This morning’s run was to be all about upping the distance for my marathon training. So far, my longest run was 24K; so today I wanted to improve on that. The plan was to run for three and a half hours and try to get somewhere in the region of 28K, although I’d be happy with 27.
Weather wise, it didn’t look too bad. The wind had died down and there was a bit of sunshine for a change, although the temperature was still pretty low. Still, anything can happen in three and a half hours, so I decided to wear my waterproof jacket. It’s more for hiking than for running, but it’s still fairly lightweight, windproof and breatheable, so it would do the job.
As I was going to be out for a while, I decided to take my CamelBak and use the bladder for water and a separate bottle for my electrolyte drink. This made it much easier to carry other things, like my phone, keys, PowerGels and my jacket if I decided it was warm enough to take it off.
Funnily enough, I did just that. It was lovely and sunny down on the seafront and I warmed up fairly quickly, so after a couple of kilometres I ditched the jacket and carried it in the back pack. This was so much nicer than having it tied around my waist!
I ran East along the seafront towards Saltdean, taking in the hill on the marathon and half-marathon route. Unlike the road that is used for the races, however, the path along the side of the road undulates along the line of the cliffs. While this probably made the uphills a bit steeper, it did offer a welcome reprieve on the downhills, so I guess it balances out.
I took my first gel after an hour and turned round at Rottingdean to head back to Brighton with a moderate headwind to keep things interesting. Although it was hard running against the wind (I was basically on top of a cliff after all!), it wasn’t as bad as last weekend. For one thing, the wind didn’t feel too cold, and for another, it wasn’t raining… yet!
The rain did come though. Just as I was nearing the end of Marine Drive, the wind picked up and the rain started. I didn’t want to stop running to get my jacket out, so I put up with it until my running segment was finished. And in the nick of time too!
Just as I’d got the jacket on, the wind picked up some more, driving the heavy rain straight at me. Luckily I was about to head down to sea level at that point, which I hoped would mean the wind wouldn’t be quite as bad. As it turned out, the rain didn’t last for very long, but the sky was looking pretty stormy over Shoreham so I decided to keep my jacket on just in case.
I took another PowerGel just after the two hour mark. I was feeling ok, but the old legs were starting to get a bit tired. The pace had slowed down quite a bit, what with the wind and rain and everything, and I knew that I would have to pick things up a bit if I was going to hit 28K.
I passed my starting point at about 17.5K and did some quick maths to figure out how far I would need to run before turning back. I figured that I would have to use the full stretch of the road along the industrial estate towards Shoreham Harbour to get the distance; or just run for 40 minutes out and then 40 minutes back to get the three and a half hours in.
This particular stretch of Industrial Estate is also part of the race routes so it’s not unusual to see other runners out there. It is also affectionately know as ‘The Road To Hell’, which lived up to it’s name after only a kilometre or so when I ran straight into ice cold horizontal winds and rain.
Needless to say, I promptly turned on my heel and ran, or rather shuffled, as fast as I could to escape it. This, of course, meant that I would return to my starting point too early and, as my legs were pretty much ready to fall off by this point, I was worried that I might be tempted to call it a day once I got there.
Luckily I still had a couple of kilometres to sort my head out and, once the rain stopped driving into my back, I realised that it wasn’t going to be a problem. If I slowed down, relaxed and just shuffled along, I could still get 27 kilometres done in the time. I just had to ignore the pain, focus on the ratios and get the job done.
So that’s what I did. I passed the starting point, did a little loop, passed the starting point again and started following the path home until I’d completed 27K.
I was pleased that I’d managed it in just under three and a half hours and, even though my legs were starting to seize up, the old IT band had managed to hold out.
After today’s run, I’m doubtful as to whether or not I’ll have time to run 42K before the Brighton Marathon in April, but time will tell. For now, I’m just glad I got the job done.
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