A Journey to Houston Marathon 2019 by Ian Marling

Why Am I at the Houston Marathon?

To understand why I would travel down to Houston this weekend we have to turn back the clock a little over 20 years. The year is 1998: I’m leading a pretty ordinary, if extraordinarily active, 11-year old’s life—participating in my first speed skating races, running at a competitive level, riding my first two centuries on back to back days—but otherwise, typical 5th and 6th grade life. Wake up, go to school, play with friends, and so on. Except I had headaches. Not just any headaches, but headaches that would wake me up in the middle of the night with searing pain and accompanying nausea and vomiting. Headaches that tended not to go away or respond to any sort of pain remedies. Every so often I’d just get waylaid by one around 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, and that would pretty much be the story of that day. After a few years of enduring these occasional rude awakenings we sought a formal diagnosis, “Migraines” a neurologist told us. “Classic Migraines.” But over the course of that year, things started to get worse little by little.
Fast forward to January 1999, while walking through my house one night I feel what can only be described as an “explosion” in my head, and I crumple to the floor, completely debilitated by the pain. A few minutes go by before I’m able to gather myself and try to take some Tylenol and ibuprofen and hope things get a little better. I get an appointment for a CT, and for the next week the headache from the “explosion”—though abated—never completely disappears.
CT-scan-Friday had been a rough day in 6th grade. I didn’t get a very interesting part in the class play, and my teacher had given me a hard time about being a bit behind on some schoolwork because of some missed days due to headaches. I distinctly remember looking forward to unwinding that night with some James Bond movies and takeout Chinese food—I just had this CT scan to get out of the way first. My mother takes me to the hospital for the scan, and it goes by like most CT scans do: quickly and quietly. Only afterwards I’m told that we have to go to Children’s Hospital for a follow-up MRI, right away.
We go to the Emergency Room at Children’s for the MRI. This should have been the first bright red flag for me, but at the time, the emergency room is how you got into hospitals. When you crush your pinky finger in a door or hit your foot with a hatchet, you go to the ER and they take care of you. The ER is packed, and we’re initially told the wait is hours. I’m getting hungry, but I’m told that I’m not allowed to eat until after the MRI. Then, only half an hour later, we’re called in for the MRI (hello red flag number two!).
If CT scans are quiet affairs, MRIs are anything but. Especially back then, the experience of having an MRI akin to being put in a torpedo tube that was inside a washing machine full of rocks. The radiologist told me that babies often fell asleep during the scans and offers me some headphones to listen to the radio on. I now know that this is some sort of cruel practical joke they must learn in radiology school. I’m loaded into the torpedo, and the cacophony begins. At some point, probably in the second hour of being in the torpedo tube, I inquire why it was taking so long—I had an appointment with James Bond to keep after all—and my mother tells me that they found a lump in my brain, and they had to scan my entire spine to make sure they found it all. My blood turned cold. I knew that language, just two years earlier doctors found “a lump” in the breast of the mother of one of my grade school friends. She died less than a year later.
So there I was, in the torpedo tube, no James Bond, no Chinese food, and, oh yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m going to die. The date is January 22nd, 1999.
The rest of this story unfolds fairly quickly. I’m admitted (obviously), and two days later surgery is performed to remove the tumor. A few days after that a second surgery is performed—apparently, they missed some of it the first time—but don’t worry, I definitely didn’t leave a tip. I’m in the hospital for just 11-days total, and then I was back at home, now living on the pull-out couch on the first floor, because I didn’t have the strength or coordination to get up the stairs to my bedroom on the second floor. So in a year, I had gone from being able to do anything: speedskating races, champion distance runner, able to ride a bike 100-miles in a day, to having to having to regain the stamina to walk across a room.
Later that year, my mother enlists the help of a neighbor a few years older than me to help me get back into shape. He would take me on runs down a path near the neighborhood and try though I might I could never make it to the end of the path. I would fatigue and have to stop right around a mile into the run, every single time, just a half mile from the turn around point. At that time, that mile-and-a-half run was my marathon. The neighbor who my mother enlisted to help me get back into shape by taking me running went on to become a close friend, we ran track in high school together, and he would later go on to marry my sister. The photo below is a picture of me running with that same neighbor, all these years later. “It’s just like running together 20-years ago!” I excitedly offered at the end of our run. “Yeah, except you’re the one who’s in shape now.” He gasped.

