Monthly Archives: April 2013

VLM 2013 – Race Report

Well, there you have it, it’s all over. To be perfectly honest with you I never thought I’d even get to run London this year, let alone write this post but as I type, I have London completed with a PB to boot and am now resting in readiness for the Milton Keynes Marathon a week on Monday!

I woke up on Sunday to beautiful sunshine which kind of made up for the awful nights sleep I’d had. I normally sleep like a log, but even though I was in bed by 11pm I woke at 1am, 3am, 5am (because a coach was trying to get out of the hotel car park before the road was closed – our hotel was on mile 14/21 on the Highway) until eventually at 6:15am I gave it up as a bad job and got up. Good job really as my watch battery died so my alarm wouldn’t have gone off anyway!

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The walk up to Blackheath

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The Blue Start

My other half and one of our friends came with me to the start which was nice. They got to see Blackheath in all its glory and the mass of people milling around taking photos and making small talk. I was in pen 5, the same as last year. The whistles sounded for the start of the silence for Boston. After a few seconds of shushing silence descended. It seemed a lot longer that the 30 seconds advertised but gave a good few moments to think about those affected by events in Boston last week and to allow London to pay their respects. A rousing applause greeted the end of it and we were then on our way. Within three minutes I had crossed the line and was running, as always though I was down to a walk within a couple of hundred metres. It was slow going for the first six or so miles. I planned on 9 minute miles so when the RW pacers came past me at mile two I latched on the back of them. There were a few boos at mile three as the red and blue starts merged which was fun. By mile 6 the pacer I was following just stopped. I’m not sure what the problem was but he disappeared from view completely. The 3:45 pacer then came past me – I was running just about on schedule so it shows how different the two starts are in crossing the line. I resigned myself to the fact that the 3:56 pacer would not be back and then got on with the task in hand.

It was hot so I made sure I took on water. I had put some Zero tablets in my gel belt so made sure I put half a tablet in my water. One of the funniest sights of the day was a group of lads, sat on a leather sofa, beer in hand on the path with a BBQ on the go! Nice touch I thought. I saw the DLRR gang at mile 7 – just! Did my usual trick of being on the wrong side of the road but just saw them in time although to wave at them it meant a bit of backwards running, no mean feat with that volume of people. The next few miles were comfortable. I passed the former Olympian Kelly Sotherton – I felt a lot better than she looked, which gave me a boost! Not everyday you leave an Olympic medalist standing! My achilles had been tight for the first few miles but by now I couldn’t feel any issues at all. I reached 10 miles bang on 1:30 and felt great.

Tower Bridge was as special as I remembered. You turn a corner and climb up and over it. The wall of noise is loud the whole way round but on here it is almost overwhelming. We were over it all too quickly and off down the Highway towards my hotel. At halfway I spotted some DLRR supporters (the orange Oakley hoodies are so clear in the crowd!) and then a bit further on was my husband and friends. I made sure I was smiling for the photograph and plodded on. By 16 I was feeling really good – this was the point last year I started to implode so psychologically I was all over Docklands. The only problem was the course narrows considerably and it was difficult to keep an even pace going. Round past Canary Wharf I was picking people off but was starting to really feel the heat. A group of fireman at mile 19 had the hoses on which was great although it wasn’t quite a trickle of water…more like a deluge!

I hit 20 miles bang on three hours, which if I’m honest I was a little disappointed with, I’d have preferred a few minutes under, but the two or three miles where I’d been held up really seem to have made a difference. But I was now into the final 10k. I’d run out of Zero tablets by this point so was cautious about taking too much water on but got stuck into my gels. I passed a fellow DLRR runner at 21. We exchanged pleasantries, or as much as you can after 21 miles and I carried on my way. Back down on the Highway I started to feel good – I had an urge to push on but a little voice inside me told me to hang  back as there was still a way to go yet. As those final miles came it was getting harder and harder, my legs felt fine but my head was starting to go. I reached 23 still bang on pace in 3:27 and then boom! Something clicked and I stopped. I’ve no idea why, but the tunnel just after the 23 mile mark just made me stop. I carried on walking and managed to break back into a jog but the rhythm was broken. Normally I can have a word with myself and get back on it, but not this time. I had sub four laid out in front of me and I walked along while it slipped away. I pulled it back together a bit towards 25. Mainly I think because I knew both the DLRR supporters and my husband and friends would be along there somewhere – I managed a rather feeble high five with one of the DLRR lads when I saw them but didn’t even see my other half – he saw me though!

