You thought you’d seen the last of this blog, but I thought it worth providing a quick few bullet points to update on how things have gone in the one month and one week since the Marathon.
Firstly another MASSIVE THANK YOU to everyone for your kind kind kind sponsorship. Things have definitely tailed off now so the grand total, including gift aid, was (drumroll):
Which is really amazing – and to know that out of every £10 raised, £9.65 goes directly to Ambitious About Autism is absolutely lovely (Virgin Money Giving fees breakdown here). And I believe that I am the biggest fundraiser from my team of 25 where together we raised £45,500 so well done all of you!
A few notes about the month since the Marathon.
I’ve run 23 miles since the Marathon. Not bad but considering that in the month of March I ran 70 miles, that’s a bit paltry.
However the runs I am doing are more local and interesting – no longer do I need to drive to find “long and flat” runs to mimic London conditions. I get my trainers on, run out of the door and do some loops around my locality. Lots of hills, lots of woods but some interesting scenery. Nice.
The world has closed in on me a little bit. Where during training I would have at least 4-6 hours per week just to run, this month business got crazy again and I also need to devote time to family and friends which is great. I’m sort of catching up with life a bit, having a few beers, eating food etc 🙂 But I do need to find the balance as I am slipping back into old ways again… Even if I aim for 40 miles a month and 60 hours work a week, that would be a good balance right now…
Will definitely enter for a 1/2 Marathon for September or thereabouts. Need a goal…
And cycling – I am now looking at road bikes so biking to work will be an option soon.
Lastly, I’m looking into becoming a qualified running coach by doing the Leadership In Running Fitness course and going the same way as I went with footy by starting a small inclusive running group locally for kids with special needs and their siblings, parents etc. Watch this space.
So basically all good and the sponsorship total is excellent – thanks again.
I’ll update again in about six months, or sooner if I have anything vaguely interesting to say 🙂
The culmination of nearly 8 months of training, all over in the space of a day. And what a day it was. But more about that later. This is my last training blog as the training is, indeed, over – the London Marathon has been conquered; 26.2 miles in 5 hours 43 mins (or 6 hours 12 mins if you look at it another way – see below).
I’ll attempt to summarise everything that happened over the past week or so and will try to milk the glory just one last time – as this is sure as hell going to be the last time I do this for a while 🙂
This week has been a roller-coaster ride of a week though – it’s Thursday evening now and the legs, shoulders, arms have only really gotten back to normal today. But the physical stuff pales into insignificance against the emotional side – whew. Who would have thought a jog around London could unravel so many emotions – this week has been a combination of massive pride, acute achievement, woe, sobbing in the shower and back to elation again. I had a chat with a psychotherapist that I know (I didn’t need therapy or anything, he works in my building) and he reckons I am in mourning: I’ve been in very tempestuous relationship with The London Marathon for 9 months, it has been there all the time in the back of my mind, has given me extreme pain and joy, has haunted my waking and sleeping hours. And now it’s gone. All that training – up at 6am some mornings (not many but some), all those endorphins, all those miles, all that scenery, all that achievement, and finally that one massive massive day – now all gone.
About that massive day. Sunday started at 5.30 am for me. I’d done all the right things the night before – lots of protein, relaxed, a nice movie with the family, an early night. I felt good when I woke up, not too many nerves, not too tired. Shower, change, eat the breakfast of a condemned man, 2 toast and jam. The toast felt dry, the jam was tasteless, it rolled in my mouth but I forced it down, knowing that I needed to fuel.
Out in the car into the cold morning air with my kit bag filled with protein bars, bananas and lucozade, to Park Lane Q-Park where we would later meet and Angela would drive me home. On the tube to Cannon Street to get the train to Greenwich – the tube was buzzing with lots of fellow participants with their kit bags and dark expressions of fear and anticipation on their faces. At Cannon Street the overground which was a much merrier place – the passengers had filtered out to mostly Marathon participants by now and the vibe was good, infectious. No-one was paying for their ticket to Greenwich today, Network Rail had covered the fare for all Marathon runners.
Eventually to Greenwich Park and now in a steady stream of participants, past the cafes with people spilling out, ducking into the loos and drinking coffee and juice. We were then filtered out into runners and non-runners with runners herded into a staging area before heading to our start zones. And all of this before 0900. Meeting fellow runners and team mates, watching Gaby Logan interview newlyweds who had apparently got married that morning before running the race.
