Today's plan was another long run. I thought I would knock out another 19 miles and Peter would do maybe 23 by us both doing the airport run but him going twice round the loop at the airport. Peter ran 17 miles yesterday but I only ran 5.5 so it was difficult to discern the reasons why it was so damn hard. It started into a middling headwind - the route was planned this way so it would be harder at the beginning and then in theory we'd get blown home.
I started out okay - a bit stiff still from Gordon the Coach's wet hill reps on Wednesday night but easing into it nicely and trying to settle to about 9 minute mile pace. At the time this seemed like a modest goal but further down the line it was totally out of reach.
The path up the side of the River Almond was wildly over-grown and pretty soon I was having to kick my way along through the web of grasses, thistles and stingers that were woven across the path at shin height. At one point I nearly swallowed a whole large bluebottle as it flew straight in my mouth and I had to do some hacking and spitting for quite some time, 1st of all to get the fly out and then to get the thought of the fly out. The latter operation was the more difficult of the two.
Sweat was lashing off me and my legs were feeling hard and inflexible already and I wasn't even at the 10 mile point yet. I did my best to be upbeat about it all and ignore the news my Garmin was trying to give me.
At about 12 miles along Peter came past and looked reassuringly done in too. He had run a good bit yesterday but whatever was happening to him seemed above and beyond mere tiredness. I suspect there was high humidity or something.
As I came out at Granton Square I had to make a decision. I was wobbly by this point and if I went up the hill there was a shop but it was farther home, or if I went straight ahead home was nearer but I wasn't sure I'd make it...So I went up the hill to the Scotmid on Granton road and stood in front of the fridge enjoying the feeling of cold on my legs. Then I bought some cold water and a sweety and trudged up the road disconsolately trying to decide what to do next and trying not to think gloomy thoughts like "This kind of thing is okay on ultramarathon training but not for long runs for marathon training." It didn't really matter if it was okay or not because it was what it was - and I still had to get home.
Inspiration came in the form of spotting a path down to the cycle track on the other side of the road and I realised this would be a good shortcut and trim the distance back home. So I eased into a crochety jog and got on with it.
As I was just getting into the last mile Sandra Rathjen (HBT!) appeared out of nowhere and said "You must be nearly home by now!" "God its hard!" I whined as I shambled along. "Peter isn't far ahead and he's in a similar state. You've nearly killed him." All of this cheered me up considerably so I managed to launch myself into a better pace at least until I was over the wooden bridge and out of sight of fellow runners...
Now we've got a nice evening ahead catching up with some friends we haven't seen properly for years, eating pizza and drinking wine at their house, so nothing to complain about - but I hope this isn't the way all my long runs are going to be for this marathon. I thought last week was bad but this was infinitely worse.