Marathon training – week 8

Monday – after cutting short my Sunday run, I wanted to get in a nice long Bank Holiday run, but a bad night’s sleep and residual gusty winds from Storm Katie put paid to it. I really wasn’t in the mood, but ran up College Road listening to a podcast about the history of knitting, then along Crystal Palace Parade (where I gracefully side-stepped a discarded condom), then slowly did a few more hills and went home, not before being slapped on the leg by an empty coke can in a gust of wind. 12.2km.

Tuesday – no running.

Wednesday – no running, horrible headache

Thursday – no running as I had a friend to stay

Friday – woke up to a beautiful frosty morning and ran to work in the cold, fresh sunshine. Ah, spring! 5.1km.

Saturday – Dulwich parkrun with Neil, for the first time in ages! We’d arranged during the week that we’d run at 5 min/km and set off at about 5:10 min/km. The first km was fine and we were chatting a bit, the 2nd km I chatted less, by the 3rd I felt like I was hanging on, the 4th km I fell apart with my pace dropping to 5:41/km and on the final km I was just counting down the steps until we were done. It felt very hard and yet was almost 30 seconds slower than when I did this exact parkrun a few weeks ago, and I’m pretty disappointed about it. It was, however, great to hang out with Neil, and it was lovely and sunny, so I shouldn’t be too annoyed. 5km.

Sunday – another race, this time the Kingston Breakfast Run. I had a pretty upset stomach and as a result it was a challenging day! Race report here. 26km.

Total: 48.3km

Kingston Breakfast Run

The Kingston Breakfast Run had three race lengths to choose from: 8.2, 16.2 or 20.1 miles. I chose the middle one, as I’d dawdled booking and by the time I came to book, the 20.1 mile option was sold out. I’ll take that as a sign!

Getting to Kingston is surprisingly easy from my house, and although it was grey and misty when I left the house, it was sunny by the time I arrived. I immediately headed for the portaloos, a good call as the queues were long, before dropping off my bag (last minute debate over whether to wear long or short sleeve top – decided to stick with short and I’m 90% glad I did). I sucked down a gel waiting at the start, where we were set off in waves by pace. I opted for the front of the 10 min/mile group, as I wanted to run about 6 min/km and my maths suggested this was the place for me. This has the bonus of making the photos just after the start look like I’m leading the race!

0 – 6km

I found it hard to keep my pace down, with the first two km at 5:45/km. We did a loop through town and then over Kingston Bridge and along the towpath (in the opposite direction to the Palace Half Marathon a few weeks ago). I made sure to look out for Hampton Court Palace, and watched rowers on the Thames. At the end of the towpath we took a left over Hampton Bridge and then past the station and towards Esher. There were a lot of cycle clubs out and I was envious as it was a great day for a ride!


6 – 13km

The people doing the 20 mile course had set off half an hour before us, and their course rejoined ours at about 6km. I heard cheers behind me and a man dressed as a postbox ran past. Just up ahead was an actual postbox and he ran towards it and gave it a hug.

There was a water station at 8km and I ran straight through as I didn’t want too much water. There were two portaloos and I wondered, idly, if I should make a visit. This was obviously a premonition as within a kilometre my stomach was feeling bad. I kept an eye out for more portaloos, or public toilets when we got back to the river, but there weren’t any. I really wasn’t feeling great so as soon as we got back to Kingston town centre, I asked marshalls where there were toilets. The first marshall told me there were some ahead (lies!) and the second said there were only the two portaloos I’d seen and I’d be best going into a cafe and using theirs. I was right by Kingston Bridge by this point so I ran into the nearest cafe and the kind waiter let me use the loo. What a relief!!

13 – 21km

Other than my stomach, the run had been going well up to this point. My legs felt fine and I didn’t feel tired. But once I got going again my stomach still didn’t feel right, plus I was hungry but didn’t want to have a gel in case that made my stomach worse, so instead I thought about cake, as that’s the best thing to do when you’re hungry. It was quite warm on the towpath and there was a woman just inside the palace grounds, who was either walking or on a horse, and I couldn’t work out which. My arm was starting to chafe. I told myself I’d walk for a minute and get my ipod out when I got to the end of the towpath.


At the end of the towpath I walked across Hampton Bridge but didn’t bother with my ipod as I remembered that there was a drinks station up ahead, and I realised that I was very thirsty. I do love when winter ends and it gets a bit warmer but it takes me a while to get used to it! At the drinks station a man in a rhino suit was having some help as he couldn’t get the cups of water to his mouth unaided. I can’t really remember the next bit as it was boring, just running alongside a main road.

21 – 26km

At 21km, I passed the drinks station with the portaloos and decided to stop. My stomach wasn’t feeling very happy and I spent considerable time in there. Luckily it was still quite clean – but it felt weird knowing that a couple of metres from my bare bum, cars were driving past. I imagined what would happen if a car spun off the road and hit the portaloo. What if I got trapped in there. Oh god.

I left the portaloo and told myself I had 5km to go and could do this. I got my ipod out and decided to risk having a gel. By now I was very hot and my arm was red and sore where it was rubbing on my top. I promised myself little walking breaks, having lost motivation after all the toilet stops. I’ll admit it, I was feeling sorry for myself and thought I should drop out of the marathon next month.

As the route came alongside the river again there were a few more supporters. Two little boys put out their hands for high fives and I decided to high five them as they looked so excited about it – and it actually made me feel great, it really boosted my mood. I felt a tingle down my spine and thought, hey, you got this, and I jogged at least another half a kilometre before the thought of “ah, fuck it” got too loud in my head again.

I headed onto the High Street and past the start line, trying to smile at the people who were cheering me, and decided to go for a sprint finish. My legs felt spritely (as well they might as I’d spent so much time sitting down!) and I dashed over the line to complete the 26km a few minutes under three hours.


Finish: 02:57:53

After picking up my goody bag, I collected my bag and did a bit of yoga in the gardens of the the Guildhall. I changed my shoes and went back to the cafe that had let me use the loo, and ordered a smoothie and some avocado on sourdough. I wolfed it down! Afterwards I set off into the sunshine and thought I’d leisurely wander home, but instead had to make another fairly panicked dash inside for the loo, this time into John Lewis. All the way home I felt pretty bad too and was pleased to get home where I spent yet more time in the bathroom.

16.2 miles is, obviously, ten miles less than marathon distance. Using the Jack Daniels calculator, and this race as a benchmark, I’d have a predicted marathon time of 04:51:30. If I ran it at Kingston pace, that would be 04:48:50… however there are hills… I don’t know whether to take heart or not from today.

What do I know?

  • I need to sort my diet out. I’ve been eating badly and you only get bad results from that. I could also do with losing a couple of kg. I need to figure out what I’m going to eat during the marathon, maybe it’s the gels disagreeing with me (or at least, making a bad situation worse).
  • This is my longest run since the last marathon! And yet my legs feel pretty much fine today – so I probably could have run further.
  • I need to apply bodyguard or other lubricant – I have a friction burn on my arm and another on my bum. Running in short sleeves is great but there’s way more chance of chafing.
  • Mental strength is everything – and I have none 😦

Oh, and I got this great goody bag! Thanks lidl!