The Trials and Tribulations of a Novice Marathon Runner

This Sunday 21st April is the London Marathon 2013 so in celebration I thought that I would share with you one of my first ever blogs and my very own marathon experience. finish

In 2007 I ran the marathon to 'celebrate' my 30th birthday and raise money for St. Elizabeth's Hospice, Ipswich, who cared for my Dad in his last few days. Needless to say I am not a 'natural' runner and the experience is one I will never forget.

Prepare yourself for blood, sweat and tears...

Wednesday 27th December 2006 20 Minutes approx. 3.21km (On Treadmill)

First day of training today. This time yesterday I was eating my second Christmas dinner! Anyway, was able to complete 20 minutes on the treadmill at 10km/hr comfortably so a good start. However, it will be much harder out on the roads so I can look forward to that!

Thursday 28th December 2006 30 Minutes approx. 2.3km

First run outside and started off quite well although I think I started off too fast. Wanted to die after the first very slight hill! I ran round the Orwell Country Park, which was a bit too muddy and slippery. I couldn't complete the 30 minutes; I had to walk one bit of my route (which was uphill and muddy) but then completed the last bit running.

Saturday 30th December 2006 30 Minutes approx. 3.48km

Again, I found it impossible to complete the 30 minutes without a little bit of walking but not as much as yesterday. In fact, today the sun was shining and I quite enjoyed the running.

Sunday 31st December 2006 20 Minutes Run approx. 3.8km/20 Minutes Walk approx. 1.68km

Sunday are my longest sessions and today I was supposed to be running 40 minutes. However, due to a bad choice of route, after 20 minutes I came to a hill, which I just could not run up. So, I walked up the hill. Unfortunately I stopped running for too long and just could not get started again. This was a very big mistake and I'm very disappointed with myself and now completely lacking in motivation.

Monday 1st January 2007 25 Minutes

Happy New Year!

I ran for most of the 25 minutes today but I'm really beginning to feel stiff and sore today. Apparently this is ok! I have to go back to work tomorrow so I either have to run before work (in the dark and I'm not much of a morning person!) or after work (also in the dark and I will need my tea!)

Tuesday 2nd January 2007 35 Minutes approx. 4.35km

Back to work today after the Christmas break and most of the afternoon I was burdened by the thought that I would have to go running when I got home, in the dark, wet and cold. However, I put on my new trainers, turned the ipod up loud and set out and for the first time since I began my training, I did not feel like dying! I felt good after running for 35 minutes and did not need to stop once. Finally a breakthrough. Hopefully this will continue tomorrow.

Wednesday 3rd January 2007 30 Minutes approx. 4km

There was a headwind for the hardest bit of my route today, going uphill! Therefore I found it much harder than yesterday. I was very stiff afterwards and I had a pain in my left knee and the arch on my left foot. Tomorrow I will need to focus more on my running technique.

Thursday 4th January 2007 30 Minutes approx. 5km

Woke up this morning feeling tired but with no stiffness. The aches and pains must be down to fatigue. Must drink plenty of water during the day today. I can quite easily run 30 minutes non-stop now at a good pace. Breathing is in control and legs fine except both knees, which are very sore when I run. Looking forward to my rest day tomorrow.

Saturday 6th January 2007 30 Minutes approx. 5km

I can run for 30 minutes with absolutely no problems now. Met another runner on the last leg, who was giving me lots of advice (didn't ask for it but I obviously looked like I needed help!). He tried to make me run up Sandyhill Lane but I had already decided that would be my challenge for tomorrow. For the first time since I started my training I was not stiff, sore and lethargic after my run. Hopefully this is an improvement and not just fluke.

Sunday 7th January 2007 30 Minutes approx. 5km

I was supposed to be running 40 minutes today, however, I had decided today to run up Sandyhill Lane. I got to the top no problem (bearing in mind that this was at the end of my run) but then I couldn't feel my legs and thought my head was going to explode and couldn't carry on! Anyway, I'm going to try again tomorrow. The point is, I definitely could have run 40 minutes if Sandyhill Lane hadn't got in the way! One other positive point is that I have noticed that I can run a little bit further each time I run for 30 minutes.

Monday 8th January 2007 30 Minutes approx. 5km

Very hard going tonight, hopefully just a Monday thing. Perhaps because it was cold and wet and I was a bit stressed about my car, I wasn't in the right frame of mind. Hopefully it will be better tomorrow, the pace picks up.

Tuesday 9th January 2007 40 Minutes approx. 5.5km (probably!)

Was not looking forward to running this evening although that's often the best way because your expectations are low. Anyway, managed 40 minutes non-stop, which is a personal best for me. I have never run for that long in one go before. And I managed it quite easily. However, despite living in and around Ipswich all my life, and in this area for 3 years, I managed to get completely lost on a housing estate that I never knew existed!!

Wednesday 10th January 2007 30 Minutes approx. 5km

Managed to go running before work this morning which took a lot of resolve, especially as once again it was windy and raining. Anyway, now sitting at my desk in my cosy office at work, despite the aches and pains, it's nice knowing that I don't have to run again today. Downside was that I was slightly later to work this morning but hey one has to make these sorts of sacrifices if one wants to complete the London Marathon. ;-)

Thursday 11th January 2007 30 Minutes approx. 5km

I hate the wind (the weather that is)! It makes running really, really hard work. Anyway, I completed another 30 minutes without much trouble at all. Sadly this was the last 30 minute run for a while, it gets harder from now on. Shame because I'd got quite fond of them.

Saturday 13th January 2007 45 Minutes

New personal best today, 45 Minutes! All before 9am and...I didn't get lost. That's it for a week; I'm off skiing in Bulgaria. Hopefully I'll come back in one piece.

Sunday 21st January 2007 55 Minutes approx. 7.2km

I'm back! In one piece and with a new PB. Fitness felt ok after a week off, although skiing isn't exactly like sitting on a beach sipping cocktails! I thought I would feel it in my knees but they were ok until about 30 minutes in. All in all, after travelling for 15 hours yesterday I felt good.

Monday 22nd January 2007 40 Minutes approx. 5.3km

I learnt a very valuable lesson during my run today about warming up. It was very cold when I went out about 6.30pm and after about 20 mins I completely stiffened up. I wasn't wearing enough layers and I didn't spend enough time warming up to compensate for the colder weather. I then spent the whole evening not feeling very well. Fortunately after a good night's sleep no harm done. And despite this, 40 minutes now seems very easy. But I will definitely be wearing my gloves and hat tonight (unless it's snowing and then I'm going to the nice warm gym instead!)

