Monday, 4 October 2010

Sunday 3rd October: Loch Ness Marathon

Run: 26.2 miles
Time: 4 hours 12 minutes 50 seconds

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Day 112 - Saturday 2nd October: Last run

Run: 1.58 miles
Time: 16m14s

Just a gentle jog round the block from my B&B to loosen up my legs, ready for tomorrow's 4 1/2 hour run. That's it, all my training is done. Time for pasta, then a walk down to Bught Park to register, and go to the pasta party!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Day 111 - Friday 1st October: Route familiarisation

I was invited to visit the Loch Ness RNLI lifeboat station today and Jo, my friend (and fellow nessmarathon runner), offered to drive me down to Drumnadrochit. Having been shown round, which was very interesting, she suggested we drive back the long way via Fort Augustus so I could see Sunday's marathon route... so she took me all the way around the Loch and back to Inverness along the other side. This was also great, albeit a little worrying, because now I've had the chance to see how "undulating" it is! Ok, so it won't come as such a shock to me come Sunday, so I guess that's a good thing!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Day 109 - Wednesday 29th September: Sutton Courtenay 20 mins

Run: 2.46 miles
Time: 20 minutes 59 seconds

I dunno what happened to my Garmin at lunchtime. I stood outside for a couple of minutes chatting to Sue from the coffee cart about last night's Chelsea game before I set off, so it should have had time to locate me. It was raining, so the cloud cover was quite thick, maybe that confused it?

Anyhoo, a last "run" before the marathon (apart from a very very gentle jog on Saturday), calls for 20 minutes. I opt to run up to Sutton Courtenay round past the shops and back to work. Round about 2½ miles, so will be a fraction over the time, but not by much. I get the benefit of pushing myself that little bit further without overdoing it.

So my 16 week training plan is almost at an end. In that time I've run 402 miles. I've Cycled 94 miles. I've swum over 15k (600+ lengths). I've rowed nearly 4 miles and done about 2000 ab crunches (sit-ups). This has totalled about 100 hours of training. 62 runs, 27 classes, 4 gym sessions, 14 swims, 7 cycle rides and just 24 days of rest.

And if I get into next year's London Marathon, I'll be starting it all over again in December!

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Day 108 - Tuesday 28th September: Swim

Swim: 1000 metres
Time: 30 minutes

I delayed my Monday swim because of yesterday's unpleasantness at the dentist, and chose to do a simple 40 lengths this evening. Although it wasn't long before I wanted to up this to 50! No, no, a plan's a plan. I don't want to overdo it this week, I've a marathon to run on Sunday. The pool isn't too busy, but the main section does have a few people swimming up & down slowly. I head for the fast lane, even though there is one swimmer there who appears to be having some coaching. Hopefully we won't get in each other's way.

It's about 7.15pm and I set off in the fast lane. I pause at the end to adjust my nose-clip, then back for length two, kicking off for length three without stopping. Then the same pattern again. On the third pair of lengths, the other swimmer is at the end, so instead of pausing, I return to start length six straight away, and then think, why not swim all lengths without a pause now? The other swimmer eases past me as she does her fast length, but is waiting at the end getting some more tips from her coach. I touch the end, and kick off again back for my seventh.

Round about length 35 I lose count. Was that 36? Did I miss out 34? I remember counting to 33, am I on 37 now? I call it 35, and if I end up doing 42 lengths, so be it. I'll still call it 40. I surprise myself at how easy it seems to swim up and down, without pausing for a breather every other length. This is great. I'm so looking forward to spending a good 1½ hours in the pool in a couple of weeks, to see if I can swim 100 lengths in one session. No doubt I'll be back to the odd pause again now and then...

Thirty minutes later, and I reach the kilometre - 40 lengths. I even sprint the last one as usual, alternating my breathing after every third stroke, instead of after the fourth. And when I get out, I don't feel too tired either. If I don't get into London next April (we find out next week!) and I can't find another suitable spring marathon, I might look at a triathlon instead? Maybe...

