VLM 2010 – operation dancing badger begins

I may have to change the codename...

Today, the first step of the long road to Greenwich Park on 25 April 2010 to run the London Marathon has been taken.

After 27 calls in two days, I eventually got through to the physio, and now have my first appointment to sort the ITB problems that ruled me out of 2009's London Marathon, only 12 days before the start.

As I sent my withdrawal in before the required date, I should be getting my deferred entry form for next years race by the end of May (or I have to return it by then – must check that...).

In the meantime, it's time to get plotting to make sure that:

  1. I get to the start line in one piece, and
  2. I can run 26.2 miles around London as well as I can.
The first of these is born from the frustration of this years attempt – hundreds of miles of running over cold winter months, without even getting to the start line.

To say I was irked, is something of an understatement.

The second is a repeat of the goal I had for 2009, after my one and only marathon attempt in 2008 saw me jog-hobbling the last 9 miles.

Oddly, that affected my time somewhat.

So, whilst I get my legs sorted, it's full on plotting mode here at PRL towers.

I'm currently working on a three-pronged strategy to keep me from getting into too much trouble.

Roughly speaking, this involves:
  1. getting leg sorted and keep it working.
  2. Improve fitness and running ability by training for almost a year.
  3. sort out this blog, mainly because it's now over 250 posts long, has become a bit unruly and I've been dying to do it for a while but haven't been bothered.
As I can't actually run at the moment, the next few weeks are mainly going to be all about 1 and 3, but with a healthy dose of plotting 2.

At the minute I'm thinking finding a half marathon for around October time, as an intermediate goal. If I can get running in the next month, I've got about four months to get to a decent base level of running again, before a good six month prep for 2010.

That isn't to say I'll be running at anything like the same intensity as I had been for 2009. My aim is to increase my 'normal mileage' (ie from 0 miles to some miles), so when I start the actual marathon training, I'll have a solid base on which to build.

Will probably need to litter this all with the odd 10k etc to keep things interesting, but that's the outline so far.

Only 362 days to go!

Now, I really must think of a new codename...

The morning after the day before

There's lots of sore bodies out there this morning after thousands of people ran the London Marathon yesterday.

Unsurprisingly, blogging has been light - Jim and Ulen both have short updates, promising more later.

I can't wait to read more, but I'm not expecting anything too soon - you ache, you might be annoyed with yourself, and generally not feeling up to re-running it all in your head.

I say that because that's how I felt last year. It was a couple of days after before I posted my review.

The thing was, it helped. By writing it, I forced myself to relive as much of it as possible, and I remembered so many brilliant little experiences during the day.

When I finished I said never again (in fact, I was saying that 18 miles in), but by the end of writing my post, I'd talked myself into ending the ballot again!

It turned what I thought was an embarassing, soul-destroying performance into something I was immensely proud of - and still am to this day!

It just took a bit of effort to frame it like that in my mind as the pain was , understandably, clouding my judgement.

Hopefully the next few days will see a spate of posts from the e-marathon community, and I for one plan to read them all and congratulate them on what they've achieved.

Good luck e-marathoners!

So here it is, only one more night's sleep until tens of thousands of people run the London Marathon.

Twelve days ago, I was expecting to be one of them, but my knee had other ideas.

That doesn't stop me being excited though as I've got to know a hell of a lot of people who'll be running tomorrow – and quite a lot in only the last few weeks.

I want to use this post as a way of singling out a handful of those running who I'll be cheering hardest for as they make their way around the streets of London.

These are the e-marathoners who I've got to know best over the last few months. The ones who I was chatting to when there only seemed a handful of us, and the start line in Greenwich Park was months, rather than hours, away.

Jim was the first blogger I found online – his optimism and running ability seemed light years ahead of mine. But I think something in the Dales air where he lives made him seem friendly enough for me to say hello, and he's been a great encouragement ever since.

Neil is nothing short of inspirational. His honest posts on his progress have often expressed the worries and fears we were all feeling, but his natural optimism has always shone through. Seeing how far he's come since he signed up to run the marathon is amazing, and he's one of the nicest guys I've had the fortune to get to know.

Ulen's enthusiasm and willingness to share this experience throughout has been fantastic. It's been brilliant to follow his training, and reading about his delight at how he's progressed has been infectious. Whenever I felt a bit down, having another read through Everybody' Free (To wear Vaseline) has helped put the smile back on my face!

At first, I wanted to imagine Sam as the jaded journalist – unapproachable and sceptical about the world. Professionally, she might be – I don't know - but the humour in her posts has shone through, and the drive and determination will no doubt get her over the line.

I didn't know what to make of Becki at first – I don't really have a frame of reference for those attempting homemade rhino costumes! But she's been like a ray of sunshine through the winter, cheering us up when we were feeling down, taking on the challenge (mostly) with a smile and enthusiasm. Setbacks and unpleasantries are met with a laugh, and I hope she enjoys that sprint finish she's been looking forward to.

James' sense of humour has been brilliant throughout. His posts have always entertained, and his confidence and creativity would make me jealous if he didn't seem such a decent bloke! Funny, smart and thoughtful, I know he'll do well tomorrow, and am already looking forward to hearing about how it went.

Leigh, like Jim, was one of the very earliest blogs I read. Who could fail to be intrigued by a chicken-keeping scientist running the marathon? His cheery outlook on life, and his sense of humour fly off the screen and have probably put a smile on my face more than anyone else. His generosity at agreeing to be the 'substitute' runner for my charity when I found out I couldn't take part was humbling, but not surprising. He is a true gent, and sums up all that tomorrow morning is about – fun, charity and the love of a challenge – in one place.

