I know I have said it before, but it is worth repeating - i never, ever thought I would take part in London Marathon.
I am so privileged to have worked in mass participation events for so long, and that time includes 4 years working at the London Marathon. I have stood post finish and in the grandstand and watched has thousands of runners complete their journey. I have heard the blast of the marathon theme tune and felt the hair on my neck rise. I have thought to myself you could do this and remembered how bad my knees are.
So to get a ballot place for 2021, on only my third time, including the virtual in 2020, was a surprise and a little bit of a panic moment.
The hours of training, the miles of roads, the early mornings, the training buddies all were building to this weekend.
We left Cardiff on Friday evening and headed to a super Aparthotel in Greenwich. I know Im not good and over think the travel plans on event day, so for me a place near to the start worked so well.
Saturday morning we headed to ExCel early, again having worked here I know how busy it gets.
The new set up of dropping your kit bag before the race worked so well, and you were guaranteed your chosen T shirt size as it was added to your bag there and then. Collecting my bib was just as easy, then the photo frenzy could begin - take any opportunity for a photo!
It was lovely to see some of my running buddies, I think half of Cardiff had a place this year. It was also great to see the guys from Scimitar who so kindly donated my specially designed running top.
Relaxed the rest of the day before a pre race meal with te fmaily and an early, if not very restful night.
It seemed strange eating my breakfast watching the elite race start, not sure it did much for my nerves.
The walk form the hotel to the start was a great way to warm up the legs, then it was time to say goodbye to the support crew (Kate and Lucy) and head through the check-in and find my wave start. I commented "who thought this was good idea" as I headed in and a lovely lady called Vicky laughed and said "my thoughts as well" Turns out we were in the same start area.
We chatted until I found Paul who I was running with, then it was our time to start.
The first 10 Miles
Off we went in our wave Red 17, Im sure that sounds more like a line from Star Wars, and the support form the crowd was incredible. We were blessed at around 2 miles by a priest with holy water, Paul had told me about this on a training run. Joining up with the Blue and Green starts around mile 3 the crowds increased, the music was pumping, the re were High-5s and many shouts of "Baboo' Pauls name on his T shirt, I amy or may not have been encouraging this.
At Mile 6, by the Old Naval College, as planned we met up with Kate and Lucy, a quick refuel then off to Cutty Sark and a Big Wave for the camera, clearly it worked as messages started arriving saying "you are on TV".
By Mile 9 I could feel the early pace starting to impact, I remember saying to Paul "go on you have to run your race now" he is younger than me.
We were with Kerrie and I also wanted to do a mile with this inspirational lady. She is the reason I started running, and the reason why so much of the 2021 race has changed for the slower runners. In that mile so many people were thanking her for the way she spoke out about slower runners treatment. At Mile 10 Kerrie said the same words as I said to Paul - "Go on and run your own race now"
Over the Bridge and Half way
Plodding on in my own way, ticking off the miles I was soon at mile 12, when I remembered I took photos of the mile markers, some seemed further apart than others! At 12 I thought I do a little social media post to let people know where I was, to be honest I had no idea where I was, then I turned a corner and recognised Tower Bridge.
What an experience running over this iconic landmark is. then past the Tower, for the first time and a right turn and towards half way. Pitstop crew were on hand with refreshments and words of encouragement - just what I needed at that point.
On to the Isle
I had heard from many people that this section was hard, it was! You approach the Isle of Dogs along The Highway, with faster runners going the other way, but they are on mile 22 and you are on mile 13. Around the Isle of Dogs there was good support and music and I was so pleased to see my friend Seren on her cheer point, but parts mainly around Canary Wharf feels like you are in a maze. Now it could just be the high rise buildings or the fact you are at Mile 19, or even that the weather changed and we had gale force blasts of wind and a sharp downpour - needless to say this wasn't my favourite bit.
At this point to raise my spirits there was a shout "Nic' and I was joined by Ellie a fellow Roath park Runner, we get everywhere. This was such a boost and I was able to stay in the same group with Ellie from then on, each still running our own race.
20 miles and into the City
As the rain stopped and the sun reappeared I headed past Billings Gate market and turned back towards the city. Miles seemed to pass a bit quicker after Mile 20, but then any mile that starts with a 2 is a bonus. Kate and Lucy were at Mile 22 and as I approached I could hear the DJ playing Kates running song "Siri - Play Mr Brightside" very fitting that this was playing jiust as I saw them.
The increased crowds and the familiar landmarks along this part of the route definitely carried me along, plus chatting to lovely runners all charing their stories, and lots of them from Wales.
The final push
Around Mile 25 I saw Kerry and her cheering team, another great boost, then Big Ben was just ahead, Into Parliament square I chatted with another first time runner who had bee struggling since Mile 15. We joked about how bits of our legs and feet hurt but how the crowds were now carrying us through.
Into Birdcage Walk and back with Ellie we turned the corner and saw the 365 yards to go sign - the best sign in running. Past the Palace and into the Mall - what an experience.
Im sure I thanked as many of the volunteers as I could , everyone was amazing. I collected my kit, and put on my medal - I had done it. I stood where I had so many times before on the Mall - but this time I was a runner.
Meeting up with Kate and Lucy was a little emotional, and the post race mars bar and flat coke highly recommended.
The 1% club - those who have completed a marathon now has another full time member, I know I did the virtual in 2020 but this felt so different.
Thank you to all of you who have supported me on my journey from March 2020 to October 2021, 5k, 10k, half, virtual and now London Marathon.
Thank you for your kind words, your support, your hints and tips.
For plodding along with me, for picking me up when I wasn't feeling the running bug.
For your support for Movember and the research at Cardiff University.
Would I do it again? - Yes of course I would and lots more along the way.
I started this journey with 1 small step - as I crossed the finish line the Marshall shouted
"Just keep taking 1 small step - you've done it"
With only days to go until London Marathon 2021 I started thinking about the start of my journey. I have had the pleasure of working for more than 25 years on mass participation events, and even worked at London Marathon on 4 occasions.
I have been so inspired by the 100s of thousands of people I have helped cross the finish line in their own running challenges, but having had dodgy knees since I was 17 I always discounted it for me. Maybe it was just an excuse to stop me trying who knows.
Meeting Kerrie after London 2019, and through her so many other inspirational runners, has massively helped me to change my outlook on running, physical activity and life.
Along the way I have set myself challenges and goals to keep me moving forward and take care of my own mental health.
Some of these have included:
After London it will be back to Commentating at MoRun 2021, and booking in some fun runs to do with friends and fellow runners, maybe even one dressed as a reindeer.
Less than 2 weeks now until London and training has now hit the taper time. I was reminded that this time last year, ahead of the virtual marathon I had completed 1 x half marathon and 1 x 16 mile run.
Now in 2021 I have completed at least a half marathon every weekend for 7 out of the last 8 weeks (this included 2 runs at around 18 miles). The legs have dealt with it well, but I am really glad that the weekly mileage is a little less as we head towards London.
Over the past month fundraising has kept me occupied, with the raffle being well supported. A big thank you to everyone who has bought tickets and also to everyone who has contributed prizes you are all amazing.
My continued work with Movember as an Ambassador has meant more training as we get ready for this years campaign, all of which has been a great reminder as to why I am taking on London. The daily struggles of those living with cancer and mental health issues makes running those 26.2 miles well worth it.
As people often say, the journey of a marathon is as much about getting to the Start as it is about getting to the finish. The next week or so is as much about staying healthy and away from anyone with any symptoms.
It is amazing to see some of the mass participation races taking place this year, all be it with some new routes and rules. I think London will help to move this forward further.
I have already started to think beyond London, it would be great to take part in Swansea Half later in October as well as looking at the MoRun events across the Uk, although that maybe more as a commentator.
There is still time to support my marathon by clicking on the link on the home page or using the QR code above. - Thank you all.
