I just wanted to say…..

So, it’s been a month. A whole month since I completed my marathon attempt. Over the last few weeks I have been asked the same question many, many times:

Did I get lady chafe?

Just joking – and no, I didn’t . You see people, research and thorough planning make for a happier though less spontaneous life. #chafefree #apartfromtheunderboob

The question was of course would I run another marathon?

Well I’ve not had the urge to sign up to another one, if that’s what you mean. I’ve forgotten most of the pain now, and I’m left with a lingering love for McDonalds* strawberry milkshakes but I’m good for now, thanks.

*Other horrifically unhealthy dairy based beverages are available from other shitty burger places.

I enjoyed the lead up to it, following other people on Instagram as they went through their training programme just like me. But here’s the difference – they run marathons all the time. We all ran a marathon, they had a couple of weeks off, and then they started what they call ‘the cycle’ all over again, ready to try and knock another few seconds off their PB. I’m getting tired just IG stalking them.

I’m quite enjoying not running stupid distances at the moment or deciding that actually I’d rather go for a swim today. LIFE IS JUST CRAZY NOWADAYS WITH THE CHOICES.

I even manage to stay awake until 10pm some nights.

Maybe one day a friend will sign up for one, and I will get jealous over their achievements and decide I want to do another one. Maybe so. Maybe not.

I haven’t fallen out of love with running. I know some people don’t run for weeks after a marathon and I absolutely can understand why they don’t. Maybe it was the new trainers that did it? But I am enjoying just going for a run that you can fit into your day, rather than having to block out the day in the calendar just so you can run. Not a very sociable thing, this marathon training.

I have also enjoyed going swimming for a change, and I’ve dusted off the old bike which I haven’t used since I was pulling Child 1 around in his chariot – he is now 9 which shows how long ago that was. We went for a bike ride together the other day and I really enjoyed myself. I obviously let him beat me just to be a good sport….

Anyway, what is the point of this yarn? Well, the reason why I am here now, is to say thank you.

I received an email the other day from Just Giving to say that I was in the top 5% of fund raisers for the month of May.

Now I don’t know if this is something they just send out to everyone, but I thought it was worthy of a short blog because the reason why I raised anything at all is you. Let’s face it, I didn’t put in any money – kind of figured I was doing enough, TBH. But you all sponsored me a grand total of £1462 which is just brilliant. Guy and I are so grateful for your generosity as together with good old Gift Aid, that is quite a total. And quite a lot of toilet paper can be purchased as a result of your kind hearts to help people with Crohns and Colitis across the UK. (And probs other stuff as well, not just bog roll. I just made that up.)

For us, life just trundles on. Guy has been suffering with fatigue over the last couple of days. Fatigue is a  side effect of Crohns and just another example of how people can see illnesses like this as a complete joke. Because yes, we all feel a bit tired, don’t we? So why don’t they just man up and get on with things?

He said that it is a weird feeling, like it is too painful to stay awake any longer and he absolutely has to shut his eyes and go to sleep. It doesn’t matter what he tries to do, he cannot stay awake and he suddenly has no energy at all, like a light switch has just been flicked off. So quite handy that he wasn’t operating any heavy machinery at the time.

Invisible illnesses are tough because the sufferers don’t look poorly on the outside, but they might be crippled with pain, fatigue, or/and nausea on the inside. They have all these side effects from the illness and the medication that they take, which is supposed to make them feel better but can make them feel really crappy in other ways.

Plus they have to battle with everybody’s judgement. “Well he looks fine to me.” And yes, they do. Short of having T shirts and badges printed with things like “I poo all the time”, “I have an impressive tumour going on”, “my heart is a bit shit” or some other equally catchy slogan, there isn’t much that people can do about their invisible illnesses. It might be the reason why that commuter never offers his seat up on the train. It might be why that little boy can’t run as fast as the other children and gets worn out more easily. It might be why that woman is a bit larger than you have deemed it is socially acceptable for her to be.

But of course you all get this, because you have been reading this little blog and you have sponsored money towards one of the great charities that is constantly working to help these people and to raise awareness.

You are brilliant. Let’s just get everyone else to be just as brilliant.

So thanks. I really mean it.

And yes, now considering an invisible illness T shirt printing business. SickSlogans4U.

 

 

 

The Marathon

Well now.

This is it. The whole point of this blog was to narrate my attempt at training to run a marathon in order to raise money for Crohns and Colitis UK.

Did I manage it? (Spoiler alert: I did).

So if that’s all you wanted to know, you can be on your way now. But if you want all the gory detail, then read on….

Tapering is a funny old thing. For anyone who doesn’t know or care about running lingo, this is the 2-3 weeks after your longest run, before the actual event. Your mileage reduces over the period, allowing the muscles to repair and levels of science thingamyjigs like enzymes to sort themselves out. Whatever that means.

The highlight for me was all the potatoes. I don’t really eat potatoes very much in normal life, probably an old diet habit I suppose. But I found eating potatoes, particularly in the last week, a really good way of upping my carbs. Another way was eating lots of magnum ice creams, but I’m not sure this is what the professionals do.

Anyway I ran less, I ate the same. The marathon ticked ever closer. Marathon training is such a massive undertaking. I’ve not spent as much time preparing for any one day other than my wedding and two pregnancies and by the end, I just wanted to get it over and done with. I had one last sports massage on the Thursday where my left calf was pummeled one last time and some very fetching blue tape was glued on. My very last run was a two mile jog to stretch my legs, the day before the marathon.

 

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The end of marathon training: the point at which you realise that your head looks like a pin compared to your man thighs
And that was it. All the training done. All I could do was dump children and dog at my parents and eat my body weight in pasta.

The weather forecast promised an overcast 14 degrees, excellent running weather which I was very happy about. Sadly for me, and happily for normal people, it was rather more sunny than predicted. Guy and I set off for Stratford on Avon at 7am on Sunday morning, the sun looking annoyingly perky and bright in the sky.

