When Angel met Edinburgh

This post has been a very long time coming. Even before I began training for this race, I had another huge hurdle to overcome which I have put off for one (terrible) excuse or another. The running has forced me to deal with it as once I am clocking up those miles whilst pounding the pavement, I am in essence alone with my thoughts.

It has forced me to make very difficult decisions and going over very painful memories. And to say it hasn’t been a walk in the park is a total understatement. During this time there have been some total badass people who have in their own ways held me up without even realising or confronting me to make me deal with uncomfortable situations. So I do need to thank those people, that will have to be the next post as this one is about me.

Darren and I arrived in Scotland very early on Saturday morning. I was a bag of nerves and trying to calm myself into taking in the beautiful sights of Edinburgh. After a walk around and some very steep hills, I tried to be sensible and after we checked into our hostels, Darren and I chilled in the common room of my hostel before he left and I showered, pinned my number onto my shorts, organised my kit, and went to bed at 10pm.

After what was a surprisingly great sleep (I think not sleeping properly for two nights meant my body shut down and ignored my brain,) I woke an hour before the alarm and lay there for half an hour with my thoughts and I meditated for a bit before getting ready. Darren met me at the cafe next to my hostel and we ate, I stupidly had pancakes but my thoughts were I wanted something nice to eat before doing something really stupid.

Blurry morning which involved going to the wrong start point, a huge queue for a disgusting Portaloo (thank goodness for sanitiser) and posing for a photo with Andy before I ate his dust when the race started.

Mile 1-3 I have to say to you from the very beginning I started this race, I was NOT in it. It usually takes me a few miles before I find my stride so as usual I was like “What the hell am I doing?” Got to half a mile and someone behind me shouted and chants throughout the runners echoed through and out the tunnel. Sweet. I still wanted to stop and go for some pancakes though, a nasty hill just before the second mile did not help fade that though. Going down hills can be as much of a bitch as going up. The pancakes already in my tummy felt a little heavy. Then I thought about Maple syrup for half a mile until I felt a slight cramp and swore at myself for not eating the toast.

Mile 4 A big blur, I think this was where we started onto the coastline, but who knows? I wanted to go home at this point. Remember using the water from first water station to top up my hydration and on my neck back and chest.

Mile 5 At some point I thought “where are the gels that the maps promised me?” Am so glad I bought my own as later on I needed them. Took my first one as I scheduled one every five miles to get me through. Took it on board fine with water and sipped my Lucozade but it tasted too sweet. I ditched the rest of it and stuck with the water hereon in. The pancakes still felt a little heavy in my stomach.

Mile 6/7/8 I thought a lot here about Mum, not sure why but I remembered random things about my friends that made me laugh and it helped loads. Coastline to the left looked lovely though and watching people playing made me want to go out and join them.

Mile 9 Water, lots of it. Thank you. On the neck, face and back Oh and I did drink some. Another blurry time but got through it again with zoning everything out and thinking about food. It’s always about the food.

Mile 10 Stupid woman watched her stupid kid on her stupid scooter cross the runners and laughed. I shot a glare at the woman and then the kid fell off her scooter. Good. Energy gel on board and I was off like a turbo booster. Not quite, but I was out of there ..

Mile 11 – 12 I don’t remember any of this at all, I think it was where the relay racers changed over, maybe it wasn’t who knows? I do remember water, drinking it and pouring the rest on my neck to cool me down. Meh.

Mile 13 Halfway through and I was only really feeling like I was getting into a rhythm, although I was really blocking everything around me out and relied on the chant I use to calm myself when I am feeling angry/anxious etc. a lot as the sun was starting to take a real stronghold on this race. I wasn’t about to give up though, I ran this distance in my sleep before. More water and realising despite the heat, I wasn’t feeling drained or dehydrated. Thanking myself for drinking 3 litres every day for the past week.

Mile 14 Top of the thigh really started to make itself known now and I was talking to it and asked it to leave me alone until I had finished the race and it eased off. The lack of mp3 player was a blessing and a curse really as maybe it would have meant that I didn’t notice the pain or not. Kinda late for regret, and a little too far to go back and get it now, innit? Bye coastline, hello tarmac and another level of hell. Uneven road.

Mile 15 Welcome cheers along this bit, but the crowds were not so strong here so it felt quite lonely along this stretch, feeling pretty isolated at this point and all I was thinking about now was letting my friends and most of all Isaiah and Mum down if I didn’t come home with my medal. Remembered a conversation Isaiah and I had days before and me telling him to work hard to achieve something he really wanted, and it forced me to (momentarily) snap me out of the negative thoughts that buzzed around my head. I really wanted some music at this point. Gel on board with some water.

Mile 16 At this stage, it was the furthest I had run, but the sight of people laid out, my left hip flexor still punishing me for taking it thirteen miles past when I started getting a niggle, my left knee cursing my whole existence kinda spoiled that moment for me. Hardly any shade, we all ran across the road each time we found a remote second to be out of the intense heat. I tripped on a log (okay it was a twig) luckily not falling flat on my face. To be fair if I had I would probably still be lying there as my body felt too heavy. Saw a man with paramedics looking extremely pale and it shook me up a little. Hydration. No crowds along here, smart folks decided it was too hot I expect …

Mile 17 -19 I was pretty much talking to myself during this time. Hydration and delirious conversations with myself. I knew around the 18 mile mark we would turn back on ourselves and seeing all the runners go past was a help as I remember seeing some of them in front of me not too far ahead. Saw Noushi during this, we exchanged pleasantries about our thighs and I told her I wanted to get this sh*t over and done with now. And to be quite honest with you, I was pretty much over this whole thing at that moment. At some point during all of this nonsense, we ran through a wooded area and past only what I could describe as a sh*t farm. No, I’m not joking, I could smell what I can only think of as dung, a handful of people were passing out water, hosing us down and offering sweets. The smell made me want to pass out. Drop me out, please.

Mile 20 Water station around this mile marker. Some rude guy shoved me out of the way to get TWO bottles.  It wasn’t as if there wasn’t enough or we had come to the end of the tens of people standing holding out the water. I remember saying there was no need for bad manners and shrugged it off, but was quite annoyed. Knocked back my energy gel and kept it moving. Then it hit me. This wasn’t “The Wall” as people explained (more about that later) this was Cry for no reason mile. A lovely Scotch lady called Carry or Kerry ran up to me and just said “It will be okay, I will run with you for a bit” and she ran alongside me for half a mile, I told her I was okay and she was off. I don’t even know why I was crying, but I guess I needed to get whatever it was out of my system. The supporters out along that stretch probably thought I was mad but a lot were shouting my name and reminding me I was almost done. (Thank you.) I pushed on as I knew what was coming up next.

Mile 21 The beauty of being long-sighted is seeing your blind friend before he can see you. I was shouting and waving at him for ages before I came into his vision (lol) I waved frantically and we hugged and I carried on running, he caught up and got a couple of photos and told me he was going to run with me to the end which had me tearing up again. If he knew how much that made my day … I popped off a few shots from my gunfinger for my RDC people.

Mile 22 The excruciating pain at the top of my left thigh came back and I wanted to slap someone when it came on, thankfully Darren didn’t do anything to upset me or it could have been him. He started talking to me again and I reminded myself that at no point had I even walked so I wasn’t about to stop now.

Mile 23 Cramp was setting in but I blocked it out and carried on. Rude Guy from Mile 20 ended up next to me and I could see he was struggling so I asked him what was wrong and he said he was getting cramp, we had a chat and I told him to remember who he was running for (he had ‘Mum’ on the back of his top) and I left him to it. The old me would’ve tripped his ass up, but I left my ego somewhere back on Mile 2/3 when I was getting passed by what felt like the whole of the racing population. Toward the end of this mile the cramp was resurfacing. F**k sake. I want to stop now and go the f**k home now, this is NOT A JOKE. (Corey, that was for you) some guy offered to give me a rubdown after the race. Erm how about NO?!! Popped off a few more gunfinger bullets, Edinburgh wasn’t prepared for this South London woman descending on them, folks were falling back, yo.

Mile 24 I spent the majority of this mile cursing my thighs as I was not going to get this far to then have to be stretchered of or anything. This was my moment for “The Wall” and I did NOT like it one bit! What’s that kids say nowadays? “Nah, fam” Darren reminding me of my family and friends rooting for me almost sent me over the edge crying, damn him. The random dude popped up again offering to give me a rubdown .. the pain subsided a little just thinking about it *shudder* I reckon I ran my fastest here just to get some space between us .. oh look, there’s another water station. Although I had water the burly Scottish guy shouting “take it, Lass” meant I was taking the bottle and taking a few swigs.

