London Marathon – DONE!

finishers tshirt and medal medal selfiefriendsWell it has been a huge journey from couch potato to marathon finisher but here we are.  I cannot lie to you, as a non-runner it was horrendous (in the main part).  Six months of training outside through the delightful English winter months in ice and wind for hours, eating differently, virtually no drinking (4 glasses of wine and 6 g&ts consumed so far in 2015!) or going out in April… for one day of hell.  Ha.  The question you are asking is, was it worth it?  Hmmm.. I have enjoyed limited success and not all of it was as hard as marathon day.  When I set out to do this, I wanted to get around without having a heart attack and walk away with a finisher’s medal and I have now achieved that lofty ambition.  As for the day itself, nothing at all went to plan – I started right at the back then made the mistake of a loo stop immediately, spent the first 7 miles dodging the ‘sweep up’ bus (which at about mile 17 seemed like a very attractive way of finishing the race)… I made up time and pace with a good time for my first 13.1 miles (half way) but I had forgotten just how much the long distance running hurts and to be perfectly honest I just actually hated it so much I cannot tell you.  The first 15 miles were hell.  Hated them.  I enjoyed between 16-22 miles, then I was in serious pain and decided to walk most of the last 4 miles.  Fortunately I met a lovely fellow runner/sufferer Chloe and we decided to walk together and chat our way along the route.

Canary Wharf supporters

 

 

 

 

 

The support was astonishing, the crowds were terrific; even if I wanted to kill them all for the first 15 miles – smugly enjoying their drinks and bbq’s whilst I suffered on with no toilet breaks after that first one until mile 17 or so.  My own supporters were amazing; I saw them all the way around and I cannot thank them enough for being there for a hug when I needed it, though I would not be drawn to tears over a stupid marathon as some were (I did feel sorry for a few runners who were very emotional about it all).  I was cross (as my good friend Lisa correctly identified) that things didn’t go better on the day and that I was in so much pain.  But you know what, having now recovered to a point with wonderful hugs with my fabulous friends at the end, a shower, big steak dinner with the incredible Price’s and three baths (one cold) later; I am finally starting to feel less dead and more like myself, I am able to sit on the sofa in my finisher’s t-shirt and be proud that I got around and raised even more than my target for the King’s College Hospital Cancer Unit.

I am glad that I did not give in and get on the ‘sweep up’ bus but continued along that very tough road to The Mall.  This whole experience, for me, has been a love letter to perseverance and endurance; it is good to push yourself to the limit sometimes and see how far you can go.  I am not pleased with my time 6hrs42 but I am pleased that throughout the last six months I did not give up as (if we are honest) so many people thought I would.  If I had realised at the beginning just how physically and mentally exhausting this would be, I would never have signed up for it…perhaps on rare occasions ignorance is a good thing?

I did some karaoke running; trying to make those around me laugh with tunes such as Don’t Stop Believin’ and we had a great moment in the tunnel coming onto Victoria Embankment where a DJ played Take That’s Never Forget and we sung along and danced together, remembering just exactly how far we had come on our marathon journey in every possible sense.

My enduring memories of the day are;

  • my fabulous friends cheering,
  • the excruciating pain in my left buttock from about mile 4,
  • the brilliant costumes (I had Dave the green Samaritans’ phone and a chap dressed as Little Miss Giggles and big bird near me, not to mention some brilliant couples running together as superman and superwoman all with collection buckets which they took along the route),
  • high-fiving children throughout the run, enjoying settling into a running group who overtake each other alternately throughout the race,
  • lack of toilets without ENORMOUS queues or loo roll,
  • the glorious water showers along the way which you could run through (loved them!),
  • feeling sick and light-headed for the first 15 miles,
  • horrendous pain in my ankle and back of my knee from mile 22-26.2,
  • the overwhelming relief of seeing the Houses of Parliament,
  • and of course crossing the line hand in hand with Chloe to celebrate the 35th London Marathon as the elite runners had in the very first marathon.

When you think of it like that, makes you feel that you are part of the greater London Marathon story which started for me as a child going down to Woolwich in the 1980s and seeing Seb Coe run by, now I can say I have run in the same race as Paula Radcliffe and raised money for a terrific Hospital.  Job done I think, now it’s time to bring on the Spa !