The race was due to start at 9am so we parked nice and early before everyone else turned up, and went to get a drink and for me to start my pre-run nervous wee routine. I’ve never quite managed to get the balance right, the need to hydrate before a run with the shagged bladder that was used as a trampoline by two boy babies. Just imagine if I had given birth the proper way and lost my pelvic floor – it’s possible I would leave a wet trail like a leaking water bottle behind me when I ran. But fortunately for all, I’m not that bad.

We met up with my parents and the boys so that they could watch the start, and then I went off to line up with the other runners – this was the first time that I have ever started a race on my own rather than with a friend, and actually it was ok – not everyone runs with a friend at these things! Plus runner types are always very friendly – they’re always happy to tell you all about how many marathons they’re signed up for this year if you really want to make small talk. Which I didn’t.

The Shakespeare Marathon is a very small event compared to the well known marathons that you hear about on the news. It is a Rotary club event, and it is very well advertised that they spend as little on the event as possible in order to support the local charities. They also don’t have different starting times for the full and half marathon races – everyone starts together at 9am and then the half peels off just before the 12 mile mark. I was very aware that nearly every bib I could see was a half bib – obviously not too many people use this as a full marathon route.

The route is an incredibly pretty one, through Stratford high street, over the Avon and out into the countryside, past about a hundred houses that you would happily live in if you had a spare couple of million, down the Greenway (a cycle path) back towards Stratford  before going back out and round again for those stupid enough to want to do it twice all in the name of running a marathon.

My aim throughout this has always been to try to run a sub 4:30 marathon. My training times all suggested that I could do it. I started off well, knowing that there were no pacers, paid close attention to my splits from the off to make sure that I didn’t charge off too quickly, especially with the vast majority of runners only doing the half.

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I had run approximately 0.8 miles at this point, hence the smile. 
For the first 8 miles or so, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I had my music (bone conductor headphones were permitted), the rich people stood outside their houses clapping us and handing out orange segments, I was running with people but didn’t feel crowded, the water stations had sponges as well, the portaloos were plentiful…….why haven’t I done this before now, I wondered to myself?

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First half. Enjoying life.
At about mile 10, I needed to go to the toilet. Actually I needed it before then, but I didn’t want to queue, so waited until I only had to wait for one person to ‘go’. That put me off my stride a little but still all fine. (Yes I paused my Garmin, despite what Guy says about it cheating to not account for every minute, running, peeing or otherwise.)

My target time was looking fine. Everything was grand.

Just before mile 12, the half runners peeled off the Greenway and the rest of us ran back around the top of the high street and back out for another loop.

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Mile 12. This might have been the last time I smiled. 
Once we had set back off out of Stratford again, a number of things occurred to me:

  • Suddenly it was very lonely without all the half runners
  • The fact that I hadn’t been able to do a proper satisfying poo first thing was becoming a bit problematic.
  • I was getting a little bit bored.
  • All of the rich people had given away all their fruit to the free loading half runners and buggered off, so whilst I didn’t want an orange segment back then, I was craving one now and there wasn’t one sniff of an orange or watermelon anywhere.
  • 14 degrees my arse
  • Rotary marshals aren’t quite as young and enthusiastic as the marshals at the MK half. I didn’t iron on my name just for people to not bother calling it out and cheering me on. All I got were geriatric marshals sitting in deckchairs drinking flasks of tea. FFS.
  • breathing was becoming problematic
  • my nose was like Niagara Falls again.
  • People who jeff a marathon (run and walk) really need to move to one side before they stop to walk otherwise they just become annoying bellends.

All very valid issues at that time.

Yes it turns out that I do suffer from hay fever, quite badly, when running for miles with fields of rape on either side. The smell was so pungent that it made me feel really poorly. My nose just wouldn’t stop leaking and my eyes were streaming. I had taken some precautionary Piriton (other hay fever remedy brands are available, but they probably don’t come in liquid form that tastes quite so delicious) before leaving the house but by 11am it had worn off. This, coupled with the big hill up towards Welford on Avon again, resulted in me having to walk a few times.

The smell of the rape fields made my stomach gurgle away and I thought that a portaloo stop would be a wise move. But my sphincter obviously decided that sitting in a plastic box with people standing outside and running past was not the time to relax and let go, so after a minute I decided that I couldn’t sit there indefinitely, and that it was best to carry on again.

Miles 13 to 20 were a pretty grim time. I realised pretty early into this second half that with the way I was feeling, I was never going to be able to keep up my pace to get a sub 4:30. I decided that I was ok with that, I didn’t care anymore about the time, I just wanted to finish. There were no spectators for most of this section, they had all gone home, probably to have BBQs in the sun and get pissed, which is what normal people do on a nice day. The runners were few and far between, and it really showed me just what a mental battle long distance running is. That ‘wall’ they talk about is a real thing, I just didn’t realise that for me, it was nearly as long as the Great Wall of China.

Despite carrying my own water, I started taking water from the stations (which were brilliant by the way, always stocked and the sponge stations were even better!) so that I could have a few gulps of cold water before pouring the rest over my head and down my back to keep cool. There was no shade and no breeze and the temperature was into the low twenties (not as hot as London and MK, I know, but warm enough!). I walked when I needed to so that I could blow my nose, and ran as much as I could.

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Second half. Not enjoying life quite as much 
It was around mile 20 when we went onto the Greenway for the second time and away from all the rape fields that I started to feel a bit more human but it was really warm at this point and my tired legs were not willing to speed up to claw anytime back. I started to dream about what drink I wanted when I finished, and a mile or so were spent debating an ice cold orange juice over an ice cold coke, over a McDonalds strawberry milkshake.

I decided that I wanted all three.

I also decided that running 26.2 miles was a very unnecessary use of my time, and that I was very jealous of the people who had turned up, run a half, eaten all my orange segments and were probably already drinking cold things in their gardens.

I also decided that wearing my charity vest over a T shirt because it was going to be overcast was a Very Bad Idea Indeed.

I got very sad over the thought that this was possibly the last run I would do in my trainers, and how far they had got me since I bought them back in October. Plus as they were discontinued, I would have to start the process of finding a new pair of trainers all over again, which made me very sad too.

I also decided that I was bloody sick of crossing over the Avon, and it was ironic that the first time we went over it, I was taken aback at how beautiful it was, but now I would be happy if I never saw that poxy river again.

For the last time I crossed over that river.

For the last time we turned off the Greenway (which I am absolutely convinced is just a slight uphill incline all the way from Long Marston into Stratford).

I ran past about 20 different marshals all saying ‘not far to go now’ and wanted to punch every single one of them in the face.

And finally, FINALLY. I made it into the park and saw the finish line.

26.2 miles is really far.

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Was probably listening to something profound like Bewitched’s C’est La Vie at this point.
And that was it. I had done it. The chip time was 4:48 but obviously that includes two portaloo breaks. Nowhere near my goal time but I didn’t care. I still don’t.

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Obviously I no longer have possession of my medal. But I still have the memories. And the boobchafe. 
So there you go. That was my marathon. All you folks who do this time and time again, and those who choose to go even further, I have nothing but respect for you. I have found the last four months brilliant and exhausting but I can’t say that I’m keen to do it again anytime soon.

I won’t miss the wake ups before 5am to get a dog walk and run in before I start work. I won’t miss having to arrange my weekend plans around training. I won’t miss the post long run feeling of crappiness (and crapping) for about an hour before my body sorted itself out. I won’t miss not being able to poo until Tuesday because I took two Imodium early on Saturday morning before a long run. Having said that though, I don’t think I could have done anything better to give me a brief inside into what it is like to suffer from Crohns. That stabbing pain, the urgency, the bolting to a toilet and feeling nauseous. It isn’t much fun.

So no more marathons for the time being for me, thanks.

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Happy birthday to me!
Thank you to all of you who have sponsored me along the way on this “journey”.  Guy and I are thrilled at how much we -well, I. Let’s be honest, I’ve done the bulk of the work here -have raised. If you wanted to see proof that I would actually run it before you sponsored me (fair play if so, you want to get your money’s worth) then the link is below. I have actually put the full link this time so as to avoid any confusion as I don’t think that WordPress highlights a word that has a hyperlink behind it in a different colour. So it is below:

https://www.justgiving.com/Fiona-hownottorunamarathon?utm_source=Sharethis&utm_medium=fundraisingpage&utm_content=Fiona-hownottorunamarathon&utm_campaign=pfp-email&utm_term=JkGrpBVr6

And yes, I did get a McDonalds milkshake later on that day. A large one. And it was the best thing I have ever drunk that is not an alcoholic beverage.

Weeks 14-16: The end is nigh

I meant to write this last week but quite frankly, I couldn’t be bothered. Plus who wants to read a blog about two weeks of tapering anyway? You’d be even more bored than you probably are reading this. So I thought I would clump it all together in one blog for you.

I’ve just finished my last “long run” of week sixteen – this next week is just a handful of 5k runs before the Actual Marathon next Sunday. If you’re in Stratford on Avon (and why would you be? It would be sheer madness to come knowing there is a marathon event) – feel free to give me a clap and throw food at me as I stagger by. Still waiting for my race number which apparently is supposed to arrive by the end of this week – I did actually sign up for the marathon, didn’t I…….?

Week fourteen was the biggie. The week of all the miles. I was required to put in five miles on Tuesday, ten on Wednesday, five on Thursday and then my aim was twenty two to twenty three on the Saturday. The midweek runs were all fine, and it was around this point that people started getting all excited about some random hot weather that was coming our way for approximately forty eight hours. I made comments such as “I feel so sorry for the VLM runners, this is going to be hot for them” and it was at about 4pm on Friday afternoon when it struck me that I too had a long run to do in the warm weather. Admittedly not as long and I didn’t have mill around until late morning before I could start, but still, not ideal running conditions.

So, another 5am Saturday wake up, to eat breakfast in time for it to go down (and stay down) and a dog walk later, and I was prepping myself for The Longest Run Ever (by me). One thing I have noticed is that the days of just popping out for a run are long gone when you start running further. It takes a good fifteen minutes of  sun cream and lube application, wrestling myself into the sports bra*, filling up the hydration pack (and then getting rid of the air so that it doesn’t slosh around and make me need the toilet), going for a couple of nervous wees, sorting out tissues and jelly beans (both essential) before I can actually get out of the house.

*Obviously do run in other clothing as well. But the rest doesn’t require as much man handling and swearing.

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Run a marathon. It’s so good for you. 
Anyway, after about four toilet trips to get rid of all the water I had carefully consumed over the last two hours, I set off. I was very careful with my pace from the start, and I made sure that I drank regularly.

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7am and half a mile in, already sweating like a Brit in a heatwave 
During my last twenty mile run, I had really struggled from miles fourteen to eighteen, but this time I enjoyed the first eighteen or so miles. I picked shorter running routes and joined them all together, so this broke down the long run into segments, making it easier to mentally get to grips with. Round the by pass gave me five miles in the bag, then a couple of miles to join me to the reservoir for another five miles (yes I did vow not to run around here until the swallows had eaten all the flies, but you can’t turn down a nice clean toilet) then up into town via one of Guy’s favourite haunts, our local hospital, and Rugby School, which is always beautiful to look at. I was quite enjoying myself throughout all of this, despite the warm weather.

