Friday, 22 May 2009

Day 25 - the unbearable difficulty of pacing

Type - Steady run

Distance - 7.1 miles

Time - 57 minutes 58 seconds

Sandwiched (or, rather, shoe-horned) into the middle of a busy week was today's steady run. I had a window of two hours before I had to get ready to leave for Liverpool to attend the wedding of two of my best friends, Alex and Catriona. This came after a late(ish) evening eating and drinking with an old friend from school. Turns out drinking is not the best pre-preparation for running, rather sapping the get up and go of a morning off.

Today I planned to run seven miles in under an hour, to meet one of the targets Jarlath had set me for the next few weeks. This would require a steady pace of about 8 - 8.5 minute miles throughout, and, given the run that I had done last week of getting 6.5 miles in 52 minutes, was eminently doable. I plotted out the route (map), having to go down all the way to City Road and back to rack up the necessary milage - as the miles build up it is getting more difficult to route a pleasant run and remember the mile points.

It was a beautiful morning, sunny but with a little cloud cover to provide welcome relief as the intensity of direct sunlight made things more difficult. I set off, aiming to do a slower warm up and complete the first mile in nine minutes or, if necessary, slightly more. My calves seem a little tight, and the running is not as fluid as I have previously enjoyed. I head down Lordship Road to the boundary of Clissold Park and over into Albion Road. At the mile marker and I am on 7 minutes 39 seconds. Damn. That was not the plan - I seem incapable of pacing myself properly at the beginning, which inevitably means the later run is more difficult. Still, it is a gently downwards slope past Newington Green and down Mildmay Park to City Road.

I hit fiftenn minutes, and I can't be sure whether the road I have remembered as the second mile marker is coming up, or I have already past it. I know for certain where mile markers for mile 3 and 4 are, so when the second marker doesn't appear in the next few minutes I have to assume that I have cleared it. This is not helping the pacing of the run, and just demonstrates how important this element of running is when you start building up to higher distances.

At mile 3 and the sun has burst through the clouds, bathing the road in a surprisingly searing temperature. It is getting to late-May, and when the sun does come out it can bring some serious heat. I am carrying my water bottle, and have a few sips, but mostly it just swishes, warming up in my increasingly sweaty palm.

I hit mile 4 at just over 33 minutes, a little behind where I wanted to be to do eight minute miles. I have turned to head back north, and what went down must inevitably go back up. The route goes along New Road, over Essex Road to Highbury Corner. It is slightly uphill, and then goes more starkly uphill around Highbury, where I have to regulate my breathing and my legs are starting to feel slightly wobbly. By the crest of the hill I am over a minute and a half behind, but try and make some of this up by using the hill and stretching my stride.

On past the Emirates Stadium, along Drayton Park and into Gillespie Road to pass mile six and I am on just over 49 minutes. I think I will make it in under an hour, but my legs are starting to seriously ache and a stitch is growing in my chest. I push on, trying to get a final, decent mile, over the Blackstock Road and into the home straight. My chest in burning now, and legs are much less responsive. I don't have much left in reserve for a final push, but try and sprint the last few metres along Digby Crescent. I get in at just under 58 minutes for just over 7 miles (57 minutes 58 seconds to do 7.1 miles) and feel slightly sick, burning up and shaky. Deep breaths, and off to pack for the wedding.

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