Max’s Marathon WEEKS 7 & 8: Whoaah, we’re halfway there…*

(* Yes, those are the immortal words of Mr Jon Bon Jovi, which were playing in my vicinity ten years ago on the evening I found out my undergraduate degree result a day early by voicemail. It’s a long story…)

I am now over halfway through my training for the London Bloody Marathon. To accompany this milestone, I’ve made a video, which took so bloody long to upload it felt practically as arduous…

For those who are reading this squashed like a swatted fly against a train door and can’t watch the video, it’s basically a bit of My Story and a giant SPONSOR ME plea. SPONSOR ME.

Sooo….lalala, Weeks 7 and 8…

At the end of last week, Week 7, I was chin-scratching a bit about my progress. According to my training plan I was supposed to have done 10-12 miles on my longest run and I wasn’t even getting up to the lower end of that. Working from home can be more draining than you could ever believe. Some days this year I’ve felt as tired as I did when I got up at 6 every day and had arthritic pensioners on the Central Line offering me their seats. (How anyone with a huge commute ever manages to run a Marathon I can’t even begin to imagine…).   I was in Devon all last weekend with extended family for my aunt’s 70th (which was nice), leaving no time for my long run, so I had to do it early on the Friday morning instead (which wasn’t). My longest runs involve about half a mile of semi-rural road with no pavement – fine at the weekend, not so much on a Friday morning when every Hugo and Harry in Bucks is on them driving up to London from 4am onwards. Starting too slowly meant I’d barely managed 5K before getting to the point (usually 6-7K) where I had to slow down for traffic. I spent a solid five to ten minutes being forced into a plod by Volvos and brambles. I desperately glugged some Lucozade at 10K but I was pretty sure this was the slowest I’d ever run. “Start-slow-and-finish-fast” is all very well but “start-so-slow-you-might-as-well-not-have-bothered-until-10K” is pretty demoralising.

I chivvied myself that it was better to be running slowly at this point in training than injured or exhausted and that nigh-on erotic fantasies about going to bed at 9pm are just a sign I’m in my 30s and nothing else. Martin Yelling‘s Lunchtime Q&A comforted me. What matters is time on your feet, and a shonky run is invariably followed by a better one. Sure enough, my weekday runs in week 8 were pleasant. So far, contrary to worst fears, I’ve managed the interval runs (the ones where you vary the pace) without falling flat on my face, and even actually enjoyed them (for the first 5 reps out of 10, anyway….). Despite my dyspraxic shodditude at most sports at school. I was noted to be a fairly decent short-distance runner at one point – it’s nice to be reminded I can run fast for short bursts and not die.

For this fortnight’s shop (thank you Ocado, you lifesaver) I ordered a packet of a high-protein breakfast cereal from the makers of Weetabix. I was drawn in by the words “high protein” and didn’t see that they look like dog treats. Thankfully, they taste much nicer…

On Saturday morning I went to Time To Talk at St Martin-in-the-Fields church, an annual service of reflection for those affected by suicide, featuring readings, music and personal testimonies. I went to the inaugural event at the same time last year, still pretty raw from November 2014. I was there this time partly for obvious personal reasons and partly for less-obvious professional ones, of which, more another time. As arranged, I sat with M. from Grassroots, a Brighton-based suicide prevention training organisation. I met M. at last year’s event, during the post-service drinks reception in the crypt, where she very kindly rescued me when I was standing around on my own with no-one to talk to. We joked about it being our yearly meetup, and kept a lookout for anyone on their own who looked as though they needed someone. Do unto others, etc. I won’t say too much about it here because, considering it was yesterday, and I ran for two hours this morning (see below) , I’m pretty whacked. But you can read the guest blog I wrote for Grassroots after last year. The format was pretty similar this time apart from a couple of different speakers (Angela Samata who presented BBC1’s Life After Suicide, and Jonny Benjamin of the Find Mike campaign were there this year). As I had hoped, on a personal level, this year’s was slightly less harrowing. There were Moments, of course. There always are. Again, now is not the time…

Sunday’s long run was oh-so-much-better – no, unimaginably better – than last week’s. Thinking back to my half-Marathon training, I realised I needed to take energy drinks/gels slightly earlier on in the long runs so that my legs don’t go to sleep 30 seconds in and take an hour to wake up again. So, off I trotted with Lucozade and a Shot Blok (I’m alternating Shot Bloks and SIS gels the lovely @DuchessOChutney gave me for Christmas, which I keep calling “ISIS gels”…). Before I’d even taken either of them I realised that for some reason I was running faster than I had in a long time. And it was slightly killing me but somehow I didn’t want to stop. I ran my fastest 10K since last summer, even faster than I did it in the Half. Just after the exact 10K mark, having belted down the hills into Beaconsfield to Abba’s Eagle, now realising that – shit the bed – I had to run back up them home again, I stopped, still at the bottom of a hill, and cried out breathlessly “My God woman what have you done??!!”. Then I laughed because that sounds like what a man around there might breathlessly cry out to his secretary. (Maybe not on a Sunday morning unless he’s a real rat…).

I speed-walked the hills – you can’t not – but I’d run fast enough elsewhere for it not to dent my time too much. Ellie Goulding’s Army came on during one of the worst hilly segments. As usual,  I welled at “No-one fucks it up like us” and the big waily chorus “When I’m with you I’m standing with an army…”. I managed High Wycombe to Beaconsfield and back in 2 hours. Which, considering the hills, is pretty shiny. I came back not entirely sure I still had legs and a mite concerned about having to run that distance twice in two months’ time. But overall, dead pleased with myself and muchly reassured. An hour later I was looking at my training plan and realised, as it was written by a man, those mad distance targets on it were probably meant for blokes. OH MAXINE.

Next time I write this it will be MARCH. For anyone who went a couple of weeks ago or is considering going, I’m hoping to make it to the next Mental Health Mates on the 6th. Please come, it’s lovely!

I have a work-oriented mental-health related post to write, which I keep meaning to and not doing. But I will this week. Really…

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2 thoughts on “Max’s Marathon WEEKS 7 & 8: Whoaah, we’re halfway there…*

  1. I love the way you write about running; it’s very invigorating to read (though presumably not always to experience)! And yes, that “written by a man, so based on typical male bodies/achievements” thing is a killer; it applies to so many things we probably never even notice. But I have sometimes picked up on it with tools and things – as much as I’ve rolled my eyes at floral pattern toolkits, they basically exist because someone went, “Hey, maybe DIY would be more manageable if the tools actually fit my small hands!”

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