Distance: 20 miles
Mile 1 - 10m02s
Mile 2 - 10m13s
Mile 3 - 10m18s
Mile 4 - 10m21s
Mile 5 - 10m26s
Mile 6 - 10m15s
Mile 7 - 10m39s
Mile 8 - 10m21s
Mile 9 - 10m23s
Mile 10 - 10m35s
Mile 11 - 10m30s
Mile 12 - 10m42s
Mile 13 - 10m56s
Mile 14 - 10m56s
Mile 15 - 11m03s
Mile 16 - 11m38s
Mile 17 - 11m32s
Mile 18 - 11m41s
Mile 19 - 11m55s
Mile 20 - 11m30s
Fact! I ache therefore I am.
I really hope that the alternating experiences that I'm having with my long runs will carry on in the same pattern.
On 8th March I had a horrible 14 mile run. It was wet and it hurt. On 15th March I had a great Half Marathon at Silverstone.
On 22nd March I managed 16 miles, but the last four were really tough. Last week I had a fantastic 18 mile run...
Given the unexpected success of last week's 18 miler, I was looking forward to today's run. 20 miles? I can do that. It's just another step along the way to the London Marathon in 3 weeks' time. It's my last LONG run before I start tapering down for the last few weeks. And running 20 miles in itself is pretty amazing. Isn't it?
I found out yesterday that the route I'd planned shared some sections with the Grove Half Marathon being run today. It's almost a shame I didn't know about it sooner - perhaps I could have entered it and then run 7 miles home again afterwards. Though on the whole it's a good thing I didn't enter it - I would have wanted to beat my Silverstone time, and that wasn't the plan today. Today's plan was slow and steady. Running an average of 10.5-minute miles to cover the 20 mile distance in 3½ hours.
I set off a bit later than planned though (originally I'd wanted to be out running by 10am), so as to avoid clashing with the runners using my bits of road as they covered the 13.1 miles of their race this morning. So perhaps if I left at 10.30am it would be better, eh? In the end I faffed about a bit and didn't get going until 11am. At least I won't have the chance to faff about on 26th April. No doubt I'll be awake really early and raring to get down to Greenwich Park for 8am!
Once I'd got going, I set myself the target of running the 10½ minute miles. And as usual I set off too fast. I slowed a little, but running somewhere between 10m15s and 10m30s per mile felt comfortably slow. Certainly comfortably slower than last week. And that's how it went for the first third of the run today. When I reached Hanney, I felt a bit tired. And psychologically I'd made this run seem tougher than last week, as then I'd whooped with joy at reaching 9 miles, the half way point. Today more of my run comes later on, with an extra loop, so at the same point in the road, I'd only done 6½ miles this week. A lady was out gardening, and as I passed she said "Not far to go now!" I didn't have the breath to correct her that actually yes there was quite a way to go. Another 13½ miles and about 2½ hours of running still to go actually. I just smiled.
The wind heading North from Hanney to Southmoor wasn't as bad as last week, but the distance I still had to cover was daunting. And with each mile the run just seemed to get harder. Had I overdone it on the first half of today's run? I don't think so, but maybe I had. As I left Southmoor, I missed the 10 mile point bleep on my Garmin. So when I realised I'd passed the half way point I gave a little "woohoo", but it was half hearted really. Time for my second gel, perhaps that'll get me going. I think it did for a couple of miles, but then the aches started to set in. My left glute was moaning at me. My right knee (well ITB really) felt tight and sore. Then my left ankle joined in. And when all three were causing pain at once, it felt like time to stop and walk it off. But I didn't! Sheer determination kept me running. Though the temptation to cut the run short when I reached Charney Bassett (for the second time today) and nip home in 4 miles instead of the 7½ that I still had to do was strong.
I didn't cave, and the pains turned back into aches. But they'd taken their toll on my pace. No longer able to stick to the planned 10½ minutes per mile, I was content to just get to the 20 miles in whatever pace I could manage. I was hoping that I'd find a boost of energy from somewhere, but it didn't happen. Even my last gel at 15 miles didn't seem to put anything in the tank. I was beginning to wonder if I'd hit the wall and not be able to run all the way back home. I do feel thirsty. I don't think I brought enough drink out with me. Only 750ml lucozade sport and 330ml water. Luckily I won't have to worry about this on the day. It was hot today, and I have been sweating a bit. So I ration the last of my water to get me back to the last couple of miles.
The aches, in spite of not turning back into pains, are still with me. My hips ache too now. And now my right calf feels stiff, like the beginnings of a cramp. Why is it so much harder this week compared to last? What have I done (or not done) differently? I think it's a combination of not having had so much pasta to eat in the last week (I'd opted for jacket spuds a couple of days), and lack of sleep. I've had a couple of restless nights recently, especially last night. It seemed to take an age to get to sleep. And when I did, I don't think I slept for long. I woke up feeling like I hadn't even been asleep at all. Then I realised I must have been asleep as I'd been working out the plot for a Disney film. I won't tell you the details as a) I don't want anyone pinching my good ideas and b) I can't remember them anyway. Rest assured if I do that I'll be sending them off to Disney and making my millions.
Anyway, back to the run. Or jog. Or hobble as it is becoming. The urge to give up and walk is quite strong now, but as I turn the corner into Park Lane (not as fancy as it sounds - it's just a single track road past a couple of farms) there's only a couple of miles to go. And hey, I'm just about to pass 18.3 miles so the rest of the way back will be the furthest I've ever run in my life. I've walked 20 miles in a day before - several times on sponsored walks round Blenheim Palace - but they always took about 5 hours. Today I'm going to do 20 miles in 3½ hours. Ok, maybe a little over at this rate, but not far off. 20 miles! 20 miles!! As I approach the last mile, I swig the last of my water and tell myself that it's really not far now. I can do it, I can do it, I can do it. I feel like Thomas the Tank engine now...
And I do. It's been a tough run, not my best by any means, but still not my worst either. One to learn from I hope. I need to drink more water, eat more pasta, and get more sleep. The best thing of course is that it's now going to be much easier for the next 3 weeks, as I'll be running a lot less. No more LONG runs. No more FAST runs. No more HARD runs. Just an easy 12 miles next week, then a really easy 7 miles the week after. And the odd 3-4 mile run in between. It's been a hard road to get me where I am today, but I'm here. The end is in sight. I can almost hear the cheers of the crowd in The Mall willing me on to complete The London Marathon.
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