It’s London Marathon weekend and I am typing this on a rickety train from Leeds on Friday afternoon. Thankfully, the threats of (a) a DLR strike and (b) the hottest day ever in the history of the Universe have abated, though undoubtedly it will be a warm one.
Although I always enjoy the London Marathon, I’m feeling a bit concerned ahead of Sunday. For the past couple of weeks I have sensed a nagging pain on the top of my left foot whilst running. A friend has recently suffered from a stress fracture on the foot requiring weeks in a moonboot; although I doubt very much I have a similar injury, something is not quite right.
I still intend to line up on Sunday and give it a go, but because of the injury and the hot weather I am not setting any time targets, I’ll just run around at a pace that feels OK and see what happens.
I feel somewhat over-tapered for the marathon, I’ve run hardly any miles over the last three weeks.
I did compete last weekend though, running for Valley Striders at the English National 12 stage road relay championships held at Sutton Park in Birmingham.
We did brilliantly to even qualify for this prestigious event and we knew that we would not be troubling the top half of the finishing order, however we wanted to put up a good show.
The event comprised alternate long legs of about 5 miles and short legs of about 5K and I was allocated leg 12 (a short leg). Given a total racing distance of about 50 miles, unsurprisingly the race got very spread out with runners all over the course, many on different legs. We had been warned that there would be a mass start for the slower teams for leg 12, otherwise the event could go on into the late evening…
I fully expected to be in the mass start, but it was a surprise to be called over early at just after 4 o’clock, along with most of the leg 11 runners. Things got very confused and more than a little heated. Some of the faster teams were clearly unimpressed at being stopped from running as a relay event when they still had a chance of a high position. As it turned out, only the top three teams actually ran all the legs as a true relay. If you want to read more, have a look at the report on FastRunning here
In many ways, I preferred the mass start, as rather than running on my own, I was in a traditional 5K road race. The course was quite narrow and twisty and never flat, the first two miles were gradually uphill with a fast downhill mile to finish. After a fast start, I was blowing hard on a long gradual ascent and losing a few places as runners eased past me.
My mind was whirring away, making up names for the unknown competitors….Try to keep close to Red Vest…don’t let long shorts get more than 10 seconds ahead and catch him on the downhill…etc.
At the top of the hill, I tried to pick it up for the surge to the line, but I was in a world of hurt, gasping for air and a heart rate of 163. I knew from the final bend it was about 250 metres to the finish line, slightly uphill. I rounded the bend with three just ahead of me, including Red Vest and Long Shorts.
Right, time for a proper race I thought, I’m going to take these… It may sound like a boast, but despite being 51, I can still crank out a pretty useful sprint finish and I gave it absolutely everything I had:
Later, I saw that someone had created a Strava segment for the final sprint, I was chuffed to see that I was the equal 15th fastest of all time for the segment out of over 4200 runners (including Olympians and many internationals) and second fastest ever in the 50-54 age cat. Maybe I should forget marathons and ultras and take up sprinting…
Valley Stiders did well, the men finished in 43rd position, the women 38th in the six stage event.
Last Monday I caught the end of the Boston marathon coverage. Conditions were brutal – driving rain and temperatures hovering around freezing made worse by the whole race being run into a 20 mile an hour block headwind. I cheered on the legend that is Yuki Kawauchi as he stormed to an epic win. What an amazing man, listeners to the marathon talk podcast know all about Yuki and his incredible achievements.
On Sunday, my Yuki-suit will be fully zipped up.
weekly stats to follow.