Hello lovely people, it’s me again. I’ve been AWOL from blog writing for a while now, but I’m back…and I have (London Marathon) news!
A some of you might recall, I ran the Brighton Marathon back in April this year. Now, despite vowing never ever EVER to run another, it appears that I’ve only gone and got myself a place in the 2020 Virgin London Marathon ballot. What are the chances?! (Actually, I know for a fact that they are around 4%, which are ridiculous odds.An incredible 457,861 people entered the ballot!)
So, that puts me back to training – back on the wagon, and (no pressure) with a burning desire to improve on my beginner’s time from Brighton.
Here’s my public declaration of the grand plan…
Between now and December I am going to work on my health and fitness generally. Eating to fuel and nourish (probably with the odd G&T thrown in) and strength training to get my body in the shape it needs to be, ahead of the training regime. Just thinking out loud, my body is almost certainly NEVER going to be in the shape it needs to be, but let’s give it a go!
I’ve been visiting the lovely Anna, who is helping to put my back back where it should actually be, as opposed to where it’s been for the last few years. She’s also helped me identify that I have the most pitiful left glute, which is probably the culprit for my back problems in recent years, along with my ‘mum-tum core’ which we are also working on with gentle exercise and Pilates. When I say gentle, what I actually mean is excruciatingly hard, tiny little movements which make my body scream *WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING TO ME??*
Anyway, that’s the plan. I’m hoping that once again you’ll be there to spur me on with your comments and support, and that my old blogging friend OMIL will be on hand to provide his much-needed wisdom and motivation during my London Marathon training period.
It’s great to be back lovely people. Happy Thursday to you all,
So, I only went and did it! I ran a Marathon! 26.2 agonising, exhilarating miles. The last two days have been hard work emotionally too- a rollercoaster of huge overwhelm, a massive sense of pride and accomplishment (and rather achy knees – I’m writing this with an ice pack on each one).
YESTERDAY WAS A BLUR
After a pretty rubbish night’s sleep (cue dreams about being locked in a cupboard/not being able to make the start line/Paul Weller?!) we awoke at 6.40am. In a bit of a haze we walked the 25 minutes to the start line and found a lovely lady, who was also running her first Marathon. I must check her race number to see how she did (I think she was ready to smash it).
We put our bags in and joined the everlasting line for one last wee before the race started. It was a bit nippy (about 8 degrees and quite cloudy) so we ambled over to the start in a bit of a trance and waited for the start.
We got off to a great start. Keeping pace well and we navigated the hills and ran well against the almighty wind coming off the sea. We kept it up until mile 13, where we found our lovely families cheering us on (seeing my littles faces was such an emotional experience, I will never forget it.)
The next few miles towards and round Hove were ok – we slowed our pace slightly and kept plodding. At this point, my running buddy had a wobble. My stoic, inspirational, fit as anything, amazonian of a running buddy. I was a bit floored. I ran and then found myself losing her, so waited and ran until we were side by side, and continued to do so for the next few miles around Hove.
Then came the dreaded ‘Power Station’ run. I stopped to wait for my running bud, but she just wasn’t there – she had literally been swallowed in a sea of runners (which is hard given that she is 6ft!). At that point, the reality hit me that I was alone.
With about 10 miles to go, it hit me like a brick in the face. 10 solitary miles. And I’m not going to lie – it was awful. Really tough. I had to dig deep. Running up to Shoreham Power Station is actually soul-destroying. It was grey, and the wind was bitter. And to add to things, I just never seemed to get there. Forever.
At this point, something a friend had sent me that morning came to my mind. She’d said “Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. A lot.” So that’s exactly what I did. I ran, counting one – two, one-two, one-two. I’m not sure how many miles it was for, but I’d guess about 3.
Running back along the same stretch after looping the power station wasn’t much better, I’ll be honest. But at the bottom of the hill, where the road meets the coastal path I saw something which gave me hope. It read “20 miles”. 20 miles!! I’d just run 20 bloody miles – I was so bolstered by this fact that I shouted to a couple running past “We’ve done 20, we can do f*ing 26!!” And it turns out we could.
The lovely pair I’d shouted a profanity at then took me under their wings, talking to me, and looking over their shoulders every now and again to make sure I was there. I honestly was (and still am) so touched by this act of kindness. Kind man, and Mel from South Kent Harriers, you got me to 26 miles. THANK YOU.
At that point, I spotted my running buddy’s lovely hubby and son and shouted “I’ve lost her. Is she ok?” and he smiled and said “She’s fine, she’s behind you.” The sense of relief I felt that she was ok was overwhelming – as overwhelming as dealing with the fact we weren’t running our last miles together. Honestly, I will always feel terrible that I lost her. I didn’t want her to feel I’d abandoned her, left her behind. She’s an incredible friend, partner and running bud who means the world to me.
I ran on feeling energised for the last mile or so, and then, at mile 26, I saw that face in the crowd. My girl, my beautiful sunshine girl, the recognition on her face, turning to absolute joy when she realised it was me. And then my gorgeous boys – all lined up smiling and waiting for a kiss. It honestly was one of the most brilliant moments in my life. Writing it down makes me emotional beyond words. Best. Moment. Ever
That was it, I could see the finish line – I was ready to do this. To finish what I’d set out to do. A familiar face in the crowd caught my attention, and it was my beautiful sister. Then my Niece, Nephew and Brother-in-Law (I wasn’t expecting them to come). At this point I was an emotional wreck but it was the home stretch. I actually said to myself “Sod it. Let’s do this, Tahlia” and that’s what I did. I sailed down the last 0.2 miles, I posed for the cameras, smiled, laughed and let myself enjoy the final rush of what I was about to achieve. I’d just run 26.2 miles. Done.
After then, it was a bit of a blur – collecting my medal and bag. I do remember wincing as I bent down to put my bag on the floor and then just chucking myself down beside it whilst I pulled it together a bit.
What did I learn on Sunday? That I CAN run a Marathon. That people can be so kind, and the smallest kindnesses mean the most. That I’m tough, both mentally and physically. And that my knees don’t like running 26.2 miles. Pass the ice…
The day is almost here!! This afternoon my running buddy and I will be jumping in her Mini and making our way to Brighton to pick up our race packs.
We’re staying in a hotel tonight, which means we can be up early and focussed for our big run. It also means we get a peaceful evening to contemplate what’s coming and to have a wonder around Brighton sans children!!
As I write, me and the hubby are sitting in bed figuring out the best route for them to spectate. Our dear hubbies are coming up en masse tomorrow in our car (affectionately known as the tank) with the 5 children in tow. (That’ll be interesting!!)
My lovely mum and sister are also coming to cheer us on, so we’ll have a gang of supporters (note to self: must not cry when I see my children/family).
I’ll send you an update when we’ve arrived (and will share my race number with you too).
One more sleep (or maybe not so much sleep – more lying in bed watching the ceiling, waiting for it to be morning).
Saturday’s carb loading menu looks like this:
Breakfast: Wholegrain toast with peanut butter and banana
Lunch: Leftover Quorn bolognaise and pasta
Dinner: Open sandwich on Rye bread with avocado, smoked salmon and egg
Wow, the last 16 weeks has been a blur of running, running and more running (with a lot of stretching, aches and very tight muscles).
I think it’s fair to say that the last week has been disastrous. On Tuesday, the class germs finally got the better of me, Friday saw the sick bug arriving and Saturday a seized vertebrae and trapped nerve in my back. Cue stretching, rolling and plenty of icing (not the fun type) and a shed load of Ibuprofen.
In desperation, my dear hubby agreed to pick me up and gently sway back and forward to help the aforementioned bone back into place – success! it worked, but am still a bit hobbly with just 6 days to go until I face the biggest challenge yet.
My amazing Chiropractor is going to sort everything out tomorrow, followed with a Sports Massage to help these aching muscles. Will it be enough? I can only keep everything crossed. Am going to try a very gentle run out tonight with my running buddies to test the water.
In the meantime, I’m not going to dwell. I’m going to keep myself busy with thoughts of food and hydration for the week.
Well, Carb-loading here we come…
I’ve done lots of reading up on the subject and advice seems to vary. From carb loading the whole week, to two three days prior to the big day. I think I’m going to go for the first three days of the week high in protein and fibre (and shed load of vitamins to help bolster my poor battered immune system) and then focus on higher card meals on Thursday/Friday/Saturday.
I’m going to plan out my meals every day to ensure I’m hitting the right Macros, and also monitoring my fluid intake more closely to ensure I remain hydrated all week. I’m feeling adventurous this week, so am going to try a few new recipes to help me stay on track.
One of the most interesting pieces of advice I came across was to eat a small meal on Saturday evening, like a sandwich or similar, to give my body time to digest the meal properly and to avoid being bloated and stuffed on Sunday morning. Breakfast will be 6am porridge, peanut butter and banana and I’m aiming to have an energy bar at about 8.
Breakfast: Protein Pancakes with Banana, Strawberry and Peanut Butter
Lunch: Open Malt Sandwich with Tuna and Olives
Dinner: Salmon with Ratatouille
Snacks: Fresh Smoothie with Almond Milk, Homemade Energy Bar
I’ll post the recipes and Macros a little later today. It’s day 1 of the Easter Hols, so the children are getting fed up of me being at the laptop.
SO, let’s start with the good news…we did it! We nailed our long run last week, running a thigh-aching 29 kilometres (that’s about 18 miles). I feel like we might be ready for this marathon. My knees ache, my Achilles insists on clicking after every long run and I have a proud collection of beautiful sweat spots.
I’m going to be honest – 29k felt like a bloody long way. It felt like we were running for days on end (it was more like three hours). We took Percy Pigs and electrolytes to help with energy levels (and run into Burger King, drive-by style to grab an apple juice at kilometre 25, startling shocked lunchtime burger-eaters and the young boy behind the counter).
Anyway, despite looking like loony running maniacs, it got me thinking. This marathon lark is so complex – running is just the start of it. Just one element. You need to gear yourself up so emotionally, build your body up physically with training, and also understand your physiology to work out how much water, gels, carbs etc you need to keep going.
So, I started looking in to the science of taking on board water during a marathon. Should I just grab a cup at every water point (and risk of taking on board too much water) or should I put in place a strategy to drink a certain amount for each mile I run? It’s fair to say I’m pretty confused by the recommendations…
Well, research varies quite a lot! There doesn’t seem to be one particular method which is the best – if you take too much you’re risking your health, if you don’t take enough you’re also risking your health. Results can also be improved with the optimum hydration, but do you take in a measured amount, or just drink as you go? For runs totalling more than an hour, it’s a good idea to hydrate before and after according to an article from Runner’s World
However when it comes to longer runs, there is differing advice: some camps say you should work out how much you dehydrate on a run by measuring your before and after weight, and work out how much fluid to replace when racing – others, like this article I found from the London Marathon suggests you will need 400-800ml of fluid per hour (and also has a few good tips for maintaining fluid levels). The main takeaway is you must be hydrated properly at the start of your marathon – that doesn’t mean gulping down water immediately beforehand, but ensuring your water intake is sufficient in the week, days and hours leading up to the big day.
Ensuring you’re sufficiently hydrated is also key to great performance, and some articles also suggest that being insufficiently hydrated is as detrimental as not putting in the hours running beforehand.
Having sufficient Glycogen levels on race day is also important (Glycogen is a form of sugar that can be easily stored by our muscles and liver) and I found another article from Runner’s World which helped me to understand how best to approach this beforehand and on the day.
If you’ve been following the blog for a while now, you’ll have started to realise that I’m the slummy one in MIRL! I’m also not an athlete or a runner, I’m just a mum who set herself a challenge, and I’m not one to shy away from that. What I’m also not is a sports scientist, specialist or expert. So, I was pleased to find another article by Runner’s World called ‘The World’s Simplest Hydration Plan’, which says I can just go with my thirst. Grab a drink at the stations, and give myself 10 seconds at each water station. Being one for a simple life – I’m going with that option!
I’m always keen to hear your thoughts, so if you have any tips for hydration before or during the marathon, I’d love to hear your suggestions.
So, Tuesday rolls round again which can mean only one thing – Bootcamp! Today we mixed it up (actually, Craig forgot the gloves and pads) so we had a bonus circuits session instead. It was really challenging, great fun, and involved quite a lot of running so we burned more calories than usual too.
Today we did 1-10-1 which sounds simple, but is a really challenging workout. If you’re starting out, just work from 1-10 or set yourself a time limit e.g 20 mins and see how far you can get. Most of us managed to get from 1-10 an back to 8 – setting the benchmark for next time!
In other news – am running the 20 miler tomorrow with my running buddy. I’m absolutely bricking it (as my nephew might say) but have treated myself to a beautiful new water belt so I can rehydrate along the way.