Tag Archives: London Marathon

And it’s a NO for me

10 Oct London Marathon rejection magazine 2017

Another year and another rejection in the London Marathon ballot.

VMLM Sorry

Maybe one day, I’ll get a Good For Age place, but that would take a lot of training as I would need to be able to maintain a 5:19km.

London Marathon rejection magazine 2017

I really enjoyed running Southampton Marathon earlier this year, but think I’m more likely to aim for Southampton Half in April as I’ll be running a marathon at the Long Course Weekend in July.

I’ve read a lot of discussion online about the allocation of London Marathon places. Some people believe it’s fair as Good For Age places exist and that ‘anyone can train to get a Good For Age place’ (I’m not sure I agree that anyone can achieve the standards). Others feel that it should go back to the old system where after a number of rejections, you automatically get a place. Others believe that you should have completed a half marathon before being allowed to apply for a place. Another alternative would be to have a system like NYRR run for the New York Marathon where anyone who volunteers at a set number of events (I think it’s 10 NYRR races) can get a place in New York Marathon. Of course, that scheme is much more achievable for someone who lives in the area. Another suggestion that I’ve heard is to delay the ballot until longer after the race so that only the dedicated remember to enter.

I think that it’s great that the television coverage of London Marathon inspires so many people to take up running, and it’s brilliant that it raises so much money for charity, but in many ways it has become a spectacle, rather than being a race, with so many people wearing fancy dress or trying to set crazy records. I know some people will disagree with me, but I do think it would be helpful to require people who apply for the ballot to have run a half marathon within the previous 24 months. Yes, this would be a barrier to participation, but if someone is desperate enough to get a place then it’s a hoop they can easily jump through. I also think that if someone has been allocated a place through the ballot then they should not be able to enter the ballot for the next 2 years (or possibly longer). I know the ballot is down to chance, but when there are so many people who would really like to get a place, this would give people more of an opportunity (and seems fairer than the date restrictions of entering the ballot that existed in the past).

Do you think the allocation of places is fair? If not, what solution would you propose?

My colleague, Sarah, was lucky enough to get a place in the ballot and has decided to chronicle her training in a new blog: Marathon? WTF? (Where’s the finish line?) Please do visit, have a read and consider sponsoring her 🙂

Thank you to everyone who’s voted for Fat Girl to Ironman so far – there’s still time to cast your vote in The 2018 Running Awards.

Nominated for The 2018 Running Awards. Please vote for me.

Did you get a place in London Marathon?

10 Oct

I had to go out and run some errands today, but as my hybrid is currently stuck behind a couple of old sofas in my garage, I had the choice of driving or walking. The devil on my shoulder said that it was cold and I’d enjoy singing along to music in my car, but the angel won, so I put on a jacket, filled up my rucksack and headed out on foot.

I was really glad that I chose to walk. I’m not getting as much exercise as I usually do, and my baby pokes me less in the ribs/back when I’m moving, so walking is less painful than driving. It was also surprisingly warm and sunny. However, there were lots of signs that autumn is here

Conkers (horse chestnuts) Leaves changing colour red berries

When I got back from my errands, the post had arrived:

London Marathon rejection

Yet another London Marathon rejection 😦 Bizarrely, there was no news for Stuart, so we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to find out whether he has got in. If he does have a place, then I really should go and support him, but I had my heart set on running Southampton marathon, and one of us has to look after the baby! (It may be that Stu doesn’t receive a magazine as apparently only half of the rejected applicants will receive a magazine adn teh rest will get an ezine).

I’ve been keeping my eye on social media this afternoon and can see that my friends Jo, Tom and Matt have got places (and my speedy friends have Good For Age or Championship places), but most people seem to have rejection letters. I’ll get a second chance in my running club’s ballot, but won’t be too upset if I miss out this year.

Stuart is getting back into the swing of training after taking a month off following Ironman Copenhagen. He hasn’t got a bike yet, but it won’t be long before he has something to ride… and hopefully, he’ll keep me company on the turbo trainer every now and again. I’ve also had a quote email from Cyclescheme, so I’m just waiting for a couple of details to be resolved and then I should be able to order a new bike 🙂

In the late afternoon, I received an unexpected email:

Email in Polish

One of my Polish-speaking friends has translated the message for me: “Hi, your bike has been found in Poland. The whole case has been directed to the police. It’s only a matter of time to get your bike back.”

