Rachael sets a new record!
April has been a great month, first off the mark was my 1940s-swing dance with an 18-piece big band, 1940’s DJ/dancers and over 115 guests jiving and lindy-hopping the night away in aid of Meningitis Research Foundation, my chosen charity for running the London Marathon. There had been quite a lot of planning for this which had kept me occupied for months and on the night so no chance of enjoying a small tipple as I wanted to be fresh for the club ride in the morning even though I should have been running. Trying to get a solid 5 hours in for one last long marathon training run before the taper had been a challenge and so riding further distances in less time was how I was going to convince myself that anything was better than nothing but I managed to get QOM on two segments in as many weeks.
The next exciting landmark in the April calendar was the Primal Ambassador meet in Plymouth, now considering I live in one of the flattest parts of the country where you need a fair few miles of riding before you reach anything that would be remotely considered as a hill, Plymouth and Dartmoor was nothing short of spectacular. The views over the moor and the winding country roads saw many Saturday cyclists climbing up or descending down the steep hills as we approached the hotel in Plymouth and I was excited to point out to Matt any rider wearing Primal. I was okay until I had seen a sign warning of a 20% descent near Princetown while watching a couple with a tandem walking up it with real effort...argh!
After meeting up with everyone on Saturday evening for dinner we went through what the weekend would entail which would include a ride out to Princetown on Sunday morning after some social media training and making a short video. As we headed off into the Sunday sunshine I was thinking “this is okay, the hills aren’t too taxing, it’s just these speedy descents I need to toughen up about” just as we all came to a holt! Poor Gary had hit a pothole and ended up needing tyre change, I felt a bit sorry for him as we left him waiting for the Primal van to return with a new wheel as we rode off into picturesque Dewerstone (there is a Primal video of us riding through as we pass 2 horses and a pony) where upon looking up at the “summit” towards Shaugh Prior I couldn’t see the top and I thought jokingly how lucky Gary was to escape this.
James, Nicole and Kelly glided up the hill while I ended up pootling in a zig zag as my quads burned and my breathing and heartrate increased and yes I will admit it now, I realllly felt queasy by the time I got the top of Shaugh Prior lol…okay it was really hot and I’m from the flatlands of East Anglia where its fast, flat and below sea level, no amount of turbo training could help me here ha!
We finally met Gary a few miles away at the top of the moor overlooking Princetown and headed over the tors to our destination. The rest of the ride included more filming and photos with Matt helping Judith as they drove the Primal van to various locations to take the photos. When it was all finished, we said our goodbyes and headed back to Cambridgeshire, it had been a brilliant weekend. I didn’t have much time to dwell on my impending birthday or Easter the following week or that I was going to be running the London Marathon.
The BIG weekend of the Virgin Money London Marathon had arrived, myself and 3 friends headed to The Expo to collect our race numbers and it suddenly felt real. Walking around The Expo I came across the Zwift stand, I couldn’t wait to have a go on the bike. One of the guys working on the exhibition stand pointed and said ‘you’re from Primal, I recognise you’, (I was wearing my Primal tee and leggings at the time) he went on to tell me more about the Primal criterium on Zwift and after having a go on the bike I came away with a water bottle and a big grin. Cycling had made it to the marathon expo. After heading back to the hotel to prepare my running kit and attaching my race number with my race bib clips “I Thought You said Rum” it was time was one last supper; how to carb load was one subject I overheard quite a bit that night and in the morning at breakfast – let the stuffing commence!!
Heading to the Red Starting pen I wasn’t nervous. I decided a while back that this year I was going to run without any expectations on myself and to quote a friend’s motto “finish lines before finish times” I wanted to come away with memories and have fun along the 26.2 miles and that I did while remembering my reason for running. I loved every single painful mile. I high fived nearly everyone I could, I played double high five (and miss) with the kids on the sideline, I played last hit you’re it (tag) with other participants and ran with Ken the oldest runner who had taken part in every marathon since 1981. We had a natter and then said our goodbyes on Tower Bridge (my nemesis last year) as he went off to be interviewed by the BBC. I had a cheer from Pixie Lott and carried on enjoying the incredible support from crowds to the finish line…..27.5 miles! The gun chip time was 6 hours 25 but my Garmin and Strava said 6 hours 14. I collected my medal and race bag and was elated to have completed it without injury, a bag full of happy fun memories, a partial suntan and vowed “never again” but that was on Sunday....the next day was a different mindset of course and yes, I would run it again…hello to entering the ballot and wishful thinking.
One thing that was noted during my marathon plod was and I quote “Many people say that if your sporting achievement is not on Strava then it did not happen” so therefore not only did I complete the London marathon but during the 26.2 mile run I became the new Women’s 400-meter World Record holder with a time of 46 seconds beating the previous outdoor record set in 1985 by 1.6 seconds. “Strava never lies”….
I’m happy and sad that a whole year of planning for this day has come to a close but excited to concentrate fully on training and riding. I have two 100 mile rides and 125-mile ride in May, the UCI Closed Road Grand Fondo in June and the Women on Wheels sportive in July which will be handy as I oversee the Global Corporate Challenge 2017 at work and captain my team as we compete to get around the world in 100 days.