Gideons London Marathon 2017 race recap!

Sooooo I can officially say I am a MARATHONER!!! It definitely didn’t go the way that I wanted (as you will find out) but I did it!

After months of training in every weather condition you could think of, enduring runs ranging from early early morning to late at night the big day finally arrived. I left Amy’s aunties house around 7am to make the journey to the start line in Greenwich, and during the whole journey my stomach was full of butterflies and I couldn’t stop thinking what if I don’t make it.

We arrived at Greenwich park at about 8.30am and I said my goodbyes to Amy and her mum and headed into the red start area. It was just absolutely mind-blowing and amazing to see the pure amount of people around you, all wearing their individual charity bibs and costumes (who can say they ran a marathon alongside amongst others; a Rhino, Mr Bump and Robocop).

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I dropped my bag off at the Arctic lorry with my race number allocated and slowly headed to my pen, it was at this point around 9.45 reality was starting to kick in. The pen started to get really really full and finally it was here I was about to start.  Over the tanoy at 9.59 you had the 1 minute countdown and the finally 5,4,3,2,1…….starter goes and I did not move a muscle it took a further 33 minutes to actually cross the start line.

Once I started immediately just from the crowds at the half mile point I knew this was going to be a race to remember, the first 5 miles were just pure bliss I managed after mile 3 to get into a really good rhythm, my body was feeling good passed mile 6 but then at 7 disaster struck, I got what I think was shin splints in my right leg ouuuuchhhh! It was a pain I had never experienced before, but I was determined that I could “run” it off.

I managed to get to Tower bridge (just before the half way mark) and the crowds were just amazing at helping to keep my mind off the pain, I also knew that Amy was going to be quite close to mile 14 and that it would help seeing her and some other family/friends. I finally got passed where Amy was (she was on the other side of the road). Seeing her and the rest of the cheer squad was just what I needed. I powered on up-to mile 16 when the pain was just all-consuming, I pulled up and really had to think hard could I do this? My dream of a 5.15-5.30 race was over but I knew I just had to finish.

The next 6 miles were probably the hardest I have ever run since I started, I was in agony, determined not to pull out but I also wanted to do well, the crowds were the only thing that go me through these, they were just amazing, pure strangers feeling like family and also the amazing support of my chosen charity Children with Cancer at their cheer stations. those guys were just so encouraging!  At mile 22 I managed saw Amy and the family again and got a hug and the encouragement that I needed to finish. I carried on and at around mile 24 I saw a guy really struggling so I went over to run with him, his name was Paul and it was great just to encourage each other to get ourselves to the finish.

Then it came, 600 meters to go…. 325 meters to go… turning that corner down the mall and the finish was finally there! I looked at Paul and he looked at me and we both said ‘sprint finish’? and we ran (to others it would have looked like a power walk) ourselves to the finish line. I couldn’t believe it! I actually completed 26.2 miles – me – little old me!

A lovely lady called Beth was stood in-front of me with that all important medal, she put it around my neck and I just had the biggest smile on my face. I went and got my kit bag and headed to find Amy at the Children with Cancer meet point. As I entered the meeting zone there was a group of volunteers from the charity ready to congratulate me and point me in the right direction. When I got there Amy was there waiting with a huge smile on her face, she came over and congratulated me and the guys from the charity got me a chair and some food and drink to have.

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Not only did I manage to run my the bucket list marathon and complete it but I also managed to raise a lot of money for an Children with Cancer UK, so thank you so much if you sponsored me and for all the kind words of encouragement. You guys kept me going when times got tough.

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Will I do another marathon?? I think I’ll let my legs recover a bit before I make that decision. Despite it not going to plan, it was a great day, with an amazing atmosphere and I’m so glad I got to experience that!

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Tomorrow’s the day! London Marathon 2017!

Hello everyone! It is the evening before the big day, so I thought I would recap the last 2 weeks of the hated taper and some info from the expo!

So anyone who has run a half or a full marathon would have gone through the taper period. This has been the most mentally challenging period so far!  Your mind decides to really play games with you from constant fear of injury, phantom pains and with the reduced mileage, the worry you haven’t done enough.

However I held my nerve (just) and kept to the taper plan, I have tried my best to keep calm (but as Amy will tell you that hasn’t always happened) but it’s here, no turning back now!

