Monday, 23 April 2012

London Marathon 2012

It's everything everyone tells you it is, it's amazing, inspiring, emotional, it's the London marathon.
It's still not sunk in that I've run one of the biggest and most famous marathon's in the world, it seems like a dream but then that's probably because I'm still half asleep.

The walk from Maze Hill station
Everything for me personally went like clockwork, from getting up in the morning (I didn't sleep well) to getting the train to Waterloo. From then on it's easy, you go into auto pilot and follow the crowd. I followed the masses over to Waterloo East where we boarded the overground train. I was in the red start so had the option of going to Greenwich or Maze Hill station. Go to Maze Hill because everyone got off at Greenwich leaving the train nice and empty and from Maze Hill a pleasant (though hilly) quiet walk to the start.

I was proudly running on behalf of the British Heart Foundation who had exclusive use of the Pavilion Tea House adjacent to the start of the race. This was ideal, while the other competitors shivered in the early morning sun, we were nice and warm with food and water and more importantly toilets. This was relaxing and was a chance to meet and talk to fellow BHF runners.

BHF HQ for the morning
Lorries await near the start for runners to drop of their belongings before they are driven to the end. Well done to all the baggage workers for making this run like clockwork. At 9:30 it was time to join the masses at the start line. We were all within pens numbered 1 to 9 depending on what time you were hoping to finish. I was in pen 5, about half way down and nervously awaited the start. It took about 10 minutes to walk to the start line and then we were off!

On your marks, get (in about 10 minutes!)
I was surprised how fast we set off and got into pace straight away, I was expecting even after crossing the start line for it to be slow, so was pleased to get off to a good start. The first few miles were a blur, and I just kept looking around trying to take in the atmosphere and that I was really here running the London marathon. After the first few miles you then meet up with the runners from the blue and green starts. This was amusing as we all booed the other start colours as we merged.

The crowds began to grow as we made our way through Charlton and Bermondsey and the support was great through here with live bands and plenty of cheering.

After mile 3, water stops are every mile with 3 Lucozade stops throughout the race, so it's easy enough to keep yourself well hydrated. Mile 6 and we passed the first landmark, the newly restored Cutty Sark. Here I took on my first gel, and everything was going along nicely.

The miles continued to flash past with so much going on around you and we were soon approaching half way. This was probably one of my favourite moments when we crossed Tower Bridge. It was amazing and the support was great too. I even managed to fumble with my phone and grab a shot!

It was after crossing the bridge that I felt a queasy and was worried that so early in the race I had hit a bit of trouble. But the second gel soon kicked in and I was feeling OK again, it was now though that the reality kicked in that I was running 26.2 miles and not a tourist sight seeing for the day!

This is always a great point to reach mentally as now I could begin the mind games to dwindle down the miles. I picked up a pace band at the Expo which listed out my times I needed to hit each mile for a 3 hour 55 minute finish and at this stage I was about a minute and a half ahead of time.

The next point to get to was 15 miles ( I could get a Lucozade) then 18 miles (I could have another gel) then 20 miles (This mile starts with a 2! and I had a 10K race to go). As I went through these miles I was now beginning to really tire, but this is when you can tune into the amazing support. I tended to generally run in the centre of the road, but word of advice, if you need a pick me up better than a gel, put your name on your top run close to the crowds and get the unbelievable buzz of people shouting your name at you. For the first time in my life I experienced what it must be like to be a top athlete and the buzz they must get from this. I can also understand why football clubs sometimes call their fans the twelve man if they are playing at home. So to everyone you shouted a "C'mon Ian C", thank you, it made all the difference and got me to my goal. The BHF had support areas along the course and they were brilliant too.

Amazing crowd support
I was drifting off my 3:55 finish time mile by mile and even the dream of a sub 4 hour time was fading but when I got to mile 25 and was fortunate enough to grab a group hug with my family, suddenly I found a missing gear and powered my way to the finish past Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, putting in my fastest mile of the race.

I had 3 objectives for this race: 1) To get a sub 4 hour finish time. If not then 2) Run the whole race without walking. If not then 3) Enjoy the moment. I was fortunate enough to tick all 3 off.

I came in at a time of 3:58:50, not a lot to spare but never the less I'd done it.

I proudly collected my medal and made my way to collect my belongings (again this was like clockwork). The next plan was to find somewhere to change. I don't know if I was meant to use them and thinking back I don't think I was meant to, but close to the finish line was a porta cabin with some doors. One door was open, and I thought they were toilets. This would be the ideal place to change but was pleasantly surprised to find myself in an individual changing room with Shower! This was the perfect end to the perfect race.

Refreshed I then made my way to the meet and greet area to meet my family and Tim (@jedirider) who had made the trip up to watch. The meet and greet area, as you can imagine is hectic but there was some order in that it was divided up into area's with letters for your surname. After some refreshments and chat it was then home with the family and a big celebration KFC party! (Well I had just burnt of 2600 calories!!!)

Huge thank yous go out to my amazing family for their support and donations. Everyone else who sponsored me. My Twitter running family (you know who you are!) Brian for keeping me company on my runs and at the Expo. Tim for the company on those long Sunday training runs,The BHF and the London crowds (you done the capital proud) and everyone who takes the time out to read my little blog.

It's now time for some rest and some chill out running with no pressure and then plan for the next adventure!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Countdown...1...London marathon eve

I have too admit I've not felt this excited for a long time, its kinda a bit like the feeling you used to get as a kid on Christmas eve (Hope I sleep tonight!) but it's finally here the London marathon 2012. Wow.

Preparation is now done, everything is ready for the morning and the early start of 6am (Train from Woking 6:30) this should give me plenty of time to arrive without too much panic. As I'm running with the British Heart Foundation we have use of the pavilion at the start area which means I've somewhere to set up base and possibly dodge the rain from.

I've kept a list going all day of things to either buy or pack, well worth doing as it's kept the stress low. I've had my carbs for dinner, so now time to watching Rocky 4!

As well as new socks that I'm running in that I mentioned in yesterday's post, I've gone against the grain again of  'not trying something new before race day'. This time I'm drinking Coconut water!

Now it should not be too much of an upset to the system drinking something so natural. This was one of the products that stood out to me at the Expo yesterday. It's natural,contains a lot of potassium (important for us runners) and electrolytes (again, very important).

I could only find the original drink in the supermarket but it does come in a more pleasant flavour mixed with pineapple juice. Quite expensive for a litre (£2.99) but does come in individual smaller cartons for around the same price as a Lucozade. Nice that this product is 100% natural without the added sugars etc. but with the price it's maybe something I'll reserve for pre race days.

So that's it, it's now time for relaxing, some light stretching and then sleep. Fingers crossed that 24 hours from now I'll be a sub 4 marathon runner.

Thanks for reading. Race report to follow.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Countdown...2...The London Marathon Expo

As I said in my post yesterday, it had been quite a stressful week at work and I'd had little time to actually think about the fast approaching marathon. But today with a day off from work it was time to relax and enjoy the day at the London marathon Expo.

My good running friend Brian joined me today to support me get his hands on as many freebies as possible. We headed up to Waterloo from Woking and then take a very complicated route on the DLR to the Expo, one which we managed to simplify on the way back.

Getting my number was the first thing on the agenda, and it felt like walking into an airport checking in desk with the many different booths with the allocated numbers. The main stress had now gone for the day, I'd got my number (35676) and turning back now.

After walking through Adidas world at the beginning including a live show from the Marathon Talk team it was then into the main arena, with all the big names and smaller brands selling their wares. There were plenty of nutrition stands with the likes of Maxi Fuel, Clif bars, Zipfit sport and many more, and as well as fuelling up on tasters that were on offer, it was good to see some of the new products coming through on the market.

There were a lot of marathon organisers from all over the world promoting their events including the Loch Ness Marathon in September which appealed to both Brian and I (Watch this space!).

As well as nutrition brands, there were plenty of clothing brands on hand, and I treated myself to a nice new pair of my favourite Hilly socks which I shall be wearing on Sunday...and before you say it, I know I shouldn't wear new kit for a race, but I'm used to these and the additional comfort of a new sock will be there!

Crowds at the Expo
As well as picking up some free magazines (Running Free and Men's Running) I picked up and absolute bargain from the good people at Runners World. For £10 I got a great handy small sized rucksack full of goodies that would normally retail at nearer £50. Finally I picked up my marathon goody bag which contained some nice little bits including a can of London Pride bitter. I guess they plan for us to use this to toast ourselves after the race.

I'm glad I went today giving me Saturday free to rest because it was a long time on the feet and by the time I got home I felt quite exhausted. But it was a great day, and a well put on event. Well done to all concerned and it has really got me excited about the big day.

With NUFC sponsored by Virgin, it was nice to get a
picture taken with a signed shirt of my beloved team

Me with the winners trophies...I won't be seeing them again!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Countdown begins...3...

