I mentioned to my friend Nadine that I run for fun and she said she would rather put her legs behind her head any day, well she is a yoga teacher after all. During today’s run there were many points where I would much rather have got down and put my legs behind my head (I fear I would still be there in the middle of Upper Street though, with some concerned shopper trying to untangle me).
This was my last long run before the taper, hmmmm, having said that I do have a 17 miler scheduled for next Sunday, so I’ll hardly be taking it easy. I thought I needed to run in a different direction to make this one doable, so decided on a run through Finsbury Park, along Blackstock Road to Highbury Fields, along Upper Street, down St John’s Street, through Smithfield, across Fleet Street and down to the Thames at Blackfriars, I would then run along the Thames for a few miles then turn round at ten miles and run back home. Simple as that. I found this really, really hard. Not just towards the end, when you expect to feel like shit, but pretty much the whole way through. I did feel a lift when I reached the Thames – this was a route I used to run when we lived in Islington and I worked at Jerwood Space: I would sometimes do a running commute and hit the water at this spot – it felt so nice to run alongside the water on such a gorgeous day and I realised I would actually be running along here on Marathon Day.
There were lots of runners along the Victoria Embankment and what a grumpy lot they were too! I would like to say ‘urgh’ to the man wearing a Camelpack who I was just gearing up to say ‘morning!’ to, who promptly turned towards me and did one of those disgusting blowing-your-nose-without-a-tissue things, gross. Most of the people I saw were running with drinks belts and the like, so were probably doing a very long run too, but it doesn’t hurt to nod or smile at fellow runners does it? When I reached the Houses of Parliament, I decided to go across the bridge and run on the south side for a bit. This was quite lovely and was going really well, with a turn in the river offering the magnificent view of the Battersea Power Station: ‘Ah, look, there’s the Battersea Power Station!’ I thought to myself. I got a bit irritated when the path came to a complete stop due to some riverside development causing it to be blocked off, I didn’t fancy finding my way round for the sake of half a mile, so ran back to Vauxhall Bridge and crossed back to the north side to run towards home. Here I did meet some smiley runners, a fairly big group of them all running together. I saw some more further along, then a chap with a little drinks station at the side of the road near Tate Britain. I figured maybe Nike Town are doing some marathon training runs, because there were a few Nike tops amongst them.
Quite quickly I found myself at Blackfriars, but it felt too soon to turn off, so I decided to keep going to London Bridge and turn off there as I know my way from there too. Unfortunately the path along this part of the river is really rubbish: it stops at numerous points where you end up running along the road then trying to find a way back down. In this confusion I suddenly found myself at Tower Bridge! I felt a combination of dispair and amusement here: in three weeks I will welcome the sight of Tower Bridge, but right now it was a pain in the arse. So, here I was, not exactly lost, but not where I wanted to be, running around in a circle around the City, with no Garmin signal due to the tall buildings and the Lucozade Sport running out very quickly. I usually have 50p in my bag for these runs, not sure why because you can’t get a lot for 50p these days, but I didn’t have anything at all, just my depleted LS supplies and some jelly babies, which were quickly becoming too sweet and cloying to give me any satisfaction. I remembered how I felt this in the Edinburgh Marathon and just wanted cold water to quench my thirst, but I didn’t have any and felt pretty dreadful.
After a few turns around the City I found myself at Bank so knew my way up City Road back to Islington. By now my ankles and knees were beginning to hurt and each stretch was a real effort, I promised myself the last bit of LS if I could make it to Upper Street. I don’t carry my Oyster Card on these runs and it’s a good job, because I think I would have been tempted today. When I got to Angel I decided to be really cheeky and went into Starbucks to ask the nice man if he would put some water in my bottle, which he did, thank you lovely man. I gulped loads of it down, so definitely needed it…it’s pretty hot today. Weaving in and out of the Upper Street Tourists, as we used to call them when we lived there, I noticed I only had about three more miles to go, so decided to break it down into one mile sections. On hitting Highbury I really thought I was going to throw up, this was when I felt like crying, things were not going well, everything hurt and to throw up would finish me off. I didn’t, I kept going.
Just Finsbury Park, then the streets back home to contend with now. I started to feel like I was crawling now, plod, plod, plod. My mindset was truly negative, just convincing myself I simply won’t manage the extra six miles required to make it a marathon. As I got closer to home, I was trying really hard to think: ‘up and light, tall and strong’ which would help for a few steps then I would be grimacing again at the knee pain. Eventually, the clock ticked it’s way to 20 miles and I pressed the on/off button, I wasn’t running another step. I walked the last five minutes to our house and got myself into an arnica bath and had a delicious smoothie made with banana, blueberries, yoghurt and milk. Mmmmmm.
So I have this seventeen miler next Sunday, my last chance to get it right. I think some gels should be tested as I don’t think the jelly babies are cutting it, and additional fluid is needed, even if it means carrying another bottle with me.
Time: 3 hours 27 minutes 34 seconds
Distance: 20 miles
Average Pace: 10.23
Best Pace: 7.44