Harder Than You Think Is A Beautiful Thing

So, today has been mostly spent being unable to walk down stairs – I’m a little stiff to say the least! Yesterday I promised a geekily detailed summary of the London marathon, and here it is!

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I wrote yesterday that running the London Marathon was the hardest thing I’d ever done and it certainly was. At one point I was in so much pain, I swore I’d never exercise again, let alone run! Boston was obviously very much in everyone’s hearts and minds. Just before the gun went off, a whistle blew for 30 seconds of silence to remember this wonderful city. It was incredibly powerful and followed by a tumultuous round of applause. It gave me goose-bumps.

For the first few miles, everyone was on top of each other and it was really hard to weave round people to follow the 4:30 pacer. Eventually I decided to give up on the pacer, and just run my own race. Friends and family had strategically placed themselves every few miles along the course and I can’t put into words how nice it was to see their faces. The London crowd was just phenomenal. Having a random stranger look you in the eye, screaming out your name and telling you to dig deep was a really powerful experience. I wrote before that I was worried spectators wouldn’t come out because of what happened in Boston, but it seemed all the more people came out in defiance.

Disaster struck on mile 17. I could tell my pace had slowed and my right leg started to twang. Then it hit – the dreaded cramp – something I’d never ever experienced running before. I stopped, stretched then a nice first aid lady massaged it a bit, told me I hadn’t far to go (which was a bit of a lie!) and sent me on my way. It’s funny looking back now, but at the time I was really annoyed with myself. I knew I’d be finishing way slower than anticipated and I thought I’d let myself down. Then I caught a grip. I, yes I, the kid who couldn’t finish the 800m at school was running a marathon! I told myself the quicker I ran, the quicker this would all be over and I could see my friends and family. The last six miles flew by due to the amazing crowd support and before I knew it the finish line was in sight.

I didn’t realise what an emotional day it would be. I had a picture of my granny pinned to my back and looking round at what other people had displayed on their gear, it became obvious that there were thousands of stories on that course. I was a bit choked up when I crossed the line. Then a lovely volunteer lady looked me in the eye and said ‘You have just run a marathon’. Well. That made me burst into full blown, histrionic, heaving sobs. Everyone around was being very nice to me and a soldier came over and gave me a big hug! Eventually I composed myself and was re-united with my loyal supporters who’d hung around all day to cheer me on at as many places as they could. It was an amazing, amazing feeling and the buzz had carried over into today. I really hurt everywhere but it was totally, 100% worth every step.

As I said, during a race I like to dedicate a mile to someone/something meaningful to me and that really helped my on those tough miles. Tomorrow, I’ll give you a run-down, though I can’t promise it’s perfectly in order!

But for now, sleep beckons – nighty night

xoxo

Day One Hundred and Seventy Four – You’ve Got To Go There To Come Back

This time tomorrow if all goes to plan, I will have finished my first marathon.

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This week has been by far and away the hardest week in my training. A colleague laughed in my face when I told him this ‘Not running and eating more is harder than getting up at ridiculous o’clock and knocking out a gazillion miles before work’. Yes, I’ll take the miles any day. Instead this week I’ve been left with my mind. I’ve been wide awake at 5am every day this week, thinking things through, wondering if I can do it. I had a good chat with Sarah of the Little Pink Kitchen and very much came to the conclusion that as well as boring everyone stupid with details of every twist and turn of the course, I’ve been over-thinking the race. What tomorrow comes down to is running. I’ll start running, I’ll keep running for 26 miles, and then I’ll stop. Take away the negative splits, the carbo-loading and energy gels. Tomorrow I’m going to go for a run. It’s the longest one I’ll have ever done, but I’ve never been fitter or more ready than this very moment.

Today, my new thing was to take myself to a café and just sit and think. No phones, no books, just me and my head. Thinking about my journey to get to this point. Three things have really helped me along the way

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1) The Couch to 5K podcast. Who would have known that stumbling across a random podcast would have such a dramatic impact upon my life. Non-patronising and massively motivational, I struggled in the first week to jog 60 seconds. Within nine weeks I was running five kilometres. I remember the first time I had to run 20 minutes non stop – it was such a huge deal I wondered if I could do it. Now that seems like a warm up. I just can’t put into words how good this podcast is. If you have any secret ambitions to run, I would strongly encourage you to give it a go.

2) Ben Does Life.

20130420-180301.jpgBen writes an amazing blog about how he’s transformed from a morbidly obese, depressed young man to a multiple marathoner and double Iron Man completer. He made a video which went viral on YouTube and has to be one of the most inspirational things you could ever hope to see. He went on to start the Do Life Movement which has got thousands of people engaged in sport. I sat down a while ago and read his blog from the very start. The way that he stuck his head down and just kept going has been incredible. I had the pleasure of going out to dinner with Ben and his family when they came to London last Spring and took part in one of his ‘Do Life 5Ks’ the next day. Very cool guy

3) Marathon Training Academy.

20130420-180624.jpgAgain, I stumbled upon this podcast on iTunes and fell in love with it. It’s hosted by husband and wife, Angie & Trevor – two normals who find a way to make an hour talking about running the most absorbing thing you could ever hear. Hearing their listeners talk about things like half marathons made me curious to see if I could maybe do one. A few weeks later on a wet and stormy September night, my cursor hovered over ‘Apply’ to the Brighton Half Marathon for a good half hour. Turns out to be probably the best decision I ever made!

