Category: My Marathon Diary

I did it! I ran a marathon!

She did it! Things&Ink editor Alice Snape ran the London Marathon 2015, for Sarcoma UK. You can read about her training journey in past blog posts and on her Instagram page. This is her diary entry about her marathon experience… 

 

“I am writing this post from the comfort of my bed. I am finding it difficult to walk down stairs as my legs are so stiff… God knows how they ran a marathon yesterday…? This weekend has been a huge mix of emotions, from the nerves on pre-marathon Saturday to the high of crossing that elusive finishing line… I don’t know how I can even begin to put into words the experience of my first ever marathon…

“I always knew Saturday was going to be filled with tension. But I didn’t imagine that I would be moved to tears so many times. My mind was plagued with doubt, have I done enough training? What if I can’t do it? What if I need to wee? How will I feel? I just couldn’t relax. But a text from my boyfriend James’s mum, Glenys, flicked everything into perspective and moved me to tears of sadness, as she spoke of a very special person who I never had the honour of meeting – and who I know I would have been great friends with… James’s sister, Glenys’s daughter: Katherine – who very tragically lost her life to Sarcoma just before James and I met. The months of training and fundraising were to pay tribute to Katherine, and to raise awareness about this rare form of cancer.

“Aside from the emotion and nerves, there’s also the practicalities! I had to sort my running kit out – the vest, the leggings, the really unsexy pink running bum bag to store gels and jelly babies in, the trainers and the Vaseline (you have to lube up to avoid chaffage on long distances). And I needed to make sure I ate lots of nice healthy carbs, also known as carb loading. I also wanted to make sure I had a nice early night – even though I knew I probably wouldn’t get much sleep… I only dozed in and out of sleep all night, thinking about what epic journey I was going to embark on…

 

“Race day morning, it was a weird one… I was so tired when my alarm went off. I had a night of broken sleep and did not feel refreshed at all. For half an hour at 6.30am I did lots of stretches, and also made sure my hamstring was taped up, as unfortunately I picked up an injury during my training. Breakfast was porridge, berries, a coconut water and a coffee. Then I set off on the most nerve-wracking train journey of my life… although I was very relieved to see lots of other marathon runners on the platform, who all looked equally as apprehensive…

“I don’t know how I imagined race day would feel, but I don’t think any training really prepares you for it. Time means nothing. It goes so quick and so slow all at once… and the run feels so very different to a training run. I wanted to try and take in all the sights I saw on the way, but everything is a blur as you’re trying to concentrate on how fast you’re running, all the people around you, the crowd, the runners, the atmosphere… I saw a woman running in stilettos, Jesus Christ, and a rhino (luckily I overtook all these people). There are roadside parties the whole way round… people cheering and drinking. I just kept thinking I am jealous of the people drinking or just smug that I am running a marathon? There are old people, young people, those who are thin and those who are fat, some in costume, some running, some walking… so many walks of life all united on this marathon journey.

“But there were low points too. My parents and friends were going to be at the Sarcoma UK cheering point at mile 12, and I had been spurred on by that thought from around mile 8… I just kept thinking it would be four miles until I saw their faces. But mile 12 went past and I didn’t spot them. I don’t know how I missed them (especially as my parents had a banner with my face on it!), I must have been in a weird marathon daze. That put me on a bit of a downer and then I was worried I wouldn’t see them again. It was such a pity as mile 13 was running across Tower Bridge, and I had been so excited about this point in the marathon… There were other dark moments along the route too, women cowering on the kerbs, head in hand, men being carried on stretchers, bleeding nipples… signs that the marathon really is a true test of human endurance…

 

“But I plodded on… I kept on running focussing on how I might feel at the end, and trying to ignore the pain and the heaviness of my legs, counting down the miles… Until mile 25, and I spotted the second Sarcoma UK cheer point and the faces of my boyfriend, friends and family… I had no idea what a boost that would give me and I managed to pick up my pace as I embarked on the final the mile and a bit… That was a huge high – probably my marathon highlight – and I smiled and waved. I knew now I could run until the end…  Trough The Mall and past Buckingham Palace, then as I crossed the finish line, I lifted my arms in the air and burst into uncontrollable tears, I was literally sobbing. So much so that one of the marshals took me in her arms and gave me a huge embrace. I have never experienced anything like this feeling before.

