Sunday, 1 April 2012

Finally - Taper Time!!

This week has been the final tough week of training before taper time, something that I have been waiting for for weeks! I have been feeling pretty beat up over the last month or so and had started to resent running but after this week, I can honestly say I have fallen in love with it again. I have enjoyed every step this week, and now agree with my friend Jo who says, you can never regret a run. Training for this has been a physical test; I can't deny that, but more than anything it has been a test of my mental strength. Looking back at my journey thus far, I have run in snow, torrential rain, blistering heat (in March!!), when I have been ill and with an injured hip. I was told to lay off running in February due to the injury and I was so close to deferring. It has been anything but easy, but I can be a tough cookie when I want to be, and I wasn't giving up on this! In fact, the run in torrential rain have been my favourite so far, even if I was pooed on by a very big bird, but hey the rain soon washed that off anyway!

London Marathon is something that I had always watched on the TV in awe of the runners and I think secretly wishing that I could do day. I've not been running long, on and off for about 3 years and I'm more of a plodder than a runner so something like London Marathon isn't the sort of race you see yourself running. I remember just after I received my acceptance letter I went into a local independent sports shop for new running shoes and mentioned that I had got a place, through gritted teeth I was congratulated then had to listen to her moaning how she had been applying unsuccessfully for years and 'proper runners' didn't seem to get a chance, like I had cheated her out of her place, I think she might have been a little upset! It seemed I had a lot to prove to many!

So I have received my race day info, my race day number is 12817 and I'm a blue start. After a couple of minutes of panicking that I was in with the fasties and they had made a mistake, I read on to discover that numbers after 1100 were randomly selected, phew! I had visions of having to run in my knickers a la Paula. Not an attractive sight! I'm now sorting out all the practical stuff, the hotel is at Canary Wharf so I'm planning getting there for check in at 2pm and then hibernating in my room for the rest of the day, preferably wrapped in bubble wrap so I don't do myself any kind of injury! Breakfast is from 6:30am, which is perfect and then I plan on walking to the start, it's about an hour’s walk apparently but I think I will be grateful of the time on my own, I'm not good company when I'm nervous! My concern is what will happen at the end, I don't know if my legs could take having to fart around on the tube to get home, I don't like public transport as it is, private helicopter it is then, I'll get mom to put that on her ever growing list of things to do!

So, this week’s training didn't turn out to be the hardest week really. It started off on Monday with a 4.7 mile run. I don't usually run on Mondays as long run day is always on a Sunday, but as my 20 miler was Saturday I was itching to get out! My friend Tabby joined me and we had a nice natter around a hilly route. Tabby has also offered to run the Leamington Regency 10k with me to keep me company, this is the week before London and I don't want to run it at any kind of speed in case of risk of injury so the company will be great. Tuesday was Regency Runners usual meeting in Leamington, I ran in with Jo to get the extra miles in and tonight it was the 4 mile woodland run which was brilliant. I'm not usually a fan of running off road but to mix it up a bit it was great, really enjoyable, and hooray to me for again not being last! I also managed to get another of those sprint finishes in, seems I'm getting quite good at them!

Wednesday and I had arranged a sports massage with my physio Cathy. I was a bit apprehensive but was told not to be nervous, yeah ok! I'm a mega wimp so I was just scared! I was right to be, it hurt but, it was well worth it. Cathy found a few niggles and ironed them out whilst I whimpered but I knew it was doing me good so I just had to suck it up. A good friend of mine is having some physio at the moment after injuring basically every part of his body, the treatment he is having sounds excruciating so I think I have the better deal!! I was told to rest the legs for 24 hours and keep hydrated and we booked another massage for a week before the big day. I couldn't drink enough that day! I was constantly thirsty! I didn't run as planned on Thursday as well; let’s just say the toxins left my body in a rather unexpected way Thursday morning. As it was really hot and I was still not hydrated I decided not to run and looked forward to the Regency Runners 1st Anniversary party that evening.

 So Saturday came and it was time for my longest run, 22 miles. Regency Runners had again come up trumps and had arranged for runners to be running with me all the way around. Rachel and I had sat and gone through my nutrition so I had got everything ready that I needed the night before, Rachel had also mapped the route for me. I set off and met Tanya at the Sainsburys Local and we set off, meeting Mel a mile in. We ran from Warwick towards Kenilworth, I'm sure that they could have walked faster than I was running but the company was great and they got me off to a great start and we arrived in Kenilworth at 4 miles on time to meet the next two kind runners, Sonia and Tina. I said quick goodbyes to Tanya and Mel and carried on through Kenilworth and around Abbey Fields. Now, I don’t know Kenilworth very well at all, but I don't quite know how confident I was of running around it after Tina said "has Rachel ever run around Abbey Fields?? It's a bit hilly" and then Sonias reply of "it's a bit gruesome!" Ok good. 

As it turned out, there was a couple of steep hills but along with the uphill’s come downhill’s so I was happy enough. As we ran out of Kenilworth Sonia looped back home and Tina said she wanted to carry on. This was music to my ears as I had a couple of miles before I met Sharon and this would have been the only part of the run that I would have been on my own. We met Sharon at 10 miles and I was running on time, I wanted to stretch off so decided to get to the top of Cubbington which would be 11 miles where I saw Jo and Michelle for a bit of well needed support, and where I had a bite to eat and a stretch before carrying on down the hill and towards Offchurch. Tina still wanted to carry on, I think she was testing how far she could go, although again it was a slower pace for her but looking back at my splits, she did a really good job of pacing me between miles 4 and 14.5 and kept me running at a constant speed of 12.27 minute miles which was great.

Just as we were running towards Offchurch I saw a car coming toward us with waving people, it turned out to be Ann and family who had bought me some sweets and drinks. I couldn't stop at this point but it was a lovely surprise, so carried on through Offchurch and onto Radford which was 14.5miles. I stopped here for another nutrition break and to fill up my drinks bottle, a quick photo and then started up again with Lina, Debbie and Sharon for the final 7.5 miles. Again I saw Ann who kindly took a couple of photos and Clair had come out with the cheering squad again!

Half a mile down the road Sharon left us and ran home and Debbie, Lina and I pressed on up Tatchbrook Road and around Warwick Gates. I was pleased that I had Lina with me on this leg of the run, she is so fantastic at motivating you and keeping you going and again she ran behind me every now and again to check on my form and that I was keeping upright and straight. Miles 17 through to 18 were a bit tough but I knew that after that it was flat, or downhill all the way back, hooray! We were also joined at 19 miles by Monica on her bike who stuck with us until the end. I hit 20 miles and I felt really strong, I had no aches or pains and I didn't feel that my core was failing as it usually does. At this point we saw Karen on her bike cheering us on, but was told not to stop and to keep going. The last mile was really enjoyable, I turned into St Nics Park to run home and saw Mel and Diane waiting for me, aces! I finished my run in 4hours 36minutes, hooray for me! 

I went straight home and had one of those horrible ice bath things then Debbie, Lina and I went back to the park to meet at the cafe and have some well-deserved cake, joined by Tanya, Mel, Diane, Monica, Tracey, Jo and Siobhan from Regency Runners, and a quick stop from my sister Helen on route to a wedding.

Apologises for the MASSIVE red face and kind of forced smiles but I was half elated and half in excruciating pain, both of which I know make you pull really weird faces! I don't usually look like such a weirdo!

So now it is taper time. Over the last week I have been so envious of people who hit their taper last week, knowing I still had a week left! It feels strange saying that next week I'm "only" going to be running 12 miles!

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