Somewhere in that final two miles a bloke grabbed my hand and made me run with him for a good half a mile. I’ve no idea who he was but thank you! We finally reached Big Ben and turned towards Birdcage Walk. I was shuffling along by now but as we turned at Buckingham Palace I suddenly remembered how to run and put in a good spurt down the finishing straight. I’d realised that I’d missed a sub-four time but I was buggered if it was going to be by much. I crossed in 4:02:53 and despite the self destruction in the last few miles, I was actually pretty pleased with myself. At the end of February I limped home after only four miles of a club run after my achilles had flared back up again. I had pretty much resigned myself to the fact it was over, but through some very careful slow running, physio and lots of stretching I somehow have managed to pull off a 14 minute PB in around seven weeks training – what might have been eh!

I’m now going to run the Milton Keynes Marathon on 6th May and if someone could pop up between 24 and 26 miles to give me a big kick up the a*se when I throw my toys out of the pram again that would be rather grand!

London Marathon 2013 by nicchip at Garmin Connect – Details.

Quite fitting that this should be my 100th post!

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The Henry Allen Appeal

The Henry Allen Appeal

www.justgiving.com/nicole-clarke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Week 16 – London Marathon Training Review

Final week and was pretty good to be honest. I avoided the usual Monday night swim in order to rest. Tuesday was a physio session and as my achilles has been quite good I had a full leg massage instead. This meant no running on Tuesday, another gold star!

Wednesday was the GreenlightPT swim session. I still went as I needed to do something but dropped down a lane so that the distance and intensity was reduced. Only problem with that meant I had to lead the lane, which meant clock watching and counting reps – not my forte! I’m used to hanging at the back of my normal lane leaving five seconds after the person in front and swimming as far as they do. Anyway, it was a good session and felt refreshed at the end of it.

On Thursday I met the gang for an early lap. We ran this at marathon pace which was great, just the confidence booster I needed. That was me done. I took annual leave on the Friday so I could get packed up for Sunday and just rest although I ended up doing some shopping and housework so didn’t really pan out as I had planned.

Saturday was travelling to London and the expo to pick up my number for Sunday. I met a few DLRR team mates there and found out I’d just missed Liz Yelling and Iwan Thomas. Expo was still good though – loads of freebies and things to try or have a look at – there was an opportunity to spend a fortune but we came out with a VLM mug, bear and t-shirt – it could have been a lot worse, especially as it was Saturday afternoon and many of the stands were introducing massive discounts on stuff.

On Sunday, I had a nice long run in the sun around London, with around 36,999 other people…

Monday – rest

Tuesday –  physio/massage

Wednesday  – swim with GreenlightPT

Thursday – 4 miles

Friday – rest

Saturday – rest

Sunday – 26.5 miles

Miles for the week – 30.5 miles

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The Henry Allen Appeal

The Henry Allen Appeal

Categories: Injury, London Marathon, Races, Training | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

London Marathon – done!

Just a quick post to let you know I completed the London Marathon. I really enjoyed it and got round in 4:02 – just missed the sub 4 but my own fault after I just lost focus with about 3 miles to go and my head went. I walked most of the last two miles but am pleased with the way I ran until that point.

It was a fabulous day, beautiful sunshine with a wonderful silence before the start for those in Boston (you could have heard a pin drop) followed by a rousing applause. The crowd, as ever were fantastic.

I hope all my fellow bloggers and readers fared well too – full report to follow.

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The Home Straight

Just a quick post before I go to bed in readiness for our trip to London tomorrow.

It’s been a long old journey to get to the start line on Sunday and there were quite a few times when I did seriously think about throwing in the towel. It’s a good job that the London Marathon don’t open their deferral window until March else I’d have probably applied for mine back in February.

