Monday, 23 April 2012

VLM 2012 - the aftermath

So after the party's the after party... and the marathon was no different, except for my party mostly consisted of burgers on a train! We finished, we hugged each other and patted each other on the back, ate cake and drank recovery drinks. Then people started to drift off, heading home or to the pub for a few celebratory drinks. After starting the walk to the station it began to rain and then snow and then rain again... after the sunburn I had suffered during the race this was a bit of a surprise but glad I made it over the line dry!
My wounded toe! 
We reached the gate to exit the marathon arena and as if my magic three rickshaws rode up... hmm this was too good to pass up. How much to Victoria please we asked the stout looking man, £10 was his reply and possibly the best money spent all day. I sat my weary self down as he worked away at the pedals gliding us ever closer to home, my toes by this point had started to smart and I was worried what I might find in my shoe when it was finally removed.
Once at the station - and quite relieved we hadn't walked as it was a little further than anticipated - I made a beeline for McDonald's and ordered up a big mac meal, made large, with chicken strips on the side - yum! We got to the train and sat happily scoffing our faces while we waited for departure. Soon a couple got on the train and much to my surprise it was the chief exec of my company.... how delightful I must have looked with a salty residue around my brow and Mac sauce dripping from my chin!
We hopped on the bus from the station and I could see some of the other passengers scowl at me as I took up a priority seat (I needed it) but then they spotted my medal and I could hear them talking about how my legs must be sore... they were right!
Freezing cold bath with bubbles!
Next action was to have a cold bath... more dreaded than the marathon and possibly more painful. As I prepared myself I had to peel the socks from my painful toe...a large blood blister had replaced the end and made my toe almost double in size on the end...gross... it needed to be popped and it wasn't going to be pretty! Meanwhile hubby ran me a bath, filling with bubbles so it looked more inviting than a regular ice bath and encourage me to get in. After much deliberation and faffing around I lowered myself into the bath, supporting my weight with my arms so I will only dipping myself in. I could take it no long, my arms were now weak too and I had to let go and be submerged! 16 minutes later I was out again, brrrrrr! Lets hope it worked!
With a nice cuppa, plenty of fluids and an unrelenting heavy cat forcibly trying to sit on my lap despite many attempts to move him from my tender muscles I relaxed in front of the TV for a while.
Slightly re-energised and not yet ready for sleep we popped out to the pub to meet fellow marathon runner Birdie to have a celebratory bevvy and wax lyrical about the day. When we reached home again, despite my protestations of not being tired I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow and very glad that I had a massage booked in, my legs will certainly need it!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

London Marathon 2012 (Olympic year oh yeah!)

