The Final Countdown

We’re in Amsterdam and tomorrow is the day – the weekend has suddenly crept up on us and it’s finally time to run. Saying I have the marathon jitters is an extreme understatement – I am positively terrified. As part of my prep this week (apart from trying to remember on a daily basis what on earth drove me to the decision to take on this challenge), I’ve been tweaking and adding to my marathon playlist. I’ve tried and tested all those ready made running playlists, but found I just have to run to songs that remind me of something, or distract me in some way, rather than your standard pumped up, heavy bass stuff. My friend who ran a marathon a couple of years ago gave me the idea of requesting song suggestions from family, friends and donatees, that way I’d have a varied and crazy collection of songs which remind me of the people I love and some fun (non-painful) memories. I’m hoping beyond hope that this will be the much needed key and motivation to the elusive finish line, and I will be completely preoccupied by amazingly happy thoughts, and unaware of the debilitating effects 42km will be having on my body. Here’s hoping. 

So I set my fam and friends the challenge of creating the best playlist ever (which they said was more fun than listening to me ramble on about the marathon some more) and they have not disappointed. I don’t think I could have ever combined more ridiculous, cheesy, uplifting and straight up gangster tunes without their help, and I cannot thank them for their help enough. So here’s my pick of some of my absolute favourites: 

Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen

This is one of seventeen Bruce songs I’ve amounted on my playlist, and they all serve their own purpose, some story-telling to distract me, some long instrumentals to break up the songs, but mostly I’ve included him because he’s got lyrics like “baby you were born to run”. If Bruce says so it must be true. This one was a Dad suggestion.

  

El Taxi – Osmani Garcia ft. Pitbull 

This, I kid you not, was what some described as the song of the summer (in Spain). It’s ridiculous, inappropriate, and it will make me laugh out loud when it pops up during my run just thinking about the video (which I recommend to all who have not had the pleasure of watching it yet)(https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yNBYafx4QLs).
Don’t Be So Hard On Yourself – Jess Glynne

For the “Don’t worry, you’re doing great! A crawl is still progress” moments. Justifying the skipped runs, the food and drink overindulgence and the general lazy weeks when I forgot about the looming 42km. Just as a gentle reminder that I am doing fab (even when I’m not!). Thanks Mum!!

Eye of the Tiger – Survivor

Iconic, *I will make it to the top of the stairs* mentality. Finding my inner Stalone.

  

Empire State of Mind – Jay Z ft. Alicia Keyes 

All the advice I’ve amassed has basically returned to one thing – mental strength wins everytime. So this empire state of mind is what I am going to be striving for, especially at the 21km point, where I’ll be half way done, but still left with 21 painful kilometres to come. No biggie. Also, I couldn’t not have a little King Jay on here. 

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Dixie Chicks 

One of my favourite suggestions, and favourite songs. Though Amsterdam is one of the flattest courses (thank God), it’s definitely going to feel like a mountain. Also, the cutest, happiest scene in Step Mom will hopefully come to mind, as it’s one of my favourite scenes from any movie!

  

Bring it all back – S Club 7

It includes the cheesiest line of the playlist (“don’t stop never give up, hold your head high and reach the top” for all you guys who didn’t have the pleasure of a S Club childhood), but this was a must inclusion.

Run The World (Girls) – Beyoncé 

Beyoncé features pretty frequently, and will be with me along the entire way! The collection includes old school Survivor from the Destiny’s Child golden era all the way up to her newest single, Runnin’ which is there to remind me what I’m doing (just in case I forget). My running buddy’s suggested this girl power anthem though. We’ll (hopefully) be jamming along to this across the finish line, all smiles (definite tears) and a whole lot of relief. 

  

  

So wish me luck, and finally I’ll stop moaning about all this, and I will not be running again for a long, long, long, long time. Fingers crossed I get to the end without dying/weeing/crying/chafing/blistering/cramping/falling. See you on the flip side!! 

