I meant to write this last week but quite frankly, I couldn’t be bothered. Plus who wants to read a blog about two weeks of tapering anyway? You’d be even more bored than you probably are reading this. So I thought I would clump it all together in one blog for you.
I’ve just finished my last “long run” of week sixteen – this next week is just a handful of 5k runs before the Actual Marathon next Sunday. If you’re in Stratford on Avon (and why would you be? It would be sheer madness to come knowing there is a marathon event) – feel free to give me a clap and throw food at me as I stagger by. Still waiting for my race number which apparently is supposed to arrive by the end of this week – I did actually sign up for the marathon, didn’t I…….?
Week fourteen was the biggie. The week of all the miles. I was required to put in five miles on Tuesday, ten on Wednesday, five on Thursday and then my aim was twenty two to twenty three on the Saturday. The midweek runs were all fine, and it was around this point that people started getting all excited about some random hot weather that was coming our way for approximately forty eight hours. I made comments such as “I feel so sorry for the VLM runners, this is going to be hot for them” and it was at about 4pm on Friday afternoon when it struck me that I too had a long run to do in the warm weather. Admittedly not as long and I didn’t have mill around until late morning before I could start, but still, not ideal running conditions.
So, another 5am Saturday wake up, to eat breakfast in time for it to go down (and stay down) and a dog walk later, and I was prepping myself for The Longest Run Ever (by me). One thing I have noticed is that the days of just popping out for a run are long gone when you start running further. It takes a good fifteen minutes of sun cream and lube application, wrestling myself into the sports bra*, filling up the hydration pack (and then getting rid of the air so that it doesn’t slosh around and make me need the toilet), going for a couple of nervous wees, sorting out tissues and jelly beans (both essential) before I can actually get out of the house.
*Obviously do run in other clothing as well. But the rest doesn’t require as much man handling and swearing.
Anyway, after about four toilet trips to get rid of all the water I had carefully consumed over the last two hours, I set off. I was very careful with my pace from the start, and I made sure that I drank regularly.
During my last twenty mile run, I had really struggled from miles fourteen to eighteen, but this time I enjoyed the first eighteen or so miles. I picked shorter running routes and joined them all together, so this broke down the long run into segments, making it easier to mentally get to grips with. Round the by pass gave me five miles in the bag, then a couple of miles to join me to the reservoir for another five miles (yes I did vow not to run around here until the swallows had eaten all the flies, but you can’t turn down a nice clean toilet) then up into town via one of Guy’s favourite haunts, our local hospital, and Rugby School, which is always beautiful to look at. I was quite enjoying myself throughout all of this, despite the warm weather.
It was about there that I started flagging a bit and I was trying to think up roads to run down to try to make up the last six or so miles. I also knew that I would soon be in need of the toilet and it was probably safer to go closer to home, so I headed back towards my house. By this point it was about 10:30 and it was really starting to get hot. I was having sips of (now warm) water every third of a mile, and I was at 21 miles when I got back towards my street. I really had wanted to make it to 23, so I set off around the park but the children were playing their weekly football match and I felt a little self conscious staggering around behind the spectators. So I lurched off to finish off mile 22, and mentally I was done. I had finished my water, I was touching cloth by this point, and the thought of heading off away from home for half a mile in order to turn around and go back was just too much. So I called it a day, one mile less than I had wanted to do, but two miles more than my training plan called for.
For about an hour, I was really disappointed with myself for giving up early – it’s not like I can do the same during the marathon. But although you can’t plan the weather and it might be as warm (well it is Britain, chances are slim but always a possibility), I will have water stations and portaloos, neither of which I had while trying to make this solo attempt.
Plus, 22 miles is a bloody long way. I did ok, given the circumstances. Hopefully on rested legs with no worry about running out of water, and no worry about shitting myself, I’ll manage that last 4.2 miles.
The last two weeks have been the start of tapering, with slightly shorter midweek runs and then a 12 mile run last Saturday and an 8 mile run today. I have felt good these last two weeks, and enjoyed having to run less around my hometown – does anyone else just get bored running around the same places?