So I've gone a little early on the carb loading, I started at the beginning of the week, it's now Thursday and I'm sick of the sight of Pasta. I should have started today I guess and that would have been sufficient. On the plus side it means I've eaten more healthy the last couple of weeks, with raw carrots, dried fuit and nuts and healthy museli bars all adding to the balance.


It's true what they say about the Taper madness, not only have I been going stir crazy with not being able to run as much, I've been getting obsessed with catching a cold the last few days, so much that I've taken to having a litre of orange juice on my desk at work everyday this week!

So running has been limited, I started my taper 3 weeks before race day, having previously run 20 miles on my last long run, my long run then decreased down to 15 miles, and then 7 miles the following week, with a few regular lunchtime 4 milers mixed in. Today was my last run before the big day on Sunday, a comfortable 3.5 miles along the canal at lunchtime with friend Brian.

This week has not been as relaxing as I'd hope with being busy at work and working from home in the evenings. I would have liked to have spent a bit more time relaxing and getting in the marathon mood, but I can do that from tonight and I'm looking forward to heading to the Expo tomorrow and that should really get me in the spirit.

Now don't laugh, but I've decided for inspiration that I'm going to watch a Rocky film on Saturday, you know what I mean with those training scenes in the snow etc. with the music making the hairs on the back of your neck stand up on end and the adrenaline pumping...I said don't laugh, corny I know!

My last couple of longer runs have taken me on the peace and quiet of the North downs and the Basingstoke canal, it will seem strange to be swapping these surroundings with the capital and one of the biggest marathons in the world.

From this...
...and this...

I'll update again tomorrow with pictures and thoughts from the Expo. :-)

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

How did Cavemen taper?

So how did our primitive ancestors Taper? They had to run and hunt everyday throughout the year. What did they do with runners knee and Achilles tendonitis? What did they do when they were tired and couldn't motivate themselves to get out and run?

They had no choice but to run and we're all sitting round at the moment going through taper madness!.....Just a thought...enjoy the taper :-)

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

I don't wanna Taper!

That's it, 3 weeks to go to the big day and now time for the renowned Taper.

I've now ramped up my long runs to 20, 23 and 20 miles over the last 3 weeks and am feeling stronger each time, I could really do with the marathon now, that's what I was thinking after last Friday's final big run.

With my previous marathon experience back in September, I got my taper wrong I run my longest run of 24 miles 2 weeks before the race. I've learnt from this and this time round I'm going to do things right. I don't follow a programme but I've read up on the taper and giving it a bit more respect this time round.

The only trouble is I'm getting those racing doubts of "...but what if I lose my fitness", " 3 weeks too short/too long to taper", " near to the race should I run my final workout".

The truth is the way I'm feeling at the moment is that I don't want to stop. As I said earlier, on last Friday's run I felt really strong and I've run big miles on my last 3 weeks long run. I'm recovering quicker, I'm feeling less tired and getting no muscle soreness the day after these long runs, so why the hell do I want to stop surely I need to keep going and get even stronger! Despite feeling this way, I'm just going to have to bottle this energy up and listen to the experts and begin my taper. The plan is to drop my next long run to about 16 miles next week.

I'm now absolutely fed up of Lucozade! I'm drinking it before my long run, during my long run and after my long run! It's running through my veins! Where once a 4 pack of Fosters would sit on the kitchen worktop, now sits a 4 pack of bloody Lucozade.

On the subject of nutrition, one thing I have got right is taking gels. I've been using the Power Bar product since I stocked up and used them at my last 20 mile race. They don't cause me any stomach problems and they are working. I can definitely notice the difference using them and this is a new addition to my running that I've not got established before.

I feel this time round for my marathon I'm a lot more prepared and focused than I was previously and am satisfied with the way things have gone.

All things get put into perspective though, while on my run on Friday I could see a runner in the distance and used them as a focus and a plan to overtake. I gradually got nearer before over taking the older gentlemen giving me a confidence boost. Before long I could hear footsteps fast approaching from behind me and then the man pulled up beside me. "How far you going?" he said, "20 miles I said, you?" "I'm going 10" (Ha, beat you!) the game of running trumps continued..."But I went for 24 miles the other day" (Hmm, OK, 1 each!) "I'm training for London" I said, "Me too" the reply, "Have you run London before?" I asked, "16 times and a PB of 2:45 when I was 45" (Yikes!) he continued "I'm now 72 so won't be hitting quite that time now" and off he powered "See you soon"......Nuff said.