London Marathon, 26.2 miles, Greenwich Park-Cutty Sark- Tower Bridge- godawfulugly bit of docklands-Canary Wharf-TB- Embankment-Westminster-The Mall->the nearest pub!
I know I passed all of these places because since doing so I have studied a marathon route map and watched every minute of coverage of the event on BBC iPlayer.
But I have no witness, the camera present at the finishing line holds no evidence that I crossed it, and in all honesty I do not recollect it either. Vague memories of summoning the strength to lift my arms and look to the sky linger, but I am disquieted by the fact that Matt and my Dad were sitting in honoured positions by the finish and DIDN'T SEE ME go passed! Nor did the camera footage apparently, rolling since the moment they got a call from my cousin on Birdcage Walk reporting a 'struggling katie' having just crept past.
So apart from the fact that the chip on my right trainer awarded me a time of 4 hours 11 minutes 57 seconds, there is no proof that I did do it- or that I RAN it.
But I have started at the end...It is such a blur. And so emotive, still. What a day...
So, the weather reports lied. It was going to be hot, that was evident from the time my alarm went off at 6am, and I stirred my porridge breakfast looking out at the bright blue, cloudless sky.
It didn't matter. The day had finally arrived and I was excited!
Tubes filled up with friendly people in lycra, and by the time I got off at Embankment I felt like I was on a Right To Run protest, being carried up Villiers St by impassioned crowds headed for Charing Cross to pillory an obese Ford executive! Trains filled up, and more crowds conjoined to carry me to Greenwich Park this time. There was no opportunity to get lost!
It was super organised in the park, tea and coffee on offer, massive TV screens, no need to resort to the pee-mate at the Female Urinals because plentiful portaloos meant queues moved swiftly. I had a wander and enjoyed all the amazing costumes synonymous with the London Marathon, barmy on this not so balmy day. But the ultimate insanity was the sight of a chap skulking sheepishly round the back of a tea tent, donning his running kit...and a fag!!! Now, I am no temple of health and will admit to a few drops of the old (brandy-infused) Rescue Remedy earlier on the train. But a cigarette??? Before running a marathon???
Now, my little plan to advance my pen number. I had prepared for the ram raid by lowering the number on my vest so that the pen number (8) printed on to the lower left hand corner was hidden by my running belt and my tutu. I had also been resourceful and printed out the results of the Duchy 20- proof of my previous 9 minute mile pace. Although if I had to resort to this I had a feeling it would be a case of Computer Says No.
It was luck in the end, the entrance to pen number 6 loomed ahead of me and on the back of two runners being refused entry I marched between them with confidence. My heart pounding, I was in!!! Then came the naughty feeling, will I be found out? Will the legitimate inmates turn on me?? I sat in the shade, marvelled at the marathon tagged girls stuck on the wrong side of the fence with minutes to go, and kept my guilty number 8 covered.
9.45 arrives. Excitement, then movement ripples down the pens. Serious runners make a bolt to overtake before the starting line. I am pleased with my cheeky advancement so elect to conserve fuel. My loved ones receive a text, courtesy of Adidas, to let them know that I crossed the starting line at 9.50, only 5 minutes after the gun was fired.
Oh my, what a feeling. People line the route right from the start, I spot the black and white flag of St Piran and yell "Trelawney's army!" to more cheers. Outside a church, a priest, flanked by two altar boys, flicks holy water over us. Kids hold out their hands to be slapped by we merry marathoners. A pub is dressed up Hawaiian style, with steel drums. Another pumps dance music and sprays confetti from a balcony. The african drums under the fly-over around mile 5 (an annual fixture apparently) make my hairs prick up on end and I feel so alive and happy I could scream.
I make the effort to applaud all the bands we pass: church choirs, school orchestras, karaoke stars, jazz bands, even bell ringers. They are brilliant! How kind of them to come out and entertain us!
I am surprised by my obedient instinct to stop in the middle of the road at every red light, and chuckle to myself as I rebel.
There are a few hills and a few hazards, namely at water stations, where the running path turns into a battle ground. I incurred some hearty kicks in the dash to drink. And more potential danger when the bottles were irresponsibly discarded. Then we hit the Cutty Sark and almost draw to a standstill. There is nothing to gawp at, just a canvas, and a path suddenly half the width.
I start to notice the other adornments to running vests, names or photos of loved ones lost. I burst into tears when I realise the man ahead of me is "running with his wife, Roma->" in spirit rather than body. So many moving, heart-breaking stories. I think how fortunate I am, and feel the weight of this event as a life-saver.
Mile 9 is the first of five pre-arranged Rawson Support Spots,
Matt excelled as cheering and rent-a-crowd co-ordinator, but had neglected to specify which side they would be on. Nervous not to miss them, I turn up my peripheral vision and soon spot more Kernow flags and a few See You Jimmy hats framing friendly faces. Yay! They made it! I like running my myself usually and being swept along by strangers can be oddly lonely. I am uplifted by their cheers and smiles and screams of excitement as their bubble of anticipation bursts, and I'm flying again!
Mile 10 came with the pleasure of reaching double figures. I was clocking 9 minute miles and keeping an eye on the Runners World sub 4 hour pacer. I ran with a woman called Sam for a few miles, she was a policewoman running for the Met, although she wasn't foolish enough to advertise that on her kit...
Tower Bridge, half way.
But I was not struck with euphoria, instead it was more of a glass-half-empty feeling I am afraid. Not that I wasn't enjoying it. It's just the long unchartered distance suddenly dawned on me. And for the last 2 hours it had been an effort overtaking people, ducking and diving, trying to squeeze by at every opportunity without hurting myself or anyone else. At times I felt very short. It was so hard to keep up an even pace, and I was tired of dodging feet, bottles, raised pavements and walkers.
Looking back (as I have been constantly, in conversation, day dreams, diaries and sleep for the last 72 hrs) the first half of the race is so vivid to me. I was lapping it all up, fascinated, I didn't want to miss a thing. But after Tower Bridge and heading along the Highway (the sub 2.30 runners blasting towards Embankment on the other side of the road), the experience was much more internal.
I had the Richard House cheer point at 14m to look forward to, and though they were easy to spot with banners on this boring, straight road, it also marked disappointment- no familiar faces to go with the familiar logo adorning my vest. My family had not made it to rendez-vous 2.
Somewhere along that road I glimpsed a dark place, a hole. And it scared me, how easy it would be to fall into it.
I was starting to feel tired, cramp in my right shin was ever present but not painful enough to justify stopping. I kept taking my SiS Gel sustenance and water, and remember grabbing jelly babies out of an excited onlookers sweaty hand. I think it was lonliness, maybe boredom. I was still hitting the times on the 4 hour pace guide strapped around my wrist, but it was hard. And I dreaded the imminent mile when I would find myself slipping a whole minute over schedule and defeat on the horizon.
I didn't understand why I felt so bad so prematurely. I had run a 20 mile race in 9 minute miles despite cornish gradients and weather, London was supposed to be easier! What had I done wrong?
My support team came to my temporary rescue. 'Oggy oggy oggy' beckoned me to the top of an incline before mile 18. But they had pitched up opposite the Runners World stand, from where I needed to grab another energy gel. The dilemma was quickly resolved: my loyal fans deserved my attention for their trouble, and I got a different kind of energy on the left side of the road.
Of course, the missing gel led to more doubt and it was kind of a relief to meet the next mile marker well over my deluded dream sub-4 schedule. Now I didn't have to clock watch, now I just had to run.
As I write I am pleading with myself to find a new goal, press on, dig in, defer to plan B and consult that 4 hr 10m pace guide, make that glass 3/4 full, the hardest bit is over, a mere 10k to go! Please, Kate, ENJOY the ride! How true the adage that pain is so easily forgettable in retrospect.
One minute my head is strong, strong enough to gauge that my body is weak. The next my body is flowing, leaning forward, but my head is scared and restricts pace, in case the intense beating of my heart (engaged or burdened?) turns into the first female fatality of the FLM.
Showers brought delicious relief from the heat, and frequent 'Nice tutu, Kate. Keep going!', kept me out of that hole. And eventually I gave into the discomfort of my bouncing bursting bladder and found a discreet spot to crouch and tinkle in my tutu. But my legs were....heavy. So heavy. And the cramp didn't subside.
