Saturday, August 14, 2010


The monster marathon looms

I'm running a marathon on the 3rd of October. It's not something I intended to go on about too much on this blog but I seem to be spending a lot of time plodding around North London in my trusty Asics Gel Guano that would otherwise be spent blogging so I suppose it's as well to let it pay its way a bit.

Edwin and I dared each other into signing up for the Loch Ness Marathon back in March; we were still high on testosterone and ibuprofen from him running the England Kilomathon and me running the Silverstone Half. It's a much smaller affair than something like the London Marathon: the competitors are given a lift out of Inverness to the southern end of Loch Ness and run back into town along a lovely, scenic (hilly) route.

I've never run a marathon before but it's always been on my list of stuff to do: write a novel, spend a night in a cell, run a marathon. From October 4th, I can finally devote my attention to that novel.

Most of this week has been spent sorting out transport and accommodation for our adventure. Actually, the accommodation hasn't been sorted yet – I was meant to do it yesterday but I refused to do anything on Friday 13th. Despite only going out once all day, I managed to convince myself I'd lost my phone. I hadn't.

Not unnaturally, I'm wondering how long it's going to take me to run the 26-odd miles into Inverness. I've focussed my training more on speed than endurance – as I pointed out to Ed, I don't mind collapsing and dying after 20 miles, so long as it hasn't taken me six hours to get there.

The Runners' World site has rather a handy race time predicty thingy: you enter one of your recent race times with your target distance and it pulls an estimated time out of its bottom, based on some clever algorithm which involves a lot of brackets and italics.

I have my doubts about the accuracy of this system, so I designed my own clever algorithm for pulling a projected race time out of thin air. Ready? Here it is:

target time = recent time X (target distance km / recent distance km) + (target distance – recent distance as minutes)

For example working out a 10k time from a 5k time, you double the time (multiply by 10k over 5k) and add 5 minutes (10k minus 5k). Simple? Simple.

Like the Runners' World race time predicty thingy, my system is a little suspect when it comes to predicting times for a distance shorter than sample data. Using a recent 5k time, the algorithm declared that I should be able to take about a minute off the world record for the 1500m. It also told me that I'd struggle to complete the 100m within 24 hours.

If anyone wants to offer me a six-figure research grant, I'm sure I could hone it a bit.


This is what I've got to look forward to.

I love the bit where the bloke in the schoolgirl uniform comes into view and the commentator starts going on about charity runners: why does it necessarily follow that just because someone's running in drag they're therefore raising money for a good cause?

He could just be a filthy, degraded pervert who happens to enjoy endurance running.

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