D Day 10k 2017

I went to bed the Saturday night before the D Day 10k at 9pm. This is despite getting up at the more leisurely time of 7am and having had an hour long nap at 6pm in the day. My body felt knackered. Last week had been a total grind.

All week I didn’t felt myself. I felt unwell, though not in like a dodgy tummy or sickness way but in a lethargic, foggy and overwhelming tiredness way. It felt like a virus as I didn’t feel right in myself, but other people have suggested low iron levels or over-training. But I don’t think it was. My heart rate, in general, had been normal when I woke up and during the day. But who knows.

ANYWAY. So I didn’t have particularly high hopes for D Day. Despite my early night and 8am alarm (so a very cushty 11 hours sleep) I woke up still not feeling like my normal sprightly self. But I wanted to do the race more to just be social and have a run with other people. I’d only mope about on my own and then do a feeble run later in the day anyway.

My friend Mike picked me up with his daughter and we headed to Portsmouth. Neither of us were “feeling” the race and we moaned about how rubbish we felt. We spoke to a few others and in general people were feeling a bit pants about it. But the sun was shining, it’s a flat course (albeit a lot of around a car park) and there’s a Starbucks just next to the finish.I said to Mike and my friend Geoff that I hoped to do sub-50. From parkrun the day before I just didn’t think my legs were going to perform well. Running was hard work recently. Mike was aiming to beat his PB but wasn’t sure how he’d fare. I was pleased to find that I could wear my Aftershokz headphones as they’re “bone conducting” so complied with regulations. I definitely needed something to keep me going!I hadn’t had breakfast that morning as I didn’t want to get up any earlier than 8am but had a glass of water with electrolytes and then an SIS caffeine shot 30 minutes before the race start. I hoped it would rev me up a bit.I did half a mile gentle jogging (something I rarely do but I had time on my hands) and then we headed to the start.We held a minute’s silence in respect for the victims of the London attack the night before just before the start, which was a sombre but respectful thing to do. Then we started. I had my music on and got going. As I weaved around people in front of me and got into my stride I found that I felt quite good. Nothing like the heavy leg and fogginess I’ve felt on my other runs that week. I checked my watch and was surprised to see 7:15min/mile pace. I genuinely wondered if my Garmin was playing up but decided to just go with it.

I kept with a guy from the club, Bernie, for a while and then felt myself getting stronger and overtook him. I actually couldn’t believe how strong I felt and yet how quick (for me) I appeared to be going. I decided to see what I could do. If I crashed and burned then so be it, but right then I felt comfortable.

The course itself at D Day is a bit dull. I’ve done it before a good few years ago but it’s changed hugely. It’s unrecognisable to what I ran previously. I knew there were three laps but I couldn’t work out where that would happen. I just kept focused on the runners ahead of me and gradually picked them off.

As I got into mile two, now down to 7min/miles, I was still wondering where this speed and ease of running had come from. The course was super flat and the wind, fairly gentle, seemed to be mostly going sideways at us or as a tailwind. Occasionally we’d run against it but it was only brief moments. Everything seemed to be on our side.I passed a guy who normally is miles ahead of me and wondered if he was just plodding it or having a bad day (I later found he was using it as a training sessions: first 5k easy, and then 1k sprints – wow!). I gentle passed runners and had no one pass me, which felt really nice! Though to be fair, it wasn’t a particularly big field.

There’s a section of the course that runs down a gravel path and alongside a lake and lots of greenery which was fairly pleasant. It was annoying to run on gravel at 10k speed but it was a nice change from the boring and hot car park that made up a chunk of the race. We were under some shade which was nice, but the path seemed to go on forever.

Halfway there was a water station and I grabbed a drink. I wasn’t terribly thirsty but it was hot so I swigged a good few mouthfuls before tossing it to the side (always a delicate operations to a) not hit other runners, b) not hit any spectators, c) not throw it somewhere really obscure that it can’t be cleared away later).

I hit four miles and now the effort level was high. I was in the zone of “stay with it, keep pushing” while all the time wondering when I was going to blow or have a wobbly. I felt the energy slowly being sapped out of my legs and tried to remember all the amazing food I’d eaten the day before that I was sure would still be helping me. I cursed myself for not having breakfast but wondered if that would have helped. Who knows.

