Running a marathon

22 04 2013

I still can’t believe I’ve just run 26.2 miles!

In January I started training for this year’s London Marathon. I surprised everyone as I was going to run with only 3 months training behind me. Normally, you need 6 months. I’ve never run a race before. I wanted to raise funds for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, in memory of my hearing dog Smudge. My training regime was 2 or 3 sessions a week on the gym treadmill, with the occasional street running thrown in with a local runner’s club, and a Saturday personal trainer workout followed by a martial arts class with Darren of Meade TKD. Darren is blind and a 3rd dan black belt – he believes that nothing is impossible – which was a great attitude to have. Every trainer should have this attitude! I didn’t do any long runs as I was so bored with running on my own that I just couldn’t face it, and instead I put in lots of short runs on the treadmill. My muscles were so tight that I got tendonitis in my right leg, pulling my kneecap off to one side. I treated this with visits to a physio and sports massage, and using a foam roller. My tip: start using a foam roller daily when you start training, don’t wait until you are in pain!

I’d had issues with getting the right pair of trainers and had 3 pairs that gave me pins and needles, so in desperation I bought a pair a whole size bigger on the day I picked up my runners number, a few days before the race. I had a 2 hour massage at Venus Inspired in Chigwell, and a facial which was just wonderful, the massage left me with a very sore back (which was better by race day) and the facial was so relaxing I almost fell asleep. Lovely!

On race day it was scorching hot. I stuck plasters on sensitive bits and wrapped plasters around my waist, where the waistband of my trousers might rub. I packed my iPod with neckloop, iPhone with direct audio connect leads, and a book (just kidding). I started off the race by listening to music on my iPhone, this was the first time I had used a neckloop and it worked very well with an activated T-coil program on my cochlear processor.

Start line – It took 20 minutes to get to the actual start line as I was in group 9, right at the back of the 35,000-strong crowd. It was a party atmosphere and I had a really good feeling about this race.

Start line, Greenwich

Start line, Greenwich

Miles 1-7 – I had an annoying stitch for the first 5 miles and ran through that. My shoulders were very sore, they felt as if I was running with them around my ears (I probably was!). I spotted a friend Jamie standing at the roadside at mile 5 and it was lovely to get a supportive hug. It was really quite weird running around my old neighbourhood in Greenwich. My longest run to date has been 7 miles and at the 7 mile marker, I was surprised that I could just keep going, my body did what I wanted it to do and kept moving forward. I had warmed up now and was running comfortably.

Mile 12, Tower Bridge

Mile 12 – The halfway point. It was lovely to turn the corner and see the majestic Tower Bridge rise in front of me. As I ran over Tower Bridge, I had a psychological shift and started thinking about how many miles were left, instead of how far I had to go. As we ran through Wapping, the faster runners were passing us in the opposite direction on their mile 22, and I looked at them thinking “I’ll never make it that far!”.

Mile 17 – All of a sudden, it was as if someone had waved a magic wand – everyone else around me started walking – they had “hit the wall”. My quads started to hurt, but I kept pushing through the pain. I slipped into a walk/run strategy. I was getting a constant stream of messages of support on my phone, which was just awesome. I was expecting to be running around the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf and enjoying the views, but we were running underneath the walkways and through long dark tunnels – certainly the least interesting part of this course.

Mile 19 – I saw the Hearing Dogs banner, I whopped when I saw my friends there and elbowed everyone else out of the way to get over there for some much-needed hugs. My iPhone battery died at this point, and so did one of my cochlear implant batteries. I was now totally deaf in one ear. I switched my other cochlear processor to the usual everyday program so I could listen to the cheering of the crowds, which was fantastic – they really made my day. I had been worried about sweat affecting my processors but I had no issues at all. I dug deep and kept pushing forward, one foot after the other. I felt like Pacman, eating up the miles, one by one. Each mile seemed longer than the last. I was getting tired.

