Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Injury Overcome and the Marathon Itself

So finally we come to the culmination of my narrative. My training went smoothly until a fortnight or so before the marathon. I was feeling good and pushing myself a bit on one training session when I felt a pain in my hamstring. I assumed that it would quickly disappear but it didn’t. So, panic that all my training had been in vain, and I would not be able to run. Robyn then suggested the osteopath at the local leisure centre, who diagnosed a torn muscle. He used acupuncture and then pounded away at my leg. This was all unknown territory for me but I felt OK on my next run so was very grateful and relieved.

And now it is all over. I went down to Winchester on Saturday evening and a kind friend provided a bed and a carbohydrate-filled dinner and breakfast. Sunday morning dawned clear and fine, which was a relief, and the Wiltshire downs looked beautiful from the bus which took us to Salisbury. We got there soon after 9.00 am so there was plenty of time to loosen up before the start at 10.15 when some 400 of us set out.

I actually quite enjoyed the first couple of hours of the run. The sun was out, there was a gentle and cooling south wind, and most of the running was on reasonable tracks or smooth downland turf. The atmosphere was pleasant and supportive and we even managed to chat some of the time. Every nine or ten minutes we passed another mile marker so at the end of three hours I was beyond Kings Somborne and had covered some 18 miles.

So, only eight miles to go, but anyone who has run this sort of distance will know that it the last part of the run which is really tough. As we climbed out of the Test Valley and back on the downs, on the steepest part of the run, I felt my energy rapidly draining away. My leg muscles really began to ache and just putting one foot in front of the other became a great effort. I was no longer in control of my speed and I had to rely on will power – and the thought of how much money was raised each mile that I covered – to keep going. It was very encouraging to find Robyn and Juliet in Ham Green to cheer me on. By then I was within three miles of the finish and I got a bit of a second wind. Even so, those last eight miles took me two hours, so my final time was just under five hours.

For the first few minutes after the finish both walking and talking were difficult, but I gradually came round and once we reached our friend’s house a hot bath and cups of tea and scones revived me – the thought of those was the other thing that kept me going!

I am hugely grateful for the sponsorship I got. I have received some 60 individual donations already, with quite a few more to come. The total raised should exceed £2,500 and there will be Gift Aid to add to that, so it will be a significant contribution to Together for Sudan’s funds. My warm thanks to all the donors who read this.