Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Maniac Mum becomes Marathon Mum

Last year I ran the London Marathon for the first (and I hope not the last) time. I wasn't a runner before I embarked on this mad challenge, but I have become one, albeit an incredibly slow one. I have written a book about the experience called: Running on Empty: Diary of a Marathon Mum, and am in the process of self publishing it. I am enclosing an extract, in the hope that it will amuse, and will publish more details when I know them...

MARCH 2005
Places to Piss in Surrey

Yesterday I finally managed to run 20 miles. I am just approaching theperiod of marathon training known as tapering down. You build up to twenty miles, and then for the next three weeks slash your mileage so your muscles can strengthen and get bolstered with enough glycogen and carbohydrate supplies.

I have been slowly increasing miles since Christmas, and managed seventeen miles a fortnight ago. This takes me to the middle of Canary Wharf on the map, but I was keen to do the twenty miles as that takes me just out of Canary Wharf and starting on Commercial Road, which is three miles from Tower Bridge, which is three miles from the end... so psychologically a good place to reach.

Anyway last week I was meant to run nineteen miles, but got hit by a rotten cold so didn't run. In the meantime I lost my trusty laceup boots, which I walk everywhere in. This might seem insignificant and if I wasn’t marathon training, would be. But the mantra of late marathon training is that you don't change anything you aredoing. ANYTHING at all. And now I know why.

As I couldn't find my boots I have been slobbing around in a pair of old trainers. Which are too small for me, and rubbed my big toe, which in turn caused some kind of compression to a muscle (lord alone knows which) in my foot. Net result by Thursday my foot was feeling a bit achy. I bunged one of those hospital strappy things on it, and went out running regardless. Which would have probably been fine had I not gone running with pyrotechnic builder mate and Spouse.

PBM is a serious runner, and much younger then we are. Spouse is not a runner and deeply unathletic, but suffers from Male Pride, so had to run as fast as we were. In fact at one point he was ahead, but then I took them up to the downs and he slipped behind. Meanwhile PBM who had been running slowly, upped the ante and we ended up hammering it home. So net result was foot very unhappy, and I could barely walk on it for three days.Yikes! I thought to myself maybe I've got a greenstick fracture, but thankfully it responded to hot and cold treatments.

Then I had to buy myself some new trainers - again should have gone with same as before, DON'T CHANGE ANYTHING, except my local sports shop didn't have the same ones, I didn't have time to shop around, so I got some of same make butslightly different. Am fully expecting blisters as have read in marathon magthat fifty runners got blisters last year from having worn new trainers on theirlast long run. Whoops. That will be me then...

Anyway. The day finally arrives, when I think this is it, go for it girl. First off it is pissing with rain, but I have a fetching rain jacket provided by the London Marathon team at a mere cost of £25 and that actually does the business, so you can run in the pouring rain and remain relatively dry. I decided to break the run down into two five mile sections, followed by a three miler (so I have done the half marathon), then one five mile and a two mile.

The thinking behind marathon training is that you start slow and finish fast. You are meant to conserve all your energies and put on the pace in the secondhalf. I seem to do all my runs too fast at the beginning and lose pace towardsthe end. So, yesterday I thought I would play it nice and slow.

So accordingly, I set off at a brisk walking pace , diverting into town briefly to use the loos in the shopping. This is important. VERY important. Being as you need to be really hydrated if you are stupid enough to go running long distances, but you also need to make sure you have a fairlyempty bladder if dire consequences aren't to follow on said run.

I could probably now write a book on places I have pissed in Surrey - a deserted pathway leading under a roundabout by the M25, a wood on the way to Oakshott which I thought was fairly secluded till I realised I was bang opposite a cottage that I somehow had failed to notice, and various discreet bushes on my many and varied routes in the environs of home. Added to which I had the further complication of women's things this month (sorry boys... look away if this gets too gruesome) - and am likely to have this happening for the marathon itself.

In anticipation of this I have managed to purchase some industrial size tampons,and on my way round develop a master plan in case of emergencies involving an empty raisin box for disposing purposes (amazing what years of dealing with small children does to your innovative skills!). Fortunately it didn't come to that,so hoping the industrial style tampons will do the trick come race day. Thinking it most unfair that men don't have these problems, but then again I haven't suffered from nipple rub ... yet ... so it could be worse.

Anyway - I set off very slowly and go to Leatherhead in 1hour 10 mins. So far so good. I stopped for a drink and some raisins (well I might have needed the empty packet...) and then went for the next five mile section, which took me via Oakshott, Stoke D'abernon and Fetcham via several incredibly windy longroads and more hills then I care to mention. The one coming into Fetcham was particularly killing. But my next five miles was achieved in an hour. Yay! I'm upping the pace. Maybe I am getting the hang of this. Then it was on to Bookham revelling in the fact that it was only three miles - up another long hill with huge houses bearing tacky names like Robin's Wood, and Mon Repos and large lawns - everywhere in this part of Surrey looks the sodding same, I could have been on the road to Oakshott for all I knew.

Bookham came in a blissfully quick thirty minutes though, and I was pleased to discover that the High Street was very short as predicted on the map - unlike most of the roads I run down which seem twice as long as I think they're going to be. Feeling rather knackered by this time, I walked out of Bookham, as I really couldn't face yet another hill.

Then I found myself on a major road with no sign of the roundabout I was searching for, and no pavement, so I ran on grass, with my back to the traffic (very dumb I know, but I couldn't find anywhere to cross). I eventually arrived at thepoint I was hoping to reach, but it was one roundabout down from where Ithought I would be, so I had two more hills to negotiate until I reached thenirvana that is the roundabout at Leatherhead which means I am on the home straight.

By this time every part of my body is not just aching, it feels as if I am about to fall apart. You couldn't even call the movements I am making jogging anymore. I'm doing a kind of slowshoe shufffle, except it's not at all slick. I probably look as though I about to keel over at any moment - I certainly feel like it. So I am heartened to meet two chaps coming in the opposite direction who look somewhat worse then I do. Hmm, wonder if they've run seventeen miles...

Anyway I made it through Ashtead in an hour and ten minutes, but by then I am in agony. So I walk most of the way back from there, and finally make it home in 4hours 35 mins. Current prediction for the marathon on that time is about 6 hours. Oh dear. However, I did run up about ten hills, and am hoping that as the marathon is flat I might be able to limp in in around five hours. BUT importantly, I now feel it is not only achievable,but I will do it. No probs... And I am rather proud to think last year I couldn't even run a mile. And now I've done twenty....

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