Tag Archives: London Marathon

London Marathon 2016 – the best race on earth!

Officially my London Marathon time 2016 was 04.28.37…. So, after everything it was a fairly respectable time! That’s a million times faster than I thought it was going to be.  My family, who were following on the marathon App apparently thought I set of like a bull out of a gate, but from my perspective is was steady all the way through until about mile 20 where I began to flag.

The day dawned grey, drizzly and cold – you wouldn’t have thought a week or so ago we were hitting temperatures in London of near 20.  I had a warming bowl of porridge and a steaming mug of coffee and headed to the bus stop.  I met my first fellow marathoner getting on the number 48 for London Bridge, called Bal from Leeds running his first marathon.  Then suddenly arriving a London Bridge Station there seemed to be an increasing number of people wearing running gear – albeit with a fair few layers on – and all with the same kit bag.  Bal seemed relieved as I am not entirely sure that he was convinced I was showing him the right direction to go in – don’t know why he wasn’t convinced!  Arriving at Greenwich it definitely felt cold and several local pubs were selling tea and bacon rolls.  Bal & I headed into the park.  Having not run the London Marathon for 8 years it has got some changes to the set up.  There is more checking of your number before you go into the park, which only runners are allowed into, there are big screens up showing all the different starts as they happen, and there are improved (ish) loo facilities.  I don’t know if any other race has started this, but female urinals is a first for me.  Basically, there were two great big square canvassed rooms (without a ceiling), a female urinal and a men’s.  At the entrance to the women’s on tables were cardboard funnel contraptions for women to use to stand at a urinal in the tented area!!!!! The idea of this is to speed up the normal ridiculous queuing for loos that normally goes on, by allowing several people to have a pee at once – well call me old fashioned but I feel a bit long in the tooth to start trying to pee like a man standing up. So like a few other women and calling on my time from running in the Sahara Desert I simply crouched down in the corner and peed like a normal woman!  Less mess, easier and by the judge of things a lot quicker, if less hilarious.  You might find it strange that I write about this, but it is one of the important aspects at the start of a marathon – as you need to pee far more times than can surely be normal…nerves mainly, and the hope that you empty your bladder so that you don’t need to go during the race.  Anyways, enough of that!  I sorted out my final bits of kit and as the sun was beginning to peep out and warm things up, handed in my kit bag whilst munching on a flapjack with all the claims of giving me enough energy to see me though any physical challenge I could dream up, and made my way to pen 4.

Pen 4 is for the runners aiming to run a race finishing in a time of about 3.30 – 3.45. Yes, I know, ambitious – but when I decided to run the marathon, and had my place confirmed back in October, I had planned to toy with the idea of running somewhere round this time or even a PB.  Fat chance now!  That aside, being in a low numbered pen means you get over that start line in just a few minutes rather than the 10-20 minutes those back in pens 10+ take.  I had a chat to a runner standing next to me from Brighton, dumped my horrible Third Space running jacket as I was now warm enough and shuffled forward with the masses as the start gun went, as we all gave a wave to the sky knowing that Tim Peake was setting of in space at the same time.  It took me 2-3 mins to get over the start line, I hit start on my watch and I was off.  Now I picked a nice steady pace that I didn’t feel was too fast, although it is tempting to keep pace with everyone around you, I know that would be disastrous as everyone around me was setting off at their intended sub 3.45 pace and I would have badly crashed and burned.  I settled into a comfortable pace of around 8.45 minute miles and relaxed, and started to enjoy myself – the crowds were already out making noise, as were some wonderful bands, people playing music out of pubs, off balconies.  I remember seeing a couple standing watching with their big dog (possibly a Rhodesian Ridgeback), and he was facing the oncoming runners barking madly at us – I like to think it was a positive bark!  At about mile 3-4 I ran for a while with a lovely man (who’s name I have forgotten) chatting about the horrors of cancer and why we were both running.  It is a crowded race beyond belief and there is quite a lot of jostling the whole way, elbows being nudged, and I was amazed how many times someone would catch my heels.  I might sound a bit snotty here but my personal opinion in the London marathon is that mobile phones and possibly music devices should be banned.  I think there is nothing more annoying than someone having a phonecall whilst in the middle of a race, and those listening to music, well not only are they missing all the wonderful atmosphere of the crowd and snippets of conversation going on, but they are also oblivious to what is going on around them and cause half the jostling. Gripe over!

Rounding the bend to the Cutty Sark is one of the most wonderful moments of the race, you hear the noise of the crowd grow like some sort of hungry monster and the sun was shining making the old boat look resplendent in all its glory.  If you are feeling good at this point, and I was, it is elating and almost puts an extra bounce into your pace – almost!  Soon after that hitting the streets in South London through Surray Quays and Rotherhithe I began to focus on wondering where I might see some of my supporters – I was hoping to see my niece Matilda somewhere between mile 7 and 10, and was scanning the crowds as much as possible, but it is tough, as I was also concentrating on working things out like when I was going to have my next energy gel, listening for when my name was shouted out, and simply keeping a steady pace glimpsing down at my watch every so often.  My watch was throwing me off a bit, as I told me I had reached each mile sooner than I had, the GPS seemed somewhat off, it would bleep the mile which would be at about 100-200 metres further on, and this distance increased substantially witch each mile – the relief was that it seemed to be the same for quite a few people judging by the beeps you could hear all going off at similar times. Suffice to say I missed Matilda, and she missed me 😦  still I knew she was there and in my head heard her yelling.  I think at this point around mile 9 I was overtaken by a man dressed as a rather large strawberry!!  

Water stations are a bit of a hazard with other runners suddenly slowing down, sidestepping across you, arms thrust out grabbing the bottles from the wonderful volunteers, and then the discarded bottles which are still quite full being inadvertently kicked, exploding if they are heavily trodden on, thrown badly – just one of the obstacles alone the way, they at least don’t eject sticky liquid like the lucozade stations!  I took on water at every other water station, going by my desert method of little and often, keeping hold of my bottle until it was about half empty before getting rid of it.

Tower Bridge was approaching as my 2 hour mark approached.  I looked out for my friend Lin and her family but again missed them, the noise of the crowd as you approach Tower Bridge is even louder than the Cutty Sark and again the sun shone out brightly as I turned the corner… The colours of all the charity banners and balloons are fantastic, and you feel incredible as you head over the bridge, the noise of the crowd so loud that names are indistinguishable and I found it quite emotional, and had a huge boost as I ran past the Maggies Centres cheering team just on the north side of the bridge before  turning right to head out East.  So I had missed Matilda, and Lin & Co….and I wasn’t expecting supporters on the way to the Isle of Dogs or around Canary Wharf.   They are quite long miles, and I began to focus.a bit on my legs and how I was feeling, reaching halfway at mile 13.1 I was aware that I had only 3 more miles to go before I reached the distance of my longest run and I was beginning to feel tired.  A Gandalf ran past me at this point complete with pointy hat and staff – I could have done with some of his magic!  But you find boosts in strange places and from odd things – one being spurred on from this point every time I passed someone who was already walking and looking in trouble, another being amused by a rather bizarre group of Morris Dancers on the side of the road! The bands along the way are simply brilliant, loud with brilliant beats boosting your rhythm & pace – but Morris Dancers!!

