A tale of two marathons

It’s been six weeks since I ran the London Marathon, having won my place on Twitter during Christmas week last year (I know, lucky me!). It’s taken me a while to write about my experience, partly because I wasn’t happy with how it went and partly because I had lined up another marathon in the meantime.

My training for London went so well, building up my long runs gradually, heading out either on a Friday morning, post-school-run or before parkrun, finishing the last 5k up at Hilly Fields on a Saturday morning. I went into London feeling great, positive and happy that I had trained so well and had reached the start line without injury. Of course, when race day came it was much hotter than it had been in the run up, so I planned my hydration carefully, knowing how easily I cramp and so as not to drink too much and end up making myself ill! The atmosphere up on Blackheath was incredible and I headed to the start with my fellow club runners Sarah, who was running on a good-for-age place and Jen, who had a championship place.

The first few miles were just lovely, I soaked up the atmosphere, tried to slow myself down a bit (it’s so easy to get swept up by the enthusiasm of those around you) and even had a good chat with a fellow runner as we merged with the blue and red starts in Woolwich. Greenwich and Deptford approached and I knew I would start to see friends, so kept my focus and looked out for them and their amazing homemade banners. First up were some Hilly Fields friends, who had strolled down from Greenwhich Park after volunteering on the baggage trucks. Around the Cutty Sark and a surge of joy ran through me, over to Creek Road, where I heard my name and saw my boys.

Chief cheerer, Hector

A little further on I was lifted by the awesome sight of my GoodGym Lewisham runners, who were waving a beautiful banner, made by Lucy. Now to focus and keep my pace steady. A few unexpected cheers along the way and I neared the halfway mark and the prospect of Tower Bridge and its wall of sound. The support on this course was out of this world, I can’t thank my friends enough for the effort they put into encouraging me.

Throughout the race I had felt crowded and slightly jostled, not a feeling I enjoyed. I had been cut up, kicked and elbowed a few times and, as I approached a drinks station, I stood on a discarded water bottle, turning my ankle. This was around mile 12 and I found myself walking. It hurt, but I wasn’t injured, but this is where my mind went ‘switch’ and the thoughts became negative. Fast (or more like slow!) forward to Mudschute, Canary Wharf and thereabouts and I found myself shuffling, jogging, walking and generally having a crappy time. I saw Edward and Hector at around sixteen miles and had a little cry. I gave pathetic little waves to my friends and was lifted briefly by Ellie, who ran alongside me at around mile eighteen, giving me a little pep-talk.

This race showed me just how much endurance running is in the head. My body could do this, but my mind had decided to have a morning off. As I emerged from the hell that is Canary Wharf, I felt a lift as I mentally turned towards the finish. Yes, there were still many miles to go, but I was actually heading in the right direction! More friends, more hugs more ‘believe in yourself!’ advice and more plodding. I spotted the Hilly Fields banner on Lower Thames Street, so pledged to run and hug the boys and give them a big smile! Some good hard shaking and encouragement from coach Adrian and fellow club runner John and I was nearing the final few miles.

Passing the GoodGym support spot outside Somerset House got me moving again, as did a super cheer from Lisa. Big Ben looked ridiculously far away, but meant I was getting near the end and could plod down Birdcage Walk to take on the final stretch along The Mall. I gave a very heartfelt thank you to the woman who put my medal around my neck and hobbled towards the baggage trucks. This hadn’t been anything like I had imagined it would be in the months leading up to this day and I felt heavy and sad as I walked to Horseguards to meet the boys.

‘You got a PB Mum!’ said Hector, happily, confused that I wasn’t dancing for joy. Yes, I had got a PB (4 hours 41, so a few minutes), but it wasn’t the ‘right’ PB, not the PB I had hoped for. Try explaining this to an almost ten-year-old and to your supporters, who think you are amazing for even running a marathon!

