Falling Down…

Potential disaster at the Sheffield Half Marathon

The song choice becomes VERY obvious at the chorus!

At the moment I’m tapering towards the big one, the Blackpool marathon on the 23rd April. Sheffield half marathon was perfectly placed in the calendar to use as a race to do just this so on Saturday Kate and I caught the train over to Sheffield (its quicker, easier and cheaper for us to get the train from Widnes to Sheffield than it is to drive) to stay the night to be ready for the 9.30am Sunday start.

Prior to the race I’d had been having bother with my blisters and had visited a podiatrist. After looking at my feet, trainers etc she suggested that I should wear trainers that fit me (DO NOT go up half a size as the running shops tell you) and suggested that I should get some (semi-bespoke) orthotic in soles. These in soles came one day after the Timpell 20 mile race.

As I needed my feet to recover following Trimpell for my Swedish Arctic Snowshoeing Trek just a week later (a truly incredible week away in the far north of Sweden – I will get round to blogging about this) I didn’t have much chance to properly try out my new insoles. I also had bought MORE new trainers (this time the right size). I done a quick 4 mile run out a few days prior to the race, and although feeling like my heels may pop out of my trainers I thought I’d just need to get used to the new in soles.

So, on the morning of the race I was up nice an early for a breakfast and headed out in to the morning sun and took the short walk across the city to the start line. The atmosphere was buzzing and this felt very much like a big city race. I had the usual pre-race nerves, and I had a feeling this was going to be a tough race. I’d read about the big hill and the 5 mile incline going out of the city and even at 9am the weather was very warm! After using the facilities and getting in my re race sports drink and gels got myself in position in the blue wave and near the start line.


The race started at 9.30am and we headed out through the city. The first half mile or so of the race was a bit crowded and the corners of the course were a little bit tight and was a little bit stop start with the number of people in the race, and getting around the outside of some (yes, I know this is to be somewhat expected in a big city race).

Anyways, once out of the city centre and on to Ecclesall Road the course opened up and there was much more room. I think I’d left it too late to have me sports drink as I already needed a pee this early in to the race. I passed some loo’s around mile one, and I was having a look around for possible places to go. Then around 1.5 mile disaster happened. My left ankle just gave way on me and I went tumbling to the floor. I have never fell over in a race before. I’ve never fell over in a training run. I never ever fall over (apart from when I’m drunk, then I ALWAYS fall over!). I’m not sure what happened here. I may just of been looking for a suitable place to pee and not looked where I was going, I might just of hit a pot hole, or the insoles and extra height in my trainer might of made me fall (I suspect the latter).

After my tumble and my forward roll I went and sat in a bus stop and composed myself. My ankle hurt a little bit but I thought that I’d have a go on it, and I’d try to run it off. I was running in NWCR colours and I didn’t want to pull up and not finish. I headed back on the course and up Ecclesall Road (and found a suitable spot to relieve myself).

Soon enough the course started the incline that was well advertised. Getting out on to Ringinglow Hill and getting up to mile 5 of the course was particularly tough. The organisers even had a “King of the Hill” chipped mile between 4 and 5 miles. I was pretty slow through miles 3-5, I must admit to stopping a couple of times to check on my ankle (though I might just of been using this as excuse to rest). My King of the Hill time was not very good, but at least I passed Rugby League legend (and massive human being) Keith Senior around here.


What goes up must come down, and once Ringinglow Hill was summited the decline was just as steep and afforded some wonderful views across the peak district of this most beautiful day. I now began to pick up the pace and that average pace on my Garmin began ticking down. Seems funny that my ankle began to hurt less as the course got easier.

My aim for this race was not to go for a PB and to use this as a training run. With the heat, the hill and the fall and injured ankle a PB was not going to happen for this run, but around mile 10 I ended up near the 1.55 pacer and I through that would do for me, so I stuck near him as we came back in to the city centre.

As the crowds cheered in the city I heard a few shouts of “Go on Big Al” (I had Big Al printed as the name on my Number) this spurred me on and I gave it all for a sprint finish, coming in at 1.55.55.

Resize 1

What I would say about this race are the crowds are fantastic. Right throughout the whole course there were lots of people handing out water, jelly babies and spraying people with water pistols (in this heat this was greatly appreciated!). This is the best crown I can ever remember at any race. Absolutely brilliant, and makes me want to come back and do the race next year!

All things considering I’m pretty happy with that time. I then collected my pint of alcohol free Erdinger (apparently full of electrolytes), medal and goody bag. By the time Id collected all of this stuff my ankle immediately started hurting. Funny what adrenaline does in shutting out the pain.


I limped away for my traditional post-race photos, before phoning up Kate and asking her to get the ice ready for me when I got back to the hotel. I got back, iced up for as long as I could then got ready to get the train back to Widnes so I could get home and recuperate.

After looking after my ankle and going through the whole RICE process on the Sunday night, I woke up on Sunday morning with a rather large, and very sore ankle. I’m lucky enough to work for an understanding employer, and I am able to work from home which was needed on this occasion.

Again after restringing and icing all Monday morning it wasn’t getting any better and I took a trip down to the walk in centre. After looking at my ankle and me telling the triage nurse that I was running a marathon in 2 weeks she just chuckled and said “no you’re not”! After a nervous wait for the results of an x-ray I seen a Doctor and we looked at the x-ray which surprisingly to the Doctor, and much to my relief was clear! I asked the Doc if the thought I’d be able to run in the marathon. He didn’t say I wouldn’t, but said that it might be possible to run the marathon with lots of resting and icing.

As it is I don’t have a choice. I will be taking part in the marathon. If I’m able to run it all the better, but I WILL get round that course.

I have been a bit lazy in writing up this blog entry, and I now sit here a week later on Easter Sunday I have spent the week resting my ankle, and getting plenty of ice on it. My bruising and swelling has gone down, and although it’s still a little sore, there is still evidence of some swelling and its clicking like hell I’m confident that I’ll be running the marathon next week.

My lessons learned from this race is to STOP if there’s a possible injury. It is not wise to “run it off” with a marathon around the corner. Especially as this marathon has took over your life with all the training and effort I have put in.

Now for a week of rest (well maybe some light training), eating and looking after my ankle before the big one next week.

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