There is a lot that is different from my preparation leading up to the 2007 London Marathon and this, the 41st edition of the race. That said, there are some similarities, most notably challenges faced through injury.
January 2007 saw a freak accident, which comically lead to me lacerating my foot. I’ll come onto that shortly. Summer 2021 has seen MRI scans for potential stress fractures that turned out to be Tib post tendon-apathy, an ECG and Echocardiogram for heart palpitations (which I received the all clear on), and regular physio, sports massage and acupuncture for my latest challenge; a niggly hamstring.
On Thursday I had my penultimate massage and acupuncture, having not ran for four days and write this having completed a 2hr 20 interval run to test out my hammy, which was bloody hard! But it passed! So to say I am ‘building’ into the marathon rather than tapering would be an understatement.
The funny thing is I feel confident and at peace, in fact mentally in a better place than I was prior to my injuries. The series of obstacles I have faced has led to a new perspective, a new groundedness. Not one to compromise my goals. I still would love to be a 2:59 marathoner one day (there I said it and put it in print!) but I am going to enjoy the journey, and focus on the satisfaction and fulfilment I get from the life I am living and building as a by-product of my goal. Brad Stulberg recently wrote in his book The Practise of Groundedness about the ‘Arrival Fallacy’ and the perception of feeling fulfilled and having ‘made it’ when you hit your goals. Well that’s the fallacy my friends, we may get a few weeks buzz but it is better to tie your satisfaction and fulfilment to the life you are building by virtue of the goals than the outcome of the goals you are striving for.
I am fitter and healthier than I have ever been (not quite as fit as in May but you know what I mean). Now I am focused on ensuring I am intentional with my time (including my mind) in everything I do and disciplined in my scheduling to ensure running, book writing, work, life admin do not take precedent over my family. As Gary Vee says, gratitude and humbleness are strengths, and if my loved ones are healthy in the morning, then anything else is upside and I thank the lord for the day I have been given, which may be my last.
Anyway, back to January 2007. Living in Oxford, in a house share, I was half asleep having a shower. I turned off the tap, whipped off my towel from the shower curtain rail knocking off a porcelain mug holding toothbrushes on a small shelf that fell, hit the edge of the shower tray, smashed into shards. One of the shards speared my left foot just to the left of my big toe clipping my tendon/ligament. Blood splurged everywhere! Fortunately, after a tricky drive to the hospital, I was patched up, informed how lucky I was not to go straight through my tendon/ligament, given a support boot and crutches and advised not to run for at least three months. Fast forward to March I ran Reading Half marathon then turned up at London underprepared but determined.
It did didn’t quite go to plan. In London, at mile 15 after a gingerly start, I had an injury. I can’t actually remember what the injury was but it was in one of my legs, and I stopped running. I didn’t manage to start again and walked the remainder of the way. My vivid memory on that hot April day was feeling like I was walking on the knives when alongside Embankment and rounding the corner onto the Mall I broke into some sort of shuffle and was overtaken by someone dress as a cake, a Bakewell tart if I remember correctly.
It had taken me 5 hours and 38 minutes. I was still proud, and thankfully, with the help of my employers who matched donations, managed to raise my target for Wellchild.
So I hope that goes someway to explaining why this coming Sunday, the 41st London Marathon will be incredible for me. 14 years on, running for WellChild again, aiming to beat my 2007 time by 2 hours. We will see what happens on the day but I am determined on this occasion to have fun, enjoy it, and embrace the fact we are back racing at the greatest marathon of them all.
If you would like to support me in my fundraising efforts for WellChild please click here.