Friday, 17 April 2015

26.2? I beat you!

Finally, the post we have all been waiting for! 

WARNING: This is an epic post so if you don't want to read all of the following waffle here's a spoiler - I did it! The end.  

For those of you still awake, please read on....

Last Sunday marked 1 year, 11 months and 21 days after I entered the Brighton Marathon in a moment of pure insanity. It was also the day I conqurered my 26.2 mile nemesis!

I can't say I completed it with elegance, finesse or speed for that matter but I did wobble over the finish line with my legs and dignity mostly intact!

The day itself began with an early wake up and a lot of nervous dithering around the hotel room while I squeezed into my running gear and barely managed to eat a banana and half a bagel.  This was followed by more nervousness in the car before my long suffering partner dropped me off as close as he could to the start line in Preston Park, Brighton.  

The first thing I did was head for the longest porta potty queue I have ever seen as is traditional at these kind of events then after about half an hour headed over to the warm up area to join in with the mass warm up to get my body moving - after that my legs felt even more like jelly but I headed over to my starting corral.  It was easy to spot as it was the one full of people dressed as clowns, giant telephones, elephants, Elvis etc, so I fitted right in with the comedy runners.  Despite the hilarious costumes though, every single person in that group of runners was in there to raise essential money for a charity that was close to their hearts and that is no laughing matter.

As the corrals filled up with 15000 eager runners waiting to start the gun finally signalled the start of the race at 9:15, I didn't actually cross the start line until 9:34 due to the sheer volume of people!

Once the race was under way, the sun was shining bright and it felt good to be finally there. The nerves had settled nicely so I soon relaxed into a nice slow pace and enjoyed the sights and sounds, the roar of the ever supportive crowds and some smart kid who shouted "...only 25 miles to go!" as we passed the first mile marker, thanks for that fella!

I was soon passed by a man dressed as a rhino and another dressed as Spongebob Squarepants but this didn't deter me and I carried on at a pace of 12:30 minute miles concentrating on not falling over.  This approach worked well for the next 7 miles until I needed to stop at yet another porta potty queue which took 10 minutes to reach the end of. This resulted in a 22 minute mile coming up on my Garmin which threw me off course and left me feeling a tad deflated but a lot more comfortable as I no longer needed a wee! The next part of the race was a long, slightly lonely trek out of Brighton towards Ovingdean where the supporters dwindled down to nothing and other than open green fields on one side and the sea on the other it was just fellow runners and the odd excitement of a drink station to keep me motivated.  It did get better towards the turnaround for that stretch as there was a band which got my feet moving a bit faster! The sun by now was getting pretty hot and the small stretch inland where the sea breeze couldn't reach me was tough going unfortunately my genetic heritage is entirely Northern European so I never cope well with hot sunshine!

The course then headed back into Brighton with a nice downhill stretch and a bit more support as I made my way towards the big wheel that never seemed to get any closer!  Once I was back in town, I could see the halfway point which I had mixed feelings about. Part relief and part 'oh my god I've got to do what I've just done all over again!'.  For someone that's only ever run half marathons that would normally signal the end but not this time! 

The good news is that there was another band doing Beatles covers which gave me a short boost onwards to the second half of the course.  Unfortunately that boost didn't last too long so I fumbled around in my running belt for my phone and headphones as music was probably the only thing that would get me round.

I stuck my iphone on random and it started with an upbeat offering from Kylie Minogue, which was fine, but then it selected Comfortably Numb by Pink Floyd which is most certainly is not running music but weirdly made me smile as it was quite an apt description of the increasing lack of sensation in my lower limbs and my fat swollen fingers from not keeping my arms up enough!  Next up was something along the lines of All Cried Out by Alison Moyet followed by Aqualung so I removed the headphones and kicked myself for not preparing an emergency motivation play list! 

The miles that followed were probably my darkest point of the race, my Garmin decided that it would stick at 14.78 miles.  Its hard enough being so slow anyway coupled with the fact that there aren't actually markers for every mile of the course (plus the ones that are there are easy to miss with all that is going on).  This meant that until I saw the 19 mile marker with my own eyes I had begun to believe that I wasn't actually moving any more and I came so close to giving up.

Giving up was not an option, the three weeks of missed training and the week out later on for that calf strain were beginning to take their toll and as mile 20 approached I was almost done for and there was still the long lonely run out to Shoreham power station and back to go.  My Garmin had briefly sprung back to life saying I had completed 16 miles but I just turned it off as I'd had enough of its lies by then! By this stage it was more of a walk than a run on my part and everyone around me was struggling as well.  There were so many people fighting muscle strains, blisters and fatigue but as rough as I felt at the time, I didn't have intense pain coming from any particular part of my body and for that I was truly grateful.  

The end of that stretch of the course was marked by a big screen at mile 23 where a man with an iPad and a microphone read out my name as I passed the timing chip reader and signalled the beginning of the last 3.2 miles of the race. I had somehow regained a bit of motivation and started to jog again which I mostly managed to maintain for the last bit of the course.  All I could concentrate on at this point was that finish line by the pier and as I passed mile 25 I knew that I was so near but also way off my goal of finishing in under under 6 hours but was past caring about that and just wanted to finish. 

The last mile took me back into the heart of busy Brighton and I was surprised to see so many people still shouting words of encouragement, albeit a bit slurred by now after a day of drinking in the sun!  

Screen shot of me crossing the finish line on the Brighton Marathon 2015 app
As I approached the long awaited finish line I was overcome with emotion that I even let a man in a full clown costume beat me as I was trying so hard not to cry. I also realised at this point that I had developed a fake smile that any politician would be proud of.  Soon enough I ran over the line that I'd not just spent the last 6 and a half hours trying to reach but the last 2 years of my life as well and the sense of relief was just phenomenal.  I was aching all over, my blisters had blisters on them but my smile at last was genuine!
My finishers T Shirt and Medal :)
So there it is. I made it to the end. My journey has been long and I've learnt so much about myself and other people along the way.  The main point being that I am not a runner in any way shape or form BUT lazy, fat, unfit people, and I'm referring solely to myself here, can train and complete a marathon if they put their minds to it.

But what does the future have in store?  I'm not convinced that I'll attempt a 26.2 again (as I'm writing this 5 days after the event - my muscles are still complaining and the blisters are far from healed!) but I will definitely carry on my tortoise style running and will most certainly enter more half marathons as the difference running has made to my overall health and happiness is not worth giving up on.  

Finally, I can't say a big enough thank you to EVERYONE who has supported me over the past couple of years, friends, family, work colleagues, not to mention the lovely people at The Urology Foundation and also to all of those who have laughed and shouted rude comments as I have hauled my big body out on public runs - you have helped my toughen up no end :)

Oh and there is still time to donate to The Urology Foundation ( at as all donations, no matter how small will make a big difference :) 

The end.

Monday, 6 April 2015

So near, yet so far....

After a very long 17 weeks, the time is fast approaching for me to get my butt around the 26.2 mile course of the Brighton Marathon.  The penultimate week has gone reasonably well and this weekend's 8 mile long run went off without a hitch and I still felt when I came to the end of it that I could happily carry on for another 18 miles! Another huge plus is that I have managed to avoid the Easter Bunny this year so haven't spent the weekend munching my way through Easter eggs as I normally would be inclined to do!

In other news, I added a compression top to my kit this week to see if it would help with fatigue on long runs and it seemed to do the trick - my only issue now is that i've just had a look at the weather forecast for next sunday and it could very well be a hot one, in which case i'll have to think of removing any layers rather than adding them!

The one question that lots of people have asked me over the last week is "Do you feel ready to tackle a marathon?"   It must be quite funny to hear a wobbly 35 year old answer "Yes, I do!".  Of course it scares the crap out of me (not literally - thank god!) and I know that it will be the toughest thing i've ever attempted in my life but what doesn't kill you makes you stronger and I would regret it so much if I didn't even attempt it.

This coming week, the training really trails off as I enter the last week tapering phase so I only have two 30 minute and a 20 minute run two days before.  I need to concentrate on nutrition even more than ever and make sure I stay well hydrated which is always a challenge for me at the best of times.  I will be preparing my final meals to take with me as the day before will be spent mostly in a car travelling to Brighton, picking up the race pack from the exhibition and trying to get a decent night's sleep in a travel tavern!  

This will most probably be my last blog entry before the big day so all that remains to say is a massive thank you to everybody who has supported me all the way in this bizarre quest.  It really means so much to know that you are all backing me and I will be thinking of you in those darker times between mile 20 and the finish line! 

The donations are trickling in already which is wonderful, but there is still room for plenty more pounds in the pot so if you would like to make a donation to support The Urology Foundation ( then please go to 

All that's left now is that last push of motivation to get me running/walking/crawling over the finish line on Sunday......

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Look before you eat...

This weekend has not gone to plan and it all started with an innocent lunch choice yesterday.  

I know that it is always advised to eat food that you are used to leading up to a long run but as usual, I ignored the voices of experience and went my own way and chose a tasty looking vegetable soup for lunch. Harmless enough you might think, until I gobbled it up THEN realised it contained the dreaded processed garlic that so many food producers tend to favour over the real thing.  The issue here is that and my body never takes kindly to this fake garlic invasion and responds usually with a migraine and/or decidedly dodgy guts (ill spare you the rest of the gruesome details!). 

Luckily, I realised what I had consumed before it had the chance to have the full effect and I went for a 5 mile run in the countryside to ensure at least I had done something this weekend.  Gradually, the usual side effects made themselves known and although I seem to have escaped the full blown migraine the digestive effects soon made an appearance and when I tried running again this afternoon I had to call it a day after one 2.5 mile loop due to horrendous indigestion, and the sensation I may lose control over my bowels at any moment which is not something I want to do. Ever. Least of all with a steady stream of holiday makers all gawking at me from their cars as they drive into town to start their Easter getaways!

So the grand total mileage for this weekend is only half of what it should have been which is very disappointing but looking on the bright side, is better than nothing.  The moral of this story is stick to eating what I know in future and to be thankful that I properly realised this two weeks before the big day rather than two hours before it!  

Pass the Gaviscon....

Lastly a big THANK YOU to people who have donated so far you are all wonderful! Just another little reminder that I have got a fundraising page set up so if anyone else would like to donate (as little or a much as you can) to The Urology Foundation ( then please pay a visit to where you can find out more information about why I chose to support this charity.

So, from today, there's only 2 weeks to go until I face the challenge of a lifetime and I will need a whole lot of motivation to get there - this should do the trick....

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

18 miles down, only 8.2 to go...

It was just under two years ago that I first entertained the thought of running a marathon and ever since then, this particular distance in the training has filled me with dread. 

It seemed a big challenge in so many ways, firstly it's a long way - especially on your own with no one cheering you on.  I also saw it as the 'make or break' distance that would determine whether or not I will be able to make the whole 26.2 miles on the day.  That's why I'm so happy that I managed it on Sunday!

Despite it being a long way and very, very lonely - the one thing that was concerning me the most was my whether or not my right calf was going to start complaining again as it did feel a little bit tight in the first mile or so but as soon as I started to warm up, it settled down and didn't cause any trouble at all which was a huge relief.  Even today, I am still a bit sore in my hips and hamstrings but its bilateral soreness and nothing I wasn't expecting!

The good news is that completing this distance must mean that all the training is paying off and that finish line of the 2015 Brighton Marathon is finally looking like an achievable goal.

But (..there's always a BUT!), I still have just under 3 weeks until race day and another 15 miler to do at the weekend so here's hoping my body stays strong, I don't succumb to any of the nasty cold/sickness bugs that are doing the rounds and stay focused to the end as it is now clearly in sight!

Before I go, just a little reminder that I have got a fundraising page set up so if anyone is feeling brave and would like to donate to The Urology Foundation ( then please pay a visit to where you can find out more information about why I chose to support this charity.

Finally, I could do with a bit more motivation to help me through the final couple of weeks...

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

This little piggy.....

.....ate too much sugary, fatty treats and put on a stone in a couple of weeks!

Today I had a surprise early finish at work. So, seeing as it was a lovely sunny spring afternoon I decided to bring my evening run forward and go out in daylight.  Everything seemed fine until I dug out my summer running tops which appeared to have shrunk dramatically during their time in the wardrobe over winter!  Then the realisation that I maybe overdid it for my birthday at the weekend by gorging on pizza, chocolate, cake and wine hit me hard. 

I have always struggled with my weight due to a combination of a overwhelmingly sweet tooth and a lack of self discipline when it comes to the sheer amount of it I shove in my cake hole!  I can see now why that boy shouted 'Fatty fat arse' at me the other week because it was a true statement - I had just become so complacent with the fact I was running more that I somehow thought that an extra bit here and there wouldn't hurt.

Anyway, I digress, the run this afternoon was made pretty uncomfortable by the fact that my clothes were trying to get away from me as I wobbled along the road but I did it - promising myself with every step that no more sweet treats will cross my lips in the next three and a half weeks if I am to stand any chance of finishing this marathon! 

The good news is that my troublesome calf seems to have resolved itself so at least I'm not in pain when I run any more - it's just the dying from embarrassment that's painful as I attempt to haul my huge frame alongside a busy road.

So plan for the next few weeks is to take my diet seriously and try to shed a few pounds before the big day or there will be big trouble!

In other news, I have finally got around to setting up a fundraising page and it can be found at if anyone would like to donate.  I am raising money for The Urology Foundation - more information about the charity and the work they do can be found at

All that remains for me to say today is that I need some motivation to keep me away from the sweet stuff and bring back some much needed focus for the weeks ahead....

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Too far, too soon.

The title of this post says it all really. The training was going so well, and I was all happy because I had caught up on mileage for the long runs but unfortunately, as a newbie runner this is proving to be unsustainable.

Saying that, this week hasn't gone too badly with all but one training run completed successfully.  Today was supposed to be a 14 mile run but it appears my right calf had other ideas.... It has been playing up a bit since the 10 miler I did a couple of weeks ago but I have been diligently stretching and foam rolling it but it's still protesting - to the point where it's no longer an ache but full on pain. So, 2.5 miles in to the long run today I had to make the decision to call it a day and rest up for a bit because pushing it further was probably not the best course of action.  It's so frustrating though because the rest of my body is well and truly up for running with no worries! The problem is that my right calf has always been slightly weaker since I broke my ankle 10 years ago and was left with a puny, hairy lower leg when the cast came off and I never really got it back to equal the left.  This is something i'm now regretting!

Not sure where it will go from here but as usual I'm not giving up just yet and will try to do at least 3 half hour runs this week then maybe a 10 miler at the weekend  - calf permitting!

On another note, I  made the move to elastic laces on my shoes this week  (after getting fed up with the  traditional ones constantly coming undone and feeling  tight on long runs) they seem to be nice and comfy and I don't feel that my feet are moving around too much but guess I'll have to get some longer distances in before I can really this space!

Motivation time - and this quote is particularly apt for this week's training!

Monday, 2 March 2015

Going the distance...

This last week has been a bit of a milestone in my quest to train to run 26.2 miles.  Not only have I managed to not succumb to any nasty snot inducing bugs (which are hard to avoid at this time of year) I have caught up distance wise with the training plan!

This weekend just gone was one I have had mixed feelings about for a long many months.  It was the weekend of the 15 mile run. Its a formidable distance and I can tell you now that 15 miles is a very long way, plus its the furthest my little legs have ever covered in one day in my entire thirty-odd years on this planet!  The important thing here though is that I did it. In spite of heckling along the lines of "oi fatty fat arse!" shouted from a passing car 11 miles in and the fact that my legs were a tad numb after 14 miles I did it. The feeling of completing such a distance is hard to describe - I felt sore, knackered, proud, relieved and amazed all at once but that is only a fraction of what I will feel once I have gone the extra 11.2 miles on the day of the marathon!

So today is the start of week 11 of training and it kicked off with a nice slow (would I do it any other way? Haha!) 40 minute run which went well with a bit of tiredness from the weekend but at this stage if I can't manage to run on tired legs then i'm definitely not cut out to run a marathon! 

The remainder of the training for this week involves a bit more time training with a 50 minute steady run, 60 minute speed training session and a 14 mile long run at the weekend. 

With all that to get through, it must be time for Monday motivation.....