A Pre-London Pep Talk

Right.  What you are about to experience is going to suck.

But you’re also going to love it.

How do I know?  Because this is my third marathon.

Third.  THREE.  I’ve done this, on Sunday, THREE TIMES.

Willingly.

And I can tell you, you are going to ride one heck of a roller coaster.  You will have moments of joy, moments of despair, and moments of crazy… and those moments could all happen all at the same time.

You may at some point be passed by a person dressed as a beer, or pulling a pile of bricks, or dressed as a beer pulling a pile of bricks.

Embrace that because that’s the London Marathon.

Embrace that what you are about to do is completely insane.  100% mental.  But comfort yourself in that there will be 35,000 completely insane people doing it with you at the same time.  You will be cheered on by hundreds of thousands of people in London and abroad.  You’ll all be headed towards the same goal together – to finish the London Marathon which is one of the top marathons in the world.

And when you finish (which you will) you can tell everyone you are a marathoner.  No one can take that away from you.  Not even the person dressed as a beer.

So count your gels, get all weird about what socks you are going to wear, and get ready to have some sort of crying fit at mile 22 – cause it’s on people.

It’s on.

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Running the Numbers

So… I started my marathon training this week.  Tomorrow is my last day of my first week.  I’ve calculated that the training plan and it’s calculated at 28 weeks. This translates into 110 runs of various distances + 28 gym sessions + 28 pole fitness sessions.  If I can swing it right I’m going to attempt my long runs to the gym where, depending on timing, I can possibly hit up 28 yoga sessions over the 28 weeks.

Now, you ask yourself, how was this first week of training?  Was it inspirational?  Joyous? A breeze?

No, not really.

First, I can’t believe how hard running 4 miles is at the moment.  My stomach and legs really aren’t pleased with the whole idea and were really annoyed to find out that I decided to do this run not once, but twice this week.  You should’ve heard them yelling in protest this morning as I commuted into work.

(Well, it was me yelling in protest, but let me tell you: Absolutely no walkers got in my way.  TRAINING TIP: Try screaming, babbling incoherently, or carrying on conversations with your imaginary running friends as you run.  It can really clear the path in busy city centres.)

My legs and stomach are likely going to really freak out with the 2 miles I have planned for tomorrow as well.  But before you go off on one about how I’ll injure myself I am currently “just moving.”  Translate into: Not worried about being fast at the moment. Well, trying not to be.  My little running tracker tells me that I’m currently not only struggling to make 4 miles but I’m also slightly faster than a sloth.

(Hey, did you know I’m fundraising for sloths?  And pandas?  And panthers?  I’m also fundraising for the humans as well.  Check it out!  Give me a fiver!  Guilt me into continuing this madness!)

Thing is, I’m not letting this get me down.  If I were a few days from the marathon and only up to 4 miles, then I would be down.  I started all this super early because the first thing I want to do is build up the ability to endure.  The majority of doing the training is just building up the tolerance so that you can, come marathon day, willingly endure.

But until then I’ll enjoy the funeral marches being played on the Spotify running app, which is supposed to match your tempo to the music.  All being well in a few months time I’ll be up death metal… and lapping that sloth.

How to plan your marathon training in 6 easy steps.

  1. Grab a handy weekly planner.  You’ll need about 15-17 weeks to properly train for a marathon.
  2. Search the web for training plans that meet your marathon goals.  Though I hasten to add you need to be realistic in your planning.  If you have, for instance, never run a marathon before you may want to consider solidly finishing your first over qualifying for Boston.
  3. Once you’ve found a good plan get your calendar out.  On the days you work, block out work time.
  4. Every other free space you have left write in “running.” You can elaborate to match your plan later, but this is pretty much what you’ll be doing.
  5. Say goodbye to your friends, family, and social life.
  6. Begin marathon training.

Donate now for extra tips on why the above is seemingly a good idea for me for the third time.

There’s a bee in my house. #LondonMarathon

On Thursday, October 1st I came home to a startling revelation:

2015-10-01 19.50.23

That’s right.  I got myself back into the London Marathon.

I’m fairly sure this was some sort of freak result, likely an error in the ballot system because surely this could not be mine.  Flabbergasted, I took a photo of a woman dressed as a bee, posted it to Facebook, and then immediately went to bed.  My assumption was I would awake and there would be a rejection magazine and some rejection article of clothing (I was looking forward to adding a rejection shirt, water bottle, or bum bag to my collection).  But no, the bee was still there.  She was looking at me with her eyes as if to say, “Yes, you know this is true.” That or, “I’m at mile 18 here and pretty much hallucinating!  Yay!  I’m a bee!  London Marathon!  Yay!”

