LESS than weeks of training were all I had mustered before the first race in my running season.
So I was more nervous than usual as I lined up at the start of the race on Jacksons Landing, still carrying the knee injury which had curtailed my preparations.
Weeks before, a routine treadmill session ended in a searing pain and damage to my ligaments.
It left me unable to train for a month, and then managing only ten days of gentle exercise afterwards. It was hardly the ideal way to go into the race and my mind was full of doubts.
Would I finish?
Would I manage a decent placing?
Would I be in agony at the finish?
Instead of a gun or hooter, the starting cannon fired (they like to to things in style in Hartlepool) and we were under way.
A big crowd gathered and was giving us admirable support. That included my wife Margaret, daughter Kelly and grandson Kyle – all watching as I began a season of racing on behalf my chosen charity for the year – Asthma UK.
They waved me off and headed for McDonalds (sensible move) while I struggled along the seafront with a decent gale in my face.
My limited training manifested itself almost immediately.
My chest was pounding and my knee injury wasn’t as far down the recovery road as I had hoped. This was after half a mile.
My plan to start at the back and move through the field was only partly working. The starting at the back bit went like clockwork. The moving through the field bit was rubbish.
Time and distance seemed to be going in slow motion. This after two miles. The only thing to do was forget the pain and plough on.
It was probably the same though going through the minds of the 288 other runners, representing athletics clubs from Marske, Billingham, Darlington, Redcar and many others besides.
By half way, and the turning point at Seaton Carew, I had settled into a pattern which I knew would see me to the finish, although it wasn’t fast.
I passed cheering spectators who were the very encouragement I needed.
By the second half of the race, and with the wind now a welcome assistance as it turned to push me for home, I decided to accept my fate and enjoy the view as I plodded onward - knowing that this wasn’t going to be quick.
As I relaxed more, time seemed to pass faster for a while. The stinging pain in my knee was a constant reminder, though, that this was a comeback run.
The familiar sight of Hartlepool gradually appeared larger in my view.
As the sweat poured from me and the pain in my knee grew, my thoughts turned to getting this over as quickly as I could.
There was no more welcoming sight than that of reaching the end of the seafront promenade and heading back through the houses at Hartlepool Marina, surrounded by runners all valiantly fighting on to the finish.
I eventually reached the finish line close to the Wingfield Castle and felt an immediate searing pain in my knee as I came to a stop.
My time? A faster than hoped 48 minutes and 27 seconds which put me in 247th position. Not what I would have expected if I had been fully fit and it was a good six minutes slower than last year.
But I had completed a run I really did think I might not manage.
And once again, the Marina 5 Mile Road Race was a great way to get my running season up and running.
Well done to all the organisers for a great event. It gets better each year.