You know what makes training for your first marathon really enjoyable? Other people. I don’t think I would have got this far without having so many brilliant people also taking on the craziness of 26.2 alongside me.

Some I’ve run with, some I haven’t, but they’ve all been there to share stories, moan about aches or even just remind me to get a damn medical certificate (which I’ve finally got around to, 10 days before the race).

So, with race day practically around the corner, I just wanted to feature some Paris marathon heroes of mine. I am in total awe…

First up, it’s Shane. I met Shane pretty much exactly a year ago. He was one of the first people I met at RDC West, when I went along when I first moved to London, after months of not running. Shane immediately made me feel welcome – he is friendly, encouraging and completely and utterly humble (as you will see from the below!)

The journey that he has been on and transformation we have seen in Shane over the past 12 months has been incredible. Inspiring isn’t a strong enough word. Twelve months ago, I could more or less keep up with Shane. Now he is burning up the streets with the Elites each week and I don’t have a chance.

I was there when Shane completed his first half marathon last year – I witnessed him so nervous before the race but saw him earn a medal to be proud of. I know he’s nervous about Paris too, but his training has been thorough and consistent and I know he’s going to own it. Since September last year, Shane has been encouraging everyone else around him in their training for Paris, and I am so pleased I’ll be lining up on the same start line as we both take on our first marathon.

Why a marathon and why Paris?

I’ve decided it’s time for me to make the next step in the running world, and the next step after a half marathon is a full marathon, to which I’d admit now I’m kind of dreading, actually getting butterflies in my stomach thinking of it now. But on the day it’s going to be great. The reason why I’ve chosen Paris is I didn’t register in time for London. And what a great city to run your first marathon. It will also be my first trip to Paris as well.

What are you most looking forward to on race day?

Meeting up with fellow Run Dem Crew members before the race, and just seeing the smiles and joy on everyone’s face before the run. I believe it will lift my spirits up as well. I’m so grateful to be in the RDC family. I believe it lifts so many people on race day to know you’re in a crew that won’t leave you behind.

How is your training going?

Training has its ups and downs. When it has it’s ups it’s lifts your spirits really high. When the training is down, I say to myself marathon training sucks.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known before starting training?

Don’t change your food diet 6 weeks before a marathon. Also go easy on your long runs, and explore more of London on your long runs.

Yeah don’t run with elites 6 weeks before a marathon. I ended up bruising the sole of my right foot and couldn’t walk on it for a week. But thank God my sole is better now.

Cara’s photo

Sunday 23rd March, 08:53

I’m sitting in bed waiting for the muesli and banana I’ve just eaten to digest, drinking a cup of tea. I haven’t run in 8 days and I’m wondering how I managed to completely mess up the first week of tapering.

In the past week I’ve had two days off work ill, sandwiched in between two quite spectacular hangovers at the weekends. I’ve felt sick in more than one way, tired, and super asthmatic. The three days I actually spent at work weren’t very productive, and I felt guilty the two days I wasn’t. I’ve eaten okay on the whole, but finished off my hangover yesterday by ordering two Domino’s pizzas and a bottle of Fanta.

At this point, I thought I’d feel ‘ready’, but I feel like I’ve screwed it all up. After my mediocre feeling after 19 miles last week, I know I’ve now got no more time to feel more prepared. I’ve starting to regret all the mid week runs, yoga classes and strength training I promised myself I’d do alongside the weekend long miles, but haven’t. I’m regretting the week I did 8 miles instead of 14, even though I was in tears and in no way mentally okay to carry on. I’m regretting doing 19 not 20 miles last week, even though I know it really wouldn’t have made much difference.

I’ve got 12 miles on my training plan today. 12 miles right now seems like a tough ask, which is frightening. I feel like I need this to be a good run, but putting pressure on it to be really won’t help. Let’s see what my legs, heart and head can do…

Sunday 23rd March 12:14

I’m back on my bed after having run 9.7 miles. That run has not made me feel and better or worse about running a marathon in two weeks. It was a lovely run – along the river for a bit, then joining Regent’s Canal, running into Victoria Park for a bit then heading back – but I was just going through the motions.

