On Sunday I ran my first marathon. In 04:48:42. I did the Rock n Roll Liverpool Marathon (having previously done the half marathon in 2014). I wasn’t planning on running for charity however people kept asking me where they could donate when I said ‘I’m running a marathon’. So I thought I’d raise some money for my efforts.
Thanks to all who have donated, £386 has been raised which is more than I ever imagined on my fundraising page.
The Brain & Spine Foundation
My chosen charity was the Brain and Spine Foundation. It took a lot of careful consideration to pick my charity. I felt like the Brain and Spine Foundation were the best fit, the most meaningful choice. I don’t usually talk about what happened, so this marathon fundraising has become my outlet for reflection on a part of the past that will forever be with me.
My Broken Brain
In 2003 I had a massive brain hemorrhage. A stroke. It was caused by an AVM (Arteriovenous Malformation), which is a vascular problem in the brain. A tangle of weak blood vessels. Mine burst, which was the first I knew about it, leaving me with paralysis on the right side of the body. I came home from school as usual, went to bed with a headache, and woke up on the floor unable to move or talk. Thankfully I made a full recovery after a couple of months in hospital. After some radiation and years of follow up tests I now don’t even have to visit the hospital for check ups. I’m lucky that I can run when there was a time when I needed nurses to roll me over in bed and a hoist to move me from my bed to a wheelchair. I always remember these horrible moments when I moan about not wanting to go for a run. It’s hard to forget.
I wanted to run Liverpool because it is my home city and my favourite city. Other marathons may be at a better time of year, or flatter, but I wouldn’t hold as much love for the course (I’m thinking of you boring boring Manchester). My training hadn’t gone entirely to plan although I’ve covered a lot more miles so far this year than ever before thanks to my amazing running club. I encountered terrible hip pain on my planned longest run which meant I had to cut it short to 14 mile instead of 20 miles.
I wasn’t as nervous as I thought I’d be on race day, although the heat was a concern as I am not a fan of hot weather. I don’t even like sitting out in the sun nevermind running in it. I told myself I just wanted to get round but secretly I think I was hoping to be under 5 hours, closer to 4:30 if luck was on my side. I set off and felt great. The first 10 miles flew by, and thanks to living in a very hilly part of the country, I didn’t notice the hills on the first part of the route. Reaching Goodison Park was a highlight and of course I had to stop for a quick selfie.
It all started to go wrong at 13 miles when I felt sharp pain in my left shin. I knew it was probably more than the usual aches and pains of a long run. I carried on running, telling myself I would do the second half with regular walk breaks and strech stops. Jeremy suprised me at mile 19 which was a boost. I carried on at decent pace until mile 22. Then I heard a charity cheering point woman say ‘ooh she looks like she is in agony’. Yes I was in a lot of pain but plodded. I text my Dad at 23 miles with an update, then my Dad appeared at mile 25 to get me though the final mile. This was the best thing ever. We walked for a bit and then jogged together to the final stretch. Running down the finish was an emotional experience.
I’m glad I let myself stop for walking breaks when I realised I was going to do myself serious damage if I pushed too hard. I could have cried through the pain for a better time but I love running too much for months out with a more serious injury. I came out in horrific bruises on both shins straight after the race which I really don’t think is normal or a good thing. So I’m glad I chose to listen to the sensible voice within and go easy. There will be more marathons!