Yes it is – and that means only 8 weeks to go… Only three more “long runs” – 18, 20 and 22. Then the big one itself. I’m sad and excited. I’m really enjoying marathon training. I’m not finding it too time-consuming or difficult. And the runs keep getting longer, and they are hard at the end, but the next one is only one mile further… And it’s no harder than running one mile less. It’s all in the mind…
Run 1 – the tempo run
Eight miles either at tempo pace (9:16/mile) or race pace (10:08/mile). I decided I would run race pace given I was stepping up to 17 miles at the weekend. I got out of bed and dressed in the living room – it was still pitch black outside. As I went to fill up a water bottle I heard the rain lashing down on the skylight – really loud, therefore really heavy. It was dark and I had over 8 miles to run – that would be miserable in torrential rain.
I sat down, read a random news article and then tried to think of when I would be able to get my workouts in if I just crawled back into bed. As I was tired my brain was on “go-slow” mode and by the time I figured out I probably couldn’t get them all in, I could no longer hear the rain. I poked my head out of the door into a light drizzle and decided to set off. I was glad I did. It soon began getting light and by the time I reached Tower Bridge I could see that dawn was going to break into a lovely day.
I had a great run and reached Canary Wharf in glorious sunshine. I finished up with just over 8 miles at an average pace of 9:42/mile – well above marathon pace so I was happy!
Run 2 – the no-longer-an-interval-run
Four miles was on the cards but I knew time would end up cutting this run shorter. The aim was to throw in a few fartlek sprints throughout. It was a beautiful sunny day but crazy windy. I ran out towards Mudchute Park, got lost in the park as per usual and then headed back.
I love this view – it is a moment of stillness, a reminder that the countryside and nature exists when the rest of my day is a rush of deadlines, of computer screens and hastily composed emails, of air conditioning and harsh office light. The office world exists, it’s there, but nature is so close – a ten minute run away – and so accessible for a breath of fresh air in a lunch hour!
Back towards the office and I tried to throw in some fartlek sprints. It was cheating slightly as the wind was with me at this point, blowing so strongly people standing still were almost being blown forwards. I just let it catch my body and increased my foot turnover!
Run 3 – the long run – 17 miles
The start of four REALLY long runs – the only four before the big 26.2. 17, 18, 20 and 22. I wasn’t nervous – I knew if I went slow I’d be fine. Then as I was getting dressed I checked the weather forecast and saw sleet was forecast. Then I looked outside and it was actually sleeting! Now I was nervous.
I put on a silly amount of clothes and took a running rucksack as I knew I’d quickly be taking them off. I needn’t have worried. A few minutes after I left the house the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful day. Jack and I ran through Battersea Park and along the Thames Path to the west as normal. I am forever amazed by the number of people on a Saturday morning, bitterly cold in January, doing some kind of activity in Battersea Park (virtually all men other than some of the runners, it has to be said – check out my post on This Girl Can for more about women’s participation in sport).
We ran 8.5 miles out to a part of London I’d never been to – past the boathouses at Fulham the Thames Path turns into an actual footpath which was lovely to run on. Really peaceful and mainly populated by other runners and the odd dog walker. The path is shaded with trees and the tide was high, the Thames glistening between the bare branches. I was tiring before we reached the turnaround and my ankle was hurting. I reckon this was mainly mental as I’ve obviously run farther than 8.5 miles before with no problems! Plus running with Jack I had run faster than I would usually- actually slightly above goal marathon pace! I never felt like I was really pushing myself and as soon as I couldn’t easily keep up, I just let him go. It was a great confidence boost though as it made me realise I probably could sustain that pace by the time marathon day comes around.
On the way back I let Jack go ahead – he was running straight home and said afterwards that for every step of the last mile all he could think was how much ever step hurt! I wasn’t quite that bad – I had Desert Island Discs as a podcast distracting me from the monotony of one step after the other. I always find the way back goes much faster – there are easy sections to tick off and all too soon you are back at Battersea Park and then almost home. I slowed down significantly for the second half but was still only about 30secs slower than planned marathon pace which is not bad! Overall I was very happy with the run and I actually really enjoyed it. Turns out I do now like running slow and long – it was a great way of spending the sunniest part of a Saturday!
Two swims, 3 cycles to and from work (poor bike had to live in the office over the weekend). Cycling is really taking a hit during marathon training. When it happens it happens – like commuting or fun cycles with family / friends – but I’m just not focussing on it at all. I’ll get back on the bike properly once the marathon is over.
Something fun that was nothing to do with running
hen I was thinking about this on Saturday, I realised all my best moments had happened on runs this week – that was a first! Then Saturday evening we had friends over for a Delilah takeaway and poker night. I didn’t win but I ate some great food, drank a really nice bottle of wine (Christmas present from my sister) and enjoyed the company. Then Sunday I went for lunch at the Canton Arms in Stockwell – a pub that does incredible food. What they do best is slow-cooked cuts of meat, which is what I had. The food was fantastic and it was really nice to catch up with some friends from work. So all in all a lovely weekend and a great week of marathon training!
P.s. Janathon Day 19 – 15 minutes Yoga trying to master Crow pose. No falling on my face 🙂