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.

Mile 7 cheers

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.

Buckingham Palace

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

Dancing Queen…

…Young and sweet, only seventeen As if I’ll tell you! A true lady never reveals her true age!

 

So this week = no running. This week = partying! My only form of exercise this week was hitting the dance floor, and this happened in quite.a.big.way. Unless you count eating cakes and pastries because I also did a lot of that too.

 

It all kicked off with my sister-in-law’s hen weekend. Because she is the next Beyonce (although not marrying a hip-hop star), we booked in for a Beyonce workshop on Saturday afternoon. We learned a dance routine to ‘Run the World’, with my sis-in-law starring as Queen B herself. We were rocking it all over the place, and we though it was pretty damn hot – until we got the video later on this week! Then we realised just how far from Beyonce we actually are. Still, never give up on your dreams and all that….

 

For a while I got confused and thought I was at a Nicky Minaj workshop

For a while I got confused and thought I was at a Nicky Minaj workshop

Later that night we went out to a club in Mayfair because it was also her 30th birthday that day too. Run the World came on, so we all lined up in our places, and the crowd formed a circle around is expecting something great. And not even 5 hours after the workshop, we failed. We were all convinced that we knew the right part, but in reality we were all doing something else. It was like this (totally worth watching – the dance starts a minute in and you won’t regret it!).

 

We fueled with afternoon tea. Every one of these cakes is inspired by an haute couture creation by the big designers.

We fueled with afternoon tea. Every one of these cakes is inspired by an haute couture creation by the big designers. Sorry the pic is so dark….

Anyway, the next day my legs were sore. My quads were burning – they hadn’t had a workout like that since I was doing pole routines last year. So even though there was no running that weekend, I consoled myself with my dance floor workout.

 

And this carried on throughout the week! On Monday I went to Miami for a work conference. I know. Before you judge me, let me tell you we had to do Very Important Work in the day, and only got to see Miami really by night. Even then we didn’t really see Miami. We saw a lot of a nightclub called Liv, and we liked it so much that we went back there again the next night. So there were another two nights of solid dancing there. So Miami summed up would be: lots of dancing, lots of work, lots of pastries, and no roller blading.

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This is actually what Miami looks like. In Real Life.

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Don’t get me wrong. Just because I’ve done a Beyonce workshop and have spend 3 of the last 7 nights partying on down, I haven’t upped my game. I still have my trusty 4 dance moves that I rotate throughout the night, and they serve me well. At least, they raise my heart rate and cause sweat to run down my made-up face. I don’t think they look good though.

 

Anyway, it was a lovely change to running in the cold (it has been colllllddddd here!). I’m sure that all the work I did last week equates to at least a ten mile run…. what do you think?

 

Ellie B

What it feels like for a girl

Ok. I think we know each other well enough by now for me to let you in on a little something about myself: I consider myself a feminist.

 

I feel exposed writing that – like I’ve just told you I eat cats. And that, ladies and gentlemen, that discomfort right there is why I wanted to write this post. It’s not a super-heavy post (I hope – I’m only three lines in at the moment), but I have been thinking about a few things recently and want to articulate them. I hope you’ll read on.

 

So my personal foray into feminism started when I was 14 and we all had to do speeches at school. I spoke passionately about something I vaguely called ‘The Inequality of Women’, and railed against the inflated male ego, proven by the amount of airtime Sanjay had in Eastenders because he got stage fright in the bedroom. I tackled the deep stuff, I tell you.

 

Then when I was 17, Madonna released her single What It Feels Like for a Girl with the lyrics ‘Strong inside but you don’t know it/Good little girls they never show it’, and I listened to it on repeat for about 6 months. And then, when I was 19 and at university, I read ‘The Whole Woman’ by Germain Greer, joined the ‘We Heart Germaine’ club, and decided that I would never be scared of walking anywhere in the dark because, why should I be?

 

So, between analysing Eastenders, listening to Madonna, reading mainstream feminism (recently supplemented by Caitlin Moran), and actually being a woman, I feel I’m qualified to address this issue. Specifically, where social media comes into it.

 

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton checks her PDA upon her departure in a military C-17 plane from Malta bound for Tripoli,  Libya

 

For a while, it felt like this issue had died a death a little bit. It wasn’t (isn’t?) cool to call yourself a feminist, and any feminist notions were wrapped up in the much less confronting ‘girl power’. But thanks to social media, a more three dimensional wave is developing.

 

The best and worst thing about social media it highlights how women still face challenges and even abuse every day by virtue of their gender. I follow @EverydaySexism on Twitter, and there’s some horrible stories out there of the sexism women face regularly. But I won’t un-follow because I want to show that people are listening, and I do believe in the principle  (I’m sure they’re thrilled to know that Ellie B in Durham is listening).

 

Sheryl Sandberg also used social media to spread her #BanBossy campaign, after the success of her book Lean In (which I think everyone should read. So many times I was reading and thought ‘OMG she’s right! Why do I do that?!!’). #BanBossy encourages women to own being confident, assertive and, when necessary, in control rather than being wary of it. And thanks to social media, both sides of the debate raged and raged. But you know what? Suddenly everyone knew that there was support for women to have a louder voice.

 

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The beauty of social media is that it’s big enough to include all elements of the discussion. Whatever you feel/believe in, whether your feminism is Lipstick, Bra Burning, or I-do-care-but-I’ve-not-experienced-sexism-personally, there’s something for you. @EverydaySexism and the post-Elliot Rodger campaign #YesAllWomen highlight the ways women are treated appallingly. To be honest, I don’t un-follow @EverydaySexism but I sometimes skim past it because it’s so uncomfortable to read. But that’s their point: they’re not constructive or comforting, they’re confronting and defiant. They expose the problem and we should all consider the solution (so maybe I shouldn’t skim past it).

 

#BanBossy encourages a solution, which is not to be scared anymore. I’m sure the point was not to actually ban the term ‘bossy’, it was to make people stop and think when they find themselves thinking ‘damn she’s such a bossy…’. And to make women feel more comfortable taking a stronger position than they might have done previously. As Victoria Coren wrote, ‘the ten-year-old me knows exactly what it means’.

 

And what about beloved Facebook, my favourite of all social media? This week I saw two advertisements which made me want to punch the air and shout ‘Who runs the world? Girls!’. I have a Beyonce lyric for most situations in life. Anyway, the ads: here is one, and here is the other. These ads crystallise everything that the other social media campaigns are doing: they are confronting, celebratory, challenging and constructive all at once. And thanks to the power of the Facebook ‘share’, they’re out there and the discussion continues.

 

They ultimately made me want to write this post, which in itself is another example of social media feminism – and how a running blog has been hijacked yet again at the whim of it’s author 😉

 

14 years after Madonna released her song, and 44 years after Germaine Greer wrote The Female Eunuch, it’s sad that we still face similar challenges. But social media gives us a shared voice, and a way to make our thoughts and feelings known. Hopefully the messages will will seep into our seams, so in another 44 years we’ll look back with the same bemused horror that we have when we see how women are treated on Mad Men. And by then we won’t need hashtags or Twitter because we’ll all be able to communicate with our minds and using our hover boards to get to work.

 

Next post is a running one! Or at least a sporty one 😉 And because I love Texts from Hillary:

 

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton checks her PDA upon her departure in a military C-17 plane from Malta bound for Tripoli,  Libya

 

Ellie B

 

 

What I’m Loving Friday – 7/6/2013

Goooooood afternoon!

Today was a great day to venture out of the office have tea and sandwiches with a friend in my favourite cafe in Durham: Flat White. This is the one place you can get a decent coffee in England (ok, maybe the North East. England is quite big).

Last night I went to my pole class at Tempest Dance, and assisted with the classes before hand. It’s awesome to see some of the beginners start to understand their bodies and what they’re capable of. Strength develops quickly, but flexibility takes some time so we always focus on some serious leg stretches in our cool down to help this. This also helps my tight calves and hamstrings from all the running (thumbs up for cross training)!

And without further ado, here’s what I’ve been loving this week!

  • Mugs. Choosing what mug I have my afternoon coffee in is one of my delights (simple things). It’s a careful selection based on my mood and aspirations at the time. Here are favourite mugs which are always in the running: recently I’ve been favouring my Royal Wedding mug to support Kate during the last month of her pregnancy. I’m sure she’ll be in touch to say thanks, not that I expect it – just a diamond-studded crown will do.
The wine glass is there as it's my fave wine glass. I'm never not the mood to be the world's best 30 year old.

The wine glass is there as it’s my fave wine glass. I’m never not the mood to be simply best 30 year old.

  • Bruno Mars. Fast becoming my favourite boy-man singer, and this song has a Summer vibe which I’m loving. Gilly P and I were chatting about the mixed tape phenomenon which is no more thanks to digital music. Remember when you used to help your friends through a rough patch, like a parental divorce, by putting your soul into a cathartic mixed tape of the saddest songs ever? Or bare your soul to your sweetheart by sending them a mixed tape predominantly made up of songs from the Romeo & Juliet soundtrack? What do kids to today? Send a sympathy Instagrammed “selfie” via Facebook?
This is my "I'm very concerned for you, but I can't help but look sultry" face.

This is my “I’m very concerned for you, but I can’t help but look sultry” face.

You’re my Number 1 **pout**

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • My bag that’s a Dog. For me, Summer means one combination in particular: cute dresses and my dog-bag. We’re not allowed dogs because we rent, and also because “one day we might move back to Australia” (both boring arguments), so I have to content myself with my dog-bag. She has a name: Saffy. it’s a rip-off of my step-mother’s dog Sassi in Sydney. Saffy doesn’t bark, I don’t need to clean up after her, and she’s very considerate to hold my phone and cash. It’s not *quite* the same as Sassi, but until I have persuaded my husband, and my own logic, that we should get a dog, Saffy will do.
Sassi.

Sassi.

Saffy was so happy at lunch time today.

Saffy was so happy at lunch time today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Local Running Clubs. Today I received an email from our Club Secretary about  a 3 week course designed to improve running form, which I’m really excited about. Apart from encouraging you to exercise and introducing you to like-minded people, running clubs are a great way to learn about such courses and improve your form. I love the camaraderie that comes with being in a club, and seeing a familiar face as you’re battling through a race. Most clubs cater for all levels, but can definitely point you in the right direction if they don’t. UK people can find their local club here.
  • Mr & Mrs Carter. Beyonce headlined a charity gig in London last weekend called Chime for Change to promote women’s education. It was such a worthy cause, and one I support wholeheartedly, but I’m not ashamed to admit that I was VERY excited to see what Beyonce had to show for herself (FYI – I wasn’t there… I was watching from my couch). She wasn’t much for the audience chat, but made up for it when her hubby came out to rap during “Crazy In Love”. Many people don’t get the Carter fascination, so for those of you out there, here it is: they got the cool, they got the swagger, they got the $$, they got the rhythm. Got it?
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Mr & Mrs Carter just rapping together. This is why they’re cool. I photographed this from the TV. This is why I’m not.

Now I’m off to run up and down some hills, as per my promise earlier on this week. What a fool I was for actually posting a training plan.

Happy Friday!