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Race Report: Rome Marathon

I started this blog in 2019 to record my running adventures of that year. I ran 12 half marathons that year – well, in the end it was eight half marathons, two 10 milers and two 16 milers! It was a lot of fun, and I was introduced to the joys of trails which was even more fun. So why enter a marathon? In a previous post I have tried to explain some of the crazy reasons. Somehow I found myself in Rome last Friday nervously awaiting the run itself on Sunday.

The weather forecast changed several times in the week – at one point it was going to be raining, then very sunny and quite hot. But the day dawned cloudy with a very light wind, and cool temperatures, around the 15 degree mark. Perfect running weather! I was particularly worried about the possibility of rain, as the cobbled streets are hazard enough, without the added danger of water. But no rain, hurray.

Ready! In front of the iconic Colosseum, where gladiators battled it out. Am as I tough as a gladiator? Yes! 🤣

There were lots of people in the hotel who were running, so breakfast was laid on especially early at 6am. The atmosphere was quiet in the dining room, as we ate our bananas and contemplated the hours ahead. Then off we went, just a short walk to the start. Thousands of people were amassing, and although I tried hard to meet up with Gurdeep it was impossible for us to find each other in the throng of runners.

Minutes before the start the Italian equivalent of the Red Arrows, the Frecce Tricolori, zoomed overhead not once but twice, to massive cheers from all the crowd. It was very exciting, and a great way to start the race.

And off we went – 13,500 runners and some wheelchair racers too. For the first few miles there was good support from the crowds, and several brass and wind bands playing jaunty tunes to keep us going. The cobbles were only a problem in the centre of the city, and on fresh feet they were quite easy to manage. A different story in the last few miles though! Once out of the centre the crowd support definitely dwindled, and there were places where there was not many people at all. Very different from the London marathon, and the New York marathon from what I have heard. They need to come along to Ealing for the half marathon and see what real crowd support is!

One of the bands entertaining us as we ran past

We ran through many neighbourhoods, to be honest I have no idea of most of the places we went through. I’m pretty sure we went through the Olympic Park; Rome held the Olympics in 1960. We also went past St Peter’s Basilica and the Circo Massimo – an ancient Roman race track. I’m sure there were lots of other famous landmarks but a) I was busy looking at the ground so I didn’t trip up and b) they didn’t have big signs on them saying what they were 😂.

I was a bit disconcerted when motorbikes decided to join in the race and suddenly we found ourselves moving out of the way for a bike that decided that the yellow cordons weren’t applicable to them. At one point a small car just burst through a piece of yellow tape – not actually on the path of the runners, but still. Nobody batted an eye! And when we got back into the centre of the city with just a few kilometres to go the pavements were lined with shoppers, who frankly seemed totally uninterested in the fact that thousands of footsore runners were slogging past them to the finish line. They ducked under the plastic tape and criss crossed the road with their shopping bags and dogs, bicycles and pushchairs. It was very surprising, and later chatting to fellow runners we contrasted this to London and US races where it would be unthinkable!

At the top of a hill at the 30km mark – fancy a kebab anyone?! There were some people who did actually eat a kebab at this point – I cannot imagine how!

I started the race nice and slow, focussing on keeping a slow pace, and was doing ok until about half way or so. But my legs, in particular my hips, got more and more painful. By about 30km I was in a lot of pain. I kept imagining all my friends shouting encouragement. I could hear the voices of my lovely friends Bindee, Michelle and Florence shouting “Come on! You can do it!” And once or twice I looked at messages on my phone from my fabulous friends known as The Lovely Chums, and got a lot of inspiration from them. And I thought of all my family – especially my number one supporter, my husband, who managed to see me four times at different points. And my wonderful sons and their families. I thought of my mum and my amazing sisters. I can’t mention everybody – but so many people have supported me, sponsored me, and been so positive in their belief that I could actually do it. Thank you to all of you – it really does make a difference. I never thought I wouldn’t finish. I just kept thinking how I really will NEVER do this again!!

