The London Marathon 2017 | Race Re-cap!
So I ran my second London Marathon on Sunday 23rd of April 2017.
It was my third marathon. And it was a beaut - we thank God! (Grab a cuppa, let's get into it!)
Last year, I towed the start line with so many questions in my head:
I was taking a big risk it felt: pushing my body to its limits (possibly) and making my mind up about this whole long-distance running thing.
Well, at the end of that race, I was hooked! I had run throughout and I was so carried by the crowds that I made 3:42 and some change! I was estatic! And of course, I wanted another chance to do it again.
Imagine my delight to find out that my time was "Good-for-age" for my age-group and I could enter without relying on the ballot (read, very unlikely) or charity places (I'm not so good at fundraising). The fundraising is something I have to work on but...not for now! lol!
So I booked my next marathon after a few more half-marathons and went off to Athens. You can read that amazing race re-cap here - it is the Original Marathon after all.
This year's marathon training was not a walk in the park!
I also had something to prove - to myself, really. I wanted to beat my last time but also push it down closer to the 3 hour mark! Yes, I am that crazy person!
Algarve Spring Training Camp 2017
By most pure string of serendipity, whilst searching for a fall marathon for 2017 after an awesome race in Athens (yes, I'm well and truly addicted!), I stumbled across 209 Events. They are one of only TWO tour companies that offer all-inclusive entries to the New York Marathon. Since at the time it was WAY too early to be checking for such entries, I clicked on their website and spied the "Spring Training Camp" with running, sports massages, yoga and one-on-one coach time! Add that to the fact it was in Algarve, Portugal - I was sold.
Of course I mentioned it like 500 times to my friends, whilst bookmarking and emailing the organisers about possibly getting a lift to the hotel a day early (yes, I'd checked flights - £39.98 return with RyanAir!). Sadly (for them) my friends were not as keen. And you didn't have to ask me twice before I'd booked my flights and paid my down-payment for the week!
I know you're curious about it. Too bad, I'm telling you anyway!
Running a Half-Marathon | My Top Tips! *Requested*
This is a requested blog post. A couple of weeks ago, someone asked if I could share some tips for running a half-marathon. So I thought I'd do a post to get others started.
First off, let me say: I am not a qualified coach, nor am I a running guru! I am just a woman with a passion for running that has allowed me to push past my preconceived boundaries to achieve SO MUCH MORE.
Now that those house-keeping bits are out of the way:
A couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to run a half-marathon. Why? A friend of mine who had only started running very recently at the time had run one and she raved about it! I was shocked as I had not even thought of such a thing before that. I'll be honest, I didn't even know a half-marathon race distance existed! I thought it was 5K, 10K and those crazy Marathoners. Imagine my surprise when she danced over to me saying she'd had a blast finishing one and wanted to do another!
Well, my competitive streak had been held under for the last few years (we'll excuse medical school as we were all just pushing each other to do better, yadi yada) and I was able to pretend I was just curious to see if I could do it too. So I did the only logical thing I could think of: I ran a 10K to get that out of the way - I had only run a 5K race previously so I wanted to step up the distance.
It was the worst 10K race EVER! And oddly enough, I am so thankful that it was.
I started off too fast, (deleted sentence) and my feet were on FIRE by the halfway mark. Not in the good "Oh she's so fast" way - in the "I think I am going to combust from the soles up" way! I was at 16th position at 5K and decided (deleted word) to SLOW DOWN and let others pass me! I was (deleted word) praying for water (unheard of for me up till then) and found myself stopping and starting for the remainder of the race!
I actually ran a PB that day, but it taught me the difference between running the distance on my own on a Saturday and really RACING a 10K! As I crossed the finish line, I was thinking, "I'm never doing that again!" I only finished because I'd raised £400 for charity for which people had already paid me. I didn't want to feel like a fraud!
Guess what? A whole FIVE minutes later, I was saying to myself, "when I run the half-marathon, I have to raise more money or have someone cheering me on!" I realised then how much the crowd and marshals telling me I was “doing well” really helped me. I must have looked truly horrible but I'll take any encouragement I could get.
Why did I share this story first? It brought home to me the fact that to run a race, you have to TRAIN for it! This was what I took with me to the half-marathon distance.
That is where you must start: you must be prepared to TRAIN for your half-marathon. No causal jogging along shorter distances will suddenly make you able to run the whole thing in an amazing time! I know that adrenaline can do amazing things - see my first horrendous driving test (actually, let’s not) - but it won't make up for the fact that your body and mind are not prepared for the distance.
So that will be my first tip! I will expand on all of these below.
1Be prepared to train well.
2Long runs are important.
3Know your limits!
4Find a training plan you like.
5Stick to the plan!
*Bonus* Have fun with it!
Be prepared to train.
By this, I mean you must understand that, like all worthy endeavours, your goal will take some work. You need to run more regularly or use your current number of sessions per week more wisely. They must all be geared towards your goal of running a good first half-marathon. This is crucial for crossing the finish line without injury, complete exhaustion or losing your breakfast - trust me, I regularly see all three!
Long runs are important.
You will need to commit to at least one long run a week. This will need to be from the range of 7 miles to 11 miles. You can run a bit slower on these, but you need to make sure you are doing one a week so that your body is ready. It's also important to train your mind to manage running for that long.
