"I could never run a marathon." So I've said many times. Yet today marks a new turn in my sporty pathway, I've signed up for Berlin RUNNING Marathon! (Exclamation mark multiply a thousand). If I am successful with the ballot I will be doing both the Run and the Skate full 26.2 miles on the same weekend.
As I was growing up I was always the sprinter, running the 100m and 200m for my school. Anything longer was painful and I hated cross country. I've always admired people who could go the distance and wanted to be able to do the marathon, but at various stages have ruled out the idea. So on reflection it makes we wonder what has changed in my way of thinking to get me to where I am today. Here I list all the things that's made my change of heart..
Running does requires commitment to maintain your level of fitness. I remember during the summer of 2004 my friends Tim, Richard and I did some forest runs after work. At my peak I ran 8 miles in 50 minutes. (That particular run was when I suddenly realised I took a wrong turn down the wrong route and didn't want to keep the others waiting).
I stopped running after my inappropriate cheap trainer began giving me Shin splints. (Only later finding out what the technical term was). After giving it time to heel up I returned for a run only to discover that my fitness for running was back at the start. That run was painful and I gave it up. Underlying was the fact I had a taste of the good side of the run.
In 2007 I joined the London Street skate scene. This is probably one of the best things I've ever decided to do. I was able to enjoy a sport I've done for years but in mass, but with the comfort of the marshals involved. My skating improved a lot and the fact it was exercise was just an added bonus at the time.
After a year I was comfortable partaking in their faster Friday routes and I felt I could still go on after we finished the session. Their weekly newsletter at the time advertised the 2008 Goodwood Skate Marathon and it seemed like something that was achievable. At the time I didn't know anyone else who had done this so I just rocked up and skated the whole 26.2 miles in 2 hours and 45 minutes. My naive approach meant it was a painful experience and vowed never to do another skate marathon again. (I'm forever eating my words, good thing I like eating).
In 2011 I began to befriend more regular and experienced skaters on the London roller scene so the skate began to be a more social experience for myself.
Early 2012 I was unable to attend the weekly street skates but was able to attend the Easy Saturday Skate. The predominately beginners' skate group is very friendly and always open to new people, regardless of level. A lot of them at the time were excited about going to Germany to complete the Berlin Inline Skate Marathon. My debut 2008 skate marathon experience seemed like a distant memory and I got caught up in my friends' enthusiasm one afternoon in the pub. Usually talks like this would trail off after leading to nothing actually being done, so I have my friend Alex to thank massively for being über efficient in making this trip a reality and so wholesomely enjoyable.
During the planning of this trip we joked about how crazy some skaters were that actually partake in the running marathon too the day after the skate marathon. My friend Chris surprised us all by saying he'd be up for it if he'd get a place.. Unfortunately the entry for the run had sold out.
Having been better educated this time round from my experienced skate companions, I caught the skate marathon bug. I completed the Berlin Skate Marathon in 1 hour 47 minutes.
As winter set in I wanted to keep fit as skating was something that requires dry surfaces to partake safely in most places. I decided to pick up running again. My session lasted five minutes in the rain and I caught a bad cold which lasted a week. My running career was cut again. Although I stopped running for a long time after this felt like unfinished business..
Back to skating. The more you look into a topic, the more details you discover. In 2013 I got my speed skates. Bigger wheels! Now I was able to up my level. I started to look into more aspects of endurance training and nutrition.
I remember a skater friend Sinead talking about her running ways. She was explaining to me about heart rate training and how "if you're in the correct zone you could just run forever." That stuck in my head.
My friend Theresa was getting a team together for Survival of the Fittest 2013. It was either a 10k or 5k obstacle course around the Battersea Powerstation. Her team was full so I created my own, convincing my friends and myself that the obstacles would be a rest from the monotonous running distance. Most of my group said they'd do it if we opted for the 5k route.
In preparation for this event I started running, again! My first session was just 2 minutes, followed by some freelining. I slowly increased this. Eventually completing just over 3 miles comfortably. It then struck me after all this time, when people say they are going for a run they probably should say they are going for a jog.
We completed Survival of the Fittest and we loved it. I probably loved it a lot more than the others as I started looking for similar events and ended up blogging about it. Got bit by the OCR bug!
Theresa was soon organising another event, Tough Mudder. I needed quite a bit of persuasion to join this however. This event was a lot longer, 12 miles and the electric obstacle just sounded awful. My friend Harriet also invited me to a similar event called Rough Runner at a slightly shorter 10 miles. Both exceeded any previous run distance.
As a bench test I decided to just run for an hour and see how I felt. I felt great so I signed up for both events.!
During my training I started running with my friend Naomi. She mentioned a couple of times of doing a big challenge for our 30th birthday year. Naomi had Tough Mudder in mind for her challenge, but as I was doing that event this year it led me to think of what's the next step...
In 2014 I completed both Tough Mudder, Rough Runner as well as a few other OCR events. Funny how I'm essentially paying to partake in cross country now, albeit under a new trendy name called 'Trail Running.'
My friend Emily, plus just this year Theresa and Van have done the infamous Double at Berlin, Skate Marathon on Saturday followed by the Run Marathon on Sunday. These people were a huge inspiration with their achievements. Also seeing my friends Chris, Richard and again Van completing the Le Mans 24 hours race was incredible. Watching my friends achieve great things made me compelled to do the same. (maybe not 24 hours of skating)...
I believe all these things contributed to my progression to my 30th year challenge and the Berlin Double Marathon commitment, with Theresa's recent messages reaffirming that this is a good thing to do.
So now I have to wait till November 20th to see if I'm successful with the Berlin running marathon ballot as it's massively over subscribed every year, I'll work it out somehow.....
With the free outdoor skate events such as the LFNS, London Skate and ESS there really hasn't been a reason to attend a Skating Heaven event at the Newham Leisure Centre for the last year and half. I much prefer the freedom of the outside environment. Having said that I don't dislike the roller disco, especially the nice smooth surfaces!
A group of us went from the street scene to this Skating Heaven over 18's evening. The start time is now 22:00 to 02:00, so I was a little disappointed that I would only be able to stay for half the session because of last tubes. (Bring on the 24 hour tube service!). It's a shame that after my 18 month absence that the music was still the same stagnant playlist, but the place was busy and everyone seemed happy so I guess there's no reason to vary a winning formula.
One thing I'm glad they still held is the short speed skating session so we can really stretch out our legs. The practice with LSST the previous week was still fresh in my mind, but this time I was on my recreational skates so I could comfortably get low to the ground as I was crossovering. I was nearly touching the ground with my hands as I shot around. Well in my head I was, would be good to see a photo or video to compare that feeling to the actual reality. All the same it felt good!
In fact the whole evening was good and it was great to see some familiar faces I hadn't seen in a long time.
(Just please update that playlist!).
"Any tips, reviews and advice are my own opinions and are not to be taken as professional view points. The information on this site is what has worked for me and is here for guidance only, but I hope you gain insight into the various activities I partake in." Jonathan Chen