July’s marathon was supposed to be The Space Race, a 6 hour timed event run by Phoenix Running, who I ran marathons with in January and March. It took place along the Thames, so starting near the location of the track marathon, but going 1.6 miles along the path by the river, and back to a well stocked HQ, as always with Phoenix.
Today, was a bit different to my previous runs, as for the first time I arrived with genuine question marks over whether I could complete the run.
The key to this challenge was always going to be staying marathon fit for the whole year. A few weeks before this run, I had been struck very hard on the outside of my knee by a cricket ball. I had initially tried to ignore it and carry on running, but when I tried to run around 8 miles one day, realised there was a more significant problem.
I had seen a sports injury specialist, who said the knee was structurally OK, most likely soft tissue damage. So from then I rested, and against the advice of running friends, thought I’d give this run a go.
8 laps of the course was the goal, that equates to an official marathon finish.
So, off I set, at my normal kind of early marathon pace, around 8:45 to 9 minutes per mile. The first lap was fine, I would not have know I had ever hurt my knee. Lap 2, also fine. Stopped for drinks, and setting off for lap 3, I noticed the first signs of discomfort. On we went, through laps 3 and 4, to the halfway point.
Setting off on lap 5, my knee was really hurting now. I knew I was going to have to change tack if I was to have any chance of completing another 4 laps. So part way through the out part of Lap 4, I tried to walk, surely I’d be able to run / walk the rest? However, somehow, walking hurt more than running. I actually found it better to hobble along at a jog.
I finished leg 6 in agony, and knew drastic measures were required. I stopped at HQ, went to the pub for Coke, took an array of pain killers, and put on a leg brace. I sat and gathered my thoughts for 10 minutes. When I stood up to test the knee, it pretty much gave way under me. There was no way I was running in it, certainly not another 6 miles.
So, in the eyes of Phoenix running I was of course a winner, and collected the most awesome dinner plate of a medal from organiser Rik (pictured). However, will always be a bitter sweet medal in my collection, as this was the day I had to give up on the primary goal of the challenge, completing the 12 marathons one per month.
The challenge lives on though, I’m determined to complete the 12 marathons, hopefully still in 2019, if not ASAP. However, for now, marathon #7 still does not have a tick against it!