Tuesday, 27 March 2012

200 up

Training miles completed this week: 20
Total training miles completed: 208
Training miles left: 30
Training runs left: 6

Hello again - thanks for taking the time to drop in.

This week saw another 2 big milestones in my quest for the marathon.  I completed my longest run on the training programme (20 miles) and also saw me break the 200 mile mark overall.

All this came at a bit of a price as I've picked up another niggling injury which means I'm going to be taking it really steady over the next few weeks.  The summary above says another 30 miles over 6 runs but it's increasingly likely that I'm going to just do 3 runs to minimise the risk of any serious injury.  I've worked too hard over the last few months to not get to the start line and now I feel mentally prepared to take on the full distance - I just need to be physically able !

The 20 mile run went really well which was something of a surprise.  I was convinced after my 18 mile horror show that I would struggle a lot but it wasn't really the case.  I think I've probably perfected a decent run/walk strategy which conserves enough energy for the latter parts of the run and I've also got a good understanding of how my blood sugar will react and what insulin doses I need on the day.

I managed 20 miles in 3 hours 53 which felt good.  A 12 minute mile pace would be 4 hours so I'm still to do a run that's over that pace which is encouraging.  Again, I'll stress that my finish time isn't important to me, but knowing my pace so I can predict where I'll be and when is key so having that understanding is good.  I also managed the last 6 miles in 72 minutes which makes me think I can complete the course in about 5:15.

My 'shin splits' (or whatever that particular pain is) were still uncomfortable during the early parts of the run (the part with the most hilly terrain) and I've picked up a pain very similar to the one that forced me out of the Sheffield Half Marathon 4 years ago, but this time in my left foot.  I'm hoping it's a bit of bruising and nothing more but I'll keep the weight off it and only run when it feels right.

Doing that 20 miles has convinced me I have a strategy to complete the marathon and still be standing afterwards and that has to be a hugely positive thing.  If you weren't familiar with my starting position when I went into this training, this introduction blog post will give you an idea of how far I've come.

My final marathon pack came in the post this week and it contains all the details you need to register, get to the start, and know what to do at the end.  You have to go to the EXCEL Centre (Custom House) in London to register and pick up your running number and timing tag.  I'm doing all that on the Friday before the marathon so I can hopefully have a day or so of rest in London before the race.

I'll be starting from the Blue start at Blackheath at 9:45am on April 22nd.  This is where most of the mass runners will start but everyone from the other 2 start areas will merge together by about mile 3.  I think this first 3 miles will be a bit tricky due to the sheer volume of runners on the course.  I'm guessing that this will take a bit of time to get through but hopefully I'll get into my stride as soon as possible after that.

For a look at the course map, click on this Interactive Map

There's been a lot more fundraising money in this week which is good news!  Current total is £707.50 which is more than £130 in the last week alone.  The generosity everyone has shown has been incredible!  I do still have some more donations that I've been promised as well so I hope I'll be able to get around £800 in total which would be a really amazing.  Again, I can't thank people enough for what they've done.

As always, all money that I raise is being split between Diabetes UK and The Sheffield Children's Hospital Charity - two very worthy causes. The Children's Hospital money will be going to help fund a summer camp for children with diabetes which is very worthwhile.

I'd also just like to say thanks again to the virtual running club on Twitter - you all give me a lot of motivation to keep going when it always seems easier to stop.  Thank you.

I'll sign off this week with a quote a good friend of mine gave me from her marathon finisher's t-shirt from a few years back: You see impossible. I see the finish line. Impossible is nothing.   That'll be at the front of my mind over the next few weeks now.  25 days and counting.

Thanks for reading - I'm not sure I do enough to express how important your support is.

Take care


You can donate at any time by clicking on this fundraising link

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Pain management

Training miles completed this week: 16
Total training miles completed: 188
Training miles left: 25 + taper off period
Training runs left: 8

Hello again.

There's only 31 days left until I'll be lining up to start the marathon.  It feels like yesterday I remember the countdown being 180 days and thinking I had all the time in the world to train and prepare.

