My Interview for the RunEatRepeat Blog

lana-jane-medalIn this inspiring
interview, Lana Jane shares her running story, having been
inspired to fund raise for Parkinson’s Disease.


What did you do with your time before running?
I always liked to keep fit. Having trained as a dancer from a
young age, through to University (I did a Dance performance degree), my
focus was always on fitness for health rather than just to look good.
Mainly I did strength and core work, and particularly enjoyed classes
involving weights and TRX. Running was something I shied away from, and
certainly not something I was ever keen on doing

lana-jane-london-marathonWhat made you
decide on a marathon as your first running event?
My Uncle was diagnosed with Parkinson’s
Disease
a number of years ago. Having watched his rapid decline and
the effect it has had on the family, I always felt helpless, which is
very difficult when you are so close to someone suffering. He was very
fortunate to receive a Deep Brain stimulation operation in 2011, which
has certainly improved his quality of life tremendously, but still the
disease is debilitating. I wanted to personally do something to help
find a cure for this awful disease. I was so bad at running, 10 minutes
was a stretch for me, and this was common knowledge amongst all my peers
and family. One thing I knew people would donate towards would be me
running a Marathon, particularly one as iconic as London. I entered VLM2014 in the April of 2013. In the October I
discovered I had a place. I don’t know if I believe in fate, but given
how difficult it is to get a place, I like to think it happened for a
reason.

lana-jane-uncle-johnFamily &
friends are clearly important to you – how has your Uncle inspired you?
My Uncle is, and always has been, an incredible man. Growing
up he was the life and soul of the party. Generous, kind, funny, you
could not ask for a better Uncle, or person to look up to. He is my
Dad’s best friend and therefore I was very fortunate growing up with him
as such a huge part of my life. The effect this disease has on someone
is impossible to describe, it would take hours, and there are so many side effects that many won’t be aware of. John has
always maintained his sense of humour throughout his diagnoses and
decline caused by the disease. He makes jokes about it, he will not be
beaten by it, and his strength in the face of something he ultimately
has no control over is impossible not to be inspired by.

I would love to say I would have the same attitude if faced with
similar, but I truly think it takes a very rare character to deal with
something like this the way he has. Whenever I feel I cannot be bothered
to do a training session, I think of the fact he doesn’t get to make
that decision. He never gets to choose whether to run or not, that
decision was made for him, and this makes me so grateful for the simple
fact I can do it whenever I want to.

Who or what else inspires you?
I am inspired by so many for so many reasons. My family have
all got such strong morals and close bond that every day I want to do
them proud. In running terms, I think its common to look up to faster
and more experienced runners as I am always striving to do better, go
further, run faster.

In truth, I think I am often more inspired by those people who take
longer to cover the same distance and never give up. It’s hard to say
that without sounding patronising, but I find it so inspiring watching
those final runners who easily could have given up when they know they
are at the back of the field of a big race, hardly anyone around to
cheer them in. That takes true guts and commitment. A good friend I met
on a running site was unfortunately plagued with injury last year and
missed out on doing her first marathon (Brighton) in 2014. She completed
it this year, basically two years of training to complete that one race.
It was possibly my proudest moment, watching someone so determined to
achieve their goal no matter what efforts it took.

Now you’ve just completed the London 2
Brighton Challenge 100km
. How was it?
Tough! I went with a very different strategy to my usual ‘pace
yourself and keep something in the tank’ on road marathons. My aim was
to get as many miles under my belt whilst feeling good, knowing there
would be low points further down the line.

The first 40km I got done in a relatively quick time and I felt amazing.
Then my ITB issues flared up and to be honest it was touch and go for a
while whether I would finish or not. I think a few friends who saw me on
route expected me to have to drop given my awkward walk/shuffle. BUT, I
was determined not to give in, and got a second wind when the knee eased
off a bit.

The second half of my race was much slower – I could have pushed harder
as fuelling had gone well and I otherwise felt strong, but I would then
have risked pulling up entirely, and that was just not an option. The
final hill over The
Downs
during the last 10km of the race was really tough. It’s a
relentless climb and seems near impossible when you’ve already covered
such a huge distance. You reach a checkpoint at the 88km mark and in
front of you is this massive hill you’ve been heading towards for miles.
But once you get to the top, the views are absolutely stunning and
absolutely worth the pain.

