I only blogged a few days ago but it feels like over a week given how up and down I’ve been since then. A good club run on Thursday, including a run there and back for the second week in a row went well although it did feel unnecessarily hard. But the main issue from that run was an unexpected, but more concerning, an unexplained pain in my foot that seemed to come on suddenly on Friday afternoon and was very sore all day Saturday.
Combined with that, one of our amazing ultra runners had to withdraw from his 50-mile race yesterday at 40 miles…now don’t get me wrong, 40 miles is an awesome achievement and he will no doubt take a lot more away from his experience than had he finished (he always says you learn more from the hard ones) but it wasn’t what he wanted when he went into it…fast forward to Manchester and what if that is me? OK on completely different levels but the principle is similar in that we’re both using our relative shorter races as check points for our main events of the year. So, true to form, I started freaking out big time.
I had my first epic training session planned today and I knew it would knock me back if I couldn’t do it because of my foot, probably mentally more than physically at this stage so I did what anyone would do and messaged Keith (my Ultra 12 hero) with an emergency SOS!
Now, bearing in mind I have been struggling for weeks to get a good training/rest of my life balance, mainly sleep and hydration, I was very over tired and irrational, and was sure that if I was actually in front of him, he would have found it very hard not to laugh at my hysteria, especially as said message began with “I’m proper freaking out”.
However, as usual, he was brilliant, helped me talk through what was concerning me and to a conclusion that I did already know, just needed a bit of direction/kick up the butt to implement. So, I did what I had to do last night and got an early night, drifting off to mentally going over how today’s epic session was going to go.
And it worked!
My foot was still sore when I woke up and I went against all my usual advice of not running on an injury, even taking some ibuprofen before I set off, which I still fundamentally disagree with but on this occasion I had to know what I could mentally and physically push through, knowing the route we were doing would never be more than 6 miles from home and only a phone call away if I couldn’t continue.
But I did more than continue, I smashed it!
Team Emlin Part Two (aka Linda) had a session planned and very kindly allowed me to join her. Well, that is true but I think it’s also fair to say she jumped at the chance to not have to do a 5 hour run/walk session on her own so it was very much a win-win situation and was so good to have team Emlin reunited again!
The plan was to run at 10:45mm pace for 45 minutes and walk for 15 minutes. I had never done a run/walk session before but for many reasons I thought this was exactly what I needed to do right now.
Firstly, I know I will need to walk during Ultra 12 so, in the wise words of another ultra hero, I have to get used it! Secondly, with this pace we would be looking to cover about 5 miles an hour, which mirrored the 5 mile lap of Ultra 12 perfectly so I wanted to see if this might be a feasible approach for that. And finally, I generally aim for a nutrition fuel after every 40 minutes and wanted to try eating proper food (as opposed to jelly babies) so thought walking every 45 minutes would be perfect to do this (eating pizza while running would not have gone well!).
And I can say that I came away with a very positive from each of these theories, especially the food bit!
Today was a major breakthrough for me, by far mentally more than physically. I did warn Linda that I would be very emotional if I completed it and I didn’t disappoint! Crying for the last few minutes of the last run part and then collapsing in a heap, still crying with sheer delight, was not my finest moment in the middle of a busy Queen Victoria Country Park! But I was quickly brought back to reality with Linda reminding me we still had to walk another 15 minutes to finish the session and to get up now! Slave driver!
To say I was delighted with 25.5 miles in 5 hours is an understatement but due to a few extra loops on the flat so that our penultimate walk was up over Itchen Bridge (as opposed to running it I mean) we ended up walking a bit further at the end than originally planned which brought our overall session to 26.7 miles in under 5.5 hours!
It was all about time on feet today therefore I hadn’t really registered how many miles we’d be doing so to finish having completed more than a marathon before lunch was pretty incredible!