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.

9.20.am – 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!

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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: www.virginmoneygiving.com/mimsmission

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.

30. Two amazing charities

So now my fundraising page is up and running (excuse the pun), I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you a bit more about the charities I’m running the London Marathon for. I really appreciate any donations made – you can donate through my Virgin Money Giving page here: http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/mimsmission   (If you would like to make a donation but would rather not pay online, please do contact me directly for more details.)

All money raised running the London Marathon will be split equally between these two fantastic charities. Both are fantastic, so here’s the low down…

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Catching Lives
Catching Lives is based in Canterbury, and has been running for over 20 years. They aim to support the homeless and vulnerably housed in and around the local area.  The charity does amazing work at raising awareness and changing attitudes to homelessness through working with the local community. They take work placements, deliver training and work with schools and youth groups to inform them; homelessness could affect any of us. They provide immediate respite at the open centre. Here clients are given access to many services which they wouldn’t otherwise be able to use whilst being on the street or with no fixed address. These include basic services such as meals, laundry, showers and clothing, as well as health services; social and emotional support;  advice , advocacy and referral; and work, learning and recreational activity. All these things are vital for clients to feel valued members of society. In the Winter months they have a community shelter open in a different venue for each night of the week. This has been invaluable in the past couple of years with such cold weather and often snow for days at a time. The aim is to try and help the clients find sustainable and appropriate accommodation, hopefully by the time the shelter finishes at the end of February.

Catching Lives are always looking for volunteers for a number of roles. If you would like to find out more or get involved, please contact  info@catchinglives.org

 

Rianna's Fund

Rianna’s Fund
In January 2003 Rianna, just eight years old, died tragically when a tree fell at her school in Ashtead, Surrey. This charity set up in her name, aims to help and support underprivileged children around the world achieve their potential. It is a charity close to my heart for many reasons. Rianna’s family  attend my home church, and it has been inspiring to see all the work gone into the projects that have been set up through Rianna’s Fund. They bring hope to children who would otherwise have nothing. They have now built a school in Kampala, Uganda, for over 640 children and funded school places for children across India along with many other projects. They believe that ‘one life can make many changes’, and that is exactly what has happened through this wonderful charity.

For more info you can contact Rianna’s Fund on riannasfund@aol.com

Thank you for all your support!

26. Still going strong

Oh hello there. Welcome back. And welcome to 2014.

I feel like I need to welcome you back as I haven’t posted anything for a week (shock horror) and this is a long time for me. Fear not, I haven’t forgotten that I am training for a marathon. Far from it in fact. My Christmas break was interspersed with running all over the place (literally). And now I’m back to a sort of normality (what’s normal?) I can update you on the fun. Blogging was put on hold whilst I enjoyed time with family and friends. It was a lovely time to get away for a few days, and I hope you enjoyed Christmas and New Year too.

So here we go, hold on to your seats, there’s a lot to get through. Time to catch up on the training and think ahead – maybe even with a few sneaky previews to what is in store for 2014.

Run 36 – Way back on 17th Dec it was a rainy Tuesday morning and off I went. Decided to risk it for a biscuit (well, breakfast bar) and go for it, hoping the rain wouldn’t get any harder. 2.3 miles later and I was wet but pleased to have run anyway.

Run 37 – Two days later and my trainers had dried (phew) which meant a 3 mile run was on the cards. Various things came up which meant I went for a late afternoon run (not normal for a Thursday). It felt a bit of an effort, but it was good to get out and run. Another time when I appreciated the feeling of freedom when it’s just you off for a run. Love it.

Gym 1 – ‘Wait a minute’ I hear you cry, ‘the gym?’! Oh yes, my friends, something terrible happened. I joined the gym. Possibly the most awkward experience ever (hench guys working out and coming to ask the instructor I was with to film them lifting weights. No joke). After swiftly moving on from the weights area and finishing the induction, I ran for 15 mins on the treadmill. Only problem is all the machines are set to km not miles, so I have to work out how far I’m going and my pace as I go along. I’m not sure I’ll cope with coordinating brain power at the same time as running.

Run 38 – Sunday morning and I was up for a couple of miles. My shins, however, were not. It was really hard work to run the mile that I managed in the wind, and I didn’t want to push it in case it made my legs worse. Not sure if its good or bad to see that my average pace around 11 min 45 secs was consistent all week, weather I was in wind, rain, or sun…

Run 39 – What a great day to run. Christmas Day morning in our house is chaos (as in most houses I’m sure) so I took the opportunity in a brief break of madness to go for a 5km run. And it was great. No one around apart from a few cars and a couple of others mad enough to be running on a very chilly but bright morning. Never did I think I’d find myself choosing to go for a run on Christmas Day; it may have to become an annual feature.

