Hitting 20 again

Posted on: 28 Feb 2017

Miles that is, not my age.  I’d love to be, what with a certain big birthday involving the number ‘4’ looming, but 20 was the number I hit on last weekend’s long run.

It wasn’t meant to be a 20 miler.  I did 16 the weekend before, so this was supposed to be an additional two miles to take me up to 18.  Then 20, then 22, then tapering. 

But I could tell the distance was going to be a bit off when I reached the half marathon point and had a pretty good idea how many miles it was to home, even by the most direct route.  Planning a long run isn’t really an exact science, especially if you’re trying to do it in one loop and not get caught doing laps (a pet hate of mine).

So decision made on the hoof to flip the weeks around, knuckle down and get those extra miles done.  It would prove a good test after what had been a really up and down kind of a week.

Monday morning came and I could feel the dreaded tickle in my throat.  Another cold?  Oh do me a favour, I’ve only just got over the last one.  This really isn’t like me, I’m not especially prone to picking up germs and bugs, but there you have it.

I stuck to my programme regardless, albeit easing off on the pace and not over exerting myself.  I also didn’t want any repeat of last week’s thigh strain.  Five miles completed on Tuesday evening and a core session on Wednesday. 

Thursday morning – early doors before work – was to be my medium distance eight miler.  Yes, Thursday – Doris day.  I had set my alarm for 5.30am but was already awake.  Why?  Because the wind and the rain was pounding at the window.  Yes, this is going to be terrific fun.

I got ready, had breakfast and pontificated.  Is it wise to go out in this weather with a cold?  Surely I can miss one session?  But then the other side of my brain took over – you haven’t missed a session yet all programme, I reminded myself.  You don’t know what the weather is going to be like on marathon day, best to be prepared for all eventualities, eh?

The positive thinker won, helped by a sudden lull in the rain.  I jumped in my car, drove to work, parked up and got on with the job in hand.  It was still dry, but boy was it windy.  Doris wasn’t up to full pelt yet at this time, but it was enough to put you off your stride going into the headwind – and enough to make you very wary of the tailwind pushing you out of control.

Eight fairly cautious miles later and I was safely back at the office and heading straight for a hot shower.  I was pleased with myself and my commitment.  I was also relieved, because the weather got worse and worse as the day progressed, tragically resulting in a pedestrian being killed by flying debris only a few miles up the road in Wolverhampton – shocking business.  It really would have been stupid to go out training in that.

And so the weekend arrived.  My wife was going to be away Saturday night and Sunday, so I needed to get my long run done early before she left in order to look after our daughter.  Another 5.30am alarm call!

It was dry, but still windy.  Not Doris territory, but gusty nonetheless.  I was doing an ‘out and back’ type of route – out on roads and back mostly via canal towpaths and footpaths.  The out was almost constantly into the breeze and it was affecting both my pace and my morale.

After nine miles I had honestly had enough.  It was energy-sapping, regardless of how many jelly babies or bits of Cliff bar I chomped on.  Thank goodness my direction of travel changed when it did.  The homeward stretch was considerably less taxing, and flatter for the part along the canals. 

I was through half marathon distance in around 1hr55 and completed the full 20 in bang on three hours, averaging nine minute miles.  It’s a little slower than target marathon pace and quite a way off my best, but that wasn’t the object of the exercise.  Given the conditions, and not being particularly well most of the week, I’m perfectly happy with that performance.

Manchester is playing on my mind a bit now.  Especially the four hour target, which is the whole reason for signing up in the first place.  I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself, so need to try and stay both relaxed and realistic about the whole thing.

A couple more solid long runs should help and I certainly think I’m better prepared this time around compared to Chester and London. 

Hopefully all you other spring marathoners are also on track.  Did you take on Doris?  Has it been wet and wild for your weekend training?  Good luck and keep on blogging.


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