This morning we headed out to the excel centre in London to get my bib and chip. It was so great to finally meet the team from Children with Cancer, they have been so supportive and helpful ove the last couple of months and it was great to put faces to names!

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We headed around all the various stalls, with people from various races from around the world trying to tempt me (I must say the Barbados marathon does sound quite appealing). We sat and listened to some seminars to ensure that we were aware of everything tomorrow, including some advice on what to eat and drink and some reassuring words from the one and only Martin Yelling!

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So there’s nothing else I can do now except just try and get a good nights sleep, trust in my training and in my own ability and just remember that the pain, sweat, tears are going to be worth it to help raise funds for my chosen charity; children with Cancer UK. I’m so close to raising a whopping £1,000, so if you would like to help me get there please visit my page : www.virginmoneygiving.com/gidrunslondon

Other than that- just wish me luck!!!

Musings from my coffee break

I am typing this from the beachside coffee shop as Gideon takes on his 11 mile long run around the bay. I’ve ran the first 1.5 miles with him which conveniently brings me to this spot, where I’ll sit with a cuppa for the next 1.5 hours until he returns and then run the last 1.5 miles back to the car with him. 3 miles for me… with a coffee break in between! 


It’s a resonably nice morning here today. It’s threatening showers but the sun is also trying to burn through and it’s quite mild for January, so a good day for running. 

I went to the gym yesterday and so I was a bit intregued to see how this mornings run would be, whether I would feel fresh or tired. The first half went well I’m glad to say. I’m not sure how the second half will go on a stomach full of latte but thankfully I’ve got an hour before then to let it go down.

Being the first weekend of 2017, the front is quite busy with runners this morning. There is even a beginners run club here that have just started up currently running back and forth infront of the cafe. I feel almost naughty for enjoying my latte in the warm! 

This weekend is the annual Walt Disney World Marathon weekend in Florida. I’m part of some rundisney groups on facebook, and people have been eagerly training for either the 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon for months in anticipation of this weekend. 

Late friday night, rundisney had to make the difficult decision of cancelling the half marathon planned for early Saturday morning. There was a massive storm front coming in, with lightning predicted in the area. The safety risks to runners were just too great, there is no shelter at the start or out on the course, so they made the difficult decision to cancel.

Reading the posts on the facebook group was heatbreaking. We sympathise, truely. Having been at Walt Disney World, ready to run our first ever half marathon in 2015 and then having it cut short for the same reasons (lightning) I truely truely felt these guys pain. When you have worked so hard for something for so long and it doesnt go to plan it’s tough. At the end of the day though, just like back with our race, rundisney had to put safety first and they made the right call. People totally understood this, but often it still doesnt make it any easier.

The early morning predicted storm came and went, and then something truely truely inspiring happened. People who were due to run the half just went out and did it anyway. There were hundreds of posts from people who had gone out and ran around their resorts or their neighbourhoods at home and completed their 13.1 miles regardless of the fact that there was no race. They had earned there medals (which they could still go and pick up from rundisney even though the race was cancelled which was pretty nice). Other runners doing todays marathon or who had done the 5 and 10ks were setting up makeshift water stops at the resorts and holding signs and cheering people on. Someone even made a finish line from toilet roll that people could run through! It was a truely truely beautiful thing to witness (even virtually through the internet). All these runners, banding together to help each other meet their goal, no matter the circumstances. Never have I been so proud to call myself part of  the running community as I was yesterday. 

So as I sit here with my cuppa and wait for Gideon to return so I can run the 1.5 miles back to the car with him, I will watch my fellow runners go past and give each and every one a cheer in my head, because they are all working towards something, whether its completing a specific distance, getting faster, gaining speed, or just becoming a more healthy version of themselves, and that is something I can get behind! You’ve got this runners! 

2016 Goal Review and 2017 Goals

I’ve read many a blog post in the last week detailing Peoples goals for the year, which promptly made me remember that back at the beginning of 2016 I set myself some goals, which by December 2016, I’d forgotten about, oops!

Did I meet my 2016 goals? I had to go back and look them up to find out!

Goal 1 – Complete a half marathon:

Yes! In 2016, I completed not one half marathon but two! Goal achieved… twice! That’ll make up for not achieving the rest right….RIGHT????

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Goal 2 – Run a sub-30 5k and a sub 1:05 10k:

Yeah… I did not do this. If anything, my 10k time got slower this year. I lost the mojo a bit after the 2nd half marathon, which ironically would have been a perfect time to work on achieving these goals.

Goal 3 – Just keep running!

I did this one! Admittedly the frequency slipped a bit in the last quarter of the year, but I continued my running adventures through 2016. Who would have thought my running ‘fad’ that started in 2015 would have made it through two whole years and be bouncing into a 3rd. Running is part of my life now and I have confidence that it will remain that way!

So 2 out of 3 isn’t so bad!

But what about 2017 I hear you ask??? Well, I do like to have goals to work towards, it helps to motivate me for a little while at least, even if I don’t achieve them (or remember what they were in 12 months time).

Goal 1 – Run that sub-30 5k!

Despite failing this in 2016, I still think that sub-30 5k is achievable for me if I actually put in a solid effort. The sub 1:05 10k? maybe not so much, not right now anyway. I think to get my speed up over the 10k distance may take a little while longer than it will for the 5k distance. I think if I’m having a really good day I could probably hammer out that sub-30 5k. I guess 2017 will tell!

Goal 2 – Diversify!

As I said earlier, I love running. It’s become a part of my life, but I also now have a gym membership, which means I have a myriad of fitness options open to me besides running. So this year, I’d like to try to diversify a bit, whilst still keeping up with my running (obviously). I’d like to get back into swimming, and try out some classes. There is talk of a Zumba class after work, so perhaps that. I’ve done Zumba before briefly and I enjoyed it, so why not? or a HIIT class, or Kettlebell, or maybe even… dare I say it… A SPIN CLASS!

Goal 3 – Eat well!

I want to eat well in 2017. I don’t want to cut out all my favourite treats completely, but I want to enjoy them in moderation. 2016 (especially the last quarter) was just a total snack fest. During my training for my first half marathon attempt I was eating well, I’d cut out a lot of the evening snacking and was trying to make more healthy choices, and I felt better for it! Not only does eating right improve my running (the run’s don’t feel so blugh when you have fuelled correctly and not eaten an entire packet of biscuits), but it makes me feel more healthy generally (and less lethargic). I’m going to try to keep the evening snacking to a minimum in 2017, save sweet treats for weekends and make healthy packed lunches for work rather than eating the same sad-looking ham sandwich day after day after day.

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I’ve broken the bento-lunchbox out of storage for 2017!!

So there we are. There are my goals for 2017. In a year, I shall come back to this post and see if I managed to achieve them, but to be honest as long as I can put my hand on my heart and say I tried my best to stay active and look after my health I’ll be happy. Everything in moderation. 

 

Next years races

So now that I know I’m not running London in 2017 (and to keep you updated, now that there is no Cardiff Marathon happening either, I’m pretty sure I’m ok with the idea of not running a marathon anytime soon), I’ve been having a think about what races I do want to run.

I’ve decided I definitely need to sign up to run something, because it does motivate me to actually go out and run. I need that motivation, and I need the eventual reward (in the form of a shiny medal). So I’ve been having a look at some potentials and these are what I have so far:-

St David’s Day 5k/10k – Cardiff:

This takes place in March on the Sunday that falls closest to St. Davids day (5th March in 2017). There is a 5k and a 10k option. Last year we both ran the 5k option, and despite the fact that my shoes gave me the most HORRENDOUS blisters I’ve ever experienced in my life, I (weirdly) still remember this race as an enjoyable one. Next year I think Gid will run the 10k option (as he’ll be doing marathon training), and I’ll probably stick with the 5k one, because why not?

Also, they showed some new medal designs on facebook a little while ago and they look NICCEEEEE. You know I’m all about the medals!!

Winterpark 10k – Florida:

At the end of March, we’ll be on holiday in DISNEYWORLD!!! YIPPPEEEEEEEEEE!!!! Gid will still have to train for his marathon whilst on holiday so we had a little looksie to see if there were any races out there we could do and we found the Winterpark 10k. It’s through a lovely area of Orlando which will be so fun to explore. It starts at 7.30am so shouldn’t be too warm yet and the race swag looks A-MAZING! A t-shirt, a pint glass and a medal!!! Whaaaaaat!?!??!?!

