One of the benefits of being an EA-affiliated member of our online running club, Run Mummy Run Community Run Club in association with ASICS (RMR CRC), is that you could be in with the chance of earning a club spot for the TCS London Marathon.
We had one club spot for the 2023 event, and the lucky person selected from all eligible members was Melanie Cook. As well as a place to run in the iconic race, Melanie received coaching and support from our very own in-house Head Coach Fiona Wright to help her get ready for the big day.
We caught up with Melanie after the event to find out how the training, build-up and race itself went.
Run Mummy Run (RMR): How did you feel when you found out you had got the club place for RMR CRC?
Melanie Cook (MC): Completely shocked and super excited. I felt so lucky and couldn’t wait to ring my family and friends to let them know.
RMR: Have you run London before? Or a different marathon?
MC: This was my fifth marathon, but first time actually in London. My first was Loch Ness in October 2019, then I did the virtual London in October 2020, the Peterborough Marathon in May 2021, followed by the virtual London again also in 2021 (October).
RMR: What were your initial thoughts and goals for the marathon when you knew you had the place?
MC: My initial thoughts and goals were to try and soak up the atmosphere and not focus on a time goal. I struggle with crowds and have social anxiety and also OCD, so the biggest challenge for me was going to be getting to the start line and getting round with all the people and contamination risks.
RMR: Our Head Coach Fiona sorted you out with a training plan for this, setting out three runs a week in order to work around existing your cross-training. How did you find this?
MC: I have found that, for me, running more than 2-3 times a week is too much for my body, [so I wanted to] incorporate yoga, cycling, swimming, HIIT session and strength work. The plan needed to include these. Fiona gave me a plan that included 3 runs a week – 1 speed, 1 easy and 1 long – and I then worked out how best to slot them in with my other training.
RMR: How did your training go for the London Marathon 2023?
MC: I had lots of hurdles to overcome, the biggest was getting Covid in February which left me in bed/on the sofa for a week and meant I had to take it really easy for another week after that before then trying to ease back into my training at the same time as ramping up the miles.
[At this point Fiona and Melanie had a discussion, and Fiona reworked the plan to make it more manageable around the fatigue that Melanie was suffering with as a result of Covid.]
This took its toll on my body and with 2 weeks to go I ended up with so many tight spots that I got niggles in my hamstring and knee. This meant I had to drastically reduce my training for those last two weeks to allow my body some extra rest.
RMR: How did RMR CRC help you in the build up to the race?
MC: RMR CRC is a constant crutch that is always there for advice, help and support. I’ve never had anything but love and support from any messages that have been posted online and I feel it to be completely inclusive for all abilities.
RMR: Tell us about your on-the-day London Marathon experience!
MC: The day started at 4am to get my porridge in and allow time for that all important race day toilet trip! I then had to be on a coach that left my home town at 6am. We arrived in London at around 8.30am, leaving 2 and a half hours before my wave set off at 11am. That time was mainly spent in the rain rejoining the toilet queue for lots of bladder emptying – no idea how my body suddenly finds so much water to get rid of! Waiting to start I was worried the pain I had in my knee was going to be too difficult to overcome, but once I got going all was okay and the crowd support was incredible!
I got to mile 8 before the pain started to bother me and travelled to my hip, but I focused on reading the support signs and fancy dress outfits and music on the course. Before I knew it I was at mile 16 when my bladder told me I needed to stop; the queue wasn’t too long but this definitely stiffened me up. I carried on to mile 17 where my hubby and girls were waiting for hugs. I then found from then on I needed to change to run/walk and carried this on until around mile 22 when I started to feel dizzy and decided that in order to finish I would walk more than run and this allowed me to really take in the London sights and soak up more of the atmosphere.
Coming along The Mall I knew I’d completed it! The lack of signal and trying to find the coach meeting point proved difficult, which meant instead I had to use endless stairs and tubes to get a lift. I arrived home at 9.30pm. 😴
RMR: Were you pleased with your race?
MC: I was disappointed that I ended up with pain on the day, but I was so proud of myself for not allowing my anxieties to stop me getting to that start line or stopping me finishing. Looking back to the teen me who needed hypnotherapy just to leave the house, and the person who needed CBT just to be able to walk down the aisle on my wedding day, I have come so far and this achievement far outweighed the running aspect of the day.
RMR: Would you do it again?
MC: For me the whole thing was very overwhelming with the noise and crowds , although really appreciated, and were a bit too much. So I’m glad I can tick London off my list but I’ll never say never again. 😉
RMR: What’s next for you with your running?
MC: For me I need to continue to focus on strengthening my body and then I would love to tackle my first ultra!
Thank you Melanie for sharing your experience of the London Marathon and your training. We’re all very proud of you.
If you’d like to find out more about Run Mummy Run Community Run Club in association with ASICS, please visit: www.runmummyrun.co.uk/community-run-club/