In training, and in the first half of this marathon, various bits of me had hurt but I had ignored it and pressed on. My brain distracting and fixing. I was proud of having honed this skill. But its performance after 20 odd miles was evidently flawed!
"Tall and strong, tall and strong, 4 miles to go, 4 miles to go", that is a simple jog to Hammersmith Bridge and back. I tried to trick myself by focusing on the ground and counting or chanting long enough to look up and find the next mile marker in view. Sometimes it worked and I was pleasantly surprised, sometimes it didn't and I despaired to turn another corner with no green and yellow balloon arch in sight.
More support at 23.5, friends offer me one of the two bottles of drink I had prepared. 'Do you not have the other one?', I manage to bark- there is no energy for pleasantries. My poor devotees are rewarded for their patience and determination by my ingratitude. As I plod on, without the lemonade I craved, I feel guilt and disappointment, as well as nauseous and faint.
Even the crowds were irritating me now: Would you just shut the f*** up and leave me alone! You never wave back when I make the effort. What do you know about my agony?!
And don't get me started on the Sri Lankans refusing to be impressed by my near-accomplishment on Parliament Square...
Even with a mile to go my head allowed no respite, in fact now I was so close, I had everything to lose! Such cruelty! The cramp had moved up to my thigh and I daren't speed up for glory in case I twisted something and, heaven forbid, had to WALK!
I 'struggled' along Birdcage Walk and up the Mall. It was unrecognisable to me, a blur as so many of those last miles had been. The landmarks of Embankment, and even Buckingham Palace, had given way to their marathon identity, beacons that will lead to stopping soon.
Even the sweat band on my wrist was causing unnecessary heat now. I tossed it to the ground, gave up on trying to spot faces in the stands, and instead focused all my energy on that last arc of green and yellow balloons.
So it was Adidas again that communicated my having completed the Flora London Marathon 2009, my arms raised to the sky for a little bit of exhausted glory.
Overwhelmed. Grateful! And waddling.
They make you climb another incline to receive your medal, would you believe? But it is a very beautiful medal :)
Dazed and bewildered, I obeyed the marshalls and dragged my limbs to pick up my possessions, cursing my indulgence of classing three flavours of milkshake and yesterday's Guardian supplements necessities to be packed in my heavy kit-bag.
There was an eerie calm. All around me was quiet emotion, people in pain, agony, immobile, reunited with loved ones and grateful to be alive.
I had done it! We had all done it! Joined an elite group who could say they had run a marathon, and raised millions of pounds for charity.
And now.... I cannot wait to do it all again!
In all the excitement of finishing I neglected to stretch my weary muscles and have consequently spent the last 4 days groaning at the burn of going down stairs and having to lower myself to any sitting position with my arms. My legs are bruised too, from collisions in the race to rehydrate at the Vittel stations.
Two baths in Epsom Salts a day, heavy legs raised and frequently 'iced', I managed to shuffle to Acton train station today, pointing my knees in the right direction and hoping that the muscles that aren't torn to shreds will comply when I lean forward and leave the rest to gravity.
I also have waves of narcolepsy, forgive my audacity if I nod off mid conversation.
My fingers in working order, I trawled through all the footage from our camera and was disappointed to find not a single frame of me approaching the finish.
And then this...
Did you get that?? No. Look behind the chap in the white t-shirt:
After many hours of painstaking peering, and aid in the form of my official MarathonFoto (which gave clues to who I was running with) I can say with confidence that I ran to the line.
Ooooooo, this is it! The heat is on. Family have assembled, anxious muscles have been massaged, second skin is applied to toe, toenails are cut, bum bag is packed. I am instructed to eat lots and keep off my feet as much as poss. So I am lying on the sofa watching crappy films on ITV2. I have eaten every form of carb staple known to man today: 9am rice cakes; 10.30, toast; 1pm, salmon sandwich; 2pm pasta salad; 3pm, cous cous salad; 4.30, rice crispie square x 2; 6.30pm, soya bean salad; 9pm, stir fried brown rice. I am ftb, this part of my training I have taken VERY seriously, plus I am taking part in a lucozade nutrition survey, I think they will be impressed...
