30 in 30 – Day 15

I have been absolutely terrible at documenting my 30 in 30 attempt. But…… I have been great at running it!

Every day it seems to be getting a little easier in a number of ways. The effort required to get up and get out is dropping through the floor. My energy levels are going through the roof.

Rather than failing to deliver a blow by blow report each day, I will just include my Strava link below for anyone who is interested in the cold hard stats.

At the heart of this is lots of low heart rate runs, over an increasing number of miles with the aim of building up to the golden 40 miles a week mark. Once I hit that small but important milestone, I will be throwing in some speed work to sharpen my edge.

https://www.strava.com/athletes/1188398/training/log

 

 

30 in 30 – Day 3

Miles:2.58

AV HR: 139

Pace:9:12 min mile

Thoughts: felt good on run. Legs have hurt today but really loosened up as I went. Actually felt like less work than yesterday but pace was better. Go figure. Maybe as I drank over 2 litres of water through the day?

Strength: None

Diet quality: fair up to a point. Few sweets and a curry for dinner that will have undone 90% of the good work.

30 in 30 – Day 2

Not sure if yesterday’s post published, so to recap. 30 runs in 30 days is the target – min of 2 miles per day. Started yesterday with 4 miles at 9:38 min mile/ 141bpm HR. 10/8/7/5/4 pull ups on the rings. A very weak 3/3/2 dips on the rings and a solid 10/10/10 push-ups on the rings 🙂

I am focusing on base for the next 30 days – very slow very steady. Not sure how many miles that will bring….hopefully 60 at least. And from there I will set a new challenge until I finally work up to 4 consecutive weeks of 40 miles. My new golden target – why? because I am better with targets.

As long as I keep moving it doesn’t really matter. But trying is fun too.

30in30 – Day2

Miles:2

Av HR:142BPM

Pace:9:18 min mile

Thoughts: That my belly was way too full still from dinner and I better get ho,e before the brown bear started running me down. Good day today, Wicksteed park with the girls 🙂

Strength Work: None

Diet: Ups – Kale with Dinner. Downs – too many to mention. Ice-cream. Profiteroles. And toppings of shame.

Always planning to start tomorrow

4 months (+2days) have gone by since what was one of the greatest single achievements in my life came to pass. I finished a marathon and it was everything I had ever hoped for. Agony and ecstasy in abundance and an after event high which had me thinking I could go on and climb a mountain. Literally. I wrote a list of the things I wanted to achieve next and that was very close to the top of my list. What was stopping me – I thought? Absolutely nothing at all, so why not!

Fast forward to today and I am here to report that………. Well, nothing at all really. I have managed a few half-hearted runs, but really nothing more than that. Well, I say nothing, what I actually mean is stuff other than running has been happening. Much of my energy has gone into entertaining our girls and our continued attempts to renovate our home.

Finally we are making considerable progress on the home front and (gulp) I am left with very few excuses not to run. So my mind turns to the results of the London Marathon Ballot. These should be coming out towards the end of next month and I will again be awaiting my magazine with a combination of nerves and excitement. Part of me says that I have had my ballot chance so it is greedy to hope for a positive result again.

 The other part of me says it is a lottery and I have missed out plenty of times before!

Regardless of the outcome I will be doing another marathon in April/May. With that in mind now feels about the right time to start upping my mileage and at least looking for formalised training plan to use this time around. My 4:16 finishing time was a PB (of course as it was my first – Duh) but I can’t help feeling I could have trained more, worked harder, hit the start line in better condition. I have a sneaking feeling that’s how this whole thing works and keeps us coming back for more.

I have my eye on a nifty little Jack Daniels (the person, not the drink) training plan. More books for the shelf arriving tomorrow to be digested in my week off.

My question today for anyone who cares to venture an opinion – has anyone out there had any particularly positive/negative experiences with Jack Daniels. Or indeed any other training plans. I would be very interested to hear your experiences.

And a secondary, but probably more important question is when to start. Is it always a case of the earlier the better, even if it means completing the cycle a couple of times?

 

 

My26pointtwo

Sunday is already starting to feel like a strange half-sleeping half-awake memory. My sore legs remind me constantly that it was very real, but my brain just won’t accept that I was actually part of something so huge and exciting – nah you must have seen it on the television.

Everything about the London marathon was amazing for me. During the couple of weeks before the race, I pushed forward with collecting sponsorship donations as I finally had the confidence I was going to make it this time. My friends and family were extremely generous and in total I have raised close to £900 in the end. Not too shabby.

Another side effect of my lack of self-confidence was that my hotel was not booked until the week before the race meaning most of the ones close to the start line had already gone. Happily I found a room close to Stratford in London, an area regenerated during the London Olympics in 2012.

