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Why?????

I was first involved with the London Marathon back in 1983 because the dad of a boy at school was something to do with Ashbourne Water (the water sponsor back in the day) and they wanted people to stand at the side of the course and stay stock still with a cup of water balanced on a flat outstretched hand which the runners would snatch (and spill inevitably) as they shot past.

Off we went at stupid o’clock from Haywards Heath to London dressed in our regulation Ashbourne Water caps, sweatshirts, tight tracksuit trousers and trainers.  We were a bunch of excited 16-18 year olds on a day out in the capital city but we were told what we had to do and what was expected from us.  I don’t really remember much about the day but I know we got soaked as cup after cup was sent flying (and it rained) but we had a lovely day and were well fed, had plenty of water to drink (obviously) and some Mars bars too.

Mum marathon

I haven’t really been bothered with the marathon since then.  However, this year was different.  Nick Knowles presented a two part programme about 10 people, all of whom had mental health issues and who were going to be trained and supported to complete the 2017 London Marathon, for the Heads Together charity.  I was gripped by the programme, particularly following the fortunes of Rhian, the Cardiff mother who lost her baby son and then her husband within 5 days of each other in tragic circumstances.  Having watched the programmes and also the marathon, I decided that if “they” could do it, then so can I.  I really wanted to do it in 2018 but there was a small issue.  I can’t run and I’ve never enjoyed it, even when I could run a little bit.  Andrew, my husband, laughed and scoffed when I shared my plan.

Roll back to 2011 and I would run a mile on the treadmill at the gym every Saturday.  My knees didn’t particularly like it but I did it anyway.  Then after a walk up (and down) Ben Nevis in September 2011, my knees decided they’d had enough.  My right knee was in a worse state than the left at that time so in November 2011 I had surgery to try and sort it out.  I diligently did everything the physiotherapist asked me and bit by bit it got better.  In June 2012 I was fit enough to go to Ireland to walk up Carrauntoohil in MacGillicuddy Reeks.  To this day I still complete the final set of exercises given to me by the physiotherapist when I go to the gym, both on the gym floor and again in the swimming pool.

So, bad knees, a lack of interest and ability in running aside, I decided that I wanted to be part of the 2018 London Marathon and I had not missed the closing date for the public ballot.  My two daughters (Steph aged 24 and Izzy aged 22) were also thinking about it but I knew that running for a charity would give us a better chance of securing a place.  I spoke to a friend and colleague, Sue, who lives locally and does a lot of recreational running and she said she would train and support me.  Everyone I spoke to thought I was off my head but also knew that if I’d made a decision I would not be swayed.

Sue took me out for my first 6 mile walk after work on 26 April around Caerleon.  Although the hilly part was very tough, I did it, didn’t moan much and woke up the next day feeling fine.  I also went home with a big smile on my face as I felt like I’d achieved something, and I’d been out in the fresh (blustery) air.  We’d even had a heron fly above us and seen the rabbits in the grounds of St Cadoc’s Hospital.  I was more determined than ever to enter.

The ballot for the Marathon opened on 1 May but I was away in Scotland and didn’t enter that day.  I completed my application for the public ballot during the evening of 2 May and also selected 6 charities.  I am currently 52 years old, and will be 53 by the time I participate in the 2018 London Marathon (a fact brought home to me during the application process when it asked me to check my age on the day of the marathon – ouch!!).  Charity places were also allocated by ballot, and mostly not until October.  I knew that I needed a guaranteed place now for the “kick up the backside” to galvanise me into action (and training).

With Leukaemia CARE I could pay a £50 registration fee, promise to raise a minimum of £2,250 and I would have a place there and then.  But why Leukaemia CARE?  The husband (Gavin) of a friend and work colleague (Ann-Marie) has been suffering from, and battling with, lymphoma for 3 years.  He did go into remission once but the disease returned.  This time Gavin was able to start a clinical trial but, unfortunately, had to be taken off because the lymphoma was progressing with more sites in his chest and abdomen so he’s back on chemo, although is much weaker as the progression of the disease has gathered in pace.  In addition, Ann-Marie lost both her parents within 9 days of each other in January.  I felt so helpless but needed to do something practical so this is my choice and Ann-Marie is delighted with it.

On 3 May Sue took me out for another walk of over 6 miles and we jogged the last bit back to her house.  Again, I was fine when I got home, having thoroughly enjoyed the walk.  I couldn’t understand why Sue had made me walk so far and then got me running – I was on my last legs by then. But I did it.

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Saturday 21 April 2018 – Marathon Weekend, Day 1

So it’s marathon weekend, and suddenly the whole thing seems so daunting.  Not only that but it’s rumoured to be the hottest marathon on record.  What???  I was awake at 5.30am, having not slept much, or well, at all.  I couldn’t tell whether it was excitement or anxiety.  I was excited but suddenly it THE day was tomorrow.  Next time I woke up I’d be running the London Marathon.

Ayse, who has been such a strong supporter for us all, and particularly Isabel, arrived in time for us to leave for London at 7.20am.  Elliott would be over later to look after Honey overnight.  Whatever Ayse’s been asked to do she’s done willingly and with a smile.  She’s helped out when we’ve needed her; she’s been to the gym on numerous occasions with Izzy; she’s been out with us when we’ve run, and gone the extra mile every time.  Ayse and Izzy were in Ayse’s car (with some of our luggage), and Andrew, Steph, Laura and I were in my car with me driving.  Can’t think that I’ve ever driven in London before, and what a weekend to choose.

