From the moment I started this training programme, I knew that this was the week that was going to scare me most. Why? The Sunday run is twenty miles. Twenty miles.
I always fell apart between eighteen and twenty miles last time out – and I really don’t want to do that again. I want to get to twenty miles, and know that I could keep going for another six. That is, after all, what it’s all for.
After the frightful weather on Sunday that forced postponement of the Alloa Half, the weather changed. By Tuesday, it was warm and sunny. The run round Linlithgow Loch was beautiful!
Max elevation: 80 m
Min elevation: 41 m
Wednesday saw a long run, and I decided to run home from work. By the most direct route it is around six miles to work, so by going along the canal and adding a small loop at the end, I was able to make it up to eight miles without too much difficulty. I was running into a fairly strong headwind all the way, so I was quite glad to reach the house!
Max elevation: 114 m
Min elevation: 54 m
Having run from work on Wednesday, I had to run back to it on Thursday. Marie drove me to a spot on the canal where it would be five miles to the office, and I ran from there. This time the wind was at my back, and it was a much more pleasant experience.
Max elevation: 86 m
Min elevation: 47 m
On Friday, I had a sports massage. This was at Life Fit Wellness in Falkirk. They were advertising a flash sale with two massages for the price of one, if the second one is taken within four weeks. Oh well, okay then… Carolyn was the massage therapist, and she bent, stretched and twisted various muscles in my legs – I came out feeling lighter and definitely more easily able to move. I also booked a further massage for the week after the marathon – I think I’ll be needing every ounce of tender care I can get by then!
Anyway, I would recommend this once in a while – it was lovely and I definitely felt the better for it.
Perhaps it was the effects of the massage that made me run much faster than I normally would on Saturday. Perhaps it was that the weather was glorious, and I was able to go out in vest and shorts. I don’t know. But I went round in 8:32 – much faster than the 8:55 / 9:00 per mile that I am aiming for in the real marathon!
Max elevation: 111 m
Min elevation: 69 m
And so dawned Sunday. I took Jenni to work, then went to the University to start my run. I had worked myself into a bit of a funk by this point, and so I procrastinated. Was I going to wear shorts or tights? T-shirt or vest? I went to the loo to change, and then went back to the car. I did a yoga warm-up, and still found ways to delay the start. But eventually I realised I had to get going, and I set off.
The first part was round the top half of the loch, down to the Uni entrance gates and then back up to do the loop that the marathon takes up towards Innovation Park. That brought me back down to the entrance gates and from there I headed east – helped along by a nice little tail wind from the west. As before I headed for Alloa via Tullibody, stopping off at the Causewayhead and the Alloa Leisure Bowl loos on the way. As I approached the Leisure Bowl, the rain had started and I began to worry that I would end up getting chilled in my light vest and short running shorts, but the rain didn’t come to much and so I was able to continue.
Past the Leisure Bowl I climbed the hill and turned right instead of the usual left, thus taking me onto the Tillicoultry road. This put me pretty much on the route of the Alloa Half Marathon – the one that was postponed last week – for the next six or seven miles. The road sweeps down to the Hillfoots road in Tilli, and at the junction I stopped to try applying some more Body Glide. That was a mistake; the Body Glide was near to finished and warm, having been in my waist pouch throughout. It simply snapped as I tried to apply it. Oh well, only eight miles to go.
I carried on along the Hillfoots road, and now that lovely tailwind was a 15mph headwind. My thighs were chafing. I began to not like this run. My mind was drifting into reasons why I could stop and walk. I knew that this was wrong – I ran 18.5 miles just a couple of weeks ago – I could do this. It probably took another couple of miles to convince myself, but by the time I departed from the route of the Alloa Half – when the Half turns left to go to Tullibody but I went straight on to go towards the Uni – I was feeling better. I knew that I wanted to finish this route; more than that I knew that I could!
The climb up to the back entrance to the Uni was neither harder nor easier than usual, and I decided to finish with a bit of a flourish, building some speed for the final couple of hundred yards. I reached the car and touched it as I stopped the tracker. I had done it – I was delighted!
What did I learn from it? Well,
1) I ain’t gonna wear race-day split shorts for the race. I chafe when I wear them, and it’s not nice
2) I’ve got to be ready for the doldrums around mile 14 – 17
3) If I can run twenty miles on my own in a headwind with chafed thighs, I can do 26 with a crowd to cheer me on! Subject to any injuries, I KNOW I can do this.
I’m fired up now, and ready to go for it – for the first time I have confidence that I’ll be able to get to the end of the run, and run the race the way I want to. That makes me feel great!
Max elevation: 48 m
Min elevation: 4 m