Some useful links. My London Marathon 2005 diary starts here. The race report is here.
Diary archives: 09/04 10/04 11/04 12/04 01/05 02/05 03/05 04/05 07/05 08/05 01/06
Wednesday, January 18, 2006  

The diary continues

The ongoing marathondan training diary can now be found at Running Commentary.

Monday, August 01, 2005  

Advertising revenue floods in

In case anyone is thinking of trying Google AdSense for fundraising (or just making pocket money from their blog), I've received a check from Google in California for a mighty £12.27. It's going to charity, so it's worth doing I suppose. (That's from 2,600 unique visits to the site.)

Wednesday, July 06, 2005  

Post script

I've just sent off a fat envelope of cheques to the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign. The final total was £2372. A huge thank-you to everyone who supported me and contributed to this.

It all seems a very long way off now. I've completely failed to keep up any regular running - this is due to (a) no longer having anything to aim for, and (b) playing football every 1-2 weeks, which, being not used to that sort of thing, renders me unable to run for a couple of days afterwards. I might get my act together and enter some local 10Ks/half marathons - in particular I should stand a reasonable chance of beating 45 mins for 10K while some of my marathon fitness remains.

So unless I do get my running together, it's unlikely that this blog will continue. Thanks for all the supportive comments during the training and afterwards.

Finally, if anyone ever fancies running a marathon: DO IT! All it takes is about 4 hours a week for 4-6 months, and it's the adventure of a lifetime.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005  

This is what it was like on the day

I've read this kind of report before and they're really dull, but I think that if I don't write this down I'll regret it. So this is for me - feel free to skip it. You already know the ending.


0550 - Muesli and apple juice, then cycle to the station. Clear blue skies. Where is the forecast cloud and rain?

0639 - On the train. Busy, but not overcrowded.

0840 - arrive Greenwich park in glorious sunshine. Change, drink, then find the baggage truck. Oops - almost forgot to tape my nipples. Load the kitbag and slurp my first gel of the day. A Robin (avec Batman) calls "Alright Dan!" to me. I double-take, but don't know him. Then I realise that I have my name on my vest. I'll be getting this all day.

0920 - Make my way to the start pen. Having put 4h30 on my application form, I'm back in pen 8 of 9, but I'm now hoping to come in at least half an hour quicker than that. I'm behind the 11 min/mile pacer, and a couple of rhinos, so I'm worried that I'm too far back. I chat to a couple of other runners. Within a couple of moments, a young woman I've never met before is telling me how many times she's been to the toilet today. Female runners' toilet habits will turn out to be one of the big issues of the day.

0945 - I guess the gun went off, though I didn't hear it. About 8 minutes later, the sea of people washes through the famous gates and turns left. People around me are wondering if that's the start line. Then we see the start gate up ahead. I cross the line at about 10 mins.

Mile 1-3 - It's not as crowded as I feared. The plan is to move up into spaces where possible, but don't go mad. I'm managing to check my time at the mile posts, and I'm holding not much outside 8 minute miles. Dreams of a glorious run of 3h 30something mins are beginning to form. The support is already fantastic. The kids are the best, holding out rows of hands for high fives, and giving named support in return.

Mile 4-7 - we merge with the green and blue start runners at mile 3, and everyone starts booing each other ironically. It gets a little busier as we merge, but nothing to hold me back really. I'm still holding 8 minute miles consistently. There are great bands playing outside pubs, and most of the supporters seem to be local residents. I think I see Wole from work who lives round here, and yell to him, but no response. I go for my first gel after half an hour. They're safety-pinned into my pockets, but at the first attempt I pop open the safety pin and have to stop and redo it. Oh, the drama. Cutty Sark heaves into view, for the first real sight of tourist London.

Mile 8 - I'm due to see Chris on the right along this mile, but there's no sign of him. Scanning the crowd takes my mind off the running, but I feel like it's slowing me down. Looking at the times later shows this isn't the case - maybe I could have looked a bit harder. I hope he doesn't wait here too long and then miss me later - cos I am flyin' baby.

