Finally off the bike, I headed into the change tent to swap shoes and gear for the run. My first steps out of the tent were through a nasty patch of mud which claimed hold of my right shoe. It sunk entirely into the muck, and as I strode forward the shoe remained. I ran a few steps in one sock, now covered as well in gunky mud, before slowing my momentum and returning to pry my shoe loose from the earth’s grip.
Unfortunately, this was the same side on which my Achilles tendon had been troubling me, and the yanking out of my shoe tweaked it a bit further. I originally hurt my Achilles while running speed intervals on the treadmill several months ago in preparation for a January marathon. It had been bothering me on and off ever since; though mostly off until (of course!) I arrived in Australia. For whatever reason, it was particularly flared up all week. I tried my best to baby it, getting a massage and a chiropractic adjustment and stretching as much as possible. Most of all I tried employing the power of positive thinking by telling myself and everyone else it was feeling better - but in all honesty it was not.
I started out the run feeling strong - a typical Holly run leg where my best-of-three-sports strength comes out and I pass people in droves. The spectators were all commenting on how fresh I looked, and I ran the first of three laps with good energy. But my optimism was subdued by my nagging Achilles, which was really giving me trouble, especially as I ran up the big hill.