There are other too I've come across later on – Dan, Becca, Julia, to name far too few – who I'll be rooting for as well.

It's been an epic few months, and although I'm gutted I won't be sharing it with you all in the morning, I'll be willing you along through every stride and am proud to have shared this time in our lives.

London marathon twitters

I've used twitter a lot to help me prepare to run the London Marathon, and it was on twitter where I broke the news I was pulling out through injury (12 days before the race, I mean seriously, how lame is my body).

I've met tweeted/twittered with loads of great people on there who are running this year and a few, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, are going to attempt to tweet their way around the course.

So, if you're wrapped under your duvet on Sunday morning watching the marathon on the telly, why not add some web 2.0 richness to the experience by following:


If you're tweeting your way around, let me know and I'll add you to my list.

Oh, and if you are running the London Marathon on Sunday, pay attention to the road or you'll possibly fall into one of the pits full of lions and tigers they've added to the course this year.

Phils 13 tips for the London Marathon

Never one to let not having had the idea in the first place get in the way, I'm scurrilously taking a leaf out of 3 Chickens book by offering my own personal advice for London marathon day.

These are things that have popped into my head from my own experience of running last years marathon, so may or may not be helpful.
  1. Breakfast - eat a good one, well before you set off. It's the key fuel you'll have for your running after the pasta from the day before, so don't be tempted to skip it if you're too nervous/excited to eat. Also, don't try anything new now as it could have unpleasant side-effects!
  2. Arrival - I got there way too early as my practice trip co-incided with engineering works so I gave myself too much time. Plan your trip and take a book/mp3 player etc so you can just chill beforehand (after you've wandered round the start area to see what's going on!).
  3. Pre-race drinks - there's loads of tea/water/lucozade on offer as you wait for the start. Try to resist the temptation to nervously drink for the sake of it or to keep your hands busy. You'll only set off running and get stuck in an almighty queue for the first set of portaloos! Then you'll try to 'catch up' and go out too fast, which could screw you over at the end.
  4. Vaseline - you may never have experienced chafing on your marathon training runs so might think it's unnecessary - but better to be safe than sorry. Last year, in the changing marquee, I was worried about how it'd look putting vaseline on me with a few hundred other blokes around. A quick scan of the room showed most people doing the same (and clearly not ashamed by it!). Seriously, just go to town with the stuff - nipples, feet, down your pants, everywhere. The sight of people running the last few miles with blood running from various parts of their body still haunts me...
  5. Bin bags - last year I took my too-big-free-FLM-jacket-type-thing to keep warm at the start and ditched it in a portaloo. Loads of people wear bin bags to keep warm and ditch them when the marathon starts. I'd have gone for this option, but if you do, make sure you're at the side of the road so you can throw it out of the way so no poor sod running behind you trips over it before they've even crossed the start line!
  6. Don't worry about getting to the front of the pen you're in at the start - the timing chip isn't activated til you cross the start line, so no point crushing people.
  7. When the different starts merge, "boo". I've no idea why, but its fun!
  8. Get some high 5's from kids as you run past - this only really happened on the south side of the river (my fave bit - the crowds were locals and awesome!)
  9. Don't run all over the road, weaving about to get through the crowds - you'll waste energy, and piss people off!
  10. Don't drink on the course for the sake of it - there's plenty of water stops and regular lucozade refills so don't panic thinking you need to guzzle the lot. Unless it's hot, in which case drink what you need (waterwise - overdoing the lucozade could mess up your guts!) and take advantage of the showers on the course.
  11. Enjoy it! You'll be knackered, in pain, want to crawl under a bush and die, but you've spent months running in the cold and dark winter to prepare for this so try to take it all in!
  12. If you see someone struggling on the marathon course, offer some encouragement - it might help them (it did me a bit last year, but mainly because it pissed me off!). It could even help your running as you pretend that you're enjoying it too!
  13. Lastly, don't, under any circumstances, be tempted to enter the ballot for next year's London Marathon! You should know better by now!

That was dumb

So, been a lovely sunny day, and all the London Marathon posts and tweets flying around made me think it might be worth testing the knee.

Given the weather I thought I'd try to walk what I know to be a mile.

I set off at a pace best decribed as "amble". About 100 yards in, I was feeling it, and amble became hobble.

Still, it was a nice day so I kept going and after 40 mins finished the mile.

40 minute miles!!!!

Doing the marathon at that pace would be almost 17 and a half hours!

Not content with just denting my confidence, the unsuccessful attempt also means my knee's killing me, and the other one's joined in too.

God I need to get to the physio.

52 weeks and four days to go!

Tracking runners on race day

So, as I can't actually run the London Marathon on Sunday, it looks like I might be bale to track people who are!

Adidas have a mobile tracking service which lets you see where runners are on the course, to within 5k.

Yeah, thats a pretty large margin of error, but that might just be them covering their arses.

It works via text/mobile browser (yay unlimited browsing on my mobile contract!) and apparently can be used for multiple runners.

Looks good for people who have family coming to watch the big day, so let them know (and prepare to spend Saturday teaching your mom how to use the interweb on her mobile!).

I'mm thinking of collecting running numbers and tracking peoples progress on the day.

Ideally everyone I want to see will be perfectly synchronised and running at the exact same pace, so I don't miss anyone!

If you want to be stalked, email me your race number and lets see if we can get this working!

The great London Marathon blog list 2009

Fanfare please....

Ladies and gentlemen, it is with great honour that I present to you, the unwashed masses, the result of literally some effort to put together the most comprehensive list of London Marathon bloggers ever seen*.

E-marathoners are listed alphabetically by first name (I don't know why, that's just how it happened!) with info about them, their good causes, and other bits and bobs I saw fit to include.

