Distance: 18.32 miles
Mile 1 - 10m07s
Mile 2 - 10m24s
Mile 3 - 10m19s
Mile 4 - 10m05s
Mile 5 - 9m46s
Mile 6 - 9m58s
Mile 7 - 9m47s
Mile 8 - 9m44s
Mile 9 - 9m43s
Mile 10 - 9m47s
Mile 11 - 9m52s
Mile 12 - 9m54s
Mile 13 - 9m55s
Mile 14 - 9m40s
Mile 15 - 9m42s
Mile 16 - 9m40s
Mile 17 - 9m18s
Mile 18 - 9m00s
0.32m - 3m13s
It was not without a little trepidation that I set out for today's run. Last week 16 miles seemed tough, and it was. But psychologically 16 isn't much further than 13, and I knew I could do 13 comfortably having done that distance a few times before. But today's 18-miler just seemed daunting. I even woke up in the night, not worrying exactly, but still a big thought to think about in the early hours.
I decided to have a bit of a lay in this morning, not in a huge hurry to get up having lost an hour with the clocks going forward. Up at half nine, downstairs for ready brek and banana. Then a huge mug of green tea, and a very hot bath to warm up my legs. For a change today I also used my stepper to warm up a bit before my run. Something I usually skip, as I normally just run gently for a few hundred yards as I start out. So it was midday before I hit the road.
The sun is shining, the sky is blue, yet there are large clouds dotted around. Enough to shade me from the sun on and off for half the run. A gentle breeze, but nothing to worry about. Today's plan was 180 minutes "comfortable" (or so I thought, when I got back I found it should have been 180 minutes "slow". Oh well). I'm keen to avoid running too fast today, as I have such a long run to cover. I must keep it down to 10 minute miles. I succeeded on the first mile, and then slowed my pace a fraction. I decided I was quite happy to get round in a goodish time, I wasn't going to try to stick to 10-minute-miles.
2 miles in, and I'm feeling good. I've done a 9th of my run. That's 11% of it done already. Great! Only another 16 miles to go. Surprisingly this little pep talk worked, and I wasn't daunted by the fact that I still had 89% of my run to do, or that 16 miles is still a long way. At the end of mile 3, it's better still. I've done a 6th now. Only 5 more lots of 3 miles to go. And this is how it felt for pretty much every mile. I assumed at some point it would get difficult, and the fact that I still had hours left to run would get to me, but it didn't.
At 5 miles I take my first gel. The sun is warm, the birds are tweeting. It's a good day for a run. Mile 6 down, I've run for an hour (just over). 2 more hours to go. Is that too much? No, I'm still feeling good. Before I know it I've finished mile 8. Only 10 more to go! How weird is that? "Only 10 more" miles!! I wonder how many other London Marathon runners are out right now? I wonder how the friends I've met online who are training are doing in their runs. There must be 1000s of us out running today. What a contrast it will be to today's run, where I'm out alone in the countryside with no one for miles around.
Mile 9 and I whoop out loud. "Half way!!!" But now I've turned North out of Hanney. I know it will be windy here, it always is. And sure enough there's a breeze in my face. This is the start of a 3 mile stretch to Southmoor, and I'm going to have the wind against me for the next half hour. It's not strong though, and I forget about it soon enough. I glance down at my Garmin wondering where mile 10 will come. Oh look, a 10th of a mile ago, I missed its little bleep. Time for another gel.
Mile 11 and I can smell the pig farm. This brings back childhood memories of a holiday in Devon. It's funny how such a horrible smell can conjure up nice thoughts. The slight hill into Southmoor is a bit of a struggle, but I can almost feel I'm on a home stretch now. Just 6 short miles left. Only an hour. I'm still waiting for something to happen. My right knee will hurt. My left glutes will give me a sharp pain. I'll hit the wall and struggle to keep up with the sub 10-minute-mile pace I've managed to get into.
At 13.1 miles it's 2h10m in. That's better then 10 minute miles. And I'm not flagging. I'm feeling as good as ever on today's run. Less than 5 miles to go now. I can feel a surge of energy coming on. I can run a bit faster, can't I? But can I keep it up all the way back?
And the answer is, yes I can. I take my last gel at 15 miles, and keep going strong. Not only that but the sense of elation when I pass mile 16 and know I'm now running further than ever before (again!) gives me even more energy. Come on, only 2 miles to go now. My legs are on autopilot, I'm not even trying to go fast, but I can feel I am. At the end of mile 17 I see I've done a 9m18s split. And now I up the pace. I peak at an 8m30s pace, but I can't keep that up for the whole mile. I pass my brother-in-law and he beeps his horn at me as he drives the other way. Half a mile to go, come on Ulen I can do this one in under 9 minutes...
Well, no I can't. I do it in 9 minutes dead. Still, not bad for me to do a 9 minute mile having just run 17 before it! And what's more I've run the 18 miles in under 3 hours. So I keep running until I reach 180 minutes, albeit at a slower pace now. Then when I reach Stanford in the Vale and clock up 3 hours non-stop running, I stop my run, and walk the rest of the way home to warm down. Then I stretch thoroughly and head off for a hot bath to relax.
Looking at my times afterwards, and I'm pleased I've done another negative split:
1st 9 miles = 89 minutes 53 seconds
2nd 9 miles = 86 minutes 48 seconds
When I told a friend how well my run had gone today, she said "Well the London Marathon will be just a piece of cake then", and perhaps she's right? If that goes as well as today's run, then I shall be more than happy. Just 4 weeks to go now... And since I've clocked up over 600 miles in training (since October 2007), perhaps some cake to celebrate is in order?
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