In April 2011 I ran the London Marathon and raised £2600 for Asthma UK. It was a 'once in a lifetime' experience...or so I thought. Bravely (or stupidly) I'm doing it again, and this blog will chart my progress while I train for my second London Marathon. Come with me on my journey towards the big day. Here I go...again!

Monday, 23 April 2012

London Marathon - 22nd April 2012

I was wide awake by 5am and showered, dressed and ready to go by 6.30am.
I headed out to the train station a 6.45am, and someone passing by asked if I was running the marathon (not because I look fit and athletic, but because I had my running number pinned to my vest). When I said I was he hugged me and wished me luck - and that set the tone for the kindness of strangers that continued all through the day. I waved goodbye to my family who had walked me to the station, and so my morning began for real.

The closer I got to Greenwich, first on the underground, and then on the DLR, the more runners packed into the train. There was a distinct smell of deep heat and nervous energy in the carriages, but also a great camaraderie.

Instead of following the main throng of runners at Greenwich I headed to the hotel where my friend Simon was staying. We walked up through Greenwich Park together, but said goodbye at the top of the hill as he had a ballot place and was at a different start to me.

I was in the red enclosure before 8.30am, and went straight to the baggage truck to hand in my bag. I was thrilled to see Sue, someone I used to work with, already there. She was also running for Muscular Dystrophy, and it was great to have someone to chat to while we waited for the start. Not long after, another friend, Sarah Jane, walked by, and the three of us headed to the start together, spotting other Muscular Dystrophy runners along the way.
Time passed slowly while we waited, but it was reassuring to be surrounded by friends...

...and then it was quarter to ten.

The crowd started to surge forwards and the race had begun.
Fortunately your own time doesn't start until you cross the line (as recorded by the timing chip that all runners fix to their shoes) as it took 25 minutes to reach the start line.
The forecast had been for showers, but as we set of there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and it was warm but with a cool breeze. Perfect.

I knew the family would be waiting for me at Cutty Sark, but I resisted the temptation to go with the crowd and kept a steady, even pace.

I checked my Garmin at mile 2 only to find a 'function error' message on the screen. I rely totally on my watch for my pace, and to be without it so early on was disastrous. I could see the time still ticking behind the error message so didn't turn the watch off, and by toggling backwards and forwards between screens it finally righted itself by about mile 4. Phew!

Somewhere around here Sarah Jane came whizzing past me, and I didn't see her again. (She did amazingly, finishing in under 5 hours.)

The first six miles flew by, and as the clipper came into sight I started scanning the crowds for some orange t-shirts.

The family were on the far side of the ship, and I paused briefly for a hug and words of encouragement before carrying on to our next rendezvous - at Tower Bridge.

I made it to Tower Bridge, almost half way, and met up with Sue at the Muscular Dystrophy cheering point. She was struggling a bit, but would soon be on her way again. My family were waiting on the far side of the bridge. They replenished my stocks of butter fudge and told me I was on course for my target. I

waved them goodbye, not expecting to see them again until mile 20.

It was within a mile or so of the halfway point that my lower back started to hurt. Just a little at first, but as the miles went on I knew I was running awkwardly to compensate for the discomfort.

My family managed to squeeze in an extra cheering point around mile 17, and by then I was in considerable pain.

Within a mile of seeing them I had started to be sick, and this continued for the rest of the run. I've never experienced anything like it in training, and it didn't happen in the marathon last year, but it was a huge problem. I knew I was slowing down, but felt weaker and weaker. I kept sipping water as I was worried I'd dehydrate, but nothing was staying down. People in the crowd, and fellow runners, were so kind. If it wasn't for them I would probably have given up.

Everything becomes a bit blurred after this point, so forgive me if I get details wrong.

I saw the family again at mile 20, and I was having serious doubts about being able to finish. The blue skies had been replaced by black clouds and a few drops of rain had started to fall. Taking the forecast into account, I'd asked the family to carry my running jacket 'just in case' and that was probably the best decision of the day. I put it on just as the clouds burst.

The wind picked up, and for a couple of miles there was driving rain with hail mixed in. By this point I was only able to walk, with the very occasional run, so got colder and colder. By mile 24 when I saw the family again I was shivering. They'd found a pair of gloves in their bag, and I managed to squeeze my frozen fingers into them and keep going.

'One foot in front of the other' became my mantra.

The last two miles were awful! I remember getting to the mall and thinking I should smile for the camera at the end, but by that point I just hadn't got the energy! My timing chip was removed, my medal hung round my neck, and I kept moving towards the luggage truck to get my bag. One of the marshals stopped me to check I was ok, and tied the foil blanket around me to help keep some warmth in, and slowly but surely I made it to the steps at the end of the Mall where my family were waiting for me.

As soon as they spotted me they ran down the steps, and I finally gave into the tears. I was a wreck, but I'd completed my second marathon.

We made it to the post-race reception, where there was hot, sweet tea, showers and a massage waiting for me. I can't thank the Muscular Dystrophy team enough for their kindness. They were so lovely, and took such good care of us all.

Simon had finished in under five hours and was having his massage by the time I arrived. It was so good to hear how well he'd done. We stayed at the reception for about an hour before heading back to the hotel to collect our bags, and then travelling home.

