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5 degrees west, training for the London Marathon Part 2

Classic Property Owner, Paula, is running around the West Country getting herself fit for the ultimate run - the London Marathon. Here, she charts her progress and gives some hints and tips for where you should run in Cornwall.

Carrying on from where she left off in 'Five degrees west part 1', Classic Owner Paula continues her Cornwall running trials.

Saturday 22nd November 2014

The day of my fundraiser, to ensure I reach my sponsorship pledge, I had decided on a cream tea and table top sale (appropriately Cornish) and in some ways it proved to be nearly as hard as all the miles that needed to be run…or so it seemed at the time. On the day of the sale I had never been so nervous, would anyone actually turn up, I wondered? I had spent weeks cajoling local artists, card and jewellery makers and mums in the playground into ‘renting’ a table for the afternoon, and even longer pinning up flyers for the event on every spare lamp post I could find. Carleen Village Hall were amazingly supportive and offered the venue at a hugely discounted rate as did Roddas of Cornwall who supplied all the wonderful clotted cream for the scones. I needn’t have worried the event; was an enormous success and produced a steady stream of people, many of whom came along to support The Miscarriage Association as they had experienced losses themselves. It was an emotional afternoon talking about our miscarriage experiences and ended up raising over £400, double what I had originally hoped for, thanks to the fantastic generosity of everyone who came along and donated their time and money.

Cornwall Marathon runner

December 2014

Once this was out of the way it was back on the road with the training, running four or five times a week, trying to build a steady base of miles before the ‘serious training’ began in January. Religiously I ran in the rain, wind, and hail mile after mile and just before Christmas completed my first 15 miler…not that much further than a half-marathon really, but believe me so much tougher. Only another 11.2 to go…and then a friend suggested I get in touch with Amy Thomas who was also running her very first London Marathon for Click Sargant. Her links with the charity were so inspiring, as they supported her and her family when her youngest son was diagnosed with a brain tumour at the age of four. He is 14 now and it will be ten years since his all clear this April so a significant month in many ways for Amy. We had  a couple of runs together and planned some races into our schedule and I can honestly say her support has been amazing. Every niggle, doubt and question we seem to have experienced together and kept each other going when we have been questioning our sanity. 

Christmas Day came and went and I did have a couple of days off and over indulged slightly, but still managed to run three 14 milers on consecutive weekends, along the beautiful Marazion coast path in the wintry sunshine, so was all set for the real training. It was really exciting to begin week one of the Official Virgin London Marathon training schedule, then equally disappointing to see how low the actual mileage was for this week.

January 18th 2015 – Stormforce Ten

Not the longest race but perfect for my marathon training of getting used to running with lots of people around me and NOT running too fast at the start…learning from my Eden experience!

I’d always thought this race sounded a bit daunting from its name and had visions of running on the Cornish coast path in gale force winds, but the run itself is fantastic, amazingly well organized by The Carn Runners and begins in the small village of Barripper, on the outskirts of Camborne. From there it gently ambles downhill for a couple of miles through some charming Cornish villages and lulls you into a false sense of security until you approach the hill at mile four. Not the worst by any Cornish hill standards and the challenge felt good, however getting wet feet on the track afterwards not quite so! Upon reaching the top you turn and begin circling back towards Camborne; the sun was out and there was plenty of support as we reached the final few miles. This race has a fabulous downhill finish for the last half-mile, and even better a hall packed with warm soup and loads of homemade cakes and sandwiches. It was a really fun ten mile run and completed in 1.29 - I was amazingly chuffed with that!

Cornwall Marathon runner


February 2015

So February became the month of preparation for The Serious Big Run, averaging between 25 and 30 miles a week and my calves began to feel tighter and tighter. I began stretching more and more but still they were stiff and sore most days, so the panic set in. Strangely, the only time they didn’t feel tight was when I was running?  After my longest run of 16 miles, with an elevation of 850ft I finally succumbed and booked myself a sports massage. I went to see the amazing Sophie at Helston HPP and had no idea what to expect, even to the point of googling what to wear for my first appointment…I had always been dubious about sports massages doing more harm than good, but these were desperate times. I needn’t have worried, she was brilliant. Her wealth of knowledge explained that a lot of my muscle fibres had ‘stuck’ together and just needed to be separated, but ouch…it hurt, and then hurt some more as I clung to the pillow, eyes watering, trying not to squeal and telling myself it would all be worth it come Sunday at Padstow. By the end of the week, Sophie's magic had worked and my calves felt almost normal. I was raring to go but then…the sick bug struck three days before the Padstow run…

Sunday 1st March 2015

The Super Serious Big Run  (17 miles) or the Serious Big Run (11 miles) and The Big Run ( 5 miles)

