Monday, 23 November 2009

Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants


After two years of preparation, 59 blogs, over 5,000 miles in training, 176 miles in races, 5 marathons, 3 half marathons, and one 10k, here it is, my final blog for fivemarathons. I’m glad to have made it in one piece. When you’re trying to stay healthy, and ready to race, for such a long period, you become paranoid about even the slightest sniffle. I heard about one chap who died following a single sneeze. On closer investigation, it turned out he was hiding in his neighbour’s bedroom wardrobe at the time.

Attention is already turning to next season and races for 2010. After New York, my friend Helen emailed me to explain that fivemarathons had inspired her to run her first marathon and she has signed up for Edinburgh on 23 May 2010. As I mentioned in a previous blog, TEAM fivemarathons’ Lucy will also run her first marathon in 2010 and this week, Lucy and Amanda signed up for Edinburgh. This is a great show of support from Amanda, who had sworn that she would never run another marathon. When they asked me to run with them, I soon realised that it was only three weeks after Vancouver. That may seem like awkward timing, but it actually works reasonably well – although I’ll inevitably have to be shuffling around at the back, it won’t interrupt my six months’ of preparation for Auckland on 31 October 2010. In any event, after all of the races that Lucy and Amanda have kindly run with me this year (Coniston 14, Great Manchester Run, Congleton Half Marathon), I’m really keen to return the favour. At our recent meal to celebrate the successful completion of the fivemarathons, Lucy chatted with Laith about possible marathons for 2010. I think Laith was absolutely right when he said that London and Edinburgh are the real contenders for UK marathons. All of the others are a little too small, especially if, as Lucy maintains, it will be the only marathon she ever runs. I’d be confident that, once she has the medal around her neck, she’ll be itching to race again. Anyway, you already know my feelings about the London Marathon (see Every Day Is A Winding Road, 2 May 2009), so Edinburgh could be the perfect choice.

Fresh from successfully taming the New York City Marathon, Amy is now looking for a new challenge and is strongly considering Edinburgh. She is now signed up with Laith (http://www.theendurancecoach.com/) and Alan (http://www.harrisandross.co.uk/) for 2010, so she couldn’t have a better support team. This week, at her first session with Alan, he diagnosed that she had run New York with a dislocated bone in her foot. Amy mentioned that she’d been in pain from 8 miles onwards, but it must have been absolute agony. What an amazing achievement to close out the race. As TEAM fivemarathons’ Martin explained during our high altitude mountaineering trip to the Swiss Alps (see High Fidelity, 6 July 2009 and The Devil Wears Puma, 12 July 2009), we achieve because we just don’t know when we’re beaten. To some extent, pain is an inevitable part of marathon running and dealing with it is something you can learn. As Haruki Murakami said, in his bestselling book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional”. Amy’s pain management in New York is nothing short of heroic. I wish her a successful, and pain free, season in 2010.

In this final blog, I want to say some important thank-yous and to explain a little about what the fivemarathons have meant to me. I can confirm that, with money still coming in, we’ve already raised over £12,000, which is amazing and is thanks to all of your generous support. This week, I met with Becky Bainton, Macmillan’s fundraising coordinator, who confirmed that £12,000 would pay for 48 families affected by cancer to have days out and short breaks together. Amongst the anguish of watching your loved one fighting cancer, you can imagine how much this time together must mean. Spending time with my Auntie Moll is what I have missed every day for the last 24 years and I couldn’t put a value on just one day with her now. That’s exactly what your donations have provided for each of those families and I can’t thank you enough.




My Auntie Moll, my brother Phil and my Gran Daisy, who died of cancer not long after this photo was taken

Since New York, and throughout the fivemarathons, I’ve been lucky to receive countless messages of support and congratulation. The truth is, I couldn’t have done it without the constant help and encouragement of my family and friends. In acknowledging his successes, Sir Isaac Newton once explained that “If I have seen a little further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants". To thank everyone who has made the fivemarathons possible would require several additional blogs, but I do want to take the opportunity here to give some heartfelt thanks to the giants upon whose shoulders the fivemarathons were built.

