I had booked this event and a weekend away with the missus early in 2022 thinking I would easily be recovered after a knee operation in Aug 21.
Unfortunately, I required a second knee operation in Jun 22 and following rest, rehab and recovery only started some jogging much later (around Sep time) although a number of niggles (bad back, achilles) were signs that this was probably too soon and I backed off again until late October. I had been much more cautious with the recovery second time round (i.e. taking longer) and for fitness, I had kept up plenty of walking some daily rowing through the summer.
At the start of November (and with the marathon getting alarmingly closer) I felt good enough to run consistently and committed to a “couch to marathon in 30 days” plan aiming to get sufficient miles under my belt to get round within the 6 hour cut-off. There was an option to drop to the Half Marathon (or even 10k) but the logistics of the event (catching a bus way before the start time to get the the ‘out’ point you run back from to the finish) meant I thought I may was well do the marathon and run to the turn point and get back under my own steam.
I ran lots of slow miles in November focussing on regular running and consistency, didn’t do any speed work to avoid stressing the knee and never built up enough miles to do many long runs (and some of these were run-walk). It’s also fair to say that after 18 months of lack of regular running activity I’m not in the lean/fit condition of the past.
With all that in mind, the marathon was a bit of an unknown. The event was well organised with lots of attention (well supported locally and streamed over the internet) and well attended by British runners (estimate at least 25% of runners were Brits) getting that end of year marathon in, conditions were nice and sunny although we did have a downpour towards the latter end of the race.
In terms of tactics, the plan was to run at a steady pace and see how far I could get and load my race belt with a plenty of gels.
I’m pleased to say that the run went very well finishing in 3.45. I had no issues at all with the knee and despite the last 3 miles being a bit of an effort I managed to run the second half at an even to marginally quicker pace by a few seconds than the first half. If I had pushed it any further I suspect I would have hit the wall at some point so it was a well executed run bearing in mind current constraints (i.e. weight/fitness etc). I did take advantage of the regular water stops and consumed about 4-5 gels to help give me enough energy to run the distance.
However, after the event I had a serious case of DOMS and was wiped out for a couple of days but this was muscle tiredness and stiffness due to lack of regular running activity. The good news is the knee feels fine so hopefully, I can continue to build my fitness over the winter months and actually think about partaking in some more races in 2023. It’s a nice start on the road to fitness.