John takes on his biggest challenge yet while Kelly puts in the last couple of weeks of training for Chester
Both of us - Blue
John - Orange
Kelly - Purple
Due to a very busy week, we've written a double blog this week - two weeks of running excitement! The most exciting of which is the culmination of months of training for the Ginger-Bearded-Running-Man; the Cotswold Way 102 mile race!
|A successful race for John!...read on for his race report...|
Monday 17th September 2018
I started this week with my last PT session before the Chester Marathon. Jules has been great at helping me to get fitter and stronger ready for that sub 3 attempt!
In the evening, I did a spot of yoga - John was planning on coming too but the traffic meant he couldn't make it in time.
Tuesday 18th September 2018
This morning we did a little 5k recovery run together around the Harbourside. We haven't managed to run together much for a while as we've been training for very different things. It was lovely to run our 'usual' route together again.
At lunchtime, I went running with a group of staff from school. It was the first one of the new academic year so just 1 mile nice a slowly to encourage new members of staff to join us!
I had a sports massage in the evening to get me ready for the first Weston Prom race of the season which is on Thursday.
Wednesday 19th September 2018
With Weston Prom tomorrow, I decided to just do a gentle recovery run. I ran up to club (2 miles) and then did another 3 miles with the Cotswold 100 crew.
Thursday 20th September 2018
I've been looking forward to this all week. The first Weston Prom 5 mile race of the series. I love these races because they are flat and fast and a great way to improve speed. Also, because it's a team event and GWR tend to do really well. This year, the girls especially have a great chance of winning the team prize so I wanted to have a really strong first race to put our team in the best position.
Having packed my bag, with all my kit in, at 6am when I woke up, I was able to pick John up and then drive straight from work to the race. I arrived at the race, went to the toilet to get changed, put on my running kit, went to put on my shoes and ...
Yep. Two left feet. Oh man! Normally, I wouldn't buy two pairs the same colour...but Brooks have discontinued my shoes! My favourite shoes that I have been buying and wearing for 4 years! I'm gutted. So I have been bulk buying all the size 5.5 Brooks Pure Cadence that I can get my hands on.
What options do I have? ...run in two left shoes...I tried, it's really uncomfortable and only 2 weeks out from Chester, probably a really bad idea. Run in bare feet? Again, with the marathon so close I really didn't want to do that. Not run...and let my team down? No way - so that left me with the only option. To walk around the room and ask every woman I could find if she had sized 5 or 6 feet and a spare pair of shoes...what are the chances...
Incredibly, there was a wonderful woman from NBRG who said 'oh yes I have a spare pair of shoes!' Amazing! I tried them on, they were a little bit big to be honest but they were better than nothing. Hooray! I could race!
The race began and I felt pretty good. My legs felt fresh and I was just really happy to be running. The weather was horrendous. Very windy (in one direction) and rainy. The main aim was to find a group with lots of tall people in for me to hide behind. Success. I slotted comfortably into a group with fellow club mate Chloe. We were in join first position and both looking in pretty good shape. We ran together for the first 3 miles (6:15, 6:20, 6:39) at which point, I started to feel a bit fatigued, started thinking about my shoes, lost concentration and dropped off the pack of the pack. I didn't drop much at first but suddenly, running by myself meant I was getting battered by the wind. Focus, I told myself and pick up the pace and get back to the group. Annoyingly, by this point I wasn't able to close the gap because of the strength of the wind. A small lapse in concentration had a massive consequence. John, who wasn't running today in preparation for the weekend, was there to cheer me on. Hearing his voice gave me a real boost. By this point, I was quite close to the turn (where the wind would be behind me) wait until the turn, I told myself and then I'd pick it up.
At the turn, I did manage to increase my pace (6:27) but couldn't catch up with Chloe and the group in front. I finished as 2nd lady with a time of 32 minutes which isn't too bad given the pre-race stress and very challenging racing conditions.
Friday 21st September 2018
No running for me today. Rest day before my long run tomorrow.
John has been doing his 5k every day still.
Saturday and Sunday 22nd and 23rd September 2018 - The big day has arrived!
I was up and out of the house early today. 6am I started my run to ensure that I'd be back in time for John to get to the start of the Cotswold Way!
As I raced Prom just a few days ago, I knew I'd be feeling a bit achy but still wanted to get a good 20 mile run banked. My aim to was to keep a solid pace of around 7:30 - 8mm for each mile depending on the gradient. The route was relatively undulating but I just took it steadier on the uphills and tried to pick up the pace on the downhills. All the time, I was thinking about the challenge that was facing John, Marcus and Gary so the run went pretty quickly.
20 miles done in 7:40 average pace - 2 hours 33 mins of running.
The Cotswold Way Century
Race day is here and thus follows and inevitably nervous and frantic start to the day. We spent Friday evening at the theatre watching Touching the Void. An awesome show in itself in that it provided some much needed endurance based inspiration and it gave us a good distraction as being out the night before kept my mind off the race and allowed me to chill out. I’d spent the week abstaining from alcohol and managed to resist the beers on offer at the Bristol Old Vic, opting for water.
KD was up early and banking an epic long run. I faffed about with my race kit again and pottered about. I washed and changed into race gear and then tried to chill out with some breakfast and a cuppa tea. Two poached eggs on toast with a couple more pieces with peanut butter on.
KD got home from her long run, washed and changed and we were out the door on our way to pick up the Maestro. The weather was as expected - horrendous. It had been raining since we woke up and it wasn’t about to stop any time soon. With Marcus onboard it seemed he was equally as nervous as I was, which was actually quite reassuring. With an hour-or-sos worth of driving (100 miles to the start line is a long way don’t-you-know) the normal running banter kept us distracted.
We parked up and made our way into the sports hall. We were greeted by a row of tables with marshalls checking bags for mandatory kit. I got everything out of my perfectly prepared bag begrudgingly upsetting the tidy setup and we ticked of what was there: 2ltrs of water, paper map, waterproof jacket, emergency nutrition (Kendle mint cake), hat with a peak, mobile phone, foil blanket, whistle, head torch, first aid kit and a long sleeved top.
(Although I never used it, the map I used was the Cotswold Way XT40 - Harveys. This was an awesome bit of kit as the map was printed on a very thin sheet of polythene. Meaning it folded well and it wasn’t affected by bad weather. Small and light as well.)
All of my kit together, including 2litres of water came to about 3kgs. It all fitted nicely into my Salomon ADV Skin 12 Set running backpack and felt cosy on my back. We spotted clubmate and fellow RoF finisher Gary and his wife Ali in the corner and went and sat with them with a cuppa tea and about an hour to go until the start at midday.
On the start line in the middle of the high street in Chipping Campden, feeling colder and wetter than I’d planned or wanted, we were set off in a slightly anticlimactic unceremonious way. A hug from support crew extraordinaire (also 2nd lady at the previously mentioned Ring of Fire a few weeks back) Cat and a kiss and a cuddle from KD we were off and raring to go!
The Maestro and I took it very steady in the early stages, not wanting to get caught up in the chaos of the race start. We plodded the relatively flat first mile-or-so with Gary before he set off at a slightly quicker pace up the first hill. This would be the last time I would see the back of his head for a long time… (I still haven’t as he hasn’t been to club yet as he’s probably still bathing in cider and being spoon fed chinese food).
(To make the blog slightly more relatable to local club runners, I will describe the rest of the run referring to the “stages” of the Cotswold Way Relay. This won’t make any difference and shouldn’t confuse anyone who doesn’t know anything about the anual club raced relay where the Cotswold Way is split into 10 stages)
Leg 1 - Chipping Campden to Stanway House (Miles 0-11) is a relatively easy introduction to the race. 400mtrs of ascent but with most of it is out the way during the first couple of miles. Stunning views surround you whilst the easy terrain doesn’t demand very much skill or attention. We kept to a very steady pace of 5MPH/12MM whilst I made sure I was regularly taking sips of water and I started eating early, having a breakfast bar after the first hour was done. I started the race with my coat on as it was raining but I warmed up quickly and wanted to feel the benefit of the waterproof in the night so I de-coated and showed of my club tee with pride.
We stopped briefly at Stanway House to say hello to Cat and KD. It was nice to see them and good that at this point of the race they that little to do for us other than cheer. We were really gonna test them through the rest of the day…
Leg 2 - Stanway House to Cleeve Common (Milles 11 - 22) is a different leg… it is horrible! 500mtrs of ascent, very technical and slippery downhill stretches with less picturesque views. Having recced the leg (we recced all of them in the build up) we knew what to expect and even though we’d taken it really steady through the first couple of hours, we backed off even more, making sure to walk all of the up hills and even the down hills. At this point in the race, we were still bunched up with lots of other runners. Even after only 12-or-so miles runners were starting to struggle. Complaining about the weather, the terrain and struggling already with nutrition. The Maestro and I took this as a massive boost. We felt strong, we were walking past runners with gusto whilst eating and drinking regularly and sensibly. At this point in the race we were loving it.