WARNING: This is going to be a long one so you might want a cuppa before you start reading!!!
Getting to Blackheath
After a restless night's sleep plagued with cats and strange dreams I finally got up and began my preparations - everything had been laid out yesterday so really I just had to get dressed and eat. At 7am we left the house (hubby on taxi duty) and went to pick up Emma G so we could get to Birdie's house before the start. He lives conveniently close to the start which meant we could avoid portaloos - massive bonus with 40,000+ nervous people to share with! Not surprisingly on arrival Birdie was in jeans not looking nervous or like he was about to anything particularly sports related... but once donning his 'Captain Birdseye' shirt we were all ready and making our way to our start points.
The Start (9:45am)
The morning all came together nicely with not much waiting around, and getting into our pens at about 9:35am ready for the start 10 minutes later. I looked for the 9min pacer team but alas they were nowhere to be found so I had to do this myself, and this is where my impeccable pacing skills would play their part. I ran for a little while with a lady called Gwen who I saw intermittently up till about mile 5 then not again. 
First Familiar Face
Just before the first mile marker I was keeping my eyes peeled for hubby and the Walpole family, I waved frantically and was spotted by Phill who then made the crowds go wild cheering! Hooray, my pacing was good, I had done a mile. the roads were packed but I was placed fairly well which meant not too much ducking and weaving to get through - which I had resolutely determined not to do (big waste of energy).
After a while I saw the tell tale pink of Laura from the club, I made my way over and said hello, she was very focussed and was soon pulling away and looking strong.
Spotting the crowd or spotting the runners?
You'd think with all the hard work it would be the job of the supporters to spot their pals running tirelessly for hours at a time but this was not the case. Luckily I knew where some people would be so I was eyes peeled and spotting like a hunter on safari. First in my sights was Birdies housemate, Jimmy, nope he didn't see me despite shouting! Next was Bandit, he did hear me did a sort of flustered panic deciding between waving shouting and getting his camera... the result was not a picture!
The next friendly voice, over the crowds and who knows how he saw me was Martin C - who was marshalling just before the turn towards the Cutty Sark. at this point loads of cameras were above the runners zooming in and out, I did my best to wave and jump to get in frame... not sure if I made it but I did try!
Extra Water
A friend from work was manning a water station at 9 miles so my eyes were peeled as this the next point for a face I knew. Sarah seemed as please to see me as I was someone I knew and tried to give me two bottles as a little mates-rates bonus but I only needed the one to wash down my gel. Funny things happen when you are running, in my case my mind drifts. I was running behind someone raising money the OCD trust - well I thought that their spilts would have to be perfect but then perhaps if not they would have to keep going back and running the mile over and over again! Yes I was going bonkers!
Petts Wood Tower Bridge
Before I knew I turned a corner and before me was Tower Bridge, not sure how that happened so quickly, I was running strong and consistently 7 mins behind the gun time which gave me confidence that if my Garmin started to misbehave I would still be bale to judge my pace fairly accurately (luckily the Garmin did its job on the day).
As I was running along the bridge I could feel myself beaming, it was pretty awesome and I felt strong, then I spotted the PWR flag and set my line straight for it. Hannah was the first to spot me than along with John, Chris, Keiron and others they lunged out screaming encouragement at me... awesome! Thanks guys!
Is anybody out there?
For the next few miles, both with runners and crowds I was frantically scanning and looking for anyone to give me the shout at that I would be needing very soon. I had hit the halfway mark on schedule and now would be the time that I would try and step up the pace a fraction if my legs were up to it. I trotted along, searching but somehow failed to see the other PWRs, my mum and my uncle. I could hear people shouting my name which was great and some cheerleaders did a Lizzy chant but I needed someone I knew at this point.
At about 18 miles I overtook Paralympian Danny Crates, yes that's right I overtook a gold medallist! Pow (admittedly his sport was not marathons!). This gave me a little boost for a while and as I ran through Docklands I was surprised to see so many supporters, someone said to me it was really quiet out there... quiet like a riot! ha. Also, note to self about watching zombie movies the day before a marathon, as I ran through a pretty scary tunnel in Docklands it struck me that this might be the tunnel in 28 days later and that as there were no crowds the runners seemed to be taking this as an opportunity to stumble groan and stagger.... I sped up, no Zombie is going to bite me this far into a marathon! 
Finally a familiar face came into view, it was Brian from work, he didn't spot me at first so I hollered at him and he shouted encouragement (he later text me to say how strong I was looking - I can assure you it was not how I felt!).
Breaking down the Wall
So I as passed Brian my legs were feeling heavy, I was managing to keep the pace steady although it felt like I was slowing down (I wasn't but it was hurting). Then I gave myself a bit of a talking to along the lines of manning up and 'I do not hit the wall' that is something for the ill prepared or those that get carried away on the day. This was not me, I was prepared and there was no way some wall was going to get me so I dodged it, refocussed and kept going. In your face imaginary barrier of defeat you will not get me! 
Lizzy and the Pacemaker
After around 22.5 miles I finally found the pace maker, well a pace maker, although I couldn't see his board. I demanded he showed me... it was there the magical 9 and after a quick reprimand from me about having to do it myself as I couldn't locate him and asked him if he was on schedule and he said I was doing great and would get a sub-4 comfortably. I doubted it, I would be close but I was averaging 9:09 min/miles which might scrape me in but not with time to spare. He then ashed off, probably in the realisation that he was a very poor pacemaker and anyone sticking with him might clobber him for not sticking to pace!
Next Olympian hits the dust
Next Olympian to be bested by me was Ewan Thomas, he had begun to walk. I was pretty excited as I see him on TV each year on marathon day and wanted to go over and offer encouragement and geek out a little in awe of this sporting celebrity... but at this point I was on a mission so I kept going! Shortly I heard Jenny from the club shouting me and this gave me a well needed boost to keep me going. My legs were getting heavy, I was still pacing well but I had the feeling it could easily get away from me if I didn't keep my focus.
So close now....
Running along the embankment I heard more familar voices, Rob and Sonja in their PWR hoodies, this was fantastic and so much needed at this point. I felt a pang of sadness for Rob who should have been running today but injury ruled him out. Next time Rob.
As I was almost entering the last mile I heard the voice I needed most, I don't know how as it was behind the crowds but it was my Hubby, jumping and waving. I had wanted to walk momentarily but I couldn't do that now. Instead I started to chatter away to myself, mostly in my head as I had no excess energy for chatting proper. I was trying to work out my plan to get me to the end and if sub-4 was possible. I decided to walk for a few seconds to sort out my legs, it worked after about 10 steps I could run again and my pace was good. 
The thin blue line
It was with about 600m to go that I looked at my watch, I was sub-4 and it was 26.2 miles.... silly Liz if I had followed the blue line I would have come in where so many dream to finish the marathon. It was not to be, but I dig deep and kept it up. I rounded the corner to the final stretch with the finish line in sight. 
Over the line and over the moon
My mum had made it to the Grandstand to watch and along with my Uncle they saw me cross the line. I could not believe it was over, I was so happy to finish and really pleased with my time. I cannot understand the disappointment of some. Yes Sub-4 would have been awesome but it was London, there are 40,000+ people running, you cannot make a break through the runners to pick up speed. I stayed on pace, I was sensible, I didn't weave in and out and I knocked 9 minutes of my previous marathon PB. I was giddy and I needed to get out and see people as I had started to chatter to exhausted strangers in my giddy state!
I'll have a 'P' please Bob
The Petts Wood supporters and runners alike were all at the letter P along with a big banner. Mark was there with his ipad in hand to give me my time and I congratulated and was congratulated by the other runners, I ate and chattered and waited for my Mum to show up for a big hug. Such an achievement, I was bouncing off the walls! After our runners were in we all drifted off, some to the pub and others home but what a great day.