The 10 most irritating things that frequently happen to me on my run

So today marks four weeks until I’ll be running the marathon and I genuinely have never been more scared to do anything in my entire life. With my fundraising target well and truly hit (big thanks to all who donated!), there’s nothing left to do but to run. And run I have been doing. As the running becomes farther and longer, and I inch further and further in distance, I have been enjoying it substantially less (which might explain my lack of updates). But what I have noticed most of all is how important external factors become when you’re stuck in your own head for the best part of two hours, trudging along, placing one foot in front of the other. The most trivial things can start to annoy the hell out of you, and drive you mad as you attempt to keep your rhythm/attempt not to keel over. These are a small selection of all these things (yes, I’ve become the grumpiest jogger you can find).

  1. Ill-fitting headphones

You’re rocking along to some Bruce Springsteen number, a little Mumford & Sons, a lot of Beyoncé tracks, even a little Natasha Bedingfield (taking it back to the magical Noughties, I’ve no shame), and the earphone pops out of your left ear. You adjust. The right one comes loose. You adjust. And this goes on for the entire run. Left. Right. Left. Right. And then you turn the corner into Europa Point (Gibraltar’s teeny version of ‘The Windy City’) and the wind catches onto your headphone cords, and then both headphones have popped out, and the whole thing is a tangled mess.

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  1. Slow-moving pedestrians

People often say I’m crazy for getting up as early as I usually do for my running. There are many reasons why I do this (one being so people don’t see me tomato-faced and dying up Rock Hotel hill) but one is definitely that I hate getting stuck between prams, the elderly, dogs, tourists and the odd motorcycle mounted on the pavement (it’s Gib, road rules do not exist to most). Just as a car enthusiast likes the open road, I appreciate the open pavement.

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  1. Blister friction

Nothing makes you want to stop like blisters between two toes, on the sole of your feet, back of your heel. I hear this is one of the many things to bother most people on the day of the marathon itself, so Compeed is definitely going to be my friend.

  1. When your phone runs out of battery mid-run

The struggle is real. No music, and solely the sound of your own laboured breathing: not fun.

  1. The Nike Running App lady reminding you how slow you’re going

You’re mid-run, after a night of binge eating at a barbeque and enough tinto de verano to sink a ship (the munchies aspect to this blog has gone out the window, in case you hadn’t noticed) and pretty chuffed with having got out of bed in the first place and this lady is chirping in your ear about how you’re at least a minute outside of your usual pace per kilometre. You know you’re going slower, you can tell by the fact that the power walkers are pretty much in stride with you, I do not need this reminder!! Where’s the mute button?

regina george

  1. The Nike Running App lady reminding you how far you still have to go

You’re thinking ‘Ooh I must be almost halfway’ and then she pipes up with ‘Two kilometres. You have eight kilometres to go.’ Oh, and you’re running pretty slowly by the way. Mute, mute, mute

shut up

  1. Fighting the elements

Running into the wind has got to be one of the most irritating things on this list. You were feeling okay until the wind picks up, and you’re running straight into what feels like the perfect storm, with your hair in your face, tangled headphones (see point 1), dust in eyes and all you can think is why didn’t I stay in bed?! It will all be worth it, right?

  1. Sweat in eyes

That stinging sensation starting to seep into your eyes, you wipe with your equally sweaty hands, it only gets worse, then with your vest, which is just as sweaty, and then you’re just a squinty mess trying to see through the stinging. Urgh.

  1. Running round in circles

Gibraltar is not the largest of places. Ten to twelve kilometres all the way round at a stretch. Thus, as my running distances have increased, I have been finding it exceptionally more difficult to find routes which avoid lapping (and hills, always avoiding the hills). Don’t get me wrong, Gib has some of the most beautiful routes, especially in the early morning light, by the beach, or up the Rock, with views of the Straits. Gorgeous. Unfortunately, once you’ve seen that view twice in one run, and you just want it to end, the novelty sure does wear off.

  1. Post-run getting home

So, though not technically during my run (nor a problem that most have), possibly the biggest irritation I find when I finish my run is getting back to my front door. I’m lucky enough to live in an area which, no matter which way you choose to go, to get back home I have to tackle one of three or four choices of steep hills. My own personal Everest after a gruelling 13km. I have on more than one occasion sat down at the bottom of it and considered calling a taxi/my dad to drive me up. No such luck though.

