London Marathon

Swings and roundabouts 

It was all going so well, got rid of the lurgy, knee was starting to feel good, was only 1 second off my 400m PB in our squad TT and had a solid race at the Southern XC Champs at Parliament Hill. Buoyed by this I booked my London marathon travel, a warm up half marathon and a post London 5km. It all looked like it was finally starting to come together. Midweek miles were stacking up and the weekend mileage about to start. I had a great 70 minute run on Wednesday followed by squad swim, then boom, penultimate rep, last length and cramp in my calf. Tried to kick it off but ended up hanging off a lane rope trying to avoid getting mown down by the boys behind me.

It’s not the first time I’ve had cramp swimming and normally by the time I’ve got out the pool it’s subsided except this time it didn’t. Next morning I struggled to walk and my swim on Friday was mostly completed with a pull buoy. So off to the physio I hobbled and it turns out I have managed to tear my calf swimming. That’s me with no running for two weeks, will miss the final Chiltern XC League match for my club and may well put my London place in jeopardy.

But foregoing London would not be the end of the world. In all honesty it’s not my A race.  It is a ‘nice to have’ and I would really  like to go sub 3:30. It would be a great confidence boost going into Copenhagen but at what cost? The time I need to spend running costs me time on the bike and to be honest this year I think I’ve only ridden outside once and when you’re supposed to concentrate on your weakest element of the race it just doesn’t add up. So as annoying as it would be missing London, it would mean I get more time to get some miles in on the bike and might even pass a few people come Copenhagen!

So, the next few weeks will dictate what happens over the next few months – I’m still gunning for London but it wont be the end of the world if it doesn’t happen as there are benefits to be gained by not doing it – as they say, ‘swings and roundabouts’…

Categories: IM Copenhagen, Injury, London Marathon, Races, Training | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Countdown to Copenhagen – 30 weeks to go…

Thirty sounds like quite a big number so there’s no nervousness yet. It’s a long way ahead and plenty going on between now and then. Although with plenty going on, I know thirty will become twenty, then ten and then we’ll be into single figures and then I’ll really start to worry!

The lurgy has now passed and the knee is starting to feel a bit better so training last has been back in full swing. After a relatively easy week last week, this week it ramped up a little bit, not much but the most training I’ve done since well before Christmas. Last weekend was the penultimate Chiltern Cross Country League match. I’ve not really done much running at all since the Winter Half marathon so was a bit nervous about it. Especially as it was a flat and fast course and I had raced really well there last year. As it happened, it wasn’t too bad considering! Got some good points for the team, had two rather cold runs through a water jump (it was held at an equestrian centre) and although not at my best felt like a solid run so good news from that point of view.

The main focus now is London. With just over 12 weeks to go there is plenty of time yet. I’m in better shape at this point that I was last year which is good. Still a couple of niggles but nothing to worry about at this point. Just need to stay healthy and keep the miles ticking over…

 

 

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2017 – time for the big one!

A few years ago I heard someone say if you publish your goals for the year you’ve a greater chance of achieving them. I suppose it’s the fear of failing in front of a wider group of people which motivates you to succeed. So this post is to set out my goals for the year – to make them public so I have to go through with them. We’ll gloss over the fact that when I researched this quote all I could find was reasons not to tell anyone your goals!20160424_152810

To kick off the season I am lucky enough to have a London Marathon place by virtue of my time last year (pays to get a bit older!). Swiftly followed by the Outlaw Half. Hopefully my legs will have recovered from the marathon for this. I’ve finished fourth in my age group for the last two years having come in second off the bike – I need to rectify this and stop my head falling apart on the second half of the run!

GreenlightPT are then doing the Jubilee River Swim again in June. We were first ladies team last year so it would be good to give that a go again although I was thinking of possibly doing a two person relay (if I can find a partner) as it would be good training for LoveSwimRun Llanberis at the end of the month (except I was late with my entry and it’s full so I’m now on the waiting list – doh!) so that might not happen! After that I’ve nothing until The Owler Half in July. It looks like a nice event and also happens to be the National Half Champs so will be a good test four weeks out from the big one…

captureFinally, after years of procrastination and deliberation I finally took the plunge and entered my first long distance triathlon. On 20th August 2017 I will attempt to become an Ironman at IM Copenhagen. I’ve been thinking about doing one for years but have always managed to come up with an excuse as to why it couldn’t be that particular year – World Champs, injury, not experienced enough…you name it, I’ve used it. But finally, I’ve come to the conclusion that I am ready to do this. It’s not going to be easy – I already live in a time starved world of family, work and training but with Adam from GreenlightPT looking after my coaching I know he’ll get me there in the best shape possible. We’ve even got the inaugural GreenlightPT training camp in March to kick things off. It will be great to get out there with the gang and get a good solid week of training in even if the biking side is scaring me stupid! I’d be lying if I said I really enjoyerd cycling and I’m not the best cyclist in the world so the climbs on Lanzarote will be a definite test – but if I’m going to become an Ironman I need to learn to love my bike…

