The forecast was poor, but since I was up anyway I thought that if I could get in my long run this Friday that that would leave the whole weekend for Mami and I. Therefore, I decided to put in 20 or 30 kilometres and then, if the conditions really didn’t permit, I could repeat the exercise on Sunday, when, hopefully, the front would have blown by.
It was dark when I began ‘looping’ at 5.10 a.m. It was cold and wet from a previous shower. The first lap you always need to check for conditions afoot. What have the students been up to? Last week there was a roadside fire, and I’d had to dial 111 (the number works on a cellphone). Today the only problem was a couple of smashed bottles outside a notorious address. I pushed a few pieces aside and carried on. I thought I had escaped until right at the end of the run when I felt a prick – had to pluck out a sliver. Then the next day I discovered another embedded chunk of glass, and then a third the day after that. Just grist to the mill, really. Oh, and beware that hump in the road halfway around!
Today’s aim to was to be (otherwise) injury free. A slightly torn calf muscle had limited what I was able to do for the previous two outings – 30 and 20 (or 20 and 30). I wanted today to do the full 12 hours if that was possible, and to crack my best distance of 72 kilometres. I wanted to keep going for the whole period running one-third of the distance (the ‘downward’ 400m and 700m sides of the 1690m ‘C’). That proved possible. I did 31 minutes per loop (equals 46 ½ minutes per 5 kilometres). I got to 77 kilometres in total.
Yes, there was sleet and a freezing wind blew up. But I wore the tights that I’d bought the week before – my first – and I wore my floppy track pants over them. I used my Goretex jacket when it was really foul. A woman called out, “Are you mad?” I think that I was. I risked cold burn on my feet – they definitely tingled when I finally took my shower. Apart from the glass I developed a blood blister on the side of my right big toe. But, perhaps because of a 10-second stretch every lap, or maybe because I’m improving, I felt better than previously. The only thing was a touch of tendonitis across the top of my left foot. Also, a slight gout-type of lingering pain in my big toe(s).
As for my plans for next time: I shan’t leave my race on the road. For the next six weeks I want to train towards the next half marathon in Christchurch in June. Therefore, I want to do at least three 10-kilometre runs per week, timing the occasional one (from 48 down to, say, 43 minutes). Also I'll complete the odd 'long' run, from an hour to an hour and a half. My next ultra training run will be in July, and then another in August. Thereafter comes the September half. Then it’s the Outram 10 in October. And then in November I fly up to Auckland . . . Not many chances to overtrain, therefore. But Osler says that the training you do for a marathon is enough, physically, for an ultra, as long as you train mentally for going the full (Monty) 24 hours (“Are you mad?”).
Along the way I was solving simultaneous equations in my head. I want to do 160 kilometres, and I expect to have to walk the last hours. Okay, so trace a line back from (24, 160) with a slope of 5 (the speed I can rely on managing).
y = 5x + 40
If I can keep going at 8 km/h pace for the first part of the race, I get another line:
y = 8x
Solve them simultaneously and you find the intersection point at the point: (13.33, 106.7)
Nifty! All I need to do is keep it up for the first half and then walk – if I need to – the rest, or push on and go for the limit, 192 kilometres. That would put me up in the medals! However, I think that realistically the sole wear or muscle breakdown would get me before then. How to achieve 8 kilometres per hour? Well, just increase the ratio of running to walking. I run at 11 kilometres per hour and walk at 5, I need to be running for half the time. I'll train on the track for up to six hours, walking two laps and then jogging four.
I've been in touch with Tom Osler, and in light of what he writes (and wrote) I'll consider sweetened tea. Other snippets of interest: I thought I'd dropped my gloves and searched for them for 8 hours, then discovered them in the back of the car! I actually did drop my jacket, but someone draped it over a fence. There was a fantastic semi-circular rainbow, but it signalled the start of the bad weather. The batteries of the Walkman that I had bought for 50 cents, still with the original batteries, finally ran flat. In the distance I saw two women pick stuff off the ground. It turned out to be mushrooms under the trees I'd run beside for many hours - I'd missed them! And I'm usually so observant!
And finally, I discovered a half-eaten muesli bar, setting off a train of thought.
- Food is so plentiful these days that people hardly value it
- People have no sense of the future (when they'll feel like another half bar)
- People realise that junk food is just junk
- People have less respect for the environment, and so they litter
And for the record - of course I picked it up and polished it off! (all except for the end bit, which I broke off and threw at a bird).