5 weeks to go! Running high and low.
In order to raise money for Freedom from Torture, Vee Uye has committed to running 2 marathons in only 2 weeks – the Brighton Marathon on 15 April and the Greater Manchester Marathon on 29th April. She has blogged about why she chose to do this and why in particular she wanted to raise funds for Freedom from Torture.
As I type this, I am staring at a calendar that tells me I have a mere 4 weeks and 5 days until the first marathon of my double marathon challenge. You could say I'm a little nervous. I've completed 13 weeks of training and have experienced some terrific highs and lows. I expected this but, ever the optimist (why else commit myself to this running madness?) I didn't expect the lows to feel quite so low.
I've put fundraising posters up at work, told everyone I know about what I'm doing, and have carried a sponsorship form around with me from the start so at least once every day I'm asked, 'how's the training going?' I usually respond with a grin because, for some reason, it's been going well. No injuries, no sickness, energy levels ok, and the weather has been perfect for running.
That is, until week 13 of my training schedule. Yes, I see the significance of the number. I felt it too.
Week 13 followed a really busy week for me, during which I co-ran two projects on top of my full-time job. It was also a particularly hard training week which saw me running 50+ miles including a 17-mile run. This all felt fine, until the Tuesday of the following week.
To celebrate the end of a busy period, and because I haven't taken a holiday in years, I planned to take myself off to the Netherlands for a long weekend. I also planned to do all my week's running before I set off. However, my body had other ideas. Exhaustion had waited until I believed its threat had been vanquished before stomping all over me. I tried to go for a 12-mile run mid-week and barely made it to 3. I tried to do 8 the next day and again only managed 3. I tried to do my long run (18 miles) on the day I was leaving but managed 6.
Worse than the lack of miles was the complete lack of motivation to run. It just felt completely joyless. I was despondent and exhausted, even though I was getting more sleep than ever. The whole thing started to feel impossible.
At the last minute, I packed my running gear as I'd been told that Vondelpark, Amsterdam, was about 5 minutes from my hotel and perfect for running in. After the awful week of training I'd had, I held little hope of running on my holiday.
It turns out that a change of scenery can work absolute wonders.
Back on track
During the 4 days I was in Amsterdam, I ran a lovely 6-mile run in the early evening and also managed to fit in my 18-mile long run on Sunday morning with, it seemed, about 100 other runners with the same idea. A friend I'd travelled with (who has just taken up running) joined me for part of my long run, which was lovely.
Vondelpark was perfect, as advertised. As if the coffee houses, lakes, sculptures, wildlife, and outdoor theatre wasn't enough, Vondelpark also contains a designated 3.2 km smooth circuit for runners, cyclists, walkers and rollerbladers. Lots of rollerbladers. The sun was out, the scenery was beautiful and I was on holiday. I'd managed to salvage a bad week and find my joy of running in the process. This was most definitely a high.
The most important thing I learned from the whole experience was to listen to my body. I need to learn to recognise the signs of tiredness, especially when I'm so close to achieving my goals. Hopefully, there'll only be highs from here, but if not, I'll just have to remember that I'm only human. And no matter how hard it gets, I only have remember why I'm doing it and the generosity of those that have already donated and that's enough for me to don my trainers and start pounding the pavements.
Until next time!
My Fundraising total: £445. Check out my Justgiving Page.