Tuesday 23rd January 2007 45 Minutes approx. 6km/4 Miles

Brrrrrr!!! It's freezing! Anyway, I was better prepared tonight. Thermal top, wooly hat, gloves, scarf etc. so I felt a lot more comfortable and a lot less stiff. Spent most of the run giggling to myself because I had a couple of "you've been framed" moments. Firstly, a rosebush whipped my hat off, then I got "gritted" twice and finally a man, who was walking his dogs, farted very loudly when I ran past him...how rude! Oh yes and the running went well too.

Thursday 26th January 2007 50 Minutes 7.5km/4.6 miles

Due to the roads still being quite icy I decided to run on the treadmill. I can tell you now that I will not be doing that again! It was sooooo boring. 50 minutes felt like 3 hours and I got my first running blister! Ok so I didn't get cold, attacked by a rosebush or farted at but I think I prefer road running. One positive though was the spa afterwards, which was absolute bliss. I think I might use the gym as my base from now on so I can have a lovely jacuzzi after my run. Another day off today, I've had two this week, lucky me. Good job really because I think I've been fighting a cold this week. Back to it on Saturday.

Saturday 27th January 2007 50 Minutes approx. 7km/4.5 miles

Beautiful morning to go running today. Blue sky, no wind, no ice. A million times more pleasurable than running on the treadmill the other night. Felt ok although my legs did feel a bit heavy. However, I'm putting that down to curry, wine and half a box of celebrations the night before! Pasta for tea tonight and looking forward to achieving a new PB time tomorrow.

Sunday 28th January 2007 60 Minutes approx. 8.5km/5.3 Miles

New PB today...I never thought that I would be able to run for a whole hour, but the minutes just keep ticking up. I have followed the schedule exactly and it's amazing how easy the next step seems to be each time. I know I have a long way to go but I'm doing ok.

Made a bad decision about which direction to go in the park and decided to leave the path and run for a bit on the grass. It was great for about two minutes and then it turned into a bog! My trainers and the bottom half of my legs absolutely covered in mud, true cross-country style. I must remember not to take my dog for a walk there, what a mess!

I am a bit concerned because I seem to have bruised a toe (3rd on right foot). This would suggest that my trainers are too small or not quite right. However, I didn't have any problem with my feet until I went on that darn treadmill!

Monday 29th January 2007 40 Minutes approx. 5.9km/3.7 miles

40 Minutes and no problems apart from the fact that I had a stitch from about 20 minutes until the end. I haven't really suffered with stitches so far but I put it down to a yoghurt and banana that I ate about 4.30pm. I then ran at 6.30pm so perhaps this wasn't a long enough gap. Also got chased by about 10 chavvy kids down Raeburn Road (well known ASBO area) and I'm pretty sure they were hurling abuse at me. Fortunately I couldn't hear very well because I had The Beatles blaring out off my iPod!!

Tuesday 30th January 2007 45 Minutes approx. 6.4km/4 Miles

Nothing much to say really, these runs are fairly straightforward now. It was the first run since the treadmill cut my feet to shreds that I didn't use 20 plasters so it looks like all the blisters have recovered thank goodness. Although I don't feel like I'm getting any better, if I look back over my training diary I can see that I covered more distance this time compared to my last 45 minute run. The improvements might be small but it is quite motivating to see on paper that you're getting better.

Wednesday 31st January 2007 35 Minutes (very) approx. 3.8km/2.4 Miles

I really struggled this morning mainly because, 1) this run was quite soon after last night's run, 2) I took the cross-country route around Orwell Country Park and 3) I am really not a morning person. However, despite all this, Orwell Country Park is really lovely at 7.30pm on a bright morning, looking down the river Orwell.

Another plus point...I don't have to go running again today.

Thursday 1st February 2007 40 Minutes approx. 5.9km/3.7 miles

Well...I have survived my first month of training with only minor aches and pains. Just looked back over my training diary and on 1st January I couldn't even run for 25 minutes non-stop and I was complaining about being stiff and sore. Did 40 minutes quite easily again tonight and now looking forward to my day off again tomorrow.

I have also managed to book a hotel for the big day so that's one thing less I have to worry about. I feel quite excited about the day now, although it will be a bit scary. Just a shame I've got to do all this training really!

Saturday 3rd February 2007 45 Minutes approx. 4.2 Miles/6.7km

Really, really bad today. I did not enjoy it at all and it ruined my day because I felt all miserable about it. When I got up the weather was really nice, I took lots of time over my warm up and after my day off yesterday, I was really looking forward to getting out there. May be my expectations were too high. I couldn't get into any sort of rhythm, my knees were really hurting and I just felt like stopping. It was like hitting the "wall" before I had even done any running. I am not sure why this was but my theories are as follows:

1) Curry and beer on Friday night This was not a takeaway so by no means a "blowout" and I only had one beer. Could possibly be the cause but this is generally quite routine on Friday nights and I haven't had any problems before. However, I do feel that I have increased my calorie intake unneccessarily over the last few weeks.

2) No breakfast I decided to have nothing to eat before I went out running because I wanted to get out and about earliesh and couldn't wait for breakfast to go down. I seemed to get a lot of stitches during the week and I have been trying to find out why. In hindsight I probably should have eaten something,

3) Not enough water I am definitely not drinking enough water at the moment, particularly on Fridays when it's my day off and I don't notice that I need to so much.

4) No iPod For some reason I went out without it today. May be it helps a lot more than I thought and helps you to daydream and not think about the running.

5) Running Faster? Despite feeling bad today, I ran further than previous 45 minute runs. May be I set out too fast.

Sunday 4th February 2007 60 Minutes approx. 5.6 Miles/9 km

Much happier today, it went so much better. I ate a banana and had a glass of water before I set out, I didn't get a stitch and I ran further than I did in 60 minutes last Sunday. My legs felt very tired when I got back and then I walked the dog so I was feeling a bit lacklustre after all that. And then stupidly I decided to do some decorating this afternoon, which took ages because it took me about 10 minutes to get up and down the ladder my knees were so stiff! I'm like a right old dear these days.

