Tuesday, 26 April 2011

I am a marathon runner

It's now Monday afternoon, and my legs are beginning to seize up as todays dose of Ibuprofen wares off. While the marathon is (painfully) fresh in my memory I thought I would jot down the gory details, and also to reflect on what I will take away (which seems to be this years buzz word).

So I completed the marathon, and it was bloody hard. The weather yesterday was glorious, for everyone spectating. The view from the runner was that I could have done with a little more of the glorious weather being saved for when I had the opportunity to enjoy it, the bank holiday weekends spring to mind.

The experience was really interesting, went down to London early on Saturday, registered at Excel and went round their exhibition of all things running related, this got me all the more excited for the following day's event, listening to motivational speakers galore. Afternoon was a bit of pottering round London, enjoying international record store day and cursing my blackberries slow internet access as I followed Birmingham's excellent victory over Sunderland. In the evening I got together my final preparations, realised it was going to be sunny and so had to decide whether to wear my running vest or my running top, rather than both. Top won out as the vest was a little snug and when I tried it on the outcome was a little camp for my liking. It was probably a good job as writing my name on my running vest with a permanent marker left the vest with a decidedly hallucinogenic effect when trying it on, and then when I tried to wash the smell off it turned out that the permanent pen was anything but (the Hilton sink had a very black tide mark as a result). So the decision was set, I was running in an old Blues shirt, I had a good meal of Pizza to stock up on carbs and went to bed suitably nervous but excited.

And then yesterday, the day of the Marathon, everyone in London seemed to be wandering around with red virgin plastic bags, and we congregated at the starting point. Due to my pessimism when signing up 6 months ago, my starting position on the grid was at the back, right at the back, I started running next to Brian the snail from the magic roundabout, a fire engine and an 8 foot tall pink nurse called Rob.

9:45 came and off we set, I knew that it was warm, so I set a pace for myself with my lovely new Nike plus watch that was slower than my half marathon paces, to try to take this into account and spent a few miles taking in the atmosphere, I could feel it getting hotter, but I kept thinking that was fine as I had put in the miles in training, was taking it relatively easy and drinking at each drinks station. However at about 10 miles I realised that perhaps the heat was going to be quite a big factor for someone carrying a decent amount of timber! I had been sweating quite a bit, and the joy of sweat laced with suntan cream stinging my eyes must have made me look like I had begun crying very early in the race, but I carried on, and getting to tower bridge at half way was a real boost - having to run less than I had run already is normally a massive psychological boost for me, but in this instance it was not the greatest, as I just felt knackered. In fact I felt really empty, as if I had burnt up all the fuel in my body, so I had a little panic for half a mile, and came up with a plan.

I then started running at the side of the course and grabbed any good sources of nourishment offered from the crowd that I could. I have never been so over the moon to see a small child handing out jelly babies or an old dear with her bowl of opal fruits. Funnily enough this, coupled with the handing out of 'lucozade gel packs' (basically this seems to be refresher sweets in gel format) gave me a renewed lease of life and I continued for another few miles, having slowed my pace accordingly.

Until mile 17, I turned a bend and felt a squelch in my foot, which I knew from experience was a blow out (or great big blister exploding). So I was now knackered and in pain, and decided to slow the pace down, well I didn't, my body suggested I might want to. I passed a young lad handing out jaffa cakes, and was reminded of a recent Dave Gorman piece on his radio about what was the right way to eat them, (separating the orange bit and letting it dissolve, or full moon, half moon, total eclipse) the answer I found was ram it into my mouth as quickly as possible, barely stopping to chew.

I was now playing mind games with myself, as the need to walk a bit in between running kicked in at about 19 miles, games like walk this song and then start running, or walk until a mile marker and then run the next mile, it was challenging to say the least. In addition I had some merry battles with the 8 foot tall nurse Rob, a couple of Rhino's, a chap covered in poppies, a tiger and a bloke dressed in pink with a tutu and a bucket. It may sound stupid, but when walking and passed by any of the above it does spur one into action, slow action I will grant you, but action non the less.

And then I was in the final 3 miles, which I ran all of, and it was tough, my mind flicked to loads of different things, but quite often to the huge amount of sponsorship from people and how I wanted to do people proud in that respect, I reckon so far I am at about £2.5k in sponsorship money which exceeded what the Miscarriage association expected, and which has made me feel really humbled by the support.

Into the last mile, then 800 yards, 600 yards, 400 yards, turn the corner, game face on, 385 yards, smiling at the first official photographer, 200 yards, arms aloft for the next 100 yards and in arms raised triumphantly (having checked that on either side there was noone who would make me look stupid in my official photo, I am not ashamed to admit that I ran significantly faster on that element of the run because of the bloke wholly atired in pink with a pink bucket and tu tu mincing down the mall, and the chance that he would be in my official photo.) My time, 5 hours and 8 minutes, the longest 5 hours and 8 minutes of my life, and most painful.

and it was over, I was handed my medal, got my bag, slumped to the ground and then ate everything edible that they provided. I called Claire (Mrs P) and got an excited Dylan and Evie shouting 'well done daddy down the phone' (they had watched the coverage running round the lounge in circuits Dylan being me, Evie being Auntie Lynny (my sister who some of you know who also ran, and ran a good steady pace throughout, she ran the perfect marathon in my opinion! )

Me and Lyn went to her charity get together after, had some pasta and a well received sports massage, well received by me, I think that the masseur would have been less than enamoured to have a less than fragrant brummie struggling to get onto the massage table. Onto the train to come home, which was a little painful (steps at Euston anyone) I cracked open a warm can of London Pride - not my drink of choice, but one of the nicest alcoholic drinks I can ever remember after my recent abstinence.

