Two weeks to go…

April 12, 2009

Today was the start of the taper, where you’re supposed to run less distance in the few weeks before the marathon in order to give your legs a bit of a chance to recover from the months of training before you do the ‘big one’. So where last week’s run was 17 miles, this week I only did 11.5 miles (when did 11.5 miles become ‘only’?!). It was lovely not to have to do the loops that I’ve been adding at the end of my run to get the distance up (I think running past my house more than once on a run has been affecting me more than I thought), and also lovely to only be out for two hours instead of the three plus that I’ve been doing for the past few weeks. Of course, I’m aiming for a marathon time of around five hours so add this week’s run to last week’s and you’ve just about got it!

The weather wasn’t so lovely, but at least it wasn’t raining, just a bit damp and cold and miserable. A real change from the last few weekends where it’s been all blue skies and fluffy white clouds. No surprise that there were hardly any people around today (apart from other deranged runners). There were more cars on the roads than I expected, and I either need to get better eyesight or get to know what cars my friends drive. I got beeped in an ‘I know you and see you running and I’m going to wave at you’ way three times on today’s run but do you think I could see who was driving?! I expect someone at some point will tell me they saw me running and that I looked exhausted, and I’ll be slightly embarassed to tell them that was only the start of the run!

Although I somehow managed to finish today’s run in exactly the same time I took last time I did this route (6 weeks ago), it felt much easier and more comfortable today. Last time I hit the wall at about 9 miles and had to walk four times in the last two miles, and also couldn’t make it all the way up the half-mile hill at 4-5 miles, having to walk before I’d actually reached the top. It was annoying that I hadn’t improved time-wise, especially as I walked so many times last time and not at all this time, but I powered up the hill I struggled with previously and managed a good pace (for me) for the whole rest of the run. I probably set off too fast last time, wearing myself out before the end, and I also hadn’t carb-loaded properly – I have it down to a fine art now.

Still, it showed that all the training and throwing up and crying has been worth it. I know I’m never going to be a fast runner – getting under a ten-minute-mile requires a huge effort – but I would just like to be able to get round the marathon as comfortably as possible, and manage a good sprint finish a la Silverstone.

Make sure you check out my London Marathon-inspired poem 🙂

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Anyone can do a marathon…

April 10, 2009

Whether young and fresh-faced or really quite old
If you’re a ‘Fun runner’ or going for gold

On legs numbering two, one, zero or four
With chafeing, rubbing, and nipples so sore

It’s a test of endurance and stamina too
To get to the finish it’s all down to you

Those months of training, pounding the streets
Aching limbs, lost toenails and bruised, er, feets

Pasta at every meal and a love of carb gels
Helping and aiding those poor muscle cells

The big day itself comes round ever so quickly
Stood on the start line you might feel sickly

Soon the gun goes and thousands set off
And you think ‘I’m here’ though many have scoffed

‘Just look at me now, the biggest feat I have done
They didn’t believe me when I said I would run’

The race might be painful and it’s going to be long
But spectators will cheer ‘you can go on!’

You can walk, jog, or run, or a mix of the three
And find yourself wondering ‘was that really me?’

Crossing the line, you’ll forget all the pain
And sign up right there to do it again!

Last long run of the training

April 5, 2009

Well, where do I start?

It was all going so well. No feeling of trepidation in the days before, a lovely ‘away with the fairies’ sensation for the first ten or so miles, a nice sunny day with a hint of a breeze. The painkillers were working well and I’d eaten plenty yesterday in preparation. I was mentally prepared and set out at a decent pace.

I even spotted a couple of strange sights – loose Yellow Pages, er, pages scattered along the road for the first mile of my run, and then at about mile 11, someone’s knickers in a tree. The mind boggles!

I was aiming to beat last week’s 17 miles with something like 18.2 or even 19.5 if I was feeling good. Which by the 14th or 15th mile I wasn’t. Legs like lead, all the fairies had disappeared somewhere else, I was nauseous, my legs hurt (and not my knees either, this was muscular). Sports massage ASAP methinks – when the aches don’t leave your legs after a couple of days that can’t be good!

I did manage to equal the 17 miles of last week and felt like I was about to collapse. I’m disappointed that I didn’t manage to run further in this last long run before the taper, but it’s still waaaay further than I managed to run last time I was ‘training’ for the marathon. So hopefully I’ll be ok!

Having forgotten to take a house key, and with my dad out and brother down the pub, I was almost going to have to use a very wobbly stepladder to get into my house. Luckily my neighbours got back about 15 minutes after I got home and I was eventually able to get into the house. I threw up again this week (which I was hoping I wouldn’t do – does that mean I’ll throw up in the marathon??) and then suddenly burst into tears. This training lark is making me go a little crazy I think 🙂

I hope I’m able to feel better after the marathon. Crying will be allowed – tears of joy of course! – but hopefully there will be no throwing up, as that could get a little messy.

I read an interesting article yesterday in the Times in the ‘Marathon Man’ column, in which Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson describes the marathon in terms of

blood, blisters, pain, vomit, crying and dead

Sounds fun, huh?! The rest of the amusing (and scary) article can be found here

Do you need your vest printed for the marathon?

April 2, 2009

Or any other event?

UPDATE 2 – Jan 2012: We’re sadly no longer able to offer the vest-printing service. Thanks to all those that helped the rhinos by getting us to print their vests, and apologies to those who wanted their vests printed this year.

UPDATE – Feb 2010: Please see this post for more on the vest-printing 🙂

I’m offering a vest/t-shirt printing service for those people who would like their name printed on their vest for the London Marathon.

I already have a happy customer in the form of Sir Jogalot:

Sir Jog-a-lot's beautifully printed vest

And of course myself:

Me, sweaty and tired after my 15.5 miler in my lovely Save The Rhino t-shirt

It’s £5 per name and all proceeds go to Save The Rhino. We can also cut custom logos, and price varies depending on the colour and how complicated the logo is but starts from £7.50.

Turnaround depends on the postal system to a certain extent but would go something like this:
Day 1: You post your vest/running top/t-shirt to me
Day 2: We receive the top, print it if received early enough, and possibly post back to you
Day 3: We print the shirt if it was received too late on Day 2 and post back to you, or if we printed on Day 2 you receive your top back
Day 4: You receive your top back if posted on Day 3

Hopefully that makes sense! And hopefully Royal Mail will be as efficient in real life as they are in my theoretical version above!

Please get in touch via the comments and we can discuss your requirements. 🙂

More ways to buy a bracelet and help a rhino!

March 30, 2009

I’ve been busy crafting again! As well as, or instead of, sponsoring me, you can also help the rhinos by buying a bracelet (or pair of earrings, or other craft item). Don’t worry about the price being in dollars! That’s just the currency of the site.

All Natural Rhino

Rainbow cascade earrings

Lemon & Lime-o Rhino

Domino Rhino

Do let me know if you like any of these, or would like a different version, or if there’s anything you’d like to see in the future 🙂

4 weeks to go and an even longer longest run

March 29, 2009

The countdown begins! This time in 4 weeks I will hopefully have completed the marathon, got my medal, and be relaxing with the Save The Rhino gang! Positive visualisation can only be a good thing!

After last week’s epic blog post about my 15.5 mile run, I’m afraid there wasn’t much to report today. It wasn’t one of the most enjoyable runs I’ve ever done, as for the most part I was bored out of my mind! Where last week I was floating on a cloud of Zen-like calm and post-Silverstone happiness, this week was just plain dull, and I felt every step of it.

I set out intending to do 18.2 miles but I’m afraid I was losing the will to live at the end and did 17 miles instead. I’m hoping to do that 18.2 next week instead – the last long run before I start tapering. My last couple of runs before the London Marathon are likely to be about 11.5 and 6 miles each – hardly short runs!

I got by on Jelly Beans and painkillers, much like last week, although I think I left it a little late to take the painkillers because the start of the run definitely hurt more this time. The first two miles or so of every run are hellish anyway so I’m not sure how much difference the painkillers would actually make…

Today’s run was based on decreasing loops, meaning I had to run past my house not once but twice! I found the best way to deal with the overwhelming urge to go into my house and have a nice lie down as to pretend it wasn’t my house. Weird, but it worked.

The high point of interest of today’s run was after I got back home and forgot to put my fleece (also know as ‘horse blanket’) on. I cooled down too quickly, and coupled with the overdose of sweet sickly sugary jelly beans, I promptly threw up. Then felt brilliant! Not exactly what I was after though as it’ll now take twice as much effort to rehydrate. Oops.

At least in the London Marathon I’m unlikely to get bored. There are costumes to spot (including the rhinos of course), spectators to high five and landmarks to tick off (and the Gherkin to see, again. I still hate it from last time ;)). And there will be people to run with too, of course (in theory 35,000 although of course most of them will be faster than me).

Why and how I’m helping Save The Rhino

March 25, 2009

I thought for those new to my blog it might be good if I reiterate some of the reasons why I’m running the London Marathon for Save The Rhino and some of the ways that I’m trying to raise my (rather large!) target amount.

Basically I chose Save The Rhino as my charity because it covers so many different areas. If you’re an animal lover, there’s obviously the main rhino-saving aspect, as well as the fact that if the rhinos are saved, many of the area’s sub-species are also helped. If you’re a people person, they help educate local communities about sustainable ways of living, building schools, solar panels and water reservoirs. If you’re an eco-warrior, saving the rhino entails saving its habitat so helping to prevent deforestation etc.

You can find out more about my reasons for helping the rhinos here.

I’m aiming to raise the rather large sum of £4,000 in a number of different ways:

  • Good ol’ sponsorship from individuals or companies. Although it seems like a lot of money, if I can get just 126 people (at the time of writing) to sponsor me £1 a mile, I will have reached my target!
  • Bucket collections, the kind where I stand in the street with a bucket and collect change. I have a few of these lined up in the near future.
  • Making and selling crafts on my Etsy shop or in ‘real life’ if you’d like to commission something.
  • I’m hoping to hold some kind of event at some point but can’t decide between a quiz night, barn dance or full blown Safari Summer Ball. I’d love to hold a Safari Ball but am currently struggling to find a suitable venue…

I hope that you have found this post informative, please leave any questions or suggestions in the comments. 🙂

Circle Of Life

March 25, 2009

Did you know that the first animal featured in Disney’s The Lion King (one of my favourite films of all time) is a rhino? 🙂

Rhino costume…ish

March 23, 2009

Thought you readers might appreciate a close-up on the rhino hat, shown below with my lovely Save The Rhino t-shirt!
Me in my rhino hat and running t-shirt

Here are my thoughts on my original rhino costume ideas:

  • The hat is based on a baseball cap which is slightly too small for my enormous head but the under-chin strap I used at Silverstone didn’t seem to do much. There is a strap going round the back of my head, but if I tone the horn down a bit keeping it on my head probably won’t be an issue.
  • The shoulder pads I was originally going to wear would chafe like crazy. They might be made for sport, but not 26-miles-of-running sport. I will probably try to do a 10k or 5k in them so I can say I actually ran in my proper rhino costume.
  • Although I ran in a grey top at Silverstone, I think having someone running next to me in a Save The Rhino t-shirt probably helped people identify what on earth I had on my head! So I will probably be running in the lovely t-shirt in the above pic.
  • I will be running with a felt rhino tail on my bottom. Well, if half a million spectators are going to see my bum, they may as well have something funny to look at 😉
  • I will probably try and make the bottom of my jogging bottoms look like rhino feet. Having something like a rhino foot sculpture covering my foot is a no-no as they have to be able to remove the tracking chip from your trainer at the end of the race but something based on the trousers should be OK.

Does anyone have any great ideas on what else I can do as far as the rhino ‘costume’ is concerned?

Longest run yet!

March 22, 2009

After last weekend’s high jinks at Silverstone, this week’s run was, in a word, boring. Now I’m not particularly enamoured of running at the best of times but after having someone to talk to last week and lots of spectators to distract me, this week felt a little lonely and lacking in excitement!

As I’d managed to run 13 miles last week without walking, I figured I’d bump it up a couple of miles and see how I got on. There was an early hiccup in the form of a work night out on Friday at which none of us had dinner (everywhere had stopped doing food by that point) – try telling a bunch of inebriated colleagues that you need to carb-load and see what their response is! I was so worried that this would adversely affect my run, although I tried to make up for it yesterday by making vegetarian spag bol and eating tinned rice pudding (great for carb-loading).

I set off for today’s long run at about lunchtime, which is unusual for me as I usually push my long weekend run back to the furthest point of a Sunday afternoon in an attempt to make it go away! I dosed myself up on Jelly Beans and painkillers and hoped for the best. As far as the painkillers go, I’ve found that it’s not usually tiredness or lack of energy that makes me walk, it’s knee pain. I have dodgy knees anyway so thought I’d help them out a bit!

The first couple of miles were, as usual, really difficult. I don’t think the Jelly Beans had kicked in by that point or maybe I just take longer to properly warm up these days. I soon reached town at which point I flung off my cagoule (OK, I took it off and tied it round my waist) to show off my Save The Rhino top with my name printed on it (get in touch if you need yours printed!) as I ran along the main shopping street. Got some weird looks but hopefully people will recognise me when I (hopefully) appear in this week’s local paper and sponsor me!

Headed on out of town again to the long hill that I usually need to walk at the top of. By this point those jelly beans had definitely kicked in and not only did I make it up the hill fairly easily but I didn’t need to walk at the top! This really set the challenge for running the whole thing as there weren’t really any bad hills after that so it was eminently doable. Heading back down off the plateau a couple of miles later is usually quite painful on my knees but the painkillers reduced it to more of a dull ache than a raging inferno of pain so I was pleased about that.

I was soon at the halfway point although it felt like I was further as I started to head back into my own territory – the roads I’ve run tens of times already, and the fact that they’re near my house helps! Speaking of which, I had planned to go a slightly different route than usual today (which would have made it 15 miles) but chickened out at the last minute – I was still going well at that point and didn’t want to wreck it by running unfamiliar, slightly hilly and most of all boring roads, although they’re only unfamiliar in the sense that I’ve never run them, having lived in the same place my whole life I have walked or driven them many times though! So instead I headed back along my road and past my house (so tempting to stop!) and ran my 4 mile loop which took in most of what I had just run in the previous 4 miles. Ordinarily I might be a bit unwilling to run the same route as I’d just run but this 4-miler is my regular route so I am very familiar with it, and I ran on auto-pilot, not caring that I’d just repeated myself.

I was soon back at my house for the second time but of course I was allowed to stop this time! I ran 15.5 miles in 3 hours and DIDN’T WALK ONCE!! Woo! I was very happy with this and I smashed last weekend’s record of the furthest distance I’ve ever run without walking. Next week could be interesting…

Today was a bit odd as despite my usual pre-long-run dread and apprehensiveness, once I was out running I somehow achieved a state of Zen-like calm and happiness and was smiling at people the whole way round. Maybe it was the painkillers. Maybe it’s because ‘spring has sprung’ – it was very pleasant to be out running in the warmth and sunshine with blossom and new leaves all over the place. Oh, and lots of frisky pigeons!

I’m now dosed up on arnica (great for bruised feet), drinking lots of water and looking forward to a big tub of organic strawberry ice cream – well, I’ve got to have a reason to get round!! 🙂

Me, sweaty and tired after my 15.5 miler in my lovely Save The Rhino t-shirt

Me, sweaty and tired after my 15.5 miler in my lovely Save The Rhino t-shirt

Does this mean that running the whole way in the London Marathon is a possibility??