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Showing posts from April, 2019

London marathon 2019: the day I became a world record holder ...

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I've had some amazing days in my running career (for want of a better word). The Wings for Life world run in 2015. The sheer fun of beaming my way round Tokyo marathon in 2017. Finally breaking three in Seville last year. But running as a panda might just top them all.

From the surreal moments in the Guinness World Record tent - chatting with a mummy, lending duct tape to a post box, helping my friends assemble a sausage dog - the day just got better and better. Usually the first few miles of London marathon are pretty quiet but within minutes my friend Tim had popped up by the side of the road and the cries of "Go panda!" had started. If I had a pound for every time I heard that yesterday, I'd be the world first panda millionaire.

All marathons are journeys, both literally and emotionally - there's just so much time for your thoughts to bounce between excitement and despair and back again. And though the race unfolds over hours, I find it takes me days to proce…

Right on Hereford, left on Boylston ...

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You see this everywhere in Boston - "Right on Hereford, left on Bolyston". The final directions of the Boston marathon. I've never quite understood why it has such resonance - I mean, no one ever says "right on Birdcage Walk, left on the Mall." I know now. 

Partly, it's because it's literally the only two turns in the ENTIRE race. I swear to god I'd actually forgotten how to turn by that point. I laugh about only being able to turn left after epic track sessions, but running in a literal straight line for 26 odd miles is quite something. But mostly, for me, it was a case of finally, finally, reaching that iconic end of a very very very long race. 

26.2 miles is always hard, but some times it really decides to kick you in the teeth. I packed for Boston when the forecast was "freezing, rainy, headwind". Instead I died a slow death by humidity and ended up with sunburn. Of all the things I expected, that was not one!

I knew going into the race t…

Roll up, roll up, bring out your finest panda puns

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Pandamonium on the Running Channel
With a couple of big race days looming on the horizon, my thoughts have turned to the important questions: Where do pandas store their gels if they don't have pockets? What are the panda puns that are going to haunt me round 26.2 miles of London streets? Will it be hot like last year, and will I therefore be parboiled panda by mile 10? Can one carb-load on bamboo? Will I terrify any more small children like the one in the park when we were filming, who hid in her pushchair from me? Can I start regularly commuting in that costume, because actually that trip across London was really fun ... Yes, like I said, the big questions that haunt us all before race day.

Of course, I do have to get a small race in Boston out of the way first, but this is the big one. Quite literally, in the case of that panda head. In all seriousness, if anyone does have a cunning method of carrying gels when you don't have pockets and a race belt might be tricky to get r…

Goody bags and bad legs

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If only there were some direct relationship between the quality of a goody bag and the outcome of a race, eh? The above haul is from yesterday's excellently organised Kingston Spring Raceday. With 8.2 and 16 mile options, the hardest part of this race is always the bit where the 8 milers peel off for the finish and you have to go right past that oh-so-tempting finish line and slog another lap.

Unfortunately for me, my legs and my head were all over the place. At five miles I felt great, at 10 miles I pretty much wanted to give up running forever, at 14 I was feeling - well, I suppose not so much better as just relieved the end was nearly in sight.  Still, the caramel wafer tasted really nice last night.

I also definitely feel I need to get a better handle on Mother's Day. What with the clocks going back, setting an alarm for 6am and creeping out of the house before anyone else even woke up doesn't feel entirely right. Lying in bed and demanding breakfast on a tray is more…