By 0930 we had all deposited our kitbags into lorries (filtered by runner number) which would then be transported to The Mall. We then headed to our start areas. Great banter and chats in the start area; smells of deep heat, warm bodies, fear.
Given my self-predicted time of 6 h 30 mins I was in one of the last zones, zone 9 and the atmosphere was excellent. Commentators keeping us cheering, helicopters, some real characters. And then at 1000 we were off – reaching the actual start line at 1030.
I won’t go into massive detail about the run itself but here are a few highlights, things that I want to write down before they fade from memory.
The slight feeling of insecurity after leaving the start zone where we were quite tightly packed, warm and comfortable then having to run (run you say? the cheek of it!). That was a shock after ages of standing and walking.
Heading down through Greenwich then down to Charlton, Woolwich, along the river (nice breeze) and then back up to Greenwich and the Cutty Sark. Realising that this was a MASSIVE deal – that there were thousands of people outside pubs, lining the roads. Beer, BBQs, charcoal smoke, the smell of burgers cooking, sunshine, bands.
A massive mix of areas and people, modern areas, run down areas, young people, old people, kids high-fiving, people in their Sunday best as if they were dressed for a big day out, more deprived individuals, all colours, all sizes, London together. I was proud to be a Londoner that day.
The real realisation (people had told me) that having my name on my charity shirt meant that people would cheer me on all along the way – amazingly boosting to hear one’s name shouted out. After the first one, I made a point of smiling and acknowledging the wishes, which got bigger cheers and smiles. After that I was smiling all the way around.
The music: from brass bands to DJs outside pubs to absolute crazies running sound systems and MC’ing off of their balconies to steel bands to full-on dance setups running off of lorries. I’m normally plugged into my iPod when running – not on Sunday.
Getting a text from my Mum that I had received a mention on BBC – thanks to Greg Symondson for that 🙂
Buxton Water – wow, so many water stations and although mindful of not over-hydrating, I did drink enough and was also stunned at the seas of discarded bottles after the water stations – litter laws to not apply on Marathon day.
Jelly babies and lucozade – I had been warned off the jelly babies but after about 20 miles, man they taste good. Free Jelly babies and Haribos, brought along by well wishing members of the public for no other reason than them wanting to be involved. So kind. The cocktail of sweets and lucozade carrying me along nicely.
Then the guy with a tray of Jaffa cakes at Lower Thames Street – rich, chocolatey, fruity Jaffa cakes. I told him what a dude he was and gave him a friendly squeeze of the arm.
After all those strangers calling my name, actually seeing the lovely faces of people that I knew in the crowd and the emotion that brings. Ulrike Klinger, Ben Shires, the Ambitious About Autism team, Tracey from my building (we ran 5 miles together!) and finally in the last mile, Rich (he had just completed in just over 3 hours – legend), Lucy, Holly, Megan and friends.
And then finally, the most welcome sight of all, Angela, Charlie, Max, Holly and Paul all going crazy just before Westminster Bridge – that was the best bit. Their gorgeous, happy, excited, sunburnt faces pushed me through that through last mile.
And then the end, the last few hundred metres, after some walking we all break into a run at the end. Past the majestic edifices of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, along to the Mall. Medals, goody bags, free t-shirts, photos and more drinks.
And then it was all over. I had arranged to meet Angela and the kids at a reception in Rathbone Street to be held by the charity but not many of us made it in the end as time was limited – so instead I got a cab to meet them outside the Dorchester which I thought was a good landmark to meet at plus Max would love the epic cars parked outside. After a buzzing chat with the cab driver, he let me off at the hotel to be met by the Doorman. “I’m sorry, I am only being dropped off here, I’m not staying here” I explained. “That’s okay Sir, with that medal you get special privileges” he said, making my head swell nicely.
Then it all went a bit wrong. I sat down on a wall outside The Dorchester waiting for Angela and the kids and suddenly a wave of nausea, tingling arms and dizziness came over me like a tsunami. Had I not been sitting down, I would have collapsed there and then. The hypochondriac in me knew my number was up – I had hyponatremia for sure and was about to kick the bucket. I sat with my head in my hands for a while drifting in and out – a kind Spanish man asked me if I was okay. I could not respond too well. But really all I needed was some proper food – as Angela arrived, she force fed me an apple then I was okay. The lack of food, and fuel of Lucozade, jelly babies and adrenaline had taken its toll.
Then despite predictions of beers and curry, all I really wanted was the most basic McChicken Sandwich with a chocolate shake – McDonalds on the A40 in Hayes was my saviour there. Magic. After that, onto home, a long hot bath, phone calls, coffee and a super deep, satisfied sleep.
Would I do it again? You bet I would. Will I do it again? Yes I think so, but I’ll concentrate now on getting my shorter-distance times down, losing some more weight and spending time with the family – no more whole Sundays lost to training. And I think Angela is itching for a marathon now… let’s see.
Talking of times: for the record my Strava moving time was 5h 43 mins so I’m recorded on Strava as having done the Marathon in this time. However if one looks at the London Marathon site as I did on Monday, my recorded chip time is 6 h 12 mins – this is the elapsed time from when I crossed the start line to when I crossed the finish line. The discrepancy: Strava puts little pauses in; a loo break and a stop to administer a plaster to my foot ate up that 29 mins. I suppose elapsed time is the correct time as an olympic athlete can’t break a world record with a loo break in the middle. However I’m not an athlete and I have lived and died on Strava for the past 8 months so I am inclined to take its time in this instance. It’s important to mention this – but you, dear reader, can make of it what you will…
Lastly: a MASSIVE thanks to all of you who sponsored me all through this time. The sponsorship went mad in the week leading up to the Marathon with the money really just rolling in. From September when I started this journey to now, with Gift Aid, my excellent charity Ambitious About Autism will benefit from nearly £5,000 in donations from me alone (I wonder if some of you can push it to just over the £5000 mark by doing one last little sponsor – click here if you dare 🙂 ….).
Again THANK YOU all for your great sponsorship support. And THANK YOU to everyone who inspired me, believed in me, spurred me on, who let me go off on this wild journey and kept things afloat whilst I was neglecting the home and family (that’s basically Angela – love you) and THANK YOU for all the wonderful words of congratulations on facebook, strava, in the street and by other means – you all know who you are.
A quick update on how it’s all going with the taper at t-minus 9 days. Somewhat surreal is the answer!
Last week was a weird one as we were skiing so I was totally detached from the whole thing – we were doing some moderately physical activity every day although nothing like the 13/15/17/20 mile runs I’d been doing in previous weeks; however the fact that we were busy and active every day kept the “maranoia” at bay.
Back into it this week with a fast 3 mile earlier in the week and today a 7 mile run / 3 mile walk-run combo (link here – note Garmin battery fail at the 7 mile mark so the finish line is at an odd place!) and feeling great right now.
So I’m very much ready for next week – not really nervous and definitely not apprehensive, just can’t wait to be there! The training really has paid off and 0-20 miles over a period of 7-8 months has been the way to do this.
Sponsorship wise, we are SO close to target now – over £2.5K with gift aid for this unique and dedicated Autism charity is not to be sneezed at but I KNOW we can smash this target and beyond. Thank you so much to all the sponsors so far – and if you haven’t sponsored me, please do, it would really mean a lot for this amazing amazing charity and it would be fantastic to go into the Marathon knowing I’ve hit the target. Link here: SPONSOR ME!!
Thanks everyone for reading and for all your support – it really means a lot on this journey. Peace, love and happy Easter.
Firstly, thanks to all of you who have sponsored me in the past couple of weeks – your kind generousity has taken me 3/4 of the way to my target and I’m extremely grateful. You’ve seen in previous posts what an amazing charity we are all working for here and I’m happy and confident that every pound earned is going to a good cause. If you haven’t sponsored me yet, please do so here – it would really spur me on during the marathon knowing that I’ve hit my target!
Talking of the Marathon… I’ve now hit the taper! For those of you who don’t know (I didn’t until I started this crazy scheme) the taper is a wonderful invention that comes at the end of a very cold, dark period of training and allows the trainee to recuperate, rest a little, allowing the muscles and the mind to heal and get strong again.
And man, do I need to heal. Sunday was the biggest run that I’ll do for this marathon: 19.5 recorded miles, but with warm up and warm down I hit the 20 miles required for training peak.
This was a very lovely 20 miles, I have to say. I had dropped Max off at Legoland where he was having fun with a friend then I parked in the centre of Windsor and embarked upon my big journey.
So long the river I plodded from Windsor up to Taplow past Bray and up to Maidenhead. All lovely areas with multi-million pound houses nestling smugly alongside the riverbank – many nice sights and lots of nature to behold. The sun was shining, the river was glistening and after 13 miles, my left knee was screaming. Note to self: get this checked out PDQ.
