The Amazing Human Body

It’s 5 days post marathon and it’s hard to believe that I ran 26.2 miles on Sunday. My legs are pain free (they were fully recovered by Wednesday, i.e. 3 days after the marathon) and I just can’t fathom how the body repairs itself so well.

Immediately after the marathon it was quite difficult to walk. After the finish line there was the long walk down The Mall to meet the family. That wasn’t too bad but then we had to make our way to Charing Cross Underground Station. There were thousands of people doing the same thing so the nearest entrance was closed – more walking required!  When we finally reached an entrance we could use, I had to walk down the stairs. Now that was very difficult and with thousands of people crowding round and in a hurry, the best I could do was walk down sideways – I probably looked like a crab! My right knee ached and my thighs complained like mad. I had taken my running shoes off soon after I crossed the finish line and was now wearing flip flops because the blister on my toe was very painful.

In the excitement of completing the marathon and the photos, etc, I had forgotten to do my stretching exercises. As soon as we arrived back at the hotel I started stretching and had my sports recovery drink (which I should have had straight after the race). I like “For Goodness Shakes”, chocolate flavour – it is 3:1 Carb:Protein – which tastes delicious, especially when it’s nice and cold.

When we arrived back home on Monday, I went  to a Sports Therapist (Mathew Bennett) for a massage. It was somewhat painful but now I know it was absolutely necessary. He told me that I should drink plenty of water to get rid of all the toxins, which I did.

Anyway, because I hadn’t done my stretching and drunk my recovery drink, I was convinced that I would take a long time to recover from the marathon. But no, my body has behaved brilliantly. What an amazing thing the human body is!

Marathon Day – Sunday 23rd April 2017

It’s arrived! Marathon Day at last.

I had very little sleep on Saturday night but I expected that. I can honestly say that I was so nervous on Sunday morning that I could barely stop shaking. Maybe some of that was excitement too because I just wanted to get to Blackheath and start soaking up the atmosphere.

I got up at 6.00 am to have my breakfast – the dreaded porridge with a banana and a cup of tea. We were staying at a hotel in London and so I made my own breakfast in our room. I didn’t have a lot of time because I had to leave at 7.15 am in order to get to Blackheath by 8.30 am. Fortunately the night before I had laid out all my kit and everything I needed so it was just a matter of going through my check list (for the hundredth time) to make sure I had everything I needed. I took a full change of clothing in case I got cold after the race and I also packed my flip flops in case I couldn’t walk in my running shoes. I made sure I had smothered my feet in vaseline and placed blister plasters on my problem toes.

The journey to Blackheath was straightforward. The weather was absolutely perfect for a marathon, although a little cold at 8.30 am. It was due to get to 15 degrees with some sunshine and I thought how lucky I was to a) be running in the most iconic of marathons and b) have perfect running conditions. My cough had mysteriously disappeared and I felt absolutely fit with no niggles or injuries.

It was buzzing at Blackheath. The toilet queues were, as expected, extremely long so I queued up, went to the loo, then returned to the back of the queue for another visit so that I wouldn’t be late for the start of the race.

I suppose waiting around is the worst part but, to be fair, I actually enjoyed it as it was all part of the experience. Just before the start I peeled off my extra layers (i.e. jogging pants and a fleece top) and then, all of a sudden, we were off. It took me 15 minutes to reach the start line but it felt like only a couple of minutes.

My plan was to start off very modestly, which was quite easy because there were so many people around and it wasn’t really possible to do anything else. I went at my own pace and kept checking that I was on schedule by looking at my GPS running watch.

I had so much fun. I was determined to enjoy the day and I wanted to embrace everything about the marathon so that I wouldn’t feel at the end of the day I had missed out on something. I high-fived everyone I could (mostly children), thanked and waved to everyone who called out my name (and there were hundreds if not thousands) and smiled and took in my surroundings the whole way round. You can tell that I’m not a serious athlete – running well was important but not my primary aim.

I can’t over-emphasise how amazing the crowds were. You see it on television, you hear about it and read about it, but when you are running, they are truly awesome. When you hear your name called out, it seems as if you are the only person whose name is called and as if the person shouting it knows you personally.

