After my not so great preparations, I felt calm and relaxed heading to the meet point. I had a plan, get back into the later pens, 4hr 30mins and above. 3 reasons: 1 to see how my calf was. 2 to pace myself and not allow myself to go fast too early & 3 to chat to a friend & calm him down for his 1st marathon.
I kept a slow pace up to 6 miles, then I headed off at my own pace when the crowds of runners dispersed. No issues with calf so I was confident and aimed for 4:15 finish. Got to mile 17, hamstrings felt heavy so did some light stretching. As soon as I started to run again I felt a pain which reminded me of my medial meniscus issue I had when I was a kid. Meniscus is a piece of cartilage in your knee, I thought I had an issue with my outside one, lateral meniscus.
I carried on and the pain disappeared, but every time I stopped for any reason the pain would recur. This was worrying. I got to mile 21 and felt good. I was on target for a 4:10 finish as I hit the Mile 21 Mark at 3:23. I stopped once more because I had to, then as I started to run again, BANG. The knee pain was so intense I collapsed. I struggled to get up, even my left hamstring got cramp so I had no chance! The great people Of St John’s Ambulance helped me a lot, asked if I was ok to walk but I really couldn’t weight bare. The sudden realisation of not getting a good time hit me hard and I wasn’t in a good mood.
I was carted off to the nearest tent, details were written down and my intercostals were tingking from the lactic acid. I was almost down and out. I was fairly sure the pain was meniscal, but I had no choice other than to take pain killers and walk the rest of the course, 5 miles! I thanked the crew and hobbled along without bending my right knee.
I collapsed in pain again somewhere around mile 23 and was almost down and out. But the help from fellow runners to get me up and moving again was great, just what I needed. The crowds got bigger and louder as I hobbled along. As time went by the pain killers had kicked in. I was so determined to finish and make the most of it, I decided to run hard the last 2.2 miles. And I did. I fell to the floor straight away at the finish line in pure exhaustion, more mentally & emotionally exhausted than physically.
After the race I decided to treat myself with some alcohol. Wasn’t planning on doing so, but I just wanted to come to terms with the the injury issue with the ultramarathon only 11 weeks away.
I booked in with Greg at work and thankfully the issue was my Biceps Femoris, a hamstring muscle. It had got so tight along with a ligament that it csused me pain. I was also told that I had a little tear in my hamstring which I had no idea about! After the good news, I decided to rest my legs and focus on coreand arms at the gym, no running at all. I focused on icing the injury site as much as possible and foam rolling my tight hamstrings.
All in all, it was a very disappointed marathon for me. However, over the course of the week my mood had changed a lot from disappointment to a sense of being proud of myself. I thought the event itself was well organised. I liked the hills at the start but wasn’t a fan of the course double-backing on itself. But I got on with it in the end, just a lack of preparation.
So now I look forward to a very tough 11 weeks of training and rehab, getting ready for the ultramarathon!