AFTER dozens of errands, hundreds of miles run and thousands of pounds raised, it’s finally over.
Running Errands has been a brilliant nightmare from start to finish – perhaps the best and worst thing I’ve ever done.
I’ve been exhausted, excited, embarassed and amazed during the epic journey from finding that first pound on the floor to running the last mile on Sunday.
I won’t bore you with a long account of Sunday’s race. Suffice to say I hit the infamous “wall” at about 20 miles. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so broken, but I was determined to finish or fall down trying.
All that remains is to thank everyone who helped me.
I’m deeply grateful to all those who gave me donations or fundraising “errands” (many of whom generously overpaid for my services!) and to everyone who supported me with training or on the race days themselves.
In particular, I’d like to thank my brother James for his support at the first marathon in Hull. Getting up at 5am to drive there before waiting for me to finish probably wasn’t much fun. The high five as I crossed the finish line stands out as my best memory of this whole thing.
Simon Edmands also deserves huge thanks for his assistance with my fundraising. He helped me embarass myself for this great cause and I honestly don’t think I could’ve reached my fundraising total without his help.
Thanks also to Nosey for the fitness programme and to Bashers and Aimee for taking me to Brighton – they know I’d never have got home in that post-marathon state without them! Thanks to Elena, Ange, Bashers, Jenny and Tomlin for coming to support me in London. It’s great to have people cheering you on and (just like in Brighton) I’d never have got home without their help.
Thanks to all my housemates (past and present) for the support and errands and to Nic for cutting Charlie’s hair a million times and donating his payments to the cause.
You’ve all been fantastic and the best part is that the money goes to WaterAid. That means a lot to me and even more to the many people who will benefit from your kindness.
THE final push has come. I need to raise a bit more money and run a few (ok… a lot) more miles and this adventure will be over.
In the spirit of Running Errands – which has always been about me suffering while everyone else has fun – I propose one more little game.
I’m organising a sweepstake on my time in this Sunday’s London Marathon. It’s a fiver to enter and the winner will collect half the pot, while the other half will go to the wonderful people at WaterAid.
Just give me a fiver (or donate via the Virgin Giving page) and guess my time in hours and minutes. If I don’t make it to the end, WaterAid wins the lot by default to ease my shame!
I’ll need to finish in a personal best time of about 3.13 to beat my ten-hour target which, in the crowds of London and after two marathons in two weeks, seems unrealistic. Or is it? Place your bets now!
The bets so far are:
2.59 (Huw Chalker)
3.12 (Huw Chalker)
3.08 (Will Harrison)
3.13 (Hannah Hall)
3.18 (Tom Patrick)
3.20 (Glenn Ebrey)
3.21 (Andy Hall)
3.22 (Tim Stathers)
3.24 (Danielle Barrow)
3.25 (Sharon Birkin)
3.26 (Elena Baker)
3.28 (Jenny Standish)
3.31 (James Morrison)
3.32 (Angela Saunders)
3.33 (Hannah Bashford)
3.34 (Elena Baker)
3.35 (Kate Parker)
3.36 (Jenny Standish)
3.37 (James Morrison)
3.38 (John Parker)
3.39 (Aimee Scrine)
3.40 (Elena Baker)
3.41 (Sam Blackledge)
3.45 (Hannah Bashford)
3.46 (Mummy Standish)
3.53 (Jamie Hastings)
4.08 (Will Harrison)
P.s. If you want to see how much marathon running hurts, click on the picture above for a close-up!
Running total: £1,770
I KNEW I was in trouble early on. The aches and pains which began after six or seven miles don’t usually turn up until at least the half marathon point, so I was fighting harder than usual just to keep my normal pace.
My sat nav watch seemed stuck, and I frequently looked only to find I’d moved about six yards since the last check.
In particular I seemed to freeze in painful limbo with five miles to go. Somehow I seemed to have that distance left for about 40 minutes – although I think I caused that by telling myself “just run to 25 miles and the rest will take care of itself” and therefore set that as my mental target.
Note to future self: The last mile does not take care of itself – it feels like being thrown down the stairs in a sack.
Highlights of the race include the bloke who dropped a banana and nearly caused a pile-up involving myself and about six other runners (almost taken down by an actual banana skin!) and the angry man who stopped about a mile from the end to swear at kids who sprayed us with water pistols (which I thought was quite nice of them really).
I don’t want to be negative, but I would like to say a special thank you to the total w*****s who put themselves down for very fast times then ambled round the course with all the speed and urgency of a koala hugging a tree. Just in case you’re wondering… yes, you’re in my f***ing way and no, I don’t think it should be illegal for me to mow you down.
The organisers of the Brighton Marathon are cruel. With about five miles to go the course takes a lap around Shoreham power station then turns back along the sea front for the “home straight”. The only problem is you can then see the pier (the finish line) as a tiny speck in the distance. I would have wept if I had any fluid in my body.
That said, the crowds by the roadside get busier and more enthusiastic as you head for the finish, and their encouragement helps a lot when your own willpower is failing – I could hardly let myself stop and walk so close to the end.