The last mile down that gravel path was tough. I found myself alone now. The runners ahead too far away to catch and no one behind me giving chase. Mentally it was tough. Physically it was tougher. I was then off the gravel and onto the final stretch of pavement to the finish.My watch beeped 6 miles and I told myself to just hold on for a few moments more. A “400m to go” sign appeared and I could see the finish ahead. Ah, smile for the camera (I’m sure that was a grimace…), “200m to go”, keep going, keep going. Annnnnd finish!No wobble but the sheer sense of effort and “God I feel sick” feelings hit me. I bloody hate 10ks. My watch said 43:13. I was over the moon. I couldn’t remember my PB but I knew it was 42-something. I checked my blog as that’s where I keep a list of PBs (so handy) and found I was only 23 seconds off!

There was a small Hedge End Running Club turn-out due to other events happening (*sobs* the Romsey Beer and Cake race being one) but it was a nice gathering. For the most part, I think people did fairly well and were happy. Mike achieved his PB as well so he was happy (once he’d finished dying on the grass).And finally a few of us headed to the very nearby Starbucks and we celebrated with some tasty coffee (I went for decaf as I’d already had that SIS caffeine shot – which, by the way, I think really helped my race!)So from initially not even wanting to show up to D Day, to being close to my PB…well, a definite turnaround! I’m really pleased that since January my 10k time has come down from 46:26 from the Stubbington 10k, to 45:27 from the Brighton 10k in April, now to 43:13. Annoyingly my official chip time is 43:22. Initially the race organisers had issues with some of the chips so I only had a gun time of 43:27 and then they added the chip time later (43:22). Though I’m not sure that’s accurate either as I spoke to a few others in the same boat and their watch times and new chip time don’t match at all either. Hey ho, 43:22 is still a big mark of progress though!

I’m not aiming to improve on this 10k time as marathon training is about to begin, but it’s always nice to naturally get quicker. I have another 10k in July so we’ll see how much of an improvement I can make, but I won’t be losing sleep over it! I do so hate 10ks…

What’s your favourite race distance?

What’s your favourite post race drink?

Have you ever surprised yourself with a race result when you weren’t feeling it?

**Full Disclaimer: I’ve been sent SIS products to test for free in exchange of reviewing them on my blog. All opinions are my own honest ones.**

Goals and future races

I’m currently puttering around with my running not really doing much in the way of actual training (though some could easily argue this is no different to normal anyway..). What I mean though is I haven’t mentioned any upcoming races or goals.

Obviously I’m still aiming for the six World Marathon Majors (just Chicago and New York left). This is an ongoing goal and realistically won’t be completed that soon sadly. Though the temptation to book onto a tour company and do New York this year heavily pressed on my mind, I’ve decided to be sensible.

As a side note, in general, I’m quite good with managing my money. I keep an eye on it using my “Money Master Spreadsheet” (basically Excel) which keeps track of all my bills, monthly expenditures and general spending. I don’t tend to randomly buy things or go outside my means (random legging purchases aside). Credit cards are paid off at the end of the month (hello extra Tesco points using my Tesco credit card!) and life is quite easy for me, not having any children or crazy overheads. I know that I’m currently very fortunate.

However, where I tend to be a bit more “laissez faire” is when it comes to holidays. Memories and experiences are always something I’m happy to spend money on. However, as tempting as doing New York this year would be, it’s not entirely sensible in the great scheme of things.

There’s no rush for me to complete the Majors within a certain time period and though I look longingly at people on social media who have achieved that incredible Six Star medal I need to remember my time will come and I don’t need to do everything IMMEDIATELY.

So the New York Marathon is likely to be next year. Or the Chicago Marathon (they’re a month apart). It depends where I’m at in life and money. Either way the intention is to be getting my medal in 2019 (hopefully). So, no rush indeed!

Though obviously I still love marathons and always like to have one coming up… so the plan for this year is to do the New Forest Marathon, September 10th.But I’ll be running it with my friend, Mike, who’s aim is to get a sub-4. He’s missed out twice sadly. By rights he really should get a sub-4 but for whatever reason it never translated on race day. So I’m hoping I can help him out and help pace him to that target.

Obviously a marathon is still tough, whatever time you do it in, so there are no guarantees (well, there are no guarantees I’ll even make it to race day with my track record but wishful thinking and all that). But the intention is to run it with him and help him get there by keeping his pace in check and chatting to him on the way round.To add a little bit more complication to it, the New Forest Marathon is somewhat undulating. But, on the plus side, a lot of our club will be there as it’s where our club championships will be happening. The whole weekend is full of different race distances so hopefully a good crowd will be there to support and cheer.

And if this goes well… I’ve also signed up to do the Bournemouth Marathon a mere four weeks later. The idea for this (blue sky thinking here) is that I will be able to pace Mike to his sub-4 for New Forest and then run Bournemouth however I fancy.

I feel like I have unfinished business after getting injured during this marathon a couple of years ago. So another decent shot at it would put some demons to bed. Bournemouth is relatively flat so attempting a ‘good’ time might be on the cards, though I’d just like to get through that finish line actually running this time!

That said, this is me we’re talking about. I’m probably biting off more than I can chew so what actually happens in the autumn is anyone’s guess. But the intention for now is that I’ll be training for the New Forest Marathon to run with Mike and then judge how I feel afterwards about Bournemouth.

So that’s the plan. I’ll start marathon training proper in June I think but I’m already hovering around 10-11 miles for my weekend long run so I’ll probably keep around 10-13 miles for a bit and then begin to build them up towards the end of June. But it’s all very relaxed right now. Hey, I might even get on that speed training wagon at some point!

Until those marathons, I have a couple of 10ks *shudders*. I really wanted to do the 5 miles Beer Race I’ve done three times before but I was too slow in signing up. So instead I’ve signed up to the 10k D-Day race in Portsmouth at the beginning of June. I’ve done it before…I didn’t enjoy it because it’s quite a boring course but it’s super flat so might be a good place to get a good speed session in and see where my fitness is at. And then in July I have another 10k (the Newham Great Run). For someone who vowed not to do more than one 10k a year, I seem to be doing a few of them!!

What races do you have planned?

Do you have any unfinished business with any races?

Have you ever paced someone at a marathon?

Tough Mudder 2017

So I only found out I was doing Tough Mudder on Thursday last week. I was fortunately gifted a place to be part of the Trek Team, the official Tough Mudder sponsors, and was able to invite a friend along with me.

I knew it was probably a slim chance any of my non-running friends would be interested and a lot of my running friends were running a race on Sunday. It would also be a bit mad to be up for running a 10-12 mile serious obstacle race at such short notice. It was also in Henley On Thames which isn’t that close. However one of my work friends, George, had done Tough Mudder before, is quite into fitness and is a bit mental 😉 I offered him the place and after a few minutes of deciding he was up for it. Apparently he “had no plans so why not!”. He also lives in Reading so was literally en route to it. Very handy indeed!

The Trek Team was in the 11am wave so we needed to get there for 10am to pick up our t-shirts and meet our team etc. So I had a rather leisurely morning of waking up just before 8am, eating breakfast and leaving at 8.30am (no Alfie to walk as he’s at my parent’s house ready for me house sitting this week while their on holiday).It was very easy to find Culden Faw, where the event was taking place, and parking was easy peasy. The morning was lovely and sunny, though it was quite nippy in the wind. We arrived, had a quick toilet stop (no queue! Crazy!) and then headed to the Trek stand. They had two stands giving out taster samples to people and selling the different bars, so we had a little try of the different flavours. I’m a big fan of the oat banana bar and have used that before as a pre-race breakfast when pushed for time/amenities. But I hadn’t tried the others so it was like a bit like a buffet.There were some very tasty cocoa coconut bars which were basically like chocolate covered coconut-tasting flapjacks. Very nice.

After a sampling frenzy, we then popped on our super cool Trek t-shirts and met our fellow teammates and another couple of teams who were doing the half Tough Mudder. Everyone was so friendly and lovely. Though I was nervous, I felt far more at ease.

George on my left and two of the girls from the half team

I was especially nervous about the water obstacles. I hate being cold and my past experience with obstacle races has been fairly cold and unpleasant. It was a lot warmer today but the wind was still chilly. I decided to keep my long-sleeved base layer on under the top.

From the Trek team Instagram stories

We got some very VIP treatment by going to the front of the queue to get into the start entrance and being right at the front of the stage where a guy with a mike was getting everyone hyped for the warm-up. The idea was so we could be filmed and photo’ed for the event.

