My Marathon Story!

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It’s been a couple of weeks since I completed the marathon. I think I’ve needed a bit of time to let it go, the whole marathon thing. Although I enjoyed most of it immensely, I have to be honest and say that it was one of the most stressful things I’ve done in a long time, both to my body and my mind. As a yogi, I was constantly reminded and aware of this. I will tell my story as I feel it has several tips which any new or even a well-experienced marathoner may appreciate. In a nutshell, you can not prepare yourself totally for a marathon. It really depends on the day – the weather and how you slept, ate and trained in the preceding days.

The days before had played total havoc with my nerves as you will have read in the previous post. Brandy was a great medicine here, worth repeating. On the day, I was OK once we started mixing with other runners. Although the race didn’t start until 10, we were at the train station at 7.50 waiting for the only train to the city which would get there at a reasonable time. I was thankful, not for the hammering rain (although forecasted), but for finding a tiny little cafe near the start, full of other runners and their families. Several conversations with other runners really sorted out my nerves. I left there warm and dry. Not only did I have a waterproof on with a hood but used my bin bag to make a skirt so that my legs would not get wet! Not catwalk worthy, but hugely practical!

At the start line, I really felt the buzz. It reminded me of my clubbing days where we would all get dressed up in cyber/dayglo colours and wait for the club to open in eager anticipation! But I didn’t have 26.2 miles to run then but to dance for 9 hours. The excited tummy was pretty much the same! I spent most of the waiting time trying to figure out how to work an mp3 player a friend lent me. I had already loaded up my marathon playlist and charged the device. However, when I came to switch it on, the battery was as dead as a dodo! I was heart-broken. I’d not really done any training without music and had designed a special playlist which would take me on a journey right up to the finish line. I know, it sounds ridiculous. But it’s kind of meditative when I’m running and it really helps me….but it was not to be this time! So I left the blessed thing with my husband and off I went. Then some magic happened…it stopped raining…there is definitely a GOD!

It took nearly 15 minutes to cross the start line and I was determined not to run until I did. I’d done a little yoga that morning and lots of squats at the start to fire up my legs. The first third of the marathon was almost all downhill. Not steep descents but downhill nonetheless. Before even 5 miles, it seemed we were out of town and running around the mountains. YES, you guessed it, I had “she’ll be coming round the mountain when she comes” stucked in my head for many miles (in the absence of trance music!). I was also thinking how glad I was to have been so over-cautious about my expected time, because everyone really did go nice and slow and easy at the start. Everyone was relaxed. I did stop at about 6 miles to go to the loo. There was a queue but no-one was hanging around. I was put off by the queue at 3 miles but in hindsight, I think it’s better to go as early as possible. The legs get the wrong messages about running on, the further you are when you take a break. But usually after the first pee, I don’t need to go again, as it all seems to shut down.

I passed a level with the finish line around 9 miles, so from then on, it was out and back. By this time we were already at the coast and the sun was shining brightly. I had worn my baseball cap, mainly to keep the rain off my face and I still had a fleece around my waist. I ended up giving the cap away and the fleece to my husband at mile 15. I didn’t realise that Edinburgh has a beach! The scent of seaweed was so strong and it took me right back to my childhood holidays in Cornwall and Devon. Where there were houses, there were people and they were so supportive! The kids wanted a high five from as many runners as possible. Some people open their windows and played music out into the street, some offered sweets and water. There was a bit of entertainment along the way, mainly drummers.

Just after the 13.1 timing mat, I was thinking ‘brilliant, I can really do this, I feel great’. But less than 1 mile later, my quads (thigh muscles) started to really HURT BAD! I hadn’t planned for this. It had never happened before. I had cramps beyond my worst nightmares. I was hoping to meet my husband around the 15 mile mark, so I kept running until then. I stopped and stretched when I saw him, but you have to stretch for a long time after running two hours! Someone even offered me an ambulance! I was horrified! Did I really look that bad? I wanted to stay with him longer, but he would cross the road and see me on the way back. I did get going again but it was tough. I kept thinking ‘well at least my knees aren’t hurting and my hamstrings are OK!’. Anything to turn to the positive. We ran round a kind of abbey at the turning back point, which was a nice and welcome change. The terrain was a little bumpy in places but not too bad.

I saw him again at 21 miles. This time I asked him to walk with me. I took another energy gel and a few gulps of water and went on my way, thinking that the next time he would see me, I would be a marathon runner! From then, every mile was tough. The markers seemed to be torture to look out for. I would try and run to the next one, with the promise of a walk or stretch when I reached them. But it was really tough. Then I seemed to lose a mile! I really don’t remember seeing the 25 mile marker when someone shouted “come on, you only have 1 more mile to go”. I was running and stayed running until the finish. I didn’t notice the rain starting again either! I couldn’t see my husband in the finishing crowds but it didn’t matter. The roar and cheer of everyone was simply awesome. I had to try really hard not to cry. The last time I cried at the end of a race, I couldn’t breathe or talk and started wheezing!

