Driving at Down Ampney

Almost a month since my last competitive event, and nearly three months since I last drove on a stage rally, it was time to head to Down Ampney for a round of the ACSMC Stage Rally Championship.

I headed down after work on Friday and got to scrutineering just before 7pm. Having passed, it was off to stay locally for the night before returning early the next morning. Signing on completed and after a little breakfast, it was time to head to SS1 and finally for the first time in years, it was time to drive on a dry stage rally!

I’ve driven at Down Ampney once before, as has Matt, so I had a little idea of what to expect from the venue. SS1 went well and I felt I had confidence in the car straight away which was good, and dry conditions made a change from the two stage rallies I drove earlier this year. We went out for SS2 (a repeat of SS1) and went 15 seconds quicker – not bad going!

Down Ampney has a mix of long straights, fast sweeping corners and some tighter slower sections and I enjoyed the variety. SS3 and SS4 were successfully completed before the stages went “the other way” in the afternoon. SS4 had some moments where the car wouldn’t go into third gear and wouldn’t idle and kept cutting out after we’d finished, but having lunch and the car having an opportunity to cool down was positive. We got through SS5 and SS6 fighting closely with some other cars in class, and then it was time for the long stages of SS7 and SS8 – 9.8 miles each.

The last pair of stages had two splits in them, right on top of each other, so before going out Matt went through the stages with me so as well as him calling the route on stage, I had it in my head and knew what to expect. Getting the splits right is imperative but with only two seconds between me and the car behind in class, another Micra, we also had to be on it!

We got through SS7 with a little kiss with a pallet at the end, and successfully negotiated SS8 (including passing a BMW, who must have been suffering technical issues and moved out the way quickly). Then it was just time for results; SS7 times hadn’t been in when we’d left for SS8 so it had been a case of just going for it! It turned out the other Micra beat me by one second on SS7, but we matched times on SS8, so I held onto the class position by one second.

We finished 5th in class, 33rd overall but the key thing for me was feeling happy and confident in the car – my favourite rally of the year to date.

Videos from six of the eight stages are available on YouTube by clicking here.

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Post marathon outings

So, post marathon, where have I taken my medal out to?! It’s not something I ever thought I would do, but…

I took my medal into the office on my first day back, the Wednesday. Colleagues were so supportive of me finishing and asked to see it. A few of us went out for lunch and I decided to take it with me then, because…well why not?!

On the Saturday after the marathon, I went to Southampton v Bournemouth where I met up with my brother. As he’d helped and supported me during the marathon, I took the marathon to show him but then decided to wear it “as a lucky charm.” Due to still having bad blisters and not being able to wear anything other than flip flops, I wore my marathon Oofos too. I was on Match of the Day, but you couldn’t see the medal.

I’ve no plans to take it anywhere else and can’t believe I’ve taken it anywhere at all, but there we go! I’ve not really worn my finisher t-shirt, however after my #FinishForMatt miles on Sunday, I decided to wear it with some comfortable clothes to chill out for the rest of the day.

To view the video of my marathon experience itself, click here to go to YouTube.

Click here to sponsor me – thank you for your support!

My cost to tackle the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon

Since sharing that I was entering the 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon, I’ve had a huge amount of support both personally and also in support of Marie Curie, who I chose to raise funds for.

Aside from the training time etc, I thought it would be interesting to work out and to share how much money I personally put into the marathon. Some items, e.g. kit, I will continue to use but some were one off costs.

Entry fee

  • £39 (via the ballot, unsuccessful – I chose to donate my fee if unsuccessful, which went to charity)
  • £50 – Marie Curie registration fee for my place

Kit

  • £120 ish – running tights, two pairs of three quarter lengths, short sleeve training top, long sleeve training top, compression socks, jacket, bum bag, cold weather headband
  • £50 – Saints shorts (to go over tights)
  • £26 – two last minute pair of tight/cycling style shorts (due to weather forecast!) to go under football shorts
  • £20 – headphones, to keep me going through those long training sessions
  • £10 – snap ice towel, to keep me cool due to the weather
  • £10 – headbands
  • £50 – Adidas trainers
  • £150 – Asics trainers (used on the day)
  • £15 – phone battery charger – heavy duty one for use on marathon day!
  • I already had one pair of Nike running trainers I used for training as well as a running water bottle, and a snood and gloves which I used.

