After running the London Marathon in 2010 I continue my pursuit for sporting greatness without the aid of running shoes. I now run 'Barefoot' full time and aim to run the London Marathon 2012 'bare'

My blog is an account of training for running, triathlon, staying fit for life and pushing my body to it's limits to become 'superfit'. I hope it will inspire others to go out and get fit for life and see how enjoyable and rewarding it can be

Thursday, 27 May 2010

So what next?

So as a full time and full term runner now what kind of challenges do I set for myself when I have achieved my biggest running goal!?

After suffering a bout a nasty post marathon blues it became very apparent that I needed to set some new goals.... and quickly! As previously mentioned marathons are out of the question for at least a year, I want to enjoy casually running again and when you have a marathon on the horizon there is a lot of pressures on you and your life and my husband was well and truly neglected so I'm going to stick to more manageable distances for a while. But before I do that I am determined to run these 'barefoot'!

When I say barefoot I mean in a pair of Vibram 5 Fingers as I am not blessed with a beach on the doorstep! I have been starting to train my feet and legs in a pair of diving shoes (which actually rate higher for barefoot protection on most barefoot sites). I wont lie it is hard work but its making me a confident and faster runner. The feeling of not 'needing' to rely on the support of a trainer is amazing but it does mean you are working muscles that have been barely worked as they've been wrapped up nicely in a supportive shoes. So at the moment the calfs are killing but after a week of barefoot running my calfs are much more toned, my ankles feel stronger and there is something slightly satisfying about working the muscles in your feet! I am gradually building up my inbuilt support system :)

The most notable perks have been the change in my speed, after months of stagnating I am finally getting faster which is great, especially for 10k races!! More importantly my injuries are no longer niggling at all, I haven't had the slightest twinge in my knees, shins or ankles which is making me more confident to go for it!

As i have to build up the training slowly I had to run in trainers today and it wasn't all bad, I was half adopting the forefoot strike and the confidence in me was brimming. I wasn't as fast as when I'm bare footing but I'll happily take a sub 55min 10k which I ran still aching! So where next?

As well as running I have taken up cycling and was due to race a 50mile cycle ride with my husband but we have discovered it'll be nigh on impossible to get to the start line with our bikes....grrrr. So next up is a 5k fun run which I hope to be one of those 'she's taking it so seriously' runners... why not? I bloody! Then in July I have the Newark 10k which I haven't done before but is my kind of race, smaller field, local and a chance to meet other local runners! Hopefully after running these races barefoot I will be ready to run the Newark Half Marathon in August, again a lovely well known race with a smallish field and even closer to the house :)

So that's the plan at the moment. As well as that I will be taking up pilates again to get that core visibly toned in time for holiday at the end of August...... now do I keep running in Turkey??

Monday, 24 May 2010

And so, My race last!

So I FINALLY get down to writing my blog again and give you a race report from the VLM! Only a month late! Things have been hectic my way with recovery, dog eating laptop cable and now trying to get back into full training hence lack of posts!

Today is the day when I really get back into the swing of things! 1 Month is now enough time to say I have fully recovered and now is the time to get my 5 and 10k PB’s in the next few months. I’ll get onto the plans in my next post but for now I will give you the lowdown on Marathon day.

After 2 months of injuries I went into the race slightly lacking in confidence, having never getting my 20 miler and the injuries still niggling I decided, as was recommended to me ‘just to finish’. Obviously in my head I wanted the sub 4:30 I craved but realistically I was looking around the 5 hour mark! One thing you just don’t factor in when running a busy race like this is how much further you are actually running! I set off on 9:30-10:00 min miles, more than sufficient to get the sub 4:30! At about mile 3 it became apparent that I was tracking an extra 0.2 miles per mile as I was zig zagging through the crowds, dodging water bottles (throw them to the edge of the road people!).

It was at this point that I realised that whilst the mileage was getting less and less per mile (as the racers spread out), to get the sub 4:30 I would need to fly! It was a bad time to realise this as regrets kicked in for not taking any painkillers before the race for the shin and calf injury! This was around the point I was heading towards Greenwich, for me a place very close to my heart and a moment I would of loved to of shared with my long distant running buddy, but I could see he could go faster and I was slowing him down and there comes a point when you need to stop being selfish, he’d trained up to 22 miles and whilst his pace is similar to mine he had more miles in the legs for race day so we had ‘the chat’. Prior to race day we decided we wouldn’t leave each other’s side but I couldn’t see him being pulled back so I told him ‘if you can go faster, go’ if he hadn’t I would of given him a clip round the ear, fortunately half a mile on we naturally parted ways and so the journey with my mind began!

One thing with the London Marathon is you are never alone, I’m a bit of a loner when it comes to running and tend to focus on my ‘game’ but as I came through Greenwich it became apparent that this was a whole new kettle of fish! I felt like a superstar, people calling my name  (or ‘pink socks’, ‘Great Britain’) high fiving kids (and grown ups) as I ran down the busy streets. The calls of come on womble were slightly demoralizing as I kept getting overtaken by a walk/running HUGE Uncle Bulgaria. By mile 8 I was feeling good and seemed to of lost the Womble, I think he beat me! So again I was getting cheered on as there was no costumed runners around…. Then I heard the bells, the bells of an elaborately dressed Morris dancer….. this continued throughout the race to ‘lose’ the dressed up folk so I can have the cheers for me back!

