Sunday, 17 June 2018

THE SNAIL LOSES ITS SHELL - A LONDON MARATHON TRAINING BLOG

A wonderful training run today in the mizzle. I drive out to the Marazion car park and get my welcome from the guys who take the parking fees. They remember me from my preparations for the 2017 London Marathon and know that I am now preparing for the London Marathon in 2019. Their contribution is to smile benignly at the white-haired gentleman in his running gear behind the wheel of his slowing car and wave me through. "Just make sure that your parking fee goes to your charity!" I promise it will.

St Michael's Mount - a tourist attraction - and my Marazion car park is the main one the tourists use. My return journey each run ends with this view - except for today when the mizzle blotted out the usual sights. 

09:06 I touch my car and say au revoir, and head out for the coastal foot-path route to Penzance. Today, I am determined to run as far as the exit to the big Wharfside car park by the sea in Penzance - where this month I have been parking twice a week before my Redwing Gallery talks - and then turn round and run back without stopping. That's what I was doing back in 2017. When I tried to emulate this back in April two months ago, I soon knew I wouldn't be able to run continuously there and back. I decided to run on to the traffic lights just before Newlyn and got there in 56:30 minutes, stopped,



turned round and then walked/ ran back to Marazion in 01:07:30.

Today, I was feeling so much better. I guess it's down to my pattern of plugging away at getting back running fitness, despite it seeming more difficult than in the past. I managed three local circuit runs on Mon 4 June, Wednesday 6 June and Friday 8 June with a Ben Donaldson physio session at the local Leisure Centre to conclude the week on that Friday. I fully intended to head out to Marazion on the following Sunday, the 10th of June, a week ago - but the business of life and three small glasses of wine the night before told against me.  What ever happened to those carefree days of moderate alcohol intake? Last night, I settled for just two small glasses. It seems to have worked.

This shot I call 'Joy in the Mall' - April 2012 - my first marathon, aged 63, in London - heading for the finishing line to complete in a time of 05:40:55  

There is another trick up my sleeve to explain why I am beginning to crack it. Actually I wear it on my wrist. The Sally Army - for whom I am running again in the London Marathon 2019 - gave me a £100 sports voucher in 2017 for raising £3,000. I spent it on a Tom Tom sports watch that sat unused for over a year because I couldn't get my head round how this gizmo worked and I was very absorbed in writing and researching 'Jago'. Dave Stevens, our local computer whizz-kid, got it working for me and now I have this computer screen that tells me how many steps I've taken on the run, the distance covered, the time taken, and much, much else. The problem is that my gizmo isn't that accurate. My local circuit covers around 3.5 miles according to my map measurement. The Tom Tom tells me a range of readings from 3.6 to 4.1miles. My time is generally given on the computer reading as 5 minutes faster on this local circuit than the Tom Tom watch face and my back-up watch on my other wrist are telling me. I guess that's rather cool - running further in a quicker time - but I'm never happy with porky-pies. Too many of those in the world today. So the truth is that today I ran continuously for around 7 miles - not 8.13 miles as Tom Tom tells it - in 76 minutes - and not 78:50 minutes. I will however accept that I took 11,019 steps and my energy burn was 2,129 kcal.

The Edinburgh Marathon - 2014 - running for the line to complete in 05:42:10

And it was so good to feel quite as comfortable as I did today. The foundation has been laid - over the 10 weeks left before we head for Patmos and our Greek rest and recharge in September, I can extend the length of the continuous run by around 12 minutes and a mile every week that I manage the long run. There's every reason to think I'll be continuously running a half-marathon distance by the end of August. Once we're back from Greece, it will take a few weeks to get back to that level of running fitness but I'll be well set-up to launch the 17 week Marathon training programme in December this year.

Crossing the line in the London Marathon in April 2017 in 05:37:29, a PB


I did say that I was running in mizzle today. It was wet and fresh and there were sections of my route where I began to see the snails crossing my path. I got quite nimble in placing my feet to avoid them; I'm not that fast so it wasn't too difficult. I mused on their speed and my own pace. My mind turned to this blog I knew I would be writing this afternoon. My snail's pace compared to those younger athletes who breezed past me - yes, I could work that into the title. And isn't the snail an extraordinary creature with those eyes at the tip of its two eyestalks - those antennae stretching out from its head - wow, a thing of such wonder! And so many of them today. Scores - and then towards the end there was a profusion of them - hundreds more.

A wonderful snail 


As for the shell - well that is carried on its back and lends itself easily to metaphor. I feel my shell has been lifted - my burden taken from me - now I know I'm running fit again. I can ask for sponsorship for my 2019 Marathon challenge with the confidence of someone who knows he has a fighting chance of finishing. Here's the link if you want to make your donation to the anti-modern slavery campaign earlier than most - please press here:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/rob-donovan

Many thanks.