I think I am going to have to start taking water out with me now and possibly an energy boost because up to this point I haven't. I have read you should be having a little bit of water every 15 minutes. Usually, after about 40 minutes is when I start feeling a little low on energy, which I guess is around 4 miles. I have read other people's blogs and they have all sorts of suggestions for energy boosts such as jelly babies which I like the sound of. I'm sure I read someone has 1 jelly baby every 4 miles....or maybe it was 4 jelly babies every mile ;-) I'll need to take a big bag with me to the marathon!!

Monday 5th February 2007 45 Minutes approx. 4 Miles/6.4km

Running went fine tonight but it was very cold. I don't run as far on a 45 minute run during the week than I do at the weekend but I think that is because I I take a different route at night which involves quite a steep hill whereas on Saturdays I can run through a park.

Got some killer blisters on the balls of my feet. I still blame the treadmill and now because the skin is sensitive I have blisters on top of blisters! However, with antiseptic cream and lots of plasters this doesn't seem to have affected the running, it's just walking around the house that seems to be a problem!

I've found a very good pre-running snack...Go ahead Hazelnut and Pistachio cereal bars. Not only are they healthy and low in fat they also have a little bit of chocolate on them so they have the feelgood factor.

I spent some time yesterday reading the Flora London Marathon First Timers website and forum yesterday. It was very interesting and motivating. It's comforting to know others are going through the same pain and misery as you!

Tuesday 6th February 2007 I was supposed to be doing 55 minutes today but unfortunately I was not well. I went to bed at 9pm with a high temperature, swollen glands, bad headache and absolutely no energy. I am gutted that I have had to miss a day of my training but there was no way I was going to be able to run.

Wednesday 7th February 2007 Still not well today so I had to take the day off work. I was supposed to be doing 40 minutes today but I'm trying not to worry about it. I've been asleep most of the day and hardly eaten anything which is a sure sign that I'm ill, it takes a lot to put me off my food!

Thursday 8th February 2007 No better today unfortunately, just trying to take it easy and have lots of rest. Can't see myself training again before the end of the weekend, although the current weather situation doesn't inspire me much anyway.

To make matters worse the blisters that are on my feet have now got infected. Apparently side effects of infected blisters are fever and swollen glands. I had therefore convinced myself that this was the problem and went to the Doctors for antibiotics. However, the Doctor disagreed with me (what do they know anyway!) and would not give me any antibiotics only cream for the blisters. She just said that I should take plenty of paracetamol and I would begin to feel better in 2-3 weeks. What sort of advice do you call that?!

Finally, I just want to say thank you to Alison, a fellow musician in the band that I play in. She has been diligently following my daily blog and always asks how I have been getting on with my training when I see her at rehearsals. Yesterday, after reading my blog, she gave me a bag of jelly babies. I have been feeling so miserable for the last two days and it cheered me up no end, I was very touched. I have discovered that this marathon training is hard work and any support that you get goes a very long way. So thanks Alison for making my day. xxx

Sunday 11th February 2007 It seems I was right all along. My Doctor called me on Friday night and told me that I had quite a serious infection in my blisters and I would need proper antibiotics. So now, two days later, the blisters have nearly healed and I am beginning to feel my normal self again.

I had already decided that I would wait until Monday before I started training again to make sure that I was completely healthy again. I have been on a 3 day course anyway this weekend and I think I would have found it hard work to run after a day's work.

Looking forward to getting back into it tomorrow, after a good night's sleep. After having such a busy weekend I'm going to have a nice dinner tonight and then chill out and watch Lost and 24.

Monday 12th February 2007 45 Minutes approx. 4 miles/6.4km

Finally got back into my training tonight. I was looking forward to it and also dreading it at the same time. Apart from getting absolutely drenched in the rain it went really well. I didn't notice any loss of fitness after having a week off, in fact I probably felt stronger for the rest. I had a couple of jelly babies to give me a kick start (thanks again Alison!), started off nice and slowly but very soon got into it. Feet were ok, knees were ok, everything else was ok. I'm now looking forward to working towards my 10k at the weekend and getting a good time.

Tuesday 13th February 2007 60 Minutes approx. 5.4 Miles/8.7km

It was very tough last night, my legs felt very tired. Got to about 40 minutes and really struggled after that although I did complete the full 60 mins. I'm sure it's just because I was off last week and that is only the 3rd time that I had run that distance. My only worry was that later on in the evening I felt very faint and had to keep sitting down. I put that down to the fact that I was tired and hadn't eaten the right food after my run to replace lost energy. Also, I'm still not drinking enough water, before the run, during the run and after the run.

Wednesday 14th February 2007 40 Minutes approx. 3.8 miles

If it's not one thing it's another. Tonight I have either pulled a muscle in my groin or it is just very tight (hopefully). I'm quite obviously not made for running. I'm really beginning to dislike it all now....

Thursday 15th February 2007 6 Miles - 65 minutes (+ 5 jelly babies)

After reading a number of blogs and different training plans I have decided that I need to up the mileage of my training schedule. Regardless of all the aches and pains, which seem to be minor niggles then there is no reason why I can't do this. Therefore, I have switched to the intermediate programme in the book I am using and run to distance instead of time. A friend pointed out to me that it doesn't matter how long it takes me to run the distance as long as I can complete it. Therefore last night, I mapped out 6 miles and completed it. I was quite pleased with the result because I hadn't quite achieved 6 miles up to this point so it was a new PB. Not sure about the jelly babies though, I seem to have trouble eating them when I'm running. I'm going to stock up on Lucozade Sport for my weekend runs.

Saturday 17th February 2007 10 Minutes jog + resistance workout

Just went to the gym today did an easy 10 minutes on the treadmill and then did some light weights. When running the 6 miles I felt my legs were quite weak and would benefit from some strength training so I did low weights but high reps to improve muscle endurance. Also worked out arms and core, which are getting left out with all the running. I'll probably be stiff tomorrow because I did some gardening in the afternoon as well! That will be fun when I attempt 10 miles!

Sunday 18th February 2007 10 Miles!!! - 1 hour 50 mins

I never thought in a million years that I would be able to run 10 miles but I did it today...and I hated it. I have come to the conclusion that I hate running and after the marathon I will not ever run again. Miles 1-4 were fine, relatively easy, mile 5 was terrible, miles 6 and 7 were really good, mile 8 was ok and then miles 9 and 10 made me want to cry. I tried out the Lucozade sport which helped a lot, much better than jelly babies. Every time I ran another mile I rewarded myself with a few sips.

