Paul’s Blog – Part Eighteen

Easter has come & gone & from a Cafe point of view went well but it ended for us in tragedy as we returned home on Bank Holiday Monday to discover our beloved cat, Pemba, had been hit by a car. A magnificently strong cat had somehow made it home to say goodbye but his internal injuries were un-survivable & I buried him under beautiful blue skies on Thursday morning, Dorina & I were devastated & lost.

Seeing & feeling our grief Gaby decided to hold the fort & dispatched us on a busy Sunday so that I could run the Manchester Marathon with Dorina’s loving support but as ever nothing in this sometimes trying life is easy.

From a running point of view preparation was far from perfect, a few weeks earlier saw me try to correct this only to seriously aggravate feet problems of recent months, this I am now sure is a pretty painful case of runners’ dread Plantar Fasciitis, as friends will have noticed, it has been getting me down with the thoughts of ‘there’s so much in the diary, this is going to mess with my life’.

Based on this the common sense consensus was ‘Paul, Manchester will still be there next year’ but I knew I needed Manchester as prep for Stockholm, Dorina I’m running! My body was having none of it, failing to listen to my feet my left calf tried to take control when in the early hours of Saturday I woke (& indeed woke Dorina) with a scream to an extreme cramp in said calf. The rest of Saturday saw me limping & applying Magnesium spray but the knot in the calf just wouldn’t yeald.

Despite this we headed for the sanctuary of Kean & Sandra’s house on Saturday evening, if I couldn’t run we were at least going to have Sunday off together to come to terms with our loss of Pemba.

Good company & a few drops of wine gave us a relaxed evening with Kean & Sandra putting up with ‘Angel, that hurts a bit!’ as Dorina administered more Magnesium under a ‘gentle’ massage.

Race morning saw us all rise early, Sandra cooked my poached eggs (3), beans on toast perfectly & the calf felt surprisingly good, decision a no brainer, sod the calf, sod the feet I’m running!

I won’t dwell on the journey to Manchester other than early road closures for the race caused a lot of frustration & anxiety with no final ablution possible (thankfully this cause for concern was a false one) but at 9:00 am I was lined up at the start with 9,500 others & with a plan. ‘Dorina, I’m going to set off behind the guy carrying the 3 Hr 29 Marker to see how it goes so look out for him at the 5K point & you should see me.’

With commentary by Matt Ward & Vassos Alexander we were on our way. 4K in enough was enough, ‘Paul, this feels O.K., time to step it up’. At 5K Dorina waved, I ran on, this was now a proper race.

Over the next 3 hours my stats per kilometre remained pleasingly consistent, yes the final 6K (out of 42) were in truth a bit of a battle but I kept below 5 minutes per K at all times & I finished in a respectable 3:16:37 in arguably my best managed flat road marathon yet albeit not a pb but that wasn’t the point. One of the most pleasing stats was that I went through the 10K mark in precisely 46 minutes & when I went through the 30K mark I was still averaging precisely, to the second, 46 minutes per 10K, that feels good even today.

Post race saw Dorina & I head off to Manchester’s Chinatown where we dined & stocked up on Dumplings etc. for our freezers before heading home to end a long traumatic week.

Pemba is deep in our hearts, Gaby had given us first Thursday & then Sunday to mourn together & my love of running has dragged me back to a more positive frame but as ever I couldn’t be writing this today without my Angel’s love & support, this last week we’ve needed each other, something positive to reflect on at least.

There is now a lot in the running diary to look forward to but first Physio later today & that’s going to hurt! Pain however is relative & this thankfully is a new week with positives to take forward, have I ever mentioned what running can do for……………

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