Exhuasted

In the week following the marathon, people congratulated me and said how well I had done and so on, but I wasn’t really feeling it, I wasn’t convinced. Edward suggested signing up to another marathon. I said October might be good, but he meant now, as soon as possible, to use the training I had done and to get over London (he knows me well!). I was in two minds about this, it seemed a bit risky trying to run a marathon during what should have been my recovery period and how on earth would I ‘train’ for it?! I signed up to a marathon that was fairly local (in Kent) and within a manageable timescale and worked out that I needed to rest mainly and do a few ‘longer’ runs to keep me ticking over.

Marathon Part Two

Last Saturday morning we jumped in a taxi (yes, it worked out to be the best way to get there!) very early and arrived promptly at the Cyclopark in Gravesend. This is a road cycling circuit, meaning my second marathon would consist of 21 laps, yes, laps. I really wasn’t sure how this would feel, would it drive me nuts, would I lose count, would I hate every second?! The race is small, with around 500 participants, many of whom seem to be part of the 100 Marathon Club circuit and many ultra and multiple marathon runners. I met up with my Hilly Fields friend Tinu, who was running her 67th marathon(!) and saw Ruth, who was running her 500th! Amazing! Registration was quick and easy (and super friendly) and I was delighted with my race number, featuring Pocahontas (who was buried locally 400 years ago) and my surname across the bottom. I was also pleased to find a box of wristbands, 20 of which I popped on my arm, to keep count of the laps.

Counters

A really special thing about this race is that you can set up your own aid station. So we opened up our camping table (which I shared with Tinu and another runner) and set out drinks bottles and gels, that we could collect as and when we needed them (we would pass this table on each lap). I quietly got on with my dynamic stretches and we headed to the start. You might expect this cycle circuit to be flat, but it’s not! We ran up towards the finish arch and started our first (shorter lap), soon coming through again, to discard our first wristband in a big bin. This is where the clouds were broken by a fork of lightning and the thunder rumbled, throwing down a huge but cooling shower. The forecast had been for scorching weather, so this was a welcome break from the heat.

My plan was to set out conservatively and to stick to a slower pace, enjoying the race and feeling in control. This is exactly what I did. for the whole marathon.

Controlled

I listened to conversations around me, looked at the ground ahead (I had borrowed Edward’s running cap, to keep the sun off my head, but it turned out to be like blinkers, keeping me focussed!), smiling at well-wishers and JUST GETTING ON WITH IT! After a few laps, I had worked out where to push, where to hold back and noticed many people had a routine of walking up THE HILL then running the rest…I ran up that hill every time 🙂 I grabbed my drinks bottle from my ‘aid station’ and kept on keeping on. The marshal at the far end of the course was a continuous support point, he was just wonderful, cheering, commenting, calling me ‘Princess!’ and dancing around on the spot for the whole race.

So, I had only told Edward and Hector about this race and also my friends Siggy and Stephen. It had been weird keeping it from people and I felt a little awkward when people kept asking me ‘what next?’ I had to do it like this though, because I didn’t want any pressure at all. As time went on Siggy and Stephen appeared at the finish area, giving me encouraging cheers. My support crew sat at the camping table, having a picnic and passing me drinks and gels and moving around the course to give (gentle) encouragement. During training, I had often had ‘GI issues’, so was reassured by the presence of a line of loos each lap…which I did have to visit partway through (grrrr).

What I found good about the laps was that miles seemed to tick by quickly. I looked at my pace and counted down the laps, ignoring the miles largely, only looking every so often, so I knew when to take on fuel (after the rain, the sun came out and it was very hot). I felt relaxed as I passed the half-marathon mark and pleasantly surprised when I passed the twenty mile mark. I grabbed my phone and headphones and plugged in some motivational tunes for the last six miles, feeling a surge of energy. The wristband system worked well, as did having a commentator occasionally shouting out your name as you passed and telling you how many laps you had run. I was confused then, when I looked at my watch and thought I must have only one more lap to run, but was told I had two – cue dip in energy and spirits!

