Monday, 30 May 2011

2 Sundays of pain and schizophrenic weather

So much for Sunday being a day of rest - I have spent the last 2 in unfavourable weather completing running and cycling challenges.

The 22nd saw me complete my first ever marathon. I prayed for half decent weather but in return got heavy downpours and almost gale-force winds! This was not helped by the fact most of the marathon course was along the coast.

The beginning
At these event there is always massive queues for the toilets - I thought, being lucky enough to live pretty nearby and being able to leave fairly late I would avoid them but my body had other plans. This lead to me ducking out as I was nearing the start line and then having to start my marathon with a sprint to overtake the sweeper bus. (a note the the woman in front of me in the aforementioned queue - it is a bit off for a non-participant to use the toilets when runners are in a hurry and then look pissed-off when you skip past them!).

After my sprinting start I slowed down, following the usual advice not to go too fast in the first half. I think this paid off but I still managed a half-marathon PB of 2h10min. 

The middle bit
One of the main drawbacks of the Edinburgh marathon course is that from about mile 16 or so the course kind of double backs on itself so when you still have a very long way to go, you start seeing all the elite runners on the way back and you have to live in the knowledge that you have all this to still to come. I think I got to about 18miles when I was starting to think...mmm, I may just finish this. Though by this time my stomach was starting to rebel against all the sports drink I was bombarding it with - not pleasant. so compared with no toilet stops for all of 18miles I managed 3 in the last 8 miles.

The worst of the weather then asserted itself by mile 20 and unfortunately it was in front of us. At one point it pushed me backwards. It was also making my nose stream.

The End (Hurrah!!)
There really is nothing like seeing the finish line and the feeling of adrenaline when, after limping, jogging, walking the past few miles, you somehow manage to find the energy to sprint like a maniac for the last 400 meters or so. I felt overwhelmed and a few tears were shed as I literally zoomed past people like I was being chased by something big and scary.

My finishing time was 4 hours 49 mins. I do think I would have been a bit faster if the wind wasn't so bad and my stomach problems hadn't required the toilet visits. (May have to find an alternative to sports drinks for long runs!)

The following Sunday I decided to mark the week anniversary by cycling 50 miles from Glasgow to Edinburgh in aid of Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland. This is a really small event run by lovely volunteers. It was pretty tough - again, not helped by the windy conditions but it is a lovely route along the Forth and Clyde and Union Canals that link Glasgow and Edinburgh and you are treated to some wonderful scenery along the way. Myself and my Dad (who was that one that roped me in to taking part) managed it in about 4 and a half hours but then we did get to stop of for lunch, though not for long thanks to the freezing wind and rain!

Next week I shall definitely be doing nothing (other than a my daily Junathon exercise quota of course!!)

Monday, 16 May 2011

1 week to go

I really can't believe I've only got one week to go before months of preparation, training, injury healing and overall blood, (lots of) sweat, and tears, will have finally culminated in my first marathon.

Once again I have failed to complete the full training programme due to 3 separate injuries, a trip to Peru and a week of illness. I do think I would have struggled to be ready-ish, if I hadn't been unemployed - all this training is pretty time consuming and thanks to the 'four seasons in one day' Scottish weather it can be hard to motivate yourself to go out in gale-force winds when its raining. With all my spare time I have been able to plan my running so as to miss to nastiest of weather. Also, having my training as kept me from getting too down about my non-job situation, not to mention filling in the time when not conducting fruitless job searches.

Although my longest run has only been 16miles I am hoping the adrenaline on the day will kick in. It is still scary to think that there is an extra 10miles on top of my longest distance and considering my legs were about to give way, I'm going to try not think about it!

The greatest thing about this being my last week is that its a pretty easy week with the longest run being 5miles and also I get to eat big bowls of pasta without feeling guilty!!

My last long run yesterday (Sunday) was pretty good and I managed the 10miles with (relative) ease, though it wasn't exactly a fast run. It also wasn't a particularly nice day- a bit rainy but it wasn't too warm which was perfect. I have done quite a few runs on quite warm, sunny days and I noticed the difference it can make to my performance, constantly having to stop and drink etc. I have been worried about keeping hydrated and also keeping my energy levels up - on one long run I tried a energy gel which made me gag, I've tried jelly babies which stick to my teeth and are frankly a bit of a faff, and I usually only take water with me, so will be relying on getting lucozade from the energy stations.

This time next week I'll no doubt be hobbling round, glad that its over and probably itching to get back out for my next run.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Getting back to it...

It's been such a long time since my last post, I'm not sure how to start.
It's been a difficult couple of months. Having running as a way of keeping me motivated and most importantly giving me something to do whilst dealing with being unemployed suffered a big setback with 2 injuries plaguing my right foot. I had already had a couple of weeks off before going to Peru. It was in Peru and the week following my return where I was pretty ill that set my training back even further. In total I had about a month of no training whatsoever.

Finally, on a bright spring day I was finally getting over the nasty stomach bug I had brought back from Peru and I thought, "right, I am getting out for a jog even if it kills me". Having been in bed, not eating and having lost quite a bit of weight, (one of the only upside to being that ill!) my first outing wasn't exactly inspiring. I managed about 20mins at a pace barely above a fast walk and I was thoroughly knackered after it. I would just have to accept that it would take a while to get back up to full strength and back on my training track.

That was about 3 weeks ago and a few days ago I managed to do 10 miles in about an hour and 3 quarters. It was supposed to be 13miles. However, having reached a point where I was a very long way from home, having inadvertently changed my route, I turned to head back. It was then that my tummy decided to do some very strange things...of which none felt good. I had to stop running and slow down to a laboured but brisk walk. This was accompanied by the sun performing a disappearing act and the wind picking up. Things went downhill from there. At this point I will reveal the lesson I learnt from this experience - never to go on a long run without a phone or a bus fare, preferably both. I had neither - I had stupidly thought that I would manage a nice long run without mishap. I ended up walking a very painful 5 miles to my parents house, which in my mind seemed closer than my own flat. This took me a good hour and 20 minutes. I had to keep stopping to double over as my bowels twisted themselves into knots. I know I could have hazarded asking a passer by to borrow their phone, or gone into a shop to do similar but am terrible at asking for a strangers help. Anyway, what seemed like a terribly long time, my parent house appeared round a corner - I have never been so relieved to find a door unlocked in my life (I had no idea if my parents were in or not!). Without announcing my unexpected appearance I sprinted up the stairs to a very welcome bathroom.

I can safely say that is one of the most unpleasant 5 miles I have covered in my life - I am still nervous that I am in no way nearly ready for the Edinburgh marathon, but I am sure that whatever happens I will be able to struggle past the finish line, no matter what! I am hoping that my new orthotic insoles will keep my foot pain at bay and my pretty extensive routine of stretches and strength exercises will ward off any new injury.

I will be aiming for a 15 miles run this weekend - I most definitely will not forget my phone and an emergency bus fare :)