My highlights on the route were the Cutty Sark, the approach to Tower Bridge, the Embankment, seeing Buckingham Palace ahead of me and, finally, The Mall. I have to admit that I didn’t see the Tower of London at all, nor did I see the London Eye (how could I have missed it?) which is a pity. I suppose the most boring bit for me was round Canary Wharf, but the crowds were good there. Of course it was sensational when I came upon my personal support group, my family, and you can see here how pleased I was to see them! This was at Mile 9.

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I was also delighted to see Albert (Captain of Mid-Herts) and Elaine Scurfield who were there to support their son and daughter-in-law. And the Prostate Cancer Support Team at Mile 22 was fantastic, encouraging everybody and taking masses of photos.

At no point during the race did I feel I wouldn’t finish. It wasn’t easy but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be. I always had the dread of “hitting the wall” but, fortunately, it didn’t happen. I had researched that it was absolutely essential to go into the race fully loaded with glycogen and fully hydrated. I must have done enough and I was very careful during the race to top up my glycogen with gels (I took one every hour), the odd jelly baby being handed out by the fantastic crowds, and I also made sure that I kept myself hydrated by taking water at every water station (not drinking the whole bottle though) and occasionally topping up with Lucozade Sport (which you can see me carrying). I also made sure that I ran through the showers to keep myself cool.

When I got to the Embankment, I knew that there was not much further to go so I tried to savour every single minute left. I can’t explain why I felt so good but I suppose the hours of training definitely helped. When I saw Buckingham Palace I became quite emotional and then when I turned the corner to see The Mall and the finish line, I just decided to sprint the last 200 metres. It was the most amazing feeling to cross the finish line and I started choking with emotion. To know that I had realised a dream and to have raised over £3,000 for Prostate Cancer UK was unbelievable. Everything went to plan, there were no bad surprises and I had the most amazing day of my life.

I was so proud when I was given the medal. My time of 5 hrs. 39 min. 17 sec. was not the most important thing for me. I am pleased with the time but I am unbelievably happy to have finished. So, at 67, it is still possible to train for and to run a marathon. And I came away without any significant injuries – I still have that pesky blister on my toe but it didn’t cause me any problems during the race, and I have a bruise on my foot but I don’t know how that happened. It also looks like I won’t lose any toenails – I understand black toenails is one of the most common injuries to befall a marathon runner.

I couldn’t have realised this dream without the help of Alan, who has had to put up with me constantly saying, “I’m sorry, I can’t play golf (or whatever) because I’ve got a long run to do”, or the housework being neglected. I also have to thank my family (pictured below after the marathon) for their support before and during the race. It was a pity Ben couldn’t have been with us but he did phone me from Australia (where he is working on a ranch) to wish me good luck.

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Also masses of thanks to all my friends and supporters and everyone who has sponsored me. It has been a real privilege for me to run in the London Marathon, and to be able to say I DID IT!

I will be posting a couple more blogs, certainly one after my visit to Barts Hospital on the 6th May when I will have follow-up tests to see how my body has changed (or not) after all the training and as a result of running a marathon.

 

 

A few statistics

Here are some statistics. Below are my splits. I was obviously getting slower towards the end of the race, but that is what I expected. I did manage to be fairly consistent throughout, so I’m really pleased with that.

Here you can see that my position was 12,315th out of 15,468 women runners. In my age group of 65 – 69, I came 57th out of 93 runners. Although I wasn’t going for a time, I am really pleased with this result. As you know, all I wanted to do was to finish but, in actual fact, my results were very respectable.

There were 39,349 runners in total. I came 34,175th!

Split Time Of Day Time Diff min/km km/h Place
5K 10:52:22 00:37:00 37:00 07:24 8.11
10K 11:30:03 01:14:41 37:41 07:33 7.96
15K 12:07:50 01:52:28 37:48 07:34 7.94
20K 12:46:23 02:31:01 38:34 07:43 7.78
Half 12:54:46 02:39:24 08:23 07:39 7.86
25K 13:25:41 03:10:19 30:56 07:56 7.57
30K 14:07:53 03:52:31 42:13 08:27 7.11
35K 14:50:43 04:35:21 42:50 08:34 7.00
40K 15:34:30 05:19:08 43:47 08:46 6.85
Finish 15:54:40 05:39:17 20:10 09:12 6.53 12315

The night before the marathon

12 hours to go! I am in bed but not asleep yet. Really, really nervous.