When I was sure I was on my last lap, I did a little ‘running man’ dance for my crew and danced around to the finish, a HUGE smile on my face. I hugged and high-fived as I showed off my ENORMOUS medal and gave a jump for joy when my Garmin told me I had run 26.2 miles in 4 hours 29 minutes and 15 seconds (the course measured long for me and my official time was 4.35, but I’m going to go with my watch 😉 ). We sat at the picnic tables outside the cafe and Edward handed me my favourite post-race refreshment, a bottle of Erdinger Alcoholfrei. So this is how finishing a marathon should feel!

HUGE bling!

What did I learn?

I definitely know now that big, crowded, noisy marathons might not be my thing! The support I felt around London Marathon was outstanding, but I was emotionally drained and unable to focus on what I needed to do. I learned that I can do this, knocking around fifteen minutes off my original marathon PB and feeling in control and comfortable. I learned that it’s OK to relax in marathon week and you don’t necessarily need to put life on hold to have a good race (I worked, ran and ate normally, even doing a fast track session on the Tuesday!). I learned that I can run around and around and around for hours and actually enjoy it and that I have amazing friends and family, who are not bothered by how fast I run, but (I think) get that I need to sometimes do these things for myself. Will I sign up for marathon number six? Probably, but I have a few other things lined up that I want to enjoy in the meantime.

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London Marathon, five weeks to go!

I woke up this morning and instantly started talking about triathlon. I don’t know if it was the sun streaming in through the window, the birds nesting on our neighbour’s jasmine, tweeting with great enthusiasm, or the fact that I was slightly envious of Edward heading off for a pre-work swim, but triathlon was at the front of my mind.

People keep asking how my training is going. I know they mean my London Marathon training, so answer with this in mind, ‘So far, so good’. It is going well, weekday runs are a combination of leading GoodGym Lewisham, track/hills or evil mile repeats with Kent AC, my GoodGym coach run, something longer and pacier and, of course, the LOOOOONG run. In the past few weeks I have built up gradually to last Friday’s 20-miler. It was gorgeous, sunshine (and a bit of unexpected drizzle at one point), river, canal, zoo, park and a slightly mis-judged, but tired run down Regent’s Street. I say it was gorgeous, the scenery was gorgeous, but it was definitely one of those runs where you doubt you will ever be able to run a marathon at pace and find yourself frequently giving yourself a good old talking to. Edward and I looked at my stats on Strava in the evening, ‘What happened here, in the middle? You went much faster for 3k?’ ‘Oh yes, that’ll be where I put some music on’. Consistency? I’ll get there. I hope.

So where does triathlon fit in with this? It doesn’t! Since I won my place in the London Marathon – on Twitter – before Christmas, my mind has been taken over by it. My usual week of running, cycling and swimming (with a bit of strength work thrown in) has been cut to running, running and more running (with a tiny bit of swimming and strength). Last week, I thought ‘I’m finding marathon training irritating!’ I look at my schedule and decide ‘I mustn’t swim that day because it will make that run there much harder. I mustn’t go on the turbo trainer, my legs won’t carry me through the half-marathon I have to do then’. I’m being a bit precious about it and I don’t like it.

The last time I ran a marathon, back in 2011 in Brighton, Hector was much smaller, I wasn’t part of a running club and we hadn’t set up Hilly Fields parkrun. I printed a schedule and did my best, having an enjoyable race. This time I have so much support around me, friends who have run multiple marathons, coaches who know what works and what doesn’t and everyone telling me I should aim for a certain time. The pressure is on! It’s important to focus, but it’s important to have some fun too. Time to plan something beyond the Big Day.

This morning I received an email from OSB Events, the people who organise the wonderful Holkham Triathlon I took part in last summer. This morning, Edward was saying that of course I should be doing an ironman, with all this marathon training in place but, when I reminded myself how far the swim is, I quickly dashed that idea! Maybe though, a half-ironman wouldn’t be such a bad idea after a marathon? I found it incredibly hard last July, it is a very tough thing to embark on, but maybe it’s what I need to focus my mind beyond London.

