As I sit here in discomfort, picking over the mangled remains of my sixth marathon yesterday, I feel determined that this will be my last before I’m 50.
That’s five years of rest or, more likely, 60 months of intermittent training, shorter races, and triathlon.
I failed to hit my target at Abingdon Marathon. I set off knowing that, based on my prep, a ‘sub-three’ was achievable, but marathon Gods have different ideas.
After the best training block I have ever had, I started to experience hip and glute pain on Thursday. “Taper paranoia”, said I with false bravado, but the Brussel sprout size knots that made me yelp on the foam roller told a different story.
"Is that a sore throat?"— Malcolm Bradbrook (@MBradbrook) October 18, 2017
"Does my back hurt?"
"Why are my calves so tight?"
Yes folks - welcome to marathon taper time #running
Half-way in 1.28.50 was pretty much perfect as we won’t quibble about 10 seconds here or there. But that glute felt tighter and tighter, and started to pull on my hip and by mile 20 my left leg was painful from top to bottom or, more accurately, from bottom to sole.
The final mile was the worst agony I have been in while running. While not keen to relive the experience, I would be interested to see a video as, in my mind, I resembled Long John Silver chasing a doubloon as I lolloped round Tilsley Park track in a vain effort to get below 3.10.
I don’t know what caused it. When the injury came on I had not run for two days but had been foam rollering and stretching. It might be time for me to admit that my body is not well suited to the rigours of marathon training.
I’ve said before that I’ll give up marathons and gone back on the decision, but this time I am sure that a five year hiatus is on the cards.
I’ve loved the training this time; picking hilly cross-country routes to keep me interested and the strength and conditioning work brought a new dimension to daily life. In general, this marathon has truly reignited my passion for running.
I even gave up alcohol for two months. Not only has that enabled me to get in the best shape of my adult life, but I also found that has given me extra motivation at work and I have become much more productive.
Clichéd it might be, but the journey has been so rewarding that the final destination feels less important for a change.
So, Abingdon Marathon has not given me the 2:59:59 I was hoping for but it has presented me with unexpected, and even more valuable, gifts.