The beginning of the end

It’s tempting fate, but this might just be the most miles I’ve posted yet, and will likely be the most until M-day itself.

That'll be me, then!

Talking of which, I have a race number – that put the collywobbles about, I can tell you! Gulp. It’s getting awfully real now. And this week marks the last high mileage week, they start to decrease gently now such that I’m fit and raring to go on the day. I might well believe that when I see it!

Anyway, two running days, three runs and 25 miles logged since I wrote last. Thursday I set out to do 11 miles. After Wednesday’s run got cut a bit short, I went out just to run the miles. Not sure if the training is beginning to take it’s toll, but the first few were just grim. Achy and difficult and for no good reason at all. Nearly called it a day and came back after 2, but gave myself a stern talking to. “If it starts getting hard at 18 miles, are you just going to stop? NO! So HTFU and keep running! Pretend it’s the last 10 miles of the marathon and grind it out.” And so I kept going. Concentrated on the basic things like counting the footfalls to each in (one, two, three) and out (one, two) breath and trying to keep the shoulders relaxed. I can’t say it was a brilliant run, but it did improve. Should have been 11, but I allowed myself to stop after 10, figured that was close enough to mission accomplished. Certainly better than stopping after 2!

Then the weekend long run. The way the plan is structured, each 20 mile run has a shorter, 15 mile run either side of it. With Silverstone and Ashby being on the “wrong” weeks for the plan, I had this one down as 22, but was advised to cut that down to something 15 to 17 or so. This weekend happened to be one of the club’s ladies coffee & cake runs. We meet up, run a 5 mile loop and then have coffee & cake. It’s a chance to run with ladies in the other groups and generally have a chat about life, the universe and maybe a bit of running. I wanted to go, but 5 didn’t really fit with 15+, so a cunning plan was hatched.

I’d get up early, run 10, then get in the car & drive to the run, run the 5 mile loop, have my cake and drive home again. I did think about running there, doing the loop and running home, but didn’t fancy the running back after stopping, and that would put the scuppers on cake! The only slight fly in the ointment being we meet for the run at 9:30, meaning I’d need to get out the house for run 1 shortly after 7 am. The husband was staying away friday night (something to do with a 12 bell eliminator – Ok Darling, what ever you say), so I was on my own. Not sure if it was that, but I was wide awake at 5:30 and showed no signs of dropping back off to sleep, and I figured I may as well get up & have breakfast ahead of my runs.

It was foggy this morning and that made for a really strange experience. I kept collecting dew drops on my eyelashes, that had to be wiped off periodically, and it muffled sounds, but wasn’t quiet. People sort of appeared out of nowhere and everyone seemed a little bit in their own cocoon. It was quite isolating, but not unpleasantly so. I did the usual 10 mile loops round the lake and then up onto the ridge before heading back. Scared a number of geese who were grazing on the field surrounding the nature reserve lake. They sort of waddled away from me at increasing speed before taking flight and making a honking noise about it. Don’t ask me what geese, I’m no twitcher (but there were two colour ways) just be impressed I knew they were geese! The sailing lake overflow was running for the first time in a very long time, suggesting that the rain we’ve had recently has started to make its way into the water courses. Ground was still firm underfoot though, certainly none of the slushy mud I have had to contend with. Made it back in good time and nipped in to use the loo and collect clothes, money and car keys.

Found a text from the husband, asking if I was awake, so replied and he called back. Asked what I was doing and when I said going for the ladies run he asked how far. 5 miles. Which provoked the “that’s not far, hardly worth it” tease. hmm. I didn’t need to see the face to see the shock when I said I’d already done 10, and this was just a little extra! He thinks I’m off my trolley, and I think I can see why…

Anyway, met the ladies in good time. I’d cooled off after the first run and was cold and stiffening up by the time we set off. The first mile was a bit of a struggle, as everything started to get moving again. But it did loosen up again and remember what it had been doing for the last few hours. Nice company and lots of people doubling back to collect the back markers. We also had a gentleman with us, but he was only little, being in a buggy and had a whole host of people taking turns to push him. He was very sweet and smiley, and wrapped up warm in an all in one suit. The sun was finally beginning to make its way through the fog, such that by half way round I’d shed one layer and was wearing it tied round the middle. Rounded that off with a hazelnut latte and a slice of carrot cake. I don’t usually partake of cake, but felt this was deserved – and it had been an awfully long time since my bowl of porridge.

Facts & Figures: (Thurs/Sat1/Sat2)
Distance – 10.2/10.25/4.9 miles
Time – 1:59:48/1:58:05/58:23
Average pace – 11:45/ 11:31/11:55

Making a grand total of 25.35 miles – that’s almost as far as I’ll be running on M-day, and that’s in one go! Mind you, I get a bit of a rest between now and then. I can see why runners refer to this month as Mad March, I seem to have been tired all month. Next week the miles start to drop, with the long run being “only” 14 miles. It’s a startling change of perspective, 4 months ago I’d run 14 miles once and thought it was about the limits of endurance, now I’m thinking of that as a relatively short run. Part of me would just like to fast forward through the next 22 days, and for this all to be over and done with. I’d quite like my life back – weekends have become dominated by what miles I have to run and when I’m going to be able to fit them in. And I’d like to sleep for a week, if no-one minds. Having said all that, I am (sort of) looking forward to it and am not worried about running it, I have no doubts on that score at all. I will finish, even if I cross the line on hands and knees. I’ve done the miles, this is now the beginning of the end…