Monday, 18 April 2011

A hero for a day! 3:29:22

Wow, what a fantastic day!!  It was so amazing to have people along the entire length of the 26.2 mile course shouting your name and giving you the encouragement to push yourself as hard as you can.  Not only did I manage the distance but I even surprised myself with my finishing time.

The first part of the marathon seemed to go so quickly.  My half marathon time was good, at 1:42, and so I carried on as fast as the traffic and my legs would allow.  At 19 miles in, just when I thought I would try to catch up someone in front who had a Diabetes UK vest on, cramp struck my left leg and I suddenly couldn't run at all.  Not good.  Stretching it out didn't help so the only alternative was to run through it - ouch!  Then cramp spread to the right leg and my shoulders too.  I carried on at a slower pace, which seemed to be ok, but whenever I tried to take it up again, the cramp would return.  Those last few miles were so tough!!  I wanted to stop and enjoy a cool drink of water at every water station but I knew that I would never get going again.  Eventually I reached the 800m marker and then the 400m.  All of a sudden the finish line was around the corner, so I sprinted as hard as I could.  Pre-event I was aiming for anything inside four hours but amazingly I ended up doing the marathon in 3:29:22.  I am very happy with that!

For more details on the split times and positions see

After the finish I could hardly walk.  I just couldn't get my legs to move forward.  And it was impossible to think logically about anything like checking the goodies in the goody bag or phoning loved ones.  I was incapable of doing anything.  I tried sitting down and my legs immediately went into spasms of cramp.  After a while the fluids and snacks seemed to be taking effect and I was able to stagger off very slowly to the meeting areas but it was so hard to walk (the steps at Westminster tube were nigh on impossible).

Running the marathon was truly incredible.  I felt like a hero for the day.  The other amazing thing is the amount of additional sponsorship that has come in in this last week.  Thank you everyone who has donated because now even the £2.5k barrier is in tatters -- could I break £3k??  There is still time....

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

We are nearly there!

A big thank you to everyone who has sponsored me so far.  There have been a few very generous sponsors in the last few days from people in my street who have helped pushed me to within striking distance of my Golden Bond amount and hopefully a little beyond.  I would really like to reach £2.5k.  There are still a few days left - can we do it?

Today I picked up my number and timing tag, which was very exciting.  It also marked the end of my tapering as I have set aside Thursday, Friday and Saturday as rest days.  It seems strange that the training, which has been such a large commitment over the last few weeks, is now at an end.  But I feel great.  My knees are largely pain free.  And I am ready.

Look out for number 38850 on the tele!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

OMG - three weeks to go!

Last week was a slight disaster from the training perspective.  Sunday I did a long run in Oxleas/Eltham Woods.   I set off at too fast a pace, which was absolutely great for the first 80 minutes, but so so hard after that.  I thought I would test myself to see what it would feel like, and it definitely proved to me that the first half was considerably easier than the second!   I completed 3 hours in the woods with the same two hydration stops but it was considerably tougher than the 3.5 hours the week before.  I felt totally whacked the rest of the day.

Tuesday saw me with a perfect storm of final deadlines at work and at the same time I had to contend with a funny tummy bug which was making me feel dreadful.  I cycled into work that day, though I had no energy whatsoever.  Wednesday and Thursday I felt ill and did no training at all.  By Friday I was feeling a little better again though not enough to take my bike into work.  I tried a short (20 minute) slow run around Greenwich Park in the afternoon and it was just the toughest thing going.  My pulse just seemed to rocket with minimal exertion.  Saturday was not a great deal better, so I focused on strengthening exercises.

Sunday, however, I was feeling great.  After a gentle warm up around the playing fields at Eltham, I did three loops around an hour long circuit through the woods from Eltham Park to the tip of Woolwich Common and back, with the run up Shooters Hill in the middle of the circuit rather than at the end.  I tested a lucozade and 'Swedish Fish' (sugary gel like sweets) two-stop refueling strategy.  It worked well, and there even felt to be enough energy left inside me at the end to tempt me to do another circuit!  But I resisted.  The other big step was that it was all without an ipod!  Yes, for the whole three hours fifteen minutes I had to make up my own songs...  And I am pleased to say that the knees felt strong all the way.

