It’s been whole week since I ran 26.2 miles on the Isle of Man for my first marathon!
And now G’s boyfriend Chad is (not really) forcing me on my first run after my mini recovery. I’ve bumped into so many people in the past week who have mentioned my blog that I thought it would be best to write a little post about I felt it all went.. Maybe when I’m preparing for my next long distance run or race I’ll look back and feel a tiny bit more ready than without it.
Where to begin; so way back when in June when deciding on a fundraising activity (to fundraise £800 for VSO) I chose to run a total of 600 miles because it’s equivalent to the width of Kenya. Where I’m going to volunteer in September FYI. Me being me, I had to take this one step further and enter a marathon.
So I was home alone in Spain, bored and armed with Google’s help to find a decent marathon near me. I found the Isle of Man Marathon and booked it immediately, only informing mum and dad later on that they should probably come and support me.
I arrived on the island the day before feeling pretty ready for the big day; I’d spent £16 on one pair of socks (craaaaazy I know!), I had energy tablets, gels, jelly babies, belts, multiple outfit options and heaps of excitement. The day before was spent strolling on the beach with our dog Peachy and grabbing a few last minute things in town. I had a bath that evening with Radox Muscle Therapy Herbal Bath and some salts and it was the best thing ever. I put out my clothes ready for the morning, got some last minute advice from Frankie (running buddy and experienced marathon runner lol) and got a good nights sleep.
Rewind a day or 2 and I was crying my eyes out thinking I’d have to drop out. All because I’d reached that blissful moment that most girls experience every month, only mine had come over a week early. I don’t know why my period had come early but you know, i really wasn’t loving mother natures decision to bring me a gift because it basically fucked up my plan to run a smooth 26.2 miles. I frantically googled possible solutions to running whilst feeling like crap and most people had written on blogs or forums that they inevitably had to drop out or just run half. This wasn’t an option for me as I couldn’t let anyone down after some generous donations and I couldn’t waste all that time and energy I’d spent training for it. At the same time as my stressing I read about Kiran Gandhi who ran the London marathon whilst on her period… She decided to free bleed which I’m not really sure about. I don’t think it’s a feminist movement or ‘bad-ass’ in any way, I think it’s kinda gross but whatever. Anyway, I decided to push through and run despite this not so great gift, I just used every home remedy to speed it up in the hopes that by Sunday I wouldn’t be in too much pain. I’d never ran during my period and it would just so happen that I was now running the furthest and for the longest I ever had.
I ate some granola and a banana at around 6:30am and had a few bottles of water, I was also loading up on Ibuprofen to reduce my cramps before we drove through the foggy hills to reach the small town of Ramsey. I collected my number, time tracker to go round my ankle and put my named Lucozade bottle in the box for mile 17. We hung around for a while before going to the starting line and I had a few jelly babies. It was predominantly an old run, with loads of men in their 40s, 50s, 60s and older, a fair amount of women who looked mid 30s and up and then little old me looking like the baby of the pack. I didn’t feel too nervous at the start as I was just concentrating on running half. I knew I could easily do 21km and a lot of people had suggested just dropping out at the halfway point if I feel I couldn’t do any more.
The gun fired at 9 am and we set off with the sea just a few metres to our right; we were told strictly no mobile phones or music devices allowed so I just put my headphones down my sports bra until I was well on my way (there was no way I could prepare myself for almost 5 hours of running without any music). I’d been told a million times to start out slow and save my energy, but theres something about being joined by so many others and having all the adrenaline building up that makes you want to rush. Partly because you don’t want to be last, partly because you want to be surrounded by the stronger runners from the start and partly because you want it to be over quickly! I stuck around with the speedy guys and gals for about an hour; chatting about our training and past marathons we’d done, obviously not me but I was talking to a guy who’d ran 150 marathons and he’d only started running at the age of 55?!
