Well it's been a little while since my last blog. I think that I left things just before my first 20 mile training run...the Trimpell 20 mile race in Lancaster. Oh my goodness that was an interesting run!! More on that in a moment.
I've been cramming my long runs a bit more than I ought to have since coming back from my hip and calf problems. I'd managed to do a 16 and 17 miler before I had to rest but both were with some pain. Then I abandonned a long run at 9 miles and took the next week off completely. Knowing that I had this race coming up I then went straight into 14 one weekend, 16 the next, 18 the one after, then the 20 mile race. A 2 mile increase each week (especially with no cut back week) is not ideal but it felt like the only chance I had to get enough endurance in.
David has already blogged about the 20 mile race and he was much more polite about it than I would have been if I'd hae blogged nearer the time. I've tried to put the grimness of the whole experience behind me but oh my goodness it was grim!! It was SO cold which of course no-one could do anything about. But then there was this section between mile 14 and 17 which was the worst bit of road running I have ever endured. Ever. We were sent up this ridiculous soul destroying out and back bypass for 1 1/2 miles each way. Going out was uphill with the icy wind whipping around us. That was bad enough but I could tell that it was going to be worse coming back by the looks on people's faces. And indeed it was. My hands were so cold (with gloves on) that they were in pain; and my face was so cold that my speech was slurred for about half an hour afterwards!! Anyway I got through it and finished the 20 miles - with a fair bit of walking and quite a bit of cursing.
Mid week runs have been great on the whole. David and I had a lovely run together one evening (before his knee completely packed in...) which is a rare thing as he's so much faster than me that we don't often run together.
Last weeks long run was only going to be 15 miles. Bliss - a cut back week at last. We plotted a route which would involve hardly any roads and take us on trails, cycle paths, through woods, and along a canal. As usual I went out before David and we planned that we'd see each other 2 or 3 times. The only problem with this lovely route was that the first 3-4 miles were also hilly. And my problem with that is that I haven't built up enough fitness to cope with hills at the start of a long run. They zapped too much energy from me which made the rest of the run a struggle. David caught up with me much earlier than we were expected as I'd be going so slowly. It was clear that he was in pain and I insisted that he turn back and go home. He was quick to agree and off he went. I was now on my own and not having a great deal of fun. After a few tricky miles and getting lost I decided to turn back which I knew would mean cutting the run a bit short. I ended up doing around 13 1/2 miles which would do.
For today's long run we were meeting up with HOBS who was staying at his in-laws up north. The plan originally was for me an HOBS to do 20 miles and David to do 10 as he was tapering for Manchester. Sadly David couldn't run at all because of his knee but came along anyway for support. INow this is something I could reall get used to - having someone hand to drinks, food, and vaseline when you need it!
We were running on the Middlewood Way which is a dis-used railway line - perfect for marathon training. It also sits right next to the Macclesfield canal. We were orginally going to do a 10 mile 'loop' on the canal before doing another 10 mile loop on the Way. My plan was to be on my feet for 3 1/2 hour tops and to keep my watch going even when I stopped to get supplies from David or to stretch etc. This meant that I didn't think I'd cover 20 miles but wanted to get at least 18 done.
HOBS and I ran the first 5 miles together. Unfortunately the path along the canal was very wet and muddy which made it hard to run on. We decided therefore to move onto the Way after this 5 miles. Despite it being hard to get into any proper pace this first 5 miles went really quickly and it was lovely to chat to HOBS. We had a pit stop with supplies from David and headed off on the Way. HOBS went off ahead but we saw each other a few times. It's lovely to have someone out there with you and get to pass each other a few times even if you aren't running with them.
My next pit stop with David would be at 12 miles and it was such a welcome sight to have him standing there ready with supplies and words of encouragement. I was still feeling good at this point but knew that I was starting to slow. My calf hasn't been hurting at all this week and it still felt fine at this point.
By about 15 miles it was all getting pretty tough and uncomfortable. The outside of my right knee was hurting and my calf started to complaining. I now started to run/walk and was looking forward to finishing! I must have made some progress though as I managed a whole run without swearing! HOBS appeared when I had about a mile to go and ran the last mile with me which I was very grateful for even though I was a tad less chatty by now! We got back to David very slightly over 3 1/2 hours with nearly 19 miles done for me (and more for HOBS). Job done. And the best bit? The pub was about 100 yards away and the pie, chips and gravy felt like the best I've ever tasted!
It has been very hard to get a sense of my long run pace over the past 3 weeks as none of the runs have been on tarmac in 'normal' race conditions. Next week should give me an idea of where I'm at as I'll be doing the first 16 miles of Manchester.
So that's me up to date. And I'm not going to lie...I can't bloody wait for tapering!!!
Good luck everyone..
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