I was very stiff this morning from my workout in the gym yesterday, which didn't help and this afternoon after the run I can hardly walk. Is that normal? I always cool down properly by walking at least 1/4 mile after the run and then stretching the whole body, holding stretches for about 30 seconds. I spent 45 minutes in the steam room and the jacuzzi after the run but that didn't seem to help either.

It has always been a problem for me even before I started running. If I do a new gym programme, or do a different exercise, or do some decorating or gardening, I know I will be really stiff the next day. Does anyone know why that is? I eat a good balanced diet, I am very flexible and I always warm up and cool down properly, so it just doesn't make sense.

Monday 19th February 2007 2 Miles - 20 Minutes

Just a light run tonight to ease the stiffness. It took me a little while to get going because I was so stiff especially in the bum cheeks. It's surprising how much you use them when you run! Anyway, once I got into it, it was almost pleasant. Got chased by a 10 week old staffordshire bull terrier puppy called Duke, who decided it would be really fun to bite my legs but apart from that no other incidents.

I wish the marathon was only 2 miles....

Wednesday 21st February 2007 3 Miles - 30 Minutes

Not much to say about my run tonight, 3 miles is very easy now and I added a couple of hills to make it harder. My new training schedule seems to be much better as you get more rest days. Before I was running 6 days out of 7 which I think was too much. The new schedule means I can focus more on preparing for the big Sunday run and give my legs more time to recover during the week.

Saturday 24th February 2007 30 Minutes - 3 miles

I was feeling bad today because I missed a 6-mile session on Thursday night. The first one I have missed since I started training (apart from the week I was ill). But I had been to a meeting with the charity I am running for. We had eaten cake and scones and I didn't fancy running, or more like rolling, round the streets of Ipswich at 8.30 at night in the rain. Anyway, I couldn't really get into the 3 miles today which was possibly my punishment. Because I was feeling bad I went and did 20 lengths in the pool as well which made me feel a lot better.

Also had a photo session with the local paper today in my new fluorescent yellow running vest from St. Elizabeth (watch this space for photo!). They made me do all sorts of stupid poses but hopefully common sense will prevail and they will just publish the picture of me running down the street. Otherwise I will be the laughing stock of Ipswich.

Sunday 25th February 2007 12 Miles - 2 hours 22 minutes

Again, I have to question why I am doing this. For me running is not, by a long way, the most enjoyable activity I could be doing on a wet Sunday morning. Anyway, I guess the point is that I did it. Ok I had to walk the last 3/4 mile but so what. And as someone pointed out to me, it makes 10 miles not seem so bad. What is most disappointing is that if I continue to run the full marathon at that pace I will not achieve my sub 5 hour target. I'm not far off but I've got a lot of work to do. Unfortunately though I am already dreading the next long run.

To my regular blog readers...

Sorry if my entries are no longer funny, I think I lost my sense of humour somewhere during mile 8 last week!

Monday 26th February 2007 Just under 3 miles - 30 minutes

Short run tonight to loosen up after all the miles yesterday. All the ASBO's were out in force tonight and I got bombarded with chips. Why they wanted to waste their chips on me I'll never know.

Oh my goodness me did my trainers cripple me! My feet are definitely not in blissful harmony with my trainers any more and I decided that something needs to be done. Fortunately, Sweatshop in Next Generation were doing free video gait analysis tonight so off I went to get some advice to see where I was going wrong.

My first mistake was that my trainers were at least 1/2 a size too small. I was told that this would probably solve the blister and bruised toe issues in one go. I can't believe I left all this until now. Yet another painful lesson learnt. After trying on pretty much the entire collection of Nike running shoes, being video analysed on the treadmill, and doing a few laps of the Next Gen car park, they managed to persuade me to buy a new pair. I don't mind though, they feel like slippers compared to my last pair.

Secondly, I was told that I shouldn't be wearing twin skin socks as, although these are supposed to prevent blisters, if the skins don't line up they can do more damage. So another pair of socks gets added to the shopping basket.

What is really cool about my new trainers (and they didn't tell me this until I had chosen them) is that they can hold a transmitter that will communicate with my iPod and tell me stuff like how fast I am running, how far I have run, how many calories I have burned and so on. How cool is that?! I almost (almost) can't wait to go for the 14 miles on Sunday, just to try out my new gadget. Another item in the shopping basket.

For good measure, they also threw one of those energy gels for me to try...for free! So anyway, £100 down but happier about this whole marathon saga, I headed of to the spa to recover.

It all happened today; I was in the Ipswich Evening Star as well. It was a really good article but a really bad picture of me. I hope I don't run like that all the time! Anyway, I suppose it could have been a whole lot worse. However, it was all worth it, I had a phone call last night from an ex work colleague of my Dad's asking if he could sponsor me.

Day off tomorrow fortunately, to give the feet some time to recover before I try out my new trainers on Wednesday....how exciting!

If you missed my article in the paper you can see it here...

http://www.ipswichstar.co.uk/news/emotions_running_high_for_daughter_1_138317

Wednesday 28th February 2007 30 minutes running/30 minutes walking

Got to try out the new trainers and Nike + iPod gadget tonight both of which were great. What a shame sweatshop don't do new legs and a new head! It just wasn't going to happen tonight so I ended up walking for half the time and got freezing in the wind. I wasn't in the right frame of mind at all when I started out and I very quickly gave up. I had a sore throat which was slowly getting worse throughout the day so unfortunately I think I'm getting a cold. :-(

Tuesday 7th March 2007 40 Minutes/4 Miles

Positive (but honest) thinking begins from this point forward...

I've been a bit quiet on the blog front since last week but that is because I haven't actually done any running. Been recovering from a nasty sore throat and tickly cough. A so-called friend pointed out to me that it is only my throat that is sore not my legs so why couldn't I run?! Needless to say I was not amused.

Anyway, despite not being able to shake off the tickly cough, which means sleepless nights for everyone in the house including my puppy. It takes me about 10 minutes in the morning to persuade her to get out of bed to come to work (yes - I do take her to work with me)! My body felt better so I thought I would give running a try. It was ok, I felt quite tired after 3 miles but I did it. Apart from having a horrendous coughing fit when I got home there were no ill effects.