It was about there that I started flagging a bit and I was trying to think up roads to run down to try to make up the last six or so miles. I also knew that I would soon be in need of the toilet and it was probably safer to go closer to home, so I headed back towards my house. By this point it was about 10:30 and it was really starting to get hot. I was having sips of (now warm) water every third of a mile, and I was at 21 miles when I got back towards my street. I really had wanted to make it to 23, so I set off around the park but the children were playing their weekly football match and I felt a little self conscious staggering around behind the spectators. So I lurched off to finish off mile 22, and mentally I was done. I had finished my water, I was touching cloth by this point, and the thought of heading off away from home for half a mile in order to turn around and go back was just too much. So I called it a day, one mile less than I had wanted to do, but two miles more than my training plan called for.

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That was hard. So hard. 
 For about an hour, I was really disappointed with myself for giving up early – it’s not like I can do the same during the marathon. But although you can’t plan the weather and it might be as warm (well it is Britain, chances are slim but always a possibility), I will have water stations and portaloos, neither of which I had while trying to make this solo attempt.

Plus, 22 miles is a bloody long way. I did ok, given the circumstances. Hopefully on rested legs with no worry about running out of water, and no worry about shitting myself, I’ll manage that last 4.2 miles.

The last two weeks have been the start of tapering, with slightly shorter midweek runs and then a 12 mile run last Saturday and an 8 mile run today. I have felt good these last two weeks, and enjoyed having to run less around my hometown – does anyone else just get bored running around the same places?

During my run this morning, I felt a little bit sad that this was my last ‘long’ run of the training. It has become such an integral part of our lives over the last four months and I’ve mostly enjoyed the challenge. I’ll be honest, I’ve not felt this tired since having my six year old, and it isn’t always easy to fit the training in around family life. I do feel that training for a marathon is a very selfish thing to do – you are doing it for yourself, even if you do tell yourself it’s for charity. But following the plan, and getting my body to run increasingly further distances, and managing it, really is quite something. Imagine if I stopped eating crap and drinking gin?! (Never going to happen)

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Last long run. Any excuse for a double chinned selfie nowadays.
I’ve had a few people ask me questions, so I thought I would stick them all here, just in case anyone else cares to know the answer.

What trainers do you wear?

I wear Saucony Valor, and I fear that they have been replaced by something else. I have never been for a gait analysis  – I have heard very mixed reviews about them, and I don’t really want to get talked into buying heinously expensive shoes just because that’s what they sell. The sports therapist I see said that unless you have clear pronation issues and have always had to wear supports, you are unlikely to need them for running and just to go for a neutral shoe that feels comfortable. Now, I don’t know if this is true or not, there seems to be as many people happy with their trainers after a gait analysis as those who are not. But I just went to a shop where I could try on lots of pairs, and as soon as I tried these on, I adored them. I suspect that I will need to replace them after the marathon though…

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Guy, I deffo need new trainers. You can see my toes now.
What do you eat for breakfast, and when?

I never liked eating before running and just went out on a cup of tea, but when training for my first half I realised that I couldn’t do more than 9-10 miles without feeling dizzy and sick. So I had to force myself to eat before doing longer distances. I always have two weetabix with banana (and golden syrup or blueberries), because this was all I could stomach so early in the morning. I try to eat it a good hour before I start running – I have my breakfast and then take the dog for a walk before getting ready to go out. This does mean a 5am breakfast most Saturdays which is not fun and I won’t miss that. Despite being hungry most of the time, I don’t usually start the day’s chowing until about 9am.

Which training programme did you use? 

I used the Hal Higdon Novice 1 training programme (click here to see it) and I found it a good mileage for fitting into my daily life. It is quite low mileage, my highest week (14) was only 40 miles according to the programme. This one is basically just to get you around a marathon, but those seasoned runners will be doing more advanced programmes to get PBs.

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My mileage over the last four months. 
Do you do any training other than running? 

On my cross training day, I use my exercise bike. Cross training is basically anything but running. You can walk, swim, cycle – whatever you fancy. I would think swimming would be the perfect cross training activity but sadly I have two children who insist on coming to the pool with me, and dragging them around the pool on big floats is not the optimum cross training activity, so I just stuck to my exercise bike and also I try to do core strength work as well. Plus dog walking twice a day, because he demands it.

Any top tips?

Sports massages! I have had two so far, the first one I mentioned and then I had another one the day before my 22 mile run. I have got one booked for next Thursday. Yes, it is another expense, and it does all add up for a sport that is supposed to be free. But still, worth it.

How much weight have you lost? 

I’ve gained 3lbs. Meh. I know, it is muscle, blah blah blah. I did drop a couple of them but I found them again and 3 more for good measure. Ah well, never mind. I do have the calf muscles of a plastic He Man toy at the moment, so that’s something to be proud of.

Will you run another marathon?

I don’t think so. I’m not sure. But I did enter the VLM 2019 ballot just because, you might as well, eh? Let’s just finish this one first.

 

In Guy news, he has been suffering from quite achy joints over the last couple of weeks – we are sure it is linked to the bad weather. Hopefully winter is at an end now! It makes it really hard for him to do anything like walking for any distance, but it’s just another side effect of the Crohns disease. I think he will be pleased when this marathon is over and done with, not least because he has been sole parenting every Saturday while I go out. I accidentally tried to kill him off last night by making a curry, and using meat for two but putting in spices for four – soz.

We both really appreciate all your support. If you would like to sponsor me, the link is here.  I will be running from 9am next Sunday – if you want to send me a message, please do, my watch will show me the messages while I’m running. It’s basic but it manages that much. (It also shows emails, so anything from Just Giving will really give me a boost – just saying!)

Have a lovely bank holiday weekend.

Weeks Twelve and Thirteen: Boobchafegate

Hello, sorry for the delay in blogging.

I have to admit, I just wasn’t feeling it over the weekend. There has been snot. There has been chafage. There has been a general feel of despondency.

But I don’t want to get ahead of myself and tell you all about the fun highlights now, let’s go back to the week before last, week twelve of the plan.

So the week consisted of a Tuesday 4 miler, Wednesday 9 miler, Thursday 5 miler and then a long weekend run of 18 miles which I was going to up to 20 in the name of doing what I am told by the sports therapist.

Now, the last long run that I did prior to week twelve resulted in a bit of under boob chafe*.  I decided to invest in Body Glide, which I must say is unfeasibly expensive for what you get – basically a deodorant stick’s worth, as it appeared Vaseline was no longer up to the task. Unfortunately, given that the damage had already been done and the fact that the schedule doesn’t allow for chafe repair, this last fortnight has just been a case of grin and bear it. After a while, I stop noticing the sweat sting.

*I realise that men don’t get this, but do you get under ball chafe? It would really help my mental well being to know that there were people out there worse off than me.

The other annoying thing has been the lingering threat of a cold. I decided to stop trying to fob it off, better to get it over and done with rather than constantly feeling a little bit snotty all the time. Generally I feel fine, but my nose is like Niagara Falls and whenever I started running, my chest felt tight and it was hard performing the necessary action of breathing in and out. An inconvenience rather than a cold, but irritating nevertheless.

The midweek runs were all quite non eventful, and I also had the pleasure of doing them all on days off work, as it was Easter, rather than trying to get up really early, walk the dog, run, and then start work. My plan is a low mileage one, how people have full time jobs and knock out 100 mile weeks, I don’t know. Do they get up at 2am or something?

Come Saturday and a recording of a new Longest Ever Run, and I struggled. I knew I would struggle, it was 20 miles after all, and as always I set off too quickly and then became a bit of a cropper when it got to miles 14-18. The reservoir was full of flies, and having to run twice around it was not good for morale*. I had to stop a couple of times to stretch out my calves, but I gathered myself for the last couple of miles and finished strong (Reality: last mile was downhill and I ran past my next door neighbour so had to look like I was running well not like the hobbling, sweating, limping mess I really was so as to look impressive and fit and gazelle like).

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Its either this or yet another reservoir pic.
*Note to self – need a very exciting route for the next long run, possibly just a constant flat strip of 23 miles in constant shade with performing acrobats or suchlike along the roadside to entertain me, a puppy or two to cuddle, also with a portaloo every mile should the need arise. Does anyone living in Rugby know of such a route? LMK.

So that was my 20 miler done. I learnt a few things, firstly that the jelly beans that my mum got me at Easter to try instead of jelly babies are much better. I can just chomp down on one in one bite and then hold it between my teeth, plus I have the added excitement of 39 different flavours and no idea what it will be when I fish it out of a pocket. Crazy times.

The other is that I need to watch my pace more. I don’t believe that the Shakespeare marathon has pacers (I read this somewhere, might be wrong though) and so it is really important for me to not shoot out at the start like the elite athlete I seem to think that I am, only to then suffer in the second half. When a race is paced, you can just stick with your pacer and they do all the hard work for you.

I also learnt that it is very tiring trying to blow my nose whilst running, seems to be a complete waste of oxygen. Possibly a gap in the market for some kind of sporting wear nose cork……

Despite all the whinging, I did do 20 miles, which is a big step forward in this marathon training malarkey. I felt really good afterwards, did all my stretches and foam rolling, Epsom salt bath, and then went to my friend’s for a delicious curry, staying as active as possible (by which I mean I stood in her kitchen watching her cook me food).

This last week was a drop back week. 5, 9, 5 and then 14 (15 for me) miles to get through.

On the Wednesday, we took the boys to a trampoline place, due to the fact that the weather had been rubbish for days and they had so much energy. This meant that my 9 mile run didn’t start until about 11am and I snottily ran through the rain, with only the thought of lunch carrying me onward. It wasn’t much fun for me, but the boys had a great time and that was the important thing.

I wasn’t too fazed by the thought of the 15 mile long run because this was not a Longest Run Ever. I have run this distance a few times now, surely a piece of cake?

Well no, actually. Pride comes before a snot infested miserable run.

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Two miles of this. Brutal.
It was hard. The nose blowing, the tight chest, the flies. Nearly two miles of having to keep my head down because of the flies, which then caused my nose to run. Everything just felt wrong and I hated life for a little while. Still eventually it always comes to an end, and yes it is true that I could just give up and walk, but running gets me home faster. I’m surprised that I have managed to make it to this point and still enjoy the running, so I acknowledged that I wasn’t always going to like every week and I just had to get over it. Plus I was able to keep my pacing fairly consistent so that was an improvement on the last run.

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I also made the mistake of thinking I wouldn’t need preventative poo pills as well. #regret
When I got home, I found that a few flies had snuffed it by getting squished in my sports bra and socks. What a way to go.

So now we are into the final month. The first couple of runs this week have been good and I seem to be feeling less congested. If I have stirred any pity in you and you want to sponsor me in my plight, the link is here (where it says ‘here’. Just click on the word here.).  Thank you so much to those of you who have donated.

Right, I’m done, nothing about himself today. This was all about me. Personally I think boob chafe is up there with the daily squits.

Yoda picture credit: Runners Be Like

Weeks Ten and Eleven: The Plod Continues

Wow, I can’t quite believe that I’m into double figures of the training programme!

I’ve actually had a really good fortnight, despite feeling a little sniffly and wheezy this week and having to take First Defense throughout the day – I’ve been hanging out with various germy old people recently as it was my in laws’ Diamond Wedding Anniversary and there have been two parties to celebrate this achievement, both of which saw octogenarians coughing all over me. So far, Vicks, Gin and oranges have seen me right, but I’m not confident that I’ve escaped it yet.

