The last time I wrote a bit of an annual update was at the end of 2013 when I’d had great year. I’d just completed the biggest race in the (well, my) world - the Ironman World Championship and had an amazing holiday in Hawaii. Mid-2014 we moved from West London down to the South Coast of England to our dream and forever home. We’ve been here nearly ten years and it’s everything we wanted. In 2014 I cycled (and ran and swam) over the Canadian Rocky Mountains, qualified for Kona again (once in a lifetime eh!) and headed back there in 2015. Injuries (and a bike fall) got in the way of things but that’s just life - deal with it. It’s not the end of the world.
In 2019 I did another Ironman (Lanzarote) and looking back at it I did enjoy it (I think). If I was to do another Ironman then Lanzarote would have to be on my shortlist.
The world slowed down in 2020 for a couple of years and I found a new love of indoor cycling (on Zwift) which has been a lot of fun. My running was getting back to form and I got my best ever age grades for parkrun. This was a great base for the marathon.
But we’re here for 2023 right… well, the London Marathon was it. That’s all I did. Coming out of London I felt my time was close to being fast enough for an automatic Good For Age entry into the 2024 race - it turned out that it wasn’t. Although I’d run inside of the target time to apply (3 hours 15 minutes) - due to the number of people who entered faster times the acceptance time for 2024 in my age category (50-54) ended up as 3 hours 10. I was just over two minutes out.
However, this wasn’t a problem as a few weeks before I received the below email…
This was excellent news - that meant I didn’t have to worry about a Good For Age entry as I was already in. I always enter the ballot just in case. I paid my entry fee and all was good.
However… things weren’t all good after the 2023 London Marathon. A few days after the race when my legs allowed me to get up and down stairs without too much pain I noticed my right knee was painful. There was a pain that just didn’t seem to go away. I tried a few things including stopping running and then stopping all exercise. Nothing seemed to help. I then got myself into the NHS system for both physiotherapy and a podiatry appointment. These took quite a few months to come through.
As summer rolled into autumn and after being told that getting an MRI scan on the NHS would probably take up to 18 months I paid to have one privately. This was in late September and the conclusion was (if you can make sense of it):
Patchy full-thickness chondral degeneration of the trochlear sulcus and features suggestive of mild distal quadriceps insertional tendinosis with quadriceps fat pad impingement. Small volume joint effusion and trace of fluid in the Baker’s cyst. No discrete meniscal tear.
The ligaments and tendons are all fine which I was pleased to hear. The suggestion (thankfully nothing surgical) was to have a ‘hyaluronic acid injection’ in the knee - which is layman’s terms is to add additional fluid into the knee where there isn’t enough to help keep the joints moving happily. I opened my wallet once again (I don’t have any private medical insurance) and had the injection at the end of October.
As I write this update at the start of January I’ve noticed no improvement in the ache in my right knee. It’s not really stopping me from doing things but if I do a fair bit of activity it does get more painful - so I need to manage this and not over-push myself.
I did eventually get into the NHS physiotherapy system and and I’m working on exercises to slowing build strength and load into my knee (and muscles around it) to improve things. I’m doing this and although it’s not really reducing my knee pain I have been able to run a little quicker at parkrun in recent weeks.
parkrun is pretty much the only running I’m doing at present and I’m riding 30-60 minutes on Zwift perhaps three times a week. I’m being active. I’m grateful that I’m able to do anything. Running mileage for the year was just over 550 (76 hours). Cycling time was 179 hours - there’s no point giving a distance here as it was all indoor and the numbers are not realistic.
90 seconds walk from the front door to this!
So… as we enter 2024 I am lucky to have a place in the London Marathon in April. Thankfully as this was gained via the ballot so I plan to defer this to 2025 (which you’re allowed to do with a ballot entry). Therefore I plan to be on the start line in April 2025. I’d love to run around London again so want to give myself the best chance to do this and not try and rush things for this year.
After missing the Bognor 10k race in 2023 (one of my favourite running races) due to my knee issue I have decided that I won’t be doing it in 2024 either - I’d rather help out at the race rather than jog round for no real benefit. I’m trying to be sensible.
I’ve not been windsurfing (the sport I love as we live so close to the beach) since March 2023 and plan to have a few more months off until the water warms up a bit and then I’ll try and get back on the water. Hopefully we’ll have a good summer of wind and I won’t hurt myself!
The plan for 2024 is therefore to try and get better and make sensible decisions along the way. If I’m able to increase my running distance then great but I’m in no hurry to do so. I’ll just take things slowly and hopefully sensibly and see how things go. This plan of action was confirmed following discussion with the ‘knee consultant’ (not his official title!). Patience is key.
Thanks for reading and maybe I’ll post an update here later in the year. Finally, the plus side of not doing much training in 2023 meant that I could put some effort into the lawn at home. This was one of my highlights for 2023!