Thursday, May 03, 2012

My Milton Keynes marathon [1] - the final run up

Without any tease intended I thought I would break my marathon attempt into three sections, a beginning, a middle, and an end over three parts. So the beginning - the final run up to the start line... 

...after the last minute 5k treadmill test I rested and did my absolute best to eat normally. I had only just realised (okay, read online) that carb loading didn't mean eating vast amounts of carb rich foods, but means that the balance of your normal calorie intake should shift to include a greater percentage of carbs relative to protein and fats.

Other preparation was advanced, my race kit bag was packed at the beginning of the week because I was concerned that it might all turn into a bit of a rush after the 5k test. Truth be told I was nervous and the packing was an early manifestation of the worry I felt about running further than I ever have in my life. I had no feeling of where my fitness was even even with all the diligent cross-training sessions. Still, with a decision made I went about organising as much as I could and double / triple checked everything. The nerves growing all the time, as was noticed by my very patient wife.

Saturday saw another trip to the physio for race day strapping, this time applied with spray glue as an extra  measure! It was a very reassuring session as I also got some sage advice for race day, (1) run as if I expected to run all day (i.e. within myself to ensure completion and hopefully an injury free run), and (2) to keep cardiovascular effort within myself so that at no point I got so out of breath that I would struggle later on. Great words that I took to heart.

The fabulously crafted red map pin on this borrowed GoogleMap
the location of Milton Keynes in the U.K.
- taken from a Google Map search
From there we travelled on to Milton Keynes and found our hotel for the night. I had pre-booked the hotel weeks and weeks ago on a no-refund basis in part to ensure that I had still another reason not to back out... really it meant we were going there for a weekend break running or no running. We organised ourselves then headed out to the restaurant that I had already found on the web - part of a chain so that I knew exactly what to expect and thus what to order to set me up for the following morning.

The meal was great, they I wasn't really 'in the room' my head was at this point permanently elsewhere - somewhere across town where ever that start line was. Thankfully my wife understood this face well from our rowing days, both of us react in similar ways to an impending race. Which probably says we should get hold of a sports psychology book and read the chapter on 'quelling pre-race nerves' !! Afterwards we had to go on a safety pin hunt... this was the only thing I had overlooked in my long pre-race packing. In the end we found some in the First Aid Kit in the car (to be returned immediately after the race).

Back at the hotel I tried out my kit and my charity start area clothes, and looked nervously to see if the forecast storm had changed its mind (at this point already there were stiff winds, lashing rain and huge storm clouds overhead). We settled for the night, and to ignore the kids (sorry, kids) I put in some head phones to help chill me enough to sleep.

A similar Gruffalo lunchbox to the one that I received
as a kind gift from my wife and kids :-)
 - Image borrowed from the
Morning arrived, I had slept well (amazing), and we set about breakfast. I opened my Gruffalo lunchbox with it's pre-cooked toast, peanut butter, plastic knife and small thermos flask of apple juice and eat my regular pre-run fill. Looking out of the window my weather fears were realised, the foul weather was truly set in. I opted for long sleeved technical top (a favourite from rowing head races), my Lycra / cotton rowing shorts, and green running vest - figuring I was going to get wet whatever I wore while running so to go with functional and moderately thermal. Into the car we bundled and soon we were in the pre-race car park looking at the weather raging.

Me in my charity jacket, jumper and trousers
- there is running kit under there somewhere!
Happily the race was based around the Milton Keynes Dons football (aka. soccer) stadium so shelter wasn't far away. We got ourselves inside and got me ready to go run....

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