So tired I can’t speak!

I did manage to meet Gurdeep at the finish. She seemed completely fine – and that was after walking 25,000 steps the day before! What is she made from?! Steel I think. She is doing the London marathon at the end of April! Go Gurdeep!

Me and Gurdeep at the end! Thank you Gurdeep for encouraging me to do this. I did enjoy it, even though it hurt a lot.

Finishing was a mix of emotions – mainly relief and joy that it was over. I was so tired though, and my legs were done. But everything passes, and today I am just a bit stiff, walking a little slower, and taking it easy on the stairs!

Woo hoo! 🤩🥳
I am very proud of myself. If I can do this I can do most things, if I wanted to enough. So can you.

My fundraising page has raised £1581 so far which is absolutely beyond brilliant! Thank you! The next race in my calendar is the fabulous Ealing Half Marathon in September. If you’re looking for a friendly half with great support look no further.

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The Final Countdown to Rome 26.2

We arrived in Rome yesterday to beautiful blue skies and sunshine. it looks like the weather will be good tomorrow for the event itself. Our hotel is close to the start/finish line which is excellent news! I booked the the trip as part of a package with Destination Sport who booked the accommodation and organised entry (at a slightly reduced cost) to the marathon. At the hotel there are several people also running tomorrow, some of whom are pretty experienced! The rep Sarah is very helpful and friendly, and is running too.

The race starts and finishes very close to the Colosseum

Although I was tired after an early start and all the travelling we decided to visit the Expo to collect the race pack on Friday afternoon to get it done. So today we could relax a bit, and I could get to organise all my kit. I didn’t manage to meet up with my fellow runner Gurdeep at the Expo, although we did bump into each other at the baggage collection in the airport as our flights came in at almost the same time!

This morning we visited the Pantheon, which is a remarkable building, quite unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It amazing to think that it is almost 2000 years old, and yet still in daily use. The audio tour was very interesting – I learned that Corelli (the composer) was buried there, amongst other various kings. The oculus at the top of the dome is open to the elements, and it used to be said that the rain never fell through the roof – for mystical reasons. However it was actually because the rising heat of the candles created such warmth that the raindrops were vaporised. Just to be on the safe side the floor is also concave with some drainage holes!

The concrete dome of the Pantheon

Next we walked to the Trevi fountain, so bright in the sunshine, and the water sparkling into the pool. It was very busy round there but I still managed to squeeze in among the crowds and toss a coin in for luck.

Back in November very shortly after I had entered this event I was in an Oxfam shop crouching on the floor rifling through a collection of old postcards. Some of you may know that I am very fond of postcards, and have been sort of collecting them (in a very non collector-ish way) since I was a child. I still have postcards from many many years ago. Well, I found a postcard which for some reason caught my eye and I just had to have it. I am not a religious person at all but this postcard – a picture of baby Jesus – was somehow very striking. I felt that the person who had made it had modelled the baby on an actual baby that the sculptor knew. When I saw that that the statue can be found in the Basilica di Santa Maria in Ara coeli, not far from the hotel, I felt I had to see it for myself.

I like the way one foot is slightly higher than the other, as if about to step forward. See bottom left and right for all the ‘post’ the bambino gets…

It turns out that the Bambino of Ara coeli is famous – so famous that it was actually stolen in 1994, and has never been found. The present statue is a copy. I find this very sad. The original was said to be carved from olive wood from the garden of Gethsemane by a Franciscan friar in the 15th century. Far from basing the features on a real baby’s face, legend has it that the friar prayed for inspiration before painting the face, and in the morning it was already miraculously finished. The statue was stolen once before in the 18thC before returning, according to legend, by itself to the sound of the church bells.

The whole basilica was very beautiful, and not too busy, especially compared with the Pantheon.

