Saturday before Belfast

Sat typing this after packing ready for a pickup in just under an hour.  I’ve checked the weather – looks like it’s going to be warmish, so short sleeves

Oh, Friday, I had a phone call from the Belfast Telegraph.  When I applied for Belfast Marathon there was a question about whether I had an interesting story – so I wrote in the three ‘B’s thing.   So, they picked up on that and interviewed me over the phone.  I have my doubts as to whether it will appear, since she said that she would text me her email address so that I could send some photos, but I didn’t receive anything.

And Friday I also had more news of a writing friend, who had been taken into hospital.  The news wasn’t good, she was on life support and not expected to last beyond Saturday morning.  I wouldn’t normally drink on the Friday before a marathon, but I asked myself what would Karen do and well, she always liked a drink (“I’ve got a big swallow on me.” was one of her more memorable phrases).  Anyways, she is still clinging on as I type this.  And there’s nothing more I can say about things really, didn’t want to do much on Saturday.  And nothing more I can do – there’s no way that I can get to Portsmouth and back before Wednesday.

So, Belfast tomorrow – I had the following encouraging words from Kate, a running mate and ex Belfast resident

  • Oh there are lots of hills, the first half is really mostly uphill, albeit a slow gradual grind. That’s what makes it such a horrid course, however after the zoo it gets better – pity it’s mostly by the motorway and then an industrial estate! But the crowds usually distract you from that…
  • I’m doing my home marathon disservice actually, the people are very friendly and there are some nice parts, and the end is good. Where are you staying?

So, it doesn’t sound like this is going to be one of those fast, life affirming runs.  Ah well, it’s less than 4 weeks until Edinburgh.

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Madness – Sunday before Belfast

Sat typing this after packing ready for a pickup in just under an hour.  I’ve checked the weather – looks like it’s going to be warmish, so short sleeves

Oh, Friday, I had a phone call from the Belfast Telegraph.  When I applied for Belfast Marathon there was a question about whether I had an interesting story – so I wrote in the three ‘B’s thing.   So, they picked up on that and interviewed me over the phone.  I have my doubts as to whether it will appear, since she said that she would text me her email address so that I could send some photos, but I didn’t receive anything.

And Friday I also had more news of a writing friend, who had been taken into hospital.  The news wasn’t good, she was on life support and not expected to last beyond Saturday morning.  I wouldn’t normally drink on the Friday before a marathon, but I asked myself what would Karen do and well, she always liked a drink (“I’ve got a big swallow on me.” was one of her more memorable phrases).  Anyways, she is still clinging on as I type this.  And there’s nothing more I can say about things really, didn’t want to do much on Saturday.  And nothing more I can do – there’s no way that I can get to Portsmouth and back before Wednesday.

So, Belfast tomorrow – I had the following encouraging words from Kate, a running mate and ex Belfast resident

  • Oh there are lots of hills, the first half is really mostly uphill, albeit a slow gradual grind. That’s what makes it such a horrid course, however after the zoo it gets better – pity it’s mostly by the motorway and then an industrial estate! But the crowds usually distract you from that…
  • I’m doing my home marathon disservice actually, the people are very friendly and there are some nice parts, and the end is good. Where are you staying?

So, it doesn’t sound like this is going to be one of those fast, life affirming runs.  Ah well, it’s less than 4 weeks until Edinburgh.

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Friday before Belfast

A quiet day today.  For most of the rest of Europe, it’s a holiday.  And as it’s a massage day, it’s also a rest day.  I ran about 11k of trails yesterday, feet and legs felt fine, positively bouncy.  I felt a bit achier today, but I think that was more delayed soreness from the Pilates and strap sessions of Wednesday.

Intimations of mortality yesterday when I heard that a writing friend of mine is gravely ill in hospital. I knew that she was not well, but not that it was quite that serious.  We haven’t seen much of each other since a conference in January – but she was posting on to Facebook until relatively recently and anyway fb silence usually means an approaching deadline.  Karen is 70, so only 12-13 years older than me.  Over a lifetime, that’s not much of a difference really. Fingers are crossed that she pulls through, but I have to say that I’m not optimistic at this stage.  All a reminder that life is short and the only thing you can do is make the most of the time you are given.

Have just got notification that the ballot for London next year opens on Monday.  I’ll probably end up entering ballot as belt and braces, since they haven’t opened up the good for age entries yet.  It would be just my luck to hold out for GFA until after ballot closes to to find out that they’ve made the requirements more stringent.  Mind you the chances of getting through in the ballot are lottery slim.

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Madness – middle of the week before Belfast

Yes, ok – I’ve been more than a little remiss in new entries recently.  It’s been a combination of busy-ness, not much to report and more than a little come-down after the delights of Boston.  Two weeks between is tougher than one week mentally.  With 8 days, I was basically maintaining the pace. The two weeks gets me caught between recovery and tapering and I’m not sure what I’m doing.  There’s a certain motivational struggle here as well.  I wasn’t expecting to be going for London qualifying time until I hit Edinburgh and now I should have it.  I could tell myself to cruise Belfast, but that’s not really my style.

Hasn’t helped that I checked out the course profile for Belfast.  There’s a socking great hill in the middle of it that goes on for 7 miles.  I know that means that there should be a corresponding downhill section, but that’s not the point.

Anyway, things are a little better today.  I had a session with Jane, that was quite vigorous, raising a bit of a sweat so that I felt I had done some work.  Partly because I said to her that Pilates was “a bit like exercise” and that wound her up enough to show me that it could be quite hard work.

And I did my regular 13 miles on Sunday, logged it on Garmin, but haven’t looked at the time.  It was more to keep the legs moving than anything else.  As a run, it felt fine, no pain to report at the end of it.

Oh and the new uke has a strap pin fitted and had it’s first public outing in Ukejam on the Sunday as well.

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Back in Blighty

Took the plane back last night.  Wore my medal onto the plane and got congratulations from the crew.  Then, got outclassed by a blind runner and his guide who were also running London.  Still, they finished in a slower time than me.

One of the things I mentioned in an earlier blog somewhere was my worries about nutrition.  Well, about the only thing I forgot to do for Boston was knock back one of my Beet-It shots.  And this time my stomach behaved itself.  I know that once is not necessarily a pattern, but it is suspicious as I don’t remember having these problems before I tried using the beetroot.  So, now I’m torn on my approach to Belfast.  I haven’t thought of targets for that race, yet.  But, I’ve looked at the route map and the all important elevation chart and it looks like miles 7-14 are all uphill.  This may turn out to be the toughest of the three.

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Sunday before Boston

So, am typing this in the Virgin Lounge on Tuesday before the flight home.  Sunday was gorgeous.  Debbie and I visited old Sturbridge Villlage a replica setup of an 1830s New England village.  She had taken me the last time I was here and I was keen to see how the the 1830s had changed over the last 4.  Well, not much is the answer, but this time they had the animals out.  So, I was able to get photos of sheep, cows and chicken.  More importantly, it was good to just wander round stretching legs.  Perfect tapering activity really.  The nerves weren’t much in evidence – although trying to work out timings for the morning was proving a bit of a trial.  I’d discovered that being in the second wave, didn’t mean being just behind the elite, but actually a later start time.  This idea of starting in waves like this is relatively new, I think.  I know that they’ve been trying to increase the size of the event after the bombings of 2013.  Anyway, in theory, that meant we could get to the runners’ drop off point later because I wasn’t due to be running until 10:25.  Although it meant a little more time in bed, more important to Debbie than me as I probably wouldn’t sleep well anyway, there was always the danger of things going wrong.  Still, that’s probably just one more worry and the more time I spent worrying about that, the less I had available for other worries.

Dinner was Italian.  Small (American small) pizzas to start, bread and oil and papperdelle.  All lovely and carby, but filling.  And I had a glass and a half of wine.  I don’t (almost never) drink the night before a race., but it seemed right this time.  I don’t know why, but I think it was because I thought it might soothe the nerves and an overfull stomach.  And because we were going to be going straight back and I wasn’t going to ask Debbie to open another bottle, I was confident that I wouldn’t have to deal with the temptation to have more.  Besides, I drank nearly a litre of sparkling water, so I was quite confident in my hydration.  I compromised on a 9:00 arrival the drop-off (my initial proposal was somewhere between 8 and 8:30).

And so to bed.

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Boston Marathon

I know I’ve missed some days.  The problems with travelling and spending time with friends.  I’ll try and tidy up at some point.  For now, here is what it was like at Boston Marathon.

It was cold, not far off zero on the morning of the race.  Cold and wet, an intermittent rain that varied from spitting to lashing down.
I arrived at the runners’ drop off point at 9, from there a bus took us to the first  gathering point.  Free water, coffee, bananas, bagels, clif bars and loos.  Lots and lots of loos, but not enough.  If they had thought of some male urinals, it might have helped.  I was still in line when they called my wave to the start.  Luckily there were more loos at the second gathering section and the queues were shorter.  But, precious little opportunity to warm up amidst the crowds, the walking around at the start would have to do.  Anyway, with 30,000 people, the first km was going to be slow.
Then we were off.  After looking at some pacing recommendations online, I had several plans.  The most realistic was to match the last time I ran Boston and that was 3:30.  But, if I kept to a pace of 4:30 to 4:45 per km, that would give me the most unrealistic goal of 3:15.  Anywhere in between would be good.
Once the crowd thinned out a bit, I stepped up the pace to recover from some of the seconds lost in the slow start and then settled into a pace.  Most of the race is pretty hazy.  For the first time in years, I felt ‘in the zone.’  Although the support was fantastic, most of the time I was running, checking my pace every time the garmin beeped and then running some more.  Wellesley Ladies College or ‘Scream Alley’ is at mile 13.  The legend is that if you kiss a marathon runner you will get straight As in your next test.  So, there were hundreds of screaming girls holding signs up saying ‘kiss me.’  I resisted the temptation, but did a lot of high fiving and that gave me some impetus.  I haven’t looked at the splits properly yet, but it was a pretty fast section.
After that, it was much the same.  The only thing that nudged my awareness from running after that was wet feet.  I was pretty much soaked through, but my feet felt the worst.  The kilometres passed in the same haze.  I woke up a bit at mile 20, there’s a nasty long slow hill there and then not much of a gap before the infamous heartbreak hill at mile 21.  I got up, but my pace took a battering.  At this point, I was busy calculating what would happen to my overall time if I dropped back to 5:00 kilometres.  All the time I did that I was telling myself that anything faster than that would be a bonus and to make the most of every downhill that followed heartbreak.
Finally, a last corner,  the roar of the crowd and the sight of the finish line, a long ways down the street.  I managed to pick up the pace, but it was hard work.  The clocks were all displaying times from the 10:00 start and I couldn’t do the maths to adjust for my 10:25 time.  But, I knew it was going to be close.  I crossed the line and checked my Garmin again – yep 3:19
So, inside London good for age qualification by 50 seconds (better than missing it by 19 secs which I did in Dublin in October).  So, second marathon in 8 days and I was faster by 6 mins in the second one.
After that, I finally managed to find my friend, we got to a bar where I was able to stop shivering.  You know how cold it was?  My first drink after that marathon was a cup of tea.  That’s how cold it was.

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