Adverse Camber

I started this blog to get me through the London Marathon 2011. It was quite a challenge as I only started running on the 3rd of May 2010. I finished the marathon with painful blisters and quite a lot of money for a great charity!

This blog is now taking me on a new journey - to a fitter lifestyle aided by running.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Great South Run Sunday

Well, we did it!
It was a foggy and drizzly day in the south, perfect for staying cool on a long run.
My brother and I stayed at our parents' outside Portsmouth the night before and it was decided to get the park and ride as advertised in the paper and the radio. We parked up and waited. And waited. And waited. There was soon a small group of us and eventually I went on line on my phone and saw that it was pre booked through a travel company only. We set off again by car, the other people deciding to wait 'because it said there was a park and ride in the paper'. They're probably still there.
It took a while to get to Southsea, we then had a half hour walk from the car park to the start.
Dek dashed off with the white wave and I hung at the very back of the green wave - I was one of the very last people to cross the start line.
It was a very nice flat course and the people of Portsmouth were on the streets cheering us on.
It was damp with all the drizzle and the last two miles along the seafront were a little blustery.
In the last mile I got chatting to a runner called Jacqueline and we tried to stay ahead of Peppa Pig - the costumed cartoon character proved too speedy though and took off with 300yards to go, then Batman and Robin decided they weren't going to be beaten by a pig so raced to beat Peppa to the finish. They beat her and when they were safely out of my finishing photo range I sprinted over the line and then turned to cheer Jacqueline.
I found my parents easily but my brother who finished forty minutes earlier was no where to be seen - I eventually spotted him hanging out by the bins.
It was a lovely, friendly race - although it does not seem worth the £40 entrance fee compared to other races. Despite that I'm sure I'll run again next year and try to beat my time of 2 hours 23 minutes.
Next years race is already open for entries.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Great South Run

The GSR is ten miles. This no longer seems like any kind of distance to me as I did so many ten miles and over runs when training for the VLM. However, I can't remember when I last did ten miles! I've done a few eights recently, but got too bored to carry on further.
Lots of people I know from various running communities are also running so it will be good to see them - it will also be good to see my brother wearing the stupid handlebar moustache he said he would fashion if his sponsorship hit £300; needless to say as a devoted sister I did all I could to make sure this happened :) . I'll take some photos Sunday and share them with you!
Wish me luck and see you Sunday!

Sunday, 9 October 2011


I was quite sad last week as I found out I had been rejected from the VLM ballot - it was only with that rejection I realised how much I wanted to be part of it again.  Of all the people I know who entered the ballot none of them got in.  In fact all the people I have met who ran the VLM got in on a charity place.  These golden bonds are great but it adds a whole new layer of pressure trying to fundraise a couple of grand as you also train most of your life away.  I would never be able to take a charity place again, people were so generous this year I just couldn't ask again.

Yesterday was slow, long run day as I'm building up for the GSR at the end of the month and it was cold!  The past few weekends were lovely with our late Indian Summer, but this week all of that changed.  I missed the rain but it was still cold and took me hours to warm up once I got in - and it's not even winter yet.  It was then I saw the plus side to not getting a VLM place - I wouldn't have to train in the winter and freeze!

Sunday, 4 September 2011


This Saturday morning I left my running shoes at home and dressed for warmth.  I wasn't running this time - I was doing my first stint as a volunteer at my local parkrun.

Parkrun is free and entirely organised by volunteers.  All you have to do is register on line and then you can turn up to any parkrun on Saturday morning at 9am (9.30am in Scotland) and run a 5k against the clock.  There are t-shirts to be won at your 50th and 100th run and some people are trying to do as many different parkruns as possible.

It was only the second week of the Oakhill Park parkrun so volunteers were thin on the ground, it was the three people who set it up and me.  In the first week there were 44 runners (you may remember I came in at number 44), in the second week there were 20 runners and 19 finishers (a nine year old girl running with her family decided one lap was enough thank you very much).  Part of me wished I had run the second one - I would have been guaranteed a top 20 finish!

My job was to scan barcodes at the finish.  As the runners came through the funnel they were timed by one volunteer, given a token by another and then I had to scan their athlete barcodes (downloaded from the website when they registered) and then their token barcode.

It was nice to have a different perspective on the parkrun experience, I cheered on the runners and got time to talk to them as well.  It was certainly easier than running!

Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Art of Endurance

I am not happy today.  Really, crushingly disappointed with myself in fact.  It is hard not being a winner and in fact being the complete and total opposite.  You see, most things I turn my hand to I am more than capable of - I can write, act, sing, teach, recite the alphabet backwards and in police speak.  I can recite a Wordsworth poem from memory, enthuse a class of children - even make my colleagues laugh on occasion.  I can imitate pretty much any accent you could ask me to 'do'.  I always did well academically (with the least effort it may be said) and I've always been employed and employable.  I have a job I enjoy.  I achieved a life-time ambition in April by completing the London Marathon.  And here we get to it - the root of my failure.  I am a crap runner.  Despite applying myself to running for the past 14 months I am still pretty rubbish.  Not in distance, oh no - I can run 26 miles thank you very much.  But even when I do one, two or three I cannot run any FASTER and I am fed up of being a failure.

Today was the launch of the first Barnet parkrun in my local, Oakhill Park.  Parkrun is the nicest weekly event hosted by the nicest bunch of volunteers.  And here is my problem.   I kept them waiting a whole 7 minutes and 20 seconds after the runner before me finished.  

A couple of women joked about being last at the start line and I told them, "Don't worry, I'm always last".  And it is true - I am!  I just cannot run any faster.  I was last in my half marathon, last in Barnet on the Move's 5k and now last again in the Parkrun.  I wouldn't mind but I finish red faced and panting - the effort has gone in! 

When running my laps (and being lapped) I even rehearsed excuses to excuse my lamentable running skills.  Here is a selection:
  • I've just had an operation (on my hand)
  • I haven't done many miles over the last month (3)
  • I haven't slept the last two nights
  • I still need to lose some weight, don't I!
  • I'm really a distance runner
Then I started telling myself my mindset was dooming me to failure, I needed to be more positive.  So I tried:
  • You couldn't run AT ALL 15 months ago
  • You ran the friggin marathon
  • You are trying
  • You keep going
  • Experts say spend your first year building up the distance and the next year working on the speed
But somehow, the negative thoughts became more powerful and overwhelmed me so I am left feeling like this awful failure because for once in my life something has not come easily to me and I will have to work very hard to make small steps of progress.  It's not easy being a failure - but I guess it's a lesson we all have to learn at some point in our lives, we can't all be perfect.

I will go to parkrun next week, I just might alternate between Oakhill and Grovelands so I keep different people waiting each week and spread the misery.

Thursday, 18 August 2011


Oh dear.  Two people have sponsored me for the Great South Run in October.  This means I am now going to have to seriously contemplate my training.  The truth is, although I have been to the gym over the summer I've only been on one or two short runs since the London 10k in July.  Now I have to get training again and the weather is not helping- Biblical style rain has been falling all afternoon.  The kind of rain that soaks you within seconds.

It was a cunning plan - signing up for more races.  If I did not have the committment of races and fundraising my running would have gone the way of all my other bright ideas.
So, I shall wait out the rain and then don my (new) Mizunos and off we go!

Monday, 2 May 2011

Is it all over?

I have been debating this in the two weeks since the marathon.  Two weeks - it seems like much longer ago, only the blisters hanging in there seem to remind me it was so recent.

Anyway - this blog was to see me on my journey to the marathon and I have done that now - so do I still need a blog?  You will notice I had to put a subtitle to this blog as someone else had already nabbed Adverse Camber on its own.  I don't like the subtitle, 'from fat to fit' but if I am being honest I have not achieved that yet.  I am still overweight and I really am not very fit at all.  So, perhaps this blog should continue to drive me towards a healthier and fitter lifestyle?

Today was my third run since the VLM.  I have a 5k in three weeks and a 10k in ten so I need to get back into training if I want to improve on my pitiful times.  Ages ago I downloaded the MiCoach app to my iphone and yesterday I did the assessment workout and today set to work on a traning program I tailored to my requirements on line.  I had what can only be described as my first ever fartlek session - eek!  It was very much like going back to basics, walking interspersed with hard running sections.  It wasn't easy and I was very glad when it was over, but it made me realise how I have been very much running in my comfort zone.  The two MiCoach workouts have made me sweat and get breathless, which I guess can only be a good thing on the path to a fitter life?

I hope no one buys doughnuts for the staffroom tomorrow.

Monday, 18 April 2011


The alarm went off at 5:30am and for once I didn't press snooze, today was too important to sleep late and I had too much to do - like try to eat and apply copious amounts of waterproof mascara.

All my kit was laid out on the sofa and my bag was all ready too. I didn't want to forget anything.

I managed to eat almost two slices of toast with peanut butter, but my heart wasn't really into eating.  I had my vitamin C tablet in half a pint instead of the usual pint of water as I didn't like my chances of finding a toilet when I needed it.

I dressed and then slathered my feet in vaseline and slipped into my trainers.  The vaseline is meant to stop rubbing and chaffing and all the way round there were SJA members in their hot uniforms with outstretched, gloved hands offering vaseline to stricken runners.