Know your limits!
If you haven't run more than 5K before, don't sign up for a half-marathon in less than 8 weeks. You need time to build up to the race distance. I ran 10Ks and more on Saturdays for quite a while before venturing to that distance. The shortest training for people doing such running beforehand is about 4 weeks: I've asked around - even many guys (who often seem more (deleted words) able to do these things at the drop of a hat) have to do 4 weeks of more focused training.
The same goes for goal-setting: don't expect to do it just a little slower than the elite runners! You need to have an achievable goal that you can work up to! Something that makes you push THAT bit harder during the race.
Find a training plan you like.
Don't just pick the one your friend does. Especially if it doesn't appeal to your inner training voice - does it speak your language? To clarify, I mean do you feel at ease doing exactly what it says? I know myself, I don't like not knowing the exact distance I'm supposed to run. So those plans which speak in terms of minutes run were not for me. What if I ran for 2 hours and was still several miles short of what I should have covered in training? I pictured the nightmare of not being able to finish, let alone achieve my time goals.
However, I know my friend loved knowing how long to run for so she could just turn round at the halfway time-stamp and run home! Everyone is different. And there are plenty of plans out there! (Links to some of these at the end!)
Stick to the Plan!
Here I must add, "within reason". Allowing for unforeseen life and scheduling difficulties, you need to stick to your training plan. That seems to be what makes the difference between runners who do multiple races versus those who may find their inner racing "chip" well and truly fried after running a half- or full marathon! By ensuring that you carry out the key workouts for the week, you will be gearing yourself up for a greater chance of success: be it finishing the race or running it better than you dreamed.
Lastly, have fun with it!
This is a journey. A saying that always struck me as a child and probably made me fear marathons inordinately was, "Life is a marathon, not a sprint!"
You see, I'm more of natural sprinter - big surprise I'm Nigerian and played Hockey in secondary school. However, I've always been intrigued to see if I could also be as good a long distance runner. When I found it was all a matter of my thinking, I started chipping away at the wall I'd built in my mind.
You may be familiar with the building blocks of this wall: "I can't do it" or "I'm not built for distance" and "It's too late to start this now". Well, it's never too late to learn new tricks (see what I did there?). And you are the master or mistress of your own destiny. No one can tell you what you can't do. Only you can do that to yourself!
So above all, start believing that you can complete that half-marathon, and you're halfway there.
Thanks for reading my ramblings!
Below are links to training plans that I have encountered:
If you want my first training plan, it's from the book: 'Road Racing for Serious Runners. Multispeed training: 5K to Marathon!' by Pete Pfitzinger and Scott Douglas. I followed Schedule A (under 30 miles a week at the start).
Fitness Magazine's 10-Week Half-Marathon Plans: here
Shape Magazine's 12-Week Half-Marathon Plans: here
NSPCC Beginner's 14-Week Half-Marathon Plan: here
Runner's World Half-Marathon Plans (10-14 Weeks): here
Later, Ladies and Gents!
Ps: Special Thanks to Steve for casting an expert eye over this write-up!
Athens Marathon 2016 : the Authentic!
I know you are all ready to re-live the experience with me. (Photos of actual race by Marathon Photo!)
I'll set the scene.....
Pre-dawn: found my way down to Syntagma Square (central Athens) and caught one of many air-conditioned buses to Marathon with my friend, K! Whilst enroute, we were reminded of the historic importance of this route and to drop off our bags promptly on arrival by a pre-recorded message in English and Greek. My friend and I ate some of our snacks on the way (Natural Energy Bars by Tribe and some fruit) whilst we took note of the gradient of the roads. Just how hilly was this going to be?
As the Sun peaked its head over the horizon, we arrived in Marathon and started making t-shirts out of waterproof plastic bags as we had to give up our long-sleeved jackets and trousers. The bag drop vans (by DHL) were ready and waiting to relieve us of our burdens.
The next order of business was to take numerous pictures: of the Marathon signs, the stadium, our national flags and with other competitors of note (see below). The latter included the Spartans from Poland who marched (and ran) as a troop with their spears, shields and swords!
Finally, it was time to get into our respective starting pens and take the Athlete's oath (first in Greek then English). Soon we were toeing the starting line and ...we were OFF!
Travel Blog- ATHENS
I finally achieved one of my five-year plan goals: merging my love of travel with my love of running. This was meant to have also happened back in October with the Lisbon Half-Marathon but....too tired to travel at that point.
So I went to Athens, Greece for the Authentic Marathon 2016!
I arrived at Athens International on Thursday 10th of November around 3pm and made my way to the metro station. After standing in two wrong queues for machines that either were not for the Metro (#1) or not working (#2), I chanced to meet 2 lovely ladies from USA who had flown in from Germany. Let's call them K and H! K was also going to run the Marathon (yes!) and H was there for moral support.
As we got on the Metro, we realised we weren't too far from each other centrally (Air BnB for them, Acropolis Select Hotel for me!) - so we decided to explore Athens together. This was definitely part of the Serendipity of this trip.
I'll split this post now into my hotel, the restaurants and the sights. My training will be sprinkled in but the main blog post for my Marathon experience will be a separate one.
Hi, I'm Lola!
A self-confessed hair addict! On here, I share my hair journey and my inspiration.
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