My final marathon (I think)

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Well, I did it.  I completed my second marathon (those are actually words I never thought I would say in my life. Ever)

It was a truly amazing experience.  New York was fantastic and I have to say that I thought the Americans would be better at the support and cheering.  But how wrong I was. London totally stepped up to the mark today and exceeded my wildest expectations.  The crowds were amazing the whole way round.

I travelled to Waterloo from Earlsfield with the lovely Sally – so nice not to have to be totally on my own.  Then we both went our separate ways to our different starts at Waterloo East.  Even the train staff were fantastic, wishing us luck over the tannoys.

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The Shard seen from Waterloo East station

Walking towards the starting area from Blackheath station

I arrived at the starting area with what seemed like ages of time to kill, but it soon went really quickly.

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Waiting at the start

Waiting in the pen

Waiting in the pen

I was not overjoyed to see the weather forecast this morning….

IMG_1768Great for the spectators, but my worst nightmare realised!  Having trained for four months in snow, ice and sub zero temperatures this is not what I needed.

Chatted to a couple of other girls lining up in the pen as we waited for the start.   We didn’t hear the 30 second silence that was held for Boston at the back but we talked about it! Everyone had their black ribbons on too.

And then before long we were off.  Running through areas of London that I don’t know but amazed by all the support even at the early stages of the race. There was so much to look at that the first six miles passed relatively uneventfully.  My Garmin started beeping at me at mile 4 because the memory was full!  I spent about half a mile trying to reset it whilst running and eventually had to switch it off and start again so my timing was all out from then on.  Then at mile 6 I had to make a loo stop which took about 5 minutes because of the long queue, but I’m glad I did it there because then I felt much better.

Shortly after I caught up with George who was leading the 4:45 pacing group I had been hoping to run with.  I said hi and ran with them for about a mile but found it really difficult as the course was crowded and it was hard running in a packed group at that pace.  So at Cutty Sark I went ahead. I had a great few miles, the highlights being seeing the Breast Cancer Campaign cheer point around mile 8 which was a huge lift, and  Tower Bridge around mile 12 where the crowds were so loud it was deafening.  Then it was the half way point.  I had no proper idea of my time, but subsequently found it was 2:20 – quite slow I know (but that did include my loo stop) and I was trying to take it easy because of the heat.

Then it was into Wapping and towards the Docklands.  I was really hot by Tower Bridge so entering the Limehouse tunnel was such a welcome relief and I took the opportunity to have a sneaky walk while I cooled off a bit.  It seems that this is the place to do this because loads of people were walking when they were out of sight of the spectators!

The next few miles were pretty hard as I felt so hot.  I saw my friend Jess and her daughter Emily finally – I wasn’t sure where they were going to be so had been looking out for them but it was still a total surprise when I suddenly saw them! I was so grateful to them for coming out to watch me as it makes such a difference. I’m not sure what mile they were at!  The course started to weave and wind through the streets at that point so it was very difficult to keep track of where I was.  The heat was really beginning to get to me and I felt really nauseous the whole time. I think I drank too much water but I felt thirsty the whole time and didn’t want to end up as one of the roadside casualties I saw being tended to by the St John’s Ambulance.  After seeing Jess I had a good few miles, then around mile 17 I had to walk again for a bit.

There were a few shower points along the way to cool down which was lovely.  And at fire stations the lovely fireman were hosing people down which was a lovely welcome relief!  I was amazed at the amount of people handing out jelly babies, sweets, bananas and pieces of orange.  I had one delicious juicy quarter of orange at about mile 21 which was exactly what I felt like.  I never ever want to see another energy gel or drink another lucozade in my life!

The crowds were amazing, shouting encouragement at you when you were walking so it was impossible to walk for long, but even a few minutes walking gave me the boost I needed.  From then on I managed to run about 2 miles, then walk for a few minutes.  I was longing to get back to Tower Hill where I knew it would feel like the home stretch.  When I rounded the corner there I had been walking a bit and then I saw mile 22 and knew that I could do it.  I started to run and felt so much better.  The crowds got noisier and noisier along the Embankment. My legs still felt great and I had no pain in my hip – the area that had been giving me so many problems during training.  But the nausea was still there but thankfully the weather had clouded over a bit by then so I wasn’t in the sun any more.

I had been trying to calculate my time but my maths was all over the place.  As I approached Big Ben the clock was striking 3 and as I had crossed the start line at 10.05 I knew that I wasn’t going to get anywhere near my target time but equally I  knew I was going to finish and it felt amazing.