#wobblySTILLhatesrunning

tracking results

Entering the Twilight zone…and so it begins

expo 2marathon numberexpoSo the time has finally come, here we are with 3 days and counting… last night I went to the VLM Expo and honestly it was like entering the twilight zone; initially I was okay as I was firmly focused on picking up my running number and timing chip.  All seemed to be going well to start with, I had my registration paper and passport for ID and found my way to relevant collection station, labelled with a selection of numbers (which is I gather how VLM keep track of all their runners by grouping them into numbered sections, makes sense).  It was after I had the number in my hand and had to pass through under some balloon arches to collect my chip… I told the lady who registered my chip to my number that I was still in shock that I was there and didn’t quite know what was going on, bless her she gave me an encouraging smile and wished me good luck as I passed through into the BOOST ZONE which is apparently what Adidas are calling it this year? Surely can’t be the same every year?  I can tell you that I have seen Hell and it was neon with running w@nkers as far as the eye could see.  I tried to keep it together long enough to purchase a fetching long sleeved branded running top with London Marathon 2015 written on it, on the basis that it was a fairly casual top and might double up for things like pilates and weekends.. I was actually delighted to find they were selling marathon MUGS and naturally feeling myself more at home promptly snaffled one of those as well.  That done.  Focus over.  I just wanted to dash off onto the first train back to reality and escape the hoards comparing trainers, nutrition and learning about new kinds of foam rollers (I observed an interesting demonstration of a chap rolling what appeared to be a thin rolling pin up and down a woman’s leg and though that is not gonna be me!)… I started to break out in a cold sweat and panic began to fog my brain, I was short of breath; I had to get out !  Naturally they make you walk around every damn stall in the place before you can glimpse the exit and it was on my fevered dash for the outside world that I hilariously bumped into the ONLY other person I know who is actually running the marathon this year – my gym trainer Luke!  It was great to see a friendly face and we had a quick chat about our training…. I told him of my plight and having been kindly pointed towards the exit I thanked him and legged it passed a huge BUPA station giving people massages out in the open with towels over them – how very uncivilised, I need panpipes with my massages! haha 😉  Finally salvation was mine, I saw the goodie bags which meant the exit was near and felt immediate relief as I escaped the largest group of running w@nkers in one place that I have SO FAR encountered.  Feeling safe as I boarded the DLR home, I relaxed a little and enjoyed the sunshine streaming through the window until I overheard a haughty woman ask a rather posh sounding young man:

“are you running?”

“yeah”

“what time do you want?”

“dunno, was going for sub 5 hours but had an injury so…”

“what are you doing about nutrition?”

“what?”

“you know, gels”

“oh, I’ll use three”

“which ones?”

“not sure, the yellow ones…do you run with music?”

“it’s illegal”

“is it?”

“my boyfriend’s an elite runner, you can get disqualified”

“oh right”

Thank goodness I managed to get off the train before I punched this idiot @rse of a girl in the face for being such a patronising tw@t.  What the hell is wrong with people that think talking down to someone like that is a good idea?  If I were that guy, I’d have told her to mind her own f*cking business.  I’m just glad she didn’t speak to me.

However the fun didn’t stop there and as at some point on my three DLR’s home I left my rucksack on one and after much persuasion I got the man at Lewisham to arrange for me to collect it at Canary Wharf, so after an additional 30 minutes of dashing around alls well that ends well, to quote the great poet who’s birthday is TODAY!

final instructionsstart mapI have now read my final instructions and find because I overestimated my running time I am truly at the back with the awesome fun runners, whilst I am totally up for some comedy on the way, I now realise the error of my ways and wish I’d been a bit more grrrr about my finish time, as I am hoping for around 5.5 hours if all goes well… but put down 7 hours on my registration which was back in January and I had NO IDEA really what to put down.  Oops… oh well hopefully I can still get the time I was hoping for?  Let’s just see how it goes, will be fun at any rate.  Though I am rather panicked to be right at the back of the 50,000 running… always dread the idea of being left behind though I don’t think that will happen, I am just being irrationally terrified! haha.  I am starting in the RED zone at the top of Greenwich Park which typically runs a totally different first mile to the one I have run before as I didn’t realise there were different starting routes and so have always ran the blue and green routes before… hey ho, it will be good to keep it fresh so let’s see how it goes – I imagine we will all end up on Shooters Hill in the end?  Fingers crossed !

The bad news for spectators (though good for runners) is that it is likely to drizzle all morning on Sunday which I am rather happy about though now debating what to wear, as usually I’d wear my little pink jacket, though obvs can’t do that on marathon day as need my race number and charity vest to be visible… hmm… long sleeved top underneath is likely to make me too hot, so I may have to ‘man up’ and just run in the vest?  Something for me consideration.

I have a sore left leg after my last ‘long’ run on Sunday only 5 miles but I’m worried about it so popping off this morning for an emergency leg massage and hoping then I will feel more confident at relaxed.

The time is now and can’t wait for this to be over!

Did you say a week off!?

