Monday, 30 April 2012

Liebster Award

Yesterday I found out that the lovely diaryofadashinista had awarded From Snickers to Marathon a Liebster, the blog award for small blogs with less than 200 followers. I'm really pleased that Dash enjoys my blog enough to award this to me. She's someone that I met through Boutique Run back before Christmas and I've loved following her tales of running, general fitness and fashion ever since.

We were training for our first marathons at the same time and it's been great to keep up to date with her training - I've picked up loads of training tips from her along the way. I've also loved her fashion reviews and particularly enjoy her features on 'What to wear when.....' - her latest advice being on belly dancing!

Dash is never knowingly understyled and the design of her blog is a testament to this - it's super chic!

If you receive a Liebster, you should in turn nominate five more bloggers with less than 200 followers. So the Snickers awards go to:

1. Lozzatron - Laura has been on a similar running journey to me. As a fellow first time marathoner her blog - with the tag line 'Careful what you wish for' has been a great read and really motivating for me. At times when I've felt really slow and was convinced I was going to come last in the marathon it's been great to read about her progress and know that there were others out there like me aiming for somewhere under 6 hours on their first attempt.

2. The Moiderer - to moider means to talk a lot and that's what Dawn does. About her life, her little one and her husband, changing her life with Cognitive Hypnotherapy, cooking, travelling - you name it The Moiderer covers it. I love this blog as it's written with such honesty and openness. Dawn's been on a pretty amazing personal journey this year and I think it's a privilege that she's shared it with so many people through her blogging.

3. iknowineedtostoptalking- the hilarious KT gets my next award. Her honest and often graphic account of life with two small children never fails to bring a smile to my face. Among the tales of vomit and poo there is also much talk of wine and gin. I am not a mum but if I were I think I'd like to be this kind of mum.

4. Darin McCloud - what more can I say that I've not already said about this amazing man? His blog plots his journey from a 20 stone man seeking gastric bypass surgery to 15 stone marathon runner. It's a fantastically honest account of his Thinking Slimmer journey and one which I know has provided inspiration to many people, me included. I am proud to have crossed the finishing line of the London Marathon with this remarkable person.

5. Jackie Newman - my final award goes to Jackie. Her blog is charting her progress with Thinking Slimmer and is an inspirational read. Jackie has totally embraced the Slimpods and they are helping her to change her life in the same way that they have helped me to change mine.

The rules of the Liebster are:

1. Link back to the person who gave it to you and thank them.

2. Post the award to your blog.

3. Give the award to 5 bloggers with less than 200 followers that you appreciate and value (it’s a great way to get to word out there about other blogs).

4. Leave a comment on the 5 blogs to let them know that they have received this award.

So now what?

So a week on from the London Marathon and I feel like I am pretty much recovered. On Monday and Tuesday my legs were very sore, a sports massage on Monday helped a lot but I was still hobbling a bit on Tuesday. From Wednesday they started to feel better but I was then overwhelmed by feelings of exhaustion. I just wanted to sleep all day. And eat. But by Friday I had started to feel human again and went out for a little 5K run which I enjoyed. I was a bit creaky but held a steady pace. And now on Monday I feel pretty much back to normal again.

But what is normal now? I've trained for 4 months for the marathon and I don't want to lose the fitness levels that I've built up. OK, so maybe I don't want to be out running 15-18 milers every weekend but I do love running and I need a new goal to focus on. So here's my plan....

During my marathon training I started run/walking - a good strategy to see me through my training and to my first marathon. However, it's trained my body to expect a walking break every 10mins in my runs and I want to train it back away from that. I want to be a 'proper' runner, ultimately I want to be able to run a whole marathon. I also want to get faster which means dropping down to shorter distances to begin with.

I have the following races lined up so far this year and have set myself a goal for each of them

23rd May - British Heart Foundation Canary Wharf jog - aim to get a new 5K PB

27th May BUPA 10K -  aim to run the whole way without stopping and set a baseline 10K time

8th July - British 10K - aim to beat the time I set in the BUPA 10K

15th Sept - Pride 10K in Victoria Park (not yet entered) - aim to beat the time I set in British 10K

14th October - Kingston run (16 miles not yet entered) - aim to run the whole way and beat my time from April of 3hrs 15 mins

28th October  - Great South Run (10miles) - aim to run the whole way and beat last year's time of 2hrs and 2 mins

I have also just entered the online ballot for the London Marathon 2013. There's a 1 in 8 chance that I'll get a place so it's far from definite that I'll get in but I just had to try!

I'm also going to continue blogging as I've enjoyed keeping a record of my progress and sharing it with other people so I hope you'll continue to stop by and check on how I'm doing. Better still come and join me at one of the races!

