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!

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



Day One Hundred and Seventy Five – The One Where I Run A Marathon

On day 175 I ran a marathon for the first time. Tomorrow I’ll write a geekily detailed account, but for now I’ll say that’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Cramp at mile 17 meant I finished nowhere near my hoped for time but I couldn’t give a hoot. London, you were outstanding. Undeterred by Boston, people came out in their hundreds and thousands and bathed runners in love. For now, shower, dinner, bed!


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.


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



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


Day One Hundred and Seventy Three – The One Where I Go To A Pasta Party

Today I went to the Excel centre to pick up my race number. Loads of stalls and free stuff. I experienced my first ‘pasta party’. Does this look like a party of pasta to you??

I also have a confession to make. I AM SO SICK OF PASTA RIGHT NOW. I’ve never been a huge pasta fan and I’m very much looking forward to being able to eat a nice steak again. It was nice to soak up some of the pre race atmosphere – anything that plays the Rocky Theme Tune at you when you walk through the entrance gets a big thumbs up from me!
We did get the strangest official goodie bag though – a bag of rice and some toothpaste. Erm, thanks London Marathon.
There’s still time to sponsor the shuffle by clicking here

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!


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.


Day One Hundred and Seventy and Seventy One

Yesterday I got an actual sports massage for the first time. Yes it hurt like hell, but I felt super afterwards. Here’s a picture of my now massaged right leg


As a result, on day 171 I really tried to get to grips with my foam roller. We’ve not been the bestest of buddies, but I really tried to do it properly a couple of times today. Damn, how can someone invent something that hurts so much!

I am so near my fundraising target. I got a £10 sponsorship today from my old netball teacher. I was CERTAINLY not an aspiring marathoner when she taught me. How things change… If you want to sponsor the shuffle and be the person who breaks the £2000 mark, click here


Day One Hundred and Seventy. The One With Boston. The One Which Broke My Heart

If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon” Kathrine Switzer

I watched CNN into the early hours of this morning, appalled and horrified as the events of the Boston Marathon unfolded before my eyes. Katherine Switzer, the first ever woman to run the Boston Marathon, absolutely nailed the essence of what is magical about a marathon. When going out to cheer runners at mile 25 at the London Marathon last year, we were bathed in an atmosphere of 100% positivity, good will and simple human kindness. This contrast makes the atrocious scenes we have watched in the last 24 hours all the more unbearable. When I learned one of the dead was an eight year old child, I felt physically sick. A few years ago, I had the pleasure of visiting Boston and fell in love with it. I hung round the elegant Copley Square which is now a crime scene.

In big races, I like to dedicate a mile to different people who are particularly meaningful to me. This year I will be dedicating a mile each to the three people no longer with us due to this despicable act, and one to the institution of the Boston Marathon itself. We will hold a 30 second silence before the race and wear a black ribbon in respectful solidarity with our fellow runners across the globe. Not for a second did I think about pulling out of the race on Sunday and I would hate for people to stay away because of what’s happened. London needs you all the more. But for now, Boston, you are very much in my heart.