Saturday, 26 April 2014

A whirlwind intro from then till now and the Virgin London Marathon

26/04/14 - Ok so I've not posted a lot, well nothing really, since 2012 but I've had a bit of a busy time ... and I've been a tad lazy. So what's happened since the 2012 Olympics and now I don't hear you ask.

Well in 2013 I lost my job, which was a pain, but I get a really decent pay off which helped. As I'd not had any time off up to being let go, they gave me plenty of notice, my wife and I decided to sod off to Lake Garda for a week once I was a free man. So with time on my side and money in the bank we did exactly that.

Chilling on the shores of Lake Garda
Lake Garda is fantastic, sooo beautiful, sooo hot and clean and since I'm partial to a Prosecco just lovely. Even the burger vans were the best burger vans in the world. Sit eating your burger next to Lake Garda while sipping a cold Prosecco - nice. Though we only burger van'ed it one night, we're not riff-raff.

Janet enjoying the wine - See we do eat at restaurants to.
So we were having fun but in the back of my head was the worry of being jobless, I'd evening started signing on which was a singularly odd experience. Then as I exited the lake after a swim Daniel Craig style my wife informed me that my phone had rang. I rang the number back to find I was being offered a new job. Offer accepted I celebrated with a few glasses of the mighty Prosecco.

A little squiffy.
So with new job in the bag we decided to pop off to New York for a week. Not right then and there of course but some time after we'd got home. Oh and we loved Lake Garda so much we're going back there this year.

Having had a couple of months off work in the most glorious weather, cycling everyday, I eventually started the new job but it was not long before I'd booked holiday and we set off for New York.

The view from our bedroom.
New York was just brilliant! Love every day. We started every morning with a breakfast at a proper American diner then packed as much in each day as we could. We went to all the major sites, watched Spiderman on Broadway and even caught the Halloween parade - which was brilliant to. We'll definitely be going back. Oh and in around all that I ran the Adidas Thunder Run in the most appalling weather, celebrated my daughters 18th birthday and the fact that she got an offer from Oxford University, got a new personal best on the triathlon, got a new bike, leant to play the Ukulele (badly) and got into the 2014 London Marathon.

My daughter wondering how I can be quite so bad.
So we get to the Virgin London Marathon. Once the initial excitement of getting in came the panic of how the hell I was going to do it both logistically and physically. I knew from experience that I'm crap at keeping to any sort of training plan so who knows what sort of state I'd be in fitness wise come the race.

Training went sort of OK though I knew I'd not done enough for a decent time but I was confident I'd get round. Managed to get a hotel booked not too far away from the start, my daughter was away in Greece which meant my wife was happy to come along. We'd also buggered off to the Lake District for the week leading up to the London Marathon - well how often do you get to go away without the kids. So fully refreshed we headed off to London on the Saturday before the race to get booked into the hotel and registered. Like a kid in a sweet shop I was sucked into the Adidas stall at the Marathon Expo and bought entirely new running kit for the race - excluding shoes ( I'm not completely mad). I also bought what must have been the most expensive lube in the world, £12.99 for the stuff. What a mug!

Kit tart!
Once we got checked in to the hotel, the luxurious City Airport Travelodge, we got settled in the room. I may have been using the term luxurious a little loosely, it was at least clean and the staff were great. Anyway since buying completely new kit the day before a marathon is almost certainly genius I had another genius idea to eat at the hotel - to be honest we could not be asked to go anywhere. Oh well, it was hot and tasty enough so job done. It was sitting in the rather sparse room that a email came through with a deal for a week in the hotel we stayed in when in Lake Garda. My wife picked up the phone and ten minutes later we were booked - a summer break back to the gorgeous Italian lake.

Come the morning I got up, got showered applied the gold enriched, I imagine, lube to various bits I thought might rub, popped on my race gear and got ready to leave. My wife promised to be somewhere round the Isle of Dogs cheering me on or relaxing in a coffee shop, she could not be certain of which. So I set off early, I thought, with the plan to grab a bite to eat on the journey. Well that never happened. I got into the crowds and by the time I got to the start I just had time to offload my bag at the bag drop and go for to the toilet before heading off to the start. Time moves so quickly when you're nervous and before I knew it someone shouted "we're going!" and we were off. I'd put in a really slow time in my guestimate of my finish time which put my quite a way back as I did not want to get in anyones way, but that meant I was weaving round a lot people for the first half of the marathon. I've never run such a packed race. The cheering as I passed the start line was amazing and put a massive smile on my face.

Surrounded by ladies - I'm the Benny Hill of runners

Little did I know then that for the whole 26.2 miles that would not stop - the whole way the crowds made me feel special, that day at that time I was made to feel a star.

By mile 15 I was starting to get a pain in my right hip, I'd never had pain there before so I suspect it was all the weaving I'd been doing. By mile 18 it was getting rather painful and getting me a bit down when suddenly I heard my name being screamed. Looking to my right I saw my wife waving and yelling. I ran over and got a smashing hug and a kiss which really boosted me. I even got a few sweets off a chap standing next to her.

Mile 18 - sweets!
Newly invigorated I set off and tried to ignore the pain in the hip by concentrating on the cheering crowds. This is the thing about the London Marathon the crowds and the atmosphere you really have to experience to believe. Nearly a million people lining the route, cheering, joking, encouraging, handing out sweets drinks and generally bringing party time to the race. The noise was incredible both from the crowds and the entertainment that also lined the route, bands, drummers, DJ's etc all adding to the occasion. Oh and a quick word for the volunteers, as with London 2012 Olympics they were special. If you only ever do one marathon it has to be London. Anyway by mile 23 I was in agony.

Feeling it now!
The pain in the hip had got so bad I felt I had to stop and walk a bit to give it a rest but as soon as I stopped it sort of seized up. I began to walk, well stumble, and fortunately after a while the pain started to easy and I got began to jog a bit. The last 3 miles were hell, those last 3 miles seemed to take longer than the 23 miles I ran to get there. Even surrounded by thousands of people all cheering I felt rather lonely but then another runner stopped put a hand on my shoulder and said "You're doing brilliant, not far now mate and you'll be done." and then he was gone. That really picked me up and I mixed walking with a slow shuffling jog and somehow kept going and suddenly there was the finish line. Sod this, I thought, and started to run, well jog, as I was determined not to be walking across the finish line. I got across in 5 hours 16 minutes which at first I was a bit down about as the hip had cost me dear but I very quickly bucked up as I'd had an amazing experience and run a marathon for gawd sake :).

My medal.
Medal was then duly collected, as was the worst goodie bag in the world, and I headed off to find my wife in among the thousands of runners and their families. Fortunately we'd agreed a place to meet and though it took a while to stumble through the crowds we found each other. Finding a spot of grass we sat down for a drink and a little contemplation.

Looking smug.
We decided to grab something to eat before heading home and found a lovely Strada restaurant and settled in for, in my case, a shed load of food. Oh and a beer. We even got a free shot of something rather nice and alcoholic as I'd done the marathon.

Massive Beer - though it does make me look tiny.
So I staggered to the train station for the train home suitably buzzing and a little proud of myself. When I got home our neighbours had put up balloons and a sign congratulating me which was brilliant and their granddaughter had made me the most fantastic card. She was so inspired that she had not stopped running and when I saw her the next day proceeded to run round the block to show me.

I took a couple of days off to recover but the weather was so nice that on day two I got on my bike and went for a lovely 15 mile ride which eased the legs a lot.

One last thing. I ran the London Marathon for a simply awesome charity Scotties Little Soldiers and with the help of all my sponsors and the company I now work for who gave me a cheque for £250 I managed to raise £650 which exceeded what I'd hoped to raise so I was very pleased. I hope you take the time to look at their site and what they are doing for the children of the fallen and perhaps stick a bit onto my total.

What's next? Well I have the Blenheim Triathlon in June and the Adidas TR24 Thunder Run in July which I'll be running as a soloist for the first time - gulp. So maybe I'll update this again ;).

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