Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I have always relied on the kindness of strangers..

Well I haven't actually but I did on Sunday. But that's at the end of this story.

In the beginning there was insomnia. Saturday night to be precise. And the day had started so well! My wonderful sister-in-law took my energetic 6 year old out all day. I resisted all tempations to go and meet friends for lunch in London and instead, after a brief 1.6 mile loosener in the early hours, I sat on my bed and watched the Wire. I had a brief nap, and sipped some more water and ate some more carbohydrates. Evening came and then night. I fell asleep for 30 mins but when I woke at 10pm and that was it. I was wide awake. The adrenalin was coursing through my veins and I just could not sleep. This never happens to me - when I do suffer from insomnia it takes the form of waking up at 4am and worrying. This was not sleeping. Midnight came. 1 o'clock. 2 o'clock. I was tossing and turning trying every trick I knew and still - ping! - my eyelids shot open. I must have fallen asleep, finally, after 2. The alarm woke me at 5:30 and I was wide awake. At this point I felt no ill effect from my broken night and I was jangling with nerves. After my prerace breakfast (granola, banana, honey and yoghurt) I woke up my husband - who I had kept awake with my tossing and turning - and he drove me to Charing Cross station (and he sort of kinda woke up and defrosted enough to wish me good luck) where I caught the first train out to Maze Hill. In the past years trains have been cancelled and broken down, leaving runners to walk 2M to the start, so I was taking no chances. This train was still fairly empty and finding our way to the start in was easy. I saw the 10 rhino costumes from some way away and whiled away the hours before the race chatting to other rhino runners, particularly Kenneth, who had run the Atacama desert race and the Marathon des Sables, both in a rhino costume. We talked about race strategy and he told me that Mike Gratton, a former winner of the London marathon and now a more mature, pot-bellied superfast runner and coach, had told him that all this "holding back until the half-marathon point was nonsense – the beginning is when you feel strong and you should just go for it”. Fateful words? Perhaps.

I have not been totally honest with anyone really about what my race strategy was before the race. Not with you all on my blog – because I knew the wiser among you would advise against it. Not to my running friends because, well, the wiser would counsel against what I was intending. My strategy, of course, was to see how fast I could go. I knew I had got faster, I knew that I could get within shouting distance of a BQ. I knew that, if everything went my way, I might even get my BQ. And dammit – I wanted to know how fast I could run.

So after the usual queueing for loos and lining up at the start I crossed the line fairly quickly and – stopped for a potty break within the first mile. Mindful of all the notices warning against soiling public property I wasted a good minute (believe me, this minute will haunt me) waiting for a portapotty. But after that – well I went off like a bat out of hell. I just ran fast. I had been given a good starting pen so there wasn’t too much weaving about – most people were sort of at my speed – but I realized pretty quickly that my Garmin was slightly off the mile markers. Nonetheless Miles 1 – 11 flew by (quick Garmin splits – 9:51 (damn that potty!), 8:02, 8:03, 7:41, 8:17, 8:11, 8:17, 8:16, 8:16, 8:21, 8:23). The bit I dreaded – around the Cutty Sark – was congested but not to0 bad and I emerged across Tower Bridge and headed for the halfway point. Mile 12 went by in 8:18, mile 13 in 8:26 and passing the halfway point I realized I had broken my PR in the half marathon (which I set in March of this year). Now when I ran that half mary I was disappointed because I knew I could go faster but I did not intend to PR in the full. I knew that I was going too fast if I was doing this. But by this stage it had got hot, I was in the full sun and I all I could think was “well if I blow out I blow out. I’m going to stretch this out as long as I can". And I did. All through the hot sunny bits of East London I powered ahead, barely looking around me, grabbing water and popping Enduralytes and managing to wedge down one gel. Mile 14 8:25, mile 15 8:28, Mile 16 7:46, Mile 17 8:45, mile 18 8:42, mile 19 8:57, mile 20 8:32. By this stage I had finished the long quieter bit out to the East of London back and was beginning to roar along the Thames embankment where the crowds were 10 deep and roaring out my name. I was panting, counting to a 100. I could hear people shouting out my name but, unlike other races I did not reach out and thank people. I just went on, gasping for the mile markers. I kept checking my pace band and I was still on course for the 3:45. Mile 21 8:19, mile 22 8:33, mile 23 8:36, mile 24 8:19, mile 25 7:54 and then.