Run 40 – My older sister suggested on a whim that we run a 10km on Boxing Day. I don’t think she bargained for the fact that I would agree. I worked out a route around where my parents live and we set to it. It was freezing (not literally, it was 3 degrees) and I couldn’t move my fingers they were so cold. A bit of an issue when I needed to ring my grandma to ask if I could make a quick stop off at her house to go to the loo. Managed to ring her eventually, and all was well with the world again. I ran the 6.2 miles in 1 hour 14 mins 28 secs (12 min miles) which I was pleased with in the cold.

Run 41 – Another Saturday 5km run, this time I went with mum, sister and brother to Parkrun at Bushy Park (where Parkrun was started). It was a bit muddy in places, but great running with 750 other people on a fresh bright morning. The 3.1 mile course was lovely to run, and with 11 min 30 sec miles, I was a minute quicker than my first Parkrun at Whitstable a few weeks ago. My sister doesn’t do mornings, in fact she ‘hates life’ at any time before 10am, so I sent her some motivational texts to get her going…I found it quite amusing, even if she didn’t:

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Gym 2 – I drove back to Canterbury on Monday in the horrible ‘storm’ weather in the hope that I could get to the gym to do some cross-training and cycling. Ended up that I was quite late coming back, and for some reasons the only machines on were the treadmills. Boooo. Oh well, I tried. I WILL make it to the cross-trainer at some point. I ran for 15 mins on the treadmill again, and swiftly left again. It was flipping boiling in there.

Coming up in 2014… – Oh man, I’ve signed up to a half marathon in February with the mothership. This shouldn’t be a surprise to me, as I need to run double it (obviously) for the actual thing. It’s more the fact that it’ll be my first official race I’ve entered, so in not too sure what to expect. Don’t worry, you’ll hear all about it.
I’m hoping to do more Parkrun’s this year. I quite enjoy it, and it helps to practice running with lots of other people around.
And there’s the minor detail of RUNNING THE LONDON MARATHON! Yes, that.

 

16. Luck not Judgement

Ha. I’ve worked out that out of complete luck and absolutely no judgement my current training schedule syncs exactly to that suggested in the holy grail of marathon running books (Marathon Running for Mortals), so I can start their schedule at the right base level, to the week. Probably couldn’t have planned that if I tried. But it does mean I have a good training plan to follow, and can work out how far I need to be running with a bit more support behind it than ‘it sounds about right’. Which also brings to light a scary reality.

The London Marathon is 20 weeks away.

Yep that’s right. Oh dear me. Literally hundreds of miles to run between now and then.

Here’s the low down on this week, bringing me up to speed and ready to hit the training hard on this time consuming schedule ahead…

Run 25 – Tuesday picked up the training again after 2 days off. It felt like a bit of an effort, but once I got going it wasn’t too bad. I thought I’d run further than I had, so was a bit annoying having to hold my phone to watch the tenths of miles slowly tick by and finally reach the golden 3.1 miles.

Run 26 – Thursday sounded very cold outside (I heard the mind rustle a few leaves) from the comfort of my nice warm bed and was a bit of a struggle to convince myself I had to get up and go out. After much deliberation, I made it out for a short run and all was well with the world once more.

Run 27 – This was a Saturday again, and Mum drove down mega early to join me for my first 5km (3.1 miles) Parkrun . Freeeeezing cold (I kept my jumper on the whole way round, that’s how cold) with the coastal wind in our faces but officially completed in 36 min 41 secs. It is a circular (for the pedantic mathematicians amongst you, okay it was more elliptical) course of 2 laps along the Tankerton seafront, up a bit of a slope and back along the Marine Parade. Great to have a timed set course, and it gives you a small taste of what it is like running with lots of other people around you – one of the things I think I’ll find hardest on Marathon day. I like my space when running, so it might be interesting! Having said that, most people disappeared off into the distance pretty quickly so it almost felt like a normal run. I may have come 112th out of 123 but at least I wasn’t last (only because the last 11 people were parents running with children under 6 years old…). I sneakily gave mum my time tag to log so I could keep running and get an extra lap in which pushed my distance up to 4.8 miles in 56 mims which I was happy with considering the arctic conditions. Just under 12 min miles is still consistent.

I’m quite enjoying these longer runs at the moment. Anyone else want to join me for a Parkrun soon? I can’t guarantee good weather, but can guarantee a friendly bunch and a hot drink afterwards. Not a bad deal I say.