After a couple of small errors, we found the car park we’d booked and waited for Ayse and Izzy….and waited…..and waited.  Turns out they’d taken a wrong turning and were trying to find their way back, which in the end took at least an hour.  In the meantime, the rest of us females needed a toilet break so we popped into the National Theatre, leaving Andrew with my phone should Izzy call.  When we got back to Andrew, he handed back my phone which had a completely smashed screen.  I didn’t know at the time but it actually worked perfectly, everything.  Of all the weekends when I wanted my phone to work, and here it was with sharp bits of glass coming off each time I touched it. “It just flew out” said Andrew!  And still Izzy and Ayse hadn’t arrived, so we went into Waterloo station for a coffee to wait, and contemplate how to fix my phone screen.

Finally the girls arrived and were parked next to us.  They had seen Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, and had also turned left down a road where they weren’t meant to turn left, just to get across the river.  We set off to the Excel arena for the Expo event where we were due to collect our running numbers and shoe timing chips.  We got on the underground to North Greenwich for the cable car (Emirates Aerial) across the river to the Arena.  Izzy and I had booked this as a surprise and not said a word to the others, so that was a nice treat, and it was a glorious day with views in every direction.

We followed the crowds into the arena and first stop was collection of our official number and chip, only on production of photo ID.  It was all ready for us and pretty painless but there was a strange sense of anticipation, relief, nausea, and excitement all mixed together.  We then took our timing chips to the “till” for them to be activated and then we were in.  There was a slightly worrying moment when I “shoved” both running bibs into one envelope so we weren’t sure which running chip belonged to whom, but Izzy worked it out and happened to be correct.  Phew!

The Expo was heaving with people and so, so busy.  All those who couldn’t have annual leave in the preceding days were there, it was mayhem and difficult to move around.  I was worried that there wouldn’t be much left for us to see/try/buy but there was.  That said, how stupid was I to start tasting things the day before the marathon that I hadn’t trained with???  Once I realised what I was doing, I stopped immediately.  I bought a “London Runner” t-shirt as a souvenir.  Oddly enough there were no discounts available for marathon runners, but I did ask!

Andrew sat and watched the presentations on the main stage while the girls and I trawled round the exhibition, and eventually Laura sat down too.  We bumped into Deb Jackson, Midwifery Manager for the Health Board, early on and spoke for a while.  With all the mooching around, my feet started to ache.  This was meant to be a day when we didn’t do much walking around but by the end of the day I’d done over 20,000 steps.  Not a day of rest at all.  We came across Helen the Cheesecake Runner who had set up our wonderful, supportive Facebook group for first time marathon runners, and we had a photo taken with her, after a chat.  What an inspiring and lovely lady she is.

Eventually we got to the Leukaemia CARE stand and said hallo to Clare Brooks.  It was lovely to put a proper face to the email address and voice.  We were given the most enormous bag of freebies by the charity, all of which had been donated.  On the way out we collected an official London Marathon bag with more freebies.  It had certainly been an experience but I was glad to get out.  Trying to get back outside proved to be a trial as there was something going on at one end of the complex and it took ages to wind our way through the crowds but eventually we were back at the Emirates Aerial and in the queue to get back across the river.

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Whilst in the queue, I made contact with Gemma who had sold me a golden ticket for the grandstand in the Mall at the finish line of the Marathon (money paid into her JustGiving account as part of her marathon fundraising).  We arranged to meet on the Golden Jubilee Bridge near the London Eye.

After the cable car, we got back on the underground to Waterloo and headed for the bridge.  We arranged to meet in the middle but we got to the other end and didn’t pass her.  Turns out there are 2 Golden Jubilee Bridges either side of the Hungerford Railway Bridge.  We’d crossed on one and Gemma on the other!  So we tried again.  But that didn’t work either as we both crossed bridges.  By this time I was getting really tired and fed up and just wanted to sit down.  So I rang Gemma from the riverside and said I was going to stay still and wait for her to find me, which she did.  With the ticket safely handed over, we made our way to our accommodation via the car park to collect our things.  More walking…

Sue and Chris were already ensconced and had made tea.  They were impressed with the apartment which was good news.  There’s always a sense of responsibility when spending so much of other people’s money.  Andrew and I had the en suite room and Izzy and Ayse had sofa beds in the lounge.  There was a gorgeous courtyard in the middle (we had the basement apartment), and everything was lovely and clean.  Unfortunately, it was booked out the following night so we wouldn’t be able to return to shower after the marathon.  However, Plan B was to use Claire and Bex’s hotel room.

Sue and I went across the road to Sainsbury’s for some provisions, and right opposite was Computacenter’s London office (the company that Izzy starts work with in Hatfield in June).  I took Izzy back out to see it but didn’t tell her what she was going to see, and she had to close her eyes until we got level.  Then she took a picture, saw we’d been spotted by the security man and we fled.

After a cup of tea, unpacking, sorting kit for the following day (it was still due to be the hottest marathon on record), and chatting, we headed out to Zizzis, where we had a dinner reservation.  The Bankside area was buzzing and lively and it would have been lovely to spend more time just enjoying it, but we had to eat (pasta – I think it’s called carb loading).  After we’d been shown to our seats, I presented our supporters with their “Best Supporter 2018” medals.  These were sold by another marathon runner as part of her fundraising efforts and had proved to be very popular.  Some people had been so innovative.

