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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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.


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:





Going faster with Trion:z

Erm, well at least I think that’s what’s happening! I was recently asked if I would like to try out a Trion:z ionic sports bracelet and, as I am intrigued to know what they actually do, I jumped at the chance. My lovely green bracelet arrived just after the Brighton Marathon, which is a shame because it would have been good to try it out at such a big event. Anyway, I have limited my testing to a few short runs in the sun and have felt ever so sporty with it gracing my wrist.

Having looked at the website and the literature that came with the bracelet, I now understand that the wearing of such a product can increase blood flow to a certain area leading to an increase in oxygen and nutrients. I’m not entirely sure how this will manifest itself in my running, but I’m willing to give it a try (though maybe two devices strapped to my creaky knees would be better?)! I wore the bracelet in the week following the marathon, imagining that it could help my recovery and I did have a speedy and uncomplicated recovery. During the runs where I have worn the Trion:z I have felt energetic, sprightly and have run at a good pace (though this might just be due to the lovely weather, a good marathon experience and a general joy at getting out to run). Here are the stats for a run I did the other day:

Time: 38 minutes 40 seconds

Distance: 4 miles

Average Pace: 09.41

Best Pace: 7.58

Calories: 435

Nothing outstanding there, but I did feel as if I was flying, even in the heat, and overtook every runner I saw ahead of me – woo-hoo! I don’t know if the Trion:z is supposed to make you go faster, longer or turn cartwheels down the street, but I will continue wearing it to see if it makes a difference, though it is difficult to assign credit to a bracelet when there are so many other factors that can contribute to improved performance. You can decide for yourself and find out more by visiting the website here.

One runner who is totally bowled over by the bracelet is Hector. He does this little routine where he puts on the Trion:z and runs really, really fast up and down the hall. He then takes it off and goes in slow motion. So there you go!

Brighton is the new London

So, marathon number three is done and I loved it.

We headed down on Saturday morning, arriving to bright sunshine and a cool breeze, what would have been perfect marathon conditions for me. We strolled slowly over to the apartment we were staying in and dropped off our bags before heading straight to the beach 🙂 Hector was, of course, very eager to put on his swimsuit and get busy in the pebbles, but soon realised it was a bit colder than we had thought, and sat wrapped in a towel, playing quietly. The freshness in the air didn’t stop us all enjoying an ice cream before tracking down the Lego shop:

I’m not sure who enjoyed the Lego shop more, Hector or Edward.

As we were staying in an apartment, we decided to throw our own pasta party courtesy of M&S, and it was huge. We ate every last bit though. After putting Hector to bed I spent the evening checking and double checking my things, laying out various bits and bobs: Garmin, race number etc and fixing my timing chip in place. I think I slept ok, but was mainly concerned about my sore throat, streaming eyes and nose and the impending cough (concerns about over-sleeping are no longer a worry with our tag-along alarm-boy!).

It was a relaxed start to marathon day, with the boys watching TV whilst eating breakfast (we don’t have a telly at home, so this was a huge novelty) and me carefully making sure I had the right mix of porridge, tea and Lemsip. Looking out of the window and taking heed of Brighton Marathon warnings, I smothered myself in suncream and Bodyglide and donned Edward’s cap and my nifty Poloroid sunglasses:

We had looked carefully at the map and worked out the route from Hove to the park, and off I set. I hadn’t really wanted such a brisk and slightly panicky walk before the race but, as I don’t know the area, I was trotting along at quite a pace. I needn’t have rushed and fretted so much because the start was a slow affair and my section of the crowd took ten minutes to even cross the line! I was smiling straight away: the crowds were friendly but not too shouty and the atmosphere amongst the runners was jovial and supportive. When I compare this experience to previous marathons (well, London in particular) I can say that having done more races I now feel comfortable running in a crowd like this, and more able to block out any distractions around me, so getting in some Parkruns and smaller races is well worth it for a better marathon experience.