“I managed to complete my first ever marathon in a time of 4 hours, 30 minutes and 21 seconds – almost exactly the time I had wanted to achieve and never thought I could… but my immediate thought was, oh maybe I could do it next year and maybe I could do it in 4 hours… Then I thought back to myself at exactly this point last year, I was so impressed when one of my friends ran the marathon, I thought it was something that I would never be able to do myself. At the time, I drank a lot, smoked and I was around a stone and a half heavier and I couldn’t run for more than a mile without needing to walk. But running really has made me feel happier in my own skin, and  I have a new found respect for my body and what I can do when I really focus on a goal. It has also made me feel much closer to James and his mum, and really made me think about Katherine, who I so wish I could have met.

“And to top it all off, as I met everyone at the meeting point, my mum told me that I had more than hit my £3,000 fundraising target as I was running. How incredible that people were following my progress and donating as I was actually running…

“It has been an amazing journey over the past few months, one that I am almost sad  is over. Training for the marathon has been such a huge part of my life since November last year. And now I have been advised by a physio to take a month off and let my hamstring heal. I guess once it has, I can start chasing my next running dream. Bring it on. Let a life-long love affair with running really begin…”

You can read more about Sarcoma UK and donate to Alice’s fundraising on her justgiving page.

Day after marathon brekkie. It tasted so good…

One week to go… London Marathon 2015

Things&Ink editor Alice Snape is currently in training for the London Marathon 2015, she’s running for Sarcoma UK. Read more in her first Marathon diary entry. Here’s part six of her marathon diary…

  

  

ONLY ONE WEEK TO GO! Only one week to go until I run the London Marathon. And if I could imagine doing anything on the weekend before this momentous occasion, it was definitely not being bridesmaid at one of my best friend’s weddings. Going to one of your friends’ wedding means drunkenness, right? And if I have to run a marathon in exactly one week’s time that means I can’t get drunk! How can a wedding be fun if it does not involve champers, and lots of it?

Well actually, I realised you can have lots of fun… having a good time and dancing all evening does not have to be fuelled by alcohol. And if there is enough tipsy people around, you kinda feel a little drunk too. Even if you’re only sipping on a sparkling water and elderflower cordial (it’s a delish alternative to a cocktail). Plus I feel fresh as a daisy (or a runner) today…

 

You will know from previous diary entries, and updates on my personal Instagram account @morewhitequeen, that I have been building up mileage and have done one long run every week since December last year. This long run has gradually increased over my training plan from one hour to just over 21 miles! The first milestone in the plan was 8 miles, and I remember finding this distance particularly difficult in December last year. Running for over an hour was really daunting at that time. It’s weird to me that this distance now feels fairly short, as I managed to run 21.09 miles is 3 hours 40 minutes just over two weeks ago.

It has taken a lot of dedication, sacrifice (I mean I haven’t even been able to get tattooed!) and determination to get to this point and now I am feeling extremely proud of what I have already achieved. Especially as I did my last “long run” on Friday, before wedding madness kicked off, and really loved it…I ran 9 miles in the beautiful countryside and enjoyed every mile of it, I felt fit and healthy and I felt like I could run all day – a feeling I have never really had before. Normally I am counting the seconds until I can stop.

So let’s hope this commitment and all the non-drinking will be worth it! Bring on the London Marathon next week… and let’s hope the last week of tapering means my legs will feel strong for my longest run ever next Sunday. Now someone pass me a massive plate of carbs!

 

Race ready, here’s me in my race vest with my name on it… all ready for next week. I am running the marathon for Sarcoma UK, you can read more and donate on my justgiving justgiving.com/AliceSnapeMarathon

My Marathon Diary, part five

Alice Snape marathon Editor Alice Snape looking pleased with her mileage for February 2015.

 

Things&Ink editor Alice Snape is currently in training for the London Marathon 2015, she’s running for Sarcoma UK. Read more in her first Marathon diary entry. Here’s part five of her marathon diary…

 

Alice running the Watford Half Marathon in February 2015, surprisingly with a smile on her face…

 

“Marathon training is one of the toughest challenges I have ever taken on. I can honestly say that when I signed up to run the London Marathon 2015 for Sarcoma UK (read why here), I didn’t realise just how tough the training would be.”

