I have been uhm-ing and ah-ing about going to Pisa for a few days now even though I booked my accommodation on Thursday night! The accommodation is set-up so that I pay when I stay and also with a free cancellation policy – this left me a back door to continue uhm-ing and ah-ing through…until this morning that is.
After I’d woken up a little and battled with myself for a while I decided that I would bite the bullet and book my flights. It has now come to pass that I will be flying out of London Gatwick on Saturday 14th December at 0715hrs and landing in Pisa at 1020hrs (local time), my return flight is scheduled to depart Pisa on Tuesday 17th December at 1720hrs and will land back at London Gatwick at 1835hrs (local time). On arrival I will be a short train ride away from my wonderfully appointed accommodation, Hotel Alessandro Della Spina. I have a very nice double room for single occupancy, unfortunately I couldn’t stretch to the extra €30 per night for the Junior Suite – therefore post marathon ice bath is a no-go, I’ll just have to make do with compression socks and massage! The hotel has free wi-fi so I should be able to post from my HTC whilst I’m over in Tuscany. I intend to dump my bags and go straight out for a recce run to locate the appointed start line for the marathon – as far as I’m aware there is no pre-race expo and my race pack should be sent to my home address before I fly out. If it turns out there is an expo and a race pack pick-up then I will just have to make my way there – afterwards I will do the tourist thing and check out the Leaning Tower and other sites whilst doing some serious carb loading! Aside from Pisa itself I am really looking forward to taking the train out into the Tuscan countryside and going for a wintery stroll along the coast on Sunday 15th December, the day before the marathon – what a way to clear the mind and consolidate focus before toeing the line of your first marathon!
I’ve missed almost 4 weeks of training now so obviously I’m having to adjust my time goals significantly. I will now be aiming for a 3:30 finish which is a big climb down from 2:55! I’ll be entirely honest with you dear reader; if I come in under 4:00 I’ll be surprised and pleased because at this moment in time I have no idea if I’ll be able to finish the race – if I don’t get back to daily run training by the second week in October I will seriously consider switching over the the half marathon. At this point it remains to be seen if that will be the case but doubts about going the full distance are creeping into my mind whereas I have no doubt that I could do the half without too much trouble and maybe even lower my PR/PB if I’m feeling good on the day.
Due to missing so much training I have also decided to ditch my Hansons Marathon Method training plan and will instead train by feel with a view to running one repeats session per week, one long run and then three runs between 40 minutes and 1 hour 30 minutes with two days set aside – one for rest and one for swimming. It’s gone from being a very clinical and planned approach to a rebellious, ad hoc and very much personalised training system to get me to the start line of one or other of the races in Pisa! The Hansons Marathon Method has the sub-heading of ‘The renegade path to your fastest ever marathon’ whereas my new Ally Flowers Marathon Method could well have the sub-heading of ‘The renegade path to maybe finishing your first ever marathon, or not.’
I think I might need a bit of luck, a fair [tail]wind and some mind-over-matter positive mental attitude to get through the next couple of months and to the starting line [relatively] injury free!