London (Marathon) Baby!

I did it!! London Marathon – check! Blisters as big as my little toe – check! Inability to walk up/down stairs for three days – check! In short, it was a roaring success.

 

Not that it was easy. Oh no. It was one of the toughest runs I’ve done. But let’s start at the beginning. I was in the green starting section, which was for Good for Age entries (like me) and celebrities (unlike me). I only learned about the celebrities after the fact – which may be a good thing, or all my marathon energy would have gone on hunting down anyone remotely famous.

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The first mile took us out of Greenwich, and before it was up I had the first of many ‘moments’. We ran past an old stone church that had pink blossom growing in it’s yard, and I had the ‘a-ha!’ moment that I was actually running the London marathon! We had started, it had begun!

 

It was really hard to keep to my pace, and the first three miles were a minute faster than I wanted. At the time it felt fine, but I wondered if it would come back and bite me in the ass (spoiler alert: I think it did!). But the excitement and the pace and the crowds make you feel like you’re flying, and my ideal pace of 10:20 minute miles felt very slow in such an atmosphere.

Horseguard's Parade at the finish line

Horseguard’s Parade at the finish line

Miles 1-6 were very smooth, and at mile 7 I had a fabulous surprise: SB, Baby B, my brother-and-sister in law were there to cheer me on, complete with banner. In my excitement I screamed, and made Baby B cry. A lot. So…. great parenting there, scaring your child and running away.

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Ah mile 7 … when all was bright still!

The best bit for me was running over Tower Bridge. I was trudging through some nameless street, and all of a sudden we turned a corner and there it was, in all its bridgy glory. The sun chose to come out then to, a d I had the second moment of the marathon. Running over the bridge I was comparing the two marathons I have done: Edinburgh was fast and powerful, but lonely, and this one was slower but with my family there to cheer me on, along with what felt like the rest of London! It was gorgeous.

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My legs started to hurt at mile 12. Initially it was my right IT band, then it was my left, then it was my knee, then it was my adductors, and finally by the end my right IT band was very tight and sore. Most of the second half was spent trying to focus and keep my pace up, and ignoring the pain. It was a blur to be honest. I felt reasonably comfortable, but it was an effort to try and keep the pace right. I had the 4:30 pacer in my sights for 8 miles, which was encouraging, but then at mile 22 the wheels began to fall off.

 

Even though I had less than an hour to go, I decided to go to the loo which slowed me down for 3 minutes. Then, instead of being able to run more freely, I got the biggest stitch. The kind that won’t go away when you push it, and that makes you grunt like a pig. So I had to walk. And so I lost the 4:30 pacer.

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Then followed a really frustrating two miles of walking and running. At this point we were in central London, and the crowds were overwhelming in their support. They were all shouting ‘go on Ellie! Not much further, you’re doing so well!’ and while it was awesome, it was hard to focus. My lovely family were there at 23 miles again, and this time I was much quieter for Baby B.

 

I felt like a zombie for the last three miles, my feet felt heavy and all I could do was focus on the path ahead. And take photos thanks to the slow pace! I felt it was a shame that the most picturesque part of the route was at the very end when you’re just trying to get through, but there is nothing like running past the Thames, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace before turning down the Mall filled with Union Jacks to finish. Although I couldn’t enjoy it at the time, the memories are there and they are amazing.

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Buckingham Palace – I’m sure Queenie was cheering me on

I finished in 4:40, and my stubborn side is gutted that I didn’t make 4:30. But there’s another side which is just proud that I’ve finished it, even if it is 53 minutes slower than my last. I spent most of this race trying to ward off the pain, trying to keep up the pace, and telling myself that this is the last time I’ll run a marathon. Then I woke up on Monday and thought ‘yeah…. but I’ll do another one’.

 

I think I could have finished in 4:30 if I hadn’t started out so quickly, and if I hadn’t munched on mini Cheddars on my way round. Without the luxury of a few long runs in training, I hadn’t worked out a proper game plan. I’m annoyed that I had to use the loo, and hat I had to stop for a stitch, because I’ve never had to do that before. But the point of this event was to complete it, not to get any sort of time goal, so I need to remind myself of this!

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Gaaaah! Just before Buckingham Palace, not long to go!

I can’t believe I’ve actually done another marathon. This time the effort was different, my body wasn’t used to the distance but because of the slower pace, and because I’ve run Edinburgh, I knew I could at least do it. Edinburgh was scary as I’d not done one before, and I had an ambitious time goal. This one was scary because I felt very light on training, and because it’s not long after Baby B arrived. But it was worth all the anxiety, the cold weather running and the obsessing about postpartum training. I would love to run it again.

 

Ellie B

Marathon Training: Then and Now

In a week’s time hopefully I’ll be feeling human again, and will be able to walk down the stairs without grimacing. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking!

