Harry's VLM Blog 3 - 65 Days to Go!

Well, first I must apologise – it has been almost a month since my last blog. This is partly because I’m no Caitlin Moran - I struggle to think of anything to write that would be worth reading – and partly because I got out of the habit of taking a picture. I’ve been running 4 or 5 times a week, one of which will be hills or a track session and one a long run at the weekend, in total 40 to 45 miles a week. Overall it has a reasonable semblance to the plan, even if it differs in the details.

I’m still getting the odd twinge, like suddenly feeling a pain in the arch of my sole (plantar fasciitis?!), and then it goes, then I feel it again, but can’t remember if it is the same foot or not, and then it goes again. Sometimes when I wake up various joints are stiff and I shuffle down the stairs, but then that is no different to before I started marathon training. So all in all, fingers crossed, touch wood, the body is holding together.

To be fair there have been a few highlights. I’d given myself a 2 day taper for the Battersea 10k as it was club champs race, and was a just a few seconds off a PB. Chris Lambert mentioned our 17 mile long run, where I managed to navigate a new route by the railway past Chiswick and Barnes stations. A lost Irish lady joined us in the park, claiming she was not as fit as she used to be. Turned out she was 12th woman in the 1984 London marathon. The following week I ran with Kieran to the Burgess Parkrun. I hadn’t run the route through Hammersmith, Kensington and Victoria before. Kieran had highlighted the last part through Kennington in a post with “This is the bit where we might get lost!”, and indeed, an unintentional detour meant we approached the park at five past 9. Fortunately they were not as prompt as the Gunnersbury team, so looking forward to lift back courtesy of Paul, I set off a ridiculous pace on the flat course which my tired legs couldn’t maintain.

The following Tuesday Ben Cale had arranged a timed 5k down at Osterley track, which I decided my flexible plan could accommodate. Just as well, as Melissah had given up looking for the track and was heading home when I bumped into her on the way there. I found setting up the Garmin to beep the pace every kilometre helped keep track of the laps, and using others as pacers dragged me round to sprint finish and a big new PB. Perhaps all this training was doing me good.

Last weekend there was a big shout out for the last MET League cross country of the season at Ally Pally to try to overhaul Highgate C to the league 3 title, which was an excuse to add some mud to the hills in the training plan. I really enjoyed mixing it with Eagles who would have been out of sight ahead in the past, though I didn’t have much left in me for the third time up the muddy hill. A commemorative towel at the finish was an unexpected bonus. Cross country is a great way to get to know other Eagles over a post-race pint – get yourself a pair of spikes and join in.

This week the training plan needed to flex around half term and a couple of days off in Brighton with the family. Both my children picked up a vomiting bug, which has spoilt their holiday a bit, but gave me a free morning, so I took the opportunity to get a good long run in early with a 20 mile run around the canal with a diversion down to Osterley House. The towpath is generally in good nick, but the corner on the other side of Southall is a bit muddy and worth cutting off. Note also a stretch including the aqueduct over the North Circular - a favourite bit of mine on the run into work – is blocked off until March, though the detour isn’t too tricky via an underpass to the South. The picture for this blog is the three bridges North of Osterley, where the canal simultaneously goes over a railway and under a road, built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1859. Genius.