The Incredible Shrinking Woman

2 years 75 days – I take my hat off to … 27 April 2010

… the bloke who said ‘it’s the hottest day of the year so I think I’ll slip into my Thunderbirds suit’ and made me laugh at the start line; the little old man in his front garden shouting ‘oggi, oggi, oggi!’ at around 3 miles; the lunatic running with the fridge on his back; Uncle Bulgaria who was about half a minute in front of me and acted as an early warning for my spectators; the gospel choir singing ‘he’s got the marathon runners in his hands’; the landlord/landlady who turned their pub into a pirate ship and their locals into cutlass-waving pirates; Barnardo’s for treating us so well from the day we applied to the moment we trudged home with our medals; the random runner who said ‘come on, we’re almost there’ and got me running again at 19 miles; Daley Thompson and Snowy; the St John’s volunteer who stuck my blistered toes back together at 22 miles; the band who struck up ‘I Predict A Riot’ just as I was starting to flag; the giraffe runner for initiating a colossal cheer going through Canary Wharf; my Mum, Dad and The Boy for the sheer joy of seeing them as I rounded the corner at the Lord Nelson; all the people at the drinks stations for keeping us going in the heat; the little boy who yelled ‘high five me, Joe!’ on Birdcage Walk; all of my nearest and dearest who stood beside the road and cheered; whoever invented Vaseline; the self-titled ‘guy in the turban’ who was running to be a good role model for his kids; all the #vlm tweeters; Tom the trainer and Jane the physio and Kellie the massage therapist; every single wonderful spectator because, without doubt, you carry each and every one of us along the route.  You rock.

So, I did it.  I did it in a reasonably respectable 5 hours 23 minutes.  I was scuppered by blistered toes at 22 miles and had to walk the rest of it, so I’m mighty pleased with that time.  And my dodgy leg?  Not a problem in the slightest.  Typical 🙂

It was probably the best day of my life.  You won’t believe me, but I enjoyed every minute (except the horror of removing my sock at 22 miles, perhaps, but I won’t go into the gory details).  And I fully intend to do it again.

One thing that troubles me is that, having seen some photos of the day, I look absolutely HUGE.  Partly this is in my mind, partly this is the result of a week of carb loading, and partly this is because I need to take my weight by the reins again.  While I recover the use of my legs this week, I’m going to plan how exactly I do that.  Watch this space.


2 years 71 days – Well here goes nothing! 23 April 2010

So it’s less than 48 hours until the start of the Marathon.  Yes, I am running.  Yes, I am excited.  Yes, I am bloody terrified.

Since last posting it has been the usual story of ups and downs.  Despite my cleaner’s best attempts to cripple me with her shiny floors, it was only a minor setback and the following weekend I took myself off to Tooting Bec Common to attempt a genuinely long run.  I knew it was risky, and I knew that I needed to resist the temptation to play catch-up (according to the original plan I should’ve run 20 miles on Easter weekend), but I simply couldn’t bear the thought of tackling the Marathon having only achieved a relatively puny 10 miles.  I was hoping that I could manage 12, maybe a bit more.  The Boy threw down the gauntlet and told me not to bother coming home until I’d clocked 15.

Well, I did it, and it was brilliant.  I ran 6 miles without a break, then adopted the walk/run tactic which I’m going to have to employ on the day itself.  This meant taking a 1-2 minute walking (and water) break, then running the rest of the mile, then taking another break.  I was flying up to about 10 miles, then I had a minor attack of the wobbles (probably the mental barrier of ‘eeek, I’ve never run further than this’), then had massive elation at 13 when I realised I’d completed a half marathon.  My body was telling me to stop at that point (I was having a minor attack of the wobbly legs) but I simply couldn’t face the thought of not hitting the magic 15.  For those last two difficult miles I walked 1 minute, ran the rest of the half mile, walked 1 minute, completed the mile.  And I did it … also spurred on  (weirdly) by the promise to myself of a cup of tea at the cafe on the Common that I kept running past.  I don’t even like tea.

I cannot tell you how incredible I felt afterwards.  That was the moment when it clicked in my brain that the terrifying distance of 26.2 is actually within my grasp … I couldn’t have run another 11 miles at that point for love nor money, but it felt like an achievable aim rather than an insane delusion.  I was fast, too, managing a very respectable 2 hours and 37 minutes, despite the walking.  And, for the record, I did indeed have a lovely cup of tea (and a slice of carrot cake) at the cafe, in the sunshine, surrounded by lots of people who were undertaking the more sensible activity of loafing around with their kids on a Sunday afternoon 🙂

The fact that I limped like a woman three times my age until the middle of the following week is neither here nor there.

So, feeling invincible, I went out running later that week and, inexplicably, could only do 2 miles before my leg decided I was going no further.  After every high comes a low, eh!  The bad thing was that I was 2 miles from home, stupidly without cash or phone, and limping.  The good thing was that the long and chilly hobble home saved me from collapsing into a snivelling heap (limping through Clapham in tears with snot bubbles coming out of your nose is not a good look).  I simply had to pick myself up again, I told myself, as I re-applied ice packs to my bothersome groin (please forgive the mental picture that may conjure up).

And pick myself up I did.  Back to the gym, back to the cardio, back to the relentless tedium of the cross trainer.  Last weekend I felt brave enough to run again and went out to face my demons on the Common.  This time I clocked a delightful 6 miles in an incredible 1 hour and 25 seconds.  Damn those 25 seconds!  Team Doman was back in business, and not a moment too soon.

I’ve not run since (discretion being the better part of valour and all that).  Instead I’ve been eating enough pasta to sustain a small region of Italy, drinking Ribena like it’s going out of style, and getting increasingly excited about the Big Day.  I’ve also, very satisfyingly, raised over £2500 now which is a huge incentive in itself.

Best of luck to anyone reading this who’s also running … I hope you have a great race.  I’m off to register this afternoon, and then there will be no stopping runner 34661.  If you’re watching on Sunday and see a woman with a very red face and a bright green Barnardo’s vest with ‘JOE’ on the front, that will be me.  Give me a wave and a cheer.  I’ll need it!