I am really excited to have my Stepdad guest posting on the blog today. He’s taking on the Chicago marathon with me in October, his first marathon!
Don’t you hate it when other people look at your Bucket List and let you know what’s next?! My wife agreed that if Charlie got a place in the Chicago Marathon, I would run it too. My son was in on it too: he gave me a mud run place for my birthday…
The May Nuclear Rush was 4 hours on my feet, a nightmare in my mind and what felt like hypothermia in the car going home, but was actually only 10k. However, having been a runner in my youth I thought this was a good start. I planned to get fit ahead of time in order to keep up with Charlie, aiming for an under 4 hour Chicago.
I put in a few more 10k on the local streets and in Epping Forest but an old hip/sciatica issue hit home. It was too painful to walk let alone run. I had to hang up the trainers: May and June passed by without any attempt to push a run. Charlie and other training advisors had pushed the message to listen to your body. Mine was saying don’t run but I managed to continue cycling to work every day.
At the end of June, Charlie announced she was training and had I started? Er no. But felt I possibly could so I ran a 5k, then a 10k. My second 10k was a disaster and I walked the last mile. My body was unhappy but I kept it going. I signed up for Parkrun and picked up some Vitamin D on their well organised 5k in Waltham Abbey the following weekend in under 30 mins. I started doing the sums. This 5k pace was the pace I would need to run for 26 miles!
Charlie ran the NYC marathon in 2013 with 2.09 events and they were excellent, so I signed up for my trip and race entry to Chicago with them. I had not realised the amount of support from Mike and Yolanda which comes with this– first was an invitation to attend a training day at the London Centre for Sports Medicine, including a talk on training for the Marathon by 2:09 Events Director and London Marathon 1983 winner Mike Gratton, and a talk on injury by the London Marathon’s assistant medical advisor, as well as information on Nutrition from Yolanda and a training run in Regents Park. A fascinating talk on compression socks led us to buy several pairs for flying long haul, running and recovery. I now understood more about teaching the body to run and started to follow the 16 week training program put together by Yolanda. We printed the whole plan and flew off on a three week holiday to Alaska.
So Alaska…most people just laugh when you tell them this is your long anticipated dream holiday, also on the bucket list, I hasten to add. I anticipated running in icy cold weather but this was not the case at all. Drizzle yes, but sunshine and sweat definitely on the cards.
The compression socks were employed immediately on the flight to Seattle and on to Anchorage. I like to think they helped as I ran my first 5k around Horseshoe Lake just outside Denali National Park on Day 2. Standing still meant a mozzie attack on my legs – a great natural motivator to keep going!
Jet lag is the next great natural motivator, and having finished our morning cuppa at 4.30am on day 3, I ran out into the fresh clear morning air, past the large female moose on my way to the Visitor Centre. Sunrise in this part of Alaska was 03.46 am so I had no trouble finding my way and sidestepping the wildlife.
I had thoughts of another early run the next morning, pacing down to the end of the road at Kantishna in Denali Park itself but luckily, we slept in until 7.00am. Instead we had a gentle walk in the drizzle, along the McKinley Bar Trail. Our noisy neighbours ensured there was no excuse for a 90 minute run to Wonder Lake and back next morning with my wife following on a push bike, singing loudly to herself to warn the bears … Cross training that day was a 4 mile hike with 1700’ elevation gain along the Quigley Ridge Trail.
I managed to get my long run in on a beautiful trail, running 13 miles through gorgeous scenery and early morning light which helped massively. I found this to be the case again the next night when I did a 5 mile pyramid workout along the spit at Homer, with my wife shouting times from the rented bike. An enforced rest day followed as we travelled to Seward, but a stop at the National Park Visitor Centre on arrival to discuss possible running routes showed me it would be possible to get two longish runs in during our stay here. Both times, I ran out of town along to Lovell Point and both days I enjoyed sunshine with a cool breeze coming off Resurrection Bay.
My training was easier (although more boring) with a gym to use once onboard our cruise ship for a week. However, although this was the rest portion of our trip, we still had a number of hikes booked. The first was from Juneau – an excellent 6 miles roundtrip on West Glacier Trail with the delightful Eric from Adventure Flow . The second was slightly disappointing: we took the White Pass and Yukon Route train up from Skagway and then basically freewheeled back down in to town, so not quite the workout we hoped for. Spectacular though, even in the rain. Our next Port was Icy Straits, with a gentle stroll around the old canning factory/museum and coffee.
I hit the gym again programming the treadmill to include hills! Our day in Ketchican had again been researched on Trip Advisor as to what we could do under our own steam. The Rain Bird Trail was an easy 20 minute walk out of town and a delightful 1.3 mile route through old growth temperate forest on which we saw five other people despite there being three cruise ships in town!
We docked early in Vancouver where we ticked off ‘cycle around Stanley Park’ from my wife’s Bucket List – so easy to do. There are many bike hire places as you walk from the centrally located cruise docks towards Stanley Park. We followed the well signposted route almost all the way to Granville Island (and back) before a tasty lunch on Robson Street ie shopping central! Then the compression socks came back out and we flew to London direct, sleeping all the way.
I am so proud of Dave for keeping up with his training, although he isn’t taking all of my marathon training advice currently. It will be so exciting experiencing the Chicago marathon with him, and seeing him tick off one of his bucket list dreams!