“Even just fitting in the training around editing Things&Ink, working freelance projects and balancing everyday life is proving to be a challenge in itself. Especially as some training runs take over three hours to complete!

Here’s what a typical week of running looks like for me at the moment:
Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: 40 minutes easy running… easy running is running at a pace you can hold a conversation. Followed by a Hot Yoga Class… I love going to hot yoga classes. But I have realised the toll training is taking on my flexibility. It’s definitely decreasing as I am upping my running mileage. But I do think it’s important to do exercise other than running, and also include some strength training, including planks and thigh strengthening exercises.
Wednesday: 30 minute fartlek run. I dread interval and fartlek runs, as they involve running at speed (I am slow and steady – a plodder – my body was not built for running fast). A farlek run is running fast for random spurts (or at least this is how I like to do it), I might set my sights on a lamp post and run as fast as I can until I reach it, and then slow the pace… then set my sights on something else. This can actually be quite fun. Once I have worked up the motivation to do it.
Thursday: 60 minute steady run, mixed with some threshold pacing.
Friday: Rest day…
Saturday: Short run, with 10 mins at an easy pace to start, then 5x 2 min interval run, and ending on five minutes of easy pace running. Interval running is running with intense effort.
Sunday (now known as Long Run Sunday): Sundays are no longer rest days, they are there for long runs. At the beginning of my 17 week training schedule the long run was just 60 minutes (oh how easy that seems now), which has gradually been built on through the weekly training plan. Up to 18 miles so far, but I aim to run 22 miles before the big day!

 

I spend a lot of time on my own while I am training, so I have a lot of time to think. Here’s the things I’ve learnt about myself while training:

“I am VERY stubborn, if I set my mind to something, I find it really difficult not to do it. Which comes in extremely handy on long run days. ESPECIALLY when it is raining. For example, the first time I ran 16 miles, I did it in the rain – it was raining for the entire three hours. Which meant I ran it really slowly, and I looked like a mental person. BUT I did it. I logged the miles, and I wanted to give up for the entire run, but I didn’t. Because I knew I had to do it.”

“ANYONE can learn to love running. I hated running with a passion when I was at school. I would rather lock myself in a toilet cubicle than do the dreaded cross country run. And sometimes I still hate running (see above). But nothing makes you feel the way running does, I may dislike it intensely sometimes when I am running, but the way you feel after the run is amazing. You feel alive and healthy. Running makes life easier.”

“I talk about running a lot. But that is because it has taken over my life. I am sure anyone else training for the marathon – and their friends – understand this. Training has become such a huge part of my life that it is impossible not to talk about it ALL THE TIME (sorry family and friends). I guess it’s also because I want to validate what I am doing, and because I am completely terrified about marathon day.”

“Toenails are overrated. My feet look disgusting, I have a black toenail that is about to fall off – I am sure they will look even more hideous after that big day.”

Toenails are overrated

 

“Running the marathon for a charity makes training that little bit easier. I know I have to complete the marathon for everyone who has donated to my charity – Sarcoma UK. And I also think about the person I running it for. My boyfriend’s sister Katherine, who I never met but so wish I could have.”

“I know I should be a little kinder to myself. It’s hard not to compare yourself to other runners. I can only dream of running 13 miles at a 7-minute mile pace. I have to channel my energy into being competitive with myself and not other people. I can only beat my own times. So if I shave a couple of seconds off my own runs that’s great. I ran my first ever half marathon in 2 hours 15, and last week I beat myself by running a half marathon distance in 2 hours 7 minutes. It may not seem like much but that is a huge achievement for me, and means the training is really starting to pay off. I also have a time in my mind that I would like to complete the marathon in, but if I don’t get that time, I must remember that’s ok, as running a marathon is a massive achievement in itself…”

I will update this marathon diary again very soon… I am running a 20-mile race in Kingston on Sunday, so I will let you all know how it goes, as this will be my longest training run yet! Wish me luck. To donate to Sarcoma UK, visit my justgiving page.

Part four in My Marathon Diary – runner video inspiration

Things&Ink editor Alice Snape is currently in training for the London Marathon 2015, she’s running for Sarcoma UK. Read more in her first Marathon diary entry. Here’s part four of her marathon diary – some video inspiration.  

This video went viral last year, but I still love it… I find watching it comforting and it just makes me want to get out there and go for a run – providing me with much-needed motivation during my marathon training.

Directors Matan Rochlitz and Ivo Gormley released the short film – ‘The Runners’ – on 15 November last year. Using a bike with a cart attached for the cameraman, the duo interviewed runners through the seasons, which you can see change beautifully throughout the short film. The runners keep on running through rain and shine. In a piece published in The Guardian, Ivo Gormley wrote that one interviewee had been “humbling” in his honesty about his determination to run a marathon for his father, who suffers from dementia.

Runners are united in this film by one thing – running – and they run for all sorts of different reasons.

 

 

Published on Nov 15, 2013 – A short film by Matan Rochlitz & Ivo Gormley

“Pounding the tarmac through the seasons, a band of runners are brazenly challenged with intimate questions as they pace their routes. Liberated from responsibilities, their guards drop dramatically, releasing funny and brutally frank confessions, and weaving a powerful narrative behind the anonymous masses.”

Twitter: #therunners
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/therunnersfilm

I am running the marathon for cancer charity Sarcoma UK, as my boyfriend’s sister Katherine died from Sarcoma over three years ago, just a few short months before James and I met. I am running the marathon for Katherine, who I never met, but so wish I could have. I want to do this for James and his family. If you could donate as little or as much as you can afford, it will make my training seem so much more worthwhile. My JustGiving page is justgiving.com/AliceSnapeMarathon

My Marathon Diary Part Three – my first ever half marathon (and it was hilly)

Things&Ink editor Alice Snape is currently in training for the London Marathon 2015, she’s running for Sarcoma UK. Read more in her first Marathon diary entry and Part Two – an early morning run. Here’s part three of her marathon diary – The Watford Half Marathon.  

 

 

Saturday 31 January – the day before…

“It’s the day before my first ever half marathon race and I don’t feel (too) scared (yet). I am more excited than nervous at the moment… I have trained as much as I can. I have been running four times a week, including one long run a week. The farthest distance so far being 13.7 miles (the half marathon is 13.1), and last Saturday I ran 10 miles. I have practised what runners call ‘hydration and nutrition’ on long runs. I have used gels (strange, gloopy things to give you energy while running) and swigged bits of water from a teeny tiny running bottle that fits in my pocket…

“I start my pre-race day with an 8am hot yoga class, to stretch out my limbs. And I work on the latest issue of Things&Ink all day (The Anatomy Issue, which is due out at the end of February, it goes to print next week eek)… eating healthy meals along the way. For lunch, my sister (Things&Ink stylist) Olivia makes us a cauliflower and tuna bake… this involves cutting up broccoli, cauliflower, red onions, tomatoes, tuna and feta, and baking it all together in the oven – delish. My best friend (and Things&Ink makeup artist) Keely is also running the half marathon, so we have a pre-race dinner together and I stay over at her house, so we can go together in the morning (and calm each other’s nerves). Over our salmon fishcakes, sweet potato wedges (good pre-race carbs) and broccoli, we chat about how much our lives have changed – a Saturday night of last summer would have consisted of (a lot of) wine and possibly a cheeky couple of ciggies (I haven’t smoked now since last July). Oh how we’ve changed. We go to bed at 11pm, after watching repeats of Dinner Date (rock ‘n’ Roll).”

The Watford Half Marathon Course – looking at the course before you race is so nerve-wracking… it looks so far!

 

Sunday 1 February 2015 – The Watford Half Marathon. RACE DAY!

“Alarm goes off at 6.45am, we have to leave at 7.30am to get to race HQ at 9am to collect our numbers and timing chips. I don’t want to get out of bed, and curse myself for this crazy, healthy new lifestyle (it’s sooooo early for a Sunday, surely most sane people are in bed?!). Breakfast consists of gluten free granola, almond milk, blueberries, banana, a coconut water and a coffee. And Keely and I plan our route to Watford and make sure we have everything we need – gels, TomTom Runner watch, ear warmers and gloves… Of course we’re already dressed in our running gear.

