The Scribbler

1 August 2010

Slowing it down and strawberry sorbet

Filed under: Great North Run,run,training — The Scribbler @ 17:59
Tags: , ,

So of all my training at the moment, the most important bit is the long run. It’s a treat I save until the weekend and I do actually look forward to it. Last week I found my long run hard. I was fretting, overthinking, pushing a wee bit too hard. So this week I set out trying to start at a slower pace. 

I don’t carry much with me when I run, a bit of emergency money, my keys and some dried mango for a bit of a sugar boost. As I set off, my keys started jangling, so I jiggled them around a bit until they stopped. Then I got in a bit of a tangle with my headphones and my ipod and had to sort that out.  Honestly – what a fussy runner!

But faffing about a bit paid off with a first mile closer to 9.5 min mile pace than the 9min pace I’ve been grinding out. And I continued to keep it relaxed and steady out along the usual stretch, before turning inland for a change of route.

I didn’t much like the slight uphill along the streets lined with houses, but it made me appreciate my more usual views of the sea and once I turned in towards the running track I knew I’d find some off road tracks that would give me another change of scenery.

It was pleasant running though the trees, a welcome shade and breeze, and the softer path making a change from tarmac also reminded me to keep it steady. I’d sort of planned a route (thank goodness for google earth and satellite views) but was a bit worried it may be longer than the 9 miles I had on the plan. In the end, I turned too soon and the shortcut gave me a pretty much perfect 9 mile route.

It was still and silent on the tracks and alongside the fields. The sun was hot and the trails were dusty, but I felt fine, relaxed and at ease. Everytime I sensed I was trying to push on faster, I reigned back a little, adapting to the terrain. I had to run a long way parallel to a field before I could turn and head towards the sea and the direction I wanted to go, but it was fun finding a new route. When the Garmin beeped for the half way point, I was surprised at how comfortable I felt.

The blue of the sea kept my direction on track and it was time to keep it to my left and retrace my familiar coastal route. Feet back on tarmac and I picked up the pace without even thinking about it.

By now the sun was warm and my face salt sticky. The wind that had been in my face and slowed me down to start was behind me and away from the shade of the trees and trails, I was warming up. Just after the six mile beep I took a few seconds to grap a slurp of water, splash some on my face and reward a good run so far with a chunk of dried mango.

Refreshed and sugar boosted, I was on the home straight and running strong. All the runners today were coming in the other direction, so there was no one to target for overtaking, but we exchanged smiles and nods.

I’d plugged my headhones back in to distract me over this familiar stretch. It’s a lovely route, but running it three times a week can make it a bit monotonous and today the music was matching my sunny and upbeat mood. With two miles to go, one of my favourite tracks kicked in and I picked up the pace again, still trying to hold onto the steady, steady mantra, but just feeling alive and celebrating the joy of running.

Even the thought of the hill couldn’t knock me today. I realised I’d have to run it to complete my planned 9 miles. Having already turned up the heat, I wasn’t going to let it deprive me of my sprint finish, so I powered up and onwards until Garmin signalled it was over.

There’s a new shop in the village where I’m already known as a regular customer. It serves fine hand-made chocolates, ice creams, coffees and sorbets and the best chocolate brownies known to man or woman (and believe me, I have considerable testing experience in this department). I’m afraid it’s become something of a post-run treat and running up the hill instead of doubling back took me closer to its doors. So, sweaty, salty-faced and satisfied, I treated myself to a strawberry sorbet and sat outside to enjoy the sunshine.

A fine way to end a fine run. And the best part is, I felt like I could have gone on further, so it all bodes well for a Great North Run.

Stats and stuff:
9 miles 14.49 km in 1 hr 23.37
mile splits:
1. 09.22
2. 09.25
3. 09.21
4. 09.16
5. 09.29
6. 08.55
7. 09.39
8. 09.04
9. 08.51

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