Mile 25 Cramping thighs still trying to get me to stop. I continued telling them I wasn’t about to finish now and told them to bore off. I aint the one. Half a mile in I saw a man limping really bad and he stopped for a second. I told him not to stop and he carried on running and then skipping to stay moving. I told him I would stay with him, after a while I asked his name and he told me it was Lee we got chatting and I found out he was from Warrington. Talking with him took my mind off the pain. I became 100%  gassed when I realised we were very close to the end. Cheers were getting louder and the crowds getting so full, so I decided they weren’t loud enough and asked told them to cheer louder, which they did. Now I know how Kanye feels on stage. Haha.

Mile 26 This pretty much was a blur and adrenaline kicked in, I was still demanding the crowds cheered louder. I lost Darren amongst the sea of faces, but I grabbed Lee’s hand and pulled him to the finish line, whooping, screaming and pretty much going bananas. Clock said 4:44 and I was elated. Lee gave me a big hug and we had a chat before I let him go and find his people.

After stretching and a few words with other extremely excitable folk, I went and found the MS Society tent to speak with the ladies there and wait for Darren. I cried. Again.

I had done it, all the talk of ‘thinking of trying a ting’ for seven months with injury, snow, complete and utter breakdown for a month. All of it. I kicked it ass and I got me a marathon. I wanted 5 hours and someone up there gave me 4:42 (I turned my phone on and GSI Events who organise Edinburgh told me my time was actually 4:42 and not 4:44. POW.)

Either way, I did the damn thing. Nobody can really tell me anything for at least six months, as my response will be:

“BLUD, I just ran a marathon!!”


When Angel met Silverstone

I arrived nice and early after a relatively decent coach trip from Victoria to the infamous Silverstone race track. One of the reasons I chose the race was because of the venue. But the queues for the loo was not. After saying bye to the family, getting ready and dropping off our things, I sweet talked coach driver to let me jump on and use the loo. Crisis averted.

We were in the waiting area on the track for around 15 minutes and I was more impatient than nervous. I had been talking about “thinking of running marathons” since I signed up and it felt like it was never going to happen. Darren and I discussed a few things like our expectations and also had discussions as to where in the line-up we should be. I initially was not thinking and started walking towards the sign for the runners aiming to finish in 2:30 until I slapped myself and walked back to just in front of the 2:00 sign.

Through the Start/Finish line

Time to get going, from the very moment we started, a lot of people raced past us and I decided at that point to give way and let them pass. The phrase “marathon not a sprint” replayed in my mind then and throughout the race.

Mile 1

Came and went well, was ahead of schedule a little and it takes me a few miles before I settle in so I needed to get there. People already peeing. I guess they didn’t want to wait for the toilet either …

Mile 2/3/4

Went in a blur, people cheering along the way, my name on my shirt is a good look. Waving at them with gratitude.

Mile 5/6

Erm, so Silverstone is flat, apparently? Why am I digging in and running up the stupidest hill ever? I am not impressed. In fact I want to punch someone for this curve ball. Nice amount of people cheering here, was needed as the sun started to take it upon itself to try and fry me to death.

Mile 7

My energy slightly low not due to lack of fluids, but the intense heat beating down. Took in more drink to combat. Now I know how ants under magnifying glasses feel. Bloody hell. Cheeky little hill snuck up on me. Bugger.

Mile 8

Darren mentions his knee was not in pain but uncomfortable, lovely man cheering us on said I looked beautiful. Said I’d be back later. His wife agreed. Result.

Mile 9

I was worried about Darren just reminding him he was awesome. Blurry mile.

Mile 10

A fly flew into my eye and just as I was about to curse I heard “Mummy!” Isaiah smiling and frantically waving by the sideline and Mum shouting from the stands. Only 3 and a bit miles left, let’s go and get that damn medal, eat my Mum’s chicken and go home.. Washed out the little bugger from my eye with my water and kept going.

Mile 11

I could feel myself waning. Had enough energy but did not want to be there, what was I thinking, felt like I wasn’t running, talking to myself, possibly had a cry. Thanks to whoever shouted for me to keep going, it helped loads. If you were a lady with brown hair, it was you that kept me going. Cheers love. Time to get this race wrapped up and make my way home.

