Sunday, 27 April 2008

Rain rain go away...

H has written a pretty in depth report on Saturday's race so I'll keep my review to the point... the target in Ashbourne was to remind my legs what running hard was all about, test myself on the bike and finish somewhere around 2 hours and 20 minutes. One hundred and seventy nine painful minutes and 52 seconds later it was job done. I was right... my legs had forgotten what running hard was all about... but won't forget again in a hurry! With one of my LBT club mates in sight for most of the bike the motivation was there to keep them working... unfortunately, there's a reason why I never did well in downhill mountain biking and the fast and steep Ashbourne descents got the better of my 'bottle', coming in to T2 over 40 seconds behind I was never going to bridge the gap against a pretty handy runner over such a short second run. Still, crossing the line in 2:19 I was pleased to place 25th out of 170 in a quality field with the marathon only 13 days before (they say it takes 26 to fully recover) and even more pleased to post the 16th fastest bike split despite hanging on to the brakes for half the race ;)

People often overlook the training benefit of racing... but there's something special about competition and it allows you to work at an intensity far higher than normal. H and I will never set the world on fire in events like Ashbourne as they're to short (i.e. fast) and there's no swim but in terms of getting out for a 2+ hour high intensity training session they're hard to beat.

Afterwards we hung out all afternoon in the sun with Ben G, Max G, Daz (+family), Sam (my best man to be) and Amanda for some well earned chill time... it was great to remove both feet from the gas for a moment and genuinely kick back... for what possibly could have been the beginning, middle and end of summer!

H and I are riding in a seriously challenging cycle sportive, the 110 mile and hilly (3,500 metres of vertical ascent) Etap Du Dales, on May the 18th and had been really looking forward to riding the course today with no time pressure and just exploring an area of the Dales that we don't know so well. Having set the alarm for 5 o'clock this morning, packed the bikes in the car and driven over to Grassington for about 6.30 we had a choice... 8-9 hours of torrential rain in the middle of nowhere and yet another Iron session of suffering or a hasty retreat to our trusty, warm and dry garage and yet more hours on the turbo trainers... no brainer really...

10am - two hour steady turbo at a heart rate of 130

3pm - two hour interval based turbo session followed by a nice steady 8 mile run straight off.

Not only were we warm and dry all day but had time to tidy the house, sit down for a civilised lunch, check out a bit of the Grand Prix and fill in the last couple of weeks of my (paper) training diary :)

This week coming will see a slight increase in bike volume and a little more running before three weeks of swim, bike and run hammer time that will take us up to Vancouver (we fly May 31st) by which time we'll need to be pretty much in race shape so that's...

One medium week (this week coming)
Three hard weeks
One easy week
One hard week (in Vancouver)
Two easy weeks
One medium week
RACE WEEK (in Frankfurt)

So what started 40 weeks ago as '50 weeks to Kona?' is now just ten!

That's about it for now, time for bed,


p.s. well done to all our friends (Carl, Ady et al.) who braved the elements today (unlike us) and belted round all 100k of the Kirklees Sportive.

p.p.s. Having won a bronze medal in the world age-group champs and won the sub-2.30 wave of the London Triathlon, both in 2007, our great friend Emma-Kate Lidbury (Ek) is about to enjoy her first season as a pro-triathlete. Click HERE for a great interview with her on

p.p.s. I'd like May to be very hot and sunny thankyouplease ;)

Racing season is here...

The London Marathon kicked off the beginning of our final push to Germany and already that's two weeks in the distance and I'm sitting here writing this having raced in the Ashbourne Duathlon yesterday. Where is the time going? And why hasn't it stopped raining yet?

With the marathon still in my legs I went into Ashbourne using it as a structured, focussed, hard training session. I'm not sharp enough (nor should I be) to be feeling tip top and also Duathlon (run/bike/run) just ain't my bag, especially when the distances aren't suited to my good endurance base. Ashbourne is a 12km (very hilly run) a 40km (very hilly bike) and then a 4km (flat run.) My aim for the race was to stay as switched on as possible, oh and not kill myself on the dangerous descents! But then I remembered I was a girl and the fear of death by far outweighed the adrenalin rush from descending at speed (I'll leave that one to the boys!)

