Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Philadelphia Story

You may remember that this time last year, my friend Mary, and her friend Laurie, were running the Broad Street 10 Miler in Philadelphia (see “Local Zero” http://fivemarathons.blogspot.com/2009/05/local-zero.html). I talked to Mary about joining them this year, if the dates fitted around Vancouver. Unfortunately, this year both races both fall on 2 May, which is a shame. The race itself is reputed to be the USA’s biggest 10 mile race – this year, entries had to be capped at 30,000! That’s pretty amazing, when you think that the London Marathon only gets around 35,000 finishers. While Laurie will be running this year, Mary has unfortunately sprained her ankle and has been unable to train. After doing all of my training for the Dublin Marathon in 2005 and being unable to race, I know how incredibly frustrating it feels. Especially when your friends are getting excited about the race.


Different day, same bull (see “The French Connection”
http://fivemarathons.blogspot.com/2009/11/french-connection.html)


Although I can’t make it for the race, I am stopping off in Philadelphia on my way home from Vancouver. I know Mary has got some great activities lined up, not least going to one of the Phillies’ home games. Avid baseball fans will know that the Phillies made it to the World Series with the New York Yankees last year. The series was decided while I was in New York for the marathon and the buzz about the games was incredible. Although the Phillies won their game on the day I arrived on Manhattan, they sadly lost the next, and the series, the day before I left to fly home. I’m sure my presence at the game on 7 May will prove talismanic and the Phillies will go one better this year. Ahem. As well as the Phillies’ game, I have suggested to Mary that I’d like to recreate the iconic training scene from “Rocky”, where the man himself (the Fighting Pride Of Philadelphia, no less) runs up the 72 steps to Philadelphia Museum of Art as the stirring culmination of the training montage. I’ll bet no tourists have ever done that before. Coming soon to an embarrassing Youtube clip near you.

As I mentioned at the end of the last blog, Jess had an amazing run in Sunday’s London Marathon. After completing the first half of the race in a blistering 1 hour 37 minutes, she went on to close out the race in just 3 hours 29 minutes. This performance put Jess in the top 500 female finishers – in one of the World Marathon Majors (www.worldmarathonmajors.com). This blog isn’t normally graced with outstanding athletic achievement, but rather heroic and no less shambolic tragi-comedy (often involving medical intervention and even the odd flock of sheep), so we really should relish this moment. Well done, Jess!


"We need to take the bull by the balls before somebody pulls the rug out from under our noses"
(see “Dunkin’ Donuts” - http://fivemarathons.blogspot.com/2009/08/dunkin-donuts.html)


I’m writing this at JFK Airport, awaiting my flight to Vancouver for the marathon. It has been raining so hard today in New York that flights are being delayed because of the amount of standing water on the runways. After last week’s volcanic ash, and today’s apparent floods, I’m fully expecting a plague of frogs for my return flight to NYC. In my day job, I once spent a series of teeth-grindingly boring meetings, discussing the nature of “acts of God” for the purposes of commercial agreements. After being prevailed upon to provide expert insight into the potentially detrimental effects of sonic booms, I announced that we were worrying about nothing, suggested that we each respectively get a life, and find something more pressing about which to concern ourselves. Little did I know, I was about to have a stark lesson in the truly bizarre nature of natural phenomena and their effect on the best laid marathon-running plans of mice and men. An Icelandic volcano stopping the production of our running tops, and grounding flights to north America? Who can honestly say they spotted that iceberg?

Check out TEAM Manchester’s marathon-running fundraising efforts, below. I’m particularly pleased, and proud, to plug Lucy and Amanda’s run at the Edinburgh Marathon, not least because Lucy maintains that I talked her into it (I could have sworn it was the other way around!), but also because they’re fundraising for fivemarathons’ supported charities, Christies and Macmillan. Claire and Helen are also supporting Christies, while Harriet is supporting The Prostate Cancer Charity. You can read about the inspiring stories behind each of their efforts at the websites below. I could fill an entire blog telling you about Noel’s 223 marathons for Bliss (watch this space!). Finally, if Jess’ outstanding performance in Sunday’s London Marathon inspired you to show your support for the NSPCC, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JessicaLovell.

2010

Vancouver, 2 May 2010 www.bmovanmarathon.ca
Edinburgh, 23 May 2010 www.edinburgh-marathon.com
Lakeland 50, 24 - 25 July 2010 www.lakeland100.com
The Atlantic Coast, 1 - 3 October 2010 www.votwo.co.uk/votwo2007/events-and-adventure/race_view.php?i=117
Auckland, 31 October 2010 www.aucklandmarathon.co.nz

HALF MARATHONS

Liverpool, 28 March 2010 1 hour 33 mins 14 seconds (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).


