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That’s All Folks!

April 26, 2012

Start Line!

I made it. I ran the London Marathon. I have the Tshirt, the medal and the foil cape. My journey in this blog has now come to an end. Which leaves only reflection and thank yous. Thank yous which I fear could not do justice to the amazing support and help that’s ‘magically’ appeared throughout this whole experience. People have been generous with their time, money and words of kindness. Thank you to everyone who donated these things, whether you attended the curry night, body shop or pampered chef parties; sponsored; trained with me; bought raffle tickets, wrote notes or texts or posts of encouragement; OR indeed cheered from the sidelines or from your sofa on Sunday…THANK YOU.

With your help Special K and I not only achieved a personal challenge, but raised well over £4,000 for British Lung Foundation. And still counting.

There are of course a few particularly special Thank Yous:

Special K herself, for motivation, advice, setting a high benchmark and being very good natured about being nicknamed after a breakfast cereal; Dawn for ‘living the blog’, coming out on all those training sessions and timely weather updates; Sarah for distraction, provision of gin and getting me around Brighton; JS for getting me in such good shape I could enjoy the marathon and, crucially, steering me away from the otherwise inevitable injuries; Mum&Dad for their time, encouragement and sun cream; Michelle & Alvina for being fabulous, inspiring and supportive;  the wonderful Events Team at the BLF who support their marathon runners with a maternal vengence from the word go; and the gorgeous London & South Team at the BLF who have put up with my constant marathon-related yabbering, offered many words of encouragement and shouted themselves hoarse on Sunday.

And…Lastly, but far from least…. Caveman Indoors: for being everything I could ask for and more. I can’t wait to marry you in September.

As for the reflection… I wasn’t quite expecting this experience to be such a learning journey for me.  Along with the many things I’ve learnt about myself, fundraising, blog writing, fitness and nutrition, I think the three big things I’ll be taking with me are:

  • 1) The human body really is quite an amazing bit of kit and I certainly plan to look after mine a bit better.
  • 2) A lot of ‘just running’ is probably not ideal exercise for me. So for all the people that have asked whether I’ll continue running, the answer is – ‘a bit’. I have signed up for the Southend Half Marathon in June to keep me ticking over. (there are rumours of fancy dress) But I plan a whole lot of boot camp and other  stuff between now and then. I have missed the variation.
  • … and 3) And (rather cheesy, I know) I’ve learnt that you REALLY can achieve whatever you want to with the right support and advice. At this moment I feel like I could achieve anything. Everest? Great Wall of China? Bring it on!

So a big THANK YOU for following my journey and Good Luck with your own challenges, whatever they may be.

It’s been emotional.

Clair, The Running Cavewoman xxx

What a day!

April 23, 2012

What a Day! People told me it was a race of two parts – 20 miles and then 6 miles. But I found it a race of three parts:

1. South London (up to mile 12)the crowd were thin in areas, but whenever there was a pub – there were bands or DJs and it was packed – there was a real party atmosphere. I was running well, apart from a unexpectedly necessary loo break. Most other runners also seemed in good shape.

2. East London (12-20) felt a bit more serious. I already knew this would be the bad patch as the end was not yet in sight! Crowds were thick in places and bare in others and I started seeing a few runners having difficulties.

3. Central London (20-26.2) Crowds were 6 deep screaming your name. Every runner must have felt like a rock star! Knees and hips were starting to ache, but it was starting to look like I’d get under 5 hours, and it was great to see all the familar bits of London, So I just LOVED it!

Best bits: Chatting to other BLF runners in the start zone – Sarah was running in memory of her Dad who she lost to Pulmonary Fibrosis and Andy’s Dad is a member of Breathe Easy Tunbridge Wells. A great reminder of why I was running;  running with Special K for the first 5miles was great!  finding a loo without a queue – thank you, deptford macdonalds!

Frustrating bit: Despite following official instructions and making a plan to meet people afterwards, the sheer volume of people, roads closed, phone signals jammed, and a pub that sold out….  turned what should have been a celebration into annoyance and frustration. I am SO SORRY I didn’t get to see everyone that came to cheer 😦

More best bits:  Coming over Tower Bridge. Crossing such a historic place when it’s lined with crowds is an amazing experience: getting a kiss from caveman at Mile 14; Seeing my mum at the British Lung Foundation cheering point at mile 19; Guides and Scouts doing a great job cheering and giving out water at mile 10.

Unexpected bit: The volume of walkers. People started walking early and to my suprise, by the end, it seemed like half the partipants were walking. Were all these people in trouble or had they decided to walk from the outset? They were sometimes difficult to dodge and it created bottlenecks.

Even More best bits: Seeing the EBC crew at Mile 11; looking up at buildings and suddenly realising that you were being watched from other levels too; a young lad at mile 22 who was SO happy that I took a sweet from him (don’t most kids cry when you do that?); all the high fives I collected; coming over that finish line; speaking to my aunt just after the finish line!!!

It was a really great day and I am so pleased I was able to complete it after all the support I’ve received.

And I am doing OK this morning. The legs are bit weak and shakey and my knees and glutes are sore. But back to work this afternoon!

And no – unlike many participants my immediate response is not to sign up again next year! But we’ll see…


It’s The Final Countdown

April 20, 2012

Only two and a bit days from the finish line of the London Marathon 2012.  This week has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. I have had large cheques handed to me (UP) I have sad texts from Rachael who has had to pull out due to injury (DOWN) someone told me they found me inspirational (UP) I am still having weird anxiety dreams (DOWN) We went to the London Marathon Registration Centre (left) and got all hyped up and excited (UP UP UP AND AWAY!).

Poor Caveman Indoors.

I’m trying to remember that there’s nothing I can change now. I’ve worked hard to give myself the best chance of getting round in one piece and have already fundraised a good wedge of cash for a good cause. The rest is down to luck and conditions on the day. I am trying to remember that it’s going to be an incredible experience running the world’s greatest race, in the world’s greatest city, in such a historic year, with 35000 other runners. (including Paula Radcliffe!) And as long as I finish, it doesn’t matter if it takes me all day. Past runners tell me it is one of the greatest days of their lives. So I am going to make the most of it.

However, just as our reflex is to ask the weight of a new born baby (even I do, and I’m not entirely sure why) the reflex on discussing a marathon is “What was your time?” and it would be nice to be proud when I answer. What with that and Special K’s steely eyed determination to get a ‘good time’, it is difficult to completely forget about it.

So, before “my time” is the number that I will mostly associate with this experience, (however hard I try) I thought I’d reflect on a few other numbers throughout my training:

26: weeks I’ve been training 72: training sessions completed. 18: sprint training sessions completed 274: total miles run 62 (approx): miles run with a slight hangover 5: times I’ve run past Brighton Pier 10: miles run in Singapore 998: grams of chocolate protein powder consumed 15: grams of banana protein powder consumed (yuk.) 41: New items of Nike clothing JS has worn 0: pizzas eaten 10,000 (approx): almonds eaten  2 : number of times I nearly changed my mind 2 : number of dress sizes dropped 1 : times I temporarily lost my engagement ring due to a shrinking finger 137: poppodums eaten at our charity Curry Night 13: weather updates from Dawn 3: number of ice baths  5: number of expletives in ice bath video 39: blog posts written 5: Minimum number of friends I hope to support in a marathon next year (you know who you are.) 35894: my running number 51: hours until the start gun goes off 130: £££ Surprise sponsorship from Breathe Easy Braintree yesterday 1: Pampered Chef fundraising party to go – tonight!

3400: ££££ Approx Total Fundraised by Special K and I, so far.

