This morning, I ran 24 miles in just under 4 hours. My instructions were simple:
- Go out at 10:15 min / mile pace
- Try to hold it
- When I found I had more energy in the second half* try to speed up
- Work hard** to get my average pace down to 10:00 min / mile.
I was lucky to be running with fairweather runner, a superb pacemaker whose skills I’ve taken advantage of at both parkruns and half marathons. She is making the step up to marathons, and agreed to share my plan.
As it turned out, because of the structure of the race, we started off at 10:00 min / mile pace, and then just tried to hold on.
Lap 1 – The sociable lap.
The 24 milers and 8 milers started together, so for lap one we were surrounded by oodles of other runners who we could pick off. So much so, that we had to deliberately slow down when our chasing got too enthusiastic. Then, at the end of the lap, they all sprinted to the finishing funnel, while we had to peel off for the next lap.
Lap 2 – The depressing lap.
The 16 milers started half an hour after us, and in lap 2 overtook us in droves. On the plus side, their speed was contagious, so sticking to the 10 min / mile pace was more a matter of slowing down than speeding up. Towards the end of the lap, we were also overtaken by Windmiler Mark Rabbetts, who won the 24 mile race in a time of 2:36:05. Go Windmilers! And then, for the second time, we had to watch while all the other people around us sprinted to the line while we plodded on for lap 3.
Lap 3 – The lonely lap.
Somewhere during mile 17, I lost fairweather and plodded on alone. Every time I looked at my garmin it told me I was slowing down. So every time I looked at my garmin I had to try to speed up. My knees hurt. My feet hurt. Hills had appeared where no hills were before and some evil imp kept stretching out the miles. And then I got to mile 21. Just a parkrun to go. I can run a parkrun. I. Can. Run. A. parkrun***. I shan’t tell you that the last three miles sped by, but I shall say that the power of parkrun trumps the power of hill building, mile stretching imps.
I have never been so glad to see plustenner. She ran the 16 mile race and then stuck around to form a one-woman cheering squad to spur us over the line. For which I thank her from the bottom of my heart.
* I fell off my chair laughing when I read this.
** Or rather, work HARD.
*** Not even for emphasis can I bring myself to capitalise parkrun. Lower case, all one word. I have been well and truly indoctrinated.