Some have given the info themselves, in a bid to spread love and harmony around the universe.

Others, who couldn't be arsed to fill in a simple form, or simply didn't know about my work, will have had stuff made up by me using sophisticated algorythms that analyse the entire interweb and summarise it in a slightly sarcastic way.

I've whittled it down to these lucky 13 from just shy of that 50 I found, as most had been abandoned after only a few posts.

Lazy gits.

Hope their training hasn't been as lacklustre or Sunday's gonna be excruciating for them!

So, grab yourself a cuppa, make yourself comfy, and behold the fruits of my toil:

Alain Geenrits
Belgian based (and possibly born) Alain is running for Cancer Research UK (though, rightly pointing out it does work all over the world).

He also blogs about webby things which look very exciting and interesting, but as this is a list of e-marathoners, I am duty bound to ignore them.

Becca Boop
Running for Headway, a charity that cares for people with head injuries and their families. She's running as a way of thanking them for all they did when her dad had head injuries.

She loves being able to eat jelly babies for legitimate training reasons, but has struggled with 'flu and being startled by abusive boy racers screaming at her.

Given she's an IT engineer, it's no surprise her blog looks snazzy - though like most IT people I've worked with, there are issues. She lost all her posts but is gradually finding them again.

Becki's (or 'stinkeye' as she's affectionately known) love of animals sees her running her second marathon for Save The Rhino and to mark her 25th year and get fit.

This vego-phobic vegetarian (doesn't like veg!) has found the long runs boring and, to date, has lost five toenails, but is enjoying being able to eat as much as she wants.

Her top tip is setting her blog and JustGiving pages as her signature on my emails and forum profiles to generate interest.

Dan Worth
Fancies the marathon as an epic challenge, a chance to raise some money and to do something unique - though a video of him playing the mandolin on Youtube that has had over 170,000 views ticks that box already in my book.

He doesn't recommend running 14 miles in the rain, on an empty stomach, and hungover, but has completed both the Watford and Silverstone half marathons in good times.

He's been great at promoting fundraising ideas through Justgiving and believes the human body will do as much as you make it do - even run 14 miles with a hangover!

James Barnard aka Sir Jog a Lot
Sir J was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes three years ago and is running to improve his fitness and to raise money for the MS Society as his girlfriend's sister has MS.

This grade 8 level drummer realised the marathon would be hard when he ran 19 miles in 3 hours and 20 minutes. His cousin plays first team football for Newcastle United and his uncle played with Pele.

He's wondering whether to follow the advice of another marathon runner that he should take 3 or 4 sheets of toilet paper on the run in case of an emergency...

James Watts
James is running for the Family Holiday Association and looks like he enjoys running as much as me.

He also has a penchant for La Minogue, which is something that should be encouraged.

Jim W
Dales-dwelling rocket scientist Jim is running for Breast Cancer Care. They helped his beautiful wife Dawn (and him) when she was being treated for breast cancer a couple of years ago.

His love of prog-rock has helped provide a soundtrack to his runs, and a theme for a very pink fundraising party (Dawn's treatment/cookery blog has better pics than Jim has put on his, including him looking lovely in his pink vest).

Leigh Church
Possibly this countries greatest scientific/chicken-keeping mind of the 21st century, Leigh is a ballot runner who's helping both The Birmingham Arthritis Appeal Trust (an area he's interested in for his research) and by being my substitute runner for HAY.

His training has coincided with the arrival of three special ladies into his life, but has also involved almost inventing duck slippers.

It was his idea to have sequins on my top, but when I ask him if he'll have any now he's running on by behalf, he neatly avoids the question...

Not so much a blog this one, as a website chronicling Lisa's efforts to raise money for Get Kids Going and get fit at the same time. She's an active twitterer too!

Neil Richards
Neil decided to run the marathon as a bit of a spontaneous decision, and once he found out about Save the Rhino and their bond places, he went for it. He's never taken part in any sport or exercise before, unless you count golf - which I don't as lets be honest, its not a proper sport.

His low point was going for a long run and stopping after three miles, without really knowing why - despite having successfully negotiated the Silverstone half marathon the week before (with fellow rhino Becki Button).

Blogging and twittering have really helped his efforts - not necessarily to compare progress, but for encouragement, tips, interactivity, and motivation.

Nigel/Running from the Reaper
A relatively new one for me, Nigel podcasts regularly about his training (I refuse to get new ipod after last one blew my PC's motherboard and itself!) so is another technically superior blogger to me.

Not hard really.

And, by the looks of it, a technically superior athlete to me.

Again, not hard.

Sam Shepherd
A web hack from Bournemouth, Sam is a active twitterer, and is running the marathon for the second time.

She's struggled with finding trainers, and had bit of a crisis of confidence wobble not long ago, but she's back on the horse (wonderfully aided by shopping - no sexist remarks please!) and raring to replicate her sprint finish from the Bournemouth Bay half marathon.

Ulen Neale/madasaboxoffrogs
Is running for Volunteer Reading Help to realise an ambition to run the London Marathon, and raise money for a worthy cause.

His low point was a 14 mile training run in the freezing rain, cold wind, with painful twinges and then hail. He also ran Silverstone and managed to finish strongly with three 8 minute miles.

He penned the magnificent Everybody's Free (To wear Vaseline) - think Baz Luhrmann running the marathon.

His name - which is Swedish for Christmas (think Yule log) - is also his initials as his parents decided it'd help him spell it - an awesome idea!

Finding twitter and other bloggers has helped with fundraising, and are great ways for him to share experiences.

And that's your lot!

So, to the 3,000 odd of you who read my blog last month, go read something better!

I'm off for a lie down/work...