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Virgin London Marathon 2012

On Sunday morning after a fitful night's sleep I woke up to the day that I had been waiting for since I got my place back in October. The day I would run the London Marathon. I hadn't expected to sleep well, but I had at least had some sleep and I didn't feel too tired when the alarm went off.

As I got dressed in my gear and ate my porridge and banana a strange feeling swept over me. I still can't quite put my finger on what it was - a mixture of anxiety, nerves, excitment and ever so slight sadness that by the end of the day it would all be over. It was a heady mix of emotions, so when Mr J came to give me a hug and tell me that he was proud of me it pretty much sent me over the edge and I became a sobbing mess dressed in lycra for a few minutes.

Having regained my composure I was ready to set off and meet my fellow Team Thinking Slimmer runners Darin and Dawn at Limehouse DLR station. I waved goodbye to Mr J and his Mum who had come to support me and headed out of the flat.

Darin and Dawn were waiting for me at the station and we set off on the DLR to Greenwich. I was hoping that we might bump into my friend Lisa at some point before the start and as luck would have it she was standing right outside Greenwich DLR station when we arrived. We all walked up towards the Red Start together. Walking through Greenwich Park it all started to become very real. Hundreds, thousands of other people getting ready to take on the 26.2 miles.

We said goodbye to Lisa and went off to try and locate the Nestle Pure Life tent as Dawn needed to meet them before the race. Having established our meeting point we went about our pre-race business - toilet stops, topping up the water levels, depositing our bags in the luggage trucks and getting ourselves ready for the start.

It was a beautiful morning in Greenwich Park - sunny and a bit cool - perfect runnng conditions. At 9am we watched the start of the women's race on the big screens located in the park. My stomach flipped - in 45 mins it would be our turn. After another toilet stop it was time to head for our starting pens. We were all in pen 9 - the last pen for everyone who had indicated a greater than 5 hour finish time. As the start time drew nearer the pen got busier and busier. There were people in front of us as far as my eyes could see.

9.45am finally came around and we moved.....nowhere. Then gradually and slowly we started to walk towards the start line. It must have taken about 20 mins for us to get to the gates of Greewich Park and turn the corner to see the start line. Finally we crossed it and at last starting running the London Marathon!

We had a strategy for what we would do - run for 9 mins and walk for one at a pace of no more than 12 and a half minutes per mile. For the first mile this was relatively easy as there were a lot of people around but we soon had to concentrate on keeping our pace down and not running too fast. It was easy to get carried away - there were huge crowds lining the streets, cheering us on right from the start and the excitement to finally get started meant that the adrenaline was really flowing.

The first few miles felt effortless and a lot of fun. Darin was working the crowd with style - high fiving all the kids along the street and lapping up the cheers. Dawn and I were keeping an eye on the pace and making sure he didn't go rushing off ahead!

Within the first two miles I had scored two off my marathon bingo - I'd been passed by someone in a ridiculous costume (actually several rhinos) and a man who looked old enough to be my grandad.  I was having a whale of a time, laughing and joking with Darin and Dawn and just soaking up the atmosphere.

By mile 6 we were headed into Greenwich and towards the Cutty Sark. I was feeling pretty comfortable but was aware that Dawn had started to fall behind a bit. Darin and I have run together before and know that we are pretty evenly matched pace wise. Running with Dawn was a new experience. We had promised before the race that we would go ahead of her if she wanted us to and by the time we had passed the Cutty Sark she signalled to us that that time had come. Relucantly Darin and I headed off - we knew she'd be OK as she's so strong and determined but we had hoped to stay together for longer.

Miles 7-8 passed quickly and we noticed that we had picked up the pace a bit. At that point I began to feel it in my legs and said to Darin that I felt I needed to back off a bit. From the start I had been thinking that I needed the toilet. This often happens to me at the start of a long run - the phantom wee - usually caused by nerves. Every time before it had gone away, in all my training I have never had to stop for the toilet. This time it was real. I needed the toilet so soon after crossing the 10 mile marker we stopped to use the loos.

Relieved, we set off again towards mile 11. I felt like I was struggling a bit at this point so it was a massive surprise to suddenly hear "Go Becca, Go Darin" being shouted at us from by a voice that I recognised. I looked up and saw my friend Rachael standing by the side of the road, cheering us on. That gave me a real boost as we headed towards mile 12 and Tower Bridge.

For me Tower Bridge is an iconic part of the marathon and as we turned off Tooley St and onto the bridge I had tears in my eyes. I was really here, really running the London Marathon

The noise that the crowds on the bridge were making was amazing, it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. My legs were starting to hurt and I'd been needed to take more walking breaks but I found a surge of energy from somewhere and we turned onto The Highway and towards the Mile 13 marker. I was now in home territory. I knew the route from here to mile 19 like the back of my hand. And I knew I had my family waiting at mile 14 - I was tired and achey but this thought gave me a lift.

