Sunday, 2 November 2008

Thanks

A special thanks to all of you that donated to my charity of choice for this run, the UK MPS Society (http://www.mpssociety.co.uk/). With your help, I managed to surpass my goal of £500!

Justgiving.com
http://www.justgiving.com/markkennedy2

Saturday, 1 November 2008

An rás mór

My first marathon has been conquered! On 27th October I ran 42km on a brilliant fall day in Dublin, Ireland. The race was very tough as was the training, but was it worth it…absolutely.



The race started at Fitzwilliam Square in the heart of Dublin (not far from Grafton Street). Sara and I arrived at the starting area about an hour early to soak up the atmosphere and to ensure that we knew where we would meet after the race. I was amazed at how many people ran – 11,900 in total. A record for the Dublin Marathon. Once we knew we were in the right spot , Sara and I played the same game we played at the Sporting Life 10k in Toronto – Spot the Most Ridiculous Running Outfits. I have attached a picture of one particular chap but, trust me, there were far worse!


Sara and I researched the course map the night before and picked the spots and approximate times to meet me. The first of them being the 11-mile mark. She watched me start the race and then had a race of her own to get the 11-mile mark with limited taxi or bus service due to the street closures.


When the race finally started the only thought that was entering my brain was “am I really doing this”! In the first mile, I noticed a Canadian flag tattoo on one of the runner’s calves. Him and I had a quick chat that went like this – “where you from, good luck, why do you live in London it’s SO expensive”….you know, the usual questions that fellow Canucks ask us. For the next 2-3 miles I found the large amount of guys searching for places to urinate to be quite humorous – all of them quite panic-stricken. On this topic, check out the picture of the sign that Sara saw. Classic.

All went quite smoothly through the first 10km. I found a few Italians running at my pace, so I stuck with them for a while…pretty much until the end of Phoenix Park. Within the park is where I saw a fellow marathoner wearing what looked like nothing but a long sleeved running top (i.e. no shorts). I accelerated. And Sara wondered why my pace was a bit faster than predicted at the 11-mile mark?! I saw this guy again later in the race and then noted that he was in fact wearing more than just a top…yes, he was sporting a Speedo. This is the shocking bit though – when he ran by the few runners I was grouped with, he was dropping air biscuits in a rhythmic manner, which matched that of his runners hitting the pavement. If I had a red card on me, I would have issued it right then and there.

The water stations were great. They had sports drinks and water bottles so you could carry them and drink along the way. I had read the dangers of not taking in enough fluids and electrolytes during the race. I probably carried a bottle of Gatorade or water in my hand for about 20 miles of the 26-mile race. It was my lifeline…without it I felt vulnerable to bonking or hitting the wall (i.e. when your muscles run out of glycogen).

It was so great to see Sara at mile 11! It seemed everyone had someone supporting him or her at one point or another during the race and I was very happy to see mine : )

Mile 13. Other than a little fatigue in the old legs, I felt pretty good at the half way mark. The thought of running another half marathon seemed like too much – I had to break it down into achievable pieces. I actually repeated in my head “you are strong and energized, you are strong and energized…”. Cheesy I know, but it seemed to help.

Sara joined me again at mile 17. She ran with me for a bit here (and passed me!), which was awesome. It can be lonely running for that long even when you’re surrounded by thousands of other runners.

I knew there was going to be a cheeky hill at mile 20. Sara’s boss has run the course and had warned me about it. As my legs were really starting to get annoyed with the running I decided I would walk up the hill and then start running at the top. Some runners were going so slowly up the hill that I actually passed them walking! About halfway up the hill I thought I better start running again…the longer I walked the harder it would be to run again.

The four months of training leading up to the race brought me many things - sore knees, tight hamstrings, irritating IT bands, plantar fasciitis, tight calves etc. These same nuisances again showed their face on Monday, only this time there was a finish line six miles away. So, with the finish line drawing nearer with every step, I knew I was going to make it.


Sara again met me at the 23rd mile and provided me with a much-needed boost! She ran / walked with me for a couple of minutes and then left me to grind out the last portion of the race. At this point each step hurt like someone was hitting my legs with a baseball bat.

About 24 miles in, I was walking a bit as it provided significant relief from the pain on the bottom of my feet with each pounding step. An old Irish man on the side of the road patted me on the back and said “well done son, but if you can just keep jogging, the finish is so close”. And that’s exactly what I did. I jogged the last mile and a half through the packed central Dublin streets with the crowd cheering the runners on. As the finish got closer, the pain diminished – adrenaline took over. I spotted Sara about 100 meters form the finish line – she ran there from the 23-mile mark….obviously faster than I did! I crossed the finish line just over 4.5 hours after I started with a huge sense of accomplishment and relief.


Will I run another marathon? Maybe. One thing I do know is that I will not be running anytime soon…I am knackered!

Cheers.

Mark

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

my cause


As many of you already know, I have decided to run the Dublin Marathon on 27th October to raise money and awareness for the UK MPS Society (www.mpssociety.co.uk). What is MPS do you ask?

This is from the MPS website:
Mucopolysaccharide & Related Diseases are individually rare; cumulatively affecting 1:25,000 live births. One baby born every eight days will be diagnosed with an MPS or Related Disease. These multi-organ storage diseases cause progressive physical disability and, in many cases, severe degenerative mental deterioration resulting in death in childhood.

One of my best (and most inspirational) friends, Simon Ibell, is affected by the disorder. In 2002 Simon, myself and many other family and friends biked the length of Vancouver Island to raise money and awareness for MPS. It has taken me that long to recover from the ride to get to the point where I am ready to punish my body once again for this cause! Should you wish to donate, I have set up a website:

www.justgiving.com/markkennedy2

Thanks to everyone who has already donated!!

m

Monday, 13 October 2008

ready or not...


Well, I am two weeks away from the big day. Am I ready? That's a very good question! I had my longest training run yesterday morning....3 hours. I haven't checked out my distance yet on Google Pedometer (http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/), but suspect I covered approximately 30km. The run went fairly well and was quite typical of my long runs lately. The first hour felt good...the next 45 mins were tough as fatigue started setting in...at 2 hours a surge of energy came from nowhere as my legs loosened up again (this may have been the Lucozade Sport at work!). My route took me from our flat in Fulham, along the Thames via Hammersmith to Chiswick. I crossed the river in Chiswick, which put me in Richmond, near Kew Gardens. From there, I trotted all the way to Richmond Hill / Park where apparently the annual deer mating season was in full swing. I found myself very hungry at about the 2 hour mark and I rarely ever get hungry during exercise, so I must have run a long way! After the run I literally wanted to eat anything I could get my hands on - it happened to be a Big Mac Meal on the High Street! Is that considered a good recovery meal?