Oh yes, in case you were wondering I came in at 4:02:26 - pretty damn good I reckon! 

Pre-Marathon (VLM 2012)

It is 5.45am, I am up. I don't want to be up, not just yet and my eyes are stinging after a restless night. Not helped by Matilda (my cat) obviously sensing my nerves and being a nutter all night bounding around and knocking things over.
However, despite the usual random dreams I was participating in a solo 24hour race which can only be a good sign as I managed that - yes, in my dreams - perfectly well in all weather conditions and even met Father Christmas at the end (he got lost on the route) so I think this bodes well for me today. If I can do all that, through bright sun, wind, rain and snow and meet old St Nick then surely a marathon should be a doddle. Hmm it seems I sound a little loopy right now so perhaps it is time to go and eat my porridge?!
I'll be back later, hopefully with a PB to shout about and probably not having sat on a bearded man's lap to receive a gift!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Threasy, Expo and the Countdown!

Getting my kit ready
Okay so it's not a word 'threasy' but is is a combination of three miles and easy which is what I did this morning. This last run should have been yesterday evening but the marathon expo was calling and I spent a good 3 hours hunting out bargins and tips from experts ready for the big day!
I am now so excited it is a battle to keep myself under check so I don't burn up all my energy before I really need it on Sunday, however if I can muster this level of enthusiasm on the day I will be flying!

Have you seen this woman

So many poeple have had an impact on my running from friends, fellow marathoners and runners at the club, my hubby for tolerating my constant marathon chatter and being my pack horse at the expo carrying all my bags of goodies, those who have sponsored me, those who have simply believed in me, my mum for being so proud of me, my brothers and sister who probably think I'm a bit mental but support this crazy desire I have to run, my dad who will one day start to run again (I am relentless), my favourite aunty for giving me gereat advice and keeping me inspired to strive for better, those I have met through the many events and many many more.
To those who are coming out to see me run on Sunday, thanks in advance I know I will need you!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

I'm a believer

As the day draws closer and closer I have so few miles left to run before all this hard work and effort is put to the test. There are so many variables on the day that could affect my run and so many unpredictable and unforeseen happenings that I could not even start to list. 
However, as I finished up my run today - I was on the treadmill as it was raining and although this doesn't normally bother me I am still trying to fend off the cold that wants to take hold and thought rainy weather may be no good in this battle - I was feeling ready. 
I got into my car to drive home and before I knew it I was singing along cheerfully ..."now I'm a believer, not a trace of doubt in my mind..." there could be something in this! In terms of positive thinking these simple words could help me on marathon day. I know I have done everything I should have, in fact there is no doubt about that. My time in Paddock Wood gave me the faith to believe that if I really suck it up and dig deep then I can do better than I ever believed possible. So I will remain positive, try not to get too excited about the prospect of the time I may get, but know that whatever happens, it is London Marathon and I will be running it!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Short and sweet (and a little windy)

