Update: 1 May 2010. One week after....
One week ago I ran a marathon!!!
It took me 5 hours 10 minutes 20 seconds to complete .. and 1 week to recover. It was all worth it of course!
The big day started at 6am and I was out the door and on my way to Greenwich by 7:30am (yes, gone are the days of getting home at that time of morning... ). The train was full; everyone was on their way to the same place I was but it wasn't until I got off the train and started walking up through Greenwich Park that it really hit me; 42kms to go...So fast forward to the starting time: 9:30am rolled around (by which time the rain had cleared) so we all made our way off to start area to assemble in our zones. (I was allocated to zone 9... zone 9 out of 9.).
The first 5km were great. The streets were lined with spectators, some still in the PJs standing outside their homes having their morning cuppa. Most pubs en route has opened their doors with music blaring and someone on standby at the bbq serving breakfast and of course already serving pints. As I passed each pub, I thought of the beer I would have at the end...Unfortunately by 5km my knee started to hurt. It was bearable for a while but it was difficult to keep my mind off it, so I had a little mind game to play, which wasn't part of my plan so early in the run. I managed to make it to the 20km mark and as I passed it thought of mum, dad, my brothers and Luis who I knew were tracking my progress on the internet. They would at least know I made it to the 20km mark ok! That was the beginning of the end unfortunately. I pulled over to the side of the road to stretch out my legs in the hope that it would relieve some of the tension on the outside of my knee, it helped but only slightly.
So I had to set myself an interim target... the finishing line was still too far away. So my target was the the Mental Health Foundation official cheering point which was just before the 18mile (29km) marker. It was slow going, run / walk, stop/start. Building momentum was tough after having already stopped once, so I could only aim to chip away at the miles one by one. Finally l I came to the cheering point! woohoo!! this felt like my finish line!I knew I was going to stop here so was scanning the crowd for familiar faces. I saw Katy first and then Miwa and then only moments later Jenny and Jason came bounding over with massive smiles and words of encouragement. I tried to cry but no tears came out nor any noise!! I think I mouthed to "I'm ok, I'm ok, just emotional" to the concernend faces in front of me! A few moments later though I was chatting and laughing with them - probably thanks to the handfuls of jelly beans I was munching on all the while. Soon it was time to run on though. This time with a different kind of motivation in mind. No, it wasn't the finishing line... it was catching up to Ricky Whittle. (Apparently Richard Branson and Princess Beatrice weren't far away either, but when you've alreay been running 3 and a half hours not even a billionnaire or a princess are inspirational.) Those of you not already familiar with Ricky Whittle, google him.
I'm not sure at what mile I did it, but I did catch up to Ricky. I was running at this point and it did cross my mind to stop (he was walking) and say hi and just hang...; ), but it was only a momentary thought. I really didn't want to chat or hang, I just wanted to finish. So I ran/ walked, stopped/ started for the last few miles and was so relieved to see the end in sight. The first sign said 800m, then next sign which seemed like another mile away said 600m.... and so on until 200m. I was trying to think of happy thoughts and what I wanted to remember as I was running down that home straight...I thought of my family and Luis who couldn't be there, I thought of the charity I was running for, my friends and colleagues who have supported me throughout, the guy I saw who was running on his one leg and crutches, the old(er) men and women who outran most of us... Truly amazing people. Unfortunately, those thoughts filled my mind for only a minute or so - the remaining 5 or 6 minutes it took me to get to the end were more like... "argh..sh*t my knee", "ah [another stronger expletive]", "ooh argh, crap!".Then there was the finishing line. I could see the people in front of me raising their arms in glory as they crossed. I wasn't sure if that was just for the cameras of how they were really feeling. But all I could do was look to the sky and be thankful it was over. I did get a beer in the end... it was a Foster's. :-)
Thank you everyone for all your support and encouragement throughout this challenge. It really did spur me on while I was out training and of course on the day. There were a lot of hours to fill and you all gave me lots to think about.I'm still not there yet though.. I've got one more finishing line to cross and that is to reach my fundraising target for my chosen charity, Mental Health Foundation. Mental health issues touch everyone's lives, whether it be ourselves or someone we know or love. It could be a learning difficulty, dementia, alzheimers , depression and everything in between. If you're interested about MHF's work, have a look at their website http://www.mentalhealth.org You'll see another pic of me on that site too!
Also, if you're interested in the stats - here they are (you will see how things got progressively worse from the 20km mark):
runner no . 42557 category 18-39
TimeSTART TIME 10:01:22 5K 00:31:40 10K 01:04:16 15K 01:37:20 20K 02:11:04 HALF 02:18:57 25K 02:49:19 30K 03:31:37 35K 04:11:31 40K 04:52:32
Totalplace (total) 28228 place (gender) 7932 place (category) 4791 finish time 05:10:20
Thanks again everyone!Much love
Update: 18 April 2010. Less than a week to go...
OK, so I'm well into the single digit countdown. I'm getting nervous just writing about it! Training has slowed down considerably this last week as my right knee has been a bit sore. But the physio and accupuncturist tell me I'll be good to go next Sunday; I'm hanging on every word they say.
