Virtual London Marathon 2020 (Sharon)

So. We entered the Virtual London Marathon on 28th August, David thought it would be a good idea. For some mad reason, I agreed – five weeks prep would be fine wouldn’t it? We also managed to convince the Porters that they wanted to do it too. Heh. 

As the next couple of days passed by, I was swinging wildly between it being ok and I’ll be fine to NOT! WHAT AM I THINKING?! 

To try to control my nerves, on 3rd September I sat planning some long runs….I’d done 10k that morning and was in a panic about the other 20 miles I’d have to do. We just about had time to squish in three longer runs, as we already had plans for one of the weeks. 

5th September saw me heading out for a planned 15 miles at 11 min miling. Faffage! What drinks? Podcast? Gels? Planned on 3 times up and down the prom, for mental strength…couple of changes due to stones on prom but essentially did what I planned. One wee stop at 6.5m. one stop to faff with sock 11m. Did exactly 15m finishing just round corner from home in 10.48/mile avg. I was pleased as punch and listened to the podcast, “legends of triathlon” X2 (John Lunt and Dave Scott). I have discovered that I can only cope with certain voices. 

September 12th was our Big Race of the season…or it was going to be before this silly marathon idea came along. The David Lloyd Ultra, I was on the final leg (which fortunately for me was the shortest and least hilly). I was going really really well, enjoying a bit of “back and forth” with the chap that was the winner of the 41 mile ultra (he finished it faster than we did as a team! 6:06 compared to our 6:17. Madness!). I did my stage in 1:30 – which was 10 mins faster than we’d done the recce runs. I was so glad I’d done a recce too, made me feel much happier. Cute medal and a pretty nice burger at the end, with a cuppa. Yum. We were very happy with our team’s performance too. Go Porter/Roweboats! :) 

17th September saw the next long run planned. I’d got 18 miles on my recently drawn up “no idea what I was doing” schedule. Off I headed to Littlehampton, running rucksack on, flasks filled with ribena, three gels in my pocket and podcasts in my ears. I will not lie, it was hard!. I was especially annoyed that I missed 0.25 miles off my Garmin, as I didn’t press it hard enough when I started again after pausing at a crossing (gggr) but Strava came to my rescue to show the eventual distance as 18.5 miles at 10:50 miling. Again, one wee stop on the Prom in LA about ten miles. I’m pretty pleased considering I only did the relay five days ago. My legs hurt now though! 

After the 18 miler, I realised that I possibly needed to do a run/walk schedule for the marathon, as otherwise I was fearing for not completing. I did a bit of reading and listening to podcasts and decided to try a method on my ten mile run three days after the 20. I ran a mile, then walked the first 90 seconds of the next mile and carried on like that. It transpired that 90 seconds was about 0.1 of a mile – I found it difficult though, as I didn’t know my running pace when I was running so for the 20 miles I was planning, I decided to run 0.9 of a mile, then walk the final 0.1 mile. 

Six days later on 23rd September was my last long run…so it was off for 20 miles. I needed to practice my run/walk strategy – so that’s what I did. Back up to LA, a fair bit of rain, some headwind…what could be nicer? I did the 20 miles in a smidge over 3:38, which I was very pleased with. I had the next couple of days off running as I was at work (pesky stairs!) and then I did my usual Club 5k on the Saturday. I felt suddenly a bit poorly on the Sunday, so slept in late and went out for a little run afterwards. Later that afternoon my hip started to be somewhat “twingy”. Then it started to burn inside (it did this last year and require some acupuncture and rest to help it heal), so I had some days off. I did a little test run on Thursday, then an even shorter run on Friday. The hip felt okay until Saturday when on a planned rest day it was not happy. Still, it gave me something to worry about the day before the marathon :) 

before the start

We woke up about 5am, had a coffee about 5:20 and then headed down for breakfast. In my case it was just over half a tin of rice pudding. Seventeen wees later, loaded up and we were good to go. We walked to the seafront shortly before 7am, started the London Marathon App and that was it. We were off. David was gone into the distance, I started my toddle to Littlehampton. I can’t remember much detail about the run. I was enjoying the shouts from other runners and also the toots from cars. I immediately started my run/walk plan (it does feel odd when you feel fresh but you know you’re doing it for later). I saw David at about 8.5 miles and he told me it was windy on the way back up the Prom at Littlehampton. I’d kind of figured that already by the kite surfers preparing to launch :) Jeez. Who would run a marathon when it was windy enough to kite surf? I saw Kirstee at this point, heading out where I had just been, looking strong and speedy. 

The Prom was indeed windy, as was Rope Walk. As I was heading up to the Bridge over the River Arun, I realised I’d gone through halfway in about 2 hours 22 minutes. This caused my heart rate to go up as I started to think that maybe I could achieve my dream (more on that later). I reigned myself in, carried on and tried to plan a route in my head to avoid as much of the headwind as possible! I ended up running though our village and down to Bognor Pier and then to Aldwick. 

The only really bad mile I had was mile 21 to 22, when I had my final gel (I had them at miles 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19 and 22…taking them during my walk break at the end of each mile). It was into the headwind, my brain was wandering off somewhere and it was my slowest mile by far. I gave myself a good talking to – a friend of mine has had a recent breast cancer diagnosis and was due to have run London in April this year and she was doing the virtual marathon today despite having chemo on Thursday. So I mentally slapped myself around the back of the head and got going again. Go Lindsay. Kick some cancer arse. 

I was very happy to get a tailwind on the way back home down the Prom – though seeing folk windsurfing obviously was less than ideal for running. I had my last walk break at the end of the 24th mile and decided I should just get on with the final bit. I saw David just before I got to 25 miles, he had come to find me on his bike and he cycled with me to the end. He confirmed what distance it needed to say on my Garmin (26.22 miles) as the marathon app screen showed me that it had worked for precisely six seconds. Heh. He won’t mind me saying that he looked pleasantly surprised when he asked how far I’d run and I said 25 miles :) I spent so much of the last few miles trying to calculate where to run to avoid the headwind, what was my pacing like, where did I need to run to etc., that it hadn’t really clocked that I was still on my dream time schedule. It did clock when I saw David and saw 25 miles on my Garmin, so that last full mile was quite nice. 

It was lovely hearing the cars beeping as they drove by, many containing people we know. Also there was lots of support from other folk out on the Prom who were running, walking and other crazy folk doing the marathon too. I’m really chuffed for our running buddies Kirstee and Allen, who were both brilliant. David obviously was his usual awesome self.

I am absolutely delighted with how it went. I finished and promptly burst into tears. Me? Emotional? Never. I tried in 2012 and 2013 to run a sub-5 hour marathon. It’s a big benchmark for someone like me. I failed on both attempts despite really good training over a 16 week schedule. It was never my legs that let me down, it was my head. I just don’t deal well with races and psych myself out. Today, with five weeks of prep, I did 4:46:36 on my Garmin (and 4:44:14 on the Marathon App that had decided to work after all). I am well aware that in the grand scheme of life, it means nothing but I am honestly over the moon. I can’t wait to wear my tee shirt with pride when it arrives.

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