The weather was perfect, beautiful blue sky and real warmth in the sun, I think yesterday we had Summer, hope you enjoyed it! The first run takes you round Carsington water with it's deceitfully hilly surroundings. Steep hills and sharp descents ensure your legs get a good battering before you get out on the bike for more of the same. I was very wary about the bike because so many people were talking about how hard the hills were and how fast and dangerous the descents were. I tell you cycling in the Dales makes hills anywhere else look like bumps in the road. The hills weren't anything for me to be scared about, there was never a point when I thought I could fall off because they were steep (and that's what I call a hill, so many of the buggers in the Dales.) The descents I was cautious on. I hadn't ridden or driven the course so I had no idea what was ahead and it is a technical ride. I enjoyed the bike though and got a good amount of consistent effort into it, got into T2 in one piece and then nearly got disqualified for unbuckling my helmet before I'd racked my bike, oops!!!

The second run for me is normally where I can claw a little bit of time back. Not being as strong as I'd like on the bike I have to rely on the fact that I can run quite well off it. Unfortunately the second run was a mere 4km, 17mins of work, just far too short to be catching anyone. So in a way once you're off the bike the race is done. It was a great training session though and I did 2.47. Not amazing, but not bad, 11th girl out of a very strong fast field but huge gaps between me and the duathletes in there. Still, if they want to come and see what it's like in the real world they'll have to come and play Ironman ;)

The above pic is me, our mate Daz (who knocked 9mins off last years time, well done Daz) and Tom in the car park before the race started. Well done to Ben G and his brother Max who did really well and to fellow LBT'er Donna Edmondson Booker who's dust I'm forever eating!

Let the race season begin, it's on a roll now and there's no stopping it, eeeek!!!

H. x

Sunday, 20 April 2008

26.2 x 6:29.9...

Seeing as I didn't manage to post a London Marathon race report last week I thought I'd fill you in this week...

As I've mentioned loads of times before my target of 9.25 at Ironman Germany (11 weeks today!) is partly based on a marathon time of three hours and 25 minutes. An extremely approximate rule of thumb states that if you can get within 30 minutes of your 'stand-alone' marathon time in the final leg of an Ironman you're doing pretty well, so there I was stood on the start line of this year's London Marathon with the seemingly ambitious task of breaking 2.55 and breaking my existing pb by around five minutes. Last year I'd run at about 67 kilos but had struggled maintaining strength at anything below about 68 (in 2006 I ran at 72) and my legs stopped playing rather suddenly at around 24 miles... this year I was 65 on the Friday morning but felt sure that consistent strength training over the last six months complimented with an increase in protein in my diet would give my legs the extra strength to hold on through the tough final 10k. Although I'd been struggling with a slight knee injury in the three weeks leading up to the race (long story...dodgy shoes) I was confident that my excellent training block, extra long runs and determination to step out of my marathon comfort zone would see me sneak my desired time... although I was even more sure that it would a) really hurt and b) would be very close...

I'm a great believer in increasing your goals little by little in order to achieve great long term gains and as such, in spite of running significantly better in training, was only looking to go through halfway 30 seconds faster than I had last year... 1:27:00 v 1:27:30... working out at an average mile split of 6:38 or 5k of 20:34....

Now, accurate pacing is normally my strength and although an opening 5k of 19:41 sounded a little quick I wasn't too concerned as the first three miles are pretty much downhill... going through 10k in 39:50, a full 1:18 ahead of schedule however (a seemingly ambitious schedule at that) did start a few alarm bells ringing? Was I following all the other marathon 'lemmings' to a messy end somewhere between 18-20 miles? We've all been there, although several years ago I still have vivid memories of going through halfway in the Lausanne marathon in 1:30 only to blow up spectacularly at mile 20, cry my way through the final 10k, collapse over the line, lose all movement in my legs for several hours and the ability to walk unaided for at least 24! Unfortunately marathon running is a bit like drinking spirits on a night out... by the time you find out you've bitten off a bit more than you should have it's too late to do anything about it and you're lying by the side of the road in a drunken/exhausted mess!!

