Nine miles of lovely…

Posted: 18/06/2012 in Uncategorized

Title says it all, really.

As the clock clicks down for the Hadrian’s Wall Half Marathon on Sunday, I’m trying to pretend that my runs are “race preparation”. I’ve heard of tapering, but always assumed it was something that groovy trousers did. Apparently runners do it too.

With just under a week to go, a figured a final longer run ahead of the day would be a good plan, and with the daunting 13.1 miles staring back at me from the race entry form, laughing quietly at me personal longest run of 10 miles, I figured somewhere around or over my regular 6 miles would be a good start – I mean, if I could do it and face the idea of doing it again then I’d be almost there, right?

It was a stonking good night for a run – warm, calm and only mildly threatening to rain buckets. Up to Seaton Sluice then, and the three miles along the Links and up to the Sluice slid by. As I’m trying to be quite techno about my preparations, I tried to hold my pace down to my 9’40” slow-ish speed at the start. Not so easy, as my wee legs like to get out there and get going.

A bit of a twinge from the left calf, and I tried something new, I slowed down to see what would happen. The ache went away. Eureka! After a while, a niggle from my right knee, and I slowed down again. Niggle went. Mint!

Reaching Seaton Sluice, I decided to press on a bit – the far end of the village gives a 7.5 mile round trip. That’s like more than half of the run, right? Wow. If I could do that, then I’d be left with 5.6 miles to go, that’s less than a 10km, so why not?

Ploddy, plod plod, along through the Sluice and past some kids who thought it was fun to shout “faster, faster” – or they may have been racing snails, it was hard to tell. Anyway, I did not comply, plodding along at around 10’00” per mile by now.

To the end of the Sluice, and I figured I still had some legs on me, I may as well aim for a 4 mile turnaround for 8 – that’d almost two thirds, right? Slowed down for a niggly foot, and the pain went away again. What kind of dark magic is this?

Made it to four miles and frankly just kept going; I reckon reading Dean Karnazes book and his exploits of heading off to run all night because it feels good has had a bit of an effect. Reached the first car park on the way to Blyth at 4.5 miles and figured now was a good time to turn it around and head back. I could have kept going, but I was developing the feeling that I was starting to tempt fate with less than a week to go.

Necked a High-5 gel, another part of the race preparations and plugged on. Back to the Sluice and along the street by the sea. Off onto the headland and along the trail that leads back past the lighthouse. All feeling pretty good, now running around 11’00” per mile and feeling pretty groovy. Passed a few folk and was tickled with the idea that they have no idea how far I’ve come of how far I’m going – therefore any thoughts they might have about my current speed were badly informed.

Popped out into the car park and surprised two Ford Fiestas* of teenage lads; I wouldn’t say I flashed by them, in fact they probably would have had the time to read a pamphlet on basic personal hygiene had I been carrying one, unfolded for just such an occasion.

Along the trail past the lighthouse, and out onto the links – passed a few more runners along this bit, and felt properly athletic as I clomped past. Every time something hurt I slowed down a bit. When the tops of my calves felt a bit weird, I kicked up my legs to stretch the bits inside my legs and they seemed to appreciate the effort.

Down the steps and over the bridge across the stream, down onto the promenade and along the top of the beach – see me, I am athlete (though you won’t hear me roar, sorry). At the skate park, I took the crazy hill of doom to stretch other bits in my legs, and heard one of the young gentlemen exclaim “DUUUUUUUUUUUUDE” – now I’m not sure if he was a-watching me (I like to think so) or if one of his playmates had just completed a somersault on a scooter, but he sounded pretty gee’d up by the whole affair. On reflection, it must have been me, that’s a bit of a steep hill, and I was cocking a snook at the world by ignoring the oh-so-easy steps next to the bank.

Last leg now, along past the Spanish City and onto the top promenade – legs feeling pretty good on my new-found sensible-pace approach. Finished off at just over 9 miles with some wind to spare. At this point I’d have around 4 miles to go in the half marathon – that’s OK, I reckon I could have just about plodded the extra out if I’d had to.

Here endeth the LSR** preparation run for Sunday. Feeling pretty good, and not like death at all. Got home to the salad I’d prepared before heading out and gobbled the fella’ up in a moment.


  • Distance: 9.1 miles
  • Time: 1’31″17
  • Average pace: 10’10” – I’ll take them numbers.
Thats suggests if I can hold that average pace, I should come in around the 2 hour 15 minute mark. I’d be Mr Happy if that happened, especially as I already have the mug to fit…
*The collective noun for groups of young men of a certain age – they were actually in Ford Fiestas too, which helped in the counting.

**LSR – Long Slow Run – that’s runner-talk, that is. Get me.

  1. thebriars says:

    Looks like you’re in good shape PBAB so good luck on Sunday – do the taper, you will benefit from that; it really does help. Based on your 9mile training time I’m challenging you to complete your half in 2h 10m or 9.9min miles avg. Race day will gee you up alot even if the distance slows you down a bit. Go for it.

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