Sunday, 22 April 2018

Our review of the (very hot) 2018 London Marathon!

The 2018 London Marathon! 

After a really good night's sleep, I woke feeling very excited. I wasn't sure what the day would bring but I was definitely going to enjoy it. I had my usual pre-race breakfast of egg fried race. Went to the toilet about 20 times, put on lots of suncream and had some pre-race photos. 

My Mum's handmade sign!

We headed to the start and said our goodbyes. I was in the championship start so wasn't starting with any of my crew. Feeling a bit lonely, I wandered into the huge blue area. It took me a little while to actually find the start pen...I'm used to following the guys so felt a bit strange to be organising myself. 

Walking into the pen, I instantly felt like a celebrity! Someone signed me in and pointed me to the direction of the toilets queue at all and still loads of toilet paper! Bliss! I wandered around aimlessly for a bit before realising that there were tents to chill in. I walked into the first tent before getting told off - apparently I'd just wandered into the mens changing tent...oops! 

After -rather sheepishly- beeing directed to the ladies tent, I quickly spotted a Chepstow runner I recognised and went to sit with her. Quickly, we were joined by girls from other local clubs- a south west crew was formed! We spent the 30mins of waiting time chatting about the heat, plans for the race and comparing injuries. Next up, dropping off our bags- again no queue. Ideal. 

I then spotted a few other people I knew- local celebrity and super speedy runner Kojo; Spedo-wearing Joe; and the Bristol and West crew. I also spotted Steve Way and the 'spirit of Londonl' pair from Chorlton and Swansea but was too scared to say hi. 

Another perk of the Champions start is that we had our own warm up area. Being rather warm already, I didn't really feel a great desire to warm up but didn't want to waste the opportunity so did a 0.2 mile warm up! We were then directed to the start where we heard the national anthem before hearing the gun sound and starting the race. My London Marathon journey had begun! 

A similar story to KD -  Dr Dave and myself went into the Fast Good for Age to find plentiful toilet facilities and an efficient drop off bag area. We met up with club mates Dan, Sam and Rob (who all went on to run stellar times, especially considering the heat.) After 15 mins or so of faffing and chatting, me made our way to the start pen, where I bumped into a couple of Weston Prom rivals, Ian and Ben (who both also ran amazing times.) Lots of nervous chatting and shuffling and we were finally off - on a mission!

After such an amazing race at Abingdon where my legs felt amazing until mile 21, I knew the feeling I was hoping for...

Unfortunately, pretty quickly I could feel that today probably wouldn't be my day...however that's not very positive so I put it out of my mind and focused on talking to myself about how great I felt (trying to convince myself!) 

In fairness, I did feel pretty good for the first 3 miles. Just not 'Abingdon' good. I was easily running my target pace and (due to the downhill nature of the first 3 miles) having to tell myself to slow down!

At mile 3, I saw that the red start were starting to merge with us. I moved over to the left and kept an eye out in case I could spot any one I knew. My heart skipped a beat when I spotted John! I thought he'd be way ahead by now. I picked up my pace a bit and shouted 'John' he heard and turned his head but, at this point, we still had a barrier between us. I kept up with him for a bit before shouting at him to go on ahead and reminding him that I love him. 

The next 3 miles went by pretty straightforwardly but I was definitely feeling a lack of spring and bounce in my legs. I was managing the heat pretty well at this point by taking water ever mile, having a sip and then pouring the rest over my head. 

Mile 6 past the Cutty Sark was incredible. I remembered to look up and enjoy the amazing views - we were really close to the boat! 

Mile 7 is where I started to slow down. Everything was just feeling heavy and tired and I was getting hotter. This was also the first point that I noticed my foot hurting. Knowing that I'd see my family at mile 8, I focused on that and tried to push on. 

Just before mile 8 I made the decision to change my target. I knew that sub 3 was not going to happen today. I wanted to enjoy my first London so I decided that a time was no longer important to me. I wanted to get the FULL London experience. I was however, worried about everyone tracking me- that they'd see my speed slow and worry that I was struggling. I guess technically I was struggling but I'd made the choice to slow down. 

I managed to spot my family pretty quickly due to my mum holding her fantastic banner. Mum, Dad, Nat, Amy and Josh were all cheering at the top of my voice. I was beaming. Delighted to see them but desperate to know I was ok. I shouted that I was slowing  down but having fun. 

The crowds everywhere were incredible. The noise was amazing. Everyone was so supportive. I decided not to look at my watch, but try and get into a rhythm that felt comfortable and that I felt I could continue for the next 16miles. I settled into around 7:40 pace and put some of my effort into dancing to the music, high fiving and generally enjoying the crowd. 

Miles 10- 16 were hard. Mentally, I was just pushing to get through each mile. Living for the beep on my watch! I repeatedly had to remind myself to look up and take everything in. I especially enjoyed mile 15...the tunnel! It was shady, dark and cold so cold. Some people started walking here...I guess to make this amazing tunnel last longer! 

Mile 13 and Tower Bridge was phenomenal! I turned, what I thought was a normal corner, and BAM! right there in front of me was Tower Bridge. It's huge and the sound was unreal...honestly...I did tear up a little! 