Week ten was a very tiring week in terms of work and us hosting one of the anniversary parties on the Saturday. Another lesson that I have learned during this training is that when you commit to training for a marathon and find a training plan, it is best to put all your long runs in your phone calendar (or diary or whatever) immediately, so that you know what you are required to do then.

This means that when, in January, you get a bit pissed and proclaim that “WE will have a party for you, it is totally fine” you might be reminded of the fact that you don’t actually have as empty a diary as you think. Or maybe block out the time, rather than just a ‘run 16 miles’ entry so that you are aware it will take a little longer than five minutes to knock out before you can start making sandwiches and scones.

Anyway…..the running itself was fine. Midweek runs were four, eight and five miles respectively and then a planned sixteen on the Saturday. I have been sticking to the plan with these midweek runs because I know that these are the ones that are doing all the work in improving my endurance and getting my legs used to running tired. I’ll be honest, the Thursday run is never much fun – done really early in the morning on a treadmill before a day of work on knackered legs.  Come to think of it, the Tuesday short run (intervals) is not much of a hoot either, also a very early treadmill run pre work. But still, needs must.

I do like getting outside on the Wednesday for the longer run, and as this is my day off it is more like a weekend run. I also find it is a true indicator of how far I have come, when your mid week run is longer than your previous ‘long’ weekend runs were.

For the Saturday long runs, I am trying to go further than the plan stipulates – this is because I don’t want to just run twenty miles as my last long run – the Sports Therapist I saw suggested that I add a mile or two onto each and try to aim for 22-23. This will help a lot mentally, knowing that I have nearly done the distance, rather than just sticking with twenty and hoping that “the crowd will carry you through the next six”. WILL THEY? I am dubious.

So for this week, I was due to do sixteen (which I had done the week before, instead of the prescribed fifteen) and so I aimed for seventeen. Even after the busy week, and early starts and lots of evening baking for the party, I found that I was quite happy to set out for seventeen. Mentally, it really helped that I had already done nearly the full distance the week before, and so just like Forrest, I just kept running. Thought not as quick, and I don’t think my beard got quite that long.

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New LONGEST EVER RUN record. 
I was really chuffed with myself and my pace, and I felt pretty good afterwards. I had remembered to take Imodium beforehand to stop the pooping and to glug down dioralyte after I got back to stop the vomming.  I then ate cake and drank prosecco for the rest of the day before passing out from exhaustion at 8pm, just like all fine athletes do.

 

This last week was one of those drop back weeks, where you’re supposed to feel like you’re having a holiday or something and resting up. Whatevs.

The midweek distances were all the same, and the run today was meant to be twelve, so I decided to make it a half just because.

It wasn’t anything earth shattering, but I did get an insight into trail running thanks to all the mud on the way down and back from the reservoir. My poor trainers.

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That reservoir again. 
I’ve ended March on a total of 133.9 (yes that is annoying) miles run, which is the most by far that I have ever done. I know that the serious marathon runners knock out 200+ miles so for them, this is a laughably small total but I don’t care.

In Guy’s world, his colonoscopy went well, he has been moved onto the other part of the trial now where he is definitely getting the drug again. The bowel prep was incredibly effective this time around, it was like living with a volcano. We’ve treated ourselves to a new toilet seat this week because they take a hammering when they are sat on by a Crohn’s sufferer multiple times a day, and bleach can only do so much over time.

As always a massive, massive thanks to you lovely people who have all donated to the Crohns and Colitis UK charity. If you want to donate, the link is here. We really appreciate it.

Every step I take, every poo he makes, or whatever Sting said.

Weeks Eight and Nine: Weird legs and dead frogs

I. Am. Exhausted.

It is a very good thing that Easter confectionery has been lining the shelves ever since January because I have needed a lot of it this week. (Aside: I regularly feel that mini eggs are not as good as they were, but still feel the need to quality check them on a weekly basis just to make sure there isn’t an accidental brilliant batch with the old sugar levels lurking in the shops.)

Week Eight was the Half Marathon week, which was actually supposed to be week Seven, but Milton Keynes doesn’t seem to care very much about my running schedule and just set the dates for their races willy nilly. So what I did was just switch around my week seven and eight in the plan. Week eight was supposed to be a drop back week after the marathon, so by switching the two weeks around, I’ve missed out on the R&R that running only ten miles rather than fifteen is supposed to bring you.

Ah well. There is always a Lindt bunny to help.

Anyway, week seven consisted of midweek runs of three, seven and four miles, and then the half marathon on Sunday, which happened to be Mothers Day.  When I last left you, I was fully deknotted and singing the praises of the sports therapist who had tortured me into being pain free. I have continued to feel great in the ankle region and I have been stretching as instructed and trying to stand on one foot on tiptoe as also instructed to strengthen my ankles. Which, FYI, is Very Hard Indeed.

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Stretching…..My legs look weird. Do they look weird IRL or is it only in EVERY SINGLE PHOTO EVER?
So the midweek runs went fine, and I treated my mother to a home cooked pasta meal on the Saturday as an early Mothers Day present because I wanted to eat pasta and I was too busy on the Sunday, like the totally selfless daughter that I am. We celebrated with lots of Prosecco and then on Saturday evening whilst dicking about on the internet, I came across a running chat about how long before a race you should abstain from drinking alcohol. Seven to ten days was the recommended time given.

Ah well. Surely it only matters if you’re planning on trying to win it? I am just planning on trying to finish it.

So Sunday dawned and Mavis and I trekked off over to Milton Keynes for this half marathon that she had kindly signed us both up for. It had an annoyingly late starting time of 10:45 for the half – which is good for getting there if you have to travel any distance, but my main concern was that we were missing lunch because we were running through it.

If you’re interested in reading a review of the race itself , I will try to summarize for you because some running people like hearing about races, but if you couldn’t give a toss about the MK half and just like reading about my misery, feel free to skip the next paragraph. I will just say here that not long into the race, Mavis stepped on a dead frog which caused me some amusement for a few miles. I mean, it was still a properly formed frog, not mushed up or anything. I probably talked about it far too much.

