Please follow my new blog….

I’ve noticed I’ve had a couple of new followers here, which is lovely (Thanks 🙂 ), but I’ve not updated this blog for a while. Please find and follow my current blog at:

itwouldbeeasieronthebike.wordpress.com

See you soon!

 

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Reblogged: I heart NHS

Fantastic points well made by a good friend who has just started blogging. I recommend you follow for more insightful writing. Beautifully eloquent and a great reflection of the world we live in….

I heart NHS.

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New adventures, new blog

I figured that as I was starting out on a new adventure, I perhaps should have a new blog. I am fond of catslondonmarathon, but once that adventure was over, I couldn’t really find the heart to continue. It was done and dusted, and so was the blog.

I’ve kind of missed blogging though, and while I am still avidly reading and following blogs of others, I felt I needed to get back on the blogging horse and crack on with something new.

After the marathon, and the knee problems, I decided that too much running was BAD for me, and perhaps ‘cross-training’ alongside the running would be more healthy for my body and soul. I’ve enjoyed swimming for a while now, and it was lovely to get back in the pool towards the end of my marathon training to give my knees a rest, and I own a gorgeous little road bike (who has recently been named Beatrice (Bea, or ‘bee’ for short, as she is black and yellow….) (thanks to Terri Lee from http://rundogcat.me/ who named her bike Matilda, so I just had to follow suit….). My husband is a mad-keen (yes, he really is ‘mad’!) cyclist, so it also means that I get to spend some quality time with him out on the road!

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Me and Bea (before cleats – she is now adorned with black Speedplays….)

So in anyone’s book, swim, bike, run = triathlon – what better place to start than locally with Bassetlaw Triathlon club (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bassetlaw-Tri-Club/397009336996721). So to bring you up to speed, I’m now a fully-paid up and signed up member of the tri club. I’ve been swimming every Saturday morning, cycling on a Sunday, running a couple of times a week, and adding extra swim/bike sessions whenever time allows. It’s great fun, I’ve met some great people, and I’m aiming for my first competitive triathlon in 2013, so watch this space…..

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In addition, I’ve also set up my own beginners running club in my home village of Normanton on Trent (NoT!)(https://www.facebook.com/LadiesNotRunners) which has welcomed 3 new ladies to the fun sport that is running! We meet on Tuesday and Sunday and I’ve been delighted with how well it has been going so far. So again, watch this space – as things progress I’ll update you! This is my LadiesNoTRunners logo:

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So much to do, and so little time. So I’ll love you and leave you for now, but please keep checking back for updates on my new adventures, and feel free to comment or send messages – it’s lonely in blog-land without you!

My new blog is at catstriathlonadventures.wordpress.com by the way……

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Just a quick post to say a HUMUNGOUS THANK YOU to everyone who sponsored me and supported me throughout what has been one of the biggest adventures of my life. I’ve learned a lot about running, refreshed my anatomy and physiology knowledge, hopefully become a better doctor (especially for people with sports related injuries) and learned a huge amount about myself!

In between all the running training, there’s also been another big challenge of raising my target £2000 for the British Heart Foundation. And thanks to you, I’ve done it. I’ve totted up today the grand total raised from my fundraising and the total is………..drumroll………………tadatadatadatada………….

£2920.75p

which includes a fantastic £1106.55 raised by the patients and staff at Tuxford Medical Centre where I work.

Wow! What can I say?! You guys are amazing! Thanks to you, the British Heart Foundation will be able to keep on providing their patient and carer support, education for healthcare professionals like myself, and most importantly, the pioneering research that improves and saves lives.

British Heart Foundation

I can’t thank you enough for your generosity.

Big love to you all, Cat xxxxx

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Playing ‘tag’!

I’ve been tagged by ‘Happy Runner’ (http://inspiringandhealthyrunninginlondon.wordpress.com) – thanks for the mention, and I hope I can answer your question and do this tagging lark justice! Sorry it’s taken me a while to reply, but I’ve been struggling to think who to ‘tag’ and questions to ask them….. Here goes!

“Cat just finished the London Marathon, Congratulations, Cat! My question to you: How long did it take you after the race from “I never ever run a marathon again” until you started planning your next race? (It took me about 7 days after my first marathon…)”

In all honesty, up until about a week before the London Marathon, I’d been saying repeatedly ‘never again’, especially with the injuries, lonely long runs, and trouble with motivation later in my training schedule. However, the week before the race, I logged on to the VLM website, and noticed the banner advertising the opening date for the 2013 ballot. I promptly put the date in my calendar and set an alarm to remind myself to enter! I was so worried about even getting to the start of the 2012 race, and was so disappointed with how the last 6 weeks of my training had gone, that even before the start of the race, I’d decided that I would NEED to do it again to give myself a shot at a decent time! Of course, at that point, I’d not even started the race, let along known how it would feel to actually run every one of those 26.2 miles!

At the start, in the red start zone, I said to my friend Heather “What are we doing here? Why did we ever think this would a good idea?!”. The thought of doing it again was a long way from my mind. Just getting to mile 6, let alone 26, was all I could think about. My knee had still felt dodgy, even the day before, and I had no idea how I would get on.

At mile 6, I felt fab and was really enjoying myself. I was certain at that point that I would LOVE to do it again. By mile 16, that enjoyment had turned to pain, and I was NEVER EVER attempting it again.

My first thought as I crossed the finish line was “I’ve GOT to do this again!” Before I promptly burst into tears with relief that, for now, it was done.

I’m glad to report, that I’ve not yet changed my mind! The 5-day buzz I experienced after the big day was more fantastic than I could have imagined. Despite the pain and fatigue, I CRAVED more. In my delirium, on the day after the race, sitting on the sofa (because I wasn’t able to get up from it!) I entered 3 more races later in the year (a 10k in June, and 2 half marathons in September and October) and became obsessed with scouring the running websites for more! I was on the VLM website at 6am on Monday 30th entering myself, and my husband Scott for the 2013 ballot, and have, since then, been trying to dream up a way in which I would be able to raise another £2000 for charity in order to commit to a Golden Bond place in case my ballot bid fails! If I could afford it, I’d pay it myself, just for that experience again!

Well, that was the easy bit, answering the question posed for me. Now for the hard bit. I’ve got to tag more bloggers and set them questions to answer on their blogs.

I’ll start with Michael (http://runtilyoudrop.wordpress.com/) who also ran the VLM 2012 for Macmillan in memory of his dad. Congrats to you on performing brilliantly in the face of adversity (damn calf strain 😦 ) and achieving what anyone would consider to be a fantastic time (although I know you were a bit disappointed…..) As an ex-professional footballer, and a current Personal Trainer, could you give me two or three focussed exercises that every runner should be doing regularly to prevent knee injuries and/or IT band syndrome. (Send me the bill for your services!…..)

Next, Chris, the bananaphobe! (http://marathonmercer.wordpress.com/), a keen runner who runs a great Parkrun time, recently finished the inaugural Milton Keynes marathon (in the pouring rain!) and is, this weekend, taking part in a CRAZY obstacle race (The Strongman Run in Germany). Thinking about the last 12 months, can you describe an important ‘obstacle’ you’ve overcome, how you overcame it and how you felt afterwards?

Moving ‘Down Under’ to Sarah, the Healthy Fit Diva in Sydney (http://the-healthy-diva.com/). I love this blog! (Sarah, I’ve just cast my vote for you in the Sydney Writers Centre awards!). I especially enjoy Motivational Mondays and your fabulous recipes. I work in a small town (it’s a village really…..) with a small not-so-healthy sandwich shop, so I take my own lunch to work every day. I’m frequently lacking inspiration for healthy quick lunches, and often end up with a tin of mackerel (good oils and protein), some microwave Basmati (low GI carbs), and a bit of lettuce (fibre and water, and one of my ‘5-a-day’). Can you help with a simple, tasty suggestion (that doesn’t include banana or avocado, as I’m allergic!). Thanks!

