Barnstorming...

It's been a funny old week (insert old cultural reference here); the mental push to get an OU essay in, the fear gnawing that my run of good runs was over, bad news and good news in almost equal measure, irritations from work (yes I know that's my fault for turning the blackberry on) and then the run itself.

The guts settled down about Wednesday, but I felt drained and was conscious that I'd not eaten a lot for more than a  few days.  A night out with old friends; a decent steak and a share of a decent bottle of red seemed to cure that, if not leave me in much position to tag a training run in on Friday morning.

For those not used to marathon training plans, they have two main components - the LSR, the long slow runs that systematically break your body down a little bit more than the last one, just enough to build the muscle during the recovery week.  And the recovery runs, for me two are planned each week, and in a good week I do the two... Most weeks I concentrate on the longer one of the recovery runs and walk enough the rest of the week to do the recovery thing...

So, since my exercise test a couple of weeks ago, I've had one bad run, as in only one run - 10 miles. That was last Sunday. Its done, its over, it was 10 miles.

Mentally doing that is a lot harder than typing it, and for too much of last week I was over analysing what had gone wrong, and whether I should do anything different before the next run... And in the end I did very little different.

As normal I prevaricated before getting going; that's unfair, I chose to answer an email that deserved my attention.  I followed the two poo rule, I ate my now staple small bowl of porridge and went out the door.  After the usual faff of getting the lock on the satellites and I was off.

In my head, this was a repeat of the 16 miler, just go out there and get back to where I was.  Nothing too scary to risk the dreaded injury...

And I flew... The 10 miles of pain were gone, my starting hill was over quickly, everything just worked, and kept working - according to Strava it was my fastest ascent of St Domingo's relentless rise - not by much, but importantly 20s and a lot of good feeling better than the week before.

Dropping down to the city centre, I bobbed and weaved betwixt and between the shoppers and then faced that second monstrosity of a hill - Upper Parliament Street... No Personal Record, in Strava-speak, for that hill - nor surprising as I got caught at every single crossing by cars wanting to get through.... Up along Princess Road, down and then up Princess Park and then around Sefton Park - copying as much of the course as I can cram in and finish in a sensible place to get home.

Through to Otterspool and more stopping for traffic (how rude of them ;-)) and onto the Prom.

Anyone who has run a half or a full marathon in Liverpool knows the Prom, you know you've only got 5km to go, the ground is flat, if hard on the feet, its a case of keeping the Mersey on your left, bolting down your last gel and going for it with whatever is left.  At least it is when the wind is with you, in the headwind its a raw battle, you can feel your strength sap, your legs getting heavier, every step becoming a masterpiece in determination.

And on race day it will only be that 5km... By this point my brain had said 16 miles wasn't enough when I was feeling that good that I trusted my brain- never trust your brain for important decisions, why not take it out to 30km - you know your PB for that is about 3:50 - go get it...

So, that headwind was my friend, my constant companion for 10k.. From Otterspool to Bootle I battled, so focused that I forgot my 20km gel, the marina turned into the Arena, the Arena gave way to the Albert Dock, past the Three Graces, along the docks and onto the Dock Road - uneven paths, constant curbs of the numerous ways into the docks.  The Dock Wall (architectural side bar - a fabulous piece of construction, so go see it) provided no apparent shelter from the wind, past the Captain America shoot location, and on I ground.  By now I wasn't probably a pretty sight of a runner, and some would question if I was running, or staggering, but I was moving and not walking.

At some point I looked at my watch and realised two things - 1) I ballsed up the laps, must have done it when I took my wind shirt off when I got warm, no matter just don't run to the beep 2) I knew that a dream time of sub 3:30 was going to be agonisingly just out of reach.

Now in the past, knowing I'd not make a target would put me in a spiral of defeatism... and I confess the shoulders slumped, but then got shook... A small bit of visualisation - if on race day I got to this point in this time at this distance then I'd have two hours to jog out 12k and still get a PB....    Doesn't mean it will happen, doesn't mean that I'll be able to do it, but it was all I needed...

Three hours, thirty three minutes for thirty K - has a nice ring to it.  And was a 16 min PB.

So what did I learn? I must remember to take my gels, I shouldn't listen to my brain, and sometimes a PB is just too big to sink in on the day (though my friends who were texted/emailed/facebooked got it long before I did).

Why are the gels so important? Its a me thing, I ran 30km on two gels.  That means I probably ripped into my glycogen levels in a way that isn't good.  When I started running long distances the DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) was agony - I tried sports drinks, I tried sports massages, and it turned out that if I take slightly more gels than a type II diabetic should, but less than the books say I should I get around and I don't get that much pain.

So what's next?  I took my legs for a walk, and a "climb", I did easy stuff to try and loosen the legs off and in the main it worked. This week there will be a 10k one morning, and the weekend is a genuine 16 miler...

My job now is to keep going, I've six weeks until the 26.2... In the meantime plenty of my friends will be doing London, and yes Liverpool is the same length ;-)

TTFN

Paul



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