Determination. Sometimes things do not go to plan, you have to dig deep, and it takes real determination and heart to finish a race. On 6th August 2022 I took part in Thames Meander Marathon, and it started like any other race, until I took a fall. I fell around the 9 mile mark and really hurt myself, and it would have been so easy to stop and call it a day, with my wounds as an excuse. The truth is I wasn’t having the best day already, mentally struggling to keep going with lack of motivation and a head full of concerns. Sometimes life can be hard and this can have an impact on everything you do, but when you get knocked down, it’s important to get back up again, and not let life keep you down.
I entered the Thames Meander Marathon after scrolling through Let’s Do This. I haven’t had a lot planned, and apart from my recent ultras I haven’t really found the time to train. Running has been a struggle for me, and is usually my escape, my time to let off steam. Lately it has been a place where I am full of my own thoughts, which isn’t helping. Running can be a place to clear your mind, but when you have a lot going on it can have the opposite effect.
Thames Meander Marathon repeats throughout the year. You can enter both a half or full Marathon which is chip timed and laps along the Thames Path around Richmond. It is classed as a Trail Marathon but it is flat and very light trail. I was using this as a bit of motivation to train, and I just enjoy running a Marathon, usually.
It started off the same as any other race. I had decided to turn up not long before the start. Number pick up was quick and simple, I dropped my bag at their baggage drop, then made my way to the start line in time for the race director brief. A simple format, well sign posted run along the river. 2 laps for the half and 4 for the full. The full started 30 minutes before the half which helped spread out runners.
I set off with the front pack, and found myself in 7th place for the first lap. I initially set off faster, but then dropped to an 8 min mile which I intended to keep for the remainder of the race. I thought a 3:25 was a good target for me. The route is flat and mostly good terrain, but there is a section towards Kew which was very hard and rocky. Not loose stones, hard rocks. On the first lap I saw a couple of people trip and one guy had bashed his head, this clearly was catching lots of people. On finishing the first lap I filled up my water bottles, as I was carrying my hydration vest. I felt good physically, but my mind was wondering, I wasn’t concentrating on the run, and was not particularly enjoying myself. But I was going and then all of a sudden I tripped.
I didn’t see it coming. I wasn’t dragging my feet, and I was being mindful of my foot placement. But despite that I caught my foot and went down hard. My right hand was bleeding where I had stopped myself, and my right knee was in a lot of pain initially hurting to put weight on it. I was covered in dirt so I used my water to clean my wounds, to realise my knee was bleeding a lot too. A kind pedestrian came and gave me a plaster that I put on my hand, then I hobbled for a bit towards the check point.
During this time I had a word with myself. It bloody hurt, but it became apparent it was superficial and not a serious injury. I wasn’t enjoying myself, so it was so tempting to stop, but I knew I would regret it, what was the point in getting up and coming here for this. I could have stopped at the half, but again, that’s not what I came for, so I carried on. I topped up my water again at the checkpoint, cleaned my knee some more, then I carried on.
At this point I adjusted my race plan. I had no desire to carry on at the pace I was going, even if I could. It hurt to run, and mentally I just didn’t have it in me. I almost tripped again on the way back on the second lap, so now I just wanted to get back in one piece. I spoke with my family on the phone, walking for a bit as my kids told me what they were up to. I decided to put a rough goal of sub 4 and I would be happy, but as this started drifting I just did not have the appetite to pick up the pace again, so I didn’t. I just kept putting one foot in front of the other.
In the end I finished in 14:17:21, which I am happy with. I almost took another hard fall but managed to catch myself. I saw a few others with dirt, clearly who had tripped. This was a nice friendly training run. A flat trail run, and really nice route, except for that one rocky section which was pretty dangerous.
I picked up a nice wooden medal, then made my way to the bar which was on the corner of the finish and had been calling me each lap. I got myself a nice refreshing pint which I enjoyed before walking to the train station to make my way home.
Obviously it was not the event I wanted. I didn’t exactly enjoy myself, but it was a good event. On another day I may have really enjoyed this one. For me this was marathon number 92. That’s 107 marathon plus including my ultras and Ironman events, a nice personal achievement that I’m proud of. I still remember my first few marathons, and how I felt then. In many ways it doesn’t get easier, but I’m certainly far more confident, and I have a lot more to give.
Each year I am trying to give back, and this year I am raising money for Cancer Research again, and would appreciate your support to raise as much money as possible for such a worthy cause. I know a fair few people who have been impacted by cancer, and if we can make a difference helping the fight against cancer, then I think we should. If you are able to donate please click on the button below.