Saturday, 29 April 2017

RB Salzburg vs Ingolstadt

Just Jack and I for his football touranement week in Germany and an early flight from Gatwick to Berlin (meeting Rich and Greggy who have flown over from Sydney). Andreas the head coach of Berlin Viktoria was there to meet us before we headed for the 2 hour drive south west to Leipzig to watch the Bundesliga game between RB Leipzig (2nd in the league behind Bayern and hoping to cement a Champions league spot) and relegation destined Ingostadt.

Leipzig were nothing a few years ago before the Red Bull owner bought 4 clubs around the world: Leipzig, New York, Salzburg and in Brazil. Leipzig have been promoted in 4 consequetive years with the exception of one year and are now heading for the big prize. Today it did not happen for them with the game petering out 0-0. The crowds at German games though are always good and pretty sure is the best supported league globally. The Australian Lecce played for Ingolstadt but was woeful before coming off early on.

The stadium is impressive too. It was rebuilt in time for the 2006 World Cup but was built inside the old 120,000 stadium which was for the DDR Lokomotive Leipzig team. It's pretty cool as they have kept the original infrastructure. There are bridges you walk over to get into the new peice.

Susanna's son met us after the game - he is signed at RB Leipzig's youth academy. We visited it and it is impressive. He got signed from Berlin Viktoria to at the tender age of 13 which meant moving away from home. They live at the training complex (recently built by Red Bull for ~50m euros) and now 16 (born 2000) he has just signed for another three years. It's tough being away from Berlin, training twice a day and having to fit in the small matter of his school work - Leipzig pay for all academy players to attend a private school.

We got the van back with him and he was giving the goss on what it takes and the zero tolerance policy at the club. This means no messing around and eating literally NO crap. He gave us a load of free Red Bull but he is band from drinking it and refused all chocolate and sweet offers in the car.  Next week he is away in Duisburg for the German national u17 trials, perfect timing for his GCSEs the following week. Yikes.

I've said this before. Germany treats its younger generation with a lot more respect than in Anglo Saxon societies and therefore they behave better. It's actually not just football but German society as a whole.

Week after marathon

My birthday on Monday and felt fine in the morning but died after eating my lunch.

Jumped out of the office to meet J and boys in Bromley for burgers.

Tuesday through Wednesday it was busy at work and consumed everything I had. Took Jack to the Palace for the Tottenham game and after not taking our first half chances we were undone by the Christian Erickson wonder goal. That's ok, they had to work really hard to beat us. 3 points and we should be safe but more importantly we will go back to our rightful place above Stoke in the league. Timmy will be delighted. Tommy will be back in the Prem next year so the Mediocre will get back to its rightful place.

Thursday thought about the track session at 8pm but ditched.

Friday ran on the treadmill for 53 odd minutes for 13ish ks @@4s.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

London Marathon 2017 (2.46.42)

Not sure where to start; usual morning routine with Dad taking me to the start up in Blackheath. It's a short drive from my folks place. I always enjoy getting there early and soaking up the atmosphere. A pleasant morning and sat on the grass with my head phones on taking it all in.

Ticked off the selfie opportunity with our Gabby Logan (BBC sports presenter) and slowly started warming up for the 10am start.

The start was fine but the first ks were all buzzing up around 3.50 not the 3.45 min ks I had hoped to be running easy. Went through 5k smack on 19 minutes but the clocks on the roadside wee showing 20.15 (WTF?). The first time ever I recall that they had messed up the starts and had set off my Red start 1min+ behind everyone else. The guy running next to me could see me looking irritated at my watch and confirmed the stuff up. This was slightly odd as when the respective starts converge at around 6k we were mixing with people who were running 4+ minks.

Even before Greenwich the streets were lined 4 deep and then the Cutty Sark which was absolutely teeming with peeple and an amphitheatre of noise. Saw Ollie and Carol which was nice. Then I was getting flash backs of last year re my foot issue and where I had to repeatedly stop in a desperate measure to get some feeling back into my foot. Today in comparison, I was almost enjoying myself.

There were groups which I latched onto but I was getting frustrated with the inconsistent pace so just went but trying to preserve energy then at about 12k I spotted a woman ahead running very well with a high arm action thinking it looked impressive but then when I got nearer I thought wait I know this lady and low and behold it was Chrissie Wellington. I love this lady and have read her book and yes have already had a selfie with her roadside when with my bro watching Brad take out the time trial at the London 2012 Olympics. I thought to open up conversation but she looked like she was in the zone and after all I did not have my phone with me (for another selfie....). I ran with her for a k or 2 but then pushed on. Chrissie ran well to finish in 2.49 - she has ran quicker in her ironmans post the 3.8k swim and 180k ride!!!