So now it is officially time to taper.  On the one hand it is a relief to hit this stage.  On the other, I am going to miss pushing myself quite so much.  Well at least for the next 20 days anyway....!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

42 by 42?

On Saturday I didn't run at all.  Mr Matty Fixit, however, did some bike repairs and a bike service for Sarah and John.  I did escape to the gym for about an hour and a half, doing strengthening work including single leg squats whilst balancing on one of those wobble ball things - not an easy exercise to do.  My knees felt a little uncomfortable after that but the legs overall felt like they had had a good workout.  It was a largish night on Saturday night (the Meantime beer was of course pain-relief for the knees!) and so I had decided to push myself for my big run on the Sunday.

It was a fabulous run around Oxleas Woods and Eltham Woods, following the forest trails through the mud.  To be fair it was a bit slippery!!  My loops around the woods were around 45 mins or thereabouts, so after four loops, hey presto, 2 hours and 50 minutes run in the bag.  Difficult to know the total distance as it was all in and out of trees, but I think even in such terrain I should be able to maintain around seven miles in an hour, which would put the distance at around 19-20 miles.  The hardest part was at 2 hours 20 minutes in, when I suddenly felt devilishly hungry and low blood sugared... was that the wall?  For me this was a terrific milestone, particularly given that at the start of the year I was only able to run for 20 minutes and only then in short intervals of 1:30 minutes running, 30seconds walking.

Monday was a rest day, though my legs felt great and if I didn't know them better, I would have said they would have liked a short trot - but they had to make do with cycling instead.  I ran out of time to do anything other than a few stretches on Tuesday.

So with two rest days, there was nothing else for it, I had to do my 6:30 am run again this week.  An hour of running including 10 sprints up the steps to the top of one-tree hill.  It's a great view of London from up there!  Thursday morning felt like a harder wake up a call.  I had to literally drag myself up to the park, but once there, I soon got into the flow and did another hour with plenty of fartlecking, including one minute sprints along a parade of trees repeated fifteen times.  On Friday afternoon I completed another hour of running involving a mixture of hill work and circuits on the flat.  Including the cycling to work and back on four of the days, I felt happy with the training and the body is still feeling pretty good.  Two people commented at different times that they thought I had lost weight and another person thought I would be a good look-a-likey for Vladimir Putin...

Apart from a big session on the wobble ball, Saturday was a rest day and a beer free evening.  I planned to test the theory (ok, Charlotte's theory) that the 2:20 wall was a product of the beer the night before.  After a large bowl of porridge and plenty of fluids, I was back off up to Shooters Hill to run around Oxleas Wood and Eltham Woods.  I used a two stop strategy this time; pausing briefly to take on fluids, a few dried apricots and a penguin at each stop.  Despite the rain, it was actually quite warm and I managed to run for 3 hours 30 minutes.  Again I am unsure of the total distance, but it could have been 23/24 miles, or possibly more given the time taken and that the pace felt fairly good all the way.  No wall this time at 2:20, so plenty of porridge in the morning and no beer the night before must be the answer -- or was it the penguin?

Which brings me back to the original question - yes, it is feeling more likely!  I am very much looking forward to the 17th April.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Happy Juice

My biggest shock this week was when I took a sneaky peak at the sponsorship forms in the office.  More than half the office had already sponsored me!  I counted £521 from just the forms I could see.  I was really taken aback.  So if any you have made it to my blog -- thank you, it is very much appreciated.   More than anything it means the Golden Bond amount is feeling reachable, which is making me enjoy this run-up to the London Marathon all the more enjoyable.  It is of course helped by doing heaps of training and just feeling great on all the extra endorphins!

Monday was a rest day, though got caught up in a race on the ride home...  Tuesday, I ran out of time to go for a run so I did some strengthening work instead.  Wednesday and this morning have been 6:30am starts in the park before the cycle to work.  Strangely the park is already quite busy at that time with joggers and dog walkers all focused on performing their morning rituals.  I ran for an hour on the Wednesday (around 8 miles) and did around 45 minutes of fartlecking this morning (around 6 miles of sprinting/jogging).  No rain, hurrah, but it has been a bit on the chilly side!

I need to plan a large run for Saturday/Sunday -- more than anything I need to break in the spare 'none-punctured' set of trainers.

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Half Term over and another week closer

Firstly a big thank you to everyone who has sponsored me so far or has donated money to Diabetes UK already via my fundraising page.  I believe there is around £300 already sponsored by my colleagues at work - thank you all, and fingers crossed the firm will match your sponsorship/donations too.  Then there is a further £100 from Tim and Trish if I can complete the course in under four hours - a great incentive to the training.  Thank you also to everyone who bought cakes at Trinity on Saturday and made donations.  And thank you to Sarah and Graham for their really generous donation to Mr Matty Fixit.  He is prepared to undertake any odd jobs from bicycle repair through to household DIY and garden maintenance. References can be supplied on request!  I also promised when I applied for the Golden Bond place that I would donate £250 to Diabetes UK if I was given a place, so now I ought to put my money where my mouth is.

On the training front, after Monday's half marathon distance along the Shropshire Union tow path in the rain, my legs have felt really quite tired all week.  I did a short 35 minutes run on Wednesday which was really hard work.  Then a tough circuit training session on Thursday, with legs still sluggish.  I had a rest day on the Friday and took it fairly easy on the bike.  Saturday was another short run of around 45 minutes, but focusing on sprint sections.  With the extra pain I have been feeling in my legs and knees, I was going to restrict today to a small run even though it should be a long "long".  After doing a large set of hill repeats, I did a few loops of a 15 minute circuit on a flat section of the park.  Before I knew it I had completed around two hours of running in the pouring rain.  The legs and knees still feel good enough to do a little something tomorrow.  May my run says it was 16 miles but I think it was probably more like 14.  Anyway it was a good run to finish the week on given that it included all the hill work in the middle too.  Hoping for some dryer weather next week... there seems to have been far too much running in mud recently!

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Another milestone

After a couple of hours of strengthening work and a short run on a treadmill at the gym on Saturday, I was ready to give the knees a proper test.  May be it was the country air or the luxury of having a couple of days off to visit family in Cheshire, but it was time for a long run.  Nothing short of the magic "13" would have done the trick.  So after having done a four mile walk over the fields to visit Beeston Castle and back, for over half of which I had to carry my daughter on my shoulders (!), it was trainers on time for a lovely long run along the towpath of the Shropshire Union Canal to visit my brother's family in Waverton...

Most people would have gone by car and thought it was a long way.  As the rain started to come down, the already dim sunlight fading, two wrong turnings before I had even left Bunbury, no phone or money on me and doubts about whether I should have turned "right" at the canal not "left", I was having second thoughts about my 'great idea'...!  Also with all the rain, the clay soil of the towpath was incredibly slippery and a few times I very nearly took an early bath.  Then fifty minutes into the run with no-one around to help, a large thorn became impaled in one of my shoes.  I couldn't pull it out and had to carry on, hoping the thorn would not work its way through the sole into my foot.

Waverton is the first real bit of civilisation that you come across after many many miles along the towpath.  It's a familiar landscape for me from my childhood but I wasn't stopping there -- I had to continue on and go all the way up to Rowton Bridge and then back again in order to make up the distance.  Those last couple of miles, running away from my final destination before heading back (on hard tarmac - eek!), were really tough!

13.6 miles in the wet and mud, with a time of around 1 hour 55 minutes despite getting lost and trying in vain to sort out my 'puncture' -- quite a milestone given my inability to run even half a mile in December!

Today was a short run between the rain showers back in Greenwich Park (around thirty five minutes of running).  My legs lacked energy and ached from the long run on Monday, and I had completely overeaten at lunchtime, but at least the knees felt fine....