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Road to Berlin Blog 4 - Week starting 23 July 2018 (8 weeks to go)

Over the next few weeks I'll be explaining how a normal guy with two daughters, a wife and a full time job can try and realise his dream of running a sub 2.30 marathon in Berlin on September 16.  


This week I realised a few things:

1) This is going to be hard; juggling family life, sleep, work and training in is a lot.  

2) I want the sub 2.30 and marathon PB badly

3) I can do this

4) I now like the same music as my mum

I work for Network Rail in the centre of Milton Keynes and am contracted for 35 hours a week.  I'm very fortunate to have a flexible working agreement that I work longer days (generally around 8am until 6pm) on Monday to Thursday and have Friday to look after my girls.  This is great for Friday to Sunday, but means that Monday to Thursday has to be planned and executed to perfection.  

Mondays and Tuesdays are relatively straight forward as we're fortunate that at least one grandparent is able to come and help out while Sarah continues her recovery.  This just means I've got to really juggle work and training.  

Wednesday and Thursday are tough, I've got to get Lexi to Nursery after 7.30am, but be ready to work at 8 and pick her up before 6.30pm, but have her in bed around 7-7.30pm.  Below I'll explain how I possibly make it work!  

Before Francesca arrived we were managing to get pretty decent sleep.  Almost every night Lexi sleeps from 7pm until about 6am which is great.  Unfortunately, with a new born everything has changed.  Francesca needs regular feeding and nappy changes and while Sarah is still recovering I'm doing pretty much all the nappies!  I've gone from averaging about 8 hours a night to suddenly around 5 or 6 and pretty disrupted sleep at that.  During paternity leave this was manageable with day time naps, but sadly that's frowned upon at work!  

With a big marathon session on Tuesday morning I kept it easy on Monday, just doing the run commutes at easy pace.  The shortest distance to work is around 3.5 miles; which I took pretty much to and from the office. Potentially the easiest day runningwise I'll have until I taper!  


The marathon session for this week was a slight increase on last week; I faced 20 mins, 2 x 5 mins and then another 20 mins; pretty tough.  The alarm went off at 5.30 and through blurry eyes I stumbled downstairs trying not to wake anyone.  I sunk some water, used the facilities and crept out the house.  I had everything lined up ready to go.....fresh work clothes in a special running box, lunch, recovery shake, water.  I drove 3 miles back to our old street and tried to persuade myself that I really could run under target marathon pace for 50 minutes while the majority of people were still in bed!  It was already almost 20 degrees so I did the whole session topless.  

The route is far from Battersea Park flatness, but I had a loop of around 3.5 miles that is relatively flat with mostly smooth paths; one advantage of being the summer it being light so early so once I got going it was not too bad!  The first rep felt tough, they always do but I managed to average 5.35 per mile (2.29 marathon is just over 5.40 per mile).  The two 5 minute reps I went for it, doing 5.15 and 5.20 pace; I reckon I would have been able to do 5.05ish if I was on a track.  It was great to see one of my old neighbours and I gave her a wave as I dashed past.  The final 20 mins was never going to be fun, but I held on to hit 5.23 average and was absolutely buzzing; dripping with sweat and panting, but buzzing. 


On the 1km jog into work I put some music on and having chatted to my mum about Amy MacDonald the night before I gave her a listen.  One of her top songs on Spotify suddenly really hit the spot for me.  It's called 'Dream On' and the lyrics go 'I'm on top of the world 'Live on...dream on, I'm on top of the world and I'm on the right track, I'm on top of the world and I won't look back'.  Damn straight.  I was high with endorphins all day, I love running.  

Wednesday was my first test of the complex nursery operation and I didn't get it quite right through no fault of my own!  I'd planned to get up about 6.45, get Lexi ready for nursery and then leave about 7.10 which would leave plenty of time to get to nursery and then into the office.  Unfortunately just as I'd got her dressed and about to put her in the buggy a delightful smell came from Lexi!  I had to dash upstairs and change her again, lovely!  By the time we got on the road it was 7.20 and we were late.  It's just over 2 miles to the nursery and I've got to scan fingerprint, unstrap and lift Lexi out the buggy, hand her over, sign a form, remove the buggy wheels, fold up the buggy and scan fingerprint again to get out.  It takes anywhere between 5 and 10 mins depending on how much small talk there is and if any other parents are there before us.  I got to work a few minutes before 8, but by the time I'd showered and changed it was 8.10; not the end of the world just means I've got to work a bit longer later to make up for it.  The reverse journey was fine and we were home just before 6.30pm.  

Thursday was same routine, but without the multi change morning; I tried to relax as much as possible on the runs knowing I had a big Friday ahead.  My dad kindly came up on the train from London and I picked him up just after 9pm; Sarah and I probably got to sleep about 10, not too bad.  

The plan for Friday morning was relatively simple.  I needed to do 20 miles with at least 12 in good quality of just over 6 mins per mile; trying to get my body used to running quickly for a decent amount of time.  I knew Paul and Rach were doing a track session just before 7am so I planned to try and run the long way to get there and do a few laps to just have some company!  My alarm went off about 6am, ate a quick banana, drunk some water, used the facilities and got on the road.  I jogged downhill 4 miles averaging about 6.45s, then the work had to begin.  I got down to just over 6.00 per mile and tried to be as consistent as possible.  Splitting up the run helped me, and I arrived at the track having done 10 miles with 1.02 on the watch. Paul kindly brought some water and I kept telling myself 'one more lap and then you can have some'.  I think I managed another couple of miles before getting a gel down me and gulping back some water; Paul's a good mate!  I then pushed on towards home which is about 6 miles; it was tough as a lot of it is uphill; but I dug in.  I eased off the last 3 miles and finished 20 miles in about 2.05; very happy.  That's 6.15 average for the whole run.  

I was very tired Saturday morning, but over the weekend I managed 4 x 5 or 6 miles on the Nomad Run treadmill.  Not ideal, but I couldn't be far from the family and be in easy reach if anyone needed anything.  I got the morning runs done about 6.30am and then did the afternoon ones during Lexi's nap times.  I'm currently working my way through Breaking Bad again, it is excellent.  The treadmill has been such a useful addition and really helps me fit in training around my life.  

A very tough week, but I've proved I can do it.  Next week the miles increase again and it gets tougher still; bring it on!  

Week Summary

Mon AM 4.5 miles (6.57 average) PM 3.5 (7.04)

Tues AM 13 (6.16 including 20 mins, 2 x 5 mins, 20 mins)

Weds AM 4 (7.04) PM 4 (7.04)

Thurs AM 4.5 (7.10) PM 4.5 (7.09)

Fri AM 20 (6.15)

Sat AM 5 TM (7.22) PM 5 TM (6.50)

Sat AM 6.5 TM (6.44) PM 6.4 TM (6.53)

Total: 82