By the time I reached 13.1 miles I'd managed to slow myself down a little and although still way ahead of target had only gained another 22 seconds. At 1:25:20 I was still over two minutes ahead of my previous fastest at this point in a marathon though and knew that all the serious work was still to come with the 'true' marathon halfway point being closer to the 20 mile mark. I've heard the marathon described as 20 miles of hope followed by 6 miles of reality and with typically the final 10k taking as much physical and mental effort as the rest of the race and all your training put together this tends to ring true. At this point the clock was telling me that I'd gone off way to hard and I was having to ask myself to serious questions...

My answers though were encouraging and with 11 marathons and two Ironman events in my athletic experience bank I felt like I was at a more than sustainable intensity... my heart rate was somewhere around the mid-150s and at approximately 10 beats less than last year was confirming my feeling that this was the best I'd felt in a marathon for a long time, maybe ever.

Goal 'creep' is a dangerous thing in endurance sport... all too often people snatch defeat from the jaws of victory when, on the verge of achieving their initial goal they get a little greedy and blow it all in search of previously unconsidered boundaries... 1.25 through half-way though... I could do 2.50 here...? I really had to calm myself down at this point, I was running at nearly 20 seconds faster than the fastest I'd ever run a marathon and needed to be more concerned about keeping within myself than dreaming of finish line glory and post-race celebrations. I promised then that I would try and keep to 6.30 somethings, no matter how easy it felt, and not even think about breaking 2:50 until mile 20 and even then not allow myself to change my pace strategy (which I seemed to be ignoring anyway) until mile 22. Running through 14 I saw Liz giving it everything through 22 (the elite women went off 45 minutes before us). Knowing that she was running to a slot in the Beijing Olympics I promised myself that once I was at that same point although I had no chance of matching her 5:40 miles I would match her work rate... especially if 2:49 was on! 14-20 were pretty uneventful and positively flew by, with every step I took I knew that at some point I was going to revisit a quote I posted on here right at the beginning of our journey...

There will come a point in the race, when you alone will need to decide.
You will need to make a choice.
Do you really want it?
You will need to decide.

At that point you will begin to suffer.
It's a small piece of your life, but one you'll remember.
Make it count.
Rolf Arands

Going through 20 in 2:10:10 I was only ten seconds down on breaking 2:50 and although still not confident enough to take it on there and then I knew that a couple of 6:30 miles would lead to the inevitable question... did I really want it? At this point in a race it's common to look for excuses to not have to hurt yourself, for example 'I could take it easy from here and still pb so why put myself through unnecessary suffering for the odd meaningless second'... so in an odd way I was disappointed that a 6.33 and 6.34 got me to 22 within striking distance of 2:49 and achieving a marathon time which only that morning I believed beyond me... ever!

Time to make this small piece of my life really count...

From 35k to 40k, although still holding something back for the final 2.2k, I applied a little pressure and loving every second of imagining my own Olympic marathon covered the 5k in 19:54 at an average mile split of 6:25... all around me people were dropping like flies, and passing someone every couple of seconds I felt like I was really moving... position is nothing more than a measure of other people though and they were slowing down more than I was speeding up.. time is what it's all about and with memories of my 80 minutes and 1 second in the Brass Monkey earlier in the year and knowing it was going to come down to a couple of seconds either way, I was determined not to miss out again...

Feeling great, it was time to empty the tank and push through every single heartbeat... flying up the Mall I could see the clock ticking 2.49.50, 2.49.51....... then suddenly it was over, looking down at my watch I saw 2:50:00... surely not? surely I hadn't managed to miss out by less than a second over nearly three hours of racing??? Desperate to find out my official time but without any means to do so I dived in to my race bag and stuffing anything and everything that was edible in to my mouth began the nervous wait to see first if Ian had broken three hours (which he had, with time to spare) and if H had done what I thought she would (which she had, in yet another seemingly effortless pb of 3.20)... between those two my mate Ben Woodhouse crossed his first ever marathon finish line in 3.11.... a massive well done to all.

Back at the bus I'd had a few texts saying well done on a great pb... but not the detail I so needed. I knew I'd pb'd by miles and would have been happy either way but when my mum confirmed over the phone that my official time was 2.49.57 I can't describe how great I felt...

