Aug 10, 2014

My Achilles was great during the warm up. In fact, I couldn’t feel it at all. But just 500 metres into the race it started to hurt – REALLY HURT.

I continued, but the Achilles kept getting worse. The pain was so intense I was seriously worried it was going to snap. Strangely, I was passing each check point ahead of expectation, slightly ahead of four minutes per kilometre pace.

I managed to get to the half way point at the top of Heartbreak Hill in 29:20, and then it happened. My lower calf tore. It had been taking all the strain that the Achilles couldn’t. The Achilles pain had been very bad, but now it felt like a thousand knives had been thrust into my calf.

I had no option but to withdraw – only the second race I’ve ever pulled out of in my life. My left leg simply wasn’t working. It was nothing more than a crutch for me to balance on, with the right leg doing all the work. Continuing would have almost certainly resulted in a snapped Achilles and six to twelve months off, possibly never able to run properly again.

I’m obviously very disappointed. The worse thing is I was on track for a good time. I have always run the second half 2:30 to 2:45 faster than the first (the first half is predominantly uphill, and the second half downhill). My 29:20 at half way indicates a total time around 56:00, and probably no worse than 56:30. And because I was running on one leg I wasn’t even pushing as hard as usual. So I was feeling pretty good in the lungs.

At least it shows I’m still a chance of one day “beating my age”, perhaps in a couple of years. I now have to get over this injury and maintain my consistency. Despite the injury, I’ll have to eke out a couple of very slow Ks over each of the next few days. I’ll explain why in the days ahead.


On This Day


Aug 10, 2012

No report for this day, as I was on a break renewing visa waiver conditions for the US.


Aug 10, 2013

Distance today = 48.87 km; Total distance = 24,557.68 km; Location = Naracoorte, SA – 36 57.280’ S, 140 44.603′ E; Start time = 0827, Finish time = 1559


Awoke to a cloudless sky, and relatively warm temps. Although a few clouds did gather later, and a cool breeze sprung up, it was still a very pleasant day on the road.

It’s beautiful sheep grazing countryside around here, and a pleasure to run through. I learned something about sheep today – they recognise each other’s voices. I was passing a large field, with many hundreds of sheep in it, when a lamb starting bleating. It was the only sheep making any noise at all. All of a sudden, from about 200 metres away, an adult sheep started bleating too – just the two of them calling back and forward. The lamb started running toward the mother, calling all the time. They were still the only sheep making any noise. Eventually the lamb made it all the way to its mother, where it began to suckle.

Today’s run was over the same course as an afternoon stage of the Tour de Bois in 2010. Into a stiff headwind, the peloton was sticking together as it rode toward the finish line in Naracoorte. As the 5 km To Go banner was reached, Chips decided to go for a lone breakaway. Cycling fans always love a lone breakaway, perhaps due to the tragic reality that, despite their bravery, they rarely win.

The peloton was slow to react, probably expecting Chips to fade. He quickly got out to a 200 metre lead. A disorganised peloton is the friend of a lone breakaway, and so it was on this occasion. No-one wanted to chase, because they’d have to do the work into the wind, so Chips stayed out in front as the finish line approached.

As he passed under the 1 km To Go banner and started to show signs of fatigue, there was finally an attack in the peloton, and the gap narrowed. Fortune favours the brave, and Chips was about to be favoured on this occasion – there was a 500 metre long uphill just before the finish line.

Now, hills are not really Chips’ strength, but nor were they the strength of those pursuing him, particularly Reefton Humblewood, whose heart shrinks to the size of a pea when the gradient turns up. The hill was enough to prevent any of the chasers from reaching him, and Chips earned a courageous and memorable victory.

The VC demonstrated his power, by blowing away the best of the rest in the sprint for second place. The VC is certainly a rider to be feared when he’s at his best. Anyhow, I enjoyed reliving the exploits of Chips and the VC as I ran the same course today.

Tomorrow I run through the Coonawarra wine region. I’m looking forward to that.