SUPPORT TEAM MANCHESTER AT THE EDINBURGH MARATHON AND GREAT MANCHESTER RUN:



Lucy Dawson and Amanda Howlett - Christies - www.justgiving.com/AmandaandLucy

Lucy Dawson and Amanda Howlett - Macmillan - www.justgiving.com/AmandaandLucymacmillan

Jessica Lovell – NSPCC - http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JessicaLovell

Helen Thomasson – Christies - http://www.justgiving.com/Helen-Thomasson

Claire Smith – Christies - http://www.justgiving.com/Claireruns10k

Harriet Sutherland – The Prostate Cancer Charity - http://www.justgiving.com/Harriet-Sutherland0

Noel Bresland - Bliss - http://www.justgiving.com/Noel-Bresland-223-Marathon-Challenge

Join the Facebook Group "A Marathon Or Two"

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

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Above Us Only Sky

Hello from Manhattan! The good news is, despite Iceland’s best efforts, my flight left on time and I arrived in NYC without incident. No wing-walking to chisel volcanic rock from the engines either. Final preparations for Vancouver are also going well: a few gentle runs in Central Park and arguably eating too much. The park is a great place to train – very green, pretty and full of other runners. I’ve also got fond memories of the NYC marathons and International Friendship Runs in 2004 and 2009. More mixed feelings about September 2006 in the park, but that’s another story for another day. Send a cheque to Christies for a minimum of £75 and I’ll tell you all about it. It’s a cracker too: alcohol poisoning, ghostly apparitions and even a horse. It’s got it all.

As I’m writing, Jess is well underway in the London Marathon. The text updates from the race organisers confirm that she went through the halfway point in just 1 hour 37 minutes, which is very quick. I’m now ticking down the minutes until the text arrives from the finish line. Jess told me that they’ve got really heavy rain, which is far from ideal, but at least they’ll avoid some of the heat-related problems from recent years. Only four weeks until we’re doing it all again in Edinburgh (I’m sure that will be a comforting thought for Jess when she finishes). Based on my experience of long queues during last year’s race in London, Jess has done well to get into her running so quickly. My starting pen was full of runners in fancy dress. Many had come as either giraffes or people who’d never run more than two miles before.

Strawberry Field, Woolton, Liverpool. Sunday, 11 April 2010

Two weeks ago, I did my final long run before Vancouver: 21 miles from my parents’ house in St Helens into Liverpool. In fact, it’s only 8 miles between the two, so I had plenty of miles within Liverpool to take in some of the sights. As a big Beatles fan, I stayed after the run to see some of the Beatles landmarks – Penny Lane, Eleanor Rigby’s grave at St Peter’s church and, across the road, the church hall where Lennon and McCartney first met in 1957. I also visited Strawberry Field and Mendips, the house on Menlove Avenue where John grew up. So, during my training runs on Manhattan, I’ve been sure to take in The Dakota, the building where Lennon lived from 1974, and where he was shot dead by a deranged fan in 1980. I was only 8 when Lennon died, but even I realised that something seismic had just happened. The Liverpool Echo was filled with tributes for weeks after his death. Across the road from The Dakota, in Central Park, lies Strawberry Fields, with its mosaic tribute to Lennon. Amongst the thousands of fans who visit Strawberry Fields every day, my running had, just for once, taken on a cultural dimension beyond pounding Merseyside’s unforgiving streets.

Strawberry Fields, Central Park West. Saturday, 24 April 2010


My onward flight to Vancouver leaves late on Monday night, which should give me plenty of time to get over jetlag, acclimatise and get my head ready for the race on Sunday, 2 May. With London a week before Vancouver, Jess will have an all-important extra week to recover before we race in Edinburgh. Just getting that excuse on the table nice and early...

Talk to you again from British Columbia.

PS Just heard from Jess: she finished her first marathon in 3 hours 29. Just fantastic!


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 mins 49 seconds (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

HALF MARATHONS

Liverpool, 28 March 2010 1 hour 33 mins 14 seconds (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).


SUPPORT TEAM MANCHESTER AT THE EDINBURGH MARATHON AND GREAT MANCHESTER RUN:


Jessica Lovell – NSPCC - http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JessicaLovell

Helen Thomasson – Christies - http://www.justgiving.com/Helen-Thomasson

Claire Smith – Christies - http://www.justgiving.com/Claireruns10k

Harriet Sutherland – The Prostate Cancer Charity - http://www.justgiving.com/Harriet-Sutherland0

Join the fivemarathons Facebook Group

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

Friday, 23 April 2010

Ashes To Ashes

Welcome back to the fivemarathons blog! Just in time for the new season, with the Vancouver Marathon just over a week away and the Edinburgh Marathon hot on its heels, only three weeks afterwards.