I have laid all my kit out, my breakfast is also laid out, so all I have to do is get some sleep, eat my breakfast (hopefully porridge for the last time!) and then make my way to the start. It will be an early start as I have just over an hour of traveling to get to my start at Blackheath, then a walk of about 30 minutes to the location of the Prostate Cancer UK photoshoot, and then about 20 minutes back to my start. I will probably have to queue at least twice for the toilet so I think I’ll be pretty busy.

I am feeling positive and very privileged to be able to run in the London Marathon and intend to enjoy it, embrace it fully and soak in the atmosphere, which I expect to be truly amazing.

Thanks to everybody who has sponsored me – I am very grateful to you all.

Last minute preparations

That’s it, no more running now until Sunday. I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be so now it’s time to get going. I will spend today getting my kit ready, double-checking it, and then checking it again just so there are no last minute panics.

Alan and I went to the Marathon Expo yesterday at the ExCel Centre, London, to pick up my bib number and my kitbag, and also to take in the whole VMLM experience. Apart from all the merchandising outlets, there were charity stalls, sponsors’ stalls, etc. and a great running challenge (on a treadmill) which seemed like a lot of fun but only for those who can run as fast as the elite athletes for 400 metres. Not for me, I’m afraid. I listened to another inspirational talk by Martin Yelling and picked up more very useful last minute nutritional information from Anita Bean. Although Prince Harry opened the Expo, we didn’t see him.

The 2017 London Marathon tracking app is now available for download, so if you want to track me, please do download it. My bib number is 3126.

iOS👉 http://apple.co/2pCEMu3
Android👉 http://bit.ly/2pgDojL

I know that the iOS (Apple) app can be downloaded onto the iPhone and iPad.

The weather forecast for Sunday seems to indicate that it will be cloudy, no rain and about 15 to 16 degrees. I’m pleased there will be no rain but a little worried that it may be a bit warm. Can’t have everything though, so I’ll just go out there and enjoy the day.

I’ve been carb loading (I can honestly say that I now hate porridge) and drinking plenty of water to keep me hydrated. Also no alcohol until after the race.

I hope to do another blog before Sunday.

Thank you for all your support. It means a lot to me.

To go to my fundraising page, please click here.

 

Training complete!

So now I’m into the final week before the marathon. All the hard work is done and I have to trust that all the hours I have spent training will get me round 26.2 miles in London.

I am unbelievably excited now and can’t wait to get going. I was really looking forward to The Taper but actually it is quite hard to cut back on the running. You do question yourself and wonder if you have done enough. The most I have run is 20 miles and I think whether I should perhaps have done 22 miles. However, I have followed the “First Time Finisher Marathon Schedule” and 20 miles was the maximum required. I will have to trust the experts who put the schedule together.

Last week’s runs were straightforward, nothing more than 70 minutes, so a really light week. I only ran for 2 hours 30 minutes and covered 13.56 miles.

This week my training schedule says:

“You can only do too much this week. Spend your spare time relaxing and leave any household jobs until after the marathon”.

I’m fine about the household jobs! I have also decided not to play golf – that will have to wait until after the marathon as well.

The training schedule also says:

“Look back at your training and see how far you have come. You are ready!”

Therefore I will look back and it will remind me how far I’ve come and what I have learned about running and myself. This will probably be the subject of another blog.

Now I’m off to RELAX.

 

Maranoia

Yup, I’m definitely suffering from Maranoia. What’s that, you say. Well, I didn’t know what it was either but when I looked up my symptoms, I found, sure enough, there is a word for it.

Maranoia (n) : Mental anxiety found in marathon runners, characterised by the irrational belief that last minute disaster is imminent.

Now that I have reached the taper, I have more time to think of (and imagine) all sorts of little niggles which really aren’t there. I just have to walk 5 steps and I think, “What’s that pain in my knee?”. And then there is the absolute fear of catching another cold or cough, this time worse than anything I’ve ever had before. Or am I going to fall down the stairs and injure myself? Yes, all totally irrational but there they are in my head.

I suppose all this is not surprising, considering I have spent the last 11 months preparing for the marathon. Obviously I don’t want anything to get in the way of me getting to the start line and, unfortunately, I am known to have negative thoughts( e.g. with my golf). What I now need to do is turn those negative thoughts into positive ones.

So, as well as concentrating on my nutrition and hydration, I will also work on being positive. I will go through my training diary and pick out all the good things I have done and achieved and focus on them and not on irrational fears. Starting right now!