Early June. Friday morning. I jump out of bed and my left groin doesn’t feel quite right. It’s a dull ache more than the feel of a pull or tear. I’m in the pool by 8 and it’s fine, I forget about it within the hour. The next morning same again, slightly worse. I worry back to an injury in same place from football 6 years ago which kept me out for 4 months, but it’s a different sort of pain so I convince myself they’re not related, which is a relief. The days go on and each morning it’s worse, and I’m getting less and less sleep. I’m getting less sleep for two reasons - because it’s starting to hurt at night and I can’t bend my leg and it’s starting to stress me out. We’ve only got just over 2 months to go and I’m way behind in my training. I still can’t really swim, I couldn’t run anywhere near a marathon yet and I’m just as wiry as I’ve always been: this upper body’s not going to push a chair 26 miles....
I’m off to the Euros for a week of holiday, my last week before settling down to 2 really intense months of training. It’s still there and getting a lot lot worse. I hit a low point…I can’t bend down far enough to get my boxers on. I’m staying in a small twin room with a mate. “Rich, this is going to sound a bit odd but can you come here please, I need you to put my boxers on for me…and my shorts”. Rich steps up. I’m hardly sleeping at night, I have to go get it checked out.
I get home – GP says it’s not a hernia, phew, and I get referred to physio. I’m sleeping less and less. It’s really hampering me a lot on a day-to-day basis, but on top of it is the constant “what if after all this already I have to pull out?”. It nags at me constantly. I see the physio…she’s not quite sure what is wrong. By this point I can’t bend my leg at all for first 4 hours of the morning and there’s no reluctant Rich to dress me, I have to go to work in flip flops (and stay in them till lunchtime!) as they can just slip on! I’m standing at work now as I can’t sit down. A colleague has to put my socks on for me (thanks Giles)! My boss asks me if I think I’m sort of silicon valley entrepreneur. I’ve developed an even stranger gait to my usual one (!) and it’s starting to put loads of pressure on my back and thigh so those are aching too.
Doug and I have a training weekend in Norfolk pencilled in. On the Friday morning I have a swimming lesson with Ray Gibbs in Canary Wharf. It’s agony this morning. I limp in and Ray says “what’s wrong with you, you look like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders”. I feel like I do. I just can’t see how I’ll get from my current state to completing events. Ray says clearly I can’t do a lesson, and kindly doesn’t charge me (he should, I’ve wasted his time too). I feel really low. I send Doug a vid of my sorry state. I’m going to Norfolk that eve and we’re supposed to run 30km tomorrow (blind) and swim 1.5km on Sunday. It’s so bad I limp to Argos in Tottenham Court Road to get crutches (btw if you ever need them but can’t/don’t want to wait for hours in a hospital Argos is your destination!). I’m on bloody crutches with 6 weeks to go. By the eve and post a lot of anti-inflammatories, it feels a bit better, generally does at is ‘loosens up’ (that’s not a medical term).
The next day I stretch it for 2 hours and we manage to get through a 30km (blind) run. It’s a massive milestone for us and we’re buzzing. And then as the evening goes on it just descends again. By the time of desert at dinner I need the crutches again. I hardly sleep again. I can’t carry on like this. I’ve been referred for an MRI scan Wednesday and I need to see what that says before can do anything more.
MRI results show it’s a very bad tendon inflammation. I need a steroid injection into the groin. I get it a week later, and I’m told I can’t train for another week. By now I’ve been walking funny for about 2 months, and I’ve done no training at all for almost 3 weeks.
Friday 5th August – I get back in the gym for first training for weeks. I’m knackered straight away, my cardio is rubbish and I feel pretty weak. We have a month to go tomorrow. We both want to start doing our fundraising but I still really worry about whether I’ll make it. My groin is still definitely not 100%. I don’t want to publicise what we’re doing and raise money and then not be able to do it. A big 3 weeks ahead.
It all sounds like a bit of misery but it is all part of the journey. Odds were always going to be that one of us picked up an injury at some point. But I did struggle to accept it. When we are low we think about how it will feel out there and hopefully the significant amount we will raise for causes we genuinely really believe in…and the feeling of finishing! It does sound like a bit corny to an extent but by linking the events to what we’re raising funds for it has really increased our personal connection with our causes. It has made us realise and see the relative struggle that others go through with their disabilities, but you wouldn’t know it from their end. They get on with things and they really are inspiring. A groin injury for a few weeks pales into comparison. Onwards and upwards.
Published by: Douglas and Patrick Athletes in Training