The first few miles were largely in shade thanks to the shops and houses we were passing by and the atmosphere was great, with regular blasts of music and roars of encouragement from the crowd, there’s nothing like the rumble of ‘Eye of the Tiger’ to get you to put your head down and run with added determination! It took me a while to get used to the fact that we were mostly running in loops with the faster runners on the other side of either a barrier, tape or even just some cones, it was simply politeness that stopped people running into each other. This did mean that you would see a stream of people ahead and those who have gone before happily brushing by, but no sense of where you might turn up ahead. This first section was also quite hilly, but the hills were short and oddly enjoyable. In the meantime, as I got hotter, the boys had the beach to themselves and had a wonderful time in the sunshine:

The whole of the next section was one of the most challenging for me. We came out from behind the coolness of the buildings and were suddenly very exposed, with the stretch from around mile five onwards being along long straight roads with no music and very little support, apart from a jolly man with a cowbell and a nice couple who called my name both times I passed them. Again, I had no sense of when we might turn around and was so very relieved when we did that it felt almost as if we were on the home straight. After the experience I had at the London Marathon in 2009, where I drank so much water and Lucozade that I ended up with cramp so bad that my legs buckled under me, I was very worried that I would do the same thing again. This time I was drinking when I felt thirsty, but trying to drink more sports drink than water, occasionally chewing on a Clif gel block and – now this is where I went a bit loopy – licking salt from a sachet. No, really. I was so scared of succumbing to the hideous cramp again, that I ate salt and it seemed to work.I was slightly scared that I might have a heart attack or something, but went for it anyway, ooh the recklessness of me!

One of my favourite moments was crossing the halfway line. There was an arch like one you would see at the start or finish line and it felt like a real celebration to reach that point – the crowds were now strong again and were calling my name. In the few miles before this I had had some moments of doubt,  where I thought I couldn’t do it, but nothing was quashing the immensely positive mindset that I had mustered up from who-knows-where. Passing into Hove, I really enjoyed the genuine support given by the crowd, especially along a residential road where families were out having  barbeques and one man was kindly giving us a hose-down. I ran alongside a man who was chatting to someone else, saying: ‘this is my road!’ and he had his daughters running with him briefly, in flip-flops. I think it was this kind of thing that made it a far more enjoyable experience than London, it felt more local, and is if the people of Brighton and Hove were behind us all the way, what a lovely place! It was here that I passed the eighteen mile mark and was overcome with emotion, feeling a sense of relief to pass the point where I had felt such pain in London, and here I was, happily waving my hands in the air to anyone who cared to look!

Now, I had heard and read about the horror that is the power station stretch so had psyched myself up for a tough ‘wall’ experience, but anyone who knows me well would know that this was a treat for me: huge cranes, diggers, front loaders, a ship and a power station! Grit and grime just like my regular Greenwich runs and all accompanied by a suitable soundtrack. I had promised myself earlier on in the race that I would have a little treat at mile twenty, a bit of music. First up was Morrissey ‘The More you Ignore me the Closer I Get’, this made me laugh out loud, picturing me sneaking up on the finish line (yes, I was getting slightly delirious here, forgive me). This was followed by some Florence and the Machine, then ‘Empire State of Mind’ (I know, very cheesy, but very rousing) and Florence popped back up again with ‘Dog Days’, which I’ve mentioned before as being a superb running song. By now I really was on the home stretch, with only a few miles to go and the crowds were just wonderful, calling out my name, willing me to the end. Off came the headphones for the last couple of miles, and I smiled all the way. The sea was calling, but so was the finish line, and so was a chap, showing his age with a jolly: ‘Top of the hit parade Adele!’

During these last six miles or so, I had thought I might get a PB and better my time at Edinburgh Marathon 2006 (4 hours 48 minutes), but I was slightly confused as my Garmin had constantly ticked off the miles ahead of any mile markers, so I wasn’t really sure what time I was going to get. I must have really picked up the pace in the last few miles because I felt like I was sprinting, goodness knows where that came from at this stage! This is the most amazing marathon finish: you have crowds on one side, the beach on the other and the pier in the distance, all glistening in the sun. After what felt like an awfully long time for people to be shouting: ‘you’re nearly there!’ I spotted the finish line, my smile widened, my pace quickened and I ran my socks off to get to my medal. It was tough, very tough in places, but I really enjoyed this marathon. I would definitely do it again, but maybe not just yet!