I had chosen my route, not taking one of the bizarre routes offered to me on the TfL website, and needed to catch the first train to Kings Cross.  At the train station I looked eagerly for other runners, but I must have been the only person to represent East Barnet.  However, when the train came in I noticed a man in the front carriage with a bib on and then in my carriage there were two people who I quickly went to sit with to ask them what route they were using!  Deekes (or so the name on her chest proclaimed her) was going to the Blue Start and was running for Cancer Research.  Richard was from the Midlands and running for a leukemia charity.  He was going to the Red Start, like me.  For all of us, we established, it was our first marathon.

Richard followed me as we changed trains and we chatted en route.  On the DLR a man and his wife sat opposite us and I asked them where they had travelled from (Harrow) and we compared notes about how awkward it was to get to Greenwich.

We were lucky to get on the DLR at Bank as it filled up rapidly at later stops, some people could not get on and had to wait.  Getting off at Greenwich we followed the crowd and prayed the person in front actually knew where we were going.  A slug up the hill is probably the last thing you want to do on a day you're running 26.2 miles, but there isn't much choice when that is where the start is.  At the top of the hill Richard and I went our separate ways and I went to hang out under a tree near my kit bag truck.

It was impossible to make phone calls so I texted Su to tell her where I was and settled myself under the tree (after going to the loo, of course - remember the old maxim, queue for the loos and then when you've done, queue again).

I was probably at the park by quarter past eight, so I had some time to wait - but it didn't seem to take any time at all.  I was in the queue for the second time when I saw Su and her friend Chris and managed to hollar across the park to get their attention.

Su, Chris and Elizabeth
After our last loo trip we headed towards our pen (number 9 right at the back with all the people in silly costumes) where we hung around at the back because we didn't want to get stuck in the middle and head off at everyone else's pace.  
I wanted to beat this guy!
 I eyed up most of the people in costumes, hoping I would at least be able to beat the most cumbersome ones!  I was to run into the rhinos quite a lot over the course and although he didn't know it 'Rhino Michael USA' became quite important in my race.

At the start everyone seemed to be going at the same pace, which told me a lot of people must be going too fast, I deliberately hung back.  We did well for the first six miles, which were our 'warm up' and stuck to a pace in the vicinity of 13 minutes per mile.  Unfortunately then it really began to get hot and hot weather and I just do not go well together.  I am designed for cold climates, I shall never forget a holiday to Italy when it got up to 40 degrees celsius - my whole body swelled up and I couldn't even put flip flops on my feet as they were so huge.  So a predicted 18 degrees for race day was not welcome - unfortunately it got hotter than that.

It was probably about mile 7 when I took the first painkiller for a heat-headache and despite everyone else lapping up the atmosphere the loud speakers and other noises were nothing but an added discomfort to me!  I was worried about getting heatstroke so I kept a bottle of water on me and kept taking small sips, at one point I stopped sweating so drank more to try and counter the effects of the sun and heat.  At mile 9 Su needed to go at a 12 minute mile and I just couldn't do more than 13 or 14 - any more and I think I would have ended up on the floor.  We agreed to go our separate ways and as soon as she went on ahead I felt relief - I slowed down and tried to stick in the shade to cool off, I also ran through every hose and shower on offer!

I had intended to take lots of photos on the way round but it was such a struggle when feeling light headed that I decided to concentrate on just getting around.  

Tower Bridge was just amazing (shame it's slightly less than half way!), I passed Denise Lewis and her TV crew - I saw later on the TV that all the men she interviewed gave her a peck on the cheek, hardly surprising as she was beautiful.  The disheartening bit was after TB when all the speedy people coming back from Docklands passed you on the other side of the road.  Somehow Liane (another Aspire runner) saw me and called out my name, I was walking by now so she was probably concerned but I waved and smiled to her.  She looked great and made fantastic time for her first marathon.

The bonus is I still took 6 minutes off my half marathon time at the halfway point, it was probably more because I wasn't following the racing line and my garmin constantly told me I had gone further.  Later on I tried to stick to it as much as possible, but spectators were wandering on to the course to get closer to the runners and quite often small children were standing on the blue line.

I am not going to lie, the next four miles were just bloody miserable.  The marathon plays such havoc with your emotions - you train, train, train and always think you should be able to do better... the only things that stopped me dropping out were the fact I had raised over £2, 000 and I don't like quitting anything!  So, I gritted my teeth, reigned in my misery and trudged on.

By mile 17 I was running again, albeit at a slow jog.  I completely missed my charity because my friends suddenly appeared on the left and I was so overwhelmed seeing them I didn't notice Aspire which I feel really bad about as I must have been the last Aspire runner they were waiting for!

These photos were both taken by Sarah at 17.5 and trust me, I look better than I felt!  In the photo on the left you can see the Aspire cheering post in the crook of my arm - I only knew where they were when I looked at this photo afterwards!  I kept expecting to see them further down the road and was disappointed that I never found them as I was looking forward to meeting the lovely people who have been so supportive over this marathon journey!