Leg 3 - Cleeve Common to Seven Springs (Miles 22 - 30) we got to our first proper check point at Aggs Hill through 27 miles in 5hrs44mins - 1hr15mins under the cut off. No parking for supporters here so no sign of Cat & KD. We stocked up on some pork pies and sausages and made sure to refill the water stores. I was carrying 2 x 500ml worth of water and used my third bottle for Coke… so 500ml of coke… a little early to start taking on the sugary good stuff but I wanted it just incase. Not long spent in this checkpoint as we’d not long seen our support crew and being so early in the race, we were feeling OK. We made our way to Seven Springs. 30 miles in 6hrs45mins we were losing the light and the coat was back on at this point.
Leg 4 - Seven Springs to Cranham Corner (Miles 30 - 42) it was during this leg that we bumped into Dan and Sarah. Club mates who were in the area. I don’t remember at what time or mile we saw them exactly but it was great to see them supporting us. We stopped for a couple of minutes to have a chat and show appreciate. The break and seeing them gave us a good boost! Similarly to all the other even numbered legs, this was another bumpy one with well over 400+mtrs of elevation. At this point, legs are starting to get a bit fed up of all the up and down but mentally all was OK as I knew there was still so much more to go. Walking the ups and the steep downs we got the the next major checkpoint at 39 miles in 8hrs26mins - comfortably under the 10 hours cut off. A proper stop here and catch u with Cat and KD. It wasn’t long until we’d be eating a proper meal and have a warm place to sit down and have a change of socks and tshirt so we stocked up on water, coke and pork pies. By this point it was proper dark but the head torch was doing a good job (it did a great job through the whole night - my Petzl head torch is one of the best bits of kit I’ve ever bought!)
|After the girls had dinner in pub, we bought a little treat for the boys ...1/4 of a pint of beer!|
Leg 5 - Cranham Corner to Ebley Mill (Miles 42 - 54) One of my fave stretches of the Cotswold Way. Couple of tough climbs in the first half of the leg but from half way onwards, all downhill in sheltered woodland. Starting the leg it is proper dark now and to add to this it is extremely foggy making it very difficult to run over anything slightly technical, through fear of falling into a black hole or over the edge of a cliff… We found this leg reasonably straightforward, as it is a lot easier than the previous 10-or-so miles, regardless of the conditions and we were coming up to half way and the first major checkpoint which is indoors and serving hot food. We tick off the miles and getting toward the end of the leg is on road and running through a highstreet, towards Painswick RFC, our support crew and hot food. Not quite half way, at 48 miles we sit down and we rest and get looked after for 15-20 minutes. Cat is on technical support, she re-fills out bottles and food supplies whilst Kelly and Nat are on emotional/dressing duties. We change our socks and shirts. Instant relief to be wearing some dry and warm clothes. We down a bowl of veggie chilli and agree that things are going well. We find ourselves getting a little bit too comfy and the race organiser reminds us we’re in a race and we should really get going. We lace up and thank our support crew for ignoring the need to sleep and continuing to look after us - exceptionally well. We leave the rugby club and make our way back onto the trail to start what are the most difficult stretches of countryside in the UK… (this might be an exaggeration).
