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 ( 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

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


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


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)

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NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004