Monday, 21 September 2015

#Together42 #WeAreMarathoners

When everything else seems to be going wrong, at least running will always be right.

It's race week, baby!

Despite having a complete arse of a work week, I'm in the final phases of tapering for my second marathon and finally things are coming together. Finally my chewed up and blistered toes are healing and they held up well yesterday afternoon. 

I never wanted them anyway...

Yesterday involved a 4.30am wake up call, a drive up to Perthshire to don some hi-vis and marshal my way through the morning at the awesome Iron Ride cycling sportive, a drive back down the road, a quick bagel, a nap on the sofa and then a speedy wee 8 mile run. 

The nap really made it. 

I may or may not have had to dance around the flat in my pants before I was geared up enough to get outside and do some real exercise though. And I may or may not have had peanut M&Ms for my dinner while sat on the sofa watching Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. 

Oh, the shame.

Overall this taper has been different and possibly less anxious than the run up to LA Marathon. Sleep hasn't been too forthcoming over the past couple of weeks but it's ok, I'm trusting my body to tell me if it needs a nap. I'm also getting up at 5am every morning so my body clock can adjust in time for Sunday. This time round I've been consumed with fear that my poor toes wouldn't heal in time for race day and that I'd be distracted by painful blisters which would scupper my chances of a good finishing time. 

I haven't ever suffered with blisters before - this suddenly started about six weeks ago and seemed to only affect my tiptoes! But ouch...I was massacred with it, and never being able to leave more than a day between runs wasn't helping matters. The misery was tough to run through and it's what started me on my negative funk that day when I hit the wall - the start of the slippery slope to absolute doom. 

Thankfully I've finally cracked it - but I was getting worried. What I couldn't accept was that I'd done all this training, strategically lost 11lb through some seriously controlled calorie intake, and gone without my cherished vino for a small eternity...yet I was about to have everything scuppered by sore tiptoes. It seemed ridiculous! But thankfully it's becoming less and less of a threat as the days creep by. 

I'm running faster on my mid-distance runs, and I mean noticeably faster. I ran a 21.4mile negative split and my fastest miles were 20 and 21. I am averaging 9min miles on anything up to 10k. I'm seriously excited to see what I can pull out of the bag on Sunday, but need to keep calm and not get too ahead of myself. 

I enjoyed a bit of FaceTime with Tully last night - she applauded my projection of my anxiety into some pretty hardcore list-making. You should see these bad-boys though - I have lists that are so beautiful they'd make you weep. Tick boxes and everything. Beasts. 

True to form then, here's a few condensed facts that every Marathon runner will live by this week, and every normal person will have never needed to consider:

  • We will travel in our race shoes, making sure that even in the event of luggage being lost by an airline, we needn't worry about our feet. We probably already have our travel outfit and hand luggage ready to go.
  • We have mapped the route on our fitness apps and can almost taste the smugness of swiping that sexy sexy "Share Workout" button. Ohhh yyyyeah.
  • We have every meal for the next 5 days meticulously planned; oats and sweet potatoes are the order of the day.
  • We don't take kindly to people assuming we can eat whatever we want just because we run.
  • We don't take kindly to people telling us that running is bad for our knees. 
  • We are taking buses or the car for even the shortest of journeys so as to conserve energy and only run the precise miles we have scheduled into our tapering plans.
  • We will run the day before the Marathon. It is just a thing that we will do.
  • We have a selection of lists for hand luggage, case, race bag and a separate one for how to get to the start case following 40,000 other lycra-clad people wasn't going to give it away.
  • We can't explain why we love putting ourselves through all of this...or why we are quite so excited.

Thankfully I don't need to think about a playlist because I've not run with music or anything other than the sound around me for the past two years now. Hearing the patter of thousands of rubber-soled feet purring on hard tarmac is a beautiful noise and the feeling it evokes is unlike anything else. I can't wait to get to Germany on Thursday.

It's hard to explain. Other than to say, we are marathoners...

Next one will be the big one. Thank you so much for being really patient, supportive and kind to me over the past months. Here's to an uneventful 26.2miles in beautiful Berlin. 