A nice bit of wall graffiti seen through a window – very apt 😉

After a delicious lunch we came back to the hotel, where I have sorted all my stuff for tomorrow. My race number is pinned to my top, my sugary snacks are packed and ready to go! I have decided which pair of socks to wear, and which hat. My Garmin watch is on a final charge. I think I am ready.

Here’s the kit layout! Including snacks and my favourite socks made by Falke.

I can’t promise a race report tomorrow, but it will be done as soon as I can! Thank you everyone for all your good wishes, and support. As I have said before, it makes such a huge difference, especially in the last few miles. I am so happy to have exceeded my fundraising target. Every pound raised goes towards finding a cure for Type1 diabetes through research that JDRF funds. My fundraising page can be found by clicking here. See you on the other side!

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Taper time!

It’s the final two weeks before the Rome Marathon on 19th March, and that means it’s time to taper. Runs get shorter, easier and less tiring.

For me, still recovering from Covid, this is a good thing. It has allowed me to ease off and get my breath back – literally. Each run I’ve done has felt easier and a bit quicker for the same effort. I don’t have a heart rate monitor so I run to what’s called ‘perceived effort’. This means I judge how hard it is to keep a certain pace, how does it feel to run fast or slow? At first I found this quite difficult to do, but actually there are ways to make it work. If you’re running with another person it’s easy – basically ‘can you talk in sentences/ one word/ not at all?!’ But as I rarely run with anyone else that’s not so practical, unless I start talking to myself. I don’t think that’s a great idea 😉.

Sunday’s run – through the blackthorn arch!

But actually you can imagine trying to hold a conversation and how hard it would be. Even simple things like how quickly I’m breathing, how hard I’m breathing, how quickly my legs are getting tired are factors to notice and respond to. In the first couple of weeks after having Covid there were times when I was having to slow right down to a walk, or even stop for a few seconds. Thankfully today I actually managed a few short spells of speeding up a bit!

In the last few weeks I’ve also been working on my mental strength as well as the physical job of running. Running 26.2 miles (42km) takes a long time unless you are Brigid Kosgei (2:14:04) or Mo Farah (2:05:11). The overall average marathon time is closer to 4.5 hours, and according to one website I looked at the average for someone like me (older woman ahem!) was just over 5 hours. That is a LONG time to be moving on your feet! Mentally it can be very very difficult to keep going for that long, when everything starts to ache and the finish seems so far away.

When I was really struggling last week on that epic 30km run I kept telling myself that I had grit and determination and those qualities had seen me through various trials and tribulations in the past – including a marathon in 2016! – and therefore I just needed to access that Grit, and power up that Determination, and I would eventually get home! Which I did! So it worked.

I was rewarded with this badge by Garmin today!
Happy International Women’s Day!

Today, on a relatively easy run in the freezing sleety weather, I tried a spot of visualisation – imagining myself running breezily through the sun soaked streets of Rome, gazing at the ancient architecture and wearing a hat not to keep warm but to protect my eyes from the bright glare of the sun reflecting off those cobbles!

Not quite the sunshine I’m expecting in Rome 😂

Only a few runs left before the Big Day. I’d like to say a massive Thank You to all my supporters. Everyone has been so encouraging, and also very generous. Donations to my JustGiving page have leapt, and I am really so so grateful. I’ve had some interesting conversations with people about Type1 diabetes too, a condition that is still misunderstood by many. If you would like to donate to this important cause – finding a cure for Type1 – then my JustGiving page can be found by clicking here. And for more information about Type1, and the way your money is used for research projects have a look at the JDRF page by clicking here!

Once again – thanks for reading my blog, thanks for all your support, and thanks for your generous donations!

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The very longest run – before the actual marathon

Today I ran 30km. That is 18.6 miles. The distance of a marathon is 42km or 26.2 miles. How I will manage that I am really not sure after today. When I say ‘ran’ I am using the word in the very loosest sense, as quite honestly a lot of the time I was walking. Today was very very hard work, and by the time I got home my whole body was hurting. I got straight into bed and slept for 1.5 hours, partly resting my bones, and partly getting warm, as it was cold today with a biting wind.