DSC_1002I spent this weekend in lovely Wales and decided to give myself the weekend off from running the ten miles I was supposed to run, in favour of a one mile walk through the lovely green fields (whilst safely ensconced upon a concrete path to pander to my townie ways and keep me calm even when in the presence of nature, haha).  It was wonderful to spend time there with such lovely friends, just what I needed.  I am finding this winding down to the marathon (“tapering”) rather boring and laborious.  Indeed as both the Paris and Brighton Marathons have been and gone (I now know people who have run both this year…) I find myself wishing that the London Marathon was this weekend, just to get it over with as I’m not finding any interest in the shorter runs or body conditioning training and just getting a little bit unnecessarily nervous.  Though I have already run the majority of the marathon route at different points, (possibly excluding only a few bits in Canary Wharf that were main roads you could not run down without them being closed to traffic) so I’m hoping that will give me an advantage over myself psychologically, in knowing that I have already done this loads of times so can definitely do it again, no problem.  The other concern, which I’d never really considered when training, is now the weather.  You think about injuries, icing and resting knees and ankles, building core strength and quad muscles; you don’t think “oh I hope we don’t have a heat-wave in April” because that would be a ridiculous thing to worry about, wouldn’t it?  And yet… have you looked out of the window this week or even been outside to enjoy that on-tap vitamin D?  It is a concern.  I like it cool and bright, not hot and humid.  This will make my time slower and just unnecessarily prolong the process.  Yawn.

Hey ho, we are in the final furlong now and I am counting down the days, it is actually now only 9 daysuntil the London Marathon.  Next Wednesday I am off to the Expo, which I foolishly thought was nothing more than a glorified registration for the race and collection of my number and time chip; I have now discovered there are hundreds of stalls there for sports clothes, brands and even goodie bags.  It is not going to be the 30 minute dash to the ExCel Centre that I was expecting.  So now it will have to be after work.  Sigh.

I am now thinking about such things are sunglasses, which hadn’t occurred to me before… and making sure I have enough high five energy gels for the big day!  Yay!  Nearly there…BRING IT ON, I am so over this training malarkey!

The BIG and very IMPORTANT news is… drum roll please… I HAVE REACHED MY FUNDRAISING TARGET!  Hooray!!  And in fact, I have about £200 over my fundraising target which is AM-AZ-ING !!!!!!!!  Thank you so much to everyone who has contributed to my fund-raising, it is so incredibly appreciated, I simply cannot thank you enough!  I will be celebrating the impending marathon with a delicious last minute cake sale next week.

This weekend I will be running 6 or 7 miles and getting my last full body massage before race day!  Woohoo! #gettingexcited

Let the tapering commence… 15 miles only! 

DSC_0918It is unbelievable how quickly you adapt to these crazy long runs and suddenly running fifteen miles seems like a dream because it is a 25% reduction on the previous weeks’ training.  I find myself saying hilarious things like “I only have to run fifteen miles this week” and similar… honestly *rolls eyes at herself*

I decided I would run on Good Friday last week in order to enjoy a long weekend in Sussex with my Godson and his wonderful family; playing, eating and running around (the new game of choice being ‘chasing’… haha).  It was a lovely weekend and I hugely enjoyed not running on Sunday morning.

As ever, it was tough getting up on Good Friday but I managed it and finally headed out at about 8/8:30am. I decided I wanted to run a circular route both starting and ending at home; so I took the usual marathon route down to Charlton/Woolwich/Greenwich and then down to Surrey Quays and back home again via the ‘short cut’ up Crooms Hill next to Greenwich Park.  The run went very well, it was cool/drizzly but not as rainy as the previous week so I didn’t take any water with me and even took the controversial decision to leave my phone at home as I am now fully confident in the route I needed to run.  So I set out with my rain jacket on again and my runners’ bumbag with only some High Five energy gels, my iPod and some tropical shot bloks (which are new and I discovered tasted almost as good as Refreshers!!! YUM!)… it was lovely to ‘run light’ (as it were) with nothing else to bog me down and off I went with my new-ish marathon training playlist, put together the week before.  The run passed without incident; I observed lots of people coming back from the shops with huge bulging bags of food for the bank holiday weekend and towards the end of my run the pubs seemed to be thronging with those seeking fun and indulgence on the bank holiday.  I knew that I would be free to enjoy myself once the run was over, so seeing others enjoying themselves only spurred me on!

I completed the whole distance in 3hr30 which was a lovely time to achieve and I happily undertook stretches and foam rollering of tired muscles as I ran my cold bath (to be followed by hot) and then aching much less than the week before, I popped out to enjoy a little bank holiday shopping and a naughty fish and chips supper.  I thought I’d earned it by then.

But just because I am now tapering, does not mean that I have lost focus; no indeed, I have a few things to work on in these last three weeks of training.

