Londons Calling!

The London weekend the second time round didn’t seem any less daunting than the first time round. The train left Telford at 8:30 and already you could sense nervous runners making the big journey down to the capital.

As usual we had to go down on the Saturday to attend the Expo at the Excel to register and collect our numbers. Once we got there the whole place buzzed with excitement and sheer realisation of just what lay ahead of us all tomorrow. 26.2 miles of the capitals streets. It was incredibly busy at the expo on the Saturday when we got there so we just had a quick wander round then left.
Expo
(Picture above : Me collecting my number at the expo)

We then headed back to the apartment and had a chilled out evening with a home cooked pasta dish… perfect fuel before the race the following day.

The morning of the race eventually came and it was time to get ready and head to Greenwich Park for the starting area. The plan was to meet with the Slimming World team for before pictures and see Amy & Jo (From Head Office) to wish us all well. I said bye to my brother (who also ran, for Action on Hearing Loss) and left him at his pen and also said bye to mum & dad as this was where they had to leave us.

Start
(Photo above : Saying bye to Ben & Mum & Dad)

As I carried on walking I met Amy & Jo and they took a picture and I then went to my Blue Start area where I would meet 2 other team members. The other 10 Team Slimming World runners were red start and so they met nearer to their start.

Team Start
(Picture above : Team Photo collage)

I eventually got to my starting area after a very slow apprehensive walk up the hill through Greenwich park. As you can tell by all of the layers it was a rather cold morning (at least the snow that had been forecast didn’t actually happen!). I had intended on keeping the layers on until the race started then ditching them. In actual fact, I kept them on for the first mile or so to make sure I properly warmed up.

Walking up to the start
(Photo above : Walking up to the start)

The whole area in the blue zone was buzzing, the smell of deep heat thick in the air, the queues for the loos nearly a mile long and the tension of just what lay ahead. It was soon time to drop bags off and queue for the loo for the last time. When I was stood around I also met David another team member so I didn’t quite feel like I was alone! We then saw Stuart Eggleshaw (one of Team Slimming World) being interviewed on BBC on the big screen! It was amazing, it felt like we had a celebrity on the team.

Eventually we went off to the start pens and met Kim the third member of our team to start in Blue. We were in the back pen (9) but we were determined to make it one heck of a race. We might have been in the slowest pen but I was still determined that I had a PB in me from last years time (5:06).
Start line Selfie
(Photo above : Start line selfie – myself, David & Kim).

Eventually the race got under way… mile 1 felt rubbish but as the saying goes you never trust a long run by the outcome of the first mile. I soon caught up to the 5 hour pacers and I had intended to stay quite close to them but I felt surprisingly good so I kept going.
I saw mum & dad for the first time just after mile 6 near the Royal Naval College in Greenwich and I felt good but still quite daunted at the fact that I knew exactly what lay ahead of me this time round.

Finding myself catching up to the 4:45 pacers I still felt okay. I saw Anna, Rosie & Julie (from the Wakefield Running Mammas) at mile 7 and they gave me a massive cheer, a real boost of spirits. Before I knew it it was time to take the first shot block at mile 8 and making sure I kept hydrated gave me other things to think about besides the blisters that were unknowingly developing under my feet.

Before I knew it we were at Tower Bridge & I remember it from last year being electric and I really took the atmosphere on this year. I loved it! As always (besides crossing the finishing line) that will be the highlight!

Miles 14 to 16 felt okay, I was slowing down a little bit but it was to be expected when I had stupidly set off a bit quick. I saw my Mum & Dad again at mile 16 near Mudchute and they told me I was looking good and to keep on going. I kept on going, with a few little hills that felt like mountains up slip roads it took some pushing. But one by one I counted the miles down. Still taking  a shotblock every few miles with water & lucozade to hydrate.

I got to mile 20 and I have always said throughout any road marathon this is where I am happy to have a little walk break. Mile 20 felt the right place to do it, the atmosphere was till amazing & I knew someone would shout my name when I knew I needed to run again! I then got back running. I saw my Dad just before mile 21 and I have to admit, I got a little emotional again. It was the same place where I had got emotional last year and it was all coming back to me. This time round though, I carried on, knowing I was wanting a time so desperately and got back to it.

