How not to train for the London marathon...
The London marathon has been something i always wanted to do, i remember watching it as a kid with my parents and talking about it with my fellow running friends down at the track every Tuesday and Thursday. Knowing i'd run it one day, and when the time came i'd be fully prepared and ready...
Earlier this year George and I travelled around India, the Philippines and Malaysia for two months. Totally letting go of daily routine, eating curry three times a day and doing little to no exercise, bar walking and carrying a huge backpack. So you can understand my excitement mixed with actual fear when a friend of mine managed to bag me a place for the marathon in April. With little over 2 months to train, get my diet back on track and feel prepared i obviously took on the challenge.
All was going well, i started my training off nicely with small runs and progressed to longer runs weekly, i was actually starting to enjoy running and the time to think and just be alone. I was following a 2 month training guide i found online until...
Those 14 plane journeys, nights of air con and going from hot to freezing cold temperatures really did me over big time and i got a terrible fever which resulted in tonsillitis. Great, so i'm just over a month away from running the marathon and i'm bed bound for 2 weeks, can hardly walk around my flat, so the thought of running 26.2 miles actually sounds like a bad dream and something totally unachievable.
There was absolutely no way i was not going to run, i can be slightly strong willed at times!
So after my 2 weeks in bed, i have 3 weeks left before the big run. I quickly bounce back from my illness and get back on track... totally not on track but somewhere on my way. I started small and built my runs up, almost starting again with my training. Building my strength and endurance. The longest run i did before the marathon was 15 miles, so i only had to add almost another 10... easy right?
The big day arrives, i'm ready, i'm feeling fit, i'm nervous as hell but pumped with adrenaline and got a smile on my face like a cheshire cat. My family have come down to support me, i have a crowd of friends dotted around the course, Georges family are all out supporting me throughout the City. I probably have the biggest fan club out there and i feel such a huge rush of emotion as i stand at the start line buzzing with pride. I'm here, i made it this far i just have to get through the next few hours, i tell myself self confidently.
Here we go, i bounce about like i'm Usain Bolt about to run the 100 metre sprint in the olympics.
"Have you ever ran a marathon before" a fellow runner asks looking shocked by my enthusiasm.
"No! But i'm so excited!" I say with huge confidence and ease.
A few runners laugh and look at each other with worried expressions, now i know why...
Mile 6- I have 20.2 more miles to run.
Mile 12- I see my family and friends and cry like a baby, i'm feeling good and pretty sure i'm going to be able to do this.
Mile 17- Feel like utter dog shit and can't breathe from the heat, why the hell is it so HOT!
Mile 18- I'm going to faint... ok i'm fainting. Very subtle and elegant but nonetheless i find myself in a bundle on the floor being splashed in the face with water by the spectators and being fed jelly babies like i'm a child at a birthday party. Every bone in my body telling me to stop, every muscle and joint screaming and my head absolutely refusing to believe i can make it over the finish line. A fellow runner stops and waits while i come around and realise what the hell i'm doing. She grabs my hand and just like that i'm back up on my feet, running hand in hand with a complete stranger who's stopped her run to come and help me finish mine. The power of humanity.
Mile 22- This is the hardest thing i've ever done. My legs feel like lead and i think i'm actually running slower than if i was walking, but when i walk for a step or two it hurts more.
Mile 26.2- Nobody can prepare you for how you feel after you've ran a marathon. The emotions you feel before, during and after are like nothing i've ever experienced before. I felt an overwhelming sensation of love. Love for the woman that helped me finish the run and crossed the line holding my hand. Love for my friends and family for being so supportive and amazing in anything i set out to achieve and so much love for all the hundreds of thousands of spectators all over London screaming and shouting all day, keeping you going round every turn.
My advise to anyone wanting to run a marathon or taking part in anything that's a big strain on the body is to train consistently and leave plenty of time to prepare, not only physically but mentally. Visualise yourself running, how you're going to feel and what you're going to tell yourself when your body gives up. Running the marathon is no joke, as we saw this year with the death of the talented Matt Campbell a fit, young man used to running long distances. I will run another marathon, in fact i've signed up to run next years. Hopefully the lead up to the next one whenever that may be i'll be in good health and prepared for what's to come.
But for now i can say i completed my very first marathon, the hottest on record in fact, in 4 hours 49 minutes. No record by all means but something i'll be proud of forever.
Big shout out to my real life hero Gemma Poole, i couldn't have done it without you girl and i'll be forever grateful for your unconditional kindness.