Monday, 11 May 2015

The Big One: The Virgin Money London Marathon 2015 - Part II

So, you've had the warm up, now it's time for The Virgin Money London Marathon 2015 Race Review. Again, I should apologise for the time it took to get my napkin scribs down onto actual paper, but I wanted to be able to do it justice and a little hindsight and R&R goes a long way. Now I should warn you, this isn't a short post so grab a cuppa, put your feet up and get stuck in.

We started early, with breakfast consisting of some porridge with honey, two slices of brown toast with raspberry jam and, of course, a lucozade. Then it was off to Greenwich where the race would begin. TfL are awesome and give all runners free travel on the underground network on race day and with their staff holding the barriers open for you, you can't help but feel like a hero.

Sadly, Rory and I had to part when we reached Greenwich for him to go to his start, and me to mine but we were careful to plan out how we were going to meet eachother during the race. After our setback earlier in the week, I think we were both a bit emotional to say goodbye to each other in case our plan didn't work and we had to run the full 26.2 miles on our own.

Through to the competitors village (their name, not mine) and my friend who was running for Cancer Research and I dropped our bags into the vans and we headed for the loo. I should warn you the queues at this point are extremely long, and it's worth bringing a little loo roll for this purpose. I know every runner knows this, (hell portaloos are just a part of a runners life) but somehow I always manage to forget this key ingredient!

After that, it was straight to the starting pens and here's where Rory and I's little plan fell into action. I was in pen 5 alongside all the other runners who were running about a 9:45 pace, whilst he had cleverly not told the organisers how fast he was so he was in pen 9 with the tyrannosaurus rex and the Jamaican bobsleigh team. I can't lie, this didn't do much for my nerves. Once we were in our starting pens, we phoned each other even though our signal was terrible. I would like to pretend this was just for practical reasons but it's been a while since I've been on a start line on my own.

So, we stayed on a very shaky phone line until we crossed the line to make sure we crossed at the same time, had a shiver as we realised this was it, hung up and stuck our music on as loud as it would go.

The first few miles were surreal but flew by. I was feeling good and before I knew it, I was at 3 miles were the two routes start to join. I called Rory again as soon as I saw the other runners to try and track him down. He was a couple of minutes behind me but that wasn't really a problem in comparison to what I'd anticipated. I hung back until he came round the corner and then we continued the rest of our lengthy journey together.

The next few miles were awesome - the crowds were cheering us on and we were easily keeping to our ideal pace. At 8 miles we saw our first supporters who received a sweaty hug each and an awkward scream in the face. Seeing our friends and family throughout those first ten or so miles was amazing and surprisingly emotional.

Onwards we went and it was time for the iconic Tower Bridge moment which was a great feeling to be almost halfway and still feeling good. However, people around us were starting to flag, the pace was starting to drop and by 14 miles where the other runners were starting to come back the other way, there were quite a few people walking by the sides of the road.

We carried on out towards the Isle of Dogs and saw some more friends around Wapping where my greeting was far less enthusiastic (nothing personal, I promise!) and this is where we started to flag slightly. I was experiencing a lot of pain down my arms (weird, I know!) and also some reduced movement in my big toe which was manifesting into pain underneath my right foot. We got to 16 miles and with the pain only getting worse, we stopped and had a couple of paracetamol each.

Feeling bolstered by the placebo effect (or two paracetamol on a now empty stomach) we picked up the pace again and kept running through the next few miles. Mentally I felt like I'd hit a turning point at 18 miles and I knew we were starting to hit home. This lasted for approximately half a mile before it wavered again, though we managed to keep running.

The whole way round supporters were cheering our names and it makes such a difference. A few well-timed cheers kept us going through to 21 miles and that's really when we stared to pick up the pace again. My resolve kicked back in and being able to count down the remaining miles on one hand felt awesome. Those last few miles turned into a bit of a blur as I focused on just getting through them. In hindsight, I wish I'd felt a bit better here as it was such as scenic part of the route and I don't really feel like I stopped to take stock enough.

Running down the Mall was incredible and it spurred me on knowing I was so close. We picked up speed and before I knew it we were at 600M to go. By this point, I think I was mildly hysterical, pushing us faster and faster knowing that we were so close to it all being over. Coming in to the finish was a hugely surreal feeling (but better than earlier), as I just couldn't get my head around the fact we'd done it.

Rory and I crossed the line hand in hand, in honour of the first joint winners of the London Marathon who had done just that thirty-five years earlier. We completed it in a time of 4:25, and I managed to sneak over the line a full second before Rory which I obviously haven't let him live down.

Finishing was incredible, and while the whole experience was a little harrowing, it was completely emotional and totally overwhelming. So much so, I tried to have a little cry when we finished, but I was so dehydrated that nothing really came out. Completing the marathon knowing we'd also raised over £2,200 for London Youth was just the most exhilarating and equally draining feeling.

When we'd pulled ourselves together, it was on the pub where our wonderful friends and family were waiting to greet us with beer and sweaty hugs. Our day finished in true style, with a trip to McDonalds and 20 chicken nuggets.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The Big One: The Virgin Money London Marathon 2015 - Part I

 I guess I should probably say sorry for how long it's taken me to get around to writing this, but to be completely honest I needed a lot of deep heat and a holiday before I could really talk about the experience in any positive light.

It's mad to think that it was as far back as this time last year when it all began, as Rory and I entered the ballot, not really thinking that we would get in but having somewhat of a desire to run it. Then October came round before we knew it and Rory was in and I wasn't. As happy as I was, I knew that, as selfish as it was, I couldn't watch him train and race all by himself without having some internal breakdown, so when an opportunity came up to run for the amazing London Youth, I truly jumped at it.

Then came New Year's Day, and hungover or not, we strapped on our trainers to begin what would become the most life-limiting four months. Moving house, two big work events and countless training runs really took it's toll and at the end of March, I was really really struggling with finding a positive outlook on life. I was exhausted.

But as we began to taper, my sunny outlook started to return as I realised that the end really was in sight and we would soon be able to plan things less around our gruelling training schedule and more around all the other exciting things we had to look forward to. I should caveat that this time was interspersed with crippling waves of nausea every now and again when I thought about what I still had to go through.

But soon enough, the day itself came, and I was overwhelmed with a sense of calm. Of just going out there and getting it done, and that's just what we did. We took on 26.2 miles, (or a bit more when you figure all the overtaking and sidestepping we had to do) and we bloody finished it.

And so sorry, but you're going to have to wait a little longer for the race review, as today I wanted to dedicate this post to giving the marathon training a little respect and love of it's own. I've done one marathon with and one without any preparation at all, and I can safely say that getting through the training schedule is a huge achievement in it's own right. So, BIG UPS to everyone who has trained for a marathon, no matter whether you completed it or not. You are all heroes.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Wednesday's Gripes

I hate to use my blog for a rant, social media yes, but my blog? I like to keep my little corner of the internet positive and rant free. However my London Marathon journey has had a real setback at the last minute. 

Having spent four whole months training side by side with my running partner, we are now starting in completely separate pens, meaning our routes don’t join up until 3 miles in to the race. 

Having consulted the organisers, their only solution offered was to organise a place to meet during the race at either a water station or a mile marker. Not only is this so impractical due to the numbers of people running, but also due to the difference in time it can take you to get across the starting line. In my (watch me instantly lose all likeability) extensive race experience, it’s taken me between a couple of minutes and a full half an hour to cross the line, and I very much doubt that the London Marathon will be the former. 

We’ve been training against a time we want to achieve so having to make a compromise on either running together (and running the risk of not achieving the time anyway), or completely butchering one person's time by waiting for the other for no idea how long. 

Please don’t get me wrong, the organisers have clearly put a lot of effort in to making sure the event runs as smoothly as possible and I don’t begrudge them for that. However, we surely can’t be the only people in this situation? Surely there’s a whole host of ballot runners who still want to raise money for charity and yet are separated from the rest of their charity team come race day?

We’re heading to the Expo tonight so will ask the question again then, but I’m not feeling too hopeful. Has anyone ever had this before? How did you come to a solution?

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

A Very Special VLOG!

Today I recorded my first ever VLOG to celebrate the fact that I'm running the London Marathon for an amazing charity called London Youth. I can't say it wasn't an eye opener to watch myself on camera, but hopefully you can see past my awkwardness to find out more about this incredible charity. Don't forget to donate here!

Finally, a few things I learnt from my first ever video blog:
  • Turn your emails off before you start!
  • Don't replace dutch courage with Haribo - you will eat the whole bag.
  • Don't watch it back or you'll realise your on-camera voice is even worse than your voice...
Hope you enjoyed it - let me know in the comments below! xx

Monday, 16 March 2015

Race Review: Kingston 16 (Lidl Breakfast Run)

This morning I woke up reminiscent of the tin man without enough oil, so yesterday can only have been my longest run so far in training.

