Posted by: Caroline Thorpe13/04/2010
You dream of many moments during marathon training. Hitting a hot shower after a wintry pre-breakfast run. Reaching your fundraising target. Bedtime. These are the bread and butter of the distance runner’s motivation. Collectively they are the bargaining chips - (mmmm, chips) - we use to keep us going amid the desolation of mile 16 of a 20-miler, or to resist the temptation to knock the alarm on the head and roll over until the ‘normal’ world wakes.
For the darkest moments of the last 14 weeks I have relied on two monster moments. Crossing the finishing line. (Obviously). And, until recently, reaching the magic taper.
Non-runners - and indeed runners who are sensible enough to avoid entering marathons - may need some explanation here. I’m not talking about any kind of wax-coated wick, nor some form of fancy economic footwork guaranteed to fix housing benefit (if only). In marathon-speak, the taper is the three weeks before race day. Your longest training run behind you, you start cutting the length of your runs. Week by week you mileage shrinks, allowing your muscles to repair and store up energy for the big day.
It was the promise of the taper and nothing else that got me out the door for a 22 mile slog - the longest training run I’ve ever done – on Easter Saturday. It was thinking ‘I never have to run this far again’, that kept me going. (OK, so there’s the marathon itself, but the mind-game rules allow you to discount this on account of it being a ‘race’). Somehow the mantra worked. Three and a half hours later I was done.
Many marathoners complain of ‘taper madness’ – a reluctance to rest up for fear of losing fitness, or simply because their bodies have become addicted to the mileage. I felt some of that during my last taper three years ago. Not so this time. At the moment the chance to put my feet up a bit, fully persuaded that it is doing more harm than good, is brilliant news. Sunday’s 12 miler felt like a real slog – sitting on the sofa eating cake was obviously the perfect remedy. I had legs of cement during this morning’s four miles. The gentle slope of London’s Millennium Bridge provided a particular challenge.
Not long to go now though. Last night a few members of Team Hact met to pick up our race shirts, each nattily emblazoned with our names. Homes for Haringey boss Paul Bridge immediately donned his for a practice run home. Meanwhile Hanover’s Bruce Moore continued to shame the rest of us with tales of 21 miles before work, a 56-mile race in the diary for the week after London, and plans to have run four marathons before the year is out.
But there was a shred of comfort for us mere mortals amid the telling of Bruce’s heroic endeavours. He let slip what gets him laced-up and out the door: the promise of a post-marathon Burger King whopper – and possibly even two.
Leonie’s run rate
Miles since 1 Jan: 360
Outfit combinations currently under consideration: at least five (although none are in any way fancy dress, sorry to disappoint).
Caroline’s run rate
Miles since 1 Jan: 390
Number of runs wearing shorts: three – ditching the vile running ‘tights’ definitely the most exciting development of the week.
PS massive thanks to everyone who’s helped us finally break the £2,000 barrier. For everyone else, there’s less than two weeks now to help us reach our £3,000 goal. All contributions very gratefully received!
From Home run
Tracking the progress of Inside Housing staff and others running the London Marathon for the Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust