All details about the event can be found here. This post is just about my experience.
150,000 people enter the ballot for a London Marathon place in the May before the event. About 50,000 places are allocated and about 40,000 start the race. In addition to the ballot places there are also some places that are allocated to runners who are very fast or who are considered ‘Good for Age’. So if like me you are female, old and considered to be quick for age and sex you get an automatic entry. In 2015 I ran the North Dorset Villages marathon in 4 hours 30 minutes (and 46 seconds) which just about quick enough to meet the Good for Age standard for women aged 60 – 64.
Of the 40,000 runners who started the London Marathon on 24th April 2016 just 204 were women aged 60 – 64 with a further 130 women over the age of 65. The reason why there were so few older women running the marathon is because it is bloody hard.
I have completed the London Marathon seven times over the years since my first one in 1994. Back in the day I used to run quite quickly and until I was 55 most marathons were sub 3 hours 30 minutes with a personal best of 3 hours 12 minutes set in Paris in 2001. In 2009 I ran 3 hours 37 minutes and I then decided to stop running marathons as I was getting too slow!
Training for a marathon is quite tricky. In an effort to train hard enough to get the best from yourself it is essential to avoid over-training and acquiring injuries. I try to vary my training and do a lot of it off road. I build intensity by running on hills (not difficult in West Dorset) and by doing some intervals and speed work. After the ironman in September 2015 I had a few months of low motivation and started 2016 with no desire to compete and not much urge to get out of the door and run! My training diary records ‘running is hard work and I am depressingly slow. I cannot imagine being at the start of VLM on April 24th’. In January a 15km run was ‘exhausting’, but by February things were improving and I was pushing the long run out to 30km. During March my mojo gradually returned and I recorded that I was ‘running well – just slowly.’ I ran the Grizzly in March at race intensity and was quite pleased. I recovered well and ran the Weymouth half marathon in 2 hours 4 minutes the weekend after. However, I only ran more than 30km in training 6 times in preparation for the London marathon.
As well as running, I have continued to swim at least once a week and cycled several times a week, including many rides over 100km. I also do some strength and conditioning with weights in the gym and Iyengar yoga.
The Virgin London Marathon is incredibly well organised. It is a massive event with 40,000 runners and many thousands helping to facilitate the event. Registration takes place at Excel in London and in itself is a huge event. Registration is open for 3 full days and although by Saturday lunch time when we rolled up it was very busy, we were quickly processed and I had my number and timing chip. I had been quite nervous in the week before going up to London but by this time I was resigned to my fate.
Registration at Excel
The Grizzly is a race organised by Axe Valley Runners. It takes place in March every year and starts and finishes on Seaton sea front in Devon which is on the South coast of England.
Seaton sea front
The race is very popular and entry is gained by taking part in a ballot held in September where approximately 1500 places are allocated. About 400 women take part. The Grizzly has been happening every year since 1988. Not including 2016, the race has raised £305k for local charities. Every year the race has a name. The 2016 race was the 29th and was named ‘Grin and Bear It.’
The Bantham Swoosh was a new event organised by the Outdoor Swimming Society for the first time in 2015. I heard about it too late to enter the OSS event.
However, this sounded like a lot of fun so I checked out the tide tables and earmarked a few dates which looked suitable. All that it needs is a big spring tide really.
On 30th August there was such a tide and all my swimming buddies were busy doing other stuff. Ian and I managed to drag ourselves out of bed – despite the dreary bank holiday weather – and drove down to Aveton Gifford where the River Avon is accessible from the car park.
June 14th 2015 was the 6th staging of the Bristol Harbourside Triathlon run by TriBristol. Bristol Harbourside Triathlon is established as a premier event on the Triathlon racing calendar in the South West.
A triathlon is a multi stage competition involving the completion of three continuous and sequential endurance disciplines. There are many variations but triathlon in its popular form consists of swimming cycling and running in immediate succession over varying distances. Triathletes compete for overall fastest course completion times including timed ‘transitions’ between the individual swim cycle and run components.
Triathlon race lengths vary and at the TriBristol event there was a Sprint race consisting of a 750m swim, 20k cycle and a 5k run. I competed in the Standard distance also popularly known as the Olympic distance which is a 1500m swim 40km cycle and a 10km run. My daughter Kathryn was also competing in the standard distance event.
A transition area is set up where athletes change gear for different segments of the race. At Bristol the women were numbered 1 – 54 and the places in transition were allocated consecutively. There were only 4 of us so called female Supervets aged over 50 and we met up before the race as we were setting up in transition.
Kathryn and I in transition before the start
Strava – which mean ‘to strive’ in Swedish is a website and mobile app used to track athletic activity via GPS. It was created in 2009 in San Francisco. The most popular activities tracked using the software are cycling and running but they are exploring how to extend the service to other areas of sport.
The basic service is free but there is an optional pay component which allows access to even more statistics than the free version. Strava will not disclose how many members it has but it has grown 30 times since 2011 and now 75% of its members are outside the US.
I have resisted signing up for Strava. I’ve had a Garmin for as long as I have been cycling and have enjoyed timing, discovering and mapping rides. The Garmin is also an essential tool for me to find my way on Audax rides and also to submit evidence for Audax DIY rides. Nowadays I rarely go out for a ride or a run without the Garmin on my wrist or the bars.
It’s not all about Strava. Once in a while there is some true recreation with no Garmin on the bars!
I haven’t posted for a long time. This is not because I have been idle and inactive. Far from it.
My focus for this year is the Challenge Weymouth long distance triathlon – Ironman distance – which is in September. The distances involved are 3.8 kilometres swimming in the sea followed without a break to180 kilometres cycling and then direct to 42.2 kilometres running. This is a big challenge for me and I’m not sure if I will manage to complete it. However I have been training with this event in mind since October 2014.
Long winter run on the Dorset Coast Path. the picture is on Thorncombe Beacon
Audax ride on my winter bike
Parkrun for me means an opportunity to run a timed 5k with other people at 9am every Saturday morning.
My nearest parkrun is at Weymouth and an average of 110 runners turn up every Saturday at Lodmoor Country Park to run 5km against the clock.