Decided to brave the trains again and walked to the Rugby train station. It was a lovely Spring morning and it was a bit of a novelty to go for a walk without my 3 year old attached to my leg. (We usually start off walking then she decides it’s too much like hard work and grabs my closest leg and demands to be carried. She’s found this to have the best effect when I’ve got a coffee in one hand and a handbag in the other and am unable to pry her off.) It was a completely uneventful walk and absolutely unpunctured by questions such as “Why isn’t Thomas a princess? Or “Why isn’t snow red?”
I’d learned from the last Bootcamp and had brought my coffee thermos with me this time. No more begging for coffee and regretful looks at the closed coffee shop door. Ha ha, Mr Starbucks. I’ve got THIS one covered!!
Nice uneventful journey to Birmingham New Street and I even managed to find the right station to get to the University station. Alright. I asked at the information desk. But I got to the platform under my own steam.
Got to the platform and there were only about 5 or 6 other people waiting for the train. A man caught my attention as he kept shuffling closer to me and kept staring at me. Not in a “I want to buy you some lovely caffeine way”, but in a “I want to push you in front of a train” way. Eek! I’ve got too much running to do in the next month to spend any time in hospital, thanks!
I ignored him and moved down the platform and put a couple of people in between us. He shuffled down and moved back in next to me. Ok. I ignored him and moved back down the other way again putting more people between us. Hopefully I was putting out “I’m too much trouble to stalk” signals. He shifted back down and stood behind me. What to do. No platform attendants around and what would I say? Someone’s looking at me? How to sound like an overwrought idiot.
With perfect timing, another girl walked onto the platform. I approached her and asked if she was going to the University station. I explained the situation and asked if we could sit together. She was fine with that so we sat together. Creepy Guy sat behind us – in an otherwise empty carriage – but didn’t approach us or try to interact in any other way. Phew! He appeared to be asleep when we got off the train and we were relieved to see the train leave. Thank you lovely German Girl for taking pity on me!
I was nice and early to the University. Café was still shut. Passing the Starbucks sign saying “We have a cup of coffee waiting for you inside” I resisted the urge to kick it over.
Had a good catch up with Steve Marathon Coach and we discussed the next few weeks in the schedule. The next 2 weeks are going to be the toughest yet … and then taper. I still can’t quite believe that there are only 4 weeks until Paris.
Said to Steve about this cold and chest infection and how I don’t feel it’s completely gone yet. Steve reassured me that although I had Silverstone half the next day, I shouldn’t let the result knock my confidence. The important race is Paris, not the half marathon beforehand. He’s absolutely right. I love to race and would turn a run for the ice cream van into a sprint-out with the 10 year old next door if it came down to it, but at the end of the day I’ve got to focus on Paris Marathon. There’ll be plenty of time for other races after Paris. He suggested just playing it by ear or running it at marathon pace if I wanted.
Steve also said we’ll have to see whether we can fit another parkrun into the schedule – hooray! There’s something nice and reassuring about parkruns. Lots of people who love to run just running in circles down the local park! And coffee and cake afterwards! Steve also mentioned that he ran over 10 miles of the Paris marathon with Knightrider (the Asics Target 26.2 sub-3 marathoner) last year … without a number and just for the heck of it! How cool is that!!
Had a catch up and physio session with Sarah Connors. She of the soft hands and pointy elbows. I got away lightly this time and Sarah said how nice it was to see someone without any niggles. She did however find some areas of tightness on my back which I hadn’t realised were there. However this time no elbows were required and I proudly demonstrated that I had been practising my bridges.
I told Sarah that I DID want to be a better runner but it was fear of The Elbow rather than anything else that had me doing my stretches every day! She recommended getting a sports massage every couple of weeks during the high mileage marathon weeks just so no niggles get the chance to get any worse. She also checked out my feet for me. Brave lady. I now officially have marathon runners feet. In other words, feet not fit for sandals and which may be relied on to shed toenails at every opportunity.