The miles through the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf are tough especially when you are heading out that way and towards sites like the O2 arena, you just continually feel like you are going in the wrong direction.  When I have run previous races in the Sahara I apparently sing to myself although quite loudly according to other runners.  Instead of singing during those tough miles from about 14 to 20 I let my mind drift off to the Sahara desert or the cliffs in Cornwall remembering particular stretches and try to imagine that is where I am running – it works for a bit during each mile,  distracting from the longing for each mile to go past.   I also imagined the frantic communication going on between my family as they followed my race number online each time I went over the 5km timing markers – and as I approached mile 20,  I admit I was beginning to fade a little as my muscles began to feel tired and a tad tight, I slowed down feeling a bit low, wondering if I was going to spot anyone in the crowd. I decided to chill for a bit and walk to mile 21 where I was joined by an American girl with very heavy looking fairy wings…we chatted for a bit and then when mile 21 approached we both began to try and run again.  I was just getting back into the rhythm again around 35km when I finally saw one of my brothers, James and launched into an emotional bearhug as seeing him gave me a big boost – he said the others were just up the road. Now just up the road can have many interpretations,  and to my mind it seemed quite a long way up the road before I spotted Nick, Rita & Bertie just before the underpass to the Embankment.  They had set me a challenge, and were situated on a high raised bit of road so I had to jump up to be enveloped in a big hug and lots of encouragement before gingerly “jumping” back onto the road and setting off again with more boost in the system and the knowledge that Catherine & George were just up ahead in amongst the wonderful crowd that lines the Embankment.  I was flitting from running to walking as it was becoming increasingly hard to maintain a consistent pace.  Somewhere between mile 25 and 26 I saw my sister Catherine and nephew George and had an emotional hug, both me and Catherine crying.  The last couple of miles were emotional as in my head I started to see and hear my daddy…the crowd were amazing as I kept hearing my name and the words “you’re nearly there, it’s just around the corner, keep going”. As I rounded the bend I scanned the crowd as much as I could for my ridiculously tall nephew Luke, my little niece Emily and Mummy but the marathon gods were against me and we missed each other, and then it was the home straight to the finish line.  That stretch of the race where you feel like you are an elite athlete sprinting for the line – in reality it is quite the opposite, but I did look to the left and in the media area I saw Sebastian Coe and waved as if I knew him – I think he shouted “”Go on Harry”, but I may have been delirious at that point! And then I was over the finish line and suddenly it is all over.   The emotion at that point is almost too much to describe, I burst into tears of joy, sadness and relief…the race Marshall looked a bit worried but I smiled and then had the medal put over my head and felt like a gold medalist.   I did it Daddy,  in under 4.30, and I missed you every step,  but as I went to meet my wonderful family and get the biggest hug off Mummy I felt like I had the biggest smile – everyone who crosses that finish line is a winner, you see all of humanity in the marathon and supporting the marathon, there is no other event on the planet that creates such an inspirational atmosphere.  It is said that when you cross the finish line your first thought is Never Again…well my. thought is bring on the next one.

And, of course a big thank you to everyone who supported me, sponsored me and sent me messages of encouragement – you have no idea how much you helped me get across that finish line.  And well done to all my fellow runners, you are all one in a million, and my condolences to the family of Captain David Seath who died.

Thank you everyone XXXX

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London Marathon….one day to go….

So here it is…the London Marathon 2016.  

  
This time tomorrow, depending on how smoothly the start goes, I will be at least 3 miles into the slog, calming down the adrenalin, bustling in the mass of other runners, smelling that bizarre smell that only comes at the start of a race – one of sweat, nerves, adrenalin,  – hearing the loud clatter of 1000s of feet hitting the Tarmac amidst the continuous noise of the crowd as we head out through South London towards Cutty Sark and the Tower.

My niece Matilda is going to be somewhere I hope in those first 10 miles – and I have a sneaky suspicion that my beloved friend Lin with family in tow will be relatively vocal as I turn right to stumble across Tower Bridge, after that I think the East End miles are going to be waiting to get back to the Embankment end of things were I am expecting my sister Catherine’s whistle to be defeating all those in her vicinity.  I’m not sure where Nick, Rita, George, Emily & Bertie are planning on shouting, or Luke & James, but I’m hoping one or two of them will be hanging out with my wonderful Mummy who is going to be positioned in that last mile somewhere, channeling Daddy’s vocal chords to shout me down the Mall in what always feels like a Usain Bolt like sprint, but in reality would probably be faster if I were doing the sack race!  

There’s no turning back now, it’s tomorrow and I am going to have to rely on some past remembered mental strength of my previous 15 marathons to get me to the finish line.  In all honesty it has been the toughest 4 months training for a marathon I ever remember.  Gradually getting back into running gently in December started well with some great runs down in Cornwall during my dad’s birthday and Christmas with my brother James:

  
Which all suddenly ended in disaster when I fell down this bit of path… 

 
And broke my right wrist, breaking the distal radius and chipping the bone.  The next day I headed off to the wonderful Cape Town for the 2nd Test Cricket match between SA & England, where I had hoped to do some beautiful early morning runs along the coast.  This was not to be, but the company & cricket more than made up for it.  Coming back to the UK with an arm in a heavy cast for 6 weeks did not really mix well with going for runs longer than about 4 miles as it began to make me run a bit lopsided – not ideal over 26 miles!  To add to the frustration of this was the mix of becoming single again and struggling with my job and general London life.  The day my cast was cut off I felt was going to be so positive and I picked up my training, and felt along with my runners in my running club at my gym were I used to work that Spring was on its way.  Not to be so…the next set back being “let go” from the Third Space half an hour before teaching my last class…12 years of dedication and slam – nothing.  The new “Third Space” brand has no place for passion, loyalty and dedication.  It left me a bit out on a limb and a bit desolate and not remotely like running.  A week later in Cornwall again, I managed to break a toe (falling down stairs this time).  Added to all this was the constant feeling of missing my dad.  I have never experienced grief before and it is a tough cookie to get used to.  I know that there are thousands of us out there running for someone we have lost tomorrow and I am not the only one.  It is a tough mindset to deal with at times and the more I think about the race tomorrow the more mixed my emotions become – when I have run for a cause in the past it has always been for a cause I believe in such as improving hospital conditions in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Malawi, or the World Wild Life Fund, it has never been for such a personal cause.  I know that I am running for Maggies Centres – but it is the fact that I am running for my Daddy that seems to make it so hard as I keep remembering past races: running down the Mall and hearing Dad’s voice coming from the grandstand seats where he & Mummy and Luke & Matilda had managed to cadge some seats, turning the last corner in Dublin and seeing him right in front of me bellowing for all he was worth, simply just hearing his English voice somewhere in the German crowd in Berlin, and always getting the biggest hug at the end in Cannes.  I know he will be there, probably standing with my Mummy who I know this will be equally emotional for, as coming to watch without him for the first time.  But I will miss him and running on emotion is tough – but don’t worry dad no matter what – I will cross the finish line…I have to, we have a table booked at your favourite restaurant Mr Buckleys!

I collected my number and chip yesterday at the London Marathon Expo…so if you are following on line or in the apple app this is my number: 41841

And here is what I am wearing front & back:

  

  

So all that there is left for me to say is a really BIG THANK YOU to everyone for their messages of love and support and to all of you that have sponsored me – I can’t tell you how much it means to me, every single one of you is making a difference, not just to Maggies, but to me as each one of you will help me plod through the agonising last few miles. Thank you.

And good luck to everyone else that is running tomorrow remember the words of the great Emile Zapotek: “If you want to win something, run 100 metres.  If you want to experience something, run a marathon.”  Tomorrow is going to be an experience, enjoy every step.  

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A chilly March evening run in the rain….or plodding out the miles!

So, it is one month to go today to the London Marathon, and I imagine that most of my fellow marathoners are just about to start tapering down as they have probably just put in their longest run, or they are about to this weekend – (a good way to run off those chocolate Easter eggs that I always tell myself that I won’t eat!).  Not me, nope I am finally just picking up my mileage as my training finally begins to look like it is taking some sort of shape.  And this evening after work I managed to convince myself despite the cold drizzle that it was better to go for a run instead of straight home.  So, as commuters were heading in all directions along Westminster Bridge, I started out for the Royal Parks.  My first mile through St James’s Park and up along Green Park is always a bit of a plod, and a stop start at all the lights and crossings until I get to Hyde Park, and then I begin to relax and start to find my stride.  My aim was to go cover somewhere over 13miles this evening, and so as not to make the run too monotonous, my first lap was around the outside of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.  There’s a street at the bottom of Kensington Gardens that is seriously more like millionaires row, but it slopes gently up hill so quite frankly it could be a hovel for all the distraction it lends.  I always then enjoy the stretch along Bayswater – there’s something about running along against the flow of traffic that always makes it feel like I’m running quite fast…I wasn’t, although I think that was possibly my paciest mile.  As I turned back into Hyde Park and down the Park Lane side there’s always that desire to head straight for home as I reach Hyde Park Corner, but I was good and gritted my teeth and turned the corner and covered another two laps of Hyde Park, back over the corner and round Green Park, a lap round St James’s, and along the river up to Vauxhall Bridge, over the bridge and along the south side of the river back to St Thomas’s.  Bleurgh, I heard my watch bleep and glimpsed it but in the dark I misread it and thought I had only just about covered 12 miles, so my delight was quite substantial when I reached the door and it read roughly 16 miles!  I startled a patient covertly smoking in the shadows as I whooped loudly.  It took me roughly two and a half hours or there abouts…so only another ten miles to go, and roughly another hour and a half of running – if I can keep a consistent pace.  I fear that from about 16 miles onwards my pace is going to become a bit more ploddy. But you never know what can happen in the next four weeks.  As I’m building up towards London instead of tapering down to it I’m intending to peak for it perfectly on the day (unlikely, but I’m being ever so optimistic), and also simply regard it as a long old training run for the Atacama Desert which is growing slowly in the back of my mind as October creeps ever so much closer!

