The final countdown

5 miles through the Suffolk countryside (click to enlarge)

I’m writing this on the Tuesday before the Marathon – 5 sleeps to go. I’m well into my taper now, and no issues so far. While I’m running a lot less than at the peak, I guess by the standards of most people (especially people of my age) I’ve still covered a fair distance in the last couple of weeks. I’m now talking in terms of my last long run being “just a half marathon”. Last week my daily runs stayed at 10.5 km, but I’ve been trying to run them gently. Yesterday, which would have been long run day, I went out in glorious sunshine intending to run 5 km, but couldn’t resist taking the scenic route and doing 8 km. I don’t feel too guilty about over-doing it, because I succeeded in keeping the pace down to a marathon shuffle, which feels ridiculously slow.

It’s not how fast I go, but the fact I can do it at all!

I’m beginning to understand my pace. If I just run without thinking about it I settle out at 6.5 minute kilometre pace until I get tired, which might be after 8 or 10 miles. If I focus my mind on a controlled push I can take the pace up to 6 minute kilometres for a distance of 10 km or so. With a disciplined focus on slow running the pace comes out at around 7.5 minute kilometres. I can maintain 5 minute kilometres for a mile – that’s an 8 minute mile, and my excuse for the mixed units. I’m sort of happy with that – I was never a great athlete, and the surprising thing now is not how fast I go, but the fact I can do it at all.

I intend just one more run before the event – another gentle run tomorrow. 5 km would be sensible, but if the weather’s nice it might turn out to be another 8 km. I will be focusing on marathon pace, trying to get used to running slower than comes naturally. My sole objective for the Marathon is to finish as elegantly as possible, and I know from running half the distance that the temptation to speed early on will be my enemy, however good it feels at the time.

I’m as ready as I’ll ever be – I’m just hoping above all else that I don’t injure anything or get ill in the next few days.

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