Sometimes life gets a little too predictable (especially for a statto like me) and although on one hand we are achieving our goals, we are at the same time creating limits by not looking past those goals at what we might achieve by simply doing the best we can... When I first broke three hours I was conscious that I'd done something I never thought possible, which in turn made me think about what other 'impossible' achievements were within me... quite a liberating thought! Over time that had all faded away though and I'd gone back to living up to expectations, but nothing more... not wanting to turn this in to an epic I'll hold that thought... but will return to 'goal setting in relation to creating boundaries' when it's a little clearer in my thoughts.

Suffice to say, I'm back believing 'impossible is nothing'...

Today's photo was taken at mile 22 in the 2004 London marathon when having not yet broken three hours my time of 3:00:20 was a harsh reminder that there are no such thing as 'meaningless seconds'...

See you next week after a much needed return to training and racing,

Thanks again,

T ;)

Time out...

So this week with partially broken legs I have reacquainted myself with life beyond that of the pool, the bike and the road and it's been fun but because my long term goal is now edging it's way closer every day I'm itching to be 'back on it', re-focused and raring to hit it hard. Time out is as important as time in so a break at this point is probably a good thing. Time to reassess, rebuild and get to the start line in tip top shape.

I can't believe that this time last week I was running towards 3hrs and 20mins of glorious marathon running round the streets of London. I was utterly convinced that I would struggle to break 3.30 what with my injury and then all of my long runs being so slow and so hard. What I hadn't accounted for was the effect of a higher training volume in the lead up. I was doing my long training runs on tired legs, meaning that what I was building up were quality endurance sessions. I thought it meant I was just running badly but because I could get a quality speed/tempo session in on the treadmill with Tom & Tony B on Tuesdays my running was getting the best of both worlds.

I can't tell you how comfortable the whole marathon was. I thought last year was good but this year was even sweeter, to be running so within myself and enjoying it is just one of the best feelings and I know there's more in there.

I got to the marathon feeling a little non-plussed about it to be honest. The focus was for Tom, he really wanted to PB and had been working hard on his run sessions while I focussed on my bike. This meant that I had no pressure at all (usually pressure that I place on myself may I add.) I was apprehensive but more because I thought I was going to find it such a struggle, how wrong could I be.

On the start line I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen so when the gun went I was cautious. One thing that stayed with me for the whole race however was the fact that Liz (Yelling) was out there running her way to Olympic qualification, something that she truly deserves after such a bad run of luck with ridiculous weather conditions in her previous two marathons. There was pressure for her to perform and so knowing how much she was giving out there on the same road that myself, Tom & Ozzer were running on helped me immensely.

I couldn't hold myself back enough, I had planned to run 8min miles but actually averaged 7.38's, running the last 10km (and definitely the most challenging part of a marathon) stronger and faster than the first 20miles. Maybe my old dream of reaching 3.15 is not such a distant one.

So this whole week has been spent recovering in preparation for the next 8 week block which is the final run up of hard training before taper starts and that water in Germany is calling! I've been in the pool every day though and that has really helped my legs. Ran for the first time on Wednesday and then ran yesterday and today, just a light easy 8-10 miles.

What's been nice about not training so much has been the fact that I've spent all weekend with my niece Kelsey (see above pic.) Kelsey's my brother's daughter and they were both part of our road trip to Austria last year and have been amazing support crew on the side lines for a lot of our races. Instead of dragging Kelsey to another race or cold finishing chute in the middle of nowhere, I thought it would be nice to do 'normal' things. Tom's off on a stag weekend, sailing in the wet and rainy seas somewhere down South so Kelsey and I shopped all day in Leeds, searching in fact for some bridesmaid dress ideas (non of which we found) but there's loads of time for that yet, and it gives us the chance to do the whole weekend again a bit later in the year. My training which is usually endless on weekends has been reduced to an hours 8mile run yesterday and a 10mile run this morning. Plenty of day left to do loads of things, lovely!

However, as much as the break has been nice I do tend to loose focus, nutritionally and mentally and I'm starting to bite at the bit for tomorrow and the next 8 weeks to begin.

I'm ready to train hard, train smart (as the Yellings always say) and let the games begin... Germany here I come!!!

H. x

P.s I must give a HUGE congrats to Liz for her brilliant performance (& now we want to come and watch you race in Beijing!!!) and to the biggest believer and positive light in my life, Tom who ran his socks off for a blinding 2.49!!! and of course to Ozzer who has joined a gentleman's club of true grit and inspiration, going sub 3 (2.58) and pooing in the streets of London (must be at least a couple of mins lost there Ozzer) and to everyone else that we know that ran on Sunday, WELL DONE!!!

Monday, 14 April 2008

A marathon day...

We've just unpacked having got home from London and as it's half-midnight, we've been up since 5am and both have work in the morning we thought we'd post a brief update on today's race...

I came home in 2:49:57 for a pb by over eight minutes and H bettered her pb (set at last year's race) by two minutes finishing in 3:20:26.

Full results can be found here... and detailed race reports will follow from both of us in the next few days.

It's been a brilliant brilliant day, thanks for all the amazing messages of support both before and after the race.

Will write again soon,

T ;)

p.s. today's photo is of Tower Bridge and was taken last night by H (on her phone).

Sunday, 6 April 2008

What's going on with the weather???...

Just when I thought we'd seen the end of Winter and were going to be well and truly into Spring with Summer soon to wrong a girl can be! All week we've had great weather and Tom & I were really looking forward to the Circuit of the Dales (a 50 mile hilly Time Trial) starting in Ingleton, going through Sedburgh, Hawes and then back to Ingleton. It's beautiful out there but it's barren and if you go when the weather's harsh, beautiful is the last word you would choose to describe it.

I think it's a British thing to be so obsessed with the weather. People love talking about it and about how bad it is, it's never perfect for us is it? Too hot; too cold; too windy!!! Too bloody picky, and then couple being British with being a triathlete and the weather starts to consume your every waking hour. We didn't really believe (or want to believe) the forecast for today. All week the sun had his hat on I went running on the canal with my mate Tony and wore a t-shirt and not a million thermal layers. Tom went out riding in just his shorts and a short sleeved top and no gloves, lovely, lovely, lovely.

I did this TT last year (in horrendous windy conditions)and Tom did it the year before (in horrendous wind and rain.) This year we weren't even sure we were going to get to do it. Yet again the Harbingers of Doom known as weather men forecast thick snow, sleet and icy conditions across the land. What's going on it's April, in 4 weeks the open water season starts (we'll have to smash the ice on the lake before we can get in at this rate.) So today we left it to chance and thought the best way of judging the weather was to get up and look out of the window (which sounds stupid but weather people aren't always right are they.) Consequently in Leeds this morning we had beautiful clear blue skies, no snow although it was freezing cold so we packed the car and off we went. We did think that as we got further into the Dales we could get hit by snow but today we were lucky, lucky, lucky.

I enjoyed every bit of the ride today. My goal wasn't time orientated it was a test of staying switched on for the whole ride and also to try and maintain an even effort for the whole thing and for me today I thought the weather couldn't have been more perfect. The pic above is of Ribblehead Viaduct which is on part of the course. It didn't have anywhere near that much snow, the roads were completely clear and dry but the hills were all white and it made perfect scenery for me today. I think I enjoyed it because I felt my consistency, I didn't pootle at all today, I rode. Sure I'm not speedy but I felt I rode well and I could keep a steady effort without killing myself or going too easy which is what tends to happen to me, today I found the middle ground that is missing from my riding. I can't guarantee I'll always have it but it's good to know it's coming along. Last year I rode 3hrs and 7mins and today I sneaked under the 3hr mark so I was rewarded for my effort not only in scenery but in time too.

Now all I have to do is stay sharp and freshen up for the London Marathon which is a week today (thank the Lord it wasn't today or I would have needed to invest in a pair of snow shoes!) Who knows what the weather will do on Sunday but it will be what it will be and there isn't a single thing I can do about it. I don't have a major time goal for the marathon this year, I'm happy with the cracking pb I got lat year (3.22) and know right now I'm not in the same running shape as I was then so my aim for Sunday will be firstly to finish without killing my legs (I can't afford a recovery month afterwards as it's a crucial training period for Ironman) I'd like to think that I could run 3.30 but if it's 3.35 and my legs are okay I'll take that. London isn't an 'A' race and I must remember that when I'm running down The Mall with thousands of people cheering in my ear. 13 weeks today is what I'm running to on Sunday and if I can run strong but slow then I'll be happy :)

Time to find some fresh legs and a dollop of mental strength.

H. x

Seven days to go...

