The stiffness eased last week and by Tuesday all that was left was a little stiffness in the outer quads - a legacy of running fast down steep hills I was unused to - but I missed Tuesday's running club session. I got in at 7pm after a 12 hour round trip for a meeting; it was cold, wet, windy and not at all tempting for running.
Instead I went out on Wednesday morning for a little over 7 miles. I went out with no particular plan but ended up averaging 9.15mm after running the last 3 miles at tempo pace. Afterwards I felt good.
I planned to do a couple of miles on Thursday but a heavy workload put paid to that so my second and final run of the week was Saturday's 16 mile LSR.
For the first time I did a LSR in shorts, Skins compression shorts and road shoes - the weather had improved and I wanted to get used to running in Paris gear. The shorts worked a treat in staying put and preventing chaffing and the lighter road shoes felt lighter and free-er than clunky trail/road hybrids.
The run itself was mixed again. I ran a more even pace with 10:31 being my slowest mile and 9:21 the quickest, both a contrast with the previous week's 11:20 and 8:45. The blister re-asserted it's presence after 9 miles and at around 12 and again in the last mile it felt like I was tired and having to push myself more than I expected. That said, my overall pace was 9:54 - only 6s a mile slower than the previous week and at the end I felt more energetic. A particular plus was that after the cold bath my legs felt absolutely fine - no stiffness or even tiredness and yesterday's massage revealed fewer knots than 3 weeks previously.
On the one hand the idea of adding 10.2 miles on to that was frightening but on the other I wonder if the fatigue at the end is part psychological - simply from knowing it is the end. Speed of recovery suggests I wasn't by any means wiped out. I ought to also remember that whilst I was expecting an easy run compared to 20 miles, a 16 mile run is still a pretty big undertaking.
At the moment I'm planning on doing Paris at about 10:10/10:15mm pace. That would see me home in under 4hrs 30 mins and the slower pace, aided and abetted by carb loading (as opposed to dieting!), weight loss, lighter kit, atmosphere, taper etc should limit the likelihood of me blowing up in the last 6.2 miles.
After a couple of stagnant weeks the weight fell off a bit last week with my weight by the middle/end of the week falling to 12st 8.8lb. A huge curry on Saturday and then a trip to the cinema (popcorn, choc ice) followed by lots of home made flapjacks on Sunday reversed that a bit but with two and a half weeks of dieting to go I'm confident I can go below the target I set myself at the start of the year - to be below 12st 7lb by Paris.
In fact, my only concern is the damn blister. Its a huge thing that burst on Saturday to reveal red, angry skin beneath. Its dressed with a Compeed dressing but still hurts under pressure and if I'm not careful I walk on the outside of my left foot to avoid discomfort. Hopefully its on the mend beneath the dressing and in 4 days time and the last 20 mile LSR it'll be ok. There'll then be 3 weeks for it to heal nicely pre-Paris.
This quiet confidence is unsettling...