Training is definitely beginning to take it's toll now, with pretty much every day spent ignoring some form of pain.  I think that it (being in pain) has been so much of the norm for me over the past 4 years that I'm surprised that I can still really feel it at all.

But I can feel it and the major battle I've had this week has been in my mind.  For those of you who know me, you'll know that I'm a bit stubborn from time to time, and training is one of those areas where I'm the most bloody-minded of all.  I'll try and explain...

I've come to terms with the fact that it's unlikely I'll ever really lose the aches and pains in my foot if I want to continue any form of running based exercise.  It's the new, less familiar pain that I'm struggling to get used to.  When I did my 4 mile run last week, I had a bit of pain in my ankle joints and in my legs, but I passed it off as lack of proper stretching and warm-up.  I did 16 miles on Saturday morning and the pain was there again but I ran through it and it disappeared after about 4 miles.  (I managed the distance in 3:04 and I felt like I could have kept jogging/walking as well which was pleasing)

I Googled shin splints when I got in as it seemed to be the only condition I could think of that would make sense.  And reading through the causes and symptoms, it does make a lot of sense.  I'm not going to visit my GP for it as I know the answer is rest.  I also don't want someone to tell me I can't run because I've worked too hard to get to where I am.

On the other hand, I constantly remind myself that I've already done less training than someone preparing for their first marathon should do and so missing any distance at all never really seems acceptable to me.  I'm into the mindset that I'm 'only' doing 6 miles so it shouldn't be a problem, not really letting myself understand that 6 miles is a distance that means I need to take care.

Ultimately, my goal is to do the marathon and if that means cutting back on my training and resting sensibly then that's what I should do, no matter how hard it might be.

I've decided to skip my 6 mile run for tonight in favour of resting and keeping my 20 mile run on track for the weekend.  Whether that turns out to be a sensible decision or not, only time will tell but it feels like a good compromise.  I think I wrote some weeks back about saying that I'd cut down to one run a week if that's what I needed to do.  There's only 4 weeks left and I think getting this close to race day and feeling ready to compete is an achievement in itself.  If I only do 4 more runs instead of 8 then it doesn't really matter - I just need to convince myself of that.

I've conquered my battered ankle, (possible) shin splints, at least one stress fractured toe (possibly two) and now I just need to get the better of my own psyche.

I managed my blood sugar really well again on the last 16 mile jaunt (reaffirming my belief that the 18 mile run was so painful because I got things wrong).  I'm convinced now that 8 miles and then 4 jelly babies every 4 miles will get me round comfortably.  I'm glad to have one less thing to worry about.

There's been some more fundraising money in this week which is good news!  Current total is £575 and I'm hoping I can break the £700 barrier before April 22nd.  I'm becoming a bit more direct in terms of sponsorship requests now (as the people in my office will be finding out this week) so I'm still hopeful of making at least £700 before I top up the rest to £1000.  The generosity everyone has shown has been incredible!

As always, all money that I raise is being split between Diabetes UK and The Sheffield Children's Hospital Charity - two very worthy causes. The Children's Hospital money will be going to help fund a summer camp for children with diabetes which is very worthwhile.

I had an interesting conversation with my daughter this week.  She came up to tell me that she had a poorly tummy and she needed an injection to feel better.  She sees me injecting before meals and asks what I'm doing.  I tell her it's because I'm not very well and I have to take medicine.  It's hard to see her mimicking what I do because one of my big fears is that she'll end up the same way.  But I don't see the point in hiding it from her either.  Fortunately, this only lasted a couple of days this time.

Finally, a word on another blog you might enjoy.  A friend of mine has entered the Tough Mudder event in November and has started a training regime that will ultimately put me to shame.  You can follow Sam's progress here - it's a great read.  We seemed to have a bit of a virtual running club on Twitter at the moment and it's great to get support and chat things through with people doing the same thing.  A really valuable way to stay sane.  Thanks - you know who you are.

Have a good week - hopefully next time I'll be able to report on a decent 20 mile slog.