Leg 6 - Ebley Mill - Dursley (Miles 55-64) We set out and reassured ourselves that so far things were going well. We were making good time as we’d gone through half way and a bit by mid night. We got on with things and attacked the hills with some strong fast walking, revitalised with proper food and new clean clothes. Then is hit us… What I can sports hall syndrome… our bodies are used to be tucked up in bed at this time (it’s gone midnight) and we’d just spent 20-minutes-or so sat in a warm cosy sports hall… Personally, I really wanted to be sat down, eating or in bed… it was difficult ignoring this want but ignore it I did and we got on with it. Leg 6 is hard - I think it’s the hardest leg on the Cotswold Way… Leg 2 has slightly more elevation but the hills on this leg are relentless; they go on and on and on… Having 50+miles in legs is always gonna make it feel worse than it is but this really is a tough section. Having recced it a few weeks back, we did know what to expect and in my mind. I knew once we were over this stage all we had to contest with was the tough start of leg 8 and then it almost would be, downhill from there… We spent alot if not all of this stage walking- partly through being tired but mainly because we could not see a thing. The weather could not be much worse, 12+ hours of drizzle and fog which meant you couldn’t see even a metre ahead of you. In a way, the walking did us good; it stopped us doing anything stupid or getting injured falling over, allowed us to digest our proper meal and held back some energy for the future legs. There was a pit stop at 59 miles, were we saw the girls again, explaining them the trials and tribulations of sports hall syndrome whilst they listened attentively pretending not be to be VERY tired (it’s about 2AM at this point) another refill of water and coke and we plod on through the end of the leg and the next checkpoint…
Leg 7 - Dursley - Wotton-Under-Edge (Miles 65-72) Leg 7 is ok. It starts with a ridiculously steep and technical climb from the town up to the golf course where you’re rewarded with the fantastic climate of strong winds, rain and fog atop the exposed open fields but otherwise it’s relatively flat. The fog didn’t do us any favours as instead of taking the nicely tight cut bouncy fairways we trudged through the sodden wet rough and made sure that we’d definitely need a fresh pair of socks come the next checkpoint. It’s at the point that I reflect on the Maestro being little quiet… this isn’t unusual in these kinda events, the reason our racing partnership has worked so well in the past (GMU 16’, GBU 17’ and Butcombe 18’) is because we are very comfortable in eachothers silences… he’ll love me comparing us to that old couple you see in a restaurant not talking to each other for hours, just the odd glance over a newspaper to check the other one is still alive… We were doing a lot of walking still and there wasn’t much encouragement to run… it’s at this point the Maestro confesses he’s not in a great place: he’s had a fantastic run and a great adventure so far but he was just completely fed up with the conditions… it was getting wetter and colder by the minute and at this stage didn’t like the thought of enduring another 9+ hours of walking in the dark… A bit of a shock but completely understandable. At this point we had about 4-miles-or-so until the next major checkpoint which was indoors with hot food. I told him to have a think and see what the girls thought when we checked in… The Maestro doesn’t decide things lightly… We get to the checkpoint and break the news, Cat, KD and especially Nat are taken aback… “you’ve come so far” “are you sure?”... he’d had enough and made the tough but sensible decision to call it a day. It was an absolute pleasure as always to take on another first adventure with the Maestro and there’s no way I could have got through the dark without him, let’s face it, we all know I’d of got to mile 70 with 80 miles on my watch…
I wasn’t looking forward to carrying on my own but this is what I needed to do. A change of socks, t-shirt and importantly shoes. I went for a grippier pair of shoes as, running on my own, I wanted there to be less chance of me falling over and my quads were starting to really struggle with the downhills. I inhaled a bowl of spaghetti hoops and felt determined to get leg 8 done and dusted...
Leg 8 - W-U-E - Old Sodbury (Miles 73-85) The longest leg on the Cotswold Way Relay and another stretch with 1200+feet of climb. This leg is probably the third toughest behind 6 and 2… Inevitably it starts with a massive climb… I took it steady and plodded on up, reflecting on losing my ultra bro, digesting my food and enjoying the time. It was gone 6am and the sun was starting to come up! Even through the rain and fog, this was a massively uplifting experience. It meant I could see, which meant I could run! After hours of walking and shuffling, I was actually well up for getting a stomp on… so much so that I somehow banked a 30-minute 5K and was eating up leg 8 like it was a track interval. I was desperate to get this leg done, every mile after it is relatively straight forward, not only that the next major checkpoint had bacon and it would also be the first time I’d see my parents as well as Cat and KD. I got on with it and found myself overtaking loads of runners which was a huge confidence boost and also gave me people to talk to. I made it to the next checkpoint.. I hugged KD, Cat and then my parents before sitting myself down; “bap please, red sauce” One of the best bacon sandwiches I’d ever had in my life… Everyone reassured me that I was doing really well, this was done with lines like “you don’t look anyway near as bad as everyone else” I took this as a compliment and wanted to get going…
