Bear Bicycle Touring Co.

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Off the bike and on two legs- Marathon training

05 February 2017
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Napa Valley Marathon

This winter, for the first time since Alex and I started cycling we are taking a whole season off the bikes. Why you may ask, well we wanted to check running a marathon off our to-do list. We know it is not impossible train for a marathon and to cycle, but the winter has been cold and with lots of other personal things going on we forgot to hop on our bikes. Now I do hope we don’t forget for too long and get back on the saddle because we have already arranged for 2 long days out on bike in Napa region following the marathon.

Training for a marathon requires a strong commitment, especially when you are training for it in the winter months. I have now trained for two marathons in the winter months, this one coming up and the Rome marathon that was held in March 2015. When I trained for Rome I lived in London and living in a city the roads were lit at night making running after work not a big deal. Fast forward to living in suburbia I completely forgot that the roads aren’t lit and there is a limit of how many miles you can run on a treadmill before boredom overcomes you. Therefore, about once a week Alex and I brace the cold dark outside with the help of our bike lights to illuminate our path and by the end of those late weekday runs I wonder why again did I want to train for another marathon?

That is the thing about marathon training deciding you want to run a marathon is easy and you get all excited about it, but then at some stage you have to train. During that training you forget why you decided this was a good idea and consider reneging, but at that point you have already committed; you have paid your entry fee to the race, paid for the flights and announced it to all your friends and family, there is no going back from that. So you have to find a way to pull yourself through to the end, mentally more than physically.

Alex dead after one of his first long runs

We are a month out from our race day and the time where we can’t afford an injury or a set back to our training. For the Rome marathon early in my training I got a stress fracture and ended up having to not exercise for three whole weeks, that impacted me on race day. For Rome my goal was to run the race under 4 hours. I had a running partner named Dave who was also hoping to break that 4 hour mark. The day of race day I woke up to the sound of pitter patter and felt this drudge fill me, it was pouring outside! We checked the weather and sure enough it was going to rain straight through the marathon and me completely forget to bring any water proof clothes. Alex, after breakfast, convinced our hotel to spare one of their trash bags that Alex proceeded to cut holes in for me to wear to the start of the race, not my best look. Soon after starting that marathon I was in agony, yes I had trained but another detailed I failed to take into account is that Rome is filled with cobbled streets and today they were wet cobbled streets. At the end of the race I was sad to not completed my goal by four minutes and in serious pain; I declared I would never run another marathon and if I ever said I did I gave Alex permission to slap me…

Rome marathon start

This marathon is Alex’s fault as he was the one declaring we would do it, so he wasn’t talking that sense into me I hoped he would have. This time though we picked the Napa Valley Marathon which should be massively different than the Rome Marathon. Hopefully, Napa will be sunny, no cobbles, not through a windy city center and slightly downhill most the way. We have now completed one 20 mile run and felt relatively well after it. Although, it was the culprit for why Alex and I both lost a toenail and not ready for sandal season any time soon. We have two more long runs coming up a 22 and a 24 mile run. I am not overly excited about these runs especially since this weekend isn’t suppose to get over freezing and might be snowing, but you can’t not run!

I am feeling optimistic about beating the 4 hour mark this time and hopefully can rest to bed this whole idea of running marathons. I am happy to be doing this training with my husband. Alex and I have done loads together, mostly on bike, and there is a special bond being able to share your goals and adventures with your other half. You really get to know each other and how each other react to stress and compete exhaustion and if you can battle through 20 miles or thousands of miles on a bike together I’d say you are a good match.

Running buddies

Napa Valley is somewhere we both have not been to and excited to see. Two days after the marathon we are renting carbon road bikes to take the nearby hills and also ride out to the coast line; because what is a trip without bikes being involved somehow! This idea originated when I remember what our deal was when we went to Rome. Since Alex was not running the marathon, although he did run the last 10km with me, and I wanted to visit Sicily where my family was from Alex soon discovered that Mount Etna was located on Sicily. Alex’s excitement risen and he declared he was going to ride up this volcano and well who am I to say no to that - even if a couple days ago I ran a marathon! So now I thought it be a great experience for him to run a marathon and see how it feels to ride up some hills only two days later - only a little vindictive I admit. Needless to say in this last month we should really find the time to not just complete our running prep, but also find ourselves back on two wheels.

Cycling on Mount Etna