We had almost finished our main courses when who should turn up but Claire and Bex. Andrew had gone to the toilet and thought that he recognised the girls in the doorway, and of course they recognised him.  Of all the restaurants in the entire city, and they turned up where we are.  There wasn’t a table spare, and they didn’t have a reservation so it would have been quite a wait for them.  However, when we explained the situation to the staff, an extra table was added to ours along with two chairs, and they were quickly served.  How Bex put away the pizza she had I’ll never know, as there is just nothing of her!

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After we’d finished we left the restaurant together and walked with the girls back to the corner of the street for their hotel, before continuing our walk to our accommodation.  It had been another hour’s return walk on already tired feet and legs.  What on earth were we doing?  We chatted for a while, had a cup of tea, made up the sofa beds for the girls and turned in for the night.  However, it was a very hot night so difficult to sleep (and excitement/anxiety too I’m sure).  Then, at around 1.30pm there was a huge clap of thunder and torrential rain.  “Oh great”, I thought.  I wasn’t sure which I’d prefer, rain or heat.  Heat I think, as I hated getting my shoes wet and had managed to avoid that so far.

Sunday 11 February 2018

I forgot to mention that in last Sunday’s run, on the way home the piglets had got out of their enclosure and were snuffling up the vegetation next to the path nicely.  They were cute to look at but I gave them a wide berth.

Pigs

This week saw the photo for our running vest get finalised by Izzy – she did a good job of it too.  Quite emotional really, knowing that Gavin was alive when we signed up for this challenge but now we find ourselves running in his memory.

Monday (5th) and Wednesday (7th) were gym days, so off I went as usual.  Cycling on Monday with a warm up and cool down on the treadmill.  Managed to cycle 17.76km in 40 minutes, alternating between 0 minutes fast and 2 minutes slower with some resistance, as recommended by Rob the physio.  Don’t think he’d be impressed by just 40 minutes as I should be doing longer but time is a real problem these days as there is so much other stuff to do and I don’t seem to be doing anything to the best of my ability at the moment.

On Wednesday I completed an hour of interval training (10 minutes at 7.9 kmph and 2 minutes at 5.0 kmph) and covered 5.0 miles.  No issues or problems and no foot pain.

Andrew and I flew up to Inverness and then on to Golspie on Thursday (8th) and I went straight to the gym for Happy Hour (https://www.highlifehighland.com/golspie/fitness-suite/).  Today was rowing and I rowed for an hour.  The staff let me stay to cool down on the treadmill.  Covered 9,395m in the time, rowing for 10 minutes fast (30/31 spm) and 2 minutes slow (27/28spm).  A welcome rest day on Friday, and then I planned to run outside on Saturday (10th) but the weather wasn’t great and I couldn’t go to the gym as they are only open in the morning, and I hadn’t realised so there was no time.  Ah well, there’s always tomorrow!!!

So in the evening, what’s a girl to do but shop???  I wanted some chafe free running knickers which would also not stay sweaty-wet like cotton ones do, and I found some which I thought would do the trick.  There was an issue with the discount code but eventually I was able to order.  £45 for 3 pairs (one for each of us) of pants which you would not dream of wearing for any other purpose than running, so they had better work (addendum – they do, really well).

On Sunday (11th) I woke up to find frost and snow on the ground.  I was not about to risk injury by running outside so I headed to the gym (in time for a long run).  I told the staff why I was training and asked if they offered a discount to NHS or Tesco staff but they don’t.  However, very kindly I was allowed entry as a student (£3.30 instead of £6.60) which I thought was so nice of them.  Almost without exception, people have been so kind and generous with anything they are able to offer which would help and I am truly grateful to those people.

But back to the run.  What a palaver.  13 miles was the order of the day, and not everyone’s favourite activity on the treadmill (dreadmill!) but I don’t mind it.  Particularly today as the Winter Olympics were on.  I just couldn’t justify sitting around for over 2 hours watching TV but in the gym I could plug myself in and watch away the hours as the miles added up.  However my Fitbit decided not to work (operator error most likely), but luckily the machine counts in miles and not km like most.  I ran 5 miles in just over an hour and reset screen accidentally.  Ran another 5 miles before changing to interval running (2 mins walk/10 mins run), and completed the remaining 3 miles in just under 101 mins.  Had sore feet and some hip pain (both hips) afterwards but no knee pain

Izzy managed to run 1½ miles with no foot pain, and Steph did 3 miles.  They’re getting there!!!  Steph has decided that she too needs to visit ACE in Cardiff and have her feet sorted out.  Better that she goes now than can’t actually complete the marathon.  We also had an email from Leukaemia CARE reminding us that it’s just 10 weeks until the big day – as if we need a reminder.  I have it etched into my brain; I don’t quite know how many hours but I certainly always know the number of weeks and days.  It’ll be here before we know it.

Sunday 4 February 2018

On Monday (29th) Steph staggered to the bank with our “takings”, but there was a problem and she ended up with £10 less than she should have done.  One visit later and it was all sorted, with the money refunded in full.  I have to take the blame for that as I completely forgot to put the balance sheet into the bag with the money.