With only seven days left until the London Marathon, added to me being a little bored of race reports, I thought I'd write a short piece with my thoughts on how best to prepare for a successful 26.2 miles...

The key thing to be aware of at this late stage is that you are now as fit as you will be and no amount of training will make you any faster in time for the big day. If you don't run a single step over this final week you'll still get to the start line in optimal physical condition... rest, recovery and relaxation must therefore be prioritised. However, having conditioned your mind and body into the habit of regular exercise a complete lack of activity is likely to leave you feeling lethargic and sluggish, as usual a balance is required... enough training to keep you feeling sharp, prepared and focused but a low enough volume/intensity to allow complete physical and mental recovery. As training volume reduces significantly over the coming week you will experience a significant increase in 'free' time (not that a single second of our time is actually 'free', but that's for another day) which can lead to a loss of structure in your daily routine and the possibility of an increase in behaviours which may be detrimental to your performance on race day i.e. over-eating, late nights, increased alcohol consumption or too much time at work. It may seem like a great opportunity to catch up on aspects of your job that have been put on hold during your marathon training but a 60 hour week leaves little time for rest and recovery, increases the likelihood of stress and can surely wait just one more week... for the next seven days PRIORITISE YOURSELF.

So how would my ideal marathon race-week look?

Every Day
Adequate water intake to optimise hydration... perhaps 2 litres per day but not too much, the key to hydration is little and often. Dehydration will limit your performance but over hydration can kill you (HERE) so don't over do it! Plenty of sleep, set yourself a target based on what you think is optimum for you... I'll be going for 8 hours per night. Good food all day every day in order to arrive at the start line full of energy so plenty of natural, REAL, wholesome food is required for breakfast, snack, lunch, snack and dinner from Monday morning right through to Sunday. Minimise stress... feel free to act like an ostrich this week and bury your head in the proverbial sand, if something looks like causing you a headache then stick it on hold until after the race. Finally, take time every day to visualise your ideal first (relaxed and controlled) and final (strong and focused) marathon miles ;)

No running today but set the mood for the week with some low impact, low intensity exercise such as a technique based swim session on leisurely bike ride. This will keep you active but allow your legs to recover. It's also time to start thinking about your race day strategy, perhaps by drawing up a list of all the things you will need on race morning e.g. heart rate monitor, race number, race kit, Vaseline, safety pins, sunglasses, warm disposable clothing for the start line, hat and gloves for the race (could be snowing this year!), pace band, trainers & socks (sounds obvious but you'd be surprised how many people forget their shoes!). If you have the luxury of a second pair of running shoes it's a nice touch to put your race shoes to one side (perhaps somewhere that you will see them several times a day which helps you to maintain focus on the race) this will allow them to regain a little 'spring' and will make you feel great on the day.

A nice easy 40-60 minute run. If you've been doing Tuesday speed sessions then repeat the same session but at a lower intensity, include some above marathon pace efforts. I do a 40 minute tempo run every Tuesday and will be doing the same session this week but 2kph slower, finishing at 16 rather than 18, which is faster than my target race pace (14.55 kph) but not fast enough to significantly limit my recovery. Although this shouldn't be a particularly demanding session it will require a certain amount of effort, it is vital therefore to refuel effectively within 30-60 minutes of the session by consuming a balanced meal of carbohydrates, protein and essential fats.

A day of complete rest :) Maybe an extra hour in bed? Possibly a sports massage? Do not have your first ever sports massage or massage with a particular masseur during race week - you never quite know how you'll react. A good day to clip your toenails, a common cause of foot injuries during running (particularly marathons) is overgrown toenails... I should know, remember the cross-country race earlier in the year when I lost both my biguns? Trim them too short the day of the marathon could lead to discomfort during the race so do it now! Maybe spend some precious time on friends or family who will no doubt be returning the favour over the next few days as you slip in to marathon mode and it becomes all about you!

Possibly your final run prior to the race? I'll be doing about 45-60 minutes at a pretty easy tempo with something like 10 x 1 minute sub-maximal efforts at around half marathon / 10k pace. A good last minute sharpener to freshen both mind and body. This is my massage day as I tend to feel best on the third day post-massage (i.e. Sunday). As with Tuesday adequate refueling is essential so try and get this run in order to allow time to eat, digest and be tucked up
early... something like run @ 6, eat @ 7 then bed @ 10. Ideally you should be carb loading from today so increase the percentage of complex carbohydrates in your diet... note I didn't say eat more food, you're less active than normal and by eating too much you'll feel heavy and bloated come race day, just swap some of your regular protein and fat for things like brown rice, brown past or wholemeal couscous.

