Marathon Number 1 – The ‘Big’One

Race report: Virgin London Marathon 2015

So this time last year I was literally in knots. I was so incredibly nervous as I was about to embark on my first EVER marathon – the big one – the Virgin London Marathon 2015. I’d had a lot of positive encouragement from family and friends and the brilliant people on @ukrunchat, but I also had a few ‘Negative Nora’s’ around me. With questions like: “What if you don’t finish?”, “You might Hit the Wall” “Your knees will never be the same“.  Great just what I needed, more seeds of doubt.

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Winter training at its best!

 

Training had gone well -I had reached a target of 22 miles in my final long run, averaging 10.30 minute miles – which I hoped would be enough to bring me in around 4hrs 30 minutes. I hadn’t picked up any injuries, had loaded up on the carbs and felt in good shape as I made my way to Greenwich Park on Sunday 26 April 2015.

What they don’t tell you is the walk to the start is a warm up in itself – approximately 30 minutes walk from the train station, through the town and up a hill to the park. However when we got to start area the excitement was audible with the big screen showing the elites already in action, pacing through the course.

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Ready for the off with a couple of training buddies.

The Virgin London Marathon is a very slick operation. Bag drops, loos and starting pens are all well organised and effortless. I was able to meet with some friends for a quick photo, before we headed into our starting pens. As I was running for Tommy’s, I had quite a few chats with fellow ‘team mates’ in the starting area and ended up running with a girl called Laurel for three-quarters of the run, which was great as it calmed both of our nerves.

So how was it? The London Marathon is everything you could expect from the most famous marathon in the world. The route was busy, colourful and full of support all the way around. The charity runners in costumes really made the event – from a running Mona Lisa painting to Superman. There certainly were a lot of people with imagination and guts taking part. It made me wonder what I was worrying about in my tried and tested, moisture-wicking, kit! Must have been a doddle by comparison.

The biggest highlight for me was running over Tower Bridge. This marks the half way mark of the race and is such a breath-taking sight seeing thousands of runners bobbing along. It’s also one of the most iconic landmarks on the route and a welcome sight after passing through many unfamiliar London towns like Bermondsey and Rotherhithe.

 

I received a real hero’s cheer from the Tommy’s cheer squad just after the bridge. Their support throughout had been phenomenal. I was very proud to have run for them and  raised in excess of £3,000 through donations and little events in the lead up to the marathon.

By mile 17 I had lost Laurel, her knee had given up, so we said our good lucks and good byes and I headed off running for the first time ‘by myself’. I saw my Mum and Dad shortly after, which was amazing. Although I could see my Dad was really confused and was looking in the wrong direction (senior moment), so was not convinced he had seen me at all! I next saw one of my best friends and seasoned marathon runner, Kirstie (PB 3.15 ish) who gave me such an almighty cheer that I leapt out of my skin!

The rest of the run was a blur of the Embankment – where the crowd was literally roaring – up to Birdcage Walk and finally the sight of Buckingham Palace in full view. The Union Jacks flying and the finish line now in sight. I knew my husband and boys were in the VIP finish area cheering me on, (the charity had been really kind and offered me these tickets as a thank you). It was simply amazing seeing their proud faces smiling and shouting ‘Go Mummy’ as I crossed the line.

I had done it! I had finished  my first marathon in a time of 4hrs 46mins. All that hard work had paid off. However, as I collected my medal I couldn’t help but feel a bit flat – not the rush of euphoria that I had expected. It was all over, but I had ‘failed’ in my eyes to get the time I had wanted.  Talk about ridiculous.

I’ve since made peace with my time and actually for someone who had never run a marathon before and juggled childcare, fund raising, work and training I am actually pretty bloody happy. My body held out, I didn’t walk, I didn’t hit the wall and  I had ticked off a big ambition from my bucket list – something I am now very proud of.

The race in a nutshell: Flat, congested, colourful and amazing views of London’s iconic landmarks. Fantastic Expo, well organised event and an opportunity for celebrity spotting- I came in just ahead of Radio DJ and TV  Presenter, Chris Evans.

Race Tips: Ensure you have liaised with your cheer team/supporters before hand so you know where to spot them. Otherwise you spend half the race searching for your family in the very busy crowds. Get a charity place if you are new to marathon running – you get excellent support, advice and a fab after-party and massage just after the event. Watch out for the empty water bottles on the ground – these are everywhere and very hazardous.

Would I recommend it? 110% Yes. For any Marathon Newbies this is the one to do!

Good luck to anyone taking on the Virgin London Marathon this weekend!

 

 

Fridge Invasion

fridge run

The title of this blog could be a bit misleading. I’m not about to waffle on about the contents of my fridge – a bit like those celebs do in Heat Magazine. You know, the article at the back where a celebrity (usually someone from TOWIE or Corrie) waxes lyrical about what they ate for a week. I always wonder if these articles are just made up as they never seem to eat crap like us normal people. There’s never a mention of a left over fish finger from the kids’ meal, or a hurried bag of popcorn when you have the munchies – more likely Quinoa, Lentils or steamed veg. I’d love it if a celeb ‘fessed up that they’d got bladdered on cheap plonk and had eaten a dodgy kebab.

