Thursday, 5 November 2015

Another long run with a dip into hard-core tri

I'd meant to write this quite soon after last Sunday's long run so that it would be a fresher take on the miles but it's been a hectic week so far with lots of things vying for my attention.

Sunday's run was another longest ever run- 23 miles!

The plan was to run an early 'lap' before meeting up with friends to run 12 miles or so through the woods and fields. I slightly misjudged my early run and ended up needing to do a few little circuits of the village to get the required minutes done (I wanted to do 90 minutes), then got to the meeting point a bit early and had about 10 minutes of fidgeting around but otherwise all pretty much went to plan. I even remembered to eat and got through 3 or 4 snacks but still don't take on enough fluids though which is something to work on.
(see for my most successful running fuel)

The morning was very misty but actually you could sense even at 7am that the sun wasn't far away so instead of it feeling a bit ominous being out in the fog-filled silence there was a sense of promise.
Running by myself I was determined to keep to a sensible training pace- so I set the pink Garmin device to 9:25 I think. The solitary bit of the run was all road as I really wasn't sure I was up for doing the whole 3.5 hours on trails but knowing how easy it is for me to go off at what feels like easy pace only to discover that I'm actually running perhaps a minute quicker meant it was a real challenge to stick to training pace. I did run a bit quicker than I 'should' but not ridiculously so- in the first 11.5 miles my quickest mile was 8:45 and slowest 9:25 (which was the first mile).
By the time I'd nipped home to change into trail shoes and got up the monstrous hill which is Church Street I was feeling a bit tired. The early lap was quite hilly and I'd let myself walk up bits of incline when I felt like it but I could tell the next segment was not going to be plain sailing. And for sure it wasn't!
The start was ominous- I love running through big puddles but this time totally misjudged the depth, went in well over my ankles, stumbled and put out a hand to balance myself only to grab hold of some barbed wire that was entwined with a wooden fence. Thank goodness for my running gloves! Although they were very thin, just that extra layer prevented any injury. A few weeks back a friend sustained a really nasty barbed wire cut in the same woods so I was lucky. It was all kind of funny though- my friends just looked on and laughed uncontrollably and I must have looked a sight! Next time I embark on some kind of hard-core triathlon maybe I should bring armbands to float me through the puddles. So glad no one took any photos!

Composure regained and we settled into a lovely sunny run. We ran through the woods, out and over to Woburn Abbey, up a few steep and long inclines and over the treacherous Greensand Ridge mud. It's horrid to run on as it's quite clay-y on the top and with all the rain we'd had it was more like ice. Note to self- look out for trail shoes that do well on mud.

I can't really remember details- fatigue set in fairly early and although aches and stiffness held off until about mile 19 it was hard keeping up with the others. They were great and would ease off of stop and wait for me in places, but I'm learning that on long runs I need to go at my pace and rhythm. The longer the run the more important that seems to be. But these days I don't mind running at the back of a group as you can see:

That's my fella in the black- just checking I haven't been mown down by deer (or fallen in the lake...)

The last 3 or 4 miles were a real test. I hurt- my hip flexors in particular got really tight because I guess although there'd been lots of ups and downs, sticking to a fairly even slow pace is going to do that. As the fatigue really set in I did remember to keep checking form and cadence and I'm pleased that neither suffered too much. I only have a FR10- it can't measure cadence and so I have to count-but even the process of counting means I'm straight away paying more attention.

This is what was waiting for me at about 21.5 miles:
I call these Greg Rutherford Steps as he trains on these (photo is from previous week)

Now usually I love these steps, but at that point there was no love at all and I did say something very rude. But I walked up them and then just kept going at the top. I think at that point one of the others said something about there must be a button on my back- press it and I'll just start running again! Well, this little machine was feeling broken but very determined- at this point I could have taken a short cut home instead of facing the final long, steep climb through the woods. However when confronted with the aforementioned long steep climb I just said to my fella 'Don't wait- run on with the others and wait for me at the end; I'll just walk up this hill'. But he wasn't having any of it and told me I could run it. So we did. It was painfully slow in places, but he talked me up that hill and I didn't stop. I even kept going to round up to 23 miles when we got back to the start.


The signs of a successful trail run!

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