Then came the sight of tower bridge, a momentous occasion for any London Marathoner, this is the bit you always see on TV rammed full of people, the atmosphere electric! Now this is the point where I have blanks in my memory, like I remember seeing the bridge but don’t remember crossing it, or even seeing the tower of London! It is only when I watched the highlights the next day that I realized I had ran past all these landmarks! After the bridge came the tedious part of the race, running a mile out to the Isle of Dogs whilst people going the other way were already at mile 21, there was me at mile 13 and in pain. The legs was fighting against my mind at every step and it was infuriating, my lungs, feet and mind were fine but I was still enduring this pain, and so I started to slow down!

This part of the race up till about mile 18 is all a bit of a blur, I had to resort to topping up the painkillers with paracetamol which also meant taking on more water. My energy strategy was failing me as I was burning off more limping. So I started to take on more gels and lift my head up and at mile 18 something hit me (not literally)! I don’t know if it was the jelly beans or the extra neurofen I took as I got a  shooting stabbing pain at the top of my foot but I felt great! I had reached the point of no return and a point where I had never run beyond but instead of panicking my fighting spirit took over. These were the miles I will always refer to as the best run of my life!

As my mileage increased more and more people were on the roadside being treated for injuries, collapsed or a few people in recovery position! This unfazed me, I had drank steadily throughout, I had taken on enough energy and I had worked hard to get here!

Once I reached mile 20 my heart started flipping, I really was going to finish wasn’t I? I overtook a 15 ft giraffe (phew, that could have been embarrassing) and started to lose those who had started walking. More than anything in the world I wanted to see someone I knew but it was impossible to find anyone in the crowds so I treated everyone as a friend and smiled and waved as I moved on! Then I got a text from my husband telling me where he was waiting, I couldn’t leave him too much longer, he’d travelled all the way down to see me just to be there at the finish line as if being a very supportive running widow for 6 months wasn’t enough, what a husband!!!

The next 3 miles were steady and non-descript, I was in a haze of euphoria I think as the streets got busier and busier with cheering crowds, I really don’t remember much at all, then at mile 23 Craig called me to see where I was and how I was doing (yep I can run and chat on my mobile) and I burst into tears as I told him I was less than half an hour away!! Half an hour, that’s all I needed.

This call made me realise I had something left in the tank, I was easily talking on the phone and the painkillers were working so I picked up the pace up to around 9.30 minute miles, it felt fast but right, the crowds mattered more than anyone would ever believe! Just seeing you push yourself and really going for it was enough to make them cheer like crazy.

Then came the last mile I picked up the pace a little more, I pride myself on my finishes usually speeding up the last mile or 2 and this race was no different… I was running faster but this was the longest mile of my life, whether that was because the end was near or whether the brain was in a whole new world where Big Ben doesn’t exist. Before I knew it I had just ‘yards’ to go, I was feeling choked up already which made breathing hard but I also pride myself on my sprint finishes…. Could I? everyone around me was almost walking/limping/falling, were they being sensible? Then I spotted my target, someone I want to beat to the finish line and here I was sprinting the end of a marathon… as I had hoped back from day one, I sprinted across the line in style (and overtook my target).

The feeling you get as you cross the finish line is hard to describe, it’s like you experience every possible emotion. Relief you did it, happiness at your achievement but then also disappointment, could I have gone faster? And also slightly deflated, it’s all over, like the feeling you get on Christmas evening when you were a kid! I just burst into tears as they handed me over my medal! It is AMAZING how an inatimate object can mean so much, soon as it was handed to me I just kissed it and screamed ‘YES’! I grabbed my goody bag and all my luggage and I practically wanted to run to Craig but I couldn’t!

I was really disappointed coming into the meeting point as I heard a group of non runners who were trying to get out saying ‘just push past them’ what a bunch of arseholes, I couldn’t resist saying ‘yeah don’t mind us we just ran a marathon’ That’s when it hit me, I’ve just ran the London Marathon!! All I wanted was a hug from Craig and there he was, standing on a wall, I could see him but couldn’t get through the rammed crowds and as I got closer I saw my mummy and Martin, I burst into tears…. Again and then Craig hugged me and I just felt amazing! I DID IT! I could see pride in their eyes and that meant the world to me!

The recovery was quick, was at it’s worse on the Sunday night, and although sore and stiff the next day I could get around, by the evening we took Brian for a long walk, Craig occasionally holding my up going downhill! I was achey for a few more days but was fine by the Thursday physically. I experienced the post race blues which were horrid, I did want to cry a lot so I set some new goals to aim for and this got me raring to go again.

This really was a day I will never forget, people ask me all the time if I’ll do it again but I’ll be honest, I won’t run London again! I have ticked that off the list and wouldn’t want to take anything away from that experience, I’m just not someone who will do the same thing again and again. There are many amazing races around the world to do!! I think the plan is to do marathons across Europe but for now no marathons for a while, I would like Craig to have his wife back for a long while first but possibly Dublin 2011!

I will post again tomorrow with my future plans. If anyone ever considers doing a marathon I would recommend it wholeheartedly, I won’t lie the training is hard work and you HAVE to do it! Anyone who runs without training ends up on the roadside being treated for exhaustion at 5 miles (yep I came across a few). Mainly I will say this and this only! ‘Respect the distance’ It is a long way, it wouldn’t be such a huge achievement if it was a walk in the park!