London Marathon 2020 Mile 16

Virtual London Marathon 2020 – Race recap

Marathons are special. They are hard, they challenge you and they make you fall in love with them just that little bit more each time. I remember worrying about running the New York Marathon, just in case I didn’t love it as much as London. I did, maybe even a little bit more. Then I ran the Chicago Marathon and I think I said to my mum, never again! It didn’t take long to remember that I had already signed up for Manchester Marathon 2020.

As marathons were being postponed and cancelled, I resigned myself to not running one in 2020. That was ok, my training had been up and down anyway. Then the London Marathon released that the 40th race would be virtual. How could I miss out on that? Yep, I know; I could have just not signed up! But, a crazy 30 minutes on a car journey to Scotland and I was signed up!

The Build-Up

What is crazy, is that marathons are hard when you have trained for 16 weeks, yet I had signed up with just 6 weeks to go! Crazy yes, but I think this just allowed me to take all the pressure off. 6 weeks would not give me the time be able to ‘run’ a marathon and I would be silly to try. The last thing that I wanted was to injure myself.

My friend Sarah also signed up for the marathon (with a little persuation from myslef and her friend Fiona) Well who wouldn’t want to run their first marathon doing just 6 weeks training? Yep, now you know why she is my friend – she is crazy too!

We started the long runs at the weekend after we had signed up and experimented with a run/walk strategy. Luckily, the 4-minute walk, 4-mile run ratio seemed to work for us. We had to keep the running very slow and we upped the mileage week by week. 6 weeks didn’t really let us be too sensible! We started with 13.1 miles and built from there. Midweek I wasn’t doing any session as such, but just trying to log the miles. Not ideal I know, but I was worried that suddenly introducing hills and speed sessions again, would cause niggles.

From 13 miles, we jumped to 16, we had planned 16 for the following week too, but stopped at 14. We managed 20 miles and then it was taper time! All of these distances sound impressive, but they involved a lot of walking and slow running. It was about time on our feet and being as sensible as we could.

London Marathon 2020

Race Day

So we made it to the start line, we just didn’t expect it to be such a wet and cold one! Sarah came to me and we started at my house. We ran around the streets near home and then headed to the local lakes. We had trained on predominantly flat surfaces, but the streets around where I live are quite undulating. So, we approached it like an ultra. We walked all the hills.

We started at 7 am and I was surprised how dark it still was. The rain was quite heavy, but that was the forecast for the whole day! Within the first 2 miles, I managed to step into a puddle which covered my entire foot! We weaved in and out of the puddles and tried to settle into a comfortable pace. There were a few other runners out, who wished us luck early on. We made predictions on how many other London Marathon runners we would see. I suggested 20, Sarah said 12. We ran for over an hour before we saw our first! Before our first walk break, Sarah managed to misjudge a puddle too, so we were both running with extremely wet feet!

Our first walk break and we were soaked through. My InstaStory were so hard as my phone flipped the camera around on its own and my hands were so cold to use it. It was so wet it was doing what it wanted too! We set off for running block two which was pretty uneventful. By walk break 2, we checked the London Marathon App to find out that Sarah’s app didn’t seem to be showing the same distance as mine. Strange as we were running together.

We scoffed on sweets and chocolate orange buttons and headed off for run section 3. It was a little concerning that I wasn’t feeling a fresh as I would have liked it too for so early on in the run. As we ran through Higham Ferrers a lady put down her shopping bag to clap and cheer us on. It actually made me really emotional. We finally saw our first London Marathon number and exchanged well-wishes with another runner.

As we headed down to the lakes, I noticed that my hands were starting to swell. They were so cold. I was relieved when we needed a toilet stop. I ran my hands under the taps and tried to take my rings off. It was my right hand that was the most uncomfortable. It took me about 5 minutes to get my rings off, but when I attempted to take the rings off my left hand, there was no chance! Even though my left hand was swollen, it didn’t feel sore. So I just left my engagement and wedding ring on.

We had planned to run around the lake at the shopping centre, but the weather was so bad we gave it a miss. It would have been so muddy! Instead, we ran around the shopping car park and got a few more cheers from early shoppers!

As we headed to the next lakes, I needed to take an additional walk break. I felt really guilty as Sarah was running so well, but I just wasn’t feeling as strong as I had on previous runs. We were possibly around mile 15/16, but I still worried that this was early to be finding it tough. I was just so cold and wet.