This will be my last post before The London Marathon. Thank you for all your messages and good thoughts throughout this whole Marathon Malarkey. And particular thanks to the people who plan to come up and cheer us runners on Sunday. Haven’t you got anything better to do?!!!

Wish us luck xxx

Breathe Easy!

April 16, 2012

 I did a mere 10mile run (never thought I’d say that!). From Westcliff,  along the seafront, through Chalkwell and old Leigh, onto Two Tree Island, and over the causeway to Canvey Island.  And what I really enjoyed about it was that I was running to see a group of people I am very fond of.

Once a month, lung patients and their carers on Canvey Island meet in the Paddocks Community Centre to support each other through life with a lung condition. They may have a lung condition, but they certainly managed to cheer and whoop whoop as I entered the meeting. They even presented me with £100 cheque towards my marathon efforts!

Special K and I are raising money to support people affected by lung conditions. I’ve already talked about asbestos research and campaigning in this blog. Another enormous way that the BLF helps people with lung conditions is through it’s local support and information groups, known as Breathe Easy.

Breathe Easy Canvey Island (pictured below) is a great example of the 240 support groups across the country, working to improve the quality of life for people affected by lung conditions. Many members are effected by one of the UK’s most common long term conditions – COPD (or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, a disease area which includes emphysema).  COPD in it’s simplest form is scarring of the lungs, often through smoking, and causes extreme breathlessness, recurrent chest infections, mobility problems and in more severe cases, the need for oxygen cylinders. These things can leave patients feeling isolated, misunderstood and finding life more difficult than necessary.

Breathe Easy groups however, are not about sitting around moping – they are about learning to live with lung conditions, getting on, and so it seems, having a good time with people that understand. Although there are 240 groups across the UK – there are many places which still need the support of local groups. Your donation would help to support the development of more Breathe Easy groups across the UK.

Your donation to our marathon fundraising ensures that this work will continue. Please visit:

Thank you for your generousity!

The Zone of Paranoia and Anxiety

April 12, 2012

Only a little over a week to go until the London Marathon.

And, to my suprise, I feel physically ready for it. Now I just need a bit of luck to get me to the start line in one piece…  as I have now entered … The Zone of Paranoia and Anxiety.

I am in The Zone of Paranoia and Anxiety as NOW is the time that an injury or illness could impact on my being able to run the marathon. Not much time to fully recover from a twisted ankle, or a dose of the ‘flu. And because I have been super lucky to avoid any injury or illness so far – I am trying to quieten the sinister side of my brain that is telling me that it’s all going to go wrong now. I’m not succeeding.

I had a slightly funny feeling in my knee yesterday. So I worried and panicked and held some frozen peas to it.

I woke up with a sore throat this morning, so I have gulped down some orange juice and a beechams max strength flu pill.

And as if my over-cautious approach to every kerb and stairway isn’t enough – my anxieties are also surfacing at night. Last week I dreamt that I went up a good few dress sizes after the marathon. And then last night I dreamt that I was on the marathon start line, but had left my trainers at home. Oh Dear.

So basically – I am ANXIOUS. And it’s unlikely that any reassurances are going disperse the (probably) normal apprehension of running the London Marathon.

So the plan is:

  • eat all my greens. and reds. and oranges.
  • drink 2litres of water a day (AND NO ALCOHOL!)
  • get 8 hours of sleep every night
  • keep away from anyone sneezing or coughing
  • be careful where I put my feet

Please wish me luck on getting to that start line in one piece. And please accept my sincerest apologies if I am in anyway snappy, short or stern with you. It’ll all be over soon. Assuming I don’t have to postpone it until next year BECAUSE OF THESE MEASLES THAT ARE APPEARING!!! ARRRGGHHHH Oh no, hang on, it’s ok, they’re just freckles ….

