For once I actually managed to go to bed at the planned time. By 9 o’clock I had put the last of the kids to bed, by 9:15 I was in bed myself, and by 9:30 I was asleep. I woke once or twice, but each time managed to fall asleep again quickly, and when the alarm rang at 4:30 in the morning I felt totally refreshed after 7 hours of sleep. I looked out of the window and was stunned by the brilliant sky. There was no moonlight whatsoever, and the stars looked even brighter than usual. There was even a satellite going over (at least I presume it was a satellite – it was way too fast for a plane, and it wasn’t a meteorite).
I had a big breakfast, namely my usual wheat cereal, a slice of Niamh’s delicious dates-and-walnut bread, and a small banana, all washed down with lots of water. After that I felt ready for my 20-miler.
I had originally put on just a long-sleeved top, but thinking about the cold weather forecast I overruled my instinct and put on a singlet underneath. As a result I was uncomfortably hot once I had warmed up. At mile 4 I had enough and took off the singlet. Cue me trying to put the jumper back on and then the reflective sash I wear to ensure I’m being seen by any passing motorist. I don’t know why, but I really struggled putting the sash back on correctly – I must have fumbled in the dark for at least two minutes, and would have looked like a complete idiot, had anyone been awake to witness the spectacle. Of course, 5 mile is a turn-around point, and all of a sudden I realised I would be running into the wind for the next few miles, and started to feel cold. I put on the singlet again (a dark singlet over all my reflective gear – not very safety conscious) and made my way back towards our driveway. At mile 9.5 I could see the light of a lorry coming down the road, and quickly ripped off the singlet again, to ensure I’m being seen – no panic, by the time I had it off, the lorry was still half a mile away.
I left the singlet at our driveway, because the second half of the run consisted of two loops to Ard-na-Sidhe, and that’s in the wood and therefore sheltered from the wind. I also had a gel at mile 10, and another one at mile 15. By the way, can I sue Powerbar for false advertising? Their strawberry-and-banana gel tastes nothing like either strawberries or bananas.
Anyway, I couldn’t believe how well I felt. My legs started to feel a bit tired at mile 17, which is the distance of each of my last three long runs, so maybe I was starting to get used to that distance, but I still felt strong, and towards the end took the last climb to our house at good pace. I finished the 20 miles in 2:50, and could have run faster (and had at least 4 minutes break, for my clothes change and the two refuelling stops), which means my actual running pace was faster than 8:30. This gives me hope that an average pace of 8:20 might really be possible 26 days from now. I’m actually really looking forward to the marathon now, I feel ready.
27 Feb: 5 recovery miles, 47:45, 9:33 pace
28 Feb: 20 miles, 2:50, 8:30 pace if you include the breaks in the overall time