I’m not really sure how to respond to this. I don’t think it’s a scam as the sender doesn’t have any of my contact details – there is a form for them to complete on Stolen Bikes… but I have no idea what state my poor bike will be in and also whether it would be possible to get my bike back from Poland. If it’s been trashed then it probably isn’t worth it. It does make me feel there’s even less chance of getting our other bikes back as they’ve probably disappeared in Poland. I’ve contacted the local police officer assigned to the case, so hopefully he’ll get back to me.

This evening, we went along to Tri Club swimming. It was a nice session and I did almost all of it, only missing out 100-200m.

I’m now in limbo… will I make it to Tri Club swimming next week? Will I make it to parkrun on Saturday? Will I be able to run with my friends on Thursday afternoon? It almost feels like I’m living on borrowed time. I’ve changed my Tri Club membership, so that from November, it is a non-swimming membership… but I’ll still be allowed to go to track running sessions and turbo trainer sessions (when I get the all clear from the doctor, and assuming I want to go).



My 2015 race/event awards

27 Dec
This year has been hectic. I’ve taken part in a wider range of events than in any previous year. I’ve completed single and multisport events and gone further and faster than previously. I even won a race! Without further ado, here are my 2015 race awards… drum roll, please…
Most Scenic Course
The runner-up in this category is Heartbreak Tailwind 10. It is a picturesque course held in the New Forest.

The winner in this category is the Grand Shaftesbury Tri/Run weekend. St Giles House at Wimborne St Giles is the family home of the Shaftesburys and it made a stunning backdrop for these events:



Most Challenging Course

The runner-up in this category was Winchester Duathlon. I had assumed that it was going to be on the same course as previous years, which was very flat, but instead it took place on what felt like a mountain :-S

The winner of the most challenging course category is Brutal 10 Enduro. A single lap of this course wasn’t too bad, but running 50km on it at night-time wasn’t easy.
Tamsyn at Brutal 10
Winning pairs
Best Expo
This has to go to London marathon, which consistently has a good expo. It was also easy to choose this one, as no other event that I went to had a decent expo.
IMG_5484 IMG_5491
I enjoyed watching Martin Yelling’s presentation on marathon running and also the interviews with elite runners.
Best Post-Race Food/Beverages
This is another hard category to judge. I enjoyed taking part in my Tri Club’s “Tim Wilks Day”, which is a timed swim, bike and run, followed by a delicious pub lunch, but it’s not really what is meant by post-race food, so I’m going to award this to Gridiron 100, which is a low-key randonnee that I took part in. Bacon sandwiches were available before the start of the event and then there were copious platters of biscuits and other snacks along the way, followed by some more food at the finish.
Best Swag
I’ve not received a lot of goodies at races this year, so I’m going to award this to Durlach Turmberglauf. At the end of this 10k, I received a glass with the race logo and as much water as I could drink. Given that the event only cost €6, I can’t complain about that!
Most Unique Medal
This has to go to Ironman Dublin 70.3:
Ironman Dublin 70.3 medal
This is a heavy medal with a beautifully decorated ribbon.
Favourite Race Shirt (tech tee or reg)
The runner up in this category is Salisbury 10 mile. Runners were presented with blue technical t-shirts at the end of this race – I’ve worn mine quite a few times:
Salisbury tshirt
The winner in this category is Thunder Run. The main sponsor is adidas, so of course, the technical t-shirt is a lovely adidas shirt:
TR24 tshirt

Best Course Support (aid stations, volunteers, people cheering you on, etc

For me there was no competition for this – it has to be Southampton Half Marathon. Various groups were challenged to be ‘mile makers’, which guaranteed crowds all of the way around the course. I saw many friends from Southampton Tri Club, SUTRI, Lordshill Road Runners and parkrun as well as work colleagues from University of Southampton. Although I went into this race with low expectations (of myself), the support of the crowd meant that I finished in a time that I was really proud of.

