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Virgin Money London Marathon 2014 – My first marathon

I have been thinking about writing this post now for 2 days, and I am sitting here slightly sad that I am writing it, as it means its all done and dusted! I have completed a marathon, I am a marathoner, I took part in the Virgin Money London Marathon 2014, IT WAS AWESOME!!

Before I even took part, I knew I would want to do it again, but thought, lets wait till after and see how I feel then. Well, I STILL want to do it again! It is going to be hard to put in to words how much I loved it.

Being part of #TeamMND, had a lot to do with how much I loved it! If I hadn’t shared it with these amazing people I know I wouldn’t have enjoyed it quite as much as I did. We had decided to meet up before the start, and as I aimlessly strolled around, trying to spot people, some of whom I had only met online, I was quickly put as ease when a fellow runner flashed her MND vest at me! It was great to finally meet the people that had helped me, supported me and shared my training journey to the marathon.

On the way to meeting, I did wonder if it would be weird meeting total strangers, but once there, it felt like they had been my friends forever! We were in different starts so we had our photograph taken, wished each other luck and made our way to the start.

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Considering there were so many people taking part, the start was exceptionally smooth and stress-free. The queue for the toilets were reasonable – I’ve had to wait far longer in smaller races. Handing over your baggage was easy, and the volunteers even checked to ensure you had everything before taking the bags. I was due to be in start 6, but many of the other MND runners were in 8. I decided to move back 1) so I could be with them and 2) I really did not want to get caught up with fast paced runners and start too quickly. We only had a 10/15 min wait in the pens before we started to move.

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Thirteen minutes after the official start, we were across the start line and actually running the London Marathon. I ran with Lauren for the first 6 miles and I do not know how many times I said to her ‘We are actually running the London Marathon!’ Right from the start, the crowds were amazing and so many people shouted my name. The first 6 miles went really quickly, as myself and Lauren purposely reined in our pace and chatted away. There were obviously lots of people running, but at no point did it feel congested or frustrating. or even that I couldn’t run my own race. There were always things to look at, as we passed Elmo, the Jamaican Bobsleigh Team and other crazy fancy dress runners.

Around mile 7, i felt our pace drop, and even though I really didn’t want to leave Lauren, I was desperate to get a sub 5 hour time. We said our goodbyes, and I pushed on. The next few miles passed, and i was so shocked when I turned a corner, to see Tower Bridge. The noise was immense, and I tired to relax and enjoy it. But even trying to recall it now, it feels so surreal. I looked out for the BBC cameras as I know thats where they filmed sometimes, but I didn’t see anyone. I was also aware that the mens race would now be over, and I desperately wanted to know how Mo had got on. I asked a marshall, but she had no idea. We passed the Tower of London, again the support here was so loud! Next there was a section where we could see all the faster runners. I plodded along, kind of forgetting I was running, just looking to see if I could spot anyone I knew in the faster section. I did spot one of my fellow MND runners, and shouted across to him!

My family had said that they would try to be around mile 7, and when I hand’t seen them, I called them. They said they were at mile 17, so this was my next focus point. It was so busy I was scared that I was going to miss them, but I spotted my mum and made my way to them. I stopped for hugs and I could feel that my legs were a little unsteady. My daughter gave me the biggest cuddle, and when it was time to head off again, she cried. She wanted to run with me! I held her hand and ran a metre with her, then turned back and returned her to my husband. Seeing my family was a real boost, but I was also emotional as I left them.

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I knew mentally I was going to struggle as I got to 19 miles, as this was the longest that I had EVER ran. As i was running around Canary Wharf, I started to think about a friend of mine, who’s mother died only a few months ago. I decided to dedicate that next mile to her. Thank you Gill, for getting my through that mile! I also found the sections before Canary Wharf really busy and lots of runners were walking, so at times it was frustrating as you had to slow down, even when you didn’t want too!

Approaching mile 21, I knew that the MND cheer point was going to be there and my family said that they would head there too. The noise at mile 21 was unbelievable, and seeing the MNDA banners and I caught a glimpse of my niece and sister again gave me a big boost to keep going, but I knew that it wasn’t going to be long before I needed a walk break. I think this came around mile 22. I was scared to stop – what if a couldn’t get my legs going again! A girl ran past with ‘She believed that she could, so she did!’ Written on the back of her t-shirt. That, and the words ‘dig deep’ Got me going again!

My legs were getting tired and I knew I was a little ahead of time, so I decided to walk through the tunnel at mile 23. It was nice to get some more drink inside me, and to be out of the hot sun. I told myself, that after the tunnel I wasn’t allowed to walk anymore, but I did take one more.