Long Runs scheduled:

Friday 3rd April – 15 miles

Sunday 12th April – 10 miles

Sunday 19th April – 7 miles (no more than)

To be topped up with a shorter speed run each week of between 1.6 – 3 miles at lunch time once a week for the next three weeks.

In addition to which, I will be working on:

Core Strength*

Nourishing Sleep**

Healthy eating with Carb-Loading in last two weeks***

*Core Strength – I was reading about this in my latest Running W@nkers [read: World] magazine and here they detail exercises to strengthen your transverse abdominus muscles by laying on the floor, concentrating hard on tightening this muscle group and ‘marching’ your legs up and down by c. 3 inches, three sets of 25 times for each leg.  You need to do this every day, so I will start this tonight and keep you posted on how this goes.

**Nourishing Sleep(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brant-secunda-and-mark-allen/good-night-sleep_b_6955530.html)

I am not a good sleeper and my body is generally happy with around 6 hours a night.  However, in the lead up to the marathon I am keen to try to follow guidance around getting more sleep the month before the race, so have already started to attempt getting an extra 30 minutes to an hour each night.  This has met with limited success and it is interesting to note that some of the best runs I’ve had in my training (including my half marathon) were on only 4.5 hours sleep.  However, tips for better sleep include:

1)        Cut back on the caffeine. Limit your consumption of caffeine to the early parts of the day, preferably before noon.

2)        Eat big meals earlier. Having a large meal late in the day can trigger swings in your blood sugar, and wake you up in the night when insulin is overdoing its job. Instead, adopt the Huichol’s approach of eating a lighter dinner most days of the week.

3)        Reduce alcohol consumption. If you want to drink, just keep it in the healthy zone (around one drink a night). Drinking too much alcohol will trigger the release of a hormone that can actually wake you up in the middle of the night.

4)        Tuck those worries to bed. Sleep time is for sleeping, not solving the challenges you face in life. By the time you hit the pillow, your mind should be free of worries. Try this ritual: Go over the day’s events, and then imagine you’re gathering them into a sacred circle in front of your heart. This helps you calm your mind and prepare for deep sleep.

So, I have already failed on tip number one, as I am still drinking a cup of tea… I will make every effort to cut back to decaff after noon.  Though I do already try to do number 2 and number 3, having had only my second glass of wine of the year on Sunday!

***Healthy eating with Carb-Loading in last two weeks

I will of course be referring to BBC Good Food online and planning my menus for the next three weeks to make sure I am getting as much of the relevant nutrients as possible.

Lastly, I am going to book a full body massage two weeks before the race to make sure I am limbered up and ready to go.

Thank you to everyone who has already very generously sponsored me, if you would like to but not got around to it yet, please fine my just giving link below:

https://www.justgiving.com/Joanne-Walby/

For those in my office, don’t forget Friday’s Marathon Fundraising Bake Sale number Four miles thirteen to sixteen !

Music + Rain = Faster Jo – 20 miles in the rain 4hr47 BOOM!

josiejo marathon outfit

As you are probably aware on Sunday we experienced a so called angry low according to the wonderful people at BBC Weather… this transpired to be virtually unrelenting wind and rain by the bucketful.  As I was running along Victoria Embankment at about mile seventeen, I realised that I could no longer feel my hands, water was literally running off my face (at which point I regretted the mornings mascara which I thought must be dribbling attractively down my cheeks – it wasn’t though! Phew!) and my rain jacket was so wet I could see my colourful marathon vest through it.  Nice.  What else could I do?  I laughed.  This is what marathon training is all about I thought to myself, endurance.  Or at least it has been that way for me, as you know.  It was excruciatingly difficult getting out of bed on Sunday morning and even then I had mild nagging doubts about my knees, so was thinking it might be wiser to rest… but then I decided to give it a whirl and run as far as I could and it turned out to be 20 miles as originally planned, not bad.  I had various aches and pains throughout the run; knees, ankles, buttocks and thighs all took their turns, my lower back was not happy but I hope I am now a little better at listening to my body than I was back in October and luckily (on this occasion) I was right to carry on.

Buckingham PalaceI had never run the end of the marathon route, so decided on Sunday I would give it a try.  I followed the usual route to Woolwich then back to Greenwich but instead of heading off to Surrey Quays and Rotherhithe I went through the foot tunnel to Canary Wharf then towards the City passed the Tower of London, down Victoria Embankment (which is quite long and I had to have a moment to sit down out of the rain to stretch my ankles) and finally through Westminster, passed Buckingham Palace down the Mall and ended my run at Charing Cross station to take the train home.  Woohoo!  It was lovely to try out another part of the run; I was more confident too and managed this week not to get lost (which makes a change I can tell you)!! Hooray!

