Caught Short On The Long Run

As ever when you’re training for a running event, the weekend is all about the Long Slow Run.  Only after I started training for the London Marathon and doing the lab test did I realise that I’ve never run the LSR slow enough!  With the distances required for the marathon I’ve had to discipline myself to keep it steady.  Today was due to be my longest ever run but it didn’t quite go as I expected.

My schedule for this weekend was a 17 mile run.  Until December I hadn’t run more than 13.1 miles and though I managed a couple of 15 milers in December, my foot niggle in January meant I had to drop my distance so this was set to be a big challenge.

A trip to London yesterday for the London Marathon #MeetTheExperts day was just what I needed: a reminder about how awesome the London Marathon is and lots of inspiration to get out there and train hard.  So with that in mind, I was excited as I set off on my mission.

I’d sussed out that I needed to string a route taking in a loop of some of the local villages to clock up the 17 miles.  Setting off from Witney, I took in North Leigh, Freeland, Eynsham, Sutton before skirting Stanton Harcourt and then turning to head back to Witney.

What I’ve failed to tell you is that after passing through Freeland I started really needing a wee.  It wasn’t too bad but I’d only just covered 11k so wasn’t even at half way yet so I carried on.

As you’d expect, the requirement for relief only grew and by the time I started sizing up hedgerows there was an accompanying tummy gurgle.  Oh dear.  No amount of hedgerow is going to help me sort that out.

Ok, so it was time to examine the options:

A. Turn right at Eynsham and head back to Witney?

No – it’d be the best part of 9k which would be too far to make it home “safely” and also result in my long run being far too short.

B. Maybe I could use the Evenlode pub toilets?

It’s before 10am on a Sunday, there’s no chance there’ll be anyone there, let alone be open.

C. Turn back to the home of the African Children’s Fund monthly quiz, the Oxfordshire Yeoman pub in Freeland?

Ditto option B.

D. Knock on some unsuspecting persons front door and ask them for a favour?

To be honest, would I appreciate a knock on the door at 10am on a Sunday from a strange wanting to “take the kids to the pool”.  I don’t think so.

Hedgerow then?  Don’t be stupid.  Think fast Wymer, you haven’t got all day!

And as I turned out of Cuckoo Lane onto the A40, it hit me – the Esso garage!  Surely that must have a toilet.  Or has it?  Yes!  The sign says “Services” AND “WC”.  What a relief.  Ooh, hang on – don’t relax just yet!

I allowed myself to pick up the pace for the extra 500 yards needed and I crossed the forecourt, entered the shop and sussed the lavvy location in one smooth motion.

Obviously, what goes on in the toilet, stays in the toilet but let me tell you: it wasn’t pleasant, in more than one way.

So after my unscheduled pitstop I set off again feeling lighter, fresher and a lot less tense!  My little detour meant I was now at half way so it was time to find my rhythm again and get back to business.

I’d chosen to attempt the 17 miles with no gels and no water.  I wanted to test myself, especially in relation to carbs.  My lab test at the end of last year confirmed that my body didn’t like to go to the bother of using fat as a fuel source and instead like the lazy option of switching to carbs pretty much straight away.  As a result I wanted to see how I’d cope with no gels, on top of my normal morning run approach of no breakfast (and no, I’m not intending on no breakfast on marathon day – practice for that starts next week).

The water was a bit of a lazy decision – I never drink during 10k races and rarely drink during halfs – and I don’t like carrying a bottle.  At this time of day at this time of year it’s not too big a problem but it was interesting to see my heart rate rise over the second half of the run despite pace staying steady, or perhaps even dropping slightly.  I wonder how much was just my body having to work harder as it got tired and how much was dehydration?

My first ever 17 miler - with an unscheduled pitstop!
My first ever 17 miler – with an unscheduled pitstop!

Now that I’ve conquered 17 miles I will be using long runs to try out my in-race refuelling strategy for taking on carbs and fluids.  It’s the only way I can be on top form come race day.  A race day that is now only 11 weeks away!

And on that note I’d like to remind you all that I’m not just running my first ever marathon to tick it off some sort of life list; I’m running it to raise money for African Children’s Fund – a very small charity, doing great things with incredibly small amounts of money in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe to help children be children and receive an education that will help them secure a better future.

With just 7p providing a portion of porridge to encourage a child to attend school and to learn on a full stomach, you could help 100 children by donating £7.  Or perhaps you’d like to feed a child for a year?  £17.50 will give that child a portion every school day for a year.  If that’s too much, £5 supplies a girl with pants and sanitary towels so she doesn’t miss one week in four due to her periods.  Why not set up a direct debit of £5 a month to provide ongoing support for that girl?

There are loads of charities out there doing very worthy things but few are able to do so much with so little.  With a glass of wine or a pint of beer rapidly approaching £5 (around here anyway) I’m sure you could have one less drink this week and donate the money here instead:

If you can’t afford to donate please help me by sharing this blog post and my fundraising link.

Thank you!


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