Target smashing

First things first. As of around 1pm on Thursday, I clicked over £1,000 on my JustGiving page. I’m quite frankly amazed at this. I originally had an idea that it would be quite cool to raise a nice round £500, with the Children’s Heart Association being such a small charity and all. Thanks to all you lot, that got smashed out the ground pretty quickly. Up to £750 it went, and that got swatted away too. And so I doubled the target from that initial £500, and you’ve all bloody gone smashed that too. One target after another has been demolished and now the amount raised has gone well into four figures. I am genuinely chuffed to bits, so thank you all.

I smashed another target as well this week. Admittedly one not self-imposed, but I received an email this week from RunKeeper with the simple words “You’re kind of a big deal…you’ve logged over 500 miles!”. Kind of a big deal – that sounds kind of nice. And plus, 500 miles is quite frankly a ridiculous number of miles to run, averaging out at about 100 miles a month since I began all this nonsense. Averaging I say, as this month I’ve run a scarcely believable 168.3, which is about the distance from my flat in South Manchester all the way to Cardiff.

I’ve had a couple of amazing training runs as well this week, no doubt down to my bouncy new running shoes, including probably one of the best ten mile runs I have ever done. Despite it being a very typical Manchester evening, with spells of light drizzle being interspersed with several torrential rainstorms of biblical proportions, I went out and did it, running the middle seven miles at tempo pace of around seven minutes per mile, including the fastest of the lot on the last mile at 6:54. And even better, I felt fine afterwards; hardly any fatigue, no aches or strains, and energy still to spare. OK, I was soaked to the bone but that’s part and parcel of training for a marathon while living in the North West of England. Today was good too, my last big Sunday run as the training begins to taper off over the next fortnight. A 13-mile effort which again seemed to go suspiciously well, with consistent pacing and a solid four miles at tempo pace all under seven minutes per mile. BOOM.

So I’m pretty sure I’ve got at least half the marathon covered. It’s just the second half I’m getting a bit worried about. Tunnels, hills, windy riverfronts. A total distance 6.2 miles further then I have ever run before in my life. And last Sunday’s 20-miler didn’t exactly fill me with confidence. Even with my new shoes, the fatigue carried over from Saturday’s eight-miler did actually have quite an effect, despite the fact that it had felt like it had hardly affected me at all when I posted last week. It became a bit of a struggle from around half distance, which I suppose is the equivalent of hitting mile 18 on the actual marathon, and I’ve had problems at around 17/18 miles before. It does seem that is the where Window Of Pain begins to be prised open. At that stage on Marathon Day, I will have been running for well over two hours and without looking after myself properly, the rest of the run is going to be a total bloody nightmare. I have no idea how it’s going to go, but not long now till I find out.

I also had a somewhat farcical incident during last Sunday’s run. Since I began training I’ve been using the RunKeeper app on my phone to track me as I’ve trotted all over the pathways of South Manchester and beyond, and it’s worked out brilliantly for the most part, providing me with distance covered, maps, some sort of calorie bollocks and most importantly, pace per mile. I often need to refer to it several times over the course of any run, and coming round Wythenshawe Park with a couple of miles to go, I went to check my pace and the zip fell off my pocket. Clean off. My phone was now stuck inside my shorts, and the only way to get it out was to stop on the side of the road and cut it out from the inside with my front door key, which was also trapped in there. It took around two minutes and everyone going past got a somewhat unexpected view of my chequered underpants. As I said, a farce. Not quite as farcical as the MEN’s decision to accompany an article on all the fundraising with photographs of me running around the grounds of the Manchester Royal Infirmary IN MY BLOODY WORK CLOTHES (and believe me, you will see the pictures when they go up), but it was a close run thing. You may think that it would have been easier to just leave my phone in my pocket and finish the run, and that’s one way of looking at it. But accurate pacing is probably the most important thing about distance running, and I am prone to messing it up a bit sometimes. Okay, most of the time. Even on this run, after months and months of training, I randomly chucked in a couple of miles that were nearly half a minute faster than I should have gone, which no doubt led to some of the late-run exhaustion. So I had to bust it out, right there on the roadside, showing all and sundry my undercrackers. A great morning’s work.

So, pacing then. My biggest challenge, I think. Sticking to my target pace is going to be the key to how it pans out on the day; too fast at the beginning and I’ll be on my hands and knees coming out the tunnel with another 13 miles still to run. Too slow, and I won’t hit my target time. And I do have a target in mind, but I think I will wait and see how it pans out before I let you know how close to it I got, or otherwise as the case may be. But I think the time I have in mind is achievable. And if I smash that anywhere near as comprehensively as I’ve smashed my fundraising targets, then I’ll be a very happy man indeed. I’ll settle for scraping it by a second or two though, and be just as happy. It’s my first marathon after all, and I have no idea really how my body will react to the extra 10k on top of my training runs, and all the hills and stuff. But, since you’ve all been so good to help me smash my fundraising targets, I suppose I’d better do my best to smash my running targets. And I’ve got less than two weeks until I have to actually do it.

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