Wednesday, 26 May 2010

In Through The Out Door


My journey home from Athabasca turned into an epic. After Mel and Ron drove me to Edmonton, I flew to Vancouver, on to NYC, drove from NYC to Philadelphia to meet up with Mary and her running friends, Laurie and Theresa (see “Local Zero” http://fivemarathons.blogspot.com/2009/05/local-zero.html), drove back to NYC, and finally flew home to Manchester (taking a wide detour north over Greenland and north of Iceland to avoid the latest volcanic ash cloud).

Vancouver 2010, miles 25 - 26: "hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way..."

I had such a great time in Philadelphia. Mary had arranged for us to watch the Phillies’ baseball game against the Atlanta Braves. See the photo of me watching the game from behind a Philadelphia cheesesteak. I’m not sure the cheesesteak will form a major part of the nutritional and training plans that I’ve agreed to prepare for Mary, but it sure is tasty. Congestive heart disease never tasted so good. As well as talking running with the ladies, who are working towards their first half marathon, Mary and I took some time to see Philly’s sights. We even visited the Philadelphia Museum Of Art, made famous by the Rocky films, and recreated our very own training montage. You can view it in all of its high definition, technicolor glory at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUfWECjUNwg. It was all Mary’s idea. She made me do it.

The cheesesteak won by TKO in the 4th round

Sunday, 16 May saw this year’s Great Manchester Run (10km). The race was a great success and many regular blog viewers were running, hot on Haile Gebrselassie’s heels. Amy Worrall ran a fantastic PB – taking a minute per mile off her previous best. After fighting back from a series of injuries (see Standing On The Shoulders Of Giants: http://fivemarathons.blogspot.com/2009/11/standing-on-shoulders-of-giants.html), this is a fantastic result and Amy can be justly proud. My friend Claire, running on behalf of Christies, also ran a new PB. Admittedly, it was the first time she’s ever run that far, but as I mentioned in last week’s blog, a PB is a PB, whichever way you cut it. Now you’ve set a benchmark, Claire. It only gets harder from here.


Finishing straight in Vancouver

In July, I’ll be back in the Alps for some more high-altitude mountaineering with Martin and James (see High Fidelity: http://fivemarathons.blogspot.com/2009/07/high-fidelity.html and The Devil Wears Puma http://fivemarathons.blogspot.com/2009/07/devil-wears-puma.html). This weekend, Martin and James were both in Latvia for the Riga Marathon, where they posted fantastic times (3:29:32 and 3:04:57 respectively). If Riga is anything to go by, Martin and I may struggle to keep up with James in Switzerland. Sunday also saw TEAM Manchester travel north of the border for the Edinburgh Marathon. Despite the hot weather, there were some fantastic performances, not least from my training partner Jess who, despite only having run the London Marathon four weeks previously, turned in a great 3:36:58. Amanda also ran a new personal best of 3:52:56, over 6 minutes inside her time from New York in 2008. Lucy, Helen, Libby and Harriet were all running their first marathon and should be really pleased with their great performances. Lucy still maintains that she’ll never run another marathon, but there are distinct signs of a softening of her position. On Saturday night, she said that there was no chance whatsoever of her ever running 26.2 miles again, whereas by Sunday night, over drinks after the race, she said that she was only 99% certain. The same thing happened to me after London in 2004. After I crossed the line, I promised my sister that I wouldn’t ever be doing anything like that ever again. By the following afternoon, I was signing up for the New York Marathon later that year. Six years, and 1 hour 31 off my PB, later and I’m writing a marathon-running blog.


Finally....

My Sunday in Edinburgh was quite frustrating. I hadn’t been able to shake the cold which I’d picked up prior to the Vancouver Marathon and it had spread to a niggling cough. I was feeling a little better by Thursday and managed a short training run of four miles. I felt incredibly weak and my lungs felt tight. Things were no better when I ran two miles on Friday. I travelled to Edinburgh undecided as to whether or not to run, but I did want to give it a go if I could. I walked into the starting pen in hope rather than expectation and got underway. Sunday felt no better than Thursday and Friday. My heart rate was relatively high for the slow pace that I was able to maintain and I decided to pull up at nine miles. The route was passing the ultimate finish at the Musselburgh racecourse, and I retired to the bar to consider what was going wrong. I knew that trying to grind out the remaining 17 miles was only going to make matters worse, but it was a bitter pill to swallow. Still, I’m trying to take the positives from it: if I had to be ill for a race, at least it wasn’t one of the fivemarathons for Christies and Macmillan, or Vancouver, where so many members of my family were there to watch the race.


