27/09/21 – That was the Year that was

So here we are with less than a week to go before we run our second London Marathon. Barring the unforeseen, we shall be lining up on the start line next Sunday for our fifth go at the distance.

The previous four: two races, one virtual and one March, have all been detailed in this blog.  But why, I hear you ask, have you not been blogging the last year in the run-up to this race? A combination of many, many things, some of which will become apparent as you read this summary of the last twelve months since we completed the CPFC Marathon March.

OCTOBER 2020
Within a week of completing our two Marathon distances in six days, we both contracted COVID. Clearly our immune systems were at rock-bottom after these events, but we still don’t know how we got it. Thankfully, we both had a mild viral load and were both back to running within a week of feeling better. I even managed to struggle around the garden 36 times everyday to keep my mile streak going. Sue thought I was mad.

A Home run!

NOVEMBER 2020
A very sad month in which we lost my Mum, who had lived with us for many years. She was 94 and it was advanced age rather than the virus that claimed her. Needless to say, everything took a back seat for a while. Not least because we were back in lockdown.

DECEMEBER 2020
Still managing to knock out a (not)parkrun every weekend and keeping the daily mile streak up. The painful glute finally seemed to be easing off, but there was no real impetus to go and do any longer distances.

JANUARY 2021
Having really not watched the weight since November, then usual Christmas gluttony and now facing another long Winter lockdown, we both felt now was the time to get in shape. The aim was to be at our ‘fighting weight’ by the time we started our Marathon Training in earnest in the summer. That way we could focus exclusively on that rather than also trying to shed weight.

FEBRUARY 2021
Weight loss was going well and I added weight-training to my daily exercise routine, finally, there were signs that my glute might be easing a bit (after 15 months!) as my 5K (not)parkrun times started to come now from the 35 minute average from 2020.  Mind you, it’s not just my times that had improved, Sue’s did too, so much so that she took nearly 40 seconds off her 5K PB!  

MARCH 2021    
The weight loss, exercise and healthy eating regime began to pay huge dividends for us both. I managed my first sub 30-min 5K since November 2019 and the start of the tiresome glute issue. Sue had a month of smashing her 5K PB almost every time she went out.

APRIL 2021
Sue managed to run a sub 30-min 5K for the first time ever in almost 10 ten years of running! She was beyond delighted. I reached my target weight and even lost a little bit more, before a week’s holiday in the Isle of Wight and New Forest to celebrate the successes of our winter get-fit scheme.

The first race back at Kempton Park racecourse – 15 May 21

MAY 2021
The return to race action as lockdown began to ease. We took part in a special trail 5K event at Kempton Park racecourse, ironically, just a mile away from our last official parkrun at Hazelwood back in March 2020. Back in a race ‘pack’, I managed to run 27:39 – within 50 seconds of my 5K PB – something that I thought was well beyond my capabilities, these days. Sue came in a shade over the 30 minute mark, but still her best racing performance by a long chalk. At the end of that month, we both entered the Folkestone 10K and Sue PB’s at that distance too. It’s all about the girl!

Folkestone 10K – 29 May 2021 – Not quite as hot as it looked!

JUNE 2021
The start of our Marathon training commenced in unusual fashion, we opted to try and walk the 72-mile Isle of Wight coastal path in just four consecutive days. Sadly, the weather was against us – the rain and wind were biblical on the first two days which meant we got a bit behind our planned mileage. On our last walking day, the weather was so hot, we decided to bunk off and enjoy the afternoon from our chalet by the sea.

Start of the Isle of Wight Coastal Walk – 17 June 2021 – We didn’t stay dry for long!

Also that month, the book that I had been writing throughout lockdown: Don’t Mention the ‘Spor finally got finished and published to some lovely critical acclaim. It’s fair to say that my writing juices at this point were in the same state as my body last October.

JULY 2021
The slow upping of the training miles continued, with a return to the IOW to complete the 13 miles we had left. We decided to walk/run it together, typically it turned out to be the hottest day of the year, but with the aid of a couple of refreshment breaks, we managed it and enjoyed a nice lunch with our friends Colin & Jackie Devaney afterwards. July also marked the return of parkrun, which we’d looked forward to for so long. Unfortunately, due to being track and traced, we weren’t able to take part on the first weekend in spite of negative lateral flow tests. When we did get out, back at our local South Norwood event, Sue duly went and smashed her longstanding parkrun PB first time out.

AUGUST 2021
The 1st of August marked my 4th consecutive year of my daily mile. Marathon Training, however, became a bit less disciplined due, in part, to days that were just too damned hot. For us, the biggest disadvantage of entering a early autumn Marathon. We did enjoy another trip to the seaside and revisiting old holiday stamping grounds along the Saxon Shore way, between Herne Bay and Whitstable.  At the end of the month, we entered the ‘Big Half’ run on parts of the London Marathon course at Half Marathon distance.

The London Big Half – 22 August 2021 – The smiles don’t tell the story.

For a post-COVID test event, the decision to take 12,000 runners through the hot and airless Limehouse Link tunnel for almost two miles was downright puzzling. My time 2hr37mins was disappointingly slow, even for training purposes, my pace just seemed to fall off a cliff at the halfway mark. Sue was also disappointed. She was on for a Half Marathon PB until at 12 miles, she felt a sharp pain in her knee which meant she had walk the last mile, narrowly missing out on her personal record.

SEPTEMBER 2021
It became obvious throughout the month, that Sue’s injury wasn’t going to just go away and she is currently under the physio, who has diagnosed an over-use injury. She is unable to run very far without the pain returning, but during the training that she has managed, she believes she has developed walk/run strategies for mitigating it and getting around the course next Sunday.  It’s fair to say we are both a bit worried about her ability to complete, but she is extremely determined. Her race is certainly going to be very different from anything she has done before.

Aside from one horribly hot day when I chose to do an 18 miler and my old nemesis – shin cramps – returned with a vengeance, my longer sessions have gone pretty well, albeit slowly.  I have certainly learned a few things about my long-distance running tactics in this last month, not least that I can actually start off a bit slower and then pick up the pace in the later miles – just like all the books tell you! Whether I’ll have the courage to try this out on the day, remains to be seen.    

We are almost there on our respective Charity Sponsorship targets, you can help us over the line by clicking the links above. Thank you so much.