*May not be the most comprehensive ever seen, but since I can't find a better one, I'm claiming it as the one achievement in my life

Substitution for HAY - Sutcliffe, to be replaced by Church

When I was told that I won't be able to run the London Marathon this year, my first thought (that was suitable to write on a family website!) was how I was letting my charity, HAY, down.

People have donated on the premise that I ran 26.2 miles around London on 26 April.

Now I won't be.

Having spoken to a handful of people who have sponsored me, they're happy for the money to be going to the charity - "you've been training so hard" and "you've already run more than 600 miles?!" - but it still feels like a bit of a cheat.

To try to alleviate that feeling, Leigh Church - probably the finest scientific mind of the 21st century - has agreed to be HAY's substitute runner.

Leigh is a chicken keeping scientist from near Birmingham who, like me, got a ballot place.

I 'met' Leigh via the blogosphere - he blogs on his running and chicken-keeping antics - and I asked him if he'd consider being HAY's substitute marathoner.

He kindly agreed, so they still have someone running for them - which I hope means people don't feel like they've been had.

Bear in mind I've never met Leigh, and he's never been to Hanworth, I think that is an amazing thing to do and I can't explain how grateful I am for him for agreeing to do it.

As Leigh was the one who suggested me running wearing sequins, I'm wondering if we can get some on him - will see how we go!

But, in the meantime, get over to his blog and say hello to one of the interwebs true gentlemen.

Last couple of days

Since I found out I couldn't run this year's marathon, I've been trying to keep busy.

I got in to see the quack yesterday and have been referred to physio. Weirdly for the NHS, this should start in the next month so the rehabilitation can get underway. Not so weirdly, the doc hadn't heard of ITB. This isn't a surprise as another doc once told me when I went in for back problems that she didn't really do muscles etc, she did drugs (not in a heroin addict way).

I've also today been in to see my charity, HAY, to get presented with my sparkly running vest.

I'd told them I was out, but they said the kids were so excited to do it we wouldn't tell them yet. They've put in lots of work, and it really looks great (even the sequins are skillfully blended in!) and I'm really chuffed the kids enjoyed putting it together.

I've also been plotting my assault on the 2010 London Marathon... only 12 months to go!!!

I'm also trying to get the who's who of e-marathoning sorted as it's been sat waiting to be finished for a while now, and I've neglected the final polishing. Just need to blast through it!

Last thing I've been doing will be revealed in the morning. Hopefully you'll all be on the edge of your seats in anticipation of the announcement!

Phil won't run London

It is with massive regret that I have to announce that i'm pulling out of the London marathon.

Regular readers may have noticed blogging's been light recently. That's largely down to not being able to run.

For almost a week my right knees been killing me, and today I managed to get in to a physio.

He bent me a couple of times before telling me straight out i'm not running for 6 weeks, and only then after lots of physio.

Basically, i've got bad ITB - a bit of my leg I'd never heard of is, to quote the physio, screwed.

Cortisone was an option, but he said it was more likely to make it worse in my case.

I feel like i've been kicked in the balls.

Only just found out so still in a bad place.

12 sodding days!

Will update properly later when me heads less likely to explode.

Arse biscuits.
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Super weekend blogging action round up type thing

Two weeks out til the London Marathon and people seem to be enjoying their time in Taper Town. Crappy weather and niggling injuries seems to have been a common theme.

Despite me taking an age to get this done, there's still a few missing. Well, it is the holidays...

Becki Saves the Rhinos is getting beeped at by passing cars (in a good way), and is planning another sprint finish.

Running for Rhinos did himself a mischief in the bath, but his trainer ok'd his weekend running. Trainer? Isn't that cheating?

Mad as a Box of Frogs was late setting off again (should we tell him it actually starts at 9am in Greenwich Park?) and seems to be wearing v. tight shorts...

The Becca Boop
has far too posh a website for an e-marathoner, but since she's hurt her knee I'll not curse her too much.

Jim had nice weather for his run (everything is better up north), though that's mitigated by the fact he's got one of the pinkest vests ever.

That seems to be all the London marathon ones I can find for now. If I've missed you, or yuo update later, let me know.

This time last year...

As it's exactly 52 weeks since I tried the London marathon last year, I thought I'd repost my memories from the day.

I was so done it I couldn't actually do this until a couple of days after, but just had a reread and it's all flooding back.

Only two weeks to go...

It's been two days since I finished the marathon.

Two whole days since I suffered the unimaginable pain and emotional torment of the 26.2 mile run across London.

It seems a good time to update you a bit on the day itself, now that I'm remembering it not through the pain, but from the experience.

And what an experience.

First off, and I mean this with all due respect to them, but it's not Flora's Marathon.

It's not the charities' and it's not even the runners.

It's London's.

I'm sure everyone who's hear of the London Marathon knows the cliche about the crowd getting you round.

As the cynic I am, I put this down to not wanting to embarass yourself in front of so many people. Yes, this was a factor, but I was constantly amazed by the genuine encouragement of the thousands of people who lined the streets in rain and hail to cheer and enthuse the thousands of runners.

It wasn't like they came out for a bit then pop off again. They'd be out there for hours, cheering strangers running along the streets that for the other 364 days of the year are like the ones outside your house.

There were three different phases of spectators.

First off were those south of the river. Blackheath, Charlton, Woolwich, Deptford, Greenwich, Rotherhithe, Bermondsey (and apologies to any I've missed). None of them are places I'd been, or associated with the kind of enthusiasm and warmth I felt running through the streets.

Bands, church choirs, PA systems set up outside people's houses, kids lining the street with their hands out wanting the runners to give them 5 as they ran past.

