Running a marathon is ridiculously hard but I think that is why people love it, it shows you what you are made of.
First thing I should mention is that I really miss running. I was crazy about soccer throughout school and university, but unfortunately it became very difficult to keep this level of competitiveness up after I started working in the city. By signing up for my first marathon, I wanted to show myself that I had not lost that tenacity and fire-that I was ready to turn it up!
So here I am, up at 6am on a Saturday in Heathrow ready to fly over to Germany. Getting a spot in the London Marathon is extremely difficult and you also have to raise around £1,000 when you run for a charity. Since I decided to run just four months before race day, it was easier to pay €60 and book a flight. Plus, I got to see my parents which meant a lot of good food and pampering :)
Talking about pampering... We ordered up a banquet of Thai goodies at Sila Thai for dinner.
Training for a marathon definitely has its perks...and carb-loading is definitely at the top of my list. You want spring rolls? Get em! The dumplings too? Sure! Can't decide between the padthai and curry? No problem, get both!
Welcome to the life of a foodie runner...its like being a foodie but simply without the guilt :)
With so many Incredibly fresh, authentic Thai flavours, hugely rich in carbs, protein, iron, antioxidants and vitamin C, its safe to say I got all my nutrients and I passed out as soon as I hit my pillow.
I woke up at 5am Sunday morning and only barely managed to get some toast down to power up for the race. I stretched and packed up a very stylish fanny pack with my 4 Gu Energy Gels and chapstick. It an understatement to say that I was nervous, but more excited than nervous!
There are many reasons why the Düsseldorf marathon stands out, including a beautiful double-loop along both sides of the Rhine River featuring some of the city’s biggest attractions. There's the historic Old Town, the modern Media Harbour, and the famous shopping boulevard Königsallee. Moreover, the route is mostly flat so very friendly to first time marathon runners.
So, how did it go?
I finished the race at 4 hours 30 mins, which means I came in spot of 352 out of 16,500 runners! I didn't want to set a specific time for this race and just wanted to keep up my regular pace (usually around an hour per 10km). I didn't know how my body would react after 32km as I've never run that far before! The great thing was that I never hit "the wall," although my legs were pretty exhausted for the last 5km.
I didn't put any pressure on myself and just focused on being very positive the whole time by setting myself small goals. Every 5km means I can have a sip of water and every 10km means I can have a Gu-whuhuu haha! Then after 20km you can really congratulate yourself, you've made it half way! Then at 25km you're only 5km away from 30km, which means you've done 3/4th of the race and it will all be over soon. All those weeks of training boiling down to this final hour! These were the thoughts basically bouncing around my head for 42km. Lip-syncing to my hip-hop playlist and pretending to be a tough gangsta helped too.
I loved how there were a ton of people dressed up in random costumes… gotta love distractions when your legs get really tired. My favorite runner wore a t-shirt saying "Eigentlich wollte ich nur Brötchen holen, aber irgendwie bin ich hier rein geraten!" which basically means, " all I wanted to do was grab some bread, and somehow ended up here!"
I must have looked pretty exhausted during my last km, because a 65 year old Danish man started running with me and giving me all these motivational pointers. "You'll be an official marathon runner in only 5 minutes! You chose this marathon, the marathon didn't choose you! Own it!" Pretty full on, but this guy ran 185 marathons in his lifetime, so I let him run with me ;)
And then eventually we found the finish line. The beautiful, beautiful finish line.
The runner's high is awesome and I completely understand how people get addicted to it. Personally, I found the shower at home SO much better. No one ever tells you how amazing the shower will be!
Our flight back home to London was on the same day, so I rolled up rocking some sweats and a very shiny new medal.
Some quick tips:
- Get the right shoes: When I started running I wore Nike Flyknits and got terrible knee pains when I started my long distance runs. After many trips to Runner's Need and consolation from experienced runners, I learnt that you need a much thicker rubber sole. Not one that is in one piece like this but one with multiple separate layers which are put together, like here since that absorbs more shock. Asics are basically the best for long distance running, Nike's are beautiful but they are generally fashionable gym shoes.
- Get a running app: I used the Nike+ running app as a rough guide for my daily runs. It's pretty intense and can be hard to find enough time off for all the long distance runs, but don't beat yourself too much about it as long as you start training seriously 1-2 months before.
- Carb-Loading: Here's a range of nutrition plans to follow based on which training stage you are at.
- Get yourself a foam roller: I'm so grateful my friend recommended this to me! It's the best post workout stretch you can do, especially if you have muscle knots-which you will.
- Kinesiology Tape: I was a bit skeptical about how effective sports tape would be, but it really helped my knee injuries, so I couldn't recommend it enough. My advice is to order the synthetic microfiber tape as it lasts much longer than the cotton one.
- GU Energy Gels: They will keep you going. They are 100 calories per packet and contain maltodextrin and fructose which helps maximize carbohydrate absorption, plus sodium which is the main electrolyte lost when you sweat. They come in a range of flavors and caffeine levels (try vanilla bean & jet blackberry)!
- Post-Marathon Recovery: Relax. Take a sea salt bath and get yourself a deep tissue massage around 24-48 hours after the race.
So what are you waiting for? Get started! Here a list of upcoming races in London!
- Nike Woman's 10K (21st June 2015)
- Race for Life have organized several 10K, Half Marathon (I've signed up!) & Full Marathon on the 4th October 2015
- London to Cardiff 24 hour team relay (16th May 2015) (I've signed up!)
- Color Run 5K (7th June 2015)
- Vitality British 10K (12th July 2015)
- Woman's Series 10K-Finsbury Park (7th June 2015 & 27 September 2015)
For the real crazies!
Has anyone signed up for these already or currently training for a race? Share your tips & tricks with us!