Gotta rock the faux fur, even just before a half marathon. At race HQ they called us the “furry runners”

 

“When we arrive, we’re overwhelmed by all the professional looking runners – this definitely isn’t a fun charity run… there’s leggings and teeny shorts everywhere, and some seriously fit-looking people. Keely and I are wearing our faux furs when we arrive, and we can feel people starring at us. We seem a little out of place against all the sports gear – like (tattooed, faux furry) fish out of water. We collect our timing chips and numbers and settle into race HQ (a tent in the park with chairs). We decide we don’t want to check our handbags and faux furs into the baggage store until the last minute (it’s FREEZING and all the runners in shorts and vests are making us feel even colder). While we’re waiting for the 10.30am start, we chat to an interesting lady (who we guessed was around 80) who tells us of her many marathons, and how we shouldn’t concentrate too much on how fast we’re running, just how we feel and to enjoy it – running as fast as feels comfortable on the day. We agree, and decide it’s time to head to the start line (with a quick stop off at the porta-loos), the nerves are really starting to set in.

“The gun sounds, and we’re pretty far back from the start line, we must cross it around two and a half minutes into the race. We start jogging at a slow-ish pace, it’s pretty crowded (there’s 1,700 people running). The first couple of miles we’re all so close to each other, and it feels strange running with so many people. I miss the solitariness of my early morning runs. By mile four, the crowds are clearing a little as everyone gets into their own pace. Keely and I split then too and decide we want to run our own races.

“The Watford course is unexpectedly beautiful, and we wind around country roads. But what I totally hadn’t bargained for was the hills. The course is intensely hilly, and it feels like it’s more up than down. People were walking all around me and I was trying to stay motivated and keep on running, but it was so hard. I was running so slowly up each hill (there may have been some swearing too, sorry Mum). And the hills just kept on coming… even when the race marshalls said it was the last difficult hill, I didn’t believe them. (They definitely lied to keep us motivated).  For the most part, I really didn’t enjoy it. It was a really tough challenge. But there were some simple pleasures along the way. I tried to take in the countryside and enjoy the (what felt like very few) downhill stretches (although even these were a little scary as one was so steep it felt like I was on a rollercoaster and I might topple over at any moment.) I also enjoyed some of the signs people made to cheer us on, my favourite reading: Toenails are overrated. I thought of my battered and bruised tootsies. I also enjoyed a fellow runner telling me I had “good form”. I felt some light relief at the end when the marshalls said there were just 500 metres remaining and I could see the finish line, but I just had no power left in my legs. I normally try and speed up at the end, but I had nothing left to give.

 

Crossing the finish line and trying to smile…

 

“As I crossed the finish line, the girl next to me said: “That was the worst two hours of my life, and I didn’t enjoy any of it.” I didn’t totally disagree, but I knew secretly that I wouldn’t feel this way later. I collected my medal, finisher t-shirt and gulped down some water. And went to try and find Keely. We hugged and high-fived: we did it. I managed to complete the course in two hours 15 mins, five minutes slower than I had wanted, but I blame the hills.”

Over the finish line and still smiling in our medals and runner tees… makeup artist Keely and editor Alice.

 

“Later, we had Sunday lunch (which tasted amazing), nothing tastes better after a tough and long run. And later that night, over a glass of wine, we mulled over our achievement. Even though straight after the race we vowed we would never, ever, run that course again, we’re already changing our minds and talking about beating our own times next year… and I guess that’s why we love running, the pain is short lived, and we soon forget the hills. We just bathe in the after-glow of our own personal little victories (remembering that this time last year 5k was  a struggle and I never really dreamed I could run for over two hours without stopping!)… and start planning the next chunk of our marathon training, next week 16 miles? Well, we’ll see how it goes… There’s a long way to go.”

Please donate as little or as much as you can on my justgiving page (justgiving.com/alicesnapemarathon), and read more about why I am running for Sarcoma UK.

Keely is also running the London Marathon 2015 for Cure Parkinson’s her justgiving page is justgiving.com/keelyr.

Toenails are overrated – tattooed post-race tootsies in the bath

My Marathon Diary – part two

Alice Snape marathon Me in my new running gear, taken at Christmas at my parent’s house in the midlands.

Editor Things&Ink editor Alice Snape is currently in training for the London Marathon 2015, she’s running for Sarcoma UK. Read more in her first Marathon diary entry.

Part two of my marathon diary – and it’s just a short entry documenting an early morning run…

Monday morning, 19 January 2015: It’s 7am, and I am forcing myself to go for a run before a freelance shift at Hello! magazine.

