Will runs the London Marathon

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Yesterday it finally happened; yesterday I finally ran the London marathon. After months of anticipation and training, it’s now done. So how was it?

Well, for starters, heading to Greenwich Park was quite possibly the most surreal feeling. There was a palpable sense of excitement and – dare I say – disbelief hanging in the air that the big day had finally come. The time in the park was quite relaxed though, and it was lovely to have the sun shining down on us (after months of training without it!).

Will and Hayley in Greenwich ParkWith Hayley in Greenwich Park

Then came the time for the race, and we were off! I had a strong start, and the miles were just zooming by for quite some time. I always said it would be special to run for the official charities for the marathon, and it really was. Having 10 cheering points along the course was amazing and the support at each and every one was brilliant. Passing the point at mile 11 in Rotherhithe – the first one I saw my family at – was brilliant, and seeing them cheering me on gave me a high unlike any I’d had before.

Mile 11Riding high at Mile 11

On I went through Bermondsey, the Shard towering over us all. In the distance I spotted people turning around the corner. I knew what I meant and I was buzzing; Tower Bridge was about to swing into view. And it really didn’t fail to disappoint. Tower Bridge was a phenomenal tunnel of noise, lined as it was with charity cheering points down the entire length. Add in some extremely exuberant cheering from my boss and an ex-YouthNetter and it was simply magical!

So I reached the halfway point (along with another brilliant batch of YouthNet cheerers) and did my best not to be too daunted that I had to do it all over. I continued to do well, pushing on to the Isle of Dogs and making good progress right up to mile 16.

After mile 16 I started to feel it, but I was still going well. I knew that Mudchute and Canary Wharf – both with cheering points – were not too far ahead, and so I pushed on! But after I’d passed them, things got more difficult still, particularly with blisters on my toes starting to cause me some pain. All I could think was just keep going, and although I did walk once on each Poplar High Street and The Highway, it was only for about 10 seconds in each case.

I hit Tower Hill again and knew that the remaining 3.5-4 miles would be tough. And they were. I pushed on, had to stop for a 90 second walk, and then had my low point. Glancing up I caught sight of a banner hanging from a bridge:

Run if you can.
Walk if you must.
But finish for Boston.

I was so moved I felt the tears welling up, and could feel my breathing getting erratic. Cue a mile of running and very carefully regulating my breathing to stop me from hyper-ventilating. It’s safe to say that’s an experience I’ll hope never to repeat.

My spirits were lifted again when I hit the Embankment and Big Ben began to swing in and out of view. At last I could see a landmark near my destination. All I had to do was keep plodding along.

And then I reached and swung up through Parliament Square and on to Birdcage Walk. I could see the final Run for it cheering points on either side. Mark was waving at me and his step mum was jumping up and down with excitement. I whipped the cheering points up into a frenzy, felt the excitement washing over me and put on a burst of speed.

Birdcage WalkBurst of speed on Birdcage Walk

I rounded the top of Birdcage Walk, headed on to the Mall and finally, finally saw the finish line. As ever, I paid homage to Helen Tamblyn and finished with a sprint. And that was it. The pride was washing over me, the inane grin was rising on my face and I knew I’d given everything I had.

So how did I do? Well, I finished in a respectable 4:03:16. It’s not quite the sub-four I was hoping for, but I’m still delighted. I always said that there were a lot of unknowns on the day, the wall being chief among them. Well, I hit it and I made it through, and that is an amazing achievement.

My split times are below if you want a look, but now if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go back to putting my feet up!

Splits


London Marathon – 1 week to go

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Unless something goes wrong, this time next week I’ll be a marathon runner. That’s a peculiar thought. Two year’s ago in the YouthNet offices we were excited that we were in with a chance at being charity of the year with Age UK. One year ago we were ready to launch our partnership. And now there’s just a week left until the big day. It all feels a bit surreal.

In that time the marathon has done its utmost to take over my life. And last week it finally managed it. For the first time since January I’ve been too busy – and correspondingly worn out – to train work has been hectic, and it’s in a large part due to the impending marathon. Oh the irony. The marathon has made me too tired to train.

