Marathon aftermath

"Hmmm. Maybe next marathon I should wear shorts." (Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Pufacz)

“Hmmm. Maybe next marathon I should wear shorts.” (Photo: Wikimedia Commons / Pufacz)

Did you run in last Monday’s 2014 Dublin Marathon? Enjoyed it so much that you already want to enter next year’s edition right now?

Didn’t think so. But for what it’s worth, Dublin Marathon 2015 entry is now open. Only 51 weeks to go!

Well, perhaps most people are still too busy dealing with the 2014 event.

For instance, I see that the letters page of The Irish Times is keeping up an entertaining post-marathon tradition; every day this week it has featured correspondents complaining about the mere existence of Monday’s race. Today (31 October) brought this cri de coeur:

“On Monday last I went out for my morning cycle only to be impeded by barricades and diversions put in place to facilitate the marathon mayhem.

Please let me enjoy my city.”

Well, this changes everything. Why didn’t anyone tell us we were impeding someone’s daily morning cycle and enjoyment of his city? Shame on us: selfish thousands of running-and-spectating-and-economy-boosting us. At least we still have 51 weeks in which we can set this worrying wrong to rights.

And even some of those who took part, if not completely disgruntled, are far from fully gruntled.

You have your few runners revealing that the marathon course was actually too short. And then others stating that the exact same course was too long. Both sides call upon their irrefutable proof – the race-day distance recorded on their Garmin or other GPS sports watch.

The short faction don’t realise that a GPS watch signal can drop out when going under a bridge or flyover (as happens at least twice on the Dublin Marathon course) or even when close to tall buildings or trees. As for the long faction, they – like nearly all runners in any race – have run further than the stated distance because of common race occurrences like weaving around other runners, taking a wide corner, or pulling over for a water bottle.

(Of course, it can happen that a course is measured too short. And earlier this year I was at a 5k and 10k event where, because the organisers didn’t move the start line back to compensate for a partial lap in the shorter race, the 5k was short by around a quarter of a kilometre. But a GPS watch doesn’t prove anything.)

Other runners, and apparently some club officials too, were unhappy with the conditions. The new course, with its long drag through the Phoenix Park in the early miles, and the unusually muggy weather seemed to combine to take a heavy toll on this year’s competitors. Aside from my own laborious last 10 miles, I don’t recall ever seeing so many runners vomiting or staggering in the closing stages of the Dublin Marathon.

If Monday’s race was your first marathon and it didn’t go well, then that’s a hard one to come to terms with. Hopefully it won’t put you off another attempt – after all, the main value of your first marathon is as preparation for your second.

More experienced runners who had a below-par performance at this year’s Dublin Marathon – and that includes me – will reflect on their training and build-up. That new session or diet you tried; that hard half-marathon in the summer; even the new brand of shoes – all are now under examination, even if they worked perfectly well before.

That said, even with perfect training and prep, sometimes in the marathon you just have a bad day. I think this is the case for me. I didn’t notice the conditions at the time – I didn’t feel like I was overheating or expending too much energy on the early hills. But it’s easier to blame whatever tangible factors present themselves, rather than try to accept the mysteries of an inexplicable below-par marathon performance.

We have 51 weeks to go before we get another shot at that new Dublin Marathon course. I suspect the 2015 race will be a mass act of vengeance and redemption.

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Dublin Marathon 2014 – finished!

Dublin Marathon 2014 finisher top and medal

Just about completed, mind you.

A tough day, with no PB at the end of it, but I’m still happy. I finished the 2014 Dublin Marathon in 3:38:59, just beating the mythical 3:39 barrier all us marathon runners talk about.

(You can find all the Dublin Marathon 2014 results online, and in cold print in tomorrow’s Irish Independent.)

My finishing time was a good half-hour slower than what I had trained for, and what my race results during the summer suggested I could achieve. Still, I’m pleased that I managed to turn a difficult run into a decent time – and after all, it’s the second-fastest of my five Dublin Marathons to date.

I’m not sure what happened to me today. All I can do is present the facts; despite training well for 18 weeks and feeling fine before the race, from the very first mile I felt I was working too hard to maintain a 7:10 mile pace that should have been comfortable for me. I got as far as mile fifteen on schedule, but from there I slid into 8-minute pace until mile 20, and 10-minute miles from there until the finish.

I have no qualms about the conditions, so I can’t blame them. I didn’t find the breeze so bad, nor the temperature so unseasonably warm. (My second-fastest marathon ever was run in 30-degree heat.) And the hills and drags weren’t so fearsome. No, today’s underperformance was all my own work.

But people have had worse marathons. Even though the last ten miles today were probably the worst I’ve ever felt in a race, in hindsight I’m glad that I kept the head together and ploughed on to the finish.

I liked the new Dublin Marathon course. The first mile through the old red-bricked streets of the Liberties was full of character, if not the characters that used to line the old route along the North Circular Road – and the tight corners weren’t as congested as I had feared. (That might have been different for runners elsewhere in the field.)

And I’m sure our overseas visitors were happy to pass two popular Dublin landmarks – Christchurch cathedral and the Guinness factory. The familiar heady smell of hops wafted over us as we passed the Guinness riverfront gate coming up to mile three. I passed the 5-kilometre marker in 22 minutes.

Next came the long drag up to and through the Phoenix Park. The Dublin Marathon has in most years gone up the centre of the Park, but perhaps the major route changes elsewhere made Chesterfield Avenue stand out more than before. What was forecast as a south-westerly breeze, which would have been behind runners, transpired to be a north-westerly into our faces. However, the field was still fairly packed through the Park, allowing runners to draft and take shelter.

Leaving the Phoenix Park, we passed through a great new addition to the Dublin Marathon; Castleknock was rocking, and may well have taken Chapelizod’s crown as the best town of support on the route. In particular, I’ll give a big shout out to the man playing the clarinet; well done, that man.

From Castleknock the route went downhill and back towards the north-western entrance of the Phoenix Park, down the Lower Glen Road for another downhill stretch to the Chapelizod gate. This was a welcome ease for runners; still, I noticed that the field around me had strung out considerably by now. It seemed that some runners were already having a bad day.

Despite its now-customary waft of barbecue, Chapelizod was quieter than last year. But further along the road at mile 11, Kilmainham drew a large crowd. By this point, though, I was definitely working harder than I expected.

Rialto was a quiet, leafy stretch that gave me a chance to re-assess the situation. I would keep going at my 7:10 pace through halfway and from there take things mile by mile. With all my thinking I hardly noticed the halfway point on the Crumlin Road; I went through in 1 hour 33 minutes, pretty much on schedule.

Mile 14 came and went without extra difficulty, but at the 15-mile marker I had slipped behind my schedule for the first time. When I tried to arrest this decline in pace, I got no response from the gears or fuel tank. My legs and my head felt fine, but I found myself short of breath and having to blow out stitches.

At mile 16, turning past the KCR in Kimmage, I was having serious difficulty catching my breath. I was worried that I would start hyperventilating – or worse. I told myself that I didn’t want to end my marathon in a first-aid tent, and I managed to regain some control over my breathing.

However, I had lost loads of strength in my body by now – not in my legs, as I said, but an all-over lack of energy. Time to re-assess again; heading through miles 17 and 18 without any improvement, I just wanted to finish the race and any sort of a decent time would be a bonus.

The last ten miles of my race were just a weary plod. Using the only marathon mantra that works, I resolved to keep lifting my feet so that I would finish. But turning the legs was a real struggle. Heading out of Rathgar at mile 18, the sun came out and stung my eyes – this was where my head started to struggle too. The 3:10 pace group wafted past me; I just had to block them out of my field of vision.

If there was any consolation with my travails, it was that I was finding the flat parts of the route so hard that I hardly noticed the climbs at Milltown and Clonskeagh. Cresting the hill at the top of Roebuck Road at mile 23, the traditional turn for home, I didn’t get the usual surge of pre-finish optimism: downhill wasn’t much better than the flat. A rumble of hooves from behind prefigured the 3:20 cavalry overtaking me.

I plodded on through the last few miles. In Ballsbridge the 3:30 pacers went by me; my below-par performance was confirmed. I would be half an hour down on my target finishing time.

Still, I mustered enough mental clarity to appreciate the new last mile of the Dublin Marathon, along Haddington Road and down Mount Street to the finish. It was a fantastic cauldron of noise, lined deeply with cheering crowds. Also, you can see the finishing arch from half a kilometre away; scraping together whatever physical and mental strength I had, I decided to enjoy the run-in as best as I could.

