Monday, 23 April 2012

London Morph Mara 2012

If I could give two pieces of advice twice the first lot would be to never run a marathon and certainly never run a marathon in a Morphuit. At 17 miles yesterday I would impress that advice wholeheartedly on anybody. It's so very hard to remember specifics and the bad bits are fast drifting off into obscurity but it went a little something like this....
Friday I picked up my contact lenses from Specsavers. They have been brilliant sponsoring my kit for VLM and collecting sponsorship for me! Never worn contacts before so the plan was to wear them Saturday to get used to them and then wear them on the day. Nothing like being prepared although bearing in mind I had never run in my marathon outfit before there were a few standard marathon tips I was ignoring.
Saturday morning I packed all the essentials, Happy T picked me up with Jenna and off we went to Happy's mate's house in Hounslow via the Expo and registration. That all went smoothly enough. No stresses - number collected - tag collected and I was in! We arrived at Rachel & Derricks who I had never met before and they made me feel very much at home meaning I could really chill out. While Rachel, Happy, Jenna & Emily got hammered and giggly Derrick and I chilled out watching El Classico while I had my last pasta/mushroom/sundried tomato combo meal. Nothing too heavy as i didnt want to feel it the next day.
Had a call with Mrs B and the rugs wishing me all the best.It was a shame they couldnt make it but I never really run without them!
Twitter, FB and real life exploded Saturday evening with support encouragement and sponsorship. £3500 has gone on my sponsorship page for this event alone taking the overall total to £5150. It's made me hopeful that I can reach £7500 with Outlaw as well! Thank you everone for the overwhelming support! So, off to sleep very relaxed, alarm set for 6.10am on race day.
Woke up on time, chilled, no real nerves. Breakfast of wholemeal toast and strawberry jam, porridge with jam and banana and a Lucozade sport. Greased up and into the Morphsuit and with 2 drinks to run with in my pocket Happy and Emily dropped me at the tube station just gone 8. I saw a few runners initially but no talkative ones and then had a good chat with a runner doing his 4th London while on the DLR to Greenwich. After a brief uphill walk into Greenwich park I was at the red start Pen 7 with 5mins to go before the off! I asked a St John member to look after my drinks whilst I strained my greens one last time, he was then kind enough to zip me up and off I went to the start. Now bear in mind I look like this
The best news for me was that it wasn't raining. If a morphsuit gets wet you cant breath through it. That was my biggest fear. My second biggest concern was bright sunshine (it lights up the mesh and you can't see) and it was a blistering sunny day! As I got into Pen 7 a runner asked if she could take my picture. Of course I agreed and tried to suggest she look me up on FB to tag me in the picture afterwards. I resigned myself to the fact that she would never remeber my awkward name and I would probably never see the picture. Incredibly through mutual running Twitter pals she has tracked me down. Thank you @lisajderrick for the words of encouragement at the start and for your top detective work to get this pic to me