At this point I'd had a slightly different ride to KD. The first three miles felt like three metres - whizzing and feeling super easy whilst making sure to run at a steady pace. One thing I was cautious of though was the fact that the day was so similar to Boston... I decided early on, that even though I felt very fresh and strong, there was no need to try and run my A goal of Sub2:53 today - back off and cruise (nob) at Sub3 pace... Enjoy the day! This decision was made even easier, when at the point where our start, KD's start and the Maestro's start merged... I made sure to run in the centre of the road, slightly higher than everyone else to make sure I was easy to spot and make it easier for me to spot, the Maestro - no such luck and we never saw eachother until the end... could I run a marathon without the support of my mentor?!? 

Going back to how the decision was made easier... As KD mentioned, we saw eachother and I was keen for us to run together...  but took the hint when I was told to crack on, I knew from then that she wasn't going for Sub3... the parting scream of I love you also helped to activate the boosters and I found myself cruising at goo pace which meant I bumped into Dan! Dan is a fellow club mate and P&D - Advanced Marathoning aficionado.. (With a Sub2:59 PB!) we would go on to run together for another 5+ miles until he sensibly decided to back off - it was lush - he was running spot on Sub3 pace and having some company who I knew was awesome. Cheers Dude :-)

One huge highlight of the race, was when the road was split so I could see people coming the other way. I saw the lead car...brilliant! I thought, I might get to see some of the elites! I moved over to the left hand side and sure enough, I saw Kipchoge speed past - making it all look very easy! He was closely followed by a runner I didn't recognise and then...a few seconds behind, Mo Farah! AWESOME! I joined the crowd cheering and clapping him. 

The next few miles I spent trying to take my mind off how hot and thirsty I was, by searching the crowd for my support crew. I spotted them at mile 17ish and it was a huge boost to hear their cheers. 

From mile 16, I started to feel better. This is my favourite part of the race because I can start to count down in single figures to the end! 

I was coming into central London now and was really enjoying seeing famous buildings. The walkie talkie, the shard, the Millennium Dome, Jamie's where me and Amy ate dinner a while ago! Really enjoying myself now, I was genuinely enjoying the race and feeling pretty pumped. 

This is where things got tough... running across Tower Bridge at half way was AMAZING! Such a beautiful bridge which made the hairs on the back of the neck stand up, another boost. Running solo by now/without anyone I actually knew, the race was getting tough. 15 miles ticked over and I wasn't struggling with the heat so much as I'd been dousing myself with water every mile and I'd reduced my pace from the start - what was tough was the running. My running pace was gradually getting slower and slower and the running was tough! It was at mile 18 that's I'd had enough of this painful experience and demotivating pace and I started to run-walk... Alternating every 200mtrs or so, I was determined to finish the race whilst enjoying the occasion and atmosphere.

Reaching mile 20 felt amazing. Only 6 miles - I knew I'd finish. I was having an amazing time. It was super hot though. I was drinking every mile and throwing cast quantities of water over my head! 

Reaching mile 20 was pants... I was knackered and didn't like the though of walking the majority of the way to the finish...

Just before mile 24, I spotted my family again but this time with a new supporter- it was John! He'd stopped. I didn't know how long he'd been there or how he was feeling. All I knew, at that moment, was that I was going to drag him across the finish line! There was no way I was letting Boston happen again with him DNFing. I grabbed his hand and pulled him off the pavement and back onto the course. 

I had stopped, I was fine - in that I'd come to terms with not running to plan but was keen to finish the race regardless. I wanted to let KD's family know I was ok and thank them for their great support (with Nat) so far - also I asked where Kelly was in regards to me - metres away apparently...

After a huge hug and kiss, we were off. I asked him how he was and he explained that he wasn't good. He said he might have to run walk but I didn't care. Holding his hand, to a wave of applause, we ran off together- only just over 2 miles to go! 

I was dyeing inside... I was happy to walk the rest of the way, I was gonna finish... but KD found the last drip of positivity in me (I'm quite dehydrated by now...) and we soildered on - at pace!

I focused all of my energy on motivating him and trying desperately to keep him going. I didn't care if we had to walk the whole way, John was finishing this marathon! I said every positive phrase I could think of. I pointed out every landmark we passed. We walked whenever John needed to but not for long. The crowd were incredible! Every time we started running again, the roar of the crowd was amazing. I realised pretty quickly, that with a few waves, I could get the crowd to cheer even louder. It was an incredible feeling to know that hundreds of people were cheering purely for us! 

It felt like everyone was there for us. The crowd were suckers for the romance! Everytime I went from walking to being dragged along, hand-in-hand by KD the crowd gave an amazing roar... It may have looked lovely (and it was) but I was being dragged along by the most positive and most determined person I know.

The last mile was incredible. Knowing that we were nearly there and knowing that we would cross the line together felt quite overwhelming. 

In the last few meters, we held hands and prepared to cross the line. Tears filled my eyes as we finished and embraced. It was such a special moment and one I'll never forget. 

Agreed - a truly memorable moment, I will never ever forget running down the Mall together hand in hand - awesome! I would have cried... but I was VERY dehydrated... the joke of the afternoon has been that all I could cry is salt... I have had so many "hydration" tablet the last few days, I think I was probably finishing the race, 80% salt...

