Elite athletes and me

Wow, what a day it's been. It began with a 7am short run, a day of work in between, then a very surreal - yet truly inspiring meeting with marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe, MBE.

After work I popped in to Nike Town (where the staff now know me on first name terms. Surely this means I'm sporty?!) to see my trainer Brian who was designing some Nike IDs. Being the nosey parka that I am, I felt compelled to offer some creative input, so we played around on the Nike ID computer, creating three different designs for his Nike Air Max 1s, until he eventually picked his favourite.

Whilst we played upstairs, the crowds were gathering to see Paula Radcliffe who was making a guest appearance, and leading a group of around 200 Nike club runners on a short run around central London.

English athlete Paula Radcliffe is the current women's world record holder for the marathon distance. In 2002 she set the world's best time for a women's only race when she finished the London Marathon in just 2:18:55, and later the same year she set the world record time when she finished the Chicago Marathon in just 2:17:18

Just to reiterate this woman's achievements, of the seven marathons Radcliffe has run so far, she has won six and set a record in five. So needles to say, the atmosphere was buzzing, and seeing hundreds of people in their matching kit, all straining to catch a glimpse of this tiny lady made me realise how much of an icon she is to so many people, and I also began to realise just how many people enjoy running!

There was a short Q&A session, and after that it was time for the run, but given that my visit was an impromptu one I didn't have my kit to join in. So I stayed in the warm, and played dressing-up with the staff at Nike Town instead.

After the run I was super lucky to be able to meet Paula. I told her that I was running my first marathon in two days, and there was something quietly reassuring about her blink of acknowledgement, rather than the the usual gasp of horror which most people give. It was almost as if she was thinking "Of course you're running a marathon, why wouldn't you run a marathon" - which is I suppose, a very good question.

She was really kind and told me to GO SLOW. It's better to start slowly and build up speed, than go to fast to begin with. She also advised sticking to my usual eating routine as much as possible, and that I need only carb load the day before the race. I told her that I thought carb gels were revolting, and was fundamentally against the idea of eating anything that so closely resembled Ghost Buster slime, so she said to dose up on the Gatorade instead, and use that to get me round.

When you're lucky enough to be given advice from an Olympic athlete, it would be rude (and very stupid) to ignore it. Paula Radcliffe is clearly a lady of discerning taste, especially when she ultimately advises to run like 'elle!
The Run Dem Crew dem were also there to speak to Paula, and it was great to finally meet them.
This was the perfect way to override my marathon fear with excitement instead. I felt genuinely inspired, so thank you to all the Nike Team and Brian for making it happen. A happy day indeed.