Mile 9-11 - The pace is slipping a bit, according to my measurements. Still, I'm well on target to beat 3h 45 min. I've been telling everyone that I want to beat 4 hours, but secretly I want to beat 3:45. Damn, I forgot to tape my nipples after all. I keep seeing St John's officers handing out Vaseline - just as I run past them.

Mile 12-13 - Mum and Dad are due along here and - yes, my first live supporters! Stop for quick high fives and an "alright, see you later!" and it's off again. I'm starting to feel it in my legs now, and realise that I'm going to have to work hard to keep up this pace. I dig in up the incline of Tower Bridge and don't really appreciate the view in full. Chris is due along here as well - the crowds are deep and I'm looking hard, but no sign. Bugger - well, I hope he's enjoying the day otherwise.

Mile 14-17 - I can sense my time slipping now, although it's getting harder to do the sums (multiply by 60, carry something) and my brain is getting addled. I plan the race in two parts - a steady, energy-conserving part and then a flat out survival part. I don't think the second part should start until mile 20. But I realise that in order to beat 3:45 I'll have to dig in hard from about mile 17. I eventually grab some Vaseline from St John's and smear on the run. Until now, I've been carrying a water bottle constantly, but I need to swing my arms now so I switch to sipping and chucking at each water stop. I've taken most of my planned gels, but the safety pins are a bugger and both have been discarded. I can feel a blister forming in my right arch. I've hardly had any blisters during training, and am proud of my £1 a pair socks.

Mile 18-19 - It's really getting quite tough now. My legs want to stop. I see Mum and Dad as planned at 18 which gives me a great lift, but there's no sign of Chris at 19. Damn. Still a long way to go. The blister is there, but doesn't seem to be getting any worse.

Mile 20-23 - Not going well. I've missed a couple of gels because I was feeling a bit windy but I realise I'm going to need that energy, so I pop one more. Amazingly, it does give me a boost after about 5 minutes. I think I'm starting to look a bit rough, because the crowd seems to be singling me out for encouragement - or is that my imagination? The named cheering thing is fantastic - for just a second, you make eye contact with a total stranger and engage with them really closely - and then you both move on. Early on I was trying to acknowledge every shout with a wave or smile - but raising my arm or turning my head is getting harder now. Chris is due at mile 23, and scanning the crowd takes my mind off things, but there's no sign again. I hope he knows that me knowing he's out there somewhere is a big boost. (Apparently, he saw me but I didn't see him.) I'm madly looking out for each mile post now. I'm desperate for those yellow balloons.

A very strange experience: I'm trying to visualise Lesley and Luke up ahead. I can just about picture Lesley but I can't conjure up an image of my own son - not now, not when he was a baby. I choke up a little, and my throat tightens... more and more. Please, not some kind of asthma attack. Then it's gone. I'll have to wait for the real thing.

Mile 24 - I realise there's half an hour to go and I'm not going to make 3:45. What can I do? I'm just not a fast as I thought I was. I'm comfortably heading under 4 hours, and I tell myself I've still got to give this my best shot. Under 3:50 would still be great. But my brain can't do much maths now. I've just got to keep the legs moving. Mum and Dad are due here, and - yes, my crazy parents have managed all three meetings! They beckon me over in the Blackfriars underpass and tell me that Lesley is on the left up ahead.

I grab some water at the next stop, and as I push away, I feel a pain in my left groin. Uh-oh, this could be a real injury. It's hurting with every step, but not getting worse - so far.

Mile 25 - this is the beautiful Embankment, but so what? I don't know how I'll keep going. I try to push through with my legs rather than just plod, and it works while I can keep it up. Then someone is madly calling my name from other side - it's Helen! I break out of my trance into a grin and do some kind of mad waving myself. Then back to the job in hand. I'm desperately looking for the 25 mile post. Please let that be it... no, it's the bastard 40 km post! How much longer to the 25 mile post? Please?

