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...?