I had recently come back from a 10 day sports and training holiday in Lanzarote. I was feeling strong and confident with my running, and so was eagerly anticipating my next race. That race was to be The Suffering Race - 10 miler (also known as "Pain and Suffering"). Unfortunately "Pain and Suffering" ended up being a pretty apt name...
Spoilers! - This isn't really a review of the race, as I only made it to the second obstacle about 400m in haha.
The atmosphere at the start was brilliant, added to by the numerous smoke bombs being set off. I was feeling good, and decided not to wear my GoPro as I wanted to race and not have to worry about fiddling with the camera. I was eager to see how competitive I could be after my recent training week in Lanzarote, so got myself near the front of the start line, and was all ready to go.
Once the race got underway, everyone shot off at a pretty fast pace, especially considering it was 10+ miles. The first obstacle was pretty small, over a couple small hurdles and under a fairly loose cargo net, which never slowed you down too much.
Hitting the Wall
Round the corner, the next obstacle was a couple 8ft slightly slanted walls. They were fairly narrow, so they quickly got congested with people trying to get over them quickly. For the first wall I spotted a gap at one side, jumped up to grab the top, muscled up, and jumped down on the other side; no dramas. I would have preferred to use the heel hook to conserve energy, and then safely lower myself down on the other side, but there was simply no space to do so with the number of people trying to get over it.
The second wall was pretty much identical to the first and equally as congested, so I attempted the exact same approach of a muscle up followed by jumping down on the other side. However, this time as my feet hit the ground there was a horrible stomach-churning crunch, as my right knee completely collapsed.
The "Pain" in "Pain & Suffering"
I knew immediately my race was over. I thought I had landed correctly on both feet, and the ground was reasonably soft muddy grass. However, it felt like my knee had basically disintegrated on impact. I still feel kind of sick thinking about it, re-living in my head the feeling of the bones crunching together.
"Are you ok?" I heard a marshall shout. "Nope", I replied haha. I shuffled over to the side out of the way of the oncoming runners, and the marshall radioed for the medics.
The OCR Community
The marshall (Tash Scott) at the second obstacle, and the red cross who subsequently took over, did a great job, and a massive thanks to them. Also the race director who said I could defer my entry since I never made it past the second obstacle haha.
Claire Milloy (who was spectating with her kids as her husband was also doing the race) was a massive help. After hearing that I was at the race by myself, happily went out of her way to make sure I was ok and give me a lift to and from the local urgent care centre to get an x-ray; despite having never met me before! A great example of what makes the OCR community awesome.
This Knee Again
I'm sure I probably sound like a broken record by now to my friends and family, the amount of times I've been plagued by problems with my right knee. The ACL reconstruction 4 years ago, another operation a year later to deal with a cyclops lesion, and then even just a couple months ago I wrote an article about Dealing With Injuries off the back an injury to the same knee.
The injury a couple months ago turned out to be a minor pinch in the meniscus, which I had assumed had resolved itself, especially with the volume of training I had comfortably managed to do while in Lanzarote. However, with the same knee completely collapsing in this race, it was no doubt related to the same injury or at least it was probably still in a weakened state.
Ironically, I'll now need to follow my own advice which I wrote about in the Dealing With Injuries post.
A Tough Pill to Swallow
The realisation that my knee is likely properly ruined again is devastating. It's hard to accept that I won't be bouncing back quickly from this one.
My grand plan for the rest of this year, getting my Spartan Trifecta, completing Man vs Mountain, the Survival of the Fittest series again, finishing top 50 in the Mudstacle UK League, all highly doubtful. Even the OCR UK Championships, which I trained hard to qualify for, now little chance of me being able to compete.
Breaking out of the anger and depression stage of "life isn't fair", "I hate my knee", etc is tough. It's certainly difficult to put a positive spin on it. Though I've been here enough times to know that attitude doesn't help anyone. Listening to my own advice, the quicker I can move on to acceptance of my injury the better.
So looking forwards, I've got an appointment with a knee specialist in a week, who I imagine will just refer me for an MRI to confirm the damage. I'm not thinking or worrying about anything after that at the moment, not any point.
In the meantime, I'm going to continue training with whatever I CAN do. Sitting down boxing with dumbbells, endless pull ups, grip strength training, anything I can do that doesn't put strain on my knee. When it does come time for me being able to race again, I'm going to make short work of any upper body or grip strength obstacles. I suppose that is your positive spin right there haha.