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The beautiful Tankerton views that greeted us

12. The good, the bad and the ugly

Okay, so there’s a variety of the good, bad and ugly that feature in this post…pick and choose as you wish which you most want to hear about.

Run 18 – Bad (and potentially ugly) – Running on Tuesday was interesting; like no other run. Well, I say running, I honestly don’t know if you can call it that. I sincerely apologise to anyone who saw me – especially the poor lady waiting at the bus stop who I passed on my way out and back again (looking distinctly worse on the way back). I had literally forgotten how to run. Even now I have no idea a) how I looked that morning, b) if I was actually running and c) how I managed to complete it. Genuinely no clue. It was the strangest thing. I got out the car, walked round the car park then went to run. Nothing. I couldn’t work out what to do to make myself run. I couldn’t work out if I was uber slow or mega fast compared to normal. I suppose I eventually managed to put one foot in front of the other and get going, but it is all a bit of a blur. My poor colleagues are getting great amusement out of my bizarre training antics. Well I’m glad someone benefits from it, even if it’s not me. Needless to say, it was a shorter run (2.5 miles) than planned as I was so confused by the whole thing and just wanted to stop! (Annoyingly, it turned out to be a good pace for me…maybe I should forget how to run more often?)

Run 19 – Ugly – Thursday’s morning run wasn’t good. Thank goodness I had remembered how to run, but man my legs felt dead. It was a real hard run, having to push through to get started, as well as keep it going. Guest runner 1 (lets name her GR1 from now on, I think she may be a regular feature) joined me again and boy am I glad she did; and just to clarify, she is also in no way being referred to as the ‘ugly’ part here, she is beautiful, even when running :). A stitch took over my right side half way round, and it wasn’t a good look. Gripping my side, I was determined not to stop running. Slow down, yes, but not walk. Push through. The singing I mentioned in a previous post ceased, giving way to groans and moaning as the pain didn’t ease up. The whole situation wasn’t helped by the fact that we were running alongside a huge queue of traffic and it felt like everyone was watching as we passed their vehicles. It wasn’t a pretty sight. 5km later I have never been so glad to stop.

Run 20 – Good – BIG NEWS! I got trial contact lenses on Friday to use when running. As I had them in, I thought I’d leave them in and run later in the afternoon. Good: I don’t need to make wipers for my glasses to be able to run in the rain. Bad: Sadly they in no way aid night-vision (well, ‘getting-dark’ vision). Being slightly odd as I am, when I went to start the run I put my old trainers on as it had rained a lot and if I was going to get wet feet it was not in my new running shoes. Probably not quite the idea, but I don’t care. Turns out it was a good move as I stumbled my way through muddy patches and got a wet big toe. It was also a bit of an adventure as I started from my house for the first time and thus had to make up a new running route. It turned out to be a bit random, but I somehow managed it. And even better,  I made it 3.5 miles – the longest so far. The plan now is to increase the Friday/Saturday run by 0.5 miles each week between now and Christmas to make it to 10km by the end of 2013. The only down side to running from home is that we live on a hill – that means that turning either way out of the house means a hill/incline/mountain/ascent/upwards bit at the start or end of the run…and quite often throughout. Yes, up-hill also means descents feature too, but you don’t tend to notice them so much. I basically ended up just running and trying to listen out for my left arm (technically Run Keeper on my phone, attached to my left arm) to tell me how far I’d gone. A bit of guess work later, and I got through it – having remembered how to run the whole way – it’s all going well.

Extra Good – Having got the contact lenses, I now have no excuse not to do even a short run in the rain. Thankfully the clouds stayed shut the whole way until I was 2 minutes from my house, on my cool down walking back. I felt a few drops of rain, and a slight smugness as I’d managed to avoid it. This turned into a big grin as I shut the door behind me, walked through to the kitchen and heard pelting rain against the window. It won’t be long before I find myself out in it, but every time I manage to avoid the rain, it feels like another win for me 🙂

Run 21 – Good – Today’s run was fun. I never imagined saying ‘run’ and ‘fun’ in the same sentence, but there, I have. I made it a bit shorter (2.5 miles) but went quicker from the start, averaging 11 min 26 secs miles which was quite exciting. Not sure how maintainable it would have been if I kept going, but it felt good. Maybe I can start to shift the ‘comfortable pace’ gear up a notch.

I’ve been reading more of my ‘Marathon Running for Mortals’ book. Definately should have read it sooner. One of the things that stood out for me this week was the point that you can be fit and not necessarily naturally fast –  it’s about endurance not speed. Which is a great reminder when you only ever hear of friends going quicker than you! I’m not ever going to be super speedy, but I can build up the endurance level to maintain a good constant pace and finish. And all I actually want to do is finish.