We crossed the line in 3 hours and 24 minutes. Not a bad time considering. But time was irrelevant for me today. There was no better feeling than crossing the finish line of the London marathon with my best friend and the man I love. 

Agreed - who cares about times (we all do, intensely, but for the sake of the blog...) Our first London, finishing together... We must have run together 500+ times.... this was my favourite one - by miles!

The Maestro truly loves to see me suffer...

For anyone out there with an aspiration for running London - never give up. Always enter the ballot, always train for a good for age, take out a mortgage and run for a charity... One of THE best running experiences. I don't know 1% of London but as I ran past all the monuments, buildings, towers, bridges etc it felt like home. 

Running on your own is great, it helps relieve stress and it's a great way of measuring self improvement but try to always make time for your friends and loved ones. Kelly was faced with a situation where she could have run on and banked herself a quicker time - at least 10 minutes - but for stopping and ragging me round and for sharing her moment, I will be eternally grateful.

We had a cracking weekend, congrats to all who finished - especially those in 5+ hours! I genuinely think it's just as hard to run for that long a period of time as it is to train for a Sub3 I did do it once, please don't forget... Special congrats to all the GWR runners out there. When I joined GWR, I never expected to make so many friends or especially a loved one - everyone has run amazing and improved leaps and bounds the last 12 months or so, long it may it continue. 

Bye bye for now... we will no doubt be blogging again soon in the future.


John and Kelly

Saturday, 21 April 2018

London Marathon Eve!

London Marathon Training - 1 day to go! 

Key Both of us - blue Kelly - Purple John - Orange 

With just a matter of hours to go until we run the London Marathon, we are both getting rather excited! Here's how our week of tapering went...

Monday 16th April 2018 

We were up early for the start of our last week of marathon training. PT with Jules. 

Our session looked like this:

First, 5 of each exercises below, then 10, then 15, then 20. 

Star jumps
Press ups
Squat jumps
Split lunge jumps 
One arm rotations
One leg mat hops
Dead bugs 
Medicine ball clean and press
Down and ups 

Followed by core work and lots of fun on the balance ball.

A relatively light session which left me feeling strong but not achy. Really enjoying these workouts and I'm sure they're having a really positive impact on my training. 

As KD said - a very easy session which was perfect marathon prep. We had plans for the evening so I ran to PT: 3Miles @ 9:33MM pace - very steady and got a lift home.

Tuesday 17th April 2018 

Today is the first day for a while where I did no exercise at all! It was one of those days that are familiar to teachers - I started work at 7:30 am and got home at 10pm after a brilliant but exhausting day taking kids to the North Somerset Dance Festival. 

Marathon dress rehearsal for me. Wearing full marathon kit: race day shorts, vest, hat, sunglasses, gels etc I ran a steady 1 mile warm up before running 2 miles on the Portway at pace: 6:35minutes per mile. The sun was out but not high, temps were about 10/12degrees so not quite what it's gonna be tomorrow but as close to it as it's been all year. As expected and as one would hope, the short period at pace felt easy, even enjoyable. Always reassuring on race week. Finished off with a 400mtr warm down jog and a steady walk home. Washed kit and put aside ready for the weekend.

Wednesday 18th April 2018 

Our final club run with GWR before London. We had a HUGE group running the summer 6 mile route tonight. It was lovely to run the summer route for the first time this year. Over the suspension bridge and into Ashton Court. I tried out my marathon shoes and socks - oh do they feel good! There's nothing quite like the feeling of new bouncy shoes. 

Maranoia  - (Thanks Gia!)kicked in a little today as I started to feel lots of little aches, pains and twinges in my legs...not sure if they are real of a figment of my taper-addled-imagination...

6 miles at 8:25mm average pace. 

6 miles @8:19MM running out and back to Ashton Court, across the Clifton Suspension Bridge. Lush to get out on the club summer routes and run in a shirt and without gloves.

Thursday 19th April 2018 

No running for me again today. We have been focusing on getting lots of sleep each night this week. We've also been eating well. Pasta bake today - it's important not to leave carbo loading until just the day before - we've tried to include lots of carbohydrates in our meals all week...hopefully without putting too much weight on. 

In the evening, we had simultaneous sports massages. I went to Comfort Health in Clifton to see Jenny my physio for my last sports massage before London. Jenny has been really key in my progress during this marathon campaign and I am really grateful to her for the support she's given me. After 30 minutes, Jenny commented on how good my legs are feeling and how my foot is also feeling much smoother - less like massaging bubble wrap! Hooray! 

I am well aware that the marathon might cause more foot problems so I have booked in another massage for Tuesday evening in anticipation! 

A morning run for me before work; 3.2Miles @ 9:17MM pace - running as slow and steady as possible. Sports massage with Ben focusing on some minor calf and achilles niggles. Ben did a cracking job of helping alleviate the pain I was getting in my lower back a couple of months ago and I left with my legs feeling fresh and raring to go.

Friday 20th April 2018 
I was suuuupppper excited when I woke up as today was the day that we were going to the expo! 

I had to pop into school for a bit in the morning but I'd arranged to take the afternoon off so we could travel up to London and go to the expo today. 

We are all very excited! 

We left Bristol at 2pm and caught the train from Bristol to Paddington. After a slight delay, we arrived at 3:53pm. Next we jumped on the tube and met up with my Dad who was keen to come along to the expo with us. After a rather bumpy ride on the DLR, we arrived at the Excel center and found the expo entrance. 

With our numbers!

I love race expos and instantly started shopping for London Marathon clothing! We then wandered around the other stalls, eating freebies and trying all manner of running paraphernalia. Having been to  the expos in Boston and Berlin, I have to say that London wasn't quite as good and considerably smaller. Going on Friday afternoon was a really good shout however, as it was pretty quiet. We didn't have to queue for anything. 

On our way home we went via the cable car. It was only £2.50 as we'd been to the expo and I really enjoyed the experience. Fantastic views across London and nice to sit down after lots of walking! 

A long day... Up early to get my run in before work: 3.2Mi @ 9:20MM - legs feeling the benefits of running slow all week and last nights sports massage. A morning at work inevitably working harder than usual when just wanting a morning of taking it easy and skiving - nosuchluck. Back home, more carbs and one the train to London. KD talks through the day nicely. At the Expo I picked up a pair of branded shorts and a cotton t-shirt to add to my wardobe of day-to-day attire, 3 tshirts now! Good to get the Expo done and numbers collected meaning we can spend tomorrow chilling out/panicking!

Saturday 21st April 2018 
Today we went to Busy Park to the home of parkrun. It was a beautiful day and amazing to see that over 1400 people had turned up to run! Nat was going for a PB so we all decided to run with her and help pace her. It was great all running together. Nat ran strong and did indeed get a new PB. 

The GWR crew reunited at Bushy Park!

There are about 20 photos like this on my Dad trying to work out how to use the camera to take pics of us running!

The final sprint for the finish!
We've spend the rest of the day eating, resting, eating, putting our feet up, eating some more...oh and I've painted my nails GWR blue ...a vital part of my marathon preparation! 

Elevating your feet is very important! 

Body scanning meditation...we'll try anything...

GWR blue! (My toes match but no one wants to see a pic of my feet!)

A lush day of taking it easy. A day of parkrun followed by carbs/water/rest - repeat. 

Race day plans, hopes, dreams and tactics 

I'm not really sure what to expect tomorrow. I feel physically strong and healthy but I haven't done as much training as I'd have liked. My foot hasn't been causing me too much trouble but I honestly don't know how it will hold up tomorrow over 26.2 miles. 

I would really still love to meet my target and get a sub 3. I genuinely think that, had my training gone to plan, I'd be in with a great shot at it. I'm honestly not sure if it is possible for me tomorrow or not. 

I am on the Championship start and really looking forward to the experience. One thing's for sure - I'm going to make the most of it and try to enjoy it. 

My plan is to go out at sub 3 pace (6:45mm) and see how it feels. I can really clearly remember how I felt at Abingdon when I ran my 3:03 in October. If the first few miles feels similar, then I'm going to go for it. All out - dig deep and see how long I can hold on for. See if I can grind out a sub 3. If I really don't think I can maintain that pace, I'll slow it down and hope for maybe a PB or at least a New York qualifying time (yes - New York 2019 is on the cards!) of 3 hours 13 minutes. 

I'm prepared for it to be hard work - I'm prepared for it to hurt - Bring it on! 

Similar to KD and probably every previous training plan, I do feel I could have: trained ore, trained hard, eaten better, drank less, slept more... etc blah moan etc

Target really is dependant on the weather but generally look like this:

A = 2:53 = 6:35MM Pace
B = PB/<2:58 = 6:45MM Pace
C = Really hot/ginger/bad day = Finish and enjoy the experience of running my first London

KD is optimistic and positive as always. If anyone can defy the hottest day of the year, plantar fasciitis, 6 weeks of disjointed training and still hit their A goal - it's Kelly. I know she's sensible enough that if things aren't going well she'll reign it in and enjoy the day (as she did at her first marathon in Brighton 2015.) Best of luck to you and whatever happens I'll be proud always!

Best of luck to everyone running!

Sunday, 15 April 2018

London Marathon Training 1 week to go!!!

London Marathon Training - 1 week to go!

Key -Blue - both Orange -JohnPurple - Kelly 

On Sunday night, we had our last alcoholic beverage as we've decided to do 2 weeks without alcohol before the marathon. We've done this in the past and found that our bodies feel much better having detoxed. 

Monday 9th April 2018 

We started the morning by driving to meet Jules in Clifton for our PT session. As it's getting closer to the marathon, I think he's starting to go a little easier on us! Feeling stronger and fitter every week.

PT in the morning and inline with tapering I opted to drive us there and back. As KD suggests a slightly easier session than usual/consecutive weeks of strength training is making us stronger.

Recovery run in the evening, 5K @ 8:30MM pace - taper is so far agreeing ith me as 3miles is over in a flash and the legs are feeling fresh and bouncy.

Tuesday 10th April 2018 

John convinced me to have a lie in today so we went to the gym in the evening. I did 1 hour on the cross trainer! I've been building up the time gradually over the last few weeks and so it felt good to finally be able to hit the 1 hour mark. I did a 10 minute warm up, followed by 20 x 1minute efforts with 1 minute steady in between each effort and finally 10 minutes to cool down. 

I still find it frustrating on the days that I can't run but the cross trainer has definitely helped. My foot is really benefiting from running every other day.   

Another 5K recovery run @ 8:30mm pace for me, finishing up at the gym to meet the GFRG where I did 5mins of cross trainer, 10 mins of rowing and 15 mins of cycling. An evening of steady cardio to work up an appetite. 

Wednesday 11th April 2018 

Club night woohoo! I drove to club planning on doing the 10 mile route but everyone else wanted to do 8 so I tagged along. I guess I should really be tapering but it doesn't really feel necessary when I've not exactly been doing a high mileage anyway. The problem with running every other day is that, when I do run, I really want to make the run count so I'm struggling to 'taper' at the moment. I think I will start the taper after today's run. 

The 8 mile group was really big so it was lovely to chat to different people and have a catch up. After easing into the run, I decided to move towards the front of the group and pick the pace up a little. I managed 2 miles at marathon pace (6:47 and 6:39) both felt pretty good as I was chatting at the same time. Without meaning to, I ended up doing one of my fastest times on that route which bodes well. 

I should also mention that this was the first time that I'd ran fast and forgotten that I had a foot injury! It didn't hurt at all during the run and my foot felt much more flexible and I was getting more movement from it. It also didn't hurt after the run or the next morning. 

Same as KD - the club winter 8 route with 2 miles at MP = 8miles @ 7:40MM pace overall. KD talks about struggling with 8 miles being her long run for the week considering the lack of miles she's ran recently. Strange how she produces one of her quickest runs on a route we've all ran 100+ times whilst commenting on how easy it was whilst still even carrying an injury... maybe high mileage isn't what it's all about?!? 

Thursday 12th April 2018 

I knew that my only time to do any exercise today would be in the morning so I set the alarm for 6am as I wanted to be in the gym when it opened at 6:30. John (begrudgingly) came with me. I did 30 mins nice and steadily on the cross trainer. I felt better for having done something. I would have liked to have done a longer session but we didn't have enough time before work. 

Pointless gym work in the morning but I dragged myself to the gym as I know that if KD doesn't get her daily fix of cardio then I'll have to hear about how fat she's getting whilst she pulls on her size 6 jeans... I felt better for it having got a bit of a sweat on training on the rower and the bike so once I got out of my grouchy Gollum-like morning mode all was well! Another 5K recovery run in the evening at 8MM pace - legs are loving the taper and raring to go - looking forward to parkrun on Saturday.

Friday 13th April 2018 

I was very aware that I hadn't been able to make it to a single yoga session this week. I'd really missed it so, while John was getting his miles in, I did my own little session. No where near as good as the real thing but my legs felt a bit better after some good stretches

A 5K Recovery run before work with 4 x 100mtr strides (Strides are sprinting for a short persiod of time whilst slightly exaggerating your technique: high knees and arms pumping - good to do the days leading up to a race and a good workout to improve technique)

In the evening we went to the second installment of the Run Fest: The Series at Westbury School. This is a really well organised event where sports people with a story or a message give advice and hitory on their sporting achievements. Both events have been inspiring, it's always nice to hear first hand about real life achievements on what you can do if you put your mind to something. The next one is in June - come along!

Saturday 14th April 2018 

Today I decided to give parkrun a try. I've not been since February and as well as missing the event itself, I also really missed the social element. I was a bit worried about running two days in a row (especially when we had our last long run planned for tomorrow) but I figured that 3 miles couldn't do too much damage. 

I drove to Ashton Court and ran from the car to get a 1 mile warm up in. I felt great. My foot didn't hurt, my legs felt strong and I little part of me thought I might be able to get a pretty good time. Traditionally, I had always ran quick parkrun times in the last couple of weeks of a marathon training block so I did have a little check at the pace I would need to run for a PB (7:00, 6:43, 5:20). 

Ashton Court is unlike any other parkrun (that I've been to so far anyway..) as it is basically uphill for 1.5 miles, turn around and run back down. John frequently tells me that, to do well at Ashton Court, you need to have ran it for a number of weeks back to back...he's not wrong! I didn't take long for me to realise that a PB was not realistic but I still felt that I could get a very good time and the first lady spot. 

John's theory was proved correct when, less than a mile in, I was passed by Marie (a parkrun regular) looking super fit and very chilled. I thought to myself 'I'll catch her on the downhill' and let her pass me with a cheery hello! 

Mile 1 in 7:23 - 20 seconds off PB pace shows me that I still need to work on my hill speed. Mile 2 was a bit better - 6:57. In the third mile, I was starting to feel some pain in my foot. I think the speed, downhill and very rocky ground all made for poor conditions for someone with plantar fasciitis. I managed mile 3 in 5:42 which isn't too bad but I didn't manage to catch Marie who had a fantastic run and earned herself a new PB. 

I finished in a time of 20mins 44 seconds with an average pace of 6:39. Pretty pleased with that. The best part thought was hearing all the words of support and encouragement. Pretty much everyone I saw said Hello or asked me how my foot was or said how lovely it was that I was back at parkrun. The parkrun community is just fantastic. 

As much as I loved going back to parkrun, I didn't love the pain I was in for the rest of the day. I spent the rest of the day doing lots of manic icing and golf ball rolling in desperate hope to get my foot feeling better ready for the long run tomorrow. 

John leading the way on the uphill!
7 Miles @ 6:52MM pace with a 3rd place finisher and time of 18:11 for me. A 30+ second improvement week-on-week for me which backs up what KD was saying about needing to visit the Asthon Court mountain regularly if you want to get anything back from it. I'd of liked to have got a Sub18 but after a week of feeling fresh and bouncy my legs had decided they'd have preferred to had stayed in bed, slow and heavy. KD is ever the optimist considering a PB attempt at a very technical parkrun whilst injured... A Sub21 time is awesome and she ran it with relative ease! I understand the London Marathon course is somewhat flatter than Ashton Court, 8 more Sub21 5K efforts will get you Sub3... #justsaying

Sunday  14th April 2018 

Last long run of the London Marathon plan!!!! 

This was us at this time last year the week before the Boston Marathon. Today John, Marcus and I planned to run the same route. I even wore the same T-shirt...unfortunately it wasn't as sunny! I was however really humid. Typical. After months of training in the cold, the heat wave is due to hit on the same week as the London Marathon. So not fair! 

The first few steps out the door were really painful. After 1/2 a mile I opened my mouth to tell the guys that my foot hurt too much and I was going back...but I managed to convince myself to keep going a little bit longer. Within 1 mile my foot had loosened up and was hardly hurting at all. In fact, I felt great. Once again, I was keeping up with (and sometimes leading) the boys and I even managed all of the hills without complaining! 

A really great last long run that further builds my confidence for next weekend. 

12 lovely miles around the trails of Ashton Court and Leigh Woods - no pressure or having to follow any plan or hit any marathon pace miles - bliss. The three of us were feeling yesterdays parkrun efforts (Maestro ran a PB don't you know!) but we ran together at a steady but easy pace relishing in how short a 12 mile run feels at the end of a marathon campaign. 

So the plan for next week is to do PT on Monday, a slow 6 miles on Wednesday and then Bushy Parkrun (super slow) on the Saturday. I am going to keep icing and rolling my foot and try to get to a few yoga classes as well. I will also be having a sports massage.

Not long to go now! 

Plan for me is similar: Steady 5K recovery runs with a dress rehearsal and some marathon pace miles on Tuesday. Feeling good and I'm really looking forward to the marathon next Sunday. No pressure like there was when we went off to Boston. No way near as many miles run this time round but personally I'm feeling faster and definitely fresher! I'm looking forward to running around London and enjoying the experience instead of looking forward to just getting it done.

KD might not feel like it but watching her training and progress from down and out injured 4 weeks a go to now, I actually think she's running stronger and faster than I have seen her run at any point over the last 4+ years - I've spent alot of miles running behind her so feel I have a reasonable knowledge. It's difficult to know as none of us have run a half marathon or 10K race which historically has resulted in PBs along the way and are reassuring along the way. Her medium-long runs with club the last few Wednesdays and particularly her Sunday runs have been ran at pace and with great form. It'll be interesting to see if her reduced mileage run up to London will get her the result she wants... if it does I cannot wait for the blog titles to come and the philosophy change; "I ran a PB on 30 miles a week" "Swap tempo runs for yoga classes" "3 rest days a week for Sub3" etc More than anything, I cannot wait to say I told you so...

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Cox-Dicks Runcamp!

London Marathon Training - 2 weeks to go! 

Key - Both of us - Blue Kelly - Purple John - Orange 

As it was week two of the Easter Holidays, John took the week off as we had planned on having our own run camp. We both love the idea of going to Kenya, America or France to Iten, Flagstaff or Font Romeu but as we aren't quite at the standard of being invited to train with the elites yet...we thought we'd have our own one! Unfortunately, with Kelly being injured it wasn't quite the camp that we'd planned on but we still managed to get a good amount of running and cross training in. 

Monday 2nd April 2018 

My plan is still to run every other day to allow time for my foot to recover between runs. However, as I only did 3 miles yesterday and I want to run on Wednesday with my club, I decided to run today. I enjoyed a lovely 5 mile run with John in the evening around Ashton Court at 8:18mm average pace. My foot didn't hurt at all during the run which is brilliant. After the run I did have some tightness so did lots of icing and rolling afterwards. 

A bank holiday of too much food, drink and rubbish weather throughout. Good job we left our run till the end of the day and a nice weather window: 5Miles @ 8:20MM pace. Nice to run in the light and around Ashton Court instead of the usual Portway route.

Tuesday 3rd April 2018 

We started the morning with PT with more of a lie in than usual as we were starting at 7am rather than 6am! I was feeling pretty awake and excited at the prospect of not having to go to work after so was really up for the session. It was one of our favourite types of workout - a competition! 

It's usually pretty close between us...and we both brought our A game! 

Cardio.......ONE MINUTE SETS.......30s rest between each. 
The numbers next to each are our respective scores for each rep. 

Round 1 
Crunch and press with a 6 kg ball.....K32       J27
Press ups ..                                         K33       J37
Seated rows with 10 kg                     K27       J32
Elbow to knee crunches                    K58        J30
Squat thrusts over small tube            K27       J32
Row 2 minutes....                              K42.7   J48.8.     (427m v 488 m) 

Total for round 1 =                       K 219.7   J 206.8
Kelly wins round 1!

Round 2 
Clean and press 12.5 kg small bar.....    J32   K15
5kg medicine ball slams.                       J53   K54
Shoulder taps with raised legs              J27    K56
Squat and press with 4kg dumbbells     J26  K31
Squat and throw with 5kg medicine ball against a wall    J33    K40
Row 2 minutes......                                J50.8  K 44.1  (508 m v 441 m) 

Total for round 2 =                     J 221.8. K 240.1
Kelly wins round 2!

Round 3
Bicep Curls with 10kg bar                       K19   J33
Squats holding 10kg                                K34    J31
Shoulder press with 10kg  bar                 K25    J34
Squats to floor with 2 X 15kg dumbbells  K22  J27
Squat jumps                                             K46     J44
Row 2minutes                                          K42     J50.1   (420m v 501m

Total for round 3 =                            K188   J219.1
John wins round 3!

Final overall total of all 3 rounds = 

K647.8.  J647.7

Kelly wins by 0.1!!!!

A brilliant session- hard work but great fun. 

In the evening, I went to yoga ...I think I'm addicted! 

A massive PT session where I thought I was gonna lose the competition by a long way... Turned out to be very close in the end! It's great to compete as I think if I were strength training on my own in the gym I wouldn't get the gains of having proper instruction and competing against someone of a similar/better level.

I ran in the evening... Being that we're on holiday (napping daily) I thought a PT + Speed Work day would be OK... Trying my best to emulate the Maestro's training, I did the Yasso800 workout
Historically this workout was used as a target marathon time indicator. I don't think it's far out but regardless it's  really tough but good speed work session.

The idea is, if you are targeting 3:00 for the marathon - you need to be running 800mtr efforts in 3minutes. 10 efforts with a 1-2minute walking recovery in between.

I'm targetting 2:54 at London so my 800mtrs needed to be around
2minutes 54 seconds (5:48MM pace)

My splits looked like this: 2:55, 2:52, 2:44, 2:40, 2:44, 2:47, 2:44, 2:50, 2:52, 2:51

Success - the first effort was close but all the efforts were on or under marathon pace target. 

A 15 second split (2:40 - 2:55) but there was a very strong head wind in one direction making feeling the pace hard work.

The workout was tough! In hindsight, even with a day of rest, doing any kind of speed work after PT probably not very sensible. Doing the workout solo not very bright either. I think we've both said before throughout the blogs, any kind of speed work, be it marathon pace blocks or an LT workout or even racing on the Prom is a lot easier in a group. Note to self for future campaigns: Yasso800s in a group, no PT and not in a wind tunnel!

10Miles @ 7:15MM pace with Yasso800s

Wednesday 4th April 2018 

John is on a mission to improve his press ups...and not one to be left out, I decided to join in with his 50 press ups a day challenge! Day one complete. 

Wednesday nights are GWR club nights. I was planning to do the 10 mile route which I haven't done for 4 weeks since I was first injured. Running every other day means that for every run I do, I feel fresh and energetic. I ran with our sub 3 London Marathon crew. In the past I've been struggling to keep up with their pace. But today I was bounding along happily and easily keeping up with the boys. 10 miles done with an average pace of 7:28mm with 3 speedy miles at 7mm down the Portway. 

Knackered! After a 4mile plod from home to club I made it round the winter 10 route with the gang but felt horrendous throughout. Proper DOMSed after yesterdays PT and speedwork. 
14miles @ 7:48MM pace looks good but I was being carried by my running club buddies. This feeling relates back to the speedwork: On my own I'd have probably span out 10 miles at 9MM pace but being in a group, you want to keep up and the discussions help take your mind off the pains and wanting to stop. Great to see KD running strong - so strong that she actually left me behind, speeding off down the Portway!

Thursday 5th April 2018 

A spot of cross training today! We went for a bike ride! I'm really keen to cycle to work...but I am very under confident on my bike. I wanted to do a test-ride to try out my route to work and see what it was like. After a very slow start, I got used to it and actually started to enjoy it. Luckily, almost the entire route is on cycle paths so it's pretty safe. Hopefully the weather will be good next week and I can give it a go for real! 

John really loves selfies! 

As I didn't have time to go to a yoga class today, we decided to do our own yoga! 

We started with some sun salutations followed by different stretches like high lunges and then worked on our bird positions - pigeon and (the ultimate challenge) crow. 

John has mastered the crow!

Expert press ups

What do couples normally do when they're bored and on holiday... Cross train! A well taught home yoga class with Sensei Dicks instructing the moves... I'm rubbish at yoga: I can't touch my toes and some days I can't reach my knees BUT after some stretching and various animal titled poses I do feel better for running and less likely to get injured. 

The cycle was fun - KD cycles fine and could commute to school no probs if she wanted to. Nice to get the legs spinning in a different way.

After all the cross training, KD went off to Yoga and I had a recovery plod around the harbourside with the Maestro in blissful sunshine. 5Miles @ 8:43MM pace and my legs are starting to forget what I did to them on Tuesday. 

