Only three more sleeps

Until the Royal Parks Foundation Half-Marathon! Right now I have that silly pre-big-race thing going on, where you don’t feel like a runner, imagine that you will forget how to put one foot in front of the other and over-react to any little niggle or sniffle as if you might be incubating the plague. I am just fine, and I know I can run 13.1 miles on Sunday and I will aim to simply enjoy the route through the Royal Parks, enjoy the views, the atmosphere and that lovely feeling afterwards as I set off home to a delicious lunch prepared by Edward.

On Sunday I had intended running a 10k, but I was torn as Edward and Hector set off to the swimming pool, so decided to run alongside them and join them in the pool, then I ran home afterwards. Hector is really storming ahead with his swimming, ducking his head in the water, jumping off any available surface and even swimming a metre or two by himself, these are moments not to be missed. As I wrestled to put on my slightly sweaty running gear in the cubicle, I marvelled at triathletes who manage to morph themselves into three different sporting personas over the course of a race, taking in their stride the transitions between various sets of clothing. With my twisting and grunting and need to smooth out any wrinkles for fear of rubbing, I don’t think I’m cut out to do a triathlon!

Time: 42 minutes 3 seconds (with a swim break in the middle)

Distance: 4.31 miles

Average Pace: 9.45

Best Pace: 6.34

Calories: 84

This postponement of my longer run meant I had to fit it in on Monday morning after dropping Hector off at nursery. I headed towards Greenwich, enjoying the last drops of sunshine that October was squeezing out of the sky and a lovely view of the Cutty Sark, slowly emerging from the scaffolding and reaching out triumphantly towards the Thames.

Time: 58 minutes 16 seconds

Distance: 6.01 miles

Average Pace: 9.42

Best Pace: 2.10 (a blip, surely?!)

Calories: 113

On my return, I was greeted by a delivery man with a big box I wasn’t expecting, it turned out to be a bumper pack of Lucozade Sport products for me to try out. It’s a shame it didn’t come a few weeks ago, because it would have been great during my half-marathon training, but I will use some of the products on Sunday and in future runs. In the meantime, I grabbed a bottle of Lucozade Sport Lite on my way out to Zumba on Monday evening, feeling that I really needed the extra help at 7pm (I normally just take a bottle of water). When we got there I took a gulp, but the lemon and lime flavour was a bit sharp after just brushing my teeth! I’m not sure if the Lucozade can take any credit, but I really went for it, jiggling around and waving my arms like I just don’t care! I did overdo it on one move though, and have had an achy butt cheek and hip since then, I’m hoping it rights itself by Sunday. So, I’m not sure how much running I will fit in between now and Sunday, maybe just a couple of really short ones to test the butt and keep everything alert.

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4

In four days I will be taking on the Brighton Marathon in aid of Guide Dogs. You can sponsor my effort here.

Marathon week is a funny old time. All this training, months of it, feel like nothing. This morning I went out and ran just over two miles and it felt like hard work! This is the week where you become obsessed about small details like which socks you should wear on the big day, whether you are eating enough pasta and whether you can actually remember how to put one foot in front of the other. I haven’t been sleeping very well, partly because Hector has a cough (which I am trying to avoid by running to other side of the room when he starts one of his coughing fits and protecting my face whenever he sneezes at me, and partly because I lie awake thinking about the marathon. I did have a dream the other night where I ran it in 4 hours 47 minutes, which would be a PB by two minutes, I hope this is a prophecy.

I am being constantly stunned by the generosity of friends, family and ‘virtual’ friends I haven’t even met, who have been sponsoring me, I know that some of these people really have to count every penny, so feel quite humbled by this kindness. I am also amazed by some funny ideas people have about running and marathon training. Edward’s Mum was genuinely surprised (and disappointed?) that I wasn’t training every day, not realising that this is the lowest, slowest week of them all. I was reminded this morning at the nursery gates that people still don’t think of any other marathon than the London Marathon as being a ‘proper’ marathon. One of my Mum friends said: ‘So how far is it?’ and when I told her it’s 26.2 miles she was really taken aback. I suppose the benefit of this is that people are even more impressed by my effort when they hear it’s a ‘full marathon’ that I’m running. Even Edward, who you would think might have got the whole marathon thing by now, said last night, as we tucked into our noodle soup: ‘Shouldn’t you be eating lots of steak and protein?’ I think this just means that he’d like to eat lots of steak.