Then it was over. As I rounded the corner at the House of Parliament I noted, to my surprise, that everyone was suddenly overtaking me. And then I realized this was because I had gone into slow motion. My legs had completely seized up. I had felt bits of cramp earlier on, and had even pulled over to get a spectator to open my little case (because I couldn’t manage it) to get out some Enduralytes. But this was it. And just as close as it came, I could feel my BQ going away. And the real struggle began. I staggered up Birdcage Walk, barely able to think from the effort of moving ahead. At this stage I was pumping my arms hard just to move. I fell, and it was relief not to be running, but I willed myself up and back on my feet again. And then I fell again and I could not get up – my legs were sticking out straight and shaking. The ambulance people shot up to me and I screamed at them (I was primal at this stage people, not my normal polite self) to ask them to get me up. They said they would put me on a stretcher. “Not now” I thought, “not after all this effort”. I screamed to the crowds, piled up deeply behind the barriers, to jump over and help me. Two men did immediately – defying the police who I could hear shouting at them to get back behind the barriers – and then I shouted at the crowds again “Help me to get going”. And they roared my name. “GO PETRA GO”. And so off I limped. I remember seeing the 600M to go sign and thinking “I can’t do this” but I staggered on and on and finally I crossed the finish. 3:47:17. 2 minutes and 17 seconds off a BQ and an automatic good for age entry to London 2010 (clarification - I was 2 mins and 17 seconds off an automatic entry. No automatic entry for me). . But 25 minutes ahead of my previous personal record, and about 70 minutes ahead of my first marathon.

I staggered to the luggage area, asking everyone for bottles of water and drinking them as soon as I could. I told myself I could not stop till I got to the Save the Rhino area and I must have looked like a zombie wandering around until I found it. But then I did and it was like coming home. I was embraced and led to a massage table where people took off my shoes and worked on me for half an hour until my legs had stopped shaking. Despite the heat – by this stage it was an amazing 25 degrees in London, bright blue skies – I was shivering and so I sat in foil blankets in my sweatsuit munching on crisps, a sandwich and drinking a beer. Slowly coming back to life.

I am going to end this race report here – there are so many reflections to be made and so many thoughts I have had since – but that’s for another post and a bit more time. For now – this is what happened.

And before you say anything – I am thrilled. Yes I pushed it too hard. Yes I did not fuel correctly during the race. Maybe, if I had slept better and hadn’t peed, I could have done a BQ. But I know that, for the first time in my life and given life’s uncontrollables, I gave this race absolutely everything I could possibly have given it. There was NOTHING left in the tank. Nothing. And so I am thrilled. That BQ will come one day. But for now, I am my own champion. For all the times where I feel I mess up – and believe me, these moments come thick and fast – this time I didn’t. I did the absolute best I could do. And that is a fantastic feeling.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A quick update

A quick update on the day before the race:
  • Met Drusy at the expo yesterday. Can't post the photo as I left the cable for my camera at home but she is wonderful and despite the slight "blind date" fear just before we met we got on like a house on fire. Can't wait to get to know her better at the Swift Half in 4 weeks.
  • For the first time ever, I have taken it easy the day before the race. My wonderful sister-in-law has taken my son off to explore London, my husband is attending a wedding (I declined on the basis that I was running tomorrow) and I have done some very brief errands and have been at my sister-in-law's house, sipping water and gently carboloading, all day. I even had a nap! So far, so good. Slightly eerie watching DVDs in the daytime though - I think it's been a good 15 years since I last did that..
  • And there is online tracking - you can track me here if you type in my race number 43789.
Will be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow to make my way across London to Greenwich. Thank you for all your messages of support, here and on FaceBook. You will all be very much on my mind tomorrow - without you I don't think I'd be there. I'll talk to you on the other side of the finishing line.

Friday, April 24, 2009

T-2 days

In 48 hours I will have had my granola, banana and yoghurt and black coffee. I will probably be agitating Adam to get in the car ALREADY and drive me to a tube station so I can begin to make my way to the start of the London marathon.

It's here. We are setting off for London this morning. I'm meeting Dawn - who is nervous and excited at running her first marathon - for lunch and we are then heading out to ExCel (where the G20 met not long ago) where the expo is and we can pick up our race numbers. I'm hoping to meet up with Drusy there this afternoon and generally spend an afternoon in running geek heaven.. Then it's back to my sister-in-law Sarah's for a an early pasta supper, and bed. Tomorrow I am aiming to stay off my feet as much as it's possible with a 6 year old in tow - Sarah has promised to take him off for a while, I might meet a friend for lunch and then we might head to a cinema or something like that. Early night - again. I hope.

