Get yourself a cup of coffee and settle in – this is going to be a long blog post. As that’s really the only way to deal with a week like this one.
Before I tell you about it, I feel like I need to make a disclosure – I still have a love/hate relationship with running. I sometimes think my blog might paint it in a more positive light than I always feel but that’s because these posts are written while looking through the endorphin coloured glasses of post-run euphoria. If I blogged before or during a run? A whole different perspective. Most of the ‘love’ side of the relationship occurs after a run while the ‘hate’ side is before and during. It’s not always terrible but it’s certainly not always great either and I struggle as much as anyone to get my shoes on and get out the door. Anyway, with that said, let’s begin.
My first run of the week was on Tuesday and, thanks to School Council in the evening, needed to be done before work. When I can make myself, I do like that time of day and Tuesday was a perfect morning for it. However the run sucked. It was hard, I couldn’t get my breathing right and the minutes seemed to take forever. The best thing about it was that it was done and I could spend the rest of the day feeling smug. Actually another good thing was that I wasn’t tired all day afterwards like I usually am (and managed to stay awake during School Council 😃).
I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do on Thursday and was home earlier than usual which gave me options. So, of course, I opted for the familiar and headed to the You Yangs although ran a different trail to usual. It wasn’t as hard as Tuesday although, being on trail, it couldn’t be compared which is probably why I did it. Trail feels more forgiving of all speeds of runner. As well as generally being tonic for the soul.
Saturday was parkrun which used to be easy as we had limited options around here. Now, with too many options, I can’t choose so I ended up at my home parkrun. I needed to get in some extra kms so I got up early, parked at the beach and ran along the waterfront before running to parkrun and finishing my run with an easy 5km. I was tired at the end but glad to have got the kilometres in early so I could enjoy the rest of my day and get ready for the really long on Sunday. I got all of my things ready, rechecked the route and was in bed by 7.30pm – such a party animal.
So, today. My alarm went off at 4.30am and husband and I were on our way to Melbourne. It’s funny that he doesn’t worry about me out on the trails but didn’t like the idea of me running in Melbourne alone so had offered to drop me off and asked me to text him every 5km. I was grateful to have somebody along for the journey. Even if he wasn’t running with me, it was really reassuring to know he was there.
We arrived at Southbank at 6am so I took advantage of a final toilet stop then set off on the Capital City Trail. The first part was very familiar as I’d run it many, many times before, albeit in reverse. I settled in well to the early kilometres and it all felt good – I was running 1:30/1:00 run/walk intervals (as recommended by my friends who ran their loooong run last weekend) and they were perfect for keeping me well under pace but not tired. I was trying out podcasts for the first time and was really enjoying the one I was listening to which also helped the time tick away. I ran along the river then over it and into the Docklands before joining up with the creek trail that took me under CityLink – a very strange experience that reminded me of being in canals around cities in the UK.
There weren’t many people around, just a few cyclists and it was very peaceful by the creek, despite the traffic overhead. The peace ended when I came to the end of that particular trail – the sign telling me where to go wasn’t there and, confronted with a busy road ahead, I had no idea where to go. I took out my phone to double check, only to find that my battery was down to 24% (no idea why – still investigating). I searched the map and tried my best to quell the rising panic attack – the thought of no music or entertainment for the remainder of the run, limited contact with Gary, limited access to maps, on top of the fact that I still didn’t know where to go next were all contributing.
Eventually I found my way back onto the trail then texted Gary to tell him that, despite being only 7.5km into my run, I was turning my phone off to conserve power and would be unreachable between my text messages. The next section of the trail heads towards and through Royal Park and is, again, quite scenic although not brilliantly signposted and I took another wrong turn before realising and finding my way back.
This section of the trail after that had much better signposts, including information about how far things were which I found very reassuring. At this point, I was still feeling pretty good and keeping up the intervals. I took a few photos when I turned on my phone to text Gary with my progress but wish I’d been able to take more. It’s a great trail and you get to see such a variety of Melbourne landscapes. I was also feeling quite lonely as I couldn’t text Gary as frequently as I wanted – I loved knowing he was out there, supporting me and looked forward to ticking off another 5km so I could message him.
Highlights in the next section included Dights Falls and Collingwood Children’s Farm, complete with strange animal noises and quaint farmyard scenes. The Children’s Farm also was my one and only toilet stop with fabulous facilities right next to the trail. There were more people up this end and I also started to come across participants in the ‘Bloody Long Walk’ which made me smile and feel a little less alone.
I don’t remember exactly where it started getting harder but my Strava file seems to show it around the 26th kilometre as that’s where my speed really slowed. I was edging closer to the city, was on more familiar paths and had had enough. All sorts of unhelpful thoughts were sneaking in and, no matter how much I looked at my ‘Run Brave’ bracelet wrapped around my wrist, they wouldn’t leave me alone. Most of them were about how hard this was and how much harder it was going to be to add another 10km to this to complete the marathon. How, despite all the training, I wasn’t good enough or fast enough. Even though I knew they were irrational, they were still there and making it so much harder than it needed to be. I think, had I had enough energy, I would have cried to clear it all out but instead just concentrated on putting one foot in front of the other. I constantly checked my pace – up until 26km, it had been a perfect 9:20/km but it was slipping lower and lower.
My last text to Gary said ‘30km Swan st bridge Very slow’. I wanted to say a whole lot more but didn’t have the energy to look at the screen. I wanted to say that it hurt and that it was taking every fibre of my being not to just sit down in the gutter and cry. I couldn’t even really put a finger on what hurt – it wasn’t injury type hurt, just ‘I’ve been on my feet too long’ kind of hurt. Blisters, sore feet, sore hips, tight calves – all of it. Just keep moving.
I got back to Southbank to discover I was 1km short of my target so had to keep going then, while waiting for Gary, ended up doing laps of the roundabout to finish off the last 250m. And, finally, I could press stop on my Garmin. 32km – done. At a pace that was just in front of the virtual balloon ladies – 9:58/km.
A few hours on, I still have mixed feelings on this one. Of course I’m proud to have finished it – 32km is a huge achievement that I never thought I’d be capable of. However it was far too close on pace and I am disappointed with that. I know I’ll go quicker at the event with all the adrenaline and crowds but still realise I face a very real possibility of not being able to finish this. I’ve known that from the start but tried to just ‘trust the training’. That’s getting harder. 3 weeks now until the next ‘longest run’ and I’ll certainly be reflecting on whatever I can do to start and finish with confidence.
Weekly summary – 55.9km total:
Tuesday – 5.2km (45:15)
Thursday – 5km (45:07)
Saturday – 13.6km (2:03:55)
Sunday – 32km (5:18:58)