Across the pond to Canada now and Margaret, ‘The Tortoise’ (http://thetortoiseruns.wordpress.com/). Where have you been for the last 2 months 😦 I hope everything is OK and you’ve just been busy, but I’ve missed having a giggle at your regular posts. My question for you is easy: ‘What have been your highlights and lowlights of the last 2 months?’.

The penultimate question to another fellow VLM 2012 runner, Chip (http://runwithchips.wordpress.com/). I love your blog. You are what I consider a ‘real’ runner. Not like me, I’m a pretender! I’d like to become a ‘real’ runner, but not sure I’ve attained the mileage yet to join ‘the club’! I’m still hurting after VLM and tried a 2.5mile run on Monday which left me hurting 😦 I’m now feeling a bit scared to ‘get back on the horse’ and not sure when to start again, but need to get going as my next race is in a month! What are your tips for getting back on track after the pain of a big race, and how are your legs feeling now?! (I’m still broken!)

Finally, across the northern border to Scotland, and Rachel in Aberdeen (http://medalslut.wordpress.com/). An inspirational running machine who collects medals like they’re going out of fashion, and with pretty impressive times, I must say! I’m living vicariously through your medals, but am hoping to gain a pretty impressive collection of my own! I loved your post today with the Beef Rendang and Cider lunch. (I’ve been inspired and have dug out a jar of Rendang paste from the back of the cupboard for tomorrow’s dinner!) What are your favourite pre-race and post-race snackeroonie’s?!

Looking forward to seeing all the responses! I hope you enjoy composing your answers and passing the tags on as much as I have enjoyed this!

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The Big Day – Virgin London Marathon 2012

WARNING! LONG BLOG POST TO FOLLOW! ENSURE YOU’VE BEEN TO THE LOO, PUT YOUR FEET UP AND HAVE A CUP OF TEA IN YOUR HAND BEFORE STARTING!!!

05:15am! Alarm goes off. And I thought 05:35am yesterday was early enough! I’d been awake since about 4am anyway – nerves, excitement, anticipation, and the noisy girls next door in the hotel. I don’t think they were running the marathon. I think they were just getting in from a night out! Next time (because, now, there’s going to be one!) I’ll take ear plugs! (Add those to yesterday’s list…….)

I’d packed my bags the night before, so had little to do other than get up, get dressed, take my first dose of painkillers for the day (knee-pain-prevention tactic!) and head down to breakfast. First problem – nerves cause me to lose my appetite. Not a problem if you’re sitting an exam, presenting at a meeting, or even running a 10K, but before a 26.2 mile run, getting some sustenance is kind of important! I wished I wasn’t allergic to bananas, as a couple of those would have been perfect fuel and easy to get down, but I had to stick with a bowl of porridge, some melon, and a cup of tea. It was torture trying to force the porridge into me at 05:45am, when all I really wanted was to go back to bed and pretend that today wasn’t happening! Luckily, Scott, Heather and my parents were all keeping calm, and that prevented me from boiling over!

We boarded the bus from the hotel with the other nervous and excited runners and their families, and settled in to the journey. The driver was a bit accelerator/brake happy, which led to a rather turbulent journey. The route into the city followed the Heathrow landing path, so Scott enjoyed plane-spotting on the way in, even on a couple of occasions getting worried that we were narrowly missing being landed on!! It was a good job Heather had taken her Kwells too, or we might have been seeing her breakfast again! It was clear even before we set off from the hotel that the weather forecast had been somewhat misleading – despite being predicted light cloud and showers (which would have been perfect running weather!), the sky was blue and the bright sun coming over the horizon illuminated a cloudless sky! Looking like it could be a hot run!

