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Wednesday, 24 July 2013 20:37

'Ard April

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So, what happened in April I hear you cry, I have very good hearing you know. Well as I recall I only did two marathons in April.

The first one was at Blackpool, starting at the football stadium and onto the promenade for a 13 mile down and back that had to be negotiated twice. I like Blackpool for running as this is the marathon that I ran my personal best at many, many years ago back in 2003, although the route is slightly different now. The course is very flat and lends itself to fast times in the right conditions. However, this year I was suffering from man flu, or a mild form of it anyway, so coughing and spluttering and dispensing all sorts of mucus type substances in to tissues I rocked up at the start with the idea of taking it easy. I was pleased to see a number of runners who would be participating in the 10 in 10 plus a few from previous years, and was at pains to make sure they knew I was ill, I am a man after all!!! I took the first 8 – 10 miles very slowly, jogging along chatting to various people and enjoying the lovely weather that had suddenly appeared.

Once past the 10 mile point I realised that I was actually feeling reasonably good and that I seemed to have cleared out my nasal cavaties. Perhaps the man flu wasn’t as bad as expected, Trudi was right after all. It was at this point that I decided to put the hammer down and get a move on, and what followed was one of the fastest half marathons that I have ever run. I can’t remember the exact time splits but it was something like an 11 minute negative split for the second half. I was amazed with how I had run the second half and thouroughly enjoyed it. This however, is not the recommended way to run a marathon and it must be said my legs ached a touch afterwards. When I got back home I was straight into the walk in fridge where I have a large tub of ice cold water to stand in and aid recovery. Bit chilly but it does the trick. My legs felt as good as new the next day.

At the end of April I was up at the crack of dawn to travel to Manchester for a wee nimble around the streets of the city. After Blackpool’s amazing negative split I was feeling confident about going for a seasonal best on another flat course that would lend itself to some fast times. After paying a tenner to park at the Old Trafford (how much) I prepared myself for the start, go to the loo, eat a banana, eat some malt loaf, drink some fluid, go to the loo, again, line up for the start. I set of well and felt I was running within myself for once and under my target for the day. I knew I was doing well as I was hurting early on, not the tired aching type of hurt in the legs but the stretched but cheek muscle hurt which screams at you to slow down. Unfortunately you've just got to ignore it and keep on going, after all you get used to it eventually or something else starts hurting more.

By 10 miles something else was hurting more,I knew that I had a blister that was making my foot go numb but I knew that stopping and looking at it was not going to make it any better, so I just carried on. At least the pain of the blister took my mind of my legs. As this was a major city marathon there were pace makers for those runners who needed help in pacing their run to achieve a certain time. I was aiming for a sub 3.30 hr and went passed the pace maker for that time at about the half-way point slightly worried that I might be overcooking it, but feeling good I continued at the pace feeling confident that I could keep the pace up. All went to plan until the last mile when all of a sudden, I started to cramp up really badly in both calf’s. I had been drinking plenty of fluids so put it down to the fact that my legs were gone, a highly techinical phrase meaning knackered, devoid of energy.With the finishing line within my grasp I opened up the hurt box, dug into the reserves of will power and determination and forced my legs to carry on and surprisingly the pain went but I knew that I was struggling to keep the pace going.

Fortunately, I only had less than a mile to run and managed to hold on to the finish. I ended up 3.30 minutes ahead of my target, and recorded my seasonal best for the year. All in all a good day out and another jump in my ice bath to sort the legs out. 

Oh by the way, the blister turned out to be bigger than a 50p, the biggest I have had for ages. I don't know what caused it as I never run long distances in anything that has not been tried and tested in training. Haven't had one since so just put it down to bad luck. Unfortunately I had to have a couple of days off the running as I could hardly walk on the left foot until it healed up a bit. Still managed to swim and bike though!!

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