I Am A Marathoner!

So I did it. All 26.2 miles of it ( or in my case 27.... Does that make me an Ultra runner?!) 

The day started off well. My lovely coach came to pick me up and take me to the coach. Full of good advice and bad jokes Mark was on form! I got on the coach and wasn't too bad. No full on panics and the journey was quite smooth. Before I knew it we were off to the starts. I had been worried about this bit as my training buddies were all in red start but I went off with Chris Lambert which really helped. 

I also went and met some lovely Run Mummy Runners....as prearranged, by the Lucozade stand. It was lovely to sit with them for a bit and check how everyone was. 

Before we knew it, it was time to get in our pens and then we were off. As I went through the start on the left I looked over and there were Kate, Harry and William waving at me...I gave them a cheeky wave back and smiling I was off. 

My plan if I felt good always had been to go off behind the 4:30 Pacers and assess how I felt. Off I went, my legs felt very heavy but I hoped that would go. Through mile 1 with an amazing atmosphere and suddenly I noticed they had run it in a 10 min mile...now that was a lot, lot quicker than the 10:18 pace that it should have been. I stuck to them for one more lap but having clocked a 10:04 I realised it was nuts so slowed down. My legs strangely hadn't settled.. They felt like lead and completely different to any other training run. I knew something wasn't quite right but kept thinking it had got to go soon. I'd managed every single long run without pain on pace so couldn't see why this would be any different (at least for the first twenty miles!). 

Mile 5 and I saw Simon Hardy up in the sky ( or at least on top of a huge building) it made me smile and I appreciated the cheers. Went past my wonderful coach and support crew at mile 7.5 and still felt not great but ok. 

Mile 8 however was a turning point and not in a good way. My ankle suddenly felt awful. Every step was hurting. Again I thought I could probably run it out but it wasn't going away. I had already spoken to my physio about it earlier in the week and had been given some exercises to help. I am not a physio and probably won't explain it very well but basically my ankle wasn't rotating very well...and this had suddenly become very  intense. At one point I wondered if I had somehow caused a stress fracture ( not that I know what that feels like but the pain was ouchy) however I was too scared to go to medical incase they told me I couldn't continue.

At mile 11.5 I saw my wonderful sister and mum and dad...they were urging me on but I stopped for a cuddle, it felt hard and I needed some love! Very soon after I saw my hubby and children. I am ashamed to say I burst into tears. It was hurting so much and I just wanted to stop on one hand but on the other hand there was no way I was not getting that medal.

I left them cross with myself, my family have been so supportive throughout this training. It has affected them and our weekends yet they have adapted and been amazing throughout, Ed even being my training partner on a few occasions. What had I done but looked miserable when I saw them. They were giving up their day to run around and be my support crew. That was the kick up the butt I needed. 

I began to dedicate each mile to a different person. Turning onto Tower Bridge was as awesome as expected. I was doing this, I was lucky enough to be running one of the best races in the world.  

I trudged on getting slower all the time and a few times when the pain got too much I walked. However I was still determined to enjoy it. I soaked up the atmosphere and the encouragement was amazing. I saw more Eagles which really helped and other friends. At one point I waited ten minutes for the toilet. I had obviously drunk too much and as a time was out the window by that point I thought I might as well wait. Little known to me I caused my family to worry as the toilets were right by a medical tent....whoops!

Mile 18 I saw a friend from my children's school who helped me out a lot when I first started running. It was so great to see him and so well needed. I knew the Run Mummy Run girls and my family were coming up at mile 19 so I carried on in a run and hobble fashion. It was so good to see the cheer squad but they weren't letting me stay for too long! I was pushed on quite quickly, bless them. 

At mile 20 I was in bits and my cousin got the tears next but she was amazing and on I went. Now the focus was mile 23. 

Having been on the other side of mile 23 I wanted to get there smiling the ankle felt a tiny bit better so I picked up the pace relatively speaking. After all I had my place in one of the most iconic races in the world because of you,guys. The Eagles have been training buddies, advice givers and fantastic support throughout....I wasn't going to let anyone see I was in pain and I was determined to rock the flyby! 

Flyby rocked and I was on my way home. I did make sure I appreciated the sights and the atmosphere. 

I have never been so glad to see the London eye. I knew I was going to do this, I was going to be be of the one percent of the population who have run a marathon. The crowd were electric. I knew I could not stop despite my ankle hurting again as I knew I wouldn't start again. I carried on....and did get carried by the crowd. 

I turned onto the mall and the smile went on. I knew most my photos wouldn't be good as I don't have a poker face (just an in pain race face!) so wanted one or two decent ones. I finished! 

I got my photo, got my bag ( with potentially an exclusive t shirt as it has no adidas stripes on!) and headed to go and see Mark and my family. It was emotional! I had finished the marathon. After all the doubting I was a marathon runner! 

I have been celebrating the last two days and taking advantage of the free food with your medal. Also catching up on drinking!

I have also been trying to process how I feel about it all. 

I guess the answer is mixed. I always said I wanted to finish the marathon smiling and enjoy it. Well I did that. I made sure I did. I had to slow right down to do it but I stuck to my guns, adjusted and blasted that goal out of the water! 

However ( this is the really honest bit I wondered whether to put in, but I have prided myself in being very honest about everything in my blog and I'm not going to change now) I had expected to be sub 5 ...all my training had pointed to this being a goal I could definitely achieve and I do feel ( rightly or wrongly) I failed in that respect. This makes me feel sad, I trained so hard and was so out from where I had expected to be. I am so frustrated with my ankle and how hard I found run in on it. Somehow I feel like it's my fault....not quite sure how or why but I do! 

On the upside I am so proud to be a marathon runner. I am so proud to have raised so much money, thanks to all my sponsors, for such a brilliant cause...the charity Mencap. I am over the moon to have the support and love of the Eagles, Run Mummy Run and my friends and family. 

Would I recommend doing a marathon? Absolutely. If I can do it I honestly believe anyone can. 

Would I do another one? HELL, YEAH! 

Thank you to everyone who has supported me on my journey, my training buddies, people who have sent messages of support, my friends and family, the RMR crew and my wonderful coach Mark who I can't thank enough for investing so much time and faith in me. 

Thank you too Eagles, from the bottom of my heart. You gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. 

Penultimate Blog Time!

TWO WEEKS TO GO!! 

 

Wow as I wrote the title I had to stop and think....is it really that close. In less than two weeks will I really be a marathon runner?! I really blinking hope so! 

 

These two weeks have flown. At this point I want to give a huge shout out to my coach Mark Yabsley. He is amazing. As you might have realised by now I am a real self doubter so he's had to put up with a lot! Yet he's talked me through every step of the way and helped me to believe that I can do this....that I will do this. He really is the most special person and I am so, so grateful he agreed to coach me. 

 

At Dorney last week he had to cope with my first full on race anxiety attack. I've mentioned before I get anxious, can't sleep, worry etc....so my grand plan was to book myself into a fair few races to overcome this. I think I have become more anxious on every one. I went to pieces pre race.  I took myself away from the group and texted Mark to say I was stupid to think I could ever run a marathon, I was so freaked out about what lay ahead. Immediately he called me and talked me through everything. Although I wasn't actually sure that the twenty miler was easier than labour! 

 I totally agree that the whole thing is illogical. This was my third twenty miler so why now? I can't explain it. It just terrified me. Thankfully a few of the Eagle flock were around to hold my hand until the start when I was pretty sure I knew I would be fine. Apologies in advance if I look super scared pre VLM. As soon as I start I will love it I promise...and I'm working on the pre race game! 

Dorney actually was great. I loved it despite being told by a few it was awful in the few days before the race! It was hot but there were water stations and continual visual goals. I even had a little competition with myself to see how far I could get before James Linney lapped me ( I won!) 

I was pleased with my time ( although I did go faster than I was supposed to) and dare I say it even felt I had another mile or so in me. I have included one of my favourite marathon training pictures which shows how happy we all were at finishing Dorney! 

This week has been a little stressful for me as I have been poorly and missed a few sessions. I have been so frustrated and trying not to stress out as I know I need to rest. Touch wood today I feel a little better so will attempt a five miler tomorrow. The Thames Towpath shall remain my nemesis race for one more year! 

