With just over a month to go before the big event on the 23 April, we have certainly entered the business end of my preparation for the Marathon! Ashby 20, my dress rehearsal race is next weekend (19 March) and a few days later we will enter the last month before London!..
I have to admit to mixed emotions as the time approaches. The usual regret (which I feel a few weeks before every race I put my name down for) for not training enough, missing too many workouts and the corresponding negative thoughts about my resolve, determination, strength… laziness… thoughts which left unchecked can quickly turn into a self-beating up session!
I avoid slipping down that particular slope by reminding myself that this training cycle has been my most consistent preparation for a race of any distance since starting running seriously six years ago. My progress in training echoes that: I’ve had three really good long runs (again, probably my best ever in training) on succession, including a 20-miler today, which will be the longest distance I am going to run in training (although I will spend the time between now and the race trying to consolidate my performance over the 20 miles).
I may not the fastest I have ever been, over any distance, but I am slowly improving: and marathon training isn’t about raw speed anyway, it’s about endurance (how long you can go on for) and – for the ambitious – speed endurance (how long can you maintain race pace for). Speed endurance and muscular endurance over marathon distance have been my weaknesses in the past couple of years, but I think I’ve gone a fair way in correcting this.
So is it a done deal? Far from it. We will only know how it went when (and if!) I cross that finish line on the Mall on 23 April. Between now and then anything can happen, from another breakthrough in training (unlikely, I feel I’ve used up my fair share of these!), to a run of bad workouts or – God forbid – an injury.
But I am optimistic. And old enough to take a rather philosophical approach to these things: I had no right to run 3h 51′ in my first marathon in 2011, and on one of the most challenging city routes in the calendar (Athens). Certainly not after taking a month out of my training due to injury!
Conversely, it was particularly gutting to spend 20’ shivering at the side of the road four years later, waiting for a recovery van that never came, on one of the easiest routes (Manchester) – only two weeks after setting a 20 mile PB at Ashby!
And this time last year, I was about to pull out of both Ashby 20 and Manchester marathon because I was getting cramps on long runs, but I eventually ran a 20 mile personal worst in Ashby and a marathon personal best in Manchester three weeks after that!
So of course we train, we do our best, put faith in our training plans, follow them to the letter when we can, adapt them when we have to, omit whole chunks when we are ill, injured or overworked; we look after our diet, our strength conditioning, everything we can think of, while still holding down our job and being (mostly) there for our families. But none of that matters when the gun (which isn’t even a gun any more) goes.
I suppose that what I am trying to say is that training has been going as well as I could have hoped for when I applied for the place, and I am enjoying it more than I have in a long while – but that tells me nothing whatsoever about how the race will go!
Fundraising on the other hand has been falling behind a bit. As many of our friends and family are in Greece, it hasn’t helped that the Virgin Money platform cannot process payments from that country, but fortunately working with the Museum we have a workaround for this in place now, so please contact me if you have been affected.
With this workaround in place contributions started to flow in again (including the highest donation received to date! Thank you Mates!), and we also held a “dress down day” at work on Thursday which raised another £234! So at £969.85 (ex Gift Aid), we are a whisper below half way, but I am optimistic that we will reach the £2,000 target!
But if we do, it will only be with your support, so if you have been meaning to donate but not got round to it yet, why not head over now?http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/LeonardSymeonides
Philip is growing from one day to the next, and (very tentatively!) learning to sleep in his bed during the days, in preparation for moving there permanently in the coming weeks! In the mean time he continues to receive gifts from our generous friends, like this adorable blue rocking chair, which his clever daddy photographed on a blue background! Doh!