I never realised, watching previous ones on TV, that when people had made an effort, the runners applauded them. But it felt like the least I could do for these people who had given up their time to help see us off.

It hadn't quite hit home that I was actually doing it until about mile three, but when it did, I looked around at the beaming faces and realised it was ok. My pace was good (despite the loo stop!) and I felt fresh and ready for anything.

Repeated "oggy oggy oggying" kept the mood up, and I was genuinely enjoying it.

When the red starters (the masses I was in) joined with the blue starters (elite men and more masses) there was some good banter and well meaning booing of the other starters, which was another surprise that put a smile on my face.

By the time I got to Tower Bridge (about 12.5 miles) and the first sighting of my family, I was still feeling good, despite the first heavy shower.

At this point I should make a special mention of "Yasmine" who was running for Children with Leukaemia (a brillaint charity). She was one of a handful who thought they were the only people on the road. Cutting across people, barging through people who were waiting for a gap themselves, causing people behind to trip and fall. I dont' know what happend to you, but I hope you were in a lot of pain you selfish cow.


Crossing the bridge was strange as the road narrows and the crowds are thicker, but coming out onto the north of the river saw a change to the second phase.

Now, I will be honest and admit that I did not like the Canary Wharf/Isle of Dogs section. It was too windy and impossible to work out where you were and how far you had to go.

But here, when people were starting to feel how tough it was the crowds were out armed with oranges, jelly babies, drinks, bananas, anything they could do to help the strugglers.

I had my own stash of jelly babies, but needn't have bothered.

I was doing fine up until mile 17. Two loo stops had affected my pace but I was still hoping for some negative splits to reel it back in as the runners were thinning out and you could start to move up.

The drummers (you probably saw them on TV) were amazing - you came round a corner and there was a wall of sound and tempo that pushed you on.

When my knees went, I could quite easily have given up. The pain was phenomenal. My right knee had been sore for a couple of weeks and was strapped up, and I think I was over compensating onto the left and my calf tightened. I pulled over to a railing and started trying to stretch it out like I'd done on training runs, and it seemed to loosen so I set off again.

The pains that shot from both my knees was unlike anything I'd ever felt. I managed about four steps and nearly collapsed. I took a few breaths and gingerly started walking until it eased a bit, but I knew this wasn't something I could run off. Not 10 yards down the road a bloke in his 20's at the side watching just said - "come on Phil," (I had my name on my vest - he wasn't psychic or anything.) "you've come this far" and I just gritted my teeth and jog-hobbled on.

A short while later, and with many more "come on Phil"'s and "you're doing great"'s the second major shower hit.

Christ it was cold.

I flimsy lime green vest is not the best protection against heavy rain with some hail thrown in. Believe me.

I even screamed "for f**ks sake, give me a break!".

I slowed right down again with pain and then felt a friendly tap on my shoulder and saw another lime green vest with "kevin" written on it, and a friendly face telling me "keep going, you'll get there".

I wanted to scream at him how much I was hurting, but he set off again almost straight away. I calmed down and got going again so when he glanced back he could see I was still moving. I felt like I didn't want to let him down.

Ridiculous I know. I'd never seen him before, and will probably never see him again, but the fact someone just gave me the right encouragement at the right time made me want to keep going.

By the time I'd left this phase, my times had plummeted to about 13/14 minute miles - ie marginally faster than walking. But I didn't care then, I just wanted it all to be over.

I'd arranged to see the family again around mile 22 but they weren't where I expected them, but I saw a former workmate who gave my some jelly beans which were greatly apprecaited. I also made a rude gesture to another friend who wanted a picture.

Now I hate pics at the best of times, but when I was in a world of pain and torment, I felt justified in my actions. I love her to pieces, but don't point a camera at me when I want to die!

A bit further up I saw the family and could have cried. I told Laura how horrible it was, but I'm not sure she understood. Probably becase I was a gibbering wreck. It gave me a great feelingto see them though and i set off again, almost running.

That didn't last long.

I had to stop to stretch again a bit firther on, and the same happened as before. Now I don't know much about these things, but I'm damned sure your knees aint meant to do that!

By now I was cursing everything - myself for doing this, my right trainer for the sole going, my vest for making me so conspicuous and the crowds for their "you're nearly there"ing.

When you hit the last phase along Embankment, the crowds are different again. They're not locals. They're tourists and visitors. Families and friends. They're people who have made the effort to travel in to watch you run the last leg.

Another thing about this phase is the fact it was the only bit I know. This meant I knew exactly how far it was to the end and It wasn't a happy thought.

I was wet, cold, in pain, looking like a knob. I was not in a happy place. I'd been relying mainly on self hatred ("it's your own stupid fault you tit") and determination ("tha's from Yorkshire, lad").

Eventually it dawned on me though. I was nearly there. And I was from Yorkshire. Had i been lancastrian, I'd have been crying at the side of the road in the foetal position miles ago.

In my head I was working out the distance to the end as the short runs from training. The little one's that I eventually managed to see as nice and easy.

From then on I jog-hobbled along, trying to get some kind of speed going. Along Embankment was mad with cheering. Parliament square was rammed too. Heading along Birdcage Walk there's a hoarding with "800 metres to go" on it, and I've never been so happy to see a sign in metric.

Then it's an age until you see the next one and you think "how the hell was that only a few hundren metres!?"

The big one is the 385 to go. You've done 26 miles and it's literally the last stretch, with crowds cheering and tannoys blaring. Crossing the line was both a blesed relief and pretty underwhelming.

You know it's over and you've done it, but then you have to queue to get your chip taken off, get your medal and get a bag with snacks and space blanket (which took two squaddies way too long to find for me - though they were much quicker than I'd have been!) before trekking up The Mall to find the truck with you clothes etc in you dumped at the start. Mine was miles down and I thought I wasn't gonna make it.

I couldn't be bothered to keep going down to the changing area so slipped between two trucks and got changed there. There was a nice gentleman who was chuffed he'd made it, and a woman in her 40's who confessed to having only run up to 12 miles in her training.

I could have lamped her.

The rest is a bit of a blur as I found family and made my way home. I was aching, and miffed i'd taken about 5 hours.

That was my mood for a while until I started to think about it more rationally:
  • I'd run a marathon despite only a few months before having done no running since school;
  • I got round on a knee that the week before had given up after a mile and a half;
  • I'd raised more than £1,500 for Asthma UK (and still rising);
  • I'd proved to myself that if I put my mind to it, I can do much more than I realise.
That might sound a bit limp wristed, but that's where my head is at the moment.

Despite the pain, the mentally draining process of running, the doubt, the self-loathing and the thoughts of giving it all up, I'm glad I've done it.

People have said they're so proud of me, but immediately afterwards I couldn't see how. Now I think I can. Sort of.

Will I do it again? Two days ago, I would have laughed in your face and said no chance.


Well, I've entered the ballot, but, it's not likely I'll get a place is it...?

And we all know how that ended up don't we?!

Work rest and play

Hard week at work, which has seen lull on blogging, is over.

To celebrate I'm having a few beers.

Made me realise I've been tee-total for ages now as been focussing on whatever run i've got on the morning.

Four day weekend plus taper town means I can actually have a drink tonight for first time in about 6 weeks.

Guessing i'll be a cheap date!
Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless device

Fairweather runners

Over the last few days I've noticed something on my trip to work that's got me thinking.

As the mornings have got lighter, the footpaths are filling (might be over-egging that) with runners.

Must have seen a couple of dozen on the way into work this morning alone.

Where were they two months ago?

This made me realise a couple of things:
  1. Some people who run aren't running the London Marathon, they're just running because they 'like' it.
  2. Some people only want to run when the weather's nice.
The former seem weird to me as I still don't really enjoy running, even though sometimes I feel really good for it afterwards. I think fellow e-marathoners will acknowledge that it is pretty boring running for more than an hour. And we've done that a lot!

When considering the latter I initially - and quite naturally - considered them with contempt. Fairweather runners only doing it when it's easy and nice weather.

Sadly, my argument falls apart a bit when I think about my training over the last few months.

I can probably count on the fingers of one had the number of times I've run when it's been raining.

Snow - once. Wind - frequently (insert own joke here). But rain? Perhaps three times?

Perhaps it's the cold then?

Well, not really. I was sweating running in the snow, so that doesn't seem likely either.

That leads me to think that it's not so much the weather, as the light.

Have to admit, I'm not a fan of running when people can see me. That doesn't bode well for running around the streets of London with thousands of others alongside me, not to mention the thens of thousands lining the streets.

But, I guess it feels safer and less daunting to run in the light, so I'm going to reserve my contempt as it's possible the fairweather runners were still running in the winter, just not at the stupidly early time in the morning when I'm on my way to work.

Has got me wondering how many of them are training for the marathon though.

Sequin challenge - update

Thought my fate had been sealed for the sequin challenge, but it appears not.


For those unfamiliar with this, the kids at Hounslow Action for Youth who have lovingly designed my running top for the London Marathon, want to put my number on the back in sequins.

As you do...

Now, unsurprisingly, this wasn't something I warmed to immediately, but I agreed, with the proviso I get 20 people to donate as little or as much as they like via my Justgiving page and put the word 'sequin' somewhere in the message.

I thought this had been reached last week, but I've just checked and I'm only at 18.

Well, technically it's 17 really as I'm not sure the word "sequinned" counts...

That's contributed an amazing £199.44 to the cause!

But, as yet, my marathon attempt is sequin free - unless you do something about it!

You lot rock!

Just trying to break the back of my who's who of e-marathoning.

I keep getting interrupted but I want to do it right.

Reading some of the stuff people have put on the form is pretty amazing - there are asome awesome people running the marathon!

I just hope I can get that across well!

Cheers for lifting my mood people!

Massage review

Had a few people asking how the sports massage went on Saturday, so here's the update.

After the fear and dread I was feeling after people kept talking about the pain, it was with understandable trepidation that I arrived at the clinic place.

I was met by Tim, who took me into the treatment room, and asked about where I was aching. I explained it was my calves and thighs that were feeling it most, and he told me to get my trousers off and get on the table.

Not quite as forcefully as that, but it's a bit unnerving to hear that from anyone, let alone a man you've never met before.

Thankfully, he covered me with towel as he was working on me so it wasn't that uncomfortable.

It started off quite gently, and when he asked how it felt, I did say I had a feeling he was lulling me into a false sense of security.

He did get rougher, and at one point I was sure he was stabbing me in the back of the left knee with a rusty knife.

Whilst not screaming in pain, or crying, it did make my face do this:

But that was as bad as it got.

The rest of the time it was just nicely unpleasant - if that makes sense.

In fact, by the end, I was drifting off!

Had a good natter with him too as London will be his 14th marathon and he'll be running the 3:30 pace for Runners World.

He talked about how posture when not running is important, and I can agree with that as I find sitting at my desk doesn't half make my legs stiff, so I try to wander around more.

When he'd finished, standing up was soooo weird - my legs felt so much lighter. Even putting jeans back on was weird as I could lift my leg effortlessly - didn't realise it'd been an effort before!

Since I managed my long run the next day without the aches and pains I've had recently, I can only conclude it helps lots.

He even said he does it for himself, though it's easier with someone else as they're less likely to not press hard when needed.

Not sure I'm ready to self-massage yet, but I think I'll definitely try to find one nearer me!

Super weekend blogging action round up type thing

Busy, busy weekend for e-marathoners as most were 'enjoying' their last long run of the training, and are now tapering down for the big day in three weeks.

For a change, I've even included me in this one, just to see what it's like to be reviewed (though at the bottom as I'm shy).

Becki Saves the Rhinos ran past a rare knicker tree, broke into her house and threw up. A typical experience when you're training for the London Marathon!

Sir Jog a Lot has become his own publicist - winning video competitions, and now featuring in the Horncastle News. I remember him before he was famous...

Running for Rhinos has been shopping and it helped him complete his longest run with only a bloody nipple! Wonder what the crucifix and dead horse visions are about though.

Jim seems to be mulling running naked on the big day, and may be developing a tase for orange snot. Whatever it takes to get you round I guess.

Three chickens had a 170-mile round trip to run 20 miles, but the pain in his arse is going (the joke's too easy, but please do post your own in his comments!)

I worry Mad as a Box of Frogs may have overdone it on his last long run as he thinks he's Thomas the Tank Engine and is dreaming up plots for Disney films. Dr Phil prescribes more fluids to avoid heatstroke!

The Marathoner got a bit competitive and finished the Bournemouth Half like Usain Bolt. Allegedly.

Phil Runs London started out with good intentions before getting competitive - though he did avoid being eaten by sea monsters, which is a positive!

Taper Town here I come!

Last long run done!!!

Whoo hoo!!!

Next long one will be the London Marathon itself...


And my good mood disappears instantly...

To try to restore it, I'll reflect on my lovely sunny seaside run this morning.

As I had no idea how far I was going as I don't know this neck of the woods, I figured I'd just aim for a steady 10 minute mile pace (which I think I've worked out) for a good chunk of time.

Started off in Deal, in Kent, and headed along the Dover road for a few miles before cutting through lovely farmland and quiet country roads to Kingsdown and the sea.

I had planned on turning left and heading back along the seafront to Deal, but I saw another early morning runner heading the other way, so thought I'd have an explore.

After not very long I ran out of path, and attempting to run on the stoney beach was a stupid idea. Like running through quicksand, only pebblier (another word I may have made up!).

I'm assuming the chap I was following was swallowed by the beach, or taken by a kestrel or something.

So, I headed back the way I came and past the road where I'd come down to the seafront and saw another runner coming down the same way.

I looked round after a few minutes and he was a hundred or so yards behind me, and blatantly trying to catch me.

He was running quicker than me (probably some wussy 10k runner - pah!) and I had my planned pace to stick to, so I obviously wasn't going to race him.

Looking round again a short time later and he was about 30 yards behind, and gaining fast.

I had a plan, I was running much further than him, and this was no time to start messing around...

I opened up my strides and picked up the pace.

A few minutes later I looked again and he was now about 50 yards back.

In your face.

Sadly, the gap hadn't opened enough to get back to the easy pace, so I decided pulling a bit ahead wasn't enough.

I needed to destroy him.

So, I opened up even more, and flew through the town along the seafront.

Checked again, and I couldn't see him for a bend, and he didn't appear for a while - so he was about a quarter of a mile back.


I eased off to enjoy the sun and sea, and passed some golf course or other that's apparently occasionally used for some big tournament. Kept going towards Sandwich Bay along the seafront, and kept looking back and he was clearly fading.

I almost felt guilty, but then realised he'd just caused me to run stupidly fast on what should have been a relaxing-ish run.

After a while I couldn't see him at all. I'm assuming he was eaten by a seamonster of some kind - no more than he deserved.

So I shimmied through some weird footpath bit and started back through the golf course.

I was still feeling remarkably fresh - think the sea air and pleasant weather helped, but it was getting hotter and I was out of drink.

Thankfuly the last couple of miles through the residential bit was more shaded.

Sadly, it was also a long gentle uphill which I'd never realised in the eight or so years I've been coming here.

This was when I really felt the consequences of my stupidity. For that last bit, my legs felt like they were running on the beach again. Annoyingly, this was also the bit where there were more people so it must have looked like I was a right lazy sod - sweating and stumbling along on a little run.

When I eventually got in I stretched like a mad un, before rewarding myself with a good long soak in the bath.

So, the stupidly long runs are done, and have three weeks to taper for the big day.

If I'm not ready now, there's nowt I can do about it!

This is gonna hurt...

At 1pm, I will be paying a chap called Tim Sutton £25 to, basically, beat me up for 55 minutes.

The day-to-day experiences of my life have changed in many ways since I started running...

It turns out he's also Runners World's 8 minute mile pacer for the marathon, so, between my squeals of pain, I might try to pick his brains.

Wonder if I'll be able to record some video of me crying in agony...

Weekend ahead

Off to Kent for the weekend this aft, and wondering how I'll squeeze in my 20 miler on Sun morning.

Not sure I'm happy with idea of trying it somewhere different, but the idea of running by the sea on a Sunday morning actually sounds quite nice so I might surprise myself.

Thrown all my kit in a bag ready though – with the thinking that even if I get a 10 done in the morning, I can squeeze in another 10 in the afternoon/evening when I get home if needs be.

Although not technically a 20 mile run, it'll be a damn good workout!

Then I'll be in a wonderful place called Taperville - sweet!

Just got to get that done, write the worlds most comprehensive list of e-marathoners, and do all my washing on Sunday evening.

Boy do I know how to have fun!


Landed in Kent about 10 mins after this went up

No, I didn't run it at my lightning fast pace *cough*

I got my timing wrong on the post (wrote it this am, but didn't want to post at same time as others) and there was v little traffic. I can see the sea!

