Alphabet Series: A is for Awesome

Here goes the start of the much anticipated/forgotten alphabet series (see this post I wrote on July 18th explaining it!) in which my ramblings come tumbling from brain to blog. It is of course your choice whether to read it or not, so I make no apology for it not making much sense most of the time. Are you sitting comfortably? Let’s begin…

A is for Awesome

When was the last time you used the word ‘awesome’? If you’re anything like me, it was probably as an exchange in a text or social conversation exclaiming excitement/agreement/acknowledgement at someone’s comment, for example ‘Guess what, I got a “Frozen” advent calendar* this year!’ ‘Ahh, awesome!’ I will admit to being a compulsive ‘awesome’ user; it is a standard response in my repertoire. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t a not-bothered-throwaway reply, more just a word that has shot to the top of my vocab list for exclamations. But I’ve been challenged by its meaning…


As a Christian, in this season of Advent it is a time of waiting, longing, anticipation and expectancy leading up to the big day – celebrating the birth of Jesus on December 25th. As I’ve been reading again the account of this incredible story over the last few weeks, something has stood out. There’s the drama of Mary finding out she is with child, the effort of travelling with Joseph to Bethlehem, the uncertainty of having to find somewhere to stay, the joy of becoming parents, and then the welcoming of visitors to see their precious baby. And it is in this welcoming that we witness wise men showing us what it really is to be in awe.

‘On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.’

These men had journeyed for a long time; if I were them I’d just want a cup of tea and sit down before saying hi to the baby. But no, they bowed down to the King of Kings. Having this sense of awe and wonder has struck me as something I don’t do very well or very often. I’m prone to losing sight of the baby in the manger growing up to be a man, and it was He, the very same person who was born in an animal shed, who came as a Saviour. The Saviour of the world. Now that is something worth stopping and thinking about. When was the last time I paused to reflect? Honestly, I don’t know. Taking time to stop isn’t something that comes naturally to me, and maybe not to you either, but here’s a little challenge to find a few minutes over the next week to do exactly that, and be in awe of the ‘Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’.

If you want to hear from someone who says it way better than me, thank Hannah McVeigh in episode sixteen of the 24/7 Podcast Advent series  ‘When God comes near’.

*This is a true fact



The Next Step…

Oh hello there. Nice to see you. Thanks for dropping by. For those of you who followed my marathon mission with me through to April I am most grateful. Recording the journey was the reason for starting this blog. Now it’s well and truly over (I will confess that I have only run three times since the marathon), I have taken a bit of a break from blogging during a busy summer term. And you will be pleased to know that ‘the next step’ doesn’t involve boring you with my running; just other things instead.

So I’m starting a new ‘alphabet series’ – the idea being that I work through from A-Z writing about different topics each week. I don’t know what they’ll be yet, so it’s as much a surprise for me as it is for you. Some will be mundane (you can decide which ones they are as we go along), some hopefully thought provoking, challenging or amusing. I may even persuade a few guest bloggers to feature.

To be honest, it’s mainly a way for me to write about and process things I’m thinking about, an insight to my brain (sorry, that will probably put most of you off); nothing more than that. If you want to read it then great, if you don’t then that’s cool too – I’ll never  know either way so you don’t have to feel guilty.

So there you go. I hope you look forward to some more posts from me over the next few months. Ideas welcome on a postcard (or comment box below).

Laters x

41. Reflections

It’s coming up for two weeks since I ran the London Marathon. I spent the first seven days with the medal around my neck, and since then its been in my bag everywhere I go. I figure it’s the closest I’ll ever come to getting an Olympic medal. I’m desperate to get back out running but for the first time in my life I’m doing as I’m told and resting my knee another week before hitting the streets again.

I have been completely overwhelmed by everyone’s encouragement, support and donations – the figure raised is now around £2000 which is incredible. Thank you all so so much for this amazing generosity.

On reflection over the past few days, as I’ve recounted my marathon mission many times, I’ve been thinking about my top ten things I would tell someone who is going to do the London Marathon (or any other marathon for that matter); things I have done and wish I had done. Here goes…

10. See a physio at the start: I only saw one when my knee got bad, and they could have helped from the beginning to prevent or at least limit the damage by identifying potential problems you may have. It’s worth investing a few pounds into seeing a great physio (just don’t listen to the bit when they say you shouldn’t run because it’s bad for your knees).

9. Enjoy the carb loading: Do it for anything over 13 miles, and practise your whole race day routine – try and run at the same time a race is (usually starting between 9 & 10am) to practise eating your two breakfasts at the right time.

8. Keep a diary: It may sound pointless, but record all your running, gym sessions and rest days. Put in what you did (eg hills, intervals, weights, long run), how long for and how you felt after. It’s really good to be able to look back and track any factors influencing your training, both helpful and not so helpful. Be disciplined and stick to a plan. Pace it, and build up gently.

7. Energy levels: Make sure you practise carrying enough gels with you, and can consume water regularly. Try adding electrolyte tablets to your water, particularly on long runs.

6. Tapering is weird: Fact. I thought it would be easy, as I knew in my head why and how it would work. But when it came to it, I really struggled and started to doubt I hadn’t done enough and thought I should be out doing longer not shorter runs. Trust me, it’s weird but necessary.

5. Get your head in the game: Find headphones that you know will stay in/keep still, and use them on every run. Find music that you love, it’ll be playing for a few hours solid.

4. Don’t high five kids: Not much more to say. Sounds awful but this was the best thing I heard on the morning of the marathon, and was a bit of a life saver. Kept me from being distracted. Apart from the mum holding the baby, too cute not to high five.

3. Shoe laces: Check your shoe laces are tied up tight enough. I never had a problem until the actual day when for some reason I just did them a bit loose. Big mistake. My toes still hurt from them rubbing inside.

2. Supporters: Don’t forget they’ll be loads of people supporting and encouraging you right from your first training session, with you every step you take. They are vital, a lifeline to keep you going. I could not have done it without them. Try and get a few people to come and cheer you on. It makes such a difference. If you’re doing the London marathon, give out your runner number for those at home on the day so they can track you online. They feel like they are involved, and it means everyone knows how you’re doing – I had friends in Uganda, South Africa and Australia tracking me! Get your name printed on your top and thousands of people who you don’t know will cheer you on. It’s such a boost when you’re struggling.

1. Watch the clock: Look at the timer when you go over the start line. That was the most irritating thing the whole way round – I’d forgotten, and it meant I had no idea what my pace was. Learn from this!

Two more top tips:
~ It’s really hard to take everything in, it can be quite overwhelming on the day but you want to try and remember everything. I tried to remember moments, and every so often just think to myself, ‘flip, I’m actually running the marathon, look around and enjoy it right now’. I’d try and think of one thing that stood out about each mile, mainly to give me something to do – at the end of each mile I’d go over the list and add a new thing from that mile.
~ Read ‘Marathon running for mortals’, it’s the best book out there for “normal people” wanting to run. It was really realistic, and a real help to me.

Bizarrely, if I was offered to run a marathon in a months time, I’d do it. Next year, no. I absolutely loved it, but there is a high level of commitment to training needed which is quite intense, time consuming and becomes relentless towards the end; once is enough! There’s a part of me that knows I could run it faster and that’s frustrating. Maybe one day.

I’m proud of having done it, but now it’s time for a new challenge…

40. Mission Accomplished

It’s over, I’ve done it!

It’s mid Monday morning, and this time 24 hours ago I was lining up to start the London Marathon. And what a day it was! So much happened so quickly yet slowly at the same time. Lots of you kind people have been asking how it was and want to know all about it, so I thought I’d attempt to write about what I can remember of the day from a runner’s perspective…

A day in the life of a London Marathon runner:

5.20am – First alarm goes off. Oh goodness, it’s today. I don’t know what to do with myself. Quick twitter/FB post with the link for people to track me round the course. Right, no more phone use, I need to save the battery for RunKeeper.

5.30am – Second alarm goes of. Time to get up. Head downstairs to the lounge where all my kit is laid out ready from the night before. There is a ridiculous amount of stuff – a lot of ‘just in case’ things. I grab my clothes I’m wearing for the race and go and get changed.

5.50am – Breakfast no 1 – Alpen. Milk isn’t the easiest thing to transport so I save the dry breakfast for later.

6.10am – Final check I have everything. There’s probably something I’ve forgotten, but I’m sure I’ll manage. I have my Primark matching tracksuit on from when I was 14, ready to leave at the start just before we get going. I never want to see it again.

6.15am – Mum gives me a lift over to Sutton to get the train. Ashtead can’t manage trains early enough on marathon day. It’s pretty warm out already. Flip, forgot sun cream.

6.45am – Arrive at the station, and get my ticket. I have all the train times written out but they don’t seem to be showing on the screens. Bewildered, I stand looking aimlessly trying to figure out what to do, when I hear ‘are you going to the marathon? Come with us’ and I’m thankfully whisked away by three girls who are clearly much more organised than me.

6.55am – Sitting on the train with my new running friend Kate and her two friends, we chat away about how we ended in this mad situation. She had applied five times before finally getting a place this year. She’s aiming for 4.5-5 hours, so I’ll let her get on with that by herself! Turns out we are both in pen 9 at blue start. Amazing.

7.30am – Still on the train. We decide that if Mo Farah happens to not make it to the end and we pass him, we have to take a selfie.

7.45am – Working out what we need to do at the start. I declare that when we’re there I basically need to ‘sort my life out’ and empty the contents of my bag out.

8.02am – Change of trains and we are joined by hundreds of other runners. It’s a total mix of people; ages, backgrounds, reasons for running. I love it.

8.25am – We get off the train at Blackheath and are immediately greeted by marshals directing us to the start area. I’m impressed at how well organised it all is.

8.32am – We head over the hill and are met by clear blue skies and excited crowds of people. I suddenly have a brief moment of panic as I wonder what on earth I’m doing.

8.35am – Time for obligatory selfies with Kate and friends before we leave them and enter the start area. Point of no return.

8.40am – Wandering round the start area, we head for the toilets. We head in to the ‘female urinals’ and make a quick turn around – not happening. Speedy exit, and we manage to find the port-a-loos. Much better. We make the most of very short queues.

8.50am – We spy out a patch of grass to sit down on, and promptly make ourselves at home. The large screen to our right shows people sitting around, chatting, flicking between crazy costumes. The guy on the PA chats away. Then a pre-recorded message from Mo Farah for all the runners is played. And I quote, ‘Good luck today. Go big or go home’. Thanks Mo.

9.00am – Breakfast no 2 – honey granola bars. A bit dry to eat so I have water with it. Except not too much water or I’ll need the loo half way round, and I don’t want that.

9.15am – Time to sort my life out. Things I didn’t realise I’d packed came flying out as I started loading up my pocket, getting my phone arm case on, packing in energy gels, and sorting out my head phones. Kate has suncream, what a star. Tutu is on. And it certainly isn’t coming off easily, it’s what I call, ‘snug’. No, tight. – Calls for getting our massive red official kit bags to the baggage lorries are repeated over the PA. Should probs get our stuff handed in or they’ll go without it. Again, epic organisation is in swing as bags are put in sections according to runner number.

9.25am – Texts have been flying in all morning. Am so grateful for all the support, but trying not to use my phone. Sorry for not replying everyone!

9.30am – Toilet time again. Queues are now 30ish people long, but moving quickly with an abundance of port-a-loo’s available.

9.45am – Eeeeeek. Heading over to pen 9 (sounds like herding sheep, which it pretty much is). Once we’re in, we’re in.

9.50am – Brief chats with other runners. So many charities represented. Chuckling at some of the mad costumes. I have a golden apple behind me, Scooby Do to the side. Time to put Deep Heat on my knee, hoping it holds out for a while.

10.00am – Go! Well, for the elite men at the start, anyway. We don’t even hear it. Everyone just knows that the race has started and it’ll be us going through soon.

10.04am – We start moving forward. This is it. People are dashing from the start line to the toilets and back. Clothes are flying everywhere as people throw off their top layer that was keeping them warm. It’s tricky trying to dodge round mountains of hoodies and trackies.

10.16am – I cross the start line. Except for I don’t actually know what time it is I start as I fail to look up. I’m frantically trying to get RunKeeper to start so I can record this. But it doesn’t work, I get frustrated and give up. Time to resort to music. Playlist goes on shuffle. Mumford and Sons kicks in, and I feel better already.

10.20am – Settling in, and smiling at the lovely people who are standing outside their houses cheering. Toilet stop on the left already, and there are queues. I just hope I don’t need the loo later on. I run through my first legal red light of the day.

10.28am – Mile 1 marker. Hang on, how long did that mile take? I have no idea. Then I realise I have no clue what pace I’m doing. I’m so used to RunKeeper telling me constantly and adjusting to what I want to be at, that I have no idea how fast I am going. But then I have to decide if I’m going to go as fast as I can until my knee gives up, or to slow down and try and get round with more running, but slower. I opt for number two.

Mile 2 – We’re joining up with the red start group now, and everyone is together. The crowds start to get bigger.

Mile 3 – Someone at the start said ‘I know it seems harsh, but don’t high-five every kid you see. You’ll go insane.’ I’m so thankful for this advice. It means I can stay focussed. And if I don’t high-five anyone then it’s fair. Sounds mean as a children’s worker, but sorry kids; any other day, but not today.

Mile 6 – 1 hour 4 mins I think. Is that quicker than my usual 6 miles? I have no idea, I can’t work it out. There’s the Cutty Sark. Love running round this bit, the crowds are mad.

Mile 9 – First time seeing supporters. Mum and Dad are there on the corner by the traffic lights. Time for paracetamol for knee pain. I’ve never taken it so quickly.

Mile 10 – This is a long mile. Really long. Random people shouting my name makes me smile, keeps me going. Right from the start I’ve had music playing, but even with head phones in I can hear them.

