Yesterday marked the most important date in the UK running calender. 36,000 runners descended on our city from all over the world to run the London marathon, taking in the quiet streets around Greenwich and Bermondsey before coming back into the centre of town for an epic finish down Embankment past 10,000's of cheering fans and loved ones into the Mall for the finishing line.
Whenever people find out that I run marathons they always ask me 'oh really have you run London?' My answer is still no. Four failed ballot attempts I mean WTF do I have to do to get into my local race? Honestly every year I fill out my form for the lottery draw I KNOW Im not going to get in. In the last 4 years Ive run 44 official marathons or ultras in Washington DC, Texas, Virginia, Amsterdam, Western China, Northern Chile, North Africa and even in Antarctica and yet still, I don't get to run my hometown course.
Instead I got up at 7am and drive 2 hours to run the Shakespeare marathon in the picturesque town of Stratford Upon Avon & I had a wonderful day. I parked up about 5 minutes from the startline, was a bit late so got to warm up by jogging 1.3 miles to the finish line and registration tent to pick up my race number which I had had sent to the wrong address and then back to the start. We all took off and I decided immediately I wasnt going to go on another 3 hour busting run. I cruised around the first 13 miles and loved every minute. Nobody passed me as id started right at the back after being caught short in the portapotty as the gun went off. In fact my gun time was 2 minutes slower than my chip time as it took me that long to finish up and get through the actual start. I went through halfway in 1 35. The sun was out but not too hot, I drank lots and ate a bit and it felt like id been running for about 5 minutes. Second lap all the half marathoners disappeared and I carried on at the same pace and felt so good. Through the quiet villages there were kids with super soakers drenching hot runners and others running around alongside high fiving and cheering. Being near the front kids are used to guys hammering past without glancing at them so they always look suprised when someone comes past who actually wants to be chased with a water pistol. In the end I was genuinely disapointed it was over. I finished in 3 12 and I felt like I could have carried 7 minute 20 mile pace through for ever.
For years and years I have run races and always waited to see how long it would take for my legs to hurt. Normally at 20 miles I can feel them aching. Yesterday there was no stiffness, no soreness, no pain, just easy fluid cruising. It gives me great hope that if I can start to build on this and take that feeling on to another 50 miles by slowing it down enough, I may just be able to get through at least half of Badwater without feeling like my legs are going to die. I will have enough to worry about with hydration and nutrition without wondering whether I can actually go for 135 miles in one hit.
From here its about massive mileage. After this weekends big three day cycle from Lands End to somewhere around Birmingham I will park the bike in the shed and start upping my weekly mileage to 100 plus. I genuinely can't wait its going to be an incredible journey.
When I broke 3 hours at Washington a few weeks ago i actually QUALIFIED for London next year. I intend not to waste that opportunity....
Saturday, 3 April 2010
This year the aim is to knock off Badwater and UTMB from the running Bucket List (see link right). Next year its all about 100 milers. By the end of the year however it will hopefully be clear which 100s will be run in the UK. At the moment we're limited to Caesars Camp 100 , Cotswold 100 , Lakeland 100 and the Heart of Scotland 100 . Of these the Lakeland 100 is one on the list. The heritage, terrain, natural environment, size and quality of the 100s in the States are way more appealing, so here goes for the potentials in 2011:
Old Dominion 100
Western States 100
Angeles Crest 100
Wasatch Front 100
Javelina Jundred 100
WS, Vermont, Leadville and WF make up the Grand Slam . Add Angeles Crest in the middle of Leadville and Wasatch plus Old Dominion to complete the series known as 'The Last Great Race' .
That just leaves in 2012: Hardrock 100 WILD AND TOUGH. Id do it next year (if I got through the lottery) but its the same weekend as Vermont plus I need to finish Bwater or UTMB to qualify.
Footnote: I found an online copy of 100 mile profiles under comparison the other day on Stan Jensens awesome website www.run100s.com. This reference Ultra Running Magazine 1988 but gives a great visual comparison of some of the bigger 100s vs Boston Marathon for example. Its kind of hard to read here but the distance and miles 0 - 100 is along the bottom. Altitude in feet is along the y axis. Boston is bottom left barely visible (heartbreak hill is the tiny kink towards the end), Old Dominion and Leadville are similar in terms of gains and losses but start at very different altitudes. Western States has the huge downhill pitch after the initial climb up Squaw. Angeles Crest and Wasatch are just extreme. Hardrock would not fit on here, its upper limit at Handies Peak after a 5000ft climb tops out at over 14,000ft: