After just two weeks at home from finishing the Everest Marathon, it was time to hit the road again and head west, to North America. With marathon number 3 in my sights, I was feeling much more relaxed and looking forward to running amongst some spectacular scenery in Banff National Park. The race briefing had gone well and I was all set, although I’ll admit to being a little concerned when I was strongly advised to carry bear spray!
This is where I would have loved to go on explaining how well the run went and here’s a photo of my medal to prove it, but it sadly didn’t end like that.
Despite starting in high spirits, quite early in to the race I started to experience eye-watering pain radiating from my knee to my ankle. Initially I kept telling myself it would wear off and that it’s a marathon after all, it’s bound to hurt, right? I tried so hard to keep looking at the incredible scenery around me and just take it all in and enjoy myself.
As I reached the half marathon turn around point I started to slow down and eventually stopped. This is where the battle in my mind began. I knew that the aid stations were every 5km and I knew that if I was to carry on then I really wanted to make it to the next aid station. The slower I became the more risk there was of being on my own between aid stations and I was worried about the bear risk. The next 20 minutes saw me running to and from the turn around point. I had tears pouring down my face as I kept battling with myself:
“ What am I doing? It shouldn’t hurt this much!”
“ Come on pull yourself together, you've got this, ignore the pain”
“ No I really don’t have this, I’m really worried about injuring myself”
“ I have to finish this, I’ve travelled too far and I’m going to be a failure if I stop, what will others think of me?”
But after trying to keep running on it several times, in the end I had no choice but to concede defeat and hobble to the aid station at the 7 mile mark. I was driven back to the start line, checked by a paramedic, and sent to the hospital for x-rays. After having my leg bent is various peculiar angles by several doctors, it was diagnosed as a strain of the medial collateral ligament (MCL).
It was a really tough and upsetting decision to stop, but ultimately the right one, as I managed to stop before any damage became more serious ...or even permanent. It wasn’t easy coming home empty handed, a big part of me felt like I had failed myself, the challenge and all those who had supported the journey so far by donating.
I remember trying to think how I was going to break the news to those at home and what they were going to think of me. Maybe I haven’t trained hard enough? Maybe I wasn’t a runner after all? Maybe I was just too ambitious?
As a last note I would like to say that I shouldn’t have ever worried about what others back home thought about me for not completing the Banff marathon. My family and friends have been amazing and so supportive as always and for that I am so thankful.
Now I’m looking ahead to Patagonia on the 9th September with excitement. I’m looking forward to carrying on with this challenge and raising more money and awareness for my two amazing charities. If you would like help by donating I would really really appreciate it. Thank you!