Mile 26 - Really slow now, but I know they'll be here somewhere... suddenly there's a madly waving vision of blue and white, it's Lesley and Luke! I can't describe how great it is to see them - but I don't have time to stop and enjoy. Lesley just has time to get a photo and then I'm off again. Not sure if Luke really sees me, but I learn later that for a 2 year old he's done a great job of "clapping and shouting at all the runners".

I know it's nearly over now, so I step up the pace as best I can. The total distance is 26.2 miles - will there be a 26 mile post? I'm round the corner running away from the river now, trying to give it all I've got. The groin is still hurting, but getting no worse. Running through the discomfort is actually a good distraction. I turn into the Mall and, yes, that big thing in the distance must be the finish - there's no 26 mile post. I'm trying to sprint but there's not much left. I look for myself on the big screen, but I'd rather just focus on that line. They tell you to look good for your finish photo, but I can't think what to do so I just step through and stop my watch.

Ah. This is what it feels like to not run. I'd forgotten.

I'm taking tiny steps on my tender legs. I just about manage a smile as I get my medal. Where is my runner's high? I'm supposed to be elated by now. I stumble through the baggage reclaim and into the repatriation area. The meeting point is right over the other side. Just take it nice and slow... suddenly the crowd opens out, and a moment later Lesley is bounding towards me with open arms. It's truly fantastic to see everyone.

Update: my time was 3:50:26.



The night before
General views from 25.5 miles
Me at 25.5 miles
Repatriation area

Monday, April 18, 2005  



Utterly, utterly knackered.

Full report and pictures to follow soon!

Saturday, April 16, 2005  

Almost at the start line

The expo is visited, the number collected, the chip attached, the bag packed, the meeting points arranged, the carbs loaded.

Here goes nothing...

Tuesday, April 12, 2005  

Too fast

3.5 miles at lunchtime today. I was road-testing the charity vest, it was a nice warm day, and over such a short distance I had a spring in my step. Today’s new niggle was a general soreness in my left calf, during and after the run - a slight worry.

It was only when I got home that I checked the time on the watch – 27:08, something like 20 sec slower than my PB for that circuit. But that time included stopping to buy a paper. (Yes, advanced training techniques.) I didn’t have to queue, but I must have been in there a minute. So that’s quite fast then.

Then later (ahem), I read up in Hal’s book what I was supposed to have done. Apparently, I should have barely broken sweat today. So not run a PB then. Oops. I think I will just walk today and tomorrow to loosen up, and leave it at that.

Monday, April 11, 2005  

If it’s Sunday night, it must be running time

My final long run last night – just 8 miles this time. It seemed like small fry, as you might expect. It also tipped the total training miles over 500, which is nice.

Generally, the taper is going great and I’m feeling totally relaxed about Sunday. My only concern is that now when I run I’m starting to feel soreness in my hamstrings, rather than in my quads (which I used to get). There’s also still a definite niggle behind my left knee, which I picked up during the 20-miler.

Does this mean I’ve over-worked my hamstrings, and they will give a delightful "ping" on the day? Only one way to find out. Hopefully, the logical explanation is just that I’ve over-worked a few muscles doing the 20, and with a three-week taper they are slowly getting better. Let’s hope.

Also, a strange thought occurred to me last night. If I’m worried about injury, I think I’d rather go for a decent time and risk blowing it, than be conservative and put in a time I know I could have beaten. I don’t mean going flat out and risking exhaustion, I just mean that I’m not going to take it easy just in case something gives out. I’ve come this far without damaging myself, there’s no reason to expect that anything will go wrong on Sunday. Obviously, if pain starts, I will be sensible and I won’t risk doing permanent damage. But the worst thing would be to finish, knowing that I could have done better.

This week’s schedule is back to the levels of December. Recreational running! Then Friday lunchtime, a trip over to Docklands to pick up my race number. Other than that, it’s plenty of starchy carbs, fruit, vegetables, and water.




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