In no particular order, I’d like to thank Alan, my physio, without whom I wouldn’t have been able to run; my coach and great friend Laith, who took a 15.5 stone slowcoach, removed four stones off his waistline, 1 hour 9 minutes off his marathon PB and countless years off his life expectancy – 32 years on and still masterminding victories; my Mum and Dad, who bought my first running shoes and criss-crossed the globe to watch me race and show their love and support (check out the photo of my Mum and Dad in Brooklyn (The French Connection, 9 November 2009), it will tell you everything you need to know); Lucy and Amanda, who ran with me and whose unwavering commitment inspired me to keep going and encouraged others to show their support; Rob, who masterminded fivemarathons’ successful PR campaign and whose blog reminded us all why Christies’ and Macmillan’s work is so vital; Mel, who is the cousin I always wanted and whose support helped me to view the fivemarathons through fresh eyes; Martin who trained with me, even at high altitude, ran with me in Berlin and supported me throughout; my sister Jilly for her love and support; my Godsons Seb and Monty for flying to England to watch me race, even though Monty was only a month old; Jayne for reminding me what was important, when I was about to forget; Jon and Jon, who lit the fire, made soup and wheat-free bread after my long Sunday runs in freezing cold Shap; Claire, who got behind me from the first moment, when fivemarathons was no more than an idea on the back of a postcard, and spoke to me at every race (sometimes during the race) to show her support; my Auntie June for her kind encouragement and for travelling to San Francisco and New York to support me; my Auntie Joan for looking after me during the London Marathon and my Uncle Son for running with a 9 year old and encouraging him to succeed; and, most importantly, my beloved Auntie Moll, the Angel on my shoulder, for everything.

And that is what the fivemarathons have meant to me, an opportunity to honour my Auntie Moll and say a long overdue thank you, which I never had the opportunity to say. I love you with all of my heart.

With sincere thanks for all of your help, support, encouragement and boundless generosity,

Dunk

23 November 2009



2009

FIVEMARATHONS

Barcelona, 1 March 2009
3 hrs 57 mins (new PB)
London, 26 April 2009 4 hrs 01 mins
San Francisco, 26 July 2009 3 hrs 43 mins (new PB)
Berlin, 20 September 2009 3 hrs 46 mins
New York, 1 November 2009 3 hrs 53 mins

HALF MARATHONS

Coniston 14 (14 miles), 28 March 2009
1 hr 48
Humber Half Marathon, 15 June 2009 1 hr 40 (new PB)
Congleton Half Marathon, 11 October 2009 1 hr 33 (new PB)


2010

Vancouver, 2 May 2010
www.bmovanmarathon.ca
Edinburgh, 23 May 2010
www.edinburgh-marathon.com
Auckland, 31 October 2010
www.aucklandmarathon.co.nz




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).

www.justgiving.com/fivemarathonschristies

www.justgiving.com/fivemarathonsmacmillan

Visit us at http://www.fivemarathons.com/

Join the fivemarathons Facebook Group

View fivemarathons photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/fivemarathons/

Monday, 16 November 2009

The Manhattan Project

The penultimate blog comes from my cousin, Melanie, who kindly came to support me in San Francisco and New York. You may recall from Mel’s previous blog (Journey Of A Thousand Miles, Sunday 30 August 2009), that the San Francisco Marathon inspired her to get running. Next stop is the Vancouver marathon and half marathon on 2 May 2010.

Before I hand over to Mel, I’d like to apologise for the confusion created by the reviews at the end of last week’s blog (The French Connection, 9 November 2009). Many thanks for the deluge of supportive emails and phone calls from those of you who were outraged at the blog’s harsh treatment. I can confirm that the reviews were firmly tongue in cheek. On the one hand, I’m pleased that the blog has such an air of credibility. On the other, I’m disturbed at how plausible Lawyer’s Digest’s comments appeared. Tune in for the final fivemarathons blog next week, when I shall be discussing the benefit of carbing up from spaghetti trees (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaghetti_trees).


It’s hard to believe that a busy and exciting city like New York would embrace any one particular event, but you could certainly feel a buzz in the atmosphere surrounding the NYC Marathon. Arriving in New York several days before the event, I was met by numerous promotional sights: banners, bus advertisements, billboards and even a “ticker tape” display running along one of the buildings in Times Square. Dunk had told me that if I had thought the atmosphere around the marathon in San Francisco was great then New York would be “electric”. He was right.




Warming up for the International Friendship Run, 31 October 2009



Venturing out and about in New York prior to the marathon, we as Dunk’s support team (his parents, my Mum and me) had many enjoyable encounters and conversations with native New Yorkers and other visitors. Wearing our fivemarathons t-shirts was just the invitation for many people to enquire, “So, you’re here for the marathon?” Hearing the stories of other participants and friends and family gave the marathon a bit of a small town feel in the midst of the Big Apple. With 42,000 plus runners in and around Manhattan, you can imagine what fun it was to connect with others in this way.