Plenty of good with a bit of bad and ugly thrown in. I can cope with that.

6. Food glorious food

I love food. I would be quite happy munching on bread, cheese, and jaffa cakes for the rest of my life. But sadly that’s not a) a balanced diet or b) anywhere near practical. Whenever I start something new, I love to really understand it, get to grips with it and know what I should be doing to make the most of it. I don’t like doing things half hearted. Why bother? In thinking ahead to the marathon, I very quickly realised I’m going to have to assess my food consumption. More to the point, think about what food I eat at what time of day and how much of it. These are big questions for someone who has honestly never really been bothered about watching what I eat and certainly never been on a diet. Hmmm this might take a bit more effort than I first thought. I like to do things properly, and have spent a long time scouring online for marathon diet plans and trying to work out what and when to eat before and after a run (I don’t even want to contemplate ‘during’ the run yet – from seeing the sugar gels mum takes, I’ll be holding off as long as possible). This is also made a little more tricky with the added dimension of me being a veggie. Now I know all you meat-lovers would just say ‘start eating meat then’ – don’t worry, I’ve heard it all before over the past 11 years. And it won’t happen.  So lets move on from the fact that I don’t eat meat (or fish!) and get back to the point. Making sure I take on the right amount of calories, and balanced types of food for slow and quick release energy is important. I haven’t quite sussed it yet, mainly because I can currently sort of get away with eating roughly what I was eating already. I’m still looking in to it, so when I decide I can fully commit to eating particular meals then I’ll let you know (a timetable of weekly meals will no doubt appear). Any other of you vegetables (or non-vegetables but can face a meal without meat) out there who have suggestions of quick healthy meals, preferably that can be prepped in advance? Please pass on your pearls of wisdom. Much appreciated.

But as those longer runs loom in the distance, this could get tough. The only thing keeping me going at the moment is the joy (yes, it will be a joy I revel in) of carb-loading 3 days before the big day (just clarifying in case you fell asleep for a few lines – I’m still talking about the marathon, I’m not getting married). Some of my friends would say I’ve already started practicing to carb-load in preparation. Apparently that isn’t quite the idea. But when it comes to those vital few days, I’ll be on a family holiday. This sounds a bit of a disaster the week before the biggest challenge of my life (I hate that cliche, can’t believe I just used it), but fear not. Where in the world would I rather be for a few days of eating bread and pasta than Italy?! Bingo!

3. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail

Disclaimer: Not all posts will be as long as the first few have been! It’s just whilst I get you (and I!) up to speed on what’s been going on…it’s all happened pretty quick!

They say it’s all in the planning. And my life is certainly being planned out until April 13th 2014. The 7 month calendar is coming along nicely and I’ll soon have every hour allocated to sleep, work, running, social life or rest. Literally. Those of you who know me well know I love lists (thanks to mum for instilling this joy in me from a young age – how else are you meant to organise ANYTHING?!) and timetables, tick sheets and schedules – this is an ideal opportunity to put all to good use! I suppose I’m not one to stop doing something to make time for something else; I tend to just keep fitting more in. I’m regularly told by my parents that as much as I would love to, it isn’t possible to do more than 24 hours worth of stuff in a day. Such spoil sports. It may not always be the best idea, but that’s how I roll and its okay at the moment so I’m sticking with it. I’m certainly not someone who can sit still for long, so evenings and weekends are usually full. Before I have a chance to think another week is over and I have no idea where it’s gone. Time flies when you’re having fun.

Something I’m going to have to get used to is being on my own running. I’d rather be with people 99% of the time, so thinking about the hours of being alone is one of the challenges. I’m trying to make it positive though. It’ll be good to get some space from the business of life, and have time to think, let my mind wander, and dream big (though maybe not too big if I end up with another idea like this).

The current plan is to run Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays  before work, and hopefully get in a bit longer run on a Friday or Saturday (depending on my social life), particularly after Christmas as training builds. My aim is a 10km by Christmas, which I’m sure is doable. And you can hold me to that.

Whilst at home last weekend I went to Run to Live to get some proper running shoes. The one thing I don’t mind paying a bit more for is decent shoes – I don’t particularly want to wreck my feet if at all possible. I was filmed running on a running machine, and then the lovely helpful lady looked at how I run (a neutral gait apparently!) and got me some very comfy shoes to fit. Big win.

