Thursday 21 February 2013

The Long Road Ahead...2 Months To Go

Hasn't time flown by? It's been 6 months since I 'won' a place in this year's London Marathon and there is now only two months to go until the big day. I must admit, as much as I'm looking forward to what will be my first attempt at the marathon distance, I can't wait for it to be over. The dark mornings and nights, snow and adverse winter weather generally, plus a very busy period at work have made the training regime even harder!

On the whole, as I've stepped up the training, my body has coped reasonably well (I think!). I suffer regularly from the rather painful Achilles tendinitis in my right ankle and an inflamed Piriformis muscle, which is, quite literally, a pain in the butt! Both these troublesome injuries are common in long distance runners. Asides from the physical, the one sizable mistake I have made is that I've been too focused on the carbohydrates to fuel my running and I've not paid enough attention to the protein essential for muscle recovery. In the last few weeks my body has began to ache a little and I need to address this quickly. I've recently had my very first sports massage, which helped give my tired muscles some much needed TLC and I've taken another look at my ever-changing diet. For the first time in my life I'm looking at labels to compare the nutritional values of food. It's all getting rather scientific!

At present, I'm running over 30 miles a week, with my 'long' run up to 16.5 miles. I'm still running 8 minute miles, which I will do all I can to maintain. My stamina levels seem endless and I have no doubts I'll be mentally able to cope, but I have no idea if my body will hold up against the demands of such a distance. Music helps me along the way (don't worry Mum, I'm still watching out for the cars!) and I'm considering running with headphones on the day to help me find that same level of focus. I'm a music man of the most eclectic of tastes, but I'll confess that my daughters 'pop' music is actually quite good for running moderation, of course! 

The more focused I've become on pushing my limits, the more I'm convinced that the mental obstacles of running a marathon far outweigh the physical ones. If I wanted to simply enjoy the day, take in the atmosphere and run without the burden and pressure of targets then I'd be ready to run tomorrow. But that isn't my focus. I have pushed myself further and harder than anything I've ever done before. I have nothing whatsoever to prove to anyone else, and more importantly, I have nothing to prove to myself either. But the truth of the matter is that - in a sporting sense - I've never been in a situation where I can truly dictate the outcome for myself and be proud of my own efforts. I spent years playing for and managing football teams, but the success is shared across a squad of players. The 'success' or 'failure' of this event will be down to me, and only I'll be measuring it. The mental stimulant of the marathon training has been great for me, if I'm honest. I've found an inner drive I didn't really know I had.

I wrote about my personal motivation for running in my post back in October last year, but as far as sponsorship goes I took the decision to run for a small local charity in my home town. My wife set me up one of those Just Giving pages and it can be found here. Assuming you click on the link, at this point I feel I should explain something: I'm not called Ted (I'll explain that another time). My real name is Roger, although I'm almost universally known as Rod these days. Confused? Never mind, just please sponsor me anyway!

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Brave Move...

I can't deny it, I couldn't see Charlton getting anything at Leicester. None the less, I settled down for a nail-biting evening constantly updating the clubs official twitter feed, forever hoping, whilst desperately trying to convince myself another defeat wouldn't be the end of the world.

And then we scored. Our Breton warrior, Yann Kermorgant, latched on to a neat pass from Pritchard (after some typical never-say-die work from Wagstaff) to slide the ball into the home net. The scorer remained calm, not wanting to offer disrespect to his former club despite a barrage of abuse, but elsewhere Addicks the world over were dancing around their living rooms. I nearly lost my head in a collision with my light fitting. It's not possible for me to love Yann more!

Like everyone else, when Chris Woods equalised I feared the worst. The home side piled on the pressure and it looked all-ends-up like it would be another defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. History repeating itself. Groundhog day. Daja vu. I'd have settled for a point but my heart grew heavier.

With a little over 10 mins to go Powell bought on Haynes for his defensive midfielder, Dervite. In the time it took me to tweet 'Brave move from Powell', Haynes had scored with a left foot wonder-strike! Powell has taken some stick recently for the timing of his substitutions, but this one could not have been timed better.

As strange as it sounds, I sat motionless this time. It was as if I was expecting a tweet moments later saying 'Sorry, assistant linesman's flag was up. Goal disallowed'.

Those final minutes seemed like hours. Thankfully we held on. This result lifted Charlton up to 12th and perhaps most importantly, edged us a giant step closer to the 52 points many are predicting we'll need to ensure consolidation in the Championship.      

Top marks to the 680 travelling Addicks. Your efforts were rewarded. A splendid team performance all round.  

I though Dan, who writes the Ramblings of a Football Fan blog site summed it up perfectly when he tweeted "I love supporting a club where a win feels special, as opposed to a formality. Enduring the lows means the highs are a lot higher". Spot on!

Sunday 10 February 2013

A Kick In The Teeth...

At full time the forlorn figure of Yann Kermorgant stood motionless, hands on head, starring around in utter disbelief. The body language of our colossal Breton warrior perfectly summed up the feeling amongst the Addickted after an almighty stoppage time kick in the teeth. Hamer tried to console him, but the damage had been done. Inconsolable.

Football is such a cruel game. Charlton's performance may not have been vintage, but it was certainly acceptable considering the mud bath pitch and the effort alone deserved nothing less than 3 points yesterday. To draw was an injustice and the nature of the result felt like a defeat. Birmingham's late, late equaliser was as deserved as the Valley pitch would be in winning awards for it's quality playing surface!

For the 3rd game running, Chris Powell's men went in front, but failed to take their chances and get that all-important second goal (mainly down to the class and quality of young Jack Butland in the visitor's goal, it must be said). Once again, we failed to hold on to a lead and got punished. We've now only managed a single point from a possible nine. Never has the fine lines between success and failure been more evident.

I can't help but wonder how important the fortunes of the last three games will be come the end of the season...

And yet we are still 7th in the Npower Championship form guide and to offer a sense of perspective, Charlton are only a point further away from the 4th play-off place as we are to the bottom 3. Hardly panic station yet, but we need our luck to change soon.

Actually...never mind luck, we just need to learn to close out a game of football and I'm certain we'll be fine.

On the plus side, it was great to see Rick Everitt's 'Voice of The Valley' back on sale after an absence of over a decade. I did wonder whether there is a place for a hard copy fanzine in today's internet-driven world, but I'm pleased to say it would appear there is. Having read the copy front to back it's of the usual highest quality, informative and well worth the cover price of £2.