Now for the tale of the last truly long run before Paris. Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin.
The plan called for 22 miles at somewhere between 8:18 and 9:11 pace, but as with all my long runs I fine tuned it a little.
Earlier this week I'd decided to do 22.25, simply because 2 weeks ago I'd done 22.10 By yesterday I'd upped that to the rounder figure of 22.50 as that would mean the 0.4m extra (compared to the last) would be 1/8 of the remaining miles to a full marathon distance.
As I approached halfway today I changed that again, to 22.67, and then at about 21.5 I changed it for the final time to 23 miles - simply because I felt good.
Pace wise the plan was to run slower than last time (when I'd averaged 8:19 a mile but struggled from 20 miles), by getting to something like 20 miles at just over 8:30 pace and then running the last 2 miles at 8:00 a mile.
In the event the numbers altered a little but the overall principle remained.
Route & Conditions
I started right from the centre of Leeds, at the very beginning of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, and ran along the towpath until just before the town of Shipley.
Conditions under foot were good - no puddles, very little mud and pretty good path all the way.
It was dry, cloudy, with a strongish breeze.
I set off as planned and kept pretty much to target pace until after halfway. If anything at this point I was averaging a few seconds slower per mile than anticipated, clocking 8:38 a mile on average by 11.25 miles.
I decided then to try and knock the average down by 1 second per mile by very gradually getting faster until 20 miles so that I'd then be marginally ahead of target at 8:30 a mile before the final marathon pace push.
I was spot on for this when I hit 12 miles, and a little ahead by 13 but without any conscious effort I was speeding up more than anticipated and a few miles followed with the pace fluctuating between 8:07 and 8:15.
This trend continued with mile 18 close to marathon pace, then mile 19 came in a decent chunk under marathon pace.
The risk was that this pace would mean I'd blow up in the last miles but I really did feel good and decided to roll with it. Next three miles still comfortably under target marathon pace and still not a sniff of the wall or of anything to impact pace so from 21 miles I decided to push just a fraction harder so that the last 2 miles were completed at half marathon pace.
I could definitely have carried on - no question.
Look away any Vegetarians/Vegans/Clean Eaters/Opponents of American cultural and economic imperialism...
...in the absence of a recovery drink I called in at the drive through of a well known chain of 'restaurants' and had a Big Mac, medium fries and a bottle of orange juice.
By the time I got in I can't say I felt overly stiff and certainly didn't feel the aches or mental fatigue that followed the last long run. My guess is that means I got the fuelling right before and during the run.
Right now I feel a little worn out but nothing excessive -about what I'd expect form a 13/14 mile run rather than 23 miles.Plus Points & Learning Points
OK, I recognise that much of the run was done at a slow pace but the bottom line is I got to 23 miles feeling very strong and running well under target pace at that point.
I took a fraction more water and that helped, and I started on the Shot Bloks much earlier which will have helped me avoid feeling drained late on.
I've also decided from this run that I will wear the 2xu calf guards (and sod what I look like) and will also wear the Skins compression shorts, simply because they prevent any chaffing. I'll also run in my Nike shoes rather than the Saucony race shoes.
The Shot Bloks worked well in terms of effect but weren't easy to eat on the move. Imagine trying to eat three 3/4 inch cubes of very, very chewy jelly - it wouldn't be easy to consume them while a little out of breath as it blocks the mouth for a minute or two, plus they need water. I'll test some SiS gels next week then may go with a mix of both on the day.
I'd hoped to keep moving all the way but stopped for a pee twice on the way out and once on the way back, stopped for 30 seconds or so for my last two gels (as I couldn't put the water bottle back in my belt while moving) and for 10 seconds or so each way when I dropped something (pack of Shot Bloks on the way, a drinks bottle top on the way back). By the end though I was 2 miles 'overdue' for my next gel so that was another positive.
Overall I feel very positive.