London Marathon 2020

The Finish

Running through the lakes, we saw more London Marathon runners. The camaraderie was lovely as we wished each other well. Never have I ran a marathon though, where I have wanted to say to all the runners, “How far?” “What mile are you in?” Now might be a good time to tell you that I don’t actually know who was closest on our guesses, I lost count pretty quickly! We ran down a long straight path, both desperate to see our friend Christine. She was joining us for the last section which was amazing.

Ruth Sarah Christine London Marathon 2020

When Christine joined us, I relinquished all responsibility of the route onto her and concentrated on running. I had programmed our run-walk strategy into my Garmin, but we had decided after 16 miles we would leave it as open run, so would didn’t feel any unnecessary pressured to run if we didn’t feel up to it. I honestly can’t remember how much run-walking we did in the final stages, I just remember giving up dodging puddles, instead just running straight through them.

Having been lucky enough to run London previously, when it felt tough around mile 21, we talked about how the MND cheer point was coming up. Also, how loud the RUN DEM Crew are. We looked forward to the tunnel that brings you on to the embankment. (we didn’t actually have one on our route). We also lost the plot little with a little singing and dancing!

The support we received at the end from Christine, Mike and my family was amazing. As we approached mile 26, my daughter, niece and nephew all ran to meet us to run a little section with us. I really had to hold back the tears at that point. We actually ended up having to run past our supporters as we were only at 25.8 miles. A little out and back and we were finished.

Ruth Lexie London Marathon 2020

The biggest hug from my daughter and I couldn’t hold back the tears. I was so relieved that we had finished as at times I really didn’t know if I could. The cold, the wet, my hands swelling, but thanks to my 2 amazing buddies we got it done!

I always thought that maybe I was a bit of a glory grabber, as I only wanted to run the ‘big’ marathons. I wanted the buzz, the crowds, the excitement. But I learnt yesterday, that the sense of achievement comes without all of that. Without the PB’s, the medal, the cheering.

TWENTY-SIX POINT TWO miles is a bloody long way and you can be proud of yourself however fast you went, if you ran it all, walked it all. It challenges you and makes you realise just how strong you really are!

Congratulations to Sarah for completing her first marathon and thank you Christine for getting us through those last miles.

If you would like to see how this run went in video format, check out the highlights on my Instagram stories. Also if you would still like to donate the fundraising page is www.virginmoneygiving.com/rularuns

So, what did I do on Sunday night? Enter next years ballot obviously! Have you? Also, let me know if you ran the Virtual London Marathon too.

RunMND supporting London Marathon

Tips and training to support at a Marathon

After cheering and supporting at both the London Marathon and Milton Keynes Marathon recently, I’ve come to the conclusion that you should have a training plan for cheering too.

I was shattered on the day, and the day after both events. I even made the joke that I think I would have preferred to have run the marathon – Yes I know, I know – I have forgotten how tough marathons really are. (Chicago may be a bit of a shock!)

So what would a training block look like:

  • You would have to spend time reading maps and getting to know the route. I DIDN’T do this at Milton Keynes, and spent many hours cycling around lost! I didn’t even attempt to move around in London, I have done this in the past, and it is SO busy, and you end up walking a long way.
  • You will need to practice controlling your bladder. Milton Keynes I could at least stop, although I stupidly forgot to take a lock for my bike, so still had to wait until I got back to the car! London I was lucky that MNDA choose their cheer squad to be outside a pub, so I used the toilets prior to the race, but then I couldn’t take my eyes off the race; I feared losing my roadside spot, and missing the people I had come to cheer on. (Yep, I did exactly that, even thought I didn’t take a toilet break for SEVEN hours!)
  • Practising your clapping would have be on the plan. You need to harden up the skin, as 6+ hours can hurt! I thought I’d be smart and buy a cowbell after last years London Marathon. Obviously, my hands won’t hurt! Errmmm, my finger rubbed instead where I held the cowbell, my arms were aching from moving the cowbell and I’m still not sure if the ringing in my ears has cleared.
    Training could help you develop your photography skills! I’ve learnt the hard way in previous years, so extra battery charge was packed for both races. I also bought myself a Go Pro ready for London. Exciting I thought, well that was until I tried using it without really reading any instructions, plus trying to take a photo on my phone too, and ring the cowbell! It was a little more stressful than exciting! I know you are thinking, why would you use a Go Pro and a phone camera? Well, I wanted to post on my Instagram Stories, and knew how to do that from my phone! I am pleased to say that somehow by Milton Keynes, I managed to take a photo on my phone and video using my Go Pro at the same time. The cowbell just had to be silent, girl can only do SO much, and this photograph of Chris was worth the silence!
Cheering requires you to take photos too.
How is that even possible???

