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#Week 18 – Race day arrives!

To me London Marathon every year means heading up to the expo to meet everyone in our wonderful running community and helping out on the Women’s Running stand. I did very little running in my last week before race day, a three mile easy run on Tuesday last week, with some light strength and conditioning after, and 5 x 1 min reps on Wednesday. I did these quite fast, to boost my confidence. Thursday was crazy getting myself ready. I was really worried I’d forget an essential piece of kit as my head was already on the streets of London.

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It was also the launch last week of the new Mental Health Ambassadors campaign, #runandtalk, by England Athletics, and I am really, really proud to be one.

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I bet there’s not many tiny mental health ambassadors out there

We are here to promote running as a way to help you with your mental health – if you need to talk, running is the perfect medium to do so (unless you are doing hard reps on a Friday morning, in which case you talk on your walk recovery). That was my wish when I set up my Friday morning group – to give women (and men) who can’t train in the evenings a chance to do so with like-minded souls, and a chance to talk about the weekly stresses we all live with.

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Thursday afternoon I was just about ready; my kit was packed and the girls sorted. I had one last thing to do, which I’d been waiting to do for a long, long time. I wanted to listen to the answer phone message my dad have left me before he died, which was on the day of London Marathon three years ago.

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It wasn’t there. There was one message, as there has been these last three years, but it was just white noise. I wasn’t expecting this. I didn’t have a chance to listen to it that last time. Even though it’s been there for three years I only listened to it once a few weeks after he died. I couldn’t do it again as it made me feel too sad. In my mind I had thought I would listen to it one last time, run on Sunday, then erase it – I would be saying my final goodbye in the race and it would be time to let go. Even as I’m writing this the tears are streaming down my face.

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I could only just get my face up to the ribbon – there was no extra step for small people

But I took it as a sign that it was time to remove the message. Time to cut the ties. I kept thinking of recording it on to my phone, but I couldn’t listen to it, so I didn’t. Now I don’t have that last message, and I don’t have the security of knowing it’s there if I do want to hear my dad talking. I guess it doesn’t really matter as I can hear him in my head all the time, and I always feel him running with me.

The lovely Jenny and Ashleigh

The lovely Jenny and Ashleigh

Sometimes it’s such a strong feeling I can almost see him, running next to me as he did when I was 15 shouting at me ‘WHAT DO YOU CALL THIS! PUT SOME GUTS INTO IT!’ He would do this to all the men he trained on his field gun crew. It made me feel like one of the guys.

Ready to go

Ready to go

I dedicated the last mile of the marathon on Sunday to my Dad. Without him, I may have never run a marathon.

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My dad;  we have exactly the same gait (and the same legs, mine are less hairy)

Friday was very busy! After the school run, I went straight to see my emotional wellness coach, Janet. We went through the race, and dedicating the last seven miles to my special people. This was really important to me, as I know I would need to draw on them to pull me through. Nerves were getting to me a bit, and I didn’t sleep well on Wednesday or Thursday night. I felt jaded on Friday, but after seeing Janet I had an overwhelming sense of calm. It’s the marathon – what will be, will be.

Liz working a knot in her back

Liz working a knot in her back

Friday night I didn’t sleep well again, and so I was beginning to dread race day – I was too tired to run! I asked my lovely friend Caroline to send me some Reiki, all the way from New York City, and we agreed a time for me to find a calm spot and ‘receive’. Just talking to Caroline on Saturday helped calm my nerves, as it always has, always will. Your oldest friends know your faults, and your strengths, and can drill down to them instantly. I felt reassured once again.

The amazing Lisa

The amazing Lisa

Saturday at the expo I met up with the incredible and lovely Lisa Jackson, author of Your Pace or Mine? and member now of the 100 Marathon Club. It was also a precious chance to see my faraway friend Emily – we were both nervous and emotional about what Sunday would hold for us.

I get my love of cross-country from my dad

I get my love of cross-country from my dad

Saturday evening was feet up in the hotel room, then, with the alarm going off early Sunday I was in marathon mode. We got to the Green Start (a little later than planned but within time) and the overwhelming feeling was one of being a tiny ant amongst a vast swathe of people.

The lovely Emily

The lovely Emily

The Race
Once the gun went off it only took about 1.5 minutes to get over the line. Hold back I told myself over and over as I constantly checked my watch through Miles 1-3. The volume of runners takes you back – you have to focus to keep your place and keep upright, more so when you’re petite. Despite feeling tired I felt OK and the miles passed quickly. I kept up my target marathon pace until Mile 10 then Mile 13. Each mile after that I checked my watch and I was surprised when I kept hitting my target pace. The wall of noise follows you through every mile. I spotted Marie, my ladies captain from my club and it made my spirits soar – it made such a massive difference to see someone I recognised amongst thousands of strangers.

Who said runners were crazy?

Who said runners were crazy?

My nutrition was covered by SIS, who kindly donated my gels and protein bars. They are my favourite brand as they are much thicker then some gels, and my Porsche metabolism burns energy quicker than I can put it in to my body.

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Mile 15 my left foot started feeling a bit twingy and I could feel my left quad too. I think I knew what was coming but I had been in total denial about it for two years! Since my last marathon.

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Mile 17 and my foot was hurting now, as was my quad and my left hip – but I think I was in a gel delirium by this point as I couldn’t work out where the pain was. Miles 18, 19 and 20 my left leg seemed to be seizing up and I think I assumed it was my hip, but in fact it was probably my quad and foot. I got to about 20.5 and started walking, knowing that my leg was done in (that’s my highly technical evaluation). Once I started walking I was battling back the tears. My target time and a chance of a PB was instantly gone. I knew it would now be about getting to the finish line without stepping out of the race and finding a tube back to my meet up point.

Oh dear! Not happy!

Part of me wanted to stop and cry, but of course you can’t as hundreds of people are willing you to keep taking that next step. I’m so relieved I didn’t see anyone I knew at a tearful point. Jenny from Women’s Running spotted me and shouted so much support, and lucky at this point I was resigned to my shuffling. Thank you to every person that shouted me on, and there were so many of you I simply couldn’t cope with all the attention! After a few miles of shuffling, walking slow (16-min-miling) and trying to jog just a little I put my headphones in.

The finishing straight - I wasn't happy!

The finishing straight – I wasn’t happy!

I walked the last third at Edinburgh Marathon and swore I would never do it again. Of all the issues I thought might prevent me running the whole way this time, I hadn’t bargained on it being my hip. I was gutted but what can you do? I carried on.

We're only as good as our support crew - mine was the best! (However, note that neither offered to pace me...)

We’re only as good as our support crew – mine was the best! (However, note that neither offered to pace me…)

That took about an hour and 15 minutes. I felt cold. But I’m stubborn and I just kept going, and even managed to almost jog the last mile. I finally saw my partner David, and our friend Simon, on that last stretch before you turn on to The Mall. They were shouting at me – I wasn’t very happy as I tried to shout back about my dodgy hip.

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Once I got across the finish line and retrieved my bag it was easy to find them. I didn’t take any pictures at the finish against the #oneinamillion posters as I was a bit devastated. I kept thinking of my dad. Well, it was his send-off marathon, it didn’t go to plan – which goes to show how life sometimes doesn’t. I wasn’t going to get upset about it as I knew there were so many factors out of my control. All I could think about was did Emily get her sub 3 hour time? When the text came through from her that she came in at 3:03 I was more devastated for her than for myself.

Oops!

Oops!

So what do you do when your best friend running sometimes isn’t your best friend? You turn to your other best friend sugar of course! Cake and chocolate help. God I love them.

I finished in 3.59 – it wasn’t the time I was hoping for, but I still finished. I wasn’t going to get upset about it, then I did a bit on Monday, then yesterday I felt like I had really let everyone down. Today, well, every day feels different after a marathon and as the aches subside you make your peace. But there’s only one thing that helps you put a bad marathon to rest. Yep, I’ve just entered my next one…

Did you run London Marathon, or another spring marathon recently? Did your race go to plan?

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My best women’s winter running kit

Here’s my brief overview of my favourite winter kit at the moment at Women’s Running. Below the film there’s a link for each item. Merry Christmas!

SALOMON PEARL BEANNIE
Luxury with a pom pom! The thick knit of this hat will keep out the cold, ensuring you look stylish while everyone else is shivering in their shoes!
£24, salomon.com/uk

BUFF PLUM BOBBLE HAT
You can’t beat this luxurious bobble hat from Buff that will keep you warm while you wait to race or train. Knitted from Merino wool its thermal inner headband is so soft against your ears. It’s gorgeous!
£27.25, buffwear.co.uk

BUFF ZIGA MAGENTA
This wind resistant hat is designed for the winter trails. The beautiful fabric is brushed inside to give you thermal insulation and the reflective Buff logo enhances your safety. The colours are vibrant and the fit is snug.
£26.26, buffwear.co.uk

HELLY HANSEN CROSS INSULATOR JACKET
Such a luxurious look and featuring water resistant PrimaLoft Silver insulation to keep you toasty. Available in four colour choices, you’ll look stylish on the move, wherever you go in this quilt pattern. Keep the zip done up to the top for ultimate protection, and it’s so lightweight you can stash it anywhere.
£100, hellyhansen.com

HELLY HANSEN AIR JACKET
Stand out in this lightweight wind jacket with a stunning print! With a self-storing pocket this jacket can go anywhere with you. You’ll stay safe from the cold due to the elastic cuffs and edgeband and the quick-drying X-Cool fabric.
£80, hellyhansen.com

FALKE ERGONOMIC VEST
A slimmed down version of the FALKE insulating vest, which provides a snug and flattering fit on the trails. Primaloft lining protects you from the cold, and there are ventilation panels on the back. You get two zipped pockets and a high collar for ultimate protection. The stunning colour stands out and the design is about as feminine as you can get. Superior style.
£160, net-a-porter.com

ADIDAS GYM HOODIE
I felt snug and warm in this stretchy hoodie with two deep front zipped pockets and spacious, adjustable hood. The Climalite moisture-wicking fabric performed brilliantly and I loved wearing the striking, warm colour in low light conditions. Well-done adidas; a fashion-conscious, sustainable product made from recycled polyester.
£45, adidas.co.uk

ODLO BLACKCOMB EVOLUTION WARM BASELAYER WITH FACEMASK
How can you not love this winter kit? It’s already become an essential multifunctional baselayer for when the cold hits; all you need to do is use the facemask to protect from the wind (or as a cosy scarf). The seamless knitting technology is brilliant for staying sweat free, though the thermal insulating fabric is just thick enough to prevent overheating. The fit is super sleek.
£80.00, odlo.com

HELLY HANSEN NORVIZ LONG SLEEVE TOP
The advanced reflective fabric of this top is unbelievable – the whole top lights up when it reflects light. There’s a half zip plus thumb holes to keep your hands warm. X-cool fabric keeps you dry, but it’s the reflectivity that I was wowed by.
£75, hellyhansen.com

TRIBESPORTS HALF ZIP MID LAYER AND CAPRI TIGHTS
Affordable yet high quality, parkrunners will already know this range. We love this kit as runners have helped design it; the half zip mid later feels incredibly soft against your skin and has all the technical features you demand, the capris are really stretchy!
£52 & £32.50, tribesports.com

ODLO EBE RUNNING TIGHTS
Reversible tights with prints on both sides giving you two pairs of leggings in one. They were easy to run in, with a comfortable elastic waistband and feet light and smooth against your skin. Great winter style.
£65, odlo.com

ILU SEAMLESS TEXTURED LEGGINGS
The deepest waistband I’ve reviewed for a long time, these leggings, with a cheeky contrast of grey marl, win my winter award for comfort on the run. The design creates a slimming pattern. Mesh around the calves adds to the look and helps keep you cool.
£45, ilufitwear.com

SUKISHUFU SHOOTING STAR LEGGINGS
A stunning print perfect for winter. I loved the leather look trim on the back of the waistband that gave extra support, as did the extra deep front waistband. The two-way stretch fabric provided a perfect fit, and with anti-fade and anti-pilling material these will last.
£90, stylesportif.com

ZAAZEE ERIN AND ELLA VESTS TOPS
These beautiful tops feature an exquisitely soft and super-stretchy material. The fit is flattering with ruched detail along the straps and back, you get an inner bra layer plus a stand-out design on the back that will make you feel you can conquer the world.
£38, zaazee.co.uk

ZAAZEE ESZTHER CAPRI
Bold, two-tone capris made from figure hugging SUPPLEX fabric for extra support. Using the same stretchy but soft fabric as the vest tops, I felt comfy in the wide waistband (with double support at the front). Great design; a brand to watch out for.
£60, zaazee.co.uk

ILU DOUBLE LAYER TANK
This is such a pretty, comfortable and clever top; featuring a very flattering outer layer that hangs loosely over the areas you want it to most! The blue trim finishes the look and the longer length is perfect. I can’t fault it for style. If looking as good as you feel is important, I recommend Ilu.
£37, ilufitwear.com

ADIDAS BOSTON BOOST 5
Fantastic racing flats that are incredibly responsive due to the boost midsole. Even though it looks like a low profile shoe you get a surprising amount of cushioning. The Torsion System in the forefoot will help you toe-off with speed and energy. This is also a shoe with a conscience – a portion of each pair goes to the Boston Runs As One fund.
£95.00, adidas.co.uk

SAUCONY EVERUN ISO TRIUMPH 2
It’s got to be the shoe of the moment; the EVERUN Topsole and Landing Zone in the heel mean lots more cushioning beneath your feet, and you can really feel it, even when you’re walking. The Isofit upper also feels thicker giving you more protection, especially around your Achilles and across the top of your foot. This trainer looks exactly how women want it to – a bold colour with just a pop of pink.
£135, saucony.co.uk

ADIDAS XT BOOSTS
These have been my favourite trail shoes for a few months now. The fabric of the high-cut collar flows from the shoe up your ankle, rather than stopping with a rounded top. This in-built gaiter keeps out dust, sand, mud, stones or other debris, as well as providing extra support for your ankle. They felt flexible underfoot and the Continental Rubber lugs are strong and effective, with four biting surfaces.
£110, adidas.co.uk

BROOKS PUREFLOW 5
The PureFlow 5 is the first Brooks shoe to use DNA LT, a 10 per cent lighter version of their adaptable cushioning, for a more natural feel that still protects from impact where you need it. A wraparound collar in the heel lends an ultra-plush feel.
£90, brooksrunning.com

ON Cloudflyers
12 “Cloud” elements built from zero gravity foam provide amazing cushioning while staying lightweight. Natural shoes to support your body’s natural gait.
£130, on-running.com

HOKA ONEONE Challenger and Vanquish
More to come soon….
hokaoneone.com

Apologies for rushed pronunciations :)

Apologies for rushed pronunciations :)

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