Time to sign off my penultimate blog by wishing everyone training for London the most perfect taper. Not long now!! 

LESS THAN FOUR WEEKS TO GO!!

It's been another busy two weeks with my highest mileage fortnight so far and I am happy to report I survived!

 Just over a week ago I set off on a solo 18 miler as my running buddy was injured. I was seriously self doubting (what's new) but not only did I do it I enjoyed it. After half a marathon I arrived at Gunnersbury for parkrun to attempt my first block of marathon pace miles mid long run. As I was running up and back to keep warm before it started my lovely friend Allie ran towards me, I thought it was just to say hi but nope she was there to run with me, keep me at my pace and support me all the way round....I was so grateful. As we set off along came Mirka who joined in pacing me around....felt like I had two sentinels! Two wonderful, super supportive sentinels who got me round feeling strong. And to my delight the last mile and a bit also went well and I finished for the first time feeling strong and absolutely buzzing.

As per, I found the mara pace run in the week difficult, but I got that and the other sessions done.

So this weekend was a biggie for me...my first organised 20 miler. Needless to say I was petrified. What if I can't? What if I have to give up? What if it hurts? What am I doing? What if it's too fast and I blow up? The norm basically. I even got both shaky and teary before the start as I just get so overwhelmed by it all. 

However I kind of know myself now when it starts I am usually all right ( though I was starting at mara pace for the first time to do between ten to thirteen miles before dropping back to training pace.) 

I drove and picked up a few Eagles on the way and was pleased to see Christine was running the same pace as I was for the first part as was my friend Justina. I find distraction always helps! At mile 13 I reluctantly watched Christine go on knowing I needed to try to stick to my plan but finding it hard to slow down. I was solo by then. By 15 I was thinking this was hard work. It was hot and I possibly was a little dehydrated. I talked myself into getting to 16 to see how I was feeling. Felt a bit better but by 17 I had that sneaky voice in my head...you've done so well, why not walk a little bit? It wouldn't matter. You aren't feeling a hundred percent now, you don't want to get ill.

Just as I thought that voice was going to win I saw Isobel in front of me....literally a shining Angel, we ran together for the last bit and it helped so much. It meant I went slightly quicker than I should have but she got me to the end.

I seem to have a common theme in my blogs but once again all hail the running buddy! 

As an aside bit nervous about what the next race will bring to my poor car. Brighton was my first organised race and I got a flat battery. Yesterday on the way home someone scraped the side of the car by completely misjudging and actually driving on the wrong side of the road! That caused a bit of a delay to all of us getting home. We were literally waiting for insurance details etc and stretching as we did. The girl who had gone into my car must have thought we were a lycra loving, trainer wearing very strange posse! 

Dorney Lake for me next week, hoping it is not too windy. 

Not long now! 

The photo below unfortunately doesn't feature everyone who was running but I love it, thank you Che! 

6 Weeks to Go!

All in all a pretty good fortnight! 

Ten weeks have gone and six weeks to go! Since I last wrote I not only got to my longest distance of 18 miles....I actually went out and ran 20 miles! Still can't quite believe it but yes I have joined the twenty mile gang! 

The last couple of weeks have been good. My 18 miler went really well but I struggled badly for the last mile and a half. Laura pulled me through and we made it! Running friends are simply the best :-) 

The twenty miler therefore I was super anxious about but oddly that felt better. I wondered afterwards if it was because I went slightly slower. Again a superb running buddy helped. 

The other sessions haven't been too bad but I have found running my mid week marathon pace run hard work. This has led me to the question....WHAT DO I WANT FROM THIS MARATHON?

Do I want to run a time that I could possibly achieve but will be hard, hard work or do I want to go a bit slower ( no doubt it will still be hard work!) and it feel more achievable?

I know what I do want....to enjoy it. To enjoy running down from Blackheath, to be wowed when crossing Tower Bridge, to be smiling when I pass both my Run Mummy Run crew and the Eagles. To look around whilst running along the embankment and finally to be laughing ( or at least crying in happiness)  as I cross that finish line in the mall.

I know there are many people that read this who will be able to run super fast and do all of the above. I am just not sure if I am physically capable of being one of them ( the super fast bit being relative!) ....But on the other hand will I be disappointed to not get the time I'm possibly capable of? 