Actually, I have just remembered, I didn’t have it totally sorted, I remember calling sarah back to get this photograph!!

Cheering requires you to take photos too.
Sorry for making you come back Brems!
Cheering requires you to take photos too.
Pretty impressive 28 min PB from Katie at Milton Keynes!!
  • Packing – I was so glad that I had experience from previous years, as this year I made sure I had snacks! I didn’t quite need a fuelling strategy of gels, but cheering is tough works, so remember to fuel and hydrate too. As I said above, once you find your spot, you don’t really want to move, so then you have to choose, your spot or your rumbling tummy!
  • I think next year, I may have to take a Megaphone! I know that I am loud, but London is NOISEY, and on many occasions I screamed at people and they didn’t hear. The next day, my throat hurt ALOT, so if anyone knows where to get cheap Megaphones, please let me know.
  • Selective attention training is needed. Trying to pick out people on the busy London streets is crazy. Milton Keynes was easier, but make sure you know the kit colour of the person you are supporting, alternatively shout for everyone, and hope you don’t miss anyone! Whilst writing this, I have just thought about setting an alarm on your phone to buzz every 30 minutes for a stretch (yes, it’s getting serious now! haha) as my neck and shoulder ached lots. London from leaning out to try and spot people, MK from my cycling!
Cycle selfie whilst trying to navigate Milton Keynes Marathon to support and cheer.
One handed cycling!! Go Me!

I am sure I have missed lots from this, so if you have any other ideas, please post below, so that I can keep checking back on this before I go to cheer at any other races.

If you see me at Parkrun with a map, snacks, megaphone and stretches, please tell me I’ve taken this cheering and supporting too seriously! hehe

If you want to see which races are am booked in for in the coming months, take a look here.

NYC Marathon Medal 2017

TCS New York City Marathon 2017 – Part 1

When something is so epic, writing a blog post about it, is SO hard. I will never be able to do this race justice! This race report is also written in parts, so I am going to show the different sections, so hopefully the time frame makes sense! If you want to read about my training for the New York Marathon 2017, please click here.

Part 1

So, I am currently sitting waiting for the arrival of my family and friends, to start the final celebration of my 40th birthday, and oh boy what a birthday it has been!

For many years, when anyone spoke about me approaching my 40th birthday, I always told them that I was going to run the TCS New York Marathon for my birthday. I have never been to New York, and the marathon date is always so close to my actual birthday, it seemed it would be rude not too. What a way to celebrate life beginning at 40, than to visit the city that never sleeps (that isn’t actually true!) and run another one of the World Marathon Majors. Some people, mostly non-runners thought I was made, but it just seemed perfect to me.

As 2017 got closer and closer, I decided I needed to make this dream a plan. On January 1st 2017, I contact 2:09 events, and then had the shock of how much the whole adventure would cost. At this point, I wondered if my NYC dream, would be just that, a dream that never materialised.

When the lottery/draw (ballot) opened for the marathon, I decided to enter it, just in case. I remember saying to my husband that I would leave it to fate. If I got a place, then it was meant to be, if I didn’t, I would have to have a big think as to whether I would go with a tour company. To be honest, I think I had pretty much made up my mind, I was running, it was more how I was going to find the money to afford it!

Then on the 3rd of March, I got the email that said I was in!!!!

When the £300 (ish) was taken out of my bank, I knew there was no going back.

I had decided  at Christmas to buy a tin money-box – one that I couldn’t open without a can opener – and then added £1 for every mile that I ran.

I had originally planned to open it just before going to NYC, but then the new pound coin was issued, and I wouldn’t be able to use the old ones after October. So, when I booked my flights in April, I opened the money-box, to put the money towards my flight. Surprisingly, I had managed to save £350 and that was exactly what I needed for the flight! I booked my hotel through booking.com, and not knowing NYC choosing a hotel was difficult. The choice was huge and the range in prices were huge. I ended thinking it’s a birthday treat, so went VERY expensive and stayed at Park Lane, which was directly opposite Central Park.

