On my fundraising page, I say there’s a 75% chance of me crying. I’m raising that to 100%, simply because if I haven’t been asleep, eating, or running this week, I’ve been sobbing like Violet Elizabeth Bott confronted with an ingallant Outlaw.
Where were we? Oh yes. This was the week of EATING and SLEEPING and NOT GOING OUT. The day after 16 miles, I was fine. The next day, I was exhausted. If I’d lain down on the floor at work, I would have stayed there forever, groaning softly, rather than going “What the hell am I doing on the floor? Oh God, someone will see, and I clash horribly with the carpet.”
I skipped choir on Tuesday in favour of lying in the bath, burbling to the cat, and was in bed by 8. On Thursday, I missed my friend’s book reading in Epping. Friday, I missed our fifth birthday party at Domestic Sluttery because I was in bed by 7.30. I can’t remember what I did on Wednesday, but I was probably asleep and therefore fascinating company.
Oh God! That was what I was doing on Wednesday – eating like a human waste disposal unit. Somehow, all the hunger and need for calories that had bypassed me on Sunday and Monday kicked in.
Here’s how to eat appallingly. Ready? Let’s get started!
The Dustbin Diet Plan
- Usual breakfast, bagel and apple. So healthy!
- 1x packet scotch pancakes
- 1x McCoys
- 1x entire Soreen – spread out over the day of course, what are you, an animal?
- Lunch – forgotten what this was, probably potato-based
- Chocolate that you have forgotten about until now
Even by my standards, this was monstrous.
The munchies are apparently a massive part of marathon training, and luckily my barometer of What Is Ok, ie, the Mind marathon runners Facebook group, has been on point. True, there are the noble souls eating carefully-planned nutritionally balanced meals, but there are also the other newbies who have also been utterly aghast by the amount of food they’ve been shovelling into their mouths.
While my afternoons are indeed usually governed by chocolate or cake, I usually have a fairly healthy lunch and dinner, booze aside, although Lent has put paid to that for the time being. So the sheer quantity of carbohydrates and sugars that I’ve been craving are fairly surprising: nothing like Time of The Month snack rages, or low-mood trips to McDonald’s.
I was utterly crippled after Sunday’s run, due to being a numpty and not doing a proper cool down, so I didn’t get out again until Thursday, when I ran home from work. There had been a microsite to build, and so I headed off around 7.15pm.
I probably should have twigged that running my usual route wasn’t a good plan in absolute and thorough darkness, and I really realised this when running through Burgess Park. As I’ve said before, this park’s refurbishment has been a wonderful thing, and I love running through it during the day. But with barely any lighting, and lots of shifty looking pedestrians hanging about, it creeped me out.
Still, it made me run faster.
And those shifty types were probably just thinking “Oh dear lord, I’ve forgotten my torch.” They probably weren’t even shifty at all, but when you suddenly realise you should be thinking sensibly, everyone looks like a violent crack addict about to biff you in the neck.
On Saturday, I climbed out of 12 hours of sleep to go to a workshop with The Pop-Up Choir, the south London group I joined last January. I love singing with them. It’s brilliant fun with great people and they’ve been incredibly supportive about Stupid Run.
After an absurd amount of tea, and some practise, we had a recording session. Rolling in the Deep, Sweetest Feeling and Sigh No More (a beautiful choral version of a Mumford & Sons number which was arranged to be sung at the wedding of two of our choir members. Reader: they met through choir. ALL THE FEELS!) It was great fun, Kate’s solo in Rolling in the Deep was particularly beautiful, and we all left Brixton in the soft spring sunshine feeling tremendous.
When I got home, my final London Marathon magazine had arrived – and my race number. Amazing. If you’ve never seen it, the magazine is inspiring and utterly terrifying at the same time. There is a lot of talk about running 22 miles, three weeks beforehand, which made me go slightly wobbly as it wasn’t in my training programme. Happily, someone on Facebook pointed out that the mag was totally not helpful, and people should just carry on with their training and not worry. Well done you, Facebook man!
Worry aside, I read the magazine and felt completely inspired to dig my Royal Parks Mind vest out of the cupboard and go for my Saturday run in it.
