Marathon number eight is done! Today I completed the Richmond Park Marathon in London to round off an eventful week.
Firstly, I only have ONE DAY left of my degree! Eeeek. Tomorrow I have to give a physiology presentation and then my three year journey is over. Earlier this week I gave two other presentations, for Performance Analysis and Applied Sports Psychology. I felt like both went well, but we will have to wait and see!
It has been a stressful period since Christmas finishing off all my work, so I banned myself from Netflix. I've been dying to watch the latest series of my favourite TV show, House of Cards (Frank Underwood is a bad ass) so that is definitely getting binge watched this week! If anyone would like to offer me some full or part time work, that would be really swell too. Manual labour is not really my strong suit, but I have average banter and I'm rarely late..
My charity Beat contacted me on Monday to ask if I'd be willing to do an interview for The Telegraph as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. You can read the interview here. The Telegraph is obviously a big deal so it was a bit odd seeing my face, but the reaction has been really postive and hopefully reading my story will help someone else out there who may also be suffering. The other story in the interview from a man who suffered with anorexia was so tragic, and just shows the dangers that eating disorders can cause.
On Wednesday one of my shiny new front teeth FELL OUT. Unless you're a pirate, it's never a good look really. I managed to squeeze in an appointment at my local dentist, who was the guy who first confronted me about my eating disorder and set me on the road to recovery.
I actually haven't seen him since because I was referred to Guy's Hospital and ever since have been treated in London. He kindly cemented it back on for me! He was unaware of my challenge and the media coverage my experience has received, so I emailed him the links. I really don't know where I would be had he not said anything that day.
In other exciting news, the CNN documentary I mentioned a while back has been confirmed. The guys are flying over from Donald Trump land in early June to film in Suffolk, and then again at Man v Horse in Wales on June 11th. Whilst I am not a fan at all of watching or listening to myself, it sounds like it is going to be really fun to shoot and I think in a few years I'll appreciate how lucky I was to have the opportunity to star in a short documentary with someone like CNN.
Right on to the marathon! Training this week has been pretty low key. I've kept the mileage up but the pace easy. I felt really tired yesterday, and when I looked at my training diary I saw that I had trained for 22 days straight, which is not good. With all the stress lately with uni it's been a great way to clear my head, but I think I lost track of just how much I've been doing so I took an overdue rest day.
I travelled down to London Saturday night after destroying pasta mountain and stayed at my girlfriend's house. I woke up at 5:35am and had two toasted jam bagels and then caught the number 65 bus to Richmond. Annoyingly the race started on the opposite side of the park so I then had to get another bus! Now being officially the most expensive place to live in the UK, it probably won't surprise you to hear me say that Richmond really is such a beautiful place!
The marathon was 3 laps of Richmond Park and all off-road on the trails. I deliberately didn't bring any of my racing kit to ensure I stuck to the plan of taking it easy. The forecast was for rain so I wore a t-shirt and brought a bin bag to hide under. However it turned out to be blue skies and hot sun and I has to ask a kind lady for some sun cream! Nobody was able to come and support me at this one so I was riding solo just like Jason De'rulo, but it did mean I was able to get some revision done before the race.
Two guys went charging off at the front so I just let them go. Now I've turned 28 I'm getting worryingly sensible in my old age! I quickly ended up on my own in 3rd which is not really what you want with about 23 hilly miles to go. The first lap was 12 miles long so I just settled into a nice pace around 6:25-6:30 ish and enjoyed the scenery/inevitable sun burn. Richmond Park's signature stags were roaming and it was very picturesque. I managed to take this photo as I ran past, which explains why it's terrible.
Without consciously trying to push on, I could feel my pace picking up and by the end of the first lap I turned a corner and the leaders were right there at which point obviously my competitive side was like "hello we have a race on our hands!"
They were running much slower than I was and so I just took a little breather for a mile or so until one of them had clearly blown up as he was panting like crazy. With just me and the other guy standing, 2nd place was in the bag so it was a good old fashioned showdown!
Now I'm all for drafting and working together to take turns pushing the pace, but this guy was having absolutely none of that. He preceded to run directly behind me for the next four miles. And I mean literally right behind me! I tried zig-zagging, speeding up and at one point slowed down to over 8:00 pace to see if he'd overtake me but he just sat there on my bumper. His plan was obviously to let me drag him round and then smoke me in a sprint finish.
We got to mile 18 and I had to stop for a wee! Now our friend obviously saw this as his chance because he absolutely gunned it off. When I got back on the course he was a good 60-70 metres up the road. Now technically he did nothing wrong, it was just a ruthless little piece of racing. But it was a bit naughty, so needless to say I charged after him like a lunatic!
I put in a couple of miles at 6:10-6:15 but it was downhill and the gap remained constant. At that point it was mile 20 and I just thought there was no point killing myself just to catch a man who ran off whilst I was having a wee in a bush! I decided to back off, save my legs and take my 2nd place.
I ended up finishing with a time of 2:52:35 which I was super pleased with on a hot day & a tough course with over 1,100 feet of elevation gain. You can view my race stats here. The winner was around 2 minutes up the road. I had a good chat with the winner afterwards and it was all fine, although I'd like to think I wouldn't have done the same to him.
I got this shiny shield presented to me by the Mayor of Richmond and also won a free entry into the Bournemouth Marathon in October. We also got tons of goodies including a box of granola! Anyone who knows me will know I'm the biggest granola whore going, so I was absolutely made up. Probably the best prize yet, and then I treated myself to a cheeky monstrous 99 ice cream :-)
My legs feel really good which is lucky as there is not much time to relax - next week is marathon number nine of the year and my fifteenth in total up in bonny Scotland for the Edinburgh Marathon! My girlfriend & I are flying up on Friday so we have a nice long break wit the bankle hiday. My Mum and Step-Dad David are also joining us so it will be a special way to celebrate the end of my degree with the people I care about.
The plan is to run round nice and easy (don't laugh) and enjoy the experience so that I can quickly recover and then prepare for Man v Horse where my ten-marathon challenge concludes. It has been nice speaking to you as always. Well most of you anyway. See you next week when I'll hopefully have another shiny medal to show you. I'm off to plot my revenge on today's winner..
You can follow me on Twitter here, on Instagram here, or on Facebook here. I am running ten marathons to raise money for Beat, the UK's leading eating disorder charity. You can also sponsor me via my Justgiving page here. Thank you!