Pain is temporary, pride is forever…

I’ve spent this week looking at the blank blog page like an essay that I can’t seem to start writing – How can I put something down in words that hasn’t properly sunk in yet?! It all still seems a little surreal even though as I type, my medal is hung up next to my bed and I am wearing my London Marathon finisher t-shirt which drowns me but I love it.
And so I did it…London Marathon, my goal for the past two years and the race that has consumed my mind for the past 6 months is done. The surreal feeling is similar to when I used to do school plays and once I’d finished I wouldn’t know what to do with myself because I had dedicated so much time and energy to it…frankiesaysrun is a bit lost!!

The week building up to Marathon Day was really busy as I was exhibiting with Variety at the Expo – The bonus of being there was the buzz of the occasion and being able to see my Team before the weekend. It was a great atmosphere this year but obviously more surreal being a runner as well. It still didn’t feel like it was actually going to happen that weekend. I watched the ribbon be cut and went to collect my number and chip…still didn’t feel real…even talking to people about it didn’t make it click properly.

As I was still suffering with my ITB it was playing on my mind a lot. I got treatment from the physio, had a final massage and also dragged my foam roller everywhere to make sure that I was doing everything I could to be able to race! Work was proving a good distraction from how nervous I was and it wasn’t until I got home on the Friday afternoon that the butterflies went into overdrive…Only two more sleeps and race day would be here and I was definitely feeling jittery! I had lots of positivity around me in the form of Robs (my lil sis) and Stacey who arrived Friday night to cook me a delicious pasta dinner. It was lovely not to be sat alone driving myself mad.

The following day began with a slap up breakfast with sis, friends and fellow runner Sam – All part of the prepration and again, trying not to go crazy with nerves. As the day progressed and more things got done….playlist done, kit washed and prepped for the morning, garmin charged and number pinned to my vest, I felt strangely calm and focused. Once #travellingwrenskitchen arrived to cook for us, I was like a giddy child before Xmas, just itching for the day to arrive now. I didn’t go to bed particularly early either as I knew I wouldn’t sleep…so after a delicious carb loading dinner and final finishing faffing touches I put myself to bed, alarm set for 6am and I slept like a log…phew!

And all of a sudden, Marathon day had arrived…I woke up to my alarm flashing “Never Give Up and Smile” and starred at my vest hanging at the end of my bed for a few minutes focusing my mind on the challenge ahead…Then we were all up, power smoothie was consumed, peanut butter on toast and banana was forced down with plenty of water and dark chocolate was nibbled on. Final step was kit ON…that great super hero lycra feeling!!! Last minute nervous toilet stop and we were in the taxi on our way to Greenwich…

While we were standing at the gates waiting for Team Variety to arrive you could feel all of the nervous energy from the other runners arriving – I couldn’t stop jabbering away and everyone else was itching to head up the hill to the start line. From that point everything went really fast and after deciding not to resort to female urinals we stretched out in the SUNSHINE (no rain to be seen – hurrah) and headed to the pens. I stuck with my friend Sophie and I was so pleased she was there. I think I would have felt much more nervous without her. Shuffle shuffle, scream for the BBC, shuffle shuffle…..and there was the start line…no crazy gun start, just a gradual increase in pace and we’re on our way….the actual London Marathon had started….”take it all Franks” is all that was going through my head as well as making sure I didn’t trip over anyone while maintaining a steady pace.

Right from the start, the crowds were absolutely incredible – so much cheering. The first 10 miles seemed to fly by. I lost Sophie at mile 2 and so I just focused on my own race and made sure that I enjoyed it while keeping my own goal of sub fours hours at the forefront of my mind. My left leg was taped up, strapped up and I was dosed up on Voltarol to reduce as much of the inflammation as possible. No pain….surely this was too good to be true…something was going to have to give, there was going to be serious pain to push through. Isn’t the body a wonderful thing though. Not one problem throughout the entire race…I still can’t quite get over it.

