Home advantage

One of the potential advantages I have for this marathon is that I live and work in London, so I get to practise on parts of the actual marathon course.  Of course, I don’t choose to spend my time running around the glass and steel city of the Isle of Dogs rather than in the beautiful Royal Parks, but my running commute naturally takes in the last couple of miles of the marathon down the Embankment and Birdcage Walk to Buckingham Palace.  Last night when I felt strong and fast running home after work, I tried to imagine how I will be feeling tracing these same steps after 24 knackering miles.  Hopefully, knowing those last two miles as well as I do will give me a bit of a pyschological advantage for a strong finish.  (And at least I won’t have to negotiate the uneven pavement flagstones in front of the Palace in the dark on the day itself!)

I’ve been feeling quite pleased with how the training has gone this week – it feels like I am back on target.  I impressed myself at the start of the week by getting up early on both Monday and Tuesday to go to a spin class and swimming respectively – its got to the point now where keeping up the cross-training and just building that stamina is as important as the running.   And I was very good yesterday and skipped my department drinks in order to run home.  Skiing and the week after it were pretty alcoholic, and its probably time to start cutting back now (birthday parties aside).  I’m Boxercising this afternoon and will do my interval run tomorrow morning, so its been a pretty full week.  Saturday is a well-deserved day off though as I head home to Warwickshire for a joint family celebration of my 30th and my grandfather’s 90th birthdays.  Hopefully that will prove a lucrative occasion for the fundraising drive!

Distance:  5.75 miles
Time:  58 mins (approx, as I was wearing my normal watch.  Included lots of stops at lights.)
Route:  commute home (via Birdcage Walk instead of the Mall)
Time of day:  7pm
Weather:  mild and moonlit night


The morning after the night before

The traditional wisdom has it that some level of abstinence from alcohol is necessary when training for a marathon.  It would be dangerous to get complacent about it, but so far it has to be said that big boozy nights out don’t seem to be having much of a detrimental effect on how well my long runs go.  This morning, in a minor departure from what was starting to become a Sunday long run tradition, I woke up neither late nor hungover.  Instead, I woke at 7am, still drunk.  And on a mate’s sofa, where we had passed out after watching Kevin Pietersen join the surreal Ashes party with a superlative unbeaten double ton.  In retrospect, that last bottle of Bollinger at 3.30am was probably unnecessary (the beverage chosen both to mark the milestone birthday we had earlier been out celebrating, and as an ironic nod to the Aussie fast bowler being smacked around the Adelaide Oval by KP).

All of which meant that even after three or four more hours sleep in my own bed, I expected to feel pretty rough as I set out for today’s eight miles.  But strangely, I didn’t.  Maybe I was energised by the glorious winter sun starting to sink in spectacular fashion below the bare treetops.  Maybe it was just excitement that a balmy temperature of 2 degrees meant there was no snow or ice left to drive me inside and onto the mind-numbing treadmill.  Maybe I was fuelled by the wonderful aromas of suckling pig and roasting chestnuts wafting across Hyde Park from the Winter Wonderland.  Whatever, these factors all combined to make me feel great about being outside, enjoying the festive atmosphere and doing something healthy and restorative after poisoning my poor body last night.

I took it reasonably easy, settled into a comfortable rhythm and felt at the end like I could happily have gone on for many more miles (which is just as well really).  There were two or three fast sprints to catch favourable traffic lights, and apart from a very weird spasm in my right buttock at around 3 miles – which felt very odd but didn’t seem to affect my running – nothing really grumbled.  I’ve no hint left of the hangover I deserve, although I won’t be imbibing any more alcohol at our local pub quiz tonight (unless we win – the prize is a bottle of champagne).  And to top it all off, I’ve returned home to find my wonderful flatmate busy in the kitchen making mince pies.  All in all a great result.

Distance:  8.00 miles
Time:  1:22:13
Route:  Hyde Park, Green Park
Weather:  wonderful winter sun(set)
Time of day:  3pm
Notable features:  yummy Christmas smells, both in the park and now in my flat!

Week 5
Total miles:  16.79
Cross-training:  spin class, weights after speed session, pilates class, swimming (1 mile), lots of drunken Saturday night dancing!

Days 5 & 6 – first Juneathon weekend

A bit of a late post this one – the weekend has been full of packing. I move house in a couple of weeks time so the boxes are starting to pile up. But although I’ve had no time to blog properly I haven’t neglected Juneathon despite doing a bit too much drowning my sorrows.  Saturday I had to go and pick up my spare keys from the letting agent now that they are done showing prospective new tenants around – they are based in Notting Hill Gate so I took the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and ran there and back.  It’s a 2.5 mile round trip, uphill all the way there and downhill all the way back. I must have looked a bit of a sight showing up there in my running gear hot and sweaty from running uphill in scorching temperatures.

Hot and sweaty was a bit of a theme for Saturday really, after that and lugging boxes up and down to the car all afternoon I went to the Blitz Party in Shoreditch on Saturday night which was a really fun and very different night out – with everyone dressed up in 1940s gear. Sadly I didn’t get many photos but here’s one of some of us waiting to get in. The venue is under some railway arches which makes a great atmospheric location but with so many people in a small space on a very humid night it was difficult to dance for long without sweating away half your body weight! A really fun night though.

Sunday was a bit more lazy as I tried to catch up on sleep (not doing that well since I am writing this at half past midnight!), but I did drag myself down to Fulham Pools for a reasonably leisurely swim. So almost a week into Juneathon and so far so good. Might reward myself with some nice new running kit tomorrow!