I made this run fun though, as I’ve had a rough month of long gruelling runs I have not enjoyed and I was keen to try to enjoy this one as it is the longest I will run until Marathon Day; it’s all tapering from here baby J  So I FINALLY got my new iPod charged and loaded with a fabbo playlist of my favourite cheesy tunes to inspire and motivate me through the pain.  I was delighted and surprised that I’d put my first two cheerful tunes on at both the beginning of the playlist and at about four hours which was just as I was running through Westminster and on passed St James’s Park so it was the perfect pick me up.  I know you’re dying to know what my awful cheesy tunes are…slightly embarrassed about the first track but it never fails to put me into a good mood so worth the public humiliation to admit it is the opening track of Legally Blonde – Perfect Day by Hoku, just to be clear it is nothing like the Lou Reed song covered for Children in Need in 1997 which makes me want to slit your wrists upon every hearing.  The second track is my favourite upbeat number by Me First and the Gimme Gimme’s called Who Put the Bomp and it’s a cheesy fifties track in a punk rock type of style, it reminds me of the song at the end of the movie Grease but it has a killer beat which makes me run!  I also included Green Day’s American Idiot album (as suggested by Mr Haythorne) it is something I’ve had since it came out and in my opinion is one of the few albums I’ve ever heard (I have very bad taste in music) that needs to be listened to as a whole album.  It was perfect, Billie Joe creates a great narrative; it is challenging, entertaining and audibly interesting as well as carrying a good fast beat on the most part which carries you along with it.

Controversially I took no water with me on this run for two reasons:

  • I hate carrying anything when running
  • The week before I needed the loo SIX times – which is simply ridiculous and could not be repeated, EVER

I just got away with it because of the conditions and consequently was a little dehydrated to the point of feeling a bit sick when I got to Charing Cross.  I immediately sought out water and chocolate milk for the journey home, only to discover a 750ml bottle is £2 at Charing Cross!  How can there not be residents’ rates in these instances?  I made good time home, jumped into the now standard cold bath for the muscles, though this week followed by a hot one to warm me up after the freezing rain.

Job done.  I am very happy with that performance; good time, good run.  It was great running passed Buckingham Palace and down the Mall; furthermore I had no idea Charing Cross was sooo close to the finish, I am no longer worried about getting the train home, I will be fine and enjoy my lie in the morning afterwards like nothing else in the world.  Thinking there might be a stop off at Zizzi or similar to gorge on pasta and bread afterwards…  Mmmmm.

Last night when I got home I received my final marathon instructions magazine which I will go through studiously this week some time and the big news is my running number will be:

53465

The advice from the VLM website (as running w@nkers seem to refer to it…) is:

  1. Can I track a runner during the race?
  2. Yes. On Race Day, there will be a link to our tracking service on the home page of http://www.virginmoneylondonmarathon.com

An app is also under development – watch this space for more information as Race Day approaches.

The best way to track a runner is by using the runner’s running number. If you do not have the running number, it is also possible to search for a runner by surname.

I need to go to the ExCel centre the week before to collect my number, tracking chip and runners guff ahead of race day and that is that.  The end is in sight and you know what?  I am quietly confident that I may still have all of my toenails, fingers crossed!

A trip to Tower Bridge (and back)

tower bridgeFor my long run this Sunday I had (for me) almost perfect running conditions, it was bright and sunny but still rather cool; though I could have done without the wind to be honest but it was a close to perfect as could be in March.  I had a mini disaster the night before running – my internet stopped working(!) so I couldn’t plan my route with google maps like I usually do, so I decided I’d just refer to the marathon route and run to South Quay which was around Mile 18.  However, what I did not count on was the crazy road works around West Ferry on the Isle of Dogs which meant I took the wrong turning to South Quay and only actually managed to run about 16.7 miles and not the 18 miles I wanted to run!!!!!!!!  The good news is that I could definitely have run further and I will be much more diligent in my planning of my 20 mile route for this Sunday to make sure I smash that target, for sure.  Never mind, I did it in an okay time of about 4.5 hours and combated the boredom by spending the first half of my run listening to Boris Johnson’s book about Winston Churchill, named The Churchill Factor (I am hugely into my history, if you hadn’t already realised) and then as I started to get a bit pooped after about 12 miles, I put on my rock themes and had a little sing along.

