So… This was my big weekend run. Fearing injury, I decided to split it into two shorter 10 mile runs. The last thing I needed to do was hurt myself and put the entire marathon at risk. We’re only a few weeks away now, and it really should be time to consider tapering, of which I intend to do a little. But not to much.
Saturday, around 8am I headed out of the door, planning to do the same route that I took through Shoreditch last Friday night, but with a twist – Instead of turning around at London Bridge, I would head across to Tower Bridge, and follow the loop around, with a little detour down a side street just to make up the distance.
It all started very well, and despite not eating since lunch on Friday, I felt good as I set out, with a pace that was just a little too fast. I consciously slowed it down, aware of the distance I had to cover, to around 8 minutes a mile. It was good to be out early, before any kind of weather had a chance to take hold – perfect conditions, really. Down to Liverpool Street in the usual 25 minutes, this has become a landmark where I know my time perfectly, and I hit London Bridge under five minutes later.
I was just beginning to flag, when in front of me, maybe 250m away, was this huge runner. I’m 6’3″, and he towered over me, muscles bulging, and a huge caveman beard. Everything about him screamed “I am man.” So, naturally, I turned up the speed.
This is what I needed to do, just as I was tiring. As always, the wise words of Jurek rang in my ears. All I had to do was keep on running.
I passed the Caveman with ease, and then had another thought. Now that he was behind me, I couldn’t risk him catching me, so I kept up the pace, even though all I really wanted to do was slow down. I hit the the other side of the bridge, and went down to the pedestrianised waterfront. It was still quiet that time of the day, and there were only a few tourists around, but quite a few other runners. They all got the gazelle treatment too. I was loving this. Nearly five miles in, and I’m passing people half my age.
Taking a detour at Tower Bridge to make up the distance, I first head away, and then reapproach the bridge from a side road, making my way up the long hill. I’m half way across, when I stop. It’s time to take on fluid and have a little walk. We’re almost 50 minutes in. My stomach cramps as soon as stop running. I don’t feel good at all. I tell myself it’ll pass if I can just start running again, and so that’s what I do.
I head down the other side of the bridge, and across the cobbles in front of the Tower of London, tourists now beginning to appear by the bus load. I dodge and weave, making more than one leap out of the way as oblivious sightseers change direction abruptly in my path. Down another side road, and up a steep hill on my toes, and I’m back at the other side of London Bridge, and following the same route back home.
I’m at Liverpool Street pretty much on the hour mark, and realise I won’t be home for another 25 minutes. Time to go turbo. I launch myself at the road, that familiar floating feeling returning as The Foo Fighters blasts in my ears from my MP3 player.
From there, it’s hard going, but I’m back at my door in 1hour 21 minutes, annoying just outside a perfect 8 minutes a mile over the 10 mile distance. I’m done, for the rest of the day, I have little energy, but have a wonderful feeling of success. I tried to extrapolate my times over the marathon distance. 3h30m is achievable. A BQ of 3h15m (for my age group) isn’t out of the question, however is still unlikely.
And then… Sunday I did it all again. Although, I head out of the door at 1pm instead of first thing in he morning. Conscious of where I took my walk break, I try to run further before stopping this time, but the time of day is my enemy. I can hardly move for tourists on the bridge, and it takes me almost ten minutes just to walk across. By the time I get to the other side, I’ve lost the desire to run at all. But I pick it up again, and am soon running at full pelt back towards Liverpool Street, trying to make up for lost time.
I won’t go into details about the run – it was pretty much the same as before, but I reach home in 1h 22m, a little deflated, but aware that it was the tourists that cost me time, not my running.
It’s not until I stop, and reach to take off my shoes that I notice something. My previously bright yellow trainers now are somewhat mismatched. One has developed a shade of crimson on the instep that wasn’t there previously. I remove my shoes gingerly, unaware of any pain, and wondering where the blood has come from. I release a sigh of relief when I found a small, but raw blister on the side of my foot. It’s to be expected after 20 miles. But then…
A pair of shoes I worn previously for running had been thrown in the bin when I returned from a run with three blackened toenails. These nails haven’t healed, and are still quite tender. One of them, had split. It has decided that it no longer wants to be part of the group, and is going solo. It’s still attached, but mostly only through sentiment. We shall mourn his passing in the next few days, I am sure. There was a fair bit of blood coming from under, so I guess there was a lot of rubbing. I cleaned it, but it continued to bleed a little.
What made it worse, however, was Kasia standing on it. I promised her that I wouldn’t add this fact to the blog, but I think it really does need to be mentioned. It didn’t really hurt that much until that moment. I won’t dwell on it though.
Looking back at the times, 2h,43m for 20 miles. Not exactly world class, but definitely respectable.
But now to do it all in one sitting, with 6 extra miles tacked onto the end…