Good job I didn’t though as by somewhat of a miracle it all seems to have come together just in time. Not only have I managed to overcome my achilles tendonitis, I seem to have  hit a bit of form in that I actually feel in better shape than last year. The proof will be in the pudding on Sunday but I have a game plan that I will stick to – I promise!

A lot of the reason I’ve made it this far (apart from my own bloody mindedness) has been the support of those around me, my ever present husband who puts up with all my moans and groans, my constant stretching whenever I find a wall or a step  and child care early on a Sunday when he’d much rather be in bed asleep so I can go out and run! My club mates at DLRR have also been fantastic, they’ve picked me up when I’ve been down, chivvy me along to make sure I make the most out of my opportunity and reign me in when I have random plans to run a speedy Parkrun two weeks before London! See guys, I do listen and heed your advice. The camaraderie at the club is fantastic and if you’re ever unsure about joining a club – do it, you wont regret it!

So, how did I get there over the last 16 weeks?

Total miles run: 309

Longest run: 20 miles (twice)

Shortest run:  1.1 miles

Heel drops: 6900 (approx.)

Races: one half marathon

Highest mileage week: 25/3/13 – 33 miles

Lowest mileage week: 14/1/13 – 5 miles

No mileage week: 11/2/13 (chest infection)

The events in Boston on Monday have affected all runners around the world. The marathon is our playground and attempts were made to destroy that. On Sunday morning at 10am there will be 30 second silence for the people of Boston. I will be standing on the start line on Sunday, standing tall and proud for Boston – we will remember them.

Boston AA

Categories: Injury, London Marathon, Races, Training | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

When You Stand on the Start Line

I originally posted this a year ago, but it’s still relevant now – for everyone about to run London or any other marathon in the next few weeks! I never did find out the author, but apparently it is an extract from a book.

Enjoy!

WHEN YOU STAND ON THE START LINE

When you stand on the Start Line, you join the club.
When you stand at the Starting Line you earn your membership.
Millions dream of being where you are.
You are no longer a dreamer.
You are a doer.

Thousands more started a training programme but never finished.
They started with the same enthusiasm (or more than) you.
They started with more or less the same physical gifts or disadvantages as you did.
They had no more and no less reason to be successful than you.

But somewhere along the way, they lost that enthusiasm.
Somewhere on the road or on the track or treadmill, they decided that the rewards just weren’t worth the effort.
They decided that they could live without finding their limits, without challenging their expectations of themselves and without taking a hard look at their image of themselves.

You didn’t. If you’re standing at the Start Line, you’ve not only accepted the challenge, but you’ve also beaten back the demons.
You’ve conquered your imagination and self-imposed limitations.
You’ve gone further, got stronger and become tougher than you ever imagined.

 

Anon (searched but couldn’t find an author – it was taken from a post on Runnersworld.co.uk)

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Week 15 – London Marathon Training Review

Apologies for the late post but didn’t get a chance to post this on Sunday and then it didn’t seem appropriate last night. 😦

The penultimate training week…the tapering really took effect this week. I was a bit naughty and succumbed to some intervals on Tuesday. They were only 400m long and not particularly fast, just enough to remind my legs that I can move a bit faster sometimes and was reassuring to see I had regained some of the strength I had before my injury. My calves were a bit tight so it’s possible I did only do seven reps, kind of lost count and trying to recalculate while running a rep is impossible! Judging by the total mileage, I think I was probably 400m short but hey, life’s too short to worry about that…

I attended the usual swim session on Wednesday with GreenlightPT with the plan to go down a lane so that I could keep in line with the taper – no such luck, stayed in the top lane and completed a tough session, just a touch under 3km. I really can’t wait to do a triathlon now to see how my swimming has improved.

Thursday I met the guys and gals for an ‘early lap’ we deliberately didn’t go all out but it still got progressively quicker and wasn’t that much slower than the previous week. I was then very good and rather than go on the social run, which would normally work out at least another 5 miles, a couple of us went for a quick 1.5 mile run. Only trouble was the heavens opened and it didn’t just rain, it was a deluge and I haven’t been that soaked since the MK marathon last year! It was a rather tough 1.5. miles but doing that rather than the social run meant I kept my mileage down for the week.