I can’t fault the race organisation – so many portaloos and no queues at all which is always important. The staggering of the different start times meant that there weren’t too many people hanging around outside the Xscape centre at one time. The course was really well signposted, the volunteers were so lovely, cheering us on and calling us all by name, offering jelly babies etc. I prefer to carry my own water in a hydration backpack, but I thought the water stations were really good, small bottles rather than cups – and they never ran low which was fortunate as it was annoyingly hot considering that it had been -7 the previous week. If you care about the bling (which I am not allowed to, as any medal I get is confiscated by the children as soon as I get home) then it was a decent size. HOWEVER, there was no goody bag, just a banana, and if you wanted a T-shirt you had to pay extra, which seems a little tight considering it was supposed to be a ‘festival of running’. I also didn’t enjoy the route very much, but then apart from a lake there isn’t much in the way of scenery in Milton Keynes. I just found it a bit boring to run along the A roads for so long. The last half mile was also running up Beacon Hill back to the Xscape centre, which was brutal.

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Anyway, given that I really don’t do proper races, because I don’t like running with lots of people and also I am cheap and don’t like paying money to run when I could do it for free (well, we say for free, we all know that running is free until you actually start running but you know what I mean) it was a good reminder about running with lots of people, running your own race and not getting carried away by pacers and trying to escape the smelly hairy dude who clearly doesn’t wash his kit often or apply deodorant. It gave me an opportunity to try out jelly babies as a refueling option for the marathon (verdict, I don’t like eating and running. I think I’ll stick to tailwind in the water). It also reminded me that if I don’t have electrolytes in my drink, it is important for me to drink electrolytes as soon as I get home because otherwise I bring up anything I’ve just eaten (So long banana that was not a goody bag).

Mavis and I trooped back off to the car and went home, pretty pleased with our efforts, with both the running and managing a child free Mothers Day. With hindsight, a spa day would have been a better option but maybe next year.

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Before the race started, there was a comedy sized mountain of banana skins and Mavis determined that my post run photo would be taken in front of this.  By the time we finished, the mountain was no more and this bin was the best we could do. 
Onto week nine, and only one day of running rest before the usual three, seven and four midweek runs. Wednesday even saw some spring like weather, who would have thought it, eh?

Sadly by yesterday, Spring was a dim and distant memory. This is the part in the training where I start to run my Longest Ever Distance every time.

I had places to go, people to see and steaks to eat yesterday so I had to get up and out early to get the fifteen miles done. As it turned out, apart from being brass monkey weather, the forecast snow didn’t really appear until much later in the day so we only had the winds to contend with around the reservoir. Every now and then a massive gust would make me utter a screech, but apart from that it was fine.

First Longest Ever Run done. I think that probably merits a scone or something, don’t you, Annie?!

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I don’t wear my watch at night but that sleep record is probs accurate. I sleep A LOT. 
In Crohns related news, Guy is looking forward to his six monthly colonoscopy this coming Thursday. If anyone doesn’t know what this means, it is a camera up your arse. Biopsies are taken of your bowel, and you get to see what your guts look like from the inside. The worst bit of a colonoscopy is the bowel prep that you have before hand. Obviously in order to see what’s going on up there, everything needs to be nice and clean and empty. Depending on what time your appointment is, you can’t eat from a certain time the day before, and then you have to drink solutions that will help to flush everything through (i.e. shit like a chilli eating competition champion – a sudden sneeze could have dire consequences). He has had this procedure done many times and is quite used to it now, but I always admire how he handles the starvation bit. He won’t be able to eat from 10am on Wednesday morning, and he manages this with good humour, despite having to get meals for the boys and me constantly hiding in the kitchen eating out of the fridge. I get hangry if my salmon takes too long to cook, I would not be a nice person on bowel prep.

As always, thank you to those kind folks who have donated to our cause, we really appreciate it. My Just Giving Link is just here if you want to give a few pennies.

 

Weeks Six and Seven: The Pasty and the Knot

Another fortnight has flown by since I last blogged. I’ve run just under fifty miles in the last two weeks, and to be honest, I’ve not enjoyed all of it.

I was worried about week six because it was half term and we went away for a few days with the children to Edinburgh. (Note, I was actually worried about fitting the runs in, not worried about being away with the family, although that in itself is always a mixture of emotions when you throw six hour car journeys and a pair of over excited, energetic chimp like boys into the mix.)

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As soon as we got here, Guy had to find a toilet. With the criminal costs of the NCP car park, that shit cost us about £2.50.
The week six training plan included two three mile runs, one six mile, and then a twelve mile long run at the weekend. Any cross training would be in the medium of walking around the Scottish capital. I only managed a three mile jog while I was there, because I don’t want this marathon thing to become something that makes the rest of the family suffer by missing out on doing things because I have to fit a run in. Instead, I am the one that has to go out early so that we can still do everything we wanted to do during the day. So a three mile early morning run was then followed by a day of walking around the hilliest zoo I have ever visited, what a treat for the legs.

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All good training plans should include pornstar martinis
I decided that after a day in the car driving home to Rugby on the Wednesday, surely a nice six mile jog would be just the ticket. Thinking that I had a good four hours at least before I would be starting my run, I treated myself to a Cornish pasty for lunch during a service station pit stop. Nice.

Without wanting to sound too much like a dick, this marathon training is “a journey” for me. I’m learning so much that I didn’t know before. One of the lessons that I have learnt is that a Cornish pasty will sit in the stomach like a bowling ball for about eighteen hours after eating it and then explode from the body with the power of a rocket.