Mile 12

Where the hell is mile 13? I am SO over this sh*t now!! We saw a guy lying on the floor surrounded by ambulance staff, hooked up to a machine and he was profusely vomiting which was just not cool at all. The mile was littered with crampers and fainters which shook me out of my ‘delirious’ stage a mile previous like the marathon version of the beginning sequence of Saving Private Ryan. Sh*t was real out there. At this point would have jumped over people to get to the finish line. I had to finish and go and eat. Chicken was waiting for me and Isaiah was threatening to eat mine if I took too long. Not happening, son.

Mile 13

… Yes, I have this in the bag, can’t feel my legs but sprinted through the finish line. I grabbed Darren’s hand and when he let go of my hand I went for it and sprinted. The cheers were getting louder as I crossed the line and a wave of emotion came over me as I realised I had finished. I then heard my son Isaiah shout and I turned to him and gave him a huge hug.

Darren was behind me and I embraced him and sobbed into his top. The realisation of all our training came flooding back and it was a great feeling. I remembered the cameras and composed myself (probably not quick enough though, time and photos will tell) and went to get the IPCO timing chip removed from my shoe and we then went to collect our goodie bag and dived in to find our medal which was quickly retrieved and flung around our necks. At some point we bumped into Miss Mei who was there to watch her brother and his friends run and I remember rambling to her for a while and probably bending her ear back about training (I was still full of adrenaline, well that’s my excuse.)

We then went to look for our people which was unsuccessful, so grabbed our bags from the holding area then went to the agreed meeting area if we couldn’t find each other and there were loads of hugs, me going to the loo before we went to the car park to tuck into Mum’s chicken, well Darren and Olly did, I felt a little ill from the heat, adrenaline and tiredness.

After a chat and emotional hugs, we said bye to Darren and Olly and were back on the coach, I had my food and we were all sleeping apart from Mum within ten minutes.

A few messages, foam roller time and a bath I was out like a light.

On reflection, I have to say I am not as disappointed with my time now I’ve had sleep and nursed a sore neck from the sun beating down on it for a couple hours.
First off, I completed that race and found some reserve to SPRINT from the 13 mile marker .. eat your heart out, Lewis-Francis.

I got up, put my Lycra on and got out there in sub zero temperatures every Sunday with Darren when a lot of people wouldn’t. I was called crazy, was told I wouldn’t get there after I injured my knee (what lovely friends I have, huh?) and I never thought in a million years I would be entering events this time last year.

The moment my son told me he was proud of me after I crossed the finish line made all of that worth it.

Watch said 02:09:27 as I went to hug Isaiah before stopping my watch IPCO says 02:08:48.

Definitely learned a few things:

  • Sunscreen on the neck back, sunglasses. No long ting. That intense heat was not something to be flippant about.
  • I hydrated well beforehand, but forgot to start with water in my hand so had nothing to sip until first water station.
  • Keeping my head down during the tough bits helped. Seeing all those runners ahead can be deflating.
  • Let the hardcore runners pass. Saw a few people almost get trampled, not me. I let them go. I passed some of them later😉
  • Sports massage two days before, not one. Thighs not so happy with my choice.
  • **forgot this one before I clicked “post” ** Put your name on your shirt. Spectators are so lovely shouting at you when you need it!!

Special thanks to my family, friends, work colleagues for your support, I am sure you’re fed up of all the marathon talk so far. Thanks for putting up with it, most of you know running has saved me.

And anyone who’s donated so far, extra hugs for you. Part of the reason I get up and run when I don’t want to is to not let you down for believing I can do this. Thank you.

Crystal Palace Sports Injury Clinic have been amazing, Amy Sam and Sarah – I did it! Thanks for putting me back together again.

Donate here for my Year of the Unstoppable.

1 .. 2 .. 3 .. BUNGEE!!

How are you all today? Great I hope?! You are? Good!

So erm .. I took a couple hours out of my day today to go and jump 160 feet from a crane in the Greenwich Peninsula in the South East of London … thought you may want to have a look at some of the photos?

I have to say that it was the most surreal experience I’ve ever had. The moment the gate swung open and I stood up to see the crash mat below, I did think I would bottle out. I then snapped out of it, took a step out and that was it.

