Firstly, a belated Merry Christmas to all my readers and followers who continue to read about and support my running exploits from the part of the world they like to call ‘God’s County’ – Yorkshire. Heh.
It’s time to wrap up another year and look back, summise and reflect on what was, what is and what might have been. How was your year in one word?
If one word could sum up 2015 for me, personally, ‘undulating’ would probably be a pretty good answer. A year full of ups and downs, often unrelenting. The downs always being injury related. The unquestionable ups being my often interrupted progress and success in the few events I was a part of.
Marathon training dominated the first quarter of my year, with each passing week a seeming step into new ground. The initial early achilles injury was allayed fairly quickly through keen recovery and rest, and I rebounded by smashing my PB at the Liversedge Half Marathon, coming home 10th in 1:22:41 – the sub-1:25 half target obliterated, I was on a huge wave of positive momentum as I progressed to the hard miles of my training. However injury struck again – this time possibly my peroneal tendon in my left foot – and I lost three weeks of solid training for the marathon and had to question whether I would make it at all.
It took a change of shoes and a holiday with relatives near Bracknell Forest to restore some hope and positivity, and it seemed I reacted well to the downtime and the variety of running surfaces accessible to me. I knew I would now make it to the Greater Manchester Marathon.
Feeling ready as ever and poised to take the next step up on my running journey, my first marathon was on course to be perfect, keeping with a sub-3:00 pacer until I began to struggle at 22 miles. At 24 miles I truly hit ‘the wall’. A wholly new experience and a trudging one at that. I really felt at that point the tank was empty. It was quite something then to feel the effect of how a crowd and the thought of lost loved ones can drive you on, and in the end it felt like a glorious finish. 3:02:05 in my first marathon, Good For Age for London, and after a soft target on 3:15:00, completely beyond my wildest expectations.
After tackling my first aquathlon in May, I was eager to kick on to a fast summer 10K, but the niggle in my left foot started to worsen and I was forced to concede early into June. This effectively meant any plans made for the second half of the year were shelved and instead of awaiting a 10K or half marathon, I was waiting to speak to a podiatrist to get an answer on what was afflicting me. After nearly three months of searching I was told it was sesamoiditis, an overuse injury affecting the two small sesamoid bones beneath the ball of my left foot.
Before and after the diagnosis, I was in a battle of mind and body – the mind willing me to push myself to keep fit, to get back to running one way or another, or find an alternative. My body – namely the sesamoids – would remind me that any attempt to over-exert myself would have consequences. Even a short jog in the park would be problematic. Thanks to enrolling in adult swimming lessons, I have at least given myself another option – before the aquathlon my front crawl technique was pretty poor. Its now a work in progress, some way along the line towards consistency and improvement if not perfection. Getting in the water now feels a bit more relaxing, even though I still have many aspects to conquer. After failing to truly push myself on my swimming in 2014, I can definitively say I’ve made progress here, and I would say a 2016 pool based aquathlon isn’t beyond realms of possibility.
Still, I haven’t always found time to go swimming and at one point I felt truly down about what felt like a losing battle. It drove my to invest in a road bike which has now got me into cycling again after many years out. I’ve had a few nervy moments getting used to being in the saddle again, and indeed I had one big accident which bruised my right arm and gashed the forearm. Right now my bike is out of action with a suspected inner tube problem. I’ll be looking to get my large investment back out on the road soon.
The Great Yorkshire Pieathlon was certainly a comeback opportunity, even if largely for fun, and the way it went gives me a bit of hope. I’ve not really felt any effects from sesamoiditis for several weeks now. That’s not to say its gone, but running is feeling much happier as an experience presently. Its crucial it continues in this vein as I have plans to really try and get back on track in 2016.
So what’s next?
Without question, January through to April is dominated by the London Marathon, which I deem to be my one and only entry to the event and therefore I will be there with or without sesamoiditis, by hook or by crook. However its imperative I try as best I can to look after my feet through marathon training, through proper preparation, rest and recovery, building up my mileage carefully and by making the most of the skills I’ve built up over the course of the year. I’m also keen to enter the Snowdonia Marathon Eryri, which will likely be the way I celebrate New Year, and if funds allow – and time is running short – make a decision on whether to run the Liversedge Half Marathon. Places for that are filling fast and I’m in two minds as to whether I’ll be ready for my favourite local event. Failing that, I can always fill in for that event in another way.
If anything is certain, the challenges I will face will be greater. But I will be prepared, and determined, to succeed and overcome.
Thank you for reading and to each and every one of you who continue to support and encourage me. Hope you all have a happy and prosperous New Year. Here’s to greater things in 2016!