11th March 2010

Mara Yamauchi's Marathon Diary

11 March 2010

Welcome back for the second installment of my marathon diary!  

We’ve just arrived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for some serious sharpening up on the way to the Virgin London Marathon, which is now just seven weeks away. At 1800 metres above sea level, I’m certainly feeling the altitude up here. The semi-desert climate in Albuquerque means it’s a great winter training venue for endurance runners – even in the winter it’s quite warm and dry. So we were a bit surprised to wake up this morning to a thick blanket of snow outside our window! With gloves and wooly hat at the ready, I set off on my morning run in the cold bright air.

Allowing 2-3 weeks for tapering, the remaining time for serious training is really now down to only 4-5 weeks. And that means starting to sharpen up with some marathon race pace sessions and faster speed work, while maintaining my endurance base. Races are one of the best ways to get a really good workout, and March is a very good month for racing in the UK, with lots of half-marathons and other races on offer. Not only are races excellent training, but they give you an indication of how well you’re progressing, and what time you can aim for in the marathon itself. My own pre-London tune-up race will be the New York City half-marathon on the 21st of March. I’ve raced once before in the Big Apple and can’t wait to go back there – the atmosphere and support were fantastic (better than the hills in Central Park anyway)!

At this stage it’s also worth thinking about the weather on race day – am I prepared for any eventuality? Being held in April, the weather can be very unpredictable. So far in my London marathon career I’ve run in cold rain, over 20 degrees & balmy sunshine, and most types of weather in between. So it’s worth making sure you know what you’re going to wear, and how you’ll adjust your race plans depending on how the weather turns out on race day. Just before we left for Albuquerque, the Tokyo marathon was held on the streets of the Japanese capital. Usually Tokyo is warm, dry and sunny in winter, but the weather this time was “very challenging” to describe it politely. Heavy rain and strong winds greeted the runners lining up before the start. As the race got under way the temperature dropped and the rain turned to sleet and then snow. That, combined with a tsunami warning for the bay-side finish area, made it very, very tough! Let’s hope London in April brings kinder weather – but you’d better be ready for anything!     

Now I’m just off to my next training session – weight training followed by a recovery run. Keep pounding the streets – not long to go now!