After work I went to the gym for a rowing session.  Again, the sessions are short when I have to bake cakes for choir.  44 minutes was all I could spare today but better than nothing I guess.  The distance rowed was 6,515m at fast and slower intervals.  Not particularly taxing but I did feel as though I’d exercised.

The next day was choir and the cakes were ready.  Steph had returned to Plymouth via 2 days at University in Exeter.  She’d taken some cakes back with her so there were a few less to sell!  But sell I did and there were only 11 left to take to work the following morning.  Before our rehearsal, the Choir (http://www.corydreigiau.org/) Committee was meeting.  They had said that they were planning to put on a concert to support my fundraising efforts and I received a message with a couple of date options.  I went for Friday 11 May (subsequently changed to Saturday 12 May to secure the venue) and I said I would organise the raffle: prizes, tickets, etc., as well as asking someone from Leukaemia CARE to attend and talk about the charity.  Also hope that Steph and Izzy can be comperes and announce the different items.  Probably more up Steph’s street but she has her final LPC exams around that time and may not be able to attend.

On Wednesday (31st) I went back to the gym for the last raceatyourpace run of the month.  I also exchanged the week’s pass I’d got as part of the gym’s advent challenge for 4 x one day passes which would be of more use to me.  I ran the usual 5 miles at a 10 minute/2 minute run/walk interval in just over an hour.  Comfortable run but I got caught in the Caerleon traffic as a result of too much chatting.  Total mileage for the month was 73 miles but I was only claiming 50 miles and was very pleased with that.  I submitted my evidence and waited for the “prize” to arrive, which it did, within 2 days.  By the way, I haven’t signed up for the February challenge as February is a short month!!!

Raceatyourpace

In the evening of the 31st I went to Cardiff with Izzy to a place called Ace Feet in Motion (https://www.feetinmotion.co.uk/) as she was unable to run due to the acute pain (and lump) on the inside of her ankle.  Ace was recommended by one of her fellow hockey team members who said she’d never looked back since going there.  It was quite expensive, but included 2 follow up appointments.  However, if it worked it would be money well spent.  Izzy disappeared off to see a podiatrist while I stayed in the waiting area.  She emerged after a while to use their running track thing which lets the professional see what people’s feet are actually doing.  The upshot was that her running shoes were deemed to be suitable but she needed specific insoles in them.  These were made on site and immediately, and we left for home with a pair of fancy pink marble insoles, and the next two appointments arranged (for before the marathon).  Apparently, tweaks can be made to the insoles at these appointments if necessary.

Two rest days followed, but Thursday (1st) was very important in terms of fundraising as I’d decided to count up how far we’d got with it all.  I had a note of all money coming in, including pledges and our donation website (https://2018-london-marathon.everydayhero.com/uk/rona-steph-and-izzy) contributions and started to calculate.  £6,750 seemed so much to have to raise, but I kept counting and the total began to increase until I realised that we had very little left to raise.  It was fantastic.  In a moment of madness, I told the girls that we should increase our target to £10,000.  It wouldn’t matter if we didn’t make it, but with a concert, the wine tasting event, an afternoon tea event and a 6 Nations rugby sweepstake, I really felt that we should try.  What I did do was cancel the remaining three bag packing days.  It was very hard work on already tired legs and we didn’t need to do it.  Also, I thought we should give other charities an opportunity to fundraise for their own causes.

Back to the sweepstake.  We did one for the Welsh scores of the Autumn International rugby games, and awarded one prize of £25 to the person who guessed closest to the score of all four games.  This time we planned to award a £5 prize after each game to the person guessing the score closest to the real thing.  In each case the stake was just £1.  Izzy did really well getting a number of people at work and in her hockey world to have a go and then it was over to me (with Steph living in Plymouth, her friends and colleagues wouldn’t necessarily be interested in the Welsh scores!).  I went round the office, choir, physio team, and anybody else I could think of, and finally had 101 lines filled.  With £25 taken out for prize money, the profit was £76 which was great for a bit of fun.

At my physio appointment last week, I’d discussed a number of things with Rob.  He was happy with progress and gave me advice on how to continue.  I also met a colleague of his who is running the marathon for the first time and had been awarded a ballot place.  No pressure on her to fundraise.  One of the things Rob recommended was a product called Glide as I was suffering from sores under my arms.  I’m not sure how the sores were developing as I wasn’t aware of any rubbing whilst running but they were there all the same.  I managed to remember Izzy’s details for her Amazon account and ordered some.  It looks like a deodorant stick but, presumably, has some sort of emollient or grease in its ingredients.

On Saturday (3rd) and it was back to the gym.  We stayed at home to watch the Welsh rugby match against Scotland before heading out.  The Ireland v France game was on, but I’m not a fan of that particular referee so kept an eye on the score and watched something else.  It was a cross trainer day so I did long and short steps (1.5 mins/1 min) for 90 mins.  Only covered 4.24km which, for that amount of time, is always disappointing.

Sunday (4th) and it was time to run 12 miles (10 miles straight and then interval running for the remainder).  It was so hard going.  Newport is so much closer to Caerleon than I realised and I felt psychologically damaged at having to run past my house so many times!!  However, body-wise it was a comfortable run.  Split times were 11’48”, 11’26”, 12’19”, 11’21”, 11’15”, 11’26”, 12’32”, 13’21” 11’36”, 12’09”, 12’26” 11’54”.   Andrew came out with a bottle of water for me (much needed) towards the end.  Phew!!  Another one in the bag.  And the Glide anti-chafe stick  worked.  But I have discovered that I kick my right ankle with my left heel which needs to be sorted as it’s drawing blood and stings!