The next look out was for my folks at 9 miles in Bermondsey. Dad had chosen that area as he thought it would be quiet. It was almost as noisy as at the Cutty Sark. It was again ridiculously busy and noisy so much so that I ran straight past them unawares of their screams. No bother I must have missed them I thought. Then we approached Tower Bridge and the half way marker. The last 2 years I have started to suffer here which is pathetic. Kept telling myself to get here feeling good which I was and crossed half way in just over 1.21.

Docklands was next up and is my least favourite part of the race. I always get so disorientated with all the switch backs and sharp bends and it seems to go on forever. Still busy I got to 30k and was still on track for 2.43 with my pace slowing to a 3.52 average. Even then I was still feeling pretty good and passing runners but slowly the energy just drained. No hitting the wall but just gradual. The last 12k were tough with the body just screaming at me to stop. At 32k I saw Shazza and friends which gave me a short boost as did seeing Daniel slightly earlier (cannot tell you how much it means to see a face you know when you are literally dying).  Post 35k I started to slow with folks going past me but similarly still going past others. The legs musculalrly though did not have it.

At 24 miles / Blackfriars I knew the family were waiting and so locked onto that. Mum, Dad, Mi and my #6 were all going nuts and veered across the road to high five them all. But with my brain scrambled I inadvertently missed little Ryder. He was still upset with me post race 'how did you miss ME dad?'. I had similar complaints from the other boys:

1. Jack annoyed that he had to rush from his footie game: 'So Dad I am only going to come after my football match if you don't stuff up like you did last year!'

2. Lucas, upset at having to see me twice: So 'Dad what's the point on seeing you twice? It's like going to the toilet, you only go once, there's no point a second time'.

Yeah thanks a lot boys. At 33ks I knew a 2.43 was not on and this is where I was mentally a little weak as should have focussed to get a 2.44 but just let it go.

I was so happy to finish albeit 3 minutes slower than I had hoped for.

Afterwards, we all congregated at the Golden Lion, a really nice pub on King Street close to the finish.  All the Bromley Park Run crew were there (Messi, Rory, the Selmans, and Brendan's extended Irish family).  I love his family; he has like 40 odd sisters and they are all super nice.  We bailed around 5 to get home to see the last 15 minutes of Palace beating Liverpool at Anfield for the third time in a row.

How everyone fared:

- Messi nobly stopped to help a runner in trouble - see pic below. He had paced Foxy three quarters round and knew he did not have the endurance with his focus being Berlin and his recent Half PB. Pretty cool thing what he did and it has gotten a lot of airtime (even the Washington Post) but has played second fiddle to the other 'help' story which featured heavily on the BBC website and the highlights show.  Both typified the spirit of the London Marathon.

- Foxy toughed it out to run 2.40 also 4 minutes slower than what he hoped for. Christ he can still run it for another 50 years at his age so he has half a century to go low 2.30.

- Brendan, also ran out of gas and finished 5 minutes over his goal - this was a consistent theme of the day.

- Special mention to running coach Mark Perkins who ran sub 3 for the first time.  I am stoked for him as well as Stephen Pond who also ran sub 3 for the first time (Mathew his son also ran super quick in the mini marathon). 

Have to say no excuses, conditions were pretty good but the legs did not have it today.

After thoughts:

1. Apparently, James Cracknell ran a low 2.43.  This is somewhat gutting for me as a similar build we always seem to finish close to one another.  In 2000 or 2006 (I forget which one) I ran across Tower Bridge with him and the last two years we have finished with almost identical times.  I looked him up today and there are photos of him looking lean and he definitely lost weight which I did not do. That has to change.

2. Special to run a couple of kms with Chrissie - it was my Paula moment.

3. Delighted I have raised c.7k to fund 2 or 3 new wheelchairs for disabled kids who want to be active with sport.

4. If I can stay healthy (and lose weight) will take momentum to Berlin.  It's only 18 odd weeks away.

5. Despite slightly disappointed with my time and notwithstanding the excruciating pain of that last 12k, it is always my favourite day of the year.  The sun always shines on this day and London is always covered in all its glory.

6. Gutted I did not get my medal from Kate - the boys saw her turn up in their RR.

7. How good is that Josh Griffiths story? - only in marathon running....

8. Cannot wait to go again next year.

Photos of the day:

 Selfie with Gabby:
 Selfie - I forgot the pride part.
 Dad's pic high-fiving Mi:


The Golden Lion:

 Messi and Daniel S:

 Brendan's 40 odd sisters:

 Josh Griffiths story:

 Picture of Messi far right going viral: