Why 26.2 miles?

So then, why is the marathon 26.2 miles? Or ‘26.2 gruelling miles’ as almost everything I read about the London marathon puts it. Gruelling – not a word I like the sound of. Scenic, yes. Awe-inspiring, yes. Beautiful, yes. Downhill, yes. Short, yes. Gruelling, no thank you. Gruelling – it sounds like it should be the name of a wicked witch from a fairy tale, or the scientific term for a baby lizard or something.

Anyway, back to the distance of the marathon – who knows why it is what it is?

It commemorates the run of the soldier Pheidippides (or similar name depending where you look it up), who according to legend ran 24 miles from a battlefield in the town of Marathon, Greece, to Athens in 490 B.C. On his arrival he delivered the message “Niki!”, meaning victory… then collapsed and died.

That bit of the story I knew (although had to look up all the names, places and date so I won’t have it as my Mastermind specialist subject). This I did not know though: at the 1908 Olympic Games in London, the marathon distance was changed to 26.2 miles to cover the ground from Windsor Castle to White City stadium, with 2.2 miles added on so the race could finish in front of royal family’s viewing box. This is the origin of the Marathon tradition of shouting “God save the Queen!” (or other words relating to the Queen) as mile post 24 is passed. After 16 years of extremely heated discussion, this 26.2 mile distance was established at the 1924 Olympics in Paris as the official marathon distance. (1)

Huh! I’m not sure what I’ll be shouting at mile 24 – any suggestions? Send me your ideas at charitybadges@hotmail.co.uk and I’ll use the best one, assuming I have enough energy to speak…


(1) copied and pasted with a few changes from http://www.athensmarathon.com/marathon/history.html

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Check this out!

It’s all getting a bit too close now and I’m veering between excitement and fear. Less than a month to go, how did that happen?

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Progress update

Firstly, knee injury…

Well it all seems to be good – my knee now bends and I can walk up stairs normallyish, so I’m feeling good. I still feel a bit like Bambi when he first tries to stand whenever I walk but have no pain and no swelling so I’m going to ease myself back into running next week. Please keep your fingers crossed for me!

The timing sucks as this weekend coming is meant to be the longest run before training starts tapering in the run up to The Marathon (cue dramatic music) but I don’t think it would be a wise idea for me to risk it and end up doing further damage. I never thought I’d be saying this but I am immensely disappointed not to be running 18 miles! I’ve still got 4 weeks to make a full recovery though and until I’m running again you will mostly be finding me at the swimming pool splashing up and down with my trusty float.

Photo taken by my 3 year old. An example of me moving so fast I'm just a blur??


Secondly, fundraising…

Thanks to the fantastic Michael Conjack I have now raised over £2500 (which is over £3000 including gift aid). How amazing is that? Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me, eaten charity cake or tuck shop snacks at work, or bought (or sold) heart badges. THANK YOU ALL!

(Only £500 to go before I reach my target if anyone is interested, hint hint!)

Here’s a reminder of why I am fundraising: http://www.debra.org.uk/isla-s-story.html  I’ve been sat here for ages trying to think how to explain the importance of the charity DebRA but nothing I could say compares to that link.

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Ups and downs

Well, the lovely news is that someone I have never met sponsored me after reading the article in The Informer. This is the comment she left:

“12.03.11 Hi Nicky, i read about your fundraising in the informer and am keen to sponser you as my mother had and brother has EB.Mum died a few years ago , but my brother is fit and well (he struggles with his feet)and running his own civil engineering business”

Thank you so much!

So that was the up. The down? I’ve done something to my right knee and it does not feel good.

I did my long run yesterday, which was boring but fine (I confess that I got so bored I phoned home with a couple of miles to go to ask for a lift, but got told firmly to carry on!). I eventually grumped my way home about 10 billion minutes later, feeling tired but otherwise okay and headed for the shower.

