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!
“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