Now if you recall I said Rhino Michael became quite important?  Well after Su went on my whole aim became to stick to the same distance behind him, then I wanted to draw level with him, then overtake him and stay ahead of him.  I could tell how far behind me he was because the cheers suddenly got louder behind me!  At one point he got ahead of me so I had to catch him up all over again, surely a guy in a heavy, cumbersome and hot rhino suit couldn't beat me?

This photo was on mile 21 (the one I named after Sarah and Hilary).  By then I was walking as I wanted to finish as soon as possible and having looked at my garmin it was clear I was able to maintain a quicker walking pace than running.  So I figured I would just have to walk the rest of the way - and as quickly as possible!

I saw my friends again here (it was a surprise and an absolute delight to see them), but just round the corner my left heel decided to rip apart into a huge blister.  Man!  I'd forgotten how much big blisters can hurt!  I haven't had hardly any over training and certainly none of that magnitude!  I can only think that it was a combination of extra distance, hot weather and associated swelling!  I'd toyed with a few mantras up to this point and then changed it to a muttered 'f**k, f**k, f**k' as I hobbled off down the road and tried to suck in the pain.  Don't get me wrong, I know I was lucky - there was a puce pink faced girl collapsed and surrounded by SJA at mile 6 and at mile 26 there was a man being propped up by two of his supporters as he couldn't use his right leg at all - but blisters hurt!

I then started getting really light headed and I knew the heat was finally getting it's way with my body.  I just got it into my head I had to keep my legs going and stay upright, as long as I stayed vertical they couldn't drag me off the course.  I was breathing very deliberately too, trying to power through and was doing a pretty impressive power walk which was overtaking people!  At one point a SJA woman asked me if I was okay and I said I was and smiled, thinking - I have got to finish, I cannot collapse!

I was so glad I named the last five miles after special friends, as I just kept thinking of them as I plodded on.  Ros' mile was the really light headed one and then Jackie's was the most agonising.  By the boyfriend's mile I knew the end was possible.  I wasn't taking in any of the sights, barely noticed St Stephen's Tower (home of Big Ben), every part of me was concentrating on the next few steps.  I was rigidly sticking to the blue racing line as if it could somehow pull me across to the finish. 
My friends were there again at mile 25 and it was really hard going by then, I don't know if I managed to smile or say hi then - I just had to keep going!

I honestly don't remember very much of it, the crowds were there as they had been all the way... I didn't even see Buckingham Palace which is a first for me.  The signs just seemed to keep going on and on, 600 metres, 365 yards, 200 metres... it was agonising!  The time on the clock said 07.09 and I knew I was 21 minutes behind that because of my later starting time, I got it into my head that I had to cross the line before 07.10... so I sprinted over the line.

It was the weirdest thing - finishing.  Suddenly I had done it - something I had never dreamt possible, but never - ever - thought I could do.  And I had done it.  I had finished the London Marathon, a dream since childhood that I had never seriously considered attempting until Su said 'why not?' in Starbucks almost a year ago.  I wanted to cry with the emotion of it all, but no one else was crying so I sucked it all in!  I got my medal and a really rubbish goody bag (the contents of which mostly went to the boyfriend) and went on a search for my kit bag.  I was waiting for my bag and I decided to call the boyfriend to tell him I'd be out on Horseguards in a moment, as I said goodbye to him I felt my right heel rip - it was seriously like someone was flaying my skin.  I swore loudly, probably giving the old man behind me cause to decry modern women and burst out into tears - but they were the wrong tears!  They were tears of pain, not emotion!

I had to hobble to the end to get my kit bag as it had been moved, the only way I could walk was to perch on the ball of my foot.  As I hobbled to Horse Guards I saw the boyfriend before he saw me and prayed he would look my way so I wouldn't have to walk all the way over to him, by some miracle he did and then I cried the good tears of achievement!

Getting home was intersting and rather painful, getting up today has not happened because I can't actually move!  This is worse than the one time I went cross country skiing in Norway!

The blisters are huge, I am sure the muscle tears are too - but so is the pride and feeling of achievement and that wins!

The proof!

PS I wasn't the only one to feel the heat, look at BBC newsreader Sophie Raworth's blog. London is a tough marathon - you train in cold weather and then after you start to taper the hot weather kicks in.  I think it must take a lot of experience to deal with the sudden heat!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Here we go!

It is ten to five in the evening, I very much hope that by this time tomorrow it is all over. I don't know if I feel prepared, all I can tell you is that I feel stuffed full of food. I also got twelve hours sleep last night which is good as it's apparently hard to sleep the night before - I guess that'll really test my sleeping tablets! My main worry now is that I get to Greenwich on time, I've chosen a route the tfl website didn't choose for me, so fingers crossed.
Most people dream of alarms not going off and missing the race, not I; I dreamt last night my toe nails were too long! (I checked them this morning and you will be glad to know they are fine).
Wish me luck. I very much hope I won't need it!

