Saturday was the second long run of my training for the Clyde Stride Ultra Marathon. 26 miles… Glasgow to Greenock along the national cycle network route 75, and I figured I might as well round it up to a marathon distance.
It would be my 3rd marathon in 8 months…and I was really keen to try and learn from my first two marathons. I wanted to try and really consider my pace better and slow it down a bit.
The last two marathon distances I ran, I ran too quickly for the first maybe 20 miles and died towards the end. My pace maybe only changed by about a minute a mile for the last 6 or so miles, but it made the runs hard and this time I wanted to try and start slower and finish strongly if possible. I also wanted to practice running a bit slower than normal at about 8:30 – 9:00 min mile pace over a long distance.
So my target for each mile was 8:30 – 9:00 min miles and I hoped that I would stay strong throughout, and maybe even finish stronger?! I didn’t set myself an overall time target (my pb is 3:40), as I like to set my pace target and if achieving or exceeding that means I get a pb, then so be it. It takes the pressure off and lets you feel good every mile you achieve your target.
I got up just after 6am on Saturday, keen to do the run and free up the rest of the day for normal weekend stuff.
Energy for the long run
I had a bowl of porridge, toast and a caffeine lucozade. My plan for energy on the run was as follows:
I’ve read that on Ultramarathons you should (stop and) take on board food… so I tried out mashed potatoes and oats last week… and although they were every cheap to make, they didn’t taste too good so I thought I’d try an energy bar or two. Mule bars have about 45g of carbs and 250 calories which I thought would be good to keep me going.
This week I stopped 10 miles in and ate a pinacolada mule bar. 47g of carbs, 254 calories… should keep me going I thought. I bit into it and it was tough to eat. It was sweet and actually quite tasty, but it was quite heavy and there was far too much. I didn’t fancy trying to eat the mango one as planned at 20 miles. I ate the whole pinacolada mule bar, and decided if I had them in future I’d cut them in half to eat (at 10, 20 and 30 mile intervals).
Once I started running again, I felt kind of watery mouth coming on… I didn’t feel sick as such, but just had a watery mouth like things weren’t quite right. Very odd.
My first two regular SIS Energy gels went down fine at 5 and 16 miles in. I warmed them up in my hand 2-3 miles before I had them and they scooshed nicely into my mouth. They have a mild berry taste and I’m sure I get a hit from the caffeine – and if I don’t, I think I do (placebo) so I’m sticking with them. I can get them for £1.40 each from Cotswolds and I’m pretty pleased with them.
At about 21 miles in I took on my new test of trying out the maxifuel lemon and lime energy gel and I really wished I hadn’t bothered. It has the right amount of energy but the flavour was really strong… and horrible. I couldn’t wait to finish it and wash it down with water. Yuk!! I have a mixed berry one too and I have a feeling it will be horrible too.
I had a litre and a half of water in my water pack which I carried and drank most of on the run. Then when I finished I was sure to take on a Cherry Lucozade, a Mars bar milkshake, some cashew nuts and a banana over about the space of an hour. Lunch was Seabass and Veg then a chinese Chicken Satay at night.
Anyway back to the run.
I left the flat at 7am…ran along to Plantation Park and over the motorway towards Pollock Park. My calves felt tight and my first mile was unusually slow for me (8:55). It was still within 9:00 min miles so I was quite happy.
I had a caffeine gel in my hand, two on my arm in a nike arm band for easy access and anything else I needed (along with my water) in my water pack). We had parked my car at Greenock Central the night before so all of the stuff I needed for after the run was there waiting for me (fleece, warm clothes, lucozade, food, etc). All I needed to do was run there!
As I ran I noticed my pace was getting slightly quicker and by 4 miles in I was at a comfortable steady pace (8:20 – 8:30). At two miles I ran through Pollock Park and Stanley (the squirrel) popped by to say hello. It was the only time I saw him on the run, but it was nice of him to say hello. 😉
I knew the route up to and just past Paisley. Nice and flat along the cycle path. It took me about 5 miles to really get into it though. I was saying my new phrase to myself… ‘Easy, Light, Strong’ and it seemed to be working. I’d done 10k in about 50 minutes. Nice and steady.
The route was pretty flat until about half way (1:50ish I think), then although I didn’t really notice much, the route climbed up until about mile 21 (at Port Glasgow). I felt strong from mile 5 onwards and was splitting the run into sections usually by looking at the cycle network signs to see where the next town or village was… 5 miles, 10 miles, 16 miles, 21 miles, 25 miles…
It was nice running the section between Johnstone and Kilmacolm as I’d run this with Julie Ann in my marathon training. The scenery is nice and its nice and flat with lots of wee features along the way.
I remember being at mile 17 and it was 8:31 – I was pleased I was managing a steady pace, then mile 18 and it was 8:29, 19 was 8:28. I was so chuffed that I was sticking to a pace strategy and still feeling good. I figured I could probably push it for the last 5 – 6 miles.
I managed to run a really steady pace between miles 5 – 21 (8:30 ish) then at mile 21 I decided I would try and let go. I had a feeling I’d finished the climb and I was pretty sure the path down to Greenock (and the Clyde) would be pretty much downhill from there on in.
Mile 22 was 7:45. 23 was 7:44, then a little uphill included in mile 24 meant that mile was 8:01 but I was still feeling really good. Only 2 and a bit miles (20 ish) minutes to go. With two miles to go my garmin showed 3:23, two 8:00 minute miles would get me in at the same time I finished my last marathon (3:40).
I might not get a pb, but this run was much better… a negative split with a strong finish. 🙂 The downhills of 21 – 25 were killers… really hard on my quads… pounding down… I was trying to let the hills and gravity take me and allow me to ease off and relax, but it was pretty tough at points on my legs. I guess doing hills is better than running on flats afterall. Up and down both good.
I got to Greenock Central station where my car was, with about a mile to go before I’d completed the marathon distance. So I ran a little into the town centre and back. All good. 😀 I walked around a bit at the train station car park, stretched and drank my recovery lucozade and milkshake.
I finished the run (not including the stop at 10 miles in) in 3:38:12 (elapsed time 3:43:36). My pace when I was running was on average 8:19 or 7.2mph. I felt really good after it. Really pleased that I’d managed to remain strong. Perhaps the downhills at the end helps, but I had needed to climb to the top of the hill before that and had a steady pace, so I was really pleased.
Run: 26.2M, 3:38:12, Pace: 8:19, 7.2 mph, Calories: 2611.
Ave HR: 155 (78%), Max HR: 172 (87%)
See my splits for my 3 marathon distances above (or here for more detail). I’m really chuffed with the Glasgow to Greenock run… and the best bit is… the it’s the next day and I’m not even all that sore. I just have that reassuring hint of delayed onset muscle soreness in pain in my quads and that’s about it!!