We’d been told about the hill at mile 4 and sure enough it approached and it was hilly. Like really hilly. After what seemed like a lifetime of snail speed jogging to the top I felt a tiny sense of relief; I knew I’d have to face that hill again at mile 17 (the course was 2 laps of the same course) but I could handle it one more time. Then as I turned the corner I saw another massive hill! Basically there was about 2 miles of hills and I was not a fan. After i lost the main group I’d been sticking with I met a girl (I think she was called Alyssa..?) who was the same age as me and told me about how she’d been in hospital with severe neck problems like a week ago but had done too much training up to that point to not run the marathon. Her story made my problems (achey shins and a bit of a dodgey ankle) seem very insignificant. Plus it turned out she completed it 20 minutes faster than me, what a ledge.
I felt confident for the whole of the first half even though I was convinced I was going a lot slower than planned and guessed I must be in last place. I was daydreaming of jelly babies and a few words of encouragement from mum and dad at the half way point. I ran downhill through the village before reaching 21 km at exactly 2 hours and could see mum, dad and dog in the distance. But there were no jelly babies in sight. I ran towards them yelling ‘jelly babies! I need to babies!’ and they just looked at me in despair. I didn’t have time to stop so just carried on going with no more sugar and a belly so empty it screamed for something to fill it. I tackled the ridiculous hills once more at mile 17 and grabbed my huge bottle of Lucozade sport which gave me some well needed energy. Around the 19 mile mark I began feeling sick; I had nothing in my stomach, hardly any energy and the wind and rain was pushing against me. I carried on swigging water and Lucozade but just vomitted after every mouthful. It sounds gross but I couldn’t stop drinking because in my head it was giving me short bursts of energy (it probably wasn’t as it was coming straight out but your mind goes a bit squishy when you’ve been going for that long) so as I continued sipping I carried on being sick every couple of metres.
I’d only resorted to listening to music for about half an hour as I’d enjoyed the sound of the sheep, cows, spectators and listening to stories from other runners. The last 7 miles felt ok, I was getting cheered on by every marshall and most seemed really surprised I was still going! ‘Oh darling, well done! You’re doing so well, you look great’ – hard to believe when I was covered in salt crystals, was a weird shade of red and was limping like a lost dog but it was nice to hear. At the same time I was thinking a lot about ‘hitting the wall’ and was pleasantly surprised that that hadn’t happened.. At that point i was so close to the end and knew what to expect from the final mile, I was excited to reach the village, go down hill, see my fam and reach the finish line in the stadium and naively believed I’d be so excited to finish that the final mile would be a breeze. Oh how wrong was I. I saw the mile 25 sign and my legs buckled. I couldn’t move. It’s the weirdest feeling as your brain is screaming at you to keep going but your body just shuts down. You can’t imagine the feeling if you haven’t experienced it. It’s almost like wading through treacle; you’re going nowhere. This probably only lasted about 20 seconds but felt like forever and I couldn’t see myself carrying on and finishing. I honestly thought that was it for me; I contemplated just sitting down, calling mum and telling a marshall that I’d just end my race there. Eventually, after using every bit of energy and enthusiasm I had left (and a voice in my head saying I’d sound like a right idiot if I told people I pulled out at 25 miles), I pulled myself back into gear and went at snails pace through the village.
I’d been chatting to one guy for a while who’d been at my pace for a few miles before dropping back and walking. Just after my near-giving-up experience I saw him hobbling along in the corner of my eye. ‘I’ve just remembered I need to catch the bus at half 2!’ he said as he proceeded to sprint past me. I’d missed my chance to finish in 4 hours 30 mins (my very very very optimistic aim) because of all the sick and the 20 seconds of thinking ‘THIS IS THE END’ but knew I didn’t have far to go and could probably get my medal and goody bag by 4 hours 50 mins. My phone had been tracking my run and announced ‘Congratulations, you have completed a whole marathon!’ – I’d ran 26.2 miles but wasn’t at the end yet; all that dodging, weaving and changing sides of the road means you’re actually running almost 27 miles, ouch. Anyway, I passed the village and could see my mum in the distance; I start waving to grab her attention and the people she’s standing with start to cheer for me. Then, with my eyes set on them and my music on full blast I failed to spot the curb beneath my foot and stacked it like an idiot.
As I turned the corner I entered the stadium and U2’s ‘Beautiful Day’ came on shuffle on my phone, so cliche, so emotional. The crowd cheered and I saw the massive clock read 4 hours 36 minutes. I’d done it! I’d completed a marathon! All in under 5 hours on my 21st birthday, I’d imagined this for a while and never thought it was a tangible dream but I’d actually done it! My legs didn’t know how to stop going so I kind of stumbled over to mum and dad and dog. I went for a well deserved massage after but actually didn’t feel too achey, the guy standing in front of me was from Edgemead (according to his t shirt) which is where I briefly lived last year in Cape Town! Unluckily I didn’t get the chance to talk to him but small world eh.
I said to mum that I felt the same as after I completed the Paris half marathon in March, which shows what a huge difference a good training plan can make, along with eating right and being in the right frame of mind. I wore my medal with pride and raided my freebie bag for a flapjack. We enjoyed the mini buffet before going back to our hotel in Douglas. I had a quick shower and chill before we went out for dinner, I kind of forgot that it was still my birthday. I finally went to the toilet too, which was so weird as that had been my main fear during the run. That I wouldn’t have a place to ‘relieve myself’ but I guess I just sweated everything out as I was fine the whole way through despite drinking litres of water and sports drinks. My legs felt stiff but no worse than after a normal run of a few kms. However the next day I had to shuffle myself around and go down the stairs sideways.
We stopped in Liverpool on the way back and i even drove from Birmingham to home in Hertfordshire. I can’t explain the feeling of acheivement I got and how uch I actually enjoyed running most of the marathon. I know it’s been said a million times but it honsetly is the toughest but greatest thing I’ve ever done. And throughout my run I was already thinking of what marathon I could run next.
I’m so so so grateful for every encouraging comment, text, message, tweet etc and obviously anyone whose been generous enough to donate. Although I love running, I also put myself through all this to raise money for VSO – Voluntary Service Overseas, the charity who I’ll be volunteering for in Kenya in September. If you’d like to donate please text YAAS69 plus to the amount, either £1, £2, £5, £10 or £20 to 70070 (e.g. YAAS69 £2) or visit my JustGiving Page by clicking HERE!
6 months ago I could never even imagine running for that length or distance and my doctor in Paris was even surprised I’d entered a half marathon, hinting that I really wasn’t fit enough. But here I am now, one marathon completed in a decent time with hopes for many more. As soppy as it sounds, anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
Here’s to the next step!
I can’t believe I’ve only been in Paris for 8 days. I feel like I’ve settled in so quickly, met loads of lovely people and seen some cool stuff and can’t believe I’ve got pretty much a whole year to explore this amazing city.
As I’ve mentioned before, Au Pairing is a completely different world and it’s been a bit strange to fit into my role but I’ve found meeting up with other Au Pairs has been really helpful. Last Sunday I went to my first ‘meet up event’ in Paris; a big picnic organised for international students and au pairs in Champ De Mars, a park directly in front of the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t know anyone there so just sat down with the first group I saw and discovered a few English girls. We all chatted for hours over baguette and some amazing (my new trademark!) Blanc Peche wine. It might be Paris’ version of Lambrini (cheap and sweet) but I don’t care as it’s so yummy. I was so happy I plucked up the courage to go as I met some awesome people who I’ve already seen a few times again since then.
My actual ‘work’ has been enjoyable, I’m learning a lot about the children and they seem to be getting used to me as their new helper/playmate/friend.
One of the biggest challenges here is managing my time and motivating myself to work. Some of you know that I’m studying a TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) course at the moment and I’ve completed the classroom courses so now the rest is online. It’s 120 hours split into about 7 different units; you learn each unit then have a review at the end to test your understanding. I’m in the early stages of it; it’s interesting but difficult to find the right time to do it. I’m also trying to re learn some french using the duolingo app and website, which are both fab. On top of these i’m supposed to be applying for french lessons at a language school for 1 day a week. I obviously want to learn more french whilst here but the cost of these language schools are a bit crazy so I’ll maybe do some more research before booking. So this is my ‘workload’ but there’s a ridiculous amount of other stuff I want to get done this year;
– I’d love to do some dance teaching as I hate coming completely out of the dance bubble
– I need to get my exercise on and stop being so lazy, the plan is to join a netball club
– More photography. I haven’t touched my DSLR in weeks (I always use my mini panasonic but actually setting up a photo is painful for me now) and that needs to change ASAP
– More diary writing as I love that feeling of reading back over great / average / crappy times, months or years later
– More fashion show, events, gigs, parties, meet ups etc!
– Less time worrying about not fitting it all in. And just doing it.
On Saturday I barely left my bed as I felt so ill, I think my travelling was starting to catch up on me. I did eventually manage to leave at 4 in the afternoon to go to some cafes and let Nina get on with her work. That night we went into town and found a great bar to people watch from, the next bar was our chosen spot to watch the England/Italy match. Somehow we were in the perfect spot to see the game with a full room of enthusiastic men behind us and there was a table of English girls in front who needed to go out and smoke every 5 minutes because the game was ‘so stressful’. I decided England aren’t too great at football and they just want to constantly chase the ball; I can confidently say most of the boys at Otjikondo play better than them!
Hello! There are more photos to come, blame Namibia for having the world’s slowest wifi!
Yesterday was a bizarre and exhausting day. And we’d decided that by 12:15.
Living in South Africa means a holiday doesn’t even involve having to cross borders, there are some pretty cool places to go in the country. Callum, Trisha, Bill and I embarked on a 6 day long holiday last week following the famous Garden Route to Addo Elephant Park with a few stops on the way and I think they’ll agree that it was a pretty amazing trip.
The journey began early on 8th May, following a night out and maybe 2 or 3 hours sleep Callum had to pack all his clothes in a few minutes (because he is yet to learn the beautiful art of organisation) and jump in the Suzuki Swift, our mode of transport for the next 6 days. Our first stop was at Paradise House in Knysna, our rooms were stunning we even had little balconies looking out onto hills, the town and the sea. Knysna is beautiful and the scenery is great but the weather was not on our side and that night we watched a huge thunderstorm outside our window. I gave up on trying to get a decent photo and just watched the lightning strike from the comfort of the warm room; it’s kinda exciting to watch and looks so much prettier than lightning in England.
The next morning we woke up to a sunnier view and we were all in high spirits, excited to get onto our next stop until Trisha realised she didn’t have her purse 😦 losing valuable items is rubbish wherever you are but the prospect of not having your purse when you’re away and will be away for the next 7 months must’ve been reallly
crap rubbish. I told myself (and Callum) that we’d find it by 10:27 that morning… We retraced our steps back to the B&B, nowhere to be seen. We rooted through the car, nowhere to be seen. We emptied bags, nowhere to be seen. Our last resort was to ask at the pub that we ate in the night before but when the owner told us he definitely hadn’t seen it we all started to panic. We turned to the car with almost no hope left when at 10:26 the guy came out with it in his hand. He’d decided to double check where we’d been sitting the night before and found it right in the corner. A group hug and a few tears followed before we jumped back in the car to carry on our journey. Maybe it was just a coincidence that we found it by 10:27 or maybe I have actual psychic powers…..
It was an interesting start to our holiday, we left Knysna ready to see some wildlife and have less drama.
So, I’m tempted to post my bucket list on here. It mentions monkeys at least 3 times so you can imagine my excitement at finding out there’s a place called Monkey Town 40km from where we live. I’d hired a car for a week so I dragged my less than enthusiastic boyfriend to Somerset West, the drive was relatively easy and we arrived in less than an hour. I’d already read on trip advisor that the facilities were pretty crap and when we arrived to no lights in the toilets our doubts were quickly confirmed. The taps didn’t work either and when I looked out the window I was greeted by a rat sitting casually on the windowsill, lovely.
We payed the equivalent of about £6 each which granted us entrance to the whole monkey park, a guided tour and 20 mins of playing with squirrel monkeys! As it’s a sanctuary and not a zoo all the animals had been rescued from zoos, circus’ or were previously pets. The monkeys all had loads of space to swing around and ultimately we were caged and they were free, which was great but did mean you had to avoid being pooped on when walking around. I loved seeing and learning about the different types of monkey and one capuchin monkey seemed to love us back equally and stopped to rub it’s nipples while it stared at Callum, as it frothed at the mouth we decided to move on…