The Kingston 16 (or Lidl Breakfast Run as per its sponsor's wishes) has long been a great warm up to The London Marathon; being that bit further than a half marathon... And that bit further it felt.

For starters, the race begins at 08:30 (or 08:00 if you're racing the 20 mile course) and coupled with National Rail improvement works it made for a super early wake up call. So of course we got an Uber which took about 25 mins from West London and was very much worth it for the extra 45 minutes in bed.

Kingston 16 - The Lidl Breakfast Run

 We ran the 16 mile course, however there are also 8.2 and 20 mile courses, though the latter was fully booked by the time we got around to signing up. The 16 mile course is made up of two full laps of the 8.2 mile course which didn't bother me too much apart from the fact that each part seemed longer the second time around.

The course was pretty flat apart from two inclines over bridges which were over with pretty sharpish, and had some scenic parts - namely, passing the very impressive Hampton Court Palace which has quickly joined my must visit list.

Overall I felt I raced pretty well, with my pacing scarily accurate per mile for the first half. However, it all went to pot after a while and here begins my life lesson: don't try new things on race days! One of the racing sponsors were handing out gels at mile 5, so I grabbed one to keep hold of until around 10 miles where I thought I'd need a boost.

I started taking the gel between mile 9 & 10, taking it pretty slowly and successfully not managing to spill any down me as I was running (unlike the water)! I didn't really feel much until around 12 and a half miles where my tight shoulder suddenly became unbearable and I stopped to stretch. Immediately I felt a shortness of breath and super shaky, I did my stretches and thought I was just a little panicked at the pain so I soon started again.

The stretches worked like a dream and the pain started to alleviate but the shortness of breath continued. I've never had a panic attack, but I imagined that's what it starts to feel like where your chest suddenly locks up. I forced myself to take long deep breaths and somehow carried on running until the finish line (though as my running partner says, making some quite worrying noises). When I finally crossed the line three miles later, I was no better and it was only after lots of water and long deep breaths did the feeling of tightness on my chest go away.

I'm not sure what that reaction was... Whether I was just dehydrated, or whether my body isn't used to that much of a sugar load anymore. Either way, I'm just glad it happened now and not in the marathon - safe to say, I've learnt my lesson about trying new things on race day.

Given all the drama at the end of the race, I was pleased to finish 122nd in the Women's category with an average pace of 9:11 which puts me in good stead for The London Marathon in 6 weeks. Looks like those sprint and hill sessions I hate so much are starting to pay off and hopefully I'll see this again as I chase down my half marathon PB at Richmond Half this coming weekend!

Monday, 9 March 2015


Sometimes when you're training for a race, it's easy to forget where you've come from. What better way to remind yourself than to pull out your medal haul and brag on social media. So I did just that...

Honestly though, when I first started exercising all those years ago, my friends were literally gobsmacked, thinking it wouldn't last a week. I had been a lazy teenager, blessed with a figure that did allow me to eat what I wanted (for a little while), and a terrible diet. Exercising for me was something that other people did. Now I can't go a few days without it.

It's easy to forget that once upon a time you couldn't even run for a bus, let alone run a marathon. That you couldn't even get up out of bed the first time you did circuits and that once upon a time, you thought a burpee was something that gross boys did.

Never forget where you started, and how far you still yet can go. :)

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

White City Whippets

So the first few months of this year are pretty ments for me. Not only do I decide to move house in January, two of our biggest events of the year seem to fall smack bang in the middle of it all. So what better way to send my hair grey than to sign up to run the London Marathon right at the end of it all?

Smart idea Peters...

So whilst I may be working hard, I'm working out even harder. Having totalled a whopping 140 miles so far in training plus numerous gym sessions and netball games, I'm feeling pretty god damn proud of myself.

Rather than bask in the glory, thinking that I've kept myself motivated all this time, I need to do a shout out to a new running group I've joined - The White City Whippets. Not only are they the loveliest and cheeriest bunch of people I've ever met, they also motivate me to run track and hills on Mondays and that in itself is a whopping feat.

Since I've been running with them, I've taken 3 minutes off my 10K PB time and felt fitter and happier than I have in a long time.

A photo posted by jessicapeters (@jessicapeters) on

If you'd like to join, we meet at Nike Westfield at 6:45 on Mondays and Thursdays, ready to run for 7pm. Bag drop and changing facilities are available.

I promise you, you won't regret it.