London Landmarks Half Marathon

The London Landmarks Half Marathon…where to start?!

I entered the London Landmarks ballot in 2018, with a view that if I didn’t get into the London Marathon it would be something that was fun to do, and if I did get in I could use it as a training run.

As it was, I did get into the London Marathon and so this half marathon became a training run. I’ve chosen a different training plan this year and at points have been worried I’ve been behind because I keep comparing myself to last year, but I have to remember that this plan is different; and actually a half marathon on this date was exactly spot on for my training!

We had our niece staying for the weekend and so I heading into London early on my own, ready to drop my bag and get ready. I was early and so had a quick banana and made sure I was ready in plenty of time.

The previous week I’d trained to 11 miles but found it really tough with the wind and conditions. My pace hadn’t been there and I’d hoped that it would be with the atmosphere etc for this event. I set off quickly (for me, it’s all relative!) and things felt good. I knew Matt and Elouise were at mile 3 and the noise coming onto Embankment was immense; I wish I’d recorded it! It was constant, and then I saw them; I stopped for a brief second and off I went again. Mile 3 was the first water station and I needed it, it was a warm day.

I made sure I used this event to practise fuelling, something I’m not always on top of in training and something I didn’t get quite right in the marathon last year. At this event though, it was going to plan. I knew my Mum was somewhere around mile five/six having come to London for the day to support me, and before too long I saw her. She was at a part of the course which doubles back on itself so I saw her twice.

Mum then planned to see me at mile six/seven, but post event we’ve decided she was actually at mile eight and wasn’t quite where she thought she was and then moved on thinking she had missed me! All this time I was getting messages from friends with support (particularly Riny and Laura). My pace was still good, and I was feeling good. By this time, Matt and Elouise were in a play park and I wasn’t sure when I’d next see people, bar the finish.

Coming up to ten miles, the mental wall started to appear. It’s hard to describe, but it’s when you start to doubt yourself but for no logical reason – it’s just silly, the mind playing games. I never doubted I would finish, I knew I would, but my mind kept saying “it’s hot, feet hurt” etc and legs felt like I was wading through treacle. A lot of the course went out and back on itself, and sometimes I found that a little demoralising.

I knew my aim for the day was to be as close to three hours as possible and still my pace was good even if I was playing mind games with myself unintentionally. The 10 mile marker was at Tower Hill and I kept telling myself “just 5km left, that’s a short training session.” I messaged Riny and Laura and said “please keep the messages coming!” (they were tracking me on the app). I knew I had Matt, Elouise and Mum at the finish but it felt a way off. Suddenly, my friend and colleague Sarah was there – surprise! It was great to see her and she was with me for just under half a mile, we had a quick chat, and I carried on.

The end of the route felt it went on forever; just under three miles along the Embankment before a hairpin right in front of Big Ben, short section coming back on yourself, and then two 90Ls before the finish. Coming up to the 12 mile marker, both my watch and Strava (two separate tracking methods) told me I’d hit half marathon distance. As I’m slow, quite understandably I have to keep left, but it means extra distance. Half marathon time came up as 3:04, a personal best for me by 50 minutes, result!

At mile 12 were the London Show Choir, and they were singing Defying Gravity. I absolutely love my music and went past with my hands above my head clapping, and to have amazing music, singing and them all acknowledge me back was spine tingling.

I kept plodding up Embankment, and then it was time for the final slog! When I hit the 13 mile marker, I decided there was nothing left for it but a sprint finish. I kicked and just heard people shouting and cheering and my name; another spine tingling moment. I knew my family where somewhere there on the right but I couldn’t look, I could only see the finish. I remember seeing them in my peripheral vision and raising a hand, and I realised a couple of people were coming up on me, so my competitive spirit appeared and I kicked in harder to make the finish line as I didn’t want to be overtaken at that point (I wasn’t). And that was it!

Slow walking afterwards, medal collection and then I waited for my friends and family. Elouise came over and gave me the biggest hug (despite my sweaty state!) and then stayed with me. The event volunteers were kind enough to give her a finisher’s wristband which she hugely appreciated, I swapped to flip flops, and we found a local pub for some lunch. I never want to eat after training, but knew I needed to!

It was a great day, and seeing it as a “training run with atmosphere” was brilliant. I wanted a good run because I knew it would give me confidence to carry forward, and it did. Although April means double the distance, there’s a lot to take from that event and I’m happy. Through my charity place, I’ve access to running coaches so I’ve been in touch with them for some advice/queries but being reminded of the atmosphere/support and practising things “in race conditions” was brilliant. Bring on April!

If you’d like to sponsor me for the London Landmarks Half Marathon and the London Marathon 2019 for Dementia Revolution, you can do so here.

Clicking on any of the below images will make them full size.