Mile 20 – My quads got worse and worse. At this point they were killing me but I didn’t want to stop, I wanted to finish the race – only 6.2 miles to go! I stopped to stretch – St John Ambulance came over to see if I was okay and gave me a quick thigh massage. After that I was walking a lot, in quite a lot of pain. I was walking/running past a lot of street parties – it was hard to watch people with huge plates of hamburgers and glasses of wine enjoying themselves as I ran past wanting to feed my gnawing hunger pangs! I had a bit of banter with people in the crowd and that helped to lift my spirits. So many people were standing there handing out sweets, oranges, drinks, or just with the palms of their hands out for me to touch as I went past. I loved this ‘London spirit’.

A fellow runner, dressed as a rhino

A fellow runner, dressed as a rhino

Mile 23 – Funnily enough it started to hurt more to walk than it did to run. I had sort of got used to the pain in my thighs and was running more, then my lower back started to hurt which I really didn’t like. My feet were sore by this point too – thankfully, I don’t have a single blister anywhere. I kept pushing forwards.

Mile 24 – I ran past St Pauls. Not far to go and I really wanted to push.

Mile 25 – Running down the Embankment, past all the tourists, the cheering crowds were getting much bigger now and I was pushing, pushing, pushing. Really happy.

Mile 26 – Outside Buckingham Palace, I turned the corner and saw the finish line, but when I got there, a roadside notice said ‘800 yards’ …! GROAN. The next notice said ‘600 yards’, then ‘400 yards’, ‘200 yards’ – then I saw the real finish line with all the photographers lined up, and shot through with a finish time of 6:39:54.  I DID IT!

My medal

My medal

I really loved running this race and the best thing of all was the support I got from my friends and the cheering from the crowds. I look like I’ve just been on holiday as I caught quite a sunburn. My legs are very sore and I can’t lift my left leg at all today, so I have learned how important it is to stretch. Tomorrow will be interesting as the pain is supposed to really hit you at 48 hours after the event. I am still in shock that I’ve managed to run so far. I’m so happy I can’t stop grinning.

I’ve run this marathon to raise funds for a fantastic cause, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

Waking up a friend "Smudge-style" :)

Waking up a friend “Smudge-style” 🙂


Marathon training: Day 32

10 03 2013


The dreaded calf muscle cramp reared its ugly head in my left leg again this week, during my street sprinting on Tuesday. I had warmed up with a slow one mile jog but I hadn’t stretched before my run. I did a street loop with the group as a warm up, then we started sprinting in small groups. It was great to run with the local runner’s group and get some moral support as I pounded the streets – the thing was, this week our route took us past my house – again, again, and again, as we did loops – all I kept thinking was ‘I want to be at home with my feet up and a cup of tea with my dog’! Throughout this run, I felt as if my lungs weren’t big enough and I couldn’t get enough oxygen into them, although my breathing was regular and I kept up my pace. It was cold and brutal, but it was good.

On Wednesday I attended a workshop where the theme was disability access, led by a disabled trainer. With no deaf awareness. The upshot was I ended up lipreading everyone in the room, twisting round constantly in my chair to do this, and the trainer kept moving around as well. I asked her twice to stay still so I could lipread her, and she suggested that I move around the room to lipread her. Don’t think so! So, for the rest of the week I have been unable to look to my left / right without a jolt of pain from my neck down my shoulders and back.

Last Saturday I was able to run up the killer hill with my personal trainer in the park we train in. This Saturday’s session saw me, for the first time, able to run up Killer Hill No.2 without any help – this hill is steeper so I was very pleased! Unfortunately, next week I will be expected to run up both hills. Talk about shooting myself in the foot!

Warming up and stretching are so important, to avoid injury and to take care of injury. Here’s a great article on stretching, warming up, and cooling down.

This week’s workout stats;

  • Distance: 17.8km / 11 miles
  • Time: 3.35 hours
  • 1,922 calories burned

Gotta up the mileage!

Marathon training : Day 24

2 03 2013

… it was 9.35am, I was 5 minutes late for my session with my personal trainer Darren. I’d travelled from Wimbledon to Hackney on a cold Saturday morning. It was shiveringly cold!

Darren: Where did you phone me from?

Me: [Sarcastically] My mobile!

Darren: [puzzled look]

Me: I called you when I got off the bus!