During my run this morning, I felt a little bit sad that this was my last ‘long’ run of the training. It has become such an integral part of our lives over the last four months and I’ve mostly enjoyed the challenge. I’ll be honest, I’ve not felt this tired since having my six year old, and it isn’t always easy to fit the training in around family life. I do feel that training for a marathon is a very selfish thing to do – you are doing it for yourself, even if you do tell yourself it’s for charity. But following the plan, and getting my body to run increasingly further distances, and managing it, really is quite something. Imagine if I stopped eating crap and drinking gin?! (Never going to happen)
I’ve had a few people ask me questions, so I thought I would stick them all here, just in case anyone else cares to know the answer.
What trainers do you wear?
I wear Saucony Valor, and I fear that they have been replaced by something else. I have never been for a gait analysis – I have heard very mixed reviews about them, and I don’t really want to get talked into buying heinously expensive shoes just because that’s what they sell. The sports therapist I see said that unless you have clear pronation issues and have always had to wear supports, you are unlikely to need them for running and just to go for a neutral shoe that feels comfortable. Now, I don’t know if this is true or not, there seems to be as many people happy with their trainers after a gait analysis as those who are not. But I just went to a shop where I could try on lots of pairs, and as soon as I tried these on, I adored them. I suspect that I will need to replace them after the marathon though…
What do you eat for breakfast, and when?
I never liked eating before running and just went out on a cup of tea, but when training for my first half I realised that I couldn’t do more than 9-10 miles without feeling dizzy and sick. So I had to force myself to eat before doing longer distances. I always have two weetabix with banana (and golden syrup or blueberries), because this was all I could stomach so early in the morning. I try to eat it a good hour before I start running – I have my breakfast and then take the dog for a walk before getting ready to go out. This does mean a 5am breakfast most Saturdays which is not fun and I won’t miss that. Despite being hungry most of the time, I don’t usually start the day’s chowing until about 9am.
Which training programme did you use?
I used the Hal Higdon Novice 1 training programme (click here to see it) and I found it a good mileage for fitting into my daily life. It is quite low mileage, my highest week (14) was only 40 miles according to the programme. This one is basically just to get you around a marathon, but those seasoned runners will be doing more advanced programmes to get PBs.
Do you do any training other than running?
On my cross training day, I use my exercise bike. Cross training is basically anything but running. You can walk, swim, cycle – whatever you fancy. I would think swimming would be the perfect cross training activity but sadly I have two children who insist on coming to the pool with me, and dragging them around the pool on big floats is not the optimum cross training activity, so I just stuck to my exercise bike and also I try to do core strength work as well. Plus dog walking twice a day, because he demands it.
Any top tips?
Sports massages! I have had two so far, the first one I mentioned and then I had another one the day before my 22 mile run. I have got one booked for next Thursday. Yes, it is another expense, and it does all add up for a sport that is supposed to be free. But still, worth it.
How much weight have you lost?
I’ve gained 3lbs. Meh. I know, it is muscle, blah blah blah. I did drop a couple of them but I found them again and 3 more for good measure. Ah well, never mind. I do have the calf muscles of a plastic He Man toy at the moment, so that’s something to be proud of.
Will you run another marathon?
I don’t think so. I’m not sure. But I did enter the VLM 2019 ballot just because, you might as well, eh? Let’s just finish this one first.
In Guy news, he has been suffering from quite achy joints over the last couple of weeks – we are sure it is linked to the bad weather. Hopefully winter is at an end now! It makes it really hard for him to do anything like walking for any distance, but it’s just another side effect of the Crohns disease. I think he will be pleased when this marathon is over and done with, not least because he has been sole parenting every Saturday while I go out. I accidentally tried to kill him off last night by making a curry, and using meat for two but putting in spices for four – soz.
We both really appreciate all your support. If you would like to sponsor me, the link is here. I will be running from 9am next Sunday – if you want to send me a message, please do, my watch will show me the messages while I’m running. It’s basic but it manages that much. (It also shows emails, so anything from Just Giving will really give me a boost – just saying!)
Have a lovely bank holiday weekend.