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DON’T EAT IT, WOMAN
When we eventually pulled up in the drive way after a respectable journey time home from Edinburgh, the thought of running six miles with a pasty lined stomach was not a happy one. I decided to stick to the treadmill so that I would always be close to the toilet, should an evacuation occur. Every single step was heinous. I veered from wanting to vom to wanting to poop with every minute that passed. The pasty repeated on me continuously and I sweated meat copiously. A horrific experience. I’m just grateful that I didn’t go for the chicken balti pasty. Just think of the mess that would have made.

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The most uncomfortable 55 minutes ever. Bloody Cornish pasty.
After the horror that was Pasty gate, the next morning’s 6am pre work three mile jog was almost pleasant. The midweek runs for this week were all complete with only the weekend twelve miler left to go.

The only glitch in the plan was two days of work and a Friday night work do prior to this. Massive sacrifices on my part were made at this work Gala dinner for the sake of this marathon training:

  1. I wore flat shoes so as not to aggravate my ankle
  2. I wore a long dress when I didn’t want to, because of the flat shoes
  3. I only drank the free gin until 10:30 pm and then switched to water
  4. I had a sausage sandwich for breakfast rather than a full English, which was almost painful, but with Pasty gate not yet a dim and distant memory, I didn’t want to make the same mistake in the same week.

So as you can see, I was very sensible. The other great thing was that I was sharing a room (and, as it turned out a bed) with my lovely friend and work colleague, Charlotte. Charlotte is actually the person who inspired me to sign up for this whole sorry business in the first place. This time last year, she was in the middle of training for her first marathon, and she did so brilliantly. I loved reading her updates about how it was going, and I spent a lot of the time in Nottingham picking her brain for tips. Yes, I did ask her about running pants.

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In retrospect, I probably should have spent a bit more time on my hair and a bit less time lying around on the bed eating crisps and drinking Prosecco. Ah well. 
Anyway, after a great night in Nottingham, Charlotte dropped me back off at home, not at all ready for this run. I was very lucky that the Anti Blogger, Mildred, was not only free but also happy to just be ‘on call’ to run when I got home, because I don’t think I could have managed this one alone after two hours of sleep.

Fortunately it was freezing cold but sunny and we plodded around our local reservoir, catching up on all the half term news. I was going to take a photo for you all of the lovely view, but Mildred insisted on treating you all to a picture of me and the local alpacas instead.

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I freaking love alpacas. 
And so week six came to an end. And I was very, very glad. No more pasties for the foreseeable.

Week seven loomed with media threats of the Beast From The East. Mildred was away with work and so a week of treadmill running beckoned. As it happened, the promise of snow turned out to be true and I was very glad to have the treadmill to hand, as boring as it can be. The plan called for a three, a four and a seven miler midweek, and a ten mile long run at the weekend. Actually it didn’t call for this at all, it was supposed to be a half marathon race week, but Mildred and I are running the Milton Keynes half next Sunday so we just switched around the plan for week seven and eight.

I have been noticing that my legs were starting to feel really heavy and sluggish. Going from running just one short midweek run and one weekend run to four runs a week was bound to make a difference, but if I’m feeling like this now, what will I be like in two months time? I decided that perhaps a sports massage would be beneficial. People keep (well, like two people) saying that a sports massage is a really good thing to help prevent injury and that you leave feeling fantastic. I too want to feel fantastic! My appointment was booked for the Friday, on my rest day, so I plodded through the midweek runs as usual, and included an interval run as a little treat to myself.

Oh no wait, I still hate them.

On Friday, I walked up the hill to see the massage therapist. All I knew is that this was probably going to smart a bit, a far cry from my beloved hot stones massages.

It all started off very pleasantly, with her giving me advice about my ankle and some strengthening exercises to do. She then massaged my legs as we chatted away about running and cycling (her preferred sport). It was more firm than a normal massage, but relaxing all the time.

“Right, now generally your muscles feel quite good. You do have a few knots in your left calf which I’m just going to work out.”

This, my friends, is where things got brutal.

She got me to shuffle down the bed a bit so that my ankles were hanging off the bed. And then, I can only think that she got a knife and stabbed it right in my calf. Or possibly just her thumb, but it felt like a knife.

FFFFFUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKK.

“Just flex your ankle back and forth.”

My foot was shaking with the effort, it was excruciating. But after a few seconds and a few flexes, it suddenly felt absolutely fine. I must say at this point that it is a Very Good Thing Indeed that Pasty gate was the previous week, as with a dodgy stomach, the shock of this moment might have had very unpleasant consequences. I can only suggest that if you decide to have a sports massage, make sure you are in fine fettle and braced for any sudden shocks.

We went through this torture three more times, before she declared that I was knot free and ready to go. She thinks that the knots might have been the reason for my sore ankle. After showing me a few good stretches which I am to do after every run, I was on my way home, feeling not quite fabulous, but definitely better than I felt before I went.

The next day, I climbed onto the treadmill absolutely dreading a ten mile run to nowhere, but I actually felt great! My legs didn’t feel like lead, my knot free calves were happy to run and I bounced my way through ten and a half miles without any issues.

So another discovery made –  a sports massage is definitely worth having. I will be going back in a few weeks’ time for another beasting, and I will see her again after my last training run before the marathon.

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So this is what I look like on the treadmill. A treat for everyone, I think you’ll agree.
We had friends around last night for dinner, and Annie (flapjack Annie) arrived bearing the most delicious lemon drizzle cake because she reads this blog and can take a very heavy hint. This is the part of marathon training that I am enjoying the most, and perhaps this is why people keep on running marathons? They can’t give up the carbs afterwards. (Carrot cake next week, Annie?)

As you know, I am putting myself through this “journey” because I am trying to raise money for Crohns and Colitis UK. Thank you so very much to everyone who has sponsored me so far, I am so grateful to you all. If you would like to sponsor me, the link is here. If you would prefer to send me baked goods instead, that is just as appreciated.