From injury to London Marathon

What an incredible 12 months it has been.
 Take me back to that memorable day 25th October 2020 when I was out there training for my first Ultra. A lot has happened in those months that I could never have predicted. The running community is a great place and you just never know what opportunities will come your way. As many of you know I returned to running in February 2021 starting off with the ever so popular Couch to 5k or C25K as it is also known. Safe to say I didn't complete the whole programme (graduate - as they call it) before I started to feel comfortable in increasing my mileage and time on feet. Not before long I had a calender full of races. Before that I was still very concerned about the healing process of my fracture so I made an appointment for another x-ray to see how my foot was healing. In June, it was confirmed that the fracture had fully healed which made me very happy to progress with my training again!
Races Run the Wild 10km - 11th July As an ambassador for Run the Wild this was my first time visiting the Chilterns and it did not disappoint. I wanted to become an ambassador for this amazing small trail running extraordinaire to encourage other black people to try the trails. Only one thing to complain about though; the first time in a long time I decided to wear shorts to run, little did I know that I would get an allergic reaction from running through waist high field of wheat! I was covered in rashes for days and can I tell you, it was itchy! I was in a group of 10 people. We were grouped by our road 10km time. I had an amazing time and the weather was beautiful. Ashridge House itself was beautiful and then the trails all around it (5000 acre). This was the first time that I wore my Northface Vectiv Enduris in mud! I can't believe that I washed them with a toothbrush when I got home! I have started to embrace the mud (well, dry mud sort of!) since then.

Runthrough Olympic Park 10km - 14th July What is there not to love about a Runthrough race. I mean it is local (the ones I attend anyways), the medals and the treats are always amazing. How many runs events do you go to where you are given Westlab Epsom salt lol. This was a great event for me as it tested my fitness and I always give more in a race. This was 4 laps of the Olmypic Park with great evening crowd as always.

 Women Running + Polar + Running with Us Coaching programme I was one of the 10 lucky women to win the Women Running competition. The winners received a Polar Vantage M2 watch, coaching from Nick Anderson from @runningwithus. Nick is a UKA level 4 endurance coach, a qualified nutritionist and sports therapy practitioner. Nick wrote us a week by week programme which started 19th July to race day - Marathon Race day - Virgin London Marathon (3rd October 2021). This is the first time that I have followed a training programme for this duration which was created specifically for me. We met fortnightly with the other lucky participants via zoom with Nick and Polar representatives. The Polar watch was amazing as it not only gave you stats about your activity, but it would also include training zones, energy sources (carbs, protein, fat), training load and summary. 
London Landmarks half marathon - 1st August 
 My first time running this race. Absolutely loved it and it was the first mass participation event since running events returned. Danielle @daniellegontier was also going to be running this race so I was really looking forward to meeting her in person! Absolutely loved this race and the best thing was meeting Danielle for the first time in person of course, both at the start of the race and a lovely catch up at the end for more photos of course.

Runthrough Olympic Park 10km - 11th August I booked in this race really to work on my pace and to push myself. It was great to run with Jo @jkm87_running as we kept each other focussed and to keep on. I felt really sick at one point as it was so hot. I did not want to walk as I knew that would be a start of something so I kept hydrated and kept it moving. I ran my first sub 1 hour in a while with 59:12. I was pleased with that. 
The Big Half - 22nd August The good old Big Half. I think I know this race like the back of my hand as I have ran every single one since it started. Due to covid guidelines, there were different start areas and the baggage drop was no joke. The line was ..... let me tell you looooooonnnnnnnggggg. This is one of the reasons I like to give myself more than enough time for bag drop and toilet queues. There is nothing worse than feeling stressed out at the start of a race with a full-bladder. That is a no-no. Great event as always, the crowd were amazing. I was in a different wave to the @strongertogether crew so I went off and did my thing. We all caught up at the finish line.
 Those finish line feels and the medal is the best. On the note of the medal debate, I was estatic that they had changed the design from the 'dancing hangman' as I like to call it. Some of my friends disagree though. I loved the new design and the colour. Great to see Danielle, @Morethanrunnin, @besmartgetfit (Rey), @Coggnitooo (Andre) and many more running friends.
Milton Keynes 20 miles - 5th September I booked this race for a 2nd year as it really helped me prepare mentally and physically for Manchester Marathon 2019 (that did not happen). When I ran this race in March 2019, it was raining and I loved it. Very undulating but a great course nonetheless. I completed it in 3hr28. I never dreamt that I could run 20 miles in that time and it gave me the hope of completing my next Marathon in 4hr30 or close. Fast forward to 2021 when races and marathons were happening again, I booked myself to run this race again. Well, what a difference 18 months can make. Firstly, the weather turned out to be 24 degrees on the day and wasn't that a shock to my system. If you know me, then you know running in the heat is a crying shame! We do not go together. I almost quit about 20 times. I ate, I drank, I ran, I walked, I stretched, I swore (a few times), I almost cried but nothing helped. I just had to get myself to the finish before the cutoff time which was around 4 hours. I completed it in 3hr51!.

