Wednesday 27 April 2011

Change of plan, change of marathon

Getting to the Shakespeare Marathon in Stratford-upon-Avon next Sunday was always going to be a bit of a challenge.  It'd mean driving over to my mum's house on Saturday night, which is half way across the country from where I live, staying there, and then driving up to Stratford in the morning, which I'm not sure would really have been the best preparation for the 26.2.

After thinking about it, considering the options, worrying about it, and thinking it through again, I decided today that to be honest I could do without the hassle so started to look to see if there were any closer marathons around the same time.  Luckily for me, I've been able to get a place in the Halstead and Essex marathon instead, after the Halstead Road Runners who organise the race increased their entry limit to 850 runners.  It's on the same day as the Shakespeare, (relatively) local to me, and although it seems to be a pretty hilly course, it's a much smaller event than the Shakespeare, and I think it will work out much better for me, especially as a contrast to the crowds and challenge of running with the masses at London.

So, I've got a spare place going for the Shakespeare if anyone's interested, and am thoroughly looking forward to running the Halstead, if not a bit nervous about all the hills I keep reading about, and about being at the back of such a small field!

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Back to the grindstone

After having a week off to recover from the marathon (which I have now, fully, all bar a missing toe-nail) and an Easter weekend where I consumed more calories than I should have in a week...I'm back on the training.  I have the Stratford Marathon coming up, a couple of halves, have also signed up for another marathon in September, and this morning I applied for the 2012 London Marathon ballot again. My friends and family have given up trying to understand why I keep doing all these races...not even sure I understand...but I suppose I just love the challenge :)

Anyway, Francis and I went for a lovely cycle ride yesterday, only 14 miles but it was more for enjoying the gorgeous countryside and amazing weather, than any exercise, so I also went for a 4 mile run in the evening.

I can't believe how heavy my legs felt, how tired I was and generally just how difficult it was to do the run. The Duracell bunny I was not!  I'm blaming all the chocolate, BBQ food and beer over the Easter weekend -  I can't believe that I would have lost all my fitness during the taper and a week off.

I'll be running again this evening (a 6 miler this time) and really hope that if I manage to eat and drink well today, I'll feel more like my normal self when I go out - my next marathon's in just 12 days and that's really not enough time to start from scratch!

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Post-marathon pain & recovery

Ooooh, aaaah, ouch..... Yes, getting down the stairs is more than I can easily manage without going backwards!

I could cope with stairs on Sunday, but two days in and my legs (shoulders and back) have not forgiven me for the pounding I gave them around London, and my blisters, toe-nails and all the red-raw places where the skin has rubbed away are pretty angry with me too! All ideas that I had for going for a run tomorrow have gone out of the window.

I am still walking though (as I have no choice, still have to get to and from work!) and I suppose that's probably helping, although given half the chance I'd still be sat on the sofa with my feet up!

The problem that I have is that as much as I would like to have a full on rest for a couple of weeks, I'm due to run the Shakespeare Marathon in just 19 days, and so really can't afford to sit on my back-side and lose my fitness! I'm reading every online resource going about how to recover from a marathon, how to keep training etc, but I'm really having to make it up as I go along, because no where can I find an article that tells me what to do if I've been such an idiot as to have signed up for another marathon so soon after the last!

Oh well, I'm determined to give it a go.  The great thing with the Shakespeare is that I can divert at the half way point, and finish the Half Marathon that is taking place around the same course, so if I am really suffering, I can still finish a race, although not necessarily the one I started.

For the time being though, I've decided I'm not going to pull my trainers on again until all honesty, with the blisters and damaged toe-nails I've got, I don't think I could get them on at the moment.  I can only manage flip-flops today!

