I have never been so prepared for anything in my life as I was when I ran the London Marathon last Sunday. The whole thing was one big preparation. From the moment Nat told me as a ‘by the way’ that she had signed me up to run it was all preparation.

Seeing I had not completed a marathon before I had no idea what to expect for times etc. So I set a goal that would take mental toughness and determination. My desired goal was to ‘finish without walking or stopping’. Once established I started telling friends and clients of my goal. There is a lot of power in not only setting a goal but telling others about your goals – it keeps you accountable. Lesson # 1 – set goals and tell others about them.

I was determined to follow the running plan that the organisers put out. I figured that someone else has done it before me so I would just trust the process. It was a 24 week plan which I started about 32 weeks out. I was hit with a nasty knee injury which set me back 9 weeks (and 15 physio sessions) so I started the program again – 17 weeks out. I also signed up with Pat Carroll’s (4 times Gold Coast marathon winner) online coaching program for strategy guidance. Lesson # 2 – someone else has done what you want to do, follow the leaders.

Every weekday morning at 5am I would meet with my personal trainer for a variety of running and cross training sessions. We would pound the pavement and the road, keeping track of times and distance and logging every run. Every Sunday I would run the longer run on my own as per the plan – they steadily got longer and longer and longer. The longest run I did before tee off was 33km’s. The whole exercise took a toll on the family. My sleep patterns had to change (in bed by 8:30pm most nights and up at 4:20am), my eating habits changed and my alcohol intake dropped significantly – evening functions were not much fun the past few months. Lesson # 3 – if you want something bad enough, often you have to sacrifice.

All of this preparation worked. Although I arrived partially jet lagged to the start line (only arrived into London the day before) and with a nagging thigh injury caused from the 33km run I still felt fresh and ready to go – although I do think it was the adrenalin kicking in. I stuck to my strategy of not going out too fast (which most people do) and kept an even(ish) pace over the entire distance. I had my iPod playlist working (although it went flat with 12km to go), my band aids suitable placed for past blisters / bleeding areas (bleeding nipples are not a good look) and my fancy running watch tracking my speed. I was extremely disciplined in my approach. Lesson # 4 – create a plan and stick to it.

It was an exciting atmosphere. The papers reported 700,000 people lining the streets shouting and cheering you on. I was convinced they were all out to see me! There were 80 pubs along the way and they all had something going on – live bands, motivational music blaring even a gospel choir. Because your name was on the front of your shirt people were cheering you on by name. Many of the supporters had pints of beer they were enjoying and there were even BBQ’s (what a great smell that was) cooking at a few points. It was like a festival. Along the way I was offered ‘gummy bear’ lollies, oranges and even beer – that was very tempting. I refused them all. I did however start dreaming about the first beer I would have at the after party – it was sweet. Lesson # 5 – avoid temptations that may derail you.

I had to get into a zone to see me through the last 10-15ks. It was rather surreal. It was like I was in another world – running in a trance Thanks to Nat’s pep talk she gave me I was talking to myself a bit saying things like “it’s only 2 more hours / 60 minutes etc of your life” and “your goal is to finish without walking or stopping” and “not long now before I see Nat” and “no one else seems to be stopping”. I kept my eye on the prize even though my feet were in agony and my knees felt like they had been hit with a hammer – hard. Lesson # 6 – if the dream is big enough the facts don’t count.

As previously mentioned I did achieve my primary goal of finishing without walking or stopping and I achieved my secondary goal of under 4hrs 30 minutes. The ‘race magic’ high lasted 2 more days after completing. It was weird, I could hardly walk for the next 2 days but I felt great.

On day 3 afterwards (Wednesday) the high ended and I hit the euphemistic ‘wall.’ My body came crashing down. It was like BOOM – it hit me. I had trained for months, travelled to the other side of the world to compete in my first marathon. I did it and I was exhausted.

Time to go home.

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One marathon complete! I achieved my primary goal of running without walking or stopping. I also acheived my secondary goal of under 4hrs 30min.

My time was 4hrs 20 mins + 57 seconds. Woohoo. The power of writing down goals.

My 1/2 marathon pace was under 2 hrs so I was hopeful for <4hrs. However the last 10-15 k’s were a killer. I had zero left in the tank at the end and once finished I could hardly walk. The Virgin after party was a mix of a few beers, ice bath, massage and awesome conversation.

None of this would be possible without my beautiful wife Nat. She is the one who signed me up for it!

One of life’s ultimate experiences ticked off. Very pleased with myself. Photos to follow.

Not even an angry Volcano could stop us arriving this morning into London. I met Nat in Singapore after she had been trekking for 6 days through the Himalayas and we were due to travel to together to London.

Normally we travel together in Business or First class but due to the Volcano in Iceland, my original flight was cancelled, and every flight was booked so all we could get Nat was a ‘luxurious’ seat down the back of the plane – much to her delight. Not!

When we handed in our boarding passes, the scanning machine for Nat’s one read ‘unable to board‘. Not more drama we thought. After a heart stopping few seconds the security attendant calmly said – you’ve been upgraded Mrs Nixon.

So after a testing week of cancelled and changed flights and not knowing if we were going to make it a very pleasant flight was had by both of us up the front. We got plenty of sleep on the flight and arrived fresh to a brisk but sunny Spring day.

After we then checked into our Hotel (it was picked because it was one of 4 hotels in London that had a spa bath in the room) and headed for the Marathon exhibition and registration at the ExCel centre.

There were thousands of people at the ExCel centre and when Sir Richard arrived with his celebrity friends the throng of waiting media and paparazzi went nuts with their cameras.

There are about 100 runners in the Virgin Unite team and 6 of us in the Virgin Galactic team. We were given a great bottle of french champagne as a gift which is in the mini bar fridge awaiting my finish tomorrow.

At last I got to meet one of my all time business heroes. Looking forward to spending more time with him as I get to know him.

Tomorrow its expected to be 17 degrees and sunny. Great running conditions. Although I heard someone moaning that it was going to be hot! There is a Virgin after party at a Bar. That should be fun.

Looking forward to a great day!

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If you are interested (or just bored) you can track my running time on Sunday. If you download the application it will update every 5km’s – my speed, expected finish time etc.

You’ll need my race number which is 29160

The race starts (for elite runners – not me) at 0945 London time (6:45pm AEST) Sunday. I am last off with Sir Richard (he is the official starter) so who knows when I get past the start line.

Simply go here, download the app and follow the instructions.

Thanks for your support.

Good news. With London’s Heathrow airport opening today it means that the backlog (incl me) of hundreds of thousands of people will start to fly into and out of Europe. I have been told I am definitely on the flight to London on Friday night – Nat’s old ticket.

Even better news. With a very clever travel agent I was able to buy another ticket (someone cancelled their seat on the overbooked flight just my travel agent went online) on the same flight as me for Nat. Although not in the same travel class she is at least happy that she is going – we’ll deal with that one on the way.

So all good to go. Will provide photo’s and an update when I finally get there and run this thing. Wish me good running!

Last year my wife Nat signed me up to run in this years Virgin London Marathon. My first marathon. It’s on this Sunday April 25. Although booked / sold out she was able to get me a berth because she bought me a trip into space on Virgin Galactic for my 40th birthday ( I travel in 2012). Cool present…men tell your wives to up the ante!

Anyway, Virgin are the primary sponsors of this years London Marathon. As such they were allocated 100 entries to disperse as they saw fit. The Virgin Galactic company (as a client I am now a ‘future astronaut’ and will be addressed as so from now on please) were allocated 5 entries. And that’s when reality struck. I actually had to run this thing. I was signed up to run with Sir Richard Branson – one of my all time business heroes. Woohoo.

Off I start training. I started training in October last year, got to 9 km’s in distance and then got quite badly injured (knee gave way) as I overdid it when I climbed a mountain in the Caribbean in November. After 6 weeks of physio and intense rehab I needed to get started again. That was December 28 and I had 4 months to go. Since that re- start date in December I have ….

  • Awoke consistently @ 4:20am for 4 months ready for 5am training session with Craig the trainer
  • Run 648 km’s – with a peak distance of 33kms
  • Competed in a 1/2 marathon with 3,000 others
  • Stepped out (approx) 804,670 paces
  • Raised A$50K for charity – supporting young people through Virgin Unite
  • Dropped 5kgs – there was not much there in the first place
  • Lost 2 inches off my waist and had to buy a bunch of new strides
  • Dropped my alcohol intake by 90% – even drinking tea and gin & tonic without the gin!

I even discovered the secret to weigthloss and toning. Don’t believe the infomercials that sell pills, potions, lotions and machines. Just run 40k’s+ a week – it has to drop off.

So trained, toned, keen, ready and itching to go. What could go wrong?

Well – one angry volcano in Iceland decides to erupt and disturb my travel plans. I was due to fly out tomorrow night. With Heathrow in lockdown and Qantas very focussed on safety (this is a good thing) they are cancelling flights left right and centre. My Wednesday flight was cancelled tonight – however with some considerable influencing skills and secured a flight on Friday night – Volcano permitting.

You see, Nat (who either wants to get rid of my in space or kill me in a marathon) is in Nepal right now on a charity trek (supporting our favourite foundation – stepUP) and she is / was due to fly from Singapore to London on Friday night. So with my significant influencing skills and a bit of sweet talking to the Qantas agent I was able to bump her (flight was overbooked) and take her seat! It pays to be a Platinum flyer and pay full fares at the right end of the plane.

Nat was supposed to be my support crew at the Marathon. With the backlog of chaos the flights are booked out until mid May and because she is deep in the Himalayan mountains out of phone range she doesn’t know that she is not going to London yet. She originally had a flight booked from Singapore back to Brisbane on the tour – let’s hope she still has it.

So 2 more days at home – more training, anxiously waiting. Fingers crossed the volcano is nice and gets settled and Heathrow airport opens. Will keep you posted. Maybe I should ask Sir Richard if he can pick me up in the spaceship!

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