As we neared the 14 mile marker my calves were starting to hurt quite a lot and I asked Darin if we could take an extra walking break. He seemed quite relieved and admitted that his calves were hurting too so we walked for a while before turning off The Highway and onto Narrow St. We started running again as we turned the corner and headed towards the stretch of road where I knew my family would be waiting. It was fantastic to spot them all - they were waving like crazy and making a lot of noise.

After quicky introducing Darin to everyone and some hugs and kisses we set off again down Narrow St giving them all a wave as we went

Literally a minute after we'd left my family I felt a tap on my back - it was @lozzatron from Twitter and the first member of the #vlmfamily that I'd spotted on the day. It was lovely to meet her, she looked like she was doing well and using the same kind of run/walk strategy as Darin and I. Then, just over the bridge I spotted my osteopath Glenn waiting for me - I ran to give him a hug and he ran with us for a while wishing us well and making sure we were OK.

I felt on top of the world and like I could have kept running forever at that point but we were due a walking break and so we took one. We started running again as we turned the corner onto Westferry Road, but Darin pulled up quite suddenly with a pain in his calf. He said that it felt better when he walked so we walked for a while to see if it eased off. We tried running again but it was no good. Darin kept pulling up sharply and we knew something was wrong. We stopped to stretch for a bit and then carried on walking. I suggested that we should stop at the next St John's Ambulance point and see if he could get a massage.

The people of St John's Ambulance were fantastic - massaged out Darin's calves and advised him to take long walking strides and heel strike to help his calves. So we both did this for most of mile 16. At this point Darin turned to me and said "do you want to go ahead?" I had a decision to make but it took all of a second to make - we had started as a team and I intended to finish as a team. At that point the goal became to finish in one piece and all thoughts of mile timings went out of the window.

As we turned the corner towards Mile 17 Darin wanted to try running again. We did for a short while but it was still no good - there was another St John's Ambulance station and we decided to stop again to get him another massage. Once this was done we headed off towards Mudchute where I knew that @Dashinista was waiting. We nearly walked right past her as she was tracking me online as we went past but luckily I spotted her. After a hug and some words of encouragement we set off again towards Canary Wharf.

Darin kept trying to run with no joy so we decided just to stick to the walking until we had got past 20 miles and see what happened then. So we power walked our way around Canary Wharf with me setting the pace and were soon arriving in Poplar and mile 20. At this point I started to get excited again as I knew my family would be waiting near mile 21. We were walking at a good pace and I was feeling good. Although this was new territory for us both I knew that if nothing else I could keep walking for another 6.2 miles for sure and I felt that as long as I did, Darin would as well. We were going to finish.

We came back onto Commercial Road and soon spotted my family with my nephew holding up a banner for me

We stopped briefly for more hugs and words of encouragement before we set off again towards the finish line. Still over 5 miles away!

As we turned the corner back onto The Highway and back towards the Embankment the sky was turning dark, the temperatute dropped and the wind picked up. The forecasted rain was clearly on it's way. At this point the crowd came into their own. So many people shouting our names and wishing us luck - it was amazing, I can't describe how much difference it made.

Before long we were back at Tower Bridge and at this point the rain started falling. At first it wasn't too heavy but before long it was pouring down. Luckily we were close to a Lucozade fuelling station who had just started handing out rain ponchos. We grabbed them gratefully and stopped under Blackfriar's underpass to put them on. It's a good thing we did as we emerged from the other side into torrential rain.

By this point we were at mile 24 and Big Ben was in sight. We kept trudging on knowing there really wasn't far to go. The crowds were still there in the pouring rain. I was trying really hard to acknowledge each person who shouted my name with a smile and a thank you. One woman told me that I had given her the best smile she'd seen all day!

Finally we got to Big Ben and turned onto Birdcage Walk. It had stopped raining so we took off our ponchos and got ready to complete our final mile and a bit. We had agreed to run from Buckingham Palace to the finish so we continued to walk until we got to the top of Birdcage Walk and saw the sign that I had been waiting all day to see

Followed very shortly by something that I hadn't expected to see. Sandra and Chris from Thinking Slimmer standing in the crowd cheering us on. To say we were delighted would be an understatement

After a quick stop for hugs we turned the corner onto the Mall and ran the final few meters of the marathon. Crossing the finish line felt absolutely amazing. I had finished the London Marathon. The clock said 6hrs and 27 mins but I didn't care - my goal was to finish with a smile on my face and I did that with style.