On to next week.

Sunday 28 January 2018

On Monday (22nd) I went to the gym for a session on the bike.  It was quite busy and very hot.  I mentioned the temperature to one of the girls, and not long afterwards I felt it cool down enough to be comfortable.  I was only able to do 44 minutes so as not to get caught in the Caerleon school traffic but I managed to cycle just over 20km in the time at 10 mins over 100rpm and 1 min over 80rpm.  Not bad at all.  Surprisingly, I had very little aching from yesterday’s run, although I can’t believe that undoing my shoes properly really made that much difference.  TOP TIP: undo running shoes properly before inserting feet!

I had to contact the raceatyourpace people as I’ve surpassed 50 miles but only registered to complete 25 miles in January (what was I thinking as there’s a chance I could even get to 75 miles?).  Lucky I did get in touch with them as their reply indicated that medals would be ordered tomorrow so after that time, it would be too late to change.  I’ve stayed with 50 miles to make sure I get a medal.  How gutted would I be to miss out on 75 miles by about 3 miles and end up with no medal.  Yes of course I could probably run the extra 3, but the risk of injury from doing too much too quickly scares me and I need to stick to my plan.  50 it is.

I read the blog of a fellow marathon runner who’s started following my blog and it was really interesting.  Hers is written in story format, like mine, but more succinct!!  And she used the word “maranoia”, like paranoia but specifically for the marathon, and how she feels about injuring her knee.  I promised to credit her if she let me use her word so DIOLCH YN FAWR (thank you) LAURA.

Wednesday (24th) and another early morning gym session to get 5 miles under my belt in an interval run on the treadmill.  No split times because I used the Treadmill Fitbit option rather than the Run one but I finished the distance in an hour (10 minutes run, 2 minutes walk).

Can’t believe that it was a week ago I was looking forward to my Thursday and Friday rest days, but here I am, looking forward (again) to my consecutive rest days.  Interesting training this weekend as we’re bag packing on Saturday and Sunday in Tesco Spytty Extra.  Not sure how I’ll fit in 10 miles+ but I’ll give it a go.  One thing I’ve learned from some reading I’ve done recently is not to stress about missing a training session.  My body will never moan about an extra rest day, but it may complain if I do too much.  So if there’s not enough time, then I’ll happily give this weekend over to fundraising….but not without a fight (that’s the competitive part in me)!!!

Saturday dawned and off we went to bag pack (from 10.00am – 6.00pm).  Andrew came too, along with Steph, Izzy, Sue and me.  Everyone’s help was invaluable and Sue stayed until Ann-Marie’s daughters were on their way.  It was lovely to see Claire and Bex and they soon got stuck into asking customers if they would like some help with their packing.  Andrew went back home to look after Honey when the girls arrived.

It would have been quite easy to be downcast at the number of customers who refused our help; however, most people gave a donation anyway, and they were so kind.  Bex was chuffed to bits when someone gave her £5 and I got £10 as the couple I packed for were so impressed with my packing!  The day was long on our feet, particularly as we’re just not used to it and mine were crying by the end (images of the old Tetley Tea advert came to mind – the one where someone’s waiting at a bus stop with aching feet and there are saws and hammers in their shoes wreaking havoc).  I had hoped to go to the gym on the way home, but just wanted to cry with the pain so went home to count the money instead.  We were chuffed to bits to have collected over £500.  Not bad for a day’s hard work.

I needed to run on Sunday morning but knew that I wouldn’t have time to run outside in the light before heading back to Tesco for the day.  I woke at 5.30am and was tossing and turning, trying to decide whether to go to the gym and run.  I would have to use a precious day pass to use the Forum as Dylans doesn’t open until 8.00am on a Sunday.  I was never going to go back to sleep with so much on my mind so I crept out of the house, having done my exercises, at 6.30am.  The gym was quiet (unsurprisingly) and I was able to just get on.  I did get a bit worried when I realised that I’d watched 25 minutes on TV about a Nutribullet, and its benefits.  I turned it over before I either became brainwashed, or ended up buying a kitchen gadget I neither wanted nor needed!

I ran 10 miles, and then it was time to start the first interval so I slowed to a walk, at which point my “good” (right) knee became really painful and made me limp.  I couldn’t identify where the pain was coming from but, bizarrely, when it was time to run again after 2 minutes, I was able to with ease.  The pain was there again as I cooled down, but was gone within a few minutes.  Splits were 11’42”, 11’21”, 11’27”, 11’15”, 11’56”, 11’29”, 11’58”, 11’12”, 12’00”, 11’15”, 12’50” and I was elated.

Back home I got ready for another day of bag packing.  I knew my feet would ache but at least I’d run.  Andrew came for a while as Ann-Marie was coming with Claire and they had to sort Claire’s children out first.  Sunday trading laws meant we were limited to 6 hours (11am-5pm) but with the state of my feet, I couldn’t say I was sorry.  Again, people were kind and generous and I took turns with Steph to stand at the top of the travellator with a bucket so that people coming into the store saw us, as well as those exiting the self-scan tills.  A number of customers doubled back to put money in the bucket, often stopping to share their own story about leukaemia and other cancers.

Back home (once again with aching legs) and we counted up the money.  Absolutely amazed, the total for the weekend amounted to £1,044.  What an achievement.  I had no idea how much we’d raised in total, but would be adding that up this week.  Excellent work all round.  Poor Steph was the nominated individual to carry the heavy bag of change to the bank in the morning.

Sunday 21 January 2018

On Monday (15th) I only had time to row for 35 minutes instead of 75 minutes as I had to get home to do some baking for choir tomorrow.  The fundraising aspect of the Marathon is as important (and sometimes more stressful) than the training.  Managed to row 4,962m in the time but didn’t break into a sweat.  Cakes went well, including a new vegan chocolate brownie bake as there is someone in the choir who is dairy intolerant.

Sold over £40 of cakes at choir and then another £20 at work the following day.  Received plenty of lovely comments about the vegan chocolate brownies which really surprised me, and at the end there was only 1 left.  People bought them and I had no idea they were vegans, or had a dairy intolerance.  Need to keep the money coming in for Leukaemia CARE, however large or small the amount.

On Wednesday (17th) it was back to the gym for another hour’s interval run.  The two different types of running machine have to be set at different times for me to run at the same pace – bizarre as I don’t understand how 7 kmph is not 7 kmph on both machines, but it isn’t.  Ran 10 minutes and walked 2 minutes at 8.1 kmph and 5 kmph and completed 5 miles (sorry about mixing miles and km but it depends on whether I’m look at the machine or my Fitbit, and I prefer my Fitbit for distance.  No problems, no pain and I was running in my original shoes so was surprised that my right shin didn’t really hurt either.

Oh how I love rest days.  Thursday and Friday.  Time for my poor body to recover a little. On Thursday evening I finally met Sarah, a local GP who is also running the Marathon for Leukaemia CARE.  She was going to the charity’s “Meet the Team” event on Saturday (20th) in Worcester and had agreed to return spare running vests we’d been sent, and swap others for smaller ones so I took them round to her house which was about 20 minutes away.  It was lovely to meet her and swap running and fundraising stories.  Hopefully we’ll meet again for a coffee sometime.

Part of Friday’s rest day was taken up with contacting Fitbit.  Have to say, their customer service is second to none.  I’ve already had one replacement Surge model (originally purchased from Tesco) as there was a problem with the strap coming away from the watch face.  Now the strap was bubbling up on this one.  After a telephone conversation, it was agreed that I could return the Surge to Tesco for a full refund as it was just over 6 months old and I could then start shopping again.  Fitbit were not able to offer a discount on the Ionic models as it is is too new.

That evening, Andrew ordered an Ionic for delivery the next day from Amazon, and sure enough, it arrived the next day.

On Saturday (20th) we went shopping in Tesco and I took the faulty Surge back, armed with all the information I needed about the Consumer Rights Act (which replaced the Sale of Goods Act in October 2015 – who knew?).  I’d read that a retailer must have one opportunity to repair or replace a faulty item.  Tick, that took place when the original one failed.  Any further problems and a refund was within my rights.  I didn’t need any evidence in the end as Tesco had refunded the money to my account by the time the shopping was packed in bags.

Andrew and I were staying at the Celtic Manor overnight (a present for his birthday which was back in November) so we were able to use the facilities in The Forum Gym and Spa from 10.00am instead of waiting for our usual membership time in Dylans of 2.00pm.  It was surprisingly small for such a massive resort complex but not too many people in there, although we were apparently in there for days as we forgot to sign out when we left on that visit!

After doing my usual exercises and warming up, I got on with cross training.  How on earth could I work so hard on that machine and only cover 3.38km in 75 minutes?  8 minutes at Level 5 on long strides and 2 minutes at Level 8 on short steps.  And how could 2 men at the other end of the gym, on machines next to each other, be so noisy?  I could hear them through my headphones and they were nowhere close.  Seriously annoying #gymrage!

After the gym we planned to use the spa area but the steam rooms and “proper” Jacuzzi were not unisex and were located in each changing room which was a bit alien to us.  I used the steam room for 10 minutes before going out to the main swimming pool area and finding Andrew who was already in the big bubble pool.  No children allowed at the time so it was bliss (and relatively quiet).

A quick lunch back at home before we went to watch the Dragons beat Bordeaux Begles.  It was a thrilling match and we were glad we’d decided to go.  Back home to change before heading to the Celtic Manor again for our stay.  My new Fitbit had also arrived so Izzy set it up for me, enough that I could use it.

The hotel room was lovely, on the tenth floor, and tastefully decorated, although the bed was a little bouncy to be ultra-comfortable.  I finished setting up the Fitbit before we went down for dinner.  We had a buffet dinner in the Olive Tree Restaurant, which was superb, before sipping cocktails in Merlins.

On Sunday morning I was awake early and decided to head to the gym to see if I could run 10 miles.  I had mixed thoughts, in the sense that I like to run outside but the weather was awful.  Would I be too hot in the gym?  Would it be too boring?  All sorts of other questions as well, but I had no answers, and the only way to answer them was to try.  So I got dressed, did my exercises in the dark, so as not to wake Andrew, and crept out of the room.  I decided that as my feet had hurt during the last two long runs, particularly the right one on the top, I would undo my shoes properly before putting them on.  What a difference that made.  Who would have thought?  I know it seems obvious now, but it wasn’t at the time.

