I can’t quite believe that I’m writing this but…. I completed an actual marathon! Me, the girl with severe scoliosis and spinal fusion. I’m so proud of myself it is unreal.
11 years ago when I was lying in that hospital bed following my scoliosis surgery, if someone had shown me a photograph of me at the finish line of a marathon, I wouldn’t have believed it could be true. I think I would have laughed!
But what I’ve come to believe is, anything is possible if you want it hard enough.
I’ve had my sights set on completing a marathon for quite some time. I almost achieved it in 2020, but then covid had other plans. I trained for months back in 2020 for the Manchester marathon, for the event to be cancelled a few weeks beforehand. I was that devastated, I almost threw in the towel there and then. But I didn’t. I came back in 2022 ready and raring and determined to learn from the mistakes I made when training the first time around.
This time, I was going to do it. I did everything I possibly could to succeed. As I have scoliosis, I knew I had to be especially careful not to get injured. So I worked with an awesome run coach and physio, prioritised my strength training and physio, and I put EVERYTHING into my training. I trained for about 5-6 months, so I could build up a base and my miles very gradually.
All the hard work during training paid off during the race. I felt good. I felt STRONG. I actually enjoyed it! Yes it hurt, my feet and legs started to burn after about 12 miles but I loved it.
I loved the feeling of strength, of being able to keep running during those later miles, when a lot of people in my wave were walking. The crowds and support were amazing, and the feeling of crossing that finish line cannot be explained.
Manchester marathon 2022 – Race Recap
My strategy for the race was to keep it steady and consistent, not set off too fast and to make sure that I had an energy gel every 30 mins or so. This is what I did in my training and it worked really well, so I wanted to keep to what I know worked. I had agreed a pace with my coach and I was going to try and stick to it, even in the early miles when it is so easy to get carried away. Yes, I know I can run faster, but I didn’t want to burn out half way round.
Secretly, I was hoping to finish under 5 hours, but I would have been happy just to complete it.
I’m happy to say that I kept it steady throughout the ENTIRE race which I’m so proud of. My times for each mile are very consistent. I didn’t walk ONCE apart from up a slight part of one of the hills in Altrincham around mile 17 – that was a beast.
At one point, I looked at my watch and couldn’t remember if I’d taken my gel or not, I remember my head started to go a bit and I panicked that if I missed a gel then I would hit the wall and ruin my whole race. So I gave it about 10 mins and then took another one just in case. I have no idea if I HAD missed it or not, but luckily it worked out! I just kept the 30 minute gel schedule from that point instead.
When I got to mile 21, I remember thinking this is uncharted territory now and I wondered if I could do it. My legs felt heavy but I kept going at the same steady pace – I still don’t know how! I saw some friends from my running club around mile 21-22 and it helped keep me going.
Mile 25 was tough and I started to feel really thirsty as I’d ran out of water. I remember seeing there was a pit stop just before the final mile. As I approached it, I looked at my watch and it said 4hrs30 mins. At this point I almost cried! I knew I’d done it and smashed my target time. Even if I’d walked that last mile, I would have come in under 5hrs. That last mile I think I ran on pure adrenaline. I went for it and even managed a sprint finish – even though the finish line straight seemed to go on forever!
I finished in 4hr 43 minutes. I’m incredibly proud. I paced it well and it paid off, as I felt strong and comfortable throughout. I enjoyed it and even had some energy in the tank for a sprint finish!
This experience has taught me that anything is possible if you put the work in.
It’s also shown me that my back is stronger than I think. In all of this, the pain was always in my legs, ankles and feet – never my back. It’s truly amazing what the human body is capable of.
Will I do it again? If you’d asked me when I’d just finished, I’d have said absolutely not! In reality, now the pain has faded, I’d never say never. It would be cool to give it another go and see what I can do, I know I have more in me. I was cautious with this one as it was my first one. That being said, the training is the hardest part and takes real time and commitment, so it’s whether I want to put myself through that again!
I’ve made a video about my experience, you can give it a watch below. Please subscribe to my YouTube channel for regular videos about my life and adventures with scoliosis.
Thanks to everyone who has sponsored me so far, there is still time to sponsor me for the marathon and my next challenge – a trek to Machu Picchu! You can sponsor me here.
Thanks for reading!
I had scoliosis surgery in 2010 and blog about my experiences living with scoliosis. My aim is to raise awareness of scoliosis and help and inspire others with the condition.