In Central Park, at the finish of the International Friendship Run

As Dunk mentioned in the last blog, we had the pleasure of running in the International Friendship Run that took place the day before the marathon. I had told Dunk ahead of time that I was really looking forward to running with him sometime in Central Park, but I wasn’t expecting it to be in such an enjoyable and international event! It was the first time for me to feel a part of the special comradeship that exists between runners. It was a real thrill to run through the streets of Manhattan and over the marathon’s finish line in Central Park. Once the run was over Dunk gave me some helpful advice to answer those who asked what I was doing while in New York. He said, “Tell them you went to New York for the marathon and ran with your cousin.” Sounds good to me!

As you might expect, I was excited to see some of the sights of the city. Having traveled there a few times before, I had covered the typical tourist agenda: Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Harlem, Central Park, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ellis Island, etc. Since Dunk had also been in New York previously, I was hoping that he would like to share some of his favourite spots. Imagine my anticipation on the day before the race when he hailed a cab and instructed the driver to take us midtown by the New Yorker Hotel. I was eagerly anticipating some great sightseeing or shopping. Now imagine my reaction when the destination was the discount clothing chain, K-Mart, where we proceeded to hunt down some inexpensive clothing for him to discard just prior to the race. Add to that the joy of eating generic pasta (cafeteria style) at Sbarro’s the two nights before the race and you get the drift that this was a working holiday! Take it from me, your best bet is to hire Dunk as a mountain guide and someone else to tour you through New York! All joking aside, we did manage to squeeze in some decent fivemarathons team power shopping. Also, we were very pleased to be able to see the newly commissioned USS New York, containing a 7.5-metric ton bow stem fashioned from steel taken from the World Trade Centre site.



With Dunk at the marathon finish line in Central Park


Finally, Dunk has asked me to provide here a brief update on my running. As some of you may remember, I became inspired by the experience of the San Francisco Marathon to try running again. It has been a steady pleasure to run regularly with my husband through our small town. As we start to stretch out the distances, our frequent companions here are dogs and pick-up trucks while running down often dusty dirt roads. One fine morning recently through the fog we saw a buck (male deer) in the distance, standing in the centre of our path. He stared us down for some time and then moved off into the bush, only to return shortly thereafter to assert his territory. After much yelling and hollering on our part he finally ran off for good, much to our relief! Such are the joys of smalltown Alberta life! Presently, we are eagerly training for the Vancouver half marathon on 2 May 2010. We’re thrilled that Dunk will be joining us and other family members to run the marathon (http://www.bmovanmarathon.ca/).


Journey's end

I told Dunk that his fivemarathons was like a drop in a pond with ripples flowing outward. I am certainly one of those ripples who have been blessed by this venture of his. Thanks, Dunk, for the inspiration and joy you have brought to so many by undertaking this grand plan! You may never know the full extent of what you have accomplished and how many lives you have touched. God bless you!


FIVEMARATHONS

Barcelona, 1 March 2009
3 hrs 57 mins (new PB)
London, 26 April 2009
4 hrs 01 mins
San Francisco, 26 July 2009 3 hrs 43 mins (new PB)
Berlin, 20 September 2009 3 hrs 46 mins
New York, 1 November 2009
3 hrs 53 mins

HALF MARATHONS

Coniston 14 (14 miles), 28 March 2009
1 hr 48
Humber Half Marathon, 15 June 2009 1 hr 40 (new PB)
Congleton Half Marathon, 11 October 2009 1 hr 33 (new PB)


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).

www.justgiving.com/fivemarathonschristies

www.justgiving.com/fivemarathonsmacmillan

Visit us at http://www.fivemarathons.com/

Join the fivemarathons Facebook Group

View fivemarathons photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/fivemarathons/

Monday, 9 November 2009

The French Connection

The day before the New York marathon, Mel and I ran the International Friendship Run from the United Nations Building to Central Park. This great event is organised for the international runners and it was very well supported. Most of the entrants were from Europe and South America. There was a particularly large contingent of Argentinians. I assume that they were in NYC for the marathon the next day. Either that, or the islands in the Central Park lake had better watch out. The route travels through midtown Manhattan to the finishing straight of the marathon. It was great to run with Mel – she’d mentioned in her blog (Journey Of A Thousand Miles, 30 August 2009) that she was looking forward to a training run in Central Park and this was a great way to do it.



Amongst the British runners at the International Friendship Run, Adam Hertz, a Pannone client, spotted the firm’s logos on my top.

My race day in New York started at 4.30am in Manhattan. Fortunately, US daylight saving meant that the clocks went back an hour overnight, so the early start was marginally less ridiculous than it might have been. The race organisers have to bus the 42,000 runners over the Verrazano Narrows to Staten Island for the start of the race. Such a massive logistical operation takes a lot of time and my bus dropped me off at the race start at 7am, a full three hours before the starting pistol was due to fire. Even with all of this time to spare, when it was finally time to get into the starting pens, there were too many runners to form an orderly queue. I, and several thousand others, ended up having to climb over a ten foot fence to even get to my starting position.



The importance of your support team: picking up water in Brooklyn

The race itself went well although, as in Berlin, my stomach had again reacted badly to my carbing up before the race. That left me dehydrated for the race, so I knew I’d have to back off the pace a little. To make matters worse, the water stations were handing out cups instead of bottles. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s virtually impossible to drink from a cup while running without getting most of it down your top or up your nose. By the time I reached the final mile, I was absolutely done and I just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other until I crossed the line. I walked over to the medical tent and they put me on a drip to ensure that I rehydrated as quickly as possible. Not the fairytale finish to the fivemarathons that I’d had in mind, but I wasn’t taking any chances. Even with an iv drip in my arm, and a concerned Mum on my mobile, finishing the last marathon felt absolutely fantastic.

Getting the carbs you need in NYC is harder than you might think. In my hotel for the New York Marathon in 2004, the 24 hour room service apparently referred to the length of time it took for your pasta to arrive. Even at home, preparing the right food for my marathons in 2004 was tricky at best. My then girlfriend used to tell friends that there’s only one thing worse than a boyfriend who can cook and won’t, and that’s a boyfriend who can’t cook but does. When I delicately suggested that she might like to help, she explained that going from room to room, removing the batteries from the smoke alarms, was more than contribution enough.



With Mel after the United Nations' International Friendship Run


The morning after the marathon, I really fancied a visit to a diner for a traditional American breakfast to catch up on some of the things I’ve been denying myself for the last two years. Blueberry pancakes, waffles and French toast for a start. I’ve always found the idea of French toast particularly ironic. The principal difference between the French and toast is that you can make soldiers out of toast. I should perhaps be a shade more careful with my French-baiting. At the New York Marathon, there was a large French contingent, some of whom came to talk to me about the fivemarathons and pose for some photos (see below). Normally, when anybody has asked about the marathons, I’ve suggested that they might like to look at the blog. Curiously, I didn’t do that this time – given the comments about the French flag which were disgracing the blog at the time (“I Love Paris”, 25 October 2009), I thought better of it.


"Don't mention the blog..."

Entente cordiale

Yesterday, I signed up for the Vancouver Marathon on 2 May 2010 (http://www.bmovanmarathon.ca/). Having a race to look forward to, and train towards, will keep me training through the winter. Without a goal in sight, it’s hard to stay motivated to run through the inevitable cold and the inclement weather. Now that I’ve completed the fivemarathons, I’m keen to stay in my training groove. I get particularly stir crazy in the week after a marathon. After two weeks tapering down before the race, and a week of rest afterwards, I feel like I haven’t had a proper run in ages (with the exception of a notable 26.2 miles in New York last Sunday). I'm really looking forward to being able to train properly and effectively without having another race looming in 6 weeks' time. When I started out, my principal objective was to survive all five races and get to the finish line in New York. By the time I got to San Francisco, I was starting to believe that, not only could I cling on for 26.2 miles, I might actually be able to improve and turn in some respectable times. On the one hand, it has been a frustration that the timetable of races hasn't allowed me to train to improve, only train to maintain. On the other hand, I'm so pleased that I was able to even contemplate improving and unlocking better performances. Now, I'm looking forward to being able to focus in on just one race and putting everything into achieving a good performance on the day.

