Today was the day I got to test my legs out on what should be the longest run I have ever done.
It was the Milton Keynes Festival of running day (http://www.mkrun.co.uk). Nathan had convinced me a few months ago to enter the 20 mile run. Apparently this is great training for the long course triathlon and marathon…… I am sure he is right, but my legs at this moment in time disagree!!
I recently had to purchase a Mueller Sport XLP ankle brace to try to help me run through the ankle pain I have been experiencing for the last 4 weeks. This was the first real test as I had only got to trial it out for 2 or 3 runs – with one of those runs being cut short due to the pain still being present.
The weeks build up had been a little stressful for one reason or another. And as I mentioned last week, I had done very little run training due to numerous injuries. A few Zwift rides with a few swims was the only other training I had done this week. Not great planning I thought….
Nath and I had an early start so we could navigate the closed roads and try to get parking near the start. The gun went at 9.45am and we said our goodbyes to each other. No chance I was trying to keep up with Forrest.
The course was a very leg friendly route, with very little undulation involved. A few ups and downs as we passed under the multiple dual carriageways, but generally this route was flat flat flat.
I set out with a planned 9.00 minute mile pace – targeting 3 hour finish time. I set the Garmin and got going. 1 downhill mile in and I checked the Garmin to see I was hitting 7.50 minute miles – I promised myself not to get carried away and pace myself against others. Looks like I failed from the gun!!
I eased up and started to find a rhythm. This rhythm had me running at 8.30 minute miles. Should I ease up or should I maintain the pace I was currently finding comfortable?? This distance was unknown to me, so I was a bit clueless, and ultimately decided to carry on at the current pace.
Every 20 mins my Garmin prompted me to consume another Gel, and every 3 miles a water station gladly appeared. Scattered along the route were spectators cheering on with enthusiasm their loved ones and strangers alike – plenty of them helping to keep us fuelled by offering oranges, jelly babies and sweets.
I am not sure if it was nerves, or the fact I tried to keep myself hydrated yesterday, but my run was interrupted 4 times for nature breaks. And that was following 6 pre race visits!! The bushes of Milton Keynes were nicely watered today as I was definitely not the only one……
At 15 miles I passed my longest distance for 2018 and then when I hit the 17 mile mark I was into the unknown. I had never passed this point before. Bizarrely My legs were feeling OK and my pace was still hovering around the 8.30 minute mile mark. I was on course for smashing my target time – can I maintain this for the last 3 miles?!?!
Then at 18 miles my legs started to ache in every muscle possible. The calves were burning, the thighs were screaming and the ankle, ah the ankle! I am happy to say the brace worked. I knew my ankle pain was there from about 5 miles into the run, but it was just an annoyance as opposed to a race killer.
And at the 19 mile mark the organisers had hit us with the only real climb on the route, Campbell Park. It starts off gradually and then ramps up to a bitching elevation for the last 100-200m or so. I was determined not to walk and fought through the pain – Jens Voigt’s famous saying ringing through my ears. I made it up the climb and shortly afterwards there was only 500m left. Time to put the after burners on…… yeah right, this was no time to think I could sprint the finish. I had to dig deep to get every last ounce of energy out of my body and then it appeared.
The finish line was in sight and it was lined deep with people. The goosebumps came as people started shouting your name to push you onto the finish line.
I had done it. My finish time 2:50:15!! To say I am happy is an understatement. I am genuinely over the moon with that time. As the medal was draped over my head all I could think about was the pain running through my legs, but I had done it. Only a few weeks ago I didn’t know if I could even get to the start line, let alone run the full 20 miles. And now I had just completed the toughest run I have ever done.
I treated myself to a meal fit for any athlete – a Five Guys Burger.
I am currently lying down typing this with the inability to move. And to think this is only the start!! Roll on July 2nd 🙂