I collected my rather enormous and heavy medal in the shape of Edinburgh Castle and collected my goody bag. I had my photo taken and I wasted no time in eating my energy bar and having a stretch. I was a little miffed at having to walk across a huge field to the family meeting points. He wasn’t there either, so I decided to get my bag from the luggage lorries. I had packed a carton of almond milk to mix up a protein shake with, but it has burst open. This was really the only other major disappointment of the day. There was still a good bit of it left, so I mixed it up and enjoyed it immensely!

My husband turned up shortly after. He’d had difficulty getting a train from the 21 mile point. We went to get a coffee and that’s when the heavens really opened, but not for long. Then we had a ridiculously long walk to the train station. But I was happy. I’d just completed my first marathon in 4 hours and 39 mnutes! And I didn’t hit the dreaded wall, get any blisters, get wet or have any chafing. Pretty good result by all accounts. And after a week, I managed a little 2 miler. Felt like a beginner all over again.

Although I have nothing to compare it to, the whole thing was really well organised. No long queues for anything. It would’ve been really nice to have had shuttle buses waiting outside. As it was, we had to walk more than half a mile (felt like more!) to the bus or the train station. Some complained that they didn’t get their timings in the right format. I wasn’t expecting to get them as and when I did, so couldn’t moan.

Would I do it again! Probably not. But that’s what they all say….

 

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Weekend with a huge difference! – Saturday!

Edinburgh marathon

Edinburgh day before Marathon

This weekend in marathon town has been a rollercoaster. Took the train into Edinburgh today for a look around the shops. It’s pretty chilly this weekend. Today was dry, but cold. The forecast for marathon day is rain, rain, rain! This is not helping my state of mind. All of my training has been almost all done in dry weather. How will I run for 4.5 hours in the wet? We are in Scotland and the weather moving from England has been torrential!

My nerves got the better of me on today. Took a bit of advice from my late mum and a wee brandy really settled my stomach. I had a very different kind of runs! Had a huge breakfast in our hotel on this morning so didn’t really feel like a lunch but had an early dinner of gamberoni spagetti (prawns in tomato sauce) – was just the ticket. Felt quite bloated as I don’t normally eat so many carbs but didn’t think I’d overdone it. A couple of hours later, I did a little yoga (sun salutations), a 15 minute run (legs felt really fresh and springy, just what I needed to help my nerves) and a dip in the pool and spa. Couldn’t find any massage oil in the supermarket so bought some extra virgin olive oil. I really do believe it is much nicer than some of these processed oils that are generally made from mineral oils. My skin felt so soft and I didn’t mind smelling a little like an Italian salad! The garlic I had for dinner was much stronger, I’m sure!!

Stuck to my resolve to drink loads of water today too.

By the time I’d finished laying all my kit out for the second time, it was gone 11 but I was feeling really relaxed…

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The final frontier and SPACE!

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This is one weird week……I read about it and thought I was prepared but it’s really bizarre. I feel like I’m in a void, a very strange SPACE indeed!

Last week I was really nervous thinking about it all, but this week isn’t so bad. I did a meditation course at the weekend. Although I had to squeeze in 3 miles on Saturday and 6 on Sunday, I thought it was really worth the planning. It really has helped my state of mind. I’ve been practising the meditation every morning and sometimes evening since, and it’s keeping me grounded, just!

Every time I feel the nerves creeping in, I just focus on my breath and abracadabra the nerves fade! Being a super-organised miss, this is my ‘help-me-I’m-shitting-myself’ toolbag inside out :-

1. focus on my breath, at the end of my nose

2. rescue remedy – a flower essence combination – yes it really does help

3. EFT – emotional freedom technique. I have several teachers but here’s a link with a video so you can learn it yourself

http://jessica-ortner.com/ and click on discover tapping

4. visualisation – I imagine my deepest fears about the race happening and what strategies I have to overcome them. Here’s a few:-

– DEAD LEGS – do a little surge to recharge (I have trained for this)

– STITCH – reverse abdominal breathing

– KNEE PAIN – heel strike for 10 seconds to relieve the pressure

– THE WALL – I have already done the work around this. I’m as prepared as I can be! Will keep up the gels and water and I’ll be OK.

– BALL OF FOOT CRAMP – curl toes when lifting off the ground, to keep circulation going

– TOILET TROUBLE – not being able to go before the race. I will go at the first water stop where there is unlikely to be a queue

– BEING COLD AT START – I have an old fleece which I’m happy to dump after a mile or two and a bin bag if it’s raining while I wait

There are lots more, but all of them have been overcome at some point during training.

