So probably not the best idea to have shin splints three weeks before the big race and do no running. For some reason in the past any similar ailment would clear up or at least lessen over a couple weeks. In the time since the Around the Lake race on Oct. 16 to race day on Nov. 7th my shin didn't feel a whole lot better. Luckily Mel Bos (part of the women's team) brought her husband, Kevin, who does massage, physio, ART, etc., and he suggested we try taping it up the night before the race. I'd seen it done on the internet and thought it couldn't hurt to try. I also hit the advil heavy the day before which seemed to help.
After a rushed trip to get to Gibraltar late Friday night, then a quick look at the city and The Rock on Saturday, the race came all too soon on Sunday. It was nice for a change with the race start being about 300m from the 'Athlete's Village', a cruise ship brought in just for the runners and support. In the darkness we made our way along the dock to the line. Supposedly we were to run one lap on the street near the cruise ship and then make our way over to another part of town and continue for 19 loops of just over 5k. And I thought 10 loops of 10k in the past was bad! Anyways, somehow the leaders were told to do another lap so already we had run farther than we were supposed to, like 100k wasn't enough. We ended up doing a shorter 12th lap to make up for the extra distance at the beginning.
For some reason, the 19 laps didn't turn out to be as bad as I thought it would be. Maybe because we ran the first few in the dark so when it got light we had only 17 more to go. No, that's not it. Can't say why but this race, although being my second slowest 100k time ever, seemed to go by quite quickly. The course was horrendous: the first 2.5k along the seedy waterfront of Gibraltar made you want to run with others just as a safety precaution (strength in numbers); the path for the first half of the loop was broken asphalt and a lot of twists an turns AND a hill thrown in there leading up to the water station at the halfway point. I remember thinking how the hill would seem like a mountain in few hours (I never did walk one step on any of those 'climbs'). The second 2.5k of the loop was slightly rolling with a downhill that brought you back to a two-way stretch where you could see runners' positions relative to yours. It also led back to the main aid stations for each country. Once again all the support we had from our gang was stellar. Never at loss to offer food or drink or encouragement. One of the main reasons I keep coming back is because of the great group of people that accompany this race.
The first 30ks were awesome, I was on my pace to hit 7:29 overall. Within minutes of reaching the 30k mark I could feel something was wrong. The legs started getting heavy and it was hard to keep up a decent pace. I tried to keep it up, honestly I did. At 50k I knew any chance for a PR was over and it was all I could to just to keep moving and not either walk or drop out.
The race took its toll on the men on our team save for Thierry. He had a great overall race and finished in 7:40-something. Jack and Rick went out with injuries. Matt started out strong and I remember passing him about halfway. Darren was flying out of the gate and I really thought this would be his day to go sub-7:30 but then I noticed where we passed each other was getting closer and closer meaning he was slowing down. The women all did great with Denise being our superstar finishing in 7:56 for a new Canadian women's record.
When I finished it was probably the most anit-climatic of any 100k race I've done. I was really glad that it was over but didn't get that rush of emotion that I usually do when I'm about to finish. Maybe it's time to either really focus hard on this event or pick another distance and concentrate on that. No more of these years where I try really hard at doing well at many different distances and end up not happy with any of the results.
Some good advice: don't donate blood the day after flying home from Europe and five days after doing a 100k race. I'm still feeling the effects.
Pictures of the trip to follow soon!!