Reaching Unknown Territory

When I started my training programme for the Rock and Roll Half Marathon I opted to go along the improver route, looking to better the time I managed at the Great North Run. It’s not been an easy route and there have been times that I’ve struggled with my fitness and my reasoning. This weekend I ran into unknown territory; I ran 15 miles.

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Previously my longest distance had been 14 miles, which is longer than most half marathon programmes takes you. The plans devised by Jeff Galloway makes sense to me because they ask you to run further than you will have to in a race. That gives you additional endurance and the security of knowing that, yes, I can easily run 13.1 miles because I have run further. I like that.

With the threat of unsettled weather hanging over me I wasn’t sure if to run on Sunday or Monday or even which route to choose. My local loop floods with just a small amount of rain and that we’d had slightly more than a small amount, this being Scotland. I’m not keen on running half way and turning back but 15 miles would put me in the centre of Dumfries and possibly running through traffic. I decided to run on Sunday (unless I got up on Sunday to torrential rain) and run along the coast road.

I woke on Sunday to snow.

Luckily it was short lived and by the time I headed out we were being treated to light rain. My main problem though wasn’t the weather; it was technology. I had charged my Garmin Forerunner 405 in the morning to 100%, but when I disconnected it from its charger it went flat immediately. It’s done this before, about a year ago, and I almost returned it to Garmin. By a combination of research, friend’s advice and fiddling with buttons I managed to fix the issue, one that had apparently been caused by the compass services being switched on by accident. It’s possible that I had left the GPS switched on and this had caused the present issue, I don’t know for sure. When I checked nothing appeared to be on that shouldn’t have been. Reluctantly I left the watch recharging and took just my iPhone.

Usually I only rely on my phone for the Jeff Galloway app (including the beat synced music) and I have always had enough battery to complete a long run. Yesterday I had to also rely on the app’s GPS signal. I wasn’t sure whether I would have enough battery to last the entire run. It was unsettling. Without my phone I had no structure and I need that. Sad as that may sound. I’m happy to run without technology when it doesn’t matter, but it did matter. I had no idea how far 7.5 miles was away from my home. I didn’t know where along the road I needed to turn back.

I set off running in a vest, gloves and long tights. I could see the incredulous looks of passing motorists, but I was comfortable. I heat up quickly, possibly because of the amount of body fat I still carry, but my hands and thighs stay colder than the rest of me.

I was fueling on my homemade isotonic juice (I made a mental note to include less salt next time – my pinches are massive!) and dextrose tablets every mile or so. Nothing else. I’d breakfasted on porridge with millet and linseed, banana and honey. I didn’t pay much attention, though, to carb-loading before hand, although I did have polenta the night before. I need to think more carefully about what I’m eating leading up to a long run.

By mile 4 I was running comfortably. Before that I felt every muscle as it stretched and creaked! By mile 4, however, my iPhone battery was down to less than 50%. Running the app, my music and the GPS was just too much for it. I carried on in the vain hope that my battery would last until I got to 7.5 miles so at least I’d know when to turn back. At mile 6 I rang my husband. My Garmin had charged to just under 40% so I asked him to zero his mileometre and bring the watch out to me.

By the time he reached me I’d run 7.8 miles according to my phone GPS. Armed with a dying iPhone and a reluctant Garmin, I set off towards home. In order to save battery on my phone I turned off the app; I wanted some battery life in case of emergency. Not long after setting off I heard my watch beeping – it wasn’t happy and managed 2.1 miles before dying. To be fair it spent a mile or two dying and resurrecting until it finally kicked the bucket.

I’d made it to mile 10, but without my app or my phone telling me when to walk and run I was probably running less and walking more than I should have. It probably sounds silly, but without the music spurring me on and regulating my pace I was probably running too fast and wearing myself out too quickly. I was a bit of a mess.

I started to do something that Jeff Galloway suggested in his in app tips. I chose a tree or a fence or a building in the distance, ran to that and then walked for a count of 60 before choosing a new focus. It helped a little.

I finished my 15 miles in around 2 hours 50 minutes. Without my Garmin or my iPhone and having not noted a start or a finish time I can’t be exactly sure.

1

After getting home I ate everything in the fridge! I started with a ready mixed soya milkshake, then I demolished some crackers and humous and finished with some Quorn chicken strips – basically what was close to hand. I had a very hot bath followed by several cups of hot tea. I was cold.

After several pints of restorative Guinness, I retired to bed, but not before covering my legs with BioFreeze Gel. It smells very strong, but it is a wonder gel. I used it after the Great North Run and it really helped to reduce any inflammation and aches. I’m still using free sachets from goodie bags, but I think that I need to buy some. Today I have no real pain, just a slight ache in my thighs.

I think I’ve fixed my Garmin. After resetting it and recharging it, I’m not letting the battery drain by running the stopwatch. So far it’s been going for 12 hours. Once it’s drained I’ll recharge it and hopefully that’ll be that.

Onwards and upwards!

 

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