So near and yet so far, a week’s not a long time but when your waiting for your first marathon its going to feel like two. Dealing with phantom injuries, head colds, tired legs and imaginary lack of form becomes a constant. Over the years I’v become almost immune to these thoughts, but the natural human reaction to question yourself is always there. After a block of hard training, recovery is probably the most important factor in ensuring you get the full benefit from your hard work. Keep piling it on and it’ll all come crashing down in the form of fatigue, slugishnes, and injuries. After a couple of hard lessons learned last year when I was more concerned with shorter distances (One hard session too many last May, kept me off my running feet ’till September) I decided to err on the side of caution and realise now that, for me anyway, less is more. While my mileage is ‘borderline’ for a good marathon, doing more could have ruled me out of it altogether, So bring it on.
Perfect timing this year meant Iv no shortage of references to take some inspiration from with less than a week to go to Marathon Monday. Take an old friend of mine, lets just call him Jonathan, with no sporting background decided a few months back to do a 50 mile trail hike around the hills of Sneem and Kenmare. Last Saturday he completed it. A continuous 50 mile walk on far from flat terrain in 15 and a half hours. Or another John who went down to run a five miler in Ballyandereen last Thursday and came in under 27 minutes on another hilly course to win by 2 seconds. Maybe these performances were caused by the ripple effect of 150 cyclists racing around the hills of Donegal in conditions more akin to the Tour de France in July. Watching Ronan McLaughlins lone crusade over 100kms last thursday, in a brave attempt to win a stage only to be caught within sight of the finish line was goosepimple stuff. All I’v got to do is run 26 miles. whats the big deal?
What is it about the Marathon, Is it its origins set deep in ancient Greek history? Is it The guaranteed drama on plain view to anyone who turns up to watch? I dont know, One cycling buddy and marathon vet explained how he gets emotional while watching runners coming up the finishing straight and likened running it to riding up an alpine climb for the duration of the run. Riding a bike around the marathon course gives you plenty of opportunities to freewheel. Running gives you none. I have taken part in events which are substantially longer timewise than any marathon, but this first one, what am I to expect?
‘The Wall’ – Iv got ‘the knock’ (a cyclist ailment caused by sugar depletion) too many times to mention, I assume this would be like ‘hitting the wall’ in a marathon. Surely I know enough at this stage to avoid it? 1st marathon, who knows?
‘Pacing’ – pretty simple ya, dont go out too fast, your familiar with what kind of pace you’ve been training at for the last few months. Hard lessons learned earlier in the year in Dungarvan and Ballycotton should be well rooted at this stage. All fine in theory, even the most discilpined have fallen victim to an early fast pace. The result of same cannot be underestimated and can only be described as horrific in the latter miles.
‘Fuel’ - ‘ah yeah, a few gels in the back pocket and away ya go’, Gels are little satchets of a honey like goo with a high sugar content that are popular with all endurance athletes, the trouble is depending on what you read, you should be taking them anywhere between every 10 and 30 minutes after the first 5 or 6 miles of the run. Imagine downing a full jar of honey in the space of 20 miles, you get the picture. Im still debating bringing a packet of ‘randoms’ with me. One of my best training runs was completed on a packet of em.
So many questions, all will be answered this time next week. Iv had days where Iv spent over 9 hours on a bike and days where Iv spent over four hours racing in the course of a triathlon but this marathon is a different animal. Heres hoping I can tame it. whoop whoop.
‘Till next week