Can't help thinking that the fundraising was rather taking over from the running as the main focus of this madcap project of mine. I had been very happy to virtually write off January, bearing in mind issues such as the dark nights, b%$^^y awful weather and post Christmas blues. I feel sure that my general malaise was not improved by the after affects of giving blood on new year's eve, and I also had a week's skiing to fit in. Yet this was the time that I should really have been getting to grips with the non-trivial task of moving from half-marathon runner to potential whole-marathon runner. All in all there was a side to me that secretly quite liked the situation – the side of me that might have inspired me to martyrdom in days gone by. “Oh no – I'd love to be out there braving the wind and rain, putting in the hard miles, but circumstance is conspiring against me”
In this context the best thing that I did was to attend (with twelve or so other hardy souls) CLIC Sargent's training day in London the weekend before last, with Nick and Phoebe from “Running With Us”. I formed the opinion (consolidated by former marathon running colleague Chris – thanks mate) that I really did need to identify a plan and to stick with it, rain or shine. “But I sent you one” he proclaimed (slightly exasperated) - “hmmmm – oh yes you did, didn't you” I replied (thinks – hmmmm better try and dig that one out).
Very early on in my what will hopefully be, come April 13th, a completed journey from couch potato to marathon survivor in little over a year, I formed the opinion that any finishing time that starts with the number 3 is a highly respectable marathon and this should be what I am shooting for. Hence the aim for my only half marathon to date was to complete in under two hours, which was achieved with about five minutes to spare. Right on target! But this last month or so, maybe things have started to change. My heart still says under four, but my head is starting to say something in the region of 4:15 might be do-able. But (I ask myself) does it really matter? There will be people who run this marathon much faster than me that will effectively have run a worse “race” and surely plenty of people that run slower whose achievement will have been far greater.
Anyway this last week and a half has been so much more focussed. Nick and Phoebe's advice was that these next few weeks are the really important ones – the ones where you can really make a difference And it's not just racking up the miles that will make a difference, but also the other things – like running at threshold pace and doing hills- which are so easy to not do if you are calling your own tune. As they point out it is no good missing out on lots of miles and expecting to make the lot up during week 16! Furthermore, although January was not great, I did still get out quite a lot – just that I didn't really know what I was doing while I was out there! And (I think) I was not in a bad place to start with, bearing in mind all the work I'd done previously in preparing for the half marathon.
All-in-all then the serious training has (so far) gone well (but, given that the next storm has begun, I think tonight might be a challenge!). My soon to be fifty-seven year old body has (touch wood very hard) stood up to the rigours. However, I have experienced only my second (to date) running ailment – suddenly being struck down with a painful case of runner's nipple. But generous application of various creams and jellies seems to have that under control. As far as my first ailment is concerned (dating back to August), that totally nonplussed my doctor, who had never ever heard of such a thing before – but on his advice a week's rest resolved the situation. But that story can wait 'til after April 13 :-)
(P.S. - made it out tonight - windiest yet with a severe hailstorm at the finish).
Coming next – report on the “Great Marathon Busk”.
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