Virgin London Marathon Part 1

Background

Historically I have never enjoyed running.  I used to say I hated running, which was true, however I hated being overweight slightly more; I chose the path of least hatred.  Other exercises were fine, cross training, spin classes, army circuits, five a side football, however although getting me fitter, none of these were quite as good as reducing weight loss. However I like my food; my takeaways, my chocolate and my beer so I have an uphill task.

Running was really a misnomer for me; jogging or plodding along was more accurate, as I regularly saw (and see) people who seemingly spring past me as if on magic legs, effortlessly gliding past as if the laws of gravity were different for them, it was like they had a rocket up their bum.  Whilst my shambolic form pounded the ground using a series of inefficient, half coordinated joint jarring juts.

In my early days I recall watching the marathon on television, remembering the red carpet stage (in particular) but having absolutely no understanding of how normal people could do this race.  It seemed back then that they were from a different planet to me, and I had no interest in following them.

Given my level of fitness and the fact that I am over 35 now, I was thinking that perhaps a marathon wasn’t ever going to be something I could do in my lifetime. Not that I didn’t think it was possible but that the draw towards it wasn’t enough for me to pay the price in training.

turkey foil boy

an attempt to look fit... except it was just a firedrill where they handed out those heat things that made me look like turkey with bacofoil

The Inspiration

The inspiration for me happened when watching my sister in law Mellissa Whittle run for her Charity Tommy’s earlier this year, she was driven by her own personal circumstances.  She started out with a mixture of running and walking over short distances and somehow managed to build it up further and further demonstrating how possible it was to do.  We traveled down to London to support her on the day, and I was completely struck by the atmosphere that was there that I was reduced to tears.  It is hard to explain, and has to be felt to be understood; It was partly the sheer encouraging support for the runners, who were a large number of frankly heroic people who were putting their bodies through an incredible test in order to raise money to change other people’s lives.

I was inspired, the seed was sown.

The very next day I made enquiries at Deutsche Bank (the place I am contracting) to see if they had any places for the London Marathon the following year, and found out that they didn’t tend to decide those until later in December that year, when they had selected their Charities of the year.  So I looked around to see how to get into the London marathon.  There seemed to be 3 ways.   The ballot is the obvious way, where approximately 130,000 people apply for 10,000 places, so I was all over that; I applied as soon as I could and got my application in on time, even donating the cost of the fee for a further ballot for extra places seemed a good idea! However my bid was unsuccessful, maybe I shouldn’t have put in a slow expected time, who knows? Its a low probability anyhow 1 in 13…..  The other way was via some kind of running club and I wasn’t really going down that route, I didn’t want to go running, I wanted to do that race…., so that left me the last way being via a charity.

I was particularly drawn to the children’s charities and applied to many.  Life starts with childhood, and I believe all children should have the same chance in life, even if its not a reality now we should strive for it.  While tempted to follow Mellissa’s charity (Tommys) I wanted to carve out my own path. Unfortunately I was turned down from many of these oversubscribed charities.

Then earlier this month I heard that the Charities of the year were chosen for Deutsche Bank and one of them was “Sparks”, they didn’t have any special places for Deutsche Bank however I got into contact with them immediately and enthusiastically put forward my application.  Rather surprisingly they almost immediately said yes, and being a Charity of the year with Deutsche Bank it means the first £1000 I get raised for this charity will be matched (even though I am not an employee of Deutsche Bank I have a relationship through my company through which I work.)  This was hugely encouraging and a brilliant feeling. I had made it in principle to the starting line of the London Marathon.  The next steps are to gain fitness so I can actually run it and start fundraising.

In hopeful anticipation of a place, (which included various competition entries) I have already been training, which started out around 3 miles approximately twice a week around  July – August time, and rather accidentally (when I once got lost) I extended it to 4 miles by missing a turning, and then encouraged that I immediately didn’t collapse then I worked my way upto 5 miles and only very recently 6.5 miles.

I didn’t immediately start running, as my weight was 13st 5lbs which I felt was too much for my knees, so I resolved to go on a bit of a diet, and do cross training stuff at the gym which would give my joints the best chance of avoiding injury.  I resolved to start running when I hit 13st/13st 1lb.  Which I did.  Since then I have been slowly losing the pounds and currently weigh in at around 12st 7lbs +/- 1lb depending on diet/water etc…

I am now considering a multitude of fundraising ideas, (and would welcome some), above the generosity of my friends, colleagues and family, as 2000 pounds (matched or not) is not a small sum of money to come by.  I have raised £10 so far and I will not despise the day of small beginnings.

The purpose of this blog

I  hope this blog will serve to inspire or at least entertain those reading it.  For those whom I manage (somehow) to inspire, I’ll hopefully inform them on a few tips on running a marathon, hopefully without any examples of “how not to do it”.  Additionally I am fortunate enough to know a few work colleagues who run marathons, from normal people to a couple of elite / ultra elite runners, whom run frankly absurdly low times and high distances.  A nice spread of advice you might say.  I am blessed with a number of tremendous examples to follow and I hope my writing this down will also serve you.

If you have been inspired by this and/or Sparks charity please give generously to my Virgin Money Giving Page here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RobertElbourn I will be blogging my journey to the start line, as I believe as much as the marathon is a race, its also a demonstration of the preparation and diligence that has gone into training for it.

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4 Responses to Virgin London Marathon Part 1

  1. Pingback: Virgin London Marathon 26th April 2015 | AGILE78's Blog

  2. Bill says:

    not wishing to sound negative about the London Marthon but the ballot system is unfair example i have applied 14 years in a row via the ballot and never been offered a position, yes there are many charity vacancies which demand 4 figure sums which you have to commit to which is easy if you area well paid premier footballer but when you are on not much above the basic minimum wage and with kids to feed the priority goes to them. i fuuy understand the need for the charity placeses and by choice i would love to run for them even above the ballot positions but how can i commit to paying a 4 figure sum and if i cant chieve this amount i am responsible to find the sum myself.

    • rob says:

      yeah, the ballot is tough, I didn’t get in via the ballot. Some charities are now asking for £2500 minimum which again is tough, especially when you factor in your own costs, shoes, kit, endless lucozades. I think I knew about 10 people who applied for the marathon and only 1 person got through… However, that amount is acheivable with a deal of fundraising, I wouldn’t reccommend doing it every year though. I was very fortunate to have the company I work for do a charity donation match, which left my adjusted target of £1000 more realistic so perhaps thats an avenue for you to pursue, if interested. I also found organising a pub quiz extremely fun and rewarding, I shared organising it wtih another co-running and I think we pulled in a significant chunk of the sponsorship on that one night alone. Alternatively there are other marathons to join such as Brighton, or Bournemouth which I have heard have stunning views! The ballot system will always be a bone of contention though I agree….

    • rob says:

      ps sorry for late response!

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