I am 30 - wow. 30 years navigating this planet and still standing!
In fairness nothing has changed at all, apart from I've now moved up an age category at parkrun. It's been a fun long weekend celebrating back home with friends and family in Suffolk. Despite turning 30, Paddy will always be Coralie's #1 boy
As well as meals out, too many cups of tea to remember, I also played golf for the first time in almost a year and was actually surprisingly not completely terrible, losing by one point.
Coming back to Suffolk always helps calm me down as in London it can be easy to get caught in a cycle of work-training-sleep, plus the Heathrow flightpath! It reinforces how beautiful the east coast is (better than Norfolk).
This weekend we saw both sides of the marathon - from all the amazing, inspirational achievements from Brighton, like my friend Ian smashing another incredible sub 3:00 whilst juggling full-time work and family life, to the horrifying scenes from the Commonwealths where the medics and spectators shockingly left Callum Hawkins lying on the road unattended.
It just reminds you how tough marathon running is, and why such a small percentage of the population take on the challenge. You should always celebrate finishing safely and reflect positively on the journey.
Anyway, onto this week. It actually turned into a little training camp as I made the most of the extra recovery time and a big comfy bed :-)
I made a last minute decision to bring my bike to Suffolk, which was a massive ordeal! You can't take bikes on the tube (unless you are a Brompton rider) so it meant getting the mainline train to Waterloo, and then walking across London to Liverpool Street. At rush hour. With two bags. Ridiculously stressful but totally worth it!
I did a couple of long-ish rides around the Suffolk coastline, heading out early on Thursday and Sunday. However on both occasions, having made it to the seaside via Thorpeness, Aldeburgh and Orford, I got there and it was so misty, you could barely see the water!
One thing which is a bit concerning is I am really struggling with my bike nutrition/hydration, so am looking for some advice! Because I train at 6:00am in the mornings, I do all my running/cycling fasted, but it's proving tricking now the rides have increased to 4-5 hours long with even longer to come.
On Thursday's ride I ran out of my drinks halfway and didn't have any money on me, so I was gasping at the end. So today I planned accordingly and drank a bottle of Lucozade beforehand, and took an extra bottle of water with me, and that seemed to work as I ran out with less than 5 miles to go. But... ever since the ride I've had a headache all day, felt quite lightheaded, and haven't stopped eating or drinking - and I still feel hungry/thirsty.
I didn't eat before or during the 100km ride, so I'm assuming it's a nutrition issue? I'm not really sure what the answer is - I'm not keen on getting up at 4-5am to allow time to eat, and I also hate the taste of energy gels, so I'd welcome your suggestions on how to fuel correctly for early morning rides...
With one on eye on London next week, I cut back on my running, with just three runs in total. I got out for a longer run on Tuesday as it felt like the best way to start my 30s! My birthday treat was a run around Osterley Park in the rain listening to dodgy music. Dreamy!
After jogging on Friday before golf, on Saturday we headed out for a group jog at the new Felixstowe parkrun with Coralie's parents - taking me to 41 parkruns!
The event only started last week but already it seems to have captured the imaginations of the local community (these parkrun things tend to do that to people!) and then I added on some miles afterwards to make it my final pre-London long run.
After getting some good advice from a couple of super duper Ironman triathletes on Twitter, I've decided to run the day before the Lakesman, so my new plan is to do my 50th parkrun and the Ironman in the same weekend.
All that is left now is to look ahead to next Sunday, when I'll hopefully be tackling my third London Marathon, and 17th marathon in total. I've said it a few times, but London really is the best marathon in the world.
Having ran Tokyo, New York, Boston and Berlin, as well as big UK marathons like Manchester and Edinburgh, London is just the complete package. Tokyo is my favourite, but London offers the big crowds, fast course, stacked field, cheap entry fee, great bling and fantastic organisation and logistics.
London has been a mixed bag for me personally - over the past five years I've had two DNSs (dodgy calf and burst appendix), a total spectacular bonk at Tower Bridge, and conversely a huge negative split! The year in between was the year I ran Boston.
It's hard to say where this year will fit on that spectrum of calamity! Racing-wise, I have zero running form to speak of, but my overall training volume has increased this year as I've upped my cycling mileage. It's going to be strange approach such a major event without a race plan or pacing strategy, as I'm not 100% sure yet on what time to go for. But it should be fun without the pressure and expectation that comes with being in PB-shape.
Overall though it will be very special after all the injuries over the last two years since my last London, during which standing on the start line felt a really long way away.
Now I'm definitely not an expert, but my advice to anyone running their first London is:
- Try to stay out of trouble in the first 10 minutes. That may sound obvious, but amongst the thousands of runners it's really easy at London to get tripped, or run into a curb or bollard in the middle of the road so watch your foot placement especially when overtaking people.
- The first 5 miles are pretty much downhill, so make sure back-off (maybe even 10 seconds a mile slower that your target pace) and use this as your warm-up, rather than trying to bank time.
- Don't worry if your Garmin loses signal with the tunnels/bridges - instead use the clocks located at every mile marker to measure your pace.
- Enjoy the Embankment. Big Ben will be on the horizon and the crowds somehow get even bigger, so lap it up!
- Birds Cage Walk is deceptively long! On TV it goes super quick when you see Kipchoge storming, but in reality it's a bit of a drag. Keep pushing from Westminster Square to the Palace as it's easy to bleed time in the last half mile if you lose concentration.
- Go get your free food! Tons of restaurants offer anyone with a medal free grub, so tuck in!
This coming week is busy as I have a sports massage on Tuesday and I'm off to the Running Awards on Thursday with team parkrun, but I'm planning to scale back on the training and enjoy some carbs! The forecast looks super toasty, so it should be an interesting race.
Whether you are running, volunteering, spectating, watching on TV or completely ignoring the marathon because you are injured or hate running (we are no longer friends), I hope you enjoy your day, and this time next week we'll all be reflecting on a memorable experience.
See you on the other side. Tom.