On the way back a brief stop at a petrol station in Maidenhead for lucozade and chocolate then off I staggered for the journey back. All in all a super slow time – I’m probably looking at a 6 hour marathon – but 20 miles is 20 miles (and nearly 45,000 steps according to my Garmin). And that makes 82.3 miles run in the past 4 weeks – plus over 13,000 calories burned (why have I not evaporated yet?).
So back to this tapering malarkey – yes, oh yes, a great invention indeed! I now get to reduce my miles significantly – tapering from 20 miles downwards over the next few weeks where I’ll be doing some short 4/5/10 mile runs in the weeks running up to the event. Deep joy.
And that event is a mere 25-ish days away. Am I looking forward to it? Yes I really am! The darkest days are over now – Sundays have been a total write-off for the 4-6 weeks for example, consisting of a run of up to 4 hours, a journey home, a little basking in the endorphin rush that running brings, a hot shower, some moping around in pain, some snoozing, some staggering around trying to achieve some sort of normality while one’s body just wants to shut down then, finally, collapsing into bed early. A couple of days of recovery (at work) the I’m off again for a couple of weekday morning runs before Sunday comes around again.
So the fact that I’m at the top of the mountain looking down is a good feeling – and as daunting as the 26 miles is, I’ve trained for it, I know it won’t be pretty but I know I’ll get through it…somehow.
The other thing: ironically, I feel the marathon training is actually now getting in the way of me getting healthy. Sounds weird but this journey has sort of taught me where I have been going wrong for 43 years in terms of health and exercise. But being knackered all the time due to marathon training now prevents me from doing decent moderate runs and eating healthily – I look forward to getting things back to a sensible level; everything in moderation as they say.
Onwards and upwards – and looking forward to getting my summmer bikini body on track…
A very quick training update as things have moved on a bit in the couple of weeks since my last entry.
I’m now on my second 10 mile run; this evening I feel the warm ache of the legs after a plod up and down the Phoenix trail earlier today. Confession time: today should have been an 11 mile effort but a late night (early morning) at a friend’s birthday party (only one beer but it got refilled a few times) put me out of synch. We reap what we sow – and I can’t do that any more in the coming weeks; regardless I still improved on last week’s 10 mile run so not too bad.
Despite a dodgy start to the year (see previous blog) I’ve run 51.6 miles (83.04 KM) in the past 4 weeks so that’s quite nice.
I’m now ramping up 10% (ish) a week on the long runs and so next week 11.5 miles, the following week will be the Hampton Court Half Marathon which I’m very much ready for and looking forward to. This ramp up continues until tapering in April (thankfully when we will be away skiing).
I’m doing some smaller filler runs in week – and getting some reasonable increasing PBs on 5K runs now, although I probably should be running a bit longer in the week but time is a constant enemy!
Race number and chip etc through for Hampton court – so it’s really happening!
On the downside, I have a niggling ache in one of my toes which could be a metatarsal stress fracture (common running thing due to bad gait). I hope hope hope it’s just a bruise and will be watching it closely.
So mostly all good. A few of you have been asking where to sponsor me – here is the sponsor link. Many many thanks to those of you who have sponsored me (including a couple of random anonymous people – amazing!). Learn more about the very excellent charity Ambitious About Autism who I’m running for here.
I said it was a quick update – you dodged a bullet there…
News in the post that I didn’t get a ballot place for London 2017 but this is fine as I have a charity place with Ambitious About Autism which is great. Kudos to those of you that did get a ballot place – seems like it’s a very competitive route to take!
One upside is the nice magazine and rather awesome free training top received – great touch.
In other news, I did a slow / staggered 6K on Sunday after a night of debauchery on Saturday night. I’m quickly learning that frivolity and training don’t mix well (who would have thought?) and that pure living, sleep and exercise is key. Yes it took me 20 years to realise this…
Anyway that’s over 22Ks covered in the past 7 days according to Garmin Connect plus I’m closer to that 8K run needed for my 10K race at the end of the month so alles güt!
About time for another update. Training has been going VERY well and I’m on target. A good friend recently shared this training plan with me and I’m trying to follow that as best possible. I can definitely say that i’m now in ‘the zone’ – highlights include:
Some decent near-5K runs around the hills of Speen – VERY hard running for those of you that know; unless one wants a really boring run it’s near-impossible to not hit some rather harsh terrain.