Starting at the aptly named ‘Snails Pace Cafe’ Wenford Bridge and finishing at Padstow via the Camel Trail, this was going to be a massive tick on mine and Amy’s training schedules and I was determined to give it a go, sickness or not. I had been okay for the last 48 hours so decided to start and see how I felt, it was a cool morning as we waited nervously in the cafe. Unfortunately the organizers had been let down by their timing chip suppliers but in the age of Garmin this didn’t matter too much, although everyone likes to see their published results at the end of a race - it’s like an official well done really. Amy and I set off at a steady pace resolutely deciding to ‘go off’ slowly, which for us is amazingly sensible, so 9.38 for the first mile and we were jogging along quite nicely. The Camel Trail at this end is beautiful and in a lot of ways even nicer than the better known route around the Padstow estuary. I certainly intend to head up there this spring with my boys and cycle this part of it. The river flows quickly alongside the trail and we were quite sheltered from the headwind by the trees and high hedges. 

After about five miles, the morning really started warming up and I was really wishing I hadn’t put quite so many layers on, and began to take on board my first gel.  I really didn’t feel that good at this point, but kept plodding out the miles and chatting to fellow runners. It was really strange running where it is totally flat, I am not used to that at all, and if I’m absolutely honest I think I rather enjoy a hill or two.

As we approached Wadebridge it really had turned into a glorious spring day and it was quite comforting to see the familiar terrain knowing my family were only 4.8 miles away at the end of the trail. I felt really sick at this point, to the stage where I couldn’t consume any more energy gels and so began a mantra I had seen posted on the VLM blog - these ‘helpful ditties’ seem to be posted daily by the London Marathon Team and some days are more motivating than others.

‘One foot in front of the other until you have a medal round your neck’ - this one really stayed with me and did help. The wind picked up considerably as we neared Padstow and almost blew us into the rails as we crossed the final bridge across the estuary prior to the town.  One mile to go and such a relief to have the Lobster Hatchery building (well worth a visit…on another day) in sight and then finally my family, waving and cheering at the finish line. Amy arrived triumphantly over the finish line only a couple of minutes later and yes we did get our medals around our neck, but decided to pass on the Sharps Brewery beverages on the side lines. I couldn’t quite stomach Rick Stein's offerings either which we had both been looking forward to.

Once back in the van ready to set off home I removed my socks to find the most horrible blisters on the side of my feet, one on each side -a nice matching pair and yes they did hurt…a lot. General consensus seemed to be ‘not to pop’ so I left well alone and hobbled around in my trainers for a few days. Pain is temporary, so they say, and it was a huge tick off our running plan.

March 2015

So we continue on into March and (once recovered from Padstow, which did take a few days longer than anticipated with the blisters) managed to stick with the training schedule most days. Mid-March I completed the 18 miler on a gloriously sunny day running from Mousehole Primary School (where I work) to Marazion and back, then up and down several times until my garmin showed the magical 18 miles completed… this felt like a huge milestone, just the 20 mark to go now…

Monday 30th March

My 20 miler… I felt incredibly nervous before I started, ridiculous really, it is only a training run, but it is the biggy before the real biggy and I wanted to run it all despite my legs feeling like lead weights from all the miles training before we even started. I had persuaded Louise to run the first six with me for company and Amy was meeting me at mile 13. Off we set on a fine but blustery day with the wind blowing a gale in our faces from the off, St Michael's Mount greeted us at mile three and we plodded along the coast path trying to stick to my ten minute mile plan as much as we could. When Louise said goodbye at mile six I was on my own for the next seven miles and to be honest felt awful, my legs just had no spring in them and usually during a long run you get a period when everything feels good, but today wasn’t the day.

As I turned around at Mousehole, the half-way point, it was nice to see Long Rock twinkling in the distance. Amy met me at The Wharf car park in Penzance and I was so relieved to see her, although she probably couldn’t tell as I just managed one syllable replies at this point, focussing on the job at hand. Off down the coast path we went with Amy setting the pace and I tucked in behind her, I ran out of water by the Marazion beach cafe who kindly gave me a bottle which I returned to pay for later, very kind of them.

Back inland on the cycle trail and then up the steep hill into Marazion, mile 17 and my spirits lifted as I realised I was going to do this and actually felt better than I had for most of the run. We continued on, the half miles ticking off and then I spotted my husband and sons on the beach with Sally our Dalmatian at Long Rock, one more mile to go - the children ran after me, and Sally of course. Jake caught me up and ran the final half mile with me, I do wish he could do the same on the Mall on Marathon Day...only 6.2 miles to go and a huge thank you to Amy and Louise and my boys, I couldn’t have done it without you today!

Cornwall Marathon runner

by Paula Brocklebury

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