Posts Tagged With: SANDS

The London Marathon 2012 – Race Report

From our hotel in Limehouse there were three options to get to the start but decided to savour the atmosphere and get myself to London Bridge to get on one of the ‘official’ trains to Blackheath – slightly disconcerting at Limehouse DLR station with everyone else on the other platform heading in the other direction but stuck with the plan. London Bridge station was heaving but easily found the Blackheath train – it was rammed beyond belief. But as we wandered down the platform the last two carriages were almost empty so we hopped on and had quite a pleasant journey, unlike those in the earlier carriages who were all getting quite cosy with each other!

Arrival in Blackheath bought a bit of a lump to my through, as you walk up the main road the park opens out in front of you to thousands of people all heading towards the runners admission point – with helicopters buzzing, hot air balloons, blimps and the faint smell of ‘Deep Heat’ you know you’re somewhere special. After years of watching this on TV, I was finally here, actually part of it. It was all very relaxed in the blue zone a bit like one big picnic – everyone was sat down on bin bags eating bananas, or queuing for the toilet – which by race standards had pretty fast moving queues! The big screens showed the elite women and wheelchair races starting and then it was time to move to our pens. I was quite lucky to be in pen 5, I was quite amazed as I wandered into my pen that one of the first people I saw was a fellow DLR Runner! We had a brief chat and I realised once the race got going that I completely forgot to ask her name! I’d been ill in bed with a bad cold most of the week so didn’t really decide on my race plan until the morning of the race. I’d decided to take it really easy until halfway then see how I felt, but I was in the pen with the RunnersWorld 9min pacer – my take it easy plan went out the window as my competitive instinct overtook me. I felt ok on race morning and with all the excitement decided sub 4 hours would be fine – 9 min pace, same as Oakley – easy!

The start of the race is a bit of an anticlimax really – no siren or anything obvious just marshals asking us to move forward until eventually we walked underneath the starting gantry – we were off. The first two or three miles didn’t really move much more than snails pace – there was just no room to move. I could still see the 9 min pacer in the distance and thought I’d gradually catch up over the next few miles which I did. Only problem was there was a very large group who were attached to the poor guy like limpets – whichever side of the road he moved to, they all moved with him and made it quite difficult to tag along to so decided to run my own race.

It was as well, felt really good for the first 6 miles. Started taking on gels at 6 miles, still feeling ok. Then started to look out for the DLRR cheering squad and my sister who were all going to be south of the river. Only problem was, I knew roughly where they’d said they’d all be, but got the sides of the roads mixed up! Saw the DLRR group at around 11/12 but I was on the opposite side of the road and no chance of getting across (imagine crossing the M25, twice, in rush hour!) so didn’t get a chance to wave or acknowledge them, but was still nice to see them there. I knew my sister would be on the approach to Tower Bridge but still managed to miss her too! Once over the bridge we were just about halfway and could see I was just less than 2 hours – so even though it wasn’t an even pace, I was on target.

Through 14 near our hotel were my husband and friends and I saw them! It was great to see the gang, they’d got balloons with ‘Run Chips’ on which was lovely and I realised after the race they’d all got ‘Run Chippers’ on their shirts and bags as well – you can’t buy support like that. I gave them a good smile and a wave and moved on towards the Isle of Dogs (or the Isle of Pain as it turned out!). From 15 to 20 things started to fall apart – it wasn’t the wall as I was fuelling well throughout the race, my mind was fine, but my body just didn’t want to work. I’d run this distance more than a few times in training but I just couldn’t move properly. I can only think that the cold I’d had all week had taken its toll. I got my jelly beans out and tried to plod on but it was a real mix of walking and running (although according to my Garmin I wasn’t moving that slowly – still sub 10min miles). Coming round to mile 21 I passed our hotel again and joined ‘The Highway’ which you basically follow to the finish. ‘Only’ 5 miles to go! I’d stopped looking at the time by now as it was all about getting to the finish. My quads were burning and my calves were on the brink of cramping – I stopped once to try to stretch them but it hurt so much I decided it hurt less to run with them tight! My sister jumped out at me near mile 23, and a bit further down were my husband and friends. I was so pleased to see them. I plodded on (I thought I was running, but my Garmin stats say otherwise!) and it was lovely to see the DLRR cheering crew. Again, I managed to be on the other side of the road – I’m not very good at following instructions! But it was still a boost and reminded me how far I had come and what a fantastic supportive club I’ve joined.

With Big Ben in sight I knew the finish was nearby, as you come into Birdcage Walk a big sign tells you there’s 600m to go, never has 600m seemed so far but I rounded the final corner in front of Buckingham Palace to see the finish line – it was the hardest 365 yards ever, but I did it, remembered to smile as I crossed the line, before stopping my watch and bursting into tears. I’m not one for crying but hey, you only finish your first marathon once eh?

