As I sit here on Easter Sunday the London Marathon is just 7 days away! In fact, if everything goes to plan, this time next week I will hopefully have finished or be imminently finishing my first marathon.
So how do I feel? Good! A little bit nervous, slightly apprehensive but mostly just excited. And not just to get the bloody thing done. My original intention was to target a sub 4.30 marathon, but in all honesty, at this point, I’m not sure how realistic that is. Suffice to say, if I came in at under 4.30, I would be very, very pleased, but really, I have taken the decision not to focus on time, and to run to enjoy it, have fun with the crowds, soak up the atmosphere, and be safe in the knowledge that whatever time I finish, it’s still going to be a marathon PB!!!
Whilst I feel that I have done sufficient training to get me round, I’m also very aware I could have done more. (But doesn’t everyone always feel like that?!) I started off following a Runkeeper training plan, but pretty early on I went rogue, and started adapting things to more easily fit in around my life. What this means is, in all honesty, some of the mid-week runs have not always been as long as they should have been, and my overall weekly mileage has not always been as high as it could be. However, having run 20 miles twice, I feel like I’m in a decent place to get around.
Yesterday, we went for a final 9 mile run around Grafham Water, which was looking stunning in the sunshine. We kept it steady, running slightly sub-10 minute miles, and it felt great. It was a confidence boost we desperately needed, given that our last loooong run, a 20 miler a couple of weekends ago, was far from ideal.
That particular 20 mile run, felt like the toughest of my life (and probably one of the slowest 😂). Having been completely bed ridden for two days with a rotten cold and feeling pretty terrible for a further two, I woke up that morning feeling something vaguely resembling normal and knowing that it was my last opportunity prior to the marathon to get in a long, long run and still give myself time to fully-recover I thought hey, what’s the worst that can happen!!! And pushed myself out the door.
Turns out, you can feel light-headed and exhausted, ache in places you didn’t even know you could ache and battle again a continually streaming nose from about mile 4! I felt like that day, for me, was my marathon!
Next week, with the crowds to spur me on, thousands of other runners, water stations every mile, not having to focus on the route, and hopefully in full health, things can only (surely?) be better. And if not, at least I know I’ll (probably) survive.
As someone very intelligent (and highly quotable) once said: “A marathon is made up of hundreds of miles, 26.2 is just the home stretch!” Next week is, of course, “the big day.” However, it really is just the final chapter of a much longer story – I’m looking at it as a celebration of all the training we’ve done, and all the miles we have covered. And from not being able to run a Kilometre 3 years ago, through copious Parkruns, 10k races, half marathons, 10 milers, 100km walks, I really have come a mighty long way!
In case you are not yet aware (in which case where have you been ?!?) I am running the marathon for Bloodwise and UNICEF.( http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/sophieandrob) Whilst they are both fantastic causes, I have decided to run on the day, in my Bloodwise shirt, as this is the cause that has come to feel most personal to me. A close family friend of ours, who I have known since I was four, and who is one of the kindest, warmest and most patient people I know, has been bravely battling Leukemia, with a strength and optimism that has been inspirational, for just about the same amount of time that I have been training for the marathon.
These two things are, of course, entirely incomparable, but she has become my motivation throughout my training, and was particularly present in my mind, during the aforementioned awful 20 mile run, giving me the determination to carry on, when I most feel like giving up. If this amazing woman could get through yet another day of chemotherapy and still be smiling, then I can bloody well finish my long-run! Happily, our friend recently received some extremely positive news with regards to her recovery.
So, London marathon 2017, I am ready for you!!!! In the mean time, here’s to one more week of “carb-loading” and guzzling just about any goodies in sight – Starting with my Grandmother’s Easter Cake!
I’ll be back in 10 days or so, to let you know how I got on, and to start contemplating my next challenge. Until then, keep your everything’s crossed for cool temperatures and cloud cover, but most of all for a once in a lifetime experience, and an enjoyable race day. This truly will be one off the bucket list!