Mile 12 – Come on. Almost half way. Here’s Tower Bridge.

Mile 13.1 – HALF WAY! Right, I can do this. Oh no, that’s the 22 mile marker on the other side of the road, and there are lots of people going very fast in that direction. Focus, I’ve got a while yet.

Mile 14 – Left knee (the one giving me grief the last few weeks) is finally giving in. Decision made – if I’m going to get round to the finish, I need to walk. It’s heartbreaking – I was so determined to run the whole thing. That was until my knee issue. I’ve run 18 miles without stopping, why do I need to stop at 14? Frustration. First few steps of walking are strange but a bit of a relief as well. I’m not going for time, I’m going for finishing now.

Mile 15 – Pretty bad. Hard work, I swear these miles are longer than the previous ones. The sun is pretty strong, and the heat is getting to lots of the runners. I try and stay on the side of the road with shade as much as possible.

Mile 16 – Mum and Dad keep ringing, they’re around here somewhere, but I think I’ve missed them. Annoying, but it made me keep running – you don’t want to get to supporters when you’re walking.

Mile 17 – Joe just rang, interrupting Ant and Dec singing ‘Let’s get ready to rumble’ to me. I’ll forgive him.

Mile 18 – Mum and Dad are here again, I don’t see them but they shout at me. I’m walking (cardinal sin when seeing supporters). My feet are killing. Re-tie shoe laces tighter, so much better. Why didn’t I do that before? Why didn’t I check them at the start? Dad is pouring water over me. ‘Mind my phone!’ I cry. Time to re Deep Heat the knee in an attempt to make it through. A bit further on and Jill, Reb and Nessa are just on the corner in front of the steel drum band. Woohoo! Massive ‘GO MIM’ sign hanging over the barriers. It’s amazing what seeing supporters does for you. Quick selfie and time to go. Lyd, Mike, Sus and Joe are just further up. I spy them and run over. Another compulsory selfie and I’m off.

Mile 19 – Ahhhh there they are. Sam is up on a plinth with the camera and I can see him waving. Mel, Lizzie, Hannah, Oli, Sarah and Joe are all at the barriers, so excited. Sam gets a pic of us all, big hugs all round, lots of cheering. Hopefully see them a bit later. Text from Toby saying I’d just run past him. Oh no, rubbish. Will try again later.

Mile 20 – Come on. Only a 10km to go. I’ve done this so many times before. A guy on a PA says, ‘they’ve run 20 miles, they all look exhausted, come on crowd, let’s cheer’. Yep, we are.

Mile 21 – This is where I saw everyone running in the other direction earlier. Now it’s my turn.

Mile 22 – Toby is right by the 22 marker. No missing this time! So good to see someone I know. I moan about my knee and how when I walk it’s harder to get back into the running rhythm. He says to just keep running slowly to keep it going. Round the corner and I hear ‘Mim’ louder than the crowd usually shout. What? Mel and Sam are there again! It’s on a wide corner so we were all running on the inside, but I head over to them, boosted by the surprise. Woohoo more excitement and I’m off again.

Mile 23 – Thanks Tobes, no more walking from now on. Head in the game, let’s do this.

Mile 24 – Head into Blackfriars Tunnel, greeted by huge lit up balloons and loud music pumping out. ‘Fight for it, fight for it’ is going round and round my head. Not gonna lie, it’s Palm Sunday today and this reminds me of telling the Easter story to year 6’s a few weeks ago. We told them how Jesus came in to Jerusalem to crowds cheering and shouting…was it something like this?!

Mile 25 – Mum and Dad again. Quick stop, and off I go. Past Westminster, looks pretty cool in the sunshine. There’s a line of runners on the right who are being massaged, two are on stretchers covered in blankets, poor guys. It’s a funny thing, the people you least expect to be injured and struggling can end up in the worst pain. I think a lot of people have been caught out by the heat, I’ve drunk far more today than I have ever done on a long run before.

800m – Come on, almost there. People are limping, bent over, doing all they can to get to the end.

600m – So close. A marshall shouts encouragement to two girls clinging on to each other as I pass them. ‘We’re almost there’ I say, encouraging both them and myself. Round in front of Buckingham Palace, I say hi to the Queen and I take a cheeky selfie whilst still running. I take my headphones out. I want to run up The Mall and remember this bit.

Finish – What’s that? The finish? THE FINISH! I’VE FINISHED! ‘You can stop now’ the marshall says as I keep going. Oh yes, I can stop. First thought: I didn’t need the loo at all, winner. I’m handed a goody bag, and someone comments how we are given such a heavy bag to carry after just running 26.2 miles. My timing chip on my shoe is cut off and the medal is placed around my neck. Oh, the medal. Proof that I have actually done it. It doesn’t quite sink in. Over to the left the official photographers are taking pictures. I do my practised pose – thumbs up. On a bit further and I hunt out my massive red official bag. I’ve been handed it before I’ve even got to the barrier. These guys are pros.

I make it to the end and out to find my amazing support group, and hear my name being called. It’s Toby, he happened to be walking past whilst trying to find the others. He takes my bag, what a star. We head over to ‘M’ in the far corner of Horse Guards Parade and are greeted by cheers, hugs and much celebration. Out comes the awesome cake Lyd has made and it’s devoured. Photos galore, I feel like a celeb. Well, I have just finished the London Marathon.

Huge thanks to all the bands that were playing, people out cheering, the woman who gave me an orange quarter which was the best thing ever, and all the supporters who came up to cheer 🙂

If I’m honest, it is all slightly surreal, and as much as I tried to take it all in, most of it is a blur of everything at once. I hope this captures a little bit of what it was like. Thank you all for your amazing support over the last seven months as I’ve trained for the London Marathon. Yesterday I ran it – and I have the medal to prove it 🙂

6 hours 12 mins 55 secs and I’m a London Marathon finisher!

39. Better never stops

In the words of the London 2012 Olympic Team GB Campaign, ‘better never stops’. It sounds good so I’ll go with it. I guess it’s about always improving, pushing yourself, bring the best you can, never letting up. The title of my first blog was a quote a friend had given me: ‘Your legs will only go as far as your brain will let them.’ This is particularly true for me now as I think about getting round the marathon with a knee injury. This could take a lot of mental will-power, but I also know that I’ve put in all the training I need to in order to finish what I set out to do.

I’ve just got back from our family holiday to Italy. Perfect for carb loading. Perfect for resting. I may now be just about ready for literally the biggest race of my life. At which point, I think ‘better’ may reach the limit.

Run 67 – I know holidays are a time to rest, and I did largely, apart from my last two runs. Mum came with me on both, and we decided to walk/run this to see how my knee held up.  It wasn’t too bad, but I didn’t want to push it, so over 50 mins we meandered (with a few near death experiences due to Italian driving) along the edge of Lake Como, from Varenna through to Pino. It’s simply beautiful.

Run 68 – This is it, the last one. We pretty much repeated what we did a few days earlier, but I managed to run (slowly, with a few stops to look at the view!) the whole time. This was really important as I felt me knee was holding up, and I feel better about it for Sunday. There is hope.

Physio 4 – Have seen the physio this morning to re-tape my knee for the last time. This tape is amazing stuff! It may look bizarre but if it supports my knee then I don’t care.

Some stats for you, courtesy of anything I’ve recorded (long walks, running, cycling, cross trainer) on RunKepper since beginning training at the end of September:

  • 468 miles covered
  • 38,275 calories burned

So that’s it. I’ve done all I can. No more training.


The view over Lake Como, Italy, on my last training run. Not bad eh. 

It’s all or nothing now.

Just off to register at the Excel in London, along with thousands of other runners, before getting everything ready for tomorrow.

See you at the finish line; ‘Mim’s Mission’ is almost accomplished.

Thank you to all of you who have been so generous in donating, it will make a huge difference. There is still time –


38. Take a break

Race day. 8 days away. A scary prospect. But I’m comforted by the fact that some very lovely people have agreed to come to London and be on the roadside to cheer me on.

If you would like to come along, the marathon is on Sunday 13th April. Obviously I appreciate any support along the route, but the most helpful would be anywhere after 12 miles on the north of the river, especially around Canary Wharf (miles 15-20) and towards the end of the route.

There is one condition to you coming to watch though. If you shout really loudly and I see you (which hopefully I will!) then you have to be prepared to have a speedy selfie taken with me. There is no getting out of this. I won’t exactly be looking my best so I’m afraid you have no excuse. Some lovely friends have made me a marathon scrapbook and I want to put pics in from the day recording how it all went.

So if you’re down with that, please do come and join me for a great day in London!

Gym 25 – 3.2 miles in 11.5 mins on the bike, 10 mins on the cross trainer, resistance machines and stretches and that was me done. I try and put the equipment to the highest level I can maintain to keep me working hard, particularly as road running has been so limited the past few weeks.

Run 66 – Another try at running outside, mainly because I get desperate for fresh air when I’m in the gym. 15 minutes later and I could feel my knee starting to go…which meant I had to stop. And that was at 12 min 12 sec a mile, which is slow for me. Enormously frustrating.

Gym 26 – Last proper gym session before the marathon. I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve done in the gym, and although it can feel very repetitive, I’ll probably still go after the marathon. Another 3 miles on the bike, and 1.6 miles in 15 mins on the cross trainer made for a good start to the day.

