Sunday, 23 August 2009

Après Moi, Le Déluge

Only four weeks today until race day in Berlin. This weekend I'm back in Ireland to see my family and to do my twenty mile run along the County Meath coast into County Dublin. I did my previous long runs in Ireland, which worked well. You start to get a little bit superstitious and want to keep the same routine. My Mum even insists on wearing the same trainers that she wore in Barcelona for each of the races. Hopefully they'll continue to bring me good luck. Since my last long run in Ireland, my nephew and Godson, Seb, has started to walk. I'm sure he'll be happy to guest on the first ten miles. He can carry my carb gels.

With Seb, my Dad and Monty. Check out the look of disbelief on Monty's face (again). Inexplicable sunglasses (again).


This week, my cousin Melanie and Auntie June confirmed their flights to join us again in New York for the marathon. I really enjoyed the time we spent together in California, so it's great that they'll be with us again in NYC. As long as I can stay injury-free between now and then, it should be a great finale to fivemarathons. There's always a buzz in the Big Apple but, when the marathon is on, the atmosphere is absolutely electric. That's why there wasn't much debate about where to run the final marathon: it had to be New York.

My Dad and Seb


In the meantime, I'm really looking forward to Berlin. It's a really flat course, and more marathon world records have been set there than on any other route. That should be a welcome change after the hills of San Francisco. The speed training I've been undertaking with Laith is aimed at ensuring that I can cruise smoothly and comfortably and derive maximum benefit from the fast course. To ensure that all of our hard work hasn't gone to waste, I need to get myself in a quicker starting pen. When I signed up for Berlin in December, I was allocated a pen based on my then personal best of 4 hours 52 minutes. Now that I'm running 3 hours 43 minutes, I need to get into a pen appropriate to that time (and avoid getting stuck behind runners dressed as giraffes for 18 miles, like in London). I've worked far too hard to have another wasted race like London - queuing in an almighty conga from Greenwich all of the way to Embankment. The Berlin race organisers have given me the details of what I need to do at the race Expo to change my pen. Let's hope it works. Being German, I'm sure they're very efficient. Stay tuned for even more lazy stereotyping, below.

This week, Berlin has been hosting the World Athletics Championships. I tuned in this morning to watch the marathon, which follows part of the route of the Berlin Marathon on 20 September. It takes in some fantastic landmarks and looks like a good course. Talk at TEAM fivemarathons’ HQ has inevitably turned to Caster Semenya, the South African athlete who won the women’s 800 metres in Berlin. Unfortunately, debate has arisen over whether Semenya is actually a man, and the IAAF has insisted that she take a gender determination test. We considered some straightforward tests which may assist. For example, you could drop her off in an unfamiliar town; if she’s prepared to ask for directions, it’s a safe bet that she’s not a man. Similarly, if she has the first clue how to operate a washing machine, you can be fairly confident that she can’t be a man. Alternatively, you might suggest that you want to talk about “feelings”; if she makes a run for it, quicker than her gold medal winning performance, you’ll have removed all doubt.

Monty, recovering after today's 20 mile run

I mentioned in an earlier blog (“New York, New York” on Thursday, 8 January 2009) about the British Airways flight which took me to New York for the marathon in 2004. As we landed at JFK, the Captain announced his best wishes and congratulations to all of the marathon runners onboard, which was met with a spontaneous round of applause from the other passengers. For that reason, I almost wish that I was flying with British Airways to Berlin next month. I once read a fantastic transcript of an exchange between a BA pilot and Berlin air traffic control in 1975. It went something like this:

Berlin: “BA786, upon landing, proceed immediately to stand 42”
BA Captain: “Thank you Berlin, where is stand 42?”
Berlin: “Between stands 41 and 43”
BA Captain: “I’m afraid that doesn’t assist us, Berlin. Where are stands 41 and 43?”
Berlin: “Have you never flown to Berlin before?”
BA Captain: “Yes, I have, but it was 30 years ago - we only circled overhead and didn’t land”.

Many congratulations to TEAM fivemarathons’ Martin, who finished yesterday’s Reykjavik marathon in a fantastic personal best time of 3 hours 24 minutes and 55 seconds! I hope that he’s fully recovered in time for Berlin.

Next week’s blog will be written by my cousin, Melanie. I’ve invited her to contribute a guest blog describing her experience at the San Francisco marathon, and how it has inspired her to get running. I’m going to enjoy a week off. More tall tales and tired clichés in a fortnight.

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, 17 August 2009 6 miles easy
Tuesday, 18 August 2009 Speed work
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 6 miles easy
Thursday, 20 August 2009 8 miles steady
Friday, 21 August 2009 Speed work / Fly to Dublin
Saturday, 22 August 2009 Rest
Sunday, 23 August 2009 20 mile endurance run

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

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Check out The Endurance Coach’s detailed training plan at http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=rAoVZM-fPWZYSSUSJwrmzWg. Join The Endurance Coach’s Facebook Group.

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NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004