We did a fun little competition which involved the Trek Team choosing the most crazy-looking runner (it was a toss up between a guy in a full bright yellow suit and a guy wearing a psychedelic full body flare outfit), followed by a good dynamic warm-up to get us all going.

The vibe was so different to a regular race. It was all about camaraderie and having fun. We had to say out-loud a set of rules that said we wouldn’t leave anyone behind and we’d help where we could. The guy with the microphone really got everyone going, it was a fantastic atmosphere. Moments before we headed off I decided to not wear my long sleeved top and had a mad 30 seconds before the race started whipping it off and putting my t-shirt back on. Luckily one of the Trek guys was there to look after my unwanted top (so handy).

And then we were off. It was all very relaxed and jovial. Lots of whooping and laughter. It started off with some quite steep uphill running on some trails. We tried to keep together as a group and motivate each other on, though at times George and I kept our momentum going up the hills and the waited at the top to cheer the others up.

Photo credit: Emma Timmis

There were regular obstacles that I’m familiar with, such as climbing over walls and pulling yourself over things which warmed us up nicely. And then there was the one I was most dreading. The Arctic Enema… you basically climbed up to a tube which you slid down straight into a huge skip-like container full of water and ice cubs. Oh my god it was cold. The shock when you hit the water really did take your breath away. You then had to swim under a wooden beam to get to the other side. There were marshals on the outside who kept you moving and checked you were OK, which was good because there was obviously a real danger of panicking or staying in for too long. Getting out of the water I was just numb. George shouted at me “breathe Anna!” as I tried to get my breath back.

Saying all that, it was actually good fun. It was definitely a tough experience but I felt like a superhero afterwards. I was also glad it was one of the first obstacles as it stopped me worrying about it and gave me time to get warm again. I was more than happy to run up the steep hill in effort to get warm again. It didn’t take long thankfully!

Another wet obstacle, called the Block Ness Monster, involved jumping into muddy water and pushing and pulling these huge rotating barriers.

From the Tough Mudder Facebook page

Like most of the obstacles in the race, it involved team work. And not just from your own team but from everyone around. In order to get over the barrier a number of people had to push or pull in order to rotate it. It was good fun but the water was cold and muddy (well, to be expected!).

Some of my favourite obstacles were the ones that didn’t involve water but still involved needing to have help from others to do it. You could not have done it on your own. The Human Pyramid is an example of this, where you literally had to climb on someone’s shoulders and then reach for someone’s hands above you in order to get up.

From the Tough Mudder Facebook page

Made all the more tricky by being wet and slippy with mud! Because of course there was mud on route – churned up especially for us it seemed.

Along the route were hydration stations with Lucozade and water, as well as fuel stations full of chunks of Trek bars for us to scoff. It did make me slightly chuckle seeing these huge containers and people grabbing handfuls with their muddy hands… It reminded me of what Maria had said about the worry of people not washing their hands before sampling tasters when it was in a communal box. Though at some aid stations they had marshals handing them out with gloved hands. Though to be honest, I’m not actually that bothered, all part of strengthening the immune system 😉

I could talk about all the different obstacles but I won’t keep droning on. Each one was tough in it’s own way, whether the shock of cold submerging water, pulling yourself up and over something, crawling through mud and dark narrow pipes, running up steep hills, carrying logs, carrying each other

The one final mention will be the truly AWFUL electric shock obstacle, which you had to run through. We got to it and I was like “I’m just going to go for it, get it over and done with.” I mean, how bad would it be? I was expecting little zaps as the hanging cables hit me (like a perverse jungle of live wires). But OHHH NO. These were full on, straight to the bone jolts of pain. No pun intended here, but it genuinely shocked me the amount of pain it inflicted. To the point that I fell fully over onto the churned up mud.In the end, the course was around 11 miles and took us around 2:45-3 hours (I forgot to stop my Garmin as we crossed the finish line – it was that unimportant). As you can see the miles took a long time to get through.This was mainly due to having to wait for obstacles, doing the obstacles and then the sheer elevation. And not running the whole thing – it’s really not about the running as you can probably tell.

