4.15.2014

Finisher of the #LondonMarathon speaking...

The Morning of the #LondonMarathon

Early starts always heighten excitement - just think about getting up at 5am for a holiday - and the marathon was no different. I put on my gear with bleary eyes and got mum to take a picture so friends could track me. Me and Dad were getting the coach up to London with the rest of the Sandhurst Joggers and of COURSE... We were the last to the car park. 

By the time we had got there I had heard Mo Farah's advice from John (who's company I enjoyed on the coach) who was lucky enough to train with him last year... Some people get all the luck. I had eaten my oxidised smoothie which was now a grey-brown. And a Nature Valley bar. And a banana. I was so full by the start line but it didn't seem much to get me round - I just had to put faith in the trusty carbo loading.

Once we got off the coach the SJs (Sandhurst Joggers) sat in a circle and compared times, plans and they graciously lent me Vaseline and sun cream, two things that I didn't have in my heaving bag. I remember Becca's (a half marathon runner and friend) words "Vaseline everything". I tentatively wiped my upper arms to stop the tank piping from my charity vest from rubbing. 

We went to the portaloos a few times and the whole thing reminded me of morning spent at Redfest or Reading festival. Except this was much much more...

TO BE CONTINUED...

Things I didn't expect...

  • Salt from your sweat can chafe all sorts of areas. Let your imagination run wild...
  • Bottles can be a serious tripping hazard.
  • You cry without tears. There just isn't any spare water to cry out.
  • The drastic change in architecture.
  • You can be doubting yourself even with 800 yards to go.
  • You can need the loo when running - this has NEVER happened to me.
  • To get a tan (read: sunburn)
  • To finish.

'Thank-You's

You do not complete a marathon alone. This may sound like an Oscar speech, but there are certain people that I wouldn't have completed the marathon without.

My Mum...

...Who pushed her own limits to get me through my training runs. Mum's are unbelievably selfless.



My Dad...

...Who entered me to start with and was always ready with 'running talk'. Most of all he showed me how important it is to be passionate about your hobbies, because when the going gets tough it's a focus and the boost you often need. "Ian doesn't walk, Ian doesn't walk..."

My Framily and Friends who supported...

...My Mum, Brother and Uncle (who came all the way from Dallas). My Aunty Kirsty and cousins Susie and Adem who made my a sign and took time out of their revising schedule. My godmother Alison and god sister Hayley. My baby buddy Ruth and Kate who endured a looooong day despite needing a hip replacement. My best friends Josh (allow yourself a day off soon!) and my wife Lucy. I CAN'T BELIEVE SHE CAME TO SURPRISE MEEEEE!!! She was the first person I noticed when I came up to my supporters at 11 and a half miles and thought I was hallucinating. Matt who was screaming like there was no tomorrow when he saw me. Sammy who come out (but I unfortunately missed - I appreciate it all the same!!). All the Sandhurst joggers at the KM markers who endured sweaty hugs.

My supporters...

... To everyone who wished me luck, text me, tweeted me, congratulated me and read this blog. To all the encouraging messages that kept me smiling when all I wanted to do was mope around and curse the day I got my place. Friends from all walks of life have sent me messages and it's such a boost.




To all those who donated...

I didn't have to fundraise, but boy I'm glad I did. It's been a tricky couple of years. First I got ill, but more importantly my Dad's epilepsy came to test us all. It's been tough, but people know this and know how much I've struggled through the training and have donated extremely generously. I'm so chuffed at the donations I've received. Especially from the people who I haven't seen in a few years or rarely speak to - you're amazing and £2 donations mean every bit as much.

See my progress here. Currently the total stands at over £888 including gift aid!!!

To Sandhurst Joggers and to the regular runners...

To have a group of running nerds there to answer my every query has helped enormously. They make me laugh and cry with their encouragements, jokes and inspirational stories. (Please read Vicky's - I cry every time.) There's no commitment to run every week - and after my injury I certainly didn't - but they're there on Facebook still believing in me.

To Julie Melotte...

