Marathon five is belatedly done! Today I completed the Taunton Marathon in sunny Somerset.
Monday I tested out my dodgy foot/calf with a little 5k around Felixstowe, which just so happened to coincide with Storm Katie - basically 40mph plus winds and a hailstorm.. I got out on my road bike on Tuesday as the sun was shining and headed towards the coast - living in Suffolk we are very lucky to have this on our doorstep. I took in Orford, Snape Maltings and Iken.
The rest of the week I stuck to the bike in the gym which meant I got through another book - this time "Crime" by Irvine Welsh, which was awesome! Whilst I am unable to run, I have been putting in 2-3 hours per day on the bike so I am definitely in good shape - It's frustrating, but I am not feeling sorry for myself. I just need to sort out my muscular issues and then I will be away.
Who else watched Natural Born Winners on BBC2 last Sunday night? Yep it looks incredible. Iwan Thomas, Gareth Thomas, James Toseland and Donovan Bailey (he was a disgrace) ran Man v Horse, where my challenge ends in June. You can re-watch the show on iPlayer here. I have run four of the six World Marathon Majors in London, Boston, Berlin and New York but I can honestly say I have never been this excited for a race!
Given my current injury issues, my PB hopes for the London Marathon in three weeks time look very unrealistic, so Man v Horse in June is now my priority race for 2016. If anyone would like a pacemaker in London, please just let me know and I would be happy to help you get your PB :-)
If you are running marathons in Manchester, Brighton, Boston or London, you are all probably now into your tapers. Even for experienced marathon runners a taper can be very difficult - all of a sudden you have stopped running as much and started eating more food and have more time on your hands. It is easy to panic and worry and force yourself out for an extra run or restrict your diet. Don't!
It is only naturally to worry, but resting and fuelling yourself for the big day is just as important as your training - it is far better to be undercooked than overcooked. You will not lost your fitness in a few days, so have faith in your training and try to relax. Rest is best! There are different strategies for tapering, especially the last week. Some people run often but at low intensity, whilst others will run rarely and stick to short fast runs. As I have now run eleven marathons in total, I have tried both strategies and prefer the second tactic.
Here is my taper plan from when I ran my PB in the Berlin Marathon last year:
- Friday - 10 miles @ 5:42 min/mile pace
- Saturday - 10 miles Easy
- Sunday - 9 miles Easy
- Monday - 6 miles Progressive (7:30 pace to 5:30 pace)
- Tuesday - Rest
- Wednesday - 2 miles Easy + 2 miles @ Marathon Pace + 2 miles Easy
- Thursday - 6 miles Easy
- Friday - Rest
- Saturday - 1 miles Easy + 0.5 miles @ Marathon Pace + 1 mile Easy
- Sunday - Berlin Marathon - 2:34:11 and a negative split (race stats here)
On Friday we started the road trip down to Taunton - a long way west for two Suffolk east coast natives. Taunton was pretty chilled with not too much going. Saturday was spent in Bristol catching up with some of my girlfriend's friends and a little bit of present buying. Just FYI parking in Bristol costs £16 for four hours - an absolute joke.
Right on to the marathon - since winning the Cambridge Boundary Run marathon on March 6th I have only run twice and only 7 miles in total. Not exactly ideal prep for three marathons in four weeks.. My last marathon ended after 0.4 miles at the Thames Meander Marathon so today was my second attempt at my fifth marathon of my ten marathon challenge.
With the lack of running training, and with the Manchester marathon coming up next Sunday I decided to literally jog round today in Taunton at 8:45 ish min/mile pace and get this one safely ticked off without doing any further damage. The course was two laps of 13.1 miles, starting in the town and heading out through the countryside. It was described as "Undulating" which as all runners know, means ridiculously hilly!
After my usual bagel and Eat Natural bar for breakfast, I spent the rest of the time on YouTube looking at how to tape a foot & calf with KT-Tape. After some cringeworthy videos of Americans seductively putting tape on each (basically touching each other up). After twenty minutes or so watching the soft porn I gave up and just decided to mummify my leg. This was the result..
I sensibly stuck myself at the back of the starting area to take away the temptation to go off like a lunatic. With a couple of wee breaks I plodded my way round to halfway in 1:52. Everything felt okay so I decided to up the pace a little bit. My calf then tightened up at around mile 23, and there was a big hill (of course) over the next mile or so, so I carefully made my way back to the finish.
I crossed the line in 3:31 which I certainly would have taken had someone offered it to me before the start. My girlfriend Coralie was an absolute hero, sticking around for the whole build-up and race. She then bought me both a post-race massage and a white hot chocolate (with marshmallows AND whipped cream). I am the biggest white chocolate whore so it was the best present ever!
We are running the Manchester marathon together next week so it will be my turn to return the favour as her pacemaker. It is also my birthday next Sunday, so I am expecting to receive presents from you all in the post. I am just kidding - money in a card is fine..
Today's marathon means I am now halfway through my challenge - it started with a bang with four consecutive wins and sub 2:51s, then crashed and burned with a DNF but is sort of back on track now. My remaining marathons are Manchester, London, Richmond Park and Edinburgh, with number 10 at Man v Horse in June.
Thanks for all your support and donations so far. I hope you have enjoyed reading about my calamity filled existence. There are 69 days left until this is all over!
I am running ten marathons to raise money for Beat, the UK's leading eating disorder charity. You can follow me on Twitter here, on Instagram here, or on Facebook here. You can also sponsor me via my Justgiving page here. Thank you!