But we finished and survived! Never had a cider tasted so good as that first sip when we were handed it, after picking up our finisher’s t-shirt, headband and Trek goodies of course.
Most of our team weren’t quite as muddy as me due to my last minute mud faceplant, but I wore my mud with pride!George did amazingly. He was like a Duracell bunny the entire race, boosting people along with fun banter and encouragement, even if they weren’t on our team. On some obstacles we practically had to pull him away from constantly helping people as we could have been there forever otherwise. I was glad he came along.
He’s also very similar to me in his love for food so after we showered off (an ordeal in itself: peeling off my layers in the middle of a communal “shower” area and then hosing yourself down using freezing water to get as much mud off as possible) and got changed we headed sharpish to the food area. By this point (3.30pm?) I was getting seriously hangry…The food truck selection was top notch, though I was devastated to see they’d run out of sweet potato fries with pulled pork on top. Instead I went for a falafel wrap (VERY tasty and jam packed full), followed by a pot of pulled pork, stuffing and crackling.So so good and definitely what I needed! I was somewhat jealous of George’s manwich, though he graciously gave me a black pudding sausage (the sandwich contained sausages, pulled pork, crackling and apple sauce).The Trek guys were fantastic. Both our team and the actual Trek people were so nice, supportive and fun. We got lots of freebies to take home with us as well which was the icing on the cake!Tough Mudder was hard, but it wasn’t impossible. I’d fully recommend it to anyone who can run at least 10k, purely because I think you have to have some level of endurance to be able to do it. Though there’s no pressure to run the entire thing or do all the obstacles (you can skip any of them), it’s just a great experience and a way to have fun with friends.

Have you done a race like this before?

Would you ever do Tough Mudder?

What obstacle would most scare you?

**Full Disclaimer: I was given a free entry (with a friend) to the Tough Mudder event as well as free Trek goodies in exchange for posting on social media and writing a recap. All opinions and posts are my own honest ones.**

London Marathon 2017

So I’ve written this from my sick bed. I survived the London Marathon and then got taken down by a virus for three days. I had to have time off work and recover from the illness while also recovering from the marathon. Fun fun fun.

But anyway I’m feeling a lot better now, so onto the marathon recap! I’ll recap the Expo and the pre-marathon days in another post, but this will solely focus on the day of the race itself.My alarm was set for the ridiculous time of 4am. My dad and I had to drive into Southampton to meet the coach at 5.30am. I could have gotten up a bit later because I was taking breakfast with me to eat on the way and wasn’t having a shower (does anyone on the day of a marathon?) but I wanted to get in a coffee straight away to encourage, well, a happy comfortable marathon, if you get my meaning! 😉We got to the coach a teeny bit late – entirely my fault for not knowing precisely where we were meeting. Obviously I’d left it to the last possible moment to realise this. Standard Anna Behaviour. But we arrived and weren’t the last so that was OK.

The coach was AMAZING. There were only like 12 of us on it so we could spread out, there was a toilet, USB ports and super comfortable seats. I did try and sleep but to be honest I was too nervous. I looked over my dad’s plan for the day.Bless him, he’d printed out possible times I’d be passing through the areas he was going to head to, mile by mile breakdowns and the course route. Very organised!We arrived at Blackheath around 8am and then walked to the start areas. It was quite chilly and overcast so I was glad to have one of my dad’s jumpers on that I could throw away at the start. There were loads of coaches and runners everywhere and you could just feel the nervous energy flowing about the place. It was amusing to see all the police officers having coffee and breakfast though before the real mayhem began.I got to the Green Start easily. All the starts were well sign-posted and there were coloured air balloons in the sky per area so you could easily head in the right direction. I said goodbye to my dad and my running club and parkrun friend Aurelio who’d be spectating with my dad.I was early enough in the starting area to get into the toilet queue and only have about 20 minutes to wait which was good (when it was about 30 minutes to the start the queues were RIDICULOUS. I think people were just queuing for something to do). I also saw my lovely friend, Sarah, who works from Xempo and I’d met at the MarathonTalk Runcamp weekend. Her, her husband and friend were all dressed as monks and the Archbishop and were aiming to break the World Record (a sub 3:30 marathon) – FYI, they did!! AMAZING TIME and in fancy dress!

