Wednesday, 18 October 2017

What Ive been up to

3 weeks have passed since the marathon and the hammies were tight for 2 of them making me think that I may have to pass on the Kenya marathon jog thingy.

The bike commute in the last week though has helped and this last week have managed a few light runs.

Work has been busy and trying to rebalance home life after all the selfishness over the last few months.  I still think Berlin was an opportunity missed. I really should have ran under 2.40. It will have to wait.

The highlight over the last few weeks was taking Tommy to see Loyle Carner with old school friends G-man and JJ. That was really cool and he put on quite a show at the Brixton Academy. The funny thing was that Tommy got pulled out by his Rasta Maths teacher the following week who asked him (in class) where he was on Friday night? Tommy replied ‘with my old man and his mates’ - his maths teacher having seen him there!

‘I ain’t got no Ps coz I spent all my money on some old CDs....’

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Morning after

Groggy for flight back to London - thanks to EasyJet for losing my bag.

Berlin Marathon 2017 (2.42.14)

I was wide awake at 3.45 am and with the adrenaline pumping knew there was no way I was going back to sleep so just got out of bed and started the prep.

Did the usual routine of strong coffee, rolled oats, salt tablets and the array of other quirks. J got up too to lend some moral support (her family credit is so far ahead of mine right now it's not even funny).

By 6.30 I was out the door down to Adenauer Strasse to take the U Bahn to Berlin Hauptbahnhof. This was a change of plan after meeting a nice German family from Bremen with the dad, a 20 year Berlin marathoner, telling me to skip Potsdamer Platz and go with him as the walk is a lot less.  This was particularly appealing as it was still raining at that stage. On that the forecast was for the rain to clear up but even on the start line it was still drizzling.

In the rain I attempted a warm up and made sure to loosen the shoulders as much as possible to nullify some of the persisting rib pain which ended up being ok. The rain made it tricky to change into the Zoom Vaporflys trying to keep my socks dry. I needn't have bothered though as after 5 mins out on the course they were already soaked through. 

They forced us to put the bags into the lorrys early and then it seemed like an eternity before we were off. I literally saw no one I knew until waiting to go into the A area and bumped into Timmy giving him a massive hug and then joined by Neil Pearson and Mikey Leichart. It was great seeing Timmy and gave the nerves some welcome restbite. It was only after having been funnelled through to the A start area did I finally bump into Messi, imploring him to join me a few rows nearer the front.

9.15 and we were off. I reckon you know a lot about your run within the first 2ks. Thankfully the ks seemed super easy, comfortably under 3.45 despite loads of people flying past me up the road. The first water station came but ditched as figured I have over drank in previous marathons and did not want to fall into the same trap. 

At 6k though it already started to go wrong. My shoes were now saturated and were making my feet heavy but 'bloody hell' out of nowhere I started to lose feeling in my right foot. I had exactly the same in London 2016 which ruined my race.

It is totally left-field and started fcuking with my head. Rather than being able to enjoy the occasion and build into the run I was already stressing. 

Saw Tommy H on the road first (I think around 7k) folllowed by my aunty, uncle, cousin Nils, Katja and the girls. I knew beforehand that my 5 and my mum and dad would be at the 11k marker and so this was the next milestone. By this time though I could barely feel my right foot. 

I made sure to high-five Ryder this time but gestured to my dad that the right foot was playing up again. I was not happy. This time though I just about managed to keep some feeling in the toes but had to keep banging my right foot into the ground to try and trigger some feeling back. It was anything but efficient.  

At 16k it was better (almost manageable) and at that point I probably had one of my few race highs as the ks were still easily ticking along nicely at 3.45 pace and feeling relieved that the foot did not deteriorate into the farce of London 2016 when it stayed throughout the entire race demolishing my right calf.

Then in a heartbeat it turned ugly again. 'Wait is that my hamstrings playing up? Surely NO!'

How the hell can that be? Trained the house down with absolutely no hammy issues to speak of and here I am on marathon day post taper and hammies are tightening at bloody 18k!  I knew then the last 24k were going to be a total slog fest. So much for easing through to 34k when the race starts in earnest and throwing down the hammer for the last 8.

Crossed half way in 1.19.35 ish and that was also another downer as in my head I thought the Garmin 3.45 average should have delivered me to half way in 1.18.xx, i.e. some wiggle room for an attempt at sub 2.40. 

I probably let this get to me and then as the groups started forming I began to let them go including 2 women who were absolutely flying. I would have dearly loved to attach myself to them and as I always say, the elite women are by far the best pace makers at that level.

It got blurry from then onwards. It was a constant battle and a throw up between continuing at 3.45 risking the hammies pulling and stepping off the road or going into defensive mode and ensuring I finished. The question I always ask myself is, how will you feel if you pull over? 'Absolutely shit' was the answer and would have put a huge dampener on the whole weekend. So I opted for defence.

I have no idea why the hammies started tightening - there was an initial dull thud which then got progressively worse esepecially when lengthening my stride. Possibly it was the Nike 4%s. At the finish I always start talking to everyone and anyone around me (deliriously happy to have finished) and so picked on this one guy who was wearing the same shoes as me and asked him what he thought. 

His response was spookily the same symptoms as mine: loss of feeling in the right foot around 7k, hammies playing up and sole totally saturated. He was fuming. He thought the right foot thing was down to the chip but I countered that by saying that my chip was on the unaffected left foot. He then went on about how the protective white area of the foam sole was already coming off after only 70 odd ks of running, exactly the same as mine.  I also had concerns about the sole particularly as the road was soaking wet with puddles everywhere. So here it is, my resounding recommendation for everyone to stay well clear of the Nike Zoom Vaporfly 4%s.

