Search This Blog

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Semi Marathon: Half Century

Despite not feeling, nor looking, I'm told, my age, there is one area in which I have started to feel every year of my impending 50 years: my knees.  No cause for alarm as I shall shortly be dosing up with a cocktail of supplements that, whether they work or not, could build a physical barrier as effective as the one across the Thames. I've already sent away for a combined glucosamine/chondroitin supplement. Whilst the former sounds slightly familiar, the latter rings not the faintest bell. Add to this a fish oil capsule high in EPAand DHA and I'm also contemplating turmeric as a natural ayurvedic and in the interim have been liberally sprinkling our food so that everything we eat is a shade of yellow.

Some might think I have hit the andropause and this is my personal equivalent of the buzzy sports car for two ('cept my preference would be for one of those cutesy Fiat 500s) or a motorbike (never) but, if anything, it is the opposite. Out of the doldrums of recent years has appeared a more serene yet positive period of reflection and intraspection. Running is a challenge that is achievable by many,  and running in a public race and finishing it, is an attainable target when many of us reach a milestone in our lives and start to ask ourselves whether that life so far has been sufficiently punctuated by success and achievement.

I re-caught the bug vicariously. We were in Paris to cheer on our intrepid friend, Tiff, who was running in the city's annual marathon partly as a celebration of another decade turning birthday. Unlike us, Tiff is an experienced runner with a number of marathons and half marathons under her belt. Paris was a-buzz with marathon fever when we visited the free exhibition where everything "running" was available in every shape and size and designer label. The runners seemed like mini celebrities gearing up for their moment of glory ie crossing that finishing line.  It was Max who latched on the idea first and, as usual, sprinted ahead in his head to doing a tour of the world in marathons and half marathons well before even a kilometre had been run.

That aside,  we dashed from vantage point to vantage point and managed to wave enthusiastically to Tiff and Laura as they pounded along the boulevards of Paris. From a position on the edge of the Bois de Boulogne we approximated a power walk towards the nearest Métro station in order to be near the finishing line in time to see them complete those 42.2km. It was only the next day that I realised I had done something painful to a tendon and that I could barely walk. Of course, it made it more interesting to tell people that I had incurred my injury at the Paris Marathon!

Afterwards the seed was sown in the fertile soil of post marathon spectating enthusiasm. Tiff and Laura's entourage wanted in. And what a brilliant idea it would be for all of us to sign up for the Lille half marathon?

Still not completely decided, and suffering in the ankle region,  I found myself feeling strangely annoyed and not being able to do my usual Wii runs in front of the television. Max went into overdrive, not so much on any running course but on the technology, and soon he had resurrected his heart monitor - a slim "bra"-like strap which fits aroundthe chest and then transmits his heart-rate to a watch thing on his wrist. Add to this the new-found running GPS app on his iPhone and a bag full of energy bars and strange drinks and he was good to go.  With me.

There I am in my ancient baggy shorts, retrieved from the gardening bag poloshirt and not the latest but the ones before last running shoes. My only concession so far to this new venture has been to buy a three pair pack of "trendy" black half socks. Of course I benefit from Max's technology.

Our preferred run is around Lac du Héron a ten minute drive from us and, in many ways, this has been the real impetus behind the renewed interest as it is just so lovely and peaceful running along with all that nature around you. The only annoyance is the cyclists who all flagrantly ignore the "no bikes" rule in the conservation area. Still, this is France. Also the pathways are not fully metaled and so are kinder to the joints no matter how efficacious my supplements are.

We are now both officially signed up for the Lille Semi Marathon on 4th September. An annual event celebrating its 25th year this year, it forms part of the events for La Braderie ,  perhaps the largest temporary fleamarket in France.

I am more concerned about my knees than running out of breath. We're aiming for a regime of one long run a week plus two shorter ones and some cross training eg Friday we did a brisk walk for an hour and yesterday we cycled for an hour and a quarter. On Sunday I probably overdid it with a 14km run that didn't feel much of a strain but I've been feeling nauseous since and have established it is probably hyperacidosis.  Need to be sure I have sufficient fuel on board for the longer runs and to be stricter with ensuring I get sufficient liquid intake. 

If anyone had asked me a year ago about a half marathon I would have more readily thought of sharing their Snickers, now I am approaching taking part in one with a mixture of incomprehension and excitement.