Wednesday, 13 April 2011


Customs House is not the easiest place to get to from Barnet, it took about two hours door to door (a note taken for race day as Greenwich is about the same distance).  At one point on the DLR I wondered if the trains shook so badly to inflict injuries on marathoners attending the Expo to thin out the crowds come race day.

I arrived before the marathon expo opened at eleven and the queue was to the door, I went in to go to the toilets and when I came back the queue was out the door and around the corner.

Inside Expo, not as large as you might think.
However, once it was eleven we all moved forward with no waiting and went straight to the marathon expo entrance where we had to pick up our race numbers.  As you can see from the photo on the left this was logically organised (as you would expect from the VLM) by race number.  It was very quick and easy to pick up, a quick flash of photo ID and it was done.  Then you had to move off to collect your chip, again this was quick and easy as there were lots of people there to help.  The man who programmed my chip was very friendly and had a laugh at my address (as some people are wont to do).  He asked me if I was looking forward to Sunday (many people were to ask this of me in the hour that followed) and I confessed to first marathon nerves; he told me just to enjoy myself.
Who knew there was a Cherry Marketing Institute?
Runner's World goodies!
There were some interesting stands, although of course charities and running gear predominated.  I got a bargain on some Seven Seas vitamins and a pair of running tights.  I had seen online that Runner's World had their rucksack filled with goodies available for £10 - while stocks lasted, although this wasn't a problem for me as I think I was the first person to buy one.  I was also able to talk to the man there about the pacing groups, but I didn't pick up a pacing band as they seemed to be charging for this and it probably wouldn't be much use to a runner such as myself anyway.  The rucksack was packed full - my favourite item being a pair of Sweaty Betty running socks.  The beef jerky and garlic infused snacks have been passed on to the Bag-Carrying-Boyfriend as well as the can of beer from the goody bag.  There were also the May copies of Runner's World and some Triathlon magazine.

After walking around twice and spending money I didn't have (although I did resist giving Adidas £50 for their souvenier jacket and bought a £10 one instead) I headed for the Pasta Party.  I hadn't saved myself a pound by ordering tickets online in advance as I needed to ask a very important question - does it contain garlic?  The answer was yes, so no pasta party for me :(

The goody bag.
Apparantly there are so many sponsors wanting to put things in the goody bag they now give you two - one on leaving the expo and another at the end of the marathon.  After disgarding all the bits of paper this is what I was left with - things to get fat, drunk and less stinky on!

So I left and began my journey homewards - the final part of my journey being completed sat on a luggage rack towards Welyn Garden City.

One thing on marathon day I don't think I will try is this:

Tuesday, 12 April 2011


I knew I was being cunning in agreeing to work two days of the holiday; it distracted me.  The problem is now I have finished, it's Expo tomorrow and I feel as if I have a hundred mice nibbling at my insides.  Damn mice!  I'm also getting very emotional, people's generousity means I am only now 2% away from £2k and I've just watched one of those afternoon TV movies that are designed entirely to make you cry.  This was one I've seen before, Scott Bakula as a Cesna pilot whose navigation equipment has malfunctioned and he is rescued by an Air New Zealand jet.  I feel like the Cesna pilot, especially towards the end of the film where he has been flying for twenty-three hours and a storm is buffeting him as he tries to land in Auckland.  The marathon is a bit like a long flight, hours in departure wasting money on duty free (or running gear) and then you are called to depart - this is when the nerves kick in - and then you are off!  Whether you have a smooth flight or hit turbulance depends on so many factors, both within and without your control.  I guess we'll just have to wait until Sunday to see what kind of marathon I have... smooth I hope.  At the very least I hope I don't have to get rescued!

Monday, 11 April 2011


OMG!  This sh*t just got real! 

My fundraising is over my minimum target and now heading for £2000 (only 7% away)... having nagged people into sponsoring me I actually have to do this now!

Today I had my last pre-marathon PT session and then went for a brief swim, PT Steve was even kind enough to sponsor me £20 (and don't forget this is the guy who knows how unfit I am!).  I think I may do a mile tomorrow and then a walk on Thursday.

This is the week of distraction techniques, anything to NOT think about the marathon - when someone starts talking about it I have to play white noise in my head and change the conversation.  I even volunteered to give up some of my holiday to teach Easter school and am getting my hair cut Friday... I don't know what else to do to keep myself busy and distracted!  Anything but think about Sunday!