Time – 4:16, not the sub 4 I originally had in mind, but after injury and illness I’m more than satisfied with that and gives me another reason to enter next year!

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The last one…before the big one!

Just a quick post as I really should be in bed getting some sleep but as I spent most of the last three days in bed trying to get rid of my cold I’m not actually that tired!

We’re all packed up and ready to go tomorrow morning. My kit is in my bag along with an assortment of other items of clothing that I may or may not need on the day. I only remembered at the last minute that I needed a top to discard at the start. For the GNR I always used to pop into Primark in Newcastle city centre to pick up a bargain but this time I just haven’t been able to get anywhere near the shops. But after a bit of rooting around I have found a nice stripey little number (from Primark of course!) that I will be throwing aside as we cross the start line – hopefully it’ll do someone some good in the future.

It’s been a bit touch and go this week and on Wednesday I started to have serious doubts I’d even make it to the start line. After a little ‘wobble’ a work my boss sent me home and following some well needed rest and a little word with myself I think we’ll be good to go. I’ve exhausted Boots of most of their decongestants and menthol related items but I think we’re definitely on the mend. It would be better if London was next weekend but it isn’t and after 9 ballot entries, over 300 training miles I’m not about to throw in the towel.

Tapering has been taken to a new level – the total taper! I’ve done diddly squat this week. I might be ill but my legs don’t know and they’re raring to go, let’s hope I can put the rest to good use.

Best of luck to everyone else running on Sunday!!

So Chips, man up, take it on the chin, adjust your goal and get on with it. See you in London…. 🙂

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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

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I Miss You

With just four days to go, here’s the final poem. For more information about SANDS just click the link on the right.

I Miss You

by Rachel Butterworth

I miss you
I need you
I love you
I stroke your face that’s not there
I see you
I smell you
I touch you
I take every breath of your air
I hurt for you
Ache for you
Long for you
My life’s interrupted, unreal
I’m empty
I’m silent
I’ve ended
Inside where I should feel
You died
I died
I’m living
A life that’s never the same
I listen
I look for
I yearn for
The beauty of your name
I go on
I live on
I continue
And they will never know why
When I stop
When I’m lost
I hear nothing
But the absence of your cry
I will age
I will love
I will live for
Your sister who shares your face
And then
My last breath
I will give for
Your warm body at last to embrace

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Training for Week 16 (Race Week – Arghhh!)

Well, this is it, the final week of training. The plan is to do very little this week – it’s too late to do anything of any benefit and I wont lose any fitness by not doing much this week. I’ve still got the cold I picked up last week so the best I can do is rest and rest again. The two runs I’ve got down will only happen if my cold has gone. The third run…well short of a broken leg – I’m doing it – end of!

Monday – rest

Tuesday  – rest

Wednesday – RTS Run for Nothing 5km race

Thursday  – club run with DLRR

Friday – rest

Saturday – go to London and pick up my number

Sunday – The London Marathon….

The logo of the Virgin London Marathon. Virgin...

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Review of Week 15

The penultimate week was a bit of a non-event really. I woke up on Tuesday morning with a bit of a cold. I opted to have a go at the interval session as I’ve not done much speedwork and a few 400m’s wouldn’t do any harm. Calves were a bit tight but got through the session ok. The following day the cold had hit me full force so off to Boots at lunchtime to buy whatever they had for sale along with orange juice and VitC tablets (although in the case of orange juice and VitC it was a bit of shutting the gate after the horse had bolted), but you live and learn eh!

Orange juice

Orange juice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So no running on Wednesday, or Thursday (got some go faster stripes put in my hair). Felt a bit better on Friday so opted for a 4 mile jog/marathon pace run. This felt ok, wasn’t brilliant but didn’t feel at deaths door. Took Saturday as a rest and then decided that I would have a go at the club run on Sunday but would take it really easy (which I was supposed to anyway).

The run was ok, I felt really sluggish and only really felt I got going in the last mile or so . I think that was mostly the taper as it is quite a common feeling and talking to some on the run they were feeling the same as me. We’ve all pushed our bodies so hard over the last few months that I suppose the taper comes along with reduced mileage and body sees it as an opportunity to take a break – or in my case give me a cold!

Anyway, I’m hopeful that it’s now on its way out – I feel fine, but my cough suggests otherwise. I’ve no fever, so plenty of fluids and rest should do the trick…I’ve got this far I’m not about to let a little sniffle ruin it!

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It’s the final countdown…

Can’t read that title without adding the music to it! But to more pressing matters, we really are on the final countdown. This time next week I shall have (hopefully) completed my first ever London Marathon, actually my first marathon full stop!

