Yesterday’s long run was two cold, exposed, wind-swept, rain-drenched hours. Two hours! TWO!! I set a course crossing the A40, down to South Leigh, through Eynsham and eventually meeting the patient and wonderful Mr P in Barnard’s Gate for a short ride home. There’s a lot of time to fill, in two hours, and I did a lot of looking at the scenery, and mulling on my progress. And still had time to finish my audiobook, ‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
I made a faltering start. In fact, I made a complete nonsense of the start, as I was so focussed on trying out the new Nathan hydration vest Moo got me for Christmas that I totally neglected to take account of the weather, and stepped into a freezing, light rain.
Shutting the front door behind me, I suddenly realised it was wet. Very wet. And I hadn’t got a waterproof layer. Or a door key. So I phoned my son who managed to let me back in with only minimal rolling of eyes…
Waterproof layer added, I set off again, fumbling with putting my gloves on as I ran. A mile from home, my phone rang. Mr P wanted to know where my e-crumb was. He tracks me on the e-crumb so he knows when and where to pick me up… unfortunately, it hasn’t worked the last few times I’ve been out – although I’ve been running in the same territory as always, so theoretically there’s GPS coverage. Anyway, I paused to re-start the e-crumb and the watch… And set off again.
Not much further along the road, a bird darted in front of me – a splash of rapid colour and so I watched it to the far side of the road, where it alighted on a tree trunk, and revealed itself to be a green woodpecker. I almost wished I wasn’t listening to my story, and could hear it, tap tapping on the tree. And soon I was into new territory, for me. Crossing the A40 and moving south along tiny little country roads. Only very occasional cars, so it was relatively safe. South Leigh is a pretty little village: a scattering of houses and farms, clustered around an old church. The final farm, on the left, seemed to be a smallholding – a single cow and a single horse, and what looked like a home-made chicken tractor, with some chooks pecking around its base. After that, there were 4-ish miles of open fields, with nothing between me and the piercing, cold wind. That stretch was, I’m not going to lie, quite tough. The wind was at my side for a mile or two, but seemed to pick up just as I turned into it. The temperature was probably about 3 degrees without the wind, but the wind brought it plummeting down and pierced my lovely warm layers to the bone. My hair was wet and cold; my hands were cold despite the gloves and turned over sleeve tops; my feet were dry, thanks to the waterproof sealskinz, but cold. The only thing that kept me going was the certainty that it would be even colder if I slowed to a walk… Grim, indeed.
This week, I have invested in some gels. I need to practice fuelling en route, and George had recommended 33 shake as a good source of ‘clean’ gels. So I took one out with me, tucked into a pocket in the front of my hydration vest. At the Alzheimer’s training day a few weeks ago, Emma from Running with Us had suggested squeezing some gel into your cheek and letting it drift gently down your throat and then repeating at 10 minute intervals, rather than shooting the whole lot straight down. So I made up a gel before I went out (the 33 shake gels are fresh, so have to be stored in the fridge and made up on the day of use) and adopted that technique as best my frozen fingers would allow. It worked! No urgent need to throw up; no unexpected laxative effect (both of which other runners have described with other gels) and as I battled the wind and cold it made me feel immeasurably better to be able to give myself a shot of extra energy.
And immeasurably better is how I’m feeling, overall, actually. (Now that I’ve had 24 hours to thaw out!) It’s been a tough week, but I finished it by running for two hours! A year ago, that would have been an impossible dream! And today, at yoga, I very nearly managed a decent pigeon pose (as so ably demonstrated by the dog toy in the headline photo, today).
So, my three learnings from this week:
*** Increasing your mileage is exhausting, and you need to rest. Next week, I will try to get to bed earlier.
*** Specific training produces specific results, and it’s a bit silly to lament lack of improvement in a thing you’re not training for.
***I can run for two hours!