Some reasonable treadmill work.
I even got out for a pretty good 3K last weekend with a colleague whilst on a work jolly in Belfast – what a great hangover cure / kick start to the day.
And finally, I achieved a pretty good time / pacing on my first 5K road run this morning. Very happy with that.
Generally I am out running now around 5 times a week and enjoying it.
So all going well, training is going to plan, diet and general wellbeing is good – including more sleep which works really well.
So why did I choose to get involved with this bunch over other charities? After some research and a lot of heart searching, these guys seemed like a good fit for my family and my ethos:
They are not a big national charity with smart offices in C.London – their offices are on-site at one of the schools that they run.
They work specifically with young people, providing specialist education for kids and teens alike, giving them a chance in life and some more specific care than they would get in mainstream or even specialist/ARP education.
They ‘own’ three educational establishments and mould them to the specific needs of the autistic spectrum.
Their board and patron group is made up of people who have a good track record, including many parents of autistic kids.
Above all, they seemed like a really nice bunch when I started talking to them about joining the team.
Okay so it’s probably important that I give a bit more info about what my training / milestone plan is as I think people are starting to think I’m not serious about this. Here are events that I am committed to in the run-up to London 2017:
Several park runs in October and November 2016
Water of Life 10K, Maidenhead, 23rd October 2016 (entered)
Hampton Court Half Marathon, 19th February 2017
This will give me some milestones to hit and, of course, will increase the need for training in the coming weeks and months.
As for now, I’m our running a few times a week as I was in August and massively enjoying it. I’ll post more progress here in due course!
So it’s official – I am running the London Marathon 2017.
This has been a bit of a covert plan – I didn’t even tell Angela that I had applied until things got more definite (she’s an established runner and I wanted to be sure) so this may all come as a surprise to some of you. But I now have a place and will be running for the charity Ambitious About Autism, a charity that is very close to my heart and that of my family; more about that in another post but basically they are lovely and awesome people who don’t squander cash on fancy offices etc and definitely don’t own any yachts or even have Xboxes in their offices…
So, those of you that know me probably wonder what the hell I am doing? I can just see the thought bubbles as I start to publicise this: “First he becomes a football coach, now the London Marathon. What is this reinvention? This is the guy that was more comfortable as a kid learning about nuclear bunkers and London flood defences and programming his Sinclair Spectrum. As a teenager only seen in the local park drinking strong lager and in his 20-30s working hard to avoid all forms of physical activity whilst maintaining a plus-30 BMI. What in sweet Jesus’s name is going on?”
It’s true, I’ve flirted very subtly with physical activity all my life. I’m not really wired for competitive sport and I never really saw the need to be out doing solitary sporting activities. I have of course done the odd bit of exercise from time-to-time; I had a membership to a very expensive gym in Canary Wharf at one point which, I worked out to my horror, cost me around £200 a visit, due to the membership duration to workout ratio. I’ve been no stranger to the joys of pounding the streets whilst the air is still fresh and the pavements damp, whilst the day still smells new and the sun starts to light up the surroundings in the way it can only before 7am. I’ve had that endorphin rush post-exercise – I’ve been addicted to it. But like any addiction it can, and did, fade.
But now I’m 43 and I want to be around for my kids beyond 52 which is when my dear Dad left us. I want to know I’ve got more than 9 years left. I want to see my kids grow up and, ideally, meet my grandkids. I don’t want Angela to go through what my Mum went through – it might be character building but it ain’t a lot of fun. I need a crazy goal to get myself in shape for the next 50 years, otherwise I won’t do anything and therefore won’t be around for long. I like to think I’m of reasonable intelligence – I can drive a computer and co-own a fairly successful international business – but like I said, there is some dodgy wiring when it comes to the exercise circuitry so I need to kickstart that aggresively.
I also want to give something back. We’ve had the roller coaster ride (in the true sense of the word with extreme joys and some pain) of having an autistic child. Despite what a lot of people think, it’s mostly great now and Charlie is a near-constant source of pride and joy to us, but a lot of that is down to the help and support from some amazing people. Now it’s time to pay it forward.
So that’s my intro. You can learn a bit more here and if so inclined maybe you’d like to sponsor me. This is what it’s mainly about after all. I need £2K in sponsorship otherwise this is going to be a rather expensive day out – and the charity would appreciate the cash too!
Thanks for reading and I hope to blog on a fairly regular basis.