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".

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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
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