Midweek long-ish run

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Training for Rome Marathon (for real this time)

Week 6 of 10

31 days to go


A 15 km training run first thing in the morning in the middle of the week has just become no biggie.

How did that happen?

I was up at six, fed the dogs, had some tea, got dressed and left the house – feeling very grateful that Firstborn Daughter had decided to have a lie-in and so wouldn’t drag me to that silly Pilates class. I had it in my head that I would run 15 km this morning but contemplated a shorter run, like, maybe a 10 kay.

Nope, I told myself. Fifteen it is. And I didn’t argue.

And so I set off at a slow and gentle pace. The world seems softer early in the morning. No noise of traffic, no taxis, no angry people, no one trying to sell you stuff or ask you for stuff … or rob you of stuff. No one here but us runners. I felt as if I was part of some underground group of sweaty people, some of them with wires coming out of their ears, who are seen only in the early morning, who wear funny stretchy clothes, have focused, pained expressions and who move a lot faster and usually less gracefully than daytime people.

At about 4 km I wondered where I would be at this point in Rome. What would I see? What ancient building would I be trotting past? I would still be in a throng of people, I’m sure, all still stepping on each other’s heels and elbowing each other, and being all upbeat and chirpy. Although I don’t know if the back markers are upbeat and chirpy. It was all pretty quiet down my end in the New York Marathon.

My shoelace was untied and I glanced at my watch – a watch is maybe a bad thing, sometimes. I was running too slowly, I thought, and stopping to tie my shoelace would show a rather embarassing 5 km time on Strava. But I was supposed to be running slowly … ah man … that watch.

At some point I realised that I was running a little bit faster than the required seven minutes per kay, and figured it would be nice to run a relatively fast 10 km. Notice no talk of when can I stop, and oh this is so hard and oh gosh damn bugger and blast but I hate every step? You notice? Huh?

So I continued on the under 6:30 m/km pace and after 9 km picked up the pace enough for two young, fit, tall and lean male runners to step out of the way for me so that I could pass (narrow pavement, cars – the only way was to sit on their heels or push through them, and I felt too embarrassed to push through (what if I pushed through and then suddenly had to stop?!)). That felt kind of good …!

The 5 km back home was going to be really slow, definitely over 7 m/km but apart from the 11 km point, which is when I stopped to drink some water, I kept the pace under 7 m/km. And then I was back on the Promenade, back past the stainless steel RayBans that have made Capetonians so very unhappy, and my run for the day was over. Just like that.

Mark Ellion's stainless steel sculpture on the Promenade

Mark Ellion’s stainless steel sculpture on the Promenade

As I stopped my Garmin it flashed a cheerful little message on the screen: ‘New Record! Fastest 10 km!’ – which wasn’t very fast, but the virtual pat on the back from the tiny cheerleader living inside my Garmin did make me swell a little bit with pride.

I strolled home and thought, wow, I’ve just run a 15 km training run without the drama. No angst, no nausea, no self-doubt, no tightly scrunched up face on top of a tight neck and hunched shoulders, no heavy gulps of breath rasping through my painful chest, no sore knees, ankles or any other bits – even my purple, swollen toe stopped complaining once I started running.

I just went for a run, and now I’m going home. Kind of like a real runner.


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