Monday, 27 September 2010

Day 107 - Monday 27th September: Milton Half Hour

Run: 3.33 miles
Time: 29 minutes 18 seconds

At last! A third run day in a row. All these rest days towards the end of the marathon training feel very odd, having got into the habit of running so much. I guess it was all new to me when I did it for London, but this time round it's a struggle to not be running at least every other day.

A gentle half hour is called for, so I head out on a 3ish mile route, and even this feels odd, as I miss the 5 mile version of this lunchtime loop. I run it steadily and comfortably in an 8m50s pace for the first couple of miles, speeding up a little though mile 3 to the end.

I was planning to swim this evening too, but having had a filling this afternoon my face was still half asleep, and I
really didn't feel up to it. Maybe I'll go tomorrow instead.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Day 106 - Sunday 26th September: Charney 9

Run: 9.02 miles
Time: 1 hour 18 minutes 29 seconds

I forgot to say that yesterday's couple of miles meant that I've notched up 1900 miles since I began running almost three years ago. That milestone comes next weekend...

Today sees the last "long" run of my 16-week training plan. When I did this the week before London - I ran about 8 miles up and down every single footpath in Stanford. Today, I fancy getting out in the countryside, and up the distance to cover 80 minutes of running. It soon transpires that my legs have set the pace at a fraction under 9-minute-miles, which feels easy enough given the short distance today.

I divert out to Hatford to give me an extra third of a mile, and if I take the slightly longer route through Charney Bassett, past the pub, then I'll only have about half a mile to make up when I get back to Stanford to clock up 9 miles in the allotted time. I eat up the miles, and the pace feels good. There was a strong wind against me on the open fields towards Hatford, but it's not too cold. I wonder about packing gloves to take to Inverness next week.

As I leave Charney, I reach the halfway point in under 40 minutes. Perhaps I should be taking it a little easier today? No, I think I'm ok. The "intermediate" training plan that came with my race information pack this week (a bit late to start using it with about 12 days to go to the marathon!!) suggested a Half Marathon and 10k races for the last two weeks of training. I did the Half Marathon last weekend, and today's run is certainly less stressful than running a sub 8-minute-mile pace that I'd be doing had I entered a 10k. Next time maybe?

Back to today, and I'm on the home stretch now. I know I'm going to do a negative split, and if I wanted to I could up the pace to a 10k speed, but I settle for a more gentle increase in effort. Back in the village, and I run round to the church to reach the set distance, although I still make it back home in under the 80 planned minutes.

Job done, time to relax. Just a couple of very short runs left before I head to the far north of Scotland to attempt my third Marathon, and hope to set a new PB...

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Day 105 - Saturday 25th September: Gentle 2 mile jog

Run: 2.00 miles
Time: 17 minutes 34 seconds

Just a gentle couple of miles this evening. The plan called for 10 minutes, but that hardly seemed getting my running shoes on, so I did a gentle jog round the outer lap of the village, which was spot on 2 miles.

Friday, 24 September 2010

Day 104 - Friday 24th September: Research

Today's another day off, so pretty much involves watching Run Fatboy Run on Film4, whilst drinking a can of Stella. And eating lots of pasta...

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Day 103 - Thursday 23rd September: Rest

The first of another two rest days. Time to plug the charity again!
You can sponsor me to run the Loch Ness Marathon a week on Sunday in aid of the RNLI here:

And next month I'm organising a Curry Night at the Saffron in Summertown on Thursday 28th.
It's £17.50 for a delicious buffet selection in the best Indian Restaurant in Oxford.
If you're on Facebook - the event is listed here:
Otherwise just leave me a comment here and I'll send you more details!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Day 102 - Wednesday 22nd September: Easy 40

Run: 4.43 miles
Time: 39 minutes 45 seconds

Today called for an "easy" run, but given the huge mileage I've racked up over the previous weeks, anything under a couple of hours will feel pretty easy. I choose to run outer laps of the village, which are about 1.7 miles, so I can fit in 2 and as much of the 3rd as I can squeeze in in 40 minutes, heading back home at the appropriate point. I set off at a comfortable 9-minute-mile pace, and slow down a little as I remind myself this is supposed to be "easy". Soon I'm not concentrating and my legs have speeded up again. I clock up mile 1 in 9 minutes.

Mile 2 and I'm a bit quicker again, so I do ease off this time on Mile 3, and then on the third lap of the village approaching the roundabout to the new estate, I cut back in towards home, and reach my starting point with 15 seconds to spare. Ok, so I ran a bit faster than planned, and covered a bit more distance. It's odd, I don't remember the taper weeks being such hard work when training for London. And by hard work I mean I'm finding it hard to not run as hard or as fast or as long as I want to! Edinburgh was different as I had a minor injury and then a horrible throat infection towards the end of my training, so cutting back, albeit frustrating, was quite easy.

Maybe one day I'll get the hang of this marathon training lark, and it'll all just fit into place easily?

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Day 101 - Tuesday 21st September: Orangey day

A scheduled rest day today, so I treated myself to a full hour long sports massage, but not after I'd visited the kind folk at KC Colour in Wantage again for them to dye my hair in preparation for running the marathon. I'd bleached my hair yesterday, and although I hadn't left it on quite long enough to make my hair completely white-blond, the yellowish hue I'd achieved was still a suitable base colour for the orange tint. Amy set to work and applied the colour to my hair. After 20 minutes she washed it off, and then applied a slightly darker one, as the first colour had only left me strawberry blond.

Half an hour later, and she washed my hair again to reveal... a light orangey colour. Not quite the vibrant lifeboat shade I was hoping for, but still enough to make me stand out a bit to aid my fundraising along for the next week. Then next Wednesday I'm back there again to have the colour topped up, and next time she's going to get a darker, more crazy colour! Watch this space!!

Then I nipped home to change, and back to Wantage to the leisure centre for my appointment with Sammy from inside & out body therapy. Last time I had a sport massage (a few days after I'd run 18 miles), I hardly felt a thing and wasn't sure it had been worth it. I'm not sure about today either, I've been so lucky not to have picked up any niggles in training this time around. Still, I have run over 80 miles since my last session, so she'll probably find something that needs ironing out with her elbows.

Ouch, ouch ouch! Blimey, did she find some tight muscles! Quite the most pleasurably painful massage I've had for a long while. Very tight calves. Very knotty hamstrings. My back was stiff, and my neck needed some rather intense treatment too. And then my quads needed some thorough work to finish off. She more than made up for last time's disappointment. I always say I don't feel I've got my money's worth unless she hurts me, and this week she more than earned the fee! Far from feeling bad because it was painful, I'm really happy that it was obviously important that I had this much needed massage. This will give me a final boost to my training to keep me in tip top shape in readiness for the marathon in just 12 day's time!

Monday, 20 September 2010

Day 100 - Monday 20th September: Recovery day

Run: 3.54 miles
Time: 30 minutes 18 seconds

Swim: 1000 metres
Time: 30 minutes

The plan today was a gentle 20 minute jog as a recovery run. But a 20 minute lunchtime jog sounds very boring. I know, I'll do a bit more than 20 minutes, and run to Steventon & back. Along the railway line, up the hill, down again and back to work. If I go direct, it'll only be abut 2½ miles, won't it? Maybe a bit more? Perhaps I should have planed it out first. Along the railway line, and I've done a mile. I reach Steventon and I'm 12 minutes in. Am I half way? Probably not...! Oh well, up the hill I go, speeding up from the gentle 9-minute pace I've done so far.

