Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Berlin Marathon: Weeks 10 & 11 - Long Running Back in London

East Acton has never looked worse. After two weeks in California, the walk to and from and the tube has become more miserable than ever. I've spent my running hours over the last fortnight plotting my escape. A move west to somewhere nice on the river, more time in Norfolk, Christmas in Lanzarote. None of it will happen, of course, but it dulls the pain of motorbikes trying to break the land speed record when the lights go green at Savoy Circus, speeding left-turners careering through red lights at the pedestrian crossing on the Westway and Romanian squeegee abusers turning the central reservation of the A40 into a raft of empty plastic water bottles.

We got back after the overnight flight from San Francisco on Sunday, August 9. We cabbed it home and I dozed through the first Super Sunday of the season before heading out on my longest run yet - a fifteen mile loop via Kew Bridge and Putney Bridge. It felt good at a pace of 8:24 despite the jet laggy leginess.

Monday's rest day was boosted by City's 3-0 win at WBA and the rest of the week passed in a flurry of 40 mins, five miles, 60 mins and a Friday personal training session on the TRX ropes focusing on upper body strength. The DOMS from this one didn't kick in fully until Monday morning when I could barely lift my right bicep. Honest pain. We even managed to sneak in a welcome-home midweek family feast at the Monkey Temple with Cath and Andy.

It was a trip to Manchester for City v Chelsea on Sunday so I had to do my next long run on Saturday. Sixteen miles on the same loop as last time but this time starting and finishing from the gym. This one fizzed by in the sunshine. It was eight miles by the time I looked at my watch for the first time and I hit the jacuzzi after 2:11:59 at 8:14. I still think that's a bit fast for the marathon - PT Yasmine thinks I should be aiming for 9 mins per mile to go under four hours but that feels slow.

The City match was a welcome break after the first week back in the office. The 3-0 win helped but so did the bus ride home to see mum and dad plus a couple of pints with Mark in Oddest, a couple more with Vince at the ground and a couple more of Hyde's Manchester Star on the train home. I eased the guilty conscience with a quick sprint from the Etihad to Piccadilly Station at full time, comfortably making the 6.35pm rattler.

Another routine week of 40 mins, five miles, 50 mins and a PT involving kettlebells and polar bear push-ups was broken up with an unexpected bonus trip to the Oval on Thursday for the first day of the fifth Ashes Test. England had won the series and it showed. It turned into the slowest scoring, least wicket-falling day of the series. Old school 1976. The day may have been overcast but the ticket was free, the company good and the Marston's New World IPA flowed much more freely than it does in the office.

The week climaxed with yet another longest run yet - 17 miles.

This was the same loop as last week but extended with a trip into Wandsworth Park and back. I deliberately slowed the pace this time - 8:34 for 2:26:09. It was a straightforward, niggle-free run but as I was dripping wet and drinking a protein shake in the gym changing room it was difficult to envisage keeping that up for another nine miles and 90 minutes. That still seems a daunting distance.

I celebrated by watching City beat Everton 2-0 on the TV followed by a Sunday evening feast at the Monkey Temple with Deborah while her mum and dad kept the kids company.

So with under five weeks to go I was up at at 6.30am this morning after yesterday's rest day for another steady 10k along the Thames before work. The body's holding up well but I can sense the challenge is about to become more psychological. Better that than a physical injury at this stage, though.

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