Anyway, the important thing is that it’s over and I have just one more session of slow torture before a summer of drinking Pimms and eating chip butties.
Massive thanks to Bashers and Aimee for taking me down to Brighton and getting me home in one piece – love you girls!
Watch this space for details of my London Marathon sweepstake, in which you can bet on my time and win a cash prize.
Running total: £1,720
… your alarm goes off at 5am on Easter Sunday and you have to drive to Hull.
I must admit I felt tired and pretty miserable looking at the dark, drizzly morning outside.
But there’s no time to dwell on mistakes when you’re busy making more, so I hopped out of bed and set off for my first of three marathons in three weeks.
Chauffered by a superb one-man support team – my older brother James – I headed for Hull city centre to finally get this show on the road.
I was poorly prepared, and had to borrow an iPod from James and pins to attach my runner number from a random lady, but the moment the race started I was back on familiar ground – running for extended periods of time is basically how I live my life now, and this time I felt fit and strong from the first step.
Following a bloke I nicknamed Smeagol (because he looked like Gollum from Lord Of The Rings), I stuck closely to my pace of running each mile in 7 minutes 30 seconds.
Based on my training times, I knew I could keep that up for 20 miles, which would leave me an hour for the last 6.2 miles if I was to beat my 3 hour 30 minute target.
I spent most of the race expecting to hit the infamous “wall” of exhaustion, but at 18 miles I was still going strong – and even decided to pick up the pace slightly.
I won’t lie – the last 6.2 miles (you really feel the .2) hurt like hell, but I wasn’t going to let my body give up. Other marathon runners may know the feeling of simply overruling your body’s instruction to slow down – I’d trained too hard for too long to give up so near the end.
I imagine I looked demented during the last few miles, but I kept going and eventually found myself back in the city centre.
With less than 1,000 runners in the race, I was lucky enough to find myself alone as I neared the finish – something you’d never get in a crowded race like London.
I felt totally elated as I crossed the line – high-fiving James as I did so – but immediately found myself unable to walk now the race was over.
It took me at least half an hour to get back to the car (not a personal best), once again assisted by James, who had popped up at various points in the race to cheer me on and had even acted as an extra marshal at one point!
Massive thanks to him for his support on the day. Two to go.
THIS time tomorrow, if all goes well, I’ll have finished the Hull Marathon.
After months of training and running errands, this is crunch time.
My mission is simple – complete the race in less than 3 hours 30 minutes.
I finished last year’s London Marathon in 3.33, so in theory I’ve got a good chance.
The problem is I’m not as fit as I was last time. I’ve been slower in training runs and have suffered a few annoying injuries – nothing serious, just enough to slow my progress.
But i do have some reasons to be hopeful.
Hull won’t be as crowded as London, with 1,000 runners instead of about 35,000.
London was hot last year – really hot in fact – and tomorrow’s forecast is for non-tropical conditions on Humberside.
And most importantly, I can pace myself better this time. I didn’t get my pace horribly wrong in 2011 but, between traffic and no sat nav, I started too slowly.
Following the standard advice, I have only run up to 20 miles in training – so I’ve devised my plan based on that. I know I can run 20 miles in 2.30 and that exactly what I plan to do.
That would leave me one hour to run six miles. Up to that point I’ll be running miles in 7 mins 30 seconds, so six miles at ten minutes a mile should be possible.
Obviously I’ll keep going at the same speed if I can, but at least I should have some leeway to slow down if I’m really struggling.
Regardless of my final time, the reason for all this is raising money for WaterAid – and I’ll reach that target even if the marathon takes me ten hours.
Running total: £1,600
I’M SO bloody busy!
Between training for three marathons, editing a newspaper, running errands and all the other things I’m trying to do, I have just a few hours each week to stop and think. In fact, the most peaceful moments I have are while I’m training – just about the only time when no one bothers me!
As a result of the time pressure I’ve become a bit lax about updating this blog, so I intend to catch up a bit now.
Last Thursday the aforementioned “evil genius” Simon Edmands kindly organised a “Wine Into Water” quiz in aid of Running Errands at South Street Wine Bar in Dorking.
More than 40 people took part and, with Simon arranging a host of money-making activities, £500 was raised. I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to Simon and everyone who turned up. I was amazed and delighted at the amount of money collected.
Even better, I managed to get through the evening without being forced into any embarrassing errands (though some people were trying to make me sing Red Red Wine by UB40).
The same cannot be said for my weekend.
On Saturday morning I drove a minibus to Wales for the annual trip to watch Cefn Druids FC, something my university friends have done every year since 2001. Seeing the opportunity to publicly embarrass me, they offered a tenner each for me to dress as a Druid. As this whole venture is for charity, I could hardly turn them down.
The day went fine and my shame faded as I got used to my ridiculous outfit – though I presented the “man of the match” award and I can’t imagine what people must have thought about the fact I was wearing a hooded robe. The good news is that another £100 was raised – so thanks to all the lads who donated.