And I had to accept it.

Okay, so I had to still process it for a few days.

Primarily the acceptance came from my husband, who would giggle at me whenever I looked at him.  The rest from my colleagues, who looked at me like I was crazy… except for one of them who ran it last year.  Upon my announcement he said, and I quote, “Congratulations!  And my condolences.”  Following this he patted me sympathetically on the back and pointed out he was wearing last year’s finisher shirt.  “I wear this every Friday to remind me I’m awesome.”

And so, after day four of the bee still being in my house I’m saying it to the world, “I’m running London in 2016.  I’m running it again.  For a second time.  Willingly.”

And yes, of course I’m going to fundraise.  Guilt is what makes me train.  I’ve got a half marathon next weekend and I’m going to run it on the wings of stupidity because by not signing up to fundraise I didn’t properly train.

You’re going to love that blog, I just know it.

What it is like to run the Rome Marathon (from the perspective of a slow runner).

First, rent an apartment on Via Cavour.  You can do so through these people, who have excellent service, great rates, and clean rooms.  You should do this because you need to have people come with you.  This is important because Rome is a city to be shared.  Also, the finish is right there so you don’t have to walk far.

Second, enjoy the marathon village.  You can find a whole set of messed up races to run like the Sahara 100K.  Don’t worry, it’s in March, so your chances of dying for heat exhaustion are, like, 75% instead of 95%.

Third, know now that the marathon covers lots of cobbled streets.  That’s actually something Rome has as a claim to fame – lots of cobbled streets.  When the mascot for the marathon is a cobblestone this should say something to you.  That something is, “I’m not going to run as fast as I want to.”  This also means that you should take the time to look around.  You pass, no joke: Colosseum, Forum, Circus Maximus, Isola Tiberina, Pyramid, Vatican, Castle Sant Angelo, Olympic Village, Piazza Navona, Victor Emmanuel, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Del Popolo, Spanish Steps.  That’s the ones I remember.

Fourth, (please also see first paragraph), have your friends near the end.  As I’m a slow runner by the time I got to where I needed to get to there was a bit of breakdown in the order.  This is partially because they let you run down some of the most prestigious streets of the city – therefore people eventually get irritated that the areas are blocked off and start walking in them.  Good thing for me, I had Tom and Matthew and Ania who jogged and walked along side me for most of the last 6 miles.  You can see them in action here.  Look it up by F3243.

Fifth, I didn’t hit any kind of wall as I had Tom and Matthew and Ania those last six miles.  Because I had people to run to and people to run with I didn’t even have the word “wall” enter my vocabulary.

Sixth, this is because I got to power tourist.  I was so busy telling them about all the beautiful things in the city I didn’t think my legs were hurting that much.  I ran towards the finish.  Ran.  Like, hard and stuff.

Seventh, as I ran I heard lots of cheering in lots of languages.  The one I’m still working on is “Die! Die! Die!”  I know the word for ”you go” is “andate.”  I’m hoping it’s some chopped up slang and not their sincere wish to see me drop dead on the course.

Eighth, the medal is beautiful.  The race is beautiful but the medal is totally unique.  It is done by an artist and cast in the rough so it’s like getting a rare ancient medallion.  Plus, they do a new medal every year!

Ninth, people in Europe are way into wandering around with their rucksack and their shirts from running.  Wearing medals the day after were hit and miss.  You get a MASSIVE rucksack for running, and the shirt is incredibly colorful and symbolic.  There were a lot of smiles and thumbs up to people passing along well after the race and proudly wearing one or more of these things!

Tenth, and I might one day eat these words, I am pretty sure I’ll run another marathon.  Rome was incredible, unique, and genuine.  This isn’t a world-renowned course but it is a world-renowned city.  I’m nearly positive in the next few years the people participating will only go up and up and up.

Finally, for those holding their breath:  I finished in 6:11:34 and (believe it or not) I went from 1,917th place to 1,785th place.  How, I’m still not sure.  Plus, I got a champagne shower when we got back to the apartment.  Tom and Matthew and Ania sort of scared me as they lead me to the tub, but it was really cool feeling like a big time winner.  I also ate gelati for my victory dinner.  It was in a cone as big as my head.