The river Thames at Teddington

After my rest I got up, showered, ate and drank a lot of tea. I actually feel ok now, which is a very good sign I think. My legs and back are no longer hurting, they just feel a bit tired. I think I am still getting over Covid and I can only hope that by 19th March I will be properly fully recovered.

I was sorry I felt quite so bad, as although it was cold it was actually a nice day with sunshine, and blue skies. The river looked lovely, and because it was a Monday the path wasn’t too busy. I listened to various podcasts including The Food Programme, The Runners World Podcast, The Zoe Podcast and Radio 3’s Classical Mixtape. It’s all a bit of a blur now!

Lichen and interestingly textured bark

The most annoying thing was that I pressed Pause on my watch at some point – probably to tie my shoelace or something – and then forgot to press Resume. SO annoying as now it looks like I did less than 29km on my Garmin/Strava accounts. I know I actually did 30 because I turned around at 15km and came home the same way! The lesson to learn from this is never press pause.

Some kind of pretty pink blossom

I am still a little way off my fundraising target but there is still time my friends! Click here to help fund research into a cure for Type1 diabetes.

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Crushed orange and almond cake

This weekend I have been in Ramsgate celebrating a special birthday. It was a great reason to make a delicious cake. This is a cake I have made several times before, and it’s the kind of cake that is straightforward to make but makes a big impact in terms of flavour and moistness.

Happy Birthday Mike!

It’s a recipe by Claudia Roden, collated in Favourite Recipes from Books for Cooks. There’s a lemon version, and my sister makes one with clementines. Flourless, it only has a few ingredients- oranges, ground almonds, sugar, eggs, butter and baking powder. Decoration is not my forte or particular interest. So I made a stencil and dusted icing sugar over to make a simple decoration.

The other great thing about this cake is that it’s even better the next day, always a good quality for a cake that’s going away for the weekend. It is delicious on its own, it’s even better with a simple orange syrup and a dollop of crème fraiche.

I can highly recommend this cake. It’s always popular, and really easy to make.

Running news: last week I have done 2 runs. Each one seemed a little easier than the previous one. Tomorrow I am going to try for the longest run of my training plan. Three and a half hours! I will give it a go!

Friday’s run

I am raising money for JDRF, a charity that funds research to find a cure for Type1 diabetes. Type1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease that often affects children, although it can develop at any age. The cells in the pancreas that produce insulin are attacked by the body’s own immune defences in error. Eventually no insulin is produced at all. The result of that is that glucose, which is essential for providing energy to the body, is not able to be used by the muscles and cells that keep us going. It flows around in the blood with nowhere to go. Of course this is a disaster, so people with Type1 diabetes have to inject insulin at very regular intervals all day, every day for all their lives.

Keeping the balance right between enough insulin, and too much – which would result in a lack of glucose and a condition called hypoglycaemia which can result in coma – is difficult and constant. Research funded by JDRF is getting closer to a cure. In the meantime other research is making lives easier for those adults and children with Type 1 – new technologies like wearable glucose monitors and insulin pumps make it easier to manage the condition.

Please consider sponsoring me for the Rome marathon which is happening on 19th March – THREE WEEKS!!!!!! the link is here. Thank you.

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The LONG run!

I have meaning to write this post for a couple of weeks, but for reasons outlined in the previous post I have been unable to. Today, testing negative for Covid (yay!) and just a week after not being able to get out of bed, I realised that are just 4 weeks to go until the Big Day, when somehow I will be traversing 26.2 miles around Rome on my two feet. My longest run up until today has been 15 minutes shy of 3 hours, and 25 km. So today I thought I would see if I could possibly manage 3 hours. Slowly.

