What Next?

Training Completed

Training completed.

My Medal

The race is run (and the medal worn).

What next? Well – listening to my body I’ve decided to have at least a week off from running. It feels very strange not to be running, not to be checking my schedule, not to be dreading my Friday Long Run. On the plus side, this break has coincided with Spring finally appearing, so I knew instantly what I should be doing to still get my fresh air fix.

The allotment
The allotment

The allotment. It has been swathed in black weed suppressing fabric all winter, and now like a teenager, its alarm call is well overdue. Already this week it has had its covering rudely removed, its been partially dug over, had compost added and some potatoes have been planted. Not bad for someone recovering from a marathon!

What else is on the ‘To Do’ list for this week then? ¬†Oh – quite a lot. Apparently I haven’t crossed anything off since¬†January…

Post Marathon Reflections

I’ve had a few days to reflect on my race, and also some time to reflect on the fact that a young man collapsed on the course and later died. I also, very sadly, have been thinking of the people of Boston. Although I’ve felt guilty for enjoying my race, and for thinking about a race report, and even for still being here to run and race again, I’ve come to the conclusion that if we stop running, if we panic, if we stop racing and enjoying our running then we’ve let the evil s*ds who did this win. We owe it to the people of Boston to hold our heads high, and run.

So with that in mind I wrote a very long race report (do I do any other kind?!) and had a good think about Sunday and the race and how it went.

Looking at my Garmin times, I did indeed slow down in the middle section of the course, but apart from mile 2 which I went too fast on mile 26 was 11:37 pace and the very last bit was my fastest at 11:22 I *really* wanted to finish! I’m really pleased with this, because it did feel like I was pushing at the end so I’m glad the numbers show that. My final time was 5:25:41 which was 47 minutes quicker than London last year. Before the race I’d thought about my ‘Gold, Silver and Bronze’ finishes. Bronze was to finish under 6 hours, Silver was to finish under 5:30 and Gold was to finish by 5:15. I’m delighted I achieved my Silver medal.

New PB!New PB!

Something else I noticed was the amazing signs and banners people were holding. Maybe its a Brighton thing, maybe the people of Sussex are particularly entertaining, but I did laugh at some of them:-

“Worse parade ever”

“Chuck Norris never ran a marathon”

“Any fool can run. It takes a special kind of fool to run 26.2”

Hurry Up Runners, my arms are killing me holding this up”

“If you feet hurt its because you’ve kicked so much butt”

I loved the couple of people holding bowls of slices of fresh oranges. So lovely and refreshing, especially after gels!

About mile 20 I was thinking that running a marathon was just too hard, and I couldn’t see how I could ever get any faster because it takes such a lot of energy just to complete the distance. I guess I’m not planning on running another marathon anytime soon. After London, I straightaway knew I needed to try again, to see if I could manage the training; to see just what it felt like to race that far; and to really feel I’d given it my all. I did all of those things this year, and I’m happy with the time I ran.

Other great achievements from the race were – my new shoes felt great all the way through. Despite only running in them for 10.8 miles before the marathon, which I know is a huge no no, they just felt fantastic, comfortable and supportive all the way around. No blisters, no rubbing, no pain! I also managed to avoid any chafing – obviously I got that out of the way in training. Actually, the only lasting pain I have is from the sunburn I caught on my arms. Good job I had applied it to my face or I would have been a total beetroot!

Excuse me a moment, must just go and polish my medal again, and put some aftersun on my poor arms…

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Brighton Marathon 2013 Race Report

After a hectic journey on Friday night, we arrived in Arundel ready for the big weekend. Saturday was spent being blown around Brighton to meet up with an old school friend of Mr B&Ts and to have lunch with him and his wife. They showed us the Lanes, but it was too wet and windy for mooching about so they then took us to the Brighton Centre so I could register and collect my number. The Expo was good – lots of lovely bargains – it was a pity I’d promised not to spend any money as I’d already treated myself pre-marathon! Back to Arundel for a really delicious dinner at a great Italian restaurant. I just wished I could have had a lovely glass of wine to go with it! I tried to have an early night, but nerves, excitement, and a full stomach put paid to that!

After reading worrying weather reports all week about how hot and windy it was going to be on Sunday, Sunday morning dawned cold and grey. I felt silly putting suncream on my face, but after getting a sunburnt neck last year put it on anyway ‘just in case’. I’d been awake since 4.30 so was glad to finally get up at 5.50am and try to get dressed without waking the family up (the joys of a Premier Inn family room!). I couldn’t stomach my porridge, got about half the pot down and a cup of tea and gave up trying.

Mr B&T drove me to a tiny train station in the middle of nowhere and left me there with a slightly strange character who was the only other person waiting for the train. I was quite relieved when the train arrived, already nearly full of marathoners and families. I grabbed a seat, managed to eat a piece of flapjack on the 40 minutes journey, and listened to my ipod to try and chill out a bit.

After a quick loo stop at Brighton station I simply followed the crowds as I didn’t really know where the start was. It actually took a while to get there, must have been over a mile away, and I was trying not to walk too fast and to save some energy. Arrived at Preston Park at 8am, with just an hour to the start, and immediately joined the loo queue. 45 minutes later I just had time to strip off my outer layers, drop my bag at the baggage truck and go to my start pen.

Loo Queue
Loo Queue

As ever starting at the back it takes a long while for anything to happen, but after 10 minutes or so we heard clapping and saw the Elites come past us (they had a separate start). They just fly by, its beautiful to watch them run – so smooth! Another 10 minutes or so and we were off too. Walking, finally saw the start, and finally started jogging. Realised at this point that my gel belt was too heavy and loose, and was banging against my back, so as I crossed the start line I was trying to tighten it up. As we made our way around the park I spotted another couple of Runner’s World forumites (love it when people put their forum names on their shirts!) so had a little chat with them and then carried on.

First few miles were busy and crowded, and a little chilly and drizzly. I laughed at one lady peeling off and running into MacDonalds at mile 2 – I was hoping she was going to use the loo and not stop off for a quick burger! Saw runners going the other way on this section, as it was the first of many ‘switchbacks’ that the Brighton route has, in order to make up the miles. I actually find these sections hard as it feels like you’re not getting anywhere, but it helped once I realised I could work out how close we were to the turnaround point by the colours of the runners numbers. Once I was seeing Green (like me) I knew we couldn’t be far.

After 5 miles we were on the sea front and heading out to the East towards Ovingdean. Again there were already runners heading back to the West, 7 miles ahead of me. These were the super speedy runners though, and in a sadistic way it was good to see some of them looking like they were suffering (sorry – but it cheered me up. At least they looked like they were working hard!) This section seems to suddenly leave the city behind and heads up a hill. Actually, it looks like a hill and I remember I’d been assured it was a flat course, but looking at my Garmin its hardly a hill at all. Again I was watching the colours of the numbers of the runners coming back down the hill to gauge how close I was to the turnaround point. As I got closer to the large roundabout which I’d though was it, I saw we were directed off up a road to the left, which was disheartening to say the least.

I finally made it to the turn just after the 9 mile point. All was comfortable still at this point, I’d been sipping water at each water station and I’d had my first get at mile 6. I was keeping my pace at around 12 minute miles but as my Garmin was telling me I was at a mile well before the mile signs it was hard to know just how accurate my pace was. Running back down towards Brighton and the half way mark I was surprised how many people were already walking. Not surprised that they were walking, but that they’d obviously started too far ahead and set off too fast. This wasn’t planned run / walk, this was people looking shattered and broken.

The sun was out by now as we came back into Brighton and the crowds had gathered. I had LOTS of people shouting my name (the letters on my shirt were 4″ tall – the advantages of having a short name!) Maybe I just looked needy and desperate, I don’t know, but it was actually quite overwhelming as I felt I had to wave, or smile, or give a thumbs up to everyone who called my name. It wasn’t just my imagination either, at one point a runner in front of me turned around and said “So many people are calling your name??!!!!!”

Half way and I was feeling tired. Not sure if it was the lack of sleep over the previous few nights, or not enough breakfast, or the sun (or too much waving!) but despite sticking to my 12 minutes miles (and slower) I couldn’t help but think half marathons seemed a much better idea than a full marathon. I thought my family might have made it out by now, so I was scanning the crowds for them, but there was no sign of them.

By mile 15 I had a huge wobble. I had gone a long way, been out running for 3 hours, but there was still SUCH a long way to go. I’d been disappointed not to see my family, the sun was full out now, and I just felt it was all too much. They were handing out Shot Bloks here, so I grabbed some caffeinated ones and had a little walk as I chewed them. I had to give myself a serious talking to at this point, and then managed to get myself running again. Its hard having a wobble when people are shouting your name every few minutes. I did love the music that a few people were playing along this section (out of windows mainly) – although one song’s invitation to ‘Jump around’ I managed to decline.

Then I decided maybe I needed a loo stop, but of course there were big queues at all the portaloos and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing 15 minutes queuing like I did last year. I asked for Divine help and suggested to the big runner in the sky that if I would be better for a loo stop, could he make a loo without a queue appear, or even a large, secluded bush would do. Within 5 minutes, just as the road turns to loop back again at mile 16 I saw a church with its doors open and a sign saying “Open for Tea and Coffee. Toilets“. A sign!! I ran straight in, gasped ‘toilets!!??’ and was directed to a lovely, clean, real flushing loo, with loo paper and NO QUEUE! I could even wash my hands and wipe my face afterwards. See the power of prayer!!

