When is Enough Enough?

It’s a question I find I’m asking myself more and more.  When is enough enough?  26.2? That always seemed the obvious limit to me but who decided that? Pheidippides? Sure, he would probably say that was enough but he didn’t have a Runners World 16 week training plan or a well rehearsed fuel and hydration strategy…  Millions of people around to world have taken on the grueling 26.2 challenge and succeeded.  So what next?

Some people might say a marathon is too far anyway, ‘running is bad for you’, ‘it’s bad for your knees’, ‘it’s not natural to run that far’, blah blah blah.  What was that sorry?  You seemed to be choking on your cigarette, I couldn’t quite hear you, oh yes, running, it’s bad for me.

Some people already think I’m crazy but I fear they haven’t seen the half of it yet.  I never know when to stop.  I never have, not with anything, sometimes it works to my favour and sometimes it doesn’t.  Already in training for marathon number 4 (and my 2nd this year which is already something I never thought would happen), I’ve started to sets my sights even higher.  Maybe an Ultra next year?  Could I do that?  Why would I do that?  Why would anyone do that?

A triathlon? That’s most definitely in the 2014 plan, mostly because I really can’t find a good enough reason not to.  With a lido down the road and Richmond Park a few miles away as well as a whole group of Chasers to train with, it all seems to fit together quite nicely.  I want to call myself a triathlete.  I don’t even want to be competitive, just to finish (and get some new bling of course but that goes without saying!)

Twitter has opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibilities.  My newsfeed is full of all these fabulous, wonderful, strong, inspiring and quite frankly fit as hell people who are taking on bigger and bigger challenges.  Everyone’s training for this and that…sub 3 hour marathons, sub 20 min 5ks, new PB’s, 50 mile Ultras, their first triathlon, their 47th marathon, Ironmans, Marathon des Sables…the list is endless and every one of these people inspires me in a different way.

I text my brother last week and asked him if he was up for an Ironman in 2015.  He didn’t think I was crazy, he asked me which one!  Could I do an Ironman?  Am I getting carried away?  I know I can run a marathon, I would still have to put the miles in of course but it would be at a much slower pace than my current marathon training.  I can swim.  I can ride a bike.  Sure, not to any kind of standard and I can’t swim 2.4 miles or cycle 112 miles, but I can train.  Can’t I?  I would need to get a wetsuit and, ermm, a bike, but that’s the easy bit.   Maybe I am crazy.  Maybe I would fall at the first hurdle.  Maybe I need to get myself a PlayStation or a Candy Crush addiction and pipe down.  But maybe, just maybe, I could achieve all these things…

So when is enough enough?  I really don’t know but I know I’m not there yet.

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10k’s are for wimps*…

…I’ve drawn this inevitable conclusion after finishing my 4th 10k race in 6 weeks and still not clocked a new PB.  10ks are stupid.

Sunday was the RunThrough Clapham Common 10k and it was the hottest day of the year so far.  The Metro reported temperatures of 27 degrees in London, quite a contrast to the wind and rain just 7 days earlier (where I also blamed the weather for my under par performance…)

Saturday was also a beaut of a day and I found myself in a beer garden with a craving for cider.  I never drink before a race so this surprised my friend who was more than happy to join me for some fruity pear goodness (practically one of your 5 a day anyway).  Staying sober and sensible hasn’t done me any favours in the speed stakes so I thought I’d try the ‘fluid & carbs’ approach.  3 seemed about right.

I also made a careful effort to match my nails to my trainers to see if that improved my speed…

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Conclusion?  Well, neither of these things worked but you can’t compromise on style just because you’re a big sweaty mess and fluid & carbs are as important as oxygen (this is a fact), so I stand by my race prep.

It really was a hot, hot, hot day and I was even beginning to feel the heat as I left the house at 8.30am.   The sun was scorching as we set off on the 2 lap course and it wasn’t going to let up.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the sun and I love the heat but running in it is HARD, I even took a cup of water at 5k which I wouldn’t usually bother doing.  I finished in 48.16 and couldn’t get my hands on a bottle of Lucozade quick enough.  I’ll just call it a training run then.

The best part of the day was spotting super speedy Cat in the crowd, who I met for the first time at the Richmond Relays and meeting  Hannah & Lorna who I hadn’t met before but were both fabulous.  It’s always great to meet up with people who think the same way as you and, despite all being amazing runners doing amazing things, they all had their own self-doubts and concerns.  I think they’re just bloody brilliant.

On my way home from work yesterday I was trying to draw some positives from my recent 10k attempts and it wasn’t actually as difficult as I thought:

Race 1: I beat Paula Radcliffe, ran a time I was more than happy with 4 weeks after VLM and had a fab evening with Zoe & free Prosecco.

Race 2: I only bloody well came 2nd and am now the proud owner of a badass trophy!

Race 3: I was the 3rd female Chaser in Richmond which officially makes me a Surrey Road League Race points scorer.

Race 4: I met some truly inspirational runner chicks who reminded me of the true spirit of running and that’s something no timing chip or Garmin stat can ever take away from us.

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On the plus side, I didn’t ache at all yesterday which meant I was totally up for the Club social run and weekly bants with the Chasers – winner!

*Obviously I don’t really think 10ks are for wimps.  I have nothing but respect, admiration and embarrassing amounts of jealously for anyone who can nail this git of a distance that’s too long to put the pedal to the floor from the off and too short to make excuses for. RESPECT

My thoughts on VLM’s GFA changes…

Shortly after the London Marathon finished the organisers took down the Good For Age table on the website.  From that moment it was clear there were going to be changes but what would they be and when would they come into play?  There were various rumours circulating, but the truth was it was the day before the ballot opened and no one knew what the GFA standards were.  This was poor, very poor.

The new GFA times were announced when the ballot opened.  Unsurprisingly, for the most part, they were tougher.  This directly affected me, my 3.49.14 Paris time no longer gave me an automatic place in 2014, I now needed a sub 3.45.  This, however, is still relatively easy in comparison to the under 40 Men.  I feel for them the most; their time goal was moved from 3.10 to 3.05.  I cannot tell you how many men I’ve seen tweet/blog etc about training specifically for a sub 3.10, with the goal of achieving a GFA who have now missed out.  Their achievement is now redundant.

I wouldn’t classify myself as good for age, in all honesty when I ran Paris I didn’t even know what the qualifying  standards for London were, but the fact remains that I got my 2013 place through the good for age system and I was proud of that.

The actual time changes aren’t an issue, and some would claim are long overdue, the problem lies in the lack of notice.  Assuming the deadline is still July, as it has been in the past, people don’t have time to achieve these new standards.  The Spring marathon season is almost over, even if there was an opportunity to race, there wouldn’t be enough time to train or recover sufficiently from an earlier marathon to race hard again.

It isn’t about the time, New York is tougher, Boston is tougher (or now the same), but we know what these standards are and what we would need to do to achieve them.   What it is about is expectation, it’s about knowing where you stand, it’s about slogging your heart & guts out for months, even years, to achieve a goal and then find out it stands for nothing.  Actually, you failed, sorry about that.  And that’s what isn’t right, that’s where London have got it so very very wrong.

The London Marathon drives a huge amount of revenue & support for charity, I get that, and I fully support it.  But the London Marathon is also part of the World Marathon Majors Series and with this comes a certain level of responsibility and respect for runners.  On this occasion I think it’s let us down.  On this occasion I think the London Marathon has failed.