View downriver from Richmond Lock and Weir

Somehow I did keep moving (mostly) for 3 hours without collapsing before I got home, although I did lie down for a bit when I did finally finish. However it was very slow. I managed just 25km – the same as last time just 15 minutes slower! I went between feeling pleased that I had at least managed that much, and panicking that I am now way off schedule and how will I ever manage to get round 42km!

Turning point for me after 1.5 hours on my feet.

Considerations for a long, slow run in no particular order: fuel, entertainment, possible toilet stops, clothing and footwear.

Fuel: my go to on the run fuel at the moment is soft dates stuffed with a little almond butter – and – moment of inspiration- a tiny bit of dark chocolate! Yummy. Hydration – plain water.

Entertainment: I have the best headphones EVER – wireless bone conduction ones. I’ve had them almost a year. I bought them with some money I was generously given to mark my 60th birthday and semi retirement from work – and they are FANTASTIC! What makes them so great is that I can hear what’s going on around me as they don’t go in my ears, but I can still hear whatever I’m listening to. Today I listened to a BBC Sounds audiobook of Pride and Prejudice. Actually I listened to lots of chapters of it, but still haven’t finished it! I do love Jane Austen, she’s such a great observer of character, and some of it is so funny.

Possible toilet stops: this is quite important! On a really long run it’s good to know there are options. Routes far from civilisation are not the best for this kind of training run. Today I noted a possibility in a garden centre, good to know for another time! And then realised that the old toilet block in Richmond is partly open again! Oh joy!

Clothing: for me long sleeved tops are still my choice on a slow run, even though it was probably warm enough today for a t shirt. In fact I’m still in long leggings too. I found myself jogging along in amongst the runners of the Richmond Half marathon at one point today and nearly all of them were in shorts and t shirts. Soon! It’s definitely getting warmer.

Footwear: at the moment I’m running in fairly new Adidas Solarboost. They’re ok, quite cushioned and some support. I haven’t quite got the hang of tying the laces so they’re not too tight over the top of my foot. In the right shoe I’m using an X line running insole which seems to be helping keep my right foot more stable. Good news for my tibialis posterior tendon! I was sent these to try out ages ago, but only started using them a few weeks ago. I’m quite impressed so far..

Twickenham Bridge looking lovely in the sun

I am hoping that this week I can get back on track, or at least a bit closer to the plan. Next weekend should be a 3.5 hour run – that will probably have to happen on Monday rather than Sunday for social reasons. Watch out for the update!

Winter grasses along the canal towpath
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Marathon training: ups and downs!

It’s high time I posted another update on how my training is going for the marathon in Rome on 19th March. I wish I could say there have been no hitches and all is on track. Up until 10 days ago that actually was pretty much the picture. But as we all know life is a series of ups and downs, obstacles to overcome and victories to celebrate where we can.

Sunrise

I worked my way up to running 25km (15.5 miles), 2 hours and 45 minutes of running at a good easy pace on January 29th. The run itself was quite tough physically and mentally – the stretch of canal along the Paddington branch towards between Perivale and Kensal Green is in some places a bit grim, and the sky was very grey and overcast to add to the air of gloom. However it wasn’t all bad – there was some striking graffiti art, and of course lots of life on and around the river – cormorants, swans, ducks and – rats!

After this epic run the following week was lower intensity on The Plan, which was great. So due to weekend commitments I set off for my long (but not so long) 1.5 hour run on Monday 6th Feb. It was a beautiful morning, sunshine and blue sky, and all good with the world. I went off for an out and back along a canal route I often do. On the way back, still maybe 5km (3miles) from home I tripped on something on the path – tree root? Stone? Who knows. I went flying and landed on my right wrist and left face! I suppose the first thing is to see if you can actually move after doing something like that, and the second thing is to see if anyone saw as it is so embarrassing really. Well, I could move and nothing seemed broken, and nobody was about at that particular moment.

I sat on the edge of the path, and inspected my glasses which although bent totally out of shape did still go over my ears, kind of. I realised there was blood dripping off my chin, and managed to find a couple of tissues. Thus I sat, blood soaked tissue clutched to my chin, in the mud, attempting to gather myself. At this point a group of 6 middle aged cyclists slowly pedalled past with barely a glance. Well well! What did they think as they spied this not-so-young woman sat on a muddy path in February with a tissue pressed to her chin? Not, it seems, a woman who might need some help, or even a kindly word. No, perhaps they thought I was an eccentric person just having a little rest. Or perhaps they didn’t even notice my existence. All my life, at various points and situations in it, I have had a feeling of invisibility, and this was certainly one of them.

Taken just before the fateful fall!

Later I thought about it more. I do feel that this was something to do with being in a group. If one of them had been on their own I think they would maybe have felt more intrinsic pressure to stop. Or, if just one of them (maybe the leader of this particular group) had stopped it would have ‘given permission’ to the rest of the group to stop. This is actually a Thing called Bystander Effect. People are less willing to help someone if they think someone else may. And:

According to the principle of social influence, bystanders monitor the reactions of other people in an emergency situation to see if others think that it is necessary to intervene. If it is determined that others are not reacting to the situation, bystanders will interpret the situation as not an emergency and will not intervene. From the Wiki article linked to above.

As it happened I wasn’t seriously hurt, and managed to walk/ semi jog the rest of the way home – via a pharmacy to buy some steri strips and dressings! But, supposing I was having a heart attack?! Or I’d bashed my head and was concussed? In this day and age it is easy to be frightened of strangers, and sometimes it is right to be cautious. But please remember that someone may actually need your help! I could’ve done with a few more tissues to mop up the blood!

The next day my right wrist was black and blue, swollen and my fingers were going numb. So off I went to hospital. I was pretty certain it wasn’t broken, and just a bad sprain, but 111 advised me to get it checked out. Long story short – 5 hours in hospital – very comprehensive and thorough check out including X-ray of wrist and face (black eye developing nicely by now!) and then a CT scan of my face to make doubly sure I hadn’t fractured my eye socket – yikes! And given the all clear. Hurray!

Life went on, and I did actually manage to go for a short run a couple of days later. All fine.

Misty early morning run. The weather is a lot of fun at this time of year. You never know what it will be, but the visuals are often good!

Except not all fine, because a few days after that I got Covid! Now, I could’ve got it in any number of places but my best guess is the hospital. Apart from the staff, hardly anyone was wearing a mask. (I was.) Oh my days! I haven’t had Covid since January 2021. I have had all my vaccinations – thank goodness. But the first day I felt so ill I couldn’t get out of bed. it’s a few days on now, and I’m feeling a lot better – that’s why I can write this! But still nowhere near full strength.

What does this mean for my Plan?? I am really hoping that if I rest as much as possible then I can get back to where I should be – next long run 3 hours – quickly, and without too much loss of fitness. We will see next week!

What is my victory to celebrate? Well, today I decided that a solitary outing to Kew Gardens – avoiding anywhere indoors and anywhere with crowds of people – would be good for the soul. And it certainly was!

Another victory to celebrate – raising £215 for JDRF so far. Visit my fund raising page by clicking here. I’m hoping to post more regular updates from now. I have a bit more time due to some stuff that was going on in my other life as a normal person having finished!

And for no particular reason except it’s really beautiful, here is a quilt you can see at this exhibition at the Fashion Textile Museum. Kaffe Fassett: the Power of Pattern. It was an inspiring exhibition- I might have to dig through the stash! (After 19th March 😂)
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Marathon training update

It’s been four weeks since I started my marathon training plan, and so far so good. I have managed four runs every week except one, which was for logistical reasons involving Christmas Day.

Interval session round Perivale Park

There are four runs every week. At the moment they go something like this: 1) an easy shortish run, which gradually gets longer but is always at an easy pace; 2) two interval sessions – one with short intervals and one with longer intervals; 3) a long run – getting longer and longer! but usually at an easy pace. That’s the basics. Some weeks there is only one interval session, and some weeks the long run has some faster bits in the middle.

I have managed to set up the interval sessions on my watch. This is actually quite easy but it is so long since I did it that it took me a little while to remember how to add in repeats! It’s great though, because now my watch beeps to tell me when to start going faster, and when the recovery time starts. It also beeps frantically if I am not in my time range!

Christmas Eve run

So far I have managed to time most of my runs to coincide with reasonable weather. Today there was a little shower while I was out, which was nice because then I saw a rainbow. But about half an hour after getting home there was a hailstorm! I felt quite smug.

Rainbow over Elthorne Park today

This afternoon I went shopping for an essential piece of kit for women. While out running today I almost had a disastrous wardrobe malfunction when the zip on my sports bra became disconnected. Luckily I managed to fix it, but the rest of the run I was in nervous anticipation of another technical failure! Good old Marks and Spencer to the rescue, and I now have two new bras, and the old one can be relegated to the recycling 😂. (Sorry if that’s too much information for some people 😉.)

Longest run so far this morning. I managed to keep to the pace too!

The big announcement of this post is that my fundraising page is now LIVE! I am hoping to raise at least £1000 for JDRF – the charity that is dedicated to finding a cure for Type1 diabetes. Please do visit their website by clicking here to find out about all the fantastic work they do.

My fundraising site can be visited by clicking on this link. I appreciate that there are many demands on limited resources. Thank you for every penny and pound you can spare for this great cause.

Good luck London marathon runners!

In 2015 I was lucky enough to get a place in the 2016 London marathon ballot. I must admit when I entered the ballot I did not expect anything, and when the text came to say I was in I was quite taken aback. It came at a particularly busy time in my life when I was working full time, and just started on a full time MSc programme with one day a week during term time to attend lectures and study etc. My first thought was that I would defer. But anything can happen at any time. Maybe the following year something else would come up… so – carpe diem! The training would just have to fit in around the rest of my life.

Easter weekend 2016 – the Longest Training Run – 3 hours in the cold and wet. At least I got to eat the bunny!

It was hard to squeeze it all in, given there are only 24 hours in a day. I was up very early most mornings, and had to prioritise study, work and running. There was not much time for a social life! The marathon itself was just such an amazing thing to do. Painful, wonderful and uplifting. Running among thousands of other people who have also done those long runs through winter, sacrificing Sunday morning lie-ins in warm beds to run for 2-3 hours in the freezing rain. Running among thousands of people who have cajoled and begged friends and family (and complete strangers!) for sponsorship. It was very emotional.

Anyway – when it was all over I vowed I’d never do it again! I never have – yet 😉 Instead I’m doing 12 half marathons in 12 months.

Now I can’t quite believe that I did actually run for 26.2 miles!

I just love running. On Thursday evening I did my weekly long run, that I usually do on Sunday morning. I wasn’t too sure about doing 2 hours after work, but actually it’s good to mix things up – it was a fantastic run.

Bluebells in the evening sunshine

The weather was perfect. The canal side, woods and parks were in their finest spring beauty. Bluebells in the woods, and leaves on the trees still with that bright lime green freshness.

It’s my favourite time of year. I love the colours of spring.

In 2016 I raised £2010 for JDRF and I would like to do the same this year (or even better!). You can sponsor me here: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/EmilyBishop1

Many thanks everyone who has already donated! Good luck to everyone running tomorrow in the London Marathon 2019, especially the JDRF team.

The JDRF team in 2018

Manchester marathon race report!

