Last night when awake I came to conclusion that the chance of being well by Sunday morning was basically zero and decided it best to pull out, but left the door open to making a final decision in light of day. I still feel rotten, and while I'm familiar the marathon taper madness that can suppress ones feeling of well being prior to a big race what I have is in a different snotty league of it's own, I'm ill plain and simple.
Lessons learned from past bravadoAbout ten years ago I faced a similar situation, a heavy cold prior to a two day hiking expedition across to Knoydart on the west coast of Scotland. It rained for the whole first day and I just put my hood up and got on with it. We camped in the boonies and the next day I awoke to having a cold and painful inner ear. As we were out in the wilderness with no roads we had only one choice - to go on to our destination Inverie or back to our car, both were equal distances and at that stage I was just uncomfortable so we pressed on. Through the day my ear got progressively more painful until the last few hours I could really speak to me friends, I was just hunkered down in my own world of pain putting one foot in front of the other to get the youth hostel where I could rest.
We arrived at Inverie and headed to the pub for tea, but I was in so much pain that I had to leave early unable to eat, and couldn't sleep either, during the night my ear drum burst. The only route out from Inverie is by boat and the first one headed out the next morning so we caught the first one back to Malaig we could and found the doctors and was given a presciption for pain killers. This helped but on the drive back I was close to passing out so we had to pop into A&E in Fort William where they prescribed even stronger pain killers.
On returning home I was bed ridden for two weeks and got prescribed several rounds of anti-biotics to clear up the ear infection. I had never known discomfort like this in my life and never been bed ridden before so it was pretty humbling. I lost the most of the hearing in my left ear during this period, and didn't fully get it back for many months afterwards. Even now a decade on my hearing, especially in noisy environments, isn't as good as it once was.
Risks and rewardsI have really been looking forward to running the Jedburgh Ultra. It's a perfect distanced ultra to end my race year and the route looks great, and save for problems with my plantar fascii that have dogged me over the last 8 weeks I knew I was in good shape both physically and mentally for race.
This time last year I did the Glen Ogle 33 Ultra on the back of rather insufficient training due to injury, but was realistic I raced well within my fitness level and finished strong. I really really enjoyed the race and it gave me a new sense of confidence about my ability to run longer races. It's this race that gave me the confidence to sign up for the Highland Fling 53 mile tour of the first half of the west highland way, this represented a big step up from my previous longest race which was the 41 mile River Ayr Way Challenge race back in 2010. The confidence was well founded as my training this year and my races have all gone well with PB's on almost all the races I've run this year.
I really wanted to be able to gauge things again, and sign off the year with a good race. With this done it would be time to re-evlauate prospects for next year and what races I should considered signing up for.
Another motivating factor of doing the race is the inner science geek in me what to know just how well one can predict race performance on a new route based on training data. This science geek also was curious about just how the body would respond during and after the race given my rather unfortunate illness during taper.
Counter to all this, I'm a family man and I run my own business and have clients that depend upon my ability to function efficiently and intelligently. The big risk is not that I might have a crappy snot filled death march of race but doing an ultra would break down my body enough that opportunistic infections would take hold. Having had a bad ear infection floor me before I know just how foolhardy it can be ignoring illness when undertaking big physical challenges.
Sense over BravadoIn my heart I really wanted to race, and still do, but even with a foggy head I know that it makes sense to pull out and not risk getting more ill than I already am. So with a heavy heart I've decided to pull out.
Best of luck to all those who will be toeing the line at all the races in Jedburgh and elsewhere tomorrow, my envious thoughts will be with you!