Advertisements

Upping the distance (11 miles/18km)

As predicted, nearly a week away with work and very long (17/18 hour) days meant training went completely out of the window. I had Tuesday off after an eight day stint and I thought “oh yes, I’ll train.” Well no… I was exhausted, I didn’t realise quite how tired I was, and with the weather being horrid I thought I’d go to the gym instead. However, my mind body seemed to have other ideas and before I knew it the day was flying by and it was time for a sports massage I’d booked, and that was that.

That meant that today, Saturday, became LSR (long, slow run) day instead. I’d hoped to do 9 miles on Tuesday and up it today but alas, it wasn’t meant to be. I’ve been to the gym to swim during the week, but no outdoor running.

I took the Waddesdon Greenway which I tried a few weeks ago, but I’d underestimated just how intense the wind was going to be. I wasn’t going into it, I didn’t have it behind me, but it was sideways. I was leaning into it just to stay upright and it was ferocious and unrelenting! After 6km and reaching the Waddesdon estate, I turned round and decided my last 6km could be around Aylesbury with hopefully the buildings providing some shelter.

As I came back into Aylesbury, I decided to take the Thames path instead and followed that along the river, until coming back along the various roads and estates that make up that area. I was two minutes from home but about 1km short so then came the fun and games of adding distance around where I live to hit 18km!

I would like to have made 20km today, but with the London Landmarks Half Marathon next weekend, 18km is good and next week will push me. I’m exactly on plan according to the Dementia Revolution Walk/Run plan, so whilst I might have had a few moments of doubt today, I need to remember I’m where I should be! It’s really hard not to compare yourself to others, but it isn’t the best idea as we are all different and have our own plans.

Earlier this week, I went in to see my local council as they are working to make Aylesbury a dementia friendly town and they’ve done some promotion of my efforts on social media which is great. I also trialled my new trainers today which were comfortable. Matt (my husband) kindly offered to buy them for me and I’m very grateful; they’re Asics and not cheap, but exactly the same as I already have (albeit a different colour) and these will be the shoes to see me through the all important next few weeks!

If you’d like to sponsor me for the London Landmarks Half Marathon and the London Marathon 2019 for Dementia Revolution, you can do so here.

You can also watch a short video I’ve put together here.

Marathon silly season starts…

Marathon silly season; I found this last year and hated it, and I hate it again this year. Marathon silly season is the name I give to the period not too long before the marathon where you are absolutely determined not to get injured/ill etc, but something silly means you do. In my case, it was twisting around in the bathroom; cue a twisted ankle that hurt and didn’t like weight bearing; great!

A combination of that and a very busy weekend (the Bath Festival Targa/getting in at 0230 and a busy Sunday being out and about) meant I delayed my long slow run to Monday morning, with the idea being to go before work. It helped with my ankle too which wasn’t right but was slowly getting better. I set an early alarm, but I knew I was tired and hey presto, I slept through it…!

I still got out, but I only managed 8km (5 miles); better than nothing but not quite what I had planned. I know sessions are going to be really hard as I’m about to go away for work for a week and I’ve seen the schedule; it’s packed, and I think if I’m lucky my best opportunity will be working out in my room! Really not ideal, but I’m a little stuck at the moment for options.

If you’d like to sponsor me for the London Landmarks Half Marathon and the London Marathon 2019 for Dementia Revolution, you can do so here.

You can also watch a short video I’ve put together here.

Trying out the Waddesdon Greenway

There’s been plenty of training going on – 5kms, swimming, gym sessions, gym classes, PT sessions etc – but a weekend meant another long, slow run (LSR) session. I’d missed my run the previous week, as I was competing on the Saturday which was a long day, and worked on the Sunday. I find weekends like that tough – mentality I hate missing an LSR session but I know it’s only going to get harder. I make sure I cross train, but it’s not quite the same…

The Waddesdon Greenway I thought had opened recently, but it turns out it opened at the end of last summer. It’s a long, winding path from Aylesbury Vale Parkway Station to Waddesdon Manor, and to get to the start of the path is 2km from my house, so already getting some distance down. The path itself is 4km each way and crosses a farm track and a main road and is surrounded by fields and quite simply, lovely!

I’d not got round to trying it but I’ve got a little bored of the Fairford Leys/Thames road route I’ve been using and being traffic free was keen to try this route, and I’m glad I did! I fear the tranquility of it may be lost when HS2 is built (it’s due to cross the path) but the route is lovely, and on a sunny Saturday afternoon, it was full of families and people enjoying it.

The route follows an old Roman Road (with stones they found along the path) and I followed the path all the way to the Waddeson estate, before taking a right turn and heading into the village and doing a little loop, before heading back. I’d decided to bring my session forward from Sunday to Saturday, so I could enjoy the weekend more, and I was glad I did.

