Saturday, May 3, 2014

Geneva Marathon 2014

Saturday 3 May 2014

Ha! A month after I claimed during the Paris Marathon that road runs really weren't for me and I didn't see the point in them - that maybe, maybe, I could consider a big city marathon like Rome or Berlin - but otherwise I will stop at ten. Well, the small town Geneva Marathon is tomorrow and it will be my tenth and I am foregoing a very promising 50k mountainous trail run overlooking the Bourget Lake to participate in it.

Friendship is more important than a race, and I know that tomorrow at 8am if I was on my trail run, the beauty of it would not compensate for the knowledge that my friend Cyril would be running the Geneva Marathon alone, when I signed up several months ago to do it with him. I claimed until I made the decision to switch last Wednesday that I needed a trail run with considerable elevation gain to train for the UT4M in August. To some degree that's true - but then I realized that my choice was selfish, that running is about enjoyment and sharing; to run alone when I could be running with a friend defeats the whole point. Now I know that when I am hurting at the UT4M, deep into the night, I won't have to hate myself for having left a friend run a marathon alone just for the sake a few extra miles on the trail.

I have almost four months to train specifically for the UT4M - and it's not like I haven't been running in the hills since last December, having accumulated over 14,000 meters of elevation. If running the Geneva Marathon instead of a 50k mountain run means the difference between failure and success at the UT4M then something is seriously wrong. And it won't be. Participating in the Geneva Marathon means that I will be in a better place mentally - and actually I think that, with several months of training still to go, it could actually be of great benefit mentally and psychologically to run on asphalt for 4 hours and get used to tired legs again so soon after Paris.

Because, of course, when I decided to forego my mountain run, I had a brief moment of panic where I started doing all these exercises to strengthen my quads, leaving me with sore muscles even yesterday.
And this morning I did hill work...
Oh, well. It's all training. Not like I'm aiming for a time tomorrow. I never really do, that's why I'm not a huge fan of marathons and all the "What's your PB?" that they entail.

Sunday 4 May

What better way to have fun in a marathon than to dress up? It's a bit difficult to stay in a slump when people are looking at you - especially when the costume puts a smile on the kids' faces:

I'm not flexing my muscles, just COLD

Well, only idiots never change their minds… Only after Paris and deciding that I won’t be doing any more marathons if I can help it, I had a lot of fun at this year’s Geneva Marathon celebrating my 10th that I think I’ll go back to an original plan to do at least one or two a year for as long as I can put one foot in front of the other. Instead of focusing on some form of ‘PB’ I’ll aim to keep running past 80, if I can live that long.

With its 20+ miles of loops through the villages and farmland on the outskirts of Geneva, before heading back into town along the lake, this marathon actually has an appeal similar to a trail run. The weather even played its part, offering high chilly winds that made me even happier to have worn a Spidey outfit. I felt a bit conspicuous at the start, but the sight of another runner dressed as a Jedi and then all the children surprised at seeing Spiderman run definitely made it worth it. (Although some parents need to brush up on their superheroes, considering the number of 'Go Superman!' - and one 'Oh, there's Batman' - that I heard.) Cyril and I have plans for next year… Batman and Robin?

I felt pretty good the whole way. Legs got a little sore earlier than usual – not surprising I suppose since I haven’t really let up on the training since Paris – but handled it much better than at Paris, and in fact the sense of hurt faded as the familiar sense of dilated time occurred around mile 17 (I love it when that happens, when you know you can keep going for as long as it takes) and I charged ahead of Cyril to spend a few minutes chatting at the food station at mile 19 with wife and kids, since we passed only a quarter of a mile from home.

After that it was the long strip along the lake where Cyril suffered a bit of a setback before quickly bouncing back. It was nice at this point to see the crowds, though ‘crowd’ is a bit of a misnomer to describe a few bunches of supporters dotting the streets – most people were just going about their business, either complaining about the closed roads or enjoying them as they skateboarded/biked/rollerbladed down the empty streets… Thanks Calvin!

We never quite picked up our speed again, but managed to keep up a steady tempo and finish in 3.55, which is more or less what I’d hoped for. But finishing in high spirits and with little impact on my legs was even better.

Now it’s seriously time for some specific mountain training – UT4M less than four months away!

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