Sunday, 29 March 2009

Fivemarathons Party

On top of masterminding our fundraising efforts, Kirsten is busily planning the fivemarathons “Road to London” party on Tuesday, 21 April 2009 at Manchester's exclusive Press Club, 2-10 St. Johns House, Queen Street, Manchester, M2 5JB. Taking place just four days before the London Marathon, the party should be perfect, if slightly unorthodox, preparation. We're very pleased to have secured the services of top Manchester DJ, Marco Giannini, for what promises to be a fantastic night. All monies raised will go directly to Christies and Macmillan. I really hope that you can join us. For tickets, contact Kirsten on 0161 909 3000 or

With Amanda, on our way to the starting pen

Yesterday's Coniston 14 race went really well, which was a big relief! I finished in 1 hour 48 minutes, which is a personal best. My fastest time for a half marathon was 1 hour 47, so I'm pleased with 1 hour 48 for a race that is almost a mile longer and over quite a hilly course. Lucy also ran a personal best at 2 hours 23. From memory, Lucy's time for last year's Great North Run half marathon was 2 hours 25, so Coniston was 2 minutes quicker over a longer (and steeper) course. Martin and Amanda ran similarly impressive times at 1 hour 44 and 1 hour 53 respectively.

Fortunately, my preparation for the race went well. After running 7 miles on Tuesday night, I backed my training right off to give my legs a chance to recover and be fully rested in time for the race. My legs had been particularly tired during last Sunday's 18 mile run, so I knew I had to give them some rest. The time for the 18 miles had been fine, but it had been really hard work. At first, that concerned me, but when I calculated back, I'd run over 53 miles that week, plus three long days in the mountains, so it shouldn't have been unexpected. As well as reducing my training, I spent Thursday and Friday loading carbohydrates (or “carbing up”) to take on the fuel which was going to see me through the race. This was particularly important because it would be more difficult to take on carb gels during the race in Coniston: to make the gels work properly, you need to take them with water, but there are only two water stops during the race. Friday night's pre-race dinner with TEAM fivemarathon's Amanda, and our friend Paula, included pasta, potatoes and bread, so all carb options were covered.

By the time I arrived in the starting pen, my legs were in good shape. Harris and Ross' Alan and Jessie had worked hard during the week to ensure that my niggling piriformis didn't create any problems. Their physiotherapy, and the programme of exercises which Alan has developed for me, really seem to be working well and I'm experiencing increasingly less discomfort from my piriformis.

With Amanda and Lucy after the race

The first two miles of the race were a little difficult, due to congestion from the number of runners. The starting pens are set out according to your likely finishing time. Given the number of people we had to overtake, we had perhaps been more honest than most in selecting our starting pen. As a result, we were held up in traffic for the first two miles. I planned to run 8 minute miles, and possibly a little quicker if I felt good. While my wrist-top GPS tells you your current speed (in minutes per mile), because of the number of hills, it's hard to get a picture of your overall speed. I had to rely on a bit of on-the-hoof mental arithmetic (never one of my strong points), dividing my time by the number of miles covered, to calculate an average speed. As it turned out, I was running at about 7 minute 42 miles. Given the hills, I was pleased with that.

TEAM fivemarathons swings into action again for the Great Manchester Run on 17 May 2009. The 10 kilometre race, over a relatively flat course, should feel like a sprint after yesterday's efforts.

Preparation for the London Marathon continues to progress well (touch wood). I'm now back into the long runs, peaking next weekend, then tapering down to the big day in London. I'll be back in Ireland with my family for my 20 mile run on Sunday. The coastal route I took last time, from County Meath into County Dublin, worked well for Barcelona, so I'll look to do the same again. Although, hopefully with a little less snow this time.

This week, one of fivemarathons' principal sponsors, Pannone (, launched its “bags for life”. Although the bags are free to staff, Joy Kingsley (Pannone's Senior Partner) has asked for donations to fivemarathons. This is typical of the fantastic support which we have received from Pannone.

Finally, Macmillan has announced the location of its six “cheer-point teams” for the 685 runners taking part in the 2009 London Marathon for Macmillan Cancer Support:

  • Greenwich - 6 mile mark - Trafalgar Square.
  • Mudchute - 18 mile mark - western side of East Ferry Road.
  • The Old Rose Pub - 13 and 22 mile mark - south side of The Highway in E1.
  • Monument - 23 mile mark - northern side of Lower Thames Street.
  • Cleopatra's Needle - 25 mile mark - southern side of Victoria Embankment.

Its supporters make Macmillan stand out from the crowd and have an enormous impact on the Macmillan runners. For further details, contact Sue Blunt at or call 020 7840 4602. I'll let you know the location of the Christies cheer-points when they're announced.

Barcelona, 1 March 2009
London, 26 April 2009
San Francisco, 26 July 2009
Berlin, 20 September 2009
New York, 1 November 2009

This week’s training schedule:

Monday, 30 March 2009 Rest
Tuesday, 31 March 2009 5 miles very easy, off road
Wednesday, 1 April 2009 6 miles fartlek
Thursday, 2 April 2009 7 – 8 miles steady
Friday, 3 April 2009 Rest
Saturday, 4 April 2009 30 mins easy, on grass
Sunday, 5 April 2009 20 miles steady (target 3 hrs 20)

Christies is the charity which provides funds for, and supports, the work of the world renowned specialist cancer centre, The Christie, in Manchester (see Macmillan provides practical, medical, financial and emotional support for people affected by cancer and campaigns for better cancer care (see

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NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004