An easy 3 miler was on my schedule for today (well yesterday but I switched them around), after a lovely and very rare Sunday lie-in I donned my Nike Free's and headed out for a planned but abnormally short run for me. The pacing was supposed to be 'easy' which according to the plan is about 10 min/mile pace but despite running comfortably, not breathing hard and legs feeling loose I still kept pushing up around the 8:45 min/mile mark. this change a little as I ran straight into a headwind for the middle mile but my pace was still a little fast. As I was comfortable |I decided that maybe this should just be chalked up as a race pace practise as I was pretty much spot on what I hope to do next week. I arrived back, bang on 3 miles and at a 9:04 min/mile pace... so now all I need to do it keep that up for the rest of the 26.2 and I am sailing! ha ha we shall see! 

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Batteries not included

Several of my training runs have been completed with my near perfect pacing partner Emma G. Today was no exception and as the last of our long runs before London next week we were planning a nice 10 mile out and back route. On my drive over I came a possibly quite alarming tooting of my horn to Sarah S and Peter B as they ram up Summer Hill, they waved so I guess they recognised me frantically waving and beeping.
Arriving at Emma's and after a while waiting in the cold as she thought my knocks were her dog scurrying around we headed off on our merry way. We kept our pacing steady throughout with an aim of 9:30min/miles which we managed to hit bang on. As we started my Garmin was being a little tricky and suggesting I had low battery which was odd as it said it was fully charged yesterday. We kept going and every so often it flashed warnings at me. Then as it on queue at the 5 mile turning point it just switched itself off... how very annoying. Had I been by myself at this point I probably would have been very frustrated and struggled to keep myself motivated and well paced (shame how reliant I am now on my Garmin but god I love it like a child!).
Luckily being with Emma meant I didn't have to fret at all... we carried on trotting away and seeing many other runners out and about as we made our return. When we finished it seemed odd that it was only 9:30am as for the last few weeks out long runs would have kept us out to late morning but with the marathon only 1 week away this was no time to be excessively pounding the streets. As I was done early I took the opportunity to head down to our kit supplier and treat myself to a new Petts Wood Hoodie which I may be seen sporting next Sunday afternoon when the adrenaline wears off and and I start to cool down! 

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Free rain

I was so up for a run last night and yet somehow by the time I left work it just didn't happen, then this morning I woke early, again ready to run but promptly fell back asleep for another hour. I finally woke and feeling more lethargic than I would have liked I got into my running kit, pulled on my Nike Free's and headed out the door. The plan was for a 5 mile run with the 3 miles in the middle to be at tempo pace. After my warm up my legs felt fine but I just didn't seem to be able to pick up the speed right away, it took me another mile to get my legs into tempo running mood and my pace soon picked up. Coming down the gentle slope away from Chislehurst I spotted another runner in the distance, gradually I was gaining on her and before long I had left her in my wake - doesn't really matter so much but it just put my mind somewhere other than my pace and the increasing drizzle that was coming down from above. Before I knew it I was on the homeward stretch with less than half a mile to go and the rain started to come a bit harder now, I kept at my warm down pace and finished up comfortably. It is so strange how a 5 or 6 mile run can feel like practically nothing when in the latter stages of marathon training... not long to go now! 

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Taper Speed

Hmmm, well this all seems somewhat contradictory to be doing a speed session in my taper but I am sticking to the plan and will follow dutifully in the hope that it leads me not only to a marathon B but also a sub-4 marathon. That's it I said it... that's what I want, I can hide it no longer, I want that sub-4. I know I am ready and that I can do this, the long range weather forecast is looking quite favourable so my only problem now could be those over optimistic runners (perhaps in some cases deluded) who will set off fast and stop dead in their tracks directly ahead of me!
So tonight I hit the treadmill, 8 x 400m with 100m walk breaks in between, I set the pace at 7:13 min/mile although it is quite possible that I should have eeked out a little more but thought better of it. As ever the runner either side of me were (male) trying to match my speed not quite sensing that I was doing speed intervals - he didn't do well, and (female) was matching my distance, albeit that hers was in km not miles - what an inspiration I am. With my beetroot and slightly smug face I headed home to commence the pasta fest that would only increase over the next 10 days or so.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Chiefs Fifteen

