It was up early today, coffee, two rounds of brown toast with Marmite; I popped the full bladder into the ultra pack and added some tailwind endurance fuel to it (superb stuff), a bit of chocolate, a spare shirt and some wipes – and I set off.
This run started out well, and I paced myself to be just a little slower than usual (probably still a bit on the fast side though). I headed through Queen Adelaide and along the top of the river bank into Littleport; the view was gorgeous as there was bright summer sun, and I slowed down a bit to watch some fallow deer grazing in the fields below me. Once I ran through Padnal, I decided to try to eat (despite not being remotely hungry): as usual this didn’t work out, and yet again I spent ages thinking (and worrying) about nutrition. My plan today was to run back home (at the half marathon point) and eat, possibly soup and bread. I turned around once I hit the Ely Road and went back through Padnal, along the river, back into Ely and home. As luck would have it, my family were finishing lunch, which was fantastic as I did not want to stop for long and I knew there would be left overs. All three sons left boiled potatoes, which had gravy on them. I ate what felt like a good plate full, washed down with Fanta; and once the bladder was topped up and more tailwind added, I set off again.
For the second half of my run, which I had decided would be marathon distance, I decided not to stray as far as Littleport, but to stick to around and through Ely: all the same difference, what there was something a little intimidating to me about repeating the route from earlier. I headed down Kiln Lane, over the Iron Bridge and onto Quanea Drove (a club run route). Ely Runners will tell you that they can identify members from a distance by their running style. I spotted someone coming towards me from a long way off, and I knew it was Richard Hill. We exchanged greetings, and I moaned a fair old bit about my fuelling concerns. Richard’s advice was simple, if I struggle to snack on the go, physically stop and eat, and during the ultra, stop for a little longer and get something a bit more substantial onboard. This is a sound strategy actually, as I had done just that at home, and I had not suffered from having substantial food (not snacks) in my stomach. Note to self: take a few sweets on runs with me, rely on the tailwind, and stop fretting: I can stop and eat!
The rest of the run got to me a bit. By the time I passed another fellow Ely Runner (Ben), I was feeling low, and I am glad he had not seen me at mile 21 as I had a bit of a blub! I am not at all sure what the odd tear is about: it happens sometimes on very long runs and I don’t think it is about being unhappy as such, but the emotions tend to be a bit of a rollercoaster for me at the marathon distance. I have read around it a bit and the reasons offered for blubbing are numerous!
The last 4 miles were tough, and I noticed my pace drop. I was very pleased to get home and a little relived that everyone had gone out; this way they did not have to see the undignified ritual of me stripping sweaty gear off and chucking it in the washing machine and then hobbling to the bathroom. One long soak in a hot bath and it was time for one of the joys of distance running! Food! My wonderful wife left me a treat!
I have mixed feelings about having ran a marathon as a training run: in one way it is reassuring, as at the moment, if I am pushed and have not ran one the day before, I probably have a marathon in me most days. But on the day of the ultra, I have to find another 22 miles! Don’t go there!