Part 2

Lets get on to the weekend and the race. I flew on the Friday morning from London Heathrow Airport, with Delta. Ideally I would have loved to go out a few days earlier, but teaching means you can’t have time off, and when you school are as kind as mine, it all has to be unpaid leave! Lucky to get the time off, but loosing pay makes the trip even more expensive, so I had to do the quickest turn around possible.

We arrived at JFK around mid afternoon, and it was SO warm! We navigated our way to the hotel, the subway was easy to use and it was relatively cheap. By the time we got to the hotel, checked in, it was time to get the United Airlines Parade of Nations. I didn’t know what this was, but I had been chatting to people via Instagram, and they were in it, so I rushed out to see it. Luckily, being in a hotel 2 minutes walk from Central Park, meant we just made it in time.

The atmosphere was crazy and so exciting, and after the parade NYRR put on the most spectacular firework display over Central Park. I had planned to go to the expo on the Friday evening, but by the time the fireworks finished and we got something to eat, we decided to head there Saturday morning.

On the Saturday Morning, I was awake early (time difference joy!) but I was quite glad of this, as it meant I could go for a shake out run in Central Park early, before heading to the expo. Running in Central Park should be on every runners bucket list. There were SO many runners out, the skyline was amazing, and I got so emotional on that run.

I joined with a Japanese man running, and I asked if he was there for the marathon. He said that he was only there for one day, but if he lived in New York, he would run the Central Park every day. There is just something special about the park, I felt like I was running through a film set, and the buzz around the place was indescribable.

My only wish that morning, was that I was with people. I thought about my friends from my run club. I wished I had been able to share that run with them. They would have felt that magic too!

We got the subway over to the expo. Knowing that the Saturday was likely to be crazy busy, we got to the expo at 9am, and there was NO ONE in my line to collect my race number! WOW. It was simple, show my idea, and receive my number and good luck wishes from the guy handing me my number. From there, we had to go pick up our free runners top, and they had the genius idea to have samples to try on, so you knew exactly what size to collect. Nothing worse than having race shirts that are too small or big – I know I have lots!

Ok, warning coming, New Balance are the new kit sponsor for Virgin London Marathon, and they were for TCS New York Marathon too! They know how to produce kit, that you just can’t say no too! I don’t know if this really was the case, or just that I was away and spending money on holiday is different, but I wanted it all! It’ll be interesting to see what the London Marathon kit at the expo will be like.

I obviously didn’t want to do lots of walking for the rest of the day, so we hopped on an open top bus, and toured some of the sights on New York.

I feel like this post is going on and on, so I am going to sign off now, get this one live on the blog, and start on my actual race report!

So, to be continued…..

5

New York Marathon Training – Week 5

I know that marathon training is difficult, but this cycle seems to be challenging me no end. So, I finally got antibiotics and my sinusitis is clearing up, but training still hasn’t been easy or too enjoyable this week. I have really struggled to recover from my long run last week. My quads are really sore and calves tight, so Monday I had a sports massage and changed my 400’s on the plan to a recovery run. It was really, really slow and so hard!!

Wednesday is my tempo run day, I am always apprehensive about this run! I found it tough from the off. My legs were heavy and every step was hard. After my mile warm up, I tried to pick up the pace, as I am supposed to run these at 9:15 min/mile. I struggled to get to that pace and felt like I was at full sprint! I felt SO disappointed, I had to give myself a talking too, as I just wanted to abandon the whole run. I managed to convince myself to clock the miles, although I did cut it a mile short!

Thursday I managed to go to run club, and oh how I love those people! I was feeling pretty rubbish about my tempo run and generally how I was finding running so hard. They were all so supportive and gave me great advice. We did 200’s, 400’s and 600’s, all with a massive hill in them, and I ran steady. After all the advice, I didn’t even really look at my watch during the run, and when I checked after, my pace wasn’t too bad. A few people suggested I cut back my long run at the weekend, or even take a week off training and recover fully. My body is trying to fight an infection so is struggling to help me recover too! Even though I knew this, when others were telling me, I felt like a huge pressure was lifted. Only pressure I was putting on myself, but this weeks 16 miler was probably not going to happen and that had to be ok!

