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Posts Tagged ‘grand slam’

So New York is done and dusted. I had an amazing time with the Swiss. I actually took much inspiration from what she achieved. I truly believe that everyone who finishes a marathon is a hero – 26.2 miles run as fast as you can manage it, whether that is in 2:04 or 7 hours, is brutal enough to often change the marathoner’s life. The Swiss not only finished, but she set herself a stiff target and she nailed it. I would not have criticised her at all if she had walked sections but she is made of better stuff than that. Chapeau!

As for me, well I was really disappointed to not be able to tick off another sub-3hr marathon. However my accident was a blessing in disguise in so many ways:

• First and foremost I had the chance to run a marathon with the Swiss, and not any old marathon, her debut. And the New York marathon!
• I took my ability to run for granted and this injury has reminded me that I should thank every day I am able to indulge in the pursuits I love (although I’m still not back on the bike or in the pool yet)
• I have reassessed the concept of the Grand Slam…

… I’ve come to realise that the Grand Slam was a very selfish ambition. In both financial and environmental terms it was going to be a very expensive venture. Now that I have failed to run New York in under three hours I would have to go back and run that race in 2010 or 2011. That would potentially mean three two-way trans-Atlantic flights with fairly hefty financial out-lay and unpardonable environmental impact in order to achieve a spurious ambition with no real meaning. When I consider that the Swiss and I are serious in our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint and had discussed not flying in 2010, the Grand Slam began to look like a fairly stupid idea. So the Grand Slam is dead…

vive le Marathon de Paris!

I really want to run another marathon in anger and try to see what I am capable of. Specifically I wanted a well-organised race with a quick field on a fast course that I could get to without flying – and Paris seems to be the obvious choice. I sought advice from a few running friends who had run this race before. They said that it is a great race. One in particular PB’ed with 2:38 there in 2009 and he suggested that if I can find form again then I should have a crack at a new PB… I’m thinking sub-2:45 should be what I aim for.

The race is on 11 April 2010. If I get on the phone to Eurostar as soon as the tickets for that date are released I should be able to get the Swiss and me there for £59 return each on the Saturday morning and have the night before the race in a hotel.

This also means that for the first time since I started running I’ll be able to go and watch the London marathon myself, see the elites go flying through and support the Swiss in her second marathon! Yep, that’s right – she’ll be back for more in arguably the best marathon in the world and I get to support her and my running club mates from the side-lines. Brilliant!

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Short post – the marathon was a resounding success.

Apart from a hiccup at the start when I corrected my alarm clock (iPhone) to take into account the fact that in the US daylight saving happened on the Saturday night before the marathon and the phone then automatically adjusted itself as well, which meant that I got up an hour late for my ferry to Staten Island, everything went as well as could be expected.

The Swiss and I eventually got the ferry together without any problem, we were dropped at the start line area in plenty of time and walked to our start pen calmly. The start itself was brilliant with a belting rendition of New York New York and a huge cannon signaling the start (well I suppose having the start on a military base means there is plenty of heavy artillery around!) and we were off, over the Verrazano-Narrows bridge and into Brooklyn.

I could write for hours about the race, but I doubt I’d write anything interesting or new. So I will stick to the sharp end of the race. Needless to say the first 15 miles seemed to go past in a blur of supporters, bands, water stations, high-fives and grins all round.

After 15 miles the Swiss started to struggle a little, but the only outward sign was that her smile slipped a little. She was still doing well and knocking off the miles well inside 4-hour pace.

Around mile 20 the Swiss really started to slow. I was expecting this but I knew we had a few minutes in the bag. The important thing was that she didn’t walk – then we would blow it and miss the sub-4 hour target. I had spent the whole race updating her in our pace at each mile but I think she’d been ignoring me in favour of her Nike+ gear. By mile 20 however the Nike+ was ‘out of sync’ and she was relying on me to keep us going at the right pace (and I love having a role so I was happy to oblige!)

For those who know the New York marathon course, miles 22 to 24 are along 5th Avenue where there is a very noticeable rise until you enter Central Park. Despite the amazing crowds along this section the uphill can spell the end for many – not so the Swiss! She put her head down and just kept going. At mile 23 I knew we only had to run the last three miles at a little under 10 mins/mile and we would be in under 4 hours… the next mile took 10’30” – oops!

The last three miles confirmed for me something I had long suspected. My girlfriend, the Swiss, is a very determined woman. She dug deep and found enough to pick up the pace and grabbed my hand as we approached the finish line to cross in…. 3’59”25. Brilliant!

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This has not been my most successful attempt at writing a blog – so much has happened since I first posted about trying to run the 5 major marathons that I could write for a week and not bring this story up to date. However there have been a few ‘major’ developments:

• I have run under three hours three times now – after my first sub-3 in Berlin I went back in 2008 and did it again in 02:51:52 and then in London in April 2009 I ran 02:49:44
• I have met the most wonderful person in the world – the Swiss, who is adventurous, funny, beautiful and really, fit. She is running the New York marathon with me this year
• I have a half marathon personal best of 01:16:48 at the Reading Half which I think is my best result so far

So I have got two of the five majors done in under three hours each. In 10 weeks I am going to New York to see whether I can make it three out of five.

I am a very proud member of the Mornington Chasers, based in north London which is a fantastic club. It has to be one of the most inclusive running clubs going and at the same time has quite a competitive edge. As an example this weekend seven of us ran at the Burnham Beeches Half Marathon and our fastest four men (which included me) were the third fastest male team (despite three of that four (including me) having run 18 miles the day before). It is an ideal running club – friendly, welcoming and at the same time blessed with some really fast runners who help to push me along.

So that is where I am. Oh and I am on twitter for inane, but thankfully brief, updates on the day-to-day tribulations of someone trying to put as many miles between the new them and the old them! (and 450 miles is the total of my 10 week training programme leading up to the New York marathon)

(by the way this explains the majors)

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The idea

On 30 September 2007 I achieved something I never thought I would – I ran a marathon in under 3 hours… 02:59:36 to be precise. The reality is that until a year before that I never thought I would run a marathon full stop. Still, I had trained hard and achieved what I wanted (although having told myself that 02:59:59 would be good enough, I was a bit too close for comfort!)

However for those of you who are runners or have a passion for anything really, you will know how easy obsession can start. Suddenly I wanted to do more than run one marathon 24 seconds inside my target time… I wanted to run the ‘Majors’. The Majors or Major Marathons is a group of big city marathons which form a competition all of their own with big prize money for the runners who accumulate the highest number of points from the 5 races. The marathons are London, Berlin, New York, Chicago and Boston.

My time in Berlin in ’07 meant that I could apply for a ‘good for age’ place in London and avoid the vagaries of the lottery system. So off I went on a beautiful sunny London morning to get my next Major (I had already competed in New York and as I have mentioned Berlin). The race was a rather painful and disappointing experience. The wheels came off around mile 18 and I was reduced to a walk for some stretches. Thankfully Hallam was on the side of the road at one point with banana, lucozade and encouragement… but it was not a nice experience and I was not happy to finish in 03:14:36. Still I had done three of the five majors and I should have been happy with that.

I spent the rest of the summer racing in triathlons but there was a nagging feeling I had a point to prove after London, so I ran Berlin again this year (2008) and finished in 02:51:52. So now I felt like a sub-3 hour marathon runner.

Then an idea popped into my head – what about trying to run each of the Majors in under 3 hours?

I mentioned this idea to my friend at the running club – Kaz – and he came up with a name for the challenge… The Grand Slam – so it begins!

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