So, now I’m trying to stay as calm as possible. I’ve got Rocky and Chariots of Fire lined up to watch tonight. I’ve said this before – I couldn’t be more excited if I tried – wish me luck!

Click here to see why I’m doing this and sponsor the shuffle

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Day One Hundred and Seventy Two

This week I have mostly been experimenting with carbohydrate based snacks and boring everyone around me rigid about the London Marathon. I’ve previously written how my body has been craving really weird things over the past few months – I think I’m starting to experience what it must be like for pregnant women! Today’s experiment was oatcakes, home-made peanutbutter and oranges. Surprisingly tasty!

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In a previous life, I’ve written about how important it is to have a theme tune to psych you up and give you a boost. This year, Harder Than You Think by Public Enemy has been my go to song. Over the past six months, this song has woken me up most mornings at 6am, beckoning to the park or the pool in wind, snow, hail and rain. Never, ever sun – This is England after all. I love this song. I love that it was the Ch4 theme song for the Paralympics. I love that one of the lyrics is Harder than you think is a beautiful thing. I love that it will be on my playlist on Sunday.

In other exciting news, my fundraising target has now been smashed! I tentatively thought I might be able to match last years efforts, but with four days to go, way over £2000 has been raised with the promise of much more to come. Phenomenal. If you’d like to sponsor the shuffle, click here and check out my previous post to see why this means so much to me.

FOUR DAYS PEOPLE! FOUR DAYS!!!

Days One Hundred Four, Five and Six

So, I’m back from my hippy log cabin weekend away. There was a range of hippy drinks there – I tried Biomalt for the first time – wasn’t great folks, but hey, a new experience

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I got back on early Sunday evening and ummed and ahhed about doing my long run. So glad I did! I ran 14 wet and windy miles for the first time and it was great! Psychologically getting over the half marathon distance was a big thing and although I’m a little stuff and sore today, it was totally worth it

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Today I tied in new experiences, recovery food and my obsession with making nut based condiments by making almond butter – pretty yummy – still think homemade peanut butter was my favourite….

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Is This Real Life??

Eight years ago I sat in a car with one of my best friends and we talked about things we’d like to do in our lives. I said sheepishly that I’d quite like to run a marathon before I die. The thing was at the time, I wasn’t what you would consider the sporty type. While not totally unhealthy, I was definitely at the heavier end of the weight spectrum, and not exactly what you would call fit.
After making my marathon declaration, we drove to a mountain near my home and proceeded to climb it. Now, when I say a mountain, it was teeny – more like an average sized hill, but even that left me gasping for air – having to stop several times because I was so unfit.

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I remember the tirade of put downs which went on in my head as I slowly made my ascent. Marathon??!? when walking up a slight bump gives you a hernia. Dream on. No chance.
Now, before you switch off – this isn’t just another one of those ‘fat girl turned fit, running changed my life’ type of blog – oh no, it’s much more exciting. And I’m still fat so bang goes that dream ending.

Loyal followers will know of my transformation from fitness phobic to runner girl culminating in finishing the Brighton Half Marathon in February and raising over £2000 for the Alzheimer’s Society. Since then, I’ve completed another half marathon, an open water swim in Lake Windermere and five 10k races. Yup, I’ve got me some serious race bling.

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This all came about because I stumbled upon a couch to 5K podcast totally by accident and decided to give it a try. Deciding to try something new that day, without sounding too dramatic, totally changed my life. So, I’ve decided to try something else that’s new – as you’ll have guessed by now, the 2013 Virgin London Marathon. So many people have helped me along the journey to the half marathon, I’ve had requests to restart blogging again and I’m only too happy to do so. But this time I’m adding a twist. This whole thing came about when one day I decided to try something new, something I’d never done before. These next five months, as well as training for my first marathon, I’ll also be extending this project. For newcomers, I’m committing to doing / trying / starting something brand new every single day. This might be a big thing, or a little thing, something that takes loads of effort or only a little.

I undertook a similar, much smaller project last year where for the whole of January, I did something new every day. It was amazing what things came out of it. I’ve seen and appreciated London, my current home city, so much more since I experimented with busses instead of the Tube, I discovered a different way walk to work which takes me past a park – making me noticeably happier upon my arrival and an awesome new place to eat sushi 😉
So as well as tales of long runs and moaning about blisters in the run up for the Big Race in April, I’ll be posting photographic evidence of my daily kick up the arse, a jolt to the drudgery of normal life, right here on this blog (Internet connection permitting!)

I’m super excited about the ride and hope you’ll enjoy it with me. Feel free to click on the right and follow the challenge as it unfolds.

It seems only right, though, to spare a thought for New Yorkers and visitors who won’t have the joy of hosting or running the New York Marathon this year. Whether it was right or wrong to cancel it is a tough call to make, but it must be gutting for the thousands of runners who put in the miles, the blisters, the joy and the tears in preparation for such a big race. I absolutely fell in love with The Big Apple as soon as I first set foot in it – such an amazing, vibrant city. No doubt they’ll be (literally) up and running soon and the World’s biggest Marathon will return in all it’s glory.

Peace Out
Xoxo