The last mile is the longest mile!  Past Parliament Square… And then you see the ‘800m to go’ sign.  My addled brain was trying to work out how far that was in miles! Running up Birdcage Walk was amazing as the crowds were just so loud but the finish line was still not in sight.

Then the feeling of turning into the Mall and finally seeing the finish there – FANTASTIC!

I crossed the finish line at 5:01 feeling so sick! But absolutely delighted that it was all over.

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Hideous photo!

London was amazing. The crowds were totally inspirational – the home made signs that make you laugh on the way round, the kids (and adults) high giving along the way (I even high-fived Colin Jackson on the Embankment!). The organisation was fantastic and everything went so smoothly.  The marshals at the finish, and the whole way round, were fantastic.  I was handed a medal, had my timing chip cut off my shoe, ushered to the area for the official photograph and then handed a (heavy) goody bag.  I didn’t even have to queue for my kit bag.  Once I had put on a few layers and sat down to recover for a bit I made my way to the Strand for the Breast Cancer Campaign post marathon party in a hotel which was nice. It was great to have people to talk to after the finish and the highlight was definitely the lovely leg massage!

Then a taxi back to Ruth and Tim’s for a lovely hot shower and some refreshments, a delicious dinner and bed!

What I had been craving for the last few miles!

What I had been craving for the last few miles!

Now I’ve ticked that box – something I’ve always wanted to do.  I have to admit to thinking on the way round “this is not that bad, I could do this again”…. (No, I won’t. Honest Gov).

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Countdown

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I think I’ve been in denial about the fact that the Marathon is really nearly here. But today it all felt a little bit more real.

As most people, I was horrified to see the pictures from the Boston marathon finishing line.  There truly are some evil people in the world.  

This has only added to my nerves about Sunday, but I”m not going to let it get in my way.  London will of course rise to the occasion and I’m sure that it will only serve to unite the runners even more.

I was supposed to travel to London to Excel (way out in the Docklands) to collect my running number but I was spared the task by a wonderful friend who offered to collect mine when she went to get hers.  It wasn’t an entirely smooth process and she went way out of her way to help me, for which I’m really grateful.

So now it all feels a bit more real – even if I haven’t yet got my running number in my sticky hands. But I know it is there in London waiting for me to collect on Saturday.  I’ve finally been reading through all the advice on the website so I know where I’m going.  I was amused to see this notice:

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 So it’s nearly here and I think I’m as ready as I can be….

London, I’m coming for you.

Less than two weeks to go…

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So dear reader (I’m hoping there is at least one of you….) here we are in April with less than two weeks to go until the marathon. I don’t feel very prepared but apparently that is a common feeling during tapering (the winding down phase of training).

I have followed the training programme almost to the letter. I’ve missed one long run as I have a small niggle in my hip that got particularly painful, to the extent that I had to stop and walk during one of my speed sessions. And then I had to go away for work and couldn’t fit in more than one session (on the dreadmill). And i did manage to fit in rather too much beer and chips (carb-loading anyone?). But I am proud to say that I did manage to get up at 6am the day after I got back and run 18 miles before we went away for a few days over Easter (lots of eating again).

I have got to the point where I am completely fed up with running, with getting up at 6am in sub-zero temperatures to run. There have even been days when I have contemplated pulling out.

But it was all put into perspective tonight when my darling friend Winky said: “when the going gets tough, remember what a brilliant cause you are doing it for. Research and development into new drugs literally saved my life. Without herceptin my future wouldn’t be looking so rosy. You go girl!”

Amen to that.

That really is all the inspiration I need to get me round those 26.2 miles.

Ps. If you haven’t managed to sponsor me yet and you’d still like to, here’s the link http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserPage.action?userUrl=MadeleineWaters&faId=257911&isTeam=false. And if you already have, thank you so very much

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Bath Half Marathon

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So today I finally did it.  I finally cracked that elusive sub-2hour half marathon.  By the skin of my teeth.  But, hey, I did it!

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I can’t get this to come out any bigger so in case you want proper proof, here is the result!

I’m so happy 🙂

I have really wanted to get a sub-2-hour half for the last two years.  In 2011 I managed 2.03 which I was really pleased with.  But last year (it was hot) I had a bad run and came in at 2.12.