I reach the top of the hill, and head back down towards Milton Park. I get lucky at the lights, and don't wait too long to cross the A34 roundabout. Back to the Park, and I'm over 22 minutes in, with about 7 to go. Hmmm. This recovery run's going to be a bit harder and longer than planned. But then my legs don't feel at all stiff from yesterday's half marathon. I pass a couple of RMers on the other side of the road out for a lunchtime run, and we wave at each other. Back at work, and I'm a little over half an hour. Warm-down, stretch & shower, and it barely feels like I've been out for a run at all.

Then this evening I head to the pool for my regular Monday swim. Since I'm in the taper zone, I choose not to go for a big distance today. Much as I'd love to match the 80 lengths I did last week, I decide upon half that distance. But I make sure I rest a lot less, and therefore only take a very short breather every 2 lengths for the first 30, and then try to do the last 10 in one go with no stopping. The fast lane, however, is busy with a couple of slow swimmers (what
are they doing there?) and a couple of extra fast swimmers. We get in each other's way a bit, and I have to give way to the seriously speedy two, one of whom must half some dolphin in her ancestry so graceful is her ability to glide effortlessly past me into a full on tumble turn! Anyway, I get through the 1,000 metres in just over 30 minutes.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Day 99 - Sunday 19th September: Great South Oxfordshire Run

Run: 13.21 miles
Time: 1 hour 56 minutes 45 seconds

Today's schedule called for an easy (or was it comfortable?) 120 minutes. So that's about 12 miles. However, as you know I've been upping the distance and or pace to increase my training to be more of an intermediate level than the beginner's plan. So I choose to do 13 miles, easy. So about 130 minutes. But 13 miles means the route I choose is the "Stanford in the Vale Half Marathon" that I designed last year. And because I was running a Half Marathon, somehow it didn't feel right trying to do it in over 2 hours. I haven't run this distance that slowly since June 2009.

I don't deliberately set off too fast, but I'm soon hitting a low 9-minute-something pace, and it feels comfortable. Although, stupidly, I forgot to double-knot my laces before I set off (thinking I'd do it when I was waiting for my Garmin to find a signal, but then forgot). I reach Park Lane to notice a loose lace flapping about, so have to stop to tie them up. Far from a 9-min-mile then, I clock up the first mile in a tardy 9m41s. Not to worry, maybe I should take it steady after all.

As per usual, however, my legs have other ideas, and I whizz through the next mile in 8m40s. Surely this is too fast? I'm going to have to be more careful in 2 weeks to more rigidly stick to my race plan. I can't afford to overcook it too soon. Today, however, I have every confidence that I can make the half in under 2 hours, without pushing it too much. I've already done over 2 miles, and there's less than 11 to go. Today's run feels a) like a doddle (compared to last week's 22) and b) seems to be going really quickly - I'm not far off 20% done already.

At the end of Park Lane I turn right towards Denchworth. The wind is against me now, and strong too. Oh, this means it'll be against me for a good few miles towards the end of the run too. Oh well, I can't chop & change the route now. Soon I'm heading East and I'm out of the wind again. Both miles 3 & 4 come up quickly too, although my pace has slackened off a little - back closer to a 9-minute-mile.

Somehow some renewed vigour from the more gentle speed gives me a kick for the next couple of miles, and I'm running faster again. I've chosen to bring only one gel today, so plan to take it at 7 miles. I'm thinking ahead now, and not about the miles I'm going to complete first. I miss clocking up both miles 5 & 6, but can tell I'm still on pace to make the 13.1 miles in about 1h57m, although when I reach the halfway point it would seem that I might make it a bit quicker than that too (especially if I do the usual negative split).

I turn North on the road towards Southmoor, knowing that very soon I'll be turning West back to Charney. All the times I've been running these roads over the last few months, increasing my distance each week, and making the runs progressively harder, fade away to make today's 13-miler seem increasingly easy. At this rate I'm going to beat the time I ran the Milton Keynes Half Marathon in back in July - which is surprising as that's a proper race with a crowd of other runners to keep pace with. Today I'm out on my own, but my inner runner is keeping up the pace without anyone to follow or anyone to cheer me on.