"Like a red rag to a bull in a china shop" (see "Dunkin' Donuts", 12 August 2009)


I’m really looking forward to Vancouver. While I’m running the marathon, Mel and her husband Ron will be running their first half marathon. They’ll also be joined by our cousin, Caron, and her daughter Amanda. It will also be a great opportunity to spend time with my family in British Columbia, not least my Auntie June, who kindly supported me in San Francisco and New York. It was great to have Auntie June, Mel and my Mum and Dad to celebrate with me in New York. My Mum and Dad have travelled to all of the fivemarathons and it has been an amazing journey.

As I mentioned in last week’s blog, fivemarathons supporters Kathryn and Rick Price ran the Dublin Marathon on 26 October 2009 in a fantastic 5 hours 51 minutes (see below). You can read all about it at www.justgiving.com/kathrynprice3.


Kathryn and Rick Price after the Dublin Marathon 2009

Now that the last of the fivemarathons is successfully in the bag, I thought I’d share with you some of the favourable reviews which the blog has received over the last year:

“Vaughan has got nothing to say and he’s saying it far too often”Westmorland Advertiser

“There’s nothing wrong with Vaughan’s autobiographical blog, except perhaps his poor choice of subject”Shap Investigator

“Vaughan is the kind of lawyer you hope the other fellow has”Lawyer's Digest

“Life is difficult enough without this blog”Lancaster Star

“My colleagues thought that the blog was awful but I can’t say that I liked it that much”Cumberland Gazette and Argus


FIVEMARATHONS

Barcelona, 1 March 2009
3 hrs 57 mins (new PB)
London, 26 April 2009 4 hrs 01 mins
San Francisco, 26 July 2009 3 hrs 43 mins (new PB)
Berlin, 20 September 2009 3 hrs 46 mins
New York, 1 November 2009 3 hrs 53 mins

HALF MARATHONS

Coniston 14 (14 miles), 28 March 2009
1 hr 48
Humber Half Marathon, 15 June 2009 1 hr 40 (new PB)
Congleton Half Marathon, 11 October 2009 1 hr 33 (new PB)


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

www.justgiving.com/fivemarathonschristies

www.justgiving.com/fivemarathonsmacmillan

Visit us at http://www.fivemarathons.com/

Join the fivemarathons Facebook Group

View fivemarathons photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/fivemarathons/show/

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Pommy Granite

I’m relieved to tell you that the New York Marathon went really well. Despite a recurrence of my stomach problems from Berlin, I crossed the line in 3 hours 53 minutes, which ensured that I achieved my ambition of running all five marathons in under 20 hours (19 hours, 22 minutes, 18 seconds). I’m absolutely over the moon!


With Mel and the Macmillan support team before the United Nations'
International Friendship Run, 31 October 2009


Many congratulations to fellow Brits Amy Bell and Rick and Kathryn Price. Amy ran New York, her first marathon, in a fantastic 6 hours 29 minutes. What an amazing effort! Roll on the Rome Marathon 2010, when Amy will hit the streets again. Congratulations also to fivemarathons supporters Rick and Kathryn, who completed the Dublin Marathon on 26 October 2009 in a great 5 hours 51 minutes. Rick has fought back from injury and should feel justly proud with that result. Full details to follow in this week’s blog.


With my Mum and Dad at the finish line in Manhattan. 8 months, 5 marathons,
19 hours 22 minutes 18 seconds, 1 promise delivered


FIVEMARATHONS

Barcelona, 1 March 2009
3 hrs 57 mins (new PB)
London, 26 April 2009 4 hrs 01 mins
San Francisco, 26 July 2009 3 hrs 43 mins (new PB)
Berlin, 20 September 2009 3 hrs 46 mins
New York, 1 November 2009 3 hrs 53 mins

HALF MARATHONS

Coniston 14 (14 miles), 28 March 2009 1 hr 48
Humber Half Marathon, 15 June 2009 1 hr 40 (new PB)
Congleton Half Marathon, 11 October 2009 1 hr 33 (new PB)

This week’s training schedule:

Monday, 26 October 2009 2.5 miles easy
Tuesday, 27 October 2009 6 miles easy
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 2 miles easy
Thursday, 29 October 2009 Rest
Friday, 30 October 2009 Fly to New York
Saturday, 31 October 2009 United Nations’ International Friendship Run (2.5 miles)
Sunday, 1 November 2009 New York City Marathon

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).

www.justgiving.com/fivemarathonschristies

www.justgiving.com/fivemarathonsmacmillan

Visit us at http://www.fivemarathons.com/

Join the fivemarathons Facebook Group

View fivemarathons photos at http://www.flickr.com/photos/fivemarathons/show/

NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004