Other than injury, I can think of nothing more draining on your energy during marathon training than a stomach bug, so imagine my horror when I succumbed this week. After my fabulous track session on Tuesday morning, Hector really wanted to go out in the running buggy, even though it was raining, so we did. Just under three miles, and we had to make the return leg by train due to the now heavy rain and, during this run, I started to feel pretty awful and wondered if I had been a bit ambitious for the day’s activity. By Wednesday morning it was clear that I was just ill, and Edward even had to work from home so he could take Hector to nursery (incidentally, Hector was really excited about this and just rushed in and waved happily at Daddy!). During these few hours I just slept and ran to the bathroom. I remembered that, when Hector had a vomiting bug the other week, every time he ate, he just brought it back up again, so I decided to go without food for the day and see if that cleared the bug. Oh how feeble I felt, lying there sipping recovery drinks and clutching my aching stomach.
I was much better on Thursday, as if I had never been ill in fact, but my energy levels dipped through the day and I was reminded to slow down and stick to soup for a while. I would say that yesterday was the first day I was able to enjoy my food again. Bleurgh. So, when I looked at my schedule and saw that today was to be the eighteen mile day, I realised I would have to be realistic and just see how I felt during the run. Earlier in the week I was sent some samples of Orbana energy drinks, and had been keen to try these out after last week’s long run, where I had failed to equip myself properly with any kind of fuel, and wanted to see how much better I could run with the right fuel on board. Of course, today was just about getting out and seeing how far I could go on weak legs, but I did pack some fluid for the journey, keen to keep myself hydrated after such a challenging week. Funnily enough, I knew that the drinks were good because they were the only thing I could keep down during my illness, and really seemed to help as I sipped them gently throughout the day!
The first few miles were fun, as I was accompanied by the boys on Edward’s bike, and we paused briefly to enjoy the view of the Kingfisher resting on a branch before he disappeared in a flash of neon blue. As we reached a fork on the Waterlink Way, the boys went towards the swimming pool and I kept going towards Beckenham Place Park, so a repeat of the run I did a few weeks ago really, though this time I knew where I was going! After last week’s long run, I have realised that I should sip some fluid at intervals instead of waiting until I’m on my knees, so stopped at four miles for a gulp then carried on my way through the mud. The thing I like about the Orbana drinks is that they don’t taste that strong, my drink of choice outside of running is tea, and other than that I drink mainly water so, when I drink some of the other sports drinks, I find them far too sweet and really artificial-tasting, but Orbana tastes a bit like diluted juice, which I find more palatable.
It was nice running through that park, passing lots of muddy dogs and listening to the woodpeckers making the most delightful sound – I had carried my iPod Shuffle with me, but I’m glad I didn’t plug in because this was too good to miss. I did a random sort of lap, taking in a few dead-ends and odd loops, then came out to run towards South Beckenham station to step onto the Waterlink Way again. I had been stubbornly ignoring the fact that I was suffering from the most dreadful stitch and now stomach cramp, and determinedly plodding on as if everything was alright, but now I was beginning to think I should cut this run short and save the long, long run for next weekend. As I passed under the train track, it was ever so tempting to hop on the train home, but I didn’t.
Now I was passing some allotments, and I took a long sideways glance at the array of raised beds and compost heaps constructed mainly out of reclaimed wood. I am becoming slightly obsessed with acquiring wood, and wondered where they had found theirs. We started building a compost heap out of a palette we found at the end of our road, but realised it’s quite hard to dismantle them, and need another source of wood for the next level (it’s rapidly filling up with peelings and tea bags!). We also want to get our raised beds in ready for the planting season, so need a good supply of planks. I did ring round some scaffolders to see if they sell off old planks, but they are very reluctant to let you have them in case you do yourself an injury. ‘But I am going to saw them up and plant vegetables amongst them!’ I protested ‘Health and safety’ said the nice lady on the other end of the line.
Anyway, back to the run. By now my stomach was really hurting and I kept having to stop to sip fluid and bend over to clutch my stomach, but on I went (I didn’t have much choice really). I kept at it until I reached the park near home, and I was reduced to switching off the Garmin and walking the last mile home, looking out for discarded planks along the way.
Time: 1 hour 39 minutes 52 seconds
Distance: 9.33 miles
Average Pace: 10.42
Best Pace: 7.47
(I will review the Orbana drinks in more detail on next week’s long run, here’s hoping I don’t get any more bugs).