Monday 18 April 2011

Race report - London Marathon 2011

Well, the day didn't start well for me yesterday.  After getting up late, and faffing about for ages doing god knows what, I found myself late for the train and had to run the half a mile to the station.  So much for a relaxed and easy journey in!  I made it though, and with the train nearly into London, I suddenly realised that I'd forgotten to bring my Garmin watch.  You know, that gadget that I need to motivate and pace myself during a race...and which was also the only way that I was going to get my target time.  I felt sick.  Absolutely gutted and couldn't believe how stupid I'd been to have left it charging on the side in the kitchen.  I thought about going back home to pick it up but I was too close to London and wouldn't have made the marathon start in time....

But hey ho, I did make it to the start, with the amazing hot air balloons and the thousands of people.  The excitement and nervousness was palpable amongst the crowd, but this was my first time at the Blue start.  I've been at the Red start before, and definitely think I prefer it there - there just seems to be a bit more of a party atmosphere, and more costumes to admire...oh, and louder music!

Anyway, I decided to find the pacers and to try and run with them to help me achieve my time.  But from my pen (8) I couldn't see one anywhere, so realised I'd have to run without any idea of how fast I was going - and yes, I know that I should be able to tell, but I honestly find that really hard, and during my half marathons I'm constantly surprised when I glance down my watch to see how fast or slow I'm running compared to my intended pace.  So, feeling very dejected about the whole thing, I waited, hoping I would cheer up by the time I started my third London Marathon.

The crowds were absolutely amazing, pretty much all of the way around.  They definitely brought me out of my mood, and for most of the way round I'm sure I was grinning (well, until the last 6 miles at least!) I've never seen (or heard) crowds like it, and was so glad I didn't take my iPod - the noise of the cheering, the music blaring out of pub speakers, and domestic stereos was just amazing.  Even the bloke stood outside his house playing his trumpet and the other one playing his bagpipes really made me smile!

Along the route there were areas where it was hard to run because of the number of other runners in a narrow street or because the crowd were spilling over the pavement into the road, and I can admit to getting a bit annoyed at times, particularly when people would stop in front of me to change direction, or to drink their water.  But every time I felt a bit annoyed, I told myself not to be such a meeny - everyone was doing their best, and I should just try to enjoy the whole thing and not get stressed!

But the worst thing was the heat.  The horrendous blaring sunshine.  I could feel my body overheating and was pouring water over my head like you wouldn't believe.  I had to stop a couple of times in the shade just to wait for my body to cool down - there were lots of people collapsing by the side of the road, and if there was one thing I knew I couldn't do, it was to have a DNF after not listening to my body!  I'd accepted that my goal time was a distant memory after about 16 miles, and so just tried to get round in a PB.

Francis was waiting for me at about mile 20 and it makes such a difference to see someone who is there solely to cheer you on, and to have a quick chat.  For the couple of miles before you know you'll see them it's definitely a boost, which continues after you've seen them too. It was so lovely when I first spotted him in the crowd and raced over to see him, although he didn't see me until I was pretty much in front of him, hence the photos...

I think I started struggling from about mile 22, stopping a few times to stretch, and a couple of times to walk.  I did manage to keep going though, and amazingly even got a bit of a sprint on in the last 200 meters.  It was a really hard run, worse than I'd expected, and I really think I'd forgotten how hard running the marathon is.  I know the heat didn't help, but even if it'd been a chilly day it would still have been a massive challenge.  The crowds really do pull you round though and I know they make the difference for a lot of people between giving up or finishing.  It's amazing that so many people come to support the runners, and do it so very enthusiastically! For that, I am always grateful. I was also very grateful, and so, so relieved, to cross that finish line, even though it was a full 25 minutes slower than I'd be hoping for, at 4hrs 55mins 17secs.  But I did much better than last year (45 minutes better!) and I did still manage a PB of 5 minutes.

So, another medal, another successful run, although it didn't feel as special as my other two marathons.  I don't know if that's because I left the house, and went to the start, on my own whereas before my family came with me, or whether it was because there were many fewer people I knew watching me on the course, or just because my reason for doing the race this year had been to get a time and I failed in that...or maybe it's because racing has just become a part of my life now, so it's not so special.  Whichever it was, it's a bit sad not to feel quite so excited about the whole thing - maybe that feeling will come back running a new marathon route.  Let's hope so, as I've got the Shakespeare Marathon in just three weeks time! 

Sunday 17 April 2011

London Marathon, done, again :D

I'll write up a full report about the race a bit later (sleepy right now!) but just wanted to let you know I did complete today's London Marathon, and how I did.

Well, to be honest, it was a bit too much like hard work! I was really far off the time I'd hoped for. It was soooo hot and I managed to leave my Garmin watch at home, which meant I had no idea what pace I was running at.  I tried to find some pacers to follow but none to be found :(

Hey ho. I did manage to run a PB, and 46minutes faster than last year. Final time: 4hrs 55mins 17secs  

And the best news...I can walk up and down! stairs without any problems...a first for me after a marathon!

More will follow...

Tuesday 12 April 2011

I'm so excited!

Can't believe it's only 5 days away now - I've been waiting all year for another attempt at the London Marathon, and to make up for my dire showing last year! The day is, finally, nearly here.

My kit's ready, my legs are feeling much better than they were yesterday, I've sent out my "please sponsor me" email, I'm going to pick up my race number tomorrow, and my massage is booked for Thursday - I'm ready! :D

Now, just need to run 26.2 miles over an hour faster than I managed 12 months ago.

....Oh wait, except I still need to write my name on my t-shirt, charge my watch and work out how I'm actually going to get to the race...

For the first time, I'm going to the start line on my own, so need to make sure I don't get lost & don't get there late!  That really wouldn't help my finish time....

Monday 11 April 2011

More knee pain....arrrrgh!

This is not good - today my knee doesn't seem to work properly! :(

Very weak, painful, and not what I need 7 days before I run a marathon.

Sunday 10 April 2011

Panic!! A week left til the big 26.2 & I've hurt myself

I'm in the middle of my taper for the marathon which is now just a week away.  I'm hugely excited, and, up to yesterday morning, feel very ready for the run.  However, I seem to have done something pretty stupid.

It was a truly gorgeous day yesterday, and it was like a summer's morning rather than a day in early April!  My boyfriend and I were meeting friends in a pub garden for the afternoon, and we decided to make that pub garden a stop on a countryside bike ride.  I very rarely go out on the bike, although my boyfriend cycles every day - it's not really my thing - but when the weather is nice it's something I can really enjoy, especially as we're out there together instead running on my own!  And yes - the bike ride was lovely; the country lanes around where we live really do show off some of (what I think) are the best things about British countryside - rolling farmland, ancient woodland, tree-canopied roads and quaint churches and villages.

However, for all that beauty, by the time we were riding home, I was ruing the decision to go on a long bike ride with only week to go until the big 26.2 run.  My legs were aching, and particularly my lower inner thigh (the sartorius muscle) was absolutely burning.  I was experiencing more pain and doing more huffing and puffing than I when I run and I don't think I'm ever relied on my mantra more to keep going up and down the hills..."pain is temporary, pride is forever"...all the while thinking that I wasn't going to be proud about finishing this ride, it wasn't a run, and I just wanted to get it over with ;)

But finally I made it home, and gratefully dumped my bike.  I tried to stretch out my legs, but I've never felt my sartorius muscle before, and wasn't sure how to get to it as none of my usual running stretches got close! The pain unfortunately didn't get any better during the evening, and to get to sleep last night I had to take pain killers and anti-inflammatories, hoping that by the morning, the bed rest would have sorted me out. 

But this morning I'm starting to panic.  My legs, although no-longer beset by the burning pain, are still feeling heavy and uncomfortable.  I was meant to be going for a 10mi run today but really don't think it's a good idea, as I'm concerned I'll just compound the problem.

So, I'm going to spend the day resting my legs, maybe have a hot bath and then do some stretching and see how I go.  Ideally I'd like to get out for at least 5mi this evening, but will only go if I feel ok - I'm so annoyed with myself that I put myself in this position, and am just desperately hoping that I haven't ruined my taper!