What a great weekend we have had! On Friday I went up to Stockport where marathon preparations in my eldest son’s (T) house had been well underway for the last 3 months. The training plan was strictly adhered to. Everything was going as it should be. The plan was a 4 hour marathon, and all was on track for that. Although my second son (J) had entered the marathon ages ago he had decided not to run it after all, as after an epic effort last October doing his first Ironman event he hadn’t actually laced up his running shoes since doing 16 miles in January to keep me company on my first half marathon. However – on Friday afternoon we got a text to say he had changed his mind and was coming up after all as the offer of a hotel room going spare (a mate had dropped out) was the little push/excuse to go for it anyway – lack of training or not! J might not have been running – but he has been cycling, skiing and playing football twice a week.

These are 2 of the posters on display in an old waiting room on Platform 3 at Stockport railway station

On Saturday we found out that a friend, Emma, also running in the marathon was up in Manchester without her family – so we all went out for dinner in the evening which was great fun. We ate in a lovely pub, The Wharf, in Salford. Highly recommended – good food and lovely atmosphere and location by the canal.

The night before – carb loading at the Wharf, Salford

Sunday – Race Day – early morning start, and it was definitely on the cool side, although the weather was set to get warmer later. Perfect running weather really – cool, very light wind and dry. The runners got ready – kit and shoes, running number/chip, gels, anti friction lube-y stuff for those tender spots, and running watches charged up. Supporters (me, my husband Simon, T’s girlfriend Jenny and J’s girlfriend Anna) got ready – backpacks loaded with water, snacks, tissues, hats and gloves, phones charged up and signed up for updates on runners, and finally – and most importantly – The Supporters Banner. The Supporters Banner was originally made by me and Jenny for last year’s run. We customised it with a Sharpie for this year – adding Emma’s name, plus Will and Steph (the lovely runners I met at Richmond in February), Stuart and Martyn (J’s friends) and Laura (T and Jenny’s friend running her first marathon. The Banner is held aloft with 2 walking poles. It is very portable – which is a good thing.

The run started promptly at 9 am. The runners set off in waves. T & J decided to run together, as J wasn’t sure how his legs would cope with running 26.2 miles on no running for more than 2 months! The Manchester bee was at the start giving a boost to all the runners before they set off, some of them in the first marathon and others seasoned runners. The worker bee was adopted as a symbol of Manchester during the Industrial Revolution, and has become more and more popular since the Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017. It now also symbolises unity in the face of terrorism.

Manchester bees – running and supporting!

Once we had seen them off at the start our band of supporters set off to the next sighting point. This meant getting the tram. One of the things I love about the Manchester marathon is the numbers of supporters – so many people – of all ages from babies to great grandparents! And all cramming themselves onto the tram to travel around in the hope of glimpsing their loved ones running past for a few seconds and give them a cheer! It’s such a good atmosphere.

T & J and Stuart (in yellow)

We also walked a lot between various points to see the boys running, carry the banner and give them a cheer. Altogether on Sunday I walked almost 25,000 steps! There were lots of people out to give support to friends and strangers alike. As a runner myself I know how amazing it is when people are out cheering, clapping and calling your name. It really does give you a boost.

Finally we made it to the finish, again by tram, to meet T&J – who crossed the finish line holding hands (gotta love ’em!) in exactly the same time 3:43:36 – which is pretty incredible on many levels. I can’t tell you how proud I am of them! Brilliant work sons.

Tired but happy!

We enjoyed fab post run (or walk for the Supporters) at meal at Trof in the Northern Quarter. And then the journey back home down south for me and J and Anna. Such a great weekend. Well done to everyone who ran – Emma and Stuart managed PB’s and Laura also ran a great time for her first marathon.

You might have noticed that J is wearing a JDRF running vest. Last year he had his own fund raising page. This year he would like people to donate via my page. If you have already then many many thanks. If not you can donate here.

(You might have also noticed that in the photo of the T & J and Stuart, that T (in the red top) is slightly over striding. No time now to discuss this, but hopefully this week I will write up a bit about cadence, over striding and related injuries… watch this space!)