The 18 miles at marathon pace run didn't go to plan - even though the plan didnt even have running at quite my (hoped for) marathon pace of 6:15. I set off intending to run 6:20 per mile. With Darren for company we were ticking off the mile markers approx every 6:27. Not brilliant but it felt 'right' and I hoped to increase speed after the turnpoint at 9 miles.
Darren left me to it at 9 (he lives nearby) and I ran to 10 in 6:26 despite a decent little uphill section. The next one included the biggest downhill on the route but was only 6:15 and soon after that I started to feel damn tired.
I'd been eating a mouthful of solid energy bar every 4 miles or so and washing it down with a tiny swig of water. This brought on a stitch at 14 miles!
I though I'd sorted my in-race eating when I moved away from gels to solid but I honestly now think I should have nothing at all until about 15 miles then only a small mouthful - or maybe go with the Lucozade provided as I did in 2004.
At the 15 mile point I stopped.
Never done that during training before, but I knew to run on would make the stitch much worse and I would slow considerably. Up to that point I had been running a slightly faster average than the outward half. I should probably have just jogged home from that point and called it a 20 mile run with 15 miles fast. Perhaps foolishly I resumed the previous pace and completed the final 3 miles in 19 minutes (6:20 pace) to give a total of 1hr 55 for 18 miles and a one minute negative split (but you cant really count it as a proper neg split after stopping for 5 minutes).
The trouble with this marathon training campaign having been done in my head and not written out in advance was that some runs came up a bit unexpectedly. For example, if planned at the beginning of the year, my recent 26 miler would be 5 weeks out from race day, not 4 weeks, and this 18 would have been 6 weeks out with just a 14 miler to do today.
Not to worry, running my worst performance of 3 months inside 6:30 pace for 18 miles (or even 15) still has to count as good training.
Next day I was back to work and feeling quite tired so planned an offroad hour or so with Scamp in the evening.
During the day I learned Plucky was going to Gelt woods and decided an easy lap with him would suit my plan.
Walking Scamp beforehand it snowed!
Mark (Sparky) Ryan also joined us, making 4 if you count Scamp who ran for 20 minutes encircling us all continually. Lap over, I put Scamp in the van and said I would run the next lap with the lads for about 10mins only as they were planning a fast one. Chatting to Mark as we ran I was aware Plucky was falling back slightly on the uphills and regaining ground as we descended. At a checkpoint Plucky said we were on more or less the fastest time they'd ever done. This was all the incentive I needed to finish the lap with them. We dropped Plucky on the big hill but I knew it would take another 10 mins of 100% effort to prevent him catching back up and I knew this would be a very silly thing for me to do. Regrouped, we completed the lap together, apart from the final 90 seconds when I eased back and jogged in to ensure my legs didn't seize up when we stopped.
Yes I know I should have resisted the temptation to race the lads and should have stuck to my plan for the week. But IT IS the final week of full training and the volume reduction I plan will see the midweek 13 cut out completely so there should be no issues thrown up by this extra session.