We are a few weeks into my training for London Marathon and hit a bump in the road, figuratively speaking.
A few weeks ago I had my second 'jab' and within 30 minutes felt quite sick. It didn't come to anything but the next day it happened again, a general feeling of nausea. On the Sunday i set out for my usual 10 mile plod and gradually felt worse and worse. I think a combination of heat and the jab were taking their toll and at 8 miles I gave up. Still 2 miles from home I had to walk on but felt very strange.
Over the next couple of weeks I limited myself to shorter runs and thankfully I'm back to a least 10k now without too much effort, although it has been very draining.
As I write, we are at the end of a very hot week in South Wales (31degrees) so running has been a bit more tricky. I had a great 5k last night with the weekly running group and plan a 10k early in the morning with a 10 mile Sunday to test how things have settled.
To cheer myself up during this hic-cup I have signed up for a further challenge, form the lovely people at End to End. This time taking on the original 874 miles of Lands end to John O Groats. With my marathon training this will help to give me a focus and a reason to get out even if it is for a few miles walking.
The online community for End to End are amazing - such great support, tips, general chat about running and challenges. This is now my third event with them and they have all been amazing.
Route 66 - Week 24 (plus 1 day) - 2278 miles - 171 days
And just like that my trip along Route 66 is complete. From Chicago, through Springfield, St Louis, Tulsa, Oklahoma, Amarillo, Albuquerque, Winslow, Pasadena and then along Santa Monica Boulevard to finish on the pier.
A mix of running, walking and cycling in aid of Movember and part of my London Marathon training.
Thank you to everyone who has helped and supported me along the way, the hard work of marathon training continues but for today its time to relax.
1 March 2021 - Today the journey to London began.
Well actually it all started with a trip to see if I can get my foot better. I have been suffering with it since November, all the things I know to do, ice, raising, stretching resting have all helped but they haven't stopped it coming back.
Spent some time with the team at ACE and now have things to do and a special addition in both my trainers.
As well as the addition to my current footwear, I had a recommendation for some new trainers to help my running, well who doesn't like to have an excuse for some new kit.
So after my consultation it was off to work on my plan for the marathon.
I have set up my fundraising page (LINK HERE) and this year even though I have a ballot place I will still be supporting Movember along with research into Cancer and Mental Health at Cardiff University. It means that money will be spent in Wales as well as across the world via Movember.
If you can help and support my fundraising that would be incredible, so many of you were so generous during my 870 mile trip around Wales.
I am so pleased to be able to taking part in London 2021, and only hope that between now and October 'Live' events will be allowed again. We have accomodation booked in Greenwich so looks like I;m good to go.
Ok there is the small matter of the training, but even with my injury I have kept up with at least 10 miles a day on the bike plus walking, I hope it wont take too long before running, all be it slowly returns.
Back in October 2020, whilst we were heading into another lockdown I completed the Virtual London Marathon around the streets fo Cardiff.
I have to say, as someone who is not a runner, or at least not an athlete I had an amazing time. Yes it was cold and wet, but I had a great time.
So much so that as soon as I could I entered the ballot for 2021.
Now I know how many people enter the ballot and I know how few actually get in, one of the things you get to know when you work in events. I thought there is no way I can get in on only my 3rd attempt.....oops
Today I found out I have a place!!!!
I am so excited, honoured and terrified all at the same time.
I know there is a lot of time from now until October, and given the state of the world who knows if we will be allowed to actually have a live race....but Im in !!
I had the pleasure of working at London Marathon and at the Expo for a number of years, and always thought Id like to do this....but never followed up on it.
Training since last October hasn't stopped. Wales Coastal path and now Route 66 have meant I had to keep pushing forward.
My dodgy foot has meant I am spending more time on the exercise bike than I like but it is helping keep my cardio level up.
So far after 5 weeks of Route 66 I have covered 522 miles, still plenty to go.
In February Team Cwtch are taking part in a 28 days around the world challenge and after 1 week we have made it from Cardiff to Dunkirk.
Keeping active, in these strange times, has been 100% the best thing I can do for my head. It has kept me focussed and most of all kept me moving forward.
I am so grateful to all of you who have helped and supported me along this journey, Im sorry to say there is more to come. Next stop London.
870 miles Wales Coastal Path Challenge for Movember Complete
15th June 2020 – 31st January 2021
When I started this challenge, I had no idea how long it would take, what I could do, what I couldn’t do. All I did know was I had 12 months to complete it so with a bit of effort each day that should get me over the line.
What I discovered was an ability to walk longer distance on my own and enjoy it, never underestimate the company of a podcast, if you walk a bit faster you start to run, and a marathon is not has tough as I thought it would be (despite the wind, cold and rain).
Today I have completed my first ever long distance challenge, to put it into perspective, the Wales Coastal Path at 870 miles is only 4 miles less than Lands End to John O’Groats. 225 days of walking, plodding, jeffing and running has been amazing.
I chose the Clock Tower at Roath Park as my finish, it seemed appropriate to have a memorial to an epic adventure, and the weather decided to add to the effect, as I crossed the line in the snow.
Looking back on the photos of my journey, I realised I have visited the clock tower quite a few times during this challenge, but then we have been limited to where we are allowed to go.
As you know I chose to complete this challenge in aid of the Movember Foundation, for whom I am an Ambassador. The Target of £870 was done with the help of so many you, running, quizzing and walking. If you can help with any further donations that would be amazing, the work Movember do to support Men’s Health, physical and mental across the world is incredible
My challenges now continue into February and beyond, Team Cwtch will be participating in the 28 Days around the World and I will be continuing on my Route 66 trip across the USA.
A huge thank you to all of you who have helped and supported me along the way. I have met some amazing people on my journey and continue to be inspired by them and their own challenges.
What a year this has been.
If you had told me the things I would have achieved this year and the changes there would be I’m not sure I would have believed you.
I have taken part in many virtual events and earned some pretty amazing medals.
In total (according to strava) I have run/walked 850.1 miles/ 1368.1 Km
My first 5k in May and 10K in June, Run around the clock, 120miles in July, Nos Galon, MoRun, WhoRun and of course London marathon.
All whilst plodding my way around the Wales Coastal path, 770 miles done, 100 to go, I had wanted to be finished by Christmas but injury has slowed me.
We hit the fundraising target, thank to all of you who helped and donated to support the work of Movember. As and Ambassador I will continue to support them and will set up a new challenge target for 2021.
There are so many people who have helped and supported me on my journey - you all know who you are - I am so thankful to you all for your encouragement, energy and often bizarre tips.
January 2021 brings new challenges and new journeys not least the start of Route 66 - 2278 miles in 12 months, at least the cycle miles count for this one.
For a short period I will be doing the Coastal Path and Route 66 plus looking ahead to other challenges, maybe even with other people.....
I realised I haven't done an update for a while, nor had I input my mileage.
If I'm honest there has been quite a lot of things going on and trying to deal with the ever changing world of Covid hasn't helped.
It seems that as we went into the 'Second wave' i the virus has been a lot closer than it was in wave 1, and lots of people locally have had symptoms and some sadly have not survived. This has brought everything very much into ficus and I needed a little time away from things.
Plus - and this hasnt helped - my foot has been preventing me from running. A stress fracture and now Plantar Fasciitis, has drastically reduced my ability to 'plod' around the streets. The lack of running has had an impact on the way I have been feeling.
Thankfully I have secured an exercise bike, and whilst I don't find it fun, it is keeping my cardio fitnmess levels up.
I was managing a short walk each day, but from the start of December I have needed to reduce this as well. So just doing a few miles when I can.
According to the map I am about half way around Anglesey, with 140 miles left to go. It looks unlikely I can be finished in 2020 but it wont be too long after that.
After 24 years of helping others to achieve their running goals - it is now my time.