I don't feel so nervous today, the inevitability of the event has taken over and there is a calm in knowing that whatever I should have done that I haven't done is too late to consider now anyway. I am even going to treat myself to half a glass of wine in a mo. Don't hold out much hope for sleep tonight, managed an hour's nap this afternoon anyway...
Had a wee gander over the route, haven't done much homework on this but I like surprises. Have noted train times to Greenwich and packed my marathon sack full of just-in-case items. I just don't want to walk, whatever happens I want to RUN the marathon. I have had no significant injuries in training, now it is time to trust my body and go for it.
So here we go...........................................AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!
I woke up at 6.12 this morning, sweating and panicking because the race had started and I wasn't wearing my trainers! Where were my trainers? By the time they were in place, along with the right socks, and I had reprimanded my dad for allowing me to forget such a vital piece of kit, I returned to the start line to find no-one there! I started regardless and soon came across a junction by a seaside pub. Still no runner in sight. Which way for the London Marathon? I ask. Nobody knows. Nobody cares. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
This is the tip of the iceberg of anxiety that has taken over my body. At least I managed a quality 6 hours' sleep.
The weather forecast is great, and I feel prepared in so many ways. But the little things niggle- the bloody toe injury inflicted on me by the New Balance stand at the expo, that's a brand of trainers I will never buy! And the case of the starting pen. I am right at the back- just ahead of the jogging bananas, and with the 11 minute mile pacer!
I feel like the university graduate who has sweated blood and tears for that 2/1, but can't get a job for lack of experience!
I am going to try to sneak into pen number 5, as suggested by a FLM employee yesterday. But I am anxious about it.
At least I am allowed to comfort eat.
Did my last training run along the Thames, added a few fast bursts to my easy jog, but the nerves were tenacious. I tried out my new Helly socklets (as recommended by a guy on the Sweat Shop stand yesterday), ridiculously it felt good on my left foot but not so comfortable on my right! So it seems I will be in oddsocks on sunday.Lovely and sunny. Next time I jog this familiar path I hope to be the proud owner of a marathon medal. I love running, I do.
So, no running today, just a trip to the Marathon Expo at Excel to pick up my race number and microchip that goes on my trainers. I was a bit gutted to find I am in pen number 8- number 9 is furthest from the start line, so I am nearly with the walkers! I'm not worried about when I cross the line (that's what the microchip is for), but I am worried about the energy it will take to overtake literally 1000s of people running slower than me! The guy at the registration desk said just to talk to the 'pen marshals' and they should let me in, but I don't know if I can believe that and am stressing a bit. I was going to keep the 4hr pacer in view but they start in pen 5! Argh...oh well, at least I won't be able to start too fast!
Very un-nerved by the 'pee-mate', don't want to tinkle on my tutu, 'nuff said...
Loads of bargains at the expo, and lots of samples of carbohydrate bars to be disgusted by.
I was wearing flip flops, and didn't notice a the lip on a trainers stand, I tripped over and have bruised my toe, and opened the skin. Argh again. I had counted myself so lucky on the health front, cold germs banished by my marathon forcefield. Panicking again- panic seriously out of proportion with ailment, but with hours to go I am allowed a little drama, non?- I called my nurse cousin, who has advised Second Skin. Phew.
Packed my running belt with essentials, made a few lists and washed my running kit. Yes, I am excited now.
Oh my, it's getting very near now. I was working in Bath
again today but finished early and drove at 90mph to get home in time to run in the heat. I am really nervous that this weather will continue and I will hate running in it, so am trying to acclimatise. Along the river,
drinkers were enjoying the sun, after 30 minutes I was enjoying the running. How much precious energy do nerves use
up? Running with butterflies cannot be an efficient technique but one I don't seem to be able to control.
I only have one training run left. It doesn't seem real. A trip to the expo to pick up my number and micro chip tomorrow will sort that out! Eating LOADS and feeling lazy.
Ok, so I get the point, you haven’t got a fiver and you haven’t got 5 minutes to register with Just Giving.
You definitely don’t have the energy to read more of Rawson’s running ramblings.
So I won’t ramble. I will just tell you that a flock of butterflies have taken permanent residence on my solar plexus, and I can't sleep for nightmares about portaloos and lycra. I have a wedding, a funeral and 30 hours of historical romance to read in the 6 days now left before I run 26.2 miles in a red tutu. Nowt you nice people can do to aid that.
