Monday, 19 April 2010

1. Run 5 Different Marathons - Brighton

I was getting such a buzz from my Loch Ness training that I decided to apply for a second one - to be held 6 months after Loch Ness. It was the inaugural Brighton Marathon, I applied and on 2nd July 2009 I got an e-mail telling me that my application had been excepted. I also decided that this marathon I would be raising money for Guide Dogs For The Blind.
The training for Brighton would start as soon as Loch Ness was over so I wouldn't have to waste time getting fit. I waited 10 days until my training schedule began - the first run was a gentle 2.5 mile jog, after a mile I felt a twinge and by the time I hobbled back home my left ankle was twice the size it had been. I must have injured it on the Loch Ness but amid all the other post-marathon aches and pains had not noticed. Another 10 days rest, ice buckets and medicinal rubs saw a huge improvement but I wore it strapped up, when I was running, for the whole training period. Training for the Loch Ness had been through a lovely summer, I think I only had to train in the rain once. Brighton was very different - all together 3 weeks training had to be abandoned because of snow and ice on the roads. I moved home in early February so I had to learn alot of new routes; in the end that really paid off because my new place is at the top of a steep hill and I was able to run home from work most nights - no more 5 a.m. starts! There was a Face-book page dedicated to the Brighton Marathon and most nights I dropped in to see what everyone else was doing with their training, their eating etc. A Training Day down in Brighton (run by the organisers) was also a great bonus. It was all together a much more social event than my first one. I was running alot more (an average of 5 miles a week) than I had done for Loch Ness and I shed another 5lbs.
My family wanted to come and support me in this Marathon so they rented a cottage in Littlehampton for the weekend. My brother and sisters and nephew, nieces and daughter (12 of us altogeter) came down. It was a really lovely gesture and much appreciated! The down-side came on Thursday when my future brother-in-law got stuck in Poland because of the volcanic ash issue.
The day of the marathon arrived, and my youngest sister drove me into the train station; although there was a sprinkling of frost on the ground - I looked at the clear skies and thought "Its going to be a scorcher." Only 3 people got on the 6.24 train to Brighton, the other 2 were also running in the marathon - 2 stops later the train was packed with runners. Its an amazing feeling knowing you're going to be part of a big event like this. Someone told me that only 1% of the population run marathons - so for just one day every six months I'm in the same group as Paula Radcliffe?
The race started a little later than scheduled and it took me 16 minutes to cross the start line. But once I was off I fell into a nice easy stride - I couldn't believe it when the first hour went by and I had run 6 miles, without any effort. The next 6 miles were tougher because we left the crowds of Brighton, then it was along the coast road out to a village called Ovingdean, there were a few steep climbs (nothing like my run home each night) but it was starting to heat up. I had taken a bottle of water at every check point, the water I didn't drink I emptied over my back and head. As we came back into Brighton we hit the 13 mile point and the crowds at the same time. I looked at my watch and it read 2.29.47, I was a little disappointed because I thought I was doing better and I desperately wanted to crack a 5 hour marathon. At about the 15 mile point my family were standing and gave me a huge boost with their cheering, within a mile I had caught up with the girls I had regularly corresponded with on Facebook page - we encouraged each other but they were flagging and I wanted to crack on. A mile or so later a school friend (who I hadn't seen for over 35 years) yelled out my name and although I wanted to stop and hug her I just screamed, waved and carried on. My family were waiting at the 17 mile point to cheer me on again and it was at this point that I overtook Fat Boy Slim, a local Brighton hero! The route took us away from the crowds now, up towards the docks, Fat Boy crept up and overtook me again and I felt the heat starting to sap my energy; I turned a corner and I saw a row of bunting "GO JANE HEALY". I recognised my school-friends artwork and wanted to shout to everyone near me "Hey thats ME". It was so exciting!