We were given our medals and goody bags, picked up our kit bags and made our way back to Horseguards parade to the meeting area. I felt pretty spaced out at this point. I knew I needed to keep moving but I really wanted just to collapse.

Once on Horseguards I spotted Mr J who had been waiting for me and we were re-united with Dawn who we later realised had crossed the finished line just minutes before us having kept her steady pace all the way around. Team Thinking Slimmer had done it. I had done it.

Only once I'd got home did it all really start to sink in. I had completed the London Marathon. Slower than I had ideally wanted but given what happened on the day I was just grateful to have got around in one piece. On the way home we started to hear reports that a young woman had collapsed and died in the final mile of the race. That just put everything into perspective. I had completed the race and I was alive and that really was all that mattered.

So I Rebecca Jones am now a marathoner. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. Maybe not next year - I have a lot to work on in terms of strength and speed. But I will absolutely definitely be back to run those 26.2 miles again. There's something very very special about them indeed.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

My marathon mile dedications

So just under 3 days to go until I make my way to Greenwich Park for the start of the London Marathon 2012. I am trained and ready and getting very excited about the day.

26.2 miles is a really long way and I'm going to be out on that course for at least 5 if not 6 hours. At times it's bound to feel very tough. I know I'm going to complete it - not doing so is just not an option but I want to make it as 'easy' as I can for myself.

One of the people that I've met through Twitter - the lovely @duns _is_running aka Hannah Dunnell suggested dedicating each mile to someone that I know, so that when things get tough you can think about that person and find the motivation to run, knowing that you are running that mile for them. I love the idea so here are my marathon mile dedications for people who have inspired, supported or helped me on my marathon journey

Mile 1 is mine all mine -  the 345 training miles I have put in have been all about getting me to the start line ready to complete this thing. I will enjoy the first mile and not run it too fast, honest.

Mile 2 is for everyone else running with me today - all 35000 of you. I now know exactly what it takes to train for a marathon and it's not easy. You have my total respect and I hope you all enjoy the day.

Mile 3 is for Simon Broome. The man who helped me find the self belief and confidence to lace up my trainers and take the first step out of my front door. Thank you!

Mile 4 is for everyone at Good Vibes Fitness particularly the fabulous Nahid, the lovely Choi and the man with the constant smile Andrew. Thank you for the yoga and powerplates classes which have strengthened and lengthened me and been an excellent complement to my running.

Mile 5 is for the girls of Boutique Running Club who have helped me realise that I enjoy running with other people and that I can run faster than I thought for longer than I thought. Thank you for all your encouragement. I hope to see you all soon after I've recovered from this!

Mile 6 is for everyone that's sponsored me and helped me to smash my Golden Bond pledge. I have currently raised just under £1600 which is absolutely amazing and will help the charity to do great things in my local community. Thank you all!

Mile 7  is for all my friends and colleagues at FSS who have lost or will lose their jobs due to the closure of the company. What an 18 months it's been and I'm proud of the way we've all handled it. Thank you for all the support you've shown me during my training.

Mile 8 is for my 'cousin' in New York Andrew who ran the New York Marathon last year - maybe one day I'll come and run New York with you. Thank you for all your encouragement.

Mile 9 is for my sister in law Katrina in Denver who is an amazing athlete and marathon runner and one of my original running inspirations. Thank you for all your advice and support - I really appreciate it.

Mile 10 is for Lorraine Albon - Darin's diabetic consultant who ran by my side for the whole of the 10 mile Great South Run last October and helped me to achieve a brilliant time that I'm convinced I wouldn't have managed on my own. We will think of you today.

Mile 11 is for my sister Rachel and her boyfriend Shaun - thank you for coming up to support me today, I really appreciate it. I'm looking forward to meeting my new niece or nephew later this year

Mile 12 is for everyone at Thinking Slimmer especially Sandra and Trevor. I would not be doing this today if it weren't for finding you. Perhaps at some point in the race I won't be thinking 'thank you' for that, but I am so grateful for everything you've helped me to achieve over the last year. So 'thank you' while I mean it!

Mile 13 is for my Mother in Law, Jean who has travelled down from Stafford to support me today. Thank you so much and I'm looking forward to seeing you along the route.

Mile 14 is for my Mum and Dad who should be waiting at this point on the route. One or other or perhaps both of you has passed on some ridiculous 'determination' gene which means I know I won't give up today. Thank you, I think. And thanks for coming up to support me. Please don't cry when you see me Mum because you'll probably make me cry too. Actually, that goes for Dad too.

Mile 15 is for Glenn Sontag my bloody marvellous osteopath and sports masseur who has kept me in one piece through my training and should hopefully be out to give me a cheer somewhere near mile 15 on Narrow St.