Additionally, I have £239.50 to raise before I am let off paying for my masochism, now there's your chance to flex your benevolent muscles.
How about £2 and 2 minutes?
No wordy pleasantries, just a simple instruction to visit www.justgiving.com/katerawson NOW!
After spending a beautiful sunny sunday in a recording studio, jogging around Victoria Gardens in Bath as the cooler evening descended was glorious, despite the gradients! Jogged up to the Royal Crescent, and got lost in a housing estate on the way down. Found my way back
to the gardens just as a host of hot air balloons were taking flight! Beaautiful!
1 week to go, oh my god. The BBC advert brings on waves of emotion and tears to my eyes.
Really enjoyed this! hmmmm, felt good all the way. Met matt by HB to do a bit of filming, so slowed down from there. Very damp, he was miserable, I was very happy! Someone is going to be disappointed on race day!
15mins ER, 20mins MP(?), 6 x 60s sprint w/ 60s walk recovery, 20mins ER home to collapse...
Set off at 9.45, the time I will start my long journey to cross the starting line of the London Marathon a week on sunday.
I greased up my feet to see if it helped my socks stay in place, but it didn't really.
I have a sock quandry. The flattering short ones only stay in place when wearing my older trainers, or just the right sock behaves in my new trainers. I don't want to have to resort to the practical bunch-on-the-ankle ones because I am being vain. I do not have wedding photos, because I am not married, but if I did the photos from the marathon would take precedence over them. I will treasure this experience forever. Some people get fake tans and roots done and even wear make-up! I just don't want my legs looking any stumpier than is absolutely necessary.
I had a messy and nervous run to the river and had to drop something off to Matt too, I shunned the lift for a jog up 4 flights of stairs and hurt my left quad (is that the big leg muscle on the front of my thigh?) I carried on regardless, but it is killing now.
The sprints were really hard. I did them on a straight quiet bit beyond HB. I felt sick and faint after the 4th so took the 5th easy and delayed the 6th. They really injected energy into my jog home though.
I woke up dreaming of sprinting. Definitely a call to my trainers.
This time I took Matt to document my struggles, because I want to make a wee film to say thank you to all my sponsors. So the pressure was on. There would be proof that I had merely jogged, or that I had stopped my watch a good 50 metres short of my starting point (it's true, I have been guilty of deluding myself in this way, to what end I do not know. What other fibs do I happily concoct and believe about myself?)
So, I bust a gut and properly RAN all the way around the route the full 3 times...and felt GREAT! Momentum was my friend and I embraced her. I didn't manage to speed up on each round (as Haruki Muriaki- an avid long distance runner and my current author of choice- always claims to), but I honestly pushed myself for the whole circuit.
Also, my legs felt no ache from yesterday, a good sign of their fitness. I cling on to all good signs now!
PB-KB and beyond a bit, just under 15 miles, 2h 20m
I have read a gazillion different 'taper' schedules and running plans for the my last month of training, and I suppose I am panicking a bit. Is just one 20 mile race enough to get me through 26.2?
I made this run was really easy, I slowed myself right down to 'conversation pace' and listened to political debate on radio 4. No stress whatsoever, a nice antidote to the Paddock Wood race.
It was raining a bit, 10 degrees, I got a little cold but these are the conditions I am willing for the 26th.
And I managed to haul my ass out of bed before 8 am so I could get accustomed to morning running finally. After spending 8 hours of Good Friday in the pub (all strength not reserved for running went on restricting my alcohol intake to a glass of dry white and half a hoegarden) the early morning was quite a feat, but I did feel like I could have nodded off on the side of the road for the first few miles . It's amazing how once you warm-up and get over those niggles, my body just seems to know what to do!
All very practical now- tried out the Tropical flavour Go Gel, which was very weak in flavour but still made me feel a bit sick, so much better than lucozade ones though. Must make sure I take them with water. Have decided I will carry in my belt 4 x gels (start taking after one hr), half a packet of wine gums to top up my carb intake, and a raspberry nutrigrain for if my tummy gets to the rumbling stage, but I need a hot weather alternative, like gazpacho and a beer.....Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelly hope it isn't hot. It's too early to check weather predictions and take them seriously though I am tempted..
