The London Marathon!

IMG_8579.JPG

Packed and ready to rumble!

On Sunday 23rd April 2017, 40,000 runners took to the street to run one of the biggest races on earth – the Virgin London Marathon.  There were first timers (like myself), seasoned marathon runners, walkers, costumed runners, younger runners, older runners and in all shapes and sizes.  I was so anxious before I started – this was my first marathon – would I make it?

IMG_8581.JPG

Welcome to the Expo!

Myself and my friend Michelle travelled up the day before to the expo.  As it was my first marathon, I really wanted to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy every minute!  The expo didn’t disappoint and is an absolute haven for any runner – stalls full of trainers, running info, races, running freebies, and so on! I dragged my poor friend around to pretty much every stall – picked things up, tasted things and had my face painted with the union jack!  I also managed to catch up with some Twitter friends and then as if my day couldn’t get any better, I bumped into PAULA BLIMMING RADCLIFFE! (who is totally lovely and was ever so sweet with me grinning and talking to her like a love sick puppy).  I was pretty much on a high after that and it well and truly set me up for the Marathon.

IMG_8590.JPG

My hero, Paula!

Marathon day – Nerves set in again. I also woke up extremely tired due to 3 hours sleep. Doh!  I had my normal regime of two bagels with peanut butter, a cup of tea and a banana.  I was surprised to see other runners having a full cooked breakfast!   Michelle and I then made our way to the Blue Start Line.  As you can see from the photo, I am finding it difficult to smile!

IMG_8623

It was absolutely freezing when we got to Blackheath Park and we laughed at other runners with little shorts on (turns out, it was a really warm day and I was wearing far too much and I had to take my underlayer off at mile 18).  Soon we were informed to get to our pens.  I caught up with a couple of team mates which was lovely and I was like an excitable puppy.  Considering the amount of runners there are at this massive event, it is SO well organised – and probably more organised than some of the smaller local races I have been to.

START LINE – There were so many nervous and anxious runners at the start line – I gave a couple of girls in front of me a massive hug as they were more petrified than me – I didn’t even think that this was possible.  I begrudgingly took off my fluffy fleece which I had purchased from a charity shop a couple of days before and gave it to one of the marshal’s.  I felt anxious but amazingly calm.  I think it was because I knew there was no pressure.  Before we knew it, the sound of the klaxon sounded and we were…not off… 15 minutes passed before we actually started moving!

IMG_8665

Mile 1 – 3 – So mile ONE, my knee condition (runners knee) started playing up. Marvelous. (this seemed to get worse and worse and I had lost my paracetamol).  I also needed a pee at mile one, I thought it was nerves – it definitely was not – it was more likely to be the cup of tea we had whilst we were waiting to start.  Unfortunately, this then entailed a 15 minute wait in the queue for the loo! At mile two, Michelle and I decided to say our goodbyes with Michelle screaming ‘GO, GO, GO’ at me!  The best part of this part of the race was at mile 3 when the red and blue pen’s joined together – 40,000 runners all in it together – totally amazing.  I think I grinned a whole lot during the first part of the race.

IMG_8633.JPG

Mile 4 – 12 – At mile 6 we ran past the first major landmark, the Cutty Sark – it was amazing to see it in all of its glory. At mile 12, another amazing landmark -the Tower Bridge.  Nobody had warned me here that there was a bit of an incline… I started panicking thinking that my legs had started to struggle.  This wasn’t the case at all… The crowd really were amazing here and the noise was completely deafening!  I expected the bridge to be small but it was the width of the M27!!! Coming off the bridge, you turn right and see the super speedies already 7 miles ahead of you, running in the opposite direction towards the start line.  This is where you could lose it psychologically if you are not prepared.  Luckily the crowd is electric – more jelly babies anyone?! Here is a great place to spectate as you get to see your runners twice.

IMG_8663

London Bridge

Mile 13 – I frantically looked for my sister who was on the opposite side of the road to which we had planned!! I had to cut across about 20 runners to get to her.   Quick hugs and a hello and I was off again…

Mile 14 – 20 – Running though Canary Wharf is notoriously quiet, however I can honestly say there were hardly any parts that were quiet on Sunday. I think this was the toughest part of the race for me without a doubt,  I just couldn’t get my rhythm going again due to the amount of runners that were stopping and it completely messed my head up.  At mile 16, I was actually wondering how long I had left – I must have spent a mile wondering how long I had left. My brain was completely frazzled.

Mile 20 to 26 – I weirdly had an out of body experience during this time and my body felt like it didn’t belong to me. I’m not sure if this was dehydration or just my body trying to block the pain of my knee.  All I can remember is looking at the pavement and feeling like I was dreaming.

