On a mission

The 16.5 miler this weekend certainly did feel like a bit of a mission.  To begin with, I was persuaded somewhat against my better judgment to join a couple of friends for lunch in Marylebone at 1.30 on Saturday, which meant that I had to get up early to shoehorn a three hour run in beforehand.  The BBC News website had informed me the previous day that the hours between 9am and 12pm on Saturday were likely to be the best ones of the day: “sunny intervals” apparently.  Not sure I agree with the use of the plural there.  When I got up at 7.30am on Saturday the sun hadn’t even bothered to try penetrating the thick grey clouds, so the capri leggings and light top I’d planned to wear went back in the drawer and out came the fleecy tights and waterproof jacket again.  Twenty minutes into the run I thought I’d be regretting that decision, as the sun did briefly make an appearance over Putney and I started to swelter.  I needn’t have worried though – by the time I reached Richmond Park the rain had started to fall, and it came down thicker and faster with every soggy step I took.  The lap of the park was pretty bleak, but the effect of the rain was only really felt once I had headed back through Barnes to the river, and tried to run home along the towpath.  “Mudbath” would be a more accurate description – in places it was so slippery I could barely stay upright and the whole experience was far more Grim Challenge than London Marathon.  I woke up yesterday with a sore throat and the beginnings of a sniffle, which just goes to support the fairly obvious observation than running for three hours in torrential rain isn’t always particularly good for you.

Still, several positives to take away from the weekend’s efforts:

1.  Despite the challenging conditions, I went out and did what I needed to do.  In fact, it didn’t even occur to me that not going was an option. 

2.  The 9am start was another good practice for running those kind of distances in the morning, building on from last week.  Since I’ll have to do this on the day itself, I’m going to try and do all my long runs in the morning from now on.  The first mile was stiff and jerky but something about crossing Hammersmith Bridge always makes my running feel stronger and more fluid, and I settled into a comfortable rhythm after that. 

3.  I was well-rewarded for my efforts.  While I was out, my lovely flatmate (who is herself a London Marathon veteran and is therefore wonderfully understanding about the trials and tribulations of training) had got up, noticed the weather, and made chocolate brownies so that I would have something warm and yummy to eat as soon as I got in.  (Thank you Rachel!!)  And then immediately after that I got to have a delicious lunch at Cafe Luc with Mel and Michael, rounded off with fresh scones and jam (my all time favourite). 

4.  Physically, the run felt much harder than last week’s long run.  But my knee didn’t (and still doesn’t) hurt, my legs – which were screaming by the end of the run – have recovered much more quickly than last week, and the pace itself was a good bit faster as I completed 16.5 miles in 2:53:58 compared to 15.25 in 2:45:01 last time.

5.  I learned two things about ice baths (or at least very cold water baths).  When I got in from the run my quads and calves were really hurting – enough to make me think that a cold soak was just what they wanted.  The first thing I learned was that I was right – my quads and calves did like it.  The second thing I learned was that my feet did NOT like it.  Having spent three hours splashing through icy rain and mud, they were already numb with cold, and further total submersion in exceptionally chilly water prompted them to almost literally scream with displeasure.  I didn’t last long in that bath at all, but did give my legs (not my feet) a further cold dousing after my hot shower.  It may well have contributed to their swifter recovery – any thoughts?

6.  Girls – I found the ultimate track for a marathon playlist.  Gabriella Cilmi’s “On a Mission” is not one of the greatest tunes of all time by any means, but it could have been written for the marathon (it wasn’t, of course).  “I am a woman, on a mission; nothing can stop me I’m stronger than ever; I’m gonna see this through” etc is beyond cheesy but when you’re battling through the rain at 14 miles it’s pretty much exactly what you need.  I strongly suggest you add it to your playlist at a point at which you usually  struggle.  (Sadly, the gender emphasis probably makes it less effective for the lads.  The video – see pic opposite – might help though!)

Next long run is 18 miles on Thursday – my 30th birthday.  Gulp.

Distance:  16.5 miles
Time:  02:53:58
Route:  Through Putney to Richmond Park, 1 lap, back through Barnes and along the river
Terrain:  Some road, mostly shoe-sucking boggy muddy trail
Weather:  Wet.  Overhead and underfoot.
Notable features:  Rain was pretty overwhelming.  Also got caught up in the Fix’s Richmond 5k/10k, which made the first couple of miles of the park a bit more interesting.


About westlondonplodder
Thirty-something London girl looking for the next big challenge

3 Responses to On a mission

  1. bearrunner says:

    Great run! Those dreaded 16 milers… You never can predict the weather, plus these run’s require so much time, it can change in an instance. I remember a 32k I did which I left in shorts and a light running jacket and ended up doing half of it in heavy rain and strong winds. Frooze my buns off. I bet you are glad to have it completed now


  2. Hels says:

    I’m late in, but good work so far on the marathon prep and hope you had a good birthday.

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