Today is the 13th January 2018 and in 22 weeks I will stick my wee size 8.5s on the start line of, arguably, the world’s biggest and, to some, best ultra marathon. ‘The Comrades’ this year starts in Pietermaritzburg and proceeds up and down and up and down and down and down again to Durban, some circa 90kms away. When I think about it, I get a knot in my stomach, like I did just before I got married, or when my kids were born. Excitement is not a strong enough word, my anticipation of this race makes me wobble at the knees, which reminds me that I will need to do a lot of work in that area in the next 5 months if my quads are to handle the last, generally, down 40km of the race. Yes, it’s a “down” year which means there is a net downhill to the race course. It’s alternated each year with the “up” race which runs in the opposite direction. You avid ultra runners already know this stuff, right?
I mentioned strength work there, I have joined my new client’s gym and attempted to get back into some gym work last Tuesday. Just some simple sumo squats with 35kg and pistol squats on the TRX machine. I was in the gym anyway doing my daily mobility work and thought no time like the present. Muscles will be stiff for a day or two at the most and I would crack on next week with it. I was still struggling to get up and down stairs this morning, 4, FOUR, days later. I am so old.
So, anyway, this is part one of the journey to Durban. I am on a train somewhere between Penrith and Lancaster as I type this. I wasn’t going to bother to blog about this, but I am unable to watch my Netflix downloads in the quiet coach without my earphones. I do have my earphones, but no jack plug adaptor for these new bloody iPhone ear pieces. Apple, as standard, give you a female jack socket so that you can plug your fancy Dr Dre ear pieces into the iPhone, but don’t give you male adaptor for the Lightening connector so that you can use your Apple phones with other equipment. You need to buy that of course! This along with trying to keep my mind off the really obese guy behind me having to use my headrest every time he gets and up and down (which is about every 10 minutes at the moment). I was almost having a wee nap when my head was pulled back gently and catapulted forward at supersonic speeds as obese guy needed to drain the main vain……again! There is a lot to be said for first class, but this wasn’t special enough to warrant the additional 200 quid.
“Where are you going?” Oh, yeah: I am heading to Gloucester. Tomorrow is the rescheduled Gloucester half marathon, marathon and 50km. Comrades has a qualification window regardless of who you are or what you’ve done in the past (I am sure this doesn’t apply to the Elite field). Each runner is required to run at least a marathon between August 2017 and May 2018 for the 2018 race. Seeding is based on the time you run on the given distance you choose for qualification. There are a number of distances that can be used, marathon, 50k, 100k, 100 miles etc. I have picked the marathon, and picked one early enough in the year so that it is out of the way and I can get back to training on Monday. I would have gone for one late last year, but I actually don’t think I would have been in shape to run under 3 hours for the marathon. Let me just say that at 45 year old, lost fitness (due to long term injury) takes an awful long time to come back. A hell of a lot longer than I remember in my 30’s. I’ve managed to train regularly since June last year and have been getting help with my training (#teampyllon) since August and I think I am now, just, in the right shape to run a sub 3 marathon. It shouldn’t pose too much of an issue. It won’t be easy peasy, but it should be comfortable. I wouldn’t normally toe the line in this current shape for a marathon but I think Paul has me in the right condition to get that qualification time. There will be no heroics, this is just a train journey down, 2:59, then train back home. That sub 3 will give me entry into the top tier on the Comrades start line – that is the only goal for tomorrow.