They're nearly here. Manchester Marathon is this weekend and soon after that follow the two Abbot World Major Marathon - the 121st Boston Athletic Associations Marathon and 37th London Marathon. Look what had arrived when I got home after track tonight:
I had intended to write a post today called "finding it, losing it and maybe finding it again". I was planning on talking about how I had a really good (now that I look back on it) first marathon pace session yonks ago, then had a good few that, well, just felt like hard work, then a stinker of a half marathon (more on that another time) and then finally had an enjoyable MP run last weekend which gave me a glimmer of hope. And if you got through that sentence, you're probably feeling as exhausted as I did for most of those runs.
It got me thinking about those who are looking forward either with joy or trepidation to Manchester Marathon at the weekend.
Their training is done, they have battled through a variety of injuries. Some will run to finish, some will run for fun and some will run for time and some will manage all three (AR crew). Everyone's race is different. I only wish I could be there to cheer them on.
I'm a little bit sad not to be running Manchester this year. There's a fantastic group of people going this year and I'm really excited to see how they get on. More personally, Manchester was the start of a brilliant Marathon-run (bad-dum-cha) of results for me so it holds a special place. On the other hand I'm not a big fan of running races where you know the course. When you find yourself struggling I think it's much harder if you know exactly how far there is to go or what the tough patches are ahead. There's a lot to be said for happy ignorance.
Greater Manchester Marathon: Flat, fast, friendly. It's had its bad patches but the crowds have heart and you'd struggle to find a faster course in the UK
Talking of which, that Boston course profile. The downhill start and the uphill at the end. Hmm. I'm asking anyone and everyone for their advice. All opinions welcome and when it comes to the big day you can Track me...
No amount of slightly off training runs can dampen my excitement for this race. I mean, I get pretty excited about running marathons anyway so this one is all that and then some.
Boston Marathon: The one I never knew was a big deal until two years ago but it turns out is a big deal. I'll let you know if it lives up to the hype.
And then there's London. The home marathon. Jo Pavey is running it this year. Jo Pavey! The year that Paula Radcliffe ran her last one (2015) was a golden year - friendly crowds, good weather and a lot of fun. I hope that the crowds support Jo in a similar way. Last year though was pretty intense and the crowds were almost too loud in places (my race report), but still, it's a hard one to beat. That London spirit and all those costumed runners flowing the opposite way at mile 17 as the elites power on to the finish... it's not like any other race I've seen. Oh and if you're running it, be ready for the smell of chips at Rotherhithe (blurgh) and look out for the AR-Collective Cheer Point at mile 21. They sure know how to cheer.
Again though, London falls into the Boston category of 'do I kick back and enjoy it or do I knuckle down and race it hard'? Your call. I've never run London as my A-race but I certainly plan to in the future.
London: Fast-ish, friendly (if intense), flat-ish but flipping amazing if you hit a good day.
For those aiming for that Sub-3 at either London or Manchester (you know who you are) I really do think you've got it. Go do it. I'll be tracking you like a mad woman.