But it's my first marathon, it's my bucket list marathon, it's a guaranteed PB. 

Something I need to ponder on. Whatever happens I will run to enjoy it. 

On another note I wanted to say to anyone reading this who has thought about doing a race distance longer than they have done before and then thought nope,  I couldn't possibly do that. If I can do it you absolutely can. With training and a bit of self belief ( yep, I'm still very much working on that part!) it is totally doable. 

When I started couch to 5k in March 2013 I used to be a wheezing wreck at the end of sixty seconds. From then to now has been quite a journey, a journey with peaks and troughs guaranteed but a journey anyone is capable of if they choose to make it. 

I am so much happier for finding running. Not just for the exercise and endorphins but for the friends, the camaraderie and the sense of achievement. 

This journey is so incredible, thanks again Eagles. Simply the best :-) 

Running buddies....couldn't be doing this without them! 

Forgive me Eagles for I have sinned, it's been 4 weeks since my last blog!

So far I am still on plan. I've had some great runs and some tough but buzzing runs. I can't believe we are over the halfway mark!

During the past four weeks I have gone way past my previous longest mileage. Angela and I ran seventeen miles of the London marathon route and had a ball. I was terrified beforehand ( more on that later) but we did it. Turning onto the mall knowing next time would be the end of one of the biggest achievements of my life was something special :-)

I have been super lucky with marathon buddies and support. Big shout out to Mark, Angela and to Laura but also to each and everyone of you. I honestly could not be doing this without your help and encouragement. 

"Use your arms"

"Use your arms"

Long run anxiety: I debated whether to write about this or not but this is me and if anyone else goes through this maybe it could help. 

 

I suffer so badly from long run anxiety. I used to be anxious generally and constantly worrying about what I said, what people thought etc...that has gone by the wayside! I am what I am and I need no excuses ( and all that jazz!) but I get crippled by the thought pre long runs of 'what if I can't?'

 

To me in times like this I think I revert back and still see myself as the hugely overweight girl I used to be ( not that I'm a petite thing now but I was over seventeen stone previously!) I look at the long run and the first thing I think is what if I can't? What if I slow whoever I'm running with down? What if they insist on slowing down? What if it's just too much? All things that people can rationalise but these thoughts get to me. Yes, in theory I know I can do it. Some of the distances I have done before so why wouldn't I be able to? I guess being poorly last year has taken its toll too. I get in a real state the night before every long run. In fact I went to Brighton by myself on Sunday because I didn't want anyone to feel I was being negative....which is how understandably it can be construed but it is so not that. 

 

Why put yourself through it some might ask? 

 

Because as soon as I start I love it. I love what running gives me. It makes me feel good. It puts a smile on my face. It makes me challenge myself. It gives me headspace. It gives me me time. It makes me feel proud. It makes me feel I'm being a good role model for my children. It makes me feel part of an amazing community. 

 

Right now it's something I can't seem to stop but it is there. I keep in the forefront of my mind how I will feel during and afterwards and that is what keeps me going. 

 

Running has given me so much. You lot for a start! I feel fitter, stronger and have much more energy for everything. 

 

I hope no one thinks this is a negative blog....it really isn't. I am feeling good. Every bit of my plan so far has gone to plan. I'm entering the second half feeling strong. I'm still so excited and feel so privileged to be representing the club. 

 

I love running, I love you lot. I can not wait to run the London marathon :-) 

Showing off the bling

Showing off the bling

Marathon Blog 3 - A Quarter of the Way There!

It is hard to believe that a quarter of the training plan has gone. Pleased to report I had another fab fortnight. 

One of the biggest highlights of the last two weeks was the Boxhill Fell race. This was my third time doing it. I love this race so much. It is in the most beautiful part of the country. It's challenging yet stunning and so much fun! I wasn't fast but I enjoyed it all. This is my favourite photo at the finish with Liz and my boss/friend from 'Run Mummy Run. ' 

The rest of my training has been and pretty much gone to plan. My strength is definitely increasing again, which I am delighted with. I even managed my fastest parkrun since at least August on the weekend. 