Some of you will have noticed the running theme (running, that is) to my facebook status, and some of you will have ignored my barrage of begging emails, some of you will have been bored to tears with tales of training, and some of you will have completely missed the fact that I am running the London Marathon on 26th april this year.
I have not been the most active of facebookers, and am the first to delete any request to return a snowball, buy a cocktail or join a campaigning group to bring back hanging or whatever.
I am sure I have also ignored similar requests to this one. All I can say is sorry, and that I promise to donate to the neglected cause as soon as you remind me how...
My cause is the amazing Richard House Children's Hospice. I have raised a whopping £1200 so far, but with 3 weeks to go, I have £600 yet to beg/borrow/steal.
I wondered if you, lovely facebook friends, many of whom I have not seen since we were all chanting hail marys in kilts, could find the time to sponsor me £2. That is the minimum donation, and one I don't feel too cheeky about requesting....I hope you agree! If 100 friends gave me £2, I would be so much closer to my target!
I know we are all busy and stressed and skint, and there are a million reasons not to visit www.justgiving.com/katerawson right now. You may not even like me and just became my friend to boost your numbers or laugh at how I never grew into my ears, but at the risk of sounding like those daytime TV ads, your £2 will make all the difference to the kids at Richard House.
PLEASE please pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease sponsor me now!
(if you have any problems with justgiving-a few have been reported- let me know and I can sort out an alternative)
THANK YOU! And if you are in London on the 26th, let me know! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
HB-PB (south side first), 15mins warm up, 30mins threshold run, 20mins warm down...
I am trying to follow the Taper program in Marathon Magazine. They refer to a myriad of different running terms: 'Easy Run' (nice!), 'Short Run' (10 mins or 50 mins?), 'Long Run' (22m or 12m?), 'T R' (which could be Training, Tempo, or Threshold Run) and 'Marathon Pace' (so that's anything ranging from very slow to 40mph in an ambulance). It is all a bit of guess work.
I choose the threshold option on tonight's TR, because I know that means running on the edge of discomfort, which seems sensible to practise.
On the way back (relaxing into my 'ER' (nice!)) I noticed kids in canoes on the river. Not full-on noisy rowing that you get during the day, but slow peaceful gliding. The moon was full, it was a lovely warm evening, something about the harbour-type lights of Kew in the distance and the gentle wind evoked memories of my 13th birthday at the FBI in Mawnan. I went on an impromptu canoe trip and returned to have the pub sing to me and the landlord give me a cherry-adorned 'cocktail'. It was a nice memory and made for a very ER home.
Well, you are only supposed to get 300-500 miles out of a pair of trainers. I wanted to wear my old GT 2100s for the marathon because they just feel better than the new ones I bought in january. But along with all the doubt I am having now, I suspect them of being a little past their best. I trawled through websites while answering phones the other day and managed to find the updated model for £65, which is a bargain. So I am now the proud owner of shiny new GT2140s. What a geek! All the teasing I have given my boyfriend over the years for his addiction to forums called 'Piston Heads' and 'Petrol power', and his forum buddies and hot topics. My new Asics are his old TVR.
Sadly they have pink trimming which clashes with my tutu.
And they felt like boats on my feet tonight, don't know if they need tightening or if it is because of heavy feet (and heavy heart) leftover from sunday...
Hot, horrid, horrible. Hot feet, hot head, looking hot in my custom-made red tutu? I think not, but it was at least a mild success in the midst of a confidence-sapping run.
I was tired to start with- yawning on my way to the race was a bad sign. Actually, there were lots of bad signs: we got lost (matt's fault for lack of thorough planning), we ran out of petrol (matt's fault for gung ho attitude and previous reason), we couldn't find a parking space (matt's fault for delaying arrival time by getting lost and running out of petrol).
A race that starts at 11 am sounded very reasonable when I wrote the cheque, I had not considered it might be a HOT day, and that running in the midday sun might be HELL! I do not even like being still in the sun, why on earth would I choose to run in it?
I sound so uncharacteristically negative, but it was...I am afraid I must continue in such a vein...