Event You Are Most Proud of Yourself for Completing
This has to be Scilly Swim Challenge. At the start of this year, I’d never swum more than 2km… and that wasn’t continuous, so this was a massive challenge for me. I may have had to be rescued for some of it, but completing the training and getting to the start line was an accomplishment in itself. It also meant that I took part in a variety of swimming events throughout the year. The event itself was really well organised and great fun – it’s already too late for you to sign up for 2016, but please do add it to your planning for 2017!
End of Scilly Swim with Bryony
Favourite Overall Event
The runner-up for my favourite overall event is St Michael’s Mount swim. It was a really fun evening and it gave me so much confidence.
tams SMM swim2
Overall, my favourite event was ABP Southampton Half Marathon. The crowd support was great as were the technical t-shirt and the medal. This is an event that will go from strength to strength, so I’m definitely going to do it again in 2016.
pub with Teri
Which events that you took part in this year would you give prizes to? What should I add to my bucket list?


In other news…

27 May

I have been so busy recently with work and training that I’ve not had as much any time for blogging?

The new parkrun milestone t-shirts should be arriving soon. I’ve volunteered loads, so I’ll immediately be eligible for one of the purple ones:

parkrun milestone tshirts

parkrun volunteering

I’ve also managed to fit in a few parkruns recently, including my 150th:

Southampton parkrun #154

Southampton parkrun #154

I’ve also entered the ballot for London Marathon, but there is such a small chance of getting in that I’m not holding my breath! (Apparently 247,069 people entered the ballot and by the time places have been allocated to good for age, elites and charities there is only a 7% chance of getting a place).

ABP Southampton Half Marathon

26 Apr

I didn’t run as much as I’d planned to in Japan (my running was limited to the running tour that we did in Tokyo at the very start of our trip), and I’ve struggled with jet lag and laryngitis since returning, so I was a little apprehensive about doing Southampton Half. I did parkrun in Cornwall last weekend, and only just got under 30 minutes, which is significantly slower than I expected.

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to complete the half marathon distance, so I asked my friend Teri to go for a run with me on Monday. The short run to her house (<2km) was really hard and I struggled to get under 7 minutes a kilometre. I had said to Teri that I wanted to go for a 60-90 minute run, but I tried to revise that down when I spoke to her husband. Fortunately, Teri was keen to go for a longer run as a bit of stress relief, so I was persuaded to go for 90 minutes. We chatted for the whole run and gradually picked the pace up, so although it wasn’t fast, I managed to do 10 miles and didn’t have any aches, which reassured me that I should be able to finish the race, although I revised my goal to 2:10.

I was sensible for once and rested all week, although I had forgotten that I had booked a sports massage for Saturday afternoon. It was one of the most painful massages that I have ever had – that’ll teach me for cycling miles every day and not stretching!

This morning, I woke up early as Stuart was doing London Marathon… however, although I had intended to be the supportive wife, after a quick chat and a cuddle, I turned over and went back to sleep for another hour and a half.

I made breakfast (apricot and almond porridge) and dressed quickly, so I was ready quite early, Teri had contacted me to agree to meet early, so I set off to walk to our meeting spot. We intended to walk to the start of the race, but just as I got to our meeting point (by a cross roads), a car pulled up and Teri shouted for me to jump in. Teri had been picked up by our club mate Jonathan, so I was happy to accept the lift.

We arrived just before the start of the 10k race, so we stopped by the side of the road to cheer the start of the 10k race and then went and collected our race t-shirts. After that we headed over to where the LRR flag was set up… with a brief stop along the way. There was the most adorable black pug with her owners, so I had to stop for a quick hello!

Then it was off to meet the rest of the Lordshillers and time for a team photo.

LRR team photo

I also spotted my friend, Jez, just back from our trip to Japan. It seemed like everywhere I looked there were people I recognised!

As the queues were quite long, Teri and I headed over to the baggage tent early, and I reluctantly handed in my hoodie and rucksack. Teri had brought a bin bag with her, but I hadn’t thought to pick one up. The temperature was ideal for running, but a little chilly for standing around in.