Mile 16 is for my colleague and friend Rachael. Two times finisher of the London Marathon and runner of many other races. Rachael was the person who convinced me that I could run London this year if I wanted to. Thank you so much for listening to my endless, no doubt very boring tales of marathon training and for all the advice and support.

Mile 17 is for Christine aka @Dashinista and one of the Boutique Running Club ladies. She has been training for the Brighton marathon at the same time as I've been training for London and it's been great to swap tips, advice, woes and progress. She completed Brighton in style last weekend and I can't wait to see her at mile 17 cheering us on.

Mile 18 is for Hannah aka @Duns_is_Running. I've never actually met Hannah but she's been a source of support and much entertainment on Twitter for the last few months. Mile 18 will be new territory for her so I'm dedicating this one to her. You can do it! I'm waiting to see to photographic evidence of your finishing line 'gun' pose - complete with arm warmers of course!

Mile 19 is for Lisa aka @LBehrG who as she starts the race today will be 7 stone lighter than when I first met her many years ago. Your weight loss and running journey has been a source of inspiration to me. You will probably have crossed the finish line by the time I get to this point. I really hope you get the time you want, and most importantly beat your husband's time from a few years ago as I know that's what really matters to you!

Mile 20 is for the Twitter #LondonMarathon #vlmfamily crew - @PumpinPete @MadebyElves @Ruthismoore @KatieMarathon @Rob_Sterry29 @lozzatron12 @andythatcher1 @alisonhardisty @TomDingleyphoto @SarahJaneCass to name just a few. I haven't met any of you but you have all been brilliant company through the ups and downs of training. This mile is the threshold that many of us have not yet crossed - I wish you all the very best of runs and look forward to comparing notes afterwards.

Mile 21 is for my niece Sophie and nephew Johnathan who should be waiting to cheer me on at this point, as well as my nephew Alex who has to work so can't be there. I hope that seeing me do this today will make you realise that anything is possible. If you want something enough and you work really hard then you can achieve it - any don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise!

Mile 22 is for the amazing woman running next to me Dawn aka @The_Moiderer. I don't think I have ever met anyone who is quite so resilient, determined and downright stubborn! The changes you have made to your life this year are remarkable and an inspiration. I'm very proud to be running this with you.

Mile 23 is for the equally amazing man also running with me Darin aka @unitedarinm. A genuinely lovely man who has changed his life for the better in so many ways this year. My running buddy from the Great South Run and Brighton Half Marathon, I'm so glad and proud that we get to cross this particular finish line together. I will make you slow down in the first half - it's for our own good and I'm counting on you to help keep me going in the second!

Mile 24 is for my Uncle Brian who sadly is no longer with us. I'm going to need every ounce of courage to get me through these last few miles and I will think of you and the way you bravely fought against your illness to help me at this point.

Mile 25 is for my husband and best friend Mr J. For the words of encouragement before my runs. For the hugs and 'well dones' afterwards. For standing in the cold and rain carrying my stuff at races. For accepting that our Saturday nights needed to be a bit more low key. For making approving noises as I've modelled endless new running gear. For cooking for me during each long run and not making a fuss when I abandoned you for hours on end at the weekend. For generally being a brilliant supportive husband. THANK YOU. I love you.

Mile 26 and the extra 0.2 belong to me. I have imagined for years how it would feel to run up Birdcage Walk, past Buckingham Palace and back down the Mall across the finish line and now I get to find out. Yep, this mile and a bit is mine. I think I will have earned it.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

I'm registered!!

Today was the start of the London Marathon Expo at the Excel Centre in Docklands. All runners have to come here to register and being the total control freak planner/organiser that I am I decided that I needed to come and get my stuff as soon as I possibly could.

Having met a friend Lisa for coffee at Canary Wharf we set off for Excel on the DLR - it was a very easy journey and once at the DLR station there was a covered walkway that took us straight into the exhibition centre. We got there about 10mins before the Expo was due to open but there was already a pretty big queue in front of us. Once the doors actually opened the queue moved very quickly and we were soon in the main area of the event.

The first thing to do was to register. This was incredibly straight forward. There are lots of queues with number ranges and you just have to find yours and join the queue!

This was my queue and there were only about 6 people in front of me.

The queue moved quickly and when I got to the front I was asked for my registration form and ID and then had to sign the disclaimer on the form in from of the person on the stand. I was then passed over to another person who gave me my all important envelope containing my race number, safety pins, sticker for my kit bag and ties to attached my timing chip. She also gave me my kit bag and last minute information magazine.