Friday, 8 April 2011

9 days and counting

I admit it.  I am more nervous than I ever have been before.  I am about to do the hardest thing I have ever done in my life.  I don't think I have ever given myself such a challenge before.  I am still not sure I can do this, I am not sure my body will hold up, or my spirits - not for 26.2 miles.

I am going to try and name a mile after people in my life so that I have to run every single one of the twenty six for that person (and therefore cannot let them down).  Two boys in my class baggsied miles one and two, I had to stop the other kids from adding to it otherwise I would be running 29 just for them!  Mile three will be for the rest of the class.  The only other miles I have assigned people to are mile 26 (I'm running that one for me) and the last 385 yards?  They are for Su, without whom I would still be on the couch.

Sunday, 3 April 2011


To me socks have always been of very little consideration, except when I was at school and it was very important to wear the right kind of socks (short and black not long and white which we disparagingly called 'virgin socks').

I had a voucher for Sweatshop arrive through the post so I thought I would buy a couple of extra pairs of running socks to supplement the few pairs I already had.  I bought two pairs of Sweatshop's own which were very much like the ones I had and a pair of more expensive Nike socks.  

I wore the Nike socks this evening as I trundled around the park and I have to say my feet were in bliss.   I am converted, £10 for a single pair of socks now seems reasonable when my feet feel so extraordinarily comfy!

Saturday, 2 April 2011

What a difference!

What a difference a friend makes! 

You have all read of my marathon buddy Su, well we had a kind of 'pep talk' day with our charity and the very wise Marathon Man.  He had read my last post re: hayfever and said I should have used my hand once the tissue was done.  Ew!

We learnt lots about the last two weeks - yes!  It is only two weeks away now!  I think we both left feeling a little more confident and inspired.  We also had a chance to look at the types of things our fundraising will help with - Marathon Man showed us a sink that moves up and down in a specially adapted kitchen (as people in wheelchairs are, naturally, of all different heights and the sink can move to a perfect height for them).

It was still fairly early when we left and a nice day so we got back to my flat (I managed not to lose Su who was tailing me in her car Wupert), changed and went off through Cockfosters and up into the woods of Hadley Common.  It wasn't at all boring, beacuse we had each other to talk to and Su always makes me run faster as I am a naturally lazy person and she's a real go-getter.  Our pace was mostly around the 13minute mile which was decent although a lot depends on the DAY as to whether that can be our marathon pace.  One of the things Marathon Man told us was to have three race day plans, the ideal (where conditions are perfect), the contingency (when conditions are not so good) and the minimum acceptable plan where something goes wrong in the race and you have to decide what is, for you, an acceptable finish time.

I honestly don't see myself finishing much before six and a half hours, but as an incentive two people are going to give me more sponsorship if I do...

Which makes me think - why haven't YOU sponsored me yet?  It's easy - 
Hadley Woods

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Hay Fever

For me the official hay fever season has kicked off.  During the winter I always seem to forget how annoying this is only to be hit with it almost by surprise.

I went for my 'long' run Saturday, but sans sunglasses as I had mislaid them since I hadn't needed them for a while.  I also made the mistake of only taking one tissue with me.  It's not terribly attractive running around the park with eyes and nostrils running like a tap.  I meant to do 20 miles, but with the sniffles and my boredom threshold reached I called it a day at ten.  You see, the other thing with hay fever is that it completely wipes out your energy and I was being pitifully slow (even for me).

This year I have stocked up on cetrizine hydrochloride aka the generic non-brand version of Piriteze and hope to save some money.  Thanks must go to my yoga teacher for reminding me there is always a generic to buy cheaper at the chemists (I should've known as I used to work in one).

It takes a few days for the anti-histimanes to kick in so hopefully I will feel more energetic by the end of the week!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Time management and the Marathon

Okay, confession time.  I have been away too long.  This training for a marathon malarky is rather time consuming, you see.  This week I had one day off training and that was because I was driving to Swindon for a Fforde Ffiesta meeting.

After being a little bit slack for two weeks I was finally shamed by the groups of obviously-in-training-for-the-marathon runners that kept running past my flat at about 7pm.  It is now mild enough to go outside again so I can bid adieu to the dreaded treadmill and get back out into the evening air again.  It is still hard to get away from work at a decent time (I know - you all think we teachers work 9 - 3 not 7 - 6), but I know I owe it to myself after all this hard work to prioritise training.

Since I last posted I have done several 18 milers although this is hellish boredom as it does take me about 5 hours and I have the attention span of a flighty goldfish.  I alternate between listening to music, the radio and audio books, but nothing quite gets over the fact I seem to be wasting every Saturday pounding the streets.
Mostly I run into London, I did try Hatfield once but it was the dullest route so I shan't be trying that again.