Nikki. xxx

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

..."Sleepwise I'm Medium to Well Done, for sure"...

First off, I have to make an apology to Scotland. I, along with many others, have been flippantly commenting on the "rubbish summer" we have had up here this year. I feel the need to put this into context slightly as I feel we have been misrepresenting you, Scotland. I have been out running every weekend for the past 19 weeks and I have to say that throughout that time, I haven't been rained on once during any of my long runs. I have tan lines like a retired accountant in Benidorm; I am hobbling proof that Scotland has indeed seen sunshine this summer and I'm standing on the Scottish defensive weather front.

Moving swiftly on from that favourite British pastime of chatting about the weather, it's all been very tame over the past week. After that blinding 21.4miler, I feel pretty happy to wind down and taper. I'm rocking a cut calorie and lower carb version of my normal diet, which combined with less running will effect a natural carb load over the next 2.5weeks leading up to race day. I'm feeling lighter already. Lots of tasty low fat proteins and piles of raw courgetti with every meal. What's not to love!?

The only game-shaker this week came in the form of uncertainty surrounding running shoes. Without getting into too much gory detail, I've been battling some pretty grim issues with my big toe and blisters on one foot. Really dreadful blistering beneath my nail that has caused all sorts of whining and complaining while limping around the flat. Poor Tom. 

I'd also pretty much shit-canned my old trainers too - 360 miles on tarmac and the soles were starting to wear away enough for me to definitely consider breaking in a new pair for race day. AC said this was easy done and that I definitely wasn't too late to run a fresh pair in. Sold. As always, Run 4 It went the extra mile so I didn't have to, and they sorted me out a treat with a pair of the exact same shoes, just half the price I paid for my first pair (le sigh) and in a much less garish pink. Winning. 

Yummy scrummy Asics Gel Cumulus 16s for the devouring
So new shoes were a good idea. What perhaps wasn't such a good idea then was choosing to break them in on a 13.1mile run back along the gravel-ridden A702 in 18degree sunshine. A bit on the snug side, I'd say! Slightly sore on the old soles there, but I went out tonight and shaved 2mins off my 6mile time with zero toe pain so I'm back in the zone of confident/calm again with them now. They can stay. We are friends now. Blue Team is the way forward. Go Blue Team.

It's funny how the mental aspect of running is SO significant, but it really makes all the difference. Thankfully even after the more difficult runs, I've found the grit and resolve to get back out and keep going with all my training. Skipping runs and giving up has not been an option unless I've genuinely known that my body needed an extra day to recover. Having everyone's kind sponsorship and support has made a huge impact too, and has been really encouraging on those harder days when an extra hour in bed feels really tempting. Thank you again for that. If you'd still like to sponsor my journey to the finish line of this year's Berlin Marathon, please just head to my JustGiving page

Anyway, back to the feet thing, I've been donning some pretty swish running socks with the ends cut off in a last bid attempt to aid the healing process after #ToeGate2015. These bad boys, combined with Epsom salt baths, seem to be doing ok - so far, so good, as they say. :)

All in all I'm feeling a lot less anxious than at this point in my taper for LA. I remember having all these crazy anxiety dreams about missing flights and being lost and naked in public. Anxiety's Greatest Hits as I call it. But this time I've just been rocking 10 hours of sleep at night and who even knows what I'm dreaming about for that crazy amount of time..? Probably MY BEST FRIEND'S TOTALLY AWESOME WEDDING...

Never over it. I miss everyone so much!

Whatever it is, my body must be really enjoying the healing process. Lots of lovely sleep to get these hard-worked muscles all ready for race day - I'm excited beyond belief. I even had an outrageous thought and started talking CRAZY TALK about Boston one day. But that's a distant dream I daren't get too attached to for a long while yet...

It's a nice dream to hold in the back of my mind though. Anything is possible.

Not much else to report's all going to plan. So I'll shut up and stop being so goddamn smug before I fall down some stairs or something, eh...


Love you millions, 
Nikki. xxx