So I joined the masses moving towards the start. I had lots of words of encouragement and suggestions of insanity. I could see reasonably well in the shade but barely at all in the sun, breathing was ok with the headband inside just cushioning the suit on my face enough for it not to be too restrictive. The only way I can describe it is how bank robbers used to look on TV with stockings over their heads. Your nose is squashed flat and the suit is tight to your face. Your eyelashes catch on the inside of the suit. Its very claustraphobic and removes any peripheral vision. In fact with the sun out all I could really do was concentrate on the feet of the runner infront.
From the starting gun it took about 20 mins for us to cross the start. I clicked my Garmin on and off I went. Steady steady steady! The plan being to take it very easy due to the disrupted prep resulting in a 15 day 6 run training schedule! I was running comfortably I felt. I couldn't see any undulations in the road so any speed bumps were a suprise to me and the chance of tripping was high. I did stumble up a speed bump just after mile 1 which aggravated my bad ankle but not enough for me to be worried. It was run off pretty quickly.
Vision was a nightmare and each sip of drink through the suit only delivered a drop of liquid. I made an early decision to stop at drink stations, remove the hood, drink properly and then pop the hood back on and resume. I also decided to run at the sides of the course for two reasons. Firstly it would stop the numpty heads from crossing infront of me and tripping me up but more importantly I was near to the crowds. They were phenominal. High fives, thumbs up and shouts of 'Go on Sid my son' were the order of the day. I dont think I will ever tire of the wonderfully funny 'Should have gone to Specsavers Sid' shouts. I only had about 3000 of those!
Anyway, having now looked at the Garmin data of the run I was probably running a little bit quicker than I had planned. The first part of the run went well. I felt comfortable in my running and was getting by on vision and hydration. Unfortunately I couldnt see the mile markers and i was somewhat gutted to see that the point I guesstimated to be 10 miles was only 6! That was the first blip but I was still running OK, I just slowed a little. My first target was halfway and Tower Bridge - I should have broken it down more because the last few miles to that point were tough and seemed to drag. There were wonderful moments all the time. The crowds encouragement, other runners encouragement, the odd conversation with runners as to why i was doing it and why they were carrying a horse, or dragging a boat or dressed as Micky Mouse, or running barefoot, but the moments of isolation and self doubt were beginning to creep in. Despite the wonderful attention and support the suit attracted it makes you feel very insular and separate. Any moments where I wasnt high fiving the crowd or chatting to someone it was a torturous place to be.
I made a point of congratulating any runner in fancy dress, the ones that make the run harder not just wearing a ra ra skirt or carrying pom poms, and always cheer on the squaddies running/yomping with full pack on. One such squaddie was to pass me two or three times during pit stops and I caught up with him at the end to congratulate him.
I got to Tower Bridge eventually and was hopeful of seeing Happy, Jenna and Emily on the bridge. They were hoping to get to the right hand side so I ran on that side and high fived everyone on the bridge. The atmosphere there was probably the best of what was fantastic support everywhere else already. I ran past Denise Lewis interviewing a runner on live TV - gutted to have missed my chance to get on the box for the charity but I wasnt prepared to go back to her as I was getting a second wind from the crowd. Another boost came on the way to the Isle of Dogs when @Jaymcneill, a longstanding pal from Twitter who I had missed at L'pool Marathon patted me on the back and said Hi! We had a good chat, he enabled me to drink while running by holding my drinks while I removed the hood on the move. It was nice to be running without the hood but of course it had to go back on. Jay was running well, he looked strong and I suggested that unless he wants a 6 hour marathon to his name that he kick on at his pace. He ran a good mile or so with me and then did just that wishing me well. Top lad!
Unfortunately it wasnt long after that the wheels began to come off. I think it was in the area of the Isle of Dogs (why is it called that I didnt see one dog there?) that the crowds dwindled, more and more people were walking and quite a few were dropping out. One man on the phone to his partner was explaining he was pulling out due to a groin strain, another man being hooked up to a drip by paramedics roadside, and another on a stretcher being placed in an ambulance. The heat was full on and everyone was feeling it. I was stopping to stretch and hydrate more and more often. At 17 miles or so I had had enough. My form was poor, everything was beginning to ache, the suit was pissing me right off and I was annoyed that I was already down to 'end of E'burgh marathon plod pace'. I was getting tearful at the slightest thing. My own thoughts, the reason for my running, a sign on the roadside saying 'this one's for you Mom', the fact that I may fail. I was seriously doubting that I could finish, seriously contemplating pulling out (after all it was effin hot, I was in a stupid suit and I hadn't trained properly - no one would critisize me for doing so if I had given it my all) and seriously wondering how the fuck I think I can do an Ironman triathlon in 10weeks time. I took the hood off, had a drink and decided to walk from 17-18. I didn't put the hood back on while I walked and stopped to stretch a few times whilst considering what to do. I did remember I had jelly babies in my pocket and had about half of them while I walked and washed them down. This was the point I decided I was going to finish this.
Nothing special happened, no inspirational thought popped into my head as they were all there already and written all over me, no special shout of 'go on sid'. I do remember being angry when the crowd shout 'go on you're doing great' when I'm walking. Its like I am cheating when of course I am not. So I decided to run, regardless of how slow it was, even if it was slower than some walkers I decided I would run. I began to break the race down into miles knowing that after 18,19 & 20 I would be getting near to friends spectating that I knew.17,18 & 19 were horrendous miles, emotional and tearful (luckily no-one can see that because of the suit) but I was moving and when I was moving I was running (in a fashion) not walking. I started to engage the crowd more, ask them to hold my drink while I de-hooded for a drink, I absorbed their fantastic unwavering support, took the high five offers, waved at the little kids and wierdly began to enjoy it a bit.
I was gutted that I couldn't find Mr Happy at 20 and @2012milesin2012 at 20.12 but the thought of seeing them had done the trick of getting me there. At 21 ish I stopped and de-hooded for a drink and polished off the last of the Jelly Babies. A little girl was with her Dad and asked why I wss dressed funny. I explained why and she said she liked my outfit and she wished me luck! Wow.
I cracked on and whilst slow I felt I was running comfortably. The crowds were getting huge and the support immense. I was milking it to the max when I saw Happy, Jenna and Emily at 23. Welcome hugs after I ran back against the flow, a last drink and off I went. 3miles to go home stretch. Seeing them was a perfect boost.

