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

Tears at Mile 15.5…

Its been a busy old week and I’ve finally¬†arrived back to the Cotswolds and got the time to sit down and write… phew!

Running wise, I have had a week off after a rather frustrating and painful race on Sunday. We were all back down in Surrey for the Cranleigh 15/21 miler and this was going to be my longest run before Marathon day. The sun was shining, I was a bag of nerves as ever but felt confident and excited to complete the distance. The last 3 weeks of early morning races have been amazing practise for fuelling, dealing with nerves, mental preparation and generally just getting in to the race day mood. Last Sunday the sun was shining and it was a lovely atmosphere….

When the race got going, I felt great. I found a nice pace to run at, didn’t feel strained or out of breath…just steady and strong. However, by about mile 3 I started to feel a tugging and tightness to the left of my left knee which didn’t seem to want to go away. I considered stopping there and then but a few more miles in it had eased slightly so I decided to carry on. Beyond¬†mile 9 or 10 I started to feel it again and this time it was becoming more painful. Being a country race we were on the roads and being directed to stay to the left of the road. I think it was the camber flaying havoc with me as well as a very tight ITB, something that I hope won’t be a problem on the big day. Other than this annoying niggle, I was absolutely fine and¬†really enjoying the run….

By half marathon stage I was really struggling and tried to decide what to do…The good thing about this race was that you could either continue on for 21 miles or complete at 15 miles. After a massive incline I had to stop and stretch my leg out and a lovely runner who I had chatted to earlier in the day stopped to help me which was so sweet.¬† By this point I was in a lot of pain and panicking that I had done some serious damage…this is also the point that the tears started to flow…I picked it up for the last mile and then optimistically turned the corner to try for 21….by 15.5 I was out…My brain kicked in over my stubborn¬†heart and I decided it’s just not worth¬†continuing if it puts me out of the Marathon. This challenge is too important to me and I have worked too hard over the last 6 months for pride to lead me to injury….I pulled over and stretched out…tears tears tears as runners passed me. I felt such a rush of disappointment that I couldn’t finish the 21.

After letting the marshall know that I had stoppped after trying to continue I called my mum (aww)¬†and by this point I was really upset as I couldn’t manage to run through the finish line to get an official time… However, the lovely lady at the end of the race¬†came over while I was on the phone and gave me a 15 mile medal, took my hand and helped me hobble to the St Johns Ambulance to get my leg iced… Tears = medal. After icing, rehydrating and watching friends come through the finish line¬†I hobbled back to the car very slowly to stretch out and down a chococlate milk.

What I learnt on Sunday is that it is easy to be competitive and try to push yourself through pain in order to achieve the goal in¬†place that day,¬†AND it’s also¬†very hard to be¬†that competitive person and to pull yourself out…It was the best decision I could have made!!

On Tuesday I went off to On Track Sports Therapy¬†in Brixton¬†to have a full body rub down and it was so very needed by that point. Isla did an amazing job, especially¬†on my ITB (youch) and I left feeling far less stiff and sore which was brilliant….Keeping up the foam roller work is not vital to keeping in shape for race day…

This Sunday I am planning on doing a steady 10 miler and then for the final week and a half of training, shorter runs before tailing off…last weekend has knocked my confidence a bit but I am focused on looking after myself in order to make it to that all important start line (and finish line)¬†injury and illness free….

If you’re running a Marathon soon, how are you feeling about it? Have you completed your longest run yet?

I CANNOT believe it’s only a few weeks to go but it is also very exciting – making plans for the Charity really brings it all home….cheering points, post race celebrations and pasta party plans and picturing the course and London sights en route….this is what¬†I and all those taking on Marathons have¬†been working towards for 6 months…..BRING.IT.ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As the actual running tails off, I am focusing on other aspects of the day itself and this week is music…I have been building my playlist gradually while training but now I am looking for input from friends and indeed other runners….If you have any suggestions, please leave them as a comment…. I am going to post my final list the week before Race Day…. ūüôā

Happy Running everyone and thank you for reading…

frankiesaysrun xxx

I am fundraising for the Charity I work for called Variety, the Children’s Charity….It is an amazing cause supporting children who are disabled and disadvantaged by providing specialist equipment such as wheelchairs, sensory toys and coaches… the difference the Charity makes to a child’s life is instant and every time I meet the children we help, I am humbled by their positivety and strength. If you would like to support the work that we do, please follow the link below…every little really does help….Take a look at Sam’s story……http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FClp1HIr0Es¬†THANKYOU…

Frankie’s page….http://www.justgiving.com/franklesfirstmarathon

Back in the game…slowly but surely

As a very competitive person, the last two weeks have been tough! I was suffering, as you may have previously read, from a very sore lower left leg. At first I thought I had shin splints but after a consultation with On Track Sports Therapy they found that I needed to build the strength in the muscles surrounding my ankles and shin. My calves have been over compensating and had therefore become very very tight and had started pulling on my shin – yowch! I was also advised that I needed to bring my pace down slightly as this was¬†contributing¬†to my sore little legs. So over the last two weeks I have been doing my prescribed daily strength exercises and rolling my calves out on the glorious foam roller… Focusing on each leg at a time during strength training has really highlighted how weak I am on my left side – the easy test for me was trying to balance on my left leg without wobbling at the ankle…lets just say it’s going to take some more practise and constant training to improve that.

So last night I went out for my first “getting back to it” run with the main aim being ¬†– NO PAIN….and we have success!!! My physio has advised that I drop the pace of my runs and trainon grass instead of just pavement. I actually loved it…there’s something much for interesting about running on grass (does that sound silly?) but I really enjoyed it and even though you’re only meters from the road and the bustle of the street, I felt a bit more removed from it all which was fab!! I really focused as well on keeping my stride shorter as I think I was putting unnecessary strain and impact on my legs. I found a really comfortable pace last night that I know I could keep up over a longer distance, so I felt I really achieved something.

Still…slowly but surely…I’m not going to overdo it as I couldn’t bear to take more time off and I have strict instructions that (in the nicest way possible) my physio Amy doesn’t want to have to see me again for anything other than a sports massage ūüôā

My plan from now on is to do steady pace middle distance runs in the week with some fartlek training thrown in and really save my legs for the weekend long runs. I have also made the decision to leave a day between each run to make sure that I can recover properly. Lets hope this works….. I have to say, getting in a bubble bath post run is a luxury I am very much enjoying especially in this cold weather…

How is everyone out there in the marathon training world getting on? 11.5 weeks to go….argh…

Got any good soft grassy routes you could share with me? I would LOVE to hear them…

It feels great to be back in the game….

Distance: 7.21 miles

Time: 57mins 51secs

Pace avg: ¬†8’01”

Weather: Cold and dry

Music: My song of the run was Coldplay,Paradise

frankiesaysrun xxx

I am also fundraising for Variety, the Children’s Charity. We work to improve the lives of children who are disabled or disadvantaged and if you need an example of the difference we make, please watch this short film…¬†http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WOWVNRISdNA

If you would like to donate please click HERE¬†– every penny really does count….THANKYOU!!!¬†xxx

It’s my Marathon Year – Lets catch up

Hello runners and readers – Happy New Year!!! After a busy busy build up to Christmas and then a lovely restful break, 2012 is finally here which means it’s¬†MARATHON YEAR¬†and most definitely all systems go.

During December, I was really run down and my shins were suffering so with a mixture of being poorly and and trying to keep my little legs in working order, I took it easy for the final week before heading home to the countryside. My friend Jeanie got me thinking about my form while running as well as she has been doing a course and so I made it my mission of my next run to watch how my feet strike the ground and adapt my form if necessary – turns out it is necessary as I was heel striking and I think that’s what was causing pain in my shins. It feels very strange when you try and adapt how you have been running for a long time but so far I think it has helped so watch this space as it’s a work in progress…*focused face*

While back in Oxfordshire,¬†I¬†donned my kit and took myself out into the country air for some training – It is such a bizarre experience barely seeing anyone and stretches of¬†fields¬†instead of Clapham Common and tonnes of runners but it was a lovely and welcome change of scenery. As a training run, it was a great mix of steep hills, steady inclines and some flatter terrain to pick up pace. I did focus very hard on form and my core and I have to say that after the run, my shins weren’t as sore as they normally are – that was a big positive for me. The other positive was that my lovely mum had made me a power smoothie for when I got up and then a protein and carb dream of a breakfast for when i got back – Could I work regionally for 4 months and train back home? It’s the dream! *love you mum*.

Unfortunately, that was my only country run as my immune system decided to flunk out on me again and I had the most terrible cold which equalled bed for me and lots of hot drinks and sleep… However, I didn’t completely neglect my bod. My Mum teaches Yoga and she taught me salute to the sun which I made sure I did every morning as well as some other stretching….it’s remarkable how much Yoga can help you…flexibility, strength, immune system boosting, calm mind etc etc…¬†I¬†could go on… I have decided to take it up on a regular basis in London as a part of my training and the bid for a healthier mind and body *excited*

Back in London town, I saw in the New Year and then classically spent January 1st recovering from the celebrations. Full of energy on the Monday I took to the streets after mapping my route on¬†nike plus¬†(love it). I am now starting to take on energy drink/fuel as I run so this was my¬†first¬†proper trial with an energy drink that was given to me for Xmas. I have never been a fan of running and holding on to a bottle, but it actually didn’t feel too bad the drink really helped me on my way round. Again I was watching my form and it is slowly becoming easier not to be thinking about it constantly. In general I felt strong throughout and even managed Cedars road *uphill nemesis* without being too crushed…woop! My only downer on this run was a twinge in the top of my left leg as I turned onto Poynders Road to take on the final hill…I had to pause and stretch it out to get home. On my return it was shake time and lots of stretching and foam roller action…The following morning I felt a tad achey but after some salute to the sun I was feeling a lot better. Seriously, YOGA YOGA YOGA!!!

So tonight is first running club back for 2012 at Sweatshop in Clapham and this is my steady run for the week. Really looking forward to seeing everyone. I am now following the “Go For It” training plan in the London Marathon magazine which is 5 days a week of fun times…wish me luck…13 weeks of full training to go and then tail off time….

If you’re reading this and also doing a Marathon, I hope your training is going well….!

Country Run

Distance: 8.17 miles

Time: 1:01:48

Pace: 7’33”

Weather: Drizzly and mild

Music: My ever lengthening marathon playlist

Back in London

Distance: 9.6 miles

Time: 1:12:47

Pace: 7’32”

Weather: Cold and dry

Music: Labrinth, Earthquake was my new addition….Oh yes!!!

If you have any hints, tip or advice based on what I’ve rattled on about, please do leave them below…Its great to hear what other runners are up to ūüôā

I must also mention that I am now trying to boost my fundraising for Variety, the Children’s Charity. Please watch this short film about Sam¬†and see the difference that your donation can make. We want to continue improving young people’s lives everyday…Please donate if you can and help me reach my target of ¬£2000. Every little helps…thank you so much! xx

Happy Running everyone….

frankiesaysrun xxxx

Accidental Mileage…

So, finally I am at a computer with the internet and can tell you all about my run on Monday. ¬†After recovering from strength training on Saturday and also the horrid virus, I decided I should knuckle down and get some miles under my belt. My intention was to do 7.8 miles – roughly a 10% increase on last time. Smoothie intake done, new Skins leggings on (ooft they’re tight but Emma says my bum looks good so happy faces all round) and off we go…. Em and I set off together and headed for the Common to do laps – a bit of a boring decision but my imagination wasn’t stretching much further on a Monday evening.

I felt really good running – no stitches, breathing settled in nicely and it felt really buzzy in Clapham…lots of runners! However, half way around my first lap of the Common my Nike+ Trainers tells me I am half way… Either I am running at lightening speed or I have set my monitor to KM not miles (duh). I don’t like stopping when I have found my pace but I re-set it to miles and kept going… Em and I were doing opposite laps so we were waving at each other on our way round…awww!

During this run, I was trying to focus on my posture and core after chatting about it with Amy at On Track Sports Therapy. When I found myself slumping I tried to engage my core and stay more upright. It felt a bit bizarre at first but I’m sure as I practise it more will benefit my running.

Nearing the end of the run I could feel the impact of a longer distance on my shins and calves – they were pretty sore and I knew that the stretching out and foam roller would be a painful session. Our neighbours must wonder what we’re doing with all the screeching and yelping coming from our living room. I’m really hoping that with proper recovery, my shins won’t be too much of an issue – it’s becoming clear that I am going to have to keep an eye on them and make sure I focus on them especially as mileage increases. Massage and ice have been recommended before so I will take that on board.

By the time I’d finished my run and made it up the hill to home, I knew I’d done further than 7.8 miles, I could feel I had – After adding up the accidental miles it turns out I’d run 9.7 miles – slightly more than intended but at least I know I can do it… On to a painful recovery session but it was very much needed… Even the tennis ball came into use… youch!!

Distance: 9.7 miles

Time: 1hr 9mins 24 secs

Pace: 7″11

Weather: Dry and cold

Music: Running playlist – loved a bit of Incubus to get me up the last hill…. Oh and Beyonce’s Run the World is most definitely a tune for the difficult miles – Who run the world? GIRLS!

NB: I invested in some Skins running leggings from Sweatshop last weekend – not only are they fiiiiiiiit they were so comfortable to run in – I can fully recommend them and they will keep my little legs warm during the winter months and cool during the warmer times. Worthwhile investment fo’shizzle ūüôā

Happy Running everyone – stay safe in the increasingly cold weather. If any of Team Variety are reading this, I hope your training is going well….It’s been really lovely to chat to you this week… Keep up the amazing work!!

frankiesaysrun xxx

Would you like to see why I am running the Marathon?

Sam’s Film

Frankie’s fundraising page