From there we were directed to the area where you get your timing chip activated

Here my running number was scanned and a timing chip activated which was then added into my envelope. I now had everything I needed for race day. From there it was out into the Expo itself. There were loads of stands selling pretty much everything you can imagine to do with running and it was interesting to look around.

Lisa made use of the T-shirt printing facilities - a word of advice here if you're planning on using these - head straight for them after registration as there was quite a queue and then about a 45 min wait for the shirt to be printed before you could pick up the shirt at the exit.

I managed to meet up with Darin who had come up to London today to register. It was really good to see him and we made our arrangements for meeting on Sunday morning - I can't really believe it's only 4 days away now.

By this time Lisa's T-shirt was ready to be collected and we decided to leave. I could have spent far longer at the Expo if I had been planning on spending money! I'm also coming back on Saturday with Dawn so there will be more time to look around then if I want to.

So that's it, the final piece of preparation sorted and I'm registered to run my first ever London Marathon. I have my final sports massage this afternoon and will do a very gentle 30 min run on Friday morning. Other than that I am ready to go! Bring it on!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Week 17 complete - the start of taper madness

So this is the end of week 17 and I am now well and truely into the taper. Just one week from now I will have completed the Virgin London Marathon!

My training this week has been very much reduced from weeks gone by. 3 runs of 7, 4 and 6 miles and a couple of yoga classes. The runs have been OK in general although I have started to worry that I've not done a really long run in a couple of weeks. Apparently this worrying is totally natural and part of the 'taper madness' that can set in at this point.

On Sunday I went out dressed in my marathon kit to try it all out together for one last time before the day. You may have seen my flourescent vest in a previous post but I have decided that if I've got to wear colour then I may as well completely embrace that so I'm going for an 80s inspried fluoro look on the day.

At least my family should be able to pick me out in the crowd!

I decided to run part of the marathon route on Sunday and made my way to The Highway to run miles 14-18 around the Isle of Dogs. As I was running along The Highway I saw a lorry which was delivering these at the side of the road

The barriers which will eventually line the route! Although I know that the day is really near now, seeing things like this still stop me in my tracks and make me feel sick with nerves and excitement.

So there are now less than 7 days to go until the day that I've been training for for the last 4 months. Part of me can't wait, part of me is starting to feel a little sad that this training will soon be over and so will the day. But I'm trying to keep that part at the back of my mind so that I can enjoy the build up and make sure I'm in the best shape that I can be for the day itself. This week involves a small amount of running but mainly a lot of rest and eating. I'm pretty sure I can handle that!

I'm absolutely delighted to report that I've also reached my fundraising minimum target and have met my Golden Bond pledge for my charity. It has always been my aim to have been at this point before the day of the race and I'm incredibly grateful to everyone that has sponsored me and made this a reality.

I have increased my target as I'd like to raise as much as possible for the charity which I think is a very worthy cause. If you'd like to support me by sponsoring me please visit

Thank you!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Thinking Slimmer - an update

Today something happened which had you told me about a year ago I would have laughed in your face. My Thinking Slimmer and running journey has been featured in BodyFit magazine

To say I'm chuffed would be an understatement and it made me think about how far I've come on my Thinking Slimmer journey. With the London Marathon less than two weeks away I thought it would be good to review my progress towards my current Thinking Slimmer goals.

Goal One - to train for and complete the London Marathon 2012

Although the marathon itself is still 12 days away I know that I have trained well and done everything I could have done to put me in the best position to be able to complete the race on the day. I have never been concerned with how long it will take me, as a first timer this is all about completing the distance, enjoying the experience and finishing with a smile on my face.

I know now from the training that I have done that I will definitely finish on the day, even if I have to crawl the last few miles. That's an amazing feeling for someone who only started running around this time last year.

Goal Two - to be wearing size 12 running gear by the time of the marathon

This one gets a great big tick. I now have a couple of running tops and two pairs of running capris in a size 12. On the day I will be wearing a size 12 top underneath my charity running vest.

Now the crazy thing is that I am still pretty much the same weight as when I ran the Great South Run back in October - give or take a few pounds. But these photos ought to illustrate the change in my size

This one was taken back in October at the Great South Run.

And this was taken last weekend at the Kingston Breakfast Run

The scales haven't moved but I am most definitely smaller!!

Goal Three - To raise £1250 for the Docklands Settlements and meet my Golden Bond pledge

Not all goals with Thinking Slimmer have to be weight related and this one isn't. I have a charity place for the marathon and as part of that I have pledged to raise £1250 for a small East London charity that does community support work in the area that I live.

Thanks to the generosity of family, friends and colleagues my current fundraising total stands at £1180. I am just £70 away from my target with several people who have promised to sponsor me still to donate. I am very confident that I will reach my target, so much so that I have raised my target by £250 and now hope to raise £1500 for what I think is a really worthwhile cause.

