In 48 hours I will have had my granola, banana and yoghurt and black coffee. I will probably be agitating Adam to get in the car ALREADY and drive me to a tube station so I can begin to make my way to the start of the London marathon.
It's here. We are setting off for London this morning. I'm meeting Dawn - who is nervous and excited at running her first marathon - for lunch and we are then heading out to ExCel (where the G20 met not long ago) where the expo is and we can pick up our race numbers. I'm hoping to meet up with Drusy there this afternoon and generally spend an afternoon in running geek heaven.. Then it's back to my sister-in-law Sarah's for a an early pasta supper, and bed. Tomorrow I am aiming to stay off my feet as much as it's possible with a 6 year old in tow - Sarah has promised to take him off for a while, I might meet a friend for lunch and then we might head to a cinema or something like that. Early night - again. I hope.
And then Sunday morning. London is a large and VERY spread out city and the London marathon starts miles away from where I'm staying. I'm going to have to make way across town from Notting Hill to Greenwich where I've been drafted in the red start. I'm leaving plenty of time - last year the Docklands Light Railway (the only public transport out to the start) broke down and 1000s of runners had to walk the final miles... And then, hopefully, it's the usual nervous queueing for loos and standing around in bin bags, nerves on end until the start at 9:45. To my great surprise and disappointment it does not appear to be possible to follow me live on the internet - one of the sponsors, Adidas, is offering mobile phone tracking on their (crappy) website if you type in my race number 43789. Whether it works with foreign cellphones is anyone's guess... As soon as I can, after the race, I will update my FaceBook status with my time and try to post a very quick post on this site with my time.
And how do I feel? Well - very nervous. It's been a very very busy 2 weeks. After a week of holidaying in Wales with the family where the times were good - great even - but the running was so-so I came back last Friday with some trepidation.
Although I had decided to cut down on Pfitz's mileage I was trying to keep up the speedwork but he had prescribed 3 x 1M repeats at 5K pace in a workout which I had tried and failed at twice during my break. I erred on the side of caution and spent the rest of my break relaxing and not running too much. Saturday morning I woke up at 6, however, knowing I just HAD to get those fast miles in to feel confident. And I did it - I nailed them at a 7:40 pace. I then put the brakes on myself completely - ran a slow 9 miler on Sunday instead of his prescribed 12 miler and for the rest of this week I've been very conservative. 4M on Tuesday and then 5M on Wednesday where I was intending to run 2 at race pace, just to see if I had it. And did I have it. Boy - I was like a champagne bottle uncorked. I really slammed on the brakes but I still ran every mile under 9 minute miles and felt strong. Yesterday was an easy 4 and then I'll run 3M tomorrow morning just to loosen and relax.
I am much more nervous than I have been in a while for a race. I know that I have improved a lot and I am nervous because I hope that I can pull it all out of the hat on the day. As far as my race strategy goes I am going to be somewhat flexible - I hope - because I don't know which pen I'm lined up in yet and I'm anticipating the first miles to be slow with the crowds. However. My goal - for this marathon - is to come in under 4. That is my goal. My PB is just over 4:12 so that would be a great improvement. I am fairly confident that, barring any unforeseen crises, I can do that. In terms of racing strategy I think I am going to pace myself for a 3:52 race. After 5 miles or so I will know how realistic this goal is and I am trusting in myself to be sensible. If anything, I have gone out too slow in the past and I want to avoid that. My recent 20 miler would give me a 3:55 ish finish - I would be VERY happy with that. We shall see.
Finally. As some of you know I have once again been given a race place in this wonderful marathon by Save the Rhino International. I have been reticent to ask for your support of their work because you have all given so much already and I know that these are very much straightened times for everyone. However, this past week I was sent an update on the situation in Zimbabwe. The humanitarian crisis there is, as you may know, very very severe. Perhaps as a result of this, the rhino population is suffering enormously from poaching. Save the Rhino International, in partnership with International Rhino Foundation, has launched an appeal in order to increase awareness of the threats facing Zimbabwe's rhinos and to raise much-needed funds.Poaching of both black and white rhinos in Zimbabwe has more than doubled in the last year. The rhinos are targeted by organised and armed poaching gangs for their horn, which is then sold on the black market. Over 100 Critically Endangered black rhinos have been killed by poachers in the Lowveld since 2000: 40 of these in 2008 alone, 18 black rhinos so far in 2009. One of the many side-effects of this increase in poaching has been the rise in the number of orphaned, and sometimes injured, rhino calves that must be treated and rehabilitated. If any of you have 5 or 10 dollars, pounds or euros to spare please consider donating them to Save the Rhino today. You can do so at my fundraising site and find out more about Save the Rhino's incredible work at www.savetherhino.org. For those of you have already made a donation - thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Finally, finally. My best friend Dawn is running Sunday's marathon. It's her first marathon and I just wanted to give her a massive shoutout. Her achievement to just get to this point is incredible. She is the mother of 3 wonderful boys, the youngest of whom is 2, and has trained very hard despite very limited time. She has also raised an enormous amount of money for a very worthwhile cause, Children with Leukemia. She is an inspiring person, an incredible runner and the best friend a girl could ask for. Send her your happy thoughts on Sunday!
And finally, finally, finally. Thank you all for your support in the course of this training program. Without you, and particularly Maritza, Aron and Jen, I would never have started on the Pfitz. Everyone has been supportive and helpful and you have all given me the most enormous sense of community and friendship. I will be thinking of all of you on Sunday morning as I line up and hope everyone has a good weekend's running.