Happy Valentine's Day lovers! I ran my third marathon for Beat today in 2:46:31, meaning I only have SEVEN more to run before the end of May..
My training this week has been much better following last week's 10k. I spent December consciously trying to bulk up and make myself stronger, and now I am starting to naturally trim off the excess. I banked more than eleven hours on the bike between Sunday-Friday thanks to double sessions, which meant lots of reading to pass the time (how do cyclists do it?). I finished another three books and you definitely need to read "The Versions of Us" by Laura Barnett.
I did go for a five minute jog on Monday and found a flipping Etch A Sketch! I know right, literally the best run ever. I then saw my physio Will on Wednesday evening and he officially gave me the go ahead to start running again on Thursday, which is always handy three days before a marathon! It meant I was able to catch an awesome sunrise, and as I have only run five times in the past three weeks it was nice to be back out on the trails. After telling him about my bulimia, he now affectionately calls me "Fat Boy" (we have weird sense of humours!).
On Friday night I felt really ill. Now I NEVER get ill. Never. The last couple of weeks I've barely stopped, and realised I had trained for 14 days straight, so I think it was just my body saying slow down. I went to bed at 8pm and woke up at 7.45am! I guess I was just exhausted. I had been due to meet friends in Shoreditch on Saturday, but instead I spent the day lying on the sofa watching Modern Family boxsets (Phil Dunphy is basically me) and then The Grand Budapest Hotel - Ralph Fiennes gets funnier with each viewing. I even busted out the Totes Toasties, that's how worried I was!
Right on to race day! I was up at 5.30am and headed out for a little jog, then a stretch, foam roll and shower. I'm an advocate of "Train Low, Race High" meaning I eat a high protein/high fat diet and train glycogen depleted, and then pre-race I load up and go to town on carbs. To avoid feeling heavy (and needing the toilet) on marathon day, I eat and drink 3-4 hours before the race and then have nothing else from then on, accept maybe some water.
My breakfast consisted of 1 litre of High5 Isotonic, two cups of tea (obviously), three slices of wholegrain toast with jam, and an apricot & almond Eat Natural bar (the best). We left at 6.30am and my Mum and her partner David came along for the journey down to Kent, along with our family sausage dog who is called Jaffy - It really meant a lot having some company as running these smaller marathons can be pretty lonely!
The race was made up of six laps of a 4.37 mile loop, which was 90% road and 10% trail. My race nutrition involved my trusty rhubarb and custard sweets, plus three High5 IsoGels which I was going to have at miles 8, 14 and 20. However, I was wearing woolly gloves to start with and as I went to get the first gel out of my pocket, it slipped out of my hand and went into a bush! It was a serious monkey with hands over eyes moment. I didn't fancy crawling through foliage, so it meant I was down to two gels.
The only water station was actually slightly off the course, so I went through the whole race without a drink. I never drink on training runs, so it was not a big deal. I had chatted to the race director before the start and asked him about the course - he said "It's pretty flat mate" - but after about 1 mile I thought, "this is definitely not flat" and it turns out there was 1,215 feet of elevation gain!!!
There was one hill especially which went on for around a mile, and it was all grass so by laps five & six it was real muddy and slippery, especially as I was only wearing my Pegasus. But as I found out when I ran the Boston Marathon last year, everyone had warned me about "Heartbreak Hill" but it was actually the downhills which were toughest. Most runners do regular hill sessions (I have not done one for four years) but they very rarely practice running downhill, which requires different muscle groups. Worth considering!
I decided to listen to music again as it helped pass the time in the last marathon, so I had my Spotify on shuffle. I was treated to some of The xx, Regina Spektor, James Bay and my massive guilty pleasure which is Years & Years (don't judge me). I've never really understood listening to dance music on runs - I get that it gets the heart rate up and adrenaline flowing, but for me long distance running is about staying calm and relaxed, not feeling like hitting the bar for sambuca shots at 3am!
My finish time was 2:46:31 which was good enough to finish in 1st place, and you can view all my splits here. I even got a post-race shout out from High5 France on Instagram (I think they were saying nice things?). I definitely felt a bit more like my old self despite the tough course, so all this time on the bike is paying off and I am excited for the next 10 weeks of training until my "A Race" at the London Marathon.
Now I know last week (for the third marathon in a row) I said I would run 2:55 - 2:59. But before you get on to me, I just really really fancied this one.. I don't know why exactly, but I just love a good race! I will be regretting it tomorrow I am sure..
The result means I have now been able to win all three marathons so far. Now I have put this solely down to my lucky sweatshirt which I got in Boston last year, which has a 100% unbeaten record so far, so I guess I cannot argue with the facts!. Marathons four and five are back on the trails and in the same week! First for the Cambridge Boundary Run on Mother's Day (which is Sunday 6th March in case you forgot) (like I did) and then six days later for the Thames Meander Marathon in Kingston upon Thames on Saturday 12th March.
Next weekend I start my job at British Athletics, where I will be providing Biomechanics support for athletes at the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix, which has some incredibly stacked fields confirmed. I should be filming down by the track and by the jump pit, and it is also my first trip up to Scotland, so I'm super excited. See you next week!
I am running ten marathons to raise money for Beat, the UK's leading eating disorder charity. You can follow me on Twitter here, on Instagram here, or on Facebook here. You can also sponsor me via my Justgiving page here. Thank you!