The end of September last year, when I heard I had gained a place in the Virgin London Marathon, seems a long time away now. The shock lasted a number of days before panic set in! Neither of these emotions were particularly useful until I started focussing on the positives - I had actually gained a place! Full steam ahead to 22nd April...
Without doubt progress has been slow; from literally not being able to run to the end of the street, then for a few minutes, until finally before Christmas reaching 30 minutes run (for those seasoned runners whom I know, please stop laughing!). Fortunately, post Christmas I am putting in more miles but still a long way short of 26.2 miles. The specially-designed programme promises to 'get me round the Marathon' in 4 3/4 hrs or more; I am definitely on the 'more' side!
I wish I could say I now feel super fit but I don't. One benefit appears to be that I have lost weight but I feel this is rather a painful way of doing so. Along the line I have had a dizzyness and sickness bug (three times), two colds and managed to bore a hole in my big toe by wearing the wrong trainers. Every couple of weeks I go for sports massage - I hand over money, a very experienced man makes my body free of aches and pains, and then I ruin his good work by going for a run....
Slowly I am building up the time for which I can keep going - by mid-February for about 1 1/2hr (with the odd 5 min walk - all part of the programme). Whichever way you look at it, I can see the marathon is going to take me over 5 hours so I need to come up with a Plan! My trainer (eldest daughter Catherine, with one marathon under her belt) tells me I need to enter a 10k race - soon, so I get a place in a race in Gainsborough in early March.
Support team were son David and his girlfriend Grace. I was told I needed to set off slowly, which I did...But obviously this meant that just about everyone else (mainly fit looking Club runners) overtook me. Lincolnshire apparently is suffering a shortage of water but you wouldn't have thought so by the amount of rain that came down. I won the Miss Wet T-shirt Competition, but not the race - although I did get round the course more or less in one piece.
Tomorrow, 11th March, I'm out for a 2 hour run so have today spent a confusing half hour in Decathlon looking at isotonic energy gels and bars. A completely new world is opening up and I can't help thinking that running is 'big business.' Apparently I need to replenish with these liquid gels when covering longer distances. And why do they come in such awful flavours? As I sometimes struggle not to slop a cup of tea over me whilst sitting in an armchair watching Corrie, I think I'll some considerable practice is needed. Will let you know how I get on.
Post 2 hour run: Well, the last 20 mins were more of a walk really and the whole experience was completely draining. I expected a kind of Red Bull whoosh after slurping down the isotonic energy gel but all I could think was how 'gloopy' it was. At least I didn't get it on my running vest..
Can't believe it - Saturday 17th March, I have just come back from travelling on the no. 97 bus route to 'hide' a bottle of water for my run tomorrow...
Sunday 18th - that was a waste of time. I zipped to the secret spot to find someone had stolen the bottle! Good job I had a bit of change on me to buy another one. More practise needed still with the gels - the berry-flavoured ViperActive energy gel hit some daffodils rather than my mouth!
Sunday 25th March: Went out for 3 hours with daughter Catherine! As you can see from the photo, finally made the Peak District - it was breathtaking in more ways than one! Repeated the same distance on my own the following Sunday but I could have done without the drunk slurring "you'll have to do better than that, love" as I came back into the city centre.
I feel I ought at this stage to say a few thanks:
To my children: Catherine has made sure I stuck with a couple of really good programmes. She has been tremendously encouraging and understanding (very occasionally a little fierce!) and is doing her best to keep my negative thoughts at bay. David has always been there after a difficult run with a hug and to say "well done" - I can't tell you what that's meant. (His girlfriend Grace is really exciting about being part of the support crew and was a star at the Gainsborough 10k race early March.) Jonathan has stopped calling me Mum and I am now 'Paula' (but we know what happened to her on one particular marathon...) and always manages to inject some humour into the painful training process. Steph, and boyfriend Julien, are looking on with bemusement and awe, just glad to be standing near Tower Bridge on the day rather than running.
To many friends and neighbours, tennis and badminton people, and ex-work colleagues - I've really appreciated your support and encouragement, you've been amazing and have helped me along the way with words and donations.
Finally, and by no means last: To John and Eunice at Sheffield Physiotherapy for taking such an interest; especially Owen who is so skilled in what he does. Sorry I never mastered the toe exercises but the massages have been a life-saver and it is down to you I am (nearly) at the start line. Just hope I don't trip on the escalator at St. Pancras station....
Monday 23rd! It's over and I am home in one piece, can't believe I've done it albeit at a slow pace but I feel relatively good, considering. The support from the crowds was phenomenal and I managed to spot all my children at all the right places - they thought it was a fantastic day....However, I'm pretty sure I shan't be repeating the exercise!
Thanks for taking the time to visit my JustGiving page. You will see that I have chosen the Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind. This is in memory of Peter who, from the time when I first met him, was a volunteer for the Society and was a passionate believer in supporting the visually impaired. If I can get 100 people or couples each to give £10 (although of course you can give less or more) then we'll have reached our target of £1,000.
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So please dig deep and donate now.