I collected my medal, tried very hard to eat a banana and a cereal bar, drank lots of water then made my way back to where Edward and Hector were waiting for me to come and dip my toes:

It was so lovely to see them 🙂

It was at this point that I realised what a state my feet were in. I had an inkling that my little toe had rubbed a bit, but wasn’t expecting to see five of my toes with nails resting on blisters, the cold sea helped, but getting my socks and shoes back on was interesting!

In addition to my marathon challenge, I have been raising money for Guide Dogs and, to make the challenge even harder, I gave up cake for something like ten weeks so, when Edward presented me with this little selection after my shower, I was very happy:

Thank you to Edward for making time for me to go for such long runs at the weekend, and to Hector for understanding this whole running malarkey. I would also like to thank everyone who has sponsored me so generously and supported me through this blog and through all the chatter on Twitter.

Time: 4 hours 50 minutes 28 seconds

Distance: 26.49 miles

Average Pace: 10.58

Best Pace: 6.53

Calories: 3153

(my chip time is exactly the same, but I’m guessing they measure that as 26.2 miles. So, very close to my Edinburgh time and knocking about half an hour off my London time, yay!).


Tomorrow we are heading to Brighton where I will be taking on the Brighton Marathon in aid of Guide Dogs. You can sponsor my effort here.

Only two more sleeps! Oh dear, it’s all getting a bit too exciting for me now. This morning I started the day with a glass of soluble vitamins, a mug of Lemsip and a mug of tea – the throat had kept me awake and my nose had joined in, just for fun. Argh. So I went and met Helsbels for a last little run before the big day. It was just short jaunt around the park to keep our legs loose and remind ourselves that we do know how to run, though we did both find it a bit odd and a bit of a struggle! After we had a chat about our nerves, fuel, heat and whether or not we like to wear short to run in (no), we both went our separate ways, wishing each other luck for Sunday. I did feel better after a run, and went on to have the most gorgeous morning in the garden, planting seeds and tending to various bits and bobs, and preparing to make a bee hotel with Hector on his return from nursery. Perfect.

So tomorrow we will soak up the atmosphere and explore Brighton. I am very excited about it all, but do want to get on with it now. I just consulted my list from yesterday and have made a little pile of essential stuff, not to be forgotten. Earlier on I got busy with the Poska pens and graffitied my vest, I hope spectators will be able to make out the slightly smudgy and wonky ‘Adele’, and runners behind me can read my web address for future reference.

Wish me luck, see you on Sunday evening!

Time: 18 minutes

Distance: 1.64 miles

Average Pace: 10.59

Best Pace: 6.57

Calories: 151


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

It’s hot, hot, hot in London today. I love the sunshine, as Roy Ayres says ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine’, but when you have 26.2 miles to run, you want a bit of air circulating around your limbs and a touch of freshness to fend off over-heating. I just checked the weather forecast for Brighton on Sunday and it says 13 degrees and a rain shower, good temperature, but I’m not wild about the rain.

Lists. I feel I should make a list of things I mustn’t forget to take with me.

Running shoes

capri tights


Guide Dogs vest

race number and safety pins (don’t forget the safety pins!)

socks without holes in

timing chip


sun cream

marathon belt



iPod Shuffle

Body Glide – how could I forget that one?!

I’ve got a sore throat and runny nose today 😦 Chances are I have caught Hector’s cold, or maybe a it’s a touch of hayfever. Whatever it is, I’d like it to go away before Sunday please. Sniff.



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



Taper time!