Run 7 – First time in proper fitting running shoes. I felt like I was flying. Also first sub 13.5 min mile. And I wasn’t even thinking about timing. I was focussed more on pace as I know I tend to start to quickly. The RunKeeper app tells me my average pace every 5 minutes and every half mile, so when I caught it saying ’13 min’ something at the top of the road heading back down the slight hill, I wanted to keep it up. Of course, just as it said it, I got a massive stabbing in my right side, and was sure I was going to keel over. Here was my first ‘wall’! I was having none of it, and kept the pace going whilst trying to breathe through gritted teeth to stop myself from screaming. It paid off – 13 min 27 sec a mile. Boom. Wall 1 was hit and blasted straight through.

Run 8 – This was a short one as I was running late (as usual) and was going up to London so didn’t have much time. I was aiming for a faster mile, and although I certainly started off a bit too quick, I did the mile in 13 min 10 secs. Winner! However this was only due to the fact I knew I was doing 1 mile so not exactly sustainable right now for 26 miles. But we’re making progress.

I think that’s all for now, you’ll be relieved to know! Chow for now.

2. The low down

So here’s the low down. I’ve done a couple of weeks of training now, so I thought I’d get you up to speed with how it has been so far. Don’t worry, this won’t be a long post – I haven’t run very far yet. I’m using the RunKeeper app on my phone to record all my times and various other clever stats that I don’t understand.

Run 1 – I was keen, a bit too keen in fact. It was the evening I told the world I had a place in the marathon, and felt like I had to go for a run to look like I was serious. Except this was after playing an hour long netball match, which probably wasn’t the wisest move. I wanted to see how long (I wasn’t content with ‘if I could’, I was going in with positive mental attitude from the start- I was going to do it!) it would take me to run a mile. I’ll be honest, it was 14 min 47 secs for 1.02 miles. Wasn’t really the 12.5 minute mile I was dreaming of. You see I’m also secretly quite competitive, and as mum has completed the marathon in 5.5 hours, I want to at least match this, which basically means I have to run 12.5 minute miles the whole way round. Oh well, at least I had begun the training.

Run 2 – I’m much better at having a circular route to run so I don’t feel like I’m going back on myself. I had a little route mapped out in my head, but no idea how far it actually was, so decided just to run it and let RunKeeper tell me. Turns out it was 1.77 miles, so quite a nice little route to use in these early few weeks.

Walk 1 – I have a few things on my bucket list (running the Marathon being one). They range from wild adrenaline rushes to gentle meanderings. This walk was certainly on the latter end of the spectrum. Since moving to Canterbury I had wanted to walk the Crab and Winkle Way to Whitstable, and finally got round to it. It was perfect weather to do it, and my first Guest Walker and I chatted away (which wasn’t difficult) for a few hours. The aim of it was also to get used to exercising for long periods of time – this marathon malarkey is gonna take a while to finish. Once we reached Whitstable we quickly replenished the calories we had worked off, with a few extra thrown in for good measure.

Run 3 – This was the same route as run 2, and I broke the 14 min per mile barrier. Woop! Enough said.

Run 4 – I left later than planned (this may be one of my biggest barriers to overcome in all of this – my time keeping!) so had to shorten the route a bit by turning round and coming back part way round. Frustrating as I hate doing it, but I suppose it was self inflicted so it’s my own fault.

Run 5 – Flip it was cold! First cold weather run, and wasn’t sure what to wear. I knew I’d warm up quickly, but I was so cold to start with I had a light jacket on. Big mistake. Was baking after a few minutes and had to tie it round my waist. I’ll write more on clothing etc at another point, but for now let’s just say I won’t be doing that again!

Run 6 – I was home for the weekend, but took my running stuff to try and stay on track. My younger brother and I agreed to run at 8am on the Sunday morning. I stood at the top of the stairs at 7.59am and said point blank I wasn’t going – it was raining. I have major issues with having wet feet – if there is a chance of rain, I’ll have wellies on in a split second. Something else I’m gonna have to get over – if it’s raining on race day, I can’t run in wellies! Just as I was reeling off a list of excuses, mum appeared back from a short run, ready to come out with us. She was already wet, and brother was well up for it (he wears shorts in the snow, weirdo) so I had no way out. Off we went. I’d learnt from the previous run not to wear a jacket, and I was right. A proud moment. Though I did face a new issue – wearing glasses whilst running in the rain isn’t the most practical thing. I need a solution. Windscreen wipers on the lenses maybe? A trip to the optician’s for contacts may be in order. I broke the 2 mile mark in 29 min 25 secs which was exciting. I’m getting there, step by little step.

This brings us up to this week. So far I have run the whole of every route. I have a mental block about walking, in that if I do, I’m not convinced I’ll start running again. And that would ruin all my stats, so I can’t do that.

Okay, so that was a bit longer than planned. I told you my time keeping might be my down fall.