And then Sunday morning. London is a large and VERY spread out city and the London marathon starts miles away from where I'm staying. I'm going to have to make way across town from Notting Hill to Greenwich where I've been drafted in the red start. I'm leaving plenty of time - last year the Docklands Light Railway (the only public transport out to the start) broke down and 1000s of runners had to walk the final miles... And then, hopefully, it's the usual nervous queueing for loos and standing around in bin bags, nerves on end until the start at 9:45. To my great surprise and disappointment it does not appear to be possible to follow me live on the internet - one of the sponsors, Adidas, is offering mobile phone tracking on their (crappy) website if you type in my race number 43789. Whether it works with foreign cellphones is anyone's guess... As soon as I can, after the race, I will update my FaceBook status with my time and try to post a very quick post on this site with my time.

And how do I feel? Well - very nervous. It's been a very very busy 2 weeks. After a week of holidaying in Wales with the family where the times were good - great even - but the running was so-so I came back last Friday with some trepidation.

Although I had decided to cut down on Pfitz's mileage I was trying to keep up the speedwork but he had prescribed 3 x 1M repeats at 5K pace in a workout which I had tried and failed at twice during my break. I erred on the side of caution and spent the rest of my break relaxing and not running too much. Saturday morning I woke up at 6, however, knowing I just HAD to get those fast miles in to feel confident. And I did it - I nailed them at a 7:40 pace. I then put the brakes on myself completely - ran a slow 9 miler on Sunday instead of his prescribed 12 miler and for the rest of this week I've been very conservative. 4M on Tuesday and then 5M on Wednesday where I was intending to run 2 at race pace, just to see if I had it. And did I have it. Boy - I was like a champagne bottle uncorked. I really slammed on the brakes but I still ran every mile under 9 minute miles and felt strong. Yesterday was an easy 4 and then I'll run 3M tomorrow morning just to loosen and relax.

I am much more nervous than I have been in a while for a race. I know that I have improved a lot and I am nervous because I hope that I can pull it all out of the hat on the day. As far as my race strategy goes I am going to be somewhat flexible - I hope - because I don't know which pen I'm lined up in yet and I'm anticipating the first miles to be slow with the crowds. However. My goal - for this marathon - is to come in under 4. That is my goal. My PB is just over 4:12 so that would be a great improvement. I am fairly confident that, barring any unforeseen crises, I can do that. In terms of racing strategy I think I am going to pace myself for a 3:52 race. After 5 miles or so I will know how realistic this goal is and I am trusting in myself to be sensible. If anything, I have gone out too slow in the past and I want to avoid that. My recent 20 miler would give me a 3:55 ish finish - I would be VERY happy with that. We shall see.

Finally. As some of you know I have once again been given a race place in this wonderful marathon by Save the Rhino International. I have been reticent to ask for your support of their work because you have all given so much already and I know that these are very much straightened times for everyone. However, this past week I was sent an update on the situation in Zimbabwe. The humanitarian crisis there is, as you may know, very very severe. Perhaps as a result of this, the rhino population is suffering enormously from poaching. Save the Rhino International, in partnership with International Rhino Foundation, has launched an appeal in order to increase awareness of the threats facing Zimbabwe's rhinos and to raise much-needed funds.Poaching of both black and white rhinos in Zimbabwe has more than doubled in the last year. The rhinos are targeted by organised and armed poaching gangs for their horn, which is then sold on the black market. Over 100 Critically Endangered black rhinos have been killed by poachers in the Lowveld since 2000: 40 of these in 2008 alone, 18 black rhinos so far in 2009. One of the many side-effects of this increase in poaching has been the rise in the number of orphaned, and sometimes injured, rhino calves that must be treated and rehabilitated. If any of you have 5 or 10 dollars, pounds or euros to spare please consider donating them to Save the Rhino today. You can do so at my fundraising site and find out more about Save the Rhino's incredible work at www.savetherhino.org. For those of you have already made a donation - thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Finally, finally. My best friend Dawn is running Sunday's marathon. It's her first marathon and I just wanted to give her a massive shoutout. Her achievement to just get to this point is incredible. She is the mother of 3 wonderful boys, the youngest of whom is 2, and has trained very hard despite very limited time. She has also raised an enormous amount of money for a very worthwhile cause, Children with Leukemia. She is an inspiring person, an incredible runner and the best friend a girl could ask for. Send her your happy thoughts on Sunday!