IMG_8670

Mile 26– The Mall. Were do I even begin? I literally cried from the top to the finish line. I felt like everything I had trained for, the last 4 months of 6am Sunday mornings, the tears, the injuries and the pain of the run had all come down to this moment and the relief is absolutely incredible. I didn’t see the bandstand of people, people around me or the photographers… in my mind the London Marathon music was playing, however watching the footage back, it was actually – Billy Idol – White Wedding! I must have been completely out of it! I ran over yet another red mat and relished the fact that I had just completed the LONDON MARATHON!

645069_253577739_XLarge.jpg

The Mall – what an Experience!

After the Marathon I met with my sister and Brother in Law and we decided to go to Canary Wharf to miss the crowds. All was going swimmingly until Rich (my Brother in Law) expected me to walk up 50 stairs to the top. A kind stranger had heard the commotion and witnessed me trying to get up the stairs backwards and kindly gave me a fireman’s’ lift to the top!!!

IMG_8650.JPG

My afterthoughts on the London Marathon – The sights of London were stunning and I pushed on as the miles kept flying past. I never hit the wall that day, although the second part of the race were very stop and start due to the amount of people walking.

I’m not going to say it was easy, but the crowds and atmosphere carry you through – although the thought of eating another jelly baby turns my stomach. :0)

Despite being exhausted the endorphins had taken over my body and I felt incredible – it took me at least 4 days to come back down to earth.  The experience I had was simply unforgettable. A marathon is not a walk in the park by any means, but I think the positive memories have taken over the pain my legs definitely felt the next day. The marathon journey is a tough one – its mentally tough and physically tough and it’s not for the weak willed. What a journey is was though. It was probably one of the best days of my life. I finished in 5.28 but like Martin Yelling has wisely pointed out -‘Time, positions & performances don’t define you as a person – character does’.

Now when does that ballot open?!?

May your runs be long and your injuries a few.

Kezza x

Advertisements

STOP! Taper time!

STOP - Taper time

9 Days to go…

So this is it. Long runs are DONE!

My last run was 20 miles. I ran 18 and walked 2 towards the end.  Unfortunately I have developed an issue with my knee.  GRRRR! I can feel it on baby runs but it becomes really bloody excruciating at mile 18.. I guess on the day, I’m just going to have to suck it up! Last Sunday, I decided to swim rather than attend the 10 mile Salisbury race that I had signed up for.  Let’s be blunt… I am RUBBISH at swimming.  I lowered myself into the ‘slow lane’ and kept getting caught up by a 70 year old gentleman who thought this was highly amusing.  He must have felt great (You’re welcome Sir).  A couple of times I had to hang onto the edge of the pool and cough out half of the pool that I had swallowed. Cue – loud giggling from the elderly gent.

Well tapering is er interesting…. I’ve never been here before (I’ve not even completed a half marathon before).  For those that haven’t tapered before, it’s all about taking your mileage down so you are fresh as a daisy for the race.  Running these smallish miles has given me major paranoia that I am going to lose my fitness. (I won’t)- and I guess these feelings of doubt are natural.

This marathon journey has been such an experience, and I have learnt a lot from it. Here are my thoughts on tapering and the journey so far…

The Journey….

  • Positivity – Surround yourself with the doers and positive people.    I am nervous yes, but really don’t need to read or hear about more doubts that others are having.    At the end of the day, we can only do our best.  My time is going to be important and will mean a lot to ME.

    the doers

    Amen

  • Speed – regardless of how I have tried, it has been virtually impossible to retain my usual pace… When friends told me that my pace would drop, I thought they were joking…they weren’t.  I have learnt to accept it.  I can’t run long distance at the same pace as my Parkruns! That’s life. I can’t remember the last time I won a strava segment, but just watch me run for miles…and miles…
  • Loneliness – There I said it.  I have found the journey incredibly lonely. Especially as a first timer.  What may seem like stupid worries and anxieties for the more seasoned marathoner, the anxiety has been very real for me. Race day will be different, I have the ability to speak to anyone and everyone – Hello new friends from Eastleigh 10k – I hope you enjoyed me singing to you around the course!
  • Tiredness – I have been so so so so tired.  To the point of waking up and just crying.  This has eased off.  Now I am tapering, I have so much unspent energy  – I literally do not know what to do with myself – I have been painting my garden fence, and my house is immaculate. Win!
  • The body is AMAZING. I have been fascinated with the fact that I have been able to run further and further each week..
  • It never did get easier… nuff said….

Tapering…

  • MARANOIA! I feel like I am hanging in the balance of being undercooked and also worrying about making my knee even worse! maranoia
  • Rest Days – These are really important.  It’s also important to remember that tapering  also means you are still training… So it doesn’t mean you can sit on your behind for 2/3 weeks. Its a good move to use these days wisely – I’ve been stretching, cross training and doing some yoga.  Feeling niggly? Get you bike out or go for a swim! Rest days is when the magic happens.  I have always had muscly legs but have developed new muscles and my calves are just ridiculous at the moment..
IMG_8472

Working on getting to a headstand!

  • You won’t lose your fitness in 2 weeks.  You just won’t! Relax. Tapering is essential for prep.
  • Do nothing new – Now is not the time to try new vitamin pills Kezza, it may end up in a disastrous run if you catch my drift… portaloo
  • Eating Habits- People who know me personally will know that I have a liking for Cadbury Crème Eggs.  Okay, a real PASSION for crème eggs – I have eaten 10 in 5 days. I have been told by a very reliable source (Facebook) that it takes 15 minutes to run one Crème Egg off. This means that I should be okay – although I may not have any teeth…no teeth
  • Energy – I have so much now I am tapering… I am feeling twitchy and restless.

My runs this weekend consist of a nice little Bluebell Run (5 miles) with the club and a 7 miler on Sunday. Next week I have three 3 milers in…before the big day! eeeeeek!

How is your tapering going?! How are you feeling in the run up to your marathon?

May your runs be long and your injuries afew

Kezza x

VLM…18 Days to Go…..

18 Days to go…18…. shucks!

Well, you will be pleased to hear that since my last blog, I am feeling much more positive.  I won’t lie, I have found the training really, really hard.  I run on my toes and have found running on my forefoot for 20 miles, just excruciating.  On the plus side, my calves look amazing (and are bigger than my quads!).

HardisGreat

On Sat, I took off on my own for a 20 miler.  I ran down to Lee on Solent Parkrun, and then back along Lee to Hill Head up through Titchfield and back home.  I got lost at one point and had to ask a cyclist where I was going….much to his amusement.  My 20 miler ended up being 2 miles of walking (hills and due to how much pain I was in with my poor swollen knee).  Unfortunately, I have the dreaded ‘Runner’s Knee’ which can only be blamed on gait issues and a massive increase in mileage.  I have pretty much accepted the fact that there will be some walking on the day,  but you know what, I am absolutely cool with it.  The views on my run were amazing….

I am feeling a whole array of emotions at the moment – dread, fear, nausea, anxiety, excitement and trepidation.  I am really enjoying the light evenings and as much as I love the sunshine, I am hoping it won’t get too much warmer.  I have been trying to change my mindset about the marathon and looking at it like a ‘day out’ rather than a frantic dash to the finish line! Liz Yelling has literally hit the nail on the head with her comment about the final stages of training….

Liz Yelling – The final 2 weeks of the marathon prep is more about training your mind. Learn how to positively re- frame and think of mantras or dedicate certain people to a part of the course. You can do this…
I have also been training much smarter and set my Garmin to scream at me if I am going over a certain pace.  The pace is irrelevant, it’s all about the distance.  In fact training for this marathon has really shown me how much I have been obsessing about pace.  I have only ever ran two 10 mile runs, the rest have been 10k’s so I really have taken a big leap! (I don’t do things by half).  I have been surprised with how my pace has steadied and never really understood it until I started training.

 

I have been training with a really great guy called Paul Pickford ( Twitter – https://twitter.com/pickfordpj). For those who don’t know this crazy cat, he runs ultra distances.  He has to be the most humble runner I have ever met.  He usually runs at a very quick pace but he has been really happy to plod alongside me and offer encouragement and support.  Paul has been like my very own agony Uncle and picked me up just at the right time when I was ready to quit.  Thank you Paul.  Also a massive thank you to Sarah Moulding (Twitter – https://twitter.com/Only_m_e) who has also ran with me or has checked in regularly after a long run to make sure I was safe and that I was mentally okay.  These sort of people in your life make so much difference when you are struggling on your training runs. Here we are on our 18 mile run..

 

So now, I have reached taper time.  I can’t believe how excited I feel about this! My longest run in the next three weeks leading up to the marathon will be 10 miles.  I will be running the Salisbury 10 mile race but again will be treating it as a training run.  I have been continuing with my yoga, which I am really enjoying and have started looking seriously at my nutrition.

 

Lastly, I have decided to run for a charity for the London Marathon.  I didn’t want to choose one so early in case of injury.  After much deliberation, I have decided to run for ‘Second Chance’ which is a local animal charity which looks after abused, orphaned and neglected animals.  I wanted to ensure that 100% of the charity money raised, went to the cause.  If you would like to sponsor me, I would be forever grateful and here is the link.

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/MissKB

Until then! it’s Taper time!

May your Runs be long and your injuries afew!

Kezza x