Leg 9 - Old Sodbury to Cold Ashton (Miles 86-94) This leg is boring and easy. Much needed after the tough hills and terrain of the previous 10+miles. In upping my pace and determination, I’d also eaten into a big chunk of my energy reserve. I was having to walk quite a lot now, even on the flats, determined for my bacon sarnie to digest and energise me. At this point, I’d probably consumed 5+ litres of coke and wasn’t really feeling the benefit anymore of the sugary elixr… I reflected on the fact that I’d suffered so much and come so far and there really was not much further to go… I was going to make it… surely? I made it to Cold Ashton in a bit of a state. After the positivity of bacon and family, I think my brain was starting to punish me for thinking about the end… I was VERY cold. I put on all of my available dry clothes and was still cold, so Cat went to her car to see what she could find, she came back with a Helly Hansen long sleeved top and a clean buff - hero - I was warm again. At this point there’s less than 10 miles to go… I’m going to make it. If I wave to crawl on my hands and knees I’m going to make it…
Leg 10 - Cold Ashton Bath (Miles 95-102) Leg 10 is unnecessarily hard, really there is no need. The first couple of miles are down hill, which is great… if your quads haven’t imploded… every step I take is twisting a knife one more time just above my knee… ouchie… I do however get a bit of good patch… I’m running… There’s lots of uphill again now to make up for all the painful downhill but I’m running it. I’m very much of the mindset for wanting to get it done. The miles tick over and I’m still going past people, massive confidence boost. At this point in reflect on coming closer and closer to Bath. As soon as you hit the city, the race organisers allow you the run the last couple of miles with someone. Of course I nominated KD and couldn’t wait to share the experience with her. It was when I thought about this that my body decided to well and truly f*** me over… 98 miles on the clock and my legs decide they have had enough… I could barely move. I was hobbling and having to stop every 100mrs-or-so… I couldn’t believe it… Whatever distance you run, you always feel the same at the end, it was exactly the same feeling you get when you cross 22 miles in a marathon… I took stock of what was going on and had a word with myself… My body had taken me this far, it was my brain wanting to stop me now, so I ignored it! I sung stupid songs to distract myself and focused on getting to Kelly…. The next 2 miles took an age, but as I came off the trail and made my way on the streets of Bath I could hear Cat and KD waiting for me. This was VERY emotional… The occasion itself almost brought tears to my eyes but this wasn’t helped by the fact that Cat and Kelly are both extremely emo as well! I held back the tears, pulled myself together and said I wanted to get on with it. Cat made her way to the finish whilst telling me I had half hour to cover 2 miles and beat her time.. Definitely the right thing to say… but I just wanted to finish, I wanted to sit down and search the internet for new quads ASAP!
Kelly and I started our adventure on the last 2 miles of the Cotswold Way… as usual this started with a massive hill… completely fed up by now I just got on with it. Kelly was constantly encouraging me and reflecting on what I’d achieved and what I was about to finish. There’s no way I’d have done the first 100 miles without her and definitely no way I’d have done the last 2. We made our way through all the hundreds of tourists who by now had got used to getting out of the way of zombie like numbered “runners” without much persuasion. With 100mtrs to go we took stock of what was about to happen… we held hands and posed for the cameras… or at least that’s what I thought I was doing (see photo below)... I’d done it… I’d finished 100 miles.
30TH - 26:42:31
What an adventure. By far one of my greatest sporting accomplishments. This year has been about finding my grit and finishing things and I FINISHED A 100 MILE RACE. The weather was rubbish, the course was tough and I probably did a lot more wrong than I did right but I made it. Hats off to the Maestro for making it to 72 miles and making the sensible decision to save himself for another day, there’s no way I’d have made it through the night without you and when you finish your first 100, it will be on your terms - you are the Maestro! Thank you to Nat who, as always when supporting, offered genuine care and affection, concerned as always. The biggest thanks has to go to Cat and Kelly… Cat was the technical ultra support wizard - she knew exactly what I needed and just sorted it. She new when I needed to sit down a minute longer and when I needed to just get on with it. Her clothes, although being too tight for me, stopped me from going hyperthermic. Kelly as always was and is my rock. Never ever has there been any hesitation in supporting me in anything I do. ALWAYS there when I need her, offering support and encouragement regardless of anything else that’s going on - thank you and I love you :-)
A massive well done to fellow clubmate Gary, who finished the race hours before I did in 10th place… I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night ever since… “HOW DID GARY DO THAT IN 23 HOURS?!?!?”
Amazing. Really amazing. I can't quite believe that after months and months of taking about it, planning it and training for it, he's done it! A really incredible achievement. I really enjoyed supporting John and Marcus (and Gary for a bit before he got too far ahead!). Yes it was wet but Cat and I did lots of dancing (in our wellies and dry robes) to keep our spirits up. We were tired but we had a couple of naps while waiting for the boys to come to our checkpoints. It really all went rather smoothly. He didn't get lost, didn't appear to have as many low points as in previous races and he finished without any major dramas! Hooray! Mission accomplished!
|Cat entertained us with her Poy!|
|We made a friend!|
|I chose to park in this spot on the golf course!|
|The sun came out!|
|The supporting crew with hot chocolate in the dark!|
Monday 24th September 2018
As John is running every day this year (challenge 365), just a matter of hours after running 102 miles, he was up again and running around the Harbourside!