Finishing was very emotional, I felt overwhelmed and I
have to say I’m so proud of myself. This time two years ago I hadn’t
even done my first race yet (British 10km in July in prep for London Marathon). To have completed 10 times that
distance just doesn’t seem to have sunk in. It was the hardest thing I
have ever done – but absolutely wonderful. I loved it!

lana-jane-london2brighton2 lana-jane-london2brighton-3 lana-jane-london2brighton-finished

Is most of your training goal or enjoyment driven?
Having started out very much hating every second of running, I
was purely focused on the goal ahead – raise as much money for charity
and get through the marathon. In the process I fell in love with
running, and got a little race addicted. I think this is common when you
first start improving, or certainly seems to be the case with the people
I speak to. I find races are good as it gives me a goal, and something
to strive towards. My training is always more diverse with the need for
sprint
intervals
, hill
repeats
etc. But I am definitely more focused on enjoyment now, and
a huge run in a park with no real idea of how far I am going to run or
for how long is a great way to explore beautiful places. There is so
much to see, and running is a great way of doing that.

lana-jane-trail lana-jane-trail-shot

So you’re not one for @stravawankers then? 🙂
Hahahaha! I think I have managed to avoid that tag. To be
honest, it’s easy to get carried away with obsessing over pace, and
beating segments etc. Because my training has been so focused and
tailored to my goals, I haven’t been able to get distracted by those
things thankfully – I can appreciate why people do. I also think whilst
I would never even consider logging a walk around a shopping centre for
instance, if it makes people more aware of their fitness and health,
then that’s only a good thing. But no, I certainly wont be logging
myself mowing the lawn any time soon!

How do you get through the emotional and physical battles on
such endurance events?
The mental side is the biggest challenge. I know I have the
fitness for it now. The work for races tends to come before, and as long
as I work hard and eat right, the only worry is injury. Seeing a physio
regularly has been a great way of keeping my body at its best. I do rehab exercises
before I am even injured, because I know my weak areas and don’t want to
find a problem too late and be out for weeks trying to fix it.

But mentally it is tougher. It is also tougher the longer you are out
there for. Sprinting a 10km tends to hurt from start to end, but you
know its over relatively quickly. An endurance event tends to just
slowly get tougher, and so much time in your own head, you do end up
questioning everything. It’s a constant battle of ‘can I do this, I
could just stop, ouch is that a niggle or a real injury, my goodness I
can’t do it, what was I thinking’. I think I put too much pressure on
myself sometimes because I am raising money for charity for this event,
which means I always panic that I will let people down, and that can
easily put you in a negative state of mind. But equally it’s an extra
push when I am suffering and considering giving up. That combined with
the knowledge that every time I have thought I won’t make it, I have, I
think mentally I am stubborn enough to make it. There’s a lot to be
said for being stubborn (a family trait I have picked up!)

Haha! You’re clearly driven by challenges – what others are on
your bucket list?
My bucket list tends to have two new things added every time I
tick one off! There are a few races I am desperate to do – Comrades, Marathon Des
Sables
, New
York Marathon
, Race to the Stones. There are so many beautiful
places to run now I am keen to explore a bit more. I also have a
Skydive to do soon – this is something I am so excited about. To be
honest if someone came to me with a challenge I would probably say yes
before even considering what it was – I love testing myself. Any ideas?

How about Amalfi Coast Trail – or a Lost Worlds
Racing event
?

That is some bucket list Lana! What lessons would you pass on to
fellow runners?
Don’t go too fast when you start – it’s so easily done. Go
slower and cover more distance then slowly build up pace. Also, it
hurts. I know so many people who told me it wasn’t getting easier, even
though their stats showed they’d gone faster or further. It doesn’t get
easier, you just get faster I think is the saying. Also switch it up a
bit. Always going out and covering the same route and same distance at
the same pace gets monotonous. Explore new places, add in hills, do some
sprint sections. All of this helps improve your running, but even if
you’re not looking to improve, it keeps it exciting and interesting.

What’s the best running advice you’ve ever been given?
Turn off your watch. I went through a stage where I hit a rut
and panicked every time my pace wasn’t quite the same as normal. This
also happened during a race recently, and the second I stopped looking
at pace I felt far calmer. My second half without the watch ended up
exactly the same pace as my first half with the watch – it showed me you
must trust your body, don’t rely on technology as it can get the better
of you!

lana-jane lana-jane-vlm2015

Very true. What has the running community given you?
Without it I don’t know if I would have made it to my first
marathon. The support and advice is incredible, and chatting with such a
diverse selection of people, all different levels of achievements and
goals, makes it much easier to be confident in yourself and your own
abilities. I honestly feel a sense of belonging within the community,
but it also gives me accountability knowing others look up to me
(regardless of whether I believe they should or not) – I can now give
newcomers the advice and support I was given when I started.

lana-jane-runningWhat would you
say to anyone thinking about taking up jogging/running?
DO it. You probably won’t like it at first, I didn’t. But
stick with it and you will find a new joy, a new way to
explore, and a great way to keep fit. You’ll also find an amazing
community to be a part of!

In three words, describe your running story.

Unexpected. Determined. Euphoric.

Lana thank you so much for sharing your story. What you’ve
achieved so far is incredible and shows how we can surpass our
expectations when we have a cause. Can’t wait to hear how you get on
with your skydive! #ThisGirlCan

p.s. Lana’s favourite post-run food is not as healthy as her
usual clean diet. But then that’s the beauty of running 🙂

If you’re
inspired by Lana’s story and want to get more active, visit
BBC ‘Get Involved’

Jeff

London Marathon 2015 – taking it all in

Setting the scene

London 2014 was the reason I had to start running.  My Uncle suffers with Parkinson’s and I wanted to do something for him, and to help others with the same debilitating disease. Having got in on the ballot, first time, I took on the huge challenge of learning how to run – this was not something I could do. I was lucky to raise over £4000 for Cure Parkinson’s Trust, so many kind people donating for my efforts for that one run.  I fell in love with running in the process, and decided that 2015 had to be even bigger to try and raise as much money as possible. After much thought, my 6 week challenge was decided – 2 marathons and a 100km Ultra (Brighton, London and London to Brighton).

Post Brighton

I surprised myself with how quickly I seemed to recover from Brighton.  Within just a couple of days of the race I felt sprightly, and my mini ‘recovery’ and ‘test runs’ were back to normal almost instantly.  2 weeks to recover seemed fine based on how my legs felt and what my heart rate was saying, and my huge challenge suddenly seemed less daunting.  I was certain I could do it.

Then, just a week after my Nan’s funeral, and a couple of days after Brighton, we received the concerning news that my other Nan had been taken ill during a routine operation and was in a very bad way indeed. It took a few days to learn the enormity of the situation. An elderly lady taking longer than normal to come to from anaesthetic seemed almost standard given her age.  But soon it transpired that what was happening was far more devastating, and sadly we lost my Nan that weekend. A difficult time mourning one grandparent, and worrying about how your parents are coping, developed into another huge and unexpected loss for me and the family. Concerns for my parents were taking over my thoughts, and shock seemed to take over.  Is this for real? Two grandparents in little over two weeks, surely not?

London was a week away, and given all that was happening, I gave it very little thought.  I did little running, just enough to keep the legs turning, and my mind was not focused on what was round the corner. The expo was great as always.  I collected my race pack and chip on the Wednesday, managed to avoid any more unnecessary purchases, and floated around the Excel centre in a little world of my own.  How things had changed from the first time I did this.  I wrote on the Adidas Boost wall, and went to the booth to have a picture taken with my number. I really thought about the wonderful man who’s amazing spirit has spurred me on to do of all of this.  I may have been sad, it may be a difficult time, but the world keeps turning and this was for me, and for him. London Marathon was special to me and thinking about his strength and determination,  I was  motivated (and stubborn – a Hornigold trait).  I was going to love it. At the expo 11156131_10153200803090126_4390521108144270003_n

The race Pre race excitement

I was not nervous, I had nothing to prove, and just wanted to take it all in.  Starting in a pen far closer to the start line than the previous year I knew I would be running soon. The excitement levels around me were escalating, until we were soon moving towards that huge start clock surrounded by cheers from the supporters and runners around me.  Before I knew it I was off, I was running London Marathon for the 2nd year in a row.  The first few miles ticked away and I felt great, much more in control than the start of Brighton.  Seeing the odd person I knew supporting throughout the course made the time go faster than expected. My coach had mentioned we wouldn’t really know the true effects Brighton had had on me until around the 20 mile mark, so I tried my best not to push too hard. At mile 8, heading towards Surrey Quays, I felt my hamstring getting tight.  Not too concerned I kept at the same pace and hoped it would ease off. By the time I reached the 10 mile marker my legs were getting tighter and I knew this feeling – I was clearly fatigued.  Interestingly my HR was spot on, cardiovascularly I was fine, just my muscles were not too happy!  I knew I would have to slow down, but also knew by the 14th mile I would see the Cure Parkinson’s cheer point and my parents who had come to see me.  I crossed Tower Bridge to the deafening noise I so clearly remembered from the previous year – I challenge anyone not to crack a smile or feel emotional when you have hundreds of people shouting your name, ringing bells and cheering you on.  This is easily the most iconic moment of the race for so many runners, impossible to explain unless you have been there.  Feeling inspired, I pushed on towards Wapping, and as soon as I went past the 13 mile marker my eyes were peeled.  I was going to see my darling Mum and Dad soon.