...Who got me through the first half of my longest training run, without tears, with massages. She came over and screamed my name across the crowd when I got in my pen at the start and as a result got the first tears of the day. The chirpiest person I've ever met!!

To Vicky Horne...

... Who ran with me every step of the way. Who showed a love for 'the marathon'. Who dragged me through my darkest mile(ssss). Who gave me her Cliff Bloks. Who had BIG news en route and STILL showed the patience of a saint. It's very rare to find someone who is so ballsy and so brave to push people (yes, she does this for anyone who needs it) to achieve their goals, even when it means her own time is sacrificed. We had the same time to the SECOND. What a diamond!!!!

To Epilepsy Action...

It mad such a difference fundraising with a charity. The extra support was fabulous. It's the small things - the name for my top, the handwritten note, the tweets, the press release, the massage at the finish, the warm welcome, the cheer over Tower Bridge... They were brilliant.

4.12.2014

Final Preparations for the #LondonMarathon

In 24 hours it will all be over. The months of training, the hundreds of pounds of donations, the tears and the biofreeze.

So here's how the last preparations went.

Final Run

After my final osteopathic appointment I went for a 3 mile run round the lake to try out some insoles. I'm still in two minds if they help things. On one hand my foot feels more supported, but I haven't done any of my training with them in - if the osteopath thinks it could be worth it, then surely it could be? It was a beautiful run and reminded me why I enjoy running - just the boost I needed.




Expo

In the week running up to the marathon you have to go collect your number from the Excel Centre in London, a MAHUSIVE exhibition space big enough for the grand London Marathon Expo. You arrive and everything is in bright red. 







The well oiled machine gives you your number, kit bag and chip. From here you can leave and be on your way... or go in and enjoy the hundreds of stalls. There are charities welcoming their runners, sponsors showing off their gear, installations for runners to make their mark on and lots of shops to buy last minute bits. 


It's a bit ironic to be buying things last minute as this is exactly what people advise against doing - wearing or using anything you haven't already tried out. Well as they say "the best made plans always run awry" and I will be using both a new bum bag and a new sports bra.




Getting Final Sponsors

As I got my place through the ballot, there was no need to raise a certain amount. Actually I didn't need to raise even a penny, but as a lot of people do I wanted to. It's been a tough year for my Dad after his epilepsy came and shook life up a bit. Epilepsy Action where there for advice and support - so I chose them.

I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the generosity for virtual strangers as well as my family, framily, friends and colleagues. It's always the ones you don't expect and these messages of encouragement and faith mean soOOOoooOOOOooooo much. 

If you're reading this Facebook friend... THANK-YOU for allowing me (kinda) to fill up your Facebook feed.

Organising your team

I know I'll cry when I see them tomorrow, but that's OK - marathons are goddamn emotional. My team will be accompanied by this handsome fella, so I shouldn't miss them!!



Nutrition

IF I were to do a marathon again I would up the anti on this one, but... I have been carbo loading like an absolute pro. If there is one thing I can do and do well it is MUNCH MUNCH MUNCH. Given my surprise cold this week (surprise!!) I've been loading up on the vitamins and lots of broccoli (for the vitamin C).

Laying out the kit

It's going to be an early start getting up at 5.45am (latest... after snoozes) so I wanted absolutely everything ready to go. At the Expo you get a kit bag which you label with your number. It's large enough for lots of layers of clothing, snacks and all the bits and bobs you need.


That bum bag contains a jelly baby a mile and two gels (so I can pretend I'm a pro) which I already tried out on my longer runs. It also contains a few sachets of biofreeze which I will attempt to administer without taking my running bottoms off (yeah right).

One of my favourite things from the Expo are these bands which help to give you an idea of how long it should take you to get to each mile. I'm not even sure what to expect, so I picked up a nice selection.

4.11.2014

A Tale of Two Cities



















This story pans across two great cities - London and Amsterdam. A lot of people go to Amsterdam to learn more about the work and life of Van Gough at the dedicated museum on Museumplein. I knew I definitely wanted the chance to go to this museum when I made Trip 5 to Amsterdam. A couple of weeks before my trip, I had a warm up at The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, London.

London

For a short period of time you can see two of Van Gough's sunflower paintings side-by-side. (Didn't know he did multiple versions?... I'll confess I may have an A in A-Level art, but neither did I until recently.) It's free (hurrah...) but after you get your little ticket you have to stand in the queue, which took us around 30 mins on a Saturday.


I originally fancied doing this on my own. Going to art galleries on your own is great. You see what you want for how long you want, you sit down, you people watch, you sigh and then you carry on with your day. Instead my parents quite fancied a trip to London too, but as you can see they weren't too much hassle...



You can't take photos in The National Gallery (didn't know this), but here's a lovely shot of my chosen souvenir...

Amsterdam

Now this is "le grand"... a WHOLE MUSEUM dedicated to Van Gough. Well actually there are temporary exhibitions on one of the floors and you also get a chance to see some of the people who inspired his work, so it's not completely exclusive.


I love this museum and it makes it to my top 5 ever. And the reason why I love it, is because you learn about Van Gough's life. He's portrayed as a real person. Sounds mad, but I have used similar methods in my own artwork. For example, he bought a pair of boots at a market and then muddied them before painting them. He painted some Japanese postcards, but made up a background so they weren't boring - how much of this sounds familiar to art students out there?? It's not stuffy and pretentious. It tells you what inspired him, the people that affected his artwork and not forgetting his rocky mental health.

I have a few tips for you though...


1. Buy your tickets from the Museum Shop. There was not one person in the queue when we went. We got given a timed slot and walked straight through. It's not any more expensive and saved us at least a 30 minute wait (AT LEAST!). It is located right by the IAMSTERDAM installation. See the photos below...



 2. Get an audio guide - I recommend the kids. Lucy and I both really enjoyed the kids audio guide. The recordings will take you on an hour-ish long trip round the museum and the information is simple but still informative... And if you listen right to the end you get a free postcard. All for 2,50 euros. An adults audio guide is 5 euros. Children's audio guides are aimed at children 12 years and below.


3. Allow time to look at the floor covering the way he painted and what he used. I haven't found this sort of information at other museums and galleries, so it's a unique touch. Plus there are some interactive areas, which Lucy lurvs.


For more information...

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/vincent-van-gogh-sunflowers
http://www.vangoghmuseum.nl/vgm/index.jsp?page=101&lang=en

4.10.2014

Amsterdam 'The Collection' - Trip 5

I quite like doing these little collections of items. It's like a 3D scrapbook of my travels. and takes much less time, plus I can add in big objects.


Stamps in Amsterdam are very reasonable and you can buy a set of about 10 for around 6 euros. Perfect for postcards.


The Hard Rock Cafe may not be very Dutch, but it hit the spot for a rather 'delicate' last lunch... and filled us up for our flight home. I've been taking Neurofen consistently to get rid of any swelling in the legs, ready for the marathon.

The blue floral postcard was from the Van Gough Museum (more to come). Tomaz restaurant was a highlight of the trip (more to come).


Sandeman's New Europe tours are great. The free tour is entertaining and a good way to get your bearings. We did this in Berlin too and loved it. Get there on time and pick up your ticket from a guide.

Taking a separate purse and adding a set amount of money each day as a 'kitty' meant everyone spent equally and saved time at tills - no need for 4 transactions or splitting a bill.


What would a trip be without a few souvenirs. This 'home is in your head' tee shirt really spoke to me - only one week til travelling. I've decided I'm going to collect I [heart] [city] tee shirts, frame them and make them wall art.


4.02.2014

11 days Til the London Marathon

Everyone wants there to be a magic fix. There are magic fixes I dare to argue. Antibiotics, casts and morphine are pretty damn magical. There are good fixes like putting pins in knee caps, ice on a swollen ankle and paracetamol. Then there are all other fixes. These are the fixes which which 'could' 'should' and 'would' work 'if', 'but' and 'when'. Physio, creams, vitamins, special nutrition, hypnotherapy. How many of these fixes would you try for something you really want?



I went for another treatment today and it felt like the others - painful, but possibly getting me one step closer to good healthy muscles. We all just want answers and this session was no different. Do I run? And should I run a couple of miles or quite a few miles? Do I cross train or is this pointless? Do I stretch and tone with pilates... or yoga? Will I cause permanent damage if I run the marathon? Will I cause enough damage to hinder my chances of enjoying travelling?



I tried an ice bath after I got back from Amsterdam this weekend, hoping this would give me some relief like it did after the 20 mile run. We all know really that no-one can give me the magic fix and no-one can giving me the answers I'm looking for sooner than they can tell you the answers to your exam; whether the new job is a good idea; or whether giving your friend another chance is worth it.



What does help is my emotions. Whether my body is ready or not, my mind still needs to be ready. I need to feel like I've done everything I can. I need to trust that my body is ready. And I know I have a huge community of support. They won't let me fail.

What answers are you searching for?

Other Marathon Blog Posts

4 weeks to go
< 3 weeks to go

Donations and Sponsors

3.27.2014

< 3 Weeks Til the London Marathon

It's hard to put in a blog post all the emotions you experience when you run... without it sounding like a soap opera script. This is a long post, but I'm not going to apologise because writing this all down is the best kind of therapy going.

I thought that nothing could get harder than the 16 mile run. I was wrong. Last weekend was a 20 mile run organised by my running club along the Canal.


I knew my legs weren't feeling the best, even when I started. The first 10 miles were painful, but I was running reasonably strong with a respectable pace of 10:06 minute miles (for all you runners out there that understand the min/mile lingo). My godmother was running too and kept me going through the first 10 miles. She was brilliant, stopping with me every two miles to biofreeze by knee and massage my muscles.

So I made it to the check point table at 10 miles where one of the Sandhurst Joggers had set up with flapjacks, cakes, M&Ms, tea (!!) and most importantly water. My mouth was so dry and I was so thankful for some cold water and bypassed the cake (!!).

The second 10 miles my Mum took over 'Beanie watching'. I think maybe I should try and explain this knee pain. Go to the table and bang your funny bone against it hard. Done it? That's the closest thing to the pain in my knee. It's a constant pain that starts after only a couple of miles and doensn't ease up even the next day.

When I saw a handful of supporters my pain had reached its peek (I now had pain in my left knee, right leg and both hips). They offered me painkillers but I was crying too much and didn't want to mask the pain in case I did some serious damage. It is really a moving thing when you see people you barely know show genuine concern for you and your run. They offer you what they have and cheer you on the way.


At mile 15, for the first time ever, I felt a bit sick. I'm attributing this to nerves, the crying or the energy gel. I was getting slightly hysterical as I explained to mum that I couldn't even enjoy the running any more, but each time I feel tired I think of how my Dad looks after a fit and keep going. A depressing thought, but running long distances can take you to some deep dark places in your mind. My pace had slowed right down and we were stopping to walk every half a mile, just to ease the knee pain for a minute or two. After that I vowed not to cry any more until I had reached the finish.

When I reached the 'finish' I needed another 0.65 miles to reach 20. I needed to do it. Mum & I were joined by Julie and Dad, who had already finished their run, but came back out and ran that last extra bit with me, despite their own pains. I held back tears and as I reached the car park where the other runners waited, I let the tears wash over me (again) and sunk into my Mum's arms like I'd grazed my knees in the playground. The other runners force fed me biscuits and cake, offered advice and gave my great big hugs, telling me how fabulous I was. People I barely knew were proud of me, even if I was embarrassed of myself and my dramatic performance. Not many sports where you can say that.

After my run I came back feeling like I had the flu. Trackies, top, jumper, hoody and a huge fluffy blanket did nothing to stop the convulsive shivers. I'm not exaggerating this for dramatic effect - running really does do this.

By 7.40pm I had been fed, watered, plunged in an ice bath (it was horrific as you might expect) and went for a 'nap'. Twelve hours later my alarm woke me up for work...

... I think we can conclude that it was pretty tough. I am NOT going through all that for nothing. London you will have my tears on the 17th April and don't you dare tell me to man up.


4 weeks to go