I am already awake as my alarm sounds at 6.15am. I lay in bed for 10 minutes visualising myself running outside in the cold. I try to figure out if I have the energy to run, can I be bothered? It’s so early. I try to remember how much I love running, and the after buzz that sets me up for the rest of the day ahead. It’s this that makes me get out of bed (even though I would definitely rather stay under the duvet with my hot water bottle).

I go to the kitchen – it’s still dark outside… I have a pre-run banana, spoonful of peanut butter and a cup of earl grey tea… As I watch BBC breakfast and and do my warm-up stretches, I hope it might get light before I leave the house – it doesn’t. I dress in my running thermals and manage to set off at 7am… I always have a few pre-run butterflies in my stomach, even if I know I won’t be out for long.

I only want to do a short run, but I manage to set off at a good pace – for me a really good pace is a 9-minute mile – and I really feel like my lungs are working hard. I struggle for the first ten minutes as I get into stride. As I run into mile 2, I try and assess my body, how each part feels, which muscles are straining and how my feet feel. I decide I feel strong and keep up the pace. My body feels warm, even though the air is freezing cold.

I run through the streets of Brixton, although I decide not to run my usual round of Brockwell Park – it looked too dark and scary. So I wind round a few different streets and end with a lap of Ruskin Park – which is just round the corner from my house. The sun is finally coming up by this point and it is starting to get light.

I complete five miles, and by the end I am happy – I run the last ten minutes at a slightly slower pace. My cheeks are red, I am sweating and I know I will feel an after-run glow for the rest of the day. I do a cool-down walk to my house, and complete some stretches before I get showered and ready for the day ahead.

Read part one of My Marathon Diary to find out why I am running for the cancer charity Sarcoma UK. And please sponsor me on my justgiving page. More updates coming soon, as I build up my longer runs. Wish me luck.

 

 

Running the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK

Part 1 of Things&Ink editor Alice Snape’s Marathon Diary…

Around three weeks ago, I got the news that I had been waiting for…  I had been accepted to run the London Marathon 2015 for the cancer charity Sarcoma UK …

My heart filled with a mix of excitement, fear and happiness. Excitement, as running the marathon has always been one of those things I want to achieve, and fear, as I have never run close to that distance in my life. I have slowly been building my fitness levels over the past five months, and really enjoying the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle. But a marathon is a whole new level entirely and I am ready for the challenge (I hope). It feels like the right time to do it and for a charity that is very close to my heart.

Alice Snape running for Sarcoma UK

Let me tell you a little bit about why I applied to run the London Marathon for Sarcoma UK.  My boyfriend’s sister, Katherine, died from Sarcoma over three years ago, in fact she died just a few short months before James and I met. James and his mum, Glenys, support the work of Sarcoma UK to help other families who are affected by Sarcoma. I never knew Katherine, although over the years that James and I have been together, I have slowly learnt more about her – what sort of person she was and her likes and dislikes. In some way, I guess I want to fundraise for Sarcoma to pay tribute to Katherine, who I never met,  but so wish I could have. This is also the reason, why I chose to give all the profits from ‘Miniature Ink’ (the collaborative exhibition with Atomica gallery to celebrate Things&Ink’s two year birthday) to the charity.

But on a very selfish level, I also want to run the marathon, I want to see if I can physically achieve it. To see if I can run the entire distance and do it in a time that I can feel proud of… I am currently on week 3 of the official London Marathon training plan, and I am enjoying being competitive with myself. Beating my own times, and gradually building up the time and distance I can run. (I recently downloaded the RunKeeper app and completely obsessed with miles per minute and figuring out what my “race pace” might be).

So I am running this marathon for Katherine, for James and his mum, for those who are affected by Sarcoma, to support the work of this wonderful charity and, mostly, for myself, because I want to say I have ran a marathon, and also because I want to say that I ran it for Sarcoma UK. So please give as little or as much as you can, so that I can think of all those pennies when I am doing training runs in the cold and dark over winter… Here’s a link to my justgiving page.

I will be keeping you all updated on how my training is going over the coming months in ‘My Marathon Diary’ on this blog, so please offer words of support and encouragement…

Find out more about Sarcoma UK, on their website, www.sarcoma.org.uk, and in previous blog posts.