I cannot do anymore!

Off for a gentle 3 miler in the park where the training journey started.

Please share your marathon fears below and how you overcame them!

Chinmayi 🙂

 

 

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Flying times!

I cannot believe that I’m running 26.2 miles a week on Sunday. The last two weeks training have flown!

And talking of flying, I’m just about to check-in for our flights to beautiful Edinburgh!

After my fatigue episode and not hearing from me for over a week, you may have been wondering whether I’d crashed, burned and given up altogether! But no, I’m still here in the programme and getting (almost) excited about Edinburgh now!

The truth is I wrote a huge post one day last week and when I published it, there was  nothing there but the title and the tags! I was so peed off that I almost gave up the blog, if not the training. However, I’m back with some information to share.

After my mini-burnout, I took an extra 2 days rest and tentatively did a 6 mile easy run the day after. It was fine and I was relieved. I did a lot of research and found a lot of useful information about over-training and burnout. From a yoga perspective, it really was a great lesson on listening to my body. I’ve actually been running 3-4 times per week since October last year. I think this machine just needed a service!

I was nervous as the following weekend, I was running a super long one – 21 miles. I treated this like a dress rehearsal. Was up at 6 a.m to get my porridge in and down, had a juice cocktail 90 minutes before setting off – cherry, pomegranate and beetroot, with some freshly ground chia seeds and acai powder, lemon and lime juice and a little hemp seed. Delicious! And rocket fuel, I believe.

It was a warm day and I left the house at 10 am. The first part of the run was actually hard-going. I thought we were maybe over half way and we’d only done 7.5 miles! But I relaxed into it and found a pace. I entered some kind of trance at some point! Almost like I forgot that I was running! Strange but pleasant! Has anyone else felt this?

I felt pretty stiff and sore in the end, but I was pleased to have remained hydrated and I managed the gels well. I knew that there is another 5 miles in there which, on the day, will be encouraged by adrenaline and hopefully crowd support!

I really appreciated the need to stop around this distance. I totally get the reasons why. My hips became weak, and my quads were rigid by the end, which I can see would have possibly led to knee pain, had I gone on. And my recovery was much slower than I would have liked. I had planned more runs that week but decided to heal properly before going out again. It took 5 days! I couldn’t walk down the stairs easily for 2 days! I followed all the advice. I had 2 cold baths, Epsom Salt baths, stretched out and walked, had protein recovery drinks and ate soon after but it was slow! I won’t be planning any great activity following the marathon, I can tell you!

So whilst the longer runs are great for confidence and endurance, the down sides were that:-

1. I was technically injured afterwards

2. Missed out on 2-3 runs that following week which would have included valuable lactate and aerobic threshold training

3. Was totally wiped out energy-wise. When I don’t get enough sleep, I’m not a great person either.

4. Had restless legs for 2 nights and walked like a duck for almost 3 days, which interfered with sleep. I just couldn’t get comfortable.

5. Risked an injury which may not have healed in time for Marathon Day

However, am now into tapering and a mere 13 miles last Sunday with 7 hills at 5-10k pace left me feeling exactly like I’d run 21 miles but without the joint and muscle pain, disturbed sleep and interruption to training.

This week, I’ll have done:-

5.5 miles with a warm up, 7 x 45 second strides followed by half mile easy pace – done

6 miles easy run – done today – lovely run in glorious sunshine!

7 miles with warm up 1 mile then 2 x 2.5miles at marathon pace with a 3 minute fast walk in between and a 1 minute cool down – I must be doing well because I’m actually looking forward to this one!

Have been very careful with foods this last week too. Lots of vegan superfoods into 2 smoothies a day – hemp, maca, moringa leaf, acai, chia and chorella into juices like pomegrante, beetroot and cherry (all reported to be good for runners!). I’m avoiding alcohol, coffee, sugar and dairy as I know they hinder my performance. I’m saving caffeine and sugar for the marathon now. I have my gels, drink tablets ready to go and have even decided what I’m going to wear!

ImageFor now……….

IN TAPER WE TRUST!

Will check in later again this week!!!!

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Hitting the Wall at 9 miles?

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The legs don’t work!

I don’t know….it’s never happened to me before and I flippin well hope that it never happens again. Yesterday’s run should have been perfect. A short car journey to a local reservoir on a beautiful spring day, 2 laps, a water strategy in place (I was leaving a bottle half way round, to be collected on the second lap), porridge for breakfast and armed with 2 energy gels, music, sunglasses and my new thermal cap (supposed to keep the head cool) and I’m as ready as ever.

