Friday, May 15, 2009

Wrapping her up and moving her on..

Life has just been crazy. In the final weeks before the marathon life pretty much becomes the marathon. Ironically, my training load lessens but the focus increases. Then, after the marathon I have to take some time to pick up the slack I've built up in the rest of my life with family, friends and work..

So that's today's excuse for not blogging for a month! And for not being a very assidious commenter. I assure you that I'm getting to it - and you. Promise!

4 weeks after London and it's time to move on. I've taken some time to learn the lessons from London - good and bad. Overall my conclusions are as follows:
  • starting fast was quite a good idea. Maybe "bat out of hell" is not the best race strategy but it certainly got me into a pace groove I was able to maintain for a long time. I have definitely started out too slowly in the past and have missed good times as a result.
  • NO more portapotties in races. Unless there is no queue this girl is going wild and free. Sorry for TMI but that stop cost me at least 90 seconds..
  • Strangely enough there appears to be some degree of disagreement about what causes cramp. Having surfed around the web though I think mine was caused by: dehydration, lack of fuel (I should have stuck with ShotBlocks for the latter part of the race - I can get those down me when nothing else appeals) and just generally going too damn fast. I hadn't trained with 8:30s as my race pace and eventually I ran out of oxygen. Hence cramps and blue lips.
I had a very interesting email exchange with the fabulous, multi-talented and wise ShirleyPerly and she suggested I look for another marathon within 3/4 weeks of London to have another go at my BQ. I did so, but there were no qualifying marathons anywhere near me. In addition, I had committed quite a few weekends in May to other things (which I had put off in training) so I decided this plan was not going to work. It did make me think, however, that I wanted to give myself a better shot in October. While the Bizz Johnson is a Boston qualifier, and, apparently, more people qualify there than do in Chicago, I think this might be something to do with the field (more people there looking for a Boston qualifier?). Also - while it has some serious advantages - slightly downhill, uncrowded, soft path underfoot, generally cool (cold even) weather - there is one major disadvantage - altitude. I've never suffered from altitude sickness, nor found my sporting performance affected by altitude, but it could happen. So I decided to slip another one around that time and found - da da dum! - the Berlin marathon! It's easy to get to from me, the flight times are convenient and the hotels affordable and I'm going to keep that one under the radar as well to the larger public. You all will know about it, and from a training point of view it is the race I am targeting towards, but I'm not going to tell the world I'm doing it. I'm going to fly in on the Saturday afternoon, pick up my race number, go to my hotel, sleep (I'm going back to Tylenol PM this time!) and then race. Pick up my bag and get on the plane home. Done. And .. I have a secret weapon. The amazing Sally is joining me and pacing me. My London marathon briefly made me the fastest out of us two but she gave me 3 weeks of glory before she shattered her own PB of 3:52 and recorded a 3:41. As long as she doesn't kill me we will give it our best shot.

And my running? Has been going well. I have been following Pete Pfitzinger's recovery plan and am back at about 30M a week. I have a slight tightness in my ITB, going into my hip and buttock (do you always think of Forrest Gump when you say that word?) and I'm rolling and stretching and going to see my faithful osteopath about it on Wednesday.

Mentally I'm fine - at least where running is concerned. I haven't suffered from any post-marathon blues - I think my joy at my performance, coupled with planning my next races, coupled with getting back on the road again have avoided that. Also, I had something to look forward to. Last Saturday, I met Drusy, Steve Chopper, Phil Moneypenny, Gary Wall, and Mark "Wheelo" at the Rugby Club at Matlock to run the Swift Half. Do you remember that 2 years ago I ran a marathon I hadn't trained for? It was a humbling and painful experience. This time I had a bit more sense and decided to run the half. I had met Drusy 3 weeks ago and once I spotted her I soon met everyone else, as well as Drusy's wonderful family and dog. Gary and I rode to the start together on the race bus, where he told me about his amazing run along the length of Hadrian's wall (84 miles in 2 days). We all met up at the cold and windy start and posed in front of the portakabins (well all apart from Drusy who was "navigating" her husband and family to the start).

It was a great race. The first 8 miles or so were pretty tough as we had the wind in our face and the running was mildly uphill the whole way. I fell into pace with an older guy and, although his yorkshire accent was so thick I missed some of his more salient tips and tricks, it soon became apparent he had been quite something in his day (a sub 3 marathoner anyone?) and we amicably chatted as the miles flew by. The race is called the Swift Half because of the screeching downhill between miles 10 and 12 - a descent of about 1000 feet I think - and while this is hard on your knees and quads (particularly for those poor folk running the full marathon distance) it does help your speed... And so, 3 weeks after London, I romped across the finish line in 1:44, breaking my official half marathon PB by 10 minutes and my London marathon PB by 6. I feel it's a slightly dishonest PB because of the descent - I'm not sure I could keep that pace up on the flat - but I've got it. Now all I've got to do is do it again..

We all congregrated around Drusy's wonderful family who were taking photos and when we were all in we headed indoor for a sausage bap and some chips. Hmmmmmm.

There was only one downside. The race photos. Guys! I have trained hard. I have lost weight. I have had to buy new clothes - top and bottom - to take it into account. Why do I still take such a fat racephoto?
My legs! I have chunky knock knees! Look at Drusy! She's a vision! (Like most celebrities, she is actually tiny when you meet her and even more gorgeous than she looks in this photo). Steve put together this collage and picked the most flattering of the bunch but man! So annoying.

We all relived our experiences last Wednesday on the Runners Roundtable - I had some communication issues and feel I missed it a bit because I was having such a hard time staying on the call.

And so now - on with it. My training for Berlin starts in the middle of June (that gives me 14 weeks to do the 12 week program so I have some time for summer holidays and illness / injury). My focus in the next 3 weeks is to get this ITB niggle sorted AND get into a routine with my cross training regime. Last time, you will recall, I did nothing. I have been going backwards and forwards on ideas but given that I don't have access to a gym I have decided to do some home yoga. To this end I have bought Shiva Rea's Creative Core and Upper Body and The Athletes Guide to Yoga . My sister in law is a very experienced Yoga person and so has promised to go through the DVDs with me and correct my poses as I practise. I have had one go with the Shiva Rea DVD and my arms are still aching...

So I'm now going to post this rather crappy post - I feel it's not very tied together or tidy, but I just need to get it out there to get on with things. I miss you all and will be getting on with my catchup. The rest of life is pretty busy and in a real state of flux as well - I will post about that later I'm sure - but just briefly - I have changed how I work - much more from home - and I am also moving house... So I think I'm going to need the de-stressing aspects of running and training in the next few months. So long my friends - see you soon.

Monday, May 04, 2009

I was just THAT close!

And then it all blew up on me! 
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Marathon photos phase II

That spiderman guy was just painfully full of beans - he was loving it.  I was not. 

Full action shot..

My loyal support team

I don't know what was wrong with my mouth.  I have shown you some decent shots of me in the past - this was taken a good 90 minutes after the finish and I was looking grim... 
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Marathon photos - phase 1

The photographer, his wife and his godson.. 
Coming into view at mile 24/25 ish..  This was my final push - 7:54 min/mile before the cramp slowed me right down to a 12 minute mile pace... 
The bobby can see that me and orange man are working this hard... 

Oh it really did hurt.. 
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I finally met Drusy!  She is as lovely as I've always thought and I can't wait to run the Swift Half with her in 2 weeks... 
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Carboloading with Dawn and the expo

Carboloading with my son and Dawn at Acorn House before heading to the expo.. 
Carbs are good.  
we intended to.  
Meeting up with Liz Yelling - she was very gracious and signed my race number (although this all got washed off in the course of the race..)
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