Running

London Marathon Training: Week 12

Short run weekend and thank goodness as the weather was rubbish.  Especially on Sunday morning.

I had booked myself on to the Liverpool Half Marathon, ages ago, before I knew I’d be running London.  Luckily it seemed to coincide quite well with my training in that it gave me a valid excuse to take it easy after two consecutive weekends of 20 odd milers.  Plus it was the very first half I’d ever done, back in 2014, a whole year ago, so it felt like a nice anniversary to commemorate.

The forecast in the lead up to Sunday was not looking good.  Virtually 100% probability of rain and strong winds meaning that the last four miles along the prom back to the centre of town would be like swimming through treacle.  The night before, not much had changed although the wind speed had dropped a bit and I had primed Arun (my cousin who lodges with me and who also owns a car) to give me a lift in at about 8.20.  But I didn’t get my kit out ready, I didn’t soak my oats and I didn’t set my alarm.  I was definitely wavering.

The next morning, despite losing an hour to BST, I was awake at 6.30 (probably due to the rain on the window pane) and I got up and forced a mediocre version of porridge down on the off chance that I would actually go. Climbing back into bed on an uncomfortable stomach I decided on a final snooze til 8ish. I was sure I could still find my kit, find my number, find the safety pins, find my gels and put it all together and on me in twenty mins.  Assuming I could be muster the energy though.  Finally, by 8.05, I decided to get my backside into gear and commit to it.  I knew I’d have to still run at some point during the day so it may as well be now.

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So, on the plus side the heavy winds did not materialise.  The cold, continuous, miserable downpour was a good incentive keep a brisk pace. I ran the first six miles with a running club buddy, until she decided she needed to find a portaloo or bush. My eventual time was a minute or so slower than my PB in Coventry, 02:05:31, but that was okay considering my legs were probably still tired a bit from the previous two weeks and I was soaked to the core.  It’s also quite nice to see my steady progression.  This time last year I came in at just under 2 hours and 18.

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Running

London Marathon Training: Week 11

I knew it was going to be a tough ask to try and do 20 miles again this weekend after last week’s gargantuan effort.  But I had a beautiful spring day and a picturesque route on my side.  Plus, the night before, my sister Hersha, had looked up the top ten foods for marathon runners and had managed to feed me about six of them!  Fuelled and ready!!

I was running along the Middlewood Way, a once upon a rail line that used to go between Marple (just south of Stockport) and Macclesfield.  It’s a ten mile stretch and the aim was to go to Macc and back. The beauty of old train routes is that they ain’t too hilly and this particular one cut a gentle swathe through countryside and farmland making for a wonderfully tranquil path.  No traffic, a lot of birdsong and the occasional horses hooves clopping along. Idyllic. 

But. I started off with quite a sore left thigh that had been annoying me for most of the last week.  It felt like a solid, tight ball that made my leg heavy and less jiggly.  By that I mean that the muscles inside didn’t feel like they were moving at all. I should really ask someone properly technical to explain it to me some time!

It finally began to loosen up and ‘jiggle’ by about mile eight but up until then I had been trying to not peg leg and over compensate with my right side.  I think this took a bit of the steam out of me.  Ironically though, my thigh has felt great ever since!  So maybe you just need a really long run to iron out all the niggles.  And super bonus, my sister and her kids came to cheer me on at a couple of points en route which was fantastic and definitely kept me going!

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(I had to run back slowly so that my sister could take the pictures and then turn around again!)

From about mile 17 the running was interspersed with a bit of walking as I was really shattered but I got back to the carpark in Marple and clocked a nice 19.75 miles in a little under 4 hours. That was good enough; I definitely was not going to try and run some extra circles to get that quarter mile. We had ourselves a very nice Sunday roast nearby at a pub called Oddfellows, meeting up with sister number two, Usha and her boys which was a lovely surprise and rounded up the day back in Stockport with a cup of tea and some yummy blueberry and dark chocolate muffins made by my niece!  All in all, a terrific day!

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Running

London Marathon Training: Week 10

I missed out last week’s blog because I had such a miserable attempt at running I felt too sorry for myself to put it on paper, virtual or otherwise.  After the high of running a PB in the half marathon in week 8, I thought that maybe I could get below 4.45 or even 4.30 in the big one. But last Saturday’s fail brought me back down to reality with a slap in the face.  All I’m saying is that I couldn’t even get to 13 miles before I gave up.  I felt completely sapped of energy and had just had enough. That kind of attitude does not complete a marathon.

This week I had a mate who’d offered to run with me but he’d forgotten it was Mother’s Day on Sunday.  So we rearranged to go on Sat afternoon when he could get over from Preston.  I rarely do my running after lunch. Psychologically I guess it feels good to get it done so you can relax for the rest of the day.  But it was the only time Raj could make it and I knew I needed to have someone come along to give me a kick up the arse every time I felt like giving up.

I wanted to do 20 miles and I was now okay with the fact that I would walk a bit as well as run. My time targets had been thrown out of the window and the only target was to complete my miles come what may.  

Raj rolled up at 4.15 wearing some crazy white compression tubes beneath his shorts and a green snood on his head that looked like a paisley turban!  I wish I’d taken a picture now but at the time I was just laughing my head off. We set off at a super easy pace, 11.30/12 minute miles, and took our time and chatted and cantered along like we were just going out for a little evening jog.  It felt good.  I took him on a mini tour of Liverpool; along the Otterspool prom, up Menlove Avenue where John Lennon used to live, past the end of Penny Lane, through the University campus and by the Catholic Cathedral, down into town where we were met with bemused looks from the Saturday evening revellers, along the Albert Dock and the new Echo Arena and finally back along the waterfront with the Wirral twinkling in the darkness over the way.  Easy!  

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Well apart from the fact that it really wasn’t and by about mile 17 I needed to start walking a bit.  I decided to walk for a minute and then run until the mile was complete, then walk again for a minute, for each of the remaining miles.  It was hard to push off into a run every time I had my walk time.  My legs were gradually turning into that strange mix of becoming more wobbly and solidifying at the same time!  But I kept it going slowly and finally got to 20 miles in about 4 hours.

Thank you Raj!

Running

London Marathon Training: Week 8

I’ve been looking at training plans again.  There are so many of them on the internet; Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, and so many variations on each of those.  I was just looking to see how I was shaping up at this point compared to their programs.  As I may have said already, the idea of following one particular plan feels too much like being told what to do and I’m too contrary to do that for more than a couple of weeks.  The beauty of using my own plan, my cobbled together amalgamation, is that it can be adapted a bit, revised a bit, occasionally disregarded a bit, but that’s okay because I don’t feel like too much of a failure when I don’t hit the spot.  And sometimes, when I exceed my expectations, it feels terrific.

I had a half marathon race this last Sunday, in Coventry, my home town.  I’d planned to just enjoy it as it was one of my ‘take it easy’ weeks and I was looking forward to not having wobbly legs by the end.  I had expected to run at my normal long run pace which is about 10.5/11 minute miles as that’s what I’d been automatically doing the last few weeks in order to try and conserve my energy.  My old school friend Salena was also running and we started off together.  Somewhere along the line I left her behind and got a little faster and I felt strong and comfortable for the whole distance.  This was the first Half I’ve done since my marathon training began and I could really tell the difference.  I know that the big day is double this distance and I’ve still got a long way to go but how cool is that when you’re not struggling to finish 13.1 miles! I even knocked off 3 minutes from my previous PB and came in at 02:04:24.  Getting closer to the 2 hour mark!  Salena did really well too, getting 02:19, and we celebrated with a well deserved beer and pizza too.

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Back to the grindstone this week as I’ve got no excuses to shirk from my program.  Still on a little high though!   Oooh, and I have worked out how to put a picture on this blog!  For a computer programmer I’m sooo not technical!