The first lap (Bath is a two lap race) went pretty well and I was feeling really good.  I felt pretty good all the way t mile 10 and then started to feel that I needed a pee! I tried to ignore the feeling but was getting more and more uncomfortable which was slowing me down. So around mile 11 I dived into a toilet.  I felt better after that and the rest of mile 11 felt much more comfortable.  But as I had been putting my all in to the race, mile 12 (and the all important .1) were really hard.  But I was so determined to have a 1 in front of my result that I just kept going.

The team from Breast Cancer Campaign were a fantastic support, cheering so loudly.  I had my name on my shirt so lots of people cheered for me on the way round which makes such a difference. The weather was perfect for me – a bit cold waiting at the start but it stayed overcast and cool the whole way round.

I felt a bit sick at the end and had to stop right over the finish line but soon recovered.  I met up with Jess and her brother James who had both done amazing times: Jess did 1.55 and her brother 1.48 I think.

I really don’t think I could have run any faster; I’m just not built for speed.  But now I feel that the pressure is off and I don’t have to do it again.

However, this is where things start to get a bit more serious in my training for London. But I feel much better about that run knowing that I won’t be running at the pace I ran today; I can just plod round and get through it.

Now time for sleep…

Pre-race preparations

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I’ve gone from thinking of tomorrow as a ‘training run with a difference’ to having full on pre-race jitters in the space of 24 hours.  I have no idea what I have to be nervous about, i’ve done this several times before. But each time I end up with these irrational nerves.

Been through my usual preparations:

  • Put my clothes out
  • Written out the back of my race number
  • Found, lost, then found again my trusty 4 safety pins (that have been to New York and back with me)
  • Tried to remember to drink lots of water
  • Allowed myself a piece of cake (not strictly limited to pre half marathon days)
  • Check my clothes again
  • Had a nice relaxing bath (a new one to the list)
  • Had a conversation with Jess about what to wear

Now going to bed, uncertain as to what I will wear in the morning.

Why all the fuss?? It’s just another bloody run!Image

Half-way there

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Well it’s been a while. I’m not sure what happened to February- it appears to be March now! I’ve been really busy with work and have had kids half term as well as a little one off school for a week to contend with.

But.  I haven’t missed a single run – of that I’m very proud.  I’ve finished the dreaded hill sessions; my skinny jeans don’t fit over my calves any more; but I do feel fitter (and a bit faster) than I have done in a long while.

And now that it’s March, it’s the Bath Half Marathon on Sunday.

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I feel fairly well prepared for this thanks to George and his very Intelligent Running programme. I’ve started a sweepstake for my finishing time to raise some extra money for the wonderful Breast Cancer Campaign – it’s quite scary what some people have put down as their guesses for my finishing time….
The lovely people at Breast Cancer Campaign sent me letters to iron on my shirt – difficult having such a long name but I just managed to get them on:
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So now I’m feeling a little more prepared for Sunday.  The weather looks suitably cold and drab which suits me just fine – last year it was so hot I really struggled.
My lovely friend Winky seems to be doing really well. Here she is swimming with dolphins 🙂
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One of my mother’s very close friends has also just been diagnosed with breast cancer.  Life is so unfair. She has already had cancer, had her leg amputated because of it and had a stroke.  But she takes it all in her stride and deals with all the horrible blows life throws at her.
All this reminds me that the cause I’m running for is so worthwhile so if you have a spare few quid, please feel free to sponsor me.
So from here on in the training is going to get much harder.  The long runs get longer, the short runs get longer, the threshold runs get longer….. I’m going to need all the motivation I can get!

Where has November gone?

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Well, it’s been a while. I can’t believe it is a whole month since my last post.

What have I been doing? November’s kind of past me by….

I’ve been to Turkey (and did a little run)

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Izmir

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Izmir

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The running track in Izmir, next to the sea

Had a birthday

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Do we detect a theme developing here

 

Done quite a bit of running (but not quite enough).

The weather here in the UK has been atrocious.  We’ve had record levels of rain so I have done many soaking wet runs which have also involved wading through calf deep freezing puddles.  How dedicated am I?

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One of the up sides of running in the rain

Yes, it even snowed in November

Whenever I feel sorry for myself, or question what on earth I am doing running in the freezing cold and pouring rain, I have to remind myself that I am lucky because I can do this.  And I think of my darling friend Winky who has been going through the hell of chemotherapy who is my inspiration to do this to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign.  I have been further spurred on by the generous donations to my Virgin giving page so far. Thank you everyone. You make those early morning, cold runs slightly more easy to bear.

My beautiful strong brave friend Winky (L) with her sister

My wonderful, brave friend Winky (L) with her sister

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