Tag Archives: London Marathon

From Heart Surgery to A Marathon – London 2011

22 Apr

After a super busy week coaching, recovering and working,  it is now time to reflect on my long-awaited marathon last Sunday!

The Virgin London Marathon 2011 was, for many reasons, one of those life changing events for me. In October 2009, I was over the moon at receiving a place in the ballot. After lots of previous fundraising, I was almost glad to be relieved of the pressure of badgering friends, family and strangers for donations. My focus was purely on the challenging, improving my running and tackling my fourth marathon. Finding out about my place for VLM came only a month after I had completed the Berlin marathon in 4:41. I had been disappointed with this time and was determined to do better.

Training began well as I kept up my running fitness and joined the local triathlon club (www.zoomtri.com). Most of you reading will know the rest of the story: start of heart-related symptoms, tests and eventual diagnosis of an atrial septal defect in January 2010. Deferring my place for VLM was one of the most difficult parts of the whole experience. My fear was that I would never be able to run a marathon again.

After my heart surgery, my focus was once again firmly on the 26.2 miles round London. During the tough runs, rain and snow, my visualisation technique was lying in my hospital bed feeling frustrated. Remembering the pain of a broken sternum and stitched up heart meant a few interval sessions seemed easy!

As the day approached, nerves set in. My shin splints saga meant I had 4 less than desirable weeks training. I knew that prior to that my training had been more than adequate and I was mentally feeling strong! A busy lead up to the day meant my mind was occupied but I still had chance to go through some race day strategies. My mantra was ‘run tall, race strong’. Tall to stop me slumping when tired, strong to feel powerful and continue my race pace.

This year was my first time at Blackheath and the blue start. I loved it! Despite being a little cramped in Pen 5, the atmosphere was electric. I had my iPod with me for the tough times, but found I hardly needed it. After a slow start until mile 3, I soon settled into my pace. Managing to see my family at mile 9, 19 and 23 really helped. A school friend randomly shouted my name from the crowds which was an unexpected boost!

I passed halfway in 2:03, a little behind but still feeling good. The weariness started to kick in around mile 17. Soon after this, a Twitter friend Tim – @IronmanTD2011 appeared! After chatting for a couple of miles, I felt revitalised and ready to tackle the remaining 10k. Determination kept me going even when I felt a little dizzy at mile 23, remember what I have been through in the last 18 months made me dig in at run faster than ever! I finished strong, happy and feeling that I had given my all.

It was my ultimate aim to go sub 4 hours, and I still think I have this in me! 4:12:55 was more than good enough for this year and I beamed with pride at the finish line. I have been overwhelmed by support from all my family, friends and Twitter army! Thankyou to all who have donated to www.justgiving.com/CorinneEllison4GUCH, listened to my wobbles, given great advice and been an amazing source of support. Special thanks go to Damon, for letting me take time off from our busy life and photo booth hire business to train for the marathon, for always supporting me. Also, to my mum for being the most enthusiastic supporter at each and every marathon. Thankyou to my sponsors – ellasport. For the beautiful kit and all the support along the way! On Twitter, thankyou to Neil @GartsVLM2012, Jason @davmort, Kim @kimingleby, Nick @wombatsVLM, Claire @Claired0 and Candice @caliwi. @IronmanInTrng – we share the same unique journey and your support has been the best. You are all amazing.

SO….what next? With a full season of triathlons kicking off next week, I thought I would be satisfied. But guess what, I need to do another 26.2 – hopefully London 2012! Whilst I have been through my fair share of hurdles and low points in the last 18 months, I know there are many others with a congenital heart defect who are unable to run a marathon. I am the lucky one. My aim is to give people hope that with determination and passion, anything is possible. Whether a jog round the park, or a marathon, exercising when living with a heart condition is a great achievement. 10 months after open heart surgery, I managed to achieve my goal of running one of the biggest marathons in the world. What an incredible experience to share with 35,000 other runners.

Next year will be my year to go long. My journey to Ironman draws even closer – my biggest challenge yet!

Shin Splints Saga

25 Mar

Last week, I was diagnosed with shin splints – 4 weeks before my London marathon! The week previously I had run exactly as planned, 5 times, mixture of intervals, different paces and ending in a 19.5 slow run. Two days later I attempted a club hill session which resulted in a strange pain in my lower legs. I thought I had been working too hard and maybe pulled a calf muscle.

A trip to the physio the next day brought the news. Shin splints! How can this be? I’d had new trainers around 3 weeks before, had sports massages, always stretched, gradually increased mileage. I was in shock and felt quite emotional. Since my diagnosis of with a hole in the heart last January, I had this fixation with running the London marathon once more. I was forced to defer my place from 2010 and throughout my recovery from heart surgery, my driving force was VLM!

I began running in September last year, 8 weeks after surgery. Very slowly I increased both distance and speed. By January, I was able to stick to a sub 4 hour training plan and ran 5 times a week. My speed was at a level I could never have dreamt of before my surgery. As the weeks ticked on, I felt stronger and more confident of achieving an all time best performance.

My injury occured 12 weeks into my schedule. With 4 weeks to go, decisions had to be made. If I am to get though the marathon and really go for it, I have to cut back the running and allow my shins to heal. There is no way in the world I would miss the 17th April – I have put so much time and energy into achieving this goal.

In the last week and a half, I have thrown myself into cross training and have loved it! Had some amazing bike rides, feeling strong and enjoyed being back in the pool. Now, when I am able run  I appreciate it even more.

My plan for the next 3 weeks is:

Run on alternate days (3 times a week), some short and faster, some longer and slower. No more long runs or hills :(

Cycle twice a week, including a long ride at the weekend.

Swim twice a week.

Gym for strength work once a week.

This should keep up my fitness and keep the legs ticking over until the big day! Wish me luck!

If anyone would like to sponsor me for the marathon, please check out my Justgiving page at: www.justgiving.com/corinneellison4GUCH

London Here I Come

27 May

The big day has been and gone. How do I feel? Hard to say. Having waited for 10 weeks, I battled with frustration, anger and fear and I am finding this hard to let go of. I keep finding excuses to remain in fight mode, such as ‘I can’t relax until I get my operation date’, ‘I can’t relax until I am well enough to start running again’, ‘I feel guilty for not carrying out my everyday tasks’.

Enough of the excuses! I have succumb to my emotions, to the extent that it is affecting my outlook on life. Time to take stock and re-evaluate my situation and sift out the silver lining.

From my monthly review of my life, I find reassurance in what I have achieved in business, personally and on my annual aims. It is amazing what you do in a month, if you sit and think about your achievements.

The silver linings in the cloud of my forthcoming heart surgery are:

1. My surgeon states I will be able to run the London marathon in April next year.

2. I intend to use this blog to chart my experience over the coming weeks and months, to keep myself focused on recovery and to help others in a similar situation.

3. My fitness goals give me something to aim towards and give me the determination to pull through as soon as possible.

4. I have a great partner, family and friends around me for support.
So, London 2011, here I come. From heart patient to marathon runner, the journey starts here :)

Marathon Missions

27 Apr

The London Marathon is an epic, annual event in UK running. This year, 37,000 runners took part and battled through the 26.2 distance in warm temperatures. Amongst them was my friend. At age 63 and with no previous experience, Ann completed the distance in a great time.

Despite trying to give me some credit for encouragement and helping during the arduous 6 months of training, a marathon is a personal journey that only you can achieve. Physical pain, mental challenges and emotional obstacles are all part of a long distance race.

Marathons can be compared to many elements of life. These include childbirth, moving house, marriage and a metaphor for life in general. Even if you aren’t a runner (or wannabe runner), marathons can teach you a lot about the key characteristics of the successful. Determination, motivation and commitment are essential to keep the body going through several hours of physical exertion. Similarly, these qualities are required for a person to achieve a goal in life.

Application of marathon principles to life makes you strong, gives you belief in yourself and makes you hungry for more. Much like running, a taste of success is inspiring and encourages further success.

Set yourself a target in life, a goal that feels almost overwhelming. Do you doubt yourself when you imagine yourself working towards this goal? Good. That’s how it is meant to feel. Humans achieve the most when they stretch themselves and are not in a ‘comfort zone’. Your goal doesn’t have to be a marathon (although great if it is!), but something that you have never achieved so far.

My fourth marathon could be my hardest yet. With a deferred entry for next year’s London Marathon, I am hoping to run my best time yet following my planned heart surgery later this summer.

Set yourself a marathon mission today. As it says on a banner towards the end of the marathon course, ‘You are only 3 miles from history’! You could be only 3 / 6/ 12 months from history.