On Friday and Saturday I managed to cram in two runs, one with the lovely Helsbels, and one flying solo. On Friday morning I dropped Hector off at nursery and, not knowing what time it was, legged it up our road to meet Helen by the station for nine o’clock. I did a bit of stretching whilst she got caught at the dreaded crossing ‘system’ and we then headed out along the Waterlink Way. It was a gorgeous morning, but we did both share our concerns about it being hot when we run the Brighton Marathon in two weeks’ time (eek!), after my experience at the London Marathon in 2009, where I caved in under the strain of cramp (though I might add I did finish!), I would prefer a fresh sort of day, where I don’t feel the need to drink every drop of water that comes my way. Another challenge brought on by the heat is the clouds of gnats along the route, but this did give us the opportunity to engage in a new form of cross-training, ‘Gnat Boxercise’ (thanks Helen for the nifty title). I did catch a few in my throat and hadn’t put my sunglasses on, so managed to allow some to hitch a ride in my eyelashes. Yuk! We managed a brisker-than-planned six miles and went our seperate ways to rid ourselves of the pesky bugs.

Time: 1 hour 4 minutes

Distance: 6.11 miles

Average Pace: 10.29

Best Pace: 5.35

Calories: 634

On my return, the postlady rang our bell to give me my Guide Dogs vest for Brighton and a lovely long-sleeve top to test and write about. The top is made from bamboo, which is known for its wicking properties and is eco-friendly, and the material is so soft, I wanted to just stroke it! I decided to wear the top for my long run on Saturday, the last longer run before I go into the taper. You can buy a BAM – Bamboo Clothing Zip Neck Baselayer like mine here, but here is a picture of me sporting mine before the run:

The main thing that delighted me when I put it on was how long it is, so many running tops are cut too short and I find it hard not to get distracted by clothing gathering around my middle and the constant need to keep pulling it down and not expose my midriff; I was interested to see how long this top stayed in place. I hadn’t realised that the top also has lovely little thumb holes, and actually whooped at this discovery (I lead a simple life).

It was another warm day, but slightly fresh at the start of the run, so I kept the little thumb holes hooked in place and off I went. I have decided that I much prefer to head east along the Thames than west: I get most of it all to myself, don’t have to dodge tourists and can immerse myself in scenes of grime and industrial splendour. It being a Saturday, the diggers and stone crushers were hard at work again and the path was populated mainly by other runners, mostly in pairs and mostly ignoring me, and I had thought this route was a friendly one too! Every so often, I caught sight of my hands and felt all sporty, there’s nothing like a new top with cute thumb hole things to make you feel all Paula Radcliffe. Ahem. At this stage, the top was staying firmly in place, no movement whatsoever, and I felt warm, but not too hot even though the sweat was dripping down my face.

When you are training for a marathon, you are told to practice your routine before the big day, making sure you have tried out all the gear you are wearing to make sure it doesn’t rub (or work out where it rubs so you can take precautions), test the various fuels and gels and eat the food you plan to eat prior to the race. Well, after this run, I can definitely say I will not be eating a curry and drinking a beer the night before. If it wasn’t for the agonising stomach cramps and two unscheduled toilet-finding missions in a state of sheer panic, I would say this was the best run of my training so far! I was feeling good, my mind was positive, I was running fairly fast for a long slow run and I looked good in my new gear with a sunny smile on my face. So it’s pasta for me on April 9th.

As I said, this run was good, I was simply ticking off those miles and picking my knees up as I reached the Thames Barrier, enjoyed the view, then turned for home. I had carried my iPod Shuffle with me again, but decided I should have a ‘treat’ for the last two miles after reaching Greenwich, so kicked my heels to Morrissey until I rolled up at home, happy, cool yet warm and ready to enjoy the rest of the weekend. The bamboo had held out, not moving an inch but looking slightly soggy on my return. I normally go for a more shiny fabric because of this, but the benefits outweighed the view I offered my fellow pavement users, maybe it’s ok for a top to show up your sweat, but pants would be anther matter! I think I might consider getting a short-sleeve version of the top, maybe to go under my Guide Dogs vest for the marathon, I’m a convert!

Time: 2 hours 20 minutes 25 seconds

Distance: 14.04 miles

Average Pace: 10.00

Best Pace: 7.18

Calories: 1563