It was a couple of hours later that I realised my knee felt a bit tight and uncomfortable but not until I knelt on the floor (to look at a friend’s baby stick insects, naturally) that I realised Houston, I had a problem. Luckily I managed to get back up almost instantly using the sofa as leverage but over the next 2 hours my knee swelled up and felt very soft and squidgy to touch which I’m assuming is Not a Good Thing.

The swelling subsided quickly and now my knee looks pretty much normal but I can still tell it’s squidgy if I prod it. It’s uncomfortable when I bend it more than a few degrees so getting down on the floor is only possible if I can use furniture to lower myself down and hoick myself back up and I have to sit with my leg almost straight out in front of me, like it’s a comedy prop and someone is about to come riding along on a bike, carrying a watermelon, ready to somersault over the leg, into a truck full of chickens and probably through a pane of glass that 2 men will be coincidentally be carrying through the room.

My knee doesn’t hurt but it definitely lets me know if I try to move in a way it doesn’t want to – going up or down stairs requires both feet going on each step in the way toddlers do. I tried to self-diagnose the injury using the trusty internet but I’m very squeamish about the insides of knees (my knee cap has shifted out of place for a split second a couple of times in the past then popped back into place, and the pain is awful – worse than anything else I’ve ever felt. Can’t remember which knee it is though) and even the thought of knee problems makes me feel more than slightly sick, so I had to stop looking. Any idea what’s wrong with it, and what the best treatment is?

I’ll have to see a doctor about it but in the meantime running is definitely out, and I think the exercise bike at the gym might involve more leg-bending than feels comfortable. So swimming it is!

I can still walk, so even if running is out of the question for a little while I will still be completing the marathon, just at a slightly slower pace than I hoped for.


Joke time: How do pirates know they’re pirates? They think therefore they aaarrrrrrr!

Please send me reassuring comments and advice…about the knee situation that is, not about the standard of my jokes!

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Do I know you?

Thank you so much whoever sponsored me £100 today! x

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Well. I’m there. I’ve reached a state of calm about The Marathon. I have no idea how long it will last, but my anxiety finally peaked  and then fell away so now I even have moments of looking forward to the run.

(These moments tend to coincide with me sitting down. Alas I have yet to experience one while running.)

I had hoped that during the run-up (ha!) to The Marathon I would metamorphosize into a real runner. I have several friends who run for fun and genuinely enjoy it but sadly I have now accepted that I will never join them – I, my friends, am staying as a caterpillar despite my best efforts to become a butterfly.

The dislike of running has been worrying me for a while so I’m dealing with it by increasing the amount of cross-training I do, so that even if I crash round the streets of London like an elephant among gazelles I will be doing it with a high level of core fitness that should get me to the end.

Which leads me neatly(ish) on to endorphins. I’m not sure if it was the realisation that although I was bored with cycling after 45 minutes on the bike at the gym Wednesday evening I could have kept going for a lot longer (and I’m assuming the same applies to running) that gave me a mental high or if I really did have actual endorphins flying around inside me but I felt GREAT! All through the day at work on Thursday I was annoyingly chirpy and had to resist the urge to go round hugging people. Does this sound like the effects of endorphins? Whatever it was, more please!

I like this, it’s how I imagine my endorphins should look when they’re not AWOL. This article made me laugh as well (although upstanding member of the community that I am I would prefer it without the occasional swear words).

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…are you ready for this? Actually, it might be worth sitting down. And I believe another drumroll is called for…

I overtook another runner earlier! 

To be fair she did look like she’d been running for a while and was tiring but let’s gloss over that and focus on the me overtaking her bit. Me – overtaking her! I almost needed a sit down to get over the shock.

Hello to everyone who saw my photo in The Informer, and a big thank you to everyone who posted comments or sent me emails – the extra encouragement really does make a difference.

The joke of the day comes from the lovely Hannah:

I woke up in the middle of the night to see a ghost of Gloria Gaynor at the foot of my bed. At first I was afraid then I was petrified.

(I laughed!)


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