As for the rest of my news, I love track and although I always approach it nervously I finish feeling awesome! I struggle a lot with running after work and do wonder how I will cope when the midweek runs increase but I am continuing to live by my rule of one run at a time and so far so good. All runs ticked off at the pace and speed I was aiming for....that's a pretty big success in my book! 

Sunday I ran with the club. I can not say how important the support of the club is. It really does help knowing there are people around and rooting for you. Even better is when someone has arranged coffee at the end ( thanks Sophie!) I had actually been really dreading that run. It was my first 12 miler in a long while and although I found the last mile and a half hard I did it and felt good :-)

The next fortnight is a big one for me, the miles continue to increase ( particularly the midweek ones) and I get to go to the meet the experts day ( can't wait for that!) I mentioned in my first blog I had been pretty ill last year. Well in ten days I go back to my consultant and although I think everything will be ok there is always that thought of what if?  So fingers crossed that goes well and then it will be full steam ahead! 

Thanks for all of your support. Still super excited! 

Catherine's VLM Blog Two

Two weeks in, one eighth done and starting to feel real! 

I cannot quite believe it's two weeks in already and (touch wood) so far so good. Still feeling lucky and feeling blessed. The support I've got from everyone already is unbelievable. A big shout out in particular to Mark Yabsley and Angela Duff. Two fantastic partners in crime!  

My pre-plan started with the New Years Day Serpies 10k and I loved it. I ran with Angela and we chatted our way round. An ideal confidence booster at the beginning of the journey! 

 

Already I have found I'm adapting the plan to fit life (and to fit my long run in with Angela's!) I've also found that although not fantastic (which wasn't a surprise) I have not been as truly shocking at pacing as I suspected I would be! Ok again that may well be a bit down to Angela but my lone 6 miler on Wednesday ended up with 5 of the 6 being only one second difference in pace per mile! I impressed myself! 

I love the fact that this is a totally new challenge. A big, inspiring, huge challenge but I think I needed a new goal to help get my mojo back. When you lose a lot of fitness and do a distance you've done before it's easy at times to feel despondent you are nowhere near your PB...and believe me I am nowhere near! But now I have nothing to relate to. This is new and it's awesome. In a way although it's a huge undertaking, I almost feel less pressured (she says knowing it is early days!) 

The next few weeks see me fell running (best race ever) and equalling and going past my longest ever distance (14 miles ran two years ago.) I feel really positive about it all, helped by a great planning session with Mark!

Each time I start a long run I may feel daunted but I know I've got this. 

Perseverance, a plan, support and friendship...four essential ingredients in this marathon malarkey. 

Two weeks in...still loving it! 

Marathon Training for VLM - Blog One!

Wow....to think three weeks ago I had no idea I might be running VLM and now I'm gearing myself up to start training next week. Who would have thunk it?!

As most of you know I've had a year of bad health and this is going to be a massive challenge BUT it is a challenge I am totally delighted to be given a chance to complete....thank you so much EAGLES X

Just a bit of background for those who don't know me. I started running v slowly in March 2013. Up until August 2012 I had been hugely overweight and knew something needed to change. I started dieting and walking. After losing three stone I decided to start to run. By run I mean I did couch to 5k on my own down streets I thought were quiet enough to ensure no one would see me! Eventually I ventured to parkrun and from there met Nicola Miller who introduced me to the Eagles ( though it took me another few months to get the courage to go to club run) ... However from that point it was history.

To begin with I had a wonderfully smooth ride, PB after PB and I was loving it. The last two years unfortunately have been a mixed bag for me which included four operations and I got whooping cough. My times are hugely slower than they were but I'm back! 2017 is going to be my year and even though my goals are very different from what they would have been if I had got a place two years ago, I am going to smash this marathon!

As well as running I'm a mum of four. Two of them join me at parkrun and all four of them ran Summer league for the Eagles this year making me a very proud mum! They are very excited that this year they will be coming up to VLM to support their mum running it!

I'm excited and I'm really nervous. It's huge but it's amazing. I have so much to do. My diet needs an overhaul and I need to build my strength right back up. I am so lucky to have Mark Yabsley agree to coach me and I know how much expertise we have in the club to call on....so thanks in advance!

I start on the 2nd with a rest day and then it's game on!