Category Archives: Race

London Marathon? Completed It Mate!

It’s been three days now since I took on The London Marathon and I think I’m finally ready to write down my thoughts. Had I done this any sooner it may all have come across a bit negative, and if I leave it any longer I might romanticise it all a bit too much. I need to write this while I still remember how much it hurt!

The beginning of the day went mostly to plan, with the exception of my baby, who nearly always wakes for a feed at 5.30am who did not, in fact, wake up this morning meaning I had to try and rush a breast pump in just before I was due to leave, but that aside, thanks to my PT Adam, who picked me up, got me on the right trains and delivered me to the blue start with no fuss and plenty of time to spare it was a fairly stress free start.

I said goodbye to Adam, and went into the blue athletes holding area, stripped off my joggers and used the bag drop then managed to find my friends Dom and Kev with relative ease considering the number of people and questionable phone signal

Waiting in the blue start area with Dom, Kev, and our friend Tony Jarvis

We hung around trying to keep warm, used the loos and soaked up the atmosphere, a heady mix of nerves and excitement, until it was time to head to the start pens. Dom and I wished Kev good luck as he was starting in zone 3 ahead of us in zone 4, and joined the people waiting in our zone. As we waited for our turn we could see the big screen and we watched as Andy Murray pressed the buzzer and the elite men took off from the start line, knowing that before too long we would be crossing that same line.

waiting in the start pen

we slowly moved forwards until eventually the start line loomed into view, we edged round the corner then people started to jog, and then there we were, about 20mins after the elite start, crossing that line, starting our watches and getting ready to run the 26.2 miles to the finish on The Mall. It all started well, keeping half an eye on the pace we had to keep slowing down to stick to our plan and not get carried away and it all felt nice and controlled.

The first part of the marathon is fairly unremarkable, mostly through suburban streets, until around mile three where you merge with the red start, the crowds started picking up around the 5 mile mark, the noise so loud in places it drowned out the music from my headphones completely. Going  round the Cutty Sark between miles 6 and 7 is the first real “iconic” part, and the streets are jam packed with spectators. my knee was aching a little and this was worrying so early on but so far we were sticking to our pace plan. After this it just feels like more pounding the streets and it occurred to me I wasn’t exactly loving it! Saw some of the ASPT guys who had come up to watch and that was a bit of a boost, but I was really worrying about my knees now!

Dom and I were still togetherans still pacing ok as we were getting closer to half way. You see The Shard loom ahead then turn a corner and there in front of yo is tower bridge. This for me was one of the highlights of the day. The crowds under the bridge are so loud, as you hit the 20km timing mat and its pretty special. This is the bit you see on TV and now you are here running it! Then its back the way you came just on the other side of the river and towards Canary Wharf.

Tower Bridge coming into view

Its at this point where you see all the faster runners coming back down the other side of the road passing the 22 mile maker as you are just at mile 13! The second half of this race was where I really started to struggle. Both knees have been hurting for a while but now my feet, hips, IT bands and glutes all join in one by one until both legs hurt from hip to toe and each step is becoming more and more difficult. At around mile 17 Dom looked back at me with concern on his face and told me I looked like I was in agony. He insisted we take a walking break to help my legs recover a bit. The miles left to go were in single figures now, but 9 miles is still a long way to go!

As I limped on with Doms help, sometimes running slowly, other times walking, I was getting more frustrated as my energy levels felt fine, my legs just weren’t cooperating. I would have loved to just zone out to my music but my stupid Spotify had decided to stop and wouldn’t load, despite the playlist being downloaded to my phone so it wasn’t streaming, and after trying to get it working twice I gave up and turned it off, all it was doing was sapping my phone battery, so I had no tunes to take my mind off the increasing pain in my legs. I told Dom he could go on if he wanted but he stuck with me.

Now running in some kind of personal hell, it was with absolute glee that I turned the corner to see my friend Young Henry, The Relentless MC, standing with his mic at the side of the road, I ran over and got the biggest hug as he announced to the spectators my name and told them I was a badass, and the crowd went nuts cheering and it was the biggest moral boost and very much needed at that moment. I carried on!