16 7 miles to South QuayWhat did crack me up along this rather boring run was that I managed to run all the way from Blackheath all the way to Tower Bridge, only to find that in a comedy turn of events, it was UP!  I have lived in London my entire life and I have never, ever seen the bridge up in real life before.  I have no idea what was passing through but I thought it was hilarious, really made me chuckle when I got there and I surprised some other runners by actually talking to them as we were waiting for the bridge to re-open.  haha.  I felt very inspired running over such an iconic landmark and the Tower of London too… I also felt better because I could see the DLR for the first time, meaning that I was at last officially in Docklands.  Yah.  I ran along The Highway and couldn’t believe it when I recognised King Edwards’ Park but from the complete otherside, not the river where I usually go to get to it.  Soon I was on Narrow Road which is another place I know well from running, featuring not only Gordon Ramsey’s pub The Narrow but also Ian McKellen’s pub The Grapes.  I have been to the former but yet to investigate the latter unfortunately. From thence I went to get lost in West Ferry where I wandered about for ages trying to find my way towards South Quay; I ended up going up and down the ramp and roundabout until finally I ran underneath the lot and discovered car parks I never knew existed.  It was whilst trying to follow the highly masked road in the right direction that I took the wrong turn, which I only discovered later.  Damn it.

Nonetheless I enjoyed extending my run to Docklands more than I thought I would and indeed stretching on the DLR platform wasn’t so bad.  I took it back to Lewisham and then a bus home.  The only downside to this plan was that I had already cooled down quite significantly so when I did get into my cold bath I actually shivered which normally I don’t as I’m usually warmer.

All is well today, save two sore knees which are actually (according to the internet) suffering from quadriceps tendonitis… I am feeling good.  Just need to RICE the knees apparently.  You know how good I am at resting.  It’s almost as tedious as running 20 miles will be next week.  But glad to get it over with in advance for Easter Sunday so I can grab a shorter run of may be, ooooh 15 miles that day!

It wasn’t all hard work this weekend, I did manage to nab a super lush back massage on Saturday but sadly that seems like nothing more than a distant memory now… will try to book in for a full body massage after those 20 miles though!

Marathon Bake Sale

marathon bake sale 3Last Friday saw the first dalliance into the Great Marathon Bake Sale!  Myself, Debra and Yoda prepared a number of fine delights for our colleagues in order to raise funds for my Marathon fundraising ahead of the big race.  I decided that we could theme it around the London Marathon and have a different cake for each mile of the race and then spread the cakes out over four or five weeks, so have four or five cakes per week in the month or so leading up to the Marathon.

I googled “Marathon Parties” and Pinterest had a few fun ideas for table cloths made to look like roads so in a somewhat Blue Peter fashion that is what I sought to create.  I made some flags for each mile and type of cake from some labels and cocktail sticks and a ‘start’ sign from more labels and two straws.  It was extremely simple but looked quite fun.  We sold each cupcake and brownie for £1 each, though was told by many people that I needed to double our prices because the muffins were huge.  So may well do so this Friday if there is appetite.

We divided the cakes as follows:

Mile 1 – Best ever Brownies

Mile 2 – Blueberry and Lemon muffins

Mile 3 – Banana and chocolate muffins

Mile 4 – Vanilla cupcakes with creamy frosting

 

Marathon bake sale 1I was beyond surprised at how quickly they sold out, nearly everything was gone by 12:30 which was BRILLIANT and we raised a cracking £54 for towards to Marathon fundraising!  Woohoo!  In view of the success, we are thinking about another bake sale this Friday and will finalise our cakes soon.

Thank you so much to everyone who bought a cake and most especially to those wonderful ladies who have been fantastically supportive; Marvellous Debra and Yoda.

More cakes coming soon…

16 miles and dancing in the street

My challenge this week was to go further along the London Marathon route from Blackheath to Rotherhithe, back to Greenwich and then take the ‘short cut’ back over Blackheath to home.  I was determined that this week I would enjoy myself and I did, until about mile 8… then I got a little fidgety, I settled down again about mile 10-12… then I had a good nose around Deptford, Surrey Quays and Rotherhithe.  I discovered that the river loop from Surrey Quays to Rotherhithe Station has been really well developed (formerly docks, where in 1838 HMS Temeraire (which played a vital role in the Battle of Trafalgar) was broken up) into leafy residential living with some very cute (former dockers) pubs and some old-school Victorian architecture.

I have still not quite finished my music playlist so had to put a ton of rock tracks into a playlist on Spotify for this excursion; it was like a walk (or run?) down memory lane… Green Day, Goldfinger, Bowling for Soup, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (of course), The Ataris, Bruno Mars, Bryan Adams, Blink 182, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, Kings of Leon, Arctic Monkeys and even a few upbeat tracks from the Legally Blonde soundtrack!!   Haha 😉

I set out at around 07.30am on Sunday morning and it rained for about the first hour so I ran in my beautiful [read: embarrassing] pink running rain coat *rolls eyes at self*…I even had my hood up, probably making me look like a most peculiar tortoise or something… hey ho.  I’m in the zone now of taking the High Five energy gels every 30 minutes or so (they recommend every 20 minutes but that’s a little too frequent for me), I can report that the citrus ones are by far the best, the berry are good and I like the banana one early on in the run as they feel quite ‘breakfasty’ for some reason?  (I had, had a bowl of porridge before I set out), the orange ones are gross and those other energy gels with caffeine, whilst helpful, taste to me like vomit.  Ha.  So I’m trying to avoid those.  I’m afraid though I did have to find myself a public toilet three times along this run(!) yikes!  Thankfully setting off very early meant I could use an accommodating bush when no other facilities were available.  Phew.  Thank goodness for portaloos on marathon day, is all I can say !  I’ve been told about Paula Radcliffe’s famous ‘loo incident’ (though fortunately not seen it) and whilst, I would definitely NOT go in for anything like that, I do feel sympathy for this as the running activity does seem to upset the digestive system and leads to ‘runners runs’ which is less than pleasant and fortunately (I have found) of short duration.

I have to confess (much to the horror of Yoda and Lady Catherine), I got insanely bored at about 14.5 miles and decided thence forward that I would put on my karaoke playlist and dance my way back home for the last 1.5 miles whilst singing at the top of my voice, all over Blackheath… my time was not good at all, but I made it and got it over with.   PHEW!  I promise to try harder to get a better time this weekend when I go for my 18 miles!!!   I have yet to fully plan my route but may come as far as Canary Wharf along the Marathon route this time and take the DLR/bus home… ?  Not sure if that is a good idea or not, as I know I will start to cool down and may be a little cold waiting for a bus home… but might be good to mix it up a bit I think.

I have now started planning for my last 6 weeks !!!! WOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!  I cannot tell you how very excited I am that this is nearly over!  Thank goodness for that.  So I have two and a half more weeks of freedom before I enter a very Tudoresque pre marathon lock-down (in the way they would make pregnant Queens lie in a dark room for weeks on end before giving birth)… For 21st Century Jo this means:

  •    No alcohol
  •    Getting an extra 30 minutes to 1 hour of sleep per night
  •    Tapering three weeks before the race by reducing my training by c. 25% each week
  •    Resting as much as possible
  •    Carb loading two weeks before marathon day

 

I have therefore cancelled all social engagements in April, bar a theatrical visit to see Cats about 2 weeks before the big day.  May is going to be SUCH a good month!

I am a little frustrated this week, as I am desperate to get to the gym for some body conditioning but my find my right knee is ‘spongy’ which Yoda assures me is not a medically recognised condition, yet it does not feel quite right so I will ice it again tonight and hope for improvement.  I might just do my arms tonight, once I have baked.

I will be baking Brownies and Banana & chocolate muffins for my Marathon Bake Sale on Friday 20th March !!  Yoda and Debra have very kindly offered to do the lemon and blueberry muffins and the Vanilla Cupcakes respectively.  They will be on sale from 9am on Friday morning for £1 each, do pop by my desk and grab one early for your afternoon sugar craving!

15 miles and an ice bath

15 mile runToday I decided to try out some of the actual London Marathon route and that went well, until it was time to turn back from Creek Road in Greenwich and come back the other way… this seems to have been a flaw in my plan as I really didn’t enjoy it and with (left this time!) buttock cramp and a blister on each foot it was a somewhat painful experience.  Nonetheless, I completed the first 7.5 miles of the route from Blackheath, over the Sun in the Sands roundabout up Shooters Hill Road, left at Charlton Park Road, which became Ha Ha Road across Woolwich Common and passed the Royal Artillery Barracks down towards the Woolwich Ferry then the long long long road from Woolwich through Charlton and into Greenwich (which is not surprisingly called Woolwich Road for most of it, until it becomes Trafalgar Road) around the Cutty Sark much to the bemusement of many tourists and to the middle of the bridge over the river on Creek Road then back again.

I found the route into Greenwich surprisingly easy, mainly flat or down hill with just a few small inclines, from my childhood memory I had though the run through Woolwich was hillier than it was which was a huge relief (on the way there, not so much on the way back) and I enjoyed seeing all the development which is taking place in the less desirable parts of Woolwich and Charlton; rather impressive I thought.

There were many people out today, enjoying the sunshine and who could blame them?  But they were not very spacially aware and I did enjoy in the road on numerous occasions to avoid them!  The hot conditions made for a very sweaty run with lots of water and gels consumed.  I did manage to keep it to just one loo stop in Greenwich which was a relief.

I think next time I will try to continue the Marathon route and see how I feel about that, something tells me I may enjoy it more, though will need to plan how I get back with the use of my oyster card !

ice bathOnce returned I finally took the good Lady Catherine’s advice and sat in a freezing cold bath for 10 whole minutes!!!!!!  It was very cold getting in, but actually once I was sitting in it (with my phone timer counting down the seconds), it wasn’t actually as bad as I thought it would be and most of my muscles seemed to have responded well.  The stand out let down in this is my left calf which is once again plaguing me which I simply do not have time for.  I learnt on this run today that I really need to up my fitness and core strength so am desperate to keep going with the short runs and Davina workouts, next scheduled for Tuesday.  I have stretched profusely and finally resorted to a firm foam rollering which was a huge help, I will do some more of this tomorrow morning!