 

Now that my training is over, all I can do is wait…. and obsess! With every twinge in my foot I’m plunged into a world where plantar faciitis strikes me down like the plague and I’m hobbling along the route for 24.2 miles. So that’s fun.

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This training period has been 100% different to my last marathon. Last time I was training as an individual for her first marathon and was at the height of my fitness. Now I’m climbing back after having a bubba, who is my perpetual sidekick.  So now, as I’m waiting impatiently for another starting line, here is a comparison on how it’s all gone (and please be aware… there is a blister pic there):

 

The hardest bit

Training for Edinburgh: pushing through those crazy training sessions. I can’t believe how many hill sessions and fast mile intervals I was doing.

Training for London: trying to fit in training while looking after Baby B. And shutting down the voice in my head that either told me I should be doing more, or that I should be doing less and just spending time with the baby.

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The best bit

Edinburgh: doing long runs with nobody but Beyonce in my ears. It was the first time I realised I could actually manage a marathon.

London: going to the gym and working on my running, core, and overall fitness. That’s where I started to feel like I was getting fitter.

 

Training in….

Durham: loads of hills to help overall fitness, and very pretty running routes. Plus the satisfaction of running from one town to the next – it does wonders for your ego!

Nottingham: very flat, which is great for the buggy. Running around the river and canal was nice, but kind of repetitive, and there’s no lovely cathedral to look at.

Aw man, remember this?

Aw man, remember this?

 

Biggest challenge

Edinburgh: continuing my training once those awful blisters set in

London: trying to fit in my long runs. I haven’t done as many as I would have liked, in fact I’ve only managed three runs over 13.1 miles.

Sorry guys. Thank god these bad boys haven't returned. Again... sorry.

Sorry guys. Thank god these bad boys haven’t returned. Again… sorry.

Keeping to the schedule….

Edinburgh: it was relatively simple. Do what it tells you when it tells you and don’t back out unless you’re feeling too tired. It was nice to follow a plan and take the thinking out of it. A lot of mental effort was needed during those training sessions, but following the schedule was fine.

London: went out the window. I used a plan for a rough idea of what I should be aiming for, but I had to work out in my mind when I was going to fit it all in and how I was going to up the mileage. This one took more mental effort in between training sessions (to try and stop panicking!), but was easier during the training itself.

 

Proudest moment during training

Edinburgh: realising I could run 20 miles in 3 hours and not need to spend the rest of the day in bed

London: running 12 miles with Baby B in the buggy. And also doing my final 20 mile run, which is when I realised that completing this marathon is a distinct possibility!

 

 

Coming back after having the baby has been strange. Running felt like an old friend who you’ve not seen for a while, and who has changed but you can’t put your finger on how exactly. My technique was still there but my speed wasn’t. The motivation was there but my energy wasn’t. Basically I had to take it easy, and I found that my fitness returned pretty quickly as long as I was patient and didn’t push myself too hard.

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Now I’m at a place where I can run comfortably and reasonably quickly, but trying to get back to where I was before is just too hard! I don’t have enough time, and I don’t really want to either. Which is a very new feeling for me cos I’m usually so stupidly competitive with myself.

 

 

Overall I’m very grateful to have had this goal to work for. It’s been fun, tough, boring, exhilarating, guilt-inducing, cathartic and endorphined. Sure, that’s not a word, but it should be.

 

So now we wait for Sunday. In my other pair of trainers to support my high arches. In case plantar fasciitis comes a-knocking.

 

Ellie B

Marathon Update – Finally!

Heyyyyyyy everyone! I blinked and another 6 weeks has passed. London is less than 40 days away (thanks to the London Marathon Facebook page and their helpful updates!), and I am feeling… petrified.

 

Training was going well for the rest of February. My mileage was increasing, and my long runs went from 6 miles to 12 miles with no issues. I was getting to the gym twice a week for some treadmill and strength training (and maybe definitely a little jacuzzi or two).

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And then two things happened: the temperatures dropped and Baby B caught a cold. So. It was too cold to taker her out in the buggy, and she was not well enough to go to the creche at the gym. For the last four weeks training is pretty much at a standstill.

 

Most training takes place either with Baby B in the buggy, or at the gym. The longest I’ve run with the bubba is 12 miles, and I wouldn’t do any more as she gets bored – I had her nursery rhymes on repeat on my iPhone speakers for the last 45 minutes! She isn’t one of those babies who sleeps as soon as she’s moving.

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Two Sundays ago I did 13.1 miles in 2 hours 7 mins, and it didn’t hurt at the time but I was certainly stiff the next day! I had forgotten how hard training is! Today I had planned to do a 16 mile run split between the buggy and the gym, but Baby B had other plans and decided to get a stomach bug instead. So instead of running, I’m disinfecting everything like a man woman to try and make sure she doesn’t pass it on.

 

And that’s where we’re at right now. I’m really worried that I am not getting the longer runs in. Part of me thinks that as long as I grit my teeth and dig in on the day, I’ll be able to do it, but I also know that is wishful thinking too.

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How will I get on if I can’t run any further than 13.1 miles in training? And will I regret throwing myself into it so completely instead of chillaxing while I can with Baby B?

 

Only time will tell…..

 

Ellie B

Marathon Training Week One (Five)

Thanks for indulging me last post. It felt good to get some of those things out of my head and somewhere else. The next day I decided on a training program, and for the last two weeks I’ve been following it.

 

I’m following a beginner’s marathon training plan from Runner’s World, and I have absolutely no idea what a realistic time goal would be. Most of the runs are based on time rather than distance, and there’s no hill/speed work in this beginner plan, which is a major silver lining to taking a step back. Although… I do miss hills, but sadly we now live in a flat flatty flat town. So. What’s a girl to do? 😉

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Week one of my training started in week 5 of the plan, and things aren’t going badly at all. Here’s what my first week looked like:

 

  • Monday: 1 hour run. 9.7km distance, 6.08/km pace.
  • Tuesday: rest
  • Wednesday: rest (great plan, right?)
  • Thursday: time 2 mile run. 19.02 minutes
  • Friday: 90 minute run. 13.3km distance, 6.44/km pace.

 

As you can see, my pace is pretty inconsistent at the moment (thanks Storm Gertrude for those strong winds), and my little sidekick comes with me on every run. But I’m feeling positive: I know how it will feel, and what the challenges will be. Each run almost always involves a pretty severe stitch for the first 15 minutes or so which I think is because your torso can’t swing freely while pushing the buggy. But I’m no sports doctor, or any doctor in fact, so that might not be the reason. It might be because I’m embracing all the coffee and cake on offer while on maternity leave.

 

So, London, it’s on like Donkey Kong. I’m coming to get you!

 

Ellie B

 

Postpartum Running: It’s not as easy as I thought.

Hi everyone – Happy New Year! I’m sorry for such a long break – I don’t know where the last 8 weeks went. Though they did include Christmas and a whirlwind trip to Sydney, so maybe it’s not surprising after all.

 

Before the  unplanned break, I had all kinds of topics in my mind to write about. The longer the break went on, and the more I thought ‘I really want to get back to the blog soon’, the more I realised I just wanted to write about how I’m finding my training. I hope I’m not the kind of blog that paints rainbows when the reality is more cloudy, but I would like to be completely honest about how things are going.

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In November, I wrote that I wanted to run 10k regularly by Christmas. And…… that hasn’t happened! I came close – I could do 8k, but the reality is that training with a baby is much harder than I had anticipated. Before I could run whenever I had a spare hour, but that’s not possible now for a number of reasons, including feeding times, weather, nap times, whether it’s dark/light, and what else needs to be done for life in general. Where as previously running could be my only priority, suddenly it has to be 5th or 6th on the list.

 

At the end of last year, I was running a 6min kilometre with the running buggy, and a 5:20 kilometre at the gym. I aimed to get to the gym twice a week, and where I’d run 6k as well as doing light weights if I had time. I was pretty pleased with how this was going.

 

However, then the baby was sick, and things went off the rails. Then it was Christmas, then it was Sydney, where it poured with rain for a whole week. My Sydney running plans went out the window! The one run I did manage was at a pace of 6mins/km, which included some serious hills and humidity, so again I wasn’t discouraged.

Hills never look as steep in photos!

Hills never look as steep in photos!

SB and I went on a run with Baby B once we returned from Sydney, and our pace with the buggy was 7min/km. So… Christmas had been good! 😉 However, that was when I started to feel a little down about it all. I worked so hard to maintain throughout my pregnancy, and started off strong once I could postpartum. But now its 3 degrees outside, it gets dark at 4pm and light at 8am, and it’s not fair to take the baby out unless circumstances are just right. I’ve only done 2 runs in 2016 so far, and my gym membership is still on hold until the end of January from being in Sydney.

 

I know I should be patient, and I know that I’m still doing ok in the wider scheme of it all. But London is approaching quickly – there are 13 weeks to go – and my marathon training hasn’t even begun yet. I so desperately want to run it, but finding a chunk where I could run for 20 miles seems ridiculous now. Anyway, can I even run 20 miles anymore?!

 

I guess what I’m drawing from all of this is that I need to be a lot more patient than I’d thought, and to keep my head up when it feels like I’m going nowhere. The steps forward may be smaller, and slower, but I hope I’m still moving forwards.

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And so. That’s where we are today. Next post will have more sunshine in it, but today I wanted to strip back all the gloss. Tomorrow I’m hoping to start my marathon training – cutting straight to week 4 of a beginners program (just to be sure I can do it!), and hopefully I can report back with new stats that are more on track with the end of last year.

 

Ellie B