Thursday, 23 July 2009

Bay City Rollers

Hello from fivemarathons’ training camp in Alameda, California! I arrived on Monday night after an impressively convoluted journey from Dublin via Liverpool, Manchester, Philadelphia and San Francisco. I’d been in Dublin for my Godson Monty’s christening. Fortunately, there was no repeat of last year’s fiasco at Seb’s christening, when the priest passed me the baby and invited me to make the sign of the cross with him. I didn’t quite understand what he expected me to do and assumed he expected me to make the sign of the cross while holding the baby. There was a collective gasp as I lifted Seb to head height, down to my waist, then side to side. It’s not every baptism where the Godfather decides to play Agadoo with the child.

With my Godsons, Monty and Seb. Check out the look of disbelief on Monty's face: "Don't tell me that eejit is my Godfather"

As always, Harris & Ross’ Alan Raw, my physio, has done a brilliant job in getting me ready to race. My niggling piriformis and plantar fascia are completely pain free. I really hope that lasts until after the race. I’ve been more nervous about this marathon than either Barcelona or London. While my mountaineering expedition to the Swiss Alps was fantastic, and I wouldn’t have missed it, it has really disrupted my training. Since I’ve been back, I’ve felt really tired. My running hasn’t been too bad, and last Sunday’s 15 mile run was smooth enough, but my legs have felt tired and I’ve been ready to fall asleep at a moment’s notice. After a rest day last Wednesday, I felt so much better for Thursday’s 6 mile run; I moved easily and I felt light and agile. On Sunday, as long as I can arrive in the starting pen fully rested and carbed up, experience and Voltarol (anti-inflammatories) should hopefully do the rest.

I’ll just need to keep my head for the first 18 miles, and then start to turn up the volume during the last 8.2 miles. The atmosphere in the starting pen is usually fantastic, and you’ve been focused on that moment for months, so it’s easy to get carried away and run too hard in the first half of the race. Ideally, you’re looking to run a negative split, where your time for the second half of the race is quicker than your time for the first half. Easier said than done: in London 2009, less than 1.9% managed it. I was lucky enough to be in that small percentage, but that had more to do with me getting stuck behind giraffes and rhinos in the first 13.1 miles than running an intelligent race.

On the plane to San Francisco, the chap sitting next to me asked me about the race and wondered how I’d got into running marathons. I explained that, starting in 1997, I played hockey for seven years for Ipswich and East Suffolk. My club’s annual report for the 2003 – 2004 season read “Goalkeeper Duncan Vaughan was ever present for the men’s team. Good isn’t the word to describe his performances”. I quickly got the message, hung up my pads, and threw myself into running. Soon afterwards, I signed up for the London and New York marathons. The managing partner of my then firm was interested in joining me in London and wanted us to run in fancy dress. In one memorably choice e-mail, he suggested: “Vaughan, let’s run London as a pantomime horse. I’ll be the front and you can just be yourself”. Needless to say, I declined, but I did complete both marathons and the rest is history.

Checking the route for Sunday: Golden Gate Bridge

My running top is back from the printers and looks great with the North Doodle logo on the right sleeve. As in London and Barcelona, my support team will be wearing identical tops for the race. Not only does it make them easy to spot in the crowd, it’s also a big boost to see them sporting your colours, urging you on. Most of all, making my Mum and Dad wear matching outfits has a neat symmetry about it. In 1975, on my first transatlantic trip, we flew to Canada to visit my Dad’s family, including my Auntie June and cousin Melanie, both of whom are with me in Alameda for Sunday’s race. To ensure we looked smart, my Mum bought matching outfits for my sister, my brother, and me. 1975 was the height of the Bay City Rollers’ reign of terror and our outfits were a nightmare of tartan edged denim – matching jeans and jackets. I’m amazed we ever got airborne. In any right-thinking country, the fashion police would have arrested us at airport security. I should explain that I’m the youngest of my siblings: my sister is four years older than me, and my brother is four years older than her. That meant that, as soon as I’d grown out of my denim suit, my sister’s was standing by, and my brother’s after that. Given that my Mum had cunningly ensured that there was plenty of growing room in each outfit, I was wearing one for the next decade. In 1985, relatives were still marvelling at how I could still fit into the same suit I’d first worn as a two year old. Less generous acquaintances queried why I couldn’t just accept that the era of Rollermania was long since gone and let it go. My Mum and Dad don’t know it yet, but I shall be insisting that they wear their fivemarathons tops until at least 2019. After all, it’s only fair.

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 July 2009 Fly to San Francisco
Tuesday, 21 July 2009 30 minutes steady
Wednesday, 22 July 2009 20 minutes easy
Thursday, 23 July 2009 10 minutes jog, then 1 mile at race pace, then 5 minutes jog
Friday, 24 July 2009 Rest
Saturday, 25 July 2009 20 minutes jog, including a few strides
Sunday, 26 July 2009 San Francisco Marathon

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NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004