Darren: I thought you couldn’t hear?

So I explained that with my cochlear implants, put me in a testing booth and my hearing is perfect. But my hearing is only 3 years old, like a baby, and I’m not used to processing sound. I can hear, but I am learning how to listen, to understand what different sounds are, to put complex bits of words together so they make sense. And people talk so fast! With accents. Against background noise. Changing topic quickly. It’s a huge brain stretch and like running, it takes time to learn how to hear. I was happy that I could understand Darren’s voice on the phone, and it helps that he speaks clearly!

Darren: Today you’re going to run, and run, and run some more!

Yep, all I did was run. And actually, it really wasn’t that bad.  I’ve improved a lot since my first personal training session – this is my third. I blasted my way up that killer hill without stopping, crawling or moaning weakly as I did in my last two sessions, I just got pretty tired at the top but I did steam all the way up that hill 🙂

Elroy turned up and I tried listening to his voice as I stretched, but it was hopeless. He’s too deep, way too deep!

Sweatshop, Clapham

On the way home, I popped into a local Sweatshop – did you know they have a running group at each branch? Check out their running community, what a fab idea!

I spoke to their guy about the numbness in my feet, he asked me to run around the shop with shoes on and again in bare feet, so he could check my gait – which turned out to be neutral. My trainers don’t have much wear so he suggested I try thin socks instead of the padded ones I usually wear. I’ll run in thin socks this week and if I still don’t like them, I’ll check back for new trainers, half a size larger.

I thought I’d check how long it would take to walk from home to my training session. Check out the map! Google says it is 14 miles and would take 4 hours 40 minutes to walk it – crumbs!! I’m comparing this to the marathon!! It’s only 1 hour 17 mins on public transport and I have to run/walk TWICE this distance next month! Arrrghhh.

Route from home to killer personal training session
Route from home to killer personal training session

The worst thing about today was travelling home, when I was at street level. It was 4C but felt like -1C with the wind chill. Freezing … when you’re only wearing a runners vest and jacket.

I was waiting to cross the road and a few ladies stood next to me, chatting. One of them had this wonderfully-warm looking fur coat on her, I couldn’t stop eyeing it up and I was THIS close to grabbing it off her to warm myself up. LOL.

This message at the tube station warmed me up plenty though …

 thought of the day

I’m running the London Marathon for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, raising funds to help train a life-changing hearing dog for another deaf person.

Marathon training: Day 19,20

28 02 2013

Day 19 had a 30 minute run at the crack of dawn on the treadmill. Boring as!

So I found a local running club online and turned up tonight – only a 15 minute walk from my house! I was thrilled to discover the running group is based in a huge leisure centre with a proper training centre for elite athletes, over 30 group classes a week … this place has been quietly hiding under my nose for months! Check out that HUGE running track!

leisure centre

Coach Graham is thin as a rake – he really does look like a rake on two legs! He talks a mile a minute with teeth fighting to get out of his mouth … I really struggled to understand him against 20 people chatting loudly as he held his glasses on his nose, covering his mouth with his hand. Thankfully I can lipread and I got the gist of what he was saying.

I still can’t believe I have gone out running after a long day at work. In the dark. Crazy or what?!

We went for a ‘short’ run (LMAO) and did interval training. It was tough going up and down that hill. Up-and-down up-and-down up-and-down up-and-down up-and-down up-and-down up-and-down up-and-down I’M GONNA DIE up-and-down up-and-down up-and-down up-and-down KILL ME NOW up-and-down up-and-down up-and-down up-and-down CAN I GO HOME NOW? up-and-down up-and-down up-and-down up-and-down HEEEEEELLLLLPPPPPP  up-and-down up-and-down up-and-down up-and-down …… Everyone was overtaking me. Even the fattest person in the group was overtaking me.

Hill hell: my running track tonight

Hill hell: my running track tonight

 I kept thinking, Why am I doing all this stupid running?

I’m doing this for a great reason, I’m running to raise funds so that another deaf person can have their life transformed by a Hearing Dog, and because I’ve lost my mind.

Stu ran the last few laps with me and I found I could keep up with him …. group psychology works better for me than solo running! It was great to get encouragement from the other runners as I tried to avoid death and remain upright.

I’ve discovered muscles that I never knew existed. During tonight’s training, my right peroneus longus kept clicking as I worked that hill, a really strange sensation.  My right adductor muscle is starting to make a lot of noise, here’s hoping I haven’t caught an injury!

We got back to the leisure centre and I stopped to talk to someone, they offer what looks like a GREAT class on Thursdays – Supple Strength, using a foam roller with yoga, pilates and stretch techniques. I’d love to go to their boot camp sessions but they are on Friday mornings … bah. I almost fell over as I hobbled outside, then I really started shivering, so I ran all the way home to keep warm. I barely made it up the stairs in time to have a wee – I’m peeing every hour, like a pregnant woman!

Whittard's chai latte

A hot bath and a milky chai treat helped – check out my chai latte collection from Whittards – always so hard to find as Whittards sell out so quickly – psssstt! you’ll find these in the Wimbledon branch, next to the train station.

Today’s tip: Put the central heating on so you come home to a warm place. Wear gloves when night running, and a hat to keep your hair out of your eyes / your ears warm / your cochlear implants dry in the rain.

New pet hate: Wearing a huge water bottle on my waist. THUNK THUNK THUNK against my side or hugging the bottle as I run is no fun. Too much baggage.

Today’s chalkup: 1.5 hours running & interval training, 11 km

…. I haven’t reached the depths of Hell yet!

The amazing Major Phil Packer

22 04 2010

Major Packer lost the use of his legs in Afghanistan and raised over £700,000 last year by completing the London Marathon in 2 weeks, on crutches, for the Help for Heroes campaign.

This year, he plans to complete 26 miles in 26 hours for 26 charities, in the Virgin London Marathon on 25 April 2010. Each mile is dedicated to a charity helping disadvantaged people. Mile 3 is dedicated to the National Deaf Children’s Society.  A deaf 17 year old, Jade Potter, will be completing the 3rd mile alongside Phil. Phil’s best friend Duncan is deaf, and he clearly remembers the frustrations and difficulties Duncan experienced when he was younger.

If you’d like to donate money for Phil’s 3rd mile, and help NDCS support young deaf children, you can do so here. You can also post a badge to your Facebook profile to raise awareness – there are only three more days to go!

Run, Ian, Run!

10 02 2008

My friend Ian has gone mad, like a fool he has decided to run the London Marathon. I felt sorry for him as we had a good night out on Friday and an open bar, and he felt unable to have some of the free wine that was on offer, good stick that he is. (The wine didn’t go to waste, I helped out there, tee hee – thanks Ian and when’s your *next* marathon?!)

Ian says …

Holy crap, I’ve signed up to a marathon…

Yes, I’m going to run 26.2 miles in London this April. I do so in the knowledge that my height will apparently shrink by about 2 inches by the end of the race and that my face will turn a shade of beetroot red not yet discovered by scientists, and then stay like that for a week. I also risk some new painful injury to my leg in a year where, at times, my leg has seemed perilously close to just falling off.

But none of this matters because I am running to raise money for the National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS). NDCS is one of my favourite charities and is the national charity dedicated to creating a world without barriers for deaf children and young people. Many deaf children are born to hearing parents who know little about deafness or how to communicate effectively with a deaf person. Without the right support, many will struggle to develop educationally and risk becoming isolated, lacking in confidence and cut off from the world.

NDCS work to counter this and do lots of great things. They’ve given me a job for a start! (I’m the NDCS Campaigns Officer) But they also provide information to families of deaf children about all aspects of deafness so that deaf children can prosper and grow. They run lots of events for deaf children so they can counter feelings of isolation and get together with their deaf peers. And they lobby and campaign across the country to improve services to deaf children.

So… please dig deep and sponsor me! £1 a mile would be amazing and would give me an incentive not to do a Jade Goody and give up after a mile.

His sponsorship page can be found at The Noon attempts to run a marathon. You can donate online safely through his sponsorship page.