I don't think I'll be doing another marathon. The training takes over your life, and the distance is gruelling, but there is an amazing buzz when you finish.

It's been a long few months preparing for the marathon, and as ever I couldn't have done it without the support of my family and friends. You've helped me raise over £1200 for Muscular Dystrophy.

Thank you for sharing the journey with me.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

One last blog

Well...this is last blog before the 2012 London Marathon.
We travelled down to London yesterday morning and headed straight for the Expo.

It a very exciting, but very nerve-jangling place to be.

As you enter the hall you collect your running number and final instructions, pick up your timing chip, and then you're into the main hall. There are hundreds of stands selling anything and everything to do with sport in general, and running in particular. I could have easily spent a small fortune, but was very restrained.

The charities also have stalls, and our first stop was the Muscular Dystrophy stand. It was great to meet the MD organising team, who have been there to support us over the last few months, and also Bernie - a fellow MD runner - who has been our 'ask the expert', always there to offer training tips and quality advice.

The family were all given t-shirts to wear on the route, and cheering sticks too.

The Marathon is a huge fund raiser for charities, and I'm so pleased to be part of that. My friends and family have been incredibly generous in their support, and my Just Giving total is currently just under £1100. Truly amazing.

After an hour or so at the Expo we headed to the Natural History Museum for a wander, then went out for a delicious pizza meal in the evening - strictly for training purposes, you understand - it's very important to eat lots of carbs at the moment!

We woke this morning to blue skies and sunshine - if only it would stay like this for tomorrow. I haven't dared look at the forecast for a couple of days, but will check what it says tonight.
I've come prepared with a choice of long and short sleeved running tops to wear under my charity vest. I think I'll wait until the morning to make my final decision.
A long sleeved top in sunshine will be too hot, but if the predicted heavy showers materialise then short sleeves could leave me shivering...what's a girl to do?
Today is 'me time'...I have a newspaper, a book, plenty of healthy treats to eat, and I'm putting my feet up and relaxing for the entire day while the family head out to the Tower of London for some tourist action.

Before the family went out there was just time for a quick dress rehearsal for tomorrow - don't they look gorgeous in their matching outfits?

They did a quick practice, and I have no doubt I'll see and hear them along the route tomorrow.
Plans are in place for them to meet me at Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, mile 20, Mile 23, and by the reception at the end. Everything will depend on the trains running efficiently and the size of the crowds, but they'll do their best. I certainly couldn't do it without them.
I guess you know why I chose to run for Muscular Dystrophy, but just in case you don't...
My Dad had Muscular Dystrophy, and there are members of my family who are still affected by this debilitating disease. I'm running my Dad, and for them.
My Dad never gave into the illness, and I hope I can follow his example and keep going tomorrow, even when it gets tough. Thinking of him will get me round. I think he'd be proud.
The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign does amazing work to support families who are affected by the disease - from support following diagnosis to care as the illness progresses, and also research into the disease.
If you can, please take a moment and make a donation - it doesn't have to be big. You can donate by text - anything from £1-£10 - by texting Jass73 £x to 70070 (and replace x with the amount you'd like to donate) or you can visit my Just Giving page at
Any donation you make really will make a difference.

So - I guess this is it.
Tomorrow morning I plan to head over to Greenwich to meet my friends, Simon and Sarah Jane, who are also running. It's their first marathon, so I think I'll let them beat me round ;o)
I'd like to thank Simon. First for convincing me to run again, and second for fundraising for MD, too. He's raised over £700 so far, and I have a feeling that figure will go up in the next 24 hours.
And 'thank you' to you - my family, and all my friends - for sharing this journey with me through my blog, for offering words of support and encouragement, especially through the tough times in training, and for being with me in thought tomorrow.
Look out for me on the telly...I'll be at the back of the pack, huffing and puffing, but hopefully smiling all the way!

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Here come the nerves...

It's nearly that time...just another 24 hours to go and I'll be able to start checking the five day weather forecast! I'm hoping it will be better than the ten day forecast, which is currently suggesting we'll have 12 degrees, wind and 60% chance of precipitation. Come on sunshine - we need you this weekend!
I'm trying to keep away from the online marathon forums which all seem to have threads along the lines of 'Tell us your biggest fears for the big day', and 'Biggest marathon mistakes', but it's like a moth to a flame - I know I shouldn't look, but somehow I just can't help myself!
To get me away from my online obsessions, I went out for a short run this morning - my penultimate run before the marathon. It's a strange time. On the one hand I've been training since September, and have done everything possible to get to this point fit and ready. On the other hand I can't help thinking that maybe I haven't pushed myself enough.
One day I might stop being quite so hard on myself!
I turned the TV on at lunch time to watch some news, and for the first time this year I heard the marathon music playing, and saw the advert for the BBC's coverage on Sunday. Within seconds the nerves cranked up to the max, and now I'm a blubbering wreck!
(If you don't know which music I mean, see the link at the bottom of the page...but finish reading the blog first!)
I'm meant to be cracking on with my final project for my CMI course this afternoon, but my attention span has been reduced to that of a forgetful gnat. I've given up for now - although I might try to write some more tonight - and am ticking off jobs on my to-do list instead.
I've started to get a bag of things ready for the weekend - running kit, trainers, and, most importantly, butter fudge for the route. (I might just have to do some random sampling later to make sure it's the right stuff.)
I've also made a phone call and ordered some new chickens to keep Korma, Kiev and Nugget company. We collect them on Monday evening, in that hard-to-imagine post-marathon world, when things will go back to 'normal'. I've booked next week off work to recover, so I'll be able to keep an eye on the new ladies and make sure they settle in well. They'll be at point of lay, so hopefully we won't have long to wait before they start providing us with eggs.
What else to do? Maybe appeal to you all one more time to help with my fundraising? I'm almost up to £1000. If you can, please go to and sponsor me. It really will make a big difference, and you don't even have to leave your armchair. Thank you.
I'm guessing the next time I write a blog entry I'll be in London. See you there!

The link to the marathon music...

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Does my bum look big in this...?

I wouldn't normally go for's not really my colour...but in less than two weeks time I'll be wearing my very orange Muscular Dystrophy vest around the streets of London.

I've added my name to the front to ensure maximum crowd support as I'm pretty sure that will be what gets me round the last half of the course.

Apologies in advance, but I'll be boring you even more than normal in the next ten days as I begin to obsess about various aspects of the day. Some of these will no doubt be manifesting themselves in dreams and nightmares, and I'll tell you about the ones I remember. Some of last years were quite funny.

Ok, so in no particular order, here's what I'll be obsessing about...

The weather

After such a dry winter I've almost forgotten what it's like to run in the rain (quite miserable, in case you're wondering), so I'm really hoping it will be dry for us again this year. I'm almost at the point where I can start watching the long term weather forecast, although I might make myself wait an extra day or two for that one.

As the day gets closer I'll go from checking the BBC forecast about three times a day to checking any online forecast that might happen to mention London at least four times an hour.

The Kit

There's a comprehensive list of what I need to take in the 'marathon news' magazine, and the MD team have also sent me a checklist, but I will, of course, have to make my own checklist. I'll pack everything I need in the next few days, and then empty the contents of the bag at least once a day to ensure that nothing has spontaneously combusted since the last time I checked. This will apply especially to my registration form and passport, without which I won't be able to collect my running number.

The Expo

I think this is probably a hang over from one of last years bad dreams...I arrive at the Expo for them to tell me I'm not really registered/the marathon was last weekend/I'm starting from a different start to everyone else, but they can't tell me why...or where.

The Big Day

This is the worst for provoking nightmares...I can't get to the start line/ I get to the start line but everyone else has already started/ I'm too slow and get lost in a building and end up on the thirtieth floor in a lift that won't work/ I fall over my laces within the first few paces and have to retire injured...pick any or all of the above.

The Sponsorship

I guess this is the only real worry worth worrying about. Muscular Dystrophy have given me one of their prize Gold Bond marathon places. In return, I promised to raise as much money as I could for them to support the amazing work that they do.

Through the generosity of friends, and some creative fundraising, I'm up to almost £1000...but I need your help to raise more.

Please search down the back of your sofas, and plunder your purses. Add up your pennies and visit my Just Giving page at or text Jass73 £x to 70070 (and replace x with the amount you'd like to donate). Go it now.

Your donation will really help to make a difference to the lives of the people that the Muscular Dystrophy team work so hard to help.

Thank you x

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Don't shake me...I'll rattle

Well - it took two courses of antibiotics and a round of steroid tablets, but I think the chest infection is finally gone. Quite a good job really, as there are ONLY 19 DAYS TO GO TO THE MARATHON!!!!
There isn't time to get another long run under my belt, which means that my longest training run was the fourteen-miler a couple of weeks ago. Frustrating, but what can I do?
I've decided for the next two weeks to concentrate on tempo runs, and I'll just hope for the best on the day. My goal will be to finish - the time will be secondary. Hopefully sheer determination and crowd support will get me to the end.
It's frustrating because until January I'd be doing really well in my training and was looking at a good time (for me), but with the best part of six weeks of illness during February and March I've lost a lot of that fitness.
Hey ho. Keep calm and keep running.
The children have broken up for the Easter holidays, so when I headed out for my run this morning Kong came with me. It's always good to have company, and we did a pleasant two miles.
I was a bit breathless at the furthest point from home (isn't that always the way?!) but we slowed the pace down a bit and the return leg was a lot more comfortable.
So, the real preparation begins...
I'm going to make a list of what I'll need to take to London with me.
And I'm going to schedule lots of sleep in the next two weeks.
And lots of TLC.
And cups of tea in bed.
Girls and hubby...are you reading this...?

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Look what the postman delivered...

My voice is starting to return, although I'm still a bit croaky. I'm nowhere near fully well yet, but I'm trying hard to be patient and rest. It's not easy - especially when the weather is perfect for a run.

My friend Simon (who convinced me to run the marathon again this year, and is helping me raise funds for Muscular Dystrophy) is heading out for a twenty mile training run this evening and I'm looking forward to hearing how he gets on.
Exciting news...I arrived home today to find the postman had delivered a very important parcel - my registration pack.

I now know my number for the big day - 43677 - which means I'll be starting at the red start in Greenwich Park along with all the other Gold and Silver Bond runners.
As a ballot place runner, Simon will be at the blue start on Blackheath so he'll get to wave off the elite men and women and the wheelchair entrants. There will probably be the odd celebrity or three milling around, too.

I'm very jealous, but there will be a lot of camaraderie at the red start, as well as a lot of very silly costumes to look at. As if running 26.2 miles isn't bad enough, some people dress in the most ridiculous of outfits. (Last year I got overtaken at speed by a rhino very early on - it's not good for morale!)
The registration pack also contains the 'London Marathon News' magazine which is full of information about the race, a pair of red shoe laces and a fridge magnet with peel off stickers so you can display your finish time...or the time you'd like to finish in..

Monday, 19 March 2012

Normal nattering will resume shortly...

Towards the end of last week I lost my voice. Quite a result for the family as I've not been able to do any nagging, but a bit of an issue for me - especially as the loss of voice has been accompanied by a temperature, cough and general feeling of illness.
I bravely soldiered on without any complaining...well...ok...I complained a bit...but finally gave in and went to the doctors this morning.
He confirmed what I thought - I have laryngitis, but unfortunately I also have a chest infection too. That'll be why I'm a bit wheezy!
I was sent away clutching a prescription for some high dose penicillin and instructions to drink plenty of water and increase my inhaler dose for the next week or so.
I'm hopeful that the tablets will pick me up over the next 48 hours and that I'll get my voice back soon.
Hubby and children...make the most of the's not going to last for much longer!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Fundraising fun

Yesterday was my Pampered Chef fundraiser.
The Muscular Dystrophy team had sent me lots of balloons and bits and pieces, so I called into 'Special Times' in Rubery to get the balloons blown up with helium. The lovely ladies in there filled them for free, so many thanks to them!
I headed back home to make a Victoria sandwich cake as a raffle prize, and got all the ingredients ready for the recipes that would be demonstrated during the evening.
The fundraiser was being held in the library where I work, so we headed over there at 5pm to get everything set up ready for when friends and relatives arrived.
Jen - the Pampered Chef consultant - demonstrated quesadilla cups as a savoury and black forest gateaux as a sweet, and we all got to try the recipes. Yummy!
The evening passed really quickly (so fast, in fact, that I forgot to take any photos for the blog - sorry!) and I'm pleased and excited to announce that we raised £160.
Thanks to all my friends for coming and making the evening so enjoyable. It wouldn't have been the same without you!

Monday, 12 March 2012

A trip into town...remind me to catch the bus next time!

Today was long run day, and I'd managed to convince my father-in-law that he'd like to be my outrider. Saying that, he didn't take a lot of convincing as he likes to get out and about on his bike, and I think it was a good opportunity to get away from the decorating that he's been doing at home!

He collected me just before 10am, and we parked in Kings Norton and hopped onto the canal towpath and headed towards town.

The first mile or so went without a hitch, and then there was a bit of confusion about which direction to go in and we found ourselves on the Rea Valley Route. did that happen?!

A very kind cyclist going in the other direction led us back through a housing estate, and after a mile detour we waved him off and were back on the canal towpath and heading in the right direction again.

For those of you who know my father-in-law, you'll know he enjoys talking to everyone. Today that included everyone going past on their canal boats.

Well it did - until he lost concentration mid sentence and nearly took a dunking.

From that point on we stuck to hissing back at the geese that made us feel very unwelcome on 'their' towpath.

The Edgbaston Tunnel upset my Garmin, but we were soon through its 56 metre length and back out in the sunshine.

It was really interesting to see a different side of the city - the back of Kings Norton, Bournville and Cadbury's, Selly Oak and on into the city.
We arrived in the centre of town just before midday, and stopped for five minutes for a drink and some fudge.

It would have been nice to sit down for longer, but I knew if I did that I wouldn't get back up so we turned round and headed back.
Although we'd just covered the route it took on a different perspective running back in the opposite direction, and there was always something to look at.
I can't tell you how lovely it was to have someone to chat to along the way, and was a great distraction from my tired legs and sore feet as the miles clocked up.

We ticked off the London landmarks as we went along - 6 miles got us to Cutty Sark, and as we headed back into Kings Norton we imagined crossing Tower bridge at mile 12.

The final picture shows the Specialty Minerals kiln outlined against the skyline.

This is where hubby works, and I was hoping he'd have climbed to the top to cheer me on, but sadly not.
Not long after that we got back to where we'd parked. While father-in-law headed straight for the car to put his bike up on the bike rack I did a circuit of the playing field to get just that bit closer to my 14 mile target.
So - another long run...done.
There's now just under five weeks to go until the big day. Tomorrow evening is my fundraiser event, so it's going to be a busy week.
I'm hoping to fit in one more long run before the big day, and then the taper will start.

Hmm...I wonder what my father-in-law is doing in two weeks time....