My aims for the run had been both practical - testing out tutu, diluted lucozade drink and nutrigrain bar; and also a bit affirming- proof of the progress I had made by knocking out 8 minute miles (it is only a Half after all) and blowing my Dover time over the cliffs never to be met again.
If I didn't know it then, I am damn sure now; 8 minute miles over 13.1 miles is completely deluded. How had I bigged myself up to this degree? It was a long fall to reality...
I tried to lean forward and be positive, but I had such little control over my body, my muscles could not hold me in the right place and so I had to lean back or risk gravity taking over and a face-plummet. I got to mile 4 in 33 minutes and miserable discomfort. Hot, tired, it all felt like Very Hard Work.
Mile 4, that's 22.2 miles fewer than I will be apparently be running in 4 weeks' time.
For the first time since this adventure began I thought, What the hell am I doing? And why? Why don't I just stop! I want to stop!
The only redeeming factor of the first half of the Half, was a rather diverting lovers' tiff. They both had ear phones in so were projecting for all our pleasure, 'You're speeding up for the marker!', 'I'm not. I'm trying to get passed you!' and 'You need to walk', 'I don't need you! Go away! Keep running!'. Finally, between sprinting and gagging, 'For God's sake, just RUN!'
That did make me giggle. But only for a millisecond. Or whatever the minimum giggle-time is.
As the miles went on, I resisted the evil urge to stop, but I couldn't shift my head out of it's negative gear, I had disappointed myself, it got hotter and hotter, and the shade more elusive. The scenery was pretty though, and there was a wet sponge point which brought temporary relief. The nutrigrain, however, stuck like cement in my thirsty mouth.
And the bottle of diluted well-known brand of sports drink did not quench my thirst, it made me crave cool water, as well as filling my bladder, crushed under a sweaty bouncing belt.
The cheering teams from Macmillan Cancer Relief were yet another irritation. They only held out jelly babies and made a decent level of noise for runners wearing their green vests. Well, favouritism won't do. It's hardly sporting. I don't recall this race being affiliated with Macmillan. And anyway, I was wearing my charity vest AND a tutu, surely that deserves a spin of the clicker clacker thing?
When I got to mile 10, I took the double figures as a sign to double in strength. Clouds came in to view. There must be something positive to come out of this race. I can still beat the Dover time, take it steady and then put in maximum effort for the last 2 miles.
I employed my speed training tactic of counting through the pain (in 44s, or 88s) all the way to the finish. In fact I sprinted to the line, and then nearly vomited across it. The sweet relief of the portaloo, and that it was all over.
Just a little warm up for tomorrow's half marathon. Feeling tired after playing Guitar hero until 2 am and trying to avoid the wine going around. Anxious paranoia is setting in, I need to research numb toes. And get more sleep.
Legs still very sore from tuesday, but I had to rescue my abandoned bike from Mayfair, and it was a lovely sunny afternoon. Too sunny. I hope it isn't so hot on the 26th, I wonder if I know anyone who lives on the route and could feed me ice? Or a calippo?
Running on busy roads made me curse the most polluted city in the world that is my home- especially on the interminable Holland Park Hill. But all was forgiven in Hyde Park-lovely!
My running belt seemed to squash my lunch today, can't decide whether to bother with it.
I have received my running number (43198), it all seems very real and very close now.
Twickenham Bridge to Putney Bridge, 17.46m, 2 hrs 37m 23s
This was zen-like running, a beautiful, calm, LIGHT (at last!) evening, where my knees behaved, posture was easy, Helly socks were ace, my earphones stayed in my ears and snot stayed in my nasal passage. Even fat/with child/with dog/oblivious with mobile pedestrians seemed to get out of my way (did my charity vest command more respect than the smelly tshirts of previous months?). I thought back to starting my training, in the dark and cold, how angry I used to get while pounding the streets, and it felt so unfamiliar today. Today it felt EASY! 17.4 miles of comfort! Wow!
There were a few niggles- my back ached towards the end, maybe from holding a water bottle mainly in my right hand and consequently twisting, and I am giving up on lucozade gels, they seem harder to digest that the apple and cinnamon flan that was saturday's failed training fuel. Plus the latest dilemma to preoccupy me: is 26.2 miles in a thong a good idea? Or should I be resigned to wasting a few kilojoules of energy on underwear-realignment on the big day?