 The struggle was real on that day. Don't let the smile fool you. This photo was taken by James Poole....let's just say I was incredibly happy to see a familiar face! I'd never been so happy to get to that finish line. The last 200m was uphill too, great (not)!
 Hackney Moves 5km - 25th September Good old Hackney 5k. A free event for all which always brings out the best of Hackney and a great way to see all of your running friends.
  Hackney Half - 26th September I was in two minds about completing this run as it was one week before the big event - London Marathon. I spoke to Coach Nick and he advised that I ran 90 minutes of the race and no more. So the plan was easy. Run easy and only run 90 minutes. Great event and vibe. Hasan @thechallengerinme was a pacer for the event so Jo and I ran with him. The pace was pretty quick so after about 10k, Jo and I dropped back and ran it easier, plus it was pretty warm, so made perfect sense. After the 90 minutes run, I walked the rest and it was great to see the support crew especially @theoutrunners and Shak @shak_active. 
The crowd never disappointed. There were people handing out 'pizza and processo' and a 'flasher' which caught some eyes!LOL Whatever floats your boat...

London Marathon - 3rd October Never dreamt of getting to run the real London Marathon. I was fortunate to win this place through @londonpride competition via Instagram on 1st June. Could not believe my luck! The thing is, coming back from injury I did not feel ready to run a marathon so the plan was to defer Manchester Marathon to 2022. But how can you turn down a London Marathon place! I was a special guest on @blacktrailrunners BTR Member 101 QandA on 23rd May where I was inspired by the many guest to run a marathon this year (if my foot was all good). Now this got me thinking about Manchester, but then before you know it, I had 2 marathon spots so I decided I would run London. Before I could even begin to think about the training, I had to go back to the hospital and get another x-ray to make sure that my foot was healing well and I am not making worse. The results was good and made me feel a lot more confident in my running. So the training began using a Runners World sub 4hr30 marathon plan before I got lucky winning the competition and Coach Nick Anderson starting writing a personalised plan for me.Training went really well. Most of my runs were solo as I was conscious of following the plan and sending my run data to Nick. I only missed 2 sessions within the plan which I think was great. Now to the day of the marathon itself, I felt good and funny enough not overly anxious about anything. I actually was really happy that I did not have to carry a bag on the day and was dressed ready to run. I was lucky enough to have David Goodman from Adidas Runners (king of marathons - who had also ran Berlin Marathon a week earlier) to run with and he was happy to pace me to a 4hr30 which was my plan (though Coach Nick thought I could aim for 4hr20!). The run started off well, with 5K in 27:54; 10K in 57:11; 15K in 01:32:04 and 20K in 02:05:43. 
From this stage on I developed calf cramps starting with the left leg and then they began to alternate. I then had pain inside my ribs. This was the first time I had suffered such pain. I had to walk this pain off before I could run again. Ultimately with the combination of cramp and rib pain, it became a case of shuffling to the finishing line. This is not what I had in mind, but at this point onwards I was f***** most of the way. David told me to stop at one of the medical tent to seek advice. I think he was worried I was going to pass out. They asked me a bunch of questions but I felt OK to carry on as it was aches not pain (nor was it chest pains, which was their main concern). They advised that should it become unmanageable I should stop and see a doctor along the route. Poor David! He was so calm and kept telling me that I was doing well and we keep moving forward. At one point around mile 25, I told him he was OK to carry on without me and I will see him at the end. He didn't leave me and we completed the run together! I could not have been happier to get to that finish line. The most painful run of all marathons. Needless to say, I am not even thinking of running another marathon in the near future. Never say never, you already know us runners already! Safe to say I am just happy to have got it done safely. 

 343 days from injury to marathon (25/10/20 - 03/10/21) 
 PS: Injury was a 5th metatarsal fracture to my right foot.
  I still cannot believe that I managed to accomplish so much in less than a year. It is amazing the power of mindset, gratitude and all round support of friends, family and the running community. I am eternally grateful for all the wonderful opportunities that have come my way and continue to come my way. Running is something that I hope to be a part of for a very long time.

Along side all the running, I also discovered and have been using an app called Fiton. 
I used it for warm up, cool down and strenght workout. Really amazing and I have been using it since 1st July.  Definitely the best free fitness app I have used. Free to download through the app store or playstore.
Even when I am not running, I hope to continue to support, inspire and encourage others in one way or another. If you are reading this and you are currently injured or lacking the motivation to run/move, find your why and I hope the support of others will help you find your love of movement once again. I am always here if you want to talk, drop me a line. We can chat, walk, run, talk and smile together. Together we are stronger.


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