RunMND

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.

New York, New York

 

In New York, you’ve got to have all the luck, Chuck Bukowski

This year I will turn 40! How the hell did that happen? – I still feel like a kid, and when I was a kid 40 was old!!!

It will happen in November, so what better way to celebrate than run the New York Marathon – ok I know that only runners will understand that thought – Non runners will think ‘why not have a party!!!,

Since turning 39, I had this idea that I would run the New York Marathon in 2017, as it is being run the weekend before my birthday! Also, I have only ever been through New York and have always wanted to go. Perfect plan I thought. I told everyone my plans, and then forgot about it for a while. At Christmas, my husband gave me a card with money in, saying this is for New York! 2017 started and I realised I should start looking into how I can make this happen.

I had assumed that I would go with a Sports Tour company, as it would be hassle free and you get guaranteed entry into the race . When I started looking in to it all, the realisation of costs soon made me doubt if this was just going to be a dream. I have the added complication of being a teacher, so getting time off isn’t as easy as just booking holiday time!

The more I looked into it, the more I thought that it was going to be a no-go. I grumped about this for a while, and then decided to stick my name in the ballot, and leave it to fate! If I got a place, I would have to find a way of going, if I didn’t I wouldn’t (that probably isn’t true, I’d probably grumped some more, and looked at organised trips again!)

So, March 2nd and I knew the ballot draw was going to take place – it’s quite nice that you don’t have to wait as long to find out if you have a place as London. I frantically checked my phone and bank account all day, but nothing. I went off to run club in the evening, and on our rest breaks I checked my phone. Still nothing. Training didn’t go quite to plan, as my hamstring was very sore and I was full of cold. I missed the last hill set, and went home feeling totally fed up.

Waking up Friday morning, I still don’t feel great, but I opened my email, and got this!

 

As you can imagine, I was buzzing! I still am! Slightly scared too, as now I have to make this happen! Somehow, I need to get time off work, I need to book flights, accommodation and all the other stuff, and pay for it all!!!

So, if anyone has ANY advice as to how to make this happen, I sure would appreciate it. Tips on; where to stay, how to get around New York, how to keep the costs down, and so on. Any experiences you think would be worth passing on, please post them below in the comments.

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.

IMG_5559

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.
IMG_8912

Do you have to race? – Part 2

So last week I wrote a post about enjoying running and not needing to actually train for a race, read it here. I received this comment on the post from MrsB over at Mind over Matter.

I thought about this and it hit home a bit. I keep thinking how I would love to gain a place in the Berlin Marathon, but realistically, if I did get one, I’m not marathon fit now, and I’m not sure I’d have enough training time to do it justice.

I have been training pretty consistently, 3 or 4 times a week, and I have taken part in some intense sessions, but I realised I have lacked any kind of long run since the London Marathon. I haven’t run a continuous run of over 3 miles since March. If you read any training plan, they always say the long runs are the important ones, and the session not to miss, yet I have over looked it now for months!

So, on Sunday, after I had completed the C25K with my sister, I attempted to complete a long run. I wasn’t sure what kind of pace I would run or how far I could go, so I just set off. The route that I took starts with a steady hill, so when the first mile clicked up as 10:45 mm, I wasn’t too concerned. During the 2nd mile, my legs felt heavy and I didn’t feel like I was enjoying the run too much. The 2nd mile clocked in at 9.49mm. By the 3rd mile, I felt like the run was tougher than I thought it would be. I felt I should be running more relaxed, but I didn’t really want to slow down as I wanted the run to be over and done with. The 3rd mile was at 9:58 pace.

I had an option where I could have extended the run at around 3.5 miles, but I opted to head straight home. Not running long for a while was showing. I completed mile 4 in 9:49mm, and in total covered 4.33miles. Not exactly long, but when you haven’t completed a long run for a while, this was long enough.


Although I still haven’t technically booked any races for the remainder of this year (although I am close!) I still need to train like I am running an event. I think I have the easy runs covered in the C25K, and the intense sessions with my club, so now I need to start building up my long runs again.

So, long runs here I come and I’m now off to look at races again.