Towards the end I was starting to feel my efforts and I’ve also been wondering if new trainers are needed. I think the answer is yes, and I’ll go for the same again, so time to find some pennies…!

If you’d like to sponsor me for the London Landmarks Half Marathon and the London Marathon 2019 for Dementia Revolution, you can do so here.

You can also watch a short video I’ve put together here.

First 10km of the year

So, marathon training is well and truly back! I’m training four to five times a week and including lots of cross-training this year; gym work (cross-trainer, treadmill work including sprint sessions, weights, etc) as well as some swimming which is typically “active recovery.”

Marathon training can only mean one thing at weekends, the return of the “LSR” or the long, slow run. This year I’ve decided to combine two plans; the Dementia Revolution Walk/Run plan, and the Bupa plan, along with the extra cross training sessions and some things I learnt last year.

I started off with some short distances (3km, 5km, 6km etc) but missed a couple of early long runs; quite simply life, work etc got in the way. My first long session was Sunday February 10th and it was the first time I’d hit 10km since the Vitality 10km in May. I was only a few seconds off my time there, so I was happy!

I learnt last year that when I first start training, when I get home my body goes into some sort of shock/recovery mode; I know I need porridge and at least two pints of water before I go out, but when I first start training, I’ve not found a way around the “shock.” In essence I get really cold and feel absolutely awful; which wasn’t ideal as we had lunch and an escape room planned with friends! A long hot shower helped, and I didn’t feel amazing, but not as bad as I used to and at least I now know what I need from experience (hot shower, little food, water etc). Onwards and upwards!

If you’d like to sponsor me for the London Landmarks Half Marathon and the London Marathon 2019 for Dementia Revolution, you can do so here.

You can also watch a short video I’ve put together here.

The return of marathon training…

It’s 2019 and that can only mean one thing; it’s time for my London Marathon training to truly commence!

I’ve got a place for Dementia Revolution which is a cause close to my heart, and I shared more about here.

This year, I’ve decided to go for a 14 week run/walk plan from Dementia Revolution (in 2018 I used a London Marathon beginner’s training plan). Training officially starts week commencing 21st January, however I did go out for a few sessions over the festive period and I have done three sessions during the week commencing 14th January.

As well as the outdoor training, this year I’m also cross training including strength and core work, which is something I didn’t do in 2018. I’m hoping this will make things seem a little easier and help me as well.

As well as the marathon, I’ve got a place in the London Landmarks Half Marathon on 24th March. I was lucky enough to secure a ballot place, and it fits nicely into my training plan as well as being able to raise awareness for Dementia Revolution so two events at least to look forward to this year.

If you’d like to sponsor me for the London Landmarks Half Marathon and the London Marathon 2019 for Dementia Revolution, you can do so here.

You can also watch a short video I’ve put together here.

London Marathon – Take Two, 2019

It’s a long time since I added anything to my marathon blog, but the time has come…

I decided post marathon to do the Vitality 10km at the end of May. I ended up not training it for it and used “marathon momentum” but really enjoyed it. I’d avoided going to physio post marathon as I thought they’d put the brakes on the 10km, so it was then time to sort myself out.

“Sorting myself out” took far longer than expected and I was only allowed to return to gentle running on 22nd October; a long time on the physio bench! Various challenges including weak glutes, a hip issue and the ongoing foot/ankle issue which needed sorting. Lots of hard work and exercises saw me more than double my calf length, strengthen my glutes and improve all round.

I realised I was missing my outings, and back in August joined a local gym doing a mixture of gym work, swimming and classes. That’s been going well, and I’d applied for the marathon ballot again. I started to consider if I’d run for charity again and decided yes, but only if it meant something to me. I feel I have unfinished business with the marathon which is what made me start about having another crack at it.

During October, my “sorry you’re not in” magazine dropped but I was offered a place by Dementia Revolution. Dementia Revolution is the official 2019 Virgin Money London Marathon charity, and is the Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer’s Research UK teaming together to power groundbreaking research at the UK Dementia Research Institute. With close family members affected by such a devastating disease, I accepted their place.

April really doesn’t seem too far away, so whilst I’m still only on gentle jogging as interval sessions, I’m continuing to work hard in the gym to cross train and build strength. I make sure I go at least three times a week, including two personal training sessions a week, to build up my strength and use the knowledge I learnt from 2018.

I’m excited to tackle the marathon again in 2019. I’m less nervous this time round, and I’m not concerned about some of the negativity I experienced in 2018; it’ll only spur me on.

Dedicated marathon training will commence in a few weeks but for now regular gym sessions continue ready for the challenge 28th April will bring.

If you’d like to sponsor me for the London Marathon 2019 for Dementia Revolution, you can do so here.

You can also watch a short video I’ve put together here.

suze 2

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!

IMG_2090