Only two things in spring marathon training are certain: you’ll have to squeeze training around real life and you’ll have to run in the dark. And I see no reason why my experience should be any different! After the early morning interval session yesterday I’ve had a busy weekend.
Yesterday I had my earliest run EVER so I could squeeze in my interval session before heading into London for a day of celebrating my friend Sara’s birthday. Apart from the wind, it was actually quite interesting see the town wake up before my eyes, as I circled Church Green.
Once we were in London it was time to put the marathon to one side for the day. Lunch was at Borough Market. If you enjoy your food (and let’s face it, which runner doesn’t?!) and you’ve never been, I heartily recommend it.
An array of sights, sounds, tastes and smells bombard your senses. The hardest thing was choosing just one thing to eat. And something sweet to follow of course! The butterscotch filled doughnut, topped with salted honeycomb turned a few heads and filled me up nicely in readiness for the afternoon activity.
Just a short walk from the market is a tardis-like cavern of fermented grape juice. Vinopolis is a 2.5 acre wine tasting venue set under the Victorian railway arches at London Bridge. I’d never been before and was very impressed. I’ve never really paid much interest in the wine I’ve consumed over the years but have a fresh appreciation for some of the nuances of not only the different colours but different styles of wine. I tasted countless varieties but over the 4 hours the volume of wine consumed was probably only 4 glasses so it wasn’t going to interfere too much with my marathon training.
After dinner and a couple of cheeky pints it was still a reasonably late one so, even though I had my kit and love running in London, I opted to have a lay in rather than getting up and burning another #UrbanTrail around my second favourite city.
Instead we headed west for more food, this time to seek out the finest brownies known to man produced by the guys at Outsider Tart in Chiswick. Now I just want to emphasise how good these brownies are: @MrsTWymer and I have been known to make a 120 mile round trip or two for these delicacies. I had the millionaire shortbread brownie today for the first time and was not disappointed. And as tempting as it was, I was so full that I had the self-discipline to not order a second!
After a quick shopping lap of Westfield, we had some more food and headed for home so I could get out on the road to squeeze my 12 mile long, slow run in.
It was of course dark by t he time we got home so I was faced with three choices:
- A mind-numbing, zig-zagging, de ja vu enducing run around the safely lit pavements of Witney
- An almost equally boring out-and-back along the unlit A40 cycle path to Eynsham and back
- A very risky but far more interesting run without pavements or streetlights into the villages
I hunted out my freebie headtorch that I got for running the Battersea Park Energizer Run a couple of years ago and… opted to play safe and boring: the A40 it would be!
The head torch has been used for all manner of things and until today, none of them were running. There was something quite liberating as I left the orange glow of Witney at the top of Oxford Hill and into the darkness alongside the sliproad. Of course, most of the route was punctuated with bright lights moving at 60-ish miles per hour but Barnard Gate provided two opportunities for serene reflection in the quiet and blackness.
With a couple of decent ascents, it meant pace had to be sacrificed but that didn’t matter; this run was all about heart rate. Over the 12 miles my average heart was bang on at 150 beats per minute. Just where I needed it to be.
So I’ve had a cracking weekend socially and still managed to get my marathon training sessions in. Easy to say at the start of the 4 month programme. I’m sure it’ll be harder when I’m having to cover 16, 18 and 20 miles on a Sunday!
Of course, I’m not just doing this for the love of running. I’m running the London Marathon to raise much needed funds for a small charity doing great things in East Africa, the African Children’s Fund. With just 7p they can provide a portion of porridge to a child to encourage them to attend school and to learn more effectively. SEVEN PENCE! I’ve walked past more than that on the pavement.
If you can spare anything at all please make a donation on my fundraising page at http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/runningdanw – every penny really does count!