Ian training on Christmas Day with his brother in law.


Now my marathon is not just metaphorical: I’m lining up on Sunday to run the Houston Marathon almost exactly 20-years to the day of my surgery. This run will be a victory parade: a celebration of life with each step, each breath forward. It may go great, it may not go according to plan, but it will be a resounding success no matter what—because to even get to this point, to line up fully prepared for a marathon is my victory.


So this Sunday, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, join me in celebrating life. Take a moment to appreciate what you’re doing, take a deep breath and smile—I know I will be when I cross the finish line!

Now 24 hour hours later………….

What a finishing time! 3.11.53

Ian also added on his Facebook today,

“I can’t say enough about how meaningful all of your comments and words of support were all weekend, and especially to help keep a smile on my face throughout my run today. I’d be willing to bet that I was on the podium for amount of time spent smiling during the marathon today.

Thank you all, may you never forget what a force for good your words can be, as they surely were for me this morning.

You were the wind under my wings today.”

……including these guys.

#bethewind

#séelviento

Marathon Talk Run Camp 2018: 23rd-25th February.

On Friday 23rd of February 2018 we arrived at Sandy Balls, Godshill, Foringbridge in The New Forest, Hampshire for the Marathon Run Camp 2018.

We met our fellow camp mate as we were put in lodges with 4 other runners.

After meeting the other runners and drinking at the bar we had a welcome from Martin Yelling and Tom Williams who explained what would be happening in the week-end.Saturday Morning we were all off at 8am to do the Moors Valley parkrun. We woke up to a lovely Sunny but chilly morning ready to run the very beautiful Moors Valley parkrun. A record number of 525 runners took part including over 100 from Marathon Talk Run Camp and from 76 clubs. GB Athletes Liz Yelling and Jo Pavey also took part with everyone. (Photo above: GB Athlete Liz Yelling, Moors Valley parkrun race director/volunteer/race reporter Julie Pegoraro, Melanie Campbell and Olympic Gold Medalist Jo Pavey). The photo below is the Marathon Talk Camp runners.After parkrun as always it was time for coffee, cakes and chatting in the forest cafe and finally returning to Sandy Balls.

A buffet lunch was served followed by a fantastic and interesting Talk by Dr Tim Cruise Drew about his medical support for Eddie Izzard on his Multiple Marathon Challenge in South Africa.In the afternoon we had an optional practical run session in the forest, were we chose a speed group of our choice and did 3 reps of 1km,After dinner in the evening there was a live Q & A session with Jo Pavey, 5 time Olympian and Olympic Gold Medalist. Followed by a group quiz from quiz master Tony Audenshaw.After a brilliant evening Tom Williams and Martin Yelling explained Sunday’s Eliminator Run. It was a team competition where each person had to run the 10 mile course to finish as close to 12 noon as possible where they either wore no watch or there watches were taken off. Points were put on for time finished before noon and double points put on for finishing after noon. The team with the least points won. Everyone predicted their own time and decided to start according to their predicted time.After the Eliminater we all went back to Sandy Balls for another dinner before driving home.

New Zealand parkruns & running holiday.

Day One: Arrived in Auckland at 1.30pm from Birmingham with lost luggage. We had arranged to meet Auckland Joggers at Cornwall Park so we stop-off to buy kit. Running at 6.00pm after only 3 hours sleep. With Hannah, Pete and my husband Andy.

Day 2: Morning Run in Cornwall Park and 30,000 steps walking around and seeing the sights in Auckland.

Day 3: Travel to Ohakune via Rotorua and Taupo. Did what any one would do in Rotorua…..visit a Cat Cafe.

It’s was cloudy, windy and rainy so the Tongarrio Mountain Crossing Walk the following day, (Day 4) was cancelled. We went for a little run at the end of the day.

Day 4: Ohakune: Bush walk and Andy falls off Carrot and bruises and cuts his arm and leg.so no run today.

This is what we should of been doing in good weather.

Day 5: Got very early to travel to Palmerston North in time for the Palmerston North parkrun at 8am. Drove over a big Bunny Rabbit and a Puakoe Bird on the way.

