Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Cleared for take-off

Wonderfully, terribly, thankfully and astoundingly, the San Francisco Marathon is very nearly upon us (me). This will probably be my last post before the race as we’re flying out tomorrow and will be cramming in as much of the city as we possibly can before the main event on Sunday (whilst, obviously, avoiding spending too much time on my feet...). So a very quick round-up of the last few bits and pieces I’ve been doing pre-marathon.

Re-reading all of my running books
If you haven’t already had your life changed by Christopher McDougall’s Born To Run, or had to pick your jaw off the floor at the exploits of Dean Karnazes, then I strongly recommend you give them a read when you next need some running inspiration. However, having ploughed through my (extensive) collection of these and other works,  I’ve promised myself that I’ll read something else in the next few days to let my mind relax a little.

Re-reading my marathon write-ups
I find strange comfort in re-reading the slightly mournful tomes I wrote after Paris 2009 and Brighton 2010. Perhaps it’s reassurance that if I could do it then, I can do it now. What I’m really looking for is an honest appraisal of the pain involved in the latter miles, which I’ve never really produced, too cowardly to write it down in case it puts me off forever. We shall see if this changes this time...

Watching all my favourite running clips on YouTube
There are far too many for me to include here, so I thought I’d just give you one link – this is a trailer for an upcoming feature-length film about the Western States Endurance Run (or Western States 100). I posted a video of this race a while ago but have been frustrated ever since that it didn’t really do the event justice (as I imagine it, anyway!). This one does, watch it right now:

Getting my gear in order
There’s a lot of it. My Union flag running vest (will this be a British record for the slowest marathon ever run in a GB vest?), shorts, cycling shorts, twin skin socks, running shoes with new, more-fun laces, energy belt loaded with gels, long-sleeved t-shirt to wear whilst warming up, gloves for same, sunglasses and back-up versions of everything just in case... Also, inevitably, packing for the rest of the holiday. I hate packing.

Yes, I know I won't be able to read it. 
I'll know it's there, though...

Sorting out insurance
I have worldwide annual travel insurance. It came with my bank account. After much hoo-ha I finally managed to establish that it doesn’t cover marathon running because it’s classed as an ‘event’ and I will be ‘competing’. The mindless drone on the phone was utterly certain that since it isn’t a charity event, it must be a competitive race. My endless protestations that it’s a recreational run and that this is, for want of a better word, my hobby, fell on deaf ears and I was cast aside. I called our travel agent, who was quite happy to provide cover, conversely, as long as it wasn’t a competitive race and I didn’t expect to win. Madness.

Back to the physio
I’ve been having some back and shoulder pain whilst running recently. Nothing debilitating and quite tolerable, but not ideal for a marathon run, so it was back to the physio for a full hour’s sports massage of ultimate megadeath. This is always a good idea and worth it for a pre-race tune-up, as the therapist also worked out the niggling pains in my ankles and freshened up my legs in the process. And of course, it hurt like hell. It feels like she has replaced my neck with someone else's.

A very small amount of running
I am doing my utmost to avoid ‘taper madness’, a condition used to describe runners who panic that their taper weeks are too light and feel like they have to go for long runs, partly as prep for the race itself but perhaps also to define themselves as runners/marathoners. Those who succumb sometimes take themselves out for long runs, tiring their legs before race day and negating all the benefits of the taper. I can’t say I’m desperate to go out for long runs, but I do feel quite compelled to go out and run hard for 10 miles or so of an evening. Must resist.

And I mean actually stretching, not just telling people that I do. OK I’ve only been stretching a bit. Alright I’ve stretched properly twice. And by ‘properly’ I mean a bit. A little bit.

...and relaxing
Other than eating, there's not much I can do to influence how my race goes on Sunday. My training is done, I'm reasonably fit and mostly not ill, everything else is up to race-day karma. PB or PW, I'm going to have a great race.

See you on the other side


2011 to date - miles: 789.29, parkruns: 6, races: 3, miles biked: 68.94, metres swum: 1225

P.S. For post-race updates, I'll post on twitter first, probably around 6pm GMT. Follow me @davidjhaines.


  1. Hi, just found your blog from your comment on the RunnersWorld.co.uk article about running blogs. Really like it and I'll be reading more in the future.

    Good luck with your marathon!