It's been a grey day, and fairly cool to boot. I'm not going to need the 750ml of water I've brought with me, as well as the 500ml of lucozade sport. Still better to bring too much than too little I guess. The downside of planning my run this morning is that it clashes with the Great North Run, so I'll miss the coverage of that on the TV. Still, nevermind I guess. I'm running my own Great Run today.

At Charney Bassett, I get the odd mix of desire to push on and speed up the pace for the last 4 miles coupled with a sense of tiredness. Ok, so I'm not going to push for home just yet, but neither am I going to succumb to the niggling doubt that would otherwise raise its head that I may have overdone it. On a longer run of the higher teens, then perhaps the tiredness would have tried to take a grip over my enthusiasm, but not today. I brush the idea away, barely even given a real thought.

On the road to Gainfield I do feel I can speed up, but then this is slightly uphill, so actually I slow down. The wind, as I suspected, is against me again. Time to dig in and keep going. It doesn't feel bad, but I suppose it is a bit harder work than would be ideal. I think ahead to Loch Ness, and wonder how the land lies there, will there be exposed sections prone to strong winds? What will the weather be like in the far North of Scotland in October? I guess I'll find out in a fortnight.

Now I'm on the downhill in Gainfield, on the home stretch. I can push on and go for it. I use the favourable incline to kick it up a gear, making mile 12 in 8m31s. And with only a mile or so left to go I'm on the edge of Stanford, and again I speed up. Far from flagging now, I feel great as a wave of energy floods my legs knowing how close to the end I am. The last few hundred yards whizz by, as I clock up mile 13 in 8m13s and I pass the Half Marathon distance in about 1h55m (my 3rd best this year), and reach home in 1h56m45s - a distance of 13.21 miles.

The next 2 weeks will be a lot easier now. Next Sunday's 8 miler won't even feel like it's worth getting out of bed for!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Day 98 - Saturday 18th September: Rest

These scheduled rest days feel a bit weird. I'm keen to get out and run, but know that I need to stick to my training plan.

So, some more stats about my training so far. Although my average daily distance for the year is 3 miles (slightly less actually, now I've had two days off), I've only run on about half of these days. I've run 131 times in 8½ months, and spent 130 days resting or swimming or cycling or doing gym classes. That means my average run distance is 5.92 miles.

The full breakdown of these runs:
0.7m - 1m6
1m - 2m16
2m - 3m12
3m - 4m19
4m - 5m20
5m - 6m16
6m - 7m6
7m - 8m6
8m - 9m6
9m - 10m2
10m - 11m3
11m - 12m1
12m - 13m3
13.1m - 14m4
14m - 15m2
15m - 16m2
16m - 17m2
17m - 18m0
18m - 19m2
19m - 20m0
20m - 21m1
21m - 22m1
22m - 23m0
23m - 24m0
24m - 25m0
Total - 775m131

Friday, 17 September 2010

Day 97 - Friday 17th September: Rest

Yet another day of rest.
Out of interest - I've totted up the number of miles I've run in 2010.
So in the 258 days of the year up until yesterday's run, I have averaged 3 miles per day.
Every day.
For the whole year.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Day 96 - Thursday 16th September: Sutton Courtenay - 50 mins

Run: 5.88 miles
Time: 49 minutes 46 seconds

It's hard to judge how far or how fast to run now. For the next 2½ weeks I will be running less often and shorter distances than I've been building up to in recent week. So today's plan is "50 minutes steady". I've kind of got used to "steady" meaning about a 9-minute-mile pace, so I head off on a 5 mile loop, planning to add about half a mile to bring the time up to the full amount. I could stop short at 45 minutes, but I want to make sure that I run up to the planned amount, and just because a steady run is no longer the 10-minute-miles I was doing a couple of years ago doesn't mean I can cut the run short now. Time on my feet is more important than the distance covered.

