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.

The long and winding road

Yesterday’s run was the furthest I’ve run to date. Woohoo! I’m going to have to ramp up the miles once I start training for the marathon, and I wanted to try just going that bit further. Also I need to work on a fueling strategy; breakfast, taking on energy and liquid, all of which need a long run to find out if they work effectively. Maybe not ideal in terms of training for the next half marathon, but certainly beneficial in the longer term.

Started the day with coffee and porridge, a nice slow release energy source. Went shopping in town and returned my library books, all of which took me until about 10 am. After the half, I discussed the running out of steam effect at the club, and one suggestion there was to add a banana to the pre run ritual, about 30 minutes before heading out. So I ate my (slightly over ripe) nana and then changed. Into long sleeves and the beanie hat, rather than short sleeves and baseball cap. It’s not yet proper winter, but it’s certainly cold enough for the winter kit to start making an appearance. Found my water belt, 3 gels (High Five Citrus Burst) and headed out the door.

It was certainly cooler out than it has been, but a beautiful crisp autumn morning. Lovely to look at and quite pleasant in the sun, but with a sharp wind that made me very pleased I’d opted for long sleeves. Into the wind for the outward leg. Once I had the wind at my back, I pushed them up to the elbows, but it wasn’t short sleeves weather!

Headed out down the hill towards the sailing club, then across the river and through the next village to the top of the railway path. This then heads down the river valley to another old gravel pits that is now a nature reserve and visitor centre. The advantage of running past here being that there’s a loo for that scheduled pitstop! No bushes for me!!

It was lovely out and lots of people were taking advantage of the weather. There were also birds flitting about and a pair of Red Kites circling overhead at one point. I know they feast on carrion, but they’re enormous and I always put on a turn of speed; just to prove I’m not suitable for lunch!

Made the decision to try taking the energy gels at 4, 7 and 10 miles, with 7 miles being half way. Took on water regularly as well. The bottle belt holds about 600 mL in two bottles, so I tried to spread this out and finished the last water at about 13 miles. The gels weren’t the nicest tasting things I’ve ever eaten in my life, they have a thick texture and were a bit sweet, but not as sickly as some. There were also no unpleasant side effects either from the banana or gels during or after the run, which I imagine could be most off putting.

Facts & Figures
Distance – 14.16 miles
Time – 2:57:53
Average Pace – 12:34 min/mile
Nice and even too. Half way in under 1:30 and 10 miles in 2:05, exactly 12:30 pace. The first mile was a bit swift but not bad (for me) while the last 2 miles were slower, but that’s as they contain all the uphill in the entire run – there are major disadvantages to living at the top of a hill.

So, all in all, a very good run. Pleased with the distance and the even pace. Pleased that the pre-run banana sat comfortably and the gels were stomached OK. I can feel it today, it all aches just a bit, but in a good way.