I felt much better now, and set off feeling ready to push on. Brighton is such a great place – at mile 17 I high-fived the Queen as she sat having a picnic in the road with Prince Philip at her side. (Don’t think I was hallucinating at this point….!)

After mile 18 we were back on the coast, heading out to Shoreham Power Station which marks the West-most part of the course.It was just a case of plodding on at this point, putting one foot in front of the other. It was getting hotter, and there was a bit of a breeze now as well which was cooling but had me worried about finishing into a head wind. Again the returning runners were just on the other side of the road here, and again there were many people walking. Maybe this is why at mile 20 I had another little walk. I didn’t mean to, I just found myself walking. There were no crowds here which actually meant I could focus and pull myself together again. They were handing out more Shot Bloks at mile 21 so I had some more, sucked more water and set off for the final 5 miles. I tried telling myself it was just an hour from there, but that didn’t help so I stuck to thinking which of my runs at home were just 5 miles long.

At 23 miles we were running right along the front, past people outside their beach huts having picnics, around small children on scooters wheeling themselves right into the way of the runners.Still blazing sunshine, but the wind seemed to have dropped so it was warmer but at least it wasn’t hindering me. I was still scanning the crowds for my family, but there was no sign of them, and the crowds were still shouting my name like mad. I passed a block of apartments with a group of people on an upper floor balcony. They were on the other side of a very wide road, and STILL shouted my name out!

At 24 miles I thought “Just 2 to go!!!” but I swear they were the longest 2 miles I’ve ever run. I was so tired, and my right knee had started hurting. I had to stop acknowledging the crowd when they called my name because I simply had to focus on making it to the finish line. At this point I was telling myself I’d never run another marathon, it was just too far and too difficult to train for. Mile 25 – just one more to go – I don’t even think I was thinking anymore at this point, just keeping on going.

On the last mile - still waving
On the last mile – still waving

Past a sign saying ‘800 metres to go’, then 400 metres – but it was still taking far too long to get to the finish. I suddenly heard someone shouting my full name – I’d been blocking out the crowd, but this made me turn around – and it was my family!!!!! I gave them a big smile and a wave, but no way was I going to stop now! Suddenly I could see the finish line up ahead. My knee was hurting but I was nearly there. Then I was over it, I stopped my Garmin and I could feel my throat block with sobs. I held it together whilst I got my medal, my t-shirt, my goody bag, my banana etc, then found I was staggering past a large white tent. I just turned my face to it, turned my back to the world and had a huge bawl. I couldn’t breathe I needed to cry so much. It was just pure relief that it was over, that I’d done my very best, and I’d made it. I genuinely felt at that moment I couldn’t have run any better on the day.

It took a while to meet up with my family, and then of course I cried again.

Medal!
Medal!

Done! Final chip time was 5 hours 25 minutes and 41 seconds, and I’m extremely pleased with that.

 

Brighton and Boston – worlds apart, but close in our hearts

Before I can write about my race at the Brighton Marathon yesterday, whilst I am still processing my thoughts and feelings from the day, the dreadful news from Boston Marathon has hit our TV screens.

Two marathons, two cities, thousands of runners and many more thousands of supporters, families and friends – what a difference a day can make. Two days with such different endings.

My heart goes out to all those affected by the explosions at the end of the Boston Marathon: family and friends of those that are reported to have died, people injured, the emergency services and hospital staff working so hard. Please know that many, many people across the world, and especially runners, are praying for you right now.

And of course, I’m sure that everyone who ran the Brighton Marathon yesterday is thinking of the family and friends of the young man who collapsed during the race and died shortly afterwards. Our prayers are with you all.

3 Days to Go – Trains without Toilets

3 days and counting. Butterflies are really getting going in my stomach now, and the ‘To Do / Pack / Don’t Forget’ list is reaching War and Peace proportions. I thought I had my travel to the marathon start all sorted out, and only the lack of a mention of a buffet on the train made me start investigating. My plan had been to have a last cup of tea to wash down my flapjack on the 40 minute journey in to Brighton on the train.

Google made me worry by taking me to a site which was bemoaning the fact trains on the Portsmouth to Brighton line would no longer have toilets on them. Never mind worrying about the lack of a buffet – NO TOILET???!!

Without wishing to be too graphic about it, toilets on Race mornings are very important to me and my digestive system. Very urgent, in a nervous stomach kind-of-a-way. I managed to contact Southern Rail on Twitter to ask them if there really wouldn’t be a toilet on the train.

twittersouthernrail

So its confirmed – no toilets on the train, and I should just go before I get on basically. Gulp. Maybe I’d better investigate the Tena Lady aisle in the supermarket before Sunday.

Anyone else had to cope with something like this? Can anyone offer me any advice (except maybe skip the cup of tea on the train, and keep my legs crossed!)

