The mind is willing, the time available is not!

When I first discovered that I had successfully received a much sought after ballot place for the London Marathon, my emotions were all over the place. I was immediately filled with immense joy and also deep fear; fear of the unknown distance and I was brought right back to the time before I ran my first half marathon. I was confident that I at least had the ability to reach 16, maybe 17 miles from half marathon training alone and a good fitness base, but that still left 9 – 10 miles of unknown territory.

Fast forward several months and my long, steady runs have dramatically increased in distance. I’m now regularly churning out efforts of 18+ miles and my body feels fine afterwards, with only hunger as a sign that I had been out running at all. I am quietly confident that I will arrive at the start line in London, ready to go toe to toe with the 26.2 mile challenge ahead.

Now, just because my body is ready doesn’t mean it’s all been sunshine and daisies along the way. The long runs have been a huge tax on my time, especially on Sundays. Often taking more than 3 hours to complete, they leave little room for other things on Sundays and I’ve had to turn down invites to a number of things so that I can train. Friends and family have been very understanding of this, for which I am grateful. Having a strong support network is a huge boost to any runner; they’re there to humour our inane discussions about pacing strategies, nutrition merits and all the other facts that non-runners really have no benefit for. They come to support and cheer us on at our races, no matter how big or small. Most importantly, they understand that a superb performance on race day doesn’t just happen on race day; it’s down to all the lonely miles logged, come rain or shine, that gets us to where we are atthe start line. I do believe this upcoming London Marathon will be my first and potentially last for a long time because of the huge time-sink that it is. In many ways, this reinforces my thoughts that I’m geared more towards traning for and racing in half marathons, where the longest run you may complete to really perform well is 14, maybe 15 miles, taking just over 2 hours. Perhaps one day, I will return to the 26.2 mile distance, but for now London will be my only marathon.

So, with that out of the way, what else have I been up to in the world of running?

I failed to get a place in the Royal Parks Half Marathon ballot. Dom wrote a really good post about the flaws of the system here and is spot on about potentially paying twice for an entry place. I shall run in the Cardiff Half Marathon instead and finally slay the demon that nearly made me DNF back in 2011.

I’m strangely calm about the Bath Half Marathon, mainly because it is part of the bigger picture of London Marathon training. I’m looking forward to racing again and the target in Dave and my sights is a sub 1:40 finish, preferably sub 1:38 if at all possible. All signs are pointing to “yes” and all the variables I can control have been controlled. All that’s left is for race day to be cool and overcast, with impeccable pacing and we should be set.

Lastly, my longest period of going without a PB at Cannon Hill Parkrun came to an end on Saturday with a new course PB of 20:37, down from 20:53 way back in early December. I should really treat this as my official 5k PB because whilst I ran Cardiff Parkrun in 20:26, I’m dubious of the distance measurement on the day where my GPS logged only 3.04 miles.

Plenty of Spring events are coming up, so I wish everybody luck with the remaining training planned.

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Winter workload

Welcome to the first post since 2012! Blogging had taken a back seat to Christmas and everything that comes in tow with it, such as shopping, work parties, socialising and so on. Running also took a back seat to these things, though it still made guest appearances so at least I managed to get out there.

Parkrun

December saw me take a bit of a Parkrun tour where I visited the Cardiff event. Rated as one of the UK’s faster courses, with average finish times over a minute faster than Cannon Hill, I figured it would allow for an easy PB, that’s the theory anyway. The reality was quite far from the truth, with a very crowded start line and very narrow initial path. The faster average finish time is probably down to more club and competitive runners compared to Cannon Hill’s more recreational group. I’ve now run this event twice and failed to PB on both occasions, though I now know the tactics needed to maximise a potential PB attempt.

Cannon Hill hasn’t yielded any PBs either since early December with a time of 20:53 and my longest period so far without a new PB. I am however only 17 Parkruns away from joining the 50 club, which I estimate will happen in May.

Marathon training

Training for the marathon has well and truly begun with several long runs of 15, 16, 17 and 18 miles completed. With each run, the final mile has felt stronger than the last and will lay out a good base for the 5x 20+ miles I still need to run.

I’ve just discovered the Marathon Talk podcast which I took out with me on today’s long run and it served as the ideal training companion, giving you something to focus on during all those lonely miles. Content wise, I can only call it a running magazine meets a running talk show containing news, tips, interviews and so on. I will be loading a couple of these episodes on to my iPod shuffle for each Sunday between now and the London Marathon.

Race calendar

So, how’s the racing horizon looking for me? I have the Bath Half Marathon coming up in early March, with Dave and I looking to smash our respective PBs of 1:45:27 and 1:45:22 set at the Great Birmingham Run. We’ve set sub 1:40 finishes as our targets and I think we’ll nail it come the first Sunday in March.

After that, there’s obviously the London Marathon. I have a small entourage going to London to cheer me on and I’ll need to co-ordinate where I want certain people to be to minimise problems of not seeing each other.

I would like to do one or two Summer 10k races, though there aren’t too many of these around the Midlands unfortunately, so will have to find alternatives elsewhere. I hope the Cardiff 10k is back on again, if only because of the convenience of getting there!

My Autumnal plans are still up in the air. It’s a shame really because there are so many high profile half marathons in the Autumn that I would like to participate in, with the Royal Parks Half, Nike Run to the Beat, Cardiff Half and Great Birmingham Run on my Radar. Royals Parks is touted as a mini London Marathon with all the best sights and none of the filler in the early stages. Nike Run to the Beat is a unique half where the course is lined with live music from big acts. Cardiff needs to be slayed because of the blow-up I suffered there in 2011 due to overcooking it in the first few miles. And of course, the Great Birmingham Run is literally just on my doorstep and training for the course is easy as pie. I hope I get a ballot place for Royal Parks and failing that, Cardiff will be my B race and I’d dare say I’ll enter the Great Birmingham Run again anyway.

I promise to blog a bit more often on here so until next time, run to win!