Saturday, 14 April 2012

Oh God, it's really happening...

I remember feeling quite similar at 1.15am on 13th January 2008, the day my son was born. And so, the day has arrived, or at least the night before the Brighton Marathon. I am currently sat in bed typing this as I know I won't be able to sleep tonight, I am so nervous I can't explain.

I'm drifting between a state of nausea and at risk of having a panic attack to convincing myself this is no different to one of my long training runs, the last of which was 21.3 miles and I'd only planned on going 16. It can be done. I can do it.

I've been carb loading all this week, which I think was a big mistake. Much the same as the last 2 weeks of my pregnancy when, encouraged to eat a little more to aid milk production, I went a bit overboard and ended up 3 stone heavier as a result. What this additional calorie count actually boils down to is an extra 100-150 calories a day, the equivalent of an extra slice of toast and a thick spreading of butter and marmalade, not, as it would turn out, huge slices of cake, extra teacakes with soup, more cake, lots of pizza and garlic bread and cheese. Each day. So here I am, full as an egg with what appears to be perma-stitch from over-eating. Ironic that I should end up in the same situation as I was when I was about to give birth, after all that is the reason why I started this running caper in the first place some 2 years ago now, and I have a not so little 4 year old I want to be proud of his mummy tomorrow.

With any luck this will be enough to get me round, this and knowing that I've managed to raise some much needed funds for Sussex Search & Rescue for whom I hope I never have the cause to meet (in the nicest possible way!) but reassured that every penny raised will contribute towards keeping this valuable volunteer service running.

The plan for tomorrow is, in order of importance:

1. Get round in one piece without vomming or having a panic attack
2. Get round in one piece running without walking
3. Get round in one piece, running and in sub 5 hours

Anyone who knows me well enough will know I will not give this up easily, so unless my feet get chopped off at the ankle and I'm forced onto bloody stumps, I will complete the course (I'm bringing plasters in case of this eventuality). Anyone who knows me well will also understand the challenge I will face if I don't manage my second and third goals above but I will try to curb my disappointment if at any point I do have to walk or if I'm still going at sun down. This will probably form the basis of the inevitable psychological trench I will find myself in on Monday once the endorphins have dissipated and it's all over, but recognising my failure to plan the next race after last year's half marathon, I have entered my next race this time (this year's Sheffield Half) taking place at the end of May so I know I can't just stop altogether. I might actually look forward to it this time!

So I wonder what I'll feel like this time tomorrow?

I hope euphoric, at a personal victory and humbled by the support of so many people come to cheer on loved ones and those running for charities that mean so much to them. I'm looking forward to making my family and my charity proud of me tomorrow because both have supported me so well over the last few months without which it would have been incredibly hard to keep focussed.

So look out for runner 17119 puffing around the course, probably in need of some cheering on at about mile 21 as this will be unchartered territory for me. If you're wondering how you'll know when I get there, then follow me live around the course at assuming my 21st century technology doesn't let me down!

Friday, 9 March 2012

It's been nearly 5 months since my last confession...

This has to sum up the whole reason for writing this blog - how does one fit in marathon training into a normal, busy, working and parenting schedule? This normal person has struggled, it has to be said.

My little supporter at
the Leeds Abbey Dash 2011
Since my last blog post I have:
  • Run another 10k race and achieved a PB of 56:55 (Leeds Abbey Dash November 2011)
  • Started a (demanding) new job
  • Developed perma-blood-blisters
  • Nearly stopped running altogether
  • Found a Kettle Bell and Pilates class to replace (as close as I can) my Power Plate classes
  • Bought a magazine about training for marathons (it made me feel better)
  • Lost half a stone and have a flatter stomach than I've ever had and (hurray!) and;
  • Run my longest, hardest and highest ever...
I've been in my new job for 4 1/2 months now, and whilst I'm really enjoying it and know it was the best move for me I've been the most sedentary I've been in nearly 2 years and I'm really struggling. Whilst working at the University I was blessed to be able to incorporate regular runs into my commute, running from the Uni to where I park my car 3 miles away. Sometimes if I missed the tram I would walk 1 or 2 stops to pick the next one up instead of standing around in the cold. The benefit being that I got home at a reasonable time and I didn't need to think about then donning the kit for a cold, night run. My new job sees me travelling to Ilkley 3 days a week by car and working from home 2 days. The work is good but demanding and, being the kind of conscientious gal I am, I get really absorbed in it and can sit for hours (unhealthily) staring at a computer screen to get done what I need to. I can't bring myself to wear a pedometer as I am under no illusion I probably don't manage more than 50 metres a day at the moment. My movements on a typical day look something like:

1. Roll out of bed to bathroom (3 metres)
2. Roll from bathroom to bedroom to get dressed (3 metres)
3. Roll into sons room to get him dressed (1 metre)
4. Trot downstairs (5 metres)
5. Trot to the car (5 metres)
6. Drive to nursery (0 metres)
7. Walk son into nursery and back to car (10 metres)
8. Drive to work (0 metres)
9. Get out of car and walk to office (5 metres)
10. Sit at desk for hours without moving (0 metres)
11. Walk to car (5 metres)
12. Drive home (0 metres)
13. Trot to house (5 metres)
14. Sit down on sofa and don't move (0 metres)
15. Go upstairs to bed (5 metres)

I'm suffering backache too from the driving, constant sitting and lack of running. Did I mention the last thing I want to do after getting home from work on a night (not evening I'm afraid to say) is run? I'm actually a lot more lethargic from not running as a result.

However, after my initial shell shock regarding the closure of my favourite exercise class I discovered, just before Christmas, a kettlebell class in Penistone my friend attends. I've been going pretty much every Monday night since then and have discovered muscles I never even thought my body possessed and the best thing - they're starting to show! It's a tough 1 hour workout on a Monday night straight from work but thankfully I tend to work from home then so it's not such a rush back from Ilkley to Barnsley. As if this wasn't torture enough, over the Christmas break I decided to look for a pilates class. I've always wanted to do pilates properly (and not just in front of the Wii or a DVD) and considered it a good conditioning exercise for climbing. Pity I've not been climbing for several months to test the theory... But I've also found it to be excellent for conditioning for running too. Whilst I find pilates a contrast to kettlebells (quite relaxing!) I often feel as sore the day after and, more often than not, my core hurts more from "against the wall" or "jacks" than any "russian twists" with a kettlebell.

So, how has this affected my running?

My speed hasn't improved, neither probably has my form, however my recovery period and ability to climb hills without stopping has certainly improved. Several weeks ago I ran my furthest distance so far (19 miles) and climbed my highest elevation in preparation for the marathon. Admittedly I wasn't very fast at all and at that pace I would barely make it round in 5 hours. I also felt physically wrecked - wretched in fact - like I can't describe (and incidentally am now scared witless about running a further 7 miles but that's another story) however I did it and managed to recover within a day - or at least could walk properly after a day. This is a far cry from the next furthest distance I've run at 16 miles which rendered me immobile for the best part of a week, in preparation for the Sheffield Half Marathon last year so I am at least fitter and leaner than I've ever been even if I won't be cracking a 4 hour 26.2.

I'm determined to finish though, so one day my boy can be proud of his ma.