I'll only do a few short runs (3 or 4 miles max) this week, the rest of my preparation will be nutrition - that means drinking plenty of water and a good dose of carbs - I've never looked forward to eating so much pasta in my life.
Thank you everyone for your support over the last few months. My next update will be after the race! Wish me luck!
Update: 5 April 2010. Less than 3 weeks to go...
Apologies for not updating my progress over the last month... I've been a bit busy.... running!! When I set off on this challenge, I don't think I realised how much time I'd spend training, but it's certainly been occupying my weeknights and Saturdays. To give you a taste ... for the last month or so my Saturdays have shaped up like this:
- 7:20am alarms goes off- 7:40am get up (yes, it really takes me 20 minutes to get moving)
- 7:40 am - 9:00 am, breakfast, dread, psyching up, talking myself out of it, more dread and finally biting the bullet.- 9:00am - 12noon - running.
- 12:00 - 3:00 (possibly longer) - recovery.And then it's time to start my weekend!
But even though it's been time consuming, I feel like I'm achieving.... last month my longest run was 20kms and this month I've pushed it out to 30kms +. Of course that's not to say it's easy - because put simply - it's not. To be honest I'm finding the mental challenge harder than the physical. It's no secret that running by yourself is not all that exciting. Thank Sony for the Walkman (hahah - had to put a plug in there!). The next few weeks I'll be sorting out a playlist of motivating, inspiring etc songs) for the big day - so if you've got any recommendations, please send me a note to let me know. (Eye of the Tiger already sorted!)
The last few weeks of training has me 'tapering' somewhat. Unfortunately, this doesn't mean my Saturdays will be any more eventful - more of the above I'm afraid. But not for much longer. Already I can see the end, and I'm really looking forward to the big day on 25th April.
Thank you all again for your support - it really does mean a lot to me and gives me lots to think about when I'm out running.
I'll send out some details about the race closer to the time in case you will be in London and are thinking about meeting the marathon at some point. The Mental Health Foundation are also putting on a marathon reception for us and our supporters which will be a great meeting spot - even if to just say hi - after the marathon. Anyway, more of that later.
Update: 28 February 2010. Less than 2 months to go...
Thank you everyone for your support so far! This is the first update since I set up the page about a month ago, but that's not to say I haven't been training - I have, I promise!!
I've downloaded a new program from the internet - the first one I had was perhaps a bit too ambitious - who can train only 2 days a week in the lead up to a marathon?! So anyway, I now have a new one which has me running most days- yesterday I did 10.6miles / 17kms and haven't pulled up too bad today. Tomorrow will tell though...
Just to give you a taste of the training for this week:
Monday: 3 miles / 4.8 km 'easy' runTuesday: 8 miles / 12.8km speed work
Thursday: 7 miles / 11.2 km at 'marathon pace' which by the way my training is going I think is 6:00min/km.Friday: 3 miles / 4.8km 'easy' run
Saturday: 14miles / 20 something km!!!
I'll be sure to let you know how I go... Thanks again for your support.Much love, Ilona
I've set myself a goal for 2010 (other than just get through another London winter that is!) to complete a marathon and am extremely fortunate to have a place on the Mental Health Foundation's Virgin London Marathon team.
You may remember I have supported the Mental Health Foundation previously (see photo evidence above!) and have decided to do so again as a reminder to my family, friends and colleagues that your health is not determined only from your neck down - you need to take care of what's on top too!The Mental Health Foundation works for everyone's mental heath; helping people survive, recover and prevent mental health problems. They bring together teams that undertake research, develop services, design training, influence policy and raise public awareness.
I don't know that I can do much about influencing policy ... :) but by being on this marathon team I hope to help raise public awareness. Your awareness.
Everyone loves stats.... so here are a few to quench your thirst:
- 1 in 4 of us will experience some kind of mental problem.- 1 in 6 us will experience depression during our lifetime.
- One in a hundred people will have schizophrenia at some point in their life.- by 2021 there will be 1 million peope in the UK with dementia.
- 250,000 children have severe mental health problems - 1 in 10 of these requires specialist professional help.- Suicide acounts for 20% of all deaths by young people
- Last year 91 million working days were lost to mental ill-health
So just like other physical illnesses really, mental ill-health has no boundaries.
One last stat... MHF raised over £3 million last year - a huge amount! Many animal charities however raise over £40million and the major cancer charities crack over £75 million!
The London Marathon is the biggest fundraising opportunity for all charities to raise awareness and the majority of the funds for their work; the MHF is no different.
I've promised MHF to raise £1,350; £350 of that will be my contribution but I'll need your help to raise the remaining £1,000. (Any prayers to wish the cold weather away to make training easier will be much appreciated too...)
Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity and make sure Gift Aid is reclaimed on every eligible donation by a UK taxpayer. So it’s the most efficient way to donate - I raise more, whilst saving time and cutting costs for the charity.
Thank you everyone for your support! The marathon is on Sunday 25th April (so less than 3 months away!) - I'll make sure to keep you updated with my training. Much love, Ilona