Not that it’s bothered me too much. I’m tapering, I’ve already been feeling a bit weary of running, and it’s been good to have an excuse to rest up on the sofa.

This week then has consisted of just two runs and that’s fine. More importantly, I’ve got some much needed rest and caught up on sleep. Now I’m ready to have a week with a few gentle runs and I’ll just try not to think about the challenge that I’ll face next Sunday. I suspect that will be easier said than done.

Here’s this week’s stats:

Monday (10 mi steady): distance – 10.55 mi; duration – 1:25:22; pace – 8:06/mile
Sunday (4 mi slow): distance – 4.40 mi; duration – 38:06; pace – 8:40/mile

Total: distance – 14.95 mi; duration – 2:03:28; pace – 8:16/mile

I’m running the London Marathon to raise money for Run For It, the official 2013 London Marathon partnership between YouthNet and Age UK. If you’d like to sponsor me, you can do so on my Virgin Money Giving page.


London Marathon – 2 weeks to go

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Time really does fly. I’ve been thinking running this London marathon for nearly two years, and now it’s just two weeks away. Today that’s a thought that excites me; I’m not scared in the least.

In fact, this week I’ve found myself focussing more and more on how it will feel to turn onto the Mall, run the home stretch and cross the finish line. I’ve stopped spending time thinking about the race and focussing the goal. I’ve been feeling like I’m physically ready, now it feels like I’m there psychologically too.

That said, it’s important not to get complacent. I may be tapering, but it’s all too tempting to be bone idol. I’ve only run three times (although I am doing my long run, albeit tomorrow) and Mark really had to force me out the door this evening.

When he did I decided to hit the treadmill instead of the towpaths. It somehow persuades me out the door when I’m loathe to run, probably because it’s much easier to throw in towel and cut the run short.

Whenever I train on the treadmill, I find myself overwhelmed and mesmerised by the info I can see. I watch the metres (that the treadmill slightly annoyingly uses) tick by, always totally aware of how far I have left to go.

Tonight, with 1,500m left I found myself thinking about school. I remember in PE in Year 7 having to tackle the 1,500m. I finished absolutely drained, puffing and wheezing, fully aware that physical exercise wasn’t my strong point.

My teachers seemed to agree, and for PE I got fairly consistent Ds. I can’t help but wonder what they’d think now. Something clearly clicked two years ago when I started running and I found a form of exercise I enjoyed and actually wasn’t too bad at.

Well, in two weeks I’ll get my running report. Do I care how I get on? Truthfully, a darn sight more than I did at secondary school. One thing I do know though, is that short of a disaster, in two weeks time I’ll join the ranks of marathon runners. That will be something to be proud of.

Here’s this week’s stats:

Wednesday (4 mi slow): distance – 4.03 mi; duration – 31:20; pace – 7:47/mile
Thursday (6 mi slow/fast): distance – 6.5 mi; duration – 57:20; pace – 8:49/mile
Sunday (6 mi steady): distance – 6.21 mi; duration – 48:43; pace – 7:51/mile

Total: distance – 16.74 mi; duration – 2:17:23; pace – 8:12/mile

I’m running the London Marathon to raise money for Run For It, the official 2013 London Marathon partnership between YouthNet and Age UK. If you’d like to sponsor me, you can do so on my Virgin Money Giving page.


London Marathon – 3 weeks to go

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Peak week is over, peak week is over, shout it from the rooftops that peak week is over.

I’m genuinely so happy to have made it through three months of (at times) fairly gruelling training. The confidence I’ve been feeling over the past couple of weeks has stayed with me, which is a really good thing, because I know some much of the 21st April will be fought in the mind.

And this week has reassured me that I’m ready. The week started off with a run after work on Tuesday, a fairly pacey eight miles after a day’s work. I followed up on Thursday by running about five miles to work. So far, fairly standard training fare.

I was planning to run a 20 miler over the long weekend, but plans quickly changed because a friend asked me if I wanted to run 13 on Bank Holiday Monday, so I had to rearrange things. The first weekend run then was an eight miler on Saturday morning that I really had to drag myself out for. It was fine when I got out, but I’ve just become aware of how bored I am of the river and canal; I need to find some new and exciting places to run.

