Sweet Sixteen (.2)

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FullSizeRender 41London Marathon Training
Week 10, Day 3

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t know really know what to say. I’m struggling to find the words to sum up this run.

Maybe I’ll start with the cold, hard facts. I ran 16.2 miles, and during the course of the run I set no fewer than five personal bests. Granted four of them aren’t recognised distances but that doesn’t matter, each of them is a new best time over a specified distance for me so I’m counting them.

And, for the record, this is how much I beat each previous time by:-

  • 8 miles – 15min 13secs
  • 9 miles – 9min 40secs
  • 11.5 miles – 11min 11secs
  • Half-Marathon – 11min 44secs
  • 14.5 miles – 18min 20secs

I’m not sure what one pleases me the most. Possibly the half-marathon time because in the space of two weeks I’ve slashed over 28 minutes off my time. That bodes very well for Hastings next Sunday, not that I’m expecting to go even faster then simply because it’s an absolute beast of a course. If I beat last years time I’ll be happy.

Or maybe 14.5 miles. That was last week’s run, and I annihilated that time today.

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So just what happened today? What went so right?

Could it have been my pre-run prep, which I actually started the night before?

Because this was my longest training run to date (and second longest run ever) I decided to listen to a marathon hypnosis mp3 in my sleep, to see if that would help me with the mental side of it.

I had employed the same tactic in the lead up to London last year and it worked to the extent that by the morning of the race I was as chilled before a run than I had ever been, even though I was to face my biggest ever challenge. Did that make a difference today? I certainly didn’t wake up with the same sense of dread and fear that I normally experience before a long run.

Or was it my nutrition, something I’ve been tweaking for a few weeks now?

This morning I had a bowl of muesli (no added sugar, obviously) two hours before going out. I had felt heavy after it last week but I had only left it an hour that time. I also dispensed with my jelly babies, deciding instead to just run to a shop to buy a snack (a Milky Way, and then Skittles) and some water any time I felt the need.

Again, that seemed to work a treat (pardon the pun). I still had my gels with me which I took every four miles, maybe those are the right intervals for me.

Whatever it was, it worked.

As usual I started off at the top of the Antrim Road, but after a loop of the Park ‘n’ Ride I turned back to go down the Ballee Way before I returned home to answer a little call of nature.

Normally going anywhere near home is a big no no. I deliberately run as far away from my house as I can because I’m never sure if I’d have the mental strength to go back out again but, well, if you gotta go you’ve gotta go!

But back out again I went, heading off into town with the intention of going to the local parkrun course via a very elongated route.

I knew it was going to be a good run when I hit the five mile mark just a smidgeon off my PB.

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Then, once I got to the Ecos Centre I did one loop of the second half of the parkrun course, usually the section that saps my energy and enthusiasm, but not today. I enjoyed running around it, and encountered several other runners including a former World Champion boxer. He looked as exhausted as me!

That brought me to around the halfway point so off I went up the Frys Road to get some ‘lunch’. As with Ecos, this road usually leaves me questioning my sanity but I felt fairly comfortable with it today.

On I went, down the Cushendall Road back into the town centre and the onto Parkway, both quite long stretches of road. Then out the Cullybackey Road and up Princes Street the back way.

That left me with four miles to find from somewhere. I couldn’t be bothered with my normal route (Galgorm Road, Dans Road, Toome Road) so I ran back into the town again in the hope that the shorter streets and more frequent turns would provide me with a bit of variety.

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I must have gone into auto-pilot mode because I suddenly found myself turning into the industrial estate after 14 miles and I knew that it was roughly two miles from there to my house. Happy days, I could just coast back home without trying to plot a route in my head.

Then the heavens opened! There are few things more soul destroying that traipsing through a deserted industrial estate in the pouring rain.

However, nothing was going to break me today. The rain thankfully stopped after a few minutes but then the wind thought it would have a go. Nope, didn’t work either.

I had a mile left, I was nearly home, so I ended the run how I started it by going down the Ballee Way. I knew it was just over a mile long but instead of stopping dead on 16 I plundered on for another .2, I decided that it would be important psychologically to run exactly ten miles short of the overall marathon distance. I’m not sure why, but it seemed logical at the time.

This has done my confidence the world of good. I’ve been doubting myself a little lately but it is so reassuring to know I have a run like this in my locker.

Next week will be an interesting week. I have no fewer than 3 races scheduled – a 5k around a local school with the latest C25K graduates on Tuesday, the Spar Craic 10k in Belfast on St. Patrick’s Day before flying over to Hastings for the half marathon next Sunday.

It’ll provide a very welcome distraction from the normal slog of training and, of course, will be another three medals for my collection. That’s what it’s all about after all!

If you’ve enjoyed following my progress so far could I be so bold as to ask you if you’d consider making a donation to my chosen London Marathon charity this year – Asthma UK? No amount is too small, and all donations are received with such heartfelt thanks. My fundraising page can be found here. Thank-you so much.

London Marathon Training (175.5 miles – 36 runs)
Week 1 – 12.2 miles (4 runs; average 3.05 miles per run)
Week 2 – 9.3 miles (2 runs; average 4.65 miles per run)
Week 3 – 17.7 miles (4 runs; average 4.4 miles per run)
Week 4 – 18.8 miles (4 runs; average 4.7 miles per run)
Week 5 – 14.9 miles (4 runs; average 3.7 miles per run)
Week 6 – 18.7 miles (4 runs; average 4.7 miles per run)
Week 7 – 20.3 miles (4 runs; average 5.1 miles per run)
Week 8 – 23.7 miles (4 runs; average 5.9 miles per run)
Week 9 – 18 miles (3 runs; average 6 miles per run)
Week 10 – 21.9 miles (3 runs; average 7.32 miles per run)

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