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Woodland 5 On the day entries available.

The first race was a huge success (full results here) and we have plenty of spaces for the next two events.

The dates  are:  26th June and  31st July.

entry form here (pdf or doc)

London Marathon 2012 Race Report

Virgin London Marathon 2012 Race Report

Alice Albrow won the club place in the 2012 London Marathon, and has written the following excellent article for the site.


I first joined a running club in 2003, when I ran with Ranelagh Harriers in West London, and since then I have always hoped to run the London Marathon. In my mid twenties I didn’t feel that I was up to it and always gave the excuse that ‘I needed a few more years training in my legs!’

In 2006, when I had been running with Finchcoasters for a year or so, all of my dreams were crushed when I was diagnosed with a deep vein thrombosis in my left iliac and femoral vein. Running was completely off the cards; I could hardly walk let alone consider running a marathon.

I am a very strong willed character and whilst my life changed dramatically I was not going to let my blood clot hold me back. I very gradually began to walk/jog, then jog and ultimately run.

By 2008 I felt it was time for a challenge and I entered Beachy Head marathon. Many people thought I was a little loopy as Beachy head is so hilly; the thing is the hills mean that many people walk at times and if many people were walking this meant I could walk, when my leg began to hurt, without feeling that I wasn’t being tough enough or anyone asking if I was ok (something that I had been struggling with). I completed the course in 05:36.

Over the next couple of years I continued to train hard, completing Ironman Austria in 2010 and achieving a pb at Reading Half Marathon in 2011.

In 2010 and 2011 I had applied for the London Marathon and sadly not been successful in the ballot, when I heard of the running club draw I felt I had to try my luck!

On the evening of the Christmas dinner I was very nervous about the prospect of my name being drawn for the club slot. Mr A. and I had discussed it at home, we have had a very busy year and I hadn’t volunteered for any of the club events; therefore, my chances of my name being pulled out of the hat were VERY slim!

Paul Evans had arranged with Chris that he would do a comedy draw, announcing that Chris’ wife had been selected to run for the club. The look of shock on her face confirmed that the boys had pulled off the gag and then Paul called out the name ‘Alice Albrow’, Mr A. and I looked at each other in disbelief, my legs were shaking and I can’t explain how shocked and excited I was! I really felt for the other club members who were disappointed and there was no way I was going to let myself or the club down, I was in the London marathon!

With approx. 18 weeks until the marathon, it was time to get a training plan in place. I have always found that using a book as a guide was my best motivation when training for an event so I was straight on to Amazon and bought ‘Advanced Marathoning’

Advanced Marathoning

There was a 12 or 18 week training plan, with a variety of different maximum miles per week, and it was recommended that you were running approx. 30 miles a week before starting the plan. I opted to do the 12 week plan with my own 4 week build up devised by Mr A. who I had nominated as head coach, generally this role required a kick out of the door when it was raining, a training buddy for some runs and being a superb chef.

Training officially began on New Years Day in Cornwall. Mr A. and I had spent a few days on the north Cornwall coast with our friends Lou (super fast duathlete) and Simon (P.E. teacher with a passion of cylcing) and had a rather placid New Years Eve so the ‘first run’ was a pleasure, along the coastline from Rock to Polzeath and back.

I gradually picked up the training over the next few weeks and achieved my target of 30 miles, ensuring that I was ready to start ‘the plan!’

I find using a written plan, not devised by myself or Mr A., helps keep me on track and ensures that I get the correct balance of long runs, effort work and the very important recovery runs. Ticking off each session is also a great incentive to get out of the door!

Weeks 1-3 built from 35 miles to 43 miles, completing 4 runs a week. In week two I completed Bramley 10. I wasn’t feeling particularly up for the race but knew I needed to get some race prep in. Fortunately I bumped into Carol Yarrow who was doing the 20 and she dragged me around the course and managed to keep up the same pace for a further 10 miles! It soon became clear why I felt a little rough when I ended up spending Valentine’s Day with my head down the loo after picking up a delightful D&V bug. This meant that I missed two of my training sessions but I can comfortably say that there was no way in a million years that I could have completed those sessions!

Weeks 4-6 were 48, 42 and 48 mile weeks. My training plan cycled so that I had an easier week giving my body the chance to recover and become stronger.
Weeks 7-10 was the point at which training was getting exciting. I was now able to knock out a 10 mile run without it feeling in the slightest bit abnormal, actually anything shorter felt rather lame. At the end of week 7 I completed the Datchet Dashers 20 miler. My great friend Chris came along and did the run with me, he is training for Ironman Austria and is an ex-Army Commando, personal trainer and general tough cookie! His lovely wife Sophie, a great buddy and Ironman herself and their daughter Dora came along to support.

This was meant to be a steady run to build on my confidence completing a 20 miles. As we set off at approx. 7.40 minute miles I realised this was more of a race! Chris was excellent at talking me through race tactics for the London marathon and kept me on pace up a rather cheeky hill. We also ran with Pete Humphries and Rob Harris, taking it in turns to lead. Our pace dropped a little as we clocked up the miles but I was very pleased to finish feeling strong and averaging just over 8 minute miles. I was also very pleased to complete the highest mileage this week, clocking up 55 miles.

Week 8 was finished off with the Cranleigh 15/21mile race. I knew that I could not race as hard as I had at Datchet and clocked a Wimbledon Windmiller running 9.30 minute miles and decided to latch on to her. It was lovely getting to know Emma as we trotted through the beautiful countryside. As Emma peeled off to complete her 15 miles I allowed myself to pick up the pace a little and thoroughly enjoyed the remainder of the race. This was fairly evident in one of my race pictures!

Weeks 11&12 brought in the taper and our house move! Whilst I was very fortunate that it was the school Easter holidays this was a rather epic 10 days and I didn’t have the amount of sleep that I had hoped for. The taper (easing down on training) also tends to make you feel a bit grotty, paranoia creeps in about catching a cold and I tend to panic about and little tweaks and twinges. I had been fairly lucky throughout the training as my weight training in the build up to Christmas had helped protect my joints, however, my hips were a little sore due to the miles of training but I think that I got off fairly lightly.

On the Saturday before the marathon my good friend Joel, from university, was marrying Theresa in central London. Whilst the marathon meant the world to me I didn’t want to miss the wedding so Mr A. And I decided to spend the Saturday night in a hotel in London, close to Waterloo East train station that would take us directly to Blackheath.

I was very sensible and wore flat shoes to the wedding, didn’t drink a drop of alcohol and we had everything set out for the morning and was tucked up in bed by 10.30.

I slept very soundly until about 5.30 when I had the first of many nervous visits to the loo! Whilst I’m not very fond of this it takes away the concern that I would need to ‘do a Paula Radcliffe’ at any point around the course!

We had breakfast in the hotel and made our way to the train. Whilst we left the hotel a little later than planned, and got lost looking for Waterloo East we arrived at the start in perfect timing. Allowing me enough time to get ready without too much opportunity to get in a tizz about what lay ahead.

Mr A.had a couple of union jack hats from going to the proms in the park with his Mum, so we decided this would help me spot him on route. It was also a great distraction tactic on Mr A.’s part when my bottle lip started to wobble with nerves!

I handed in my baggage, said goodbye to Mr A. And went to the Blue start, pen 4 to see if I could find my older sister, Nina.

Nina ran London a couple of years ago for charity and was lucky enough to get a ballot place this year. As she lives a quite a few miles away we had not done any training together but had talked about it quite a lot. Nina has 3 children and a full time job, I am in awe that she fitted in the training for the marathon and was so excited to start the race together.

Sadly I couldn’t find Nina so I made my way to the front of pen 4, I was going to do everything I could to avoid being slowed down at the start!

I wasn’t waiting at the start for very long before everyone started to walk forwards; It’s very hard to explain how I felt at the start. I was welling up as I had wanted to run the marathon for years and finally my dreams were coming true. I had trained hard and almost everything had gone to plan, if I was about to have a bad race I knew that there was nothing more that I could have done to prevent this from happening.

The first few miles went quite quickly. The road was busy but I had managed to tuck myself in to the left hand side and wasn’t running the 10 minute miles that I had feared for the first 3 miles.

As the pace picked up I worked hard to run under 8 minute miles, ensuring that I made up for the time lost in the first couple of miles.

I was very pleased to see Mr A. just after 7 miles, after the Cutty Sark, he stood out like a sore thumb with his union jack hat on and this really picked up my spirits.

My parents were at 8 ½ miles, they had taken ‘ride shots’ with them for me and I was not expecting to need them until after 10 miles. I was not feeling as bouncy as I had hoped and therefore my poor parents were greeted with my running at them shouting ‘sweets sweets’ and then running off in the other direction as they fumbled in their pockets for said sweets!

Not long after this I think was the point I saw Sarah Evans, it is a little bit of a blur, I was so so pleased to see her. We high fived as I ran past her and her support meant a lot and spurred me on.

At 11 miles I saw my parents again, collecting sweets from them and smiling as I flew past. I was really pleased with my pace and had managed to run near the 3:30 marker.

I hit the half way point in 1:44, I was really pleased to have a minute in the bag but felt pretty tired as I ran over Tower Bridge. The thought of finishing in 3:29 crossed my mind and I worked hard to keep the pace. Mr A. And I had talked a great deal about the race, he has run the marathon twice and thought that the first 10 miles would fly by, sadly this was not the case, I knew I was really earning this finishers medal!

My sisters’ friend Alison cheered me on at about 20 miles, a great surprise, I was also greeted by old school friends Kate and Mell who had pushed on through their hangovers to come and cheer the runners on.

At this point I was still on for 3:30 but I was doubting whether I could hold on to this pace. I began calculating in my head ‘if I drop to 8:30 minute miles....if I drop to 9 minute miles’. I knew I just had to hang on in there and do my best.

At 23 miles I saw my Parents for the last time, well my father shouted my name just after I passed and I turned towards him and grimaced. He did that thing all fathers do, particularly an ex-marine, and gave me that ‘dig in’ kind of look.

From this point in it was tunnel vision all the way, I knew I just had to keep my legs turning. I had taken a drink at every aid station along the way, even the smallest sip, and had been pouring water over myself to stay cool. I continued to do this right to the very end and I have no doubt this made a huge difference, at the very least it helped me mentally.

I also bumped into Pete Humphries at around this point; I was not great company as I didn’t have the energy to chat. We ran together for a little while and then drifted apart for the last mile or so.

As I ran up the Mall I saw the 800m to go marker, in any other race I would put a kick in here but I genuinely had nothing more left. I felt like a lifetime until I saw the 600m marker, then 400m and 200m. I was so close to the finish and I heard someone shout ‘well done banana’, there was a blooming banana next to me! I had joked about having a doughnut next to me in my finisher’s photo and it was really happening!

I swerved to the left to get some distance between the banana and me and crossed the finish line. I’m welling up now thinking about it as I was utterly overwhelmed. I’d done it; I’d completed the London Marathon in 03:34:53 and had run my heart out.

My splits were as follows:



















































finish time





My big sister, Nina, finished the marathon in 04:27:16. A p.b. for her and undoubtedly a great inspiration for my nieces and nephew.

I cannot thank Finchcoasters enough for this opportunity and I’m very pleased to say that I qualify for a ‘good for age’ automatic entry into London 2013, so now all I have to do is chase that sub 3:30 time!


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