Take care


You can donate at any time by clicking on this fundraising link

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Self doubt and inner voices

Training miles completed this week: 22
Total training miles completed: 172
Training miles left: 47 + taper off period
Training runs left: 10

Hello - happy Wednesday

Arduous, brutal, crushing, exhausting, punishing and tortuous.  I think I used the word 'grueling' last week to describe how running 16 miles felt.  These new words are more appropriate for how 18 miles feels.

I managed the distance in a not-utterly-unacceptable time of 3hrs 35minutes - essentially a 12 minute mile average.  But the actual run was possibly the most agonising thing I can remember doing.  The first 9 miles was OK (1hr 37mins) but the second half was best summed up using one of the words above.  I got to about 15 miles before I really felt like it'd beaten me - legs felt heavy, ankle felt stiff, agonising pain in my back and persistent cramping in my calf put me on the verge of tears.  I was in no fit state to really measure but I think I ended up running about 100 yards at a time and walking for distances inbetween.

I got in and for the first time actually said "I don't know if I can do this" out loud.  Fortunately, my incredibly understanding wife was able to talk some sense into me.  The doubt was there for a few minutes though and it didn't feel good. 

I'm absolutely under no illusions now about how difficult this is going to be, no misconceptions about how painful it will be or how mentally exhausted I'll be when I get to the end.  Making myself run when my mind is telling me I can't is beyond draining.  It goes against all sense and logic but I need to keep going now.  There are 38 days left until the marathon - that's not long at all and I need to stay focused until then.

Whilst that 18 miles gave me plenty to think about, there were a few positives that came out of it, and they need to be mentioned as much, if not more, than the battle with my demons.

Firstly - I actually finished the distance.  I may have walked a lot more than I would have liked, but I did it.  If I had to walk another 8 miles then I (probably) could have done.  Secondly, where I was convinced last week that I'd possibly brusied the bone in my foot, I managed the whole distance without even so much as a slight jolt of pain from that injury.  That's really encouraging.  Finally, for all the training I do, I know I can't replicate the actual event itself.  I'm hoping the crowds, the change of scenery and running alongside other people is going to give me a boost that I'll be able to put a decent performance in one the day.

For those considering backing me to win it (or to finish inside 5 hours) you might be best advised to keep hold of your money...

I think one of the reasons the run was so tough was that I got my blood sugar levels completely wrong at the weekend.  They were at a similar level when I set off to what they were the previous week.  But the level didn't drop at all as I expected and I managed the entire run without a single jelly baby to keep me going.  Whilst I may have hit the wall at around mile 15, I don't feel like I ever really got into a decent rhythm and I think my sugar levels might have something to do with that.  I've got 2 big runs left to try and sort that problem out.  Worst case scenario is that I have to test my levels around London, But I'd like to avoid that is possible.

More fundraising money has come in this week which is good news!  I've finally got a paper sponsor form to carry around, and my wife is drumming up support in here office as well.  Current total is £545 and I'm hoping I can break the £700 barrier before April 22nd.  I've given my close friends and family enough time to think about donating and now I'm actively calling that money in so I hope I'll be able to report another increase next week.  A number of people that follow me on Twitter have also pledged to donate which is incredibly kind of them.

One of the things that's really struck me is how unwavering the support has been for what I'm doing, particularly from people I've met perhaps once or twice, and in some cases, not at all.  Their belief and encouragement has been fantastic, and their willingness to donate money on the scale they have is out of this world.  It's that kind of thing that really keeps me going as the end comes into sight.

As always, all money that I raise is being split between Diabetes UK and The Sheffield Children's Hospital Charity - two very worthy causes. The Children's Hospital money will be going to help fund a summer camp for children with diabetes which is very worthwhile

I'd also just like to thank Ellie from Diabetes UK and Tonya from Sheffield Children's for all their help this last week - they do a great job deserve to be well recognised.

16 miles this weekend before a psychologically huge 20 miles the weekend after.  I can vaguely remember looking at those distances on the plan back in November and thinking how far away they were and how incredible it was to think I could manage those distances. 

The end is in sight now and I'm detemined not to let anyone down.