The circuit is 6.5 miles. I was to run it twice. A 2 mile warm up, followed by 2 x 5miles at 10k pace and a 4 minute walk in between, followed by a 1 mile cool down. I ran 14.7 at the weekend just gone, no problem. So this should have been challenging, but not massively so.

The first lap went well and the first half of the second. Then I remember feeling, very suddenly, very tired. I was hot but, I thought I was well hydrated. I still felt thirsty but had a ‘sloshing’ in my stomach that would not go away, so I thought not to drink any more. I’d had both my energy gels by this time, so I hadn’t run out of energy. I really don’t know what happened. I remembered a mantra “I am strong, I can do this” and I also remember thinking that, through all of my training, this was the first time I’d had to use it. I was also thinking that it would only be another couple of minutes before I would stop and pick up my water bottle. This point then, would only be another 2.5 miles away from the car, 1 of which would be a cool-down. But it wasn’t to be. After I stopped to pick up my water, I tried to get going again but I just couldn’t. My body was screaming at me to stop and I just couldn’t move my legs into running mode again. It was nothing short of agony. What was wrong? I could feel each of the muscles in my thighs, my glutes and my calves and they wouldn’t run.

All I could do was walk the rest of the way. I went from sweating in the sunshine to shivering and sulking, totally perplexed about what could have gone wrong. I think my body had just had enough. Not enough sleep earlier in the week possibly and not enough rest after the previous week maybe. I think they call it accumulated fatigue, which is good to train the body for the fatigue in the marathon, but I hit my limits.

I have had a total break today. Went to lunch with an old friend and the cinema this evening. I’m a little despondent still. But I know from the writings of most running coaches that most people have days when they just can’t get it, can’t feel it or can’t do it. Maybe it happened to teach me to rest more and listen to my body. Although I felt OK before and during the most part of the run.

Tomorrow I will get back in the saddle and see what happens. This week was supposed to be the highest mileage week before tapering and I have planned a 18-20 miler for Sunday. Maybe I need to taper a little and save my energy for that too?

Any thoughts or suggestions would be great!

This edit today – May 8th – here is a link to a great email I received from Runners Connect this morning about exactly what happened to me!

http://runnersconnect.net/coach-corner/marathon-training-doldrums-how-to-evaluate-bad-workouts/?

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Sunday Surgery….

No rain to complain!

I had it in my head that today’s post would be the merits of running in the rain during training. When I left the house, it was bleak indeed! It was raining but didn’t come to anything. It was cloudy though with a gentle head wind on the way back to keep me cool.

Ran 14.7 altogether. I’ve tried to post a link to Runmeter (my running app for the marathon training). Let’s see if it’s helpful!

Surges – dissecting today’s training

After mile 8 I did 6 x 2 minute surges followed by a 5 minute easy pace. The first two were really difficult. At 8 miles I find I’m pretty ‘set in my ways’ as far as pace and stride are concerned. I could almost hear my legs and glutes saying ‘what the…?!!!! But the following surges were good. One of them was uphill before and after the required split, so I felt extra proud of my efforts! Here’s the interesting thing…

After the surges, I thought I would feel super tired but I didn’t! I really picked up the pace and got into a consistent effort with my stride and breathing. I had a second wind! And for almost 3 miles! I felt like I finished really strong. Legs were a bit sore but expected them to be as I had a 9 miler threshold run yesterday. This rollover fatigue is supposed to be what’s going to get me through the marathon more comfortably.

So I was quite chuffed!

Another little discovery in stretching

Following on from my comment the other day about not being able to walk immediately after one has done a long run – I realise that the stiffness is in the hips. I stopped for a few seconds, and hugged each of my knees into my chest for about 20 seconds (leaning up against a fence for balance as this is clearly not the time for Tree Pose!) and it really realised the stiffness enabling me to walk. I’m sure I’m not the first to discover this little trick but I’ve not been aware of it before. So I was then able to get a good walking cool down/stretch into my legs. It’s really helped my recovery today.

http://share.abvio.com/5d6e6380c4569528/Runmeter-Run-20140427-1123.kml

Really enjoyed the run today – saw a pony and here new baby foal in a field and 6 tiny little ducklings in the River Nene. Also saw a heron take flight and a swan landing in the river flapping noisily, like an Airbus coming down onto a runway. Hope you are all inspired by getting out running this spring. I find it really energizing. Great to see families in the parks, cycling and walking by the river and folks generally getting out of the house. I’ve discovered parts of my town I never knew existed and some amazing urban nature!

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Swinging hippies!

Swinging hippies!
Although smiling, have observed how the hip dips towards the end of the race. And look at the others too! Basically the joints take on more of the support role as the muscles get tired. No wonder I get so stiff….. Got to keep working that lactate baby!

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