Friday, April 8, 2011

London Calling

A week from now, I'll be in London getting ready to go to the expo to pick up my race number. I've got to say, I'm pretty excited. Given that I was on crutches for 3 weeks in January with a slight tear of the media meniscus of my right knee, I almost have to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming.

Running the London Marathon will complete my running of the 5 marathons that make up the World Marathon Majors (Boston, Chicago, New York, Berlin & London). These are the 5 marathons where the best runners in the world show up to compete and world records get set.

When I first started running marathons in 2002 and I started paying attention to the pros again, the men's world record was set in London by Khalid Khannouchi in 2:05:38. The next year, 2003, the women's world record was set by Brit, Paula Radcliffe in 2:15:25. Each year in April, the world's elite marathon runners are running either London or Boston. While Boston is always an interesting race, the world record doesn't get set their due to the hilly nature of that historic course. London is one of those sweet spots of marathon running that race directors like to advertise: its flat and fast.

Not that I'll be fast. Coming off recovery of the meniscus tear, I've had to ramp up my distance in quick fashion. In order to avoid the risk of re-injury, I avoided the speed work necessary to get into PR shape. In fact, to quickly ramp up to the marathon distance, I utilized the Jeff Galloway run/walk system in which I took a short walk breaks of 30 to 60 seconds each mile. This conservative approach seems to have worked.

Yesterday, I went for a last pre-race checkup with my doctor to have my right knee examined. While my doctor thinks marathon running is a bad idea in general, he was impressed with my recovery. He indicated that my heart rate was back to a sub 50 bpm resting rate, indicating that I was back in marathon shape. Having done a race pace 10K run that morning and feeling great, I could have told him that without the heart rate reading. He checked the knee for mobility and any residual water retention. It all looks good and I'm cleared to run, so long as I don't try for a fast time.

The other thing that the London Marathon is known for is runners in costume. London has the largest number of runners of all marathons and is a big charity fundraiser for a lot of London runners. To increase the amount of funds raised, a bunch of the runners dress up in costume. Some of them are outlandish. Like the guy who ran, more likely walked, one year in a full Knights armour. I think it took him over a day to complete the event. In any event, since we can be fast, my wife Salome & I have decided to make it fun. I'll be reprising my "Wayne's World" costume from last year's Paris Marathon. Salome is going with an Hawaiian theme with a grass skirt and lei. Not the most complicated costumes, but something to have some fun with pre-race and along the course.

We've got several friends that we've met at other travel marathons over the years who are also running London. Thus, it should be a good time to reconnect, have a good run, and drink some warm English beer. I can't wait.

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