In the middle of the night

I lost the sense of time, and when I went to sleep that night I wasn't thinking about the VLM ballot. There is indeed a seven-hour time difference between UK and Vietnam, where I was spending my honeymoon, and I falsely believed that the Eagles Christmas party would be on the following day. It happens, though, that the local beer is given away for less than one pound a pint... This meant that I had to wake up in the middle of the night, when nature called. Crawling back to the bed, the flashing light of the phone attracted my attention. A message from Sonja Knoll: "You won the ballot!". Then I fell asleep again.

Only in the morning I was able to fully grasp the news, and share it with Sara, my wife (while double checking the phone to verify that it wasn't just a dream). Oh yes, I am running the London Marathon! Excitement! A LOT of excitement!! And then doubts... It would be my first marathon. It is only four months away. And I spent the last ten days mainly eating, drinking, getting happily fatter and "unfitter". Well, the lifestyle didn't change much after that day, until the end of my holiday. At least, I made good use (a few times) of hotel treadmills, and I proudly came back to London without a ZERO on the last two weeks Strava mileage.

Not a zero, but not a large number either. After I came back, given the importance of the event, and that little pressure induced by fellow runners (Kieran has been quick to remark "The weight of the club is on your shoulders!" -- thanks Kieran! :DD), I felt the need to devise a sensible plan. It needs to bring me from the Christmas 20km per week, to marathon fitness on the 28th of April. Tight. However, before going to the details about my plans, let me explain why I entered the club ballot for the London Marathon.

Apart from the obvious answer (I want to run the VLM!), the main reason is that I was waiting for a "sign". Something that could give me the courage to step up and go for the full distance. After having raced on the most common distances, and having done a few half marathons, I felt the need for a new challenge. But, perhaps scared by the required training effort, I kept postponing the decision to go for it. So I said to myself: "Only if I enter the famous London Marathon -- one way or another -- I'll start training for the 42.2k" (BTW, I am a fan of the metric system, by I could consider switching to miles just to deal with smaller and less intimidating numbers). I could have been waiting for long. Instead, here we are, I received that sign...

The plan. I have 17 weeks. Most of the plans are at least 18 weeks long. Good start. Also, I am not ready to start any plan right away. Hence, this is what I will do:

- I'll spend January increasing the mileage from 20 to 55-60km per week. Mostly easy runs (max 140-145BPM. For those who likes details... My rest HR is 42 when well trained, max HR is 185, LT approx. 165). And a few real workouts (no more than once a week, either intervals or tempo).

- At the end of January, with 12 weeks left, I'll try to follow the Pfitzinge & Douglas training plan. In particular, the baby plan (12 weeks) of the baby plan (max 55 miles).

I am not 100% sure if this will be sufficient to get me there in good marathon fitness. But this is the best I can do with the time given. Fingers crossed!

I was forgetting. Of course you want to know what the target is. Let's be ambitious here: given the performance on shorter races, I could realistically shoot in the range 3:00-3:05, provided that proper marathon training is done. Since I don't have plenty of time, probably this target is a little optimistic. But I'll try in any case: I prefer crashing in trying, rather than being over conservative. Again: fingers crossed!!!    

Finally, I would like to wish good luck to Angela, Hayley and Carlo. But also to all the other brave Eagles that will be running a marathon this spring.

This is were it all began: the Liverpool promenade, where four years ago I did my very first runs...