This weekend was the last long run. The route planned by this weeks club routemaster was somewhat of a tour of the hills of MK, perhaps not the best run to do as a last run before London but there were plenty of drop out points so I bailed out after 7 miles and then ran the last three miles back to DL at race pace.

So after 15 weeks of injury, recovery, relapse, more recovery, illness, rebuilding and eventually almost a full return to training, I’ve actually made it to race week – woohoo!!!

Monday – rest

Tuesday –  4.6 miles (1 mile jog, 8x400m fast, 2 min rec), 1 mile warm down)

Wednesday  – swim with GreenlightPT

Thursday – 5.3 miles (4 mile early lap/1.3 mile run)

Friday – rest

Saturday – rest

Sunday – 10 miles

Miles for the week – 19.9 miles

Categories: Injury, London Marathon, Races, Training | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Henry Allen Appeal

Those who followed my blog last year when I was training for London will have known one of the reasons for my blog was to publicise the charity SANDS who I raised money for in memory of three very special angels. Those three angels got me through the final three miles on the day and in a world where it’s very easy to quit it never occurred to me to drop out that day as I’d feel I’d be letting them down.

When I got my entry in the ballot this year a little bit of me just wanted to run t for myself, in my club vest to put right the ‘mare I had last year. But once I got injured I realised that it was a bit of a blessing that I hadn’t chosen a charity to raise money for as the pressure to return to quickly would have been great and anyone following my blog over the last three months will know it’s been a bit of a roller coaster physically and emotionally.

But, with just under three weeks to go, I felt in a strong enough position to commit myself to a cause. As much as I wanted to run the race for myself, there’s bigger and better reasons to apply all that training and why not make a bit of cash for worthy recipient. I’m able to do something that I love, so why not use it to help someone else. So this year, I was keen to promote a charity with a local connection and stumbled across The Henry Allen Appeal via a friend on Facebook. Once I’d read Henry’s story I felt compelled to help. Henry is three years old and has a form of cancer called neuroblastoma. Treatment in the UK is limited so in conjunction with ‘Families against Neuroblastoma‘ an appeal was set up to raise the money to secure treatment abroad.

You can read all about Henry and his appeal at his website. The Henry Allen Appeal. The appeal team have loads of events organised so if you’re in the MK area do pop along to one of them.

So, this year – I’m running for Henry!

http://www.justgiving.com/Nicole-Clarke

The Henry Allen Appeal

The Henry Allen Appeal

 

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Week 14 – London Marathon Training Review

The miles have started to drop off now as I start to taper for London. I didn’t manage any cross training this week although not by choice. As Monday was Easter Monday the pool was shut in the evening and on Wednesday I wasn’t feeling too good so the upshot was no swimming this week.

Now that all my injuries and niggles seem to be on their way out I did contemplate some intervals on Tuesday, but the sensible voice in me determined that this was probably not the time to start 400m reps after three months of steady running – it would probably have ended in tears, so I decided to do a 3 mile progressive run, the first one at marathon pace then each mile 20 seconds quicker.

On Thursday I met the early group for our 4 mile ‘early lap’ and not quite sure what got into me but I was flying and felt really good. In fact all of us ran really well – just pushed each other along, so much so the final mile was a 7:17! I haven’t run a mile that fast in years! Overall the time was only just over 10 seconds off the fastest I’ve ever run on that route and at the end I still felt there was some left in the tank – I even went out on the main club run afterwards and that too was one of the quickest I’ve run that route.

This is all great confidence boosting stuff. I feel that I’ve managed to get some of my flat speed back, but I’m conscious the long runs I missed in January and February mean my basic endurance is still a bit lacking. Two 20 milers in two weeks will have helped loads but with only two more long Sunday runs to go I’m not got any chance of pushing the endurance further.