Taper Madness 2013

4 days to go! Taper madness kicking in with a frenzy. As fast as I tick things off my ‘must do before Brighton’ checklist, something else joins the bottom of the list.

Tapir
I said TAPER not Tapir!

My iron-on letters for my shirt arrived today (tick). Now I’ve decided to iron them onto a separate piece of fabric which I’ll then tack onto my favourite running t-shirt so that I don’t have to run round Wiltshire all summer with my name emblazoned across my chest (adds to list).

I remembered to ask the neighbours about feeding the cats (my Black & Tabby that are my namesakes) this weekend (tick). Now I need to find someone else to feed them as my neighbours can’t do it (adds to list).

As well as ever increasing lists, tiny problems (mere snags really) become huge threats to my marathon success. Walking around the house bare footed the other day I managed to trip over something and grazed my toe. A very slight injury which I only really noticed several hours later when I saw blood on my toe. I’ve only taken some skin off the top, that’s all, but that was enough for me to feel it on my run yesterday and worry about it. That worry was enough to persuade me not to run today, so it could have time to heal properly. Heal properly for heavens sake – I’m not going to include a photograph of said toe because it will look truly pathetic. Still, better safe than sorry – I might really appreciate not having a sore toe on Sunday.

5 sleeps to go (or is it 5 sleepless nights?)

Test Driving my Race Day Gear

Having run all of my marathon training in long tights through the long cold winter, typically race day is currently forecast to be somewhat warmer. So the tights will have to go – but to be replaced by what? I have my lovely (albeit somewhat embarrassing) knee high socks to consider. This morning, having finally shaken off the cold that’s been stopping me from breathing for the last few days, I got ready for my first run in 5 days. Over my trusty compression socks I pulled on my lightweight capri length trousers. Oh dear – even my husband, who is used to my strange running outfits, sniggered at the sight. Think knickerbockers with tights underneath and you’ll get the picture.

There was nothing for it, it would have to be the shorts.
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I also bravely wore my race day t-shirt but I also popped my faithful jacket over the top. After 5 slow, easy, glorious miles my legs were attractively pink but not too cold, and my top half was actually feeling too warm. All looking good for Sunday!

The First Rule of Marathon Club

The First Rule of Marathon Club is … you do not talk about Marathon Club.

No, not that rule. The other First Rule of Marathon Club.

NOTHING NEW ON RACE DAY

Now if you don’t know that rule, you’re going to get into all kinds of trouble. Rubbing, blisters, chafing and other assorted unpleasantnesses. Of course I know this rule. Before every race I’ve run so far I have always worn my complete race day outfit at least once beforehand to make sure everything is comfortable. My shoes are always well broken in, but not broken down. Gold star for me.

So obviously, this is why I was out running today in a brand new pair of shoes, when the marathon is next weekend. It is also why I have no idea what I’m actually going to wear on marathon day.

My current trainers have had a hole wearing in the back of them for a couple of months now. Asics GT2170s – the shoe that meant I could run the London Marathon last year after all. However Asics, in their wisdom, have updated the GT2170 and transformed it into the GT2000. Ever cautious I wanted to have the new style fitted at my favourite running shop to check that the fit was as good as the last pair. However guess which size they didn’t have in? Yes, a UK 7. Guess which size they still hadn’t had in by the time we went on holiday last week? Yes – a UK 7.

I returned from holiday, with shoes I can only run in now if I wear big blister plasters on the back of my heels and a feeling of desperation starting to grow. Nowhere had my size in stock in my faithful GT2170s, and I was growing ever more nervous about ordering a shore online that I hadn’t had the experts check me running in. Thanks to the wonders of t’interweb I finally managed to find what must be the last pair of GT2170s in size UK 7 in the UK. Thanks to the lovely Val at Sporties Online despite telling me I’d missed the post for that day she somehow still managed to get these shoes to me by the very next day. Cue one very happy B&T bouncing out for a short run this morning to check how they feel. Happy to report they feel fine, so will try and get a few more runs in them and then wear them on the big day.
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Now – what about the rest of my marathon day outfit? The problem here is that the weather has been so cold ever since my training began that I think I’ve only ventured out in anything less than long tights, long sleeved top and jacket or gilet maybe just the once. Since I have no idea what race day weather will be I still have no idea what I should wear.

When I do finally decide which top to wear, I have already ordered some iron-on letters so I can emblazen my name across my chest. See – organised in some respects!

Extreme Tapering

Never being one to do things by halves, I decided to take my first week of tapering to the extreme – and do no running at all.

In my defence, I did lots of other exercise. We skied everyday, we swam, we ice skated, we played ten pin bowling. Oh all right – we actually went on holiday. It was a great change from all the running, it was great to spend time with my family, and i don’t feel my fitness suffered at all as we were constantly on the go.

I also discovered that, silly as I feel in my running gear, I look much, much funnier in my ski wear.