Gym 27 – The last ‘long run’ of the training was finally upon me. I actually did it on the cross trainer, which I’ve finally become friends with. 6.3 miles in an hour was pretty good going at 9 min 26 sec a mile. I don’t know how this translates to normal running, but that seems quite fast! The knee held up fine, and it felt more realistic than cycling. I was pleased with how it went, though I am now thoroughly bored of looking at the same wall for hours at a time, and am very excited about running outside! I think it’ll make me appreciate the crowds even more on M-day.

Physio 3 – Another physio session to re-tape and ultrasound the knee. Hopefully this will hold up whilst I’m on holiday. Just a few short runs to try and get through before the big day.

Now, what time is it? Holiday time? Why yes it is. Right, I’m off to Italy, see you all soon. Altitude training/ carb loading/ whatever you want to call it, I’m there. Just over a week to go, and it’s getting very real.

If you can’t make it on the day but you would like to sponsor me, my page is:

37. Fashion Fiesta

I always loved dressing up as a child. I loved imaginative play, and creating stories of adventure that my siblings and I would go on (usually on a plane somewhere and we’d pack all our clothes into bags and go off on holiday down the bottom of the garden). I loved my 7th birthday present from my Grandma – a handmade Snow White costume. I wore it to my party, even though I was the only one in fancy dress. And I have to say, even now if there’s the opportunity for dressing up, I’m there.

All through uni, parties for all occasions involved a different theme – from Disney to ‘something beginning with M’, pirates to superheroes, 80’s neon rave to animals. We did the lot. And now I have hundreds of random items of clothing in a fancy dress box, ready to be used. I am often asked for various costumes by friends to which I can usually find something tenuously linked along the right lines. (In the last few months I’ve been asked for cowgirl, elf, Peter Pan and Christmas pudding).

I love making costumes, it’s always more fun when it looks a bit homemade and not quite perfect. For the last 3 years I’ve made a Christmas themed outfit for our work Christmas party. It began with slight confusion and bewilderment from the rest of the staff team…now they just groan when I mention it. It’s a bit of fun, so why not? Live life on the edge and all that.



So this all brings us to a very important question. What costume do I wear for the marathon? I wouldn’t normally, but I am putting in some restrictions. It needs to be fairly practical as I still want to be able to run as well as I can – after all, this is the only marathon I’m doing, so I want it to be my best time I could have done, without being hindered by a costume! As the marathon is on Palm Sunday, it has been suggested and seconded that I should go for something involving a donkey/Jesus or a combination of the two. Although it would be hilarious, sadly I think it might have to wait for another time.

In reality, I want to have both the charity logos on my top, and you have to have your running number on the front. Plus I’ve been told the most important thing to do is have your name printed on your top for people to cheer for you. So I think I’m going for a purple (Rianna’s Fund) and green (Catching Lives) theme. But you’ll have to wait till the day to see exactly what it looks like (clue: there may be a tutu involved).


If you would like to sponsor me, my page is

36. Expectations

I’ll be honest, this wasn’t how I expected the last few weeks of marathon training to be. I’ve had a schedule I’ve followed pretty closely since Christmas, and even until two weeks ago had been completely on track with it all. Then everything started to have to be adapted slightly, and suddenly I find myself not where I feel I should be at all. Maybe I had unrealistic expectations, though I don’t think they were. It’s sheer frustration at not being able to run properly. I feel like I’m under prepared. And whether it’s pride, vanity or fear of failure, I don’t want to be walking the whole thing and look like I have just rocked up on the day having done no training – it’s been hard work! Combine this with tapering off and it’s a weird thing as you feel like you should be running more, not less. Suddenly you start to doubt if you’ll be able to get round 26.2 miles after spending three weeks running less and less.

I was back home yesterday, and went to Richmond Park with some friends. I’ve never seen so many people out running and I actually had heart ache at not being able to run with them. I felt guilty, like I should be out there, but can’t. It’s a horrible thing, injury. The last thing I wanted two weeks before the biggest run I will ever do (that is a fact!) is to be strapped up in (albeit purple) physio tape down my left leg, and be doing constant exercises to try and stabilise my knee enough to make it round the course.

I suppose I’ve been put in a position where I now have to manage my expectations of the day. Two weeks ago I would have said training was going really well and I was aiming for 5 hours 20 mins ish running hopefully the whole way. Now it’s literally a case of managing pain relief and just getting round. It’s a hard pill to swallow after more than six months of early morning training, planning your whole life around long runs and eating saucepanfuls of pasta. But that’s the risk you take when you start training from scratch for something like a marathon – part of it is to see how far I can push myself, and this is becoming more of a mental than physical game now. Do I believe I can get round? Yes. Done.

