...but not quite!

With the Big Day now within touching distance, the finishing line - sadly - is not!

Most marathon training plans include their longest single run about three weeks in advance of the target event date. In my case, that meant a 32km (20 mile) run on 12th September - something that virtually all novice marathon runners dread! I plotted a course that took me west, on a loop including various unfamiliar stretches of road and trail. The variety and novelty were good and kept me interested, but I really started running out of energy from about 22km; by 27km, I felt ready to stop! Of course I didn't, but did resort to a few stretches at walking pace, which was rather disappointing.

A week after that less-than-ideal long run, I picked up a heavy cold and cough that prevented me from running at all for seven days. That was a real blow, and caused me to question whether I would actually be sufficiently fit to take part safely. [The worst has now passed, but I'm still not 100% right - and have picked up a slight calf niggle too, so would very much appreciate prayers for good health by Sunday please. Thank you!]

Marathon training mileage reduces steadily over the final three weeks - a period of 'tapering' to conserve energy, but without stopping completely. With the bulk of the preparatory hard work done, this is the time when the excitement mounts but doubts can creep in, too. Attending to the practical details can be a welcome distraction, and the fact that this year's London Marathon is now 'virtual' meant that there were different factors to consider and things to plan in late September: each of the 45,000 runners worldwide will be running their own unique course, and each so will have had to make their own arrangements for food and hydration en route.

With only a few days to go, the weather forecast currently isn't looking great for race weekend, so I've decided to stick to roads and pavements rather than any grassy paths. My chosen route will start and finish under a temporary sewerage pipe that passes over a footpath on the seafront in Rustington, it'll include Littlehampton and Worthing parkrun courses, as well as passing our church and the Feba office, also incorporating a circuit of Worthing pier. Irrespective of the landmarks, whichever way one looks at it, 26.2 miles is a long way and I know it will be tough. Thankfully, it seems my wife and younger son will be able to drive around the course ahead of me and meet at regular prearranged points to provide refreshments and encouragement, which I'm sure will provide a much-needed boost to both my energy and morale. I'm planning to start before 9.00am, so should be home in time for a late lunch!

The arrival by post of my runner's pack made everything feel much more real and imminent! To have a race number - 12604 - means that the organisers are expecting me, and my participation in the London Marathon 2020 is official! There is a dedicated free app for the event which includes a facility for supporters to track participants' progress; if you would like to track my progress on 4th October, please visit either the Apple store or Google Play to download the app. Once installed, you need simply to select that you are a 'Supporter' (rather than a 'Runner'), and then choose 'Tracking' from the menu. You should be able to find me by searching for my name or my runner number.

If you happen to live anywhere near Worthing, then the bright red and clearly branded Feba shirt should make me fairly easy to spot as I make my way around the course on the morning of Sunday 4th October. If you do happen to see me, then please do give me a cheer - that would be great!

The motivation for my marathon challenge was to raise funds for Feba. I am really grateful for people's extremely generous gifts over recent months - thank you. I am delighted to say that in the last few days the total raised has just passed my target of £4,050 plus Gift Aid. Raising funds for Feba does make this worthwhile for me personally, and it really does make a tremendous difference to know that I'm not doing this alone. Given that I'm now about to run the distance for a second time, I'd really like to surpass the original target - so if you could possibly please make a donation of whatever value then I would be so very grateful. Thank you!

Finally, please do send any comments, questions, encouragements, or suggestions using the Contact Form or calling the office - it would be lovely to hear from you.

"On your marks..."

If you would like to sponsor me, please see my fundraising page.

To read more about my marathon efforts, please click here.

Thank you!

Photo credits: Race shirt © Bob Chambers.