After my run I headed to Southend, where my brother was throwing a tea party fundraiser for me. It was a huge success, both in terms of cake quantities and cash raised. I ended the day by breaking the £1,500 for my fundraising. A really positive feeling, and one that’s stayed with me for the rest of this long weekend. Just a bit under £350 to go now until I cross that particular finish line.

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To round the week off, I met the lovely David Mack this morning to run a cheeky half marathon. I ran to London Bridge and we set off through Rotherhithe, Greenwich, under the Thames, up to Canary Wharf and back along the river. I rounded it off by running home again, getting my distance up to nearly 16 miles for my last long run. After so much solitary training, it was really nice to have some company, running, chatting and just enjoying myself.

Now it’s time to spend three weeks winding down. I’m really looking forward to tapering, running a bit less and making sure I’m feeling ready and fresh for the big day. Just three more weeks to keep going now.

Here’s this week’s stats:

Tuesday (8 mi slow/fast): distance – 8.06 mi; duration – 1:06:44; pace – 8:17/mile
Thursday (4 mi + strides): distance – 4.98 mi; duration – 44:47; pace – 9:00/mile
Saturday (8 mi steady): distance – 8.79 mi; duration – 1:18:08; pace – 8:54/mile
Monday (16 mi long run): distance – 15.67 mi; duration – 2:26:50; pace – 9:22/mile

Total: distance – 37.50 mi; duration – 5:36:29; pace – 8:58/mile

I’m running the London Marathon to raise money for Run For It, the official 2013 London Marathon partnership between YouthNet and Age UK. If you’d like to sponsor me, you can do so on my Virgin Money Giving page.


London Marathon – 4 weeks to go

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It’s been another week that’s started off slowly before gaining momentum. Monday and Tuesday I could tell I was still really needing to recover from last weekend’s fantastic 18 miler, so I decided to skip the first run of the week.

Wednesday’s run ended up being after work on Thursday, though knew it actually made the weekend a bit more manageable. I reversed my 8.5 mile route to work, and was too disappointed with the results given the mitigating circumstances (primarily a day at work beforehand, a rucksack and tourists on the South Bank).

Wednesday itself though was momentous for another reason as I went the halfway mark for my fundraising target. For those don’t know, my target is a substantial £1,850 which will be spent by YouthNet (the charity I work for) and Age UK on a project to train young people to deliver Internet classes to isolated older people. It’s a great cause, and one I’m proud to support professionally and personally. If you’d like to sponsor me, you can on my Virgin Money Giving page and I can assure you I’ll be massively appreciative.

But now back to the running. Inevitably, after running Thursday evening, my attempt at running on Friday morning was fairly unsuccessful. The training plan asked for six miles of me, I managed a bit over three before I dashed off to Cambridge for the weekend.

That all meant that my long run had to be Sunday evening. I changed, laced up, donned hat and gloves and headed out for a chilly 14 miles. Something I’ve not mentioned much is that I’ve recently been finding it a struggle to run straight through, relying on ample walking breaks. Not tonight. I ran through, even managing bursts of speed at points.

This was always meant to be a taper week according to my plans, and I’m really excited to see the difference it makes. Tonight I had stamina and pace. Next week is my peak training week (I’m already anticipating that it will be quite the slog), and then my three week taper starts the final phase of the build up to race day. I’m excited now to see how much difference a three week taper makes when I line up at the start line.

Here’s this weeks stats:

Thursday (2 x 3 mi fast): distance – 8.18 mi; duration – 1:18:51; pace – 10:19/mile
Friday (6 mi easy run): distance – 3.22 mi; duration – 31:23; pace – 9:45/mile
Sunday (12 mi long run): distance – 14.22 mi; duration – 1:55:55; pace – 8:09/mile

Total: distance – 25.62 mi; duration – 3:46:09; pace – 8:50/mile

I’m running the London Marathon to raise money for Run For It, the official 2013 London Marathon partnership between YouthNet and Age UK. If you’d like to sponsor me, you can do so on my Virgin Money Giving page.


London Marathon – 5 weeks to go

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This week has been tiring, but it’s also been a huge success. I began with five miles on the treadmill on Monday. It went well, but I certainly knew I couldn’t have gone much further. I know that’s to be expected on a Monday as my body is still recovering from the long weekend run, but I was certainly hoping it wouldn’t be an omen of things to come.