What have I learnt since I last wrote?  Here's just a few nuggets of my running *cough* wisdom:
  1. A personal trainer is an investment and not an extravagance
  2. Just when you think you've made every muscle in your body ache a new one seems to pop up that you didn't even know existed before
  3. It's right what they say about breaking in new shoes BEFORE the marathon, my new ones still make my feet ache
  4. Burger King milkshakes are a perfect recovery food (or so my friend Ros claims)
  5. Paula Radcliffe wasn't letting off clear liquids in that marathon gutter (I'm never going to claim to do a 'Paula' again now I know it wasn't my equivalent of peeing in a bush)
  6. Aspire have somehow managed to fit 'Elizabeth' on my race tee-shirt for which I am grateful as I was dreading the loathed 'Liz' popping up when they ran out of space
  7. It is normal to feel exhausted
  8. You CANNOT diet and prepare for a marathon

Saturday, 29 January 2011

VLM “Meet the Expert” 29th January 2011.

VLM “Meet the Expert” 29th January 2011.

Here are the notes I took regarding the actual race day.
Race start:
The colour of your race number tells you which start you need to get to (green, blue or red).  Make sure you go to the right tube/DLR stop for your colour and allow 15/20 minutes to walk there.
Trains and tubes are free for runners, but it will be very busy.
Only runners can come to the start so say goodbye to your loved ones earlier – there’s no point them walking you to the starting area.
The race starts at 9:45am.
You’ll need to wear a bin liner to keep warm before the start.

Kit bag:
You pick up your kit bag from the Expo the week before.  At the starting area this is where you need to put anything you want at the end of the race; my choice will be warm clothes and sandwiches!  These bags are put in number order and taken to the finish line to meet you.

Water/lucozade stations:
Water – after 3 miles on every mile.  Bottle are 33cl so easy to carry and have a sports top so they are easy to drink. Please don’t pour it over yourself, there are run-through showers just off the main course should you need a brief cool down.
Lucozade sports drinks – every five miles from mile 5 to 23.
Lucozade carbo gels – miles 14 and 21.

There are lots and lots and lots at the starting areas – take your own toilet roll though. There are also portaloos en route and these are well signposted and only slightly off the route.

The race:
Keep to your pace, people who start even slightly faster than their marathon pace struggle.  Keep to YOUR pace and you’ll do fine.  There are pace teams if you want to meet one at the start (see for details).

The finish:
Think about your finish photo and who is in it!
Once you finish you go through a secure finish area where your chip will be taken off and you can reclaim your kit bag.

Avoid all the popular spots; Greenwich, Tower, Embankment and the last mile.  These places are very crowded.  A good spot is along Surrey Quays or where your charity are set up.
The trains will be very busy – it will be like rush hour.
The official meeting place at the end is Horseguards and these are alphabetically ordered (XYZ is a good place to meet).  It can take 40 minutes to get through the finish area so plan this in with the people you are meeting.

I'm back!

I know, I know - it's been too long. Forgive me.  I had swine flu and that confined me to bed for a while, I haven't been out running for a week and am starting to get itchy feet!

Today I managed to get the train down to King's Cross and to a 'Meet the Expert' marathon seminar run by Virgin London Marathon.  I feel inspired and also on the right track (although the week of not running doesn't make me particularly happy).

The Race Director is one David Bedford, who you probably know from his ripped-off alter-egos the 118 men off the TV.  He was hilarious and at one point appeared in drag.  His talk on the actual basics of race day was very useful.  Also there were nutrition and fundraising experts as well as Liz and Martin Yelling who were really nice and obviously knew their stuff.
This photo is from the end of the day when they were taking questions from us.  Some people asking questions were very obviously not on the right track for the marathon yet, quite a few had not run more than 6 miles or had suffered injuries.  Liz Yelling told them not to panic, but in the next 7 weeks mileage needs to increase up to 20-22miles on the long run (18 as a minimum), so that ten needs to be got in asap.  Of course, the three weeks after that are tapering so we're not too exhausted come race day.

A few of the interesting things I learnt were that runners travel free on the trains/tube and to bring your own toilet roll!  I'll try and write up my notes so they make sense and post them on here (should anyone be interested).

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Running with Friends

I have some lovely friends, they are just as crazy as I am and sometimes I can even involve them in my mad schemes.  Someone suggested we run together after school one day a week and this week we had our first 'Run Club' with running, walking and run/walk divisions. 

Run Club was great news for me as this means I only have to suffer the treadmill twice a week, as I can run outside and feel safe in a group.

I mapped out a three mile route and after some last minute faffing and excuse making we were off!  We walked to warm up and then a couple of us went into a gentle jog.  We talked, we de-stressed and do you know what - my pace was better than it normally is.  I am not quite sure how this happened as we weren't exactly tearing around the park, but it's all good!

In the park, which resembled a bog, we met the usual dogs and snogging teenagers.  This park is actually quite beautiful in the summer, but we had to keep to the paths as it was so muddy.  I am sure we will be able to enjoy it when the good weather comes.  My colleagues are plotting a summertime halt halfway round for tea and cake in the cafe when the weather is good.  Don't tell them - but I am plotting we do a Cancer Research 5k in July.  Who knows - maybe we can do both?  Have our cake and eat it!

Sunday, 9 January 2011

What I was doing when I should have been running!

Yesterday I was in Swindon (yes, it is a real place) so I didn't get a chance to go for my long run. I was going to go straight to the gym and depress a groove into the treadmill for an hour and a half, but due to the high price of food at the hotel in Swindon I hadn't eaten and didn't fancy running on empty.

I'm going to go off on a non-running tangent now and I'm going to tell you what I was doing in Swindon.  There is a fantastic writer by the name of Jasper Fforde who writes books which are unique, humourous and compelling.  Last year I went to the Fforde Ffiesta which celebrates Jasper's work and the worlds within them.  I have never felt so at home with equally bizarre and  like-minded people!                                                    

This year I am on the organising committee and yesterday was one of our regular planning meetings.  I can't tell you everything that went on in that meeting - but look out for Crusty Cards, collectable spatulas and more dodo schenanagans!

If you are tempted, please check out the Ffiesta website on Jasper's website which tells you all about the Ffiestas of 2010 and 2011For an unbelievable £85 you get a Bank Holiday weekend full of fun and in the presence of Mr Fforde himself.  We have even managed to get you a Ffiesta discount on the hotel rooms so you can stay there as well!
Last year attendees came from Australia, the US and...five people came from Swindon itself!

Features this year involve an optional tour of Swindon in a vintage bus, taking in all the 'sights' of the Thursday Next novels; Mid Life Crisis Angst poetry; Lobster Space Invaders, Secret Cheese Tasting; and no Ffiesta would be complete without Spot the Lobster, the March of the Danvers and Name that Fruit!

I hope I'll see you there - 27th May to 30th May 2011 - the De Vere Village Hotel, Shaw Ridge Swindon.

(And it's okay, I went for a woodland run today instead.)

Monday, 3 January 2011

The Gym

I was a little later getting to the gym today and the treadmills were all being used so I had an extra long stretch whilst I waited and then hopped on the first one that became free.  I then noticed the man on the treadmill next to me was just stood on the machine without it moving. I don't know if he was waiting with a friend, but I was getting really annoyed for all the people who were waiting.

The guy who was on my other side had eaten onions and garlic last night, it was coming through his pores.  Hmm, lovely.

I did 1.4km and then managed to get my arm caught in my headphones and sent my poor MP3 player off on a journey through the air, so I had to stop the machine to retrieve it.  After another 1km I needed to go to the loo.  I left the machine and found another one a few minutes later (free from garlic man).  Now I knew I had to knuckle down and put the kms in!  I had an aim of 4.8km, but agreed with myself to do 6.4 if I could as this is tomorrow's aim and I thought it might be easier to run further on a day off rather than the first day back at school.

I tried to take the speed up to 8km/h when I could and did take it to 9 on one point, but then I kept taking it down to go slow or have a drink.  On the TV I had a choice of 'Bargain Hunt' or 'This Morning', so I chose to listen to the LA Fitness music channel.  When 'This Morning' became a Hattie Jacques documentary I did flick between the two.  For anyone who doesn't know her, she was an amazing actress who never got the parts she could have played because of her size and died aged 56 of a heart attack.  That was motivation to keep running!

To cool down I went for a brief swim.

The treadmill has it's uses, I admit, and I hope it will see me through these dark evenings. 

Sunday, 2 January 2011

New Year - New You?

We all know resolutions actually start on the second of January, everyone is far too hung over and craving bad foods to start on the first.

What is your resolution for this year?  I am not in the habit of setting resolutions, instead I used to set myself 'goals' as a teenager, things to achieve.  Unfortunately I often set these in a dreamy state of mind and without much practical idea of how to achieve these goals.  It became quite depressing at the end of every December to realise I had yet to achieve many of these.  This year I am going back to that old habit, but I am going to set goals that I can achieve if I apply myself and work hard.  Here they go:

  1. Finish the London Marathon on the 17th of April 2011
  2. Defeat ill health and lead an energetic and normal life - eat well and get fit
  3. Get my work/life balance sorted by not working over and above
  4.  Actually go on holiday
  5. Find time to enjoy the things in life that make life worth living: read more books, go to the theatre, spend more time with my often neglected boyfriend, visit my friends.
So, five possible-to-achieve goals for 2011.  

I don't want to go into all the miseries, but I am very glad to see the back of 2010 and am full of hope for 2011.  Onwards and upwards!