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The Wake Up Call (Part 1)

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The exact moment I knew this challenge was going to be ‘a bit tricky’ was when I got home on the 16th of December and my heels stopped working. You can imagine my surprise when I realized I wasn’t going to be able to walk up (or down) the stairs for the next three days. I won’t  bore you with the details just yet; suffice to say that in a grand show of foolhardiness, I decided to prove to the folks that called me crazy a few weeks earlier  that they were right! But more on that later. Since setting up the MyCharity.ie page, €85 has been raised over the last few weeks for ReachOut.com which is an encouraging start. Also, since my last post, I have registered for a number of these marathons – some of them are pretty normal, run-of-the-mill events. Some of them, on the other hand, are slightly different.

The Mooathon. Only in Donegal.

Just on the off chance that the ‘milking stations’ alone might not be enough to power me over the finish line, I decided it might be a good idea to do some training. Not that I was completely out of shape mind you, obviously on the outside I still looked fantastic – however, after my  final year at  DCU, my innards had steadily recomposed themselves into something mostly made up of pizza, chocolate and Folgers premium blend. Shockingly, therefore, it turned out that some people thought that I might not have been entire serious about this whole running business. So, as part of an effort to prove that this whole thing is neither a fantasy, a misunderstanding or some form  of elaborate practical joke, (or precursor to being elected in a Boris-esque manner), I thought I should write about some of the preparations that I have been doing over the last few months.

I’ve been training with the Drogheda and District Athletic Club since the 22nd of October. For the first couple of days, stretching into the first couple of weeks, I was sweating my ass off finishing the most basic sessions. Even on days where I was only doing ‘slow training’, (where basically you run continuous laps at a steady pace for as long as possible), I was being overtaken by kids half my age.

Some manner of cheating may have been taking place…

Part of the reason for this is, of course, that I am still awful at pacing myself. Whether running one mile or twenty, I always start out trying to keep up with the guy who can do a 3 hour marathon and then practically collapse by the end of the run. Thankfully, like most teething problems , this is starting to pass. After a while, we moved onto doing ‘miles’, in which you run a mile at a moderate pace, stop for a quick breather, and repeat the process for about 40 minutes. More recently, as the weather started turning nasty (rendering the grass-track temporarily unusable) we started doing hill training.

Hill training, for those of you who have not  tried it, is truly evil. For us, it consists of a 2km run from the Meadow View pitches at Hazel Lane to the bottom of Mary Street across the way from Drogheda’s Scotch Hall shopping centre.  Having made it that far, you are then expected to  do a 350 metre dash up Mary Street, which is on a sharp hill, and then a slow jog/walk back down to the bottom. This is repeated 12 times, a total of 8400 metres. At that point, the return  2km run back to Meadow View pitches and the safety of our cars begins.  A grand  total distance  of 12.4 km or 7.71 miles, come rain or shine. The entire route looks like this:

So far so reasonable. Two nights a week formal training and short sessions around the roads at home to fill in the gaps. By the middle of December, I was running about 30 to 40 miles a week which according to various reputable sources (including that classic tome “Marathon Training for Dummies”) is the minimum distance you need to cover in order to eventually finish a marathon without walking … or dying. Then December 16th came along, and I decided to do something very stupid indeed.

To be continued next week – same Bat-timesame Bat-channel….

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