Wednesday, 17 June 2015

So, I Ran a Marathon...

Ran a marathon on Sunday.

No biggie.


After nearly a year of boring my friends and family about injuries, mileage, food, trainers, posture, gels and that all encompassing fear of not finishing, I only went and bloody finished!  Proof? They wouldn't have given us shiny, shiny medals, a free pint and bright yellow T-shirts if we hadn't!

....I'm the one who looks like I'm on my knees on the left.  I am, in fact, stood up and, no, the marathon didn't shave a few inches off my legs.  If it had, you would be seeing only my forehead.

The last time I had that level of sick-maky fear before I did something was when I was seventeen and about to take my driving test.  I giggled, babbled, nearly wept through bouts of swearing and had to pee every two seconds.  Sunday was no different.

"HahahahaHAHAHA, what are we doing? Where is my gel belt? What if I don't finish?! HAHAHA this is so stupid! Fuckfuckshit hold my things, I have to go pee!"  

Didn't help that with each wave of nerve induced nausea I felt, my knees went a bit wobbly.  Like in a cartoon.  I kept having flash forwards of myself getting to the start line and my knees just giving out under me.  

"3, 2, 1... Nope!"  

Mercifully, that never happened, and myself and Amy (my long legged compadre from above picture) made it over both the start and finish line without incident.  I say without incident.  At one point, I jabbed myself in the eye with my own finger whilst trying to remove a fly from my face, and a small child sprayed me right in the gob with a water gun.  Oh, and I went to gleefully high five another small child on the side of the road and in the process knocked a big bag of marshmallows out of its hand... Sorry, tiny human.  I hope most of your squashy treats stayed in the bag!

The most surreal thing about the whole experience (bar the fact that we actually managed to travel 26.2 ACTUAL MILES on our own, human feet) was how it didn't suck.  At all.  I spent the whole thing waiting to hit the wall, but it never happened.  I took my time and walked when I needed to...Which was often, and I was more than fine with that.  

I firmly and comfortably (and proudly - I've learned that it takes a fair bit of grit to keep moving for that much longer than the speedsters already enjoying their pints at the finish line while you're still sweating in places you didn't know could sweat. finished at the back of the pack with the last few hundred marathoners (eek, I'm a marathoner!!).  Perhaps the trick to never hitting the wall is running behind it.  Maybe the wall has little wheels on it like a trolley, and it's pushed along by all the faster people?  Thank you, faster people for keeping the wall a safe distance away from me!

The route was lovely - dipping in and out of park lands so I got my greenery fix, and threading around ginormous, significant looking buildings that screamed "I am historically important, even though you have no idea why, uncultured swine!"  And those hills I feared for the first 8 miles?  Come on!  They were mostly gentle inclines in the end. When you grow up in Wales, your expectation of what a hill is is a little squiffy compared with others'.  Liverpool has merciful, friendly hills that don't want to see your legs shredded into a thousand tiny, hurty fibres, and for that, I am grateful to whatever deity is responsible for hills.  It's nice to have the odd incline to keep your brain from flat lining, but not so much when you feel like they're breaking the laws of physics and never actually coming back downhill.  I'm looking at you, Tenby Half Marathon!


The finish line was awesome.  After three miles of the longest flat I have ever traversed, I somehow managed to find the energy to sprint through the resilient crowd who should have been given medals for clapping for over five hours straight, and into the Echo Arena, where I fell face first into my goody bag and pint.  

I still don't quite believe it's happened, because I'm not hurting as much as a tough CrossFit session would be hurting me, and I suspect that the two days of pizza and napping that followed the event had more to do with the Jager Bombs and wine that I happily chugged right after it.  Amy and I somehow had plenty of energy left for some Sunday night merriment (still wearing our medals, of course). I think that the slight soreness in my backside is more due to my showing off that I could still slut-drop after that kind of distance than as a result of the race.  Weird.  Adrenaline and the  musical stylings of Kesha have a curious numbing effect when combined.

The fact that I managed to do this insane thing has more to do with other people than myself.  If it weren't for the Run Like a Ninja course at Outcast Crossfit Swansea I was able to sign up to, and regular trips to Rosie the Magical Osteopath at Swansea Body Kinetics, I would never have made it to Liverpool, let alone the finish line.  Same goes for my nearest and dearest who put up with my months of blathering without once telling me to take my moaning elsewhere and take up a hobby that required less effort (despite my already having watching TV box sets, sleeping and eating in my list of passions).   If I could break off bits of my medal and chuck them at you like that bit with the tiara on Mean Girls ("A piece for Gretchen Wiener..."), I would.  But I can't.  So I'll just have to keep it for myself!

Wanna see the medal?  It's got glitter on it!

 You go, Glen Coco!

So... What the hell do I do now?!

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Marathon Training Week 15/ Taper (or tapir) Time!


Iiiit's taper tiiiiime! Taper.  Not tapir, as I just misspelled it.  Tapirs are weird elephant-pig creatures that zoos keep in order to baffle the public.  There's something simultaneously cute and disturbing about those strange, melty faced beasts.  Kicking myself for not owning a picture of a tapir to put on here now.  Never occurred to me that I might need one.  You'll have to use a search engine of your choosing. 

Tapering, on the other hand, is reducing your mileage a couple of weeks before a big race.  I've read countless books on running marathons since I took up recreational bimbling as a hobby, hoping that I would gain the ability to run one via osmosis. In my reading, I've learned that people usually have a hard time cutting down the miles.  Probably because they've grown used to doing "what-the-fuck?!" length jaunts around their hometowns over several weeks and suddenly have to go back to sensible distances like what sane people do.

Well, I've had no problems in reducing mileage.  In fact, I think I might be a bit too good at it.  This week has been a big ole nightmare from start to finish.  On Monday, I was missing CrossFit profoundly and feeling a bit cocky (always a winning combination), so I had the not-the-idea-of-a-dumb-frick-at-all notion that I would be able to attend a WOD (work out of the day in sensible speak) that was incredibly squat-heavy, and still be okay to run for the rest of the week, despite my near total lack of prowess when it comes to weighted squats.


Cue three days of the worst case of delayed muscle soreness I have ever experienced.  In normal cases where this happens to me, I am a bit of a wobbly mess when faced with a simple staircase and may have to lower myself onto the loo by placing my palms flat on the seat and wincing until I'm sat down, but this was a whole other level.  

Because of the weakness in my poor, battered pins, I teetered like a Weeble (Google it, millenials. They wobble...but they don't fall down! This is how we entertained ourselves before the internet) whenever it was required of me to just be stood up, and the basic act of walking made me look like a drunkard on a pair of the world's shortest stilts, sporting an aggressive facial twitch.  Not pretty. 

Also, I had/have a pretty nasty cold, which would have floored me even with all of my limbs functioning.  Colds are another thing that I have learned is common to experience towards the end of a marathon training plan, when your immune system finally gets a look in as your body starts to wind down. Luckily, my legs are now working, and I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel where I can run again without coughing my lungs out and jogging over them.  It's a sexy light, too.  Check this beauty out from one of my runs:

Phwoar.  Jealous much?

This morning, I had a revelation that makes me think I'm going to need a lot more underwear than normal this week.  It's dawned on me that at the time of writing this (midday-ish), at this time next week, I will be two whole hours into the Liverpool Rock 'n' Roll Marathon.  That's not even halfway for this stubborn tortoise.  I know I'm excited, but I'm having difficulty in accessing that emotion under the sudden onset mist of panic that has clouded my brain.  I feel like I'm in that part of Silent Hill where all the sirens go off and everything's going dark, and the baddie with the big cheese grater for a head is coming to get me.

I am terrified.  Terrified of two things:

1.  Not finishing
2.  Hating every second of it

Logically, I know that I won't hate every second of it.  There will be moments where I want to cry, tantrum and pray for unconsciousness, but without those moments, the elation, joy and sheer awe at just what the hell I'm doing will seem even more enhanced in comparison.  Those emotional peaks are pretty much exactly why I run, so I know I'll just have to take the bad bits with it.

It's the idea of not finishing that's sending me into a tailspin.  I can think of a billion reasons why I might not:
  • Hating the experience so much that my body just sits down without my permission and refuses to get back up.
  • Getting so hungry that I eat another runner and end up being arrested before I can finish.
  • Taking a wrong turn and getting lost.
  • Actually drowning as I forget I can't multitask and try to drink water and run at the same time.
  • Suddenly morphing back into my pre-running self where running more than a few metres makes me want to keel over and immediately find consolatory ice cream.
  • Falling down a man hole/tripping up/piano dropped on me from building/any other ridiculous scenario that results in me being horribly injured.
  • Going so slowly that I can't finish inside the cut off time.
  • Spontaneous human combustion.
  • Remembering I suck at running up hills.
  • Stampede of wildebeest like what happens to Mustafa in the Lion King.
  • My feet fall off.
  • My head falls off.
  • My clothes fall off.
 I could go on for hours.  Deep, deep (DEEEEP) down, I know I have it in me to finish, because the thought of having wanged on about it for so long and then turning around and going "oh, no, I didn't do it in the end..." is about the worst thing I can imagine.  Also, after reading so much about it, I really want to have this transformative experience for myself.  I actually believe it will change how I feel about my abilities as a human in general.  I've never thought of myself as someone who could run marathons, which makes me want it a bazillion times more.  It's a club that I want to belong to!  

Still fucking nervous, though.  S'pose I could go for a run to calm myself down... Novel idea.