Yesterday was my last EVER long training run! I am officially on taper now, which will involve eating Easter Eggs, cajoling my mother around a parkrun, bothering my physio repeatedly and a shedload of Downward Dogs.
Once again things did not go to plan as I woke with the onset of a cold and the sound of absolutely pissing rain outside. I had imagined that I would be doing my longest runs on beautiful mild spring days, but with the exception of the one I did in the Royal Parks, they’ve all been shit! It was a race against time, would the rain stop before my nose became too snuffly to go anywhere? I sat at my window, watching the rain fall and fall, like it would never stop, and eventually it reached the last possible moment for me to leave the house and still get to my destination before it got dark, so off I plodded, muttering obscenities under my breath.
This time I decided to go for 2 minutes running/30 seconds walking instead of 4 mins/1 min and I think this was a better ratio. It really does feel weird taking a walk break when you have barely got going (and I think on marathon day I might not for the first few km, not least because I’ll get in people’s way and cause a pile up) but after 5km I was used to it and after 10 I was very glad of it! The first 10km was my usual running route, through Walthamstow Wetlands to Tottenham Hale, down the Lee Canal, Walthamstow and Hackney Marshes and into the Olympic Park. Even though the rain had eased off, it had left some huge puddles and parts of the path were totally waterlogged. I tried to keep my feet dry by walking along the kerb at the water’s edge but then nearly slipped and landed in the canal so decided wet feet would be better than an impromptu swim. By the time I reached the Olympic Park my feet were soaked and I spent ten minutes attempting to dry my socks in a handdryer.
Next it was on to uncharted territory, the canal beyond Stratford! I followed it through Bow and into the Limehouse Cut. Unfortunately, the Limehouse Cut path was even more waterlogged than the path back in Walthamstow, and my socks got totally saturated once more. It was really quite unpleasant and my feet were getting very sore, with a blister forming at the top of my foot.
I decided to abandon the canal and started running the streets of Limehouse which of course got me totally lost. I was trying to get on to the Isle of Dogs but there are a lot of confusing things, tunnels, staircases, etc in the way.
Eventually I found where I was going and followed the Thames Path round the Isle of Dogs to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. This is a very different section of the Thames Path from my last run. It is all paved with flats and houses next to it, and a view of Industrial Stuff the other side of the river. I reached 21.1km in Island Gardens and I was rather pleased and surprised to note that at 2 hours 54, it was my second fastest half marathon ever – faster than any of those when I had tried to run the whole way and failed, but still nineteen minutes slower than the one occasion when I tried to run the whole way and succeeded.
I walked through the tunnel as there were a lot of people there and when I came out at Greenwich I decided to do something about my soggy socks. Unfortunately, the only shop I could find that sold socks was Superdrug, and they only had the type that are made out of tights material. But at least they were dry! I have to say they weren’t very comfortable at all, very shiny and unfriendly to my raw feet.
The rest of my journey was down the “Waterlink Way” which is a network of paths vaguely following the Ravensbourne and Pool rivers from Deptford to Sydenham. Unfortunately I found this to be a bit stop-starty and poorly signposted and given that I was a bit exhausted and had lost my sense of direction I spent most of the time running with Google Maps on my phone in my hand and kept missing the buzz of the run/walk timer so everything went to pot a bit. Then at Ladywell the battery on my Aftershokz Sportz earphones (which according to their website is supposed to last twelve hours) went flat and this, combined with the growing blister on my foot, the fact it was getting dark and the fact that I’d added several kilometres anyway by getting lost repeatedly made me think that I was not actually going to get all the way to my mother’s house in Beckenham and that I should call it a day in Catford. So this is what I did. The total distance was just under 28km, and this actually took less time than my 27km last week, even with the wet feet and getting lost to content with, so I am cautiously hopeful of a six-hour finish in the marathon.
Now it’s time to put my feet up and enjoy the taper!