Now plotting route

Bloggers of the marathon unite!

This weekend, among other things, I'm planning to put together the most comprehensive list of London Marathon bloggers (e-marathoners is the collective noun) the world has ever seen!


Not really, as there aren't that many other ones out there.


Probably not, at the end of the day it just involves a bit of typing.


Again, not really, as I don't think it's that dangerous. Unless I drop my netbook on my foot or something whilst reaching for my cup of tea.

So, if you're blogging your preparation for the London marathon, point thy cursor here or here and fill in some simple questions so I can add a bit more 'flavour'.

So far, the answers to the 'interesting fact' question has been my fave - you'll see why next week sometime.

As a public interest thing - should I fill it in too?

To massage, or not to massage...

My legs are really feeling it at the mo – as well as the constant fatigue from training, there's the odd niggle and scare from whichever of my knees is feeling most mischievous.

A few fellow e-marathoners have been having sports massage and I've been pondering trying it myself.

I had a google around for local ones, but didn't find much, and those I did seemed extortionate.

A tweet I sent yesterday asking about the benefits and the prices got lot of replies saying I should go for it as I'd feel better afterwards.

The key word for me there is 'afterwards'...

Sort of imples the 'during' won't be that pleasant.

Replies included:
"Hurts, but still great really" Ulen/Neale/Mad As a Box of Frogs

Yes it definately does work, and yes you will cry. I've never felt pain like it but u feel so much better next day" Becca Miles

it does work, and does hurt. Expect to pay more than £2 but less than £100. Not v helpful, I'll admit ..." Becca Watts

I pay same, rubbish London prices." Si Clark
Sadly, as I'm in Surrey/London borders (sounds nicer than it is) the prices here seem to be about 50 per cent higher than elsewhere (£20 for 30 mins in Oxfordshire, £32 for 30 mins at closest one to me).

So, if anyone's looking to set up a discount sports massage business, I think I've found you a market – give me a call and we'll split the profits!

In the meantime, some hockey playing friends are getting me some number of people they know through having generally fitter and healthier lifestyles than me.

e-marathoners questionnaire

Keen to plug fellow e-marathoners (and get the term into common usage!) I'm putting together a bigger/better blogroll of those bloggers amongst us running the London Marathon in far too few weeks.

I thought, to add a bit more depth, it'd be good to add a bit more info on bloggers so people reading can love you all like I do, so I've (hopefully) embedded a little survey below!

If it doesn't work, try this link.

If that doesn't work, erm... email me and I'll send you the questions.

If that doesn't work, tie a tin can to each end of a long piece of string. Give me one, then hold the other and pull it so the string is taut - we can go from there!

Spreading good practice

Fellow e-marathoner Ulen spread the love with a great fundraising tip yesterday - using social networking to increase donations.

He even made tip of the day on the Justgiving newsletter!

It was an idea seemingly beautiful in its simplicity. Hijack your friends facebook profiles!

Just get people to post a link to your justgiving page in their status on fb and spread the word.

Kusasi tried it and got another donation (every little helps!) so I thought i'd give it a whirl.

So, last night I asked all friends and members of the Phil Runs London group to put:
My handsome friend phil is running the london marathon for a little charity who it'll really help. Sponsor him at www.justgiving.com/philrunslondon
as their status.

Last night four people had done it, though they seemed begrudging about the adjective.

Let's see what happens!

Saying hello to my imaginary friends

Following my post about getting a who's who of e-marathoners together, I had a bit of an idea.

Shocking, I know.

Let me take you through my thought process...

There are a few dozen fellow e-marathoners running the London Marathon later this month who I've chatted with via the blog/twitter/facebook.

Which is awesome.

This got me thinking - come the big day, I wouldn't know if I was running next to someone I've chatted to for months, as the interweb is a bit faceless.

Some, such as Becki Saves the Rhinos, should be easy to spot –
rhino horn on head. Others, I couldn't pick out of a police line up.

Not sure when I'd need to identify e-marathoners in a police line up though – probably a result of a break in at a pasta factory.

Anyway, wouldn't it be cool if there was a way we could identify each other.

I dismissed my original idea of asking us all to carry laptops/PC's as that could be cumbersome.

So, I thought how about some kind of sign?

Think someone's an e-marathoner? Why not show them some "M" goodness, like this:

Look at the delight on my stupid face...

Or, if we were more adventurous, we could try something like this:

Though, it could take a bit of work...

Who's who of e-marathoning

I've been a bit slack updating my blogroll lately – combination of too busy at work, too many runs in evenings, and my sodding wireless connection being as reliable as my old Vauxhall Corsa in the winter.

Weirdly, people seem to like this as I've had a few emails asking for a new update.

That's not to say it's weird people like it, just weird people seem to think something I put on here is useful!

Anyway, to compensate, I want to do a comprehensive blogger update with every London Marathon related blog I can find.

I've already got a fair few, but want to add who fellow e-marathoners are running for, and a brief - Phil style - summary.

Nominations/suggestions/requests to never be associated with me welcomed in comments below or via email.

Will try to get the whole shebang put together this week.

Merci beaucoup, mon petit cochon d'inde's.

April Fool = me

Like a dumbass I've forgotten my kit to run home tonight.


Need to rejig some runs this week anyway as I'm heading to Kent for the weekend, and this makes it a bit trickier - because it's not hard enough already!

If anyone works out how to travel back in time to about 6:30 this morning, can they let me know so I can pick up my stuff before I leave?

So, will try to make sure I at least get out for a decent stroll around the park at lunch to get the legs moving - that's pretty much the same as a training run isn't it?