So room booked, Chloe and I dropped the kids with my Mum. We had made a call that for Chloe to be able to stand any chance of seeing me she probably needed to be looking up rather than keeping track of two very likely bored young girls. Understandable really, the initial excitement of being in London would probably wear off quickly and they would still have close to four hours of cheering and standing to look forward to.

The drive down to London went as smoothly as I could have hoped. We opted to go to the Excel Centre first to pick up my Race Number and bag. The expo was full of nervous and excitable runners of all ages, shapes and sizes, running around like children at Christmas, trying to work out which of the stalls they were going to be spending their hard earned money on. Lots of shoes and training kit being purchased. I found this somewhat strange as the prices were not amazingly discounted and surely no one was trying anything new the next day?

From the Excel it was up to Stratford to check in. The hotel was reasonably basic but they were very keyed in to the marathon runners vibe and informed me that they would be offering a special buffet that evening with all the runners favourites. That was all I needed to hear and yes I ate my body weight in pasta. I slept extremely well and surprisingly woke up with very few nerves. My only apprehension was in relation to a sore calf I had been nursing since a couple of weeks back, hence my trip to see Gunter (Mike) last week. Breakfast was again a buffet which I made sure to take it easy on. Just some toast and a pastry in the end with a muffin and banana pocketed for later.

One of the real benefits of Stratford and London more generally is that the tube services are just so flawless, well that’s my experience anyway. I am sure there are regular London commuters who would be shaking their head at my naivety, but I can only report what I see. We took a slight deviation and I dropped Chloe with her parents who she had agreed to meet in the morning. This meant going from Stratford – Waterloo which was no more than 15 mins and after some quick goodbyes and good lucks, I was onwards towards Blackheath (the start) from Waterloo East.

But not before my early morning hydration strategy had began to catch up on me. I ran to find a toilet in Waterloo and oh the irony (Water (loo), the only ones I could find cost 30p and I had no change at all. Cue me sprinting back outside to grab some money from Chloe before she departed. I also decided that whilst these toilets were charging the influx of nervous runners may have cleared them out of toilet paper so I popped into Tesco’s and bought myself some wipes just in case. Armed with my new wipes I confidently strode backwards to the toilets and at this point realised I had just spent the money I needed to pay for entry. You couldn’t write it. My brain was just a racing mess that morning. Long story short I was desperate by the point but repeated my quick dash, this time arriving back with change in hand just in time.

The train to Blackheath was extremely busy but as it was only a short journey and the carriages were full of runners the overall vibe was a very positive one. Before we knew it the doors of the train flung open and things got real. We joined the throng of runners walking up towards the different starting pens. Mine was the blue start and I was to enter the pen dedicated to those who had originally estimated their target time as 4 hours.

From getting into the secure waiting area to the start of the race there was roughly a 60 min wait. The trick was timing when to strip off my excess layers and deposit them with the wonderful London Marathon volunteers. The organisers have come up with a wonderful system whereby the start is in Blackheath a long trip from the finish line and they do not really encourage friends and family to come along, instead they provide a numbered bag which you pile all of your non essentials in to and pass to a volunteer to load onto lorries which then make their way to the finish line (as you run) so your belongings are theoretically wait for you at the end.

I had my apprehensions, but in the end I judged that 10 minutes before the start was the perfect time to strip off and check in my belongings. This meant not enough time to get cold and a nice opportunity to stretch and find my place in the start pen. I had been doing some reading the night before and found that Runners World provide pacers for the event, I had thought it may be difficult to track them down, but no, as I entered the pen, there they were. One of them recognised the T-shirt I was wearing from another event and said she had run it too. Perfect, she was now my own personal pacer.

That lasted all of about 2 minutes as the gun sounded and the initial crush started I had already fallen at least 100m behind the flag I could now see bobbing in the distance. In all it took around 4 minutes for me to cross the start line. No problem, it is the chip time that counts anyway I thought, but the pacers seem to have other ideas and set off at a much quicker pace than I had been hoping. I kept them in sight but this was my race and I was going to enjoy it so if they slowed down later to even out the miles, fine. Otherwise I was on my own.

The miles ticked by extremely quickly initially, the crowds were surprisingly light in the early stages but I felt like that was a mercy whilst we all found our rhythm and settled into our paces. It was just so nice to finally be out there and underway. The early highlight for me were the volunteers who had obviously been given the job of making sure no unlucky runner tripped on the speed bumps in the residential areas so just had to stand shouting, HUMP, HUMP, HUMP for what must have felt like a lifetime as the never ending stream of runners made the way past. With more than a few smart ass runners taking the regular opportunity to comment ‘no thanks you’re not my type ’, very cruel I thought but I am sure they took it the good spirit it was meant. It probably only started to wear thin after the 26,000 runner had made the same joke.