Palmerston North parkrun 8.00am

Day 6: The Honest 10km in Wellington and sightseeing.

Day 7: Beautiful run in Wellington up to Brooklyn Wind Turbine and back.

Day 8: Ferry to Picton, then travel 2 hours to Nelson. Run Nelson Midweek Evening Striders Event.

Day 9: Abel Tasman Track. Drive from Nelson early to the start of the track and walk to Bark Bay Hut. Walk took 5 hours. Stay in the Hut with around 20 other strange people in sleeping bags. My husband wakes all 20 people up when his alarm goes off at 5AM.

Day 10: Abel Tasman Track. Bark Bay Hut to Awaroa Lodge.

Beautiful 4 hour walk to Awaroa Lodge.

Day 11: Abel Tasman Track. Awaroa Lodge to the end of the track, water taxi back and 2 hour drive to Blenheim.

Day 12: Blenheim parkrun then drove on road just open since 2017 Christchurch Earthquake. Stopped at Kaikora about 5 hour but would normally take under 3 hours.

Day 13: Christchurch Long run in Hagley Park.

Day 14: Christchurch Run in Rolliston 6pm

Day 15: Long drive to Picton. Run in Picton before catching the Ferry back to Wellington. Stay Lodge in the City, Taranaki Street.

Day 16: Drive to New Plymouth. Run on the walkway at 5pm. Swimming Pool.

Day 17: Run then drive to Raglan.

Day 18: Drive to Whangarai

Day 19: Whangarai parkrun.

Day 17, 18 & 19 Russell, Bay of Islands.

Did nothing really but went for a few short runs along the beach.

Day 20 Auckland

Met at 5.30pm with the Auckland Joggers at Cornwall Park. A beautiful 1 hour run with lovely people on a beautiful warm day.

Day 21 Fly out of Auckland

My First Marathon: Stockholm Marathon 1989

I did my first marathon in 1989. I did run at school and stopped like a lot of people, then in my mid 20’s I started running again. I had been living in London for about 3 years and had always kept fit by cycling around London, oblivious to the traffic. I would be petrified to cycle around London now. After a few months of running I decided to do a half marathon. I looked in the Runners World magazine and decided to enter the Watford Half-Marathon. I sent off for the application form, filled it in and sent it back with a cheque and stamped SAE so I could receive the results. Remember this was the ‘back in day’ where online entry didn’t exist (not for me anyway). I did the half-marathon without any problems. Then of course the obvious next thing is to do was a marathon.

I entered the Stockholm Marathon via the same method as before. I must of only done about half a dozen runs until I did my longest which I think could of been as much as 15 miles!! The next day I had a sore knee which lasted about 6-7 weeks, more or less right up until the marathon. As the event came closer, I thought, I can’t chicken out now, I’ve told everyone I’m doing it, accommodation is booked and my cousin had decided to do it as well. For some reason I decided to work in London even the night before. I flew out on the first flight out of Heathrow to Stockholm. I arrive, took a taxi to the park, where my cousin was waiting for me. He had flew from Monte Carlo for the marathon. I think the marathon started at 1pm in the afternoon. I would never do something so daft nowadays, what if the plane was late?

Anyway, the Stockholm Marathon started. It was amazing Bands, Massages, Drinks, Food all as you ran and a fantastic crowd. I can remember crossing lots of bridges and it seemed to be drizzling with rain for a lot of it. By 18 miles I was knackered and my knee was sore, so there was some walking.

Finally, I got to the Stadium at the end before the 5 hour cut off point. My cousin greeted me with “I thought you were never going to get here, I’ve been waiting for ages.”We walked back to where we were staying. Our accommodation was a boat on the river. I was so, so, so tired. My cousin had to push me out to get something for dinner. We had a McDonalds. The next day we flew home. I was shattered and I thought “never again”. I was not fit and it’s not the way to run a marathon. Did I do another marathon?