As I glance down at my Garmin en route to Sutton Courtenay I spot the average time creeping down. 8m58s - 8m52s - 8m45s... I slacken off a bit, not wanting to run too fast. But it's no good, my legs have other ideas about how steady today's pace will be. I clock up the first mile in 8m39s. Maybe I should try harder to slow down? Nope, the legs don't hear me. Mile 2, and it's 8m38s. Hmm, maybe I can keep up this very steady, very consistent pace. But how far to run? I'm going to have to start thinking about where I'm going to add on the extra distance, at this rate the 5 miles will take about 43 minutes.

With no clear plan of my route, I'm sure my indecision will affect my pace. I'm sure to have slowed up, especially now I've left Sutton Courtenay and I'm out on the open road towards Drayton, where I need to be wary of the traffic. Beep. Mile 3. 8m28s! How come the
less I concentrate on my pace, the faster I go? On the road towards Milton I pass the dog kennels I must have run past a dozen times before. Strangely I've never been aware of dogs barking outside it before!

At Milton I turn left. I've changed my mind about completing the normal 5 mile loop, if I head back to Sutton Courtenay now, I'll be able to cover the 5½ or more miles, perhaps by heading off road onto the trim trail across the field back to Milton Park. However it turns out all I need to do is the little extra loop around the houses at the south of the village. A kite swoops down, and almost lands in the road near the primary school, before circling up into the sky again, effortlessly banking and flying off high above the houses. The school marks the mile back to work, and I've just clocked up 42 minutes, not far off the 5 mile point.

On the road back to work, I pass the turning into the field (where the "trim trail" goes), and I'm glad I didn't choose to go that way after all. It looks a bit overgrown. I shouldn't be considering running off road now, because although the uneven terrain is great for my ankles and achilles, there is also a risk of injury if I hit an unexpected patch of unidentified earth/rock/animal hole. I absolutely cannot afford a sprain at this stage.

Thinking I might actually get back to work after my 50 minutes is up, I quicken my pace. The average for the run creeps down again. 8m31s - 8m30s - 8m29s... this is looking good. I'm not racing, still running a comfortably steady pace. Back to the start point, less than 50 minutes, and not far of 6 miles. It's great that my legs took it upon themselves to run a third of a mile further than planned for what felt like no extra effort. And the average over the whole run? 8m27s - thanks to a sub 8-minute-mile pace for the last .88 miles.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Day 95 - Wednesday 15th September: Rest

Another day off - there are going to be quite a few of these coming up now that I've entered the taper zone!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Day 94 - Tuesday 14th September: Stanford 3 laps

Run: 3.47 miles
Time: 27 minutes 10 seconds

After yesterday's quite astonishing 80 lengths on the pool (I'm still a bit in awe of myself for having done that), it's back to the running today. A "brisk" 30 minutes is called for, so I opt for 3 "mile" laps of the village, but extended a bit to what might be 1.2 miles? I didn't measure the distance before I set out, but did a quick calculation that running 3 of these about 8m20s each would be spot on half an hour.

In fact, however, the laps were only 1.16 miles, and I ended up running faster than an 8-minute-mile pace. I almost ran past my house to clock up the full 30 minutes, but thought that on reflection 27 minutes was close enough. It was a great feeling to have run 3½ miles in this quick pace so easily. I've come along way in the three years I've been running (1,871 miles to be precise). I wonder where I'll be in three years' time?

Monday, 13 September 2010

Day 93 - Monday 13th September: 2km swim

Swim: 2,000 metres (1.24 miles)
Time: 65 minutes

I got to the pool early this week to give me plenty of time to get a mile in, and planned to round it up to 70 lengths, but soon realised that I could make 75 instead. But that would be 1875 metres, which is a bit of an odd number, and also swimming an odd number of lengths would leave me at the far end of the pool.