Mile 21 to 23 seemed like a bit of a chore but I found myself distracting my legs and counting the water stations and looking at the signs some people had up from “touch here for power” to my personal favourite “shut up legs”.

The last 5k came around and I knew then that it was just a parkrun, I couldn’t possibly walk any of this last section. So I carried on. Eventually I crossed the line in 4:49:54! A massive 17 minute PB on last years time as I was absolutely over the moon! Not only had I done sub 5 that I so desperately wanted, I had done sub 4:50!

Finisher!
(Picture above : Finish line picture taken by the Army)

As I walked up the finish gantry, I was presented with a medal by a Fellow Run for Fun member (really sorry, I cant remember your name!) who gave me a big hug! I then carried on walking and got one of the army to take a picture. You then get given a goody bag & eventually you get to your HGV where you dropped your bag off and they hand your bag straight over.

I decided to change into my flipflops & put my fleece round me. And carried on walking up the mall where I found a Cancer Research Volunteer who directed me to the finishers celebrations and even carried my bags up the stairs! When we got there we were greeted like true heroes! I honestly cannot thank Cancer Research and Team Slimming World enough. We got given flipflops & offered a massage. Then there was food galore! I got handed a drawstring bag & told to get what ever I fancied. Needless to say I filled the bag. All I desperately wanted was a bag of ready salted crisps. I found some & devoured them!

I then found Amy & Jo who gave me a massive hug & took the finishers picture! I was then told I could have my medal engraved for free. I wanted to make it personal and remember the fact that I had done the time I so desperately wanted so I had to have it done.

Team Photo!(Photo above : Team Slimming World)

The reception was amazing, eventually my dad found us & gave me a massive hug!
We then went to meet Ben at his charity reception and I am pleased to say he did 5:31 which for his first ever marathon is great! 🙂

That is pretty much it… as they say, the rest is history! I absolutely loved it. And honestly would do it all again in a heartbeat.

Remember the real reason why I write this blog is to get people donating. If you have been inspired by Team Slimming World you can still donate at…
http://www.justgiving.com/SWMarathonTeam2016

Thank you!
Much Love.
xx

The Run Up to London!

With 11 days till the London Marathon I guess I ought to update everyone…
Training for the London Marathon has gone fairly smoothly, not quite as many miles as this time last year but the important mileage completed & I am still managing to swim at least once a week to keep the active recovery going.

On Easter Sunday I ran 21 miles with the Wakefield Running Mammas & we all helped each other round. It was an incredibly hilly route & I completed it in 3:40 which is the same time I did the flat East Hull 20 in last year. So I am very happy with how it went. The picture below is the great group of women that started out with us.

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The week after came the Wakefield 10k event, I had intended to take it rather steady but I got to half way feeling fairly strong so I decided to push it a little bit. To my surprise I achieved a 30 second PB on last years time coming in at 56:57.
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Yesterday I did my last “long” double digit run before the big day, running 10.3 miles on Wakefield hills and trails. It was a rather enjoyable run and left me feeling very strong for the big day.
My personalised Vest Top from Cancer Research UK came through the post the other day & I absolutely cannot wait to rock it in London wearing it (The picture is below so people can try & spot me on the TV 😉 )
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I cannot wait till race day! To be able to go back to where I did my first ever marathon, to be able to run yet another marathon. The whole London atmosphere is one that just cannot be repeated anywhere else!

In other news… I have still been attending a Slimming World group, the amazing group at Outwood Working Mens Club and I am nicely maintaining my 3 stone weight loss sitting slightly below my target weight. Which means I have spent over 4 years at target now.

Don’t forget the most important part to reading this blog is to encourage people to donate. You can donate to Cancer Research & the Slimming World Team by following this link…
https://www.justgiving.com/SWMarathonTeam2016/

Thank you ever so much.
Much Love.
x

Goings on…

I thought I was well over due an update seen how some time has past since I last updated you all!
Since my first marathon I went on to do Leeds Half Marathon 2 weeks later, I then did the York, Hull, Leeds 10k series over summer and then trained for what was to be my 2nd marathon… Chester!