One for the family album: with my cousins Melanie and Neil

My first priority is to get back to full fitness as quickly as possible and get training for the challenges ahead in 2010, not least the Lakeland 50 on 24 July. I’ve already spoken to Laith about what adjustments are necessary to my current training programme. While I’m excited about the ultras coming up this year, I’m finding it hard to not think about a marathon in spring 2011, when I can put Edinburgh behind me and look to take another bite out of my PB. I always try to learn from my mistakes and I’m rarely short of material. As the Rocky IV soundtrack put it, I’m “burning with determination to even up the score”.

video

Mel and Ron run past our support team at 3 miles

While I was in Vancouver, I received an email from my friend Noel. You may recall that he’s running 223 marathons for Bliss, the charity which cares for premature and sick babies. Noel confirmed that he’ll also be running the Atlantic Coast at the start of October. It’ll be great to have Noel and Jess there (and at least I can run with Noel when Jess leaves us for dust!).

Post-race celebration in Vancouver

You can support TEAM Manchester’s charitable efforts by following the links at the bottom of this blog.

2010

Vancouver, 2 May 2010 3 hours 31 minutes (new PB)
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/

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Strawberry Fields Forever


Hello from Athabasca, Alberta!

Sunday’s Vancouver marathon and half marathon were great events. Despite the heavy rain and cold weather, Melanie and Ron turned in personal bests. Admittedly, it was their first half marathon, but a PB is a PB. In the build-up to the race, I’d said to Mel that I wasn’t choosy about the weather, as long as we didn’t have excessive heat or torrential rain. One out of two ain’t bad.

Spotting Randy in Stanley Park

Mel and Ron got underway in the half marathon at 7am, while I got started half an hour later. As it turned out, some marathoners, those who expected to take over 6 hours to complete the course, had started running at 6am. I didn’t know that, when I was still passing the morbidly obese, 2.5 hours into my own race. I couldn’t understand how I could have been running so hard, for so long, and yet still be behind the salad-dodging chapter of the distance running fraternity. Having considered that it was obviously time to hang up my trainers, it came as a great relief to see the starting timetable after the race.

Ron, capturing the moment on Sunday's half marathon

Sunday was the culmination of a great adventure which started in San Francisco last year. Nine months of intensive training for Mel and Ron and a lot of careful planning by Mel and her Dad, my Uncle Bob, to get over 20 members of my family together on race day, meant we had everything in place for what was an unbelievable occasion. As my race started later than theirs, I was able to walk over to the starting pen with Mel and Ron and enjoy the build-up with them. It was so great to have our family around us, to share the moment.


Making tracks in Stanley Park

My own final preparation for the race had been far from perfect. I picked up a cold in New York which I just couldn’t shift. By the day before the race it had really got a grip. Had it been the forthcoming marathon in Edinburgh (23 May 2010), I would almost certainly not have run. I had trained so hard throughout the freezing cold winter that I couldn’t bear to waste the race – to run when I wasn’t feeling fit and, at the same time, tire myself out for a proper attempt at a time in a future race. Having said that, I had been building towards Vancouver, and thinking about little else, for six whole months, ever since I crossed the finish line in New York City, drawing the fivemarathons to a close. Also, with my family in town for the race, I really wanted to run if I possibly could.

Mile 10 support team

I’m really grateful for all of my family’s efforts to ensure that I had every chance of running a good race. My Uncle Bob made sure that I had all of the right food in the week before the race and drove me around the course to acquaint myself in advance with the uphill sections where I was going to have to work, and the downhill sections where I would need to bank some time. He also arranged that I had family members every five miles on the route, not only to support me, but to hand me the drinks which were going to be essential for a good time. That meant that I could avoid the scrums at the water stops, and actually get some fluids on board. I find it almost impossible to drink properly from the cups handed out by the race organisers, while simultaneously trying to maintain 7 minute 45 second miles. Perhaps, like all men, it’s the multi-tasking element I find hard. Most days I struggle to walk while chewing gum.

Uncle Bob, Val, and Mel’s boys, Jonas and Zachary, met me at mile 5; my Mum, Dad, Auntie June (three quarters of my San Francisco and New York support team), Jacob and Noah were waiting for me at mile 10; and Caron and Randy were just past the halfway point in Stanley Park, still smiling through the pouring rain. On the Burrard Bridge, at 17 miles, my cousin Neil, a fellow endurance athlete (and regular Iron Man competitor) was waiting to run with me and keep me on pace for the last 9.2 miles of the race. My cousin Craig, Tracy and Meagan met us at miles 19 and 22, which was a great inspiration to keep me pressing. Given my cold, I was trying to take it easy in the first half of the race, and keep my heart rate below 152 beats per minute. Running with a bad cold is never a good idea and I was keen to avoid any undue strain on my heart. My legs also felt tired and a little weak from mile one. Normally, the first 15 miles of the race are free, while the latter 11.2 are where you really earn your money. On Sunday, I was having to scrap for every yard from the very start. In spite of all that, by the time I reached Neil, I realised that a new PB was possible, if I could just keep moving freely. Neil was such a fantastic help and pushed me to a 3 hours 31 finish, 12 minutes inside my previous best. Thanks Neil! Whenever I can return the favour for you, just let me know and I’ll be there.


Job done

As we reached the finishing straight, Mel was waiting for us, having finished her half marathon with Ron in a fantastic 2 hours 18 minutes. Getting to run in a new PB, with my cousins Neil and Mel either side of me, and with our family cheering us on was a priceless moment which I’ll never forget. My Mum and Auntie June were in tears. On Monday evening, we all got together for a celebratory meal, which was a great way to mark a fantastic family occasion. Caron is keen to run another half marathon (having run Vancouver and Kelowna before), and Mel and Ron intend to keep running, so I may be back to do it all again.


Left for dust: swallowing my running pride at LTIS

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to run with the Marathon Club at the Landing Trail Intermediate School in Athabasca. LTIS is the school attended by Mel and Ron’s sons, Noah and Jonas. At lunchtimes, the kids run 2 kilometres around the school grounds. Once they reach 42.2 kilometres, they’re awarded their marathon certificates. Noah and Jonas are already well on their way, with half marathons under their belts. I’m not ashamed to say that, for the first 400 metres, I wondered if I was going to be able to keep up! Fortunately, the boys settled down into a more sustainable pace, and we got our heads down for their next two kilometres. It was an absolute pleasure to run with the kids, and hopefully help to enthuse the distance runners of tomorrow. The next destination on my running world tour is Philadelphia, first thing tomorrow morning, where I’ll be meeting up with my friends Mary and Laurie, who are fresh from last Sunday’s Broad Street 10 Miler in Philly. I know Mary is looking to bag her first half marathon before the end of the year. Photos and a full race report to follow in a future blog!

Sam, Sebastian, Jamie and Jonas

As always, I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to my coach, Laith (http://www.theendurancecoach.com/) and my physio, Alan (http://www.harrisandross.co.uk/), without whom I couldn’t have even dreamed of taking another 12 minute bite out of my PB. Thanks chaps! Work starts Monday for a 3 hour 15 finish in spring 2011. Just a few minor races to keep me occupied between now and then.

2010

Vancouver, 2 May 2010 3 hours 31 minutes (new PB)
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/


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

BMO Vancouver Marathon


With Mel and Ron at the Vancouver Marathon Expo

I'm pleased to confirm that yesterday's BMO Vancouver Marathon went really well. Despite feeling quite unwell in the days before the race, I'd come too far to not run and I turned in a new PB of 3 hours 31 (12 minutes inside my previous best).

Race jerseys

It was a fantastic occasion and it felt so great to have so many of my family around me. Despite the cold and heavy rain, Melanie and Ron finished their first half marathon in a superb 2 hours 18 minutes. Full details to follow in this week's blog.


Canada's next top model

Roll on Edinburgh! No turning back now.

2010

Vancouver, 2 May 2010 3 hours 31 minutes (new PB)
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/

NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004