I milked every bit of the Embankment through to the end. I ran clapping and thanking the specators who were magnificent and each time I did they got even louder. As i ran the last 365 yards I asked a marshall if the red thing was the actual finish line and he confirmed it was. I'll be honest I have never felt so relieved.
I crossed the finish, the cameras caught it if you went red button on the BBC after normal coverage and the Morph had conquered, in a fashion, London Marathon for BCH. Usual walk through, get medal, hug medal lady and burst into tears, get bag, hug bag man and burst into tears, have official photo, hug photographer and burst into tears, find quiet spot near St Johns tent and...yep...burst into tears!

If you ran that day, lined the course and supported, or helped organise it, or watched it on TV, or followed runners progress online, or sponsored someone, or sent them a good luck message then I applaud you and thank you.
Here is the actual run data
My heart goes out to the family of a lady called Claire who collapsed near mile 26 and died. I think she was running for the Samaritans. Such very very sad news. As I have said before we choose our battles knowing the risks to try in some small way to help those fighting battles without choice. Her death is quite a sacrifice!
London Marathon in a Morphsuit was as tough as hell and ulimately fanastic and rewarding. My second two points of advice are firstly that you should definitely run a marathon! Secondly you should definitely run one in a Morphsuit!
Ironman next - come on then if you think you're hard enough. Yeah!

Monday, 16 April 2012

VLM Morph!

I went on a rain soaked 4.5 mile run last Thursday during my lunch hour. Got a bit pissed off and nearly cut it short and then reminded myself I am graced with #TNSG Awesomness and kept on. Seriously the thought of my niece and her struggles and @12pmclub who died after the Reading Half were plenty to force me to buck my ideas up!
I then had my first Sports Massage (do you have to say 'Sports' just so it doesnt sound back street Selly Oak mucky massage?). I'll be honest it hurt like hell as my back was sorted out! They are doing my legs this Thursday to have me as ready as I can be for VLM.
So, due to injury my VLM training has consisted of a 4.5 miler on 3rd April, 7.5 miler on 6th April, 10 miler on 10th April, a 4.5 miler on 12th April and yesterday (15th) a 15.5 miler. That kind of completes my marathon training for this years VLM! Ive researched a few training plans and this appears to be the 1st 12 day marathon training plan. To be fair I will sneak a gentle 5 or 6 in tomorrow and a 3 on Thursday but that is effectively it. Bearing in mind I had not run further than 10 miles since Liverpool Marathon last October I was really pleased at how the 15.5 went. 2hrs 30 mins so not too slow either. Big thanks to John Phillips who ran with me as I may not have been able to do it on my own. Back seems ok, ankle aching but no worse than after the shorter runs. I will now be ignoring my ankle regardless! Countdown now for Sunday when all I need to do is tag 11 miles on to yesterdays run and I am there! Just tag a green laner on and thats it. Say it fast it sounds easy but bear in mind I shall be wearing this:-
Its an all in one Morphsuit that I have had printed with the Birmingham Childrens Hospital logo on the front, Specsavers over the eyes (kindly sponsoring me for the run). The back has these messages printed left and right of the centre zip:-
These kids I am running for have all been or are being treated at BCH. Poppy of course is my niece, Abi is a family friend who was on my Liverpool Marathon shirt, Harry who of course raised a phenominal amount for BCH and would chat with everyone on Twitter and who sadly lost his battle with a brain tumour last year, and Tilly-Grace the daughter of Louise who works at Specsavers. They are a big reason as to why I run.
My associates @JWUltra @Ajh1269 @Scotlassruns @Toria35 @Runner786 are there because they have all had a hand in helping/encouraging/frightening me with their running feats. I have limited room otherwise there would be 100's of you on there. You know who you are and I will get round to having you all on various shirts as each challenge is tackled.
Motivated by my much better half Mrs Brightside and the rugs Ellie Belle and G Man. I cant really put into words just how much support and encouragement they give me.
Is that it? A thought I am sure goes through my printers head. Not quite. This is on the back too:-

If you see me shout hi please 'cause I will be in an isolated world of hurt in there and every bit of encouragement will be a fantastic boost. Better still text RUNS99 £10 to 70070 ;-) I must thank Sewsoon Embroidery for the prinitng it is brilliant and I do appreciate it as my prints get more extravagent!
I am sure I will drop a blog Fri or Sat as the nerves take control. I really hope that everyone running London or anywhere else really enjoys it and finishes safely!
If you're finding it hard I think thats how its supposed to be. We have a choice to run but many of the people needing the charities we run for don't have a choice for their battles! Dont waste yours - win it!
Finally, if you see a video of me in the bath on FB share it with your friends (look me up Sid 'Poppyfields' Sidowski), if you see a #heartwarming video clip on Twitter retweet it (as Samuel L Jackson did the other day! I know!) and feel free to share this link with the world
Thankyou you're all effin awesome!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

11 Day Countdown!

Thats how long I have to get from 10 miles to 26.2 for London Marathon. Factor in a bit of taper and my days are numbered.
After last weeks return to running and the associated thigh ache my next outing was just the confidence boost I needed. Friday morning 7am Sutton Park with #TNSG aka @jwultra @ajh1269 @madot1 @jules_perox. Freezing temperatures meant I had to scrape the car but the sun was coming up a treat. It was a good run at about 10 mins/mile pace which was perfect as I try and increase distance for VLM. I picked the brains of these Ultrarunners, TiT's and Outlaws. They run with a smile and have a laugh all the way round which is how running should be. TNSG are awesome (their words ;-) ), they do things like run 30 mile Ultra races twice in 2 days just because a friend cant make the scheduled race day, they recount training accidents (such as when @madlot1 's mate fell of his mountain bike and @madlot1 didnt even stop), they constantly rib each other about the lovely views and how each of them is more awesome than the other. They run for fun (if thats possible). As a consequence the run flies by. Even had a chance to stop for a breather (something I should get used to for VLM/Outlaw) after chasing @jules_perox up the hill section from the rail tracks to the golf course. I was left in his dust but it was good to put a fast section in there to test the legs and heart! Ankle seemed fine and back fine. Thighs fine and it felt like I had plenty left in me (as I will need to have!). Sadly @ajh1269 has had to pull out of VLM due to injury and none of them are doing Outlaw this year. I was hoping for friendly words of encouragement as they lap me in these events but instead I may well have 'AWESOME' written somewhere to give me a boost. TNSG team -

My ankle slowly became more painful throughout the day so I bought a support bandage. This seems to help and I tested it on a run yesterday. A solo 10 miler again at almost exactly 10 mins/mile. I deliberately tried to go slow/steady to get distance in without any problems. I had to stop and lie down at about 5.5 miles to clear a bout of the stitch. It worked a treat. The run went well and the only after effects are the ankle. I have decided to ignore it. I have booked a 'repair' sports massage for tomorrow night to try and overcome the niggles, I have booked a 'prepare' massage pre VLM to give the legs the best chance of doing 26.2 and I have booked a 'recovery' massage for after VLM to speed up my recovery so I can get some intensive work in for Outlaw. Lets hope it helps.
I am planning on organising a sweepstake on my VLM finishing time. Probably gonna be £2 a go with the winner getting a games console. Details to follow but should have it sorted by the weekend.
In other news I have withdrawn from the JOG - LE relay cycle due to Guinness Records shifting the goal posts and the new challenge simply being too much for the novice cyclist that I am. I do wish them all the luck in the world with it though and I hope they can stick a finger up at Guinness when they finish. Also I am now at 492/2012 for @2012milesin2012 and unconnected my eye has done this -

Finally by way of a lurgy update I have now finished treatment and should see the specialist in 6 weeks hopefully for the all clear. Its looking much improved but still stings occasionally and throbs when running but nothing of concern.
I'm off to stress about when, how far, how hard I should train over the next 11 days. Next blog should include VLM morph. Cheers all the best.
PS good luck to everyone running Paris,Brighton,Manchester mara's. In fact good luck to everyone pushing themselves beyond limits!

Thursday, 5 April 2012


Thats the only way I can describe my legs. I ran on Tuesday lunchtime a little 4.5 miler. It was my first outing of any sort for exactly 4 weeks due to my enforced lay off due to my ankle and more importantly back injury. My ankle seemed fine and my back about 85% recovered and with no time left before VLM I had to get out!
The run itself went well. 8.5 min/mile a bit quicker than I had intended but for the rest of the day after the run I felt fine. Also broke in the new trainers Asics Nimbus Gel 13 which felt brilliant!

Yesterday morning however my thighs were and still are screaming. Ridiculously they're as bad as if I had run 20 miles! This curtailed any hopes of a whizz out on the bike yesterday or today. I am running around Sutton Park tomorrow morning with #TNSG @madlot1 @jwultra @jules_perox @ajh1269. Its a good 7.5 mile route and I just hope I am up to it. I dont really have a choice with only 17 days to go before VLM I at least need to get up to about 16 miles by next weekend (the week before VLM) so for VLM itself I only have to tag on a final 10 miler. Easy if you say it quick! I think I now need to man up and just run through the pain. Tomorrow will be telling!
In other news I am now going to do VLM in fancy dress as I cant run it properly due to lack of preparation. My morphsuit is at the printers as I type and should be back with me next week in plenty of time to get a couple of Morph runs in full kit pre VLM. After VLM I will then have 10 weeks to get Ironman fit (I know this is effin ridiculous isnt it!) and I still think I can do this. I am tearing through Chrissie Wellingtons book A Life Without Limits and Andy Holgates Cant Swim Cant Ride Cant Run. Grabbing my inspiration from everywhere.
Finally I should fill you in on the Poppyfields Ball last Saturday. It is probably the last Poppyfields Ball as Lisa and Brian take a well earned break from fundraising. We raised a massive £14,000 on the night. Double our previous best. This is down to the hard work of Team Poppyfields and the overwhelming generosity of the people that gave us stuff to auction and raffle and the guests who came and bought and bid. Here's me and Mrs Brightside at the ball and some of the team! Thankyou to everyone that made it so successful!!