Back to the race, reckon I saw Tommy H another two times out on the course and every time I barely mustered a smile whilst he was screaming enthusiastic encouragement.  Pretty sure I saw my uncle and aunty three times too and then my family 4 times so in that respect I was totally spoilt. It definitely helps having loved ones out on the road. 

Between 21 and 30k I averaged high 3.40s so not slowing too much and consistent with my plan of 3.45s for the first half and 3.50s for the second. Then it was a case of homing in on the next milestone. 

I have no idea why but I decided that it would be 37k, leaving only a 5k park run which you can do in your sleep Sammy!  Christ though the hammies were beginning to pinch and stopped me from running freely.  I gulped down 2 salt tablets to ward off more cramp but in actual fact I think it was the bananas offered out on the course that saw me through. They were giving out halfs at a time and scoffed 3 of them in one go which was a mini test in itself.

Got to 37k having now basically suffered the entire way instead of the intended 34k race starting point. I was done in. Completely fcuked and could not wait for the ordeal to be over. At that stage with all the rain my number had completely come off so ended up running with it in my hand.  Yet another annoyance.

I remember going past the Gedaechtnis Kirche near the Zoo (where we had been the day before) and remember thinking this is absolute agony and then finally I got sight of the Brandenburger Tor. Have to say it felt hugely iconic running underneath and just before that I saw the family again road side who by now were screaming wildly as loud as can be and then Dirk, Claudia, Nils and Katja directly on the other side. This was only the second high of the entire race.

With the clock now in sight and still on 2.41, I considered briefly charging for it but let it go to finish in 2.42.14.

All up I am happy but I definitely left 2 minutes on the road. I lost 10-15 seconds per k for the last 6ks and that cost me a 2.40/41. With all the training I genuinely thought I was worth a crack at a sub 2.40 but today was all about character. Fcuk the training, that last 6k is all about mental toughness and have to be happy with putting in a shift and getting an overall performance. I do also think the humidity played a part and it was especially high today and the amount of water on the road surface was definitely a hinderance. I reckon that took 1 minute away. The article below summed up the conditions. It's frustrating as one of the nice gentleman post race (a 20 year veteran of Berlin) said that it's literally 1 in every 10 years that the weather is not ideal.

After London in April I said I had to change three things:

1. lose weight - which I did but I did not see any other +80kg runners out there. Reckon I was 79 on race day or may be still 80 - way too much of a handicap. I reckon too that the marathon should have weight categories and should scrap the age group nonsense! 

2. Improve leg strength - which I did but can be better.

3. Do longer and more Medium Long Runs (MLRs) - again which I did.

A tale tale sign for me is how many people are passing you on that final 8k. I reckon on balance it was an equal 50% going passed me and me passing the other 50%.

Post race I had nice chats with all the fellow runners before meeting my mum and dad and my #5. Everyone was pumped despite having to stand out in the rain all morning. Our Tommy A #13 was sick as a dog too.

I have 2 massive thank yous to make. Firstly to my wife for putting up with me (according to her running makes me officially boring) and secondly to Messi. There is no was I would have or could have gotten to where I am without them. 

There were some stella performances out there today but the stand out was Darren who ran a negative split to finish in 2.43. A massive PB. Erika also ran fantastically well to hit 2.58 and as she said left everything on the road. Jeet had a tough day but this happens in marathon running. I have had my fair share of horror shows. It will make him stronger. Messi is naturally despondent in not hitting sub 2.35 but again I don't think conditions were condusive. 2.37 is still spectacular and he himself said it is a PB. London mate Simon Dahdi also ran an impressive first marathon in 3.10 having only trained for 5 weeks.

I don't know Criniti well (have only met him a couple of times at Sydney Striders) but holy shit he went and ran 2.17 to qualify for the Commonwealth Games beating Benny St Lawrence the 10,000 London Olympic Games finalist in the process.

Post a quick shower I headed out to meet Messi and Simon at Alexander Platz for the Oktoberfest where we tucked into 0.5 litre Hefeweizens and bratwurst. I was already slurring my words after one. It did not bode well. Jacqui and the boys then came before they then got me out of jail yet again by meeting the German family for dinner whilst Messi and I headed to Friedrichstrasse to meet the Aussie contingency. Even more accrued family credit to J....

Great fun being around my Sydney mates and loved how they enthusiastically greeted Roger after I introduced him by his infamous 'Messi' nickname.  It all got even more blurry as multiple beers ensued with Tommy, Timmy, Darren, Erika, Jeet, Neil P and some others with my family joining again at the end. Loads of banter mostly with Tommy (the Serbian Chior boy), Timmy, Darren and Messi. 

When Timmy started telling Messi that his Stokealona are now on a par with Messi's hometown Barca it was clearly time to leave with Messi entertaining my boys on the S Bahn trip home.

German election day today and so being in Berlin felt even more historic than usual.

Just pleased the ordeal was over:

Post race chats (the guy on the right being the 20 year veteran, aged 57 he ran 2.59:

 My 4 boys + mum:

My 4 boys + Mum and dad:

+ J:

Tommy A:

Election day too - massive day In Berlin:

The 4%s:

Messi and I @ the Oktoberfest / Alexander Platz:

Currywurst Jack:

Messi + debutant Simon D:

HuRTs crew and Messi:

Sticking to the Hefes:

Tommy H and Erika:

PB Darren:

2.2X. marathon runner Neil P:


More HuRTs + Messi:

Timmy Lindop, D and I:

Tommy H and Timmy:

Pure pain: