Saturday, 25 April 2009

London Marathon

Hello from advance base camp in Chelsea. I'm just back from the London Marathon Expo at the ExCel Arena in Docklands, where I checked-in and collected my running number and ChampionChip. There was so much to see at the Expo. I visited our friends at Hilly running equipment on their stand, as well as Christies and Macmillan. I also hooked up with two university mates of mine, Shanley and Andy, who now run the successful triathlon website It was great to catch up with them both. Shanley actually ran the New York Marathon in 2004, the same year as me. He ran dressed as Sponge Bob Squarepants, which undoubtedly reinforced the Americans' view that the British are a very eccentric bunch. Andy is building up to his first Iron Man race, which would be an unbelievable achievement.

The Expo also had the all-important pasta party, where you can load up on carbs, ready for the race tomorrow. While most international marathons have pasta parties, London is the only one I've been to where they charge. While Barcelona served up some great food, absolutely free, London manages to charge £7 per head! Not a bad income stream, given there's 36,000 runners taking part, each of which is likely to have a support team with them.

In tomorrow's ladies' race, Britain's best hope for success is Mara Yamauchi. Born Mara Myers, she worked for the British Embassy in Tokyo, where she met her Japanese husband. While she is a household name in Japan, until the last Olympics she had been comparatively unknown in the UK. Before she married, Mara briefly dated a good friend of mine. Probably until she got to know him. If he's tuning in, I'm just kidding. If he's not, I mean it.

I'm lucky to have a great support team in London with me. Six members of my family have made the trip from Ireland (seven, if you include Eoghain the dog). In addition, my good friend, Mandy, is coming down for the race to cheer on her cousin and me. Everyone will be wearing my spare fivemarathons' running tops, so they should be easy to spot along the route.

Alan and Alison at Harris and Ross worked very hard this week to get me ready to run. As well as working on my right plantar fascia, Alan convinced me to let him loose with three acupuncture needles on my troublesome piriformis. Fortunately, I didn't see the size of the needles before they went into my rear. As Alan rightly predicted, if I'd known that it was about 9 centimetres' worth, I'd almost certainly have refused. As it turned out, it was completely pain-free and my piriformis isn't tight at all. Alan certainly knows his stuff.

Less orthodox preparation came in the form of the fivemarathons Road To London Party in Manchester on Tuesday night. It turned out to be a great event. The high point for me was receiving some sage marathon-running advice from the great Ron Hill, followed closely by one of the party organisers, Claire, singing "All That Jazz", with accompanying dance routine, with her sister, Jen. While tomorrow's 26.2 miles meant that I couldn't have a particularly heavy night, I did get talked into singing "It Had To Be You". Funnily enough, after that, nobody pestered me to sing again.

Many thanks to everyone who has called, sent emails or texts to wish me good luck. As in Barca, your support has been fantastic! Right, I need to get some sleep. Important appointment in Greenwich, first thing in the morning. Talk to you after the race.

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, 20 April 2009   Return from London
Tuesday, 21 April 2009   Rest
Wednesday, 22 April 2009   Rest
Thursday, 23 April 2009   Rest
Friday, 24 April 2009   Rest
Saturday, 25 April 2009  20 mins easy
Sunday, 26 April 2009 30 mins easy

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