We arrived on the edge of Greenwich Park at about 8am and could feel the atmosphere immediately from getting off the bus. The Zeppelins hanging over the Red, Green and Blue start points clearly visible and hundreds of runners and spectators all making their way towards the starting fields. After a bit of an emotional goodbye to Scott and my parents, mainly because none of us had any idea whether my knee would hold out and whether I would even get to the pre-arranged meeting point at just over 6 miles, Heather and I headed through into the ‘runners only’ field and immediately to the loos! I didn’t count how many times we went for a wee between 8am and race start! We were doing the obligatory pre-race hydration with sports drink and water, but even so, I’m sure my bladder was a nervous as me. Even at 7 minutes before the start time, I got the urge to go again, and thankfully, the British Heart Foundation had their pre-race party in the Pavilion Tea House, which was right next to Pen 9, so we nipped out of the pen, across to the loo, and back into the pen just as the 3-2-1 to race start countdown began! Here’s Heather and I at the back of Pen 9 just before the race:

And here’s the amazing view from the back of the pen out over London (I couldn’t get any closer and avoid the paving slabs in the foreground, as we were ‘fenced in’ to the pen – I just managed to poke my phone through the fence to take the pic!):

And the view from the back of the pen down over the congregating runners:

09:45 am, 3-2-1, and a huge cheer! The 2012 Virgin London Marathon Mass Start was underway. Shuffling forwards in the crowd step by shuffling step, it took 30 minutes for us to reach the start line! So our official race start was nearer to 10:15am. We were probably within the last 100 people to cross the line, as we’d taken the (now decidedly insensible) decision to try to stick to the Runner’s World ‘Get You Round’ pacer (explained below for those who don’t understand pacing!)

http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/event-editorial/pacing-groups-at-the-virgin-london-marathon/793.html

So, the man with the ‘Get You Round’ lollipop was aiming for a finish time of 5 hours 14 minutes, which given my Silverstone Half Marathon time of 2 hours 16 minutes, seemed like a sensible aim (double it plus 30 minutes-ish). What neither I nor Heather had bargained for, was that in order to bring it in at this time using a 5 minute run, 1 minute walk strategy, you needed to be a good, fairly fast runner to keep up with the running pace! I realised fairly soon that it wasn’t working for me and decided to jog at my own pace and stopped doing the ‘walk’ sections, but before I realised it, had lost Heather completely, not to be seen again until the post-race meet up. In retrospect, that was a good decision for both of us, as Heather was finding the run pace hard too, and wasn’t enjoying the pressure of trying to keep up, which would have ruined her whole day, and once I realised my knee was behaving, I didn’t want to let all my training go to waste, and decided to go for it and try to get the best time I could manage.

The first 6 miles flew by in a blur, or was that just the steam on the inside of my sunglasses! It was roasting hot! At about 3 miles, with assistance from the girl I was running next to, I ended up stripping down to my bra, whilst running along, to remove my long-sleeved base layer and replace it with just my British Heart Foundation vest! That must have been a bit of a sight for the spectators – sorry to anyone who copped an eyeful! But I felt much better for it.

At just over 5 miles, the route passes under the A102, and positioned perfectly for the acoustics were an amazing drumming group. The sound they were creating was AMAZING! I wished I had longer to stand and listen, but I kept the pace up, dropping into their beat, and ran right by with a huge grin on my face!

One of my favourite moments of the whole day was meeting up with Scott and my parents for the first time just after the 10k banner. Mum had text just before the start to let me know where they were positioned (outside the National Maritime museum), so as soon as I passed the 6mile point and could see the 10K banner ahead of me I started to get excited. I spotted Scott first in his Blue Berghaus jacket, then my mum in her BHF Heartrunner supporter T-shirt and ran up to them in sheer excitement, shouting ‘I feel AWESOME! I’ve got no pain in my knee!’ My dad just welled up, I think with relief that I’d made it to the first meeting point, and especially that I was there and running, not limping in pain! Of course, when they’d left me in the morning, they had no idea whether I would even get to them or not, as the last few training runs I’d done I’d had to abandon after only 15 minutes due to my knee being so incredibly painful I couldn’t even run through it! It was an achievement in itself just to be at 6 miles and still running, without pain! After a quick hug and kiss from each of them, I noticed the ‘Get You Round’ lollipop coming into view, so decided to hop on the back with them for another few miles. Bye bye Scott, Mum and Dad…. See you again later!

