At the start of 2012 I felt confident that this year was going to be a great year for Running. I was signed up to do the Blackpool Half Marathon http://www.fyldecoastrunning.org/ at the end of February, my training had continued through winter and I was relatively healthy after Christmas.
It was around the beginning of January when, after going out for a steady 5 mile run, I started to feel a bit of pain in my chest. After the run it was taking me a long time to recover and I was wheezing a lot, at the time all I put it down to was the fact that it was windy and my asthma had flared up a bit. Undaunted I completed a similar run the next week with the same results at the end of it. Rightly or wrongly I still put it down to the fact that I hadn’t trained into Winter before and it was just a case of getting a few runs in and getting my lungs used to the different weather.
Come the day of The Blackpool Half Marathon and I’d had a terrible night’s sleep, about 3 hours in total, which is all you need when you’re about to run upwards of 12 miles. Looking back I should’ve made the decision then not to do the run, I didn’t feel right at all but I put it down to tiredness more than anything. I had decided that the best thing to get me through this race was listening to the Danny Baker Show http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00mjjxr each episode comes in at around an hour and a half and I was aiming to be around 9 – 10 miles as the first episode finished (that was the aim anyway). At the start of the race the first two miles were a struggle, my breathing was erratic, my ribs felt like they were burning and my whole body had gone tense, I’d never experienced these problems running before. I’d got to the 7 mile marker and was sent the wrong way by the stewards who, I’m assuming, thought that I’d already been round once and directed me towards the finish line. I crossed the finish and activated my chip for the following time:
Position 176 Bib 1128 First Name Steven Surname Claringbold Chip Time – 01:32:38 Gun Time – 01:33:47
I would’ve been well happy with this if I’d ran the whole race but I hadn’t and I was angry (Apologies to Grahamo’s wife Lindsay who had to recover my hat and gloves after I threw them off in disgust) . I’d been sent in the wrong direction and had to work out how to get back on course. I asked a steward who directed me to run up the beach and turn left at the first turning. I worked out en-route that this had actually added a mile to my run but I was more determined than ever to finish now. Once I was back on course the next 7 miles were the most gruelling I had ever endured, I was in pain both physically and mentally but I was trying to block this out and get to the finish line. I’d worked out that I was around the three hour mark and a steward driving past told me to keep going as there were 7 people still behind me. This spurred me on to the finish line which I crossed at 2 hours 55 minutes obviously this time was never recorded as I’d already crossed the line once and it was disappointing to myself as I’d completed the previous half marathon in 2 hours 28 minutes and was aiming for somewhere around that time. Looking at the pictures after the event I saw that I looked very uncomfortable and I’d never seen myself like that before (as well as that my hair was a mess, I would get it cut two days later – http://www.thatchhairtechnique.co.uk/.) Sitting down and reflecting on the race afterwards the time wasn’t too bad considering I had an extra mile to contend with and the wind was very bad that day, without the extra mile I reckon it would’ve been closer to 2 hours 40 mins. What did get to me was the pain my body was in, it was a pain I’d never experienced before as a runner and I knew something was wrong. So the next day a trip to the doctors confirmed the worst, I’d been running with a cracked rib for around two months and the worst of it all I’d contracted pneumonia. The thought that I had just ran a half marathon not only with cracked ribs but with pneumonia scared the life out of me, I could easily have caused myself serious damage or worse I knew that I had to take care of myself and scale back a bit, it was time to have some time off to recover which would, in itself, bring even more problems over the next month and a bit.