I almost immediately gained a cough, and chest constriction.

I have only ever had the proper flu once, back in 2014, for 10 days. Since then and before I put my hand up and admit that every cold has been just that, man flu should involve manning up. My colds follow a simple pattern. It starts post-nasal, then a sore throat, burny eyes, aches and maybe, very rarely, I get a cough. That is the MO for my colds. This was something different. An allergic reaction for someone without allergies. It went immediately to my lungs, no other symptoms, and it has stayed there for 2 weeks and counting. I was literally coughing so hard first thing I would cough until I vomited. On more than one occasion I would catch myself smelling my beard, and thinking it stank of vom.

And it is not just me. A workmate ended up at A&E getting a steroid injection for the same lung lurgy, and I have been coughing up all manner of goop, blood and all from the shower in the morning to the shower at the end of the day. Again, it sucks, and not in a good way.

Leigh Again

What this sickness meant, was that, as I coughed my way up north, found the first hotel disgusting (no AC, sticky carpets, double glazing on a blistering hot day and tiny windows opening onto a main road) and so booked into a second (with AC and a pub right by the Leigh track) I cancelled the Leigh track marathon, after dropping it to a half. I did run the Pennington Flash Parkrun before with Matt Bowman and Rach Shaw, but ended that coughing up a lung in 33 minutes and change.

The track marathon was a no-no from the get-go. But still I had to go, as I had to cheer on the peeps. Running isn’t always a personal thing, it isn’t always about me-me-me, or bungling your way to 500 likes on instagram for walking to the shops, or being an inspiration to hundreds because you came up with a new excuse not to run today, it is about the people. And so in the sun, the rain and the wind I cheered them on for 52 and a bit, and 105.5 laps, prepping gels, handing out drinks and high fiving, and taking photos. And they all did amazingly well. I only wish I could have joined them.

The Plan

Well, I am still coughing, but the daily bloody phlegm shower has stopped, the steroid and antihistamines are working and I am confident. I have the PRIDE 10K at the pancake flat Vicky Park on the 11th. That has been the PB race for 2 of the last 3 PBs. And then I have the HOTH the week after. That starts at 7pm on the Saturday and will involve 6 hours of running over the Humber bridge again and again and again. I will be running with DesignRach and she has the idea of running 5 laps or 20 miles in that time. I would like to run 7 laps or 28 miles so I can at least recoup some of the 100MC loss once I finally am fit and healthy once more.

The Shoes

Your shoes are key. You wear the wrong make or model and you are in a world of pain. I learned this lesson very early in my running life, with a pair of Nike Lunarglides and Pegasus destroying my feet and giving me Morton’s Neuroma. I stopped after my second right toe on my right foot got so bad I could barely walk and need an operation to fix it.

Brooks Adrenalins seemed to lessen the toe pain and I wore Brooks for a good couple of years, or until the latest incarnation looked more like Herman Munster shoes and were so controlling I could not run in them at all without being in a whole lot of leg pain.

And so I embarked on journey to find the new shoe as I came up to Berlin Marathon 2015.

It was around this time that Profeet in Fulham came to my attention. They offered a service where they complete gait analysis, check the pressure and time of contact as you run over a Kistler plate, telling you whether you are forefoot, mid foot or heel striking, and how your feet move between landing and take off. But, being a nob at times, I became aware of Profeet, but had just discovered On Cloudracers and so did not go see them and thus wore On’s for the next 3 years.

During this period of enforced lay-off, with On stopping making my Cloudracers, I have decided to find the next shoe for me. And, trying to do it right, and not half arsed as normal, I decided to go to Profeet in Fulham this week and see what they recommend.

I ran barefoot and got the dynamic analysis above completed. It showed my foot striking was ok, my centre of gravity, but also that my ankles try to move and break out a little between take off and landing, and are only ok because I take off before they can get away with it.

A motion control shoe would not do me and my 2E width Hobbit feet any good at all, and so it all comes down to comfort. I have been trying out the Nike FLEX for the last 2 weeks as a walking around shoe and, after a chat, it seems as if they would be ideal. So I got 3 pairs. And am now going to use them at Pride, HOTH and hopefully take them forward into the autumn marathons. They are lightweight, wide, and have an ample sole that protects most, if not all, of my fat feet.

And Finally

Ultramag is a big glossy read. I read the 9th issue and liked what I read. It was written by runners, edited and then printed by runners. Having just completed the Threshold Race to the… Series I thought  I would write about that. I did and it will be in the September edition. And I wrote about the St Illtyds ultra family that will be in the October edition. Hope you enjoy it.

Final Word

Oh, I still do not have the Threshold Hoodie. It has been nearly 2 months and I am quite disappointed with how this has gone. You get the hoodie for completing the Race to the… Series. In the grand scheme of things they got most right, the race, the marshaling, food, etc. They did promise this, and for a £500+ series of races the gesture of a series hoodie was a welcome one. But first they fucked up the order. Only one person on our group of a dozen got a tee or hoodie at the race. Threshold then went quiet. They refused to answer any emails. And when they did they said it would go out a month later. It did not. We ended up having to go through the Tower twitter account to get to the Threshold office. Another month past and again nothing. They blamed the supplier. Then said it would be sent out that week. It did not arrive. And then they said the supplier would be sending it directly. Well, I don’t have it yet. It has been 2 months. I wrote a lovely article on the races and organisation, I did enjoy them, but this is hanging over the whole experience and sours it. You really can tell that an organisation, RD, individual doesn’t give a flying wank about you when they do this. You are just money. You are an entry fee. Post-race you don’t matter. Which is odd, as Threshold took on board all the criticism we leveled at them after Stones and King in 2016. Ah well, hopefully I will be warming myself post 28 miles of HOTH  in my series hoodie. Here’s hoping.

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