The club run on Sunday was billed as a three hour run as most are aiming for the MK marathon but for London this was a bit too long so I ran the first 8 miles with DLRR and then retraced my steps back to our starting point. My legs felt heavy today. I guess the last couple of weeks are still sitting in my legs but I found it quite a struggle. As I was on my own for the last 6 miles I thought I’d have a go at marathon pacing for a few miles to see how it felt and despite how my legs felt, it wasn’t too much of a problem. Doing that for 26 miles may be a bit more difficult though…

Monday – rest

Tuesday – 4.6 miles (1 mile jog, 3 miles steady, 0.6 miles warm down)

Wednesday  rest

Thursday – 9.2 miles (4 mile early lap/5.2 mile DLRR Social Run)

Friday – rest

Saturday – rest

Sunday – 14 miles

Miles for the week – 27.8 miles

Categories: Injury, London Marathon, Races, Training | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Week 13 – London Marathon Training Review

This was my highest mileage week so far and probably will be of my marathon training this season. After the 20 miles in the snow last Sunday, I actually didn’t feel too bad the next day and the long swim that evening really helped ease the muscles. We still didn’t get the full hour in on the swim session so I’m pretty confident that I can swim at least 3km in an hour. I could really do with an hour and a half session to get at least 4km in, just for piece of mind really with the 5km swimathon coming up but pool opening times and other commitments are limiting me at the moment.

Tuesday held a visit to the physio. My achilles has little pain now although it does feel tight now and again so it’s a useful session to loosen it up plus with my knee a bit niggly I’m keen to keep on top of it. They had a quick look at my gait and seems most of my niggles over the past year are due to flat feet and even stability shoes aren’t doing the job. Post marathon it looks as if orthotics may be on the cards, but to get me through the next few weeks with as  few problems as possible, I have more padding in my shoes to try and alleviate the problem. It was a tough physio session, perhaps the most brutal so far.  I did go out for an easy run (an agreed compromise with the physio) but part of me wishes I hadn’t as it was hard work and still quite slow.

Wednesday was swim training. Slightly different session to usual with pyramid sets but felt really strong for most of it. I’d had a rubbish day at work and it would have been quite easy to miss it but I am always glad I’ve been afterwards and boy do I sleep well on Wednesday nights!

Thursday night I met a few guys at the club for an early 4 mile loop. I thought I’d give my new trainers a go, with the insoles from my old trainers (plus padding) to ease the transition. I wasn’t sure how I would run but we agreed about 8:30 pace which was still quite fast for where I am at the moment but thought I’d wing it. Well, the first mile was 8:30 ad then got quicker and quicker finishing with a 7:46 – quickest mile I have run since before Christmas! Just goes to show, sometimes you need to be pushed outside your comfort zone! That gave me a bit of a boost for the second main club run and I thought I’d carry on in the same vein and run it reasonably hard so that I got some sort of a reasonable tempo run in. With loop backs I managed a further 5.2 miles.

I decided with four Sundays to London I could afford another really long run so felt 20 miles would be about right. I’ve been a bit naughty and not had a recovery week as you’re supposed to but felt as I’d had to build up really slowly I could probably manage another week before I cut back. The main club run was due to last about 2 hours 35 minutes so I figured I’d need to do a bit on my own at the end. I felt really comfortable the whole way round and averaged just under 9 minutes a mile for 20 miles. This included several shoe lace stops and a stop at the car to refill my bottles when I forgot to stop the watch, so possibly a bit quicker still. My penultimate mile was an 8:30 so it would seem still have something in the tank for the last six miles when they come and am actually now running better than I was this time last year…just got to stay healthy….

Monday – swim 2.7km

Tuesday – 4 miles easy

Wednesday – swim session (GreenlightPT)

Thursday – 9.2 miles (4 mile early lap/5.2 mile DLRR Social Run)

Friday – rest

Saturday – rest

Sunday – 20 miles

Miles for the week – 33 miles

Categories: Injury, London Marathon, Races, Training | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Three weeks and counting…

Don’t want to scare any one, but we are less than three weeks away from the London Marathon.

That’s just two more long runs, perhaps two more physio sessions, trying out kit (still haven’t managed to wear my shorts this year – too bl**dy cold!), a reduction in food intake and trying to get some more sleep.

It can only mean one thing – the taper is about to start….

One or two pictures to get the adrenaline pumping – Blackheath…early Sunday morning…you can almost hear the theme tune…

blackheath_aerial 06-marathon-blackheath blackheath_balloons1Pictures all courtesy of Blackheath Bugle

 

Categories: London Marathon, Training, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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