The Road is Always Long

My journey through the world of ultra marathons.

Virgin London Marathon 2015 – Pre Race

It is now 5 sleeps to VLM and I feel quite nonplussed about it. I should be more eager to do well, salvage something from this first 6 months, but I don’t. And I can’t decide if this is an advantage or not. I am looking forward to the weekend. Any big city marathon has this atmosphere, it’s a aura of anticipation, you can feel peoples apprehensions, fears and excitement. New York especially. You can hear and see this in people’s language their movement and their manner. People have said it’s a buzz and that is exactly what it is like. It overrides the constant hum of the city, that perpetual drone of traffic, activity and industry. The ‘buzz’ drowns all that out, especially if you are a competitor. The ‘buzz’ seeps into you, engulfing and encompassing. The build up to the event helps this. Reminders are everywhere you go, television adverts for live coverage, social media, training plans, nutrition plans, tapering, even road closures and special travel arrangements. You can’t get away from it, it stokes the buzz fire, it fuels the buzz fire. I am hoping that this will engulf me when I get to the Big Smoke on Saturday.

So where am I with fitness? I think I am in better condition that I have been in a long time. Recovery from training sessions has reduced, surprising at my age. I know the reasons for this and I will go into it in another blog post. I know I am not in PB shape, so I have no expectations of running close to 2:30 (this time), but I think I should be able to run quicker than I did at Edinburgh last year (2:38:25). BUT, I can still feel fatigue in the legs from the G2E Ultra. It was just over two weeks ago, so what should I expect? Ian, a veteran of ultras, told me at Parkrun on Saturday, that he always feels the second week after an ultra is the worst in terms of fatigue. I have to believe him as I have no idea. The stress you put the body through must have a longer term impact on hormone levels, the adrenal gland and therefore the recovery. This might have been evident at the Parkrun. I had decided to run conservatively, push myself to half marathon effort, in terms of heart rate and it turned out to be 5:38 pace. This is good, but I couldn’t have sustained that for a half marathon and I am not sure how much faster I could have pushed, even though I was 16 beats per minute off my lab tested heart rate max. I am just too tired. Previously, where I have worn a HRM at Parkrun, the average HR for the 5K has been around 175, a full 10 beats per minute higher than Saturday’s effort. For me, 10 beats equates to around 25-30 seconds per mile. So, on that basis, I have to be pleased to think that I might be able to pull off a Parkrun, when fully rested, at around 5:08-5:13 per mile. This would seem reasonable considering the paces I have been hitting in my interval sessions prior to the G2E. A wee test may be in order once the marathon is out of the way and I have returned to a ‘normal’ level of fatigue, a level that cannot be adjusted further due to work commitments and 2 little people in the home!!!

From a race tactics perspective, there are a couple of trains of thought. I could go out at a fast pace, based on what I think I could be capable of if fully recovered, hold on for as long as possible and try to avoid a death march up The Mall. My self conscious being want’s to avoid the embarrassment of running past the Queen with saliva dripping from me, dragging my sorry back side past her house as hoards of runners pass me. On the flip side, this might not happen and I set off hard and maintain the pace or slow only slightly. The alternative is to start easier than I would want and pick up the pace as I go. This seems the sensible option, but what if I start too slow and end up with a lot to do in the last 10k? Fortunately, there are a group of lads I know running around the same expected pace as me, so I should go with them, hang on for as long as I can and hope that the fatigue, that I know is coming, doesn’t appear too soon.

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