After all the silly stuff, the serious side is fast approaching. My first marathon is just 11 days away and somehow the memory of how much it hurt last time is growing clearer. I’m busy now, but the next few weeks will test just how much I can do.
Running total: £1,216.19
BEFORE today’s training run I selected a red T-shirt because of an unpleasant experience I remembered from last year.
It rained heavily during one of my long training runs in 2011 and, though I thought I looked like a hero pounding through the downpour, I actually looked like a bloke in a white T-shirt with two red blotches on the front.
That’s right sports fans: the combination of wet shirt and running 20 miles had resulted in bleeding nipples – and it tells you a lot about the pain of running such distances that I didn’t even notice until I saw my reflection when I reached my front door.
It was raining when I set off today, so I made a late switch to prevent a repeat of that embarrassing event (in case anyone is interested, cut nipples take a surprisingly long time to heal!)
For anyone who has not stopped reading by this point due to sudden nausea, the weather dried up and I suffered no chest-area injuries today.
Even better, I posted my first good time of this year’s training, completing 18 miles in 2 hours 16 minutes – just outside 3:15 marathon pace. I know I won’t actually run the full 26.2 miles at that speed, but it’s good to know I can do more than two thirds at just over 7 minutes 30 seconds per mile.
If I can do that on the race days, even with the natural slow-down towards the end, I might get close to last year’s 3:33.
I actually felt good for most of today’s run – though my left knee and ankle are complaining bitterly now. I hope I still feel good five weeks tomorrow, the day of the Hull Marathon.
ACCORDING to my 2011 training plan, I ran 18 miles in 2:08 this time last year. On Sunday, I ran 17 in 2:15.
You don’t have to be my running satnav thingy to see that’s much slower, and with just over a month left until the first race my chances of getting anywhere near last year’s time are looking slim. And I really wanted to win the race this year.
To make matters worse, I’ve got about 68 persistent little injuries which make me unsure whether I should train or rest – though I usually choose to train because doing something is easier than doing nothing when you’re worried.
But no-one said this was going to be easy, and in fact the hard part is still to come, so I’ll just keeping putting one foot in front of the other and hoping my body follows.
The fundraising situation is much the same – but again all I can do is run as many errands as possible (though I now have about 15 seconds free time per week… anyone got any jobs that I can fit into that time?)
If anyone has a time-travelling DeLorean, a massive pile of money or a horse I can ride round the marathon courses, now’s the time to tell me…
Running total: £616.19
I NEVER suffered any injury or illness during last year’s London Marathon training (or during the race itself).
This time, sadly, things are different.
With two months to go until the first of my three races, I’ve already suffered pain in my feet, ankles, shins, knees and even an area which has led me to rethink my underwear selection.
The worst part is that my longest run so far was just under 13 miles – so I have a long way to go whichever way I look at it.
I don’t know if my body’s apparent reluctance to run 78.6 miles over three consecutive Sundays is due to being a year older than last time, the stresses of having done this before or just bad luck, but the challenge ahead is looking ever more ominous.
To make matters worse, I’ve been struck down with “manflu” in the last few days. As well as stopping my training, this has meant sleepless nights caused by a fever and persistent coughing – and lying awake has given me plenty of time to worry about the “Running Errands” project.
I’ve only raised £500 of the £2,000 I need, I still haven’t run so much as a half marathon in training, my knees both ache and I’ve got no idea if I’m going to recover properly between the three races when the time comes (after all, in training you’re supposed to do your last long run two weeks before the race to give your legs time to repair).
There’s a lot to worry about, but perhaps the best place to do that worrying is out on the road or on the treadmill, where I can turn anxiety into effort.
I don’t know for certain that I’ll cross the London finish line having run my three races and raised the all-important money for WaterAid. All I can do is keep running and hope for the best.
Running total: £508.76
RUNNING marathons is bad for your health. It puts great pressure on your ankles, hips, social life and – as I have just discovered – knees.
I had always planned to give up football long before my marathons but, while I was playing the other night, I felt something wrong with my left knee.
After much poking and Google self-diagnosis, I concluded that I have one of the following: patellar tendonitis or yellow fever (I’m leaning towards the former, but I include the latter just to be thorough).
Although the injury is not very painful, I’m acutely aware how much a minor injury can hurt if you run 26 miles on it, so I have given up football until April 22 (the day of my third and final marathon).
After retiring from football, I visited Run To Live in Ashtead. They provided my trainers for last year’s marathon and I never suffered even the slightest injury in training.
I tested a selection of trainers and was filmed each time on their treadmill to see which were best. I then bought the tyres that are going to carry me round the Hull, Brighton and London courses in April (provided I don’t actually have yellow fever).
I’m currently taking a few days off running – which I admit has been very pleasant – and when I return I’ll be wearing a fetching knee support or hopping. But whatever happens I intend to complete the three races.
On the fundraising front, I’ve got a charity day and a pub quiz planned, but I’m always keen to run more errands and raise more money for WaterAid, so please let me know if you have any suggestions.
Running total: £502.76