So, if you're reading this and have a couple of spare pounds that you could donate to help me towards this new target then please visit and donate securely online.

So I am on track to achieve all of my current goals by marathon day. I've already started to think about what comes next but that's for another day.

For now this is all about the next 12 days and getting to that start line, fundraising target met and in good shape ready to run the London Marathon 2012!

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Week 16 - this week I have been mostly.....knackered!

So here I am at the end of week 16 of my training for the London Marathon and there are just two weeks of training left to go before the big day.

This week was the start of the hallowed taper meaning that the mileage of my runs has decreased. Not by much to be honest in the first week of the taper but mentally it's been good to know that the *really* long runs are over and that I have run all the distances left on the plan a good number of times before. There's nothing scary or unknown left to do.

After my 20 miler last Sunday I was pleasantly surprised to wake up on Monday morning and feel pretty much OK. A bit achey but really not that bad considering. I had an appointment with my osteopath in the afternoon which confirmed that I was in pretty good shape given what I had put my body through the day before. Quite a relief.

I felt fine on Tuesday and Wednesday and managed a yoga class and a short 4 mile recovery run. We live pretty much right on the marathon route and on Wednesday morning I saw a sign which made my stomach flip!

On Thursday I started to feel really tired. Like I had no energy at all. All I wanted to do was sleep and eat. Dash told me that it can take the body up to a week to recover from running 20 miles and I put this lethargy down to my body still being in recovery mode.

This general feeling of tiredness continued into Friday but having missed a run on Thursday I decided to drag my sorry legs out for another 4 mile run. We are staying with my mother in law for the Easter weekend so this was a run around a small Staffordshire village and a short way up the Shropshire Union Canal. Very different to my usual running environment!

Although I was tired it was good to get out and stretch my legs and I felt far more energised after the run. Saturday was a rest day and today I have been out for a 6 mile run in the countryside. The plan has a 12 mile run scheduled for today but I'm going to do that on Tuesday once we're home.

I really enjoyed the run today. I rarely run in the country and the views were pretty different to what I experience running in central London!

I'm pleased to say that my fundraising is also going really well, thanks to the generosity of family, friends and colleagues. I'm not quite at my target yet so if you could spare a few pounds to sponsor me I would really appreciate it.

To donate securely online please visit

Thank you!

So although I've been pretty tired for a lot of the week I've still managed to put in a fair few miles. I'm feeling and confident and ready for April 22nd. BRING IT ON!!

Thursday, 5 April 2012

My favourite running songs

So on Sunday I ran a  16 mile race on my own. Since I knew that I'd be towards the back of the pack I decided to bring along my mp3 player. I usually listen to music when I'm running on my own, it keeps me going, gives me something to run in time to and when the right song comes on at the right time can give me a lift almost equivalent to having taken an energy gel.

There are some songs on my playlist that always help me to run just that bit faster or help me dig in when things are feeling tough so I thought I'd share those with you

Florence and the Machine - Dog Days Are Over

I remember seeing the documentary on Eddie Izzard when he did his crazy running challenge and this was the soundtrack. How can you not run faster when the song is telling you to?

Matthew Wilder - Break My Stride

An 80s classic which makes me smile as I'm running

The Futureheads - Hounds of Love

One of my favourite ever covers, when this song comes on my feet seem to magically want to move faster.

Rage Against the Machine - Killing in the Name of

I know this won't be everyone's cup of tea - it's noisy, it's angry and it's sweary. But I love it - it takes me back to my student days and there's nothing better than getting to a tough bit in a run, listening to this track and shouting "**** you I won't do what you tell me" at your legs. Works for me anyway!

Eminem feat Nate Dogg - Till I Collapse

This may be my favourite running track ever - it's especially good when I've hit a rough patch. The first few lines of the lyrics just stop any negative thoughts I'm having and the beat just seems to make my feet move in time with it. One for mile 20 onwards of the marathon I think!

Sometimes you just feel tired, feel weak
And when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up
But you gotta search within you, try to find that inner strength
and just pull that s*** out of you
And get that motivation not to give up, and not be a quitter
No matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face, and collapse

The Temper Trap - Sweet Disposition

Something a little less shouty to finish with. This song makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It's brilliant.

I am always looking to add to my running music collection so tell me - what's your favourite running track?

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Week 15 complete

I'm sitting on my sofa typing this in my recovery compression tights having just completed the longest run of my training for the London Marathon. There are now just 3 weeks to go before the big day and I'm now feeling ready and confident that I will make it around those 26.2 miles one way or another.

When I first looked at my training plan back in October this week was always the one that I stared at in disbelief and wondered how on earth I'd be able to do it. But 15 weeks of training and it's done. To be fair I've not done all the runs that were scheduled this week as I thought it was more important to rest my legs for today but what's 5 miles these days between friends?

This week has been all about building up to the 20 miler. I have run all my long runs so far on my own and at times it's been pretty difficult. So when of of the girls that I've met via Boutique Sport mentioned the 16 mile Kingston Breakfast Run to me I thought it would be a good way to run the majority of my longest run with other people around me. My parents live a convenient 4 miles away from Kingston so my plan was to run the 16 mile race and then run back to their house.

So Saturday evening saw me waving goodbye to Mr J and heading to Surbiton to spend a sober Saturday night at my parent's house. The alarm was set for 6am so I could get up and have my porridge and banana in time for it to have digested before the race which was due to start at 8.35am. It's been really warm all week but had cooled dow quite a lot on Saturday so I had packed both long and short sleeved options to decide between on Sunday morning.

I woke up bright and early, made breakfast and tried to decide what to wear. It was frosty but the sun was coming up and the sky looked pretty clear. I decided while I might be a bit cold to begin with that short sleeves were probably the best way to go. I'd rather be a bit chilly than too warm when I'm running.

My Mum and Dad were also up early so that my Dad could drive me into Kingston in plenty of time for the start of the race. It was strange being at the start of a race on my own. Previously Mr J has come with me and I've been meeting other people before the start but this time it was just me on my own. Runners are a friendly lot though and it wasn't long before I was chatting to a fellow marathon trainee about gels, the weather (it was much colder than I'd expected) and training the general.

The 8 mile race went off at 8am followed by the 16 mile sub 2hr women, then the 16 mile men and then finally me with the rest of the 16 mile women at 8.35. As I was continuing running after the race I had decided to run with my Nathan hydration rucksack so I had plenty of water and somewhere to put my bits and pieces while I ran.

There were two cut off times for the race, one at halfway of 1hr 40mins and 3.5hrs for the whole distance. I knew that I could make the halfway cut off in time but wanted to give myself a bit of breathing space by putting in a fast first few miles. Which is exactly what I did. By 4 miles in I knew that I had done enough to get around within the cut off comfortably.

The course was lovely, running along the side of the Thames on a bright and chilly morning, perfect running weather. On the first lap I felt pretty comfortable, I was averaging sub 12 minute miles and it felt good. I knew that at some point I would pay for it though as I can't keep up that pace over longer distances. I was prepared for having to slow down later in the race.

At around about 6 miles I was passed by the first of the fast men who were on their second lap and on their way to the finish line. It was amazing to watch them run past at a speed I can only dream of. Before long I was approaching the end of the first lap and was pleased to see that I'd made the time cut off with 5 mins to spare.

I slowed my pace straight away for the second lap. I knew that I needed to or my legs would want to give up on me later on. By this time the field had thinned out a lot. I knew that I'd be among the slower runners and was a bit concerned that I'd be last, but that wasn't the case. By the time I got to 10 miles I was feeling quite tired and was walking for more of each mile. Thankfully I'd put in enough faster miles that I knew I'd still make it around in plenty of time.

I eventually crossed the finish line in around 3hrs and 15 minutes - I was delighted with the time given that I was running on my own. I had my mp3 player on the whole way around and that definitely kept me moving at times when it felt tough. I collected my mug - there are no medals for this race and then a well stocked goody bag. I stopped for a couple of minutes to re-arrange the contents of my rucksack and make room for everything and then headed off for my parents.

Stopping turned out to be a bad idea. My hamstrings siezed up and felt really tight. I stopped to stretch them out which helped a bit but I found it very difficult to get running again. So I walked for most of miles 16-18. Then, after a few jellybeans and with my hamstrings warmed up again I found enough energy to run for some of mile 19 and 20. Those last 4 miles were really tough physically and I knew I was paying the price for my early pace.

I arrived back at my parent's house feeling exhausted and ready to collapse. When I did my 19 mile run two weeks ago, which had been far more evenly paced, I felt as if I could have continued. Not today. It was a really good lesson in pacing and something I need to be very careful about on April 22nd. Had I needed to complete another 6.2 miles today I would have done so but they would have been very tough. Much better to get to mile 20 feeling like I have something left in the tank for the last push.

So that's it - the longest run of my training done and I must admit I'm quite relieved. I now enter the hallowed taper where the mileage decreases to give my body time to rest and prepare for the big day.

Just 3 weeks away now! I know I've trained well and I'm ready which is a great confidence boost heading into the final 3 weeks of training, Bring it on!