Chester was amazing, with it being my 2nd marathon I knew to prepare for the sheer rollercoaster of emotions again. Training went to plan and everything was great, training over summer before I went back to university meant I had loads of time to just relax into it and run when the plan said so. Not forgetting the Active Recovery (Swimming, Walking etc).

Race Day soon came round & it was the day before I was due to go back to university to complete my final year of my degree. I didn’t really know a great deal about the course (I’m not one to look laboriously into stats before I run) but what I did know was that the 2nd half was hillier than the first half. It was an ideal day weather wise, chilly to start off with then slowly got warm but not ridiculously warm.

I got to the half way point feeling reasonably strong and well within my target time. The last half took some serious mental work. I remember seing Joni at about mile 20 and she asked me why I was walking, gave me a stern (but very much needed) talking to and told me to get my backside into gear because that sub 5 would soon slip away and off I went again. From that point I don’t remember walking at all to the finish line.

At mile 22 (just after a huge hill) I saw the race Angels in the form of Adrienne Hall, she chatted checked my watch, told me I would make my sub 5. By this time I usually struggle counting let alone figuring out pace per mile. We discussed the tactics for the last leg of the course and then I knew I would finish strong.

The end is deceiving as it does loop round the racecourse before you actually finish so I was cautious not to do the compulsory sprint finish too early. As I got closer I could see the gun time hadn’t clicked over to 5 hours so I knew I was under. I some how summoned the energy for a slight sprint finish and managed it in 4:56! So I was over the moon.

I was greeted at the finish line by my university house-mates Emily & Gemma who quickly fed me jelly babies and congratulated me on finishing. I then saw Suzanne & Dennis and congratulated everyone.

Chester Marathon end

 

Chester was a brilliant marathon, just don’t believe people when they tell you it is flat… it isn’t!

Right now… London Training is on (This year I’m on the Slimming World Team running for Cancer Research UK), I’m well and truly into my final year at university and I’m just recovering from a slight calf injury. Training is back on plan!

As always, the real reason behind writing this blog is also to fund raise & promote my journey. If you do want to sponsor me for the London Marathon 2016 the justgiving link is below…

https://www.justgiving.com/SWMarathonTeam2016/

Thank you!
Much Love.
x

The Virgin Money London Marathon!

What lay ahead of me I didn’t really know, I didn’t know how I was going to cope, what I was going to do, how I was going to react. All I knew is that it would be a rollercoaster of emotions and a tough event at that.

1 - Expo
Picture above – me at the expo with my number!

The day started like this…
6am alarm to get up and prepare myself mentally and physically. Breakfast was a small amount of porridge and a piece of dry toast before I couldn’t manage anything else as my stomach was in knots with nerves.
I knew hydration was absolute key so I kept sipping water & some orange juice to try and keep on top of it.

8am came and we walked from our hotel in North Greenwich (near the O2 arena) to Greenwich Park where the start line was. That took us half an hour but it was a nice slow walk chatting away to family whilst they gave me last minute words of advice and discussed where I might be able to see them on the route.

As we walked up the hill in Greenwich Park you could sense the nervous energy buzzing around, runners all looked nervous whilst family were doing their best to support them.
Before I knew it, it was time to leave my mum & dad & brothers and I had to then figure the rest out for myself.

Picture 2 - Leaving the brothers

Picture 2 – Leaving the brothers

It was a bit wet and chilly to start off with so I made my way over to the luggage lorries (you will be surprised at the sheer amount of these!) they are HGVs in lines all organised with numbers on in order and you just go up and give your bag to the relevant person. I had took a long sleeved top with me that I didn’t mind leaving as I knew full well it would be going to a good cause as charities collect them, and the faithful plastic disposable ponchos are amazing at keeping you warm.

I hung round a little bit then trying to soak up the atmosphere and chatted to a few other people that were on their own, then before I knew it it was half an hour before we were due to start and we had to go and get into our pen numbers. At this point I got talking to a lovely fellow student (of which the name I really cant remember, Im so sorry!) but she was great, sharing stories of the training runs and chatting away about what lies ahead and how we were going to enjoy the glory at the end.

3 - the Pens

The gun soon went off and we slowly started moving towards the start line. It took us the best part of 35 minutes to even do that. But the whole build up was electric, up ahead on a crane the BBC were filming so every now and again there was a roar of the crowd as the camera turned our way.

We were then over the start line. The crowds were amazing on both sides of the road, the costumes were fantastic, Rhinos, Birds, Pencil (about 7ft tall), a Camel (with 2 people under it), a very tall male running in a pink sparkly dress and massive wig for cancer research amongst others! I was humbled to pass Stephen Suttons mum who was running for the Teenage Cancer Trust, I had to give her a pat on the back and congratulate her for what she was doing!

The first 6 miles were hillier than I expected but they soon went by in a flash, I remember coming down the main road towards the university of Greenwich and seeing Cutty Sark in the distance and the whole place just lifted, it was such a roar around there. At that point I was still having to really go with the flow and the pace of the pack as I couldn’t get going any quicker due to sheer number of people. This was when I first saw Sam & my dad cheering me on!

It was just before Cutty Sark which I tried to take a gel on board, and I felt it hit my stomach within half a mile and I just felt sickly, so I refused then to take anymore on board. The plan was to see how I got on and take Lucozade at the stations and use that as well as my jelly beans. Not ideal but better than nothing.

The route then loops round in what I can only describe as the back streets of Greenwich as I didn’t really have a clue where we were at that point and I don’t think a few other people did too as they kept asking. The crowd support was still amazing. There was Buxton water stations every mile or so, I insisted on taking some water at every one but didn’t have it all, it just kept me going.

It was just after this point when I was getting a bit confused and disorientated that we turned a corner and Tower Bridge was in front of me. I actually couldn’t believe it. That bridge marks just before half way. This has to have been the highlight. Before the finish line of course! The crowd on there was immense! One which you just cannot prepare for. That kept me going for the next couple of miles and I was going well.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

At mile 16 I saw Nicky Coop cheering me on so I just had to hug her. She gave me some much needed words of advice and off I went again. After some loops through some tunnels and underpasses I then saw my mum & Ben cheering me on. I so needed them there, I was just starting to fatigue but they soon lifted me up after another hug and told me to get going, I was well over half way and I was counting down.

At mile 18 ish I saw Vikki Harrison who screamed at me and cheered me on, I wasn’t in a position to stop for a hug as I had my determined head on and I had just stopped a mile or so ago. So I waved, screamed thank you back and carried on!

Im not going to lie, the next 2 miles were tough, I told myself I wasn’t going to walk before the 20 mile point and even then it wouldn’t be for long. At 20 miles I took a walk, for no longer than 0.1 mile and then through sheer luck saw a poster that said Prosecco at the finish line, so I got back running again and thought the sooner I get running the sooner that is mine!

Just after mile 22 I saw my mum & Ben for the last time, I was emotional by this point and ended up hugging them and crying, the crowd was absolutely terrific, mum asked why I was crying and through sobs said I really don’t know. I think it was just overwhelming. Everyone surrounding them lifted me at that moment and every single person cheered me on. As I carried on wiping tears as I left them the crowd continued to shout for me and really lift me.

Not long after that point, I saw Sam & my dad for the last time at mile 23 and I then knew the end was in sight. I knew full well I had just over a parkrun to go and even though I had only had jelly beans from mile 6 I still felt okay all be it knackered. I had to dig deep and run this part with my heart. I had to realise why I was running it and take in the surroundings and the cheering crowds. I passed the 37km mark and thought right, come on, you literally do have a parkrun to go, at the most that’s 35 minutes running, which you can do on no fuel. So from then I knew I would finish it. The crowds again were amazing and really kept my head up high.

Mile 25 came by and I thought woah, I’ve just over a mile to go, we were round by big ben and that is very surreal! The loop round the back of St James’ park then counts you down in metres. At the 800m mark Chris Jones was cheering away and I knew full well I had to dig deep and just get over that line. A lot of people told me to appreciate Buckingham Palace as a lot had ran straight passed it and not even realised where they were. I saw the finish line, arms flew up in the air with sheer elation and I was over. It was finished. I had done something that 4 years ago didn’t think was even possible.