Turns out I was the only one in the gym, but then it was only 7.10am on a Sunday morning.  Although there are windows in the gym, it was still dark so I plugged my headphones into the TV screen and started to run.  1 mile, 2 miles, 3 miles, and on to my goal.  At some point I was watching an advert for the Nutribullet for about 25 minutes, and seeing all it could do.  Eventually I changed channel before I got brainwashed enough to buy one.  It was a comfortable run, and much easier than 9½ miles had been the Sunday before.  How very odd.  Completed the distance in 1 hour and 54 minutes, pausing the machine twice for a drink, but for a total time of less than 3 minutes.  Split times were 11’41”, 11’16”, 11’09”, 11’07”, 11’06”, 12’21”, 11’09”, 11’05”, 11’55” and 11’06” which I was really pleased with.  I treated myself to another session in the steam room and proper Jacuzzi in the ladies’ changing room before going back to the room for a shower and a massive buffet breakfast (cereal, fruit, yoghurt, cooked breakfast, pancakes and a croissant).  I had just run and it was part of the deal, so why not?

Next week’s challenge will be to add some interval running on top of 10 miles.  Nothing less than 10 miles now at the weekend.  First problem, next weekend we have bag packing sessions in Tesco on both Saturday and Sunday but I’ll still have to fit the training in so that will interesting.  Hopefully it will raise us a decent amount for charity and will be worthwhile.  I’ll leave you with a quote I found on Facebook which I think is very apt under the circumstances.

Screenshot 23.01.18

Sunday 14 January 2018

Back to the gym on Monday (8th) for some time on the cross trainer.  I only had time to do 40 minutes and have no idea how far I travelled as I reset the machine to zero by accident before I’d taken a picture!  But I did 1.5 minutes long strides at Level 6 difficulty, and 1 minute climbing steps at Level 8 difficulty for the full 40 minutes.

After a lovely rest day on Tuesday (oh how I appreciate those these days) I was back in the gym by 6.30am on Wednesday (10th) for an interval run.  I really need to increase the time from an hour and, on paper, it would seem to be doable.  However, in practice, the traffic back into Caerleon is awful in the mornings, especially on a Wednesday when it’s also rubbish collection day.  So, apart from during the school holidays, days when I don’t have to wash my hair and on non–fasting days (yes, I am still trying to do these although not as disciplined as I used to be), it’s going to have to be an hour only.  Maybe I’ll try to run faster in the time!  At least when the mornings are lighter I can go back to running outdoors and will be able to increase the time a bit.

It was a very comfortable run.  Hot, but bearable and I was watching a fascinating TV programme about goats and entering them into country shows.  Ran 5.03 miles at 7kmh (for 10 minutes) and 5kmh (for 2 minutes).  My Raceatyourpace total currently stands at 27½ miles so I’ve already smashed the target of 25 miles, which is incredible.  I’ll definitely get to 50 miles and could be close to 75 miles at this rate, and barring injury.  Two rest days in a row next.  How lovely.

Saturday (13th) and it was a cycling session, after I’d finished all the other exercises and warmed up.  Had to doo 75 minutes so did 2 minutes fast (over 100 rpm) and 1 minute slow (over 70 rpm).  Covered 42.44 km, which is just over 26 miles.  That means I actually cycled the distance of the marathon – WOW!  No bad after effects but iced my knee and generally took care of myself for the rest of the day (and that included the steam room and spa pool).

Now for today and an attempt at running 9½ miles.  Hhhhmmm, nothing wrong with the weather, nothing wrong with my mind set so off I went (after putting the dinner in the slow cooker for later).  Izzy was due back today from her skiing trip. Even before I set off, I’d heard that they were back at Gatwick airport.  Putting my shoes on turned into a bit of a drama resulting in a bruised hand.  It’s really difficult to undo the laces sufficiently so I generally don’t bother.  BIG MISTAKE.  As I have orthotics in both shoes, there’s no more than enough room for my feet, but as I ram my feet into the shoes, so the orthotics move down and are uncomfortable under my heels.  It takes at least two attempts to be comfortable, but it took three with the right foot today.  I had my hand in the shoe, trying to hold the orthotic and then pushed my foot down, and caught my knuckle.  The bruise is amazing for what I actually did.  And then, after that, I forgot to make sure my feet were at the very back of the shoes before I went out so I now have sore toes.  What an idiot.  Think I’m going to have to learn from this one as I can’t be doing with this every week.

First two miles were fine, although I could feel my shin.  Had to stop and take my windproof top off as it was warmer than I thought, and certainly warmer than last week.  But then it became difficult and I found myself walking up every tiny incline, even ones I ran up last week.  Most bizarre.  Maybe the cycling yesterday was just not allowing my legs to move the way I wanted them too.  I don’t think so, but who knows…. The last time I had a run like this, there was no one at home when I set out, as was the case today.  It was almost like nobody cared that I’d gone out, nobody cared where I was, and nobody cared if I got home safely so I didn’t care how I ran.  I carried on but there was no sign of the elation I’d felt last week and I found it just plain tough.  In addition, the top of my right foot hurt a bit but I refused to stop for that as there was no reason for it.  9½ miles completed in 1 hour and 52 minutes, which was actually perfectly respectable.  The split times were ok too: 11’11”, 11’39”, 12’29”, 11’33”, 11’54”, 11’18”, 12’15”, 12’12”, 11’48”, and (potentially) 11’40”, although I only ran half of the tenth mile.