Friday 6th April 2018 

As I didn't run yesterday, today I could run hoooray! 5 miles down the towpath for the first time this year. It's lovely to be able to start running our summer routes again now. 8:40mm average pace so nice and gentle - it felt super easy. Really looking forward to pushing myself during Sunday's run. 

After doing lots of yoga classes on my own recently, today I was joined by John. I always enjoy doing yoga together. 

In the afternoon I went to see Jenny my physio again. As my foot is improving so much, I asked her to do a little bit of work on it but also to massage my calves and hamstrings on both legs. I have noticed that the muscles in my left leg are aching more and more - I guess this is because I've been doing so much stretching and massage on my right leg to try and heal the PF on my right foot. 

Thankfully, Jenny sorted my left leg so I left feeling more balanced! 

5Miles @ 8:30MM pace - more recovery running and legs defo over Tuesday's efforts now. Nice to try out a different route and explore the Towpath. A few more weeks and it should be dry enough to run all the way up to Pill. 

After yesterdays home Yoga, I had my arm twist to go to a professional taught class. It was a slow and easy session, just what I needed and we worked specifically on hips and ITB. I left the class feeling relaxed and legs feeling fresh and ready for tomorrows parkrun!

Saturday 7th April 2018 

No running for me today. I was planning on going to parkrun to marshal (but they didn't need any more help) or to cheer on my friends - especially Dan for his 100th run. But, as it was so wet and minging out, I decided that standing in the rain for over 30mins wasn't the best idea! 

Instead, I headed for the gym. 30 mins steady on the cross trainer before walking across to yoga.

With the weather as KD described, staying in bed was the best option really! BUT - I wanted to get my run done so I could celebrate marathon expert and fellow P&D enthusiast Dan's 100th parkrun and get home early to spend the rest of the day eating!

parkrun was hard. Wet and windy and the course inevitably full of puddles. I started quick and just wanted to get it over and down with. Out and back in 18:48 got me 2nd place - over 2 minutes behind the mountain goat first place effort and when I crossed the line and looked at my watch my body felt more like I'd run a 17:48... Dan and the Maestro crossed the line shortly after, not too far off their target of Sub19 but feeling the pains of the unavoidable conditions. Good to be back at parkrun after 6+ weeks off - gonna have another go next week and hope conditions are kinder and the tapering means even fresher legs. 

Sunday 8th April 2018 

Today was the big one! My final big push and a bit of a tester really to help me decide what my Marathon race pace should be. The last proper long run with some fast miles thrown in to see how I cope. 

We ran to meet the Maestro at the Suspension Bridge (for once we were early!). We ran across the bridge and then turned right and headed down towards Pill. This is quite an undulating section and I usually find myself lagging behind the boys. Not today! Once again, my legs felt fresh (especially after my massage) and I felt like I could run all day. I was getting quicker and quicker and at some points, I actually opened up a gap between me and the boys behind!  

I managed 3 miles at a good speed during the first half of the run: 

Mile 5:  6:50
Mile 6: 6:45
Mile 7: 6:47 

We then ran over the Avonmouth bridge across the M5. This was the only time during the run where I couldn't keep up with the guys. I must work on this section in the future - especially as it's a Strava segment! 

In the second half, once again I was keeping pace with John and the Maestro and I was still feeling good. We agreed to do 3 more miles at pace on the Portway. I didn't think I'd be able to keep up as their marathon pace is 6:40 (and they often run their training MP miles quicker than that!) but again I surprised myself and was running just behind John. He spotted me and encouraged me to get ahead of him and keep the pace. The next 3 miles were awesome. John went into full Coach Cox mode: encouraging me, reminding me of the pace, how far I had to go and pushing me to improve. It felt great to have his help and support and I was keen to impress him and show him how good I was feeling. 

I managed the next 3 miles of efforts at: 

Mile 12: 6:43
Mile 13: 6:43
Mile 14: 6:36 

A total of 15 miles done for the run. On an undulating route I managed an average pace of 7:26mm. 

A really positive run which has made me believe that my dream of running sub 3 hours for the London Marathon might actually be possible. 2 more weeks of training - although I am going to start tapering a bit - and hopefully my foot can continue to improve. 

A fun long run to finish off a great week on holiday/Cox-Dicks Home Run Camp. 
16 miles @ 7:21MM pace with some marathon pace miles thrown in for good measure. Feeling a little achy after yesterdays parkrun I was more than happy to sit at the back of the pack and watch the revitalised, springy, gazelle like Gluten Free Running Girl take the lead and show us how it's done! (After 4 years of running the same routes, it's lovely that she still needs to turn back and check with the Maestro whether we're going right or left up ahead!)
We all ran strong throughout which was reassuring as it was gonna be our last long run before London Marathon in 2 weeks time. Personally I feel I've got no problem running the 26.2 mile distance and I feel like our target of 2:54 is realistic this time round - although London is similar in stature as an occasion to Boston I'm hoping it's going to be different in stature to the Boston mountain like course! Maestro always runs strong and KD ran amazingly today - considering just 3 weeks ago she was considering throwing away all her trainers as her foot was broken and life was over...

Another 65+ mile week for me - time to start tapering! Less miles but keeping the pace and intenstiy up.

Totals for the week: 

Kelly - 35 miles 

John -  65.5 miles