I dutifully updated my facebook page to let my friends know I was alive and then was inundated and personally overwhelmed by the response, so many people said such nice things that I began walking very tall (although with more of a John Wayne gait due to blisters and stiffness) and wishing that I could have had those people around the course for the last 13 or so miles for support. This has continued, today at work everyone had stopped and asked me how things went, lots of praise, and the inevitable question, have you been bitten by the bug, and the answer to that is no. Thats it, its been a long road since I started training (2 years) and 16 weeks of full on training, giving up time with the family (and drinking) so I have achieved my ambition, raised a money for charity and have a warm glow.

So I am a marathon runner, and always will be.

Thanks for all of your support, it really has meant a lot to me.



Oh my god - its close to running time!

Its not long now till the big day, its only 23 days away which is pretty scary. The training is going well 19.3 miles at the weekend to be precise which was a long way. Its got to the stage where I am having to have a think about the food I eat the day before a big run as a nice portion of Egg Fu Yung and chips didn't fill me with the required 'fuel' (a running term) to spring round the course. Luckily Pasta is one of my favourites and its rare that I justify having a big bowl of Macaroni Cheese as one of my five a day. The other fuel I found worked very well for 19 miles was one of the pink neurofen pills my wife was given when having our second child, the miles just fly.

I get asked a lot whether I will run the full distance before hand and all the advice is not to, just to ensure you have done between 19 and 20 miles before the day and trail off, so thats positive, and also whats my expected time, I don't know but I was dead on 3 hours for the 19 miles if thats any guide, (I can't believe I ran for 3 hours without stopping).

I have encountered my first injury, significant blisters, although interestingly I got the blisters on my heels from standing around all day at Cheltenham last Friday, I am not sure why I didn't realise until I woke up the following morning, probably due to the medicinal properties of the wonderful Guinness.

Its been a challenge going through busy season whilst maintaining this rigourous regime, and inconveniently Birmingham City have decided to win a load of cup games to increase my viewing pleasure most weekends. I did find that it all caught up with me a few weeks back and I spent all Sunday in bed feeling like I had the worst hangover in years when in actual fact I hadn't touched a drop.

A particularly demoralising experience over the last month has been seeing Sir Rannalph Fiennes speaking (twice), now Sir Rannalph is an excellent Orator, but when you get to hear how he ran 7 marathons, in 7 days on 7 continents 6 months after major heart surgery you feel like the moaning about this training regime is misplaced, and despite his rousing comments I will not be planning to enter any more endurance events after this one.

An amazing aspect of the running is that I have still managed not to have any alcohol in 2011, well I say I haven't there are some caveats I have given myself, a glass of champagne with Noddy Holder, a fine glass of Carling with my Dad at Wembley to celebrate winning the Carling Cup, my GADM project leaving do (quite a lot of Peroni and a couple of Baileys and ice which I was mercilessly ribbed about) and Cheltenham's fine Guinness.

I'm coming up for my 40th year this year and as many will do, you look to experience lots of different things before you are 40, running the marathon will be one for me, but on a much lesser scale towards the end of my run on Saturday a couple of weeks ago I experienced clearing my nose like a professional football player for the first time, which was a strangely uplifting experience after all those miles, however probably not for the little old couple who I hadn't noticed wandering along on the other side of the street and witnessed the full effect.

Another interesting fact I have found is that the streets seemed only to be populated at pre 7:00am with old men walking to buy newspapers, I see loads of them, and noone looked younger than 60, a whole different world.

Well into Training, sponsorship to the ready

Thank you for your sponsorship for my running of the London Marathon, I didn't want to just take your money and run, as it were, so thought it may be helpful to provide you with an update on training so far so that you can see that i) I am taking this seriously and deserve your sponsorship and ii) you can continue to give me support when my enthusiasm may wane in the coming few months (75 days to go and counting!)

The good news is that I appear to be on track with most things, I spent a day in London meeting the experts on Saturday to hear top tips of past runners, Olympic runners, organisers, charity officials etc. Also I got the opportunity to run around in my socks in a gym while my running style was assessed and the lovely people from Adidas sold me some very reasonable (their words) lime green trainers (to be fair they will also give £40 to charity if I cross the line in them, finish line I presume not start).
Being on track is challenging, it seems to mean:

i) running at least 3 times a week (check, been doing that since Christmas),
ii) building up your distance running (check, been doing that too - on Sunday I ran a half marathon round Sutton, on my own and was below 2 hours comfortably which was something I never thought I would say)
iii) getting sponsorship as you go along, with gift aid ticked (check)
iv) Telling everyone you will be doing the run (check - you will by now know I am becoming a marathon bore)

Some of the other joyous things I have learned so far whilst running are

i) heat does indeed leak out of your head on a cold day, especially if you have not hair - a little blue hat is essential
ii) sunrise over Sutton in January happens between 6:30 and 7:00 on the 30 Jan and is quite picturesque (I saw this on my way home on my Sunday run which started very early)
iii) the Chester Road is really long and straight and dumps you in Pipe Hayes, 4 miles from home, if you do not pay attention to where you are running (witness my longest, unplanned, 18 mile run last week)
iv) if you tell people you are running the Marathon, all your Christmas presents will be made out of special material to stop chaffing (they will include hat, snood, bottle, gloves, florescent jacket, top, ipod holder, sport headphones, lycra type trousers (lovely) and special socks)
v) you need to wear the items you have been bought for Christmas to prevent nipples hurting like anything in the shower after a run
vi) I can give up alcohol for more than a couple of days (I have only had 1 drink this year, being a glass of Champagne with Noddy Holder - well it would be rude not to)

The realisation of the task of a Marathon

Hello, its just about sinking in now, in 183 days I will be running 26.2 miles, why you may ask would I want to do this??

Well I love achievements, and have always wanted to run a marathon, ever since I was little. BUT I thought my time had passed, 37 and knackered chasing Dylan round the Garden did not suggest this was the way forward.

However a few drinks, and I agreed to sign up to the Birmingham Half Marathon last year, and I told loads of people, so peer pressure and ipod & nike's collaboration meant I spent 6 months training and did the half marathon in under 2 hours (37 seconds under 2 hours).

I felt this was a massive achievement, raised a lot of money for charity (people did not believe I could finish) and continued my running, and have a place in the London Marathon next April.

This is really going to be a massive challenge, look at my profile picture, I look knackered and I haven't even managed half the 26 miles at the time. As this is going to be a massive challenge I want to raise some money for a worthy cause, I don't plan to do this again!

My charity is the Miscarriage Association, who help people at one of the most challenging times in life (said talking from experience) so please give generously.

I have included a link to a video montage of Team Philpott messages to give you something to hold over me as blackmail in due course which may raise a smile.

Finally, please feel free (please do) to ask me how my trainings going, I respond well to peer pressure and its bloody cold running in winter so I need the encouragement.


Sunday, 24 April 2011

I spy with my Beady Eye

The first of 2 long bank holiday weekends and by Easter Sunday I am suitably chilled and up to see Beady Eye, or diet oasis (without Noel). Arriving in Wolverhampton not having managed to do my homework with the album, I wondered what Liam Gallagher would have in store, wandering towards the gig you could tell it was going to be a big one as the streets were filled with a beered up mod army, with amounts of hair on show that made me feel folically challenged for a change rather than simply old.

Getting into the gig I was very chuffed to find that I had booked a balcony seat, front and centre to see the gig, and even better the bar upstairs was one deep in queue and the bar maid asked me over the chap in fronts shoulder before I even had chance to get ready for a pint of Fosters. After 4 months enforced abstinence the beer was suitably lovely.

Settled in for the support, Steve Craddock from Ocean Colour Scene, he was ok, nowt to write home about until he got enthused about the last song which was a pretty good tune. What he didn't explain was the 10 years old kid sat next to the keyboard player not playing the sleigh bells in time, I sat their all Dad wondering if he had ear protectors on.

The build up to Beady Eye was very well done, a building of mod anthems, the Jam's that's entertainment, Sex Pistols God Save the Queen, and finally the Stone Roses I am the resurrection which whipped up the crowd into a frenzy, beery chants of Liam, Liam broke out, a huge intro tune followed by Liam and band walking on. At that point the crowd erupted in beer, loads of beer flew, and what made it more of a spectacle was that Wolves Civic Hall were serving beer in 3 pint pots.

The first 3 songs were very tight, banging songs, with Liam doing exactly what the crowd wanted and expected, having perfect attitude whilst standing immaculately in a Parker looking cool as fuck. Gem and Andy Bell flanked Liam looking quite assured and the tunes really bashed out of the speakers, and you could see this was going to be a first class gig.

A highlight Was the song Bring the Light with it's driving chorus of 'baby come on' and the piano being thumped out like it's supporting Little Richard or Jerry Lee Lewis. The piece de resistance was the backing film for it was impressive with 3 dancers looking like the 3 degrees bouncing round, cracking.

As the gig rolled on, it flew by, each song crafted either to sound like an Oasis song, or a song stolen from a classic band, Beatles, Stones, Who etc. But it really worked, and the band knew it, Liam seemed suitably impressed with the crowd, saying something that was met with cheers before the encore and then at the end, but for the final song he did climb down into the audience before leaving stage right, pretty cool.

All in all, a quality gig, with a really Hugh atmosphere. I only remember the Garbage gig there coming close ever (being their second gig in the uk when arriving for their debut album tour which was electric). Seeing Liam up close like this, without a football fields worth of people like Knebworth or V festival was great. Who cares this was Oasis light, I am quite a big fan of diet coke.