Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Dear Trevor and Angie...

I got through my first marathon experience with a whole lot of help from Marathon Training Academy. It's a US-based running institution run by a couple called Angie and Trevor. They record podcasts full of running information and helpful chat. The podcasts have informed me, made me laugh and kept me company throughout my marathon experience. Pretty much from the first time I listened in (after I'd decided to run a marathon) I was mentally writing to them to thank them for their support. So today, about 10 weeks after downloading my first MTA podcast, I'm finally writing that email.

"Dear Angie and Trevor,

I feel like I've known you both a lot longer than only 10 weeks! That was how long ago I downloaded my first MTA podcast and began my marathon journey. I'm writing now to thank you for your support and to tell you that I really probably couldn't have done it without you.

I live in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. The Edinburgh Marathon runs right past my street. It's flat and fast. You should definately come some time and see how we do marathons in the UK. From what you've said, we do them a bit smaller than you - what's an expo?!!

Angie, you talk a lot about building a solid running base. I spent quite a while working on that - I went from couch to marathon in 15 years! I never thought I'd run a marathon. Even when, after 2 kids, I ran my first half marathon; and even in 2011 when I ran 7 half marathons, I never thought I wanted to tackle the full 26.2. But I was casually browsing through a local property magazine, and spotted a lottery style competition to win a free place in the 2012 Edinburgh Marathon, I entered, and won! (I guess most other people reading the magazine were a bit busy buying and selling property to run marathons!)

This was with just 8 weeks to go till race day. This was what worried me - my regular running week totalled 25 miles, would that be enough to enter a training programme with just 8 weeks to go? Both of my marathon-running friends were ambigous about it - much sucking of teeth, and ooh, well, maybe if you don't get injured... So I decided to try out the training programme and see how it went. As I hadn't paid for my entry, I wouldn't have lost anything if, after a few weeks, I pulled out and ran the half marathon instead.

Although I'd run so many halves before, I'd never followed a training programme, just routinely came in at about 1 hour 50 minutes. This training discipline was going to be a challenge, and for the first few weeks, I literally thought about nothing else. I could hardly sleep. I had so many questions! What's The Wall? What about fuelling? What on earth is Tempo? I am so grateful to have found your podcast. You gave me the information I needed, in a friendly and helpful way, and you never once made me feel less than invincible. And I could listen to you while I ran too. Perfect!

Well, the deadline for half marathon entries came and went, and I was still on for the full Kraken-unleashing 26.2. The training was amazing. I was so excited at the prospect of 16 miles; then 18; then, 20 miles and the most awesome post-run breakfast ever!! And as a happy by-product of my training, my kids can now get their own breakfast without me. Result!!

The week leading up to race day was hot - much hotter than anything I'd run in before. That week was the first time this year I've been running without a jacket! Although it was probably cool compared with some of the temperatures you and other listeners have endured. I stressed about  the temperature all week - I didn't worry about anything else, though, because I knew I was prepared and I'd done as much as I could. I hadn't missed a single training run or cross-training day.

Race day was hot. But the 26.2 miles came and went. I kept fuelled and hydrated. I dug deep. I listened to your podcast on marathon success stories, where someone helpfully pointed out that if Oprah and George W Bush could do it, then so could I. And I did, in 4 hours 19 minutes. I finished strong, crossing the finish line doing an 8.21min/mile and a celebratory "YES!!" and leap in the air. It was the most amazing feeling.

The pain in my legs for the next 4 days was extrordinary - I wasn't prepared for that! And Angie, you keep quiet about toenails, don't you?! My technicolour toenails are the least pleasant part of the whole experience! My final race injury was funnier though - the next day, wearing flip flops to let my poor toes recover,  I dropped my race medal on my foot and was bruised for a week!

I can't wait to do another marathon. At the moment I'm not signed up for any other races, and I'm feeling crabbit (that's a Scottish word for grumpy!), twitchy and bereft.

Thank you both so much for everything that you do. You're right, I DO have what it takes to run a marathon and change my life. Thank you for believing in me, thank you for telling me everything I needed to know, and thank you for helping me finish strong and leap across that finish line. "You guys are awesome!"

Elspeth xxx"