We headed over to the start and managed to make out way to the front of the 1:45-2:00 pen, where Teri snapped a quick selfie of us.

Selfie with Teri

© Teri Pragnell

Before long, the count down was on and the race started… but it took a little bit of time to cross the starting line.

It was an uphill start, but I felt a burst of adrenaline and was excited to get started. I absolutely love races where there is crowd support and this race did not disappoint.

As we headed onto the High Street, I said to Teri that perhaps I was going a bit fast, but that I would stick with her for as long as I could. Teri pointed out that we were going downhill, so I wasn’t too worried.

We headed into Ocean Village for a run around the marina, which was a little congested and slowed to a walk at one point, so this may be an area that Marafun need to rethink for next year… although a staggered start may be enough to ease it.

We arrived at the Itchen Bridge faster than I realised. Teri quickly pulled away from me, but after my illness, I didn’t think it would be wise to push the pace too early on, so I let her go and focused on keeping my pace under 5:38/km, which was what I needed to do to ensure that I finished under 2 hours, as I had started to believe that I might be able to manage that.

In training, I have hated running across the Itchen Bridge and have often slowed my pace down or stopped for a quick breather, but I focussed on watching out for people I knew on the other side of the road, which distracted me from my discomfort. After the turnaround, I was able to see who I was ahead of… not necessarily ‘beating’ as they may have started considerably further back than me, but friends who run at a similar pace to me.

The support continued as we left the bridge and headed around past the Saints football stadium, before heading onto a part of the run that I have found tough before. Previously, I have started the run from on Southampton Common, so I wasn’t as tired as usual at this point, which was in my favour. It was also great to see Dan, one of my club’s finest runners, cheering people on. There was a slight incline, but the support of the crowd meant that I didn’t notice it. I also focused on smiling at the supporters to show how much fun I was having… as well as watching the technique of other runners, which distracted me a bit. I also saw parkrun Jill go breezing past – she really makes running look effortless!

We continued through Bitterne triangle and into Riverside Park, where again there were many supporters cheering us on. I’m wondering whether some of them were people who had been there since Junior parkrun finished.

Although the weather was cooler than of late, I made sure that I took on some water at every drinks station and poured some over me to keep my temperature down. At 10km, I had an energy gel. It allegedly had caffeine in it, but I didn’t notice any benefit.

The 2:00 pacer passed me, but from looking at my watch, I could see that he was running significantly faster than was necessary, so I wasn’t too bothered. I knew the toughest part of the race (Burgess Mountain) was yet to come, but I was confident that I had done enough earlier in the race that if I didn’t slow down too much, I would be OK.

There were many church groups and bands on Burgess Road, which helped me to maintain a steady pace, and before long, I was at the top of the hill. It included my slowest kilometres, but my average pace was still fast enough to finish in under 2 hours, so I felt motivated.

Running along University Road was great, I saw several work colleagues and there was great support from some student groups. I loved the run down the hill, even though I knew that there would soon be another 90 degree turn and then a hill up to The Common.

The Southampton Tri Club crew were the ‘mile makers’ on this part of the course, and it was great to hear them cheering, even if Steve did get over-enthusiastic and call me Donna (to be fair, we’re similar height with brown hair and are both Cornish, but that’s about the end of the similarities!)

I told another runner that the hills were over, because I had completely forgotten that we still had to run up the hill on The Common – oops. We ran through the underpass, which seemed incredibly dark – I’m sure it’s not normally that bad – and I powered up the other side as I knew that some people I know intended to be somewhere in teh area and I didn’t want to be seen slacking off. There were lots of people that I knew on The Common, including Steve Robinson and his children, Teri’s children, my work colleague Lorrayne with her daughter and Dean with his daughter. My breathing was feeling a bit strange, so I decided to give it to the top of the hill before getting out my inhaler… but I didn’t need to as the support helped me to feel good and it settled down again.

I love running downhill, so I was really pleased to have reached the highest point of the course. I also noticed that I was running near to fellow parkrunner and Sunday Runday runner Kate. She looked like she was having a great time – especially when we passed her son and the rest of her scout group.