For the past few days I have been back home in Sheffield for one of my oldest and best friends weddings and as Chief bridesmaid I was using all the energy usually reserved for running in sheer giddiness of the event! It was indeed a fantastic day and as you can imagine my duties did not allow for a sneaky run but with London now only two weeks away it was time to get back on plan and do the scheduled 15miles today. It helped that I has had a good 12 hours sleep last night in wedding recovery and finally headed out at about 11.30am this morning - usually the time I am finishing up my Sunday run. 
My route was haphazard to say the least and included an emergency pit stop in Norman park at almost exactly half way through the run but I made it and at my desired pace as well... my legs still seemed to be trying to pull away faster than the intended pace so all being well they will be like that on the next Big Day (22nd April). 

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Grin up North

So after a few days of enforced rest after my PB last Sunday (and none stop work) I finally got out to run on Thursday morning. I was up in the t'north at my pop's house so as is customary I went out with Beau Diddle (very lovely running buddy and canine) to get my legs moving again on the trail at the back of the house. Now this trail is very popular with all the local dog walkers, strangely none of whom are women, all in fact are stereotypical older gents with flat caps and mostly small dogs and yes... whippets! And do you know what, every single one of them without fail had a good morning and a kind word to say... quite odd for me as quite often in the south us runners are snubbed, surprisingly even by other runners. 
Beau was only able to manage her standard 2 miles before she was distracted by the fun smells in the bushes so I returned her to the garden and carried on for a few more miles. My speed was okay but due to the persistent cold that has been trying to take hold I was forced to blow my nose so frequently that I soon gave up on the idea of an eight miler and settled for 5.5miles.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Smashed it! (Paddock Wood Half)

This morning I knew I was going for a PB and I knew there was a good chance, my training had been going well, I'd done better than expected at my recent track sessions and Paddock Wood Half Marathon is a fast flat course to boot.
Yesterday I had spent some time looking at best and worst case scenarios for my average pace for the race - what I needed for a PB, what I need for a sub-1:50 and a variety in between.
I awoke before my alarm and ate my porridge as set out the night before, got into my kit and then got a lift to the station to meet Simon and Eleanor to get the train. We arrived shortly after 9am, met Emma and Karien in the car park and strolled to the start. The sun was shining, it was a beautiful day and my hands were shaking - had I put too much pressure on myself to get a PB with the marathon only 3 weeks away?
As we lined up at the start I was still feeling nervous, I was answering Simon in random noises and grunts but not very coherently I'm sure as I focussed on the task ahead. The clock struck 10am and we were off!
I settled into a good fast (for me) pace and trotted along weaving through the crowds for the first mile or so before the field spread sufficiently. I then looked at my watch and saw I was running at a sub 8 min/mile pace, this was too fast, I may burn out so I made myself slow down. I continued this battle with my legs trying to pull me faster and my brain saying it was too much, for a while at least before I settled. My average pace was around 8:16 min/miles by now and I was over the moon... I might really do it, I might get under that 1h50 barrier if I could keep this up. My breathing was good, I wasn't in pain, I was pushing but it felt right.
At the half way point the marshal called out 54min58 - I was bang on schedule, and by the gun time too so I knew I could do it I just needed to stay strong and focus. By my watch and chip time I was closer to 54mins. By the 10mile point I knew had a PB in the bag at 1h21 minutes and still feeling good.
Mentally I was now in my 'less than a parkrun to do' phase in my head, this always perks me up! Gradually starting to pick off runners one by one I kept going relentless now in my pursuit of a sub 1h50. The last part of the course was the same as the start so I knew what was left to come, as I rounded the corner into the home straight with less than 200m to go I spotted my hubby and started waving, I called out to him that I had definitely smashed my PB and then went into the home straight sprint... 1:47:43!!! POW I had done it.
I was bouncing off the walls when I emerged from the finish area medal in hand and working out I had knocked a huge 7 minutes from my previous PB so immediately went to have my time engraved on my newest medal, awesome!