Book Recommendation: Running Science (Editor, John Brewer)

If I was going to buy someone a running book this Christmas, I would buy this. An increasing number of people are buying E-books rather than hardback books, myself included. However, this is one of the few books I will have on my shelf at home. I enjoy reading it and find it so informative. It explains the Science of Running in a way that anyone can understand. It has large pages, large pictures and large print. It’s also not full of stuff that is not relevant or too academic. My attention span is very short so this is perfect for me. The content is excellent. The format is brilliant. Each page begin with a question and then it is explained. E.g.,

What affects recovery rate after exercise? Can I become a better runner by changing my style? Will supplements improve my running? Will a cup of coffee help me run better? Are Sports Drinks good for me? Can I run through pain? What should I think about when I’m running? How can I keep my mind positive? How much should I increase my Training? What is HIIT and should I be doing it? Is more mileage in training always better? How quickly do I lose fitness if I stop running? Can a heart rate monitor improve performance? Will core strength and stability training keep me injury free? Can sports massage help with injuries or performance? Is running bad for my knees? Will a foam roller make me a better runner?

Authors: John Brewer, Iain Fletcher, Laura Charalambous, Bob Murray, Daniel Craighead, Andy Lane, Charles Pedlar, James Earle, Paul Larkins, Anna Barnsley,

Book Available from Amazon Amazon link for Running Science Book

Book Review: Get Fit, Not Fat, Author: Greg Whyte

This book has been out for a few years. I’ve had mine for a few years. I’ve just noticed the price on Amazon is £7.99, a bargain, it certainly was not that cheap when I got mine. The book explains why we should should exercise but the best thing I find about this book is the large coloured pages with large photo’s of exercises. Probably, about half the content of the book is photo’s of different exercises, i.e., strength exercises, flexibility exercises and balance exercises. It’s ideal for me because I can’t remember what exercises to do and how to do them properly. I pick about 5 exercises for a 15 minutes session. I normally do the exercises ar the gym but it would be perfect for someone who doesn’t belong to a gym. I have thought about buying another to give to my elderly mum and dad and my lazy sister (she hates exercise but 15 minutes is doable) as it has each exercise in three levels, easy, medium and hard.

The book is available on Amazon Link to Get Fit Not Fat

Running and physical activity participation in female youths.

I write this from a parent’s perspective, outlining my daughter’s experience of  her physical activity and running as she grew in England. It was very different from my own experience as I was growing up in N.Z., where sport seemed to surround me at home and at school. I don’t know if this due to a cultural difference or it was just what it was like in the 1970’s & 1980’s. My feeling are that things have changed as, at the moment N.Z., like England have high levels of childhood obesity which has been partially attributed to a lack of physical activity.

My daughters Sports day at Primary School was the only opportunity I had of seeing my daughter in a school setting. I expected to see, egg and spoon races, sack races, three legged races, dressing up races, relay’s, and maybe mother and daughter running races. Instead I saw her do a variety of activities with no aim to the activities and no one came first or last.

When my daughter was small I used to ask her what she did in P.E, and the lessons sounded great, a really good variety and the teachers were lovely, I also asked “does your teacher put trainers and trousers on when she teaches P.E?” Her response was “No, Miss puts on her furry coat and stays in her high heels and tell us what to do”. I couldn’t help but laugh, but I do think P.E., teacher’s need to be a role model by taking a little bit of an active part. One thing that surprised me was how little swimming she did. She did 12 swimming lessons in the total time at Primary School. If we hadn’t taken her swimming in her spare time she would have never learned to swim.

At Secondary School, my daughter did a variety of Sports, even Lacrosse. She was quite good at running despite doing no training for it, other than parkrun.

My daughter really enjoyed parkrun. She learned to love running from parkrun. There was no pressure to run as fast as you could, unless you felt like it. She knew she would never come last and she was so pleased when she got her white 10 parkrun top. She also liked the cake at the end.

At school, when there were competitions with other schools in running, she did well. One day she bought home a letter and it said she had been picked to run for her County in the Cross Country Championships and if she wanted to go, ring up this person on his number. The same thing happened again when she ran for her County at the Athletic Championship. On the day of the event we had to drive over an hour to the venue then find the man who gave her a vest. Only one other boy was there from her school and she felt quite lonely and stressed. The School took no part in it at all. No teacher came at all. If we weren’t supportive parents she would never of gone. In my Secondary School a teacher/s would always come and all the pupils would come together however far it was to go. No pupil needed parent support. At my school every teacher had to be responsible for one club, whether that be the Christian Club, Netball, Mini Trampoline etc. It was not just the job of the P.E., teacher.to be responsible for a Sports Club. If the French teacher liked Tennis, she would choose to run that club. It was an opportunity for everyone to be active and take part in something, teacher and pupil alike.