With the pressure off, I optimistically prepared myself for my long run on Saturday morning, just incase by miracle, once I started running, I felt amazing, then I would run the whole 16 miles. So my hydration pack and gels were loaded, I avoided the alcohol and Indian takeaway the family had Friday night, and set off early Saturday morning. I knew pretty quickly 16 miles wasn’t going to miraculous happen, so decided to enjoy the sights, the lovely weather and complete a 5 mile loop. I walked when I needed and ran when I wanted. I was disappointed not to complete my long run, but at the same time, I really needed to enjoy the run.

So, that’s my week. Again, not my best, but some miles are banked, I’ve now finished my antibiotics and I hoping for a return to form. Training plans are good, but they have to be flexible to suit you.

I think I would benefit from having a better recovery strategy after runs.

If anyone has any tips, please leave me a comment below.

London Marathon Expo 2016

10 things I love about the London Marathon

Having never run any other marathon, other than London, here are the 10 things I love about the London Marathon, although I am sure some of these would apply to any marathon experience.

  1. The Hype

London is special and the hype in the lead up to the event is amazing. The butterflies certainly set in, the first time the BBC plays their London Marathon advert. Social media goes mad with marathon tips, supporters tips, facts about the marathon and the general buzz is awesome.

2. The Expo

You have to collect your number prior to the race, and I LOVE the expo. (Read here) All the big running brands are there, lots have competitions for you to get involved with and win prizes. VirginMoney has a section which is always a lot of fun, with lots of photo opportunities. I am like a kid in a candy shop at the Expo!

Ruth London Expo 2016

3. The organisation

This is always spot on! You have all the information about the race about a month before, and on the day, from the moment you get off the train, there are people to help you and guide you to the start. Once in the starting pens, baggage is excellent and even toilet queues were not bad this year. At the end collecting bags and receiving the medal is always hassle-free.

4. Running a marathon changes your life.

I dare you to train for a marathon and not have it change your life”  is what Susan Sidoriak said and this is so true. It’s not just the grit and determination you need on the day, but the ability to train for one, to start one is pretty impressive. A marathon makes you realise how strong you are, and that you CAN achieve things that you originally thought were impossible.

5. The route

I have always loved London, ever since I went as a kid, and running it is always exciting. The sites are incredible; Cutty Sark, Tower Bridge, Canary Wharf, The Tower of London, The Embankment, The London Eye, Big Ben, and then finally Buckingham Palace, what is there not to love!

6. The Crowds

The crowd support is immense. The constant cheering, the calling of your name, the music, the jelly babies offered, the banners made. The crowds are just epic.

RunMND supporting London Marathon

7. The Volunteers

As I mentioned earlier, there are so many volunteers and they are so supportive. They cheer you on, they hold you up, they help you wrap up at the end; they make everything easy for you. As you approach baggage after the race, they have already located your bag, and hand it to you with a smile on their face and congratulations. Thank you, volunteers.

8. The Community

The marathon brings out the best in people. You read the amazing stories of people running, and the money raised for charity is phenomenal. Everyone supports each other around the course and congratulates each other at the end. You run with people you have never met before, and you probably with never see again, but they experience a life-changing experience with you.

9. The Costumes

Running a marathon is hard, so how people do it in costumes I do not know. I am in awe. It always makes me laugh too when I am slowing down, and I get overtaken by a man carrying a boat, or a rhino!

10. The Medal

It is such a nice feeling having the medal put around your neck: For a short moment that can be your Olympic moment that your dreamt about when you were younger!

Comment below and let me know your top things about running a marathon (It doesn’t have to be London)

Tribesports

For regular readers of this blog, you will know I am a fan of Tribesports kit. Last year, they generously donated a £50 voucher for me to raffle, to help raise funds for MNDA.

I first came across their kit, when they were link to Marathon Talk Jantastic programme. Katie and myself used to rival each other all the way through the programme, so when I needed to buy her a present, it was a no brainer to buy her a Jantastic top.

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Katie modelling her new top, and I managed to catch her with flying feet 🙂

I was very impressed with the quality of the top, and it was not long after I bought a couple of their long sleeve running tops, and to be honest, I have pretty much lived in them all winter. The are lightweight, comfortable, long and warm. They also come in some really pretty colours too!

They are now involved with the Parkrun community, and I know it’s not going to be long before I purchase one of their Parkrun t-shirts; you can even have them personalised to your home park run!

So, why am I telling you all this? They recently sent me a referral code through, so if anyone is looking for new kit and have not shopped at Tribesports before, you can get 20% off your first order and I get £10 gifted to me for introducing a new customer. Please feel free to share and happy shopping.
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