I was dreading this week’s 9 miler from the Monday. The furthest I’ve ever run was 8 miles (interval running, earlier this year). After having such a great 8 mile run in Zürich last week, I was sure I wouldn’t be able to have another great run, 1 mile further than I’ve even ran non-stop before. The run Gods would not be that kind to me, would they…?!

My training plan had an easy 4 miles scheduled for Tuesday. I decided to run into work to kill two birds with one stone and get her done. I was running with a backpack full of stuff (and not one of those ergonomically supportive bags that are designed for running, either…haven’t decided if I’m going to invest in one of those) so I was expecting it to be a little slow and groggy; it was 630 in the morning after all. I surprised myself though and ran at a pace 9’39 – woop! I’m getting faster :o). I cheated a little and ran 3.1 instead of 4.0, but I read in article by Hal Higdon that if you don’t do the full distance it’s not a disaster…so I’m going to listen to him on that one. Just won’t make it a habit, s’all.

Thursday was a quick & dirty speed training run – 1.6 miles in total, 5x200m + 5x100m sprints. I was sprinting at 16 kph on the treadmill and feeling very much like I was Usain Bolt (ha). Needless to say I enjoy shorter training runs. Gimme some sprinting any day.

For the rest of the week I had pre-run dread. Sunday’s 9 miler loomed over me like a dark cloud for the next two days. I really wasn’t looking forward to it; I hadn’t even planned my route! On Saturday night I had a stroke of genius and decided that I would run the Royal Parks (Kensington Park Gardens, Hyde Park etc) and around the Royal Borough. Then I had another stroke of genius and decided to actually run with my colleague who was also training for the half marathon. A fresh route + a running buddy would make the 9 miles better, right?

We met on Sunday morning at 9am outside Hyde Park Corner and set of around the perimeter of the park, heading towards Marble Arch. The first two miles of any run are always really tough for me as I have to break through a mental block, but yesterday everything felt extra hard. I felt unfit and sluggish, and it was so busy in the park – there were a number of other runners out. I knew I was running quite slow; Nike+ told me my first mile was at a pace of 10’45, so this really dampened my motivation. Additionally, the sun was beating down hard and I was sweating already; quite unusual for me as I don’t typically perspire quickly.
By mile 3, doom and gloom had already set in and I was already thinking – I cannot wait for this to be over.

We ran through Hyde Park into Kensington Park Gardens which is really quite pretty, and in the sun looked extra quite breathtaking and sparkly.  As neither of us really knew the area we had no idea where we were running. Our route took us down Earls Court Road, Kensington High Street, and Holland Park Road…Which lead to an impromptu hill – Notting Hill to be exact, which isn’t too steep but is at least a steady 1.5 mile incline from Holland Park. Throughout the run I had numerous cramps and stitches (female problems) so my pace was a bit all over the place (sorry Tom!). I find long runs are quite mentally taxing – some miles I’m on a high and some miles I’m on a low; it feels quite emotionally draining. I pushed through and trudged on and we circled back after the Hill and made our way into Bayswater, cutting back into Kensington Park Gardens and doing another 3k (including running past the Peter Pan statue!) before a sprint finish (by Tom) ending in front of the Albert Memorial. I was SO happy to be done – the runners high over-swept me and I revelled in the glory of running 9 miles. Luckily there was a little café/pop-up shop and we were able to get some water. It was at least 22 degrees by that time and I was THIRSTY. Stretched, watered and apple in hand, we were done.

I find it quite unbelievable, I cannot believe my body and mind is capable of doing such things. Eeep :o)

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(#Relfie – run selfie)

Tuesday – another RunCommute of 3.1 miles. Standard
Thursday – 1.6 miles of speed, Usain Bolt style. Loved it.
Friday – 9 miles in the Royal Borough. Hot, hard, and quite tough.

Next week is 11 miles. I don’t even want to think about it.

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