Thursday, 19 April 2012

London Marathon Preview

"The marathon is a charismatic event. It has everything. It has drama. It has competition. It has camaraderie. It has heroism. Every jogger can't dream of being an Olympic champion, but he can dream of finishing a marathon."
Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder 

The training came to a steady end at approximately 7.30pm tonight after a brief trot out with the good folk from Grantham AC. I've done a few long runs, I've raced a lot since Christmas, perhaps I should have done a bit more speed work (but it's sooo hard and I've done more than last year). All in all I'm happy to report I'm going to London feeling in great shape. there's a lot to be positive about, I've shed a few pounds, I ran a half marathon two weeks ago in a time not far off my 2002 pb and a further huge benefit is that the weather forecast looks ideal, cloud with sunny spells, rain later.

"The marathon can humble you." 
Bill Rodgers, winner of four Boston and four NYC marathons

Sub three hours is a bench mark for many club runners. I've dreamed of running sub 3 since running 3:03 in 2002. Last year I ran 3:06 and I'm aware I'm not getting any younger. My recent half marathon times put me the wrong side of a sub three hour marathon but only just, on a good day if everything falls into place I think I can have a good go at it but I am fully aware that the marathon can humble even the best elite runners. I see it like this:

If i finish it will be good - its never guaranteed and I'm genuinely glad to be able to take part. 
sub 3:10 - I'll be happy - it should get me a 'good for age place' in 2013.
sub 3:06 - happier - an improvement on last year.
sub 3.03 - happier still - a pb
sub 3 - dangerously happy.

"The difference between the mile and the marathon is the difference between burning your fingers with a match and being slowly roasted over hot coals."
Hal Higdon, running writer and coach

This is my fifth London marathon, in addition to the times above I've run 3:11 and 3:23 on previous years. If i can offer any advice through experience it would be 1) don't go off too fast 2) get to the start in plenty of time, its a fair way south of the river 3) drink often even (such as the first 10 miles) if you don't feel like it 4) my strategy is to coast comfortably to halfway then try and gradually increase the pace until my energy runs out, then hang on 5) whatever happens, keep ticking over, possibly the best piece of advice I have ever had. If you feel like walking, try not to, just keep ticking over. 6) take in the atmosphere, listen to the live music and harness the energy it brings.

"I'm never going to run this again."
Grete Waitz, after winning her first of nine New York City marathons

The marathon is inspiring and so are the runners that take part. Here's but two inspirational stories that have crossed my path this week.   My running mentor from the BBC's running club Steve Wehrle is one of only 18 remaining people to have taken part in all 31 London marathons. Steve will line up again on Sunday to attempt his 32nd London Marathon. Steve was responsible for helping me get my first London marathon place and I blame him in part for this daft affliction that has troubled me ever since. On Wednesday this request for sponsorship pinged into my inbox. In short, a barrister's clerk from London has found himself caring for a relative who suffered a severe stroke and deteriorated to the point of needing assistance with living. the Clerk decided to run London for the Stroke Association. This is but one of thousands of human experiences that puts life through running into perspective. It's common during a marathon to run past people with the simple word "Dad" etc on their shirts or even photos of loved ones stuck to the back of ordinary people that have decided to dedicate the hard miles of training and the harder 26.2 miles of racing as a dedication to people they have lost. Through a marathon, people channel grief and emotion into focus on a positive goal - crossing the finish line. The sense of accomplishment and satisfaction for such endeavours linked to the cause for which they are running and the memories of the people they are running for must be colossal and Its great to be part of the same event.

"I watched a documentary last night about diving. Apparently humans only ever use three quarters of their lung capacity. Do you want to see if we can find the other quarter tonight?"
Ben Hatherley - Grantham AC

The above quote was put to me  shortly before fellow Grantham runner Hatherley sped off up the hill at the start of my first hill rep session on a bleak, dark winter's evening. I was left questioning the sanity of the group in general and wondered as I floundered up the same hill some seconds later, If it might have been better to join Sleaford Striders instead! Such was the trouble of that night (the same night I thought we had set out on a warm down lap which turned into about 20 laps of the local estate) that I remembered the quote. I am quite certain that I found my final quarter of lung capacity on my first attempt.

If anyone is in the capital on London I'll be spending some post race time at the Marquis public house which is here.  It would be great to see anyone that's around.      

I understand that if you visit this link on race day you can track runners around the course by entering their race number. My number is 32105

GOOD LUCK  EVERYBODY - leave it all out there.........!!!     



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