So much has happened since my last blog but, right now, it’s hard to focus on anything but the volcanic cloud which our Icelandic cousins have kindly sent us. After donating Bj√∂rk and the banking collapse (see “Keep On Keeping On”: http://fivemarathons.blogspot.com/2009/03/keep-on-keepin-on.html), you’d think they’d been more than generous enough. First of all they bankrupt their country, then they set it on fire. It’s starting to look suspiciously like an insurance job. This latest Icelandic gift has had a range of unexpected implications here at fivemarathons HQ. First of all, our friends at TheCycleJersey.com, who make fivemarathons’ race tops, are stuck in Spain, after European airspace was closed due to the volcanic ash currently resident in the upper atmosphere. This means that production has had to be halted on the tops for Vancouver (see the design, below). It’s a particularly large order, of over 20 tops, because so many of my family will be in Vancouver to either race or support us. As if that wasn’t enough, my chances of getting my flight to NYC on Friday are looking particularly slim. In the meantime, I’m marooned on a desolate rock in the north Atlantic and can only hope for some strong winds to blow the ash eastwards. Over France would be fine, but I’m not choosy.

Scottish Highlands: fruitlessly searching for volcanic clouds in the upper atmosphere

Regular blog viewers will remember that my cousin Melanie, and her husband Ron, have been dedicatedly preparing for the Vancouver half marathon on 2 May (see “The Manhattan Project” - http://fivemarathons.blogspot.com/2009/11/manhattan-project.html). In addition, my cousin Neil, himself an accomplished endurance athlete, will meet me at mile 18 of the marathon to help pace me and keep me going for the crucial last 8 miles. Race strategies stand or fall in the latter stages of the race, so it will be great to have his help and support. Running quickly for 18 miles is relatively easy, but having enough in the tank to remain in your rhythm right the way to the finish line is the real trick. Having so many family members in the crowd is also a big boost; not just for their support, but also because they can hand out water bottles, which means I can avoid the inevitable scrums at each of the water stations. Also, drinking from bottles is much more straightforward than trying to drink from the cups provided by the race organisers. Try drinking from a cup while seeking to maintain 7 minute 45 second miles – if you’re anything like me, most of the water will disappear down your front and / or up your nose. All highly hilarious until you’re on an iv drip like I was after the NYC marathon. Fortunately, my Uncle Bob is kindly organising my support team to be at the key points of the race, so I can take drinks when I need them.


Vancouver marathon race top

Mel and Ron’s training for the half marathon has been tremendous. From being a non-runner when she came to support me at the San Francisco Marathon in late July last year, to taking 12-mile long runs in her stride barely 8 months later, Mel’s progress has been just fantastic. Despite being over 5,000 away, Mel, Ron and I have managed to coordinate a solid training plan via the magic of Google Docs. I upload the training plan at this end, Mel posts her progress, comments and queries, which I then try to answer! I’m ever so proud of Mel and Ron’s hard work, not least because of the inclement northern Alberta winter through which they’ve trained – everything from minus 25 degrees Celsius to plus 15. It puts the harsh Shap winter into context. I don’t feel so bad about the three months of snow and ice through which I had to run (and the studs I had to wear on my trainers just to get some grip). I can’t wait to get the telephone call during the marathon to let me know how Mel and Ron have enjoyed the half marathon.

With Amanda at the Congleton Half Marathon, 11 October 2009

Without wishing to speak too soon, I've been pleased with how my own preparation for Vancouver has gone. The last six months have all been about speed training, to make fast cruising feel much easier. Early signs are good. Despite a very relaxed run in the Liverpool Half Marathon, I set a new PB and each of my long Sunday runs have gone smoothly. Having done all of my longer runs in the hills around Shap, I’m finding running on the flat to be comparatively comfortable. A last-minute discussion with Laith (www.theendurancecoach.com) earlier in the week to consider race strategy, some final physio with Alan at Harris and Ross (www.harrisandross.co.uk) and I’m almost ready. Just a few final training runs in New York and I should be ready to race. While I’m running in Central Park, my training partner Jess will be taking on the London Marathon. London will be Jess’ first marathon and everything is looking good for an impressive time. I wish her every success and trust that she’ll take miles 20 – 24 completely within her stride. Make friends with pain and you’ll never be alone!

Right, I’ll talk to you again from New York, assuming my flight ever leaves Manchester.


SUPPORT TEAM MANCHESTER AT THE EDINBURGH MARATHON AND GREAT MANCHESTER RUN:

Jessica Lovell – NSPCC - http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JessicaLovell

Helen Thomasson – Christies - http://www.justgiving.com/Helen-Thomasson

Claire Smith – Christies - http://www.justgiving.com/Claireruns10k

Harriet Sutherland – The Prostate Cancer Charity - http://www.justgiving.com/Harriet-Sutherland0


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 mins 49 seconds (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


HALF MARATHONS

Liverpool, 28 March 2010 1 hour 33 mins 14 seconds (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).


Join the fivemarathons Facebook Group

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

NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004