Adding on 4 miles cycling home in cold wet rain wasn’t quite as much fun as running in it, it has to be said, especially when about 10 mins into cycling home I realised I’d left my wallet at work.

But I’m home now, mildly regretting that I have arranged a training session with Jon tomorrow morning at 8.30am, I’m sure I used to have more energy a few years ago and back to back training sessions evening followed by early morning seemed like a fun idea!  Right now I am questioning my sanity.

Still, 4 weeks to go, and after tonight’s run things finally feel like they are progressing.  After all the niggling setbacks, not to say my time at The Third Space gym coming to a rather abrupt and somewhat unprofessional end, (a long story for another entry if I can be bothered, suffice to say at this juncture that after giving 12 years of dedicated hardwork which I passionately believed in training others for races from 5k to 100miles to mountain and desert races, to be told 1/2 an hour before what was to be my last class that I was being “let go” was a little peeving, not to say lacking in any sense of professionalism & respect – but I won’t dwell on that now), it has been a tough training route so far.  I just hope that the next four weeks are smooth and obstacle free.   

Happy Easter one and all xxxxxxxxx

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Simply the best place to run in the world, every time 

So I’m back in Cornwall for a week’s holiday with my wonderful Mummy.  We came down on Friday afternoon with Skye (my mother’s Labrador puppy) and and my somewhat reluctant cat, Monkey – I say reluctant as trying to persuade her to go in the catbox did leave me looking like I had just crawled through several yards of sharp barbed wire.  We drove through all four seasons to get here and arrived in chilly rain, only to find that the key was not where it was supposed to be.  Having already unloaded said catbox from the car, it seemed cruel to confuse Monkey by putting her back into the car as we waited for Katrina, the lady with the key to turn up…..Skye and Monkey were both rather mystified as to why Mum and I continued to sit in the car whist they sat outside the door….

  
We eventually gained entry into the lovely cottage, Nantucket within the Highcliffe Holiday Cottages in Trebetherick, tea, shortbread and log fire soon ensued, and a few hours later my sister arrived.

My plan was to get going on the running immediately on Saturday morning, but as seems to be the nature of my running, things did not go quite according to plan!  On Friday evening, I managed to slip down the stairs and in the process stub at least 3 of my toes…with the possiblilty of thinking I had actually broken my little one.  It was quite swollen on Saturday and Sunday and the bruising was coming out quite a lot – I haven’t taken a photo as to be honest I think I have taken enough photos of my feet in the past for the sake of running and they ain’t pretty! (Also, I still have some now very chipped nail varnish on them!)

So instead, we headed out on Saturday in bright beautiful Cornish sunshine to the Rumps at Pentire Point to wave a cheerful springlike hello to our old dad – for those of you that don’t know, my sister and brothers and I and my mother, and even Skye as a tiny puppy, brought Daddy’s ashes out here in December on his birthday and cast him off the cliffs into the turbulent seas below – in fact we all nearly went with him due to it being the same day as Hurricane Desmond. This time it was bright sunshine, still windy but with a turquoise sea swelling in the background….

 
  
  

Sitting in the dip where dad always sat to watch the birds and seals…

 
And Skye encountered her first cow!