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


After a seemingly endless time of feeling below par, I think I'm finally on the mend.
I can breathe without a the aid of a hanky drenched in olbas oil, and can finally afford to be more than three foot from a box of tissues.
Apologies to my family and work colleagues for all my whingeing and moaning; I'm not a very patient patient!
Hoorah too that I managed to get out for a run today.
It's a stunning morning, with blue skies, sunshine and gardens filled with spring bulbs in all their glory.
It's my day off today, so I waited for the sun to warm the air a bit before heading out. I took it slowly, and after a mile of my lungs feeling like they were on fire I settled into a rhythm and the rest of the run passed relatively easily.
I did just under four miles, which was slightly more than my planned three, but it was just too nice to head home too soon!
I felt quite wheezy while stretching after, but still didn't have to use my inhaler, so it's all good (especially as a week ago I could hardly get up the stairs without wheezing!).
There's just a week to go now to my fundraising evening, so it's getting really exciting. I chatted to Jen yesterday - the Pampered Chef consultant who is running the party - and we've decided on the recipes that she'll demonstrate. There'll be a savoury and a sweet, but if you want to know more you'll just have to come along on the evening!
Don't forget...if you can't make it next Tuesday evening but want to help me raise funds just go to
Every penny counts!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

A very creative day

I've been a bit of a poorly bunny, so haven't been out running for nearly two weeks.
I'm cross at being ill, frustrated at not being able to train and am very conscious of the countdown clock to the big day ticking ever louder in my ear.
I'm trying to keep positive.
I'm definitely getting better each day, and did a fast walk today - not too far, but at least it's a start.
Hopefully tomorrow I'll manage a run.
My final training schedule is out of the window so I'm rewriting the time that I've got left.
I should still be able to fit in 16-18 miles for my longest training run, and know I got round on that last year, so I'm taking heart at that.
The big positive is that I did some fundraising today in the form of teaching Creative Writing to friends.
I lured them in with the promise of tea and cake, and then fleeced them for all their hard earned pennies.
We did lots of writing exercises based on thinking creatively, making characters and settings, and looked at point of view too. I think they'll have writers cramp for a week, but I certainly enjoyed the morning, and I hope they did too.
Now I'm on the countdown to my Pampered Chef fundraising evening in just over a week.
Anyone free on Tuesday 13th?

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Have you seen the news...?

Training went well on Monday, but alas by Tuesday evening I had the beginnings of a sniffle. By yesterday morning, the worst had been confirmed - I had caught hubby's man-flu.
A few regular doses of paracetamol, and early night and a morning in bed with a book has left me feeling a lot better, although a million miles away from well enough to do my planned 5 mile run. I'm just glad I'd got this morning booked off as annual leave, so only have to make it through an afternoon at work before can go back to bed!
Trying not to feel too sorry for myself, I checked me emails to discover one from the London Marathon team, and the link below:
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

The short cut that cut it short

Today was a 'how not to do a long run' kind of day.
The plan was to do 14 miles - 4 x 3.5 mile loops, calling back at home at the end of each loop to grab a drink.
Sadly, I probably made all the mistakes there are to be made, but I'm trying to look on the bright side and see it as a learning experience. Hopefully I won't make the same mistakes again.
So, in chronological order, let me list them for future reference...
Mistake Number 1: I didn't hydrate enough yesterday. In fact I've hardly been drinking any water all week. It wasn't until just before I went to bed last night that I thought about it, and by then it was too late.
Mistake Number 2: I didn't take on enough calories before I went out. I knew rain had been forecast, and I just wanted to get out as early as possible.
Mistake Number 3: I'd dressed for cold weather. I went out with my fleece top under my waterproof running jacket, and wore a woolly hat and gloves which was far too much for 7ish degrees. I was really hot within the first mile, and although I stuffed my hat and gloves into my pockets I couldn't take my fleece off until I got back home for my first pit stop.
Mistake Number 4: I should have changed into a dry running top. Being a lady, I don't sweat, but I had perspired quite a lot! Not wanting to waste any time, I just grabbed a drink and headed straight back out. I went from a fleece down to a sweaty top, and suddenly the wind seemed to pick up and I was really chilly...which leads nicely into...
Mistake Number 5: What do you do when you're cold? Run faster. What shouldn't you do on a long slow run? Up your pace too much in the early miles. I ran my second 3.5 mile loop a whole 5 minutes faster than my first loop. That's a big difference. By the time I got back home at mile 7 I knew I was going to be in trouble by mile ten.
Mistake Number 6: I was starting to get a niggly ache in the base of my spine. I should have taken a minute to stretch. Oh no. I just went straight back out for loop number 3. By mile nine the niggle had turned into an ouch, and I was very aware that my form was suffering. I tried to make a conscious effort to run well, but I was just trying to minimise the discomfort. I took 2 ibuprofen when I got back home after loop 3, but my time was starting to suffer, my early boost of speed was catching up with me, the wind was blowing harder and it had started to rain.
I headed out on loop number 4, but very quickly the rain got heavier, and I got colder. A lot colder. A mile and a half into the fourth loop I took a short cut through an alley way and headed for home.
I felt cold, tired and defeated.
I'd done twelve miles, but had wanted to do fourteen.
A warm bath, some toast and a hot cuppa helped me gain perspective.
Ok, I hadn't managed the planned fourteen miles today, but I had run twelve miles. Twelve miles - that's not bad, is it?
There are still nine weeks until the marathon, which gives me time to fit in more long runs plus a decent taper, so there are still plenty of training opportunities left.
The biggest positive - no blisters. Last year I was plagued by them. This year, not a single one.
So, lessons learned, and time to move on.
I'll plan more carefully for my next long run and hopefully avoid all the silly mistakes I made today.
Until then, I've got chocolate to help my recovery. I'm told it's very good for achy backs!

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Turning a corner

Today has been a good day.
A really good day.
When I went out at 6.30 this morning for my run it was already getting light.
I did a two and a half mile tempo run, and at times was running at an 8 minute mile pace. How wonderful it must be to be able to do that for an entire marathon!
By the time I got home it was fully light. Suddenly the dark winter mornings seem to be behind us.
It was a productive day at work, and I even managed to finish my Project Initiation Document at lunch time and submitted it for approval, which is a big weight off my mind.
Tomorrow is a day off from training ready for my long run on Saturday, so I get an extra hour in bed in the morning. Luxury!
So - a good day all round.
66 days to go.
How exciting!
Bring it on.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A bit of a walk, a bit of a run. Repeat until done (in)

Apologies for the recent lack of posts - work has been rather busy, I've been focusing on my management project in the evenings, and at the end of the night it's come down to writing a blog or getting 5 minutes extra sleep. The sleep option won every time!
I've also been organising my fundraising evening - 13th March if you're free! - and I'm really excited about it already.
Today was my day off, and I headed out early for a four mile run.
My asthma is still causing a few issues so today I went back to a one minute walk/one minute run strategy. Overall my time was almost the same but I was a lot less wheezy by the end.
It was a nice morning to be out. The temperature was well above freezing for the first time in a while, and it was quiet as all the children are on half term holidays.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable run today.
I'd like to say that I got back to find an enormous bouquet of valentine roses on the doorstep, but instead just found the cat shouting to be let in and fed.
At least I knew I was at the right house.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

On the road again...

My poor calf muscles still haven't quite recovered from their half hour of treadmill torture, but they weren't quite achy enough to get me out of this morning's run.

I woke up at 6am, and the light through the curtains looked very white...a sort of it's-been-snowing-in-the-night kind of white, so I was relieved to look out and see just a frost.

The cold hit me as soon as I stepped out of the door (it was about -4 degrees) but with no moisture in the air the car windows weren't frozen, and more importantly, the pavements weren't slippery.

I was soon warmed up, and did a brisk couple of miles before heading home.

It was still dark when I went out to feed the chickens, so the ladies were all still tucked up on their perches. They don't seem very impressed by the cold, and poor Korma seems positively traumatised by the thought of stepping on the frozen snow, but they've kept up their egg production without wavering.

Maybe I should dig out the knitting needles and make them scarves and woolly hats...or I could play them 'Chicken Run' and give them the wool and needles and see if they can do it themselves.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Keep calm and run faster

Ok...I'm trying not to panic. After all, there are still just over ten weeks to go...
Frustratingly, my sore throat/cough/cold returned and I missed my long run at the weekend.
And then it snowed.
And then the snow melted a bit.
And then the snow that was left froze.
And that left everywhere icy.
And that doesn't make for safe running.
Back to the plan today, but rather than heading out onto the frozen pavements I hopped onto the treadmill. This was very kindly loaned to me at the start of the winter and it was great to be able to do some running this morning without having to be out in the cold.
I did a gentle half an hour run on there, but as soon as I got off I could feel that my calf muscles were tight, and they haven't eased at all despite much stretching.
I obviously run quite differently on the treadmill compared to outdoor running, so as nice as it was not to have to get cold today I think my next run will have to be outside again.
Unless we get more snow.
Or my cold comes back.
Is it summer yet...?

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Ugh...white stuff

There's been a direct correlation between lack of blogs and lack of health over the past week. A sore throat, cough and cold mean that I missed one short 3 mile run and one longer 5-6 mile run.
With a day off today, and feeling slightly better, I decided I'd head out for a steady three miles and see how I got on.
Unfortunately for me (although not, it seems, for the girls who were delighted) it had snowed a bit over night and was coming down consistently this morning.
I loathe snow. Under normal circumstances I'd have made my excuses and gone back to bed with a cup of tea, some chocolate and a good book, but with less than 12 weeks until the marathon that really wasn't a possibility.
I waited for a lull in the flakes and headed out at a very slow and steady pace. The roads were very slippery where the snow had been compressed, but the pavements weren't too bad.
The first mile and a half seemed relatively easy, but not long after that I could feel my chest tightening a bit as the wheezing kicked in. I slowed down even more, but decided to call it a day at two miles. Disappointing, but at least I got out there.
On an exciting note, I've got a date booked for my Pampered Chef fundraiser - 13th March - so hope all my friends will keep the date free and come along and support me.
So...the germs are on the decline, the training schedule is back on track and the fundraising is planned. Time to put the kettle on and find my book for a guilt free hour of relaxation!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Sitting down...slowly and carefully

Did I mention yesterday that I hadn't done an exercise DVD for a while and might ache a bit today?
I underestimated...big time.
Oh boy do I ache!
I went out for my planned 3 mile run this morning in the hope that it would ease my muscles a bit, but sadly it seemed to have the opposite effect. I've spent the afternoon walking around like John Wayne, and getting up and down stairs is a slow and painful process.
At least I got to try out my new shoes and socks on my run, and am pleased to report that they're perfect. I managed to dodge all the puddles to keep them clean, only for the dog to tread on my foot when I got home and leave a muddy paw print across the laces.
Now...what to do tomorrow morning? A run, or a 40 minute Super Body workout with Davina McCall?
Or maybe a lie in....?

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Don't get cross, get cross training

I've got a couple of days off again (I could really get used to short weeks!) and had set aside time to write the PID for the management project I'm doing. Worryingly I seem to be doing everything but, and time is slipping away. I promise I'll get stuck into later...when I've been to the hairdressers...and done some vacuuming...and...and...ok - I'm running out of excuses - I will do it today.
Talking of making excuses, I looked out this morning to see the rain hammering down and a heavy fog in the air and decided to do an exercise DVD in place of today's run. (well - it would have been awful to get my new trainers wet, wouldn't it?!)
I've been toying with the idea of replacing one of my short weekday runs with a cross training session just to mix things up, and also because I feel like I've lost some of the core strength I had built up.
For those of you who followed my blog last time round you'll remember that I tore my posterior tibial tendon part way through training, which was, to say the least, a nuisance.
I limped my way through marathon training, then took eight weeks off from running after the big day and just did cross training instead - a mixture of exercise bike, yoga, swimming and cardio.
I've built up quite a collection of exercise DVD's over the years, but having stumbled upon Jillian Micheals DVDs last summer had mainly been sticking to those. They're high impact workouts with weights and are pretty effective, and it was that one that I did this morning.
The cardio side of things was fine, but I think my stomach muscles might be a little achy in the morning. It was certainly good fun, although I'm very aware that we still haven't got the new blinds up yet. I kept a close eye out for passers by and added in a couple of extra press ups when necessary to avoid embarrassment.
At least the weather seems a little brighter and drier, so maybe I will go out for a short run later after all...not that I'm still procrastinating, you understand...I'm just committed to my training schedule.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Half minus one equals fun

I was at my friend's Baby Shower last night. We had a great evening...lots of laughs, lots of delicious Chinese takeaway and some scrummy cake pops.

Having promised myself I'd keep an eye on the time, it was well past 11pm before I noticed which meant a midnight bedtime...not the best preparation for a long run the next day, but who cares?!

I was surprisingly wide awake at 7am, so made the most of it and was up and out by half past.

It was really windy, but at least it was warm and dry...for the first three miles...and then I got caught in a heavy downpour.

I'd planned to do twelve miles in three circuits of four miles, heading back past home through the run to grab a snack and a drink. The first four miles went past really quickly, although there were long stretches where I was running headlong into the wind which made it hard going.

The second circuit was also done in good time, and I was ahead of my virtual partner for almost the entire time. I wasn't far from home when my phone began to ring - youngest daughter wanted to know how I was doing, and if I'd like company.

By the time I made my second pit stop for some more water and a banana she was ready and raring to go on her bike.

With my outrider ahead of me, I set off for my third and final circuit. It was a great distraction to have someone to talk to, and at just over nine miles when I began to flag she was there to encourage me and keep me focused.

So - 12 miles done and back home by 10am. Not a bad start to a Saturday.

I'm giving myself a pat on the back for covering the distance, and trying not to think that I've got to double that and add some in a few weeks time. It's a good job there's a medal and a massage waiting at the end!

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Somebody hide the credit card bill!

I'm very relieved that, after trawling the internet for fixes, my Garmin now seems to be behaving again. It's a good job, because I've had to spend a small fortune this week on new running gear ready for the marathon. A new watch would have been a no-no.
The running shoes I'm in at the moment are the ones I bought for the marathon last year. All the advice says that you should change them every 4-500 miles because the support diminishes over time.
I knew mine had done further than that, but they've still got lots of life left in them...or so I thought...until I tried on my new pair and realised just how worn the old ones are.
I've gone for Asics Gels again as they've served me well. They give enough support for my overpronation and are also lovely and light. I'll wear them round the house for a few days before I try them on a short run, and will switch between the old and new pair over the next few weeks. I'll aim to do about 100 miles in them between now and April, which should break them in nicely while keeping as much cushioning as possible.
I've also splashed out on a new running top and some more Hilly padded socks, which arrived courtesy of the postman this morning.
It's like Christmas all over again!
I've had a couple of days off work this week but haven't done as much exercise as I'd planned.
The muscles behind my right knee were very tight on Monday, so I did a two mile power walk instead of a run. Yesterday was a rest day, and I went out first thing today and did a couple of miles. I thought I'd been taking it quite slowly, but made good time and really enjoyed the run.
I'm planning to do another couple of miles tomorrow morning before work, then have 12 miles lined up for Saturday. I haven't thought about a route yet, but have decided to dig out my MP3 player to use as distraction.
I'm also thinking a lot more about fundraising. I am qualified to teach Creative Writing to adults, so thought I might offer a morning of Creative Writing combined with tea and homemade cakes to friends in return for a donation to my JustGiving account. I'm also hoping to hold a Pampered Chef fundraiser evening, so then next few weeks could be busy, busy, busy!
At least it keeps me out of trouble, and - much to Hubby's relief - away from internet shopping!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Let down by a faithful friend

Apologies for the lack of blogging this week - it's been rather busy at work and at home.
A quick catch up...hubby came out with me on one of my early morning runs and we did a gentle 2 miles - up to Whettylane Bridge, back to Callowbrook Bridge then home. It was great to have company, and I think he's just about recovered, so I'm hoping he'll join me again soon (hint, hint!)
Unfortunately my Garmin has started to play up. One friend had the audacity to suggest it might be user error. How very rude. I thought I'd solved the problem by deleting all the old data on there, but sadly not. It now turns off randomly and gives me minute and mile alerts that I haven't asked it to do. Very frustrating, and I'm not sure what to do about it. I'll have to dig out the instructions and see if there's anything that can be done.
I've got an app on my phone that is counting down to the big day, and this week it tells me that there are now less than 100 days to go. The marathon is 14 weeks today. I hope it's not quite so frosty on 22nd April. The last couple of mornings have been -2 degrees. Brrr.

