Just over a week ago an email dropped into my mailbox which made me stop, and I had to read it about 5 times before it actually sank in, I had been invited to a selection day with Runners World and Vifit Sport. A few weeks before I had entered a competition with Runners World that I had seen them promoting on Instagram, the opportunity to win a place in the London Marathon 2018 and along with that, get professional advice and couching to get you there. This for me is a dream so I entered with my story of my latest asthma diagnosis. It was at the back of my mind but never in a million years did I think that I would actually be selected to go to the selection day in London, as lets be honest, I'm just little old me! I just knew that I had to go and I would do anything to make it happen. Luckily I have the most supportive husband in the world and he told me to go for it, so with childcare arranged and the hotel roomed booked my trip to the Lee Valley Athletics Centre was a go.
I was already in London on the Thursday so I made my way to my hotel early evening in the hope of a good nights sleep and some rest, because if I'm honest I was terrified of what Friday was going to involve. I'm not the most outgoing person and it takes me a while to come out of my shell but I just knew my comfort zone was going to have to be jumped out of and into the unknown with a big smile I would go. Friday morning came and I arrived at Lee Valley Athletic Centre with plenty of time just so I could settle my nerves and make myself familiar with the place.
Upon arriving I was greeted by one of the Runners World team who asked me to fill out a form to say I was happy to be filmed. Now I know it said about photography and filming in the email but I hadn't given it much thought between choosing what I was going to wear and trying to remember packing said kit into my suitcase, so I had applied NO makeup and had sprites my hair with some dry shampoo. I then began to regret that decision when I saw the camera crew! Haha so I was going to appear on film and in photographs looking as I had just got out of bed, because thats the look I had going on.
Any how I had to just get over that and get on with the exciting day ahead. We were all given #missionmarathon t-shirts to wear, which made me feel a little less intimidated as we all looked the same! The next half an hour was spent chatting with fellow selecties and having head shots done. Now as out of my comfort zone as that was I'm looking forward to seeing the finished results, and it made me feel rather professional.Everyone I spoke to was so lovely as everyone was in the same boat, also wanting that place pretty badly. I also tried to keep that smile on my face and not pull any silly faces, which I'm known to do, knowing the cameras were floating about.
There were three teams in which only one from each team would win a london marathon place as there were 3 in total up for grabs, #finishliners which was the team I was part of, #breaking4 who were those hoping to complete the marathon within 4 hours and #speeddemons which were those who were aiming to complete within 3 hours. It was great to meet those with a passion for running just like mine, and that actually got it! Our days were then split into 3 sessions - Run, Recover and Repeat. These sessions were going to cover all bases when it comes to running and it would help those who would be selecting the winners to get a feel of what we were all like.
Our first session as the #finishliners was the Run session. We made our way out onto the running track to complete this first session. This had got to be the one session I was most excited about as I have always wanted to run on a proper athletic track. It was taken by Jane Vongvorachoti, an Olympic marathoner at Rio 2016 and Joe Mackie. Once on the track we did a warm up where we ran casually around the track while having a chat with the other team members. It was then onto a drills session before we ran our mile round the track. I was 20 seconds off a personal best with the mile as I started out slower than usual as I didn't want to tire myself out too soon. The run around that track was just incredible, the flatness of it considering I live in one of the hilliest places I know and the bounce on the track just made the running seem effortless - although my chest would say different as I had to go off after and have a puff on the old inhaler.
|Such a close to PB in the track session
From this session it was into the Repeat session which was a Q&A with Ben Green and Andy Dixon (Runners World editor), who are both sub 3 hours marathon runners, which I find incredible. This was a great session in which we asked questions as well as they both gave advice on marathon running, and running in general. I got a lot out of this session especially with regards in how to increase my speed as I thought I had hit my top speed of running. We also spoke about training schedules and how to get the most out of them.
The last session of the day was with Andy Vincent, a PT, who talked us through and showed us some foam rolling technics and what he believes works and what doesn't. I have to admit I am not great at the old stretching after a run, especially after a race, so the technics I have taken away will help me especially as I have flat right foot and suffer from time to time with ankle pain because of it. The stretch we did with our big toe, really helped with this, because as I have been running runvember my ankles have been getting a pounding.
All in all the day was such a brilliant experience and one that I will always remember. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to do this day and I have fingers, toes and everything else crossed that that place has my name on it. And if it doesn't I honestly wish the winners all the best and I look forward to following their journey, while creating a new journey for myself with the Bournemouth marathon in October 2018.