Today my mission was to run for three hours - expecting to cover anything from 15 to 17 miles but endurance was most important. Also just as important was to banish the memory of my dismal run last Sunday.
I set out and all seemed fine - as always I seemed to struggle with a bit of stitch in the first mile or two. I don't really know why this is, whether it's because my breakfast hadn't settled properly or whether it's because I'm still trying to find the pace I'm not sure. But I did manage to run through it this time.
I run iPodless when I do my long runs through the Oxfordshire villages, since it just doesn't seem right when it's such a nice day in natural surroundings. And more importantly I need to watch the traffic, since there are no pavements for me to run on. The downside of this ... within seconds of leaving the house a song implants itself in my head and stays there, with me running monotonously in time with it. And I have no control of which song it is. 4000 songs on my iPod, none of them are Shania Twain (for good, obvious reasons), but it was she who came and lodged herself there the whole time.
The other thing I like to do is revisit past failures. I visualise gravestones on the side of the road marking the spot where a previous run has failed and descended into walking, and aim to run comfortably past them the next time. There are now a few all over Bicester and surrounding villages, and the latest, the scene of my walking before Stratton Audley last Sunday, was comfortably passed.
At 5 miles or so is a crossroads. The signs say Bicester (left), Stoke Lyne (ahead) and Fringford (right), but they may as well say "Shortcut home", "Long run", and "Even longer run" respectively. I turned right, and feel good about myself that I did. The extra loop I added through Fringford and Hethe turned out to be very hilly, and I felt good that I negotiated them OK, but maybe paid for that later ...
After that loop the distance continuing on with my planned route or retracing my steps was about the same, and at this point I spontaneously decided to retrace my steps, so as to avoid the busy road and ring road. Two hours in, I was back at Stratton Audley, and checked the time on the church steeple. I anticipated I might get home at about 2:40, and need to run an extra mile or two along the ring road to hit three hours.
In the end, I made it home, after 2hrs 55minutes or so, and clocked the run as about 15.3 miles. But the last hour, in particular the last half hour, was painful. I had almost nothing left in the tank, and was trying to motivate myself so hard not to walk, especially as my running pace now was so slow. I did it, but only because my home was at the end, I really think I was starting to struggle at that point. Certainly no extra bits at the end.
Overall I'm delighted to have overcome the difficulties of last week. Once again I have run further, and for longer, than I ever have before. I feel really close to my limit now - my trainer has been great for help, advice and motivation and is going to need to be a genius to up my game for next week and up to marathon day. But hey, after last week, I'm back! And I'm happier, even if I now want to throttle Shania Twain!