  
After a lovely, if ever so slightly “Jam & Jerusalem” Mothering Sunday Service at St Endellion Church and a quite simply delicious Sunday Roast at the Cornish Arms in Pendoggett (the best and friendliest Cornish pub there is) we left mum sleeping on the sofa with a slightly sick puppy, and a cat who is beginning to warm to Cornwall and Catherine & I headed down to Greenaway Beach for our favourite occupation of combing the sand and shale for Cowri shells.  We never tire of this, although the tide didn’t give us much treasure this time, as long as we found more than 10 we were quite happy.
Monday morning, sadly Catherine had to leave at sparrow fart for work back in Oxford – but otherwise what’s the best thing to start the week, a run along the cliffs and beaches to Rock – who would ever choose to run on a treadmill when views like this are on their doorstep, these are the views of my run this morning 

 Looking across the sand flats from Rock to Padstow
All the coloured marker buoys for yachts and sailing boats that have moorings through the summer months.  
  

The wide open expanse of sand revealed at low tide running back from Rock to Daymer Bay – it’s so crowded!

  
Looking out to sea to Pentire Head from the cliffs out above Greenaway Beach.

  

The view above Polzeath Beach.

There really is no better place to run, and broken toe or not broken toe (I think it really is just badly bruised and slightly sprained) it is just heaven.

After an essential running training diet based breakfast of toast, clotted cream & honey – trust me, it really improves my running.  Mum and I headed down to Greenaway with Skye to hunt for cowries in yet more beautiful Cornish spring sunshine…

   

 

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A slow and steady pace…well, steadyish!

So there’s about 8 weeks now until the London marathon – it is getting frighteningly closer!  But I am plodding on despite the hurdles that keep cropping up in my path…I know, hurdles or excuses 🙂

I plodded a relatively respectable 12 miles along the Regent’s Canal today in alternatively bright winter sunshine, grey clouds and irregular gusts of cold wind, dodging Sunday pedestrians oblivious to anyone around them, other runners lost in the world of their headphones, and laconic Sunday cyclists, and a few pram pushers.  I’m all for sharing the tow path, but do wish occasionally that other users would just once in a while give way. But hey ho, dodging all the other users is my excuse for a inconsistent pace, although I was pleased that I clocked my 12 miles in under 2 hours by about 10 mins, so hopefully that means I’ll be crossing Tower Bridge in roughly 2 hours which is reasonable I reckon, I’m just not sure at the moment that I’ll be able to maintain the same pace for the next 13 miles!  

And at the end of the run, no niggles, no aches and pains, or mini blisters appearing anywhere – so something at least is going right.  I don’t  think my wrist being stiff is related to my running,  just post breakage stiffness, and a bit sore after my wonderful physio Brett Davison got the joint moving a bit on Friday evening.  I am of the long held belief that he is the best physio in the word, even if he does always say I present him with a challenge (normally in the shape of my back).

So, 10 years ago I was at a level of fitness to run my fastest marathon time in Dublin 2006.  London 2016 I don’t think is going to be my fastest marathon by any margin…but I have a week dedicated to running coming up back down in Cornwall – back to the scene of my wrist debacle. So hopefully notching up the miles up and down the cliff paths and along some sandy beaches will toughen up my muscles and hopefully lend a little speed to my pace….I can but dream 🙂

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I am a machine….apparently!

So a morning’s training session with Jon, Mr Commando Active.  My 3rd session with him since I starte up training again in the last month, and I’m sure during the first one he said something along the lines of relatively easy sessions to ease back into it all as I approach Christmas….I’m not sure that today’s session was ‘relatively easy’…it certainly didn’t feel like it had been easy by the end.

My training sessions with Jon always begin quite relaxed, consisting of some limbering up, loosening up exercises (although he does insist on sneaking press-ups into the mix every week!).  Today after warm up I had to do five sets of pull ups interspersed with five sets of overhead weighted squats.  Now that might all sound pretty easy to anyone reading this, but pull ups have never ever in all my years of training come easily to me.  One pull up is normally my limit and then my arms are dead and I can never get the second one.  Well, Jon has a sly way of making me do at least 5.  I balance on a thick elastic band that gives me some sort of purchase, resistance to help me get into the momentum of the pull up.  On the first two I can just about get my head above the bar right up above me, and it takes quite a lot of gritting teeth and puffing to do it a further 3 times.  On sets 4 and 5 I did actually manage to hit 10 reps, but I think that Jon’s goading has something to do with that, especially as he knows how competitive I can be.  The overhead sqats are another matter, holding a 15kg weight I had to squat low holding the weight in front of my chest then push up to standing and raise the weight high up over my head – bleurgh.  15 times in each set…a couple of minutes rest and then back to the pull ups!  This is all meant to be making my upper body as strong as my legs – but my arms have always been weak and it never feels like they will improve – I certainly can never envisage doing a pull up more than once without an elastic band bouncing me up! But to be fair I did once say that about press ups, which I can now do several in a row without collapsing in a heap – I just protest loudly everytime I am made to do them.

