With just 4 days to go, it is all becoming very real, with marathon being mentioned everywhere, though fortunately in the weather forecast it was to say it was good conditions for the runners. Even prince Harry had been to the Expo.
I managed a decent crack at the Thames Towpath 10 miler; I couldn’t quite keep up the early pace in that tricky third quarter. I doubt we will see such a dusty towpath in April again, and given the sunshine, and my daughter’s birthday paintballing later that morning, I was grateful of the early start. There followed some shorter runs, scoping out Harrow on the Hill in the dark, a possible WCR training run. Over Easter a different canal (pictured), with more locks than I’m used to, and finally some unavoidable hills when visiting my mother over Easter. Even the facial hair is coming along nicely. With 740 miles in the bank since the start of the year at an averaging 45 miles a week, I have run over a marathon for each mile of the marathon on Sunday.
Today, nervous about making sure everything is in place for race day I went to pick up my number from the wrong side of town. I’d never been to a running Expo before and didn’t know quite what to expect. Opposite the entrance were rows of booths to pick up race numbers – presumably getting it out of the way first to make sure people don’t forget what they came for, and then oddly you pick up a the timing chip separately. Then there was a challenge to run on a rolling road 400m at elite marathon pace. I jogged down from Canning town to save some time, so I was all set in my running kit and up for a challenge. It was hard work, and tricky staying in the middle of the slightly spongy rolling road, but 70 seconds later an Abbot World Marathon Majors cap was mine. Slightly sweaty, next was the large Adidas merchandise area, reminiscent of the 2012 Olympic shop. I was confident enough of finishing the race to treat myself to shirt and running top. Then it was into the Expo proper with hundreds of stands for running products, charity stands and race promotions. My Eagles WCR top was noticed by a Runners World pacer from Les Croupiers, and I found another Eagles member who was very complimentary about how friendly the club was. On the main stage there were experts preaching race day tactics to the faithful. There was a goody bag similar to what you would normally receive at the end of a race to pick up if you flashed a race number. Then, finally there were the photo opportunities to support all the fundraisers. Apparently over £16 million had already been raised. It was all very different to picking up a number from a gazebo in a field.
I’ve managed to squeeze training runs in around family life, from early morning runs into work to running round Greenford in the dark while my daughter swims. I have even found late night pounding the pavements after carbo loading a stash of spuds uncomfortable, but tolerable. The long runs have generally been early on weekend mornings. But still there has been an impact, and this is probably the right time to thank everyone, in particular the mother-in-law who has been looking after the children when I head out for an evening run, for patiently indulging my slightly selfish personal challenge. It will all be over soon. Just one final long run left on Sunday.