Had a chat to Victor who is the sports psychologist. Victor was lovely and gave us some good tips for the day before marathon just so it’s a stress-free as possible. Number 1: Set out your kit the night before and use a tick-list of necessary so you don’t forget to pack anything. Number 2: Rest the day before. Just stay off your feet and watch TV. Victor also does triathlons and uses a special method for warming up his wetsuit in the holding pen before the open water swims. However, he assured me he drinks lots of water beforehand so he doesn’t burn a hole in his wetsuit.
It was time to do the marathon pace session. We had been reassured that this was a nice easy session. Sounded good to us! A quick jog up and down a pretty canal path and then back to lunch. Nope. First we had to pretend to run up and down the canal path so photographs could be taken. Ady had a near miss into the canal but we managed to do it without any incidents and without any cyclist road-rage … so a win!
Marathon Coach Steve and Sam Murphy had marked out a mile on the canal path so we had a nice run up and back at marathon pace. They set us off at intervals so we could run at our own paces without feeling that we had to keep up with anyone else. It was such a gorgeous day to run – a proper spring morning with blue skies and the sun shining on the canal. It could have been the middle of anywhere and with the green banks and the gravel of the canal path underfoot it was lovely.
We got back to the start point full of the joys of Spring. And Sam Murphy promptly confiscated all our Garmins. What?! We were then told to run the same 2 miles at 5 seconds quicker than marathon pace. Without our Garmins.
We were all set off at intervals as before. Ady went off 15 seconds in front of me and I was told strictly by Steve Marathon Coach (who seems to have me all figured out) that I wasn’t to just follow Ady but I was to judge it for myself. Bother. There goes my nice easy run plan.
Set out and tried to judge it by my breathing. I’ve got into the (probably bad) habit of using my Garmin for every run (except the very muddy or obstacle races) and I soon realised just how bad I was at judging my pace. Even on the flat and relatively smooth canal path I went off far too quickly and next thing I know I was practically tripping over Ady who was doing his best to ignore my heavy breathing over his shoulder. He must have worked out it was me rather than an asthmatic mugger as he didn’t speed up. I had the quandary then of whether to trust my own pace judgement or Ady’s. Was he going to slow or me too fast?
Overtook him. One of us had to be wrong. I knew me better.
However, I had a moment of self-doubt when I caught up with Bacon Steve and Mel. Hmmmm. Well. I was set at my pace now. May as well carry on with it. At least I hadn’t fallen into the canal.
Got back and Marathon Coach Steve read out our times. Everyone had done really well which meant … yup. I’d gone off far too fast, carried away by the thought of people to chase and the thought of running around in the sunshine. It wasn’t too terrible though – I’d done 7:35 min/miles instead of 7:55 min/miles but it would still be enough to make the marathon a struggle if I’d tried to run it at that speed.
Sam Murphy told me that I was still hunching my shoulders when I was running. A good trick she suggested was to put my weight into my elbows and pretend I was pressing down on egg cups.
This session was a paced mile. On the straight sections of the track we were looking to do half marathon or 10k pace and on the curved sections we were to do marathon pace. So about 7:20 min/miles on the straight parts and 8 min/miles on the curved sections. Ady and I ran together on this part as we had virtually the same goals. Of course we got far too enthusiastic and finished the first lap at an average of a 7 min/mile. Whoops. We slowed down a bit and did the 2nd in avg 7:23 min/mile. A bit better. The 3rd in avg 7:28. Not too bad. The final one in avg 6:21 min/mile.
However, this was mainly down to Marathon Coach Steve telling us we could give it a bit of welly on the final straight so Ady and I had a sprint to the line. Yup. He got chicked.
We had some photos taken at the track where we ran a small section and then where we gathered around in a circle with our hands on each other’s shoulders and looked down into the camera. Apparently ‘Up The Nostrils’ shots are very Now. I apologise in advance for the bogies.
|Pic thanks to Katie at Runner's World!|
Back to the lecture theatre for lunch and then a shower and change. We all hung around afterwards, unwilling to go as this was IT. The last time we’d all be together before Paris. This was almost the end.
We took one last picture in front of the Sports Building in the sunshine, took a deep breath and headed away from the University and into the final weeks of training.