This is what happened yesterday:
Woke early, had breakfast, and left home at 7.30 precisely to run the 22.1 miles to Grantley for the morning's 10k race.
I took with me a hand-drawn map of the route because many of the roads I planned to run along were unfamiliar to me and, of course, I didn't want to get lost. On this map I had noted the distance at various places and my expected time of arrival at those places.
The first timing point was Pool and by that stage I was two minutes ahead of my schedule. But I was OK with that, at this early stage it would be easy to slow down fractionally. I did and from that point on I was always two to three minutes ahead of my target pace of 8:30 per mile.
Between Killinghall and Ripley though something happened ... I suddenly felt a sharp pain in my left foot (fourth metatarsal head to be precise). I limped for two or three strides and then continued running but all the while I was aware that something wasn't quite right. I can't say it was painful though.
Arrived in Grantley almost half an hour before the race was due to start so I found Mick Jeffrey in the car park (he had agreed to give me a lift back to Otley) who later arranged for me to get a lift home with David Fox. The 22.1 mile undulating run from Otley to Grantley had taken 3h 33:30 at an average pace of about 8:18 per mile. Pleased with that.
The Fountains 10k itself also went well. I enjoyed the sunny conditions (but not the strong wind) and ran well within myself to finish in about 42 minutes which is the fastest I have managed a 10k since September 2008. The hills were quite hard into the headwind though but I did manage to run the final mile quite a bit faster than the previous miles which I'm pleased about.
At the finish line I received a spot prize of a bottle of Viking Bitter from Rudgate Brewery. The bloke handed it over with the words "here, you look as if you deserve this". Little did he know.
Thanks to Mick and David for arranging my transport home. During the race my foot felt fine and any potential problem had left my mind entirely but when I arrived home and rested for a while I found it very difficult to walk and putting any weight on my left foot seemed very painful indeed. I took some ibuprofen and iced my foot and wondered what to do as I knew it could be a few days before I could see a doctor because of the weekend and the Bank Holiday.
After a few hours with my foot in the air I realised that the minor injuries department at my local hospital would be open and so off I limped and after an examination and an X-ray it was confirmed, much to my relief, that there was no damage to any of my metatarsals. It looked very likely that it is just a bad case of metatarsalgia and that R.I.C.E would be the best course of action. Of course, without a sports injury specialist being available it was impossible to obtain a 100% accurate diagnosis.
As I write this, about 28 hours after the initial injury, the pain has almost subsided but I'm still icing and taking ibuprofen regularly. I now feel a lot more positive about the next week or so. I was going to run 24 miles this morning but before going to bed last night I realised that would be a foolish thing to do and so I've decided that my next run will be the first Harrogate League race on Thursday evening. But I will keep monitoring the situation and will not jeopardise my ultra racing plans.