Last Sunday was yet another Sunday morning, third in a row, when I questioned my sanity as I sat eating my breakfast at 6am and was de-fogging the car in the cold and dark to leave at 6.30. My third Autumn race in the build up to my marathon in 3 weeks time, only one more race before the BIG one.
The Kingston Run Challenge is a 8 mile course where runners complete 1, 2 or 3 laps or complete the 24 miles as a team relay. Having to do a 20 mile long run we signed up for the 24 thinking that the extra mileage would give us confidence for the marathon, or me worrying that I’d bitten off more than I could chew! Alma, not running an Autumn marathon sensibly moved down to the 16m distance so it was just Louise and I running the
24miles ‘3 short little laps’. Well it really did feel like that when we lined up at the start, there was a distinct lack of enthusiasts nutters wearing the distinctive green bib numbers!
Louise is training for her second marathon and has done some really good focussed training from a personal plan from online running coaches. I’ve been a little more casual, for my first, using 2 training plans as a guide but have kept a beady eye on Louise’s training runs and recently she has been more than happy to share her schedule! So I said I’d go along with her plan for this race to start out at 10.15 pace and work it down to an overall average pace of 10 min miles and target finish time of 4 hours.
My Runnersworld smart coach plan said 20 miles at 10.13 pace. Having run my long runs, over 15 miles, at between 10.10 and 10.30 pace I had in mind a finish time for me of about 4 hours 10 for this race which was so much further than I’ve ever run before, so thought I’d probably have to fall back from Louise’s pace at some stage.
We started off into the cold morning mist over Kingston bridge with the 8 milers and even starting at the back we were pulled along with their pace having to work hard to hold back but enjoying overtaking the slower 8 mile racers! A busy first lap with the 8 mile race followed by a second lap being overtaken by the fast 16 mile racers who started 30 mins behind us.
During the second lap my calf muscles, which had been tight and given me heel pain the week before, began to hurt as well as with my heel. After starting our 3rd lap (we knew this would be the hard point) every bit of my legs and glutes were getting increasingly painful. I decided that I
- a, wanted to be able to walk this week,
- b, had to recover and complete the last 3 weeks of my training,
- c, didn’t want to do any damage and
- d, had to save my full effort for my marathon!
So between the 17 and 18 mile markers I decided to ease off and told Louise to go on and hold her pace. Mile 18 was tough. Two passing runners asked about the race and how far I’d run and told me I was looking good which really helped! I told myself I had to keep running (slowly) until 20 miles and then I could walk. I found a slower pace which was more comfortable and made it to 20 miles. All alone on a nondescript pavement I couldn’t face 4 miles walking and carried on to the fuel station before mile 21. I briefly tried a walk then but walking was actually more painful on my hips than plodding on. Next I caught up with and overtook a walker and checked he was OK. He had run the first lap fast with the 8 mile race (that’s youth for you!) and was now cramped up. He joined me in a shuffle and we chatted along together to the end.
Great to see Louise and Alma shouting me over the line! but very disappointed not to get a medal. (We got a mug). I’d just run 24 blooming miles and I wanted a great BIG medal with 24 on in great big numbers!
Louise ran a brilliant race holding pace to the end finishing in 3.59. I wasn’t disappointed about having had to slow down when I saw my average pace… bang on 10.13 min miles… Just what the plan said with 4 extra miles to boot! Many thanks to Louise for such a good run, just shows the power of having a good running buddy for pacing.