I can run for miles and miles

I know that’s not how the song goes, but it was how I felt yesterday. First 20 mile run completed. (Please imagine a little happy dance here – not sure I can do a happy dance, but I feel like it merits one!)

Had that breakfast of champions – porridge & coffee, then went into town for the weekly shop to give that all time to settle before changing and heading out. By default (ie they were the only ones clean) I ended up wearing my full length tights. I have begun to wonder if these were designed for someone with legs a good 6 inches longer than mine, as I rapidly develop some Nora Batty-esque wrinkles at the lower leg regions when running in these. But they’re by Ronhill and so have a wonderfully capacious rear pocket – perfect for stashing gel sachets. After ~ 3 miles the zips at the back of the calves were digging & rubbing, so I paused to turn them up. How very fetching!

Set out with waist belt packed with water bottles, phone, cash card, £10, £1 coin, front door key and 4 gels in my shorts. Hopefully all eventualities covered. Decided that the best bet would simply be to run down the railway path for 10 miles, then turn round & come home again.  Set off at a reasonable pace, just to get warmed up. Slowed up a bit thereafter, into a comfortable run pace, not worrying too much about time – this is all about getting the distance covered. At a smidge before 5 miles I had a gel, thinking that one an hour ought to be at about 5 mile intervals. At 7  miles I nipped into the nature reserve visitor centre for a loo stop. At 8 miles I was on virgin territory. I’d decided to follow the river path, rather than the railway track, as beyond this point the railways starts the peter out, whereas navigation alongside a river is always easy – don’t fall in! I’d heard from runners at the club that the river path from the end of the nature reserve was a bit muddy, but nothing quite prepared me for the reality. Literally ankle deep in places, this was alternately squishy and slippy and I think I did really well to maintain pace to no more than 2 minutes a mile slower. Found a junction on some raised ground just after 10 miles, but wasn’t sure that this was the railway, so decided it was better to simply retrace my footsteps rather than risk getting lost.

And so I turned & headed back again. The return leg was less tidy (now being plastered in mud to the knee and splattered thereafter) but comfortable. As runs go, this one was pretty uneventful. Had one dog try and eat my shoelaces, while another pair were playing doggy tag and zipped across about 6 inches in front of my feet. Having been frightened out of my skin, I leapt to a stop and let loose an expletive – which frightened the pair of ladies walking said dogs – who hadn’t heard my approach! A few fluttered heart rates later and we all carried on.

I took a bit of a detour round the nature reserve on the return leg, thinking that some extra miles on the flat would mean I could take a circuit round the base of of one of the two hills on my usual route home. Just making life a little easier. I did climb the last hill towards home at a reasonable pace – in fact the last mile was the fastest in the entire run. 

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 20.03 miles
Time – 4:10:27
Average pace – 12:30 

Very pleased with that. At the bottom end of my ideal pace for a long run, but the terrain over the new part of the route would easily account for that average.

I got home and downed a whole pint of fudge brownie milkshake – a well deserved reward for some serious exercise. Stretched a bit (blimy – that hurt!) then hopped in the bath (ahhhh). After some food, yet more stretches and some warm clothes, we headed of for a bellringing (my other hobby) society AGM. This had a traditional ringer’s tea (sandwiches, sausage rolls etc and lots of lovely cake) at which I did my best to demolish the cake mountain. Didn’t quite eat my body weight, but not far short. Mind yo, as my Garmin data tells me I used 2169 calories, I think a bit of cake wouldn’t go amiss. However, it did all catch up with me during the AGM. The under pew heating was warm, the pews had cushion pads so rested my head on a hassock, reclined under my coat & dozed. Didn’t actually fall asleep, but it was a close run thing.

Managed 39 miles this week, just shy of the 40 mark (for which I blame Tuesday’s lacklustre effort). I did consider heading out to run 1 solitary mile, just to make that 40, but I’ve decided I’m not that bothered! I’ll no doubt break that barrier in a few weeks time – so no hurry there.

Saturday night impacts on Sunday morning

Although no, I haven’t been running with a hangover. Christmas party Saturday night, but I’d drawn the driving straw. Good night. Driving home meant I was in bed, but wide awake, at 1 am.  Sunday’s alarm went off at 8, having had what felt like not a lot of sleep. Breakfast, then down to ringing before home, change and out for a run.

Schedule this week was a long, slow 10 miles. Once I’d woken up and got my head in gear, it felt really good out there. Cold, and the wind was icy, but not as bad as it has been recently. Only really chilly in the exposed spots. Lots of walkers out, all wrapped up to the nines in hats, scarfs, boots, gloves etc. And I received pretty much the same look from all of them as I ran past wearing a beanie hat, capris and a single long sleeved layer. The trouble with this time of year is judging how much to wear – you don’t want to be cold most of the way, but you don’t want to overheat immediately. I tend to work on the theory that I’ll be cold for the first 20 – 30 minutes, then it’ll be OK.

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 10 miles
Time – 2:02:48
Average Pace – 12:17 min/miles

Bang on for pace and distance. Please imagine a little smug grin and a tick on the plan.

I was delayed at one point reading a notice at the nature reserve. There were a load of great big fence poles put in, some of them obviously cutting across the path. The nature reserve has sheep to graze the grassland around the lake, and it seems that these have been harassed and, in some cases injured or killed, by dogs that are off the lead. They have, therefore, had to take the decision to fence off the paths in order to prevent this. Such a shame that the minority has spoiled it for the many people that walk (and run) around this place. They’ll continue to mow the paths, but it will obviously take a while for the new lengths of path to be quite as flat & smooth as the existing stretches.

Not a lazy Sunday

Well that worked out better than it might have done. Sunday is long slow run day. But, having run twice in two days, I wasn’t going to stick to that rigidly if the legs weren’t feeling up to it. A plan’s all very good, but there’s no point running myself into the ground if it just isn’t working.

Up early again, breakfast with the first half of the Scotland/Argentina match – tight and horribly nervy – not at all easy viewing. I gave up watching  the Berlin marathon, as the pixellated image was truly annoying, as was the lack of coverage of the women’s race in the early stages. The men ran through 5 k in less than half the time it takes me to cover the same distance – only they’ve got 35 k to go, whereas I collapse in a heap! 2:03 for a marathon is unbelievably fast to me.

I was still in two minds about running, as I could feel both calves felt a bit tight. Not painful, but just letting me know they were there. But I decided that if I went out aiming for a slow long run, I could always cut it short if it started to hurt too much. That settled the route, down to the lake and loops of that area. It means that I can build up the distance without ever being more than ~ 3 miles from home. Certainly a better option than the out & back I had planned – at 7 miles out you’ve got 7 miles to get home again…And no chance of calling for a lift, as the taxi driver’s not in.

So off I plodded. It was intentionally slow, aiming at high 12:xx to low 13:xx minute miles. As ever, I completely failed to stick to that for the first section. I took my drinks belt with me, and some jelly beans for energy. I’m going to need to take on energy for the marathon, and it’s obviously best to know which type you can tolerate best ahead of the day. I don’t bother taking liquid for less than 10 miles/2 hours (unless it’s awfully hot) but over that and it does make a difference.

Sunday morning must be dog walking time, as they were everywhere! All sorts of shapes & sizes. No expert in dogs, but there appeared to be a fair number of exuberant young dogs out. As usual, they were mostly under control or not at all interested in me! Only Tango made an effort to chase, and all I got was a wet nose on the back of one leg. That led to a small burst of speed, I can tell you!

Distance – 11.0 miles
Time – 2:28:37
Average Pace – 13:02 min/miles
Pace varied from 12:40 to 13:20, which is nicely consistent and shows no real tailing off towards the end.

If that looks like a suspiciously round number, yes, I did run past the end of the road just to round that up. 11.00 miles looks so much better than 10.89! I will admit to having taken out the minute or so I spent at mile 7 having a drink & jelly bean, but that strikes me as reasonable.

The jelly beans didn’t go brilliantly. I decided on one per mile, but after mile 7 I was feeling very heavy in the stomach, and had a fair attack of the burps thereafter. Suspect I’ll try these again, as it’s a nice neat option, but maybe at a slightly lower frequency of consumption. I’ll no doubt come back to this as the subject of a separate blog entry, as there’s all sorts of options and variations available.

I’m happy with the way that felt, the legs were fine and it’s good to have done a run of over 10 miles in the lead in to my half marathon in a fortnight. I won’t go over 8 miles next week, so that I’ll be fresh and rested for the 13 the following week.

Let’s do lunch!

Another working from home lunch time run, as I won’t make the club tonight, but I know someone is checking that I’m not slacking. >;-)

Set off thinking a middle loop of the lake would be enough for lunch time. Managed the first mile in about 11:30 mins. That put an idea in my head – with an aim to get my half marathon time down nearer to 2:30, I need to run about 11:30 minute miles. So why not make this a half marathon pace run? OK, I’m game.

It was all going really quite well, managed the first 3 sectors (taking me to ~ 3 miles) in 11:26, 11:45 and 11:30 min miles. That is off-road after the first sector and does include a few gates to open and close, so not too bad going.

Then there was a small hiccough, when I met the girl in the flowery rain coat (not wearing the raincoat, it wasn’t raining today) and her dog again. This time the pup was off the lead and the first I knew of it was a brown furry bullet was heading towards me at some rate of knots. She was intent on me and not responding to the girl calling Etta (I think). Being not entirely comfortable with dogs, I’m always a bit concerned about what a dog is going to do. This one did jump up, reaching no more than thigh high. But it seemed intent on slobbering me to pieces before beating the remains with a very waggy tail. The girl in the flowery rain coat was terribly apologetic. And dog was being so enthusiastic about everything that you could really see she was just after being friends. At least next time I meet this dog I’ll know that all I’m risking is an impromptu wash!

Distance – 5.75 miles
Time: 1:06:42
Average pace – 11:36 min/miles
Best sector: 0.84 miles at 10:49 min/miles

Blimy – that’s pretty smart! Quite impressed that the average is close to the target pace; even including the dog incident, but that was only as there was some significant period that was heading under 11 min miles. So in terms of hitting a consistent pace, it needs some work. I also ran the section up hill heading home at faster than regulation pace as well. I wonder if that’s due to knowing I need to push on up the hill, and so I’m working harder than necessary. Not entirely sure I could run more than twice that far at the same pace, but maybe without the faster bits I’d have been able to maintain it a bit longer. Something to ponder for another time.