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Right on Hereford, left on Boylston ...

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You see this everywhere in Boston - "Right on Hereford, left on Bolyston". The final directions of the Boston marathon. I've never quite understood why it has such resonance - I mean, no one ever says "right on Birdcage Walk, left on the Mall." I know now. 

Partly, it's because it's literally the only two turns in the ENTIRE race. I swear to god I'd actually forgotten how to turn by that point. I laugh about only being able to turn left after epic track sessions, but running in a literal straight line for 26 odd miles is quite something. But mostly, for me, it was a case of finally, finally, reaching that iconic end of a very very very long race. 

26.2 miles is always hard, but some times it really decides to kick you in the teeth. I packed for Boston when the forecast was "freezing, rainy, headwind". Instead I died a slow death by humidity and ended up with sunburn. Of all the things I expected, that was not one!

I knew going into the race t…

Roll up, roll up, bring out your finest panda puns

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Pandamonium on the Running Channel
With a couple of big race days looming on the horizon, my thoughts have turned to the important questions: Where do pandas store their gels if they don't have pockets? What are the panda puns that are going to haunt me round 26.2 miles of London streets? Will it be hot like last year, and will I therefore be parboiled panda by mile 10? Can one carb-load on bamboo? Will I terrify any more small children like the one in the park when we were filming, who hid in her pushchair from me? Can I start regularly commuting in that costume, because actually that trip across London was really fun ... Yes, like I said, the big questions that haunt us all before race day.

Of course, I do have to get a small race in Boston out of the way first, but this is the big one. Quite literally, in the case of that panda head. In all seriousness, if anyone does have a cunning method of carrying gels when you don't have pockets and a race belt might be tricky to get r…

Goody bags and bad legs

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If only there were some direct relationship between the quality of a goody bag and the outcome of a race, eh? The above haul is from yesterday's excellently organised Kingston Spring Raceday. With 8.2 and 16 mile options, the hardest part of this race is always the bit where the 8 milers peel off for the finish and you have to go right past that oh-so-tempting finish line and slog another lap.

Unfortunately for me, my legs and my head were all over the place. At five miles I felt great, at 10 miles I pretty much wanted to give up running forever, at 14 I was feeling - well, I suppose not so much better as just relieved the end was nearly in sight.  Still, the caramel wafer tasted really nice last night.

I also definitely feel I need to get a better handle on Mother's Day. What with the clocks going back, setting an alarm for 6am and creeping out of the house before anyone else even woke up doesn't feel entirely right. Lying in bed and demanding breakfast on a tray is more…

Portland Oregon, London Landmarks Half and finally a decent run

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Well, it's been quite a week since my last post. On Monday I headed to Portland, Oregon, to visit the home of Nike. Portland (unofficial motto: "Keep Portland weird!") is set in the most beautiful valley, surrounded by unfeasibly tall trees and rolling hills. We visited the Nike campus - and it really is a campus. It's a mystery to me how anyone gets any actual work done what with the football fields, gyms, running track in the woods, full size swimming pool, multiple restaurants, lake to relax by, and so on. We also did a glorious hour of trail running up and down the hills in NW Portland and - in my case at least - drank a lot of delicious coffee. There will be more on this trip anon.

The coffee, though, was definitely needed - two long haul flights in four days probably isn't the ideal prep for a half marathon. However, it did mean my mileage dropped a bit for the week - no bad thing, given how I've been feeling. After the dreary trudge that was the Big H…

Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow ...

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Time is an illusion, said a great sage and writer of our times. Lunchtime doubly so.  It is also, if I recall my half-listened to science lessons at school, relative to the observers movement in space. Well, when the observer is running around Battersea Park over and over again, the observer perceives three hours as lasting approximately the same amount of time as the Byzantine Empire. Acorns grew to oaks, matured, died. Glaciers tutted impatiently. I'm pretty sure a Pinus longaeva looked pointedly at its watch. Yes, it felt like a very long run.

I wish that I could find out who the girl was who was doing the same thing, in the opposite direction. Passing her twice a lap, on a LOT of laps, she started by smilling - by a few laps in we were giving each other little cheery waves. It really boosted me. You know how it is on a very long run, when you start looking forward to the smallest things? (I distinctly remember the point during one marathon when I thought "Oh hooray! I can …

No, windy! The Big Half, big weather and big miles

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When my eldest daughter was a toddler, there was an inclement week or so much like we are having now - lots of strong winds blustering and gusting. Despite being tucked up nice and warm in her buggy on the way to nursery, she took this weather as a personal affront and starting shouting "Noooo windy! NOOOO WINDY!" as if only a stern enough word would make it stop. It's become one of those phrases that stays with you as a family. Yesterday, doing the Big Half, it went round and round my head. Though possibly not as much as it did for this brave chap.

I did the race as part of a longer run, so had no time goals beyond trying to run it at marathon pace. I really struggled to get anywhere near that, so certainly not a vintage day for me. Massive kudos to anyone who PB-ed or ran a good time, because it wasn't easy to get into any kind of rhythm. There was a comedy moment going over Tower Bridge when a powerful sideways gust barrelled into us, managing to somehow tangle my …

The art of knowing when not to run

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Well that was a damp squib of a weekend. Me and the kids went to Cambridge, to race the Saucony half marathon (not them - I'm not that evil a parent ... yet ...) and ended up coming home on Sunday feeling rubbish, having not run so much as a stride. I have a weird virus that seems to involve all the secondary side effects - achy, heavy legs, lack of energy - but no primary ones. A real shame as I loved this race when I did it two years ago - even got a PB at the time - and was looking forward to a bit of a test of where my fitness is at. The answer to that test was apparently "gone on holiday without you". Bloody hope it's somewhere sunny and it's going to send me a postcard ...

Sometimes, though, it's harder to know when not to run, than when to pull on the trainers. Are you really ill, or just tired? Will running make you feel better, or worse? I'm now using an HRV app every morning and actually find it really reassuring when it confirms what my brain …