All suggestions most welcome!

Good Form Running at the Marathon Expo

I’m a bit behind! Last week you could have been led to believe that I was running the London Marathon, I was certainly entering into the marathon build up with great enthusiasm, right down to going along to the expo but, alas, that crossing-the-line feeling of joy was not to be mine. I was invited along to a special New Balance expo breakfast event on Thursday, so sneaked out of the house super early to ride the DLR with the sleeping people to the runners’ mecca that is Excel. I was greeted along with other running bloggers/writers Carla, Shaz and Kate by the lovely people from NB, all kitted out in matching black outfits and funky shoes. We quickly and enthusiastically drooled over the colourful array of new shoes before being introduced to New Balance’s new concept ‘Good Form Running’.

New balance have taken all of those things we know we should be doing when we run, to make us into more efficient (and injury-free?) runners, and condensed them into four key areas: posture, midfoot, cadence and lean. In the next few weeks this concept is being taken out into fifteen shops across the country so runners can pop in and have a look at their own form and receive some advice about what they might think about adjusting to make things run a bit more smoothly. To help us understand this, Kate took to the treadmill (already in some Minimus shoes) and demonstrated exactly how we should be moving. She was keen to point out that she found the shoes naturally put you into this optimum position, partly due to the fact that it hurts to heel-strike in a ‘barefoot’ shoe. First of all we looked at posture. We were told that it’s good to start thinking about the key points before you even set off, resetting your posture by standing tall, pointing your toes forward and, whilst running, allowing your arms to swing easily at about a 90 degree angle. Next we discussed foot-strike, with the midfoot strike being the kind of strike we should be aiming for. I sat there imagining my own running form, picturing a heavy heel-strike all the way, but actually, since attending the event I have realised that my footstrike is pretty much midfoot anyway (well phewee!). An interesting point that was raised next was cadence, how many times we strike the ground each minute. To help us reach the goal of 180 strides per minute, we were given a neat little metronome, which was pulsing away in the background to keep us in check. Finally we talked about lean, leaning forwards from our ankles, not bending from the waist. This can also be addressed pre-run by leaning forwards against a wall or tree and setting that position in your mind to carry you forward into your run.

Having seen it in action, this all makes perfect sense and, having just four key points to consider helps it become easier to implement in your everyday running. I can see how wearing lower heel shoes can make this happen more naturally, but all of these things can be put into action on any kind of run. Enthused by it all, I set out the next day with the 180 beat in my head and I simply sailed along! I’m not sure how long I could keep it up, but this is something you work on over time (NB suggest you go back to the shop around six weeks later, to see how you are getting on and reassess anything that might need addressing). In addition to learning about Good Form Running, we were shown some fantastic new shoes, ranging from tough and chunky ultra shoes to light-as-a-feather ‘barefoot’ shoes. I was most delighted to be given a pair of the rather special shoes created just for the London Marathon, inspired by Savile Row tailoring and with a matching ‘chap’ t-shirt 🙂

I have put together my photos of the day and you can find out all about New Balance shoes and apparel here.

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Dedicated

This morning’s run is dedicated to all those affected by what has happened in Boston. It looks like the London Marathon is going ahead, and we will be there to support all of our runners and friends.

