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I did it! I ran 26miles!!

Posted by DarrenG on April 29, 2013 at 7:59 am

NAS-Marathon-Reception

I am a marathon runner! Last Sunday I set off with 35,000 other mentalists and ran 26 miles and finished. And, 7 days later. I’m still buzzing with the excitement.

The weather on race day was glorious, in fact it was so nice that it made things very hard from the start as I’d had no experience of running in sunshine, let alone heat.

As usual, nerves meant I was visiting the toilet every 5 mins whilst we waited for the 10am start and when we formed up in the pens I was desperate to go yet again. The queues at the first toilets on the course were long so I held on until I spotted toilets at 3 miles. After that I had started sweating enough that toilet stops were no longer an issue.

The sheer amount of people lining the route was incredible, Cutty Sark was rammed as was the approach to Tower Bridge.  After crossing it was especially hard to be running adjacent to those who had done Docklands and were in the last few miles whereas I had 13miles left.  At Mile 14 I cold wave to my family, supporting from the cheer point set up by the National Autistic Society, on the other side of the road and knowing I’d see them again at 21 miles spurred me on.

Docklands was the low point. Not due to a lack of support, the crowds were out on force here too. But pain was setting in and being unfamiliar with that part of London and the seemingly never ending switch backs of the course, made it feel like it went on forever.

After what seemed like an age I made it back to the cheer point and stopped briefly to see my family and get another cheer before setting off to the finish.  The last few miles were a blur of pain, each mile seemed to be longer than the last and Big Ben didn’t seem to be getting any closer!  Finally I tuned the corner into Parliament Square and Birdcage Walk and the first signs saying ’800m to go’ came into view.

A last minute spurt, I won’t say it was energy as that had long since gone, perhaps adrenaline, gave me a little burst as I rounded the birthday cake in front of Buckingham Palace and then it was over the finish line with a huge sense of relief and achievement.

The ballot opened today for the 2014 London Marathon. I haven’t entered!

1 week to go – kit and live tracking now sorted

Posted by DarrenG on April 14, 2013 at 12:53 pm

200px-London_MarathonI awoke with a sick feeling in my stomach this morning. A week today I’ll be in London and running the Marathon. What was I thinking when I entered the ballot??

Seriously though, it’s been a hell of a journey and, whilst I’ll be glad to have the marathon behind me. I’m now a runner and want to continue with improving my fitness. This time last year I couldn’t run more than a few yards and was just starting on the Couch to 5K training program. fast forward 12 months and I have a half-marathon under my belt and have run 18-miles. I still find that hard to believe.

Although I secured my spot through the ballot, I decided early on that I’d try and use the opportunity to raise some money for charity. I’m delighted to report that I reached my £2k target last week and, with an off-line donation of £500 from The TechLounge and taking into account Gift Aid, the total has surpassed £3000. I’m thrilled that so many of you have supported me and my chosen beneficiaries, the National Autistic Society. If you want to chip, you can do so here.

Now, with 7 days to go I’m busy finalising all the kit, transport and hotel arrangements. My running kit is almost sorted, the finer details depend on what weather we face next Sunday. After 6 months of cold, rain, snow and ice, the long range forecast is threatening a mini heat wave so that could prove very interesting and will mean a lot more hydration is required than I’ve been used to in training.

The hotel was booked months ago. I booked with a specialist operator that runs marathon packages. That means there are reps at the hotel, a meet’n’greet with other runners in the evening at a pasta party and a good breakfast on race morning. They also have a coach to take me from the door to the start, so no messing with public transport. Anything to remove some of the stress is good in my book!

An issue I hadn’t considered is packing. I’ll be travelling to the hotel on Saturday afternoon on my own withy my wife, daughter and parents will be travelling into London on Sunday. I can’t decide if I should pack light and take it all with me on race day, which means cramming everything I need into the small runners sack that they issue you. This is handed in at the start, Virgin transport it to the finish where you collect it. Or, pack normally, have the hotel store it when I check out in the morning, and then have the hassle of having to collect it after the race, when I’ll doubtless be hobbling!

As for other kit. I have a running belt that has two drinks bottles and a pouch for my iPhone. I also now have a battery backpack so I can keep the phone powered up for the five+ hours I estimate it will take me to complete the course. I’m using a live tracking app called Where M.I. to broadcast my progress so having enough battery power plus some in reserve for finding family at the finish was important.

I’ll also be using a Garmin Forerunner 610 GPS watch to record my run and keep track of pace/distance etc.

All that remains now is for me to do three more gentle, short distance runs to keep everything ticking over. Also have to go to the race Expo on Thursday at Excel in London so I can register, get my race number, tracking chip and kitbag.

On Sunday morning I’ll tweet the tracking link and post it to Facebook so that anyone who wants to follow me can do. I won’t be breaking any records, I’m predicting 5 – 5.30h but, given the pic below was my leg not so long ago I’m happy I’m able to run at all.

 

Training Update – 3 weeks to go!

Posted by DarrenG on April 02, 2013 at 12:56 pm

376mGood grief, where did all the time go?  It seems like only yesterday that I had six months of training ahead of me yet here I am looking at the calendar that assures me there are less than three weeks to go until the London Marathon.

I’ve not done nearly enough long runs. My longest so far is 14-miles when my planner tells me I should have reached 18-miles by this weekend and I should be repeating the final long run of 18-miles next Sunday. Aarrrrghh!!

So now I’m panicking, worried that I’ll not be able to do the distance, stressing over whether to cut down the two weeks of taper to just one and try and reach the 18-mile target. Or do I stop and conserve energy and hope that I can do it on the day?  I doubt very much that I’ll be able to run 26.2 miles without stopping and I’ve seen mention of run/walk plans where you run for 10 minutes then walk for one. But I’ve never trained doing that and it’s a bit late in the day to start now.

So, as you can probably tell I’m nervous as hell right now. I don’t want to let myself down, or any of the wonderful people who have donated money down. Can I really do this?

In lighter moments I feel sure that I can. I can be pretty bloody minded when I set out to be, and determination is one of the few things I have in spades. So maybe, just maybe, I can get through this. I’ve heard many tell of the mental challenge of a full marathon, and they’re 110% correct. Yes it’s vital to train, and preferably to train more effectively than I have. But it’s also vital that you have the mental determination to get you through the hard parts, when every sinew in your body is telling you to stop.

A few weeks ago I was jubilant having completed a half marathon. But only a week later I ran 14-miles as one of my long runs. The half-marathon already feels like a walk in the park compared with a full marathon.

Soon I’ll be heading into London to register, pick up my race number and timing chip and then, a few days later I’ll be on my tod in a hotel the night before the big day. I can’t imagine I’ll sleep at all, even now I lie awake at night, stomach churning, wondering why I committed myself to this madness!

Still, I’m also told of the London effect, the millions of people who line the route cheering. Well I hope a few are still cheering when I get to them, it might be dark by then!

Fleet Half Marathon – I did it!

Posted by DarrenG on March 18, 2013 at 7:08 pm

IMG_2423Well I’m no longer a half-marathon virgin. Yesterday I ran the Fleet Half Marathon in 2hrs 33mins. And boy was it tough!

With the weather forecast for the weekend looking ominous I spent Saturday nervously preparing my running kit, ensuring I ate all the right food and trying to think of the finish line.

After a fitful night’s sleep I awoke, force down a bowl of porridge and headed to the race start. The weather couldn’t have been worse, torrential rain, very cold and the field in which the event start/finish had been set-up was a mud bath.

First lesson learnt, wear tracksuit bottoms! I arrived an hour early as advised and was shivering by the time the race form up was called. The time came to strip off my fleece and walk to the start. By the time the gun fired we were already soaked through and the chance to get moving was a welcome one!

The first part of the course was a loop which takes in Fleet High street twice. The crowds of people who had come out to cheer us all on despite the weather was much appreciated. At Mile 2 I passed my wife and daughter which gave me another little boost.

After the town centre it was over the M3 and out into the country. Fewer supporters but plenty of race marshals who were full of encouragement and smiles. I lost count of how many times I heard “c’mon Griff’” thanks to my name plastered across the Charity race vest.

At mile 6 I gave in to the call of nature and stopped at some portaloos. Nerves clearly in evidence as I’d been half a dozen times before leaving home and once 10mins before the start! Feeling much better I pushed on, by now well and truly soaked, my feet were squelching with each step and the rain, which had soaked my baseball cap,  was now streaming off the brim.

At Mile 9 I was flagging. I felt like all my energy had been drained, worrying since I’d done 12 miles the week before and not felt this bad.  Decided to use the one gel I’d brought, washed down with a cup of water from the water stop. More cheers and support so I pressed on although I never did feel any benefit from that gel?

Turning into the last main stretch and passed Mile 12. Everything hurting now, calf muscles were burning, running pace more of a crawl now, pretty sure I could speed walk faster! With 300m to go my wife appeared, perfect timing! (I’d used the Glympse app on my iPhone to broadcast my location and so she knew exactly when I’d reach her.).

I managed to turn into the finishing straight and walked the 20yards across a mud bath before jogging down the finish funnel. Got my medal, a bottle of water and a bag of Haribos, lovely!

Couldn’t wait to reclaim my kit bag and put on the fleece, I was freezing by now.

So, felt brilliant to have done it, but now starting to panic as to how I’m going to cope on the London Marathon, hopefully it will be warmer and dryer, I think the cold and being soaked had a massive effect on my energy stores, but I still have a lot of work to do in the next five weeks.

London MarathonTraining Update – Fleet Half Marathon

Posted by DarrenG on March 07, 2013 at 7:23 pm

An envelope arrived today, contained within was my race number and timing chip for the Fleet Half Marathon which takes place on 17th March.

I don’t mind admitting that seeing the number made me feel quite sick! Last week I managed to complete a 12-mile run in 2hrs and 15mins so whilst I’m fairly sure I should be able to complete the course, and more importantly, complete it within the 3hr time limit, I’m still nervous and I’m trying not to think about the actual day.

Training has suffered a few setbacks in the last couple of weeks. I picked up a blister on the ball of my left foot which I had to allow time to heal. I’d foolishly worn cheap socks rather than the proper running socks I usually run in.

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