And finally, finally, finally. Thank you all for your support in the course of this training program. Without you, and particularly Maritza, Aron and Jen, I would never have started on the Pfitz. Everyone has been supportive and helpful and you have all given me the most enormous sense of community and friendship. I will be thinking of all of you on Sunday morning as I line up and hope everyone has a good weekend's running.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Iiiiiit's ..... Taper time! But first ..

An apology. Because after last week's post you probably all hated me. "Hey guess what guys I'm running really fast and far and I've lost weight - how're you all doing?". I know I know. Overwhelming smugness. But let me reassure you - working on weight and speed and distance has left some gaping holes in my life:
- this blog. Man! It has been irregular.
- my other blog which I won't even mention but which I have been hoping to resurrect for months. It hasn't been. Nuff said.
- my social life. Well as you can imagine I have just been everyone's favourite party girl. I have either been running, working, or fighting fires at home. So I haven't really seen a lot of friends, returned a lot of phonecalls, or supported you all online or commented on your blogs.
- my family. I really have, at times, put running ahead of everything else and while the theory of "finding me-time" is something I heartily espouse some days I wish I could just sink on the sofa with my kids and read a book with them rather than slog out another 10 miles. But I do it, and the guilt sits there. Also, I have been tired and distracted - working out how to get my run in some days - and I'm afraid, have not always been in my most positive mood.
As for the current state of my house and organisation - well suffice it to say I went so far as to purchase a hypnosis mp3 on how to find things (please note I don't generally "believe" in hypnosis but desperation - it's a Prada handbag! - etc.) because in my haste and tiredness I have lost rather a lot in the past couple of months. No luck so far, in case you wondered. The tape told me to "go back to where I was when I lost said item". No sh*t Sherlock! If I knew that I would find the stuff right? I'm so overloaded at the moment I don't remember my own name, let alone where I put things.. Anyway. Are you feeling better yet? Rest assured - there's plenty of crappiness, guilt, and failure in my life to make me human. And then some.

Anyway - it's finally taper time. Traditionally a time where I can right some of the wrongs committed in a demanding schedule.

After last week's post and my comments about the Pfitz taper (that it doesn't really exist, basically) I got a really useful comment from the wonderful (and FAST!) Aron. She said that she felt that the Pfitz taper didn't get you to the start line rested enough and pointed me towards Jen's blogposts about her taper before the 2008 CIM. Jen basically cut down on some of the runs in the last few weeks and after I contacted her she confirmed that she would recommend cutting down the miles, especially in the last 2 weeks. So that is my plan - especially as I'm definitely feeling a bit tired and worn out..

But first things first - last weekend was my final 20 miler before London and I ran it with the NikeTown training team. Somehow (I think through Nike+ which I haven't used for over a year) I was invited to run a 20 mile training run with the NikeTown running team (who run a running club from the Oxford Circus, Central London, shop). I was attracted at the idea of running this long distance with other people rather than on my own and to running it in London rather than my usual rural routes. So I arranged to stay with BFF Dawn (who was running her own 20 miler that day) and tag-team on childcare and arrived at NikeTown at 7:30 am on Sunday morning. It was all amazingly well-organised - they opened the store, handed out free t-shirts and various Lucozade products and set us up with pacers. We all had lanyards on with a routemap and by 8:00 we set off. With some trepidation I decided to join the 9:00 minute mile pace group - reasoning that I coudl always drop back and join a slower group if I felt it was too much. And initially, I did feel it might be too fast - our pacer was very keen and was consistently clocking us in at sub 9 minute miles for the first few. The group I ran with was not, initially, very friendly - everyone was in their own (iPod) zone and that left running Oprah here bereft of conversational company. However, it was a beautiful day and we were running through London's parks so I didn't have too much to complain about. After about 8 miles I started running with a woman who was aiming for a 3:45 in London and we started chatting. She was very interesting and engaging - had run quite a few London marathons and was a really fast runner on shorter distances (I think a 42 minute 10K PR and a 1:38 half-marathon PR). We kept running alongside each other and chatting and it made the miles fly past. By this stage we had lost our pacer but as she was a Londoner she was confident about the route. We paced each other comfortably until about mile 14 when she started to flag. I gave her some of my shotbloks but at mile 15 she told me go ahead. And from then on I ran alone. I felt strong and happy to be out in London on such a beautiful day and (fairly) confident I could find my way. Nike had posted marshalls at all the major turns and I would just shout out at them "which way" when I saw them. At times I had to fight my way through traffic or tourists - particularly around Westminster - but I managed to get back on pace each time. By about 16 miles I could feel the mild beginnings of cramp - it was a warm day and my fueling strategy was a bit shaky. A few shotbloks clearly had not been enough but I didn't feel I could take any more in board. I was comfortable at my pace - 9:00 minute mile, more or less, depending on the trafic lights - and had the strange feeling that this was the only pace I could run. I couldn't speed up or slow down and was actually surprised by the sight of the finish line - it arrived before I anticipated it - brining me in at 2:55. 2:55 peeps! That's below a 9 minute mile! I was so delighted with my time and my pace - overall it proved very consistent throughout the race - and, after a cinnamon roll and a coffee at the Nordic Bakery - headed back to Dawn's for some childcare and to await her return from her 20 miler. Given that this is her first 20 miler she was quite nervous about it but she managed a sterling effort of 3:40 and was amazingly perky and happy afterwards. To celebrate we went out for dinner in the evening and shared a bottle of wine. You can't always be on the wagon...

