The Longest Run of My Life (so far)

On Sunday I was destined to run 12½ miles as part of my half-marathon training programme. Training for a half-marathon that, as yet, I haven’t found. I must be mad!

And this is what I kept saying to my hubbie as I ran.

I know why I had to do it like this; I need challenges to keep me interested. I need the next mountain to climb, the next Everest. Knowing I could run 10k was no longer a big enough challenge. That said I will not be training up for a marathon next! I have neither the time nor the notion to train beyond 13.1 miles. Sometimes fitting this training in has been difficult and, with the winter coming and nights getting longer, it wouldn’t have got any easier.

Before Sunday I had two last long runs to accomplish; this 12½ and a 14 mile. Then I’ll be ready. For what, you might ask? Just ready would be my answer. I will pick and choose the events I take part in, for their distance from home and race day, and do the ones I want to do. I feel no pressure at all to do lots of races. No matter how hard people try to push me! I am already thinking of my next challenge though. It will be to get my 5k and 10k time down. More intervals. I’ve pushed for distance; next I’ll push for speed.

So anyway, back to Sunday. It was a perfect running day. Soft drizzle, cool enough for a vest, but not gloves and a gentle breeze. Hubbie had decided to cycle the route with me, which was great; I’d have someone to talk to, someone to distract me. Think on.

I set off at a reasonable pace. Remember that I run in intervals (4 minutes running, 1 minute recovery walk)? Well I was determined to finish reasonably well and decided to pace my runs at 10 minute miles which, for the most part, I managed to maintain. The first mile or so is the hardest on my route, it’s all up hill – a hill that seems to go on for ever. I know, I know – it’s all good for me! After that is over I can start to get into my stride. My 10 minute pace fell to 9:30 and felt good, so I just went with it. I knew I would slow down on hills but I felt a lot stronger than I did on my 11 mile run a couple of weeks ago.

That gentle breeze started to pick up as I ran and, at times, I was trying to run into it. It really slowed me down, I have to say. As I said to hubbie though, every obstacle makes me stronger and more determined.

I’d run the first loop fuelled by water and the odd Gummibear so we called in at the house for a quick refuel. I filled my bottle with a sports drink and refilled my pocket with Gummibears. I put my gel into my back pocket, just in case, before setting off again.

My first loop was just shy of 5 miles. I had planned to run down the castle drive and back before heading out on the second lap, but completely forgot! It wasn’t until I was half up that blessed hill that I remembered! Doh!!

The second lap was hard going. My quads and hip flexors were getting sore and the hills weren’t helping at all. It felt as if I was running backwards but, looking at my times, it really wasn’t that bad at all. I was working hard to maintain that 10 minute mile pace, dropping below it at times but picking it up in other places. By mile 7 I was starting to struggle, but I had hubbie with me to distract me! Nope – he cycled in silence whilst I tried to make conversation. Normally I can hardly shut him up! So on Sunday I learned all about ESAB welders. I got him to tell me all about them, the capacity, the capabilities…anything! Then he said something that turned me round. He said “You can stop you know.”

(No, I can’t. I can’t stop. I’ve set out to run 12½ miles and that is what I will do.)

I’m not saying that the next 5½ miles were easy, far from it, but I had gotten my kick up the arse. I’m not a quitter.

The last hill was hell on earth. My quads were in tatters, or so it felt, every step was painful. I must be mad, I kept saying, doing this for nothing, no reason! Once I’d reached home I’d done 10 miles and had an extra 2 ½ to do. Rather than run a bit more of the loop and turn back I decided to finish off my running up and down the castle road as often as it took to finish. My logic for this was that it was tree lined, and maybe more sheltered, quiet and not too much of a climb. It’s not flat, but flatter than the long hill! Running from the castle I had the wind on my back so it was easier and I was running as well as someone could having just run 11 miles for just the second time and knowing that they still had a miles and a half to go!

I ran it four times, down and back, down and back, to get to 12.4 miles. Not being beaten I ran all the way to my gate for the extra 0.05 of a mile. 12.45 miles – as close as I could get.

My new Garmin was fabulous; I love it. I managed to set the training intervals, lay in the course and track my pace and distance using autoscroll. There were a couple of times I thought I’d zeroed my data, but Mr Garmin had me sussed!

I didn’t use my gel in the end. My water, isotonic drink and gummibears did the trick it seems.

So there we are – 12 ½ miles down, 14 to go.

12.5 miles by paintergirl21 at Garmin Connect – Details

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