The embankment was full of support and I heard the scream of my name. I turned to see one of my best friends from school shouting! I knew she was there supporting her husband, but to hear her shout and be able to wave back was amazing. Past mile 25, I saw Tony, another MND runner who I had started with. I had a quick chat, but told him I was desperate to sneak under 5 hours, so had to go. I turned at Big Ben, and I had run this route in the London 10K and Royal Parks Half marathon, but the journey to The Mall seemed to go on and on. I just wanted it to be over.

I thought I would be really emotional when finishing, but I don’t think I could quite believe that I had done it!

Finding my family was a nightmare – they had text me to tell me to meet them near the London eye – Could i work out how to get there!! I remember ringing and saying, can someone come and get me. They asked where I was, and I replied ‘I don’t know!’ Haha My brain was just mush – I couldn’t process much, but did finally meet up with them an hour or so after I finished.

I still didn’t know my time, so when my sister told me I did it sub 5, i cried. My official time was 4:57:06!

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My name will definitely be in the ballot come the 22nd April, but I know how hard it was to get this place, so i need to think of some amazing ways to raise money, so that I can have a charity place!

How amazing it must be to be fast enough to have a Good For Age place each year!!

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ONE SLEEP – It’s like Christmas, but it’s Marathon Eve instead!

So with only 1 sleep left, there is not much more that I can do. I’m registered, I have been for my little leg-loosener run this morning and my kit is now ready. My friends have been amazing, and I have surpassed my target of £3,000 in sponsorship for MNDA, but I can feel that the negative thoughts are trying to creep in!

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www.justgiving.com/dennismurphy1949

Why didn’t I eat sensibly and lose weight? What about the few runs that I did miss? Why didn’t I get more long runs in, especially one of 20 miles? Why didn’t I stretch EVERY night like I said I was going too? I didn’t do enough strength work! What if I find it too hard? I could go on… The negatives are endless! But now that I have written them down, the are gone!

Time to celebrate all the positives! I have completed a 16 week plan to get my running to distances I never thought were possible! Within that plan, I have run 4 times a week, missing just a handful of sessions! I have completed 4 runs, which were longer than a half marathon, with my longest being 19 miles! In total since starting the plan, I have run over 350 miles! Those are all banked and will help my get round 26.2 miles on Sunday. I also managed to bag myself a 5K PB too. All, of these positives are what I must remember. There will be good times tomorrow, emotional times, and some ‘dig deep’ moments, but I have to believe I can do it and remember why I am doing it!

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I know my dad will be with me tomorrow, and will help me all the way. When the running feels hard, I need to remember how hard he fought this disease, and battle he faced every day. I also need to remember that so many people are still living with this battle every day, and there is still no cure. 

Years ago, I wrote a list of things I wanted to achieve in my lifetime, tomorrow I get to tick another one off that list! I’m sure I am going to fill my twitter timeline tomorrow with pictures, thoughts and probably lots of nonsense, but if you want to follow my journey my twitter is @rula10

If you are running tomorrow, good luck. If you are out cheering on the runners, give me a shout! I can’t believe this is actually going to happen!

 

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London Marathon Expo – This thing is getting real……

Only 5 sleeps to go…. 

Today I went up to the London Marathon Expo to register, and it was brilliant! As I entered the Expo, the marathon theme music was playing and straight away my heart beat quickened and I got so excited (and a little emotional too!) Registration was easy and straight forward, and as I entered the expo, the legend that is Haile Gebrselassie was on the adidas boost stage.

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Haile Gebrselassie & Martin Yelling

Haile was very amusing to listen too, telling everyone to enjoy their run, and if you take 6 hours, you take 6 hours! He also said that’s not too far behind me!!

I was lucky enough to meet up with some of the other MND runners – it’s been so good having their support throughout the whole training process! There were so many things that I could have bought, and probably signed up to hundreds more events, but luckily I was sensible!

I managed to meet Michael Owen towards the end of the day, and that really made my day! I now wish that I had trained harder so that I was aiming for a 3:45 time. I’m sure I would be able to run along way if I was following him!

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There were lots of opportunities to leave messages around the expo, and I ensured that #TeamMND and #MNDA were left visible to as many people as possible!!!

When I started this post I was £45 short of raising £3000 for Motor Neurone Disease, but during this post a lovely person donated £45!! I am so pleased to have raised this much money, but still there is no cure, so if you want to donate please do so here.

I have a super talented Niece too, and on Tuesday she did my nails for me! Take a look at how cool these are.

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Thank you Tia, I love them!

 

The Final Countdown……. Is this really happening??

OMG, I will be running a marathon in SIX days! Yesterday, was the Brighton, Manchester and Paris Marathons (I’m sure there were others too!), but my timeline on twitter was filled with good luck messages in the morning, followed by proud ‘Selfies’ in the evening. This has just made me so excited for Sunday!