Before I knew it I had hit the 8 mile mark and I was starting to think that this whole Marathon lark was easy. I even briefly considered making a burst to catch and pass my 4 hour pacer friend from earlier in the day, but thought better of it. By mile 10 things had started to get more real, one of my main problems running of late has been that my hips start to get really tight after 9 or 10 miles and Sunday was no exception, no problem though as I had made it through my training runs regardless, so I would just need to grin and bear it. Just as I was processing my acceptance of that fact, my calf problem finally remerged, I kind of knew it would at some point, but I had hoped to make it over half way first.

So I was now in new territory, how well could I run with a strain, or more importantly how far could I run with a strain? Turns out as far as I want, the pain never really got any worse it just felt like a cramp for the remainder of the race and by the later stages my other pains and aches were far more noticeable.

Tower Bridge was a real spectacle as I crossed the crowds were getting ever louder and the waking dream of running over such a great landmark brought a broad smile to my face. I was now in a nice flow and my pace was reasonably steady. I just kept dividing the run up into sections and as soon as I had hit 13 miles my next goal was 17 which arrived almost without blinking.

This though is when things started to get tougher. At mile 18 I could feel the tiredness setting in so I started to run through the reasons I was doing the race. My Dad kept coming to my mind but this was counterproductive as I felt my eyes welling with tears. I don’t think I was sad I was just proud to be there and I know he would have been proud of me too.

One of his favourite phrases was ‘pay up, look big’ he used it wherever he had lent me any money and despite not needing it returned would use his little catchphrase to show he was still expecting it. As I have grown older I can see now the values he was trying to instil in me, whatever you owe no matter how big or small, you show integrity by paying it back, these miles were my final pay back to Dad – a fireman of 25 years and someone who I valued as a father, friend and hero, someone who continues to shape my life even now. I’m not perfect, I know that, my patience is nowhere near what it should be, but I am inherently good at heart and I know the value of people, both attributes he had in abundance too and passed to me, so I feel no shame in shedding a tear for a great man.

But it was not helping me to push forward with pace on the day, so I switched my approach. At mile 19 I was joined (not literally) by Lily, I remembered our ride and her encouragement, ‘I believe’ rang through my head and my pace picked up as it did on our day out together. She would shout, I would shout it back and onwards we would go. Once that stopped working she moved on to ‘are you aching, for some Bacon, yep yep’ apparently a Timon and Pumba line from the lion king, it was fine on the busway, but let me tell you, when you are 19 miles into a run and have that going around your head, your body has only one answer and it is a big fat YES, I do want some salty delicious bacon. Get me some now!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whilst bacon was not yet an option I had managed to balance my early fluid and gel intake reasonably well, essentially a Lucozade and a gel every 5 miles and half a bottle of water in between those stops. No amount of fluid was helping by mile 20 and I was very happy to see a station handing out big handfuls of gels which I grabbed and guzzled like they were cheeseburgers in a tube. God if only. Maybe there is a market there. Maybe not.

My lungs and energy levels were feeling ok but my hips and legs had just about given up the ghost and passing through one of the many tunnels in the last 5 miles a number of people were walking and I hate to admit it I took the opportunity to do the same. I felt real shame for some reason, but then I reminded myself I just had to keep pushing forward. There were a number of these run walk periods towards the end. Unfortunately these were mostly where the crowds are biggest, there are also lots of photographers to catch the moment in high definition glory. They say a picture says a thousand words, this is my nadir.

Capture2

I saw people who had fallen through the last 10 miles of the course, each time I tried to divert my eyes as they were already being cared for by the wonderful St Johns ambulance staff and I know if it were me, I would not want hundreds of people craning their neck just to take a look. Some clearly could not continue and I thought about the cruelty of having something they had worked so hard for snatched away so close to the end. I later found out that one runner, a soldier, had far more snatched away after collapsing on the course and never regaining consciousness. A stark reminder that the marathon is a monumental challenge to even the fittest among us.

It may be that I knew the end was near or it may be that I knew Chloe would be somewhere pitched up somewhere between mile 23 and the finish but my legs suddenly seemed to get a second wind and although I wasn’t quick or pretty, I was able to push on without stopping for almost the rest of the course and as I came up the embankment and into west minster I finally saw my family shouting from the side. I ran over and gave my wife a big kiss with Big Ben in the back ground. Magical moment!

And on I went.

Capture

With that final big boost in the bank I pushed through until the finish line was in sight. The crowds were again amazing as I pushed over the line in a time of 4hrs 16mins. A wave of relief and then pride washed over me. I had finally done it!

We funnelled through the finish and a goody bag was thrust into my hand, containing a medal and a t-shirt but most importantly at that point in time, Beef Jerky. Oh my friend, how I had missed your salty flavour. Mouth full of jerky and head still in perpetual motion I heard a shout ‘man in the Orange. Here’s your bag. And like magic I was reunited with my belongings. I can’t say enough good things about the organisation and volunteers on the day. They really do make the event. Thanks to each and every one of them.

So there it is. My 26.2.

Time for a rest, before planning what comes next.