2017 was a wonderful running year for me and a lot of fast times were achieved with PB's over most distances. 1hr 28.14 for a half, 40.28 mins for a 10k, 31.34 for a 5 miler, 19.02 for a 5k and 5.29 for a mile. I was over the moon!
The last race of the year for me was the Bovington half marathon which I was just going to jog round and enjoy with Simon Ashdown. This I did and it was a great day on the Itchen Spitfires coach with my friends Paul, Paddy, Rosie and Helen.
The next day I cycled my customary 6.5 miles to work but on the way I had a head on collision with another cyclist. I was coming down a hill early on Monday morning in December. We were both on a cycle path. We both had lights too. There was a child about the 10-12 years old who was in front of the older cyclist. I braked a little but all seemed okay until the last minute.
The cyclist behind decided to try and overtake the kid despite me coming the other way. I didn't even expect it! It seemed like a ridiculous thing to do.
The next thing I know I am thrown into the road and badly winded with fast approaching traffic coming towards me. I had to roll over from the road and back on to the cycle path. I lie there in pain and trying to catch my breath. As soon as I can breathe again I get up and swear at the older cyclist. I think this scares the kid and he cycles off. The cyclist claims that he didn't see the kid on the bike. "But you must have seen me I said! I have a 300 lumen light and a hi vis!". He doesn't really know how to answer this and goes quiet. I feel bad and apologise and shake his hand and tell him to have a good day. His handle bars are bent from hitting my ribs so hard. I cycle the remaining 3 miles to work were they tell me i'm going to hospital as i'm so pale. My blood pressure had dropped from the shock. Doctor says I've cracked some ribs. I shrug it off and go back to work straight after the hospital the same day.
The next I can barely move though. I am given 6 weeks minimum for the ribs to heal. No running for me over xmas.
I did manage a painful and slow Southampton parkrun in January with Stuart Smith and baby M.
Things seemed to be improving. I also did a slow farewell run with Di Mattingly before moving to Cornwall. I was looking forward tom a new season in Cornwall running all the Cornish Grand prix races. I had joined Newquay road runners as a second claim runner which means I could compete.
My knee started to ache a bit but wasn't sure why. I did a beautiful run around the mining trails one day. It was a few days before my first race, the Stormforce 10 in Camborne. I got a little bit lost but it was a stunning route and I managed 11 miles. Around 8-9 miles my leg was starting to tighten up and my knee wasn't bending so well. I persevered anyway, like us runners do.
The next day, I could barely walk. I had trouble bending my knee. It would be sensible not to race, so I withdrew from Stormforce 10 and tried to rest the knee/leg.
It was getting colder and my knee was hurting more. I tried a 5k pushing through the knee pain from start to finish. Probably not a good idea but I was frustrated. It was time to enrol at a doctor's surgery and see a doctor. The doctor looked it over and suggested an x-ray at the hospital. He also prescribed some Naproxen which did absolutely nothing to ease the pain. Work was hard. I was lifting heavy objects all day and I had recently moved to a farm. It was only a 1.5 mile walk home from work but sometimes I was struggling with that as the pain was so intense in the knee joint. Most of my free time was now spent cycling. It just wasn't the same though. I was really missing the running and it seemed like everyone around me was out running!
March had come along and there was yet more snow. Walking was painful and work was hard. I was really suffering. I had missed out on the Newquay 10k in February as well but at least I got a refund on the Falmouth half marathon due to the snow/adverse weather conditions. Was I ever going to run again? You can only stay positive for so long. I was starting get really down and was drinking more and my diet awful. My x-ray results were clear. I went back to see another doctor. This time he advised that I had a sports massage as it was probably just something that needed loosening up. He pretty much told me to man up and made me feel like I was wasting his time.
I booked and had a sports massage in Green Bottom. Chloe was a lovely young masseur and did a wonderful job but it did nothing for the leg/knee tightness. I still could bend my knee or put pressure on it. Around this time I had also sprained my ankle and was struggling to walk on it for a couple of weeks.
Again, the frustration was getting the better of me. I went out and ran a 5k as hard as I could and then a couple of slow miles back. I was running in a £25 knee support now but I don't think it was really doing anything to be honest. After the run the knee tightened up so badly that I didn't sleep and couldn't walk without a limp the next day. I was to take 3 days off work sick with it.
Back to the doctors for more advice. I seemed to be getting nowhere fast! Yet another different doctor. He said that it was just "Wear and tear" and "Old age". I should get myself to a physio and that i'd be better off paying privately as the NHS take too long to sort them out. I took his advise and got myself to a physio. The old age comment seemed a bit stupid though as I am 43 and our hero Roger Bradley still runs marathons at 74 years old!
The physio was great. He said, ligament damage was unlikely and I could bend my knee in various directions without pain. It was more likely to be a meniscus tear in my knee. I was advised to go back to the doctor and ask for an MRI scan. At the end of April I did manage a parkrun at Heartlands though and the knee pain afterwards was manageable. I had also volunteered a couple of times at Trelissick parkrun.
Helen and myself at Eden project parkrun
I was expecting some visitors in May. They were both runners too. Kevin Willsher was coming down at the start of May. Heartlands was a good test for my knee. My physio had told me to take it slowly at Trelissick parkrun with Kevin. Well, I raced it as hard as I could. Kevin was a big influence and inspiration to me. It was a great day and I iced the knee straight afterwards to aid any swelling. I was happy with my time on a hilly course and plus I had piled on the weight this year.
Two weeks later, Helen Bonaer was to visit. We thought we'd mix it up and bit and do Eden Project parkrun. Again, I raced hard and did an okay time. The problem this time was I could barely walk for a week after my efforts. The aching was constant. I couldn't even sleep without being woken with the pain. All my positivity and hope just seemed to be getting beaten out of me. I was so down at this point. I was starting to think that my running days were over. At least I could cycle still right? I can still walk to places? I am lucky to have my legs and I have done a couple of parkruns. It was no good. I was really feeling sorry for myself now and drinking more and more.
At the end of may though, I decided to try Lanhydrock parkrun. It really is the toughest parkrun in the uk! It was hot and hilly. I did okay though and my knee wasn't too bad afterwards. There seemed to be no reasoning to the pain in my knee. It just hurt when it wanted to. Although the trails do seem to be a bit more forgiving that the roads.
I got a letter for my MRI scan. I had the MRI which was a whole new experience to me with lots of loud noises and trying to lay still inside a machine. I rang the doctors a few weeks later but the receptionist said the doctor hadn't had time to look at my results. I phoned back for my results a few days later only to be told that I needed to make an appointment to discuss my results. The Meniscus tear had been confirmed with some other stuff going on too. It was like one big party going on in my knee. I felt down about it as both doctors and physio told me that Cartilage doesn't hear. They will need to stitch it up or laser through it depending on the direction of the tear. Either way it meant surgery. My next step was to make an appointment with the orthopaedic surgeon.
In the meantime, I was running again. I'd cycled 14 miles to Penrose parkrun and managed to run a sub 20 on Cornwall's only fast and flat parkrun course. I was over the moon. Bit of aching afterwards but manageable. I also cycled to Cubert to pick up my new Newquay road runners vest. I had entered my first race of the year. I was going to run a hilly, cross country race called "Meet your Max". I did a 7 mile run a week before just to make sure I could do the distance. I also got a course PB at Trelissick and Heartlands. I was running again and I was running quite fast for me! I was happy. I had missed this so much. How could anyone live without running in their lives?
I was very shocked at Meet your Max as I got a little trophy for 3rd V40 finisher. It was a small field of V40's but I was so happy. First race of the year and my first race for NRR.
One more race. A 5k charity run in Truro called "The Roc 5k". It wasn't as quick of a course as I was expecting although it was flat. It was a very hot evening but I just about managed a sub 20 and came 10th overall. What a wonderful month and such a trun around. There were still some bad days with my knee though.
I headed back to Southampton for a week to visit friends and family. It was so good to see everyone that I was missing. It was quite a hard and lonely winter really and now I was surrounded by sunshine and wonderful people. Before I came back to Cornwall I manage another goodbye run with Di. It was one of the best runs even in my eyes. I hadn't run with another person since January and that was Di the last time I left. It had made me kind of tearful. I quite missed social runs with other runners, especially my good friends.
I went to see the orthopaedic surgeon and he was pretty useless. He told me that the tear in my knee was very complex. Did I want the surgery or not? My decision. "Sometimes I lose the feeling in my leg" I said. "I don't know anything about that". Do you want the surgery?". I decided that there were big improvements in my knee and I would leave it and have another review in 10 weeks.
I ran a 10 miler back in Cornwall and it felt ok until about 8 miles but I managed fine. There was an ache in the knee joint but it wasn't anything like the pain and suffering of the winter months. It was training for my first road race of the year. I was actually going to run a road race! Magnificent 7 was a hilly race in Saltash. It had 7 hills. I walked about 5 of them. I ran fast down them though. I came 51st and 2nd for Newquay road runners. Another shock.
I am running well again and have another race this weekend. I still get knee pain and realise that my knee will never be or feel the same again but I am so happy to be running and running well again. My diet has started to improve as well and I am not drinking 20 pints of cider on a Saturday night anymore. Although, I still like a few..
I have entered a couple of other races too.
It's great to have some running goals back in my life and a purpose that seems pointless to many. Will it last? Who cares! Run while you can. Maybe i'll try a half marathon in September.