The shortest day of the year saw me race 10k and run 26 miles. The 10k finished by 1137 Saturday and the 26 miles was completed by 1215 Sunday, which, with the clock change is less than 24 hours between. Needless to say I will not be running on Monday.
Running marathon paced, then slower but longer runs on alternate weekends meant this 26 miler was to be a slower one. With the theft of the drink Gareth had placed out for me during my 24 miler two weeks ago, I drove out to the hilly Talkin/Foresthead circuit (6.5 miles) so as to allow me to grab drinks and food placed safe from the Warwick Bridge thieves, on my van windscreen. Had this run been on the flat roads nearer Carlisle I would have aimed to run sub 7 pace as always. The hills meant the pace would be slower, but how much slower? Difficult to say, so I decided to call it an endurance training run and complete it all at an easy pace to avoid the muscle damage often accumulated over such a distance.
Historically I would run laps inside 45 minutes, with 39 being my fastest ever single lap and 43 per lap being my best average for the full 26 miles. I remember running to a total of 2hrs 59minutes in 2007 but that was a measured effort as hard as I could manage (I didnt do marathon paced efforts in those days, just long hard runs week after week).
Lap 1 I set off deliberately slowly, recording 49:15.
Lap 2 saw no greater effort input but clearly better warmed up by then and with breakfast longer behind me I recorded about 2mins faster.
Lap 3 saw Mikey Scott join me. I felt good by this point, not yet tired at all so I suggested trying a wee bit harder with the aim of going inside 45. We didnt quite get inside but were only a handful of seconds over. That lap saw the emergence of legtiredness on the biggest climb, more of which was felt throughout lap 4.
Lap 4 was began at the same effort as I had been going around lap 3 but as soon as the hills came I knew I was going much slower up them. The 23 mile point was where I began to really feel tired but time checks showed I was ahead of my lap 1 time so I pushed on. I could actually have ran a tad harder over those last 3 miles but deliberately tempered my effort as I knew the chances of getting an injury, especially with such big downhills, would be at their greatest at this stage of marathon training in general and this very arduous day in particular.
3:08 for 26 miles, with the second 13 completed faster than the first half
Lets say it isnt quite 6.5miles per lap (when I had a Garmin I measured it at 6.45) and lets add the 0.2 (marathon is 26.2 miles). Thats still definitely inside 3:15 for a marathon, in training, including over 2000ft climbing, on a warm day, the day after a tough 10k. I'll take it.