At the bottom of the hill, I saw fellow RunCamper Max, along wither her husband and fellow STC’er Richard and their gorgeous daughter (who hasn’t been signed up for any clubs yet… as far as I know!)

Then it was on to the flats, where I saw my colleague Lorrayne again – she was looking in the other direction, but I shouted to get her attention! Further along the flats, I saw Lorrayne’s husband, Jonathan (who gave me the lift earlier). he was struggling a bit, so I encouraged him to run with me, which he did for a while, but unfortunately, it wasn’t his best race today 😦

After we left The Common, I knew there was a small group of LRRs to pass as well as the infamous cake-baker, Lou. Sadly, she had no cakes with her today, but it was great to see all of them cheering people on.

Heading down London Road, I knew that I was so close to the finish and I started to relax a little as I was feeling great and was confident that I would get under 2 hours – a feat which I have only achieved twice: at Reading Half in 2012 (1:52:19) and at Gosport last year. I couldn’t remember my time from Gosport, so didn’t have a specific target in mind.

I picked up the pace when we started running through the park – especially when I could see where we started, but then I reminded myself that we had to head back up to a finish in Guildhall Square… and, unfortunately, there was another hill to be conquered. I was determined not to stop and wanted to enjoy my run back up the High Street.

Towards one of the final turns, I saw the beautiful half of Julian Porter Photography (the lovely Sue), so I gave a huge grin, in the hope that there would be at least one good picture of me from the race as I’ve not had many recently.

Southampton half

It was then onto the final 100m, where I really picked the time up. I was absolutely delighted to finish in 1:55:14. A quick check of my time at Gosport Half last year showed that I finished in 1:57:37, so although it wasn’t a PB, it was my third time under 2 hours, my second fastest time ever and my fastest time since 2012. I am so happy!

Southampton Half results

I’m also really pleased with my stats – I finished in the top 45% (not sure that actually sounds better than the top half) and was in the top 25% of all women and my age group as well.

Southampton Half Marathon Certificate

Southampton Half Marathon Certificate

I really enjoyed this race. My preparation was not ideal, but the support from a home town crowd cannot be beaten. The TryTri/Marafun boys delivered a great event. It wasn’t perfect, but as their inaugural race at a scale they’ve never undertaken before, there were no major problems – they even fixed it so it wasn’t too hot, but it didn’t rain either! 🙂

I’ll definitely be entering this race again next year. If you want to find out more, watch the video and then visit http://www.abpsouthamptonhalf.co.uk/sign-up/ to sign up.

selfie with becky

Post-race selfie with Becky, Alison and Teri © Becky Cleeves

Pub with Teri

Post-race refuelling with Teri © Megan Draper

As an aside, my amazing husband ran London Marathon today. He spent most of the last three weeks feeling ill with a chest infection and I did wonder whether he was going to be able to cope with our cycling tour in Japan. He did a lot of training for the marathon, but I thought his dream might end in tatters, so I am immensely proud of him for not only completing the marathon but getting a new PB of 3:13:47. I’m sorry I wasn’t there to cheer him on.

Fundraising for the Chestnut Appeal

25 Jan

Chestnut Appeal logoThis year, Stuart and I are raising money for the Chestnut Appeal, which supports men with prostate cancer in the south-west. It is an important charity that has funded six nurses and a variety of treatments and equipment.



The events that we are doing:

I only started learning to swim in 2013 and neither of us has ever swum more than 2.8k before, so this is going to take a lot of training. Stuart and I are hoping that you’ll support us on our way to completing this tough year… and that you’ll also sponsor us to help our chosen charity. To make this easy, we have set up a JustGiving account:


Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving – they’ll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they’ll send your money directly to the charity. So it’s the most efficient way to donate – saving time and cutting costs for the charity.

We are hoping to raise £200 (about US$300), and are very grateful to everyone who has already sponsored us, as we’re already a third of the way there. It is possible to donate in a variety of currencies, including GB£, US$ and €. Every donation, no matter how small, will make a difference to someone’s life.

Massive THANK YOU to Rob, Neil, Henry, Di, Clare, Ellie, Gary, Chris and Adrian – your generous donations are much appreciated 🙂

Good Fri Tri finishers

Stuart and I at the end of the Good Fri Tri


Ginger Girl Running: “Make the most of all opportunities.”

31 Jan

Teri is one of my friends who is training for her first marathon and blogging about the experience: http://gingergirlrunning.wordpress.com/

Giner Girl Running website

Giner Girl Running website © Teri Pragnell

•    Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a 40-something mum of 2 small children and I love to run. I also swim and cycle, taking part in my first triathlon and a half marathon in 2013. This gave me huge sense of pride as I am not confident in water out of my depth and was terrified of lake swimming.

Teri had a full team of supporters at her first aquathlon

Teri had a full team of supporters at her first aquathlon

I started running in 2010 to do Great South Run to raise funds for a local charity, Friends of PICU (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit), to thank them for saving my son’s life. I intended to stop once GSR was over, but I got the bug. I may not be fast, but I love it. I love running with my club (Lordshill Road Runners) and getting to meet new friends. I never thought I would do a marathon, but here I am training for London, the biggest marathon in the UK, if not the world… and for the same charity that started my running journey.


•    What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
I have a First class Honours Degree in Maths… I forget this too! (This is something that I didn’t know and now I feel even more embarrassed that on our last long run, I may ahve mentioned my inability to explain the basic maths on an online course that I’m involved with – oops!)

•    How would you summarise what your blog is about?
My blog is about my marathon journey – both training and experiences getting to the finish line!

•    When and why did you start blogging? Are you still blogging for the same reasons?
I started a blog to learn how to use WordPress (I wanted Teri to help with one of my many projects, so I guess I’m to blame!) Then when I got a place for London Marathon, I was asked to blog about my progress. So I started blogging properly in Dec 2013.

•    Which three blogs/bloggers have had the most influence on you and why? Are there any particular bloggers that you look to for inspiration?
I have only read a couple of blogs, but ones that I enjoy are James (Running – One step at a time), Julian’s (JulesPorter.com/running) and yours. I don’t tend to read blogs of people I don’t know, unless a friend shares a blog of interest.

•    How would someone describe your blogging style?
Factual – I’m still learning best way to write it.

•    What tips would you give to anyone thinking about starting to blog?
I don’t think I am in a position to do this yet!

Map reading

Teri and Meryl having a go at map reading

•    Who do you think the main audience is for your blog? Are you writing with any specific person in mind?
Friends who want to follow my training and people interested from Friends of PICU.

•    How do you decide what is ‘blogworthy’?
Anything related to my training – I think of it more as a diary.

•    What do you find most challenging about blogging?
I think it might get a bit tedious after several weeks of repeating the same things, for me the writer and the audience.

•    What do you do when you aren’t blogging?
Exercise or have family time. I also enjoy the “occasional” glass or two of wine.

•    What events have you got lined up for 2014?
London marathon, Bramley 20, Eastleigh 10k, Reading Half Marathon, Eastleigh tri.

•    What skill(s) do you hope to master over the next year?
Learning Agile development at work. Improving my cycling ability.

Garmin 410

Garmin 410

•    What is your favourite gadget and why?
Garmin forerunner 410 … Love to see my progress.

•    What’s the furthest from home you’ve travelled for a sporting event?
Oxford to participate in Blenheim tri or Manchester to watch Man U play!

•    What’s your favourite food/recipe?
A really good rare steak with pepper sauce. Hot chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream.

•    What is your strategy for dealing with an injury? Have you ever had to put it into practice?
Rest and ice, foam roll and do a different exercise. Get physio if a bad injury. I’ve had to do this twice in the past 18 months.

•    Do you have any pre-race rituals or superstitions?
Go to the toilet … lots!

Posing before Stubbington 10k with Teri

Posing before Stubbington 10k with Teri © Steve Robinson

•    Describe your philosophy for life in a six word sentence…
Believe and you can do it!

•    What is the most important advice that you can give to readers?
Make the most of all opportunities.
Self belief and confidence are the most important things to have if you want to succeed.
Set realistic goals.