Keepsakes (for on the day)

  • £10 – trainer tags
  • £20 – event clips (bib number holders, alternative to safety pins)

Hotel and Transportation

  • £338 – two nights at the Crowne Plaza King’s Cross on the London Marathon package (which included transport to the start)
  • £20 – car parking at the Excel Centre as I had to attend the Expo to collect my number
  • £40 – train into London pre marathon, black cab from Marylebone to hotel, black cab from finish to hotel
  • £20 – car parking for Matt in London
  • £14 – congestion charge to get to the Expo
  • £11.50 – congestion charge for the Monday in London
  • £15 – fuel, to and from Expo and back from the marathon

Food

  • £4 – marathon day breakfast (fruit and porridge)
  • £18 – pre marathon room service (pasta and garlic bread)
  • £22 – post marathon Dominos

Treatment

  • £250 – sports massages (four sessions, three different therapists due to staff changes!)
  • £149 – physio (four sessions)
  • £35 – chiropractor (one session)

Other

  • £6 – jelly babies, hot cross buns etc!
  • £5 – trialling different porridges etc!
  • £14 – Marathon teddy bear and keyring (not included in total below as not a necessary cost, just nice keepsakes)
  • Support from people – priceless!

 

Total cost – £1514.50

 

I wouldn’t change things and would do it again, but aside from the personal time, pain and effort, I hope this shows financially the commitment I personally made. There are of course things that could be done cheaper; I chose to stay in London as was travelling alone but I could have had an early start and travelled from home etc. I pursued my dream and didn’t financially plan it out in advance, but it has been a bit of a shock working out the total!

 

To view the video of my marathon experience itself, click here to go to YouTube.

Click here to sponsor me – thank you for your support!

 

 

The reality of the marathon – training, during and post marathon

My marathon journey has been an incredible one, from the moment I said yes to the offer of a place with Marie Curie. But, it hasn’t been without it’s challenges and there are some things I didn’t share along the route. Here are some of the things I’ve found hardest…

  • Adjusting to training; when I first started (with 5km distances), I’d get home and my body would go into shock. I’d be freezing cold and struggle to warm up – I really questioned what I was doing!
  • When I first started doing long sessions, I’d come home with the most agonising stomach cramps and struggled to find out or understand why… partly my body being in shock and partly hydration was the conclusion, but I’d often have to write off the rest of the day.
  • Feeling quite lonely with training – I was lucky a friend was also training (but sadly had to defer) who I could speak to. Being introduced to a marathon training group on Facebook was brilliant – I had lots of people I could speak to and share experiences with! The miles of training around Aylesbury I still found tough though, even with music, football commentary, etc.
  • Cutting out/minimising dairy intake – some aspects have been easier than others, but it has really helped my diet and overall health.
  • Birthday cake – I put my full birthday celebrations (including my cake!) on hold during training.
  • Cutting back on alcohol – not actually a hard one when you start. I’m not a big drinker normally at weekends anyway, but I definitely cut back and made different decisions.
  • The pain and the fear – some pain was just “twinges,” some were true injuries. The fear of what is this, will I make it to 22nd April, what if… really were just horrible.
  • The almost constant pain – for most of my training I was in pain even on a rest day. I got used to feeling a bit rubbish, but it was tiring.
  • Hitting the mental wall on the day – it really was like nothing I’ve experienced and was incredible but horrid all in one.
  • The pain on the day – once I realised it couldn’t get any worse I was sort of ok with it, but it took a while for my mind to realise things could not get worse.
  • The state of my feet – peeling off my socks afterwards was an unpleasant experience and over a week on they are still painful, I’ve only just moved out of flip flops and they need lots of TLC. Having not suffered with blisters in training I did during the marathon itself.
  • Toe nails – thankfully I currently have all of mine, but given the amount of pain I’m not expecting that to last…
  • Not being able to walk – I knew that I would be stiff and sore post marathon but barely being able to walk at all on Monday was a shock (and scare). I could shuffle, ish, but holding walls, my suitcase etc were all necessary.
  • Lack of sleep; I knew from others to expect pre marathon dreams, and I had a couple. But afterwards, I thought I would sleep well. I barely slept on Sunday night and Saturday night (the seventh after the marathon) is truly the first time I slept well.
  • Appetite – I thought I’d be ravenous after the marathon and was excited to order a Dominos to the hotel, but when it came to it, I had to force myself to eat and my appetite took a few days to come back.

None of the above are complaints and it was definitely all worth it, but they were things I was not perhaps aware of or that I contemplated before starting. But, I would do it all again!

To view the video of my marathon experience itself, click here to go to YouTube.

Click here to sponsor me – thank you for your support!

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