Let me take a few seconds…

First, and most importantly, I made it around the course.  Here’s a photo of me in quasi-delirious state (with wild hair pointing out of hat to accentuate the point):

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I even managed, through my mystery angel fabulous donors, to once again break my fundraising goal.

Honestly, I am sitting here a bit stunned that I actually did it.  I’ve completed three marathons.  Me, the girl who once finished a 12 mile race, crawled to her car, crawled into her home and thought, “I’m never going to finish the half marathon.”  Me, the girl who cried the entire last mile of her first half marathon.  I’m now a three-time marathoner.

Some important race things things – I did not have an emotional hiccup on the course!  Those who have read my tales know that it is pretty standard that at some point I cry, but I didn’t.  I worked very hard on my mental state this race.  I also worked on rhythmic breathing, which I literally discovered the night before and so want to work more on because when I got it going I felt like I could go and go!  I spent so much time focused on the breath I frankly didn’t have a moment to think of anything else… so it was like I was marathoning in active meditation mode.   My knee started acting up at mile 23, which meant the last 5k was walking, but I decided to spend it singing so in the end I was probably quite an entertaining thing to witness.

Some important other things – The marathon expo was way improved over 2013 – it felt like a celebration of running and fundraising, which was so much fun.  I scored an extra £5 donation for dancing around like a silly person, but I will not speak of my bowling skills.  Also, the support – wow.  I don’t remember so many water stations, gel stations, paramedics there to assist if you needed them (I didn’t, whew!).  It felt like London showed up in full force to make sure everyone had the best race possible.

And some super important things:

To my friends and family (especially the hubby and the kiddo) – thank you for putting up with me.  I was either out running, talking about running, or doing some form of other training to help my running.

To the National Autistic Society, wow, what can I say?  I felt like I had a whole extended family this time around the course!

And finally, I wish to officially announce I have retired from London… but not marathoning.  I know that people have gone years upon years wanting to run those 26.2 miles and as I have been blessed to experience this twice it is time for me to step aside and let someone else slot in.  As it appears I like to do this every 3 years shall we say Disney 2019?

I think by then I’ll just about have recovered.

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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.

Support my insanity by clicking this link.

Marathon Training Review, October 2015

Well, I’ve begun.

This of course means I’ve gotten a cold immediately and have had to readjust my schedule.

I’ve always sort of questioned the marathon training season as it falls into “awful winter season” and ends, usually on the day of the marathon, with either the hottest, coldest, or rainiest day on record (take your pick).

“But,” you say, “You’ve willingly taken this sort of thing on more than once, didn’t you know this is what is going to happen?”

Yep.  But I can marvel at the madness of it all much like some people marvel at the fact that the sun keeps managing to rise every day… except for those people who live in places where the sun doesn’t at certain points of the year.

I digress.

So yeah, I’ve adjusted my schedule down slightly but otherwise have stayed on track.  As I’m in the “running for running’s sake” portion of the training I’m not too fussed.  One of the things I’ve picked up on is that my body, outside of the cold, is pretty cool with running more regularly after the first week.  The first week it was like, “&*%*!!!” (exact words) but after that it was fine.

And so I enter into November.  For fun I’ve again signed up for Nanowrimo, which means that I will be writing a marathon while training for a marathon.  This is because I welcome both mental and physical pain, obviously.

I’ve also managed to get close to halfway for my initial fundraising goal, which is a guilt fuel.  (Thank you to those who have already donated – and to the mystery donor who jumped me to my halfway point!)  Remember, every pound you donate results in me putting on my shoes and pounding out the miles whether I want to or not.

Until next time!

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:

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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.

How to Run the London Marathon

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Look at me, am I not the picture of radiance?  That’s because:

  1. I met my fundraising target. 
  2. I finished the stupid thing.

It’s important to note what runners actually call a marathon when you are participating in it.  The “stupid thing” is the nicest words I’ve known that were used to describe it whilst on the course.  The other words I shall leave out, as they will most likely make your ears bleed.

So, how does one run the London Marathon?  Before I begin I need to reiterate that I am a slow poke.  I have a personal goal of one day finishing in 6 hours, so my guide is for people who are built for endurance over speed.  This is what I have learned:

Get in Early.

The start is, in the best of descriptions, FREAKING HUGE.  So it pays to be early rather than late.  They put up massive screens so you can take your mind of things.  Grab a patch of grass, sip your fluids, eat a nibble or two (now isn’t the time to pile it in), and chill out.  You may want to meander over to your pin in the start line up a bit early too.  And, if you can, play some chilled out music and then, gradually, pump it up for the start.

Then, take out your head phones.

The reason people run London, other than flat course and a few amazing sites, is the people.  When my knee gave way (don’t worry, it just got weak no serious injury to report) those people carried me through.  The chanting, the screaming, and then… oddly… those moments of silence which sort of break up the crazy in this sort of blissful way… that’s what carries you.

Give some high fives.

Try to, seriously.  Those little kids?  You may have just inspired a future marathon runner… heck… maybe even a marathon winner.  I know that when it hurts you are less likely to high five, so I tried super hard to say “Thank you” a lot.  And don’t fret about germs, you’re going to be filthy anyway.

Definitely run for charity.

The National Autistic Society was AMAZING.  There was a cheer point full of people yelling and taking photos, and then the after race party… oh man.  Leg and lower back massage!  Shower!  Food!  Oh, and when I arrived… me… the SLOW POKE… I had cheers and clapping and whistling.  On the course I came across a few of “my people” and it lifted me up.  I tried super hard to tell them how great they all were, because we were all in it together.

Keep going.

When my knee gave my dream of 6 hours* vanished, but I kept going.  To me, amongst all the others who were limping, stretching, crying… we kept going because of sheer will and determination.  When you finish a marathon you are a marathoner.  There isn’t anyone who will take that away from you, no matter what your time.*

Entries for 2014 open up April 29th – And if you want in, be there to put your name in the draw as soon as possible, it fills up FAST!

Good luck to everyone, I sincerely enjoyed this race.

* Finished in 6:22:09 – And according to my infograph there was 1,498 finishers behind me and I passed 65 runners!  WOO HOO!

** Small disclaimer: I have to admit, I’m the kind of person who would’ve crawled over the finish line and died.  Please don’t take that advice!  If you ever feel like you are super crazy ill, hurt, or otherwise seek medical attention at the nearest spot.