This was all fine, until I got to Brockwell Park and had a panic about next day’s big run. Everything suddenly piled up on top of each other. The workshop. The run. Going to my friend’s for dinner later. Missing my friends’ parties. Missing choir. Always being asleep. Being a boring person who only blogs about running. What the hell was I thinking, signing up to do a proper, serious race just because I read an inspiring book? MORON. And I had my biggest run yet to do tomorrow – 20 miles. How was I going to fit that in? And how was I going to actually do it?
I got completely overwhelmed. I called the friend I was due to see and drizzled wetly down the phone to him about being worried, and therefore not coming to Walthamstow for bolognese and the Veronica Mars film.
“It’s completely fine. You’ll be brilliant and you are NOT letting anyone down!” he said.
“But I wanted to eat spaghetti with you and watch V-Mar,” I sobbed.
Eventually, we postponed dinner to a time when I was not sobbing in a south London park with a long run the next day, and after more sobbing, I ran-walk home feeling thoroughly rubbish, and as though I had betrayed the Mind vest.
Some of the Domestic Sluttery girls were meeting for lunch in Camberwell – I couldn’t not go. It was practically at my house FFS*
*20 minutes walk away, which is basically next door in Camberlanguage
My plan only went up to 16 miles, as it splits my long runs between Saturday and Sunday. So many people had done 20s in my Facebook group though that I thought I really should, and given the time til race day, skip 18 and just go for the fucker. I’d worked out it should take me four hours to run 20 miles – we’ve established this blog is going for a one-time slow leopard marathon, right? Good. – so I woke up at 6 for breakfast, planning to set off at 8. Unfortunately the cat had been a total prancing bastard all night and I felt knackered, so I went back to sleep, and ended up setting off well after 10.
I’ll spare you the details of the run because four hours of me going “What is this life?” is fun for no-one, so here’s the break down.
- Eating Clif Shot Bloks is like eating jelly straight from the packet.
- Whoever texted me “If it gets hard in your 20 miler… just look at the world around you.” at seven miles, thank you. They didn’t reply when I asked who it was, so huge apologies if it’s someone I should know and have thus pissed off.
- In Hyde Park my Walk Jog Run map disappeared completely. This was unhelpful.
- The upside from not being able to go anywhere until I’d found out how to get it back was that I saw the delights of Speakers Corner for the first time. It really is utterly bonkers. Unsurprisingly given it was Sunday morning, religion was a hot topic for the men (only men) on their little chairs and stools.
- At 11 miles I went the wrong way. I got so upset that I sobbed in the street: big, upside down clown face sobs.
- Shortly after this, Firework by Katy Perry came on shuffle.”Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?””Yes,” I whispered, sadly.”Drifting through the wind, wanting to start again?””Yes,” I said again. I wish I were making this up.Then, it came: “Baby, you’re a firework!”
“Thank you, Katy Perry,” I sobbed. “Thank you.” And I limped off in a tragic jog towards Westminster Bridge.
- I did the slowest half-marathon I have ever done. But hey, the fact I have even ever done one would make Mrs Eaton, my school Games teacher, pass out in shock.
- At 15 miles, I went into a Tesco to get some more water, and dropped it. I was so stiff it took me 10 seconds to pick it up.
- At 15.5 miles, Life Support from the Rent soundtrack came on, at which point I sobbed the upside down clown face again.
- My Garmin died at 18.5 miles. I should really remember to charge it.
- I finished my run in Waterloo, which meant I had to walk all the way back to Camberwell. Bright side: this eased my legs so much they didn’t hurt at all the next day.
- I made it to the pub for roast potatoes with the girls.
- However I did it – I still did 20 miles.
- That evening I had bright red farmer arms because I only SPF’d my face. OH KATHERINE.
“Have you ever had that runners high thing,” Sian asked later, in the Camberwell Arms.
“Nah,” I said.
On Monday I had the runner’s high for 24 straight hours, and working legs. Reader, it was awesome.
T-minus maths until the London Marathon. It’s on April 13 if that helps. You can sponsor me and my legs here to help raise £1650 for Mind. Thank you to all my friends and family for being amazing.