Last Sunday I took on my longest mileage to date with other lovely friends training for the Marathon and one crazy friend who just ran 20 miles for the crack – crazy boy! It was the Spitfire race in Surrey so it was a lovely change of scenery from the streets of London and not one set of traffic lights to stop at. Hooray! Oh and we started on the Top Gear airfield so that was an added level of excitement for us all….
All 4 of us have run in bigger races so this felt like a much more intimate race in comparison and we were happily surrounded by other fellow running geeks all discussing their watches, trainers and eyeing up other peoples running gear with envy…
We were a bit rushed starting which wasn’t ideal as we didn’t get a chance to warm up properly, so we were all desperately stretching & bouncing around trying to prepare while furiously attempting to pin on the blasted running number… Finally we were all ready and dashed up to the start line…we’d missed the fog horn but the race was chip timed so there wasn’t an issue with crossing the start slightly after the stampede of runners. I have to say that I was trying not to think too much about the distance I was about to take on but instead break it down into four Sweatshop runs so that the distances were bitesize…. The race was also a double loop route so whatever we took on in the first loop we knew we had to do again – I still haven’t decided whether that was a good thing or not.
Charlotte and I started the race together (see perfectly in sync photo) and it was really lovely to run with someone else at the pace that we had chosen…we decided to try and keep a steady eight to eight and half minute mile so that we didn’t burn out early…It’s so easy to rush off especially when you’re as competitive as me so I was super strict with myself. What we did find on our way round was that these “short sharp hills” turned out to be never ending, absolute killer hills that we knew we would have to do AGAIN… Joy!
This was a fantastic day for practising race day fuelling as there were water points throughout and lovely volunteers handing out jelly baby’s (yum). As well as that I was stocked up with gels, jelly beans and lucozade to keep me going. Having water along the way was great, however, trying to drink out of a cup on the go and at pace is not an easy task…it did make for some amusing moments during the race though…trying to drink desperately and ending up snorting most of it while losing the rest of it down my front made me laugh a lot which is also not easy while running so all in all it was generally hilarious at each stop…. The volunteers were fantastic and so supportive on the way round congratulating those racing and cheering us on.
After a quick loo stop half way it was on to lap two and by this point Charlotte was way ahead so it was just me and my little legs… I was still on target for the time that I wanted but as I approached mile 16 and the hill that I was dreading second time round I was very aware that I would be achieving my furthest mileage so I focused my mind on that and failing was not an option. I forgot to write Never Give Up and Smile on my hand for this race but by the final miles when my hip flexor was in a fair amount of pain and my lower back was aching more than it ever has before I said it out loud for those blasted hills…I just didn’t want to stop at all as it affects my mentality for the race…Giving up is not an option and neither is stopping…the hills will not defeat me! At mile 18 there was final incline and I have to say I was not impressed…A man running behind me laughed as I swore out loud when I saw it… I think my mind had blocked it out but I kept going….never give up and smile, never give up and smile, never give up and smile….. The final corner couldn’t come fast enough now… This was the toughest part of the race for me and by now I was in pain and wondering, if I had to do another 10k, could I? Mentally, that day….no! But I was determined to finish in under 2:50 so when I saw the final 100 metres and the crowd I pulled it together for a fast finish…. It was an amazing feeling and Charlotte was there cheering me…yay! Over the finish line and I’ve done it!!!! 20 miles on a Sunday and its not even lunch time….BOOM! Bless the lady taking the chips off our trainers…I couldn’t get my leg up on the bucket so she had to kneel down to help me out…loved her at that point. We all got medals which was also a fantastic feeling! This was followed by stretching, yelping and downing recovery shake.
I couldn’t lift my left leg very well which I was a bit worried about so we all went in for a rub down which was one of the best decisions I made that day…bliss.
That evening, we arrived home, ordered take away and generally crashed out. Totally and utterly shattered and very very sore. The following morning the stairs were not my friend and so I booked in for an On Track Sports Therapy session for the Tuesday to help recovery. My hamstrings were agony but it was worth the exquisite pain – Amy, if you’re reading this, I don’t know what I would do without you right now….
So the next run is this evening but I am just doing an easy five miler to give my legs a bit of a stretch out in preparation for the race this weekend. Yes, that’s right, another Surrey country run…just the 21 miles to achieve and I think this will be my longest before Marathon day. Just to add to the nerves, the clocks go forward this weekend so we lose an hour over night…not what I need! Carbo loading begins tomorrow…..bring on the pasta!
My final race time for the Spitfire was 2:49:32 which I was really pleased with considering the hills and the pain by the end… It’s all great practise but makes race day feel very very close….
Not long now!!!
How is everyone training finding the longer runs now? Are you doing races or pounding the pavements?
Distance: 20 miles
Pace: 8:30 Avg
Music: My tune of the race was Chase and Status, Eastern Jam….It got me up a very tough hill and kept me going.
Happy Running – Good luck with any races and long runs this weekend