Distance: 5.09 miles

Time: 51 minutes 28 seconds

Average Pace: 10.07

Best Pace: 6.05

Calories: 647

Getting involved

The past week has been all about the Paralympic Games. On Wednesday I got on my mountain bike and Hector got on his Isla Bike and off we headed to Deptford to track down the Paralympic Torch Relay. This journey is a new thing, Hector has usually ridden in the child seat on the back of Edward’s bike, but is now confident enough to cycle the four or so miles there and back, what a joy! Though my old mountain bike has been dependable, I do now yearn for something a bit more lady-like, something I can cruise around town on in a skirt and not have to get changed into hot jeans whenever I want to pop to the shops, something like this would do the trick. Thanks. So, we arrived in Deptford for a pre-torch swim, and while we were in the pool it started to rain, boo. Lunch was eaten at the wonderful ‘Train Cafe’, otherwise known as The Deptford Project, and we did our usual read-every-book-in-the-childrens’-section at the library. Gradually the library got busier and busier and the rain came down heavier and heavier and news came in that the torch was running two hours late. Oh my. Thank goodness for the numerous friends and neighbours we bumped into, who kept us entertained and gave us the energy to stick it out until the sun came out and around the bend came the Paralympic Torch.

The torch team arrives

Deptford Lounge looking golden and lovely

It was a challenge convincing Hector he should get on his – now wet – bike and cycle home when it was soon-to-be dinner time and the rain was coming down, but he did it. True grit.

And over to the incredible Olympic Park for some  more true grit on Friday. We were lucky enough to see both the Olympic Beach Volleyball and the Modern Pentathlon due to generous friends with spare tickets, but our family day out to the Olympic Stadium for the Paralympic athletics had been booked long ago. I don’t think I have smiled this  much in a very long time. The atmosphere was fantastic all the way there, with even the guard on the DLR taking our photo as we sat up front, Hector ‘being the driver’. Crowds poured out of Stratford Station with Gamesmakers high-fiving all the way and little glimpses of the stadia prompting ‘oohs’ and ‘aahhs’ all round.

We’re in!

It was a truly inspiring day, with a combination of track and field events and the general buzz of the stadium to entertain us. My highlight at this point was seeing Shelly Woods in action, especially after I had the opportunity to meet and run with her a few months ago, but we certainly weren’t the only ones backing Shelly – she even commented in an interview that the crowd was amazing, the best support she had ever received. In addition to this, I think one of Hector’s highlights was seeing Mandeville close up, the real Mandeville.

The Real Mandeville

It’s been great having the Olympic/Paralympic buzz back in London, and the excitement at the number of medals and amazing performances our Team GB athletes have been putting in is at an all time high, something I noticed on Friday was that you get more records and PBs for your money, every race or event seemed to offer up a Paralympic Record or World Record, so it’s not surprising that the crowd were jumping for joy.

In the stadium

On Sunday I think we will head out to see the wheelchair marathon and then enjoy the closing ceremony. Then it’s back to school 😦 ‘Inspire a generation, inspire a generation…’ I must keep this in my mind when the ticker tape flutters away.

Baguettes for legs

In case you were wondering, I’m still hard at it for the Viceathon cause, well the eating baked goods bit anyway. I had visions of running every day while Edward had a week off work, but bugger me, didn’t we just go out and do fun things every day instead?! I have managed a handful of runs this week, one of which took place on a running track on Good Friday at 8am. You read right. I was delighted to see that our local leisure centre have started a series of outdoor classes for the summer: bootcamp, Nordic walking and – woohoo! – running club. So, I ran over on Friday morning to find it was just me and the instructor. This could have been slightly awkward, but I sort of know him a bit anyway because his family live across the road from us, and he was very kind and gave me my very own tailored one-to-one session. It was superb. I pushed myself running the five 400m repeats and managed to maintain my pace throughout, with only one moment where I very nearly threw up. This session actually made my legs ache, which is always a good measure of how hard I’ve worked (this doesn’t happen very often!).

On Easter Monday I kept on looking out of the window and saying ‘urgh!’ until I eventually decided it wasn’t going to stop raining, and took myself out anyway. It was quite lovely actually – there was hardly anyone around, apart from a few grumpy runners and two scallies who I was delighted to see were carrying a large potted plant through the park: ‘Ah’ I thought ‘how nice that they are taking an interest in horticulture’ and I smiled appreciatively at them. As I ran on it dawned on me that the big bushy plant was in fact marijuana and they were taking advantage of the deserted park to take it for a walk.

