Sunday, 5 April 2009

Be Sure To Wear A Flower In Your Hair...

The fivemarathons “Road to London” party is looking better every day and tickets are selling really well. As well as Manchester’s DJ Marco Giannini, Kirsten has arranged one of Manchester’s foremost karaoke shows. While I’m assured that it’ll be great fun, my own experiences of karaoke haven’t always been entirely positive. A prime example was the time I was prevailed upon to sing “Puff The Magic Dragon” in a Tokyo karaoke bar, with the words only available in Japanese. That raised a few eyebrows, but admittedly not as many as when a close friend of mine ill-advisedly chose to sing “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” at his wedding. There will also be a silent auction for some great prizes: a signed picture of World Light Welterweight Boxing Champion (and The Pride of Hyde), Ricky Hatton; some fantastic luxury items, kindly donated by Hermѐs in Manchester (visit; a spectacular 4x4 off-road expedition in the Lake District; and a day high in the mountains with your very own mountain guides, from our friends at North Doodle (see; to name but a few.

This week, I've confirmed my flight for San Francisco, so everything is now in place for the remaining four marathons. I'll be over there for a week either side of the race, which should give plenty of time for acclimatisation and a relaxed recovery. The plan is to hire a house on San Francisco bay, from where I can train and get ready. Another benefit is the ability to cook my own food. When you're away from home, getting the carbs you need in the run up to a race can be difficult. For this very reason, most of the major international races have a "pasta party" the day before the race, where you can load up on pasta and bagels and ensure that you're fully fuelled for the 26.2 mile battle ahead.

I checked the course map for San Fran and it looks like a great route, although the gradient profile does look pretty hilly. Nobody need expect a quick time from me in San Fran! My Mum and Dad have also confirmed their flights for San Fran, and my Auntie June will be joining us from Vancouver, so my travelling support marches on.

Training continues to progress well, with confidence high after the Coniston 14. Running shorter races, like 10k or half marathon, provides some light relief from the marathon schedule. The shorter distances allow you to let rip and push harder, whereas the marathon is more like a game of chess. Constant calculation and re-calculation over pace, distance to go, water intake, carb intake, and trying to stick to a strategy, which inevitably has to evolve to take account of how you're feeling as the race develops. Roll on the 10k Great Manchester Run on 17 May 2009.

TEAM fivemarathons' Lucy was obviously suitably inspired by her personal best in last week's Coniston 14 - she has signed up for this year's Great North Run on 20 September 2009. While Lucy is taming the streets of Gateshead, TEAM fivemarathons’ Martin and I will be in Germany, tackling the Berlin Marathon. A truly international performance from the team.

Today’s 20 mile run in Ireland was mixed. At 2 hours 53 minutes, I was 4 minutes quicker than last time, but a quick time wasn’t the objective today. I got my strategy wrong and struggled to run slowly enough in the first 10 miles. I certainly paid for that in the second half of the run, which was slower than the first half, as I started to tie up in the last few miles. It also reinforced my concern that my weekly mileage may be higher than I really need. Given that I’ve already got the fitness, and the conditioning in my legs, the extra miles aren’t necessarily achieving anything, other than tiring me out for the long runs, like today. I need to be fully rested and fuelled when I arrive in Greenwich on 26 April. More importantly, as far as I possibly can, I need to stick to my race plan. It worked in Barca, so I just need to remember what I’ve learned. I’m just really relieved that I can learn these lessons in training, and not on race day.

Less than three weeks now until London. From now on, my training starts to taper down to the big day. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed that everything holds together until London - after that I've got three months to recover and rebuild before San Fran on 26 July. This week, I received an email from the organisers of the London Marathon to confirm the details of the charities which I'm supporting. They'll then use those details, along with one of the official photos of me running the race, for a press release about fivemarathons to my local papers at home in Cumbria: The Westmorland Gazette, and The Cumberland and Westmorland Herald. It will great to spread the word about fivemarathons up there.

Finally, check out the new fivemarathons page on the website of Hilly running equipment, one of fivemarathons' principal supporters: What a fantastic page! Many thanks to Hilly for spreading the word about fivemarathons.

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, 6 April 2009 Rest
Tuesday, 7 April 2009 4 miles very easy off-road
Wednesday, 8 April 2009 6 miles steady
Thursday, 9 April 2009 6 miles, incl 6 x 2 mins fast, with warm-up and warm down
Friday, 10 April 2009 Rest
Saturday, 11 April 2009 4 – 5 miles steady
Sunday, 12 April 2009 Race 6 – 10 miles, with long warm up and warm down

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