I saw a random tweet saying it was the last day to enter the ballot for the Berlin marathon, so on a whim I thought I’d give it a go. It’s one I fancy and the Good For Age (GFA) qualifying time is ridiculously tough. Most other marathons have it in 5 year brackets, so I’d be in 55-59 year old bracket, which for London is 3.20, and for Boston it’s a leisurely 3.25 for us old dodders (so I already qualify with my 3.17 PB). Berlin GFA is 45-59 year old (!) 2.55! I was planning on waiting until I qualify for Berlin GFA, to earn a place, but that’s a long wait for a train that ain’t coming. So I entered the draw.

Nope. Sorry you were unsuccessful this time. It was a long shot. They have something like ten times more applications than they have places.

That got me thinking about marathons I’d like to do. I read a Runner’s World article on the fastest marathons in the world.

There’s the Majors, London (meh), Boston (nope), Valencia (too late this year, lottery again for next year), Blackpool… Well, they didn’t actually call it a Major, or mention it at all, but I’m sure they were all thinking it. Then they mentioned two others, Seville, Spain, in February, that’s sold out for this year, but I’ve put my name on the waiting list in case anyone drops out. I don’t expect to get in, but hopefully they will email me as soon as 2025 places go live. That one’s not a ballot, just first come first served. And Frankfurt, Germany. That’s on the 27th of October, and there were still places available. I’m in! SQUEEEEEEEE! My first foreign marathon! I’m excited but a bit anxious. The logistics of the thing.

The bad news is I’ve failed at a bunch of runs lately. I wanted to see what pace I was actually good for over a full marathon distance, but I was useless. I started at 6.50 pace but just couldn’t hold it. I think I’d already failed before I set out, my mental attitude was “This is so going to hurt, I don’t think I can do it”,etc. I should have been thinking “Call that pain? HA! YOU CAN’T BREAK ME!” Anyway, I struggled to hold it to 7.15 pace for 12 miles.

Today the plan said an easy run of 8 miles at 8.15 pace, then 6x 100m strides at 85% effort. Fine and dandy. An easy trot. Then at 2 miles the plague weakness suddenly smashed me. I made it to 3 miles but then had to turn around. 6 miles at 8.06, but I was in such a mess I ended up going to bed for an hour. After an easy 6 mile run.

I’m wondering if that was in any way a contributory factor to my long run fail.

The bright side is my watch remains relentlessly chipper. It’s upgraded my fitness to 90.6% and now predicts I can run a marathon in 3.04:40.

When I was feeling fine I smashed it’s predictions for my 5K time and half marathon time, so when I get over this bout of long covid I’m hopeful I can get near to it’s predicted time. That would be a *huge* PB, and within spitting distance of my overall goal of sub 3.

The other things in my life are I’m looking at bikes again. Obsessively.

The other thing is work. I’d all but given up on the petrol tanker thing, but the other day I got a text off an agency saying to contact them as they were recruiting trainee tanker drivers again. By the time I called they’d filled the slots for driving assessments, but I’m on the list for next time. It’s not over yet. Which is another reason I’ve been looking at bikes, the trainee tanker driver job is in Stockport, which is 20 odd miles away through awful traffic, so a car would be no good. A bike with full weather protection is in order.

If I get that job, and it’s regular work, I’ll get a Honda NC700. The boring, grown up, sensible bike for fuel efficient, weather protected, dull, motorcycling. Honda took one of it’s car engines, chopped it in half, and stuck it in a bike frame. It’s a pitifully under powered, low revving, plodder, which makes it an unstressed engine (so it will run for ever) and very frugal (80mpg!)

I am definitely not getting that until the miles warrant it.

I am currently looking at cheap, project, bikes to play with in the shed.