Thanks for reading - your support is incredible

Take care


Wednesday, 7 March 2012

150 not out

Training miles completed this week: 21
Total training miles completed: 150
Training miles left: 69 + taper off period
Training runs left: 12 (inc taper period)

Hello again

This last week has seen a couple of milestones fall by the wayside.  Firstly, as this week's title suggests, I completed my 150th training mile.  It sounds like a lot but I guess having that spread out over a fair few months it's probably not quite as fanfare worthy as it seems.

The other milestone was ticking off a 16 mile run on Saturday morning.  This one is important for a number of reasons I think.  Firstly, it's the furthest distance I've ever managed and I'm not hobbling around in agony so that's promising.  Secondly, I've now got an idea of how much the full distance is going to hurt and I know I can cope with the aches and the pains (to a degree) so that's good to know. I managed it in a respectable 3 hours, which, considering how I felt after about 7 miles, was a more than decent time. Finally, I managed the distance with good control of my diabetes.

Following on from my dietician appointment, we'd discussed monitoring my blood sugar while I was running to understand what I'll need to do to be at my bets come race day.  My figures looked like this:

Start: 22.1mmol (high but I'd eaten a decent breakfast and had a slightly elevated level from the night before)
8 miles: 8.0mmol - ate 4 jelly babies
12 miles 9.6mmol
14miles 5.6 - ate 4 jelly babies
Finish (after cool down etc) 6.4mmol

To be honest, I don't think I could have wished for it to have been any better than that.  Obviously I can't use one run as a guide and I'll be testing over the next 3 weekends as well, but it seems the "1-2 jelly babies per mile" advice that I read seems to hold out OK.  I'll monitor that going forward.

I did an easy 5 miles tonight but managed to do it in a record 50 minutes flat - knocking another 3 minutes off my best time for the distance.  Over the past fortnight I've got it down from 55 to 50 minutes so I'm very pleased with that.

I've been struggling over the last week with running.  Not in a physical way per se (although the aches after the long runs are a challenge).  It's the mental aspect of it which is now daunting me.  I'm confident I'll survive the course now - I've run enough to know that I think.  I don't think I've been prepared for how emotionally draining the training gets over the final few weeks.  Getting myself into the mindset of running long distances, and having the inner strength to keep myself going is a lot harder than I'd imagined and I'll really need to work on that between now and the race.

I think that's part of the reason I ran so quickly tonight - I wanted to blow away a few cobwebs and try and motivate myself.  

I've been wanting to go out and do a few extra runs over the last week or so - nothing major - just an extra couple of miles a week but I've stopped myself because I'm scared I'll overdo it and injure myself.  I found the 16 miles tough at the weekend and I guess that's to be expected at the best of times, but when I remember what I've been through to get here, coupled with the fact that a basic training schedule should be 3 runs per week, I think I should be pleased overall.  I feel confident I can finish the distance now and that's a great boost.

Nothing much happening from a diabetes poiint of view which I suppose is good news really.  I've been having a few higher readings in the morning of late but if I'm a bit stricter about testing my blood sugar a couple of times before bed then I should be able to eradicate those.  I've probably also been suffering from the effects of eating leftover birthday cake from my daughter's party but that contributing factor has now been dealt with...

A bit more fundraising money has come in this week which is good news!  Thanks to those that contributed this week, and another thank you to everyone who's put their hand in their pocket so far.  I'm now exactly halfway to my £1000 goal so, with a little over 6 weeks to go, there's a big push to get as close to the target as possible.  I had some incentives put my way this week, in that a couple of people have pledged £30 each if I get my time below 4:48 for the marathon.  As I've said all along, my time isn't important to me, but if I'm through mile 25 and that time is in sight, it should give me the motivation to get over the line.   As always, all money raised is being split between Diabetes UK and The Sheffield Children's Hospital Charity - two very worthy causes.

As I suggested over the last few weeks, the closer I get to April 22nd, the more I might shamelessly beg you for a few quid, so if you can spare anything at all, please click on the fundraising link above and donate.  I'll be eternally grateful if you do.

I'll leave it there for this week - got a big 18 mile run ahead of me on Sunday.  Hoping it goes as well as last weekend.

Thanks, as ever, for taking the time to read this - your support is incredibly important to me.

Have a good week