Ok… so actually thats all I have so far. But two is enough for now. It’ll be great to have some mini goals for me and some mini races for Gid as he trains for London (he might throw in a half somewhere too if we can find one), and then when he’s done London we can choose some more races for the autumn season! It’s good to have some goals though, and I’m already looking forward to running both these races!

 

Swansea 10k Goals

On Sunday, I will be running my second Swansea 10k race! You can read about the first one here. It certainly wasn’t the best race, there were bits of it I really didn’t like, but it wasn’t the worst race either and I did get a PB! The race kicks off at 1pm which I still think is a bizarre time for a race, so I’ll be looking back at last years pre-race prep to see if there is anything that needs changing this year – thank goodness for this blog that documents my races as I can’t remember any of my pre-race prep off the top of my head!

This year I am running to raise money for Children of Hope – a charity that work in Kenya to rescue children from the streets and reunite them with their families. If you would like to sponsor me you can do so here. Every penny raised will enable them to continue doing great work, so no amount is too big or too small! You can read more about it on their  website!

I have three goals for the 10k this year. An A goal, a B goal and a C goal. If any of these goals are achieved I shall consider it a job well done.

Goal A – Run the whole race without walking.

This is the big goal I have been trying to work towards, and honestly, progress has derailed a bit in the last few weeks. Nevertheless, I shall give it my best go. I shall try to eat right leading up to the race and make sure I am hydrated and hopefully the weather will cooperate and it will be good conditions for running. If all these things go to plan then it could still be doable!

Goal B – A new PB.

Again, I’m not sure if this one will be achieved. Last years time was 1 hr 11 minutes 7 seconds. To beat that I’m going to have to keep it well under 12 minute miles which if I run it all could certainly be do-able, but if I have to walk that could slow things down. I need to remember if I do have to walk to really keep it at a speed walk pace and not doddle!

Goal C – Get round the course without getting injured. 

I really hope this one happens. The last few races I have run have aggravated my knee, despite it not really hurting at all in training. I really hope my knee holds out for this one and doesn’t start hurting, I’d like to finish it injury free. I also don’t want a repeat of the Swansea half marathon where I was ill for about 6 hours afterwards, but as it’s a much shorter distance and I’m much better trained so I should hopefully avoid that!

So those are the goals. Fingers crossed I can meet some of them. Either way, I’m trying to raise some much-needed funds for Children of hope, so it will be a worthwhile run regardless. Afterwards, we’ll be heading to our favourite restaurant for a good old-fashioned pig out! I think we’ll have earned it!

My next running goal

So now that I have had some time to recover from last weekends trauma I’ve been thinking a bit about what my next running goal will be. I still want to run, it hasn’t put me off that much, but I still maintain that I don’t want to do another half marathon any time soon.

I’m planning on running the Swansea 10k in September so I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to achieve from that. There are two things:

  1. I’ve been asked to run this race to raise some money for a charity called Tumaini Kwa Watoto – Children of Hope. They are a very small charity which was set up some time ago by friends of mine. They work in Kenya to rescue street children from the streets of Nairobi and reunite them with their families. You can check out their website here for more in-depth information. I would like to try to raise £250 for them (or as much as possible). However, I want a personal running related goal to work towards beyond just finishing this race for charity so that got me thinking…
  2. I know I can now run 5k fairly comfortably without taking any walk breaks, but I still struggle a lot beyond this distance and have to take regular walk breaks. I feel there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking walk breaks and am a huge advocate of the run/walk method as you will know if you regularly read this blog as it’s solely responsible for getting me to enjoy running and ultimately complete 2 half marathons. However, I want to continue to push myself and I feel the next step in this would be to get to the level where I can run a 10k fairly comfortably without any walking. So THAT is my second goal for the Swansea 10k. I want to run it all without any walk breaks. I don’t know if it will make me faster, but that’s not really the point anyway. It’s the goal of enduring running continuously for that long that I want to achieve, whether or not that comes with any increase in my 10k PB time.

So from now until the 10k in September I’m going to train towards this goal. Increasing the distance I can continuously run a little bit at a time. I’ll probably throw in some interval running as well, and some hill repeats and hopefully some cross training. I’m not entirely sure yet. I need to firm up a plan and do some more research on the best way to reach my goal. I hope that by working towards this goal I will be able to keep myself motivated and at the same time raise some much-needed funds for a charity close to my heart.

What do you think? Any tips on how to improve my endurance over the 10k distance? Let me know in the comments section!