So onto this week - the first week of the taper.. I went out for 8M with intervals on Tuesday morning at 5:30 am and guys - I wasn't feeling it. I was exhausted. I was nowhere near the 5K pace I needed to be hitting. After 2.5M I packed it up and went home. Wednesdays 5 miler was ok, and Thursday I decided to pick up the intervals from Tuesday and I incorporated them into a 6 miler. This time I hit the pace fine. 4M easy on Friday and then today's 16 miler, in the spirit of the taper, got downgraded to a 13 miler. A very slow one. Tomorrow I am technically due to run a 8-10K warmup race and I have toyed with running my own 10k. But I've got a big day ahead tomorrow and staying in bed for an extra hour might be the right solution at the moment - especially as I'm still exhausted.

We are going on holiday tomorrow. As a family. Camping. At Fforest in Wales. I anticipate it being fun, off-the grid, granola-time with the family. Wet as well. Wales is the wettest part of a very wet country. But it doesn't really matter when you're sea-kayaking in a wetsuit to spot the local dolphin colonies (Monday morning) or coasteering (Wednesday morning). I've told them I'm running a race in 2 weeks and will not jump from high rocks - I think my son and I will be swimming round a lot of the coves. But we all need a break - from our schedules, from our phones and from our lives. So I'm bringing my running kit and just going to run as much as I feel like - which, knowing my anal personality, will probably be close to what I want to be doing 2 weeks away from the race - aiming for about 18 miles before the weekend. I think it will be good to get out, step away and get myself mentally psyched AND in perspective for London.

Finally. A minor but very positive point. Hammer nutrition has JUST come to the UK. Previously friends have smuggled bottles of endurolytes across the borders (yes along with bags of dark chocolate M&Ms) but now we can get them here! So after Sunday's near-cramps I ordered a bottle of endurolytes AND a box for HammerGel espresso gels. So far, in training, I have run with Shotbloks but though I can tolerate them well, I don't feel they do much for me either. I tried these things out this morning and I can't believe it. They are actually delicious! I would eat them for a snack! It's basically Nutella! Which US readers may not get but I can tell you I don't even have a tiny taste because it so delicious. It's basically butter with chocolate and hazelnut in it. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

But now it's good for me! I can't believe it. This is a happy day. Which throws up a race-day quandary. I tried this stuff out today on a 13 miler with no adverse effect. I will take it out on next week's 12 miler. Do you think that's enough of a try to check that there are no adverse effects on race day? I have never reacted badly to a gel - I just tend to find the fruit flavours hard to take on by mile 18. But I've never been sick or felt any of the other common side effects.. Thoughts and opinions please - let me know what you think.

OK. I'm going to sign off. I'm exhausted and not packed yet. I will see you all on the other side of this week where I will suddenly magically have gained the insight on how to be so effective I can pack everything I want into this life. Till then - all tips are welcome. Oh and I will catch up with you all. I promise!