STOP PRESS…. Pampered Chef Fundraising Nite on Friday 20th April … an evening of cooking and eating for charity. What more could you want? please do come along xx

With a little help from my Friends

April 7, 2012

With every aspect of marathon training there seems to be many questions to which there are no definitive answers. Should one take painkillers? When should you slow down the training? How long should your longest run be? Should you carbo-load? The list goes on and whilst many people (experienced and inexperienced alike) seem sure that they know the answer, I will speak to someone else 10minutes later who seems equally sure of their contradictory position.

Crikey. What is a girl to do?  Listen to JS. Of course.  Whilst a few people tsk-ed tsk-ed at my doing 21miles a mere two weeks before the BIG DAY, it was in the training programme, so I did it, yesterday. And almost enjoyed it. Didn’t do a bad time. And had no problems. I have woken up this morning as fresh as a daisy to an indoor caveman cooked breakfast – steak and eggs. And seem to be walking and talking OK.

AND the crucial element seemed to be the wonderful support that made the 21miles seem even easier than the lonesome 19miles.

This week's version of an ice bath!

My Parents and Andy set up fuel stations along the way. Dawn and Sarah joined me at Benfleet, Hannah joined me in Leigh, Alex at the casino and Neil by the pier. And what a difference it made. I couldn’t exactly loose face in front of these people – could I? Whilst my last blog was about focus the distraction of nattering to these guys made the miles zip by.

So, the next big run is The Marathon. I’m ready. I never thought I’d say that.

If you haven’t yet sponsored me, please do see if you can spare a few quid. Maybe have one less beer over the easter break and sponsor me for a great cause – The British Lung Foundation. I have been working so hard to reach my target – and I’m nearly there! This money will go to help people affected by lung conditions, research into lung conditions and help raise awareness.

Your £10 could help even more.

Thank you so much and have a great easter.


Rules of Distraction

April 2, 2012

Whilst researching Running/ Marathon Blogs, I made the conscious decision that I would not, under any circumstances, Post: (1) rows of running times  or (2)my favourite running songs.

Dull dull dull, even for other runners, let alone non-runners. Yes, Special K and I may discuss these things in the privacy of our training sessions. But for public consumption via blog, they are not.

BUT (you heard that ‘but’ coming, didn’t you?) I had a major running epiphany last week. And want to break my self-imposed rules to illustrate said epiphany. Apologies in advance.

Regular readers will know that I have been using ‘distraction’ to get me through the marathon training sessions. I have run with friends so I can natter all the way. I have become a connoisseur of audiobooks for when I’m alone. I plan routes that I know will interest me. And I shout war cries in sprint sessions to amuse myself. All to distract me from the tedium of running.

Contrary to this approach, Special K takes advice from experts such as Paula Radcliffe and Dean Karnazes, and focusses on every step, adjusting her pace and her stride, uses visualisation and keeps her mind on the job. Special K runs very very fast. And has mentioned a few times that I too may find it useful to ‘focus’.

Although I started this process thinking “I just want to get around in one piece”, as time has gone on, I have started to wonder if some of these things may help me too. So I conducted a highly scientific experiment.  And here are the results.

Length of Run What I was listening to What I was thinking about What I was doing Time taken
17miles Radio 4 dramatisation of ‘Cold Comfort Farm’ What I was going to have for my dinner. What I had to do at work that week. Having a nose at the houses, enjoying the daffodils. 3hrs 28mins
** A Bit of a chat with Special K about how I might find it beneficial to be a little more ‘focussed’**
19miles Upbeat tunes. David Guetta, Swedish House Mafia, etc How excited I was about the marathon. How much training I’d done and how I felt ready. Checking my watch for pace and focussing on a midfoot strike. Visualising the path as a conveyor belt. 3hrs 8mins

The outcome:  Yes, folks, I ran two miles further, but twenty minutes quicker.

I suppose it’s obvious – focus gets results. I just wasn’t expecting such a jump.

And now of course I’m wondering if I can just shave little bit more time off. (Perhaps I’ll just have a wee peak at what else Paula suggests…)

Thank you for reading xxx