Gym 23 – After a day off from the epic cycle ride, I was back on the bike at the start of another Monday gym sesh. I went faster on a higher level than I had done to keep the cardio going – it’s quite unrealistic sitting on a static bike in a warm room compared to running outside in the chilly fresh air so I wanted to keep make myself work hard. Almost 4 miles in just under 14 mins was good.

Run 65 – This was a hard morning. I went out and tried to run and stopped the moment my knee hurt. I got to 15 mins before I stopped. This doesn’t bode well at all for my confidence in my knee over many hours. I then spent the rest of the day thinking of the best pain relief plan for over 5 hours of running.

Gym 24 – Back on the gym bike and did 65 mins, but with no distractions this time – pure cycling. I put it on a higher level than the last long cycle and kept up the speed to do just over 17 miles, so had been over 1.5 mph quicker which was good.

Physio 2 – At home over the weekend my best friend’s wonderful physio mum gave me some more physio including taping up my leg, ultrasound on my knee and working on my left foot as it’s very tight and won’t move as much as my right. I now look like a pro with purple tape on – an injured pro, but a pro all the same.

I’m doing all I possibly can to get to and actually complete the marathon. After all, it is raising money for two brilliant charities who both do incredible work with the people they meet. M-day, by the way, is 2 weeks today! Eeeeek!

If you want to support the charities I’m running for – Catching Lives and Rianna’s Fund, you can see more about them and how to donate at

35. Just keep swimming

Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten what sport I am training in (though with recent weather I do wonder…). But I always think of Dory from Finding Nemo saying ‘just keep swimming, just keep swimming‘ whenever I try and motivate myself, whether that’s getting out of bed in the morning or getting round to doing the washing up. This may in part be due to the fact my nickname from some of my friends at school was Dory. Whatever the reason, it seems to help get me going.

Motivation is an interesting thing. We usually have a reason to do something. What gets you up in the morning? The smell of freshly made coffee read to be drunk? Looking forward to going to work (I genuinely mean that)? Your kids arguing, its only 6am and if you can get them to be quiet quickly enough the baby won’t be woken? Knowing you’ll see a beautiful view of creation if you can just make it to the window to look out across the countryside? (Handy hint – If you need a song to get you up, this is a fave of mine that I often play – always brightens my morning, good ol’ Si Cranston.)

Motivation isn’t just about starting something though, it’s also about wanting to keep going, sticking with it to see something through to completion. I have various motivations to keep me going through training. Immediate reasons are that I feel more awake after a run, and feel more healthy in myself. Longer term, I know it will all be worth it when I’ve raised money for two brilliant charities. I want to achieve something I really didn’t think I’d ever be able to do. I want to prove to myself and others that when you put your mind to something, it is possible. I want to tick something off my ‘bucket list’.

To help me stay motivated, a while back I put out a tweet to ask the twittersphere what words of wisdom they could offer. I have to say, most replies were from friends questioning why I would put myself through marathon training! Here are some quotes and inspirational words to help encourage you and I not to give up (I’ll think of these when I hit ‘the wall’)…

“If you’re going through hell, keep going” Winston Churchill

“Never, never, never give up” Winston Churchill

“Even if you fall on your face, you’re still moving forward” Victor Kiam (let’s hope this doesn’t literally happen on April 13th)

“The moment you doubt whether you can fly [or run], you cease for ever to be able to do it” from Peter Pan

“It always seems impossible until it is done”

“Whatever you do, do it with all you have, or don’t bother”

“Don’t stop, never give up, hold your head high and reach the top. Let the world see what you have got, bring it all back to you. ” S Club 7 (In fact, this whole S Club 7 song is great! Oh man, I hope you know who S Club 7 is – if not, you need educating).

So there we have it. You inspired yet? Well go on then, off you go for a run round the block. See you in a few minutes.

34. Setbacks and staying positive

I’m terrible, I know. Two and a bit weeks of no blogs. Thing is, I’ve been putting it off because I didn’t want to scare you. I’ve had problems with my knee and I wasn’t sure what the outcome would be so thought I’d hold off till I knew – which I do more now, so I’ll reveal all in a bit. Things have changed slightly in the last few days, which will all become clear.

Gym 18 – Threw a bit of rowing in to the mix, I quite enjoy it as it’s sitting down 🙂 The resistance machines I’m getting used to using and can feel how helpful it is doing gym sessions as well as just running.