It’s quite hard to believe that the day is nearly here. It almost seems a lifetime ago since the ‘You’re In’ magazine dropped through the door. At the time I was struggling with chronic plantar fasciitis and the thought of running 6 miles, never mind 26 was too painful to contemplate. But getting the place pushed me into action and with the help of the physio and remembering to not over do it I’ve managed to get to the start line – just!

Despite the PF and the cold from hell that never seemed to go away (it came back this week just to rub it in!) I think I’ll be in pretty good shape come next Sunday morning. It’s been an eventful journey, very slow to start – I was pushing a long run of 6 miles when most were already doing 15, then when I finally got my miles up I got ill and had no long runs for three weeks and my confidence was really knocked. But by joining David Lloyd Redway Runners for their long Sunday runs (they have around 50 runners of every level each week running together) I’ve found that longer mileage is possible and even enjoyable – especially with good company. Everyone in the group is going through the same journey, some were at Brighton today, some at London next week and the majority will be at the inaugural MK Marathon the week after. Most of us are first timers and experiencing things we never have before. But by doing it together it’s made the hard times easier.

So, it’s not been an easy journey by any stretch, but it’s one I (think) I’d like to do again – although I’m probably better placed to answer that one this time next week 😉

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The Envelope

Second of the poems for each week leading to the London Marathon.

The Envelope

by Rachel Butterworth

Today I looked in the envelope
That holds the locks of your hair
They look so delicate and tiny
You can scarcely see they’re there
Cut gently from the back of your head
When you lay perfectly asleep
When your soul was already elsewhere
Dreaming so silent and deep
Your cheek against my fingers
As soft as any peach
The feel of your tiny fingers
That for me would never reach
Your perfect rosebud mouth
That gave no cry or breath
The silence that surrounded you
Stark confirmation of your death
My baby was gone already
Her little body could not stay
A week later and your funeral
Replaced your naming day
All physical trace of you burned
Like a brightly shining star
Forever in the heavens
So close and yet so far
All that remained of your existence
Were these tiny little hairs
The last thing I can touch of you
My proof that you were there
They are my greatest treasure
Beyond any price to me
They are my first daughter
My longed-for beloved baby
I’ll keep them always with me
Until the days of this life end
When I hope to see your perfect face
And stroke your hair again

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Training for Week 15

The countdown begins, less than fourteen days to go…and the taper continues.

Monday – rest

Tuesday  – 5M – 1M jog, 8x400m fast (90 sec) with 200m (2 min) recoveries, 1M jog

Wednesday – 5m slow

Thursday  – get ‘go faster’ haircut

Friday – 5M – 1M jog, 3M brisk, 1M jog

Saturday – rest

Sunday – 10-12 miles

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Review of Week 14

The first week of tapering and it was a bit of a damp squib really. After the high of Oakley last week I’ve felt a bit flat – that could well be the sugar comedown – do you think you can get addicted to High5 gels?

Anyway, the rest on Monday went as planned. I didn’t feel too bad. Legs ached a bit but no worse than expected. Tuesday’s run had to happen early morning which was an effort in itself, especially as it was still dark as I left the house. I was supposed to do 6 miles with 6×800 fast in there, but within half a mile of setting off it was obvious that the fast stuff wasn’t going to happen – one calf felt like I’d strained it and the rest of my body was just in general pain. I opted for a slow 6 miles and ice on the calf for the rest of the day.

After some rest on Wednesday, I thought a brisk 6 mile would get the blood flowing again and for 2 miles it was fine but after a lengthy hill both calves felt like they were going to pop. After a good stretch and slowing down to a jog I managed to get 6.5 miles done, but again, as with last week finished in the dark – I’m not to good with the sunrise/sunset thing!

To try to sort my calves out I rested Friday with plenty of stretching. On Saturday tried a 3 mile jog instead of the ParkRun in but still a bit sore. Then spent Saturday afternoon trying to buy a foam roller – bit of a rush on them in MK at the moment with London around the corner, closely followed by the MK Marathon a week later so after a bit of searching on the web for suitable alternative stop gaps – found a rolling pin can be just as effective. So I gave it a go and well, the long run on Sunday – no tightness…!

The long run this week felt a bit weird. After 20 miles the previous week and 17 and 18 the two weeks before that, a 12 miler seemed a bit tame. But it was quite hard work to be honest and I was quite relieved when we’d finished. I was glad I had run it with DLRR otherwise I don’t think I’d have completed it on my own. With loops backs it actually came in at 13 miles and although I don’t feel I’ve gained much from it, I know it’s all part of the taper. It’s just a bit difficult to adjust to after so many weeks of pushing so many miles.

Anyway, mustn’t grumble, this time next week it will be less than seven days to go…gulp!

Miles for the week – 27.5, quite scary to think that in two weeks time I need to run just under that in one go…


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