That all seemed relatively easy when faced with Jon’s next activity for me.  The club where I train with Jon has in its vast facilities very long thick ropes.  Jon attached one of these at one end to a fairly heavy metal sledge like piece of equipment. I had to sit at the other end and pull the sled towards me, as fast as possible, then immediately push it back down to where I had pulled it from…from that I had to go to the next piece of rope which was looped round a pillar so that was holding both ends, which I had to bounce the ends to make big ripples down the lengths of the rope – sounds easy, well I assure you it isn’t, especially when your arms are beginning to feel tired.  I had to do this with alternate arms for 10 on each arm, and then 20 times with both arms together, with Jon demanding really big ripples when using both arms together.  After this I had to go straight to a table that is about 3ft high, and stand up onto it leading with the right leg for 10, and stepping down with the right leg….and repeat on the left leg for 10. And then breathe….  gasp for breath, gulp down water, mutter something derogatory to Jon about not planning on taking thick heavy ropes with me to the desert, or pulling a sledge in the sand (let alone round the London Marathon!) I had to do this not once, not twice or three times, but five times. However, the 4th & 5th times I had to do back to back without pausing for breath! And, very sneakily, when pushing the now extra weighted sled back to where I had pulled it from I suddenly felt it get tougher to push – this would be because as it was still trailing the long thick rope Jon thought it a good idea to hold onto it and add himself as extra resistance!!!  He’s kind and thoughtfu like that.

All in all it certainly didn’t feel like a relatively “easy” session.  But, I have to say that with the Atacama Crossing once again almost 10 months away, I sort of feel like I’m vaguely back on track or at least heading in the right direction, even if I’m not planning on lugging a sledge across the desert!  What felt good, was when another trainer smiled and said to me “you’re a machine”…I assume in fitness terms this is something akin to a compliment – Jon assures me that it is  🙂

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Running freely…

Having not been for a proper run for over 9 weeks, the first run starts to look like the biggest of hurdles.  Signing up to run the London Marathon looks tougher from where I am sitting than it did when I ran my first marathon in 2004.  Still, I saw my ‘desert’ trainer, Jon, last week for the first time… explaining to him my lack of motivation, my lack of running fitness and my constant feeling of sometimes overwhelming tiredness.  He gave me the best running advice I have ever had.  To not even think about properly training for the marathon (or desert) yet, but to simply start enjoying running again, to ditch the stopwatch/GPS/sportswatch and not worry about how far or how fast I am running as (hopefully) that will all come.

I have to confess that all intentions to then go for a run at the weekend went out the window, partly because I was jetlagged from night shifts, but also because my glutinous maximus muscles (my butt muscles) were really rather stiff from the “light” workout Jon put me through.

So today dawns – and hmmm, it is pouring with rain and wind.  Not really conducive to seducing me out for a run. But, at 2.45pm the rain stopped and I finally put on my sad looking trainers and stepped out.  I ran along Regent’s Canal and through Victoria Park, a minor pause as I lost my bearings in the park.  It is strange, as I haven’t run without my watch for about 10 years.  I’m used to avidly working out how fast I’ve run a mile, working out how long various distances are going to take me, monitoring my heart rate, monitoring my average pace.  It is quite surreal to leave the trappings of time behind and just run to be again, and it is also quite enjoyable, even if i did feel I was rather heavily plodding at one point. 50 minutes later I almost bounced up my steps feeling a bit lighter of heart and breathing easier, if a little stiff around the out of practice joints! Not sure exactly how far I have run… but you know what, who cares, I was out running, freely and that is all that matters…. 26 miles will be nothing! (personal snort of derision!!)

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