Along the route, Variety had three cheering points set up and these were my small goals throughout the race… It’s hard to describe, but when I was running I felt like I was in a bubble. I had taken my music out of my ears as I didn’t want to miss out on the atmosphere. It was electric – There were kids lining the pavements giving out sweets and high fives, people who don’t know you were willing you to do well and pitched up on the sidelines were the bands, gospel choirs, singers and drummers to keep us entertained on our journey. Before I knew it, I was running on to Tower Bridge….this was one of the moments I had been looking forward to and it was spectacular….the sky was blue and I smiled all of the way across (take it all in Franks)…My next goal was mile 14 (dedicated to Kat) where Variety staff and my family were waiting…I was so excited running towards them. As I spotted the balloons I picked up my pace and I was suddenly completely overwhelmed with emotion…there were my mum and dad cheering away with my colleagues waiting to see my go past…Despite the obvious gels and lucozade, seeing their faces was the greatest fuel of the day. Just on from that point and completely out of the blue I heard Fraaankkkkieeeeeeeee!! And there’s Robyn and Stace on the other side of the road…amazing…smiles smiles smiles…more of that mega fuel!

The next section of the race was always what I was most nervous about…the dreaded point that a lot of people start to “hit the wall”. And there were a good few runners starting to struggle and stumble off to the side of the road…I just didnt feel tired at this point and I was getting frustrated with the slower pace and crowds. I had promised myself that I would be patient and not use too much energy trying to overtake, but at this point it needed to be done. Finally a bit of space. Heading towards Canary Wharf was great…the crowds were immense I still felt ok – no leg pain at all. I made sure I took on an extra energy block to keep me going through the difficult miles.

My next goal was mile 22, the next cheering point and suddenly it was there…time was flying by. A second boost from the amazing supporters and now it was on the the final push…As well as mile 20, I dedicated mile 24 to CJ, a friend who died in 2008…mile 20 had been smiles and this one was going to be speed…he kept me going and despite some tears, I smiled for him and ate jelly babies ūüôā

I knew when I started getting problems with my ITB that I would have to take it slightly easier on my way round the Marathon so as to make sure that I actually completed the race. As I hadn’t suffered for 22 miles, I decided to up my pace and it felt good….I still had a lot of energy and I was full of determination for my time. At mile 25 there’s a Lucozade sign that reads “in 1.2 miles you’ll be a part of history”….. push push push…..focus and go for it…. in the distance I could see my final cheering point…some runners were starting to flag at this point and so I hopped up on to the pavement to pass everyone and the noise of them all gave me all the drive I needed for a strong finish… Never Give up and Smile…this is final 600m.

As I turned off of Birdcage walk and past Buckingham palace my stride opened up…this was the final sprint…it felt amazing, the speed, the total elation that I was about to finish a Marathon, London Marathon in Olympic year….I can see the clock and it’s ticking towards 3:57….come ooooooooon! You can do this, you can break four hours…..arms up (that much thought about finishing pose) and I am across the finish line… done…keep moving… and then came the emotion… tears… and noone to immediately share the moment with… thank goodness for the lovely lady who came over and gave me a hug….it was just what I needed.

After the finish line I was just drifting along collecting my stuff and feeling pretty good, not wobbly or out of breath just a bit stunned that it was all over. I was then greeted by Robs, Stace and Cat and that was fantastic! Salty hugs all round before being whisked off to the RAC to eat, shower, see everyone and get a well earned massage. This was also all a bit of a blur. I went through a phase of not recovering very well and feeling really unwell…nothing that a bit of recovery shake can’t handle and I was feeling a lot better in the end.

I was trying my hardest to take in all of the amazing feelings from the day and congratulations from people. It was the most overwhelming afternoon in the best way possible – friends, family, colleagues and your team mates all there!! I was still pondering…did that just happen?
After an evening of steak, wine and a sofa in the White Horse I crashed in to bed at around Midnight, utterly exhausted…I don’t even remember my head hitting the pillow…

Working towards the London Marathon, blogging about it, hearing other peoples stories about it, getting support for it, being inspired by it, becoming a running geek, and working hard at it has been the most incredible,¬†challenging¬†and emotional journey and it is a race that I will remember for the rest of my life…the training both physically and mentally has taught me so much about what I can achieve when I put my heart and soul into it and that we are all stronger than we think.

What will the next challenge be?

NEVER GIVE UP…AND SMILE!!!

Marathon time: 3:57:50

frankiesaysrun xxx

I would like to thank everyone who has supported me during my London Marathon journey, whether its been by reading my blog, sponsoring me, listening to be rattle on about running, tweeting me with hints tips and positive thoughts, rubbing me down, treating my injuries, inspiring me or being there on the day…I couldn’t have done it without you! I hope you enjoyed the journey too….xx

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The final count down…

With 5 days to go until Marathon Day I am full of mixed emotions. Since the disastrous race at the end of March I haven’t been able to run much and have been constantly worried that I wouldn’t be able to actually do the race after so many months of hard work training. So this is making me anxious! All of the final plans are now coming together for Team Variety and the rest of the Team are¬†driving me along¬†which is giving me butterflies of excitement about the day. Along side that is that bizarre feeling of not quite wanting the journey to end…

The past few weeks have been quite a rollercoaster – after two weeks rest and massage¬†I still couldn’t get past 1.6 miles without excruciating pain to the left of knee… I have been suffering with my IT Band and it’s pretty much floored me. Most people I have spoken to have advised rest, rest, more rest, ice and stretching. I have found it utterly frustrating not to be able to head out for a run and maintain my training programme to the end. As much as a physical struggle it has also been a struggle mentally. Trying to stay positive when I’m limping¬†around has¬†been¬†really hard for me. After the Easter break, two sports massages¬†and plenty of rest I still struggled to get through the 5k Sweatshop run but it was definitely an improvement on the last run I had tried. I was desperately trying to focus on that fact that it was recovering more quickly but I was having to let in that thought that I might not be able to take part in the Marathon – I was feeling pretty devastated even by the thought. I arrived into work the next morning to find a Good Luck card on my desk from some of the children who Variety support and that was my breaking point – tears tears tears! It was the culmination of a good two weeks of worrying and it naturally all comes out on my managers shoulder who was positively lovely about it. That was my miserable day when I looked into back up marathons and every single type of treatment I could squeeze in before the big day. After a great appointment with Amy at On Track Sports Therapy¬†discussing options and a leaving with a plan made me feel much more positive. I had also spoken to my friend Sophie who I am running with on the day and she recommended her Phsyio at Back¬†on Track¬†who had treated her for the same problem with a mixture of exercises and also acupuncture. Acupuncture is something I have never tried before but heard goog things about….at this point I will try anything to get me across that finish line…. Soph actually came along with me and we had a right laugh and being present for each others analysis was fascinating (running¬†geeks). I’m not going to lie, the treatment was just a tad painful but no pain, no gain in my eyes. Acupuncture felt bizarre but it hit the problem points and I have since been doing my exercises to improve the strength in my glutes¬†and stretch out my ITB. Despite leaving with a slightly dead leg (normal after acupuncture), my positivity¬†was restored and I felt more determined than ever that I¬†CAN do this Marathon. My friend James who takes part in all sorts of crazy challenges also advised me on some training techniques¬†and the dreaded ice baths. WOAH, it took a lot of guts and dubstep¬†playing¬†to lower my toosh into the bath that evening….It was a great sight (ha)…thermal top, beanie and not much else…recovery is sexy stuff.

My plan now looks like this… IT band strap, one more physio¬†session, ice, foam roller, stretching, healthy eating, rest¬†and a hit of Voltarol¬†before the race to see me through…Oh and not forgetting positive thinking…The past few weeks have really made me realise how easy it can be to get sucked into a spiral of negative thinking and just how detrimental¬†it can be to let your head drop….positivity positivity positivity!!

As I write this I have a book sitting next to my lap top which I have just received from my friend Lucie. She is a triathlon machine and introduced me to the mantra of Chrissie Wellington “Never Give Up…and SMILE”.¬†I loved it so much I have adopted it for my Marathon training and now I am¬†the delighted owner of Chrissie’s book “A life without Limits”¬†I think it has to be the perfect pre marathon reading ever! I can’t wait to get started!! (thank you Lucie…a millions times over)

There is still a lot to prepare before race day but it is game head on now and I WILL¬†achieve what I have worked hard for….those months and miles simply can’t be wasted and failure is not an option.

The support from friends, family and colleagues¬†has been and¬†continues to be¬†immense and I can’t wait to see them as I make my way around the Marathon route.

5 days to go….let the final countdown begin!!

Thanks for reading – as promised, there will be a pre race blog entry¬†which will include my race day playlist and also my race day dedications….My playlist¬†is full of songs from friends and family as well as the tracks that have seen me through those cold winter runs…I know it will keep me going!

frankiesaysrun xxx