Belfast is better than London…

…well not really, but there is no feeling like crossing the finish line of my home marathon – and for that reason give me Belfast over London anytime.

The day before a marathon is always a strange one. Emotions are a mixture of excitement and anxiety and a pseudo sadomasochistic satisfaction in knowing that you are about to really test your physical and mental endurance to the full.

I know tomorrow will hurt at times and really hurt at other times, but it is when it really, really hurts and when every inch of you screams “stop” that ensures you derive maximum satisfaction upon crossing the finishing line.

In preparation I have “carb – loaded” for the past few days. Many people misunderstand this and think it means eat loads of high carb foods over above your normal food intake e.g. pasta dishes galore. However, it simply means that your main meals should be more carbohydrate based than normal. e.g porridge instead of cereal for breakfast (not as well as & certainly not double the amount of porridge!);  pasta & salad instead of burger & chips for lunch…you get the picture.

I had porridge for breakfast; beans & toast for lunch (don’t eat beans on marathon day!) and chicken and pasta for dinner. I’ll drink an energy drink a little later and take a bowl of porridge before I go to bed.

Tomorrow morning at 6am (3hrs before the race) I will have a bowl of porridge and some toast and and hour before (8am) I will finish off a 5oo ml energy drink.  During the race I will run with a 500 ml bottle in my hand. This will contain my energy gels and should last me until about mile 16. From that point I will rely on the organisers ‘nutrition’ stops.

Putting a teaspoonful of table salt into my energy gel bottle is essential for me. I sweat a lot and my sweat seems to have a high density of sodium. If I don’t replace this I will undoubtedly start to cramp around the 21 mile mark.

I’ll have my kit ready this evening:

  • Race number attached to my vest
  • Race Timing Chip attached to my trainers (it is tradition for me to ‘rest’ my trainers before a marathon so I have worn an older pair this week! Weird I know.)
  • Vaseline sitting out (chafing can hurt more and for longer than muscles! Furthermore, the aforementioned salty sweat runs into and stings my eyes when running in the heat. Vaseline above the eye brows can really help prevent this.)
  • P20 suncream. This is the only good suncream I can use. It doesn’t run into my eyes and sting. Most other creams do, and believe me it is difficult to run with your eyes closed!
  • Plasters – yes, after suffering from bleeding nipples once you learn to use plasters.
  • My ankle supports – old football injuries render me weak in this department.

In the long training months building up to the three marathons I have a few trusted friends I need to mention. I just simply could not have attempted a single marathon without their help – each and every day…

  • Cod liver oil or omega3 tablets for my joints.
  • Glucosamine Sulphate for my joints
  • Calcium for my bones
  • Magnesium for more efficient energy transfer to aching muscles and every now and then…
  • Whey Protein for rapid muscle repair after the long runs or arduous threshold training sessions.

Now I’ll see if the ol’ legs last the distance for my second marathon in as many weeks…

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