Wednesday, I had no choice but to run before work. I did see some sense, and decide to finish at the office and shower there. Cutting out the half hour walk to work means extra time in bed after all. I ran along the river from Tower Bridge to Lambeth Bridge, before crossing over and heading back to London Bridge and up to Old Street. It was a slog (particularly with a rucksack on my back) but the sun was shining and it felt great to be out running. There was also something very satisfying about arriving at the office and being able to answer colleagues who asked how far I’d run with 8.5 miles.

Friday was a similar pre-work run, but a deal shorter so I only had to run to Waterloo Bridge before heading back. All in, a slightly slower 6 miles.

That brings me to yesterday’s long run. My training plan had 16 miles, but I knew I wanted to do 18 and I was a little nervous about it. I shouldn’t have been. For weeks (since the knee niggles began) I’ve been stopping to walk fairly frequently. Yesterday I didn’t really feel I had to until 12 miles or so, so that’s a big psychological boost. The route was great as well: along the Embankment, up through Trafalgar Square and the Mall to Hyde Park, along the edge of the park, up and round Regent’s Park and then the canal all the way back to Limehouse Basin and home.

I did it and I feel great. I know I probably could have done a bit more, and I know race conditions, buzz of the crowd and a taper will all help me go further on the day. Dare I say it, but I’m starting to feel ready for 21st April.

Here’s this weeks stats:

Monday (5 mi easy run): distance – 5.03 mi; duration – 43:03; pace – 8:34/mile
Wednesday (3 x 2 mi fast): distance – 8.45 mi; duration – 1:16:24; pace – 9:02/mile
Friday (6 mi run): distance – 6.07 mi; duration – 55:32; pace – 9:08/mile
Saturday (16 mi long run): distance – 18.23 mi; duration – 2:57:17; pace – 9:44/mile

Total: distance – 37.78 mi; duration – 5:52:16; pace – 9:19/mile

I’m running the London Marathon to raise money for Run For It, the official 2013 London Marathon partnership between YouthNet and Age UK. If you’d like to sponsor me, you can do so on my Virgin Money Giving page.


London Marathon – 6 weeks to go

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This week started out with a shortish run (2.77 miles instead of the c. 5 in my plan) followed by 5k on the exercise bike. I’m sure the cross training is doing my thighs (and so my knee) a world of good, but that doesn’t mean I’m exactly enjoying it!

Mid week training was skipped so I could get my weekend run back onto a Saturday. Friday saw a dull, wet nearly 6 miles, but I was in really good spirits as my knee felt a lot better and I did the distance.

Now does seem a good time to mention the knee. It’s doing better, getting closer to feeling 100% but still not quite there. The cross training has seemingly helped, as has my daily encounter with my current nemesis – the foam roller of doom.

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I can’t imagine that foam rolling is an experience I’m ever going to particularly enjoy, but it certainly does seem to be doing me wonders. It’s noticeable how much faster my knee is recovering between training sessions. Hopefully, before long it will be feeling even better during them as well!

It certainly didn’t feel too bad during yesterday’s long run. I was always aware of my knee (if that makes sense), but never felt like I needed to stop completely, although I did walk a few times. I went over my 10 mile distance on a great route round the Isle of Dogs. I’m so lucky to live so close to the river. I really can’t think of many finer places to run.

So that’s been this week. Next week the distance cranks back up. That’ll be my next test, but I imagine will also be a confidence booster if it goes to plan.

Here’s this weeks stats:

Tuesday (4 mi + strides): distance – 2.77 mi; duration – 25:54; pace – 9:21/mile
Friday (5 mi easy run): distance – 5.85 mi; duration – 58:14; pace – 9:57/mile
Saturday (10 mi long run): distance – 10.84 mi; duration – 1:40:00; pace – 9:15/mile

Total: distance – 19.46 mi; duration – 3:04:08; pace – 9:28/mile

I’m running the London Marathon to raise money for Run For It, the official 2013 London Marathon partnership between YouthNet and Age UK. If you’d like to sponsor me, you can do so on my Virgin Money Giving page.