It’s the day before the Bristol to Bath marathon. I’m trying to rest as much as possible (hello sofa!), whilst carb loading (hello flapjacks) and hydrating (hello little girls’ room). I know what I need to take tomorrow, I have a lift to Bristol arranged, I have my refuelling plans made and I have my race day outfit sorted. So why don’t I feel ready for the race tomorrow?
This isn’t my first marathon – it’s my third. Has the novelty worn off? No – I still get ridiculously nervous before any race, no amount of familiarity seems to change that. My taper was less of a gentle reduction in mileage and more of an abrupt brake to zero, but I’m not too worried about that either: I’m rested and injury free.
My previous marathons have been away from home, involving a hotel stay, a restaurant pre race meal and complicated family arrangements. Tomorrow I will have slept in my own bed. I will have eaten a home cooked meal. I will have had my usual porridge and favourite cup of tea. It feels more like preparation for a final long run than a race. I have realised though, that that’s okay. My long runs have all gone well in training – no pressure, no hassle, just a long way to run. I suspect the hard middle miles of tomorrow won’t have roads lined with applauding spectators so like my training runs I can just concentrate on running rather than high 5-ing or waving. I’m even considering taking my ipod for some podcasts. Too relaxed an attitude? I’ll find out tomorrow.
Maranoia, otherwise known as taper madness, has been in full swing this week at Black and Tabby Towers. From my tapering injury, to sniffles after seeing a friend who was full of a cold, via aching legs after a day’s trial at a new job, the route to full blown Maranoia has been clearly sign posted this week. It can only mean one thing – IT’S NEARLY MARATHON DAY!!! (Three days time, actually).
The key thing about Maranoia, though, is that usually nothing is actually wrong with the sufferer that just getting on and running the damn marathon won’t cure.
Right then. That’s the talking to done. Better go and make some more lists. Ooooooh – hang on I think I felt a twinge…
Tapering is a time to rest and recover from your hard training. The last few weeks before a race are the time to cut back your long runs, get your strength back, refuel and rehydrate. They are not the time to pick up a niggling twinge. An injury at this time is also not an excuse to do zero exercise and yet still eat all of the food.
Of course, this is basically what I did. However I didn’t panic. I stopped running, I iced, stretched, rubbed in Ibuprofen gel and wore my compression socks. Two weeks on and I tiptoed out for an experimental run this morning, and … it felt fine. Phew!
Three days to go … now to write some lists for marathon day!
3 days and counting. Butterflies are really getting going in my stomach now, and the ‘To Do / Pack / Don’t Forget’ list is reaching War and Peace proportions. I thought I had my travel to the marathon start all sorted out, and only the lack of a mention of a buffet on the train made me start investigating. My plan had been to have a last cup of tea to wash down my flapjack on the 40 minute journey in to Brighton on the train.
Google made me worry by taking me to a site which was bemoaning the fact trains on the Portsmouth to Brighton line would no longer have toilets on them. Never mind worrying about the lack of a buffet – NO TOILET???!!
Without wishing to be too graphic about it, toilets on Race mornings are very important to me and my digestive system. Very urgent, in a nervous stomach kind-of-a-way. I managed to contact Southern Rail on Twitter to ask them if there really wouldn’t be a toilet on the train.
So its confirmed – no toilets on the train, and I should just go before I get on basically. Gulp. Maybe I’d better investigate the Tena Lady aisle in the supermarket before Sunday.
Anyone else had to cope with something like this? Can anyone offer me any advice (except maybe skip the cup of tea on the train, and keep my legs crossed!)
4 days to go! Taper madness kicking in with a frenzy. As fast as I tick things off my ‘must do before Brighton’ checklist, something else joins the bottom of the list.
My iron-on letters for my shirt arrived today (tick). Now I’ve decided to iron them onto a separate piece of fabric which I’ll then tack onto my favourite running t-shirt so that I don’t have to run round Wiltshire all summer with my name emblazoned across my chest (adds to list).
I remembered to ask the neighbours about feeding the cats (my Black & Tabby that are my namesakes) this weekend (tick). Now I need to find someone else to feed them as my neighbours can’t do it (adds to list).
As well as ever increasing lists, tiny problems (mere snags really) become huge threats to my marathon success. Walking around the house bare footed the other day I managed to trip over something and grazed my toe. A very slight injury which I only really noticed several hours later when I saw blood on my toe. I’ve only taken some skin off the top, that’s all, but that was enough for me to feel it on my run yesterday and worry about it. That worry was enough to persuade me not to run today, so it could have time to heal properly. Heal properly for heavens sake – I’m not going to include a photograph of said toe because it will look truly pathetic. Still, better safe than sorry – I might really appreciate not having a sore toe on Sunday.
Never being one to do things by halves, I decided to take my first week of tapering to the extreme – and do no running at all.
In my defence, I did lots of other exercise. We skied everyday, we swam, we ice skated, we played ten pin bowling. Oh all right – we actually went on holiday. It was a great change from all the running, it was great to spend time with my family, and i don’t feel my fitness suffered at all as we were constantly on the go.
I also discovered that, silly as I feel in my running gear, I look much, much funnier in my ski wear.
I’ve discovered a problem with running two races so close together – the problem of tapering / recovering simultaneously.
In theory it should work well. Both involve resting, running less and good hydration & nutrition. In practice I don’t know if the aches and pains I’m feeling are just taper madness (which should be ignored), or post race niggles (which should be mollycoddled whilst polishing well earned race medal).
I know all about pre-race nerves – I wrote about them last week so they’re still fresh in my mind. I know its just nerves, and I know how well last Sunday’s race went . However, this week’s nerves are just as bad and just as unsettling. It probably doesn’t help that the Bristol Half is a much bigger event than Malmesbury. Think long established, big city event vs. first time, small market town event. Think 15,000 runners vs. 500 runners. Think needing to plan transport there and worrying about parking, think about the impossibility of trying to meet people there even though its always great to meet online ‘virtual’ friends in real life (if only to prove to my husband that these people do exist!)
Ah well, I’ll pop another ice pack on and take more vitamin C and will no doubt see you in Bristol on Sunday morning!
No – TAPER not TAPIR! (although he is a lovely fellow – pop into the Natural History Museum next time you’re in London and see if you can spot him).
It seems a little strange to be talking about tapering when I’ve only really done 1 week of hard training for the Malmesbury Half Marathon. In fact it feels down right ridiculous. However, after running 20 miles (in total) last week, I think I’d better take it easy this week ready for Sunday.
Nervous? Getting there. Unsure what pace to run at? Yup. Wishing it was over? Oh yes.
My last short run today. Felt strange – and very short!
Getting very organised now. I have bought my official ‘manky fleece’. This is to be worn before the start, so that I can keep warm right up until kick off. (What do you mean, marathons don’t have a kick off?) Then it is cast aside with everyone else’s ‘manky fleeces’, bin bags, old gloves etc. These are collected up and recycled, so its not just throwing them away. Unfortunately, I’m quite fond of the one I found in the PDSA shop today – might be a wrench to leave it behind.
Second organised thing done today – ironed my name onto my Dorothy House charity vest. Didn’t burn or melt it (phew!) and its looking very smart. It has my real name, and “B&T” (for those that know me by that name).
Off to London tomorrow, to the ‘Expo’. I have to go and collect my running number in person, so a mad dash up & back between school drop off and home comings has been organised. I’m hoping to meet some of the people I’ve been sharing this madness with online, but its such a huge place, with so many people going to be there, I know we’ll be lucky if we do manage to meet up. But hey – you never know!