Now its all very well saying a marathon is 26.2 miles, but that is only if you stick to the racing line (painted on the road in blue) but in reality, in the masses this is all but impossible, you can’t even see it all the time, and my watch was getting more and more out of line with the distance markers. It was about 0.3miles out at mile 3 but as I crossed the 22 mile marker my watch had already beeped off 23 miles, it was well out and this was so demoralising, how far was I actually going to have to run?

The second half of this race really was just a blur of pain, and the crowds now were now annoying me rather than giving me a boost, as we got to the tunnel before the embankment I finally lost Dom, he got ahead and I had to stop and walk as I thought I was going to be sick. I couldn’t take on any more gels or shot blocks, I just needed to get to the end now, but there were still a couple of miles to go and my watch was no use to me for judging the distance left. I saw the London eye round the corner in the distance and knew I had to pass it but it looked miles away. It actually came by sooner than I expected as I continued to stagger along the embankment, then the houses of parliament were ahead, and you turned the corner. The mile markers had stopped but as you head up the road you see the 1km left sign, then 800m, then 600m. You turn the corner, there is the palace, turn again under a bridge with 385 yards (what does that even mean?) and you’re on The Mall, and there it is, the finish is finally in sight. I tried to pick up the pace on my screaming legs, but started to feel distinctly wobbly, was I going to be one of those people who collapse?

No, I made it! I wanted to raise my arms up in triumph but I just didn’t have it in me, I managed a little “yes” fist at my side as I staggered over the line but barely even cracked a smile. I didn’t feel elated, I felt a bit like I had let myself down in the second half and everything hurt. The time on the clock was 5 hours some, and so I knew I’d managed sub 5 but not as fast as I’d wanted. My chip time was 4.44.37 but my watch told me I had run the marathon distance in 4.29.38 which strava tells me is a PR. My watch said I had run 27.5miles in total!

I staggered forward off the line, someone asked if I needed medical attention, I shook my head, and funnelled forwards to get my medal, snapped a quick selfie, someone grabbed me for an official photo and I continued to move slowly on-wards to the baggage trucks, got my goody bag and found my number section to reclaim my belongings. I just wanted to sit down. My legs hurt with every extra step, how do you get out of here? I kept moving, it felt like miles, up to the end following the signs to the meeting points. I was spat out at the top under the arches and asked a marshal where are the meeting points, they directed me down another road, it was so busy, runners, spectators and just general London traffic buffering me one way and another and I;m struggling to move in a straight line. I finally make it down to “E” where Adam and I were meeting and wondering why I had to walk so far after what I’d already put my body through. I made it there and collapsed against a statue texting Adam where I was. Some ladies there helped me get into my jumper and joggers and I waited to be found.

Finished

Once Adam had found me we headed back up the road to Charring Cross station and again Adam took charge of getting me home in one piece. It was finally all over!

I finished saying I hated every step and I was never ever doing a marathon again, and three days later, with my legs still hurting (although less than the last two days) I can look back and see that I didn’t hate all of it, but It was one tough ride and needless to say I’ve not entered the ballot for a place next year!

I have achieved something many others never get the opportunity to and I’m grateful for that, and I managed to raise over £600 for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity in the process and eventually I’m sure this will all feel like a very positive experience (you can still sponsor me here)

 

Now people often equate running a marathon to giving birth so being that I have done both of these things in the past 12 months here is my take on that sentiment based on my own experiences:

Marathon Childbirth
Preparation 6 month 9 months
Duration 4h 44 6h
End Result A medal that doesn’t require any looking after A tiny baby that is utterly dependant on you
Recovery A week or so, I don’t know yet At least 6 weeks
Pain Level 7 out of 10 10 out of 10
Worth it? Maybe Definitely
Would I do it Again? Hell No Hell No
Do I really mean that? Probably Probably

 

And with that, I think my marathon blog is done and concludes my marathon journey and the only question now is… what should I do next?

Road to London – 26.2 Miles to Go!

It occurred to me I haven’t updated my blog since the beginning of February. I was going to update after Lydd 20 and the Hastings Half Marathon but opportunities to actually sit down and write something can be few and far between, especially when you are using any baby free time you get to train, but shes off to swim with her Dad and so I’m going to try and write a quick update before soaking in a long bath in preparation for tomorrow, as the time has finally arrived and I’m actually going to have to run a marathon!

After doing all the training for Bournemouth marathon in 2017 but finding out I was pregnant, then getting into London straight after and deferring, this moment has been hanging over my head for almost 2 years! If you read my previous blog you’ll know that the training this time has been far from smooth, most notably the fractured elbow in January which completely derailed me for a month, but I adjusted my training plan and got back on track, managing to chip more and more off my average time for a long run and actually completing the Lydd 20 faster than my fastest estimate.

Finished after 20 miles at Lydd

Lydd really did deserve it’s own blog. That race was insane. The winds that day were gale force, and it was the first time I’ve ever been running and wished I weighed more, the wind kept blowing me off course! It’s also the only road race I’ve ever done where I had to crawl under a fallen tree on route. It was bleak and tough, but I still managed to run well for me, and this was a massive confidence boost. I then managed an even faster average pace at the Hastings Half, which although shorter has a lot more elevation, and took 15 mins off that fist half I had done post pregnancy back in February in just a month, although frustratingly still took just over 2 hours!

Running the Hastings Half

By the time I was doing my last few long runs I was so bored of running, I had gotten to the point where I just wanted it all to be over. Months of training, many difficulties to overcome, from the aforementioned fractured elbow, several colds and finally a sickness bug which scuppered one of my final long runs, all on top of the mammoth task of getting myself marathon fit after having the baby last May which has been hard enough without all the rest of it had taken it’s toll!

The baby weight is technically gone now, but I’m no where near as fit, and my body is not as toned as it was pre baby. I’m still breastfeeding and that doesn’t really lend itself to running and race photos make me want to hide away and never come out they can be so unflattering! It’s been a battle on both the physical and mental front and I’m pretty much exhausted from it all (the constant lack of sleep isn’t helping this!) and If anyone asked me how I felt about London I’d say that “I can’t wait for it to be over now” but then I went to the London Running Expo to pick up my race number and now, finally, I’m actually excited!

Collecting my number with my friends Kev and Dom

I had a great day out with two of my very good friend’s who both also got ballot places, and the buzz of the day was infectious, so now, finally, it’s the day before. My kit is ready, I’ve put in the training, almost 500 miles worth since having Susannah, I’ve tried my best to raise some money for a good cause, and I’ve improved my fitness to a point that getting to the finish line is actually possible! So, wish me good luck, track me on the app, and chuck me a bit of sponsorship if you are able (click here) and watch this space for the after race update that I’ll get round to writing…. sometime!

Starting 2019 with a Bang! (and a Crash, and a Massive Wallop!)

I have been planning to do a blog update for a while now, but I wasn’t planning it to be this! I was planning to write a “Training for the London Marathon with a Baby” type post, talking about how it’s going so far and what I’m planning on doing next, the internal battle I had with myself before deciding whether to ask for sponsorship or not and a few quips about motherhood 7 months in and I’m sure I’ll still cover some of that, but January 1st blew all of this out of the water. My training is stalled, I can’t look after my baby without help, and at the moment everything is far from rosy, all because of a lousy, but quite spectacular, trip over a poxy speed bump!!

So there I was, cruising through my marathon training plan that I had carefully written in snatched moments when my daughter was happy to let me put her down to play, I had lined up races, planned rest weeks and carefully considered how gently to up my mileage. I started it in October and had by and large stuck to what it said. I had re-started Weight Watchers and my weight was slowly coming off,  I was back down to my pre-baby weight, although my body was nowhere near back to how it was before, and I was up to about 10miles at a time in distance. I had a good scheduled that allowed me to get out and train around Baby S and her needs. It wasn’t easy, but it was working!

Fitting running in with the baby sometimes means taking her along for the ride

Over December my Personal Trainer went on holiday and I cut myself some slack. I still did my 3 weekly runs (mostly) but that was it, and I indulged in a festive mince pie or two, and a few Christmas beverages but I figured in January and beyond I’d be hitting it hard, back on the healthy eating bandwagon and hitting the training with renewed vigour, London would only be a few months away…

So on the 1st of January, after a relatively tame New Years Eve, I lined up to run the Lamberhurst 10k beside my husband, who had the baby in the running buggy, and off we went, ready to kick start the new year in a healthy way. It’s hilly, Lamberhurst, but after getting up the first couple of KM I was starting to get into my stride, picked up my pace a bit, mind wandering, wishing I’d remembered to actually download my Spotify running playlist as there wasn’t enough signal to stream it, and I still hadn’t been able to try out my new headphones I got for Christmas when suddenly I wasn’t running any more, I was on the floor surrounded by people telling me to breath, and everything hurt! It took a few more seconds for me to realise that I would be pulling out of the race and not carrying on, another few to realise I couldn’t stand up and probably a full minute before I realised I couldn’t move my left arm properly.

Not quite comprehending how serious this all was yet

My husband happened to come back past me just after the fall so stopped also, and eventually the medics arrived after having to navigate their car through the runners. I was looked at, picked up, a bandage put on my arm, then driven back down to the start where I was advised to go to A&E. By now the pain is catching up with me, i’m in shock and my daughter is crying causing me massive distress. I could barely even touch her with my hands bleeding everywhere to help calm her down. Hubby drove me to the hospital and left me there to go and feed the baby – I couldn’t do it – what were we going to do?!

The people in A&E were fab, it didn’t seem like I was waiting around, but the news wasn’t good, my left elbow was fractured, which would be problematic enough without my right hand side also being bruised with cuts across my whole hand and elbow. I basically had very minimal use of either hand!

Somewhat delirious on the way back from A&E

Now a few days on I am left having to ask people to come and look after me and the baby while hubby is at work as I’m unable to look after her by myself, my cuts are healing slowly which will help and I’m using my left arm as much as I’m able trying to get movement back. I’ve been to the fracture clinic but have to go back in a few weeks to be re-xrayed and until then I’m not supposed to do exercise. Not the start to the year I was hoping for!

Now as I laid in bed in the early hours of this morning, having just got the baby back to sleep (thankfully I’ve cracked being able to breastfeed despite my injuries) I decided that I wasn’t going to let this sink me. I can hold the baby again for shot periods to at least comfort her, which was my most pressing concern after being able to feed her and I have a fantastic network of friends and family who have me covered for the next week so that leaves me with just me to worry about.

It would be so easy to fall back into my pattern of comfort eating and drinking so I’m going to make a concerted effort not to. I’ve already made a meal plan for the next week along with a shopping list to get my nutrition back on track which is especially important as I can’t do my normal amount of exercise, and my next step is going to be to look into what exercises I CAN do with limited use of my arms. I can’t afford to sit around losing fitness for the next month, I have a marathon to run!

And run it I will! I’m going to sit down and re-write my marathon training plan taking into account this unscheduled break in my training and i’ll just have to work at it twice as hard once I can run again.

I decided a while ago that I was going to do this for charity after all, as anything I can raise, even if its only a small amount, is more than they would have if I didn’t. I wouldn’t usually ask for sponsorship to run these days as its something I do all the time, but as I say on my fundraising page, this is a bit different, as its a marathon, and not only that but its a marathon I’ve got to train for after just having a baby with all the rebuilding of strength and fitness that entails, and now I’m going to try and turn this arm break into a positive and say it’s another good reason to sponsor me, as I will also have to recover from this and try and be marathon ready over a much shorter time frame!

I’m raising money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity again, as it very sadly keeps being a background feature of my life, treating friends and family when the dreaded disease rears it’s ugly head and you can find my fundraising page here if you feel so inclined.

I’m going to need so much help and support in the coming months to recover and get going again. It really was spectacularly bad timing, but it is what it is, and I’m determined that a little break wont be the breaking of me!