Well I say running...we did 3 miles at an average pace of 11:49. Box ticked!
Tuesday 25th September 2018
Suddenly, it's become cold. I ran with John again today but did a few strides to keep warm.
We were quicker today - 10:35mm ...progress!
I did yoga today in the evening. I've missed not doing it everyday like in the summer. Trying to get back into a routine is hard!
Wednesday 26th September 2018
Off to club today for our run. John was feeling loads better so did the winter 8 mile route. I opted for the 10 mile route. As soon as I started running today, something just clicked. It was like my body suddenly was ready for running a marathon. My legs felt light and fast and efficient. I was running along and chatting merrily, then looked down at my watch and I was running 7:05s...woa...slow down! I didn't want to push it too much as I had a long run planned for the weekend. I spent the rest of the run trying to slow down but really enjoying the sensation of it feeling super easy. With just over a week to go until Chester, could this be perfect timing?
Thursday 27th September 2018
A rest day for me today. John did he 5k as usual.
Friday 28th September 2018
Today was the first running club of the new academic year. I open my lunchtime running club to children in Years 3 - 6. This means, that at the start of a new year, I have a huge bunch of new, young and enthusiastic 8 year olds who have just joined year 3 and are keen to try running club for the first time!
I had 42 children, 3 teachers and 1 parent join me a rather impressive turn out I think! I wanted to start off slowly and not scare too many off too soon so we just did a 1km run up and down the cycle path. Most children were smiling so hopefully they enjoyed it and will come back again next week!
Saturday 29th September 2018
The time had come for my last long run before Chester. 18 miles with some miles at marathon pace. I was rather apprehensive about this run. What if marathon pace feels too hard? What if I don't recover in time for next weeks race? For this whole campaign, I have been following John's (aka Coach Cox's) tailor made marathon plan. 10 weeks of effort with a focus on speed work and marathon paced sessions. So far, I feel like it's all gone to plan but it's been a bit hard, at times, putting complete trust and my marathon success or failure in someone else's hands! Today's run would really be the test of Coach Cox's plan and my training.
The plan was to do blocks of marathon paced efforts John suggested 3 blocks of 3 miles each but I thought I'd see how the first block felt. Despite having ran 102 miles last weekend, John agreed to come with me on his bike so we decided to use the Bristol to Bath cycle path as our route for today.
The first two miles warm up to the cycle path went by really quickly. I was feeling pretty good. My calves and achilles were feeling a little tight (I have a sports massage booked in to sort that out!) but nothing too major. I then did another two miles steady on the uphill sections of the cycle path. At mile 4, I was ready to attempt marathon pace. Nervously, I accelerated and got into a rhythm which I thought felt about right. I looked at my watch; it read 6:50 mm pace - YES! I focused on keeping that pace and keeping that rhythm. I felt comfortable.
After three miles of marathon pace (6:53, 6:48, 6:41), I was feeling rather excited. Rewind to a few weeks ago, I was on the Portway desperately working my hardest to do 4 miles at marathon pace, failing and then practically crashing out on the floor and having to rest for a while before walking home. Now I'm comfortably holding 6:41 pace and feeling great. I decided to extend the first block of MP from 3 to 4 miles. After 4 miles, I slowed but carried on running. John gave me some water and I did 1 mile at 7:27 pace.
After 9 miles, I had reached half way so turned around. It was time for marathon pace block 2. Feeling confident this time, I steadily increased my pace and found the rhythm without needing much help from my watch. Again, the 3 miles felt easy, controlled and comfortable. I felt like I could run at this pace all day - hooray! The 3 miles sped by (6:48, 6:50, 6:44) and I didn't even let a couple of little hills effect my pace.
I had another mile at 7:36 and then I was ready for my last set. I couldn't believe it. 10 weeks of training and now I'd nearly finished my final long run. I was feeling invincible. I was really starting to believe that sub 3 could be possible. I increased the pace again for the next 3 miles and, due to the downhill nature of the route, found myself having to slow myself down to stick to the required pace! Mission accomplished (6:45, 6:45, 6:44).
I couldn't feel happier. That was by far my best EVER training session. 18 miles with 10 miles at Marathon Pace. Boom! I am ready. Bring on Chester and bring on Sub 3!