Whether it’s ‘just another branded race’ or actually the biggest gathering of world-class OCR athletes in the race calendar, the OCRWC required qualification, and qualify I did.
At first, I didn’t think I would be able to go – it was considerable expense, a week off work and a long way to go for someone that can’t stay awake on the Wednesday after a race. After a few ‘once in a lifetime’ comments, and a long hard look at my finances, I decided that if I took on a tutoring job and pulled a lot of teaching classes and made myself available for extra evening clinics, I could just about scrape through. With the help of my trusty travel agent, Nick and Gazelle Travel, I was booked up and on course for a whistle-stop adventure comprising a quick tour of Chicago, Illinois and a drive through Indiana before finally reaching Ohio, where the race would be held.
In the weeks leading up to the worlds, I still competed in the likes of Nuts, River Rat, Bigfoot Challenge etc, but rather unfortunately managed to collect some minor but niggling injuries – the cartilage under my kneecaps wasn’t doing so well, the sesamoids under my right big toe became so inflamed and swollen that a stress fracture was inevitable. My wonderful physio, Femke, patched me up, prodded me with ultrasound and shock wave and trashed most of my trainers, grudgingly allowing me to keep the Runnegades if I ordered and moulded special insoles to support my horribly painful feet. I had to stop sitting for long periods (nigh on impossible when you have to finish your thesis), to ease the pain in my knees.
Then came possibly the worst one of all; whilst training at Nuclear (and realising just how much work I had to do), I pulled my pec major on the sternum checker.
FYI, that really, really hurts. I didn’t notice the damage for a few days, as you don’t tend to use the central portion of those muscles in day-to-day activities, but a casual pull-up in my living room one evening made me feel like my chest was ripping in two, and I felt shattered. No upper body for me, as I couldn’t even support my own bodyweight in a pressup. With the Spartan Beast coming up, I knew that I had to take it very easily so as not to exacerbate what could have been much worse. I decided to shelve training, wander the Beast, and that was pretty much all I could do.
A week before I was due to leave for the worlds, I was working 10am until 1am on both my thesis and in clinics. Stressed and exhausted, I wanted so desperately to be able to do myself justice and get back to training, but resting was the best thing I could do for myself. Thank god, my chest healed in time. I went climbing on the Monday before my flight, and rejoiced that my chest wasn’t painful. I completed a couple of 5ks with Remy and even did a Parkrun (which was so hard that I wanted to melt into the tarmac).
Resolving to simply ‘look after myself’ and ‘do my best’ and other eye-roll inducing platitudes, I truly thought my trip to Worlds would have been wasted, and toyed with bailing.
Thank goodness I didn’t.