London Marathon 2018

Incase you missed me telling anyone who would listen… I ran the London marathon on Sunday. It was my first world major, and happened to be the hottest London marathon on record, so to be able to say I finished is a massive achievement. In the end it took me 4hrs and 7mins or there abouts to cross the finish line, and although its a considerable chunk of time slower than I wanted to be I don’t regret taking my time at all, and I am sure you are all dying to know if my trainers held up… they did! And to be honest they were the LEAST of my worries on Sunday.

IMG_2356
All smiles at the finish line when I saw my friends from my running club!

 

Despite the time it took me and the horrendously hot conditions I actually had a lovely run, and its true what they say about the supporters making London what it is because without them I wouldn’t have been able to finish. From the lady handing out ice-pops at mile 5 and the spectator who went in his bag to hand me a bottle of iced-water when I had accidentally dropped my own to the people who were shouting and cheering the whole way, those guys made the run possible.

Since Sunday lots of people have said to me that they would love to do the marathon “one day”. To those people I say just do it! The training is long and difficult (and in some cases very, very cold!) but as long as you can commit to a couple of hours a week for a long slow run then absolutely anybody can run/walk/jog a marathon. I have always known this, but the conditions in London this weekend really proved that to me. Its not about how fast you can go its about keeping yourself moving and getting over that line. So to the 2hr finishers to the 8hr finishers CONGRATULATIONS, you all have my upmost respect!!!

So what did I learn from this weekends run?

1. Having your name on your shirt can be both a help and a hindrance. I chose not to have my name on my shirt (because I hadnt decided on my outfit until the last minute), and there were times when I was struggling and I thought it would have helped to have people shouting my name. In Barcelona last year my name was on my number and I really found it was a huge boost hearing “Vamoose Stephanie” at regular intervals, but there were also times this weekend when I wanted to tell people to just leave the poor participants alone and let them walk!!

2. Energy drinks make you thirstier, and don’t really help on a hot day. I usually partake in a gatorade or two when I am running, but this weekend the Lucozade stations really were a nightmare because they were there in place of water stations, and believe me when I say that we all needed water!

3. Respecting the conditions is key. I saw so many people passing out or falling down at the side of the road, and every time I did I slowed down just a little bit more. This weekend I walked more than I have ever had to walk in a race, and I am not ashamed of that in the slightest. There are always other marathons to try for a better time… you just have to get to the end of this one first!

4. Don’t underestimate the power of a tempo run. I had missed my tempo runs due to my triathlon and weight training, and its not something I would recommend for anyone hoping to get in a certain time. I am sure that I would still have been a lot slower that the 3:30 I really wanted this weekend even if I had put in the faster runs, but I think they would have helped me keep my speed up a little bit more!

5. Runners are the best! On Sunday I saw people handing out suncream, sharing water, linking arms with struggling participants, and just generally being there to help each other. The running community really comes together at events like this and everyone is there to support each other.

 

Advertisements

Maranoia

I am now just over a week away from London marathon, and of course the maranoia has kicked in. My particular form of pre-marathon freak out seems to be around my shoes. I do a lot of cross training in my running shoes, I know that I shouldn’t, and I do own “proper” bike shoes, but the clips on them aren’t compatible with a spin bike, and I changed my pedals when I arrived in Ann Arbor because I was scared of skidding on the ice or falling down a pothole and not being able to unclip quick enough to avoid disaster, (also my bike shoes don’t have a whole lot of room for extra pairs of socks which are an essential requirement for cycling in Michigan in the winter). And aside from spinning I sometimes run to the gym and don’t want to take my gym shoes or they won’t fit in my bag usually because I have packed too much food, so yeah if in doubt I default to my runners. All of this is really just to say that despite being just over a year old my running shoes have seen better days.

IMG_2257
Ruined shoes or extra-ventilation?

The rational part of me knows that they still have miles left in them, and they are super comfortable, so the best course of action is to wear them for the marathon then invest in a new pair for my next sporting endeavor. However, approaching a marathon turns us all into crazy people, and there is a part of me that is worried that the hole in the toe of my shoe is going tear and reduce my trainers to flip-flops mid-marathon, or that the wear-and-tear is going to cause me to develop some sort of horrific injury, and that what I really need to do is buy new shoes and wear them constantly to break them in over the next 9 days. Of course I am not going to do this, but I do remember feeling exactly the same way before Barcelona about the predecessors to these shoes (although they were DEFINITELY in a better state than mine are now).

The point of this whole post is that its totally normal to start worrying about silly things like this before a big race (and big doesn’t mean long it means whatever is big to you). We all have our own way of turning our nervous energy into an imaginary problem, but the only thing that is important is to just ignore it. Even as I was writing this post I had a thought in the back of my mind that maybe 9 days is enough to break in some new shoes but now that its here in black and white that I will be running the marathon in my battered Saucony’s I am committed to doing what I know is the most sensible thing, even though I could very easily tell myself otherwise.

Lessons learned

Today my schedule contained my last long run before London… 22 miles! I had been looking forward to putting in this run all week, and getting my number pick-up details through on Friday made me feel super motivated to go out and put the miles in so today should have been great… but instead it was AWFUL, and I only have myself to blame. I really messed up today for four main reasons, and all of them were entirely my fault.

  1. I had Ice-cream for dinner on Saturday. I have been on a really strict diet all week half trying to build up my carb sensitivity and half because I decided I had gained a bit of weight since I arrived in the US and I could do with losing a few pounds before I come back to London and see all my friends. Like they are going to see me and be like “Oh my gosh look what a heifer she is!”. NEWSFLASH STEPH: NOBODY CARES WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE!
    IMG_2127
    NOT A GOOD PRE-RUN DINNER.

    So now I have told myself this important bit of information, I am going to go back to Saturday night. So my normally when I am craving carbs a quick check of my Fitbit or the MyFitnessPal app tells me I’m in a ridiculous calorie deficit and I make myself a couple of slices of toast or grab some fruit. This weekend I had lost my Fitbit charger and it was completely dead so I had to trust my instinct… and my instinct told me I must be pretty much starving to death and could eat what I wanted for tea which turned out to be a GIANT bowl of cereal topped with ice-cream and cookies, followed by a full packet of Mike and Ikes which are supposed to be 4 servings per packet. Now I know there can be some confusion about what to eat the night before a race but I am pretty sure this isn’t it, and as a result I woke up feeling awful this morning. Me and one of my best friends have done some runs severely hung over, and on very little sleep (Yes DJY I’m referring to you)… but this was way worse!

  2. I wore regular thin trainer socks. I run in a pair of battered up Sauconys and they are super comfortable, and genuinely not worn out despite looking like they are nearly at the end of their shelf life… but like all good running shoes they are slightly bigger than my regular shoe size (this was on the advice of Running experts in the shop), and the reason for that is so that you can wear a nice comfortable pair of thick running socks, of which I own several pairs, but for some reason decided not to wear today. This resulted in foot rolling about my normally cloud like footwear like a child wearing their parents shoes.. and 10 miles in my toes were blistered and sore and I genuinely wanted to stop. Why didn’t I wear proper socks? Because I wasn’t planning on doing a white wash this week. Seriously, I own about 10 pairs of running socks, I could have gone a week with them sitting in the wash basket.
  3. I didn’t have enough sleep. This one was only partly my fault as I had a Skype meeting at 9:30am but I am following an online program to improve my sleep quality and have read about keeping the same wake-up time every day so I set my alarm for 5am as I do every week day and figured 3hrs 20mins would be enough time to get back. Firstly, I should have just arranged my meeting for another day incase I felt like I wanted longer in bed.. but like I said earlier, I am an idiot. Secondly, this getting up at the same time thing is great IF you go to bed at the same time, which I generally don’t on a weekend… I’ll say it again I. am. an. idiot.
  4. I decided to skip the gels and fuel up with Peeps. What are peeps I hear you ask? They are the quintessential american easter treat, and they are basically marshmallows covered in that really gritty candy floss style sugar. Actual scientists get paid to develop gels to improve athletic performance and endurance but clearly since its easter marshmallows will be just as good ‘cos I said so right? WRONG. Why didn’t I just take a gel for back up incase my wonderful idea of marshmallows for my race fuel failed? You guessed it… IDIOT!
IMG_2139
NOT THE SAME THING!!!!

There were loads of other factors that ruined my run today like the cold/wind and my lack of a proper route due to it being dark when I set off but if I had properly taken control of all of the things I have listed I probably would have gotten through those 22 miles instead of coming up short at 17, two of which were 10:30+ minute miles.

I haven’t decided whether to just accept it as a bad run and start my taper based on last weeks 20 miler, or if to try again in the week and make sure I put in the full 22. On one hand I was definitely better trained at this point in my prep for Barcelona, but on the other hand I went into Barcelona having never completed a marathon so maybe the experience is worth more than the miles? One thing is for sure though I will be properly fuelled, wearing good socks and well rested on marathon day either way!