5 - finisher!

I was presented with a medal, then it was a case of take a very slow walk up the mall and get your goody back with finishers t shirt in, then find the relevant baggage truck where they would see you walking up and get your bag ready to hand to you. At that point I grabbed my flip-flops out of my bag and put them on as my feet were throbbing. And of course the red East Hull Harriers hoody to keep me warm! I then made my way up to the meeting points as I had agreed to meet everyone at “R”. 2 lovely women then stood with me and congratulated me whilst I waited for my family. At this point I’m not going to lie, I was a bit of a wreck, I hurt, I was emotional and I was overwhelmed.

From there we had a walk to the Action on Hearing Loss event where I got cheered as I walked into the room and Amy gave me a hug with open arms and congratulated me. It was amazing as I could get chocolate, the mars bar I had never tasted so good, and most importantly a massage for the tired legs. I can’t thank Action on Hearing Loss enough for being such a great charity. The support was brilliant.

6 - finisher

Overall the day was amazing, would I do it again? Yes of course! Without a doubt, I have the bug now and I’m not planning on stopping. My official time was 5:06:43 and I plan on smashing that next year! A huge thank you to everyone for sponsoring me and supporting me through the day! You have all been amazing.

If you want to donate any last minute sponsorship you can do so via the link below… http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Tori-London-Marathon-2015

Happy Running!
Much Love!
x

The Nerves!

Hey everyone!

With 4 days now till the big day, people will be fed up of me going on and on about it but crikey, I don’t care! Its the biggest thing I have ever done.
I remember one of my university friends saying to me when we were at Zumba in our first year at university just 2 years ago, you will be fit enough to run a marathon by the time we graduate, at the time I laughed, barely able to run 5km!

Now with 4 days to go, I’ve never been so nervous in my life!
I’ve just seen pictures of people at the expo on facebook and its dawned on me that on Saturday that will be me.

I read the chapter of Running Like a Girl last night before I fell asleep where she documents her first marathon. I sat feeling quite emotional reading it knowing full well I would be doing just that soon. The atmosphere she describes at times sounds electric. I just need to keep reminding myself I can do it. I did the East Hull 20 which I struggled with as there were marshals but no real atmosphere. I’ve been told by plenty of people that London is totally different and people really do line a lot of the streets.

I’ve purposely had my name printed in bright pink lettering across the back and front of my top hopefully encourage the crowds to shout! 😉 Keep me going mentally.

Honestly though, as nervous as I really am I cannot wait! I want to enjoy the experience. Not every 21 year old celebrates their 21st birthday the week before hand and celebrates totally sober in order to celebrate properly after London is finished. That I can guarantee I will be having a drink afterwards!

A massive thanks to everyone that has supported me over the training, those that have come out on runs with me to keep me going I could name them but it will take me a long time, you know full well who you are.

Thank you everyone for all of your support.
Please remember why I am doing this & please dig deep & sponsor me via the link below…
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Tori-London-Marathon-2015

Thank you!
Much Love.
x

The Big Question… Why a Marathon?

I thought I would write this blog today as quite a few people have said to me something along the lines of… you are crazy, why run a marathon when there are other things out there?!

To me (as it is to many) its a physical battle as much a mental battle.
If I think back 5 years ago I was dreading the thought of a new term in Year 11 at school because it meant there would be a cross country to be run. I was 3 stone overweight and just couldn’t be bothered with anything.
It wasn’t until just over a year later that I decided to do anything about it.
Dropping the weight was great, as I felt great and looked okay but I still wasn’t overly fit.

After I had managed to maintain it for a year or so I realised I had to do something other than just sticking with the plan which I had used to lose the weight (Slimming World). I then found my love of gym work and Body Pump but soon found it was tricky to fit it in around life and university with moving from place to place all of the time.

It wasn’t until the end of 2013 that I decided I would try and build my cardio fitness up in the gym, then eventually one cold day in January headed out for my first run.
It was safe to say that the run which I did was hell, I hated every minute, but something in me wanted to go out again and I knew it wouldn’t be as bad.

Before I knew it I was up to running 5km I wasn’t breaking records but I was enjoying it and I was getting out there. By this time last year I had ran my first 10k event and I was on such a high.

