Breaking 2:24 Project
I am currently typing entry 16 of my Breaking 2:24 Project blog and the last I’ll do before race day from an airbnb apartment in Berlin! Yes, I successfully made it across the ditch!
The past few days have been quite surreal and gone by in a blur really.
Be it the 24hours on planes, adjusting to different time zones, different cultures and accents, the pound, the euro, being on holidays and free of the unrelenting ‘go-go-go’ of work or the fact that this Berlin trip that has been a vision of mine for several years is actually happening!
I am staying with Brady Threlfal of ‘Inside running’ fame, aspiring sub 2:20 marathoner and a good running mate from Echuca-Moama who is also doing the 2018 Berlin Marathon. He is a stalwart of the Berlin marathon, this is his third crack at the race, so it is great staying with someone who has done this trip before!
Things are a buzz here, aside from exploring the best London and Berlin have to offer from a tourism side, on Monday Brady asked me to fill in as third host on ‘Inside running’ podcast for episode 45. Brad Croker; the third host, was on ‘baby watch’ with his wife Viv 39 weeks pregnant. I had ‘big (On) shoes’ to fill. It was great fun and I was very honoured to be on the show, although Moose aka Julian Spence (also doing Berlin) and Brady very much carried me. You all have to give it a listen at The Inside Running Podcast. We summarise our training weeks and go through time predictions and goals for the race!
Earlier that day I hung loose on the couch and was all ears as Brady interviewed this weeks guest for the show and perhaps currently the biggest name in Australian distance running; Stewy McSweyn. Rather than listening to the podcast through my PLT Bluetooth headphones on a Wednesday long run, it was rather cool being behind the scenes, watching Brady place his portable microphone precariously atop the accomadation’s heater and go to work.
However, lets get this blog underway by detailing the week that was, prior to Europe.
This past week, marked the second week of my gradual 3 week taper. I had no marathon specific sessions, lots of easy running and a couple of small sessions before I jumped on the plane on Saturday.
Monday: Was an easy 70 minutes after work along the Dandenong Creek Trail a flat gravel bike path for 15kms at 4:29/km.
Tuesday: In the morning I hit one of my easy sessions I had scheduled for the week. I got up at 8am and went to Ballam Park before work where I did an easy 20 minutes easy warm up and then banged out 4 by 1 mile reps around the track with an easy recovery jog lap between each (in 2.5 minutes). I hit 5:03, 4:59, 4:56 and 4:50. I felt good but a little wheezy during this session, as I was still try to shake that bout of asthma I was hit with the Saturday prior.
I then also squeezed a 30 minute gym session in before work. Like I said last week, these sessions have become entirely focused on maintenance at the moment eg. Muscle activation work and foam roller self massage, rather than trying to improve or get stronger.
After work at 9pm I jogged an easy 35 minutes at 4:49/km for 7kms at Patterson River.
I got 20kms out in 93 minutes at 4:40/km around Langwarren Flora and Fauna Reserve’s rolling hills and sand dunes. I remember feeling happy with how strong and effortless this run felt. The Langwarren Flora and Fauna Reserve is an undulating course over variable terrain that ducks and weaves through the bush. I have used it a lot in this and previous marathon preparations. I always remember Greg Power (Susie Power- the City to Surf woman’s course record holder’s father and coach) saying that this was the course that he believed really helped foster the strength she needed for that race.
My day off work! I spent the day packing, shopping and preparing for the trip!
I jogged 38 minutes in the morning just around my good ol’ local Frankston reserve for 8kms at 4:44’s.
In the afternoon I caught up with my good mate Matt ‘Mattress’ Davy in the afternoon at Casey Fields criterium track- a flat and fast asphalt 2km circuit. We jogged a 20 minute warm up. Then Matt jumped on the bike and paced me for my planned 3km hit out. Matt’s just getting back from a tough year riddled with fatigue, illness and injury, so he was happy to lend a helping hand. We have been good mates and training partners for years!
I just wanted a session that wasn’t too draining pre flight but would also give my legs some ‘pop’. I got the idea from reading Mona’s book, ‘The long run’ years ago. I remember him saying he’d often jump on the track 10 days out and blast a 3km time trial. It was certainly fun as I haven’t hit anything close to 3km pace over the last 16 weeks so I was interested to see how I would go. I ended up rolling 2:51/2:58/2:49 for a 8:40, 4 seconds off my pb. I was utterly rapt but I was still a bit wheezy, my asthma was improving but still there. We then rolled a 20 minute warm down and raced home before an epic thunderstorm rolled in.
In the morning I did my 2nd 30 minute maintenance gym session for the week and then ran a very cruisey 12.8kms at the aforementioned Langwarren Flora and Fauna Reserve at 4:57/km pace. It was then onto my last day at work before I was off. Work was hectic, I saw a dozen patients and completed the myriad of loose end jobs, paperwork, physio/pilates handovers and follow up required for when I am away.
I woke up at 6am for a sneaky 13km run at 4:39/km before the drive to the airport.
I quickly said bye to Remi, double checked my bags for the essentials, demolished some marmalade toast, brewed a coffee and then Jess, my amazing (much emphasis placed on this adjective) fiancé, dropped me off, some tears were definitely shed. We said our byes and then it was off to the International terminal to meet Brady. We travelled with Royal Brunei and departed Tullamarine at 12:15pm Saturday.
The flight went as smoothly as we could of hoped for. The first 8 hour leg involved Brady and I chatting non-stop about all things running, it was good fun. Finally I’d met my match, when it comes to a ‘running nerd/tragic/fan’!
We then ‘shook the legs out’ for 3 hours at Brunei airport. Then it was onto the 6 hour leg to Doha. We both popped a couple of ‘sleepmore’ natural sleeping tablets for this part of the journey and got a solid 5 hours sleep each. After another quick walk at Doha it was onto the final leg of the journey to London (these stopovers where great for the body in retrospect as they really broke the flight up). I struggled to sleep this last 8 hour leg and my body was certainly getting restless after ‘sitting’ for the best part of 24 hours by this stage. However, I did tick off 60 pages from Robert Gerrish’s ‘The one minute Commute’ and watched a great flick produced by Stephen Spieldberg called ‘Ready Player One’ set in 2045 (It’s a must watch, ‘is this where our society is heading?’)
We arrived at Heathrow at 6:30am Sunday and the challenge was to stay up all day. So we loaded up on coffee beans! Our check in at out small Air bnb at East Molesey wasn’t till 3pm so we lugged our bags around from Coffee shop, pub, to coffee shop! We fortunately, found a pub that was broadcasting; ‘The Great North Run’ from Newcastle live on BBC. We watched Mo Farah run 59:26 and put on a clinic while eating (it pains me to say it, as an Australian!) a delicious English breakfast!
By 1:30pm Brady and I were starting to struggle. We sneakily checked in to our Airbnb an hour or so early and went out for our long run to wake up a little. We ran two laps of the infamous Bushy Park (home of the first ever Parkrun!) We were both rapt with how good we felt off the plane, rolling 4:15/km effortlessly for 1hr 40 minutes. We saw a squirrel, tonnes of deer and what truly looked like an echidna (maybe it was a hedgehog?), which I almost stepped on! It was definitely a ‘welcome to the UK’ kind of run. It was then back to the pub for (it pains me again to say it!) a delicious English roast for dinner and then off to the sack by 8pm. We have been finding we have still been getting pretty tired from midday, which makes sense as this is close to bedtime back in Australia. (AEST is some 8-9hrs ahead)
Monday morning we made sure we really made the most of sleeping in proper beds and both slept for a good 10 hours. Brady did his interview with Stewy at 9am. For 20 pounds, I was then off to the Riverside gym, a local gym I found just down the road. I was rapt to get a small maintenance gym session in after sitting on the plane for 24 hours, just to limber up and get moving again. We then went for an easy 65 minutes around Hampton palace, with some easy strides.
Monday afternoon was all in all very cruisey and relaxing! We went for a nice walk and explored East Molesey, did a good food shop, found an ace local bakery that knew how to make a good pastie! We had Thai for dinner and then got back to our air bnb by 7:30pm to skype moose from New York for episode 45 of the ‘Inside Running’ Podcast!
Tuesday morning was a great morning as I finally felt like I had gotten on top of my asthma, which was a huge relief! I finally woke without a wheeze and felt clear and strong in my lungs again! We started the day with a quick gallop; Brady rolled 4 by 1k reps along the Thames River, while I had 3kms at marathon pace in 10 flat, followed by 6 by 1 minute efforts at 10k to 1/2 mara pace. Come midday, I called Jess, it was good to hear her voice again. Then we did the ‘tourist bus tour thing’ around London for the rest of the day.
Which gets me to today!
This morning Brady and I woke up at 4:30am, caught a taxi to Stansted airport.
We were extremely lucky as RyanAir who we were flying with was experiencing their biggest ‘pilot strike’ in history; 150 of 400 of their flights were cancelled for the day. Fortunately, we weren’t one of these!
We got to our airbnb in Berlin by 1pm, once again we were pretty tired by this time. However, it was far too early to retire to bed, so we took the train to Tiergarten and had a slow 60 minute shuffle. We did a quick course reconnaissance and checked out the race start/finish area, practiced catching the train in to the start and got a snap by a volunteer in front of the Brandenburg gate. We both felt pretty lousy today. The travel definately got to us and it was 27 degrees. Nonetheless, we are now settled and kaput for the next four days. Keen for a several ripper sleeps and I’m sure we will settle into berlin life as the week goes on.
So, that’s the week thus far, I logged approximately 120kms for the week ending Sunday.
Aaaannnnd I’ll leave my final pre-race journal entry there, just 4 days till race day! The temperature looks set to be still, fine and 14-18 degrees Celsius for race time (with a day high of 23 degrees).
Tomorrow, we plan to pick our numbers up from the race expo in Tiergarten. I plan to have a massage and do a light run with a few 30 second run throughs.
Hopefully, we also do a bit of touristy stuff around Berlin too; see what’s left of ‘the wall’, get amongst the hip berlin culture and really get to know some of it’s history etc etc. just get a taste for it!
On Friday the gradual carb load begins. I have just a 40 minute shuffle planned.
Saturday, looks pretty similar to Friday.
And, then at 9:15 am Sunday Berlin time I will be giving it my absolute all!
For those interested in following my 5km splits live on race day then download the Berlin marathon app, my race number is #38783. The race starts at 5:15pm Sunday Australian Eastern Standard Time (for those of you from Australia). Make sure you follow; Brady Threlfal, Julian Spence, Tirunesh Dibaba and Elluid Kipchoge, as well!
Anyway, wish me luck! I will be back next week to tell you all about it. In the meantime I’ll be doing all I can to report back as a sub 2:24 marathoner and clock ‘The Breaking 2:24 project!’
Bring it on, I really can’t wait!
Keep enjoying the process everyone! See you on the other side of the race.