If there’s one thing I’ve learnt in all of my 58 years that is not to take anything for granted. Or anyone for that matter, probably even more importantly. And so also liking to be prepared (whenever I can be) I took the opportunity many months back when booking for Berlin to also book the travel over there.
The package I bought to Berlin (through an International Tour Operator, practically the only way to get in and guarantee doing so) covers the hotel and the event only, so I had to make sure I got flights to coincide. So not wanting to end up being frazzled with the stress, hassle and seemingly-impossible-to-fathom baggage allowances of the budget airlines, I went for British Airways. They are ‘reassuringly expensive’, especially when you treat yourself to Business Class for the return journey!
And so fast forward to the here and now, which is week 15 of the 18 week programme, and I am in the final throes (hopefully!) of my preparations for the event on the 25th of this month. And then I get an email from British Airways, which I very nearly didn’t open as I thought it was just a general mailer. It said that due to the capacity problems at Heathrow that a number of flights had had to be cancelled, and that mine was one. They gave me a refund, thankfully, but that isn’t the issue. The issue quickly became how to find another flight!
After an extensive search, it quickly became clear that two things were true. Firstly I wasn’t going to be able to get a BA flight out of practically anywhere to Berlin. Boo boo I hear you say. But worse, every budget airline seemed to be booked too, or just not to coincide with the trip as they had multiple connections and took about 20 hours to get there, via strange and far flung places. Berlin is no doubt a popular destination (anyway) and with the marathon and also Oktoberfest in Munich seemingly taking most of the airlines’ capacity for late September, I was almost fearing I would have to drive, which from the Lake District would no doubt take two days!
Cut a long story short I did eventually find a flight with EasyJet. It have to go to Scotland to get it, but at least it gets me there. Cost me more than BA too in the end, but by that time I didn’t care, I was glad to get a flight at all. Hopefully they don’t cancel on me too, as we are now a matter of 22 days away!!
So onto the running then. Well this week should be the highest weekly mileage of them all (58), before tapering starts. Tomorrow should be a 16 miler following a number of long runs (two 12s at pace so far for example). However my running hasn’t been good, or my heart rate hasn’t. The last two runs have seen a significantly elevated heart rate of over 13bpm more than equivalent runs the week before. Runs which should be easy have been at threshold, and that is counterproductive. A friend noticed and put onto my Strava feed “maybe you should take a rest”. Resting is however the last thing the training programme demands at this critical stage.
So we will see. I’ll see how the day goes (more of that for another reason in another post…..) and then see what I can do tomorrow.
My various social media feeds meanwhile fill with lots of tantalising things about the Berlin Marathon. Everyone is in the same boat as far as final running and travel preparations, getting ready for the expo, making plans for final kit. I went and bought myself a new running vest (temperatures look warm for the day as it stands), new shorts, a flipbelt and a bunch of fancy (read expensive!) gels this week – why not!!
Amongst other things this last week or so I also watched with significant and excited interest the live stream of the UTMB, the world’s most prestigious ultramarathon. It is over 170km long and has over 33,000 feet of climbing. And no, I’ll never ever be worthy of even dreaming about taking part! The race was won in a staggering 19 hours and 49 minutes, by the greatest endurance athlete of all time, Kilian Jornet. One of the athletes that I follow very closely on You Tube, Ben Parkes, himself a 2:25 marathoner and very experienced ultramarathoner too, was hoping with great excitement to finish his very first UTMB in around 40 hours, but had a bad fall and hurt his knee in the first 20 miles and had to withdraw. He was so upset after literally years of preparation and no doubt vast expense. Bummer!
I think I ran over 200 miles in August alone. If I can just get through the last few weeks and also have no more travel or other disruptions, then fingers crossed I’ll be at least on the starting line.
But take nothing, anything, for granted. Just ask Ben Parkes! More next week, including hopefully of course, the Great North Run! 8 exciting days to go…….