The first few seconds felt amazing, there was total silence as I came hurtling towards the people below and once that had passed it was sheer excitement and adrenaline. I was shouting, whooping and punching the air like a bad 80’s film, wanting to go up again.

THE best experience to date and I think I will be doing that again ..

Many thanks to my son, Mum, sister Laura, sister Charlene, Darren, Valeen and Christopher for coming and an immense hug of gratitude for the help of Richard who filmed today’s events and will be following my progress for the next few months as I prepare for the half and full marathons.

This page will be updated with all the photos and videos so you may want to bookmark it?

Oh and while you’re here don’t forget that as crazy as I am I am not just doing this for the ‘fun’ of it … the reasons are listed here with the link to make a donation, which can be as small as £1.

Without further ado, here are the photos … enjoy!!


Click here or the tab at the top to view the gallery

Putting my money where my mouth is (or should that be abs?)

As you’re probably well aware of by now I have been concentrating on getting stronger while I rest my knee after an injury. The challenge is over now but I am carrying it on as part of my strength work while I train for these marathons.

Melissa asked if a few of the challengers would document their progression by shooting a video, which I agreed to. Here is is below, and I know my technique needs (a lot of) work, but hey, I’m not perfect … yet! Video quality isn’t the best, bite me!

For more information on the next twelve months have a look at my 2012: Year of the Unstoppable page and donate if you can! x

01/11/2011 – The Beginning

The past week has been somewhat phenomenal. I have learned a lot about myself.

I started the week off (Tuesday) with the 30 Day Ab Challenge (30DAC) which has been challenging but which quite frankly left me in bits on the floor. First of all, who told me to leave the heating on, and secondly who is Ivan? I’d love to know as there is a move called the Crazy Ivan that was part of the 15 minute workout which involves sitting with your feet off the floor, straight back and in essence the Saturday Night Fever move. All I know is I now dislike anyone called Ivan from hereon in … Tuesday was the first day back after a horrific cold/flu thing (which I think I still have the remnants of) which had me in bed from the previous Tuesday until Sunday. I have managed to get through the workouts without stopping. Granted, my neighbours have probably thought I am a mad woman grunting, but I don’t care.

The same day saw me take on the Nike Running with Darren who is training for the London Marathon. Very exciting day for the pair of us. A big learning curve as I struggled particularly for the last mile of our 4 mile run but I did not stop once. Mentally that was a big thing for me because I know if I was running alone I most likely would have. The date 01/11/11 is going to be marked as a special date for me as it was a day that I did not quit. Not even for a second before carrying on.

Thursday saw a return of the 30 Day Ab Challenge workout which was tougher as I’d had the run a couple of days before and my muscles were tired, but again I maintained through grunting and did the damn thing. I also spoke to someone who is going to help me with a project tying in my bungee jump, half and full marathon. The immense love I felt and the belief in me was overwhelming. Stay tuned, and you will definitely be the first to know once logistics have been finalised!

Friday I took on a 5km run with slight reluctance, but those 30 odd minutes passed without realisation and I actually ran almost 6km, good times!!

I am sitting here now broken as I have just finished the third day of the week with the 30DAC. Feeling tired but proud of myself. And thanks to those of you who have been so supportive, it is very much appreciated.

Bring on another week!

Two challenges; one post .. hurrah!

Now aren’t you a lucky lot today, two posts? Yes indeed!

This will be a double hitter as I don’t want to shock you so much with a third post now, that would be far too generous of me. *wink*

First up a heads up, its the first day of the 30 Day Ab Challenge I was forced into signed up to. And judging by the first workout it looks like Things. Just. Got. Interesting. Let’s hope I’m still able to move later as I am running with my friend Darren later.

Not too late to sign up. 30 other people are on this so you’ll have a support network, its free, and everyone has their own reason/personal goal as to why they’re on this quest, so don’t be shy. Details below.

Next up is my latest Vlog to keep you posted on my Year of the Unstoppable journey. Hopefully better than my first attempt. Enjoy.

For more information on the 30 Day Ab Challenge check out Thru the Blue’s blog, and while you’re there check out the post written about me (yay)

If you’re on Twitter follow @thrutheblue, or search via the hashtag #30DayAbChallenge.