I spotted Mum first, could see her desperately trying to find me amongst the constant flow of runners. I shouted as loudly as I could and then locked eyes with her, swiftly followed by my Dad leaning forward to catch a glimpse of me. Their excitement was like nothing I have seen, such pride in their eyes I struggled to keep the tears away. At this point I felt emotional enough. Then I saw what I thought was my Uncle Mark and my Auntie Karen. Then my other Auntie Sue (married to John, my Uncle with Parkinson’s).  I couldn’t believe it. They had all come to support me, the tears arrived at this point!

Spotting the family - total shock      Mile 14

Once I had gone past I knew I had to slow down.  Having had knee trouble only a couple of months ago, I was all too aware if I wasn’t careful I could end up having to walk the entire second half of the race. I slowed to a walk and at the next water station stood and stretched as much as possible.  My knee completely locked up, so a slow hobble until it released, and back to jogging.  I never thought I would have to walk or stop, but it was the sensible thing to do.  Through the Isle of Dogs, and the section everyone despises, I was jogging, walking, stretching, jogging again, to try and cause as little damage as possible.  I never felt out of my depth though, just guilty for walking and making people wait longer than they expected to see me again.

I pushed on and I knew I would see my family soon. A loud shout from my right, and I spotted my childhood best pal Carly (delayed reaction meant I had to rotate around to see her, but always amazing spotting people you know).  Then I was running as fast as I could. Literally sprinting towards the charity point, desperate to get there as soon as possible. As soon as I reached the family I stopped for a kiss and a cuddle with each and every one of them.  This was the best feeling, and there was no way I was just running on past. I told them I was being careful despite the pain in my legs.

Mummy hug High five

Then came the classic line that everyone needs to hear at mile 22,  “save some for the big one”. Yes, a lovely reminder from Mum that in just 4 weeks I had a 62 mile Ultra to contend with!

After a couple of Jelly babies I ran on, soon entering the ‘disco tunnel’ as I now call it, I felt like I was on the home straight.  The shouts go louder and louder and soon I was at the final mile, searching for my darling Bug pals who had come to support.  Expecting them earlier I thought I had missed them, so just took in the moment and ran with a huge grin on my face past the growing crowds. Reaching Buckingham palace I was loving every second, then the familiar sound of my darling friends, cheering with prosecco in hand so proud of ‘Lana Legs’ nearly finishing her 4th marathon to date….and somehow it got captured on camera – a wonderful moment

Me spotting my friends

Then the home stretch.  As I reached the last few hundred metres I lifted my arms with happiness.  Somehow amongst the noise I heard my friend Perrin shout my name, and turned around to see him belting out my name and punching the air with a ‘COME ON’, he looked so happy for me, I just ran with the biggest smile and took in that wonderful moment of finishing my second London Marathon (in a respectable time of 4 hours 1 minute).

Finish

I crossed the line feeling ecstatic to have done this second challenge, collected my medal, and in my own little bubble of happiness managed to bump into three runners I know.  Two I have only met on twitter, and it was so wonderful to see their grinning faces, so proud of what they had just achieved.  The other is a great athlete who had advised me so much in my gradual introduction to running, it was fitting I should see him on completing the event a year on that he had helped me so much with.  He had achieved the most incredible time and it was a pleasure to share such joy for a few moments.

Finally I made it to my meet point, and dived into the arms of my Proud Dad. Lots of hugs and kisses with the family, and of course fizz, my Mum then arrived and all the emotions of the last couple of months came out in the longest hug I think we have ever had. What a wonderful day, what a fantastic support, and what a lucky girl I am.

I soon met with my lovely supporters and a couple of other great runners, and we headed for dinner together and reflected on the races we had.  All very different, all struggling at different points, but each achieving the same thing – we had completed London Marathon in its 35th year, the year of the amazing Paula Radcliffe’s retirement. A day I shall never ever forget.

The 'bugs'