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”, 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 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:, 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: and The Devil Wears Puma 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.


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”.

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.


Vancouver, 2 May 2010 3 hours 31 minutes (new PB)
Edinburgh, 23 May 2010
Lakeland 50, 24 - 25 July 2010
The Atlantic Coast, 1 - 3 October 2010
Auckland, 31 October 2010


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 Macmillan provides practical, medical, financial and emotional support for people affected by cancer and campaigns for better cancer care (see


Lucy Dawson and Amanda Howlett - Christies -
Lucy Dawson and Amanda Howlett - Macmillan -
Jessica Lovell – NSPCC -
Helen Thomasson – Christies -
Claire Smith – Christies -
Harriet Sutherland – The Prostate Cancer Charity -
Noel Bresland - Bliss -
Join the Facebook Group "A Marathon Or Two"
View fivemarathons photos at

No comments:

Post a Comment

NYC Marathon, 2004

NYC Marathon, 2004
NYC Marathon, 2004