Before we start this post – a bit about the title.
A speed wobble – also called a tank slapper – is a motorcycle racing term that refers to the a sudden loss of control where the front end (the handle bars and front wheel) decides to snake and squirm. It often occurs when you hit a bump in the road. It’s called a tank slapper because the ends of the handlebars slap off the tank in a fairly violently.
There are two outcomes from a fast speed wobble – instantaneous death or straight back into the race. All you can do is hang on.
My trip to Italy starts today with a Ryanair bird of freedom to one of the Milans (there are at least three Milans when you think about airports) and then 200 miles tonight in a Fiat Panda.
How will the race go?
Well, let me recap my two weeks of taper and you can decide.
About 10 days ago I started by tapering the mid-week runs to 7-8 miles by cutting back a mile of hills. I did the last long run – 20 miles – last Saturday in full race gear and race fuel.
Over the weekend I put in two decent dog walks of about 4-6 miles each and did my coaching bit for the local Soccer club on Sunday. I think I did the garden as well (as an excuse to not clean the house). None of this was in any way unusual from anything I’ve done since January.
On Monday I went out for another 7 mile run to keep the aerobic fitness ticking over and to keep the nerves at bay.
After a mile and a half I stopped and walked home.
My right ankle, and in particular the outside of the calf, had a tightness in it that was not responding to my usual “t’is grand, keep going” approach to soreness. In other words – this one didn’t feel good.
Since then I’ve stayed away from running and have felt the pains of a man on the cross in both feet and legs. I’m around long enough to know that most of these are just taper pains and they’ll go once the endorphins kick in. The pain in the calf was one that felt like something baaaad was about to happen. A tightness before a SNAP!
On Monday evening I’d have put my chances of getting to 10km into the race at about 40%. Today I’d put that at 80% but will I finish? How will this speed wobble go?
I’m trying my best (and failing) to be sanguine about it. The timing of it is the main issue; I haven’t over trained and have stayed within my limits at all times. If it happened a month ago or even two weeks ago I’d have put it down to over training or wearing shoes past their sell by date but this was a situation where the shoes had been replaced on time, the body was listened to and the engine was never allowed to overheat.
And therein is the problem: everything has gone well. If the race on Saturday was a disaster I could at least walk away from it knowing that I had given it my best and it was just beyond me. As it stands now it looks like I will (at best) be in for a long day of hobbling.
All I can do is hang on and hope that this speed wobble ends well and it’s not the ending from the Sliver Dream Racer.