Marathon Diaries – A5

I’ve been so slack on my marathon diaries and have shamefully not updated you on my training since the super awesome 18 miler. Well I’ve now said hello and swiftly goodbye to the 20 miler, recorded a new 5K and 10K PB and got myself a lot stronger! It’s officially two weeks till the taper tantrums start, but I’m slowing things down a little early to jet set off to my second home and get that much needed Vitamin D boost!

20 miles is the one, the distance that makes you go heck yeah I got this, I’m ready! But what happens when the distance that is supposed to make you realise that you’ve got all your shit together, falls apart? I tested this scenario on a windy Saturday morning last week. The conditions were really not that bad and anyway I never ever ever blame the weather for a bad run, and I won’t start now!

My running buddy and I were finding it tricky to settle in to a rhythm, we were pushing a really good pace, but just couldn’t settle it down. There is a fantastic flow that comes with training runs over longer distances where you settle in for the long haul, in a really comfy familiar zone, and the plod of your feet on the pavement becomes almost meditative… Yeah we never got that. 

It was a constant mind game of stop, start, too slow, speed up, too fast, slow down, repeat! At about 14 miles we were pretty far from home, not feeling it and it all got a little emotional. I joked how it could be the ‘blood, sweat and tears’ run minus the blood! At 16 miles I decided that in fact it would be the ‘blood, sweat and tears’ run after all! As I threw myself over a bit of uneven pavement, landing promptly on my hands and doing a commando roll to the side to protect my knees! This happened to be near a red light where traffic had slowed way down. Classy!

There was nothing to be done other than run it home and write it off. The miles were in the bank, the pace was strong (probably a little too strong), and the injuries were minimized to cuts and grazes! I toyed with the idea of re-running it to get my positivity back, but decided that instead I’d just have a really great week of loving my running!

The week of great runs

Tuesday I got back out on to the South Downs with my running club! I’ve really missed them, and they didn’t let me down! The route, the weather and the company was just perfection. I pushed my pace on the up hills, something I still struggle with and was really chuffed with my run and my times. Running up hills has forever changed my pace, and stamina on the flat. It truly is my happy place and at the moment the timings are just right for those gorgeous end of summer sunsets!

Thursday I ran with my buddy Martine and we went out for a quick 10k. I’ve been in need of a good 10k time for a while. My last 10k race was off road in the summer and was 55 minutes, and my previous 10k race times haven’t been the best for various reasons (mainly a concoction of heat and hangovers). It really is not my favourite distance, you have to go flat out similar to the 5k, but leave just enough in the tank, and I just haven’t ever quite got the strategy of it right. On Thursday I just felt strong so I ran hard for the first 5k, felt stronger still so ran harder for the 2nd! I came in on 52 minutes, and with my splits I was pretty sure I could have pushed it in to the 50’s without too much trouble! I’m still lacking a good 10k race time, but it’s a much better 10k time. Plus a little insight in to the strategy I may need to get a sub 50 on the clock next race!

Saturday is always park run and although I am meant to treat it as a shake out before my Sunday long runs, I never do! I wanted a 5K time starting with a 2 and a 3. It was important that I got it this week as it was not only my last park run before my holiday, but also my last park run before the marathon. Not only did I get it, I had to stop within the first 500m to tie my shoe lace, and I still got it! At this point I really thought the whole 23 club agenda had gone out the window but still wanted to post a respectable time. I ran hard and when I saw the pier, took a cheeky look at my watch and knew I could do it if I sprinted the final stretch!  So that’s exactly what I did! 

Huge shout outs go to my Husband and Dad who also PB’d, with awesome times!!

Sunday I got up early for a solo off-road run, I knew I needed it, but I don’t think I knew how bad I needed it! I left my house as the sun came up and got up to the top of Cissbury Ring on the South Downs without coming across a single person! Don’t you just love the feeling that you might just be the only person in the whole world?

I ran from Cissbury to Chanctonbury Ring in pretty dense fog. I couldn’t really see anything apart from the few steps in front of me, it was a little scary but at the same time it kept me oblivious to the 750ft I was climbing! As the sun got hotter the fog burned off and it was insanely beautiful! 

I was so happy trundling along with my music and saying hey to all the eager cyclists, walkers, runners and oh yeah dogs! If I didn’t have to slow down to give every dog I see a little cuddle I’d probably have posted a much better time! It was the run that I needed; the easy miles, the settled mind, the beautiful scenery and the pure state of happiness I found myself in! 14 miles honestly felt like a walk in the park, the effortless flow was just perfect and I felt so serene, if only for a moment!

I did exactly what I’d set out to do, a successful week of loving every single step, breaking down barriers, and finding my mojo.

I’ll be keeping my legs turning when I get over to the states, but the hard work is done, I’ve run all the miles! I’ve cross-trained! I’ve built strength, endurance, stamina! I’ve got my new PB’s! I’ve settled in to my new pace! It’s the final countdown and I’m as ready as I’ll ever be to take on AMSTERDAM!


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