It would be beyond embarrassing if I confessed how long it is since I received a Valentine. However, I am delighted to report that I have broken my streak this year. In my dreams, my Valentine would be sent by perhaps Rachel Riley or Anna Fenninger – or at least by a woman. The disappointing news is that my Valentine was from a 39 year old bearded Irishman – the comedian David O’Doherty:
I saw the D O’D on Friday night in Manchester with my pal Richie and he very generously bought me the CD and asked David to put a little message on it…
By the way, the show was great, he is such a lovely gentle and hilarious man. I am getting a little tired of the abusive aggressive comedians who rely on launching a stream of expletives at people in the front row of their audience and don’t actually say many funny things. David O’Doherty is genuinely original, slightly bonkers and fantastic to listen to.
It was a good week for the mileage log – over 70 done including my second proper long run of 20 miles – three laps of Fewston and Swinsty with JP and Nobby from the club. This was run at a brisk 7:26 pace including a few miles at near marathon pace on the third lap. I found this tough, but I’m glad I dug in and stuck to the task.
I was feeling a little daunted by the prospect of Comrades and to re-energise my enthusiasm during the week I read some Comrades blogs, watched Bart Yasso’s videos on YouTube about his Comrades experience and re-listened to two interviews with Bruce Fordyce on Marathon Talk.
Bruce Fordyce is a South African Ultra running legend – a nine-time winner of Comrades. His interviews are back in episodes 38 & 39 of Marathon Talk and they are very inspirational. Unsurprisingly, he has massive enthusiasm for the race. It was re-assuring to hear him say that you should just do normal marathon training for Comrades, maybe do a couple of longer runs, but nothing extreme is required. Hopefully I am still right on track.
I have also been reassessing my plans for the Manchester marathon. Comrades is going to be my main focus this year. Although I have to run Manchester in order to get my qualifying time for Comrades (which is sub 5 hours), I don’t think it would be sensible to smash myself at Manchester to run a PB. There are only six weeks between Manchester and Comrades and a hard marathon can easily take three weeks to recover from.
It would probably be sensible to do a limited taper of 10 days to two weeks before Manchester. I will try to run it sensibly – hopefully in around 3:05 – 3:10. A time like that should mean that I will be allocated one of the quicker starting pens at Comrades, but it won’t mean that I have to bury myself completely and will be able to pick up the training after a few easy days.
If all goes well and I complete Comrades without doing myself any damage, I hope to target a fast marathon at Berlin in late September, maybe running a PB.
After my date with David O’Doherty, I had a few pints and a curry with Richie, then we played darts in his cellar until the early hours. This isn’t ideal preparation for a fast parkrun, but I made the start of South Manchester parkrun without too much of a hangover.
When I was a student at Manchester University in the late 1980s, I spent many happy hours playing football on Platt Fields Park with my housemates, so I love coming back to Platt Fields to run the parkrun. I always drive past our old student house in Fallowfield, and they say reminiscing isn’t what it used to be.
The course for South Manchester parkrun is brilliant – totally flat and one big lap so there are no issues with overtaking, it should be an ideal location for a PB.
I was hoping to run a time close to 18 minutes, but I didn’t quite have it. I ran strongly all the way round, but I was completely alone as the front five or six soon became very spaced out and I finished in 18:22 for fifth place. It was disappointed with that, but I guess I have a lot of long slow miles in my legs and it was difficult to generate the requisite leg speed. That is something that can be worked on.
Next Sunday is a target race – the Snake Lane 10 miler. One of my ambitions this year is to beat 60 minutes for 10 miles. If I am honest, I am probably not quite in good enough condition yet, but I’ll be giving it everything.
CM -15 weeks
Weight 11st 4.8lb
parkrun – South Manchester 18:22 (5th)