With Alison's Mum's surprise 70th birthday party planned for the weekend, there was only one way I was going to be able to get a LSR (thats 'long slow run' for the non-marathoners reading) in and that was after work.
I work at Queen Mary, University of London in a Financial Reporting role. Please dont use the 'A' word... and I dont mean a-hole either! My job involves sitting for long periods in front of gigantic excel spreadsheets and losing the will to live. The thought of running after work drives me on to get through the day. That thought of pulling on the Brooks Glycerin just literally drags you along and then all the stresses just disappear in seconds as the cadence increases along with the heart rate.
I'd run from Welling to Whitechapel a couple of times in the past but as most will know, I've recently moved to Petts Wood so this would be a different animal altogether. As the crow flies, you're looking at 13-14 miles with the bare minimum of fuss but that would mean coming past Canary Wharf, using the Greenwich foot tunnel and all them steps up and down and then getting through Greenwich whether it be navigating the hill in Greenwich Park or taking a slight detour. Whatever direction I choose from Greenwich means going up. The other option is into the City and over Tower Bridge, run back through Surrey Quays and Deptford and onto Greenwich, where I'd manage a flattish 6 miles before taking into account any hills, which would allow me to get into some kind of rhythm.
Bearing that in mind, I'd navigated a 16 miler from Whitechapel to Petts Wood and attempted it at the beginning of March...
I ran reasonably well but the last 4 miles seemed to be a struggle. As planned I headed into Aldgate, over Tower Bridge and down towards Deptford and Greenwich but pretty much from the Greenwich one way system, it goes up. Up and over the hill to Lewisham then the long drag to and from Lee Green to Eltham Hill all the way up to Eltham High Street. There's a little relief running down to Avery Hill but pretty much from the start of New Eltham station, the road ramps up again through Five Ways, up Green Lane then into Chislehurst. Despite the hills, I know I ran well. I was pretty much bang on my target 9:30 min/mile pace but I felt ridiculously tired when I got home and spent the next 90 minutes soaking in the bath. It was a good job that Alison had gone off to Yoga otherwise I dont think I would have stayed in that long!
So I needed to follow that 16 mile up with something a little more substantial. Not as far as 20 miles but somewhere in the region of 18 - 18.5. Just to get into the zone of the wall to see how I felt.
I was keen to actually practice my nutrition for this run too. In all my previous LSRs, I tend to take it easy and have gels when I think I need them. This time around, I was to take a gel at every 4 miles whether I needed it or not.
So on to the Thursday night run. 1 x 500ml bottle of High 5 4:1 energy drink and 1 x 500ml bottle of water and 4 gels. Gels were to be taken at 4, 8, 12 and 16 miles. No pre-run porridge. 2 bacon rolls for breakfast and a double helping of Tesco's Spicy Chicken Pasta for lunch. 4 hours to digest and would pop two immodium tabs before leaving the office.
Off I went at 4:35pm...
It was warmer than any of my previous LSRs. The sun was out and Tower Bridge looked resplendent up against a pale blue sky. I was determined not to go out so quick and keep to my 9:30 min/mile pacing but yet again miles 1 and 2 was far too quick, both 9:12. I made a conscious effort to slow down but when mile 3 completed in 9:46 I'm beginning to think I dont want to get into that slow rhythm so made myself speed up again. Miles 4-10 were much more like it and I started to settle.
My stomach just doesnt react well to taking gels. Had the first one bang on mile 4 and my belly was gurgling away for a good couple of minutes. Same at mile 8. By mile 12, within minutes I was feeling queasy. It is becoming an issue and I really do need to look for an alternative but this close to the marathon, I cant begin tampering now. I'll get through Brighton and start experimenting. I'll just have to make sure I'll immodium myself up before the start!
Unlike the previous LSR home from work, this one felt pretty good. The only time I stopped the watch was when I was crossing major roads. Once I'd settled into my rhythm, the run was enjoyable although a tad on the lonely side.
Whitechapel to Greenwich was good. On the way out of Lewisham and into Lee Green, the pavements got less crowded and it was properly me on my own, apart from the crowded 500 odd yards of Eltham High Street and the late Thursday night shoppers. By the time I had dropped into Avery Hill and on to Blendon, I was bang on rhythm and it felt like I was eating the miles up. My pace had gotten quicker and I was flying. i knew I could go quicker but I kept it back and stuck to my planned average pace.
After the Sidcup Hill descent and successfully navigated my way under the Ruxler Corner roundabout subway onto Sevenoaks Way, the mindset changed. Bang on 16 miles, do I take another gel. No, lets see what happens. The next 2.25 miles dragged like no other. Its definitely a head thing. Being so close to home yet it felt so far away. The pace dropped a little, the quads started to burn, every step just felt more tender underfoot. I had a little discomfort in my IT band, one of my socks had started to rub, you know the kind of thing. The little things starting to add up. I was approaching the wall. It had been a long day and had become even longer with the LSR home. Sevenoaks Way towards Orpington is an uphill drag albeit a gentle one but it was draining more out of me than I could imagine.
The Garmin bleeped at 18 miles but I just wanted to do a bit more. Not much, just to get myself to a wall I could see in the distance for a quick sit down and I could phone Alison to say I was done and could she start running the bath. As it turns out, she was out shopping! After the slow half a mile walk back home, I'd just beaten her back to the house. I was working through my stretching routine when she pulled up in the car. Straight indoors to an ice cold pint of milk and a hot bath. The legs felt reasonably ok when I came back downstairs 30 minutes later.
All in all, the two LSRs home from work have been good but they're more mentally draining than being overly physically taxing.
I'm happy with my pacing, I'm reasonably happy how things are going so can look forward to Brighton with some confidence hopefully. I'm really looking forward to my last LSR which will be with the Plums on Sunday 22nd March. They'll be quite a few of us going out so will be really good for morale and will boost everyone's confidence.