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

3 1/2 weeks till take-off

Nearly there - it's 3 and a half weeks till take-off. Suddenly, I'm in marathon month. One more 20 miler and the taper begins. Well - the sort of taper. A Pfitz-like taper - 3 weeks out from the marathon you still do a 16 miler and a have a 43 mile week, 2 weeks out you do a 12 miler and a 32 mile week and in the week running up to the race you do 22 miles. But it'll be down from the past weeks, and the past month - in March I clocked up my highest mileage ever, reaching 209 miles. February wasn't shabby either - 182 miles - and even in January I managed to pull in 133 miles which is good considering I didn't start training till halfway through.

Overall, so far, taking "the opposite of me" to marathon training has really worked. I've talked about this before and perhaps it comes across gimmicky or glib. I suppose a less catchy way of putting it is that I'm trying to break some ingrained habits that have outlived their usefulness. I find that sometimes I get fed up with the predictability of how things don't work in a certain aspect of my life. I find myself upset, angry and mostly bored with myself - here I am again, banging my head against that same old wall. So slowly what I'm trying to do is look at a situation that is frustrating me and trying to change what I do - trying to change my approach getting into the situation and my approach getting out of the situation..

Have I completely confused you yet? Well - take for example a course I have been contemplating doing. I am Miss Let's-get-started. I love taking, and particularly, starting courses. And this course would be very helpful for my job. No question about it. So - in the past I would have taken it on. However, I would, more than likely, have found out 3 months into it, that the commitment was more than I could cope with. I would have found this out after a period where I shouted at my kids, shouted at my husband, gained weight, lost self-esteem - yadda yadda yadda. (See what I mean about me boring myself?). I would have finally triggered that the reason I was feeling so miserable was that I had too much on. I would then be all tortured about giving up the course, would have tortured conversations with my boss and my tutor and would eventually give it up.

What I am doing now is trying to break this habit. I've got a list in my notebook at work where I put down the pros and cons of doing this course. So far, the cons (missing out on family time, always feeling I should be doing more coursework, and not being able to run as much (!)) outweigh the pros (makes my job easier and gives me better career prospects). Moreover, by putting off the course until I can find more time in my life I am also giving the whole thing much more thought than I normally would - for example, although it would make me better at my job and make me more marketable, I am not sure I want to be in this field at all, in the long term.

See what I mean? Is anyone still reading this? I will get to the point - running-wise.

So I decided to shake things up running-wise as well. So I made the following changes:
  • Normally, after a marathon I take time off running altogether and then start again from scratch. This time, after Chicago, I carried on running. Not necessarily high mileage immediately, but up until Christmas I made an effort to run at least one medium-length run a week (9-13M) and to try to get my mileage over the 20M per week at least. By early January, I was running 30M weeks.
  • The Pfitzinger 12 week program is a much more aggressive program than I am used to. Higher mileage (particularly mid-week) and much more specific speed and interval workouts. But I've just knuckled down and done them. I've ignored the voice in my head that says "who are you to be doing intervals? who do you think you are? some kind of athlete?" and just got on with it. That's not to say every session was beautiful, or went well, or that I always enjoyed it. But I just ignored the negativity and kept up with it. Bad runs are followed by good ones and I've kept my faith in that.
  • Diet. Haha! I've been keeping something up my dri-fit sleeve my friends! Since early January I joined my husband on WeightWatchers. He is on a long-term weight loss plan and my weight had, by the end of December, crept up to the very top of where I wanted to be - 65kgs. This gave me a BMI of 24.2... So since then I have been focusing very much on eating for health and exercise. Wholegrains, vegetables, fruit etc. I have been trying to notice when the moments occur where I eat junk and then being conscious of them, so I can avoid them. In addition, I have really cut down on alchohol. That's not to say I don't ever have a drink - but now I try to be really aware of when I would really like a glass of wine, rather than having one as a matter of habit. All in all this has led to me losing over 5 kilos in the past 3 months, bringing my BMI down to a much healthier 21.9.
All these changes, together, are putting me in a very positive frame of mind. Physically I am feeling strong and healthy. I've had a few colds and sniffles but nothing serious. My knees are good - at my last visit to the osteopath he said he had never seen me in such good shape and he thinks the increased mileage has really strengthened my quads so that my kneecap is kept more stable. Mentally I feel I am getting ready for London as well. Ready - but not too ready. I am conscious of what I can control and I feel I've done a good job in controlling those things. But there are other factors - crowds, congestion, weather and last-minute hiccups - which could prevent me from achieving the PB I am seeking in London. And I am determined to accept that side of things as well - if I don't PB this time, I will just have to keep on trying until I do. And either way I am really going to enjoy this race. Bring it on!