Another day of rest from exercise but likely to be pretty active. Do as much as you can today in order to free up tomorrow to kick back fully. H and I will travel down to London in the morning, check in to our hotel, visit the expo, register and do any last minute organising. It can be pretty hectic but worth it in order to have a stress free day tomorrow. Friday evening is probably the most important regards eating and sleeping so pay particular attention to a fantastic healthy evening meal and a nice early night.

Although I like to throw in an easy 45 minute jog around the race area just to get me in the mood, most people will take a second successive day of rest. Kicking back in your hotel room with a nice book is great, maybe meet up with friends or family for lunch (strictly on your terms - eat what you want when you want it - don't compromise your race just because someone else doesn't like your choice of restaurant) . You will have already thought about your race strategy but run through it again in your head, know your mile splits and your target time for half-way. People tend to be overambitious with this and ruin months of hard training by going off too hard and consequently blowing up at about 18 miles. If you're going for your best possible time and have run a good half marathon in the build up then double your half time plus 10%, divide your answer by 26.2 and you have your mile splits... for example I ran 80 minutes (plus a second!) in January but am in significantly better shape now than then, I would expect therefore to be able to run at least 79 minutes for a flat half marathon at the moment... doubled = 158... plus 10% = 173.8 minutes which is 2:53:48... divided by 26.2 = 6:38 per mile. At Tower Bridge (half way) I will aim to be within 30 seconds of that, and then hang on for the ride;)

Sunday (Race day)
Again this is just me, but I'll nip out for an easy mile to set myself up for breakfast and say hello to what is going to be an amazing day. Breakfast will have been practised in training and you should avoid foods that you know may cause digestive issues later in the day... trying to break three hours for the first time in London 2005 I got a sudden attack of the runs at mile 22 and following an emergency pit stop sprinted the final four miles to finish in 3:00:20... I haven't had raisins and full-cream milk on a marathon morning since! For me... something simple, maybe Weetabix with semi-skimmed milk and a banana. Ideally breakfast will be (for me) about three hours before the gun and I'll sip on a bottle of water or weak energy drink from now to the start line (maybe 500ml in total... not too much, see above). Make sure you leave plenty of time to get to the start area, you cannot be too early but you can definitely be too late as my friends James and Dave would no doubt agree ;)


Once the gun goes, people will go off like lunatics, they are almost all pacing it terribly and writing cheques their legs can't cash! Stick to your plan and let them go... the first third of the race should be like the tide going out (regardless of your speed) and you should be being constantly overtaken, the middle third should be like low tide with little or no change in position... stick to that and the final third will be like the tide rushing in as all around you people start blowing up, just as you throw in your fastest miles for a negative split, a pb and eternal bragging rights!

That's about it I think? If you're running London this weekend then GOOD LUCK, I hope this helps and I'll see you on the start line ;)

Nearly forgot... today's race report. H and I did the Circuit of the Dales super hilly 50.7 mile time trial today... considering my preparation (Andrea KJ's birthday party till 12:30 last night, bed for 1am but up at 3.30 to watch Alistair racing in New Zealand, which finished at 5.30am just in time to change my flat tub from last week, pack the car and head off in to the Dales to do a race that until we got there we thought would be called off due to the weather, forgot my Garmin GPS so had no idea of speed, distance or heart rate, put my overshoes on the wrong feet which seriously messed with my OCD and generally couldn't take my mind of the London marathon) went well with 2:32:55 for a slightly better performance than last year (even though I was 2 minutes slower I finished @ 53% in the field compared to 66%... don't forget, cyclists are super fast). What H forgot to say in her report was that not only was she 8 minutes quicker than last year... the course was two miles longer... well done that girl (she also won a tenner for second lady, although there were only three and one didn't finish).

Right then, I'm off to bed... see you post London when hopefully I'll be telling you all about my 1.27/1.26 negative split for a shiny new pb and a significant step along the road to Kona ;)