It gave me the pep I needed and in no time I was up to the point called "The Wall" overtaking Fat Boy Slim again and running the terrible stretch between 19 - 23 miles. To the uninitiated this is the stretch where your body starts to scream at you to stop! Every group of para-medics along this stretch were busy attending to people, people with cramp were getting massages, ice packs strapped to niggling injuries, one man was being ambulanced off with an oxygen mask on, another crouching by the side of the road vomiting as heat-stroke looked to be taking its effect. My legs were just starting to ache, my ankle was throbbing, my hips hurt but I didn't even contemplate stopping to start walking. I passed alot of people on this stretch. As we came out of the port and ran up towards the promenade we were running back towards the crowds, suddenly (well not really suddenly) we were at the 23 mile mark and I worked out that if I ran a steady 12 minutes a mile then I would finish in 4hours 54 minutes, which would bring in less than 5 hours. I was pleased that I would at least beat that and that my pace had actually picked up after a disappointing first half split. The crowds were getting louder and the cheering from everyone was so inspiring - I was at the 24 mile point and saw that I had picked up my pace and might be in with a finishing time of 4 hours and 50 minutes. I dug a little deeper and started to overtake other tired runners; my family where there again at the 25 mile mark, I glanced at my watch and thought I was going mad it showed that I had run the last mile in 8 minutes! By now the crowd was enormous and they were all screaming, and clapping - I waved to my supporters and started to fly - I ran the last 1.2 miles in 7 minutes; my finish time was 4 hours 45 minutes 18 seconds! My son was at the finish, standing with a group of young French people - apparently in the final 100m I overtook the person they were cheering on.
It was an amazing race and I blew my old PB right out of the water. I'm sure I was inspired by my family, friend Jackie and the support of the crowd; the fact that I am alot fitter now obviously helped, but my little list of people who inspire me is still tucked into my pocket during those hellish miles. I'm feeling pretty stiff and sun burnt today but later in the week I will be signing up for my next marathon - hopefully in November. I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

1. Run 5 Different Marathons - Loch Ness

Once my place was confirmed I drew up a training schedule - I had a vague idea of the sort of mileage I needed to be aiming for and knew all about increasing your mileage slowly to reduce the risk of injury. However I soon realised that 5 months wasn't nearly long enough to get fit and the early part of my training schedule was excelerated much more quickly than the experts advised.
On 4th May my Facebook status read "Jane ..... has just registered to run in Loch Ness Marathon...and shes not drunk, or Scottish!" The replies typically ranged from "Are you Mad?" to "Is this a myth or a real marathon?"
Over the next few months I got up at 5 most mornings so that I could fit in a run before going to work - I saw some odd sights on those runs; I regularily met giant muscle-bound men running uphill (backwards) in our local park (they turned out to be boxers out cicuit-training), during the height of the summer it became normal to come across drunks who had spent the night sleeping rough, sometimes the odd couple who hadn't been able to "find a room", once I watched two drunk middle-aged women physically fighting in the street, drunk men returning home on a Sunday morning (finding themselves locked out), I saw police raids on the crack houses in the neighbourhood and witnessed dozens of arrests - nobody paid me any attention, except the occassional bin man! I limped on through a range of minor injuries and fretted about how I was going to get rid of any excess fluid during the race itself. Once my friends realised I was serious they stopped mocking me and became genuinely encouraging. One close friend was a veteran marathon runner - I was in daily contact with him, seeking re-assurance that I wasn't completely bonkers - on reflection perhaps he wasn't the best judge of that. I lost 17lbs (dropping 2 jean sizes) but was eating like a horse!
I arrived in Inverness the day before the marathon - it was cold, wet and windy, with raindrops the size of bullets, everyone assured me the the weather forecast for the next day was promising. I slept fitfully that night but I was up and ready long before the wake up call that I had booked. The day was beautifully clear and freezing. Following a disasterous mix-up with the buses we were all eventually transported to the starting point at the far end of the Loch, the start had been delayed by an hour. Waiting up there (in the cold) was nerve racking, I looked at all those extremely fit people and wondered what the hell I was doing there. A band of young pipers standing nearby nervously began tuning up, then they were marching through the crowd, a loud cheer went up and we were off. The months of training were over, I was running my first marathon. I had trained on the polluted grim streets of South Norwood, Loch Ness was clear and spectacular, my lungs almost burst with the purity of the air I was breathing! I was going well, I'd run the first 17 miles in under 3 hours, when a thumping pain in my back warned me that I hadn't taken enough fluid during the early stages of the run and it was getting hotter. I reached the bottom of a long steep climb and started walking to the next water point - I refuelled then slowly started running again. The next 6 miles were the longest I have ever run, I don't know how I made it into the stadium - I could hear my friend yelling "Come on Jane" and then it was all over - I wanted burst into tears! I said something very rude, grabbed a banana and some biscuits and stuffed them into my mouth with unashamed greed. When I went to bed that night it took me an age to fall asleep, I was re-living every painful step, I had done it - I had run my first marathon.

1. Run 5 different marathons

How can someone not enjoy running? Look at the sheer joy on a toddlers face as they break into a staggering trot and you'll realise its our natural state! I was introduced to cross-country at boarding school, (my theory is that they forced us do it to surpress our libidos - running and bromide). Older kids were suspended with monotonous regularity for following their natural urges, so maybe they weren't such great surpressants.
When I left school I stopped running and went on long walks instead; I walked the Cornish coastline when I was 19.
In my early 20s I moved to Hong Kong - I had a mind-numbingly boring clerical job with the Royal Hong Kong Police and discovered that you got time off work for sports. Every other Wednesday Police/Joint Services Orienteering events were held - armed with a compass, map and whistle you dashed around the country side trying to locate check points. It was always hot and humid, and it was normal to end up shredded to ribbons because you invariably got lost and spent hours scrambling through thick undergrowth - the parties afterwards were great though! From there I started entering cross country events and discovered the more I ran the better I got, the more time I got off work for training - I once even set a course record for a 12km Road Race!

I took a break from running to have babies and when my youngest was a year old I took it up again. For the next 8 years I ran most days, but never competively again, then when we left Hong Kong to live in Cape Town I stopped running and climbed Table Mountain, with our dogs, instead.
We came to the UK in 1998 and moved to a small village in rural Surrey, the dogs had come with us, (a border collie and a Rhodesian ridgeback)they both needed huge amounts of regular exercise so I took up cross country running again and between the 3 of us we covered miles and miles!
In 2009 I started writing to an old school friend who said something about making sure you fulfilled all of your ambitions blah blah...I was watching the London Marathon on TV that morning and it just clicked - I had always wanted to run a marathon and now I had time on my hands to train. I looked up marathons in the UK and there it was - The Loch Ness Marathon 4th October, plenty of time to train! I signed up and on the 28th April I had an e-mail confirming that I had been allocated a place.....

Things To Do Before My Children Have Me Committed

One of the blogs I follow is that of a young man who has compiled a list of 100 things to do before he Jumps the Hedge - my list is much shorter (less time available) and more modest but here are things I hope to achieve before my children decide to have me committed...I intend to record these achievements under this blog.

1. Run 5 different marathons: This used to be run a marathon but last year, when I sat down and gave this list some serious thought I signed up for my first marathon - 4th October 2009 I ran the Loch Ness Marathon and now I'm hooked.
Loch Ness - 4th October 2009 (5 hours 20 minutes)
Brighton - 18th April 2010 (4 hours 45 minutes)

2. Complete the Three Peaks: I don't think I could do this in the "Challenge" time of 24 hours but I would like to be able to say that I have climbed these mountains, when I lived in Cape Town I climbed Table Mountain every day - walking my dogs - and I really did enjoy that.
3. Watch Wales play at the Millenium Stadium: Self-explanatory.
13th August 2011 Wales vs England 19 - 9.
4. Re-enact this advert:
Margate - 22nd January 2011
5. Learn how to make Baked Alaska: This sounds a little dull and I'm not even sure how fashionable a Baked Alaska is as a dessert now-a-days but I STILL love it .
6. Walk or Run Hadrians Wall: This is a relatively new ambition but the more I read about it the keener I am to do it.
7. Walk from Lands End to John O'Groats: In 1977 I walked the coastline of Cornwall and this walk has been an ambition of mine since then.
8. Hand quilt a Quilt: Not the most exciting thing in the world but I would have such a tremendous sense of achievement completing one.
9. Learn how to Belly Dance: This was first said as a joke, when I walked past a place giving classes, but the more I think about it the more fun it seems.
10. Read every Booker Prize Winner: Time to educate myself!
Staying On - Paul Scott (Oct 2011)
Hotel Du lac - Anita Brookner (Dec 2011)