And as it happened, Andrew was home when I staggered back through the front door.  I’d actually completed at least 10 miles as I was a long way from home on the cycle path at the end and warmed down by walking back home.  Suppose I could have just run the last half mile but I wasn’t going to chance it.

Raceatyourpace distance of 25 miles is well and truly annihilated as I’m on 37 miles already.  And I had to give some thought to our bag packing sessions in a couple of weeks to make sure we maximise the opportunity as it could, potentially, bring in a decent amount.

So, on to next week…..

Sunday 7 January 2018

Physio on the 2nd was fine.  I got answers to questions I had about adding interval running to long runs; why I have shin pain (not shin splints fortunately), and when I can decrease the training as it gets closer to the Marathon (not yet was the answer!).

A couple of rest days went down well before it was back to the gym for an early morning interval run.  5 miles in an hour at 10 minutes run, 2 minutes walk.  Everything was fine, but it was very hot and I got a bit bored.  Think I need to sort my gym attitude out as it’s not great.  Still no prizes available for December’s gym challenge which made me a bit sad L – sadder than that!  Having been told that they’d be ready from the 2nd, it was disappointing for them not to be available by the 4th.  Some people have a lot to learn about managing my expectations!

Saturday (6th) and it was back to the gym for a rowing session.  Andrew told one of the boys we know at the gym that I was really desperate for my prize after completing the challenge, and Chris caught my eye as I walked past the reception desk; he was holding my prize bag aloft.  In it was a Celtic Manor towel (ooohhh), Celtic Manor water bottle (more ooohhh), some sort of pre-exercise energy drink, a day pass and a week’s pass, both of which will be very handy when my membership expires but I still want to go there.  Worth the challenge and worth the pain that some of the exercises caused.

The rowing was a complete pain in the neck.  By the time I actually started rowing I’d had enough.  And all because I wanted to listen to an Alfie Boe/ Michael Ball concert on my iPod which wouldn’t download so I tried it on my phone.  Trouble was 4G didn’t work as the mobile signal was too weak in the underground gym, and I didn’t think to connect to the wifi.  By the time I’d spent 10 minutes trying, unsuccessfully, to listen to it, I couldn’t really be bothered anymore and just wanted to go home.  I didn’t though, cos I’m not like that.  I carried on and rowed for an hour; didn’t really put my back into it and didn’t break out into much of a sweat.  I did laugh out loud though listening to Simon Mayo’s Confessions Podcast which I could connect to.  Managed to row 8,681m with an average 30spm.

The girls went off for a week’s skiing in France today so not sure that they’ll be doing much training.  I’m convinced they think that youth alone will get them round as they’re certainly not putting in the hours that I am.  However, they like skiing and it’s one activity that they wouldn’t be able to put off until after the end of April!

I hadn’t seen it earlier, but this week I caught a Facebook post that Run and Become, Cardiff, had won an award for Best Independent Sports Retailer of the Year.  Well deserved I say, and Angela, the girl who had gone way beyond the call of duty in the patience stakes, was in the picture accepting the award, which is below along with my challenge prizes:

Runandbecome

Sunday dawned and it was a lovely day, although cold and a little breezy.  I did my exercises and got dressed to go out and run.  9 miles was the target but I wasn’t at all fazed by the distance.  I had an idea of my route but wasn’t sure how far that would be.  I set off (forgot my glove) with a running vest, running zip-up top and windproof top, and the complete ensemble finished off with a running cap.  I fully expected that the layers would be coming off, but for the first time in Wales (it’s already happened in Scotland) I went back through the front door wearing everything I’d had on on the way out.

I took my usual route into Caerleon via the cycle path, crossed the river, ran round Old Caerleon, back to main road and all the way along to Junction 25A of the M4.  If someone had suggested walking from my house to there I wouldn’t have done it……because I have a car on the drive!  But there I was.  Running past some of the parked cars on the pavement was irritating (and showed a complete lack of thought and courtesy on the part of the car owners) but I could manage without altering my stride too much.  It was lovely to be out, freezing cold in the wind and out of the sun, but felt good.  From the motorway I returned along the same route, then around Caerleon, zigzagging past the Common, back to the secondary school to get to the cycle path and home.  Sadly, I hadn’t run far enough, so I had to run past the back of my house (which was not a nice thing to do) until I’d completed the distance, according to my Fitbit.  I stopped 3 times to adjust my shoe laces as the top of my right foot was sore but that was it.  No food, no drink (stupid I know but I really can’t carry anything and run).  Everyone I passed returned my greeting and I was euphoric when I finished in 1 hour and 48 minutes.

That feeling soon changed as my good knee decided that it wasn’t about to walk and wanted me to limp.  It was extremely painful and I must have looked ridiculous clinging onto lampposts on my cooldown walk home as I tried to stretch it out.  10 minutes later and it was perfectly ok again.  I need to keep an eye on that though as a) it’s worrying, b) it hurts, and c) it’s the second time I’ve experienced it.  But all in all, it was a very comfortable run.  To think that in 2 weeks I’ll be attempting/tackling 10 miles is beyond my wildest dreams when I think back to the dark injury days of July.  I’ve put a picture of the run and my split times below for anyone who’s interested and would maybe like to compare their own times.

Run 07.01.18