On Saturday morning I found myself heading over to Excel to register for the London Marathon 2011! Eek! I have to say I was really excited and slightly apprehensive about what lay ahead. Last year I did some serious training which ended in March due to a cyst forming in my knee…. 9 months out of running I thought it was unlikely I would be able to collect my deferred ballot number… but after some gentle, consistent training, lots of strength, stability and cross training from mid January I found myself doing just that! Yippee!
Blue – Number 19982 which my Mum tells me adds up to a positive number (she understand many alternative things), means I am going to have a good, easy race! That sounds promising…. I then collect my British Heart Foundation Red Top (which my boyfriend says will be easy to spot me – red face, red top… this proved otherwise) and purchase a pair of Nike Frees – most comfortable shoes ever I find. The guy from Sweatshop (super helpful people) says I could go on line and design a pair in Energised Performance colours… (is this taking branding too far – what do you think?).
So… leaving Excel we head back to Wimbledon to have a wonderfully relaxed evening and some great food – large baked potato, meats, salads etc – perfect set up for race day. A large steak was offered followed by a poached egg for breakfast, but I choose to stick with my usual plan!
The morning of the marathon – porridge, cinnamon, honey, strawberries, sunflowers seeds (yum!) – big bowl, green tea, electroyle (TORQ) and some final mental preparation – found me ready to leave and head over to Blackheath for the start.
Sitting next to a zebra on the train made me feel quite calm, and then following a horse to the start I wondered if fancy dress was actually compulsury, and definately felt a little under-dressed. Once I had put my kitbag in the lorry we were off – Blue zone, pen 5, reminded me of my farming background (!) – squashed in tightly… we walked to the start. I am sure there was a horn or somthing to mark the start, but I definitely didn't hear that and assumed as we run through the big start banner, and our feet bleeped with the registered time it was ‘game on’.
Three thoughts went through my head - one, I love running and I am so happy to be part of this experience, two I feel very fortunate to be on the start line raising money for some great causes and three, what on earth will it be like! I have done my long runs listening to podcasts, Vernon Kay’s Radio One Show or music but swiflty realised that the noise of the crowds, the music and the atmosphere would be background for today’s final long run (also drowning my iPod with numerous water stops to avoid overheating limited its ability to produce a sound!).
My last long run was two weeks before, 23 miles and felt great. I then – due to the Double Charity Challenge (Caledonian Etape 15th May) – was required to do a 70mile bike the Sunday before to be prepared for part 2! This is the longest I have ever biked, and due to some sat nav troubles (blonde on her own, on a bike, no map…) I did a few more hills than anticipated. I thought a week on I felt pretty good but realised about eight miles in to the marathon my hips and gluteals were still a little fatigued – hindsight is a wonderful thing!
So, engaging core muscles, concentrating on correct foot placement, keep my gait upright, relaxed and balanced I kept a regular pace and the miles just trundled by - I had a strategy of it is only 4 10Ks (and a wee bit!) so this was fine. I had mentally prepared using the strategies I teach my clients – anchoring a postive state with qualities such as relaxed, confident, strong, energy, mentally rehearsing the race, modelling on excellence and having a strategy to turn to for any limiting things that could occur.
Knowing your own body, setting realistic expectations for the day and setting out to do your best race possible on the day is essential. It allows you to focus on the positive, gain from the experience and add value to your achievement – whatever the outcome. My expectations were set knowing I had a more limited training base and the stability around my knee is only happy up to a certain pace, I had a reduced taper with the bike and I can suffer from heat stroke easily.
My strategies were to pace myself within the boundary of a happy knee, to focus on good technique to limit compensation niggles and to drink (and drown my head in water) water every mile – even if just a couple of mouthfuls!
And so I jogged on (when I see the photos this is a better description than run for the latter part for sure!)… with a Rhino and a person in a mankini…. hmm! I have huge respect for both and I am not sure which is more mad! The London Marathon brings together people from all abilities and shows you anything is possible. The amount of money and awareness rasised for charity is simple amazing. When you are running around this definately inspires you to keep going, and when you feel tired you just have to think of the people you are running for, and why and that is the only motivation you need (read my charity blog to find out who inspired me).
As I neared mile 24 I was coming up to the last British Heart Foundation support point with excitement to see my Mum, sister Rosie and boyfriend Ross as I had missed them at all the last points. My time was about as expected so knew they would be there and really looked forward to seeing them. I jogged really close and slowly past the red crowd… but no familiar faces! So it was up to me, my new running friend the Rhino and our new recruit the man with a dolphin on his shoulder to finish the race together….
So many people cheered your name and said you were looking good (I think when someone says that they could possibly mean the opposite but it really helps!) which gave you a huge boost on to the end – plus some Sport Jelly Beans of course (just like a normal jelly bean with electrolytes and B vitamins).
The count down is exciting and slightly overwhelming…. 800, 600, 400, 200m to go… I certainly could not sprint to the finish, and fortunately the Rhino could not either! It is bizarre – you finish and your legs feel like they might pop off like something from Toy Story but somehow they keep on moving as you collect your medal, have a photo taken (of course!) and search your goody bag for some food to re energise you (I tucked in straight away to the amazement of many around me who said they felt ill at the thought – sorry!). I have also found if you eat a little and hydrate within 20 minutes of racing it helps to aid recover in the long term.
I then headed to the meeting point to find my family, walked around it a few times and then gave them a call – they were at mile 25, waiting for me! The have a photo of the man with the dolphin, but missed me!So by the time they arrived I had changed, eaten and felt okay – until I began walking... like a penguin!
A HUGE WELL DONE to everyone who completed the London Marathon – you are all amazing. BIG Energised well dones to John Hibbs (@hibbsy Twitter – follow inspiring!), Corriene Ellison (@Bungleduck Twitter – follow too – super inspiring!), Sophie Voller & Robyn Goulding (Speedy Chicks – 2.58/3.08!! – awesome!), Simon Tate, Nell McAndrew, Sophie Atworth and many, many more .. of course, including the Rhino, Zebra, Mankini and Horse!
I completed in 4:13:18 – yipee! Eta 4.15 – 4.20 so right on plan I am sooo happy to have done it and so grateful to everyone who has donated to my double charity challenge. THANK YOU.
Thank you to Ben Tolson & Sara Wheeler for giving me the best sports massage treatments to help support my body to the start line! To TORQ Energy Drinks, Elete, Sport Jelly Beans, PhD Protein Recovery& Dynamint for supporting the energy and muscles! And of course to all my wonderful Energised Clients, friends and family – especially Ross, Rosie, Mum & Brigid on the day- and Ross who has put up with the long runs on our day’s off! You Rock…
To read about my chosen charities and part two click: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/energisedperformance
Until Part Two …… happy training and resting