Anyway, where was I…? Ah yes, the fridge. My interpretation of ‘Fridge Invasion’ is the fact that I’ve cleared space on my fridge door, (thus removing the kids’ art and Headmistress Awards) and made way for the Mighty Scary Training Schedule (MSTS). It’s all scheduled ‘suggestions’ of tempo runs, steady runs and interval training over a 20 week programme.  The ‘rest’ days look pretty appealing – other than that, the MSTS is enough to make Freddie Krugar look like a pussy cat.

As an ‘intermediate’ runner, I’m already on target with the schedule in these early weeks and feeling okay about it all. (I’m glossing over the mentions of 20 and 22 mile training runs at this stage in the game – just focusing on building my stamina and enjoying the running. Today for example, with smallest son safely dispatched with a friend, I had a lovely relaxing run down some country lanes, crunching on the autumn leaves. I cracked out an easy five miles and it felt good to get out after a busy weekend of fund raising.

I think it’s fair to say that I’ve become a wee bit obsessed with the fund raising and feel like a candidate in The Apprentice. I’ve been rustling up eBay auctions (£135 ish pounds) and have started a tuck shop at big son’s football club (£65 and counting). So far the thermometer money icon on my donation page is heading in the right direction. With some generous early donations from friends and family I’ve broken the £600 mark – in little over a week!! I’m so pleased, but a long way to go yet to reach the £2,000 target set by the charity.

Please, please, give a donation if you can www.virginmoneygiving.com/clairegermain it’s much appreciated by myself and the Tommy’s charity.

I am so overwhelmed by the positive encouragement and help people have offered so far. Thank you. I’m off to do some foam rolling now…

Let the training begin…

Luxury Landmark Health Club
I could get used to this

Now that I’ve got all the kit and kaboodle and  have Googled ‘how to run a marathon’ several times, I feel ready as I’ll ever be to start my training in earnest. This weekend took on some ‘posh’ marathon training as I was fortunate enough to have a lovely spa day booked in at London’s Landmark Hotel, Marylebone.

Aside from the gossiping with friends, a 45 minute ‘essential’ jacuzzi session, a pool-side salad and various other pampering activities, I did actually hit the treadmill and clocked up some decent training mileage. That’s determination in my book, as the temptation of the tranquil quiet zone calling me with its couches and herbal teas, was akin to breaking out a box of Krispy Cremes at a Weight Watchers meeting. The cocktail menu didn’t look too shabby either!

Rocking the Mo'
Rocking the Mo’

Needless to say I found the treadmill seriously boring. I’m a ‘road runner’ usually and used to taking in some scenery along the way, so running in a gym was pretty dull by comparison. Road running is quite relaxing as I find I zone out listening to the repetitive beats of my ipod whilst breathing in the fresh air of the Chiltern countryside. The treadmill had me fidgeting with the gradient, speedometer and checking the clock every few minutes – those kms seemed to take forever. The air con, or lack of, made me so hot and bothered that I felt like doing a Freddie Mercury impression – as in ‘I want to break free’ , not growing a Mo for Movember).

I feel very much a newbie to Marathon training and find myself still a bit overwhelmed that I’m actually planning this. I’ve been really lucky to have some great support so far with friends and family matching my enthusiasm for the challenge. If I’m honest I’m probably more nervous at the moment of hitting the £2k pledge amount for my chosen charity – Tommy’s.

Thank you to all my early supporters and those that have agreed to help me fund raise for the event. If you would like to support me through my London Marathon challenge visit www.uk.virginmoneygiving.com/clairegermain . My first charity deadline is £1k by the end of this year – not long to go at all. Together with help, sweat and probably a few tears along the way I’m sure I can do it! Either that, or I’ll hope that Santa adds a little extra to my stocking this year.

 

Woop! I’m in…

Claire germain marathon 2015

It’s official! I have finally been accepted for a place in the 2015 London Marathon. I am so excited, although I know there is literally a tough road ahead. Unphased, I am already preparing for the run. One trip to John Lewis later and a 25% discount on Adidas gear, I’m all set! I’m sure I have plenty of adequate training gear, but it’s nice to have a fresh start. Besides I had nothing to co-ordinate with my brand new Asics which help prevent my flat feet from rolling in – or in technical terms, over pronating! Get me, I even speak the running lingo.

However, jesting aside, its not really a case of ‘all the gear and no idea’. I’m not a complete novice to running. To marathons, maybe.  I have previously completed the Royal Parks half Marathon a few years ago (beating the Cheeky Girls to the finish line I’ll have you know).  I now just need to focus on doubling that distance.

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Having my place written in black and white ,(well more a pink and grey) is fantastic. Not only do I have proof of the challenge for fundraising purposes, (I’m not planning to jet off to the Bahamas honest), but it makes everything seem very real. 26.2 miles is quite a long way to drive in the car…running it will be a great challenge.

Training is going quite well so far. I’ve read loads of blogs on running, ‘liked’ several running pages on Facebook and I’ve done some actual running too. Hills and everything. Currently up to about 14.5K on my longest run…that’s about 8 miles in old terms. So time to up my game.

I’m looking forward to documenting my journey in this little bloggette. I’m sure there will be ups and downs, but the main thing is to accept the challenge ahead and hopefully raise lots of money for Tommy’s the baby charity. They do amazing work with pregnancy – helping people cope through miscarriage, premature births and sadly still births.

If you would like to sponsor me visit www.uk.virginmoneygiving.com/clairegermain

Please follow my blog for more updates.

Jogging on now,

Claire x