Today was my short long-run day. I chickened out of running in the sub zero temperatures first thing and set off at lunchtime in glorious sunshine instead.
Frustratingly my Garmin switched off before I'd even got to the end of the road, but I managed to get it switched back on. I put it on another setting and, despite giving me lots of unnecessary alerts, managed to keep track of my time, distance and pace.
My breathing was much easier today (hoorah!), and once I'd got over a bit of calf cramp during mile
one I had a great run.
I was heckled before I even set off by a friend (yes you, Mrs time you get to come with me!), again by a group of girls at mile two shouting 'get your knees up', and finally wolf whistled at mile 4 by someone old enough to be my grandfather (not good).
I completed my 5.3 mile run in a fairly respectable one hour and two minutes.
Can I go to back to bed now?

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Grrr asthma

I went out for a two mile run this morning. It was really quite warm, and I was glad I didn't wear a fleece.
My breathing still isn't great - I'm quite wheezy on and off - and I'm having to slow my pace a fair bit just to keep going. It's bothered me on and off over the last couple of days (and nights) and I don't want it to impact on my training, but I've come to the conclusion that worrying doesn't help.
I'm going to monitor how it goes over the next week and will pay a visit to my Asthma nurse if nothing improves.
My next planned run is Thursday, so I'll let you know how that goes.
Today was my day off, and I spent a bit of time studying the interactive map of the marathon route.
You can find it here...
...and it's quite interesting to see the twists and turns of the course, and there's snippets information for runners and spectators.
Ooh...exciting! Not long to go now!!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

A very tough run

My asthma has been keeping me awake at night this week so I've been getting increasingly tired as the days have gone on. I also gave blood this week (my 41st pint donated), so maybe I should have taken these factors into consideration and skipped today's long run.
I'm half way through my marathon training schedule - 15 weeks done, 15 weeks to go until London - so I have enough time to postpone a long run, but last night I felt (and slept) better, so I set out at 8am.
I should have done 10 miles two weeks ago, but (as George Bush so eloquently once said) I misunderestimated the distance and ended up doing just under 9, so I decided to see how I felt and do between 10 and 12 miles today.
My weekly runs have now built up to a 3min run:1min walk ratio which is fine for my breathing and still gives me a 5mph pace. That's how I started today...for about half a mile. Almost from the off I knew it was going to be tough. It was very windy which made me work harder and feel cold, and I was verging on wheeziness straight away. I dropped down to a 2min run:1min walk ratio, but was still struggling a lot.
It was mind over matter from the outset, and I had to keep telling myself 'just a bit further'.
At mile 3 my direction changed and suddenly I was sheltered from the wind. This helped, but miles 3-6 across the back of Frankley Beeches and up to Northfield were mostly uphill, so my effort level had to go up another notch. At mile 6 I reached Northfield, and a downhill stretch greeted me...along with a very open and windy Bristol Road.
Hubby passed me in the car at about mile 7 (having dropped oldest daughter at flute choir) and he pulled over to say hello. I sat in the passenger seat for a minute to warm up, and he greeted me with 'You're doing really well' quickly followed by ' don't smell too good.' He knows all the right things to say.
I would have paid for a lift home at this point...the car was toasty warm, but I forced myself back out and carried on towards home.
Youngest daughter cycled out to meet me just as I was reaching the bottom of our road (mile 8) and had it not been for her I would have simply gone home. With her cycling alongside me, saying things like 'You're doing really well Mum' and 'Think of the bacon sandwich when we get home' I managed to struggle along for another two miles. Thank you are my hero.
So...just under ten miles done today, and I still don't know how I did it but I did. I'm mildly scared that in 15 weeks time I'll be facing 26.2 miles, but somehow I did it before, and somehow I will do it again.
But not today.
Today I'm going to put my feet up, read a book, and let everyone else wait on me!

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Scary scales

It is seriously windy, although listening to the weather report on the radio the Midlands seem to be escaping lightly.

Hubby went back to work today after the bank holiday, but I'm not back in until tomorrow. A lazy morning in bed was tempting, but I knew I'd make excuses not to go out later so I was up and out before hubby left for work.

As mentioned, it is really windy. Add to that a rather generous downpour and it should have been a miserable outing, but I was a girl on a mission. I'm not just getting marathon fit now - I'm shaping up.

I don't get on the scales often, but yesterday I did. Big mistake. Big numbers. I've managed to put on half a stone in the last two months. Oops. Time to step away from the chocolate and embrace the salad. (The trouble is there are odds and ends of cake, chocolate and crisps in every kitchen cupboard, so I might just have to work my way through that lot before I start being really good!)

This morning my run was a fast-paced-get-into-shape-sprint out towards Whettylane Bridge, back through the village, then a bit of a meander to top up the distance before heading home. My garmin tells me I burned 236 calories. It's a start.

Now...where did I put that chocolate...?