For Bling And A Banana

This time next week I’ll be running in the Brighton Marathon… no, really, I’ll still be running five and a half hours into the race. It’s going to be long and hard and painful, but somehow that doesn’t seem to matter any more.

Even if it takes me six hours, or six and a half, or seven… Ok, so I’ll probably keel over if I’m still going after seven hours, but the point is that the time really doesn’t matter. The important thing is to get out there, complete the distance and have fun!

Until this morning, I’d forgotten about the whole having fun aspect of the marathon. I’d been so worried about missing my final long run, the aches in my legs and not getting enough running in over the last few weeks, that the whole reason that I’m doing this completely slipped my mind.

I’m doing this because I love running and the opportunity to run for five and half hours or more, with thousands of other people, in my own neighbourhood, and with lots of people cheering us on is too good a chance to miss.

Ok, that’s a lie. I just want some bling and a banana.

bananas

So, with all thoughts of time goals pushed firmly to the back of my mind, I set out this morning for a slow 10K along the seafront and around the neighbourhood.

The old legs didn’t feel great and the pain in my left leg was still there, but it didn’t get any worse as I shuffled along making turrets on my running map by cutting back and forward down side streets – a nice way to make a short route a little bit longer.

2015-04-05_Map

In the end, I was having so much fun that I ran 11K instead of 10K, which brings this week’s running total up to a fairly feeble 16K (forgot to blog about Tuesday’s run – sorry!).

It doesn’t seem like much, I know, but as I’m tapering and don’t want to aggravate my leg too much, it will have to do. Perhaps I’ll get a 5K in later in the week. Who knows? But for now, I’m just trying to stay focussed on what it’s all about – bling and bananas!

How’s your training going? How do you keep your race day nerves at bay? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

This post is part of the Virtual Running UK Blog Hop. Click here to join the fun!

The Penultimate Long Run

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 21.25.09With only five weeks left until the Brighton Marathon, I figured that I’ve just about got enough time for two more long runs before the big day.

While most marathon training programs suggest a maximum of 20 miles in the final long run before the marathon, I’m not convinced. For me, being able to run an extra 6 miles (10K) for the first time on race day seems optimistic at best – if there’s a wall at 20 miles then it makes sense to me that that’s where I’d hit it if I’d never gone beyond it before. After all, with my pace, we are talking about more than an hour on top of that to finish a marathon.

So, my plan for today’s run was to run something between 35 and 37K, or four and a half hours, depending on how it went.

To be honest, I wash’t really feeling up for it this morning. Despite getting up early, my stomach wasn’t quite ready for running until after 8:00 am, which meant that I would finish later than I had planned. Still, as it is Saturday, I had the whole day so it didn’t really matter that much.

I didn’t plan a route and thought it better to just play it by ear in case I decided to cut it short. My stomach still wasn’t great when I headed out so I wasn’t going to take any chances by heading off towards Saltdean too early. Instead, I ran along some of the main roads in Hove for the first 10K, until nature called me down to the public toilets on the seafront.

Once all of that was sorted, I took my first gel and decided that I would be fine to head to Saltdean on the undercliff path.

The first half of the run went really well. I took a gel every hour, stuck to my ratio, hydrated at every walk break and was on pace to hit my target of 37K in 4:30. But then at around 23K things started to slow down.

I know that you can’t run that kind of distance without some discomfort, and I can usually handle the aches in my calves and the backs of my thighs, but not today. Today just after 23 kilometres, I had to stop, just for a few minutes, to stretch out my legs before I could go on.

The stretching seemed to do the trick and the pain went for long enough to get me through the marina and back onto the promenade. But by then I faced another problem. People!

While I love seeing runners and walkers and cyclists out on the promenade, by late morning the place was crammed with people with dogs and scooter powered children, strolling along, taking their time and generally making things too crowded to run. Frustrating as this was, I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to drop my ratio to negotiate the crowds and, once I got back to Hove Lawns, I made my escape to the main road.

By this point I had covered over 30 kilometres and, while my legs were pretty much shot, I still felt confident that I could get to 37K within 4:30. The only problem though, was that the pain in my legs was getting a lot worse and I was having to stop more and more frequently to stretch, so I decided to make a deal with myself. I would run for 4:30 and then finish whichever kilometre I was on before calling it day.

So that’s what I did. 36K in 4:31:19 – just one kilometre short of my goal and just over six short of a marathon. Not bad going all things considered.

In terms of running 42.2K before marathon day, I can’t see that happening, but if I can add another few kilometres to my final long run in two weeks time, I’ll be happy with that.

How’s your training going? How far do you run for your final long run before a marathon? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Painfully Slow

2015-01-17_SummaryThis 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.

This post is part of the Virtual Running UK Blog Hop. Click here to find out more and join the fun!

Circle Hop