Monday, October 16, 2006


...was fun, but not my best race ever. Although to be fair I'm somewhat impressed with my race prediction skills. I suspected that after slowing down during Berlin training I'd be somewhere around the 2 hour mark, and came in at 2:00:29. I'm gutted not to squeeze under 2 hours or get nearer my PB (1:53), but I'll take that as still a respectable time, and something that I can start building on as I try to get some speed back in my legs over winter.

Saturday was great fun, meeting up with Kylie and Jen (with my mother in tow), wandering round Amsterdam, carb loading (v. important), eating fondue (with lots of bread - see carb loading) and getting a nice early night being rocked to sleep on a houseboat. Having company took my mind off the race a lot more than when I was in Berlin and the race was the only thing I really thought about, but that might also be a reflection of my training (or lack thereof) for this one - it was basically a case of turn up and see what happens.

Sunday was odd, with the race starting at 2pm. We found an eat as much as you like breakfast buffet, took it to extremes and aimed to get through to the race with just a bit of a snack around lunchtime. The plan worked pretty well actually, although at lot of Sunday did seem to be spent just hanging around waiting for the race to start. I like to get them out of the way then there's more time for eating and drinking later. Particularly when you have an evening flight home.

Once we'd said goodbye to Kylie in town, we headed for the start. We ended up taking our cases down to the race with us because there were no lockers at the station, luckily it wasn't a "use the designated bag" sort of baggage storage facility, and they happily took 2 cases off me so Mum didn't have to sit with them for the whole race. We sat her down in the Olympic Stadium, watched the finish of the marathon and eventually headed off to the start. I was in a different pen to Jen and ended up standing freezing for about half an hour waiting for the gun to go. (Why is it that it was really cold all weekend until about 2.15 on Sunday, then the sun came out as soon as we got going?)

I started surprisingly well. From memory I got to 5k in about 27 minutes, 10k in about 54 minutes and 15k in about 1 hour 23. From that you may gather that my pre-race plan of taking it easy until the last 3 miles didn't exactly come to pass. Quite the opposite really, I set off at a pace I couldn't maintain. Not faster than I've run before, but before the start I worried that I wouldn't be able to sustain my normal half marathon pace for the full distance at the moment, and I was proved right. From about 16k on my hip started to niggle and, even more worryingly, the Lucozade I was carrying so that I didn't have to risk Gatorade wasn't agreeing with my stomach either. Not in a Berlin style, but there was a bit of a reaction that I didn't want to aggravate. I started to slow down and take little walk breaks. When my hip hurts I find that the best way to sort it out is to walk about 100 metres with a very deliberate and correct walking action, and that sorts it out for a while. My lungs and leg muscles could have carried on running, but I didn't want the hip pain to get too bad so I took a couple of walk breaks.

After 16 or 17k the 1:55 pacers went past me, and I knew that this wouldn't be a PB run. One thing I really want to sort out is that once I know that a PB or my pre-race target time is out of the window I have a tendency to give up mentally, and stop racing. I still get to the finish but I don't put too much effort into it. The same happened, and my slow down got a lot slower, bringing me home just outside 2 hours. I wish that I'd put just that bit more effort in so that my time started with a 1, but overall I can't be too disappointed. It might be a PW, but some people would like a PB of 2 hours, let alone that being their slowest time.

And I had a fun weekend, which was what this race was all about. We waited for Jen to finish, got the bags back and then I headed back to the airport with mum while Jen went back to the houseboat to meet up with Kylie again. I managed a bit of soup and some apple cake at the airport (why does running halves and above always kill my appetite?), would have fallen asleep on the plane had the flight been more than 40 minutes long, drove home from the airport and went pretty much straight to bed. Back in work on Monday morning, another European race done.


However, fun as Amsterdam was, the big breakthrough was with mum. She's never seen me run before and I think yesterday she finally saw how much it means to me, and how finishing a race can light up someone's face, no matter how long it takes. I didn't actually tell her about Berlin for ages because I didn't want to worry her or make her fear for my sanity. But far from worrying about me running marathons or thinking I'm stupid for attempting it, she saw a couple at the expo that appealed her as city break/running combinations (she wants a family trip to Barcelona and for me to run there!), and quizzed me on the way home about other places I might want to run in future.

Even more worrying, she forwarded me a link to an ultra this morning. Actually, that's not the worrying bit. The worrying bit is that despite me always thinking that a marathon is far enough and I'd never want to go further than that, I'm actually tempted. The Trans Gran Canaria October West-East route looks fantastic, and it finishes metres from her house (which is about as far as I'd be able to stagger after 67k and a 2000 metre climb on trails through the mountains). Actually, it finishes outside a row of bars which might be even better... I've been reading through the information on the website (or as much of it as I can understand) and it looks like there's a 24 hour cut off which should be possible, even with a lot of walking. The first woman this year took over 10 hours, so it's not something where you're expected to be particularly fast, and I imagine it would be a fantastic experience.

Stop. Right. There.

Did I, or did I not, say that a marathon was as far as I'd go? No ultras. Particularly not hilly ultras. (And when I say hilly, just look at the course profile by clicking on La Carrera and scrolling down).


But it is very tempting, and it's a big enough goal for me to be able to work up to it over a couple of years, to replace the marathon as the big one. October 2008 at the earliest, maybe 2009 (on the basis I'm planning a trip to Australia in October 2008). If I want to do it, I need to build up for it properly. Even if I don't run it, it's still a long way, and one hell of a climb. So that means more marathons (and maybe making them a bit hillier). It means another go or two at the Belper 30k. It means doing the Three Peaks walk (40k-ish and 736, 723 and 694 metres for the three peaks) a few times - first as a walk and then, later, attempting to run bits of it. On a practical note it also means improving my Spanish so I can understand the instructions.

Did I just say that? I'm sure that there must be a limit to my insanity somewhere, but I'm not quite sure that I've found where it is yet...


Blogger Shauna said...

:) onya, YP. can't wait to see where you go next! and that is brilliant about your mum too!

10:35 PM  

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