The weekend after that event the London Marathon happened to be on TV. I sat and watched it mesmerised by the amount of people running it. A lot of these were real people, they weren’t all elite athletes. At the time I was following a few people on facebook & twitter and the buzz which I could see they were getting from such an event was amazing. I just had to have a slice of the action.

I then found myself applying and came out with a charity place from Action on Hearing Loss!
I guess the reason behind my blog and my “journey” is that Im a real person, Ive quite literally gone from fat to fit in less than 3 years which over a lifetime isn’t that long! My life has truly changed for the better and I am on a mission to inspire people out there.

If I have inspired just one of you my job here is done!
I therefore ask for you all to support me & help me raise money for such an amazing cause.
Please dig deep!
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Tori-London-Marathon-2015

Thank you everyone!
Happy Running!
Much Love!
x

East Hull 20!

I know I said my next post would be on fuelling but I just had to scribble a post on one great event.
Yesterday I ran the East Hull 20.
It was safe to say I was incredibly nervous about this one, with my longest run leading up to it being just shy of 16 miles. I had to therefore trust my training and believe I had it in my legs to do the extra 4 which lay ahead of me.

On the day it was a great atmosphere and brilliant to see the East Hull Harrier club house absolutely buzzing with runners and supporters. Don’t get me wrong at first sight I looked round and saw plenty of runners who looked very elite and I then remember saying to my mum & dad don’t be surprised if I come last, but I will finish it. That I did.

Kit wise…
I had intended to layer up and put my base-layer on underneath my red harriers vest due to it being March I still thought it was going to be cold. How wrong was I?! I ended up 10 minutes before the race was due to start taking my base-layer off and just running in my Harriers Vest top & asics tights. Not forgetting my trusty Saucony Triumphs & Hilly Twin Skin Socks & Vixen sports bra (Which is incredibly comfy!) I finished with very minimal blisters for me & no chafing of the sports bra which over 20 miles is a great result!

East Hull 20 Before

The race…
We had to register at the club house when we got there, parking was great, loads of side streets and an organised car park in the near by college.
The gun went off just after 10am and we were off.
The first mile went by so quickly and I knew for a fact I had to then slow down as I couldn’t keep that pace up for that long.
I soon found myself averaging about 10:20 min / miles for the first 6 or 7 miles.
There was a water station at mile 3.5 which was great to see it in bottles which meant you could carry on running whilst taking it on board.

A further water station was at mile 7 before doing the loop around Long Riston and then again in the same place about mile 12. Up until mile 13 the legs felt good and I was still averaging about 10:20 – 10:30 minute miles.
The weather was warm for March (about 10 degrees) and one of the St Johns Ambulance paramedics shouted at me as I ran past I hope you have some sun block on, needless to say I didn’t as I hadn’t even thought about it. After all its England and we are in March still. At first I thought she was talking rubbish but I soon found I had caught the sun when I got back.

Mile 14 onwards was a struggle. I just felt my legs get heavier. I was determined to get to the 4th water station (at mile 16) without walking. I got there but as I took some water I had to have a little walk. An encouragement on from Mandy really helped & I cant thank her enough! The plan then was to walk 0.1 mile, take the water on then run till the next mile and repeat until the end. Mile 17 to 19 felt like it went on forever! Coming back towards the club house down the Sutton to Hornsea track felt painfully slow. Then just at the end I saw Katy (another club member) and she had realised it was me coming and started cheering me on. From that point onwards I ran the whole way to the end.
Through the estate and up the slight hill then down the road past the golf club to the finish line. I was determined to finish strong and most importantly happy.

East Hull 20 Finishing
Dad took the photo above of me finishing.
It was overwhelming finishing such a tough race. And the support from the marshals was absolutely great.
Thank you to everyone who gave up their time for yesterday & of course to one great running club – East Hull Harriers. Its great to be part of it!
A massive thank you to everyone for the support.
Please don’t forget the main reason I am writing this is to document my London Marathon Journey.
You can sponsor me via this link…
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Tori-London-Marathon-2015
Thanks again!
Happy Running.
Much Love.
x