The plan for the rest of the week is do 75 mins on Thursday and 20 mins on Saturday. Hopefully this will lead me gently into that elusive 14 miles on Sunday!

The response from my article in the two local papers has been amazing, better than I ever expected. I have no doubt that if the article was just about me the response would not have been so good. Fortunately many people have lots of fond memories of my Dad and the donations have been flooding in. My phone has been a hotline of long lost relatives, work colleagues and school friends of my Dad's...Thanks to everyone who has supported me so far.

Thursday 8th March 2007 75 Minutes/7.2 miles (so my iPod says)

Before I begin "blogging" I just want to remind myself that I hit the £1000 mark yesterday, the amount I have raised so far for St. Elizabeth so that I continue my new found positive thinking. It is important to remember why I am doing this and all the people that are supporting me.....

Actually the run was not at all bad, I still don't love it and I'm glad when it's over, but most importantly I know I can get through it. I felt quite tired at 5 miles and thoughts kept creeping in like "omigod, I've got to do this twice on Sunday" etc. etc. What made me feel quite good about myself was that my run ends at the top of Sandyhill Lane, which is mega steep when you have already run 7 miles.

I'm loving the Nike+ iPod, I find it really helps. When I had finished my workout it said "Hi, this is Lance Armstrong. Well done, you have completed your longest workout yet!". This was a bit of a surprise but it made me smile if nothing else.

Saturday 10th March 2007 20 Minutes/2 Miles

Easy two miles this morning on a bright sunny morning, just as it should be. In preparation for the big one tomorrow. Treated myself to a bacon and egg sandwich when I got home...yummy.

Sunday 11th March 2007 14 Miles/2 Hours 38 Minutes

Hip Hip Hooray! 14 miles and still smiling. It was all about mind over matter on the big run today. Although the weather was beautiful I couldn't say that I was looking forward to the run but I wasn't dreading it either so I made sure I had plenty of time to focus my mind before I went out.

Once out there I just took each mile one by one and gave myself plenty of counselling as I went. If anyone saw me running around Ipswich yesterday, yes I was talking to myself but it was all part of the therapy. At each mile I said out loud how miles left to go which really helped. If I began to lose the will to carry on I really tried to think through why I wanted to stop. Was something hurting? Had I run out of energy? Had I injured myself? Every time the answer was none of the above, it was just my head having negative thoughts and once I acknowledged that it was easy to carry on. Nothing actually started hurting until the last 2 miles which is ok because that is the bit I hadn't done before.

I had a couple of short stops generally after about 9 miles when there were a couple of steep uphills. My longest stop was at about 11 miles when the wind was really strong and I probably was walking as fast as I could run against it anyway. I took the opportunity to try out one of those gel things to help get me home. It was one of the most grotesque things I had ever had but probably helped with those last 2.5 miles. Also with 1.5 miles to go I had a steep downhill which I decided to walk,  mainly because my knees couldn't take it. Most importantly, I ran most of the last mile.

On reaching my front door, it was the first big run I had done which I had completed without wanting to cry and lie on the pavement and die. My sense of humour had also stuck with me, it was clinging on for dear life but it was still with me. I gave myself a big cheer and pat on the back as it was a nice feeling to know that I had run more than half a marathon.

One thing that was really noticeable to me was how quickly I recovered after the run. Ok my knees were a little stiff and I did have a headache (although this was my fault for not drinking enough water when I got back and possibly the sun - I got an iPod strap mark!!) but I didn't feel any aches and pains and I certainly didn't feel the need to lie down.

As I may have said before, I completely underestimated the mental challenge that training for the marathon would be. However, with just a little bit of focus and positive thinking anything is possible.

Only 5 more big runs to go!!!!

Monday 12th March 2007

Just did a short one to loosen up and calibrate my Nike+ iPod thingy. It's supposed to be fairly accurate for most runners anyway but calibrating just makes it slightly more accurate. Then I went out for dinner with my new marathon running friend Gloria Happy Feet, aka Tanya. We had a good old chat about everything marathon related, and air out all the stresses and worries that comes with doing something so silly like running 26.2 miles!!

Tuesday 13th March 2007 40 Minutes/3.76 Miles

Still feeling a little bit tired from the weekend, but this run felt ok. Not much more I can say really. I'm looking forward now to doing the half marathon at Silverstone on Sunday, hopefully it will all go smoothly and I'll get a good time. Hope the weather will be as good as it has been this week, I want to get rid of my iPod suntan!!

Thursday 16th March 2007 0 Minutes/0 Miles

Really didn't feel like running 7 miles when I got in from work tonight so I didn't. I seem to be suffering with yet another sore throat but this one is bizarre because it is only on one side. Wondered if I had overdone it this week as I have been really, really tired, especially in the afternoons, so I traded in the miles for a chill out in front of the TV and an early night.

A hot curry tonight and an easy day tomorrow then I should be right as rain for the Silverstone half on Sunday. I'm a bit tentative about it as it is my first ever race (Race for Life does not count) but I am looking forward to it. I'm going to stick to the 11 min/mile pace group and see how I get on.

Saturday 17th March 2007 30 Minutes - 3ish miles

Nearly forgot this little one, a pleasant little 3 miler on a Saturday morning before breakfast. I was ever so slightly sluggish due to a curry the night before. A very tasty Chicken Tikka Jalfrezi Balti at the Dhaka and a cheeky little Kingfisher...very nice indeed. Plenty of chilli to fight off this niggly sore thoat I keep getting. Pasta all day tomorrow.

Sunday 18th March 2007 Silverstone Half Marathon - 13.1 Miles - Official Time 2:35:12

If this was the only race that I had entered then I can quite honestly say that I would never run ever again. It should have been a good day but the weather made the experience very unenjoyable with gale force winds and hailstones round every corner. Ultimately I did this event to get race experience and experience was what I got. I was completely unprepared for the adverse weather conditions and ended the race absolutely freezing and bearly able to move because I was so cold.

The start of the race was fine although I couldn't get through to the pace groups because there were too many people. I had been told many times that you have to be careful not to start too fast and I discovered that it is very difficult to find your pace when you are running in a block. I just tried to run as slow as was comfortable and completed the first mile in just over 10 mins so that worked for me. The first hail storm was at about 1/2 mile but I still had my sense of humour by then.

It was also a good experience to try out drinks. At mile 3 was the first water station. I took my water bottle and started merrily gulping it down. Soon I could feel the water sloshing around in my belly so I had obviously drunk too much. At the first lucozade sport station I just took what I needed and threw the rest away, such a waste but I had learnt a lesson.

It is so different running in a crowd than on your own around the streets. Outfits, hairstyles and bottoms of all shapes and sizes kept me amused for the first few miles. It was about mile 8 when the problems started. A marshall that was cheering us on said we had just reached mile 8, great I thought, 5 to go. However, about 10 mins later, I actually approached the official 8 mile marker and from that point on I lost the will to live.

The last 3 miles of the race was back around the race track. Unfortunately at this point you could see people who had finished, walking back to their cars with their medal and goody bags. This was very demoralising and I had to start walking. At this point I was so cold I was tempted to just walk back to my car. Then a man caught up with me who said he had been tracking me all around the course and said that I must start running again, he gave me his gloves and we started having a chit chat. He got me through the last 2 miles.

Anyway, the end was nearly in sight and when I saw the gantry saying FINISH I sprinted to the line (well if you saw me it was probably more like a fast jog).

It was the drive home that finished me off, 2 1/2 hours on my own, tired and absolutely cold to the core. When I got home I could bearly get out of the car. However, I survived and within a reasonable time. I was disappointed not to do it in 2 hr 30 but all things considered I didn't do too bad and it was my first ever race. Also, I can say that I was faster than Mansell around Silverstone, which is a great boast!

Will I ever run again after the London Marathon?............no way!

Silverstone 2007 Pictures

me1 me3 me5 me6

Thursday 22nd March 2007 50 Minutes/4.7 Miles

Have been feeling somewhat jaded this week, and with the weather being horrible and cold again, this was the first run since the 1/2 marathon last Sunday. Felt ok but a little tired. I've now got a couple of rest days before I attempt 17 miles on Sunday.

The band I play in, The Suffolk Concert Band, put on a concert last night for my charity. For that we raised £162.74. This means that I have now cracked my £1500 for St. Elizabeth Hospice, which I am well chuffed about. In fact, if I add up all the outstanding bits and bobs then I am over the £2000 mark. The support I have had has been amazing.

............so no pressure then!!

Sunday 25th March 2007 17 Miles/3 hours 27 minutes

Well...who'd have thought that I'd have been able to ever run 17 miles! But I did. It seems ridiculous now that I walked most of the Race For Life 5k last year, yet I will do the same distance as my short loosening up run tonight. My longest run to date was 14 miles so this 3 miles extra was quite a big jump. However, I want my last big run to be 20 miles so I had to make this jump.

The weather was lovely, albeit a little windy, and I have to admit I actually really enjoyed the first half of my run. I didn't plan a route, just went wherever I liked. I took the scenic route cross country along some unknown footpaths to Kesgrave to see how my new house, which is currently being built, is getting on. That was the halfway point. I was ok for another 4 miles but then the last 4 miles were really tough and I had to walk a lot of it.

I was quite slow overall although I did stop and say hello to a little 4 month old black labrador puppy at the park (my black lab pup is due to be born on 9th April) and had a good look at the new house.

After downloading my run details to Nike+ I can see that I ran the first 5 miles well within the 11 minute mile pace so perhaps I need to make a really conscious effort to slow down at the start, especially on the race day.

Anyway, only 3 more big runs to go....20 miles, 12 miles (not so big) and the marathon!

Monday 26th March 2007

Just a short run was scheduled tonight, to loosen up after all those miles on Sunday. I decided that I would quite like to go for a swim instead. However, when I turned up at the gym the pool was closed because it was being flushed out (some child must have done a nasty in it) so I had to do 3 laps round the spa instead!

One other piece of news....I have been doing an Open University degree in IT and Computing for the last 6 years and I finally got my results this week. I'm not totally over the moon with the result but I am so glad it's all over, it's been very hard work. I was hoping for a 2:1 but instead I got a 2:2. Never mind, it's still "with honours".

Tuesday 27th March 2007 40 Minutes/3.4 Miles

Tonight I concentrated on slowing down the first mile or so that when I come to run the longer miles next Sunday and on race day I don't overdo it too soon. It is really difficult. I ran as slow as I could for the first mile and it was still a minute faster than I should be running if I want to complete the marathon in 5 hours.

It was a really nice evening and because it was lighter I decided to run through the Orwell Country Park which runs along a river. It so much nicer running in the countryside than round the streets. There were some wonderful views along the river and although I didn't really feel like going out, I really started enjoying it when I saw this...

sunset

Thursday 29th March 2007 60 Minutes - Cross Trainer

The weather was dreadful when I got in from work so I decided that I didn't feel like getting wet so I went to the gym instead. I did my 60 minutes on the cross trainer, which is considerably easier than running for 60 minutes, but a valuable workout nonetheless. I watched the Elton concert on the TV and the minutes just skipped by!

Two rest days now in preparation for my longest run of my training, 20 miles. And then it taper, taper, taper, eat, eat, eat, until race day.

Sunday 1st April 2007 20 Miles (approx.)/Ages

I had to choose the scenic route didn't I?!

Road, grass, woodland path, beach, bog, rocks, marsh, shingle, tree trunks, barbed wire, sand, steep river banks....were just a few of the terrains I had to navigate on the longest run of my training.

In other words, I went on a 20 mile obstacle course. I pretty much ran the length of the River Orwell from inside of the Orwell Bridge to Levington Marina and back again. Unfortunately, due to many challenges on the way, my legs had absolutely had it by the half way point.

This includes the fight I had (and lost) with a barbed wire fence, sunburnt shoulders and galeforce winds!

The marathon's going to seem like a breeze!

Just 3 weeks to go.....

Tuesday 4th April 2007 30 Minutes/2.68 Miles

I find these little runs quite hard work now which seems strange as they should be easy. I think it's because I'm getting used to the longer miles where I don't usually get into a rhythm until about 4-5 miles. Must be careful not to be complacent. I will be doing 12 miles on Sunday which does sound easy now compared to 20 miles. However, if I go out thinking it will be easy then I think I will struggle. 12 miles is still a long way.

Good Friday 6th April 2007 50 Minutes/4.73 Miles

I did quite enjoy the run this morning. Beautiful sunny morning, happy people around because it's a Bank Holiday and the promise of lots of Easter eggs.

And I got to eat lots of hot cross buns when I got home!

Easter Sunday 8th April 2007 11 Miles/2 Hours 5 Minutes

Woooo hooooo!!!! Ran from Ipswich to Felixstowe today. It always seemed like a big challenge to face but after running 20 miles last weekend I knew it would be a breeze (ish). And my Gran, who lives in Felixstowe, was there with my dinner on the table at the other end.

I tested out my race kit and made sure that I ran at the pace I would have to run if I want to complete the marathon in 5 hours. So far so good. It was really hot and I got a bit sunburnt on my nose and shoulders but other than that everything went just fine.

At least I know I will be prepared for all weather conditions because I think between 26th December and today I have experienced every kind!

Tuesday 10th April 2007 20 Minutes

After being cloudy all day it turned out to be a lovely evening. Went for a small run round the park. It was ok but can't say I'm going to miss these midweek runs!

Ticking off the days now to 22nd April. Today I started making my kit list, confirmed my hotel reservation and booked my train ticket. Not much left to do now.

Saturday 14th April 2007 10 Minutes

Just a light 10 minute stretch out today, what more can I say?

Sunday 15th April 2007 7 Miles

I quite enjoyed this run this morning. I went about 9.30am because I knew it was going to be hot and I got on ok. I think perhaps on the marathon day it could do with being a few degrees cooler but I don't mind if the sun's out, I enjoy it a lot more.

I'm going to need a serious pedicure when I've finished my training. My feet are completely battered and bruised and not that pretty.

This was my feet a few months ago...

THE GOOD,

goodfeet

This is my feet now...

badfeet

THE BAD AND THE UGLY

Ok, the backdrop is better in the first one (Phuket, Thailand) as opposed to my back garden but they're gonna need some work!

Monday 16th April 2007 Half Mile Swim

Come on, I just want to get on with it now, I've had it up to here (^) with running. Went swimming instead last night and did half a mile (32 lengths) but I think I had eaten too much cous cous for tea and felt quite a blob swimming up and down. Finished off with a nice long sauna. That will do for today.

Thursday 19th April 2007 20 Minutes

Hip hip hooray, my last ever midweek run done! I don't really know why but I have built up a real hatred to these midweek runs. Over the last couple of weeks I have really struggled to find the motivation to get out there even though they are very short runs and the weather has been beautiful. I was going to pack my kit tonight but it was so hot running (or it felt like it) that it gave me a headache. I know it will potentially be hotter on Sunday but I will be more focused and won't have been at work all day.

I can't wait until Sunday now, I just want to get on with it. I have had so much support this week; texts, cards, calls, which has been really brilliant. I even got a text message from a friend at 11.30pm last Saturday night wishing me luck for tomorrow. I had to politely remind him that he had got his week's muddled up (I won't mention any names...Mike!)

Not too much more to do now, I even Sky+'d the coverage on Sunday. If you want to look out for me on the TV on Sunday, I've made a couple of additions to my running vest and this is what I will be wearing:

vest

Apart from "how is the training going?", I think the second most common question I have been asked about the marathon is "will you be wearing an old-fashioned diving suit?" Obviously the answer is no! The man who does wear the silly costumes was on GMTV this morning and he is going dressed as Indiana Jones and will be pulling a boulder....mad fool!!

Saturday 21st April 2007

Since 27th December, I've put the miles in but now my Marathon adventure begins...

6.45am Got up and put on running gear for the penultimate run.

7.00am I only had to do an easy 10 minute run this morning so I decided to take my dog with me for the first time. Embarrassingly my running pace was a very comfortable fast walk/trot for her and she hardly broke a sweat. However, she does have quite long legs! We ran to Orwell Country Park and finished underneath the Orwell Bridge. Then we walked home.

8.00am Showered had breakfast and finished packing my kit.

9.00am Drove to Mum's to drop the dog off, where she was straight at work digging the garden up as soon as we got there. Well it was good weather for gardening!

10.00am Drove home and finished packing. It doesn't matter how long you have to pack and how organised you are it still always seems a rush at the end, why is that?

10.45am Got taxi to station to catch 11.08 train to Stratford. I'd had a busy morning up to this point so it was nice to sit on the train and ponder the task ahead. The nerves had still not kicked in and I was looking forward to getting on with it.

12.10pm Arrived at Stratford station, purchased my travelcard and headed to the Excel Centre to register.

12.30pm Got to the Excel Centre and walked in to the registration area. Suddenly felt a bit overwhelmed by all the people and the task that I was about to undertake, no turning back now. I even got a bit of a lump in my throat, which if you know me is a bit of a revelation. I'm not the overly-emotional type!

12.45pm I headed off into the exhibition. Most of this was companies selling running kit and such like so I headed straight to the Lucozade Sport band to pick up my 5 hour pace band. A very handy wrist band that has all the splits on for your target time. I also wanted to purchase an arm pouch to carry the energy gels during the race and more importantly my mobile phone.

1.00pm Got in the queue for the pasta party. The queue was huge but that was because the deal was good...pasta and sauce, yoghurt, apple, bottle of water and a cup of tea for a fiver...bargain! There were some speakers talking during the meal about race survival, what to expect, fuelling your marathon, which was all very interesting. At one point I got that lump in my throat feeling again.

1.30pm Full and ready to go I left the exhibition to go and check in to my hotel. This was a bit of a trek because my hotel was in Earls Court.

2.30pm Checked in to hotel, the Twenty Nevern Hotel, overlooking Nevern Square, right near Earls Court. I have to say, it was a rather respectable area of London so I was very pleased with my choice. I had a small room but it had a big bed with Egyptian cotton sheets and a nice shower which was all I needed. Kicked off the shoes, put the tv on and had a bit of a chill out.

5.00pm Headed off to Hammersmith to go to the cinema. Went to see Fracture which was ok and I treated myself to a big tub of popcorn. Don't know if it has any great nutritional value for a marathon but I didn't think it would do me any harm and I very much enjoyed it!

8.00pm Went and bought a tuna baguette and a coke (had a real craving for coke for some reason) and went back to the hotel. When I got back, I had a shower, put the TV on and ate my baguette. Then I called down to room service for tea, which came in a china teapot and cups, how sophisticated. Nerves still hadn't kicked in so hopefully I would take it all my stride tomorrow.

10.30pm Lights out for a good night's sleep.

Sunday 22nd April 2007 - The London Marathon

Well I did it...it took ages but I got there.

6 Hours, 13 Minutes and 33 Seconds

Not the time I was hoping for but with the sun beating down on your head finishing was the top priority.

This was my race experience...

I got a really good night's sleep the night before and woke up at 6.30am. As soon as I got out of bed the nerves kicked in and I felt slightly nauseous. I managed a good breakfast of muesli, toast and juice (not much puts me off my food!) and then went and got kitted up. Red laces were in, championchip attached, number pinned on to vest, I was ready to go.

When I stepped out of the hotel I knew that it was going to be a really hot day, the sun was already beating down and it was only 8am. I made my way to Charing Cross where special trains were put on to get you to the start. This train was an endurance test on its own, absolutely jam-packed and very hot. This didn't help the nerves at all.

Once we arrived at Greenwich it was such a relief to get off the train the nerves just disappeared. This is where I met a South African chap called Giulio who I walked with to Greenwich Park and he shared lots of tips with me as this was his third time. It was a 20 minute walk to Greenwich park, mainly uphill, something you don't need when you are about to run 26.2 miles. Once I arrived, I took my kitbag to the baggage lorries and headed for the extraordinarily long toilet queue.

I got to my starting pen with 5 minutes to spare. This is when I started enjoying it. I got that lump in my throat feeling again. They were playing the marathon music on the loudspeaker, everyone was buzzing and there was a distinctive smell of deep heat. 9.45am arrived and the crowd started moving. Lots of TV cameras were at the entrance to Greenwich Park so everyone started waving like mad to Mum.

It took me 15 minutes to get to the start line so by 10am I was off. It was quite hilly at the red start so I started nice and steady, sticking to my pace. It was really hot already so I stuck to the shade wherever possible. Many supporters were already out and about. I had managed to get in contact with my sisters who had come to support me. They were waiting for me at mile 9. This really spurred me on and I was looking forward to seeing them.

When I did see them they gave me a massive cheer and a handful of wine gums to keep me going. The support is absolutely amazing, you are told beforehand that it is but you can't quite imagine it until you are there. To hear complete strangers cheering your name is a really good feeling.

There was certainly a party atmosphere. Lots of houses had been decorated; there were lots of bands and all sorts of entertainment around the course. There were quite a few sights to behold. One that particularly sticks in my mind was a man who had cut the bum out of his shorts and was rubbing vaseline between his thighs, not a pretty sight! Darth Vader, Scooby Doo, Bernie the Dog, Mr Tickle, Mr Happy (who also seemed to have a problem with chafage!) to name but a few. I even saw Boisy from Only Fools and Horses (the real Boisy, not someone dressed up as him!)

One other disconcerting sight to see that I must tell you about was the St Johns Ambulance cadets lined up along the street, tub of vaseline in one hand, a scoop of vaseline in the other, just in case any runners needed that extra bit of lubrication! Fortunately something that I didn't suffer with.

By mile 10 they had run out of water. Up until this point I had easily been sticking to my 5 hour pace but I then had to run the next 3 miles without any water. My sister's were waiting for me once again at mile 11 and I got another big cheer. They had also got my boyfriend on the phone as he hadn't managed to make it there yet, which was another big boost.

At mile 13 you come over Tower Bridge and it was here that my motivation took a bit of a nosedive. It is here you pass the runners who are at 22 miles going in the other direction. The support is great at this point but with the lack of water, the fact that you are only at the halfway point and the runners going in the other direction who have nearly finished, it is a real killer. I had already lost 5 minutes off my pace and I had now got to the point where I didn't care anymore and I just wanted to finish.

I kept trying to run but I was doing more and more walking. By mile 17 I had my new running partner Dave, who I would be finishing with. We both helped each other pass the miles by and generally get through to the end. My sister's were waiting for me at mile 21 and I made a special big effort to run past them so they would be proud of me. My boyfriend had also arrived by this point so that was good. As soon as they were out of sight I had to start walking again, running was no longer an option.

No one around me was really running either and those that were I was overtaking them walking, it was painful to watch. Many were dropping like flies, mainly overcome by cramp and dehydration. Fortunately I didn't suffer from either of these but the St. Johns Ambulance guys were certainly working hard and we had to keep dodging ambulances.

Once I got to the embankment I knew that I was going to make it. I'd had enough by this point and my ankles were really aching. I saw my sisters again at Big Ben and once again made a special effort to run for them. It was then the final leg home.

Me and Dave agreed to run once we saw the finish line but cross it at the same time, we were in this together now. The support for the last 200m was great and Reach for the Stars was blaring over the tannoy.

It was a great feeling to cross the finish line. I was a London Marathon finisher.

In conclusion, the Start was brilliant, the Finish was brilliant, but a shame that you have to run the 26.2 miles bit in the middle to get that experience. Why would anyone want to run 26.2 miles? An amazing experience that I will never forget but never, never, never again!

The Day After...

What can I say, I feel about 75 but apart from being a bit stiff and only having the one blister, I'm not at all bad. I've two toenails clinging on for dear life and a slightly pink left shoulder but otherwise not in bad shape at all. Stairs are a bit tricky and getting up off a chair is not the easiest but I'm sure that will pass fairly quickly.

I had the day off work and headed off to the gym to have a nice steam and spa. I then had to walk my dog. We drove to the park because I couldn't face being pulled along by her on the lead. I walked very slowly round the park but it was probably better to keep moving.

Did something very silly in the afternoon and went shoe shopping with one of my sisters. Firstly, my toes still feel too tender to put shoes on and the walking round town nearly killed me off. If you've seen the YouTube "how to spot a marathon hero" video, I look very similar to the girl trying to put her socks on.  We may not be wearing our medals today, but take it from us, people can spot a marathon hero from a mile away. Here's the video...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-hCuYjvw2I

After catching up with the Marathon coverage on the TV, I spent the day wondering if I could have done better. Maybe, but if I pushed myself too hard I could have been one of the many people I saw being stretchered away with a drip attached to their arm.

Even Gebreselassie couldn't complete it because he got a stitch!

Anyway, even if I had won, I wouldn't have been able to climb onto the podium to collect my medal so it was probably a good job that I came 33519th!!

Bottom line is...I completed the marathon, I was not last by a long, long way and I have raised nearly £2500 for a charity that is very close to my heart. What more can I say.

Memories...

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