RACES: Struck Down at Howth

As I'm just back from the Lake District, this will be slightly old news: Coming off the final bits of the descent at Howth, and just about to complete the first lap (about 20 minutes out), I misstepped and was sent crashing, elbows and knees first, into the rock-strewn path.

This took a lot of skin of my left knee (most of it in fact) and re-opened the old puncture wound from Three-Peaks on the right, while I got away with scratches on the right elbow and wrist. It was funny that Mick should write me the next day that it was almost exactly a year to the day of my last, and so similar, accident coming off Pen-y-Ghent after 12km of the 38 in the Three-Peaks.

A few notable differences, however, as I struggled to my feet, I couldn't get my legs moving or working at all for many minutes after and had to sit down dejected and moaning in the grass next to the trail. At 3-Peaks I had somehow got going again, broken the pain barrier, and completed 26 mountainous kilometres with fatty tissue hanging open out of my knee.

The impact force was the main difference, having run hard for the first lap and eager to regain time on the runners in front of me, I gambled wildly on the descent, neglecting to pay heed to the fact that I haven't run slopes fast for ages and am rusty in this respect. Thus I hit the ground much worse than the pedestrian pace the year earlier had generated.

I was carried by Eugene Coppinger and Keith Daly half-way back after which my legs started working again. The shower at Howth was a great help in getting the wound cleaned effectively and so was the expertise of Mags at the ceremony. I tried stubbornly to retain my unbroken run, managing a slow 1 mile jog on Thursday evening, but by Friday, newly arrived in the Lakes (of which I'll write much in my next article), I was in severe discomfort and had to visit the hospital to get the cuts cleaned and was put on antibiotics.

While I salvaged something of the weekend and managed to power hike the next two days in the hills, Monday eventually saw the fall of my streak, which I'll now have to restart.

It's quite uncertain at the moment when I'll be running again, but I reckon I can start jogging within 3-5 days and racing within a few weeks. This rules out Hellfire and potentially Ticknock and given I look like losing 3 of the 7 races I had planned (having already stayed clear of Bray for tactical reasons), the Leinster League looks a remote possibility and I may shift my focus elsewhere for this season but I'll need another look at the calendar.

Particularly infuriating, of course, as I was the next runner after Donna Mahon (who finished 13th) at the time of the accident. Cormac O'Ceallaigh was next behind me (he finished 20th), so I had a good chance to better my best Leinster League placing (17th at Scalp and Brockagh last year).

Well, back to the drawing table, the Lakes made me realise a very important thing about my current approach that will make a massive difference to my approach to hill running, so perhaps this accident was more a "forced correction" than a "bump in the road". Time will tell...

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