On Saturday I did my longest run of the year so far – 16.6 miles. It was a pretty decent run. That is the longest run I’ve done for about 10 years.
Portsmouth is an island and one of the things I’d wanted to do was to run around the perimeter of it (where feasible as things such as the dockyard mean that this isn’t entirely possible). So, on Saturday morning I headed out to do just that – run around the island. It also gave me an opportunity to test out some of the kit I will be using during the ultra in July.
I know from experience that the long runs also provide an opportunity to get an idea of the ‘plan b’ if something goes wrong, it isn’t just about covering a certain distance, and there were one or two of those moments on Saturday.
So out I headed to run around the island, the pace at the start was a bit quicker than I had originally anticipated, but I wasn’t overly concerned. Then 1.5 miles in I noticed that the cable from my earphones was starting to get on my nerves a bit as it wasn’t tucked away properly – so a quick stop to sort that out.
Roughly 2.5 miles in and something was irritating my left eye. Again a quick stop to sort that out as best I could and off I go again only to realise it isn’t sorted and after rubbing my eye a bit more my contact lens had come out and had split (thankfully it had all come out). I had a choice to make now – did I head home and pop another lens in or did I carry on. I decided to carry on with the run – if that happens on the day of the ultra I’m not going to have the luxury of sorting that out until I get to an aid station (and is it worth carrying a set of spare contact lenses with me. Is that something I now need to consider doing? Again, what is the ‘plan b’ on the day.) Ironically, the problem with the contact lens happened just as I was passing the statue of Lord Nelson in Old Portsmouth!!!!!!!
My pace comfortable, I was in a decent flow, and it was going well.
I’d decided before I went out that I would walk, briefly take on fluids (and it was the first time I was using my ultra-backpack which has a hydration bladder in it and I can stow away my nutrition and anything I else I need) – again this worked pretty well but I do think I need to be able to take fluids on whilst running (so note to self – practice this on future runs). On the day of the ultra I’m going to need to fill the hydration bladder up at the aid stations and think about taking an additional soft flask to fill with flat coke for the later part of the run (flat coke works absolute wonders – a real pick up and energy boost).
I hit the half marathon mark (13.1 miles) in exactly 2 hours. This is the quickest I’ve covered that distance in training so far. The next 3.5 miles were a little slower, but I had anticipated this and had also decided to slow my pace slightly as well. I tried to push the pace a bit in the last mile and if I’m being honest it was a bit of a struggle. I’m not overly concerned about that at this point in my training though. I finished the 16.6 miles in 2 hours 34 minutes. I was relatively pleased with that and had noted a few things I need to be aware of for longer runs and during the ultra. My focus was brilliant, I just concentrated on moving forwards all the time and not being concerned about anything but moving forwards.
A bit of a mishap after I’d got back. I was waiting for some books to be delivered and just as I was stepping out of the shower the doorbell went. I went rushing across the bathroom floor and slipped landing heavily on my left knee and face-planting onto the floor!!! Ironically, one of the books being delivered was called ‘Bounce’ – not something I did when I went down in a heap!!! The left knee is bruised at the moment, but it won’t stop me from training.
In the past I would have let things like the contact lens and slipping over bug me, but they haven’t, I’ve seen the humour and irony of it and accepted it for what it is.
Doing the run around the island was great and something I can tick off of my training targets for the year. In terms of distance and terrain it was OK. The ultra is being run off-road on trails. All of my training has been done on road. I need to look at some different routes for my longer runs and get on some trails and in order for that to work well I need to be upping the distance to 20 mile upwards for those longer runs – and that is something I’m really looking forward to doing.
Richard Guy, 47 years of age, born and grew up in London and have lived in Portsmouth since 2017.