When I read the Brighton Marathon website and the details sent to me in the post, I am reminded that runners are asked not to listen to headphones whilst running. Normally I wouldn’t do this, I enjoy hearing people around me, chatting to other runners, soaking up the atmosphere and being aware of my surroundings. I do think this time I might just clip my iPod Shuffle on though, in case I hit a really dark spot, just one little track might be enough to see me through, like slurping a gel for a little energy boost. I am thinking a bit of Florence, some Morrissey, a Pixies or two and some Bjork might do it. Maybe not to other peoples’ taste, but just the trick for me.

Time: 22 minutes 25 seconds

Distance: 2.20 miles

Average Pace: 10.11

Best Pace: 8.00

Calories: 199

 

 

To be expected

This always seems to happen ahead of a big/long/long-awaited or much-anticipated race: I have a shitty run that makes me doubt whether or not I can do it. I should expect this by now. On Friday evening, Edward phoned to say he was going to be late. Having already prepared dinner for Hector and sat with him as he ate, and chatted, and chatted some more, I really didn’t feel like making yet another meal (and I’m sick of pasta, please someone remove the stuff from our cupboards!) so I said ‘Can you bring something home?’ and he did. In front of me was the biggest mountain of fish, chips and mushy peas ever, and I ate it all.

Yum.

On Saturday morning I needed to fit in a run before my parents-in-law landed in London for the weekend, so I set off with a six-miler in mind. Straight away I knew it wasn’t going to happen: my sides ached and I felt heavy and sluggish, the fish and chip stitch had well and truly found its groove under my left ribs. I almost gave up straight away, but something kept me heading towards Finsbury Park, then I took in another lap of the local park, not wanting to go further in case I couldn’t manage it. I stopped by a tree, which felt odd because I have been running so well recently, and did a half-hearted and pointless stretch and dig in the ribs thing, then continued around the curve towards home. I’d had enough and simply knew it wouldn’t get any better. It was good that I returned home when I did and got showered and dressed because I could then enjoy tea and a chat with my lovely friend who popped by unexpectedly.

Another niggle that  has been challenging me this week has been achy knees. I haven’t suffered from knee problems for such a long time now (since having Hector actually, but that’s another thing to explore another time), so this was pretty disheartening. This morning though, I think I might have worked out why this has happened. As the weather has changed slightly, I have slowly made the transition from my summer Birkenstocks to my winter Birkenstocks and I really think this has made my feet and knees feel a bit out of sorts. Today I wore some walking shoes instead and the knees felt fine. I think I will stick to these for the rest of the week and try to be best prepared for the Cardiff Half Marathon. I’m a bit excited now!

Time: 20 minutes 1 second

Distance: 2.02 miles

Average Pace: 9.53

Best Pace: 8.26

Calories: 211

One more sleep!

Until I don this ensemble and strut my stuff on the streets of London.

vest

The letters are ironed on, the champion chip is in place (though I’m always uncertain about wether it’s the right way up or not, panic, panic), my kit is laid out, gels in belt, Bodyglide to hand…I think I’m ready now. It’s been a funny week, feeling nervous, excited, aprehensive, impatient, worried and also having this weird feeling that I don’t want it to be over because I know I will miss it all! I am, of course, nervous about getting there tomorrow, worried that it will be hard to leave the house – this is going to be the longest stretch of time I have been away from Hector – and concerned that I will end up rushing at the other end. I am aslo hoping/wishing/doing some sort of shamanic dance in the hope that I might get a good night’s sleep. For me that would mean not being woken every couple of hours for a feed and then being woken at 5.30am for the start of the day. I know that once I am woken up I will be too excited to get back to sleep…I’ll be the one on the start line with the rather large bags under my eyes and the vacant expression of the ‘mother of a toddler’.

I am at the blue start. This is particularly exciting because that’s where all the fancy pants elites go from – I must point out, this does not reflect my projected finish time! I am also in ‘pen’ number 8, which puts me alongside all the other people who will be aiming to peg it down The Mall 4.30 hours after the start. We’ll see, maybe I will reach that goal, or maybe I will stroll along high-fiving everyone. Apparently the crowds carry you along, so I’m counting on anyone who is supporting to shout out my name and help me along a bit. Please!

Signing out now, with some stats from a little leg-loosening three miler done this week with my ever-dedicated running buddy, Hector.

Time: 30.20

Distance: 2.87 miles (that’s odd, I could have sworn I did three!)

Average Pace: 10.35

Best Pace: 8.31

Calories: 346

And don’t forget, you can still sponsor me for the NSPCC and Childline here.