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© AnimatedImages.org

One slight fly in the ointment though is that I am currently injured – well it wouldn’t be January if I didn’t start the year with an injury – every year without fail…2012 it was plantar faciitis, 2013 it was achilles tendonitis, 2014 it was patella tendonitis, 2015 it was calf trouble and 2016 calf trouble again! At least for 2017 it’s something a bit different – knee pain caused by tight hips. Despite a few weeks off over Christmas and various stretches and exercises it’s still there so I was back to the physio this week for a new set of strengthening exercises to get me back on top again. I’m hopeful it’s just a brief annoyance and will soon be on the mend. Everyone is so excited at the start of the year and is churning out long rides, long runs and fast track sessions it’s a bit worrying when you’re sat on the sofa knowing this week I’ve managed one short ride and a short run before sucumming to the New Year lurgy that is doing the rounds as well as a dodgy knee. But hey, things can only get better…

Categories: Injury, London Marathon, Outlaw, Races | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Henry Allen Appeal – Update

I haven’t blogged for a while as I haven’t had too much to talk about but over the last few days have heard some news which has compelled me to write this post.

You may remember back in April/May I ran both the London and Milton Keynes marathons and raised money for a little local boy called Henry Allen who had been diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroblastoma. My post about this can be read here: The Henry Allen Appeal

It was announced yesterday that the disease has come back in force and it is likely that the NHS in the UK will be unable to provide him with any further treatment. His only option now is to seek treatment abroad in either Germany or the USA. The costs associated with this treatment will all have to be paid for by his family – hence the fundraising I did earlier in the year. Soon after his orignal diagnosis The Henry Allen Appeal was set up to raise funds should treatment in the UK be exhausted.

Yesterday, the appeal team shared an update that it was likley that no further NHS treatment may be possible.

The family need somewhere in the region of £300,000-£500,00 ($500,000-$800,000) and they need it fast.

Since the appeal was set up the appeal team have worked with hundreds of different people, companies and organisations to hold events to raise money to fund this treatment. A large amount of money has already been raised but much more is needed. You can donate directly to the appeal via the Henry Allen Appeal JustGiving page or download a single released for Henry by Juan Camus iTunes

If everyone donates a little, it will become a lot…

I’m asking you as a reader of my blog to reblog this, share on Facebook, retweet on Twitter and whatever other social media you have to spread this message.

Thank you – Hope, Dream, Believe

Categories: London Marathon, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Post London Marathon Training Review – Recovery/Taper

Post VLM it’s been a mixture of recovery from the marathon and taper ready for the MK Marathon this bank holiday Monday.

The Monday straight after the marathon  involved a fair bit of travelling as we went home via my sister’s house which was the opposite side of London from the hotel we stayed in. This didn’t really help with the active recovery but my legs didn’t feel too bad when we returned home.

Apart from some careful stair descending the following day I felt fine and even went for an easy run that evening, that turned into marathon pace by the end! A nice swim on Wednesday helped even more and dare I say it by Thursday I felt as right as rain again, so much so I ran again on Thursday and even squeezed in a useful six on the Saturday.

I was ready for my 5km swimathon on Sunday evening but unfortunately it was cancelled at the last minute. The suggestion was made by the Leisure Centre to reschedule it to the following Sunday night, the night before the MK Marathon – polite as my reaction was, I think they got the message that I wasn’t particularly enamoured by that…funnily enough the nice lady mentioned several other swimmers had reacted in the same way! If I was training for an ironman, fair enough 5km swim followed by a marathon around 12 hours later might make sense – but I’m not! It’s now on May 12th 🙂

The second week of my recovery/taper really was a taper, one 4 mile run, a 4.4 mile club handicap and a massage. The club handicap was good fun. I forgot my Garmin and then my Timex stopwatch also died so I ran ‘naked’. It was quite liberating and despite trying to run well within myself – I am tapering after all – I was only a minute off my best ever time so there was still some running in the legs after all. Things were looking up for Bank Holiday Monday and the MK Marathon….

Monday – rest

Tuesday –  2.5 miles easy

Wednesday  – swim with GreenlightPT

Thursday – 4 miles easy

Friday – rest

Saturday – 6.4 miles easy

Sunday – rest (swimathon cancelled)

Miles for the week – 12.9 miles

Monday – 4 miles easy

Tuesday –  rest

Wednesday  – rest

Thursday – 4.4 miles club handicap race (steady/easy)

Friday – physio/massage

Saturday – rest

Sunday – rest

Miles for the week – 8.4 miles

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The Henry Allen Appeal

The Henry Allen Appeal

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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)

Categories: London Marathon, Races | Tags: , , | 10 Comments

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

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