My daughter seemed to get a bit put off running after running for her County where others were better than her. It was too competitive for her. She gave up running at about 16 years old like so many girls. Thankfully, when she was 19 years old she started jogging to keep trim and feel better. When she started to run again her sessions were “walk-run-walk”, and not worrying about speed. Now she runs about 4-5 days a week and enjoys it. I attribute her enjoyment of running to parkrun experiences, not her school experiences of running. I feel if anything School put her off running.

Photo below is my daughter Zara.

The Brooks Snowdonia Marathon Elyri: Saturday 28th October 2017

It was the 35th time this famous marathon has been run. It’s been voted the best marathon in the U.K., for more than a few times. Although I didn’t run this year, when I did it, it was the most interesting, wild, beautiful and challenging Marathon I have ever done. To most runners it’s not one for worrying about going fast or getting a P.B., it’s about a great experience.

This year Bath AC runner Daniel Jones returned to Llanberis to take the men’s title in 2.36.54 whilst Northampton athlete Hayley Munn produced a stunning performance in the women’s race in 2.57.34, taking over six minutes off the course record.

The Marathon basically has three big hills: Hill 1 – long and steep for miles to Pen y Pass which you can chug up, you can see that hill in the photo above. You then turn off onto a trail road/track and it’s a steep downhill for miles. Hill 2 – is a steady climb, on the road for miles then it’s the last hill, Hill 3 – at around mile 21. It does’nt last long but it’s so, so steep everyone around me was walking. Finally, the hill ends but it is very, very, muddy, and steep downhill which also frustratingly prevents you running in some places. You then turn of the track and come into the town into the finish line to the rapturous applause of the huge crowd on the Llanberis high street. We got a Snowdonia Marathon Slate Coaster and a Cotton T shirt at the end.

Men’s top 5

1 Daniel Jones 2:36:54 Team Bath AC

2 Matt Hobbs 2:42:34 Pudsey and Bramley AC

3 Paul Jones 2:43:45 Shrewsbury AC

4 Gareth Petts 2:45:30 Whitney RR

5 Will Russell 2:46:24 Hercules Wimbledon

Women’s top 5

1 Hayley Munn 2:57:25 Northampton RR

2 Andrea Rowlands 3:01:38 Eryri Harriers

3 Sarah Cumber 3:13:43 Halifax Harriers AC

4 Jessica Parry-Williams 3:15:51 Les Croupiers RC

5 Emma Wookey 3:15:57 Lliswerry Runners

Full results via the TDL Event Services website here 

Entries to the 2018 Snowdonia Marathon Eryri are live on the 1st of December 2017, with the 2018 race date Saturday 27th of October

Further info via the Brooks Snowdonia Marathon Eryri website www.snowdoniamarathon.co.uk, on Facebook and Twitter @marathoneryri

Wiggle Forest Ranger Cycling Sportive Staffordshire : Sunday October 2017

…………….I only fell off once.

This Sunday was cycling again and my husband Andy said he would cycle with me today. Andy woke me at 7.45 saying “everything’s in the car, tea’s downstairs, you just have to get dressed.” He had a new cycle, but a very cheap one since making the decision after getting home from last week’s Sportive mechanical and crash problems that it was time for a new cycle. The cheap cycle would do until his new good one arrived. I think we were last off the start at 9.30am but as we were only doing the Short Route of 44 miles so it didn’t matter. It was windy and what I call hilly, but I think cyclists would call it bumpy. Food stop was lovely, there were cakes, salty crackers, sweets but lovely hot tea, coffee and chocolate. We set off again with only my bum hurting as always so all was good, until we needed to stop at an intersection and all the cyclists stopped except one that falls flat sideways on the road, ouch, it does hurt. I will have to have more practice with the cleats. Once I rested for a bit Andy explained you get out of the cleat before the intersection and then if you need to stop you put your foot down. He taught me as we went on. Finally we finished and got socks, a buff and a medal at the finish. We took almost 4 hours!! On the way home Andy said our friend Dan Robinson could run it quicker than that, and he can too.