Well, one of my running group got a bee in her bonnet a week or so ago on Facebook while chatting with me. She wanted a new goal having done her first half marathon this year; she wanted to do a marathon. She's got all this confidence now, you see.
And that's great. But a marathon is not double a half marathon. It's so much further. Mainly thanks to where your brain goes during the race, I think it's fair to say. How do you prepare someone for that? You can't. You can tell them all you want, but on the day, even if you're running next to them, they will be fighting by themselves; you could run a race with your entire family and every friend you have ever had and never be more alone.
Anyway, she wanted to do Chester, which is supposed to be a fabulous race - well organised, pretty town, etc. Too soon, I said. How about Manchester? That's about right (it's not - really it's still a couple of weeks too soon, but it's do-able); maybe, she said. Hang on, what's this? Gower? Sounds nice.
So I look it up. I see a Garmin profile from someone that did last year's race. At one point - coinciding with a very, very large hill on the course profile I also saw - they were doing 38-minute miles. Of course, that could have a toilet stop, hell, they could have had lunch - it could be anything.
I read race reports. They all say, fuck me, this is tough. It's not 26.2. It's 28-and-something miles. It's almost all off-road. The hills are massive. It's beautiful. It's hard. Bog, beach, single track.
I phone the organisers and ask what the average finishing time is. The very nice chap says, I don't know, really; but take your marathon time and add 50%.
By now, I'm scared. Honestly, this race is intimidating. But a big part of me says, big hills are not scary. We run them every week, huge great hills and beaten-up trails. What do they have that will be different? Nothing, really. Ok, we can't train for the beach sections. But hills and trails? We have miles and miles of them. We can train for that. We can prepare for the rest. Spare socks, bladder pack, microfibre towel, electrolyte tabs, food, headtorch. We can weigh up the risks, blow them a raspberry and say 'fuck it'.
So, looks like we're doing it. Training started last Monday and Lily's response has been excellent so far. We did about 80 minutes in the woods on Saturday and she was consistent, paced well; I'm working on teaching her to pick her fights. If you see a huge hill on mile four, don't thrash it, just get to the top - there's 24 more miles after that. Pick your fights. And when you get to the top, batter the downhill, get the technique right, let go and use it for recovery. She's a quick learner, and she's up for it. So fingers crossed, no colds, illnesses, or injuries. This has been my highest mileage for a couple of months (it's been crazy hot) and it was only about 17 miles for the WEEK!! But whenever I up the mileage, I feel better, I eat better and I make better lifestyle choices.
So, here's to another stupid fucking idea. Huzzah!