Cutty Sark was the next sight. It looked majestic in the beautiful sunlight set high above us all. There were even a few people hanging off the deck waving and shouting to us below!

Miles 7 to 12 are a bit of a blur really. Loads of spectators lining the roads, shouting encouragement, a few water stations, loads of runners queueing for toilets (thankfully I wasn’t one of them!), but I still felt good and felt like I had plenty left in my legs. I remember passing the first BHF cheering squad at about mile 8 – thanks for the encouragement!

The next, and probably best, experience of the day, was Tower Bridge. Just after Mile 12, you round a right hand corner and there it is! Tower Bridge high in front of you, spectators 6 deep at the sides of the route, noise like you wouldn’t believe of cheering, shouting, whistling and the emotion got a bit too much for me. I ran and cried my way across, the only thought going through my head was ‘I’m doing it! I’m running the London Marathon!’. In retrospect, that seems an odd thing to say, as I’d been ‘doing it’ for the previous 12 miles, but that was the point at which it really sunk in! At the centre of the bridge, to my right, Denise Lewis was interviewing a chap in a turban. I watched it on telly later and saw it was ‘U Singh Bolt’!!, and you even saw a split second of me running past in the background! I made it on the telly! If anyone taped it and watches it back, it was about 4 hours and 40 minutes into the BBC programme! Then, at the end of the bridge, on the right hand side of the road, was the second British Heart Foundation cheering crew. They made such a noise as I ran past waving and grinning at them! Thanks guys! (You can see the BHF cheering squad at the bottom right of the second picture below!) (Photos from various websites, not my own)

Music blaring heralded the next major milestone – 13.1 miles, the halfway point. It was a little bit of a gut-wrench to see all the faster runners running back in the opposite direction at this point however! How on earth had they managed to get there so quick?!! It was tempting to nip over the barrier and join them! 😉

And that is where the good news stops for now! Miles 13 to 15 were OK, but I noticed increasing pain in my quads, and by mile 16 I was in serious trouble. I could barely lift my legs from the road. My quads were screaming! I didn’t hit ‘the wall’, in that my energy levels felt great, and the rest of my body felt great, it’s just my quads had had enough! At about mile 15, I dropped off the back of the pace group, who I’d been keeping up with on and off since 6 miles, and by mile 16, the relief to see Scott and my mum and dad again was overwhelming! Although I was still smiling (I think!), I didn’t feel nearly as ‘AWESOME’ as I’d felt 10 miles earlier! Hanging on to Scott for a few minutes to stretch off my quads, another hug and a kiss from each of them, and I was ready to head off again.

It’s fair to say that miles 16 to 20 were the most difficult. Even the ‘party’ at Canary Wharf did little to lift my spirits. I spotted another runner (who like me, by that time, was a ‘walker’) whose name I recognised from the back of his shirt. He was from my home town of Chesterfield, and I knew of him from an ex-colleague, Caron, who is the aunt of the daughter he was running in memory of. Dave lost his daughter, Kim, to cancer a few years ago and she had not only been the niece of Caron, a receptionist at the surgery I worked at, but she was also one of our patients. I tapped him on the shoulder and introduced myself, and we enjoyed a lovely half-mile walk together, chatting about our respective inspirations for our marathon attempts, and giving each other the encouragement to keep going. Although I doubt Dave will get to read this (but if anyone who knows him who is reading this wants to pass a message on), I would like to thank him for his company at a really tough point of the day. The chat and the walk really helped my mood and my legs, and also motivated me to remember my inspiration for taking on this crazy challenge. Like I’ve said in previous posts, this run was not just about me, but about my family, my friends, my patients and their families, and anyone who is or has been affected by heart disease. The picture below was what I wore pinned to the back of my shirt for the run. Dave’s inspiration was his beautiful daughter Kim, and I was proud to walk alongside him in her memory.

As the mile 19 banner loomed into view, I bid Dave farewell, and decided that after the slight recovery walk in the previous mile, I was ready to try a run again. Passing mile 19 was another milestone – that is the furthest I had run in any of my previous training sessions, so I was now moving into ‘unknown territory’!

The last 7 miles were surprisingly enjoyable! I’d stopped worrying so much about my finish time and was happy to be getting closer to the end. I ran/walked the final 7 miles, but I ran more often than I walked (unlike 16-19 miles!) and just tried to enjoy the experience. The crowds got denser and louder over the last few miles too, which was a great help. The one thing I was sick of by this point though was sweet stuff! It’s really lovely of the spectators to show up with boxes and bags of Jelly Babies, Haribos and all sorts of other sweet stuff, but after all the Clif Shot Bloks and Lucozade drinks I’d had, I was craving something solid! I’d started to feel hungry at about 16 miles and was dreaming of Battenburg cake, Soreen or sandwiches! Thankyou to the woman who had Bourbons and Custard creams – you were my hero! Next year, if I’m not running again (watch this space…..), I’ll be standing on the side of the road with sandwiches, flapjacks, cake, biscuits and crisps for all those hungry runners like I was!

At about mile 24 I heard my name being screamed from the right hand side of the road, and there they were again! My fabulous husband and parents. A sight for sore legs! I ran over for another hug and kiss, and to celebrate with them my ‘nearly-there’ achievement. It’s been a poignant moment for me since, after the devastating death of Claire Squires, to think that at the same point as me, she probably ran over to her family and friends, hugged and kissed them, celebrated the fact that she was so close to the end, and like me, ran away from them thinking ‘There’s no stopping me now, I’m going to finish!’. But then it all went so tragically wrong for her. I felt so sad to hear the news about her death on the way home in the car, and in the pain and emotion of the following day, as donations to her website kept rocketing, couldn’t hold back the tears when talking to Scott about it. It really made me realise how fragile life can be. The pride of finishing, for probably every runner that day, will always be tinged with sadness for the girl who didn’t make it 😦 Rest In Peace Claire……

At mile 25, further screams of my name from the side of the road alerted me to some more supporters! My great friend Alexie, and her fiancee Vicky, were grinning and shouting from the side of the road. It was so great to spot them in the crowds and be able to run over to hug them and thank them for turning out, especially as at that point the heavens opened and it started to chuck it down! I ran off to finish the race, leaving them to make their way to the BHF post-race party at the Commonwealth Club on Northumberland Avenue where we’d arranged to meet.

The last mile was sooooooo hard. I really wanted to run it all, but my legs felt like lead. I made it past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, noting the time to be about 3:35pm. At 800 yards to go, I thought, ‘I’m never going to run the whole of the rest of the way’, so had a 200 yard walk, and then determined not to quit, at 600 yards to go, broke into a jog. 385 yards to go loomed into view, and then with Buckingham Palace on the left, turned the corner onto The Mall, past the 200 yards to go banner, and there it was. THE FINISH LINE! My legs were screaming and I could hardly run, but I picked up the pace as much as I could (which wasn’t really much at all!) and ran with my arms aloft, over the finish line. I’D DONE IT! A lifelong dream achieved. I was the girl who watched the marathon and thought it was an impossible dream to achieve, but here I was, crossing the finish line, hands up to my face in sheer surprise and delight, getting my timing chip removed from my shoe, having smiling Jean place a medal around my neck (I’ll always remember her name!) and getting my photo taken in the pouring rain! It’s a shame that I’ve ordered my photos from Marathonfoto on CD, as it won’t arrive for a few weeks, so I’ve nothing to show you here, but for my official photos, including some awful ones of me walking with a grimace on my face, but also some better ones of me running with a grin, check the website (Surname – Harrison, Bib number – 35616 and Race – London Marathon 2012):

http://www.marathonfoto.com/

My official finish time was 5 hours 34 minutes and 55 seconds. I don’t like to admit that I was a tiny bit disappointed not to be under 5 hours 30 minutes, but I have been told off enough times in the last week for being in any way disappointed, so please don’t tell me off again! I was delighted to finish at all, given the challenges I’ve experienced in the last 6 weeks, so perhaps I’ll have to do it again some time, now I’ve got a time to beat 😉

Well, I think this post is quite long enough now, so for anyone who’s actually managed to reach the end, CONGRATUALTIONS! You’ve just completed the 2012 London Marathon with me! Here’s a medal for you, and for the post-race analysis, there’ll be another post to come. Thanks for reading. xxxx

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Favourite marathon quote, for any of you who are inspired for next year…..

