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Viva Los Fun Hogs! Birthday marathon running diary
Amanda Atwood
November 12, 2012

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For my birthday this year, my running partner, coach, fellow fun hog and comrade in everything Bev Clark gave me a marathon. She didn't pay the entrance fee for me because there wasn-t one. The marathon was self-organised, self sponsored and self-supported. But she gave me everything else, the route, the companionship, encouragement, endless, endless training runs, gym sessions, car drops, nutritious lunches and fortifying sundowners. What follows are a few days' journal entries from over five months of preparations.

Monday, 10 September 2012 - When are you ever ready for anything? . . .

They say in running that whatever you do in training now will yield results in two weeks. In other words, if you're two weeks away from The Big Run and you don't feel ready it's too late. You're as ready as you're going to get. If that's the case, I've got just under one month to get as ready as I'm going to be for the marathon. With that, and a healthy chorus of "better late than never" ringing in my ears, I'm trying to knuckle down. My interest was sparked by a promise in Runner's World - a 50-minute Iron Strength routine which, done just twice a week, would transform me to Marathon Fit. I mentioned this to Bev as I was looking it up online, and a few hours later she shared a Guardian article with me - out loud. In it, British Olympic cyclist Victoria Pendleton discusses how difficult she was finding training in Switzerland. She needed to Build Core Strength, she decided (emphasis Bev's), and in so doing found a few new drills she started to do. When her coach found out, he was so angry with her that she began cutting herself with a Swiss Army Knife (irony duly noted) in despair over disappointing him. She was on the verge of quitting when she met a new coach, who helped turn things around for her. Bev reads this article to me "as a warning," as she puts it. When I ask whether it's a warning that I need to build core strength, or a warning that I shouldn't add things to my training programme without telling my coach (her), she just smiles enigmatically.

Friday, 14 September 2012 - Mad dogs are some Zimbabweans . . .

This time of year, the sun is hot and constant. The sky is clear and blue. There isn-t a cloud to be found for love or money, and the heat is unrelenting. Running past houses the hedges are dry and thin, and you can see farther into people's properties, into gardens, into hills, into the bush. It feels somehow wrong - like things are too exposed, or weak, or vulnerable. It-s weeks or even months before the rains begin and things soften and grow again. In the meantime, even looking at the weather forecast feels pointless. You know what it will be - clear, sunny and 30, day in, day out. But the tababuya trees are stunning. They dominate the sky with thick, yellow clumps of flowers. I imagine doing a run based on them - run to one you can see, and from there choose another one you can see and run to it, then find another and run to it, on and on through the city.

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