Monday, 4 March 2013

A grumpy 19

Here's how the day conspired against me (and I conspired against myself)...

1.  My choice of route:  I thought that I would be clever and run the Inverness HM route - so that I could suss it out and not be surprised by any hills on the day - and then run the 6 remaining miles along the canal path, giving my legs a break from road running.  A good plan in theory, a disastrous plan in action.  The HM will be on the road but my run had to be pretty much all on the pavements.  Rutted, rough, sharply cambered pavements that played havoc with my ankles and my blisters.  The first 5 miles are all uphill, mostly a gentle but wearing incline as well as a couple of steep bits that I've already decided I'm going to walk on the day.  Nothing like giving up early.  There are plenty of steepish sections during the next 5 miles as well.  I am really miffed that there is no chance for me to beat my AHM time.  There probably isn't even a chance that I will manage my marathon target pace.  Major disgruntlement that stuck with me for the rest of the run.

Deceptively smooth
I thought that the canal path would give my feet and legs a break.  Hah.  Far from the smooth dirt track that I remember it being, it was even more rutted and pitted than the pavements and had a bazillion stones embedded in it, every single one of which targeted my blisters.  Not nice.  Not nice at all.  Limp limp limp.  Walk walk walk. 

2.  Blisters:  These deserve a category of their own.  They started hurting by mile 6 but I managed to make it to mile 13 and my car, where I had some Compeed stashed.  Why I didn't put the Compeed on BEFORE I started running is a mystery to me.  I also changed shoes at my car, from the old Guide 4s to the Wasps.  My blisters were  marginally more happy with the wider toe box but, by that point, it all was a bit too late.  I might have been able to carry on running even with my tired legs, but the blisters meant walking.  And lots of it.  Also lots of thoughts about how I can't do the marathon feeling like this.

3.  Gear faffery:  I have a new piece of kit - the Spibelt - that I've been testing.  (My plan is to carry my gels etc in this for the marathon.)  It's worked well so far but yesterday I had more in it than usual and couldn't get it to lie flat.  It looked like I had a huge growth flapping around on my stomach and, with each flap of the pouch, the belt moved another inch up my body.  If I had let it go on unchecked, it would have ended up either throttling me or breaking my nose.  After numerous bouts of walking so that I could unpack and repack the bloody thing, I finally managed to sort it out and it became as comfortable as the reviews promise.  Still, it really really really annoyed me.
So yummy.  Sigh.
4.  Fueling issues:  I had my usual breakfast with no problems.  I had my first gel at my usual time of 1:15 with no problems.  But then I had half of a Clif bar at 2:00, which had been working well for me on previous long runs.  But not on this one.  Oh no.  Within 10 minutes of eating this, my bowels were in such an uproar that I feared I would be doing a Paula.  Cue lots of VERY slow walking and deep breathing.  This stage felt like it lasted for ever but, really, it must only have been for 5 minutes or so.  My insides settled down but there were periodic ominous rumbles for the rest of the run.  I didn't dare eat anything else and, foolishly, stopped drinking as well.  By the start of my 6 miles along the canal path, I was feeling decidedly light-headed and heavy-limbed.  Could have been related to nutrition, but equally could have been because I just wanted the run to be over.

5.  Other people:  I run rurally.  In all my years of running the back roads of the Black Isle, I have only ever seen two other runners.  I see lots of cyclists on the weekends, but they are a friendly lot and we have no problem sharing the road with each other.  However, running in a city, even a small one...I either was forced off the pavement or forced to stop by people on bikes, people pushing prams, children thrusting gardening implements at me, children lunging at my legs, dogs leaping at me, and runners running two and three abreast.  NO ONE made eye contact, smiled, said hello, or said sorry.  Not even the runners.  I hated it.

What I learned (because there's no point in having a miserable run if you don't learn something from it):  
  • Training runs are meant in part to be about figuring things out; they aren't meant to be perfect.  I'll pack the Spibelt more appropriately in London because of the difficulties that I had with it yesterday.  
  • I'm still not sure why I reacted to my usual fuel the way that I did - maybe because it was a different flavour to the other ones I've used? - but I'm not going to risk it for London.  It's back to gels and jelly beans for me.  
  • Next run, I'll put on the Compeed before I start running. 
  • The Inverness HM is just going to be a normal training run, and that's fine. 
  • Even with all of the stopping and walking, I still finished in the time that I had planned.  And, despite how sore my legs and blisters were yesterday, it all feels back to normal today.  So maybe, just maybe, I can't always trust my perceptions.
  • I might not be able to run the whole marathon, but I will be able to finish.

No room for personal space issues


  1. That's grit and determination, which will carry you through the marathon. Paul says that 20 mile training runs on his own are boring and mentally tough - and they're without the problems you had. So, well done!

  2. I thought it was more like whingeing and sulking, but perhaps I should go with your more positive reframe...That's reassuring to hear Paul's take on 20 mile runs. I wasn't expecting 19 miles to feel so much harder psychologically than 17 miles, so that really unsettled me. This week (21 miles), I'll be more prepared!