Monday, 22 February 2010

Day 301 – Wind, rain, cold and pain

Type - steady run

Distance - 17 miles

Time - 2 hours 18 minutes 3 seconds

I had spent the weekend in the far north-east and couldn’t fit in any training runs, let alone the weekend long run. So I booked a half-day today, and had to spend the afternoon doing a 17 mile run. So from work, along the river through Chelsea and all the way to Fulham. It is getting a long way to fit in a run, to remember the mile markers and to memorise the route. And, as noted last week, each mile takes me a little further into the unknown.

It was far from perfect conditions for the run – the temperatures had plunged as the UK once again succumbed to Siberian winds and piles of snow mounted outside of London. In the capital we just had rain, heavy splashes of rain that fortunately didn’t become an outright downpour. Along with the damp came stiff, brazen winds along the Thames and the wet, cold and windy city were a poor backdrop for a long run.

I took the usual route, but the furthest I had done on this route from work was twelve miles. Adding another five miles took me from Chelsea Harbour through to Putney Bridge and Fulham High Street, along the boundary of Hurlingham Park and Bishops Park (map).

Physically everything went really well. For the most part I was properly hydrated and had enough running gels to keep me in flow. But there were a couple of serious flies in the ointment. The first is an increasing difficulty – there are hardly any frickin’ public loos. I did seventeen miles in central London and came across a single public toilet. And because it is broad daylight in central London there are limited alternative locations for a quick pee.

I had managed a toilet break at six miles, but needed to go again at mile eleven. I had to hold it in until mile 13, when I managed to go. It was deeply unpleasant, running with a deep cramp at the bottom of my stomach. And then when I did manage to go I very nearly had a Paula Radcliffe moment, and had to limp on to a pub to go to the toilet properly. I need to think properly about how to deal with this (if, that is, there is anything one can do to deal with it).

Getting restarted, even with just a few minutes out, was really tough. The daylight had faded to evening, and the temperature lurched closer to freezing. The next three miles were pretty difficult, but that might be expected. Then I had another vital learning experience – I hit the wall. Only a gentle push into the brickwork, but hitting the wall nonetheless. I had taken on carbs, but just a bit too late. So I ran the last mile running on empty. It was really tough, but useful to experience. And then to avoid at all costs.

So, some takeaway learning points from today, combined with last week’s post-race hydration and nutrition, and all this will be very helpful come the marathon. And, if nothing else, at least I didn’t follow through.

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