So I decided to just do as many as I could manage before 8pm and the time I'd be kicked out to make way for the ladies aqua aerobics (unlike Wantage - the Faringdon pool doesn't let the public swim at the same time as the class, and surely in a contravention to the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 doesn't allow blokes to take part). With 10 minutes to go, I'd reached 68 lengths... could I perhaps manage as many as 80 in time? That would be a very nice round number - two kilometres.

I sped up a fraction for the last few laps - and just made it in time. The last 25 metres was a bit hard, as they'd loosened the rope, and it was sticking out into the lane that I'd been swimming in. Nothing like dropping a hint that they didn't want me there! When I started swimming for exercise about 8 years ago, just swimming ten lengths was hard work. I never imagined I'd ever be able to swim 80 in one go...

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Day 92 - Sunday 12th September: Charney 22

Run: 21.88 miles
Time: 3 hours 40 minutes 53 seconds

Today sees the longest training run I've ever done. I am going to attempt 22 miles. The longest I "need" to do in training is about 20 miles. I did that last weekend. This is a distance, bizarrely, that I "want" to run. I want to give myself the best chance of getting a PB in Loch Ness, by tailoring the beginner's training plan I've been using, upping the distances or intensity a bit here and there.

I map out a new route. Stanford in the Vale - Hanney - Southmoor - Charney Bassett - Lyford - Denchworth - Charney Bassett - Hatford - Stanford in the Vale. This is actually a bit over 22 miles, so I may skip the bit to Hatford and just return home from Gainfield instead. I'll see how my legs feel after the 3½+ hours it's going to take.

I get up quite early for a Sunday, and enjoy breakfast of ready brek & a sliced banana. I get ready with a litre of lucozade sport, 750ml of water and 4 gels. I'm off out of the door just after 8.15am and set off towards Park Lane. I'm not fazed by the distance I'm going to cover today. I know it's not going to be easy, but it's not worrying me either. The weather is good, clear skies, sunshine with a light breeze. No sign of rain around, and I've set off early enough to not worry too much about it getting hot. I should be fine.

The first five miles or so are a breeze, quite easy and I'm hoping the remaining ¾ of the run will be as comfortable, though I suspect not. There's more of a breeze against me on the northbound stretch to Southmoor, but it's not too strong. Almost refreshing. Soon I'm leaving Southmoor and taking my second gel and thinking about the distance still to cover. Normally at this stage of the route I can start thinking about home, but today I'm not even half way...

At Charney Bassett I opt to head straight on to Denchworth, and run back via Lyford (rather than the other way round). It doesn't matter which way I run this loop, except that doing it this way means I reverse my steps from earlier on, rather than repeat the same section in the same direction. I'm all for making the run seem different, to make it more interesting. Well that's the plan anyway.

As I approach Park Lane, the temptation to head home in under 2½ miles is strong. I've never cut a run short through choice though, and have no intention of doing so today. I need to keep plodding on. Only another nine miles to go... Onwards to Denchworth, and I'll only have a third of the run to go. I can feel I'm tiring now, and soon fall into the slippery slope of wondering when it's going to get hard. I am starting to think self-fulfilling thoughts. I can't help it - ideally I'd remain totally positive about how well the run has gone so far, and how well it will carry on right to the end...

... but I can feel it getting harder. I slow down a bit, and try to enjoy the late morning sun. I do briefly perk up and feel myself speeding up a little. Less than six miles now, maybe I can keep it up at this pace, and finish a great run after all? It doesn't last though. Tiredness overcomes me again. On through Lyford, on again through Charney Bassett. It's really not so far now. I choose to skip the extra distance to Hatford, I don't need to push it beyond 22 miles, anything over 21 miles will be just fine.