I decided fairly early on I wasn’t going to run 12 miles, and almost turned round and came home again at just 2. All I could think of was how nice it will be to do it again when I am 10k and half marathon training, when I can really enjoy it. I think I’m bored of running really far now. I only have to do it one more time, I just really want to love it.

 

 

I’m writing this from my sofa, under a blanket, surrounded by screwed up tissues and half packs of Cold & Flu tablets. I feel like my body has finally realised what I’ve been putting it through recently. And unfortunately it ain’t too happy. My skin is terrible, I am very tired ALL of the time and now to top it off I have a lovely head cold – streaming eyes, snotty nose, annoying cough, husky voice… basically, the whole works. Suffice to say, I am VERY glad it is taper time.

This is probably the perfect time for this to happen though – I’m done with all the super long mileage, yet I have (hopefully) enough time to shift this cold before race day. It’s all about good food, lots of vit c and even more rest. I’ve booked the whole week leading up to the marathon off work, so I’m not too worried, as I know I have enough sofa hours ahead of me to see me feeling better.

Before feeling ill, I actually had a very good training week. I had a seven mile run with Run Dem Crew on Tuesday, where I (very badly) lead greyhounds for the first time. It was my first time leading a group of runners – I really want to do it again to build my confidence and ultimately, actually get good at it.

On Thursday, it was a gorgeous evening, so on a whim I decided to run home from work. I had my rucksack on, so inevitably had an awful run. As it’s less than 3 miles from work, when I got home, I ditched the rucksack, and ran some sprints up and down the canal outside my house for a couple of miles too.

It was time for the big one on Saturday. The much anticipated 20 miler. I had arranged to run with Charlie and Laureen, and I planned a route that covered the Regent’s Canal from Warwick Avenue to Limehouse Basin, before joining the river and heading west past St James’ Park, doing a lap of Hyde Park, before heading down into South Kensington to where Charlie had chosen this week’s lunch (not brunch, as we would finish too late) place – Muriel’s Kitchen.

We were also joined for the first 10 miles by Cara, who is training for the Berlin half in a couple of weeks (and who will be my roomie for the weekend whilst we are out there!) It was a glorious morning and all four of us really enjoyed the first half along the canal – none of us had ever covered the whole thing before and it was lovely to spot new places of interest as well as familiar sights from a new perspective. Cara left us just after we reached Limehouse, and after a quick stop at my house for the loo and a water top up, we continued along the Thames.

At the 13 mile mark I remember thinking that I hope I feel stronger than I did then at the halfway point of the actual race. About a mile later along the Embankment, I was starting to really struggle. For the first time during training for the marathon, I started to feel the panic rising in my chest. I haven’t had that feeling since last year, so I had to stop to compose myself.

By the time we got to Hyde Park, I was really ready to call it a day. I managed a sort-of lap and headed down Exhibition Road, adding a little extra side road on to make it exactly 19 miles. I feel a little like I failed on this run because I didn’t get to 20, and that I should’ve pushed through and made it to the distance, just so I had more experience of the mental struggle. But in reality, an extra 11ish minutes of running isn’t going to affect how I do or don’t feel come race day.

Photo by Charlie – making me look a lot happier than I actually was

And then it was time for lunch, which more than made up for the almost four hours of pain that lead up to it. The service was quite slow when we first arrived (although extremely friendly when it picked up) and it was fairly pricey – the three of us paid just over £25 each for lunch, cake and two hot drinks/juices each. However, the food was very good – fresh, tasty and filling. Myself and Charlie had chargrilled salmon, Laureen had beef and fennel meatballs and we all shared a plate of salad consisting of seasonal greens, spiced cous cous, roasted cauliflower and beetroot mash – yum! We were about to leave, but instead decided to stay for tea and cake. I chose the orange and coconut loaf which I definitely didn’t regret.