“Right now, as you read this, millions of other people also want to walk or run a marathon. They dream about it at work, in their car or while watching television. They think about how it will be, how it will feel to be at the start and what it’s like crossing the finish line. But they are just dreaming. They are not doing it. You are.

On race morning, when you are on the starting line with your number on, surrounded by others just like you, you will know what they can only imagine. You will feel it, see it, smell it and experience it. Unlike those who only dream, you’ve earned the right to be part of the experience.

By getting to the start line you’ve already placed yourself in the top echelon of athletes. You may not be in the top tier of that race, but as a long distance athlete, you are fitter, better trained and more disciplined than 99 per cent of the population. Remind yourself of that when you start to obsess about pace or finish time.

The miracle truly isn’t that you are going to finish, but that you had the courage to start – not just the courage to start the race, but the courage to start this odyssey of training and self discovery.

The medal you receive is symbolic of that courage. It becomes a powerful icon in your life. Once they place that medal around your neck, no one can ever make you give it back. Wear it proudly.”

(Thanks to Sarah Lees, a blogger on The Running Bug website, for the quote, which I pinched from her last pre-marathon blog)

I feel a bit emotional after reading that again. The 2013 ballot opens on Monday! Go on…… Do it! You know you want to! xxxx

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Virgin London Marathon 2012 – The day before – Journey to the big city!

Alarm at 5:35am! What?! I never see this time on a Saturday morning! But I jumped out of bed with sheer excitement. This is it. Today I travel to London to register for tomorrow’s London Marathon. It’s hard to believe that the day is almost here. For what seems like forever it’s been ‘weeks’ to go, but now there’s no backing out!

I’d spent a few hours the afternoon before reading Internet lists of what to pack in a marathon bag and I wasn’t going to forget anything! After packing, and repacking my bags the day before, it was easy to get up, get dressed and leave on Saturday morning. Here’s my list (for anyone who feels inspired enough to take on this crazy challenge for yourself!)

Day(s) before leaving home
Cut toenails (or a couple of days earlier if you remember!)
Shave legs/underarms!
Print tickets for pasta party (if pre-booked)
Iron-on name to running vest
Lay out items as per list below ready for packing:

For day/evening before:
Travel tickets (bus/train) or fuel in car
Registration letter and photo ID for registration at Expo
Comfy travel clothes and shoes for travelling, walking round expo, getting to hotel
Running magazine to read on the train
Cash/cards
Snacks and water
Phone and charger
IPod and charger
Garmin and charger – don’t forget to fully charge overnight!
Swimming costume (if your hotel has pool/spa) – we had a lovely swim, steam, sauna and jacuzzi in the afternoon after Expo. Really relaxing and re-energising in preparation for the next day.
Pillow (you never know what the hotel pillows might be like, and you want every chance of a good nights sleep the night before!)
Toothbrush and toothpaste!
Attach your timing chip (in your registration envelope) to your shoe the night before

For the big day:
Marathon outfit – vest with name on, pin running number on before leaving hotel
Running shoes, laced, and spare laces
Tried and tested socks (don’t wear new socks on marathon day)
Sports bra/underwear
Hair ties/head band
Sunglasses and sun cream
Any injury support items – knee supports, patellar bands, ankle strapping etc
Painkillers (I needed these on the day!)
Water bottle (if using, but not really needed as water stations every mile from 3-25)
Safety pins for your running number (although you do get these in your registration envelope)
Bin bags/old clothes for keeping warm at the start (the old clothes left at the start line are collected for charity shops)
Snacks for before start
Fuel (gels, sweets etc) for during the run
Chamois cream/Vaseline for those sore spots!
Loo roll (just in case – but there was plenty in the start field loos) and ‘TravelJohn’ disposal urinals (in case on long queues for the loos!)

For after the run (to put in your kit bag on the lorry):
Warm clothes to put on
Recovery drink/food
Dry socks and trainers
Painkillers (it will hurt!)
Flip flops (if you’re prone to blisters, you might need these!)

Scott, my lovely husband, had agreed to drag himself out of bed and drive me to the station. We picked up Heather, my fabulous friend who was also running the next day, at 6am and got to Mansfield station in plenty of time for our 6:22am train. A 30 minute change at Nottingham station gave us time for a cuppa and breakfast (yummy porridge with cinnamon from the AMT coffee shop) before our First Class journey to London. We had a great 2 hour relaxing trip, chatting, reading and laughing, arriving in London at 9:30am. We were so excited to be there, we even had a little jog down the platform to work off that excess energy! It was an easy connection onto the underground to Bank, and then DLR to ExCel (TfL had altered the trains so that there was no need to change between Bank and ExCel like usual, which was at first a bit confusing!) and we arrived at the marathon Expo at about 10:30am.

It was so exciting walking in to the ExCel. The atmosphere was tangible and you could almost smell the anticipation and excitement of all the runners around! I was extremely impressed with the organisation. It was easy to find the right registration desk (according to running number) and when we arrived there were no queues. We collected our crucial envelopes and headed over to the desks to collect our timing chips. Your envelope is scanned, they then drop a timing chip into the envelope and seal it up and you’re in!! No turning back!!

Here’s Heather and I looking excited after collecting our running number and chip:

We had a lovely few hours walking round the expo although I didn’t manage to resist the temptation of all the gorgeous running gear on sale! Here’s my purchases:

I also bought a running belt (which came in really useful on Saturday for a couple of reasons, more on this in a later post……) and a couple of Gore headbands – handy to stop my hair falling in my eyes all the time! Over lunch at the ‘pasta party’, we sat and listened to Liz Yelling chat about her marathon aspirations, played a daft game of heads and tails, and got some tips and instructions for the next day, before collecting our ‘goodie’ bags and jumping back on the DLR and tube over to our hotel out near Heathrow.

After checking in at the hotel, while waiting for Scott and my parents to arrive (they were driving down in the afternoon), we enjoyed use of the spa facilities with a swim in the pool, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and finished off with a dip in the icy cold plunge pool! Brrrrrrrrr. All good preparation for the muscles in time for the next day though.

Scott, Mum and Dad arrived at about 5:30pm, and the evening flew by, with a few (soft) drinks in the bar, followed by dinner, and then packing kit bags for the next day, finished by a read of the final instructions before lights out…. Only one more sleep before the big day…….

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Race Day! – The Virgin London Marathon 2012 (minus 8 minutes!) by catherinemharrison at Garmin Connect – Details

Apart from the day I got married, this has to be one of the best days of my life! I cannot even put into words what an amazing experience this was, but I will try in the next few days to sum it up! For now, be content with a map of the route (minus the first 1km – Garmin switch on error – how annoying!), my official timings and the thought of a huge smile on my face which I expect will be there for weeks to come.

I DID IT!!!!!!

Race Day! – The Virgin London Marathon 2012 (minus 8 minutes!) by catherinemharrison at Garmin Connect – Details.

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1 week to go……

Short post today. 1 week to go, my left knee is still playing up and I’ve narrowed it down to a combination of an IT band inflammation and chondromalacia (‘Runner’s knee’). Workouts this week have consisted of a 15 minute treadmill run on Monday, 50minute treadmill run and 30 minute aqua walk on Wednesday, a few short jogs during the Leadership in Running Fitness course yesterday and an hour in the pool today alternating crawl, breast stroke and aqua jogging. It’s been tough not to manage more running, especially as its only 7 days until the marathon, but the best treatment for the IT band is rest, stretching and anti-inflammatories!

Sports massage, Physio, the foam roller and diclofenac are going to get me through this week, and hopefully, by Sunday, I’ll be improved enough to at least run some of the 26.2 miles! Cross your fingers for me!

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