After Cookstown Half, I knew I had 3 months of training ahead of me before the Dublin Marathon, however within a couple of weeks of the Cookstown race, I was beginning to seriously doubt whether I would line up in Dublin. My infamous left knee started playing up and during an 18 mile LSR it nearly gave up completely. I felt it go with about 5 miles left and it was the same problem that I had encountered during the 2011 Belfast Marathon. I managed to get home in one piece having walked and hobbled the last few miles. This wasn't a good sign, so I took a few days off and vowed to take it easy over the next few runs. A couple of weeks later and I set out for a 19 mile LSR but as early as mile 6 I sensed something wasn't right, so I turned back on myself and without incident completed the 6 miles home.
I firmly believed that the hills during the Cookstown Half were the cause of my problems and with some rest and stretching, I would be back on track fairly quickly. By the beginning of September, the knee was holding up and with confidence returning, I entered the Laganside 10k race. The course was flat and was a race I knew well, so thought I could give a good account of myself. The first few km's I took steady and approaching halfway, thought about increasing my pace. I got to halfway in 23 mins but I could feel all was not right with my left knee and for a brief moment thought about pulling out of the race as my pace was all over the place and I thought my knee was going to give way under me. However, I was soon back on track and my stride began to lengthen and I was feeling positive of getting close to a 45 minute finish. Km's 6, 7 and 8 went by and I was passing more and more runners BUT just as the 9km marker came into view, BAM the knee did give way. I had to to stop and stretch but it was difficult to place my left leg on the ground, so I hobbled on and tried to jog but I just couldn't get the left leg to co-operate. Runners were streaming by me including a couple of fellow Dromore runners (whose 10k times would be a minute or two slower than mine) so I knew any chance of a PB was gone. I must have lost a couple of minutes but gradually I was able to jog up the final incline onto the Ormeau Bridge then it was a left turn to the finish. The final stretch is half a mile and suddenly the knee problem disappeared as quickly as it had arrived and I was able to run fairly hard to the finish and crossed the line in 47:13, which under the circumstances wasn't too bad as it was only a minute or so slower than last year's time. No chip-time's were released so I guess I can take a few seconds off as well; which probably means I was sub-47 minutes.
I still had 8 weeks before the Dublin Marathon and I was determined to get there in one piece, so I rested for a few days knowing that if I could get through the 20 milers over the next few weeks, Dublin was definately on. More on my experience in the Dublin Marathon in my next entry.