Later that evening, me and Charlie celebrated the start of taper some more with dinner and one or two (*cough* …or eight *cough*) drinks in Shoreditch. Of course, that has absolutely nothing to do with how I am feeling right now…

Photo by Charlie

Oh, hi! It’s been a while, huh?

So, Paris marathon is four weeks today. I’m still waiting for that elusive ‘wow, I know I’ll be able to do this’ moment that everyone has promised me is supposed to happen sometime during marathon training. And with only my longest (20 mile) run to come next weekend (shiiiiit), followed by 12 then 8 miles during the two taper weekends, time is running out for it to strike.

That being said, I feel strangely calm. This morning I was supposed to do 14 miles, but I only did 10… and I feel okay about it. I had a wonderful, sun filled run around Central London, filled with dodging tourists, taking photos like a tourist and not running much faster than a tourist. But I loved it. I had a moment running towards Millenium Bridge, with Southwark, London and Tower Bridges all glistening behind it too and I thought how lucky I am to live mere minutes away from them all.

Whilst running (or people watching, or taking photos, or just having a little stroll) I also thought that if it’s a nice day, I don’t care if I take six hours to get around Paris if I’m having such a ball.

Here’s some highlights from the (too) many photos from my run this morning…

Buckingham Palace

The Serpentine in Hyde Park (and a headless swan!)

View across House Guards Road from St James’s Park

Southwark Bridge and the Shard

Tate Modern/Millenium Bridge selfie

Legs out! In MARCH!

London, you’re so pretty <3

I feel pretty indifferent about this race. I thought about whether to even bother writing a race report at all. Not because it was terrible, but mostly because after the absolute joy of last week, nothing was ever going to come close.

In comparison this race was just a bit blah. There was no bright sunshine, no beautiful seafront route, no glorious weekend away wrapping it’s lovely arms around the race. But (most of) those things aren’t the race’s fault.

A lot has been said already about a few teething problems with this inaugural race. I’m not too fussed that my new PB of 2:12 doesn’t count as the route was half a mile short – if it wasn’t so close to my 2:14 in Brighton last week, I might’ve just taken it. I’m not too fussed at the seriously boring route, mostly along main roads, because I needed to run 12 miles anyway, so I might as well have done it in the company of several hundred other runners. I’m not too fussed that the weather was pants, because let’s face it, it could have been a hell of a lot worse. I am pretty miffed that my bag was just left insecurely on the sports hall floor at the end though.

And I am also really, really miffed about something that no one else has mentioned yet – the complete lack of toilets en route. Now I know for most people this isn’t an issue, but as all of the ladies I do my weekend long runs with will tell you, I need the loo often. Like, really often. I haven’t managed to go for a run longer than about 8 miles without having to stop off mid run. I am becoming quite the authority on the location of public toilets in central London. (This map of toilets on the Tube network is particularly useful!)

I really try for this not to be the case. I don’t drink loads before I run (before this race, I had one cup of tea in the morning, and used the portaloo literally 2 minutes before the start). I just can’t help it. So, the Hampton Court half for me was mostly spent trying to distract myself from my own bladder and eyeing up every bush and tree in sight (I decided there weren’t any that were appropriate for the task in hand). Which really wasn’t that enjoyable. Despite all the marshals I asked telling me that all the pubs along the route had said it was okay for us to duck in and use their facilities, none of them were open at the time we were running. There was (THANKFULLY!) one hidden public loo on the Thames path heading back towards Esher College, which I only noticed because someone was coming out as I ran past. Misery averted.

photo by Leah

Enough TMI then, and onto some more positives… I ran a half marathon, on my own, with no music, at a fairly even pace. Like last week, I felt mostly comfortable. I got a pretty cool medal (nice and weighty!) I got to hang out with my friends. So it wasn’t at all bad. Next up: EIGHTEEN miles. Gulp.

For some other race reports that don’t mention wee at all, see the following, (they’re also much more comprehensive):

Laura – life.laura.london

Charlie – The Runner Beans

Stephanie – a magpie in the sky

Ashley – a healthy, happier bear

Lucy – Lucy Lunges