Where to watch the London Marathon

With only 7 weeks to go until the Virgin Money London Marathon, my friends have started to ask me when and where the race starts, where to watch and where we’re meeting at the end of the race!  I had NO IDEA, so it took some quick googling to find the answers.  So just in case you are interested in coming along for a day out; to see me off or in fact would like to take part in my great Marathon PUB CRAWL (exact pubs tbc), here are a few details.

Race starts:         9am Wheelchairs

09.20/10 Elite runners

10.10 Everybody else (including Me and fun runners in crazy costumes! Yah!)

Start location is Blackheath for Blue and Greenwich Park for Red (no idea what group I’m in yet)

Finish location is The Mall right in front of Buckingham Palace

The website advises that: “It can take up to 40 minutes from the time the runner has crossed the Finish Line for the runner to collect their medal, finisher’s bag, kitbag and exit the secure area at the Finish.”

I’m currently estimated at finishing this race in 5.5-6 hours… on current running performance but was faster than expected at the Half Marathon this weekend so we will see how it goes…though Yoda has pointed out that she will not take more than 5 hours as a respectable finish time.  Let’s see what the day brings, as if it’s hot and many drink/loo breaks are required I think I might be a little longer.  But as I’ve always said throughout this process, (even before I went crazy and got all competitive with myself) I just want to finish within the allocated 8 hour timeframe in order to finish and get a medal without having a heart attack.  Fortunately BUPA have indicated that my heart, lungs and general cardiovascular health is in very good condition, so I think I may be quietly confident about achieving my goal on that front.

According to the Marathon Spectator guidelines – Places to Avoid are:

  •    Greenwich town centre and the Cutty Sark
  •    Tower Bridge and the Tower Hill area
  •    Anywhere from mile 23 to the Finish in The Mall, especially around Westminster and Parliament Square

Though with this advice how to do you find your friends / family when they have finished if you are supposed to avoid all areas after mile 23?  Not sure about that one… but fear not, I will have my mobile.

Here are my pub crawl suggestions…

My Favourite Pubs nearby the London Marathon route:

Blackheath – The Railway and The Princess of Wales, for coffee & ice-cream; Black Vanilla

Woolwich – DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT GOING THERE

Charlton – The Antigallican and The Rose of Denmark (both BIG football pubs)

Greenwich – The Plume of Feathers, The Gipsy Moth and The Trafalgar

Deptford – GIVE IT A MISS

Surrey Quays – The Moby Dick (is a boat), The Yellow House won’t be open(!), The Surrey Docks is a classy Wetherspoons

Rotherhithe – The Ship, The Old Salt Quay, The Mayflower

Bermondsey – St James of Bermondsey, The King’s Arms, The Gregorian (I am reliably informed the latter, has a good outdoor patio and is always packed on race day, so should be fun!)

Wapping – The Prospect of Whitby

Shadwell – GIVE IT A MISS

Canary Wharf – The Gun, Rocket for food or One Canada Square for a lush cocktail

Tower Hill – Bodean’s for fine BBQ food, The Draft House, The Crutched Friar, East India Arms

Monument – The Fine Line, The Folly, The Crosse Keys and The Banker

Blackfriars – The Old Bank of England and on the opposite side of the river The Founders Arms, The Swan Bar at The Globe and Dandelyan at The Mondrian London at Sea Containers

Temple – The Wellington, Temple Walkabout and The Waterfront (old Uni haunts), if you’re peckish pop into Tom’s Kitchen or deli in Somerset House, or there’s a Zizzi, Leon etc on The Strand

Embankment – Gordon’s Wine Bar, The Port House on The Strand

Westminster – St Stephen’s Tavern, The Red Lion

St James’s Park – Two Chairmen Public House, The Old Star, Adam and Eve, The Buckingham Arms

http://www.timeout.com/london/things-to-do/where-to-watch-the-london-marathon

http://static.london-marathon.co.uk/uploads/marathon-centre/2014-online-spec-guide.pdf

Let me know if you’re planning to come along at any point and I’ll put you in touch with others so you can hang out and eat drink and be merry whilst I’m sweating my nuts off.  There will be FOOD after the Marathon but where and when yet obvs still TBC…

I understand from Lady Catherine that you will be able to track my trainer chip LIVE on marathon day so work out where I am when you’re thinking about which pub would be best for your next pint, very helpful indeed! 😉