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Can you tell how much fun I’m having? I have to keep reminding myself that I signed up for this, and I was the one who thought this would be fun (and even convinced others to do it with me…). Just waiting for that post-marathon bliss, where, one, I will be able to say I did it, and two and I will be able to delete that stupid app. Apologies for the lengthy moan. Four weeks today…

Back to the jogging, back to the blogging!

After a (unexpectedly long) hiatus I am back to my running and, along with this, to my little diary of my marathon preparations. After exam preparations, post-exam celebrations, a couple of weeks travelling (and a few unjustifiable lazy weeks in between) I can finally stop avoiding the guilt trip of writing this weekly post, without having a single jog to my name! It became so so so easy to avoid the jogging as the weeks hurried along, that suddenly there’s just over 80 days to go, and a 6 km run is still a massive struggle. Woops.

My wake up call was when I casually reconnected to my running app for the first time in over a month, and got a notification informing me I was expected to complete a 16km jog in the morning. Double woops.

So after the denial stage wore off, this week I got back to it, and struggled through depressingly short (though, in my defence, super hilly) runs. Everyone kept telling me, ‘Naaaa, you’ll be fine after so long off, you’ve got muscle memory on your side’. Well I’m pretty sure my muscles have forgotten who I am altogether, and they’re just wondering why I’m putting them through this, as the only exercise I have been doing has been an on-going eating marathon of Europe. Yes, the munchies have continued, and the marathon food plan is non-existent. Woops, woops, woops.

Luckily the running is back on track (shout out to my running partner/alarm clock, Meggie), or getting there, so I’ll stop the complaining and keep the run updates coming over the next 11 weeks (eeek!).

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P.S. (Just one more complaint) Did I mention the heat? So the week I decide to get back to my training a heat wave decides to ensue, and 38-degree heights were reached. Even the early morning sea breeze was compromised, and replaced by the stickiest weather ever. The struggle is real. At least I’m back to these views though!

 

Moping

I got back to York last week, for the start of my final term of second year. I’d really got into the swing of running almost every morning back in Gib (with the obvious advantage of being physically dragged out of bed), and thought that with three and a half weeks of training under my belt, I would finally be able to keep up a rhythm of feeling good(ish) and running a little further.

I don’t know if it’s the change of climate (even though the weather is pretty beaut…), increased alcohol consumption (whoops), or me generally feeling sorry for myself (ew exams, ew work) but my last few runs have been seriously, seriously demotivating. When you go from feeling like an absolute god after completing your first 10km to then, a week later, retching on the side of the road before you get to 5km, your ego is going to feel a teensy bit bruised.

Being my most rubbishy week so far I ventured to find some motivation from somewhere (anywhere!!) and found it in the cushy realms of the Internet. In my boredom I started looking up the craziest marathon feats I could find, and the search was far from disappointing. Here were a couple of the most bizarre, most inspiring and most downright silly ones I could find!

Golden Oldies

Fauja Singh became the oldest person to complete a marathon in 2011, doing it at the tender age of 100. 100 years old. This guy is a machine, he’s run all over the world, and he’s not the only person doing it for the oldies. Harriette Thompson set her own record by becoming the fastest female marathon runner (in the 90+ category), with a finishing time of just over 7 hours at age 91, and (no biggie) it was her 15th marathon in 16 years.

Team Randy

Blind since the age of twenty-two, and temporarily confined to a wheelchair for more than a year, Randy Pierce is the 46-year-old American national champion among blind runners, completing his latest one in under 4 hours. Oh, and did I mention Monday’s Boston Marathon was his fourth marathon in the last 12 months??!

‘Outrunning Cancer’

I watched an amazing ESPN documentary about Terry Fox, a cancer sufferer whose right leg was amputated, and at age 21 began running across Canada. He did this in 1980, for 143 days and 5,373 kilometres (3,339 miles), running 42km a day on average, until he was re-diagnosed with cancer. He unfortunately lost his life the following year, unable to finish the journey, but managed to inspire the entire country (and rest of the world) to support him to raise millions of dollars to fight cancer. Since his massive marathon began 35 years ago, $650 million has been raised in his name. Want to be inspired? Watch the documentary (disclaimer: tears guaranteed).