Then I spotted the “Celebrity Area” and like a creeper I loitered near the barriers to try and spot anyone interesting.They had their own tent and a fenced off area but they came out to sign autographs and get photos so it was quite fun to spot the different people. Though a lot of them I had no idea who they were! (Not sure what Chrissie Wellington is doing!).The main celeb I really wanted to see was Adele from the BBC Radio One Early Morning Breakfast Show. I listen to her show in the mornings when I go to the gym (from 5am) and I’ve Tweeted her a few times and text in the show. As sad as it sounds, I was really chuffed she gave me a shout out on the show to wish me luck for the marathon. It’s her first marathon and she was never a runner before training so I was interested to see how she did. ANYWAY, I saw her and said hello, SO awkwardly, and was like “it’s Anna…AnnaTheApple” and she was like “Anna! Hello!” and then hugged me. It was lovely. I know it’s such a pathetically small thing, but it really made my day.I didn’t get a photo but a hug was more than enough! Then I head to my wave. Everything seemed very organised and easy to find, but it was ridiculously crowded.After some hanging around, we started moving forward. It didn’t take that long to reach the start and then we were off.As seems to be common theme for me, I realised I needed a wee. It wasn’t a critical situation but it was just annoying. I settled in to the best rhythm I could given how busy it was. I mean, I’ve been to busy and popular races but this was another level. There was just no space around me. It was good I wasn’t wanting to hit any sort of specific paces or wanting to go faster because I literally couldn’t. To be honest, I was quite chilled. My pace felt comfortable and I just spent my time looking at other people, seeing all the crowds and just zoning out. I did some legging-spotting as well as you do 😉 Always a great way to pass some time!My first milestone to get to was Cutty Sark, around 10k. My dad and Aurelio were going to be there so I was excited to potentially see them. I got to Cutty Sark and realised that wasn’t going to happen. The crowds were like four people deep. I scanned and scanned but just couldn’t spot them. My eyes were so fixed on the crowds that I didn’t see the water bottle on the floor and I turned my ankle on it. I felt a sharp jab of pain and hobbled a bit and then started running again and MIRACULOUSLY it was fine, though a little sore. But it did make me suddenly think “right, eyes on the road”! I was a little deflated having not seen my dad. Not because I needed to see him to boost me along, but because I know how much effort he’d have put into getting there. It’s stressful being a spectator and he prides himself in getting to good spots. But London is clearly just another level.So I carried on to my next milestone, mile eight, where I had my first gel (SIS Blackberry flavour with caffeine). It was now at the point that I really did need to stop for a wee. I’d passed a few portable loos but I’d seen people queuing so I decided to wait until I spotted a free one. At around mile 10 I spotted one and jumped into it. Then I was back out and running again as fast as possible. I probably lost 30 seconds? No issue.

I have to say I can’t really remember anything significant, other than Cutty Sark, from mile 1-10. I find those miles fairly dull in a marathon anyway. You’re just getting into the flow of things, you’re not that tired yet and I was running within myself so it was just plodding along really. The crowds were fantastic but once you’ve seen one London road…

Getting to mile 10 was nice because it meant I could switch my podcast on and listen to that (I don’t allow myself to do this until mile 10 so I don’t get bored of it too quickly). For me when I’m not really pushing for a time, a marathon is a waiting game. It’s a mental game of not pushing too hard and holding on for the harder miles that will inevitably come later.

The sun started to come out so I made sure I headed to most of the water stations to grab a water. They were on both sides of the roads and weren’t too chaotic. I quite liked that they were bottles (though they were treacherous underfoot) as it meant I could carry it with me for a bit. It also helped that I wasn’t dependent on getting to a water station to take my other two thicker gels (GUs) later. My lips were ridiculously dry though and I wished I’d put some lip balm on them. I looked longingly at the Vaseline that the St John’s ambulance people had on their gloved hands but I wasn’t sure I’d want a bit glob. I saw one guy grab some and then have to wipe his hands on a lamp post (it looked very odd until I realised what he was doing!).

It became quickly apparent though that I couldn’t really hear my podcast that well as I was using the Aftershokz headphones which don’t sit in your ears, so it meant when the crowds cheered (i.e. most of the time) I couldn’t hear what was being said. However, it was nice to have the comforting voices of the podcast anyway that I could dip in and out of as I was running.Going across Tower Bridge was incredible. INCREDIBLE. I didn’t think I’d find it that amazing. Everyone talks about how good it is and I was a bit like, “yeah yeah”. But honestly, I got goose bumps. It was fantastic. I had to take my phone out to snap a few pictures of course 😉The views across the bridge were amazing too. After that I knew it was supposed to get quiet as we headed towards the Isle of Dogs. Apparently this is a tricky area. But the crowds were still thick as anything. I almost wanted to have no crowds for a bit. It was quite mentally overwhelming. In other marathons there are times when there aren’t any crowds and you can kind of just put your head down and plod on. Then when the crowds appear again it’s like a big boost, but the boost effect was wearing out now. I was also sad because I’d apparently missed seeing my dad again. He was going to be around mile 13. I wondered what kind of day he was having while I was running and hoped he wasn’t feeling stressed.I just wanted to get to mile 18. It always feels like such an achievement to get to that mile. I ran through Canary Wharf before this point, though I only realised this from seeing a sign. The views of the skyscrapers started to appear around me which was cool. I still felt pretty good. I’d say the only struggle I was having was mentally feeling tired of running. I questioned why I was running yet another marathon. I felt in myself that I needed a break. I love marathons but running this one so close to Tokyo was wearing my brain down a bit.

I remember hitting 17 miles and feeling a stab of hunger. HUNGER. I don’t think I’ve ever felt hungry during a race before. It was weird. I’d had a normal breakfast a few hours before the race so I thought it really weird. I was actually looking forward to taking my gel at mile 18 for the extra calories!As soon as I got to mile 20 I felt like I was in the clear. I know that might sound cocky but I still felt comfortable, like I had energy and my legs felt alright. So I switched my podcast to music and got into the zone for the last 10k. In my head I kept thinking “just two more parkruns”. Now the crowds were even thicker and louder. I looked at my watch and worked out that even if it took me an hour to do the last 10k I’d be within the 3:45 target I’d vaguely set myself. I was in a happy place.At this point I started scanning the crowds to see if I could spot anyone I knew. There were several people from Instagram, Twitter and my running club that I knew would be spectating around these points so it really kept me occupies to look out for them. When I did spot someone it really boosted me when they cheered me on. It was very much appreciated. I got uber excited when I saw someone from my club, as it was just so nice to see a friendly face. London had felt a little lonely so far.I was now feeling very marathon weary. My legs still felt OK but my mind was done. I just wanted to get to the “last parkrun”. I remember looking at my watch with the actual time of day on it and remembering that I said to my dad I’d see him before 2pm if all went well and it was now after 1pm and I felt very close to being finished. At some point I heard around mile 21 my dad shout to me and I turned to see him and Aurelio in the crowd. Ahhh it was so good to see them! I was so pleased we’d both seen each other at some point during the race!

I’m not sure where the photo below came from but thank you to whoever took it!
Then suddenly Big Ben was in front of me to the right and it was like, “wow!”.  It was just one of those “this is why I run marathons” moment. Then we turned the corner and I could almost SMELL the finish, despite still being almost a mile away.Then signs appeared counting down the metres to the end. 800m…600m… but it seemed to take FOREVER to run the 200m between. I kept trying to smile but it was now quite tough and I’m sure I was grimacing more than smiling.

Then we ran under a sign that said “385 yards to go” and you saw Buckingham Palace and turned the corner to run the final iconic road down to the finish along The Mall.SUCH a fantastic finish. I couldn’t quite believe it. I saw the time ticking and realised I could squeak in under 3:35 which would technically be a Boston Qualifier (and another Good For Age).And then I was done! 3:34:01. I am so chuffed with that time as I felt like I was fairly comfortable running (as comfortable as you can be really in a marathon). I think my main issue was mental weariness. I know I need to take a break now from excessive long runs and marathons. It was, dare I say, a bit of a mental grind. So different to Tokyo where I didn’t feel such a mental struggle – mainly because I was running with good company. This felt a lot more lonely and tough going.I collected my medal almost straight away (Tokyo could learn a thing or two about this…), my goodie bag with the technical t-shirt in it (X-Small – awesome!). I took a few selfies and then followed everyone in the standard marathon march (i.e. slow shuffle) to the meeting area.I met up with my dad and Aurelio fairly quickly. They’d had a mare trying to get to all the different places but we both agreed it was nice to have seen each other at least once! And my dad got a good amount of steps in walking about the place, so it was good for him and he felt proud of himself.I was now starving. The TINY apple in the goodie bag disappeared very quickly. Aurelio headed off to support some of the others that he was supporting and my dad and me headed off to find somewhere for lunch. We chose the Byron Burger as frankly it was close, it didn’t look heaving with people and the menu looked nice!It was so good to get some food in me. My dad and I shared some buffalo chicken wings. So tasty but my poor dry and cracked lips were destroyed by the spicy sauce. It was definitely a hardship to eat them! I then had a Cobb salad with some sweet potato fries. Honestly it was just what I fancied (mmm bacon and blue cheese…). I went from being very hungry to very full very quickly. I didn’t fancy pudding at all (weird marathon stomach) so we headed off for a bit of a wonder. We had a lot of time to kill before 5.30pm when the coach would leave!And then we got the coach and headed home! Another Major ticked off the list, just two more to go: New York and Chicago…

Have you ever done the London Marathon?

Did you watch it on the TV?

Have you ever felt hungry during a race?

My goals for the London Marathon

Well, I tell you what if it wasn’t for social media I think I would have just completely forgotten that it’s the London Marathon in a few days. Ha! On a serious note though, it’s so nice to see so many people doing it. So many from my club, so many people I’m friends with on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook… just lots of friendly faces. Well, let’s be honest, most people running it are likely to be super friendly because they’re runners 😉I guess this should be the post where I say what my goals are for running the London Marathon. Hmmm. Survive uninjured. No change from usual I guess! I hope to get around 3:45 but under that would be nice. It really depends on the weather, the crowds and how I feel. The Tokyo Marathon gave me the confidence to know I can run around 8 minute/miles without a huge amount of solid training… but then I was fresher and hadn’t run a marathon a couple of months previously.

It’s all a guessing game with a marathon. Nothing is set in stone. There are SO many external factors along with the internal factors. It’s such a long, long way… you only have to look at a whole host of marathon mile splits on Strava to see people doing absolutely fine, running nice and consistently, to then suddenly gain an extra minute + per mile after half-way or 16 miles or whatever. ANYTHING can happen. Nutrition issues, an injury, a niggle, a mental burp, exhaustion due to bad race strategy, pacing or just plain old fitness.Basically, my first and foremost marathon mantra for anyone and everyone is: RESPECT THE MARATHON. Otherwise it will eat you up and spit you out. You could argue that my not-so-great training and clustering of marathons isn’t quite respecting the marathon…but I’m aware of this and aware of my capabilities. I’m not going to take off at the start like a loony. I mean, I imagine I won’t be able to anyway as it’ll be so busy but in an ideal world I have a list of paces I want to target (i.e. not go faster than) for the first 10 miles, the second 10 miles and then the final 10k will be “see how you feel” as to whether I step it up (unless I’m crawling at that point…).

So, even though I’m not entirely “marathon ready”, I do have a sensible plan and some realistic goals:

  • Remain uninjured
  • Have fun (“fun” is questionable here of course, but fun relative to, say, getting impaled on a big stick and/or getting fired and becoming destitute)
  • See someone famous (ideally I’d love to see Adele from the Early Morning Breakfast show on BBC Radio1, she literally makes my 5.30am gym visits bearable and she’s running London as her first marathon)
  • Time of 3:45(ish)
  • If that fails, sub-4.

So there we go. I won’t lie. I mostly want to meet someone famous 😉 I’ll be THAT annoying person wanting a selfie…I just can’t work out if I’d have the guts to do it while running. Maybe sneakily…

Tomorrow I’m off to London with my mum. I managed to convince her to join me going to the London Marathon Expo to collect my bib by postponing Mother’s Day celebrations until then. After a morning Expo visit I’m treating her to lunch at Jamie’s 15.

Then it gets a bit mad as my mum goes back home on the train while I meet a friend to go with her on the train to Brighton. I’ll spend the day in Brighton with her on the Saturday, to then get the train back to my parent’s house that afternoon. Then I’ll be coaching it up to London stupidly early with my dad on Sunday morning with some other local runners. Wahay I must be mad!!

Huge good luck to everyone running London, or Southampton (10k/half/marathon) and everything else going on!