By now my finishing time didn’t matter. I knew I would still clock 3 hours thirtysomething, which I would have gladly taken five miles back the road.

So, I crossed the line for my time of 3:38:59 and my first reaction was: “That’s not so bad after all.”

Thanks to the Dublin Marathon organisers for putting on a great event, and to the thousands of people who came out and cheered. It all added to a great marathon experience, regardless of the result.

I have to be philosophical about these things: I’ve had bad preparations that still yielded good marathon results, and vice versa. Sometimes you just have a tough day.

And at least there will be another day.

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Ready for Dublin Marathon 2014

Dublin forecast: Cloudy with a chance of PBs (Screen shot / RTE)

Dublin forecast: Cloudy with a chance of PBs (Screen shot / RTE)

The training is finished. I did my last run this morning – a light 1-mile trot around the local park.

I’ve got my gear prepared too, including my race number pinned to my running top, the same one I’ve worn on all my long runs and short races since July.

I’m ready for the 2014 Dublin Marathon.

The all-important weather forecast sounds favourable: dry, overcast and mild, with temperatures in the low teens. Today in Dublin there was a strong wind from the south-west, but apparently that will have eased a little by tomorrow morning – and a south-westerly breeze will help runners going up the drag of Chesterfield Avenue in the Phoenix Park and along the last few miles into the city-centre finish.

The more races you do regularly, the easier your pre-marathon prep. You find you don’t need to bring your full wardrobe and bathroom cabinet – just the essentials like Vaseline, Sudocreme, plasters and some soft post-race clothes.

Apart from yesterday’s brief visit to the marathon expo and this morning’s one-mile loosener, I’ve spent this weekend resting up as much as I can. I got two good nights of sleep and a couple of naps too, so whatever sleep I get tonight will be a bonus.

This will be my fifth Dublin Marathon and my fourth in a row, so by now I have a fairly settled pre-race routine. I’ll get up at the usual hour, have my regular pre-race and pre-long-run breakfast, and leave home at the same time as previous years. I have a particular pre-race spot where I like to spend some time staying warm and getting ready.

Then when the moment arrives I’ll head to the start area to drop off my bag, do my warm-up and slip into my home-made bin-liner poncho to keep warm as I wait for the gun. I’ll be in the right wave and I’ll use the pacers as a guide to where I’ll place myself in the start area – a good rule of thumb is to stand in the start area in the place where you expect to finish.

For example, if you’re aiming to run just under 3:15 you would stand roughly halfway between the 3:10 and 3:20 pacers. (The Dublin Marathon has its pacers in 10-minute intervals.) This will help you go off at the right pace – as long as this is the pace for which you have trained. You can’t fool your training.

It’s hard to relax tonight when adrenaline is surging through every cell and fibre. I just have to avoid any unnecessary activity and fuss.

I’ve trained well, I’ll do my best and I’ll try to enjoy my Dublin Marathon experience. And so will you.

See you at the finish.

Posted in Dublin, Marathon | Tagged | 4 Comments

A fast lap of the marathon expo

The RDS all decked out for the 2014 Dublin Marathon expo

The entrance to the RDS Main Hall, all decked out for the 2014 Dublin Marathon expo

When I was a youngster I liked to go to ideal homes exhibitions. All those stands and their products fascinated me, especially the ones showing a loop of cheesy promotional videos for carpet cleaner or attic stairs or whatever. And I’d always fill up on free stuff like flyers and pens.

I was reminded of this today because an integral part of the marathon experience is the expo – that cross between a registration tent and running trade fair which takes place in the days before big marathons.

Ahead of this Monday’s 2014 edition of the race, the Dublin Marathon expo opened today (Saturday) at the main hall of the RDS in Ballsbridge and continues tomorrow (Sunday). It won’t be open on race day morning, though – by then the marathon jamboree will have moved to the start area around Merrion Square.

For my first few marathons, I found the expo a thing of wonder. Even as a non-club lone wolf who doesn’t mix with other runners, I got a buzz from being among a throng of fellow marathoneers, all thinking and feeling the same things as me ahead of the race. The bazaar of stalls promoting gear, energy bars and other races made the running world seem a wider, deeper place than the one mapped by my running routes and training log. I had the sensation that around some corner, out of some stand, would pop the secret of running.

These days I have a more prosaic approach to the marathon expo. As if I were robbing a bank, I get in, do the job as quickly as possible and then get out.

So, I can’t give you a particularly detailed review of the 2014 Dublin Marathon expo. I got in, and after serving a few minutes in a fast-moving queue I picked up my race number and bag. This process spat me out at the exhibition stands – gear, other races, energy bars, stuff like that. I also spotted a stage for talks and a space to sit and eat pasta. Then I left.

If you’re running this year’s Dublin Marathon then you’ll discover all of this for yourself.

I keep my marathon expo visits brief because I want to spend as little time as possible on my feet before the race. But for other runners the marathon expo will still be a wonderland.

One thing I did notice, though – the stands are giving away plenty of free pens. Fill your pockets!

Posted in Dublin, Marathon | Tagged | 3 Comments

Marathon strategy

"Right lads, let's hang in with numbers 2 and 85 - they look like they know what they're doing!" (Photo: Anna & Michal via photopin cc)

“Right lads, let’s follow numbers 2 and 85 – they look like they know what they’re doing!” (Photo: Anna & Michal via photopin cc)

In this pre-marathon week, my runs are light and easy. This gives me a good opportunity to think about the big day and in particular my marathon strategy – splits, finishing time and the like.

“Ha!” says you. “I don’t need your plans and strategies! I’ll just trot around the course and finish the race.” Well, unless you fancy having the worst running experience of your life, I’d advise you to have a more concrete plan than that.

The one time I didn’t have a proper objective, the 2010 Paris Marathon, soon became a mentally torrid affair that degenerated into a real sufferfest. A marathon is no place to be half-arsed or vague about what you’re doing.

Using your times from shorter races and an online tool like the McMillan Running Calculator will give you a realistic target finishing time. Then I use this handy pace calculator to break down my finishing time into pace per mile or kilometre. (You should have done these calculations long before pre-race week, you know.)

And all of this helps you to pick the correct place to stand in the marathon start area – which is critical, because a 3:45 runner lining up with the 3-hour pace group will either get shoved and jostled by others passing or get sucked into following a foolishly fast pace. (Since you asked, a 3-hour runner lining up with the 4-hour group would be weaving and dodging so much as to ruin any chance of enjoyment or a clear run.)

I’ve printed out the Dublin Marathon course map and annotated it with my target finishing time and pace per mile. On my runs this week I repeat to myself my splits for every 3 miles, halfway and at key locations along the route. Fortunately, my target pace gives me 3-mile splits that are round numbers and easy to remember.

Of course, splits and target pace times are only meant as a guideline, not a strict prescription. I shouldn’t get frustrated if I’m slightly up or down on a planned split. Depending on things like climbs, descents, winds, corners and straights, I’ll cover some sections at a different speed to others.

And for the very first mile I’ll be taking things handy, noting which runners go tearing off so that I recognise them when I pass them in their quivering, snivelling heaps at mile 22. Don’t go trying to “bank time in the first miles” either. As if the Dublin Marathon organisers were trying to counteract such eejitry, the new opening miles through the Liberties have some tight corners that will slow down the field.

Remember too that nobody cares about your finishing time. Your loved ones just want you to finish in one piece and have a good day; your friends and workmates will be impressed that you simply finished the marathon.

I’ve also been visualising the course and noting locations that I know – that’s the advantage of living in Dublin and having run this marathon four times before. As well as using splits by mile I’ll break up the race by geography: from the start to the Phoenix Park and Chapelizod, then on to Dolphin’s Barn and the halfway point at Crumlin, then past Bushy Park and near where I live – a tremendous boost and a marker which signals for me the marathon’s turn for home.

And once I’m over the series of small climbs from Milltown to Roebuck, I’ll be on the run-in to the finish on Merrion Square.

That finishing line is something I’ve been visualising. After all, on any journey it’s useful to know where you’re going. Not only do I visualise the new Dublin Marathon finishing straight down Mount Street, but I also see myself collecting my medal and gear, meeting my people afterwards, and heading off somewhere to eat and celebrate another great marathon experience.

And believe me, the better my planning, the better my marathon experience.

Posted in Marathon, Training | Tagged | 7 Comments

Running in Vienna

The Staatsoper, or state opera house, in Vienna (Photo: Friedrich Bohringer / Wikimedia Commons)

The Staatsoper, or state opera house, in Vienna (Photo: Friedrich Bohringer / Wikimedia Commons)

I’m just back from a few days in Vienna – and as usual on my travels I made sure to fit in a run.

This was my first visit to Vienna, and as it was work-related I spent a lot of it down the coal mine. But I still had some time to stroll through this magnificent city and sample its cuisine.

But forget about the running and the sights for a minute; you just want to know about the food, right?

On the first night we popped into the first nice-looking restaurant we passed – and so by complete chance we had found ourselves with a much sought-after table in Figlmüller, the original, most famous and most popular wiener schnitzel place in the city. The schnitzel was massive: sagging over the sides of the dinner plate and touching the table. But I finished it and the potato salad on the side.

And I knew you’d want me to sample on your behalf a wide range of Viennese desserts and cakes. So, over a few days I had some Sachertorte (a chocolate cake), Kaiserschmarrn (scrambled cake pieces covered in stewed plums) and Malakoff (a cream and sponge cake), as well as plenty of other little viennoiseries whose names I missed. However, I didn’t have any strudel, nor did I get to visit any of Vienna’s celebrated coffee houses – that will have to wait until my next visit.

As for the minor matter of running, coalmining duties meant that by necessity I could only manage a short early-morning spin. But I made sure I passed as much of Vienna’s historic sights as possible.

Up at the crack of dawn, I started from the Schottenring, one of many wide boulevards lined with elegant buildings that reminded me of the Haussmannian streets of Paris. If I were to compare the two cities, I found Vienna to be more spacious, more convivial and altogether grander than Paris.

Even at that early hour there was plenty of traffic on the streets, plus the clanking and lumbering of two types of Vienna tram – the eye-catching old model, mostly in red and white, and an uglier modern version in grey.

My run took me along the Ringstrasse, a circle of boulevards built on the old city walls and which encloses the Innere Stadt – not an inner city in the American sense of a deprived ghetto, but the historic heart of Vienna. Following the Ringstrasse brings you past all the major palaces, state buildings and opera houses – the ideal route for a Viennese sightseeing run.

On my right were the 19th century University of Vienna and the spectacular Rathaus – the city hall of Vienna, with a soaring clock tower and Gothic arches. In the park outside the Rathaus was an old-fashioned circus tent and amusements, plus a vintage railway carriage converted into a restaurant – all quiet and in semi-darkness after the previous night’s festivities.

Across the street from the Rathaus is the Cafe Landtmann, one of the more famous Viennese coffee houses. It’s popular with tourists and guide books, but a colleague of mine from Vienna told me that other coffee shops have nicer fare and friendlier service.

Further along on the left as I ran was the imposing Burgtheater, the Austrian national theatre and a place with impeccable music credentials – it was the venue for the first ever performances of Beethoven’s 1st Symphony and Mozart’s operas Cosi Fan Tutti and The Marriage of Figaro. At this remove it’s strange to think of these works as ever being new, and you have to wonder what those Burgtheater punters thought of this new music.

The morning was still half-dark when I passed the Volksgarten, so I couldn’t see its monuments or rose gardens. The side closest to the street was better lit, and along it a fellow runner was picking her steps carefully through the shadows. Across the street was the Parliament with its ancient Greek-style columns.

Turning onto the Burgring, I passed between the Natural History Museum and Art History Museum on one side and on the other side the Hofburg Palace, formerly the residence of the Hapsburgs but now home to the President of Austria. I saw a couple of other runners around here – the wide boulevards of the Ringstrasse are clearly popular for early running on dark Viennese mornings.

(In daylight hours I imagine most of Vienna’s runners go to the Prater, the large park on the bank of the Danube. Unfortunately I didn’t have time on this visit to run in the Prater or along the Danube – something else to save for next time.)

Next along the Ringstrasse is the Opernring, which you might deduce to be the opera house area of the city. The Vienna State Opera is at a busy junction which I navigated by dipping underground into the Karlsplatz U-bahn, or metro, station to emerge on the other side. In the station, The Blue Danube was being piped to commuters who probably didn’t hear it at all.

The next landmark on my Viennese run was the Hotel Imperial, perhaps the most famous and prestigious hotel in the city. The hotel is also known for its Imperial Torte, a rich chocolate truffle cake made to a secret recipe and presented in a box. Less impressively, a young Adolf Hitler worked in this hotel for a while, and both he and Mussolini stayed here at various times during the Anschluss period – once the hotel’s Jewish owner had been forced out and sent to his death in a concentration camp.

Heads of state, hopefully more socially acceptable than fascist dictators, still stay at the Hotel Imperial – and during my stay in Vienna I reckon some head of state was there. The night before my run, while walking past, I had seen a fleet of black cars pull up at the front entrance while police blocked off the pavements. Police were still outside when I ran past the hotel the following morning – in fact, minibuses of reinforcements were parked outside. I wonder who was there.

Behind the Hotel Imperial was the furthest point of my run – and my true destination. The Musikverien may not be a name that means anything to you, but it is the venue of the annual New Year’s Day Concert broadcast live around the world from Vienna. At around midday on the first of January I like to switch on this concert on television to see the elegant interior of the Musikverein, the Golden Hall, with the audience in black tie and formal wear, as the concert ends with two traditional encores – The Blue Danube and the Radetsky March.

I ran all the way around the Musikverein, past the suspicious police posted on the rear service door of the Hotel Imperial, and headed back on the second half of my run. In the Karlsplatz station as I ducked through it again, The Blue Danube was still playing – regular commuters must be sick of it.

Instead of going back the way I came, I ran through the Innere Stadt so that I could fit in more sights of Vienna.

Kärntner Strasse is the pedestrianised main shopping street of Vienna, with department stores and exclusive brands on both sides. The premises here have the misleading habit of leaving their lights on at night, so that you think they are open. But it creates a warm and safe atmosphere, and gives the impression that Vienna is a wealthy city where businesses can afford pointlessly huge electricity bills.

The heart of the Innere Stadt and of the city is Stephansplatz, which features the Stephandom – Vienna’s cathedral and one of the tallest churches in the world. More impressive than its skyscraping steeple, though, is its colourful, zig-zag patterned tiled roof. I know Notre Dame in Paris well enough to say with confidence that the Stephandom compares favourably.

From the Stephandom I headed up another wide pedestrianised street, the Graben with its cafe terraces and an extravagant baroque column called the Pestsäule. Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton have large stores along here, while carriage drivers circle around with tourists aboard.

Continuing on after the Graben, I came back to the Schottenring and the end of my run – my Ring run rather than a Ring Cycle, if you’re in the mood for a laboured operatic pun. I think I had a better tour of Vienna than those tourists with the horse and carriage.

Well, I loved Vienna and I’ll definitely return there. On my next run I’ll make sure I take in the Prater and the Danube.

And – shame on me – I must rectify another omission; I can’t believe I spent my whole first visit to Vienna without once remembering to sing an ’80s classic out loud on the street. Not that one – this one:

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Dublin Marathon 2014 training – month 4 review

Dublin, get ready for us!

Dublin, get ready for us!

Another four weeks of running done, and I’m pleased to report that I trained hard for three of them.

I started my taper last week, you see. The long runs and hard sessions are over; now I’m just running to keep ticking over. There are only two weeks to go to the 2014 Dublin Marathon.

On a related point, I’m watching more television right now than I’ve done all year.

But there was certainly some hard training earlier this month – and hard racing too. I had a great run in the Dublin Half Marathon, where I took over seven minutes off my personal best and went under 90 minutes for the first time. And I could have kept running for another few miles at the same pace.

However, I was worried that my half marathon performance may have taken too much out of me. The following week my right knee was sore – it got relieved quickly by a physical therapist and there was no serious injury there, but I still missed two days of training.

After that, I had to fight off a heavy cold. Autumn marathons are desperate for leaving runners vulnerable to the change in weather at precisely the moment when their immune systems are depleted after months of training. All those draughts and soakings and damp days generate germs and illnesses that fester inside every bus, train and public building.

Races, niggles and illnesses aside, my training this last month went well. I settled into a routine of doing my midweek 12-miler as a running commute home from work. Last weekend I did my last 20-mile long run – I was careful not to empty the tank, but nonetheless I felt fine as I hit the significant 20-mile barrier.

And I got another long run in on my travels, this time a glorious 18-mile loop of central London – along the Thames, past the Houses of Parliament, across Tower Bridge, and down The Mall in my own private London Marathon finishing kick.

I hope to fit in some more foreign running this week – I’ll be in Vienna for a couple of days, and my plan is to get up early for a whirl around the sights of the city.

Apart from that, it’ll be short runs and light strides for me next week.

And the week after, I’ll be in full Dublin Marathon pre-race preparation mode.

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