I went to a Putney pub to refill my water bottle and was offered 'Fosters?', if I'd had money on me and he'd had Amstel on tap I might have been tempted...
Beeping my watch could only exacerbate the pounding in my head, so I didn't.
My usually enjoyable sunday run was impeded by hangover
and sore feet from saturday night tottering in silly red heels. The Pimms tents set out for the Boat Race today didn't help either. Fortunately my new sports sunglasses were a hit, £4.99 from Millets, bargain.
I need to limit alcohol consumption now, I have decided the best way to tackle this is to only drink bubbles.
Too many people have pledged to double their sponsorship if I clock a sub 4 hr marathon.
The words roll off the tongue, they are familiar, as I currently dedicate every 'stuck in front of a computer with nothing better to do moment' to Running Forums (overtaking previous obsessions on Genes Reunited, Ebay and the obligatory Facebook). The reality check on this challenge tells me I have a need for speed in my training plan if I have any hope of grabbing the extra cash.
With 4 weeks to go, and a better late than never attitude, I grab 30 minutes break in the rain and set off to Ravenscourt Park for my first Interval Training.
This means running asap ('s' for speedily) for a kilometre, and then recovering for a minute before doing it again. 4 times.
So, not really having mastered the nutrition bit of my program, I wolfed down an apple and cinnamon flan for energy and set off. It was really tasty, gooey, my indulgent second piece of the day. It lingered on my fingers and by the time I was jogging through Acton Green's temporary fairground, the combo of apple, cinammon and ripe candyfloss was nearly fruitful.
Made it to Ravenscourt Park, flan still in belly, and tried to sprint.
I am not sure of the precise definition of the verb 'to sprint', but I managed at least 10 paces very fast, another few paces quite fast, and then a fairly fast spurt at the end of each lap, with the 5 aside football pen-my finishing point- in sight (and a consistent cry of something about a 'Cheese Grater' coming from the west london youths in it?). I managed 3 laps before I thought I might die.
I much prefer plodding. But, in the same way as 20 miles in adversity (gales/hail etc) has given me the confidence that I can do 26.2 miles of flat, hopefully kinder weather. If I can 'sprint' for 10 paces laden with sugary fruit, I hope the next speed sesh will be a bit easier...
Much better run tonight, followed by a trip that could only aid my training- a visit to Richard House, the children's hospice I am running for.
The wobbly journey on the DLR to the dump around City Airport didn't fill me with positivity about the visit. I had armed myself with waterproof mascara and tissues, and was ready to put a brave (andpatronising!) face on for the kids, but also to be sad and upset and to count my
blessings. But I needn't have bothered. Honestly, I have never been to a place so full
of joy and humour and life. And the fact that it is joy, humour and life in tremendous adversity
heightened the positivity further.
True, I was not party to painful treatment of course,
and the rainbow sign that is hung on the door to the Rainbow Room when a child dies there was absent, but what became glaringly obvious to me, who had presumed hospices to be all about comfortable death, was that Richard House was all about LIFE! And living as fully as possible, as far as the wheely oxygen tank will allow. And you'd be surprised....
Richard House and it's staff are dedicated to fulfilling the dreams of the 200 children and young adults on its books, and it's not all Micky Mouse and football stars, but simple things, experiences we take for granted. For example, children who were not expected to make it to their teens, with advances in science, can now find themselves on the cusp of adulthood and with all the desires that go with that. So, one of the hospice's recent trips was to go clubbing in Blackpool!
Another project has been making their own films. This weekend they are having an Oscar Ceremony, complete with red carpet and Victoria Wood to hand out the awards!
I know it sounds like I'm painting a rosy picture of what must be one of the most traumatic experiences you could go through, to lose a child, but the point, I think, is that Richard House distracts from the pain, and supports during the pain, and makes as much living alongside the pain as possible, possible. We are all
dying after all. And a desire to live as much as possible makes foolish people like me want to run 26.2 miles.
So, now, in a very tiny incy wincy way, I feel proud, and certainly boosted with energy for training, and for fundraising!