Today’s run was rubbish. I made the mistake earlier of saying on Twitter that I had ‘run a crappy six miles’ which, when I read it back, seemed very dismissive and wrongly worded. What I meant was that the experience itself was awful, I was pleased to have run over six miles, but hadn’t particularly enjoyed it. I really wanted to get my Viceathon debt down, so aimed to run a bit further than usual, but as soon as I set out I could tell things weren’t right. I felt heavy, tired and wheezy and ended up resorting to popping into McDonald’s to use their loo (this is a place I only ever venture into in running gear, head down, eyes on the little lady sign). I enjoyed taking  in the madness of Greenwich as film set, seeing the ‘Les Miserables’ scenery, complete with gigantic elephant. I then crossed over into the park where preparations are underway for the Olympic equestrian events. All this distraction didn’t help get me up The Hill, and I had to pause halfway and pretend to admire the view as I found enough breath to make it up to the top.

Greenwich, France

So, the Vice part of Viceathon has taken over somewhat this week, with home-made bread picnics and Easter Panatone given by visiting friends and Edward’s lovely little simnel cakes…and not much running. I did, however do a bit of cycling, and up hill at that, so will take advantage of this to shave off some miles (using a version of JogBlog’s 1 unit=2 cycled miles).

Edward's Simnel Cupcakes

I’ve done some workings out in my diary and have arrived at a figure of 10.94 miles in debt. I can get out tomorrow morning and work that down a bit further, but Edward is back to work on Monday and Hector is not back at school until Thursday…excuses, excuses.

Beach-comber

A year ago today we were in Brighton, stuffing ourselves with pasta and getting all excited about the Brighton Marathon. On Tuesday we went for a day trip there, and it all came happily back to me. Good luck to all those running tomorrow, it’s a fantastic place and a fantastic race.

Royal Parks Foundation Half-Marathon

I’m not sure I should write this blog post right now because I can feel myself descending into the gloomiest post-race blueness ever – you train for ages and focus on something so closely that you feel a bit lost once it’s over. The fact that it didn’t go swimmingly doesn’t help either.

But enough of that! I was woken a bit earlier than I had hoped (6am) by Junior Coach and tried hard to keep him contained for another hour by hugging him really tightly and hoping he might go back to sleep, but was kept awake by the incessant chattering until we all just gave in and had our breakfast. It was grey out there, pouring with rain in fact and I felt a sense of foreboding at the thought of having to run 13.1 miles in the rain, my least favourite running conditions. I had been very organised and laid everything out on Saturday night, so simply had to put on my kit and go, but not before I had sat with Hector for a bit and listened to the Jacqueline Wilson ‘The Mummy Cat’ audio CD that was free in Saturday’s Guardian (Edward and Hector listened to the rest of it when I had gone and it was apparently very, very sad). As I walked briskly under an unloved cheap umbrella to the train station, I did a mental check of all my body parts to make sure they were in working order, things felt good apart from the still achy Zumba hip.

The journey was straightforward and I started to see runners once I got to London Bridge, always reassuring. The rain had stopped once I got to Hyde Park, so I dangled the umbrella on a railing for a spectator to make use of and headed to the loo queues. I stood there for ages, not moving at all and eventually gave up as the start time drew closer and joined another queue and then gave up and walked to the blue start. I chatted briefly with a friendly fellow runner and she said it was her first half-marathon and she was aiming for 2 hours 30 minutes, I had a time of 2 hours 10 in my head, having run a similar time at Cardiff last year. Eventually we were off, shuffling forward in our waves and being released onto the streets of London. I did forget to set my Garmin to search for satellites so ended up starting my clock a few metres past the start – oops, my first race with the new Garmin, I used to switch the old one on when I reached the race, knowing it took an age to get a signal!

