More Than Halfway There

Today's run: 13.5 miles / 21.73 km in 2:45:00. 
Injury check: All the injury are belong to me.
Support crew: Rob on bike.

This was a tough one. For no discernible reason, this was markedly tougher than last week's long run. I was struggling even before the 12 mile point, so it wasn't the extra 1.5 miles that made it so much harder. 
My salubrious warm-up zone.
In a car park. But in the sun.

We even started out in the sun, so I can't blame it on the weather either

For variety, this was a single direction run (rather than out-and-back): I started out by getting the train down to St Albans, met up with Rob, and then began the run back up to Luton. 'Up' as in northwards, but also 'up' as in gaining elevation, as Luton is on higher ground than St Albans (see map). 

It did give us variety but my route planning was exceptionally rubbish and we ended up travelling along a good two miles of 60mph roads that had no footpath beside them... Consequently there was a little bit of off-roading here and there, which was much easier for me than for my road bike-riding training partner:

Road bike tyre has an argument with sharp stone. Loses.
While Rob was fixing his punctured tyre, I headed off across a farmer's field alone. Temporarily without my support crew, I resorted to singing to distract myself (Don McLean's American Pie is a good one - several minutes long if you know all the verses). This was also the point at which I met the big hill in the middle of the route - and I actually managed to run all the way up it (yay!). Well, I couldn't make it easy for Rob to catch up, could I?

It wasn't long before he did, of course, and we moved onto the second half of the run, which was mostly along the Harpenden to Luton cycle path. It was quite picturesque at points and the weather was actually fairly spring-like. 

It was all going pretty well and I was making good time, but eventually my various injuries and niggles started playing up and slowing me down. There was a bit of walking. My lowest point in this run was around 10 miles when I was hit with a sudden tightness in my chest and again I had to slow to a walk for a while, breathing deeply. This was rather annoying, as I've been ok to date cardio-wise, even when my legs were failing me.

By this point, of course, my legs were beginning to fail me (and feet, and toes...) and the last couple of miles were an effort to push through. Rob kept me going, especially with the final half-mile countdown. And then he called me a taxi to get me home! This was another consequence of my poor route planning: we finished the 13.5 mile route a good two miles from home. Which I could have walked, but by this point it would have taken me a long, limping time. 

The good points I'm taking from today are: 
1. This is further than I have to run for the half marathon in two weeks' time.
2. I've mastered the art of finding my pace and sticking at it for a long time: when I found my stride it felt good, even at the painful end of the run.
3. I have the best support crew ever.

I am also really looking forward to next week's long run, which is a slight wind down before the Reading Half and is therefore only ~75 minutes long. 
Yes, I can now actually say 'only' about a 75 minute run. Never thought that would happen.

Injury roll call:
> Bad knee - no pain during, post-run achey hurt.
> Good knee - twinges during.
> Right ankle - all fine :-)
> Toe - popped the blister midweek, strapped the toe up today but still had some pain near the end of the run. Post-run unwrapping reveals nail to be bruised and tender but no blister this week.
> Left foot - arch started hurting around 3 miles; stretched it out and carried on and it gradually faded. Post-run inspection identifies a large bruise across most of the arch. New sports insoles ordered immediately. 

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