My training last week wasn’t the greatest, and I am sure that most of it is psychological. I keep thinking the short runs should feel so much easier than they actually do!

Monday: Rest

Tuesday: 6 mile easy run – my legs felt heavy and tired. The positive is that I kept thinking, this is what it will feel like on marathon day, running on tired legs, and I know that I can keep going!

Wednesday: Rest

Thursday : Supposed to do speed work, but was shattered! So ended up being another rest day.

Friday: As I missed yesterdays run, I got up and did an easy 2 miles before work.

Saturday: 3 miles – This felt SO HARD. I returned from this run thinking, how am I going to do another 23.6 miles on top of that??!!

Sunday: 10 miles – The 4 miles warm up wasn’t great – heavy, tired legs, my right earphone kept dropping out, my hydration backpack wasn’t sitting comfortably and it was raining. At about 3 miles I stopped to stretch and sort everything out. A real positive from this, was at no point did I consider stopping. I think this training programme has made me mentally tougher. By mile 4, all was better, which was lucky as at this point I had to pick up my pace. 2 miles at 9:30mm. It was comfortably tough! A mile rest, which did included a little walking so I could take on some fluid, and then another 2 miles at 9:30mm, and a 1 mile cool down. Once finished, this run felt great – 9:30mm is nearly a whole minute under my marathon pace!

In other news, my local newspaper came to take photos of me on Sunday morning! Although, I’m not so keen on my face being in the paper- its great awareness for The Motor Neurone Disease Association. My competition for the Lexie Sport Leggings

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Sunday Runday

I was so glad that I wrote down all my worries about my long run on Sunday, because it made me approach the run with a much more positive mindset and I really enjoyed it. It did help that the weather was gorgeous, and I had a lovely route planned along the Thames. 

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I was encouraged to really slow down on my long runs, and aim to run this run at 11mm pace. To be honest I found this really quite difficult, as it felt really slow, and different from my normal pacing. But, like a good girl, I tried to stick to this, which meant I was constantly having the rein myself in! My Yurbuds were in, I had my backlog of Marathon Talk podcast downloaded, and I just settled back and really enjoyed the run. I ran for 2 hours and 30 minutes, and for 10 miles of that run, I was checking my watch and slowing myself down! But as i approached Hampton Court/Kingston my competitive nature kicked in. There were a lot more runners around, and without meaning too, my pace picked up. I can’t help constantly trying to catch runners in front of me! As it was getting towards the end of the run, I decided not to look at my watch, and as long I was comfortable, just run!

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Past Kingston and heading to Ham, there were a lot of marathon runners out. All the charity vests were on, and lots of smiles and nods were exchanged. It was so nice, and it made me get a little bit more excited thinking about the 13th April.

I completed 14.1 miles in 2 hours 30 minutes and actually felt I could have carried on. I wished I had been able too, but having taken advice to cut the run down to 2 hours 30 minutes due to my turning my ankle, I didn’t want to chance it! The ankle felt fine, but I just didn’t know how it would react after. I iced it after the run, and so far so good.

The best part of the entire run? No, not the weather, although that was good. No, not the smile that I had across my face when I thought about my dad and how proud he would be. No, not the thought that I had just banked another 14 miles, and it was only 4 weeks until race day. It was finishing my run with my daughter running towards me, with her arms open wide. She then said to me, ‘mummy can I run with you?’ So after 14.1 miles, I had to tag an extra 100 metres on to run with my 3 year old daughter and that was amazing.

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Good news, I have another competition coming up, but will write about it in another post very soon. I hope everyone has a good week. Happy running….

Something I’ve learnt on this marathon journey…..

At the start of this journey, I remember saying Sunday is Runday, but I’ve changed my mind. I much prefer doing my Long Runs on a Saturday!! BUT… that said, because of my silly turning of my ankle on thursday’s run, I have had to have an extra day of rest to help my ankle heal. It’s not bad, but I can feel I over stretched it and it’s not totally normal.

So today I have had to sit around waiting for tomorrow! Worrying that my run won’t go well, or my ankle will swell or….. The mental battle is awful. What’s bizarre is that I do love running, but at times today I’ve dreaded tomorrow! I’m not sure why? I think that sometimes I am putting too much pressure on myself, wanting to run further, faster…. I need to remember how privileged I am to be doing this, how many people would love to have my place, and for all those MND sufferers who would just love to be able to walk again! Who cares if I have to walk a bit – it’s the LONDON MARATHON!! It has been on my life time to do list for years and I AM actually going to be there!!

So with a positive attitude, a smile on my face and my dad in my head and heart, tomorrow I will run for 2 hours 30 and try to enjoy every moment of it.