It is a lovely route and I had a great feeling running with all these other people through the sights of London with a big smile on my face. My race high point was as we ran towards the Houses of Parliament. I watched the hands on the clock turn slowly and felt a rush of excitement as Big Ben struck ten, there was a collective ‘ahhhh’ around me as we all enjoyed this uplifting moment, what great timing! Everything felt good running along the Embankment, looking up and waving at spectators on the bridges, and feeling a little like a London Marathoner again. Here we started to see faster runners who had already turned around, but I was soon one of them heading back towards Hyde Park. I pondered for a moment on the mounted guards who sat, motionless as thousands of colourful runners rushed past them in a wave of excitement, how do they do it? After an enjoyable run up the Mall, we were soon weaving our way around Hyde Park on a route that, at times became slightly irritating, especially when I started to struggle. I can see why the road sections are at the beginning, so that roads can be re-opened quickly and normality resume, but it would be so much better to run the park first and have the sights of London to get you through the second half of the race.

This part of the race takes you through a beautiful autumnal scene with colourful leaves falling at your feet and huge crowds of supporters cheering everyone on. It does feel slightly disheartening to see faster runners looping back towards the finish line though and I had a moment of bewilderment when I saw JogBlog on the other side of the barrier and I couldn’t remember if I had already run that way or not. It was unfortunate that she saw me at that point, the point where things started to go downhill for me. I was guzzling water and attempting to suck a gel whilst walking for the first time in the race. It wasn’t a hot day really, not like last Sunday, but I felt hot and thirsty and found myself repeating my experience at London Marathon 2009, where I drank so much that I ended up collapsing in a heap with cramp. I managed not to collapse this time but, at one point I had such a painful stitch that was radiating over my chest, that I thought I was having a heart attack. I didn’t want to say anything though, because I didn’t want to get carted off in an ambulance! It’s interesting that I saw so many people being attended to by medics during this race, far more than at Brighton Marathon earlier this year, I wonder if it’s because some people take the training less seriously for a half rather than full marathon.

So, I had by now consumed both gels, guzzled a load of Lucozade Sport and topped that up with water but I was still struggling, time to plug my headphones in. Once again, Florence and the Machine came up with the goods and made me smile with these words from ‘Hurricane’:

‘I brace myself
Cause I know it’s going to hurt
But I like to think at least things can’t get any worse’

It worked for a while anyway. By this point I was walking regularly because the cramp was so bad that my toes were curling and making it hard to keep going. It was so frustrating, knowing how well my training had gone. Even though it all felt like agony, the miles did pass quickly and I was soon in front of the Albert Memorial, stretching my calf muscles (‘Are you alright ma’am? said a friendly marshal) ahead of the run to the finish. Here I passed the woman I had spoken to at the start and watched as she was cheered on by her family and how this support gave her enough of a boost to sprint towards the finish (I could have done with some of that myself) and I crossed the finish shortly after with a sense of relief and also happiness when I saw the beautiful medal, the nicest medal I have ever received.

There were quite a few of my fellow bloggers running the race as well (JogBlog, Helsbels, Fairweatherrunner, Fortnightflo, Abradypus and Plustenner – I hope I haven’t missed anybody out there!), and they had arranged a post-race pizza/beer/cake meet-up, but I had to rush/hobble home to a delicious roast dinner and friends, who had arrived before me -oops! I would say, it’s good to take you time recovering, I would like to have had a look around the food festival and refuelled straight away, but instead I jumped on the tube and felt slightly nauseous. Edward pointed out yesterday that things always go wrong for me in races, not in training (apart from Brighton Marathon, where I had a splendid time). I can see what happens now: during training I carry a small bottle of water or sports drink or nothing at all, and I sip this slowly throughout the run, but during a race there is water/sports drink everywhere and I feel the need to drink as much as I can, thus depleting all the salt in my body and becoming a wobbly mess. So I either stop going to races, or I put on water-station blinkers. Watch this space!

Here are the stats from my Garmin: http://connect.garmin.com:80/activity/embed/120260558