The weird ones…

People apparently like to make running a marathon even harder than it already is. As if 26.2miles isn’t far enough, doing it while juggling/hula-hooping/bouncing basketballs/running backwards/knitting (yes, knitting) are just some of the bizarre, yet seriously impressive things people (apparently) enjoy doing. Doctor Dribble is one of these people, and he holds the record for the fastest marathon finishing time, while bouncing, not one, but two basketballs. I mean, why? As someone who plays basketball and grew up doing countless drills with two basketballs simultaneously I can say that five minutes of that is more than enough to make your arms feel like jelly and that’s without running at the same time. So why, why, why, would you want to do it for over 4 hours?!

The crazy ones…

Okay, so I knew that lots of people ran marathons, but something I was less aware of was the fact that plenty of people apparently choose to run marathons over consecutive days. What would possess a person to put themselves through the exhaustion over and over again, day after day, is beyond me – and the fact they can even finish them is just mind-boggling. And the record holder for this incredibly ridiculous challenge: Akinori Kusuda, of Japan, who ran a whopping 52 marathons in 52 days. That’s seven and a half weeks of daily marathons. That’s over a month. That is impressive.

 

So, what was I complaining about again? Going to go run my measly 6km…

 

 

 

The Easter (Food) Marathon

This week my aim was to include a little about food, and to tell you how my (ahem) athlete’s diet was coming along. Today I realised I have absolutely nothing to tell you except that its going no where. Absolutely nowhere. Because whereas with the running aspect to things, coming home was the best way to start training, as I had a lot more free time/wanted a distraction from the work I was meant to be doing for the summer term, all attempts to change my diet have come to no avail (if you can call it any sort of attempt) because of being home. Food being cooked for you constantly is hard to turn down, and alas I had no intention of doing so.

The biggest obstacle faced: granny food. You see, I am blessed with a grandmother whose sole mission in life is to fatten me up. She has been trying for years, literally since I lost my baby fat (circa 2002), and she has at least succeeded in helping me to evolve from pickiest eater alive to a complete foodie. The issue I found this Easter break was attempting to turn down her offer of lunch – I couldn’t do it.

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We’ve been having a daily little battle, where she’ll invite me over for lunch, I’ll say I was cooking something for myself, and then she’d come back with the dreaded ‘Oooh but I’ve made your favourite…’ Turns out I have a lot of favourites! Saying no to my Mama Aida’s dishes (and just Mama Aida generally) is pretty impossible, so I accepted defeat most days, devouring potaje, torta de patata, rosto, calabacínes rellenos, fried fish, carne en salsa and not forgetting the chips to wipe up the sauce (and dip into the fried egg[s]).

For those of you who have not had any of these Gibraltarian home cooked classics, and cannot appreciate the deliciousness, all you need to know is they are some of the yummiest, though I wouldn’t say healthiest, dishes, and my faves! Topping it off with weekly supplies of Nutella donuts and milojas (from the local bakery), I’ve feebly been picking up a piece of fruit (‘It’s healthy Molly!’) to make it seem like I wasn’t feasting on a daily basis. The food kept rolling in, and I just could not stop it.

On the subject of those sweet treats – Easter weekend was just as yummy. So here’s a few snaps of some of the sweet treats I devoured and helped to bake. I promise I’ll try harder as I go along. Not going to lie though, I have no regrets…

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On a side note this week I ran my first 10km in just over an hour. For those who don’t know, 10km is an entire loop around the Rock of Gibraltar, and basically covers the entirety of the country. So I decided instead of saying I ran my first 10km (which is a BIG deal in my book) I’m going to make it even more impressive and say I ran round a country. Now if that’s not an achievement, I don’t know what is. I think I might even skip the marathon. Can’t top this. I’m done.

Molly xx

P.S. Here’s the link to my Just Giving page just in case anyone’s got a few pennies to spare for my fundraising for Worldwide Cancer Research! XXXX