Tanya's Story Part 2

Athens Marathon Training 2015

After my previous blog, since I lost weight and I was feeling active at the start of this year I felt like I needed a new goal, something to work towards to keep me continually motived. In February 2015 I booked myself onto the Athens Marathon.

Why Athens you might say? Well I knew I wanted to do a marathon this year, Athens was in November so I had 10 months to train. Plus Athens was cheap to fly to and I had never been there before, so I thought it would be an interesting place to visit.

I hadn't run for awhile and although I was training at La-rev doing three spin classes a week and a circuits class I still needed to start from scratch with running. The only big events I had ever done was Bristol Half Marathon in 2009 in 2 hours 28 mins and Bristol 10K in 1 hour 07 mins.

As part of my training I did three organised 10Ks and thrashed my personal best to 54 minutes. I also did the Bristol Half Marathon in September this year in 2 hours 4 mins.

The hardest part of my training was running over 16 miles. My advice to anyone would be that if you are training for a marathon make sure you treat it as though you are doing a real marathon by eating plenty of carbohydrates, being hydrated and taking energy gels. Also make sure you know your route, don't avoid hills and have a good playlist list with plenty of battery on your phone or listen to an audio book like I did. I found that the book kept my mind distracted and I could keep a steady pace as music can sometimes affect your pace and a marathon is all about making sure you have a good pace, by not setting off too quickly. The toughest part was when I hit the "wall" when I reached 18 miles, my legs seized up and I physically had to stop. Les advised me that I probably hadn't carb loaded enough prior to the run.

Leading up to the marathon I was taken ill with the flu and 5 days before a 24 hour stomach bug. I was starting to feel as though I wasn't going to be able to do it and I was frustrated that I never got to do my last run, which would have been 23 miles.

Despite this though I went to Athens with my family on the Thursday and started to get ready for the big day on the Sunday. I picked up my kit on the Saturday. I was shocked at how hot it was, when I researched the temperature for November I found that the temperature should be about 13 to 14 degrees, when we reached Athens the temperature was 22 degrees and likely to get hotter by Sunday.

I had to pick up my kit about an hour away from the centre of Athens, when I arrived I realised that a lot of the people running the marathon were elite runners, a lot of people belonged to clubs and not a lot of them were running for charities - I started to get scared and wondered what I had let myself in for.

On the day of the race luckily I had a hearty breakfast because our hotel opened early at 5.30am. On the way to the race I spoke to an English man who said that this was going to be his 25th marathon and he was more concerned about this marathon more than any of the others because of a 10k hill of 3% at the 20K mark... at this point I really started to panic. I already knew that Athens was a tricky marathon but hearing this from someone who is used to marathons was frightening. Despite this though I got in position and set off.

I ran the first half continuously at a steady pace. We ran through some local villages and the villagers handed us olive branches, which was a nice touch. I made sure that I kept hydrated and I was eating during the run.

As I knew that the 10K hill was approaching I decided to power walk to prepare myself and rest my legs. I then ran 5K but had to walk some of the last 5K of the hill, as it was so relentless. My legs and knees were painful, it was a very hot day and I was starting to feel very sick, also my audio book had stopped midway through because it had failed to download! I wasn't quite sure how this could get any worse.

As we approached Athens centre in the last 5K, even though my legs were burning and so tired I picked up the pace as I knew I was nearly there. Once I crossed the finish line I couldn't believe I had actually completed it! I did it in 5 hours 30 mins, although this was not the time I was hoping for despite the hill and the conditions I was pretty pleased with this outcome.

Throughout my year of training I continued to attend La-rev and received a lot of support from everyone and Les. To balance the running I went to circuits on a Tuesday and Les would always remind me of my goal and pushed me on, which helped motivate me through the training.

It's easy sometimes to become unmotivated and decide not to exercise, however when you achieve something like a marathon you realise that you can pretty much do anything you put your mind to. I never thought that I would have ever of been fit enough to run a marathon, but I did and a lot of the reason for that was down to Les.

Now I am back regularly attending La-rev and considering what my next challenge will be!!!!