Run 61 – 8 miles. After a brilliant 18 miles the week before, I was thinking this would be fine. I’d go out slightly quicker as it was a shorter run, and keep up the intensity. Disaster. At 11 min 5 sec miles in just under 1.5 hours it was my fastest long run to date. Went out far too fast, and completely lost all rhythm. I also absolutely knackered my knee, and thought I’d completely ruined any hope of running the marathon. It’s a horrible feeling, thinking you aren’t going to be able to complete something you’ve worked hard for and have your heart set on doing.

Gym 19 – Almost 5 miles cycling before work isn’t a bad start to the week. Having done 8 miles on the Friday, this is Monday and knee still feels bad. Usually it’s gone in a few days with rest but I’ve had ibuprofen gel all over it, knee support, ice, you name it I’ve done it…and it still isn’t right.

Run 62 – Hills: I managed to run 1.88 miles in 21 mins, but then had to atop because of the pain in my knee. Ahhhh so frustrating. I also wore a long sleeved top, but got too hot – clearly I hadn’t learnt from last time. I need to embrace the chilly morning air!

Gym 20 – I focused on upper body conditioning as my knee was playing up. Arms are definitely stronger than they have ever been. Yeah, that’s right, I’m getting stronger!

Run 63 – This week is a bit all over the place as I’m away for the weekend with my church without enough time to get a long run in, so today (Saturday) is a short run of just under 2.5 miles before Monday’s long one. I ran in the forest around the house which I’m not used to as it’s very uneven ground, but nice to be out in the sunshine. A group of friends were out for a walk and I met them half way round. My laughing problem returned (I laugh when I see people when I run) and I creased up as I ran through the tunnel they made cheering me on. It was a great moment, and a bit of a taste of marathon day… 🙂

Run 64 – 20 miles. Well, let me set this straight, it was actually 13 miles. I’ll explain. It was awful, frustrating and not in the plan. I got to 6.5 miles fine, having covered my knee in ibuprofen gel. And then the effects of that started to wear off and I could gradually feel the real pain from my knee. It got worse and worse and so intense but I just kept going. I desperately wanted to get to 20 miles – after all, that was the aim for the day, I’d carb loaded and I was yet to stop before I reach a target distance. But at 13 miles I had to go down some steps and I had to hold on to the rail to do it, and by the time I got to the bottom my knee completely seized and I couldn’t move. It took a good few minutes for it to relax enough to hobble to a bench in the park and sit down and hold back tears. It was horrendous. Mainly because I felt so good running. I had loads of energy and it had been a good pace until the pain had started creeping in. Absolutely gutting. A very lovely friend came and picked me up and I realised I had to get to see a physio quick to work out what was going on and if there was any hope of competing 26.2 miles in a months time.

Physio 1 – Two days after the failed run, I saw a physio. Advice to anyone going to run a marathon: whether you think there is anything wrong with you or not, see a physio before you start training. They’ll be able to tell you what to watch out for. It turns out I have lax ligaments on the outside of my knees and so my thighs have been doing all the work to support my knees and now my leg muscles are really tight and can’t cope. Rubbish. But I’ve been given loads of exercises to do 3 times a day to strengthen it all as much as possible. There is light at the end of the tunnel. I’m still going to run the marathon, I just have to do all my training on a bike or cross trainer now. Not what I hoped for the last few weeks of training but hey, I’ll just have to go with it.

Gym 21 – A couple of days later I made it back to the gym and busted out time on the bike and cross trainer. Man I am so uncoordinated on the cross trainer, it’s really weird to use. Not a fan.

They say ‘no pain, no gain’. I think in this case, that will apply to marathon day, but any training until then is strictly ‘no pain, more gain in the long run’. If Davina McCall can cycle run and swim 500 miles in 7 days with 3 months training, I can run this marathon.

Gym 22 – Im currently typing this blog whilst cycling on a bike in the gym. It’s so boring not actually going anywhere, so I thought I’d alleviate this by multitasking for the first hour and a half. The song ‘Happy‘ by Pharrell Williams just came on in the gym and it’s reminded me to stay positive. It’s not the end of the world. I’m still going to run the marathon in 3 weeks time! Right need to stop typing and start focussing, Bargain hunt has come on the gym TV.

*watches Bargain Hunt, Top Gear x 2 and 4 Music chart countdown (One Direction came on so it was okay)*

So this session was 4 hours 15 minutes and I cycled 60.34 miles. Mental. The bike will only record up to an hour and then 5 min cool down at a time, so I kept taking photos on my phone to record each hours work. It seems multitasking makes me a lot slower as the second half of the cycle was much quicker! I’ve genuinely never cycled this much in my life. Knee is okay, aches a little bit, but a good call to cycle not run. I have to protect it as much as possible.
In case you wondered, this has been my view for the last few hours (the bike records in km not miles!):


To sponsor me for this pain, you can donate at