I reach Gainfield, having clocked up a slow mile (10m55s), which sums up my mood for the run now. However I speed up again on the downhill section, and can feel the end is getting close. I surprise myself that I can actually up the pace like this. It's pleasing to think that I'm not totally drained. I can use this kind of reserve in three weeks' time when I need to get up the hills late on in the marathon. The 21st mile brings up the new longest solo run I've ever done. Hard work without the crowds to cheer me on. The last few miles of a marathon, with the other runners to follow, and the bystanders shouting my name makes it easier than it has been today.

Back in Stanford, and I cut through the churchyard, but rather than head straight home, I eek out the last little bit of enthusiasm I'd found, by running past the village hall, up to Joyces Road, and back into Huntersfield to almost, but not quite, clock up 22 miles!

Job done, in the last thirteen weeks of intensive training I've run over 350 miles. Now it's time to taper off for the next few weeks, with fewer weekday runs, no overdoing it in the gym, and just a couple of short weekend runs of 13 miles and 8 miles. I rather think after today's efforts, I have earned the right to think of a 13 mile run as "short".

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Day 91 - Saturday 11th September: Gentle jog

Run: 1.92 miles
Time: 18 minutes 04 seconds

Just a gentle jog round the village this morning to loosen up my legs, since my calves are still a bit still from the hills and gym workouts I've put them through this week.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Day 90 - Friday 10th September: Rest

A day off today, followed by another day off tomorrow (or maybe just a little recovery jog down to the postbox and back). The peak of my training is over, just one more BIG one to do... then it's taper time!

Day 89 - Thursday 9th September: Steventon 10k

Run: 6.23 miles
Time: 56 minutes 55 seconds

A change of scenery for this evening's run. An hour's steady run, with the added twist of a hill. Since I was meeting some friends after work in Didcot, I planned out a route from work that would be about an hour's run. I set off on a 4ish mile route to Sutton Courtenay & back via Milton village, with the detour out to Steventon along the railway line, up the hill and back to Milton Park to run back and forth a bit to bring the total up to around 6 miles.

Then a quick shower, and get ready to go out to find I'd been locked in the building... luckily I was only stuck for a few minutes before someone turned up who could let me out. There was me almost thinking that after work runs would be fun to do to mix things up from my usual laps of the village when I get home, but risking getting stuck in the office is not something that would make this enjoyable!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Day 88 - Wednesday 8th September: Gym classes

Gym classes
LBT: 45 minutes
Aquacise: 1 hour
Yogalates: 1 hour

Making the most of a free Wednesday, I packed in three classes today. The usual LBT, followed by Aquacise (a new one on me), and then Yogalates.

There were 10 of us in the LBT class this evening, so a lot busier than usual. The instructor let all the girls finish the squats when they wanted to, but I had to hold it for another count of 16. I beat her! The leg raises were a killer though... so she got me back.

Then to fill in the time before Yogalates, I was persuaded to try out the aqua aerobics class. Again I was the only bloke, this time in a pool of 20 women. It was interesting, but not very strenuous. However I'm sure it was useful, given I'm only 3½ weeks away from a marathon, and better for me than spending an hour in the gym, which would have been a bit too much like hard work.

So - last class for today - an hour's Yogalates to finish the evening. A bit tough in places given the workout my legs had already had in the previous two classes (especially the balancing poses). I still prefer yoga to this version (but that's not available as an evening class).

Running 13.1 miles in memory of Carl

I ran the Silverstone Half Marathon on 15th March 2009. I managed the 13.1 mile course in 2 hours and 4 minutes. Not a bad effort for my first Half Marathon! I returned in 2010 to run it in 1 hour 54 minutes, and plan to do it again in 2011. I decided to run this in aid of The PSC Trust and PSC Support in memory of my brother Carl, who died from liver failure in November 1997. If you'd like to sponsor me for this - please email me at PSC Trust
PSC Support Or visit my Justgiving page for PSC Support at PSC Support - Justgiving
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