So it is Monday evening last week. Monday 3rd April. My final long run of my trianing plan. All the hard work (barring this one run) is done. I am feeling fit and looking forward to my training slowing down in my run into the Marathon on the 23rd.
Setting off, I felt great. Springy legs that felt good and I was happily chatting away to Ant (my running partner for the evening). It was a beautiful clear sky. The sunset was stunning and we were just two mates, slowly making our way along a 28km out and back run route.
Then it happens. 5km into the run. A calf twinge. “Nothing to worry about” I thought. These sorts of little twinges happen often when running and usually you can run them off within a few kilometres. Except I could not run this one off. The further we got the more and more my calf hurt. Getting to the half way point, it was agony. Our pace was slow, and turning around we got to the 18km mark and I had to start walking. We walked-ran-walked-ran the rest of the way home. Taking a little shortcut we got back to my place having completed 26km. My right calf was in pieces!
The pain of keeping moving on this calf was the worst pain I have ever run with. Worse than when I broke 3 ribs at Race to the King after 6 miles and had 49 more miles to go. Running with broken ribs hurt less than this calf injury. I knew that I had done something major. How major I was not sure, but limping up to bed after my shower I had a deep sadness in my heart.
Waking up the next day I couldn’t put my foot down to walk on it. This was one week ago today (as I am writing this). 18 days from the marathon and I had my 3rd running injury of my training plan, and by far the worst. I am simply gutted. Sadness washes over me. I feel robbed. All I wanted to do was to run London injury free. I have done EVERYTHING right in my training. I have not pushed myself too hard. I have listened to my body, trained properly, built up the training properly, done everything you are supposed to do. My aging body has let me down at the final hurdle. Feels like I have been punched in the gut.
After a day or two of limping about and feeling sorry for myself the calf feels a tiny bit better. I contacted Trevor (my coach and the only person I trust to advise me on all things related to running, swimming, cycling) and asked what he thought. He diagnosed a calf tear over the phone, but told me to rest one more day, try a run and if it goes again, it is defo a calf tear. If it is OK, then it might just be a bad cramp. Fingers crossed for the bad cramp.
Wake up next morning (this is Friday 7th April now, 16 days before the marathon), trainers on and out the door I go for an EXTREMELY gentle 5km run. 1.8km into the run my calf goes, again. Bit more instant pain this time and it definitely does not feel like cramp. More like a ripping sensation from the inside towards the middle, about half way up the calf. That is it. It’s a calf tear. 100%. I turn around and limp home.
Appointment is booked with Trevor ASAP (which was today, Tuesday 11th April, 11 days till the marathon). He puts me and my calf through our paces and diagnoses me with a calf tear. Trevor tells me that recovery time is somewhere between 3-8 weeks for the severity of tear that I have. I have 11 days. Now it is clearly impossible to cram 3-8 weeks recovery into 11 days.
Trevor knows me well. It was him that gave me the belief I could complete an Ironman years ago. Him that taught me the mental resilience it takes to be an endurance athlete. So he knows I am stubborn. He also knows that I have raised a tonne of money for charity so far, and that there is no way I am not turning up to the start line.
Trevor carefully explains to me what I need to do. A bucket load of strength work on the calf. 3 sessions a day ideally, with no days off. It needs to be worked hard to encourage the recovery. This is going to hurt. He knows it, and I know it, but neither of us care. If it is what I need to do, then it is what I need to do. He will strap my calf up before the marathon, which will help. I will devise a walk-run strategy for the day to make sure I get round the race. I will make the start line, and more importantly, the finish line.
That being said. my dreams of running London Marathon injury free are in tatters. I am probably going to be the only person on the start line with a torn calf. I know that pretty much every other runner would withdraw from the race. But this is simply not an option for me. Not this close. Not after I have worked so hard.
The funniest part about all of this, is the people who know me well. Trevor, my wife, my running mates, none of them have tried to persuade me to withdraw. In fact, not a single one has even mentioned the idea to me. They know how determined I am. How seriously I take the fundraising and the honour of running for Daisy’s Dream.
So in 11 days time I will be on the start line. My leg will be taped up like a mummy. I will have done God only knows how many calf raises and strenghtening exercises. Despite all this, I will be INCREDIBLY nervous. Will my calf hold out? How long might it be into the race before it goes again? Will I have to walk the entire marathon (I really hope not)? I could be staring down the barrell of my slowest ever marathon. In fact, this is more than likely.
My start time is not till 11am. If it takes me 7 hours (which it might) I will be finishing at 6pm. Everybody will have gone home. I will probably have the clean up crew following me round. How utterly embarassing.
This is not the London experience I was hoping for, but it is the one I am going to have. I am facing hour upon hour of pain. Will I be able to enjoy the sights and the crowd? Let’s hope so. Will I finish last? Let’s hope not.
After London I am taking a year off running. Time to recuperate, strenghten up, swim and cycle and lift weights, climb some mountains, enjoy my yoga and rehabilitate my body. Running is too much for me. These injuries, the terrible lows that they cause me to go through both mentally and physically. They just don’t feel like they are worth it any more. It is a sad realisation, but one I have already made peace with.
I need to face the fact that I am not a good runner. I never will be. Whether I will return to running, I don’t know. I absolutely love it, but it does not love me, and sometimes when you have a relationship with something or somebody that you love, but it does you no good, you have to let it go.
Fear not though dear reader, if you have used your hard earned cash to sponsor me, it has not been in vain. I will be at the start line. Nothing will stop me. And I will make it to the finish. I have absolutely no doubt on that. None what so ever. It may take me 5 hours, it may take me 7, but I will cross that line.
If there is anybody reading this who has not sponsored me yet, and you feel sorry for my dumb ass and want to help me, popping some money into my fundraising pot would cheer me up beyond belief. I am currently at almost £2500. So close to half way towards target. It would be amazing to get to £3500 before the race. At least some good can come from what (if I am honest) has been the hardest training experience of my life.
Plus, this may be your last ever chance to sponsor me. So you better make the most of it. 🙂
Hope you are all well out there in blog reading land, and I will update you soon on my rehab progress.
4 thoughts on “Worst case scenario – activated”
Gutted for you. You’ve done great raising so much so just go out there and enjoy the atmosphere as you deserve it!
Thank you Mike, I really appreciate it mate.
I’m so sorry to read this. The positives are that there are plenty of people starting later than 11am (I think the last waves start at midday, if not later) and that they are given 8 hours, so there is likely to be support for longer than you think. Good luck!
Thank you Tamsyn. Much appreciated.