18K & Technicolour Toes

The great wheel of time keeps turning, bringing the looming prospect of my half marathon ever closer. A half marathon is just over 21km (13.1 miles) in distance which (fun fact) is over three times the average migration distance of a Galapagos tortoise (although they complete this in 2-3 weeks…a record I shall hopefully beat in my own endeavour). So far in training, I have mainly been doing speed training, hammering out 5Ks and trying to do a longer run at least once a week (although I’ve been slacking slightly in recent days). However, I hadn’t ran further than 15K, over 6K shorter than the full distance, and so I decided to push myself the other weekend to run a longer distance of 18K.

I planned the route the night before. I like to know where I’m running before I set off as firstly all you have to concentrate on is running and secondly you can’t give up and loop back home (well, you can, but you feel a bit guilty). I had filled my groovy water bottle with Lucozade (mango & passionfruit – nice) to replace the carbohydrates and electrolytes I would be losing as I ran. I had also arranged for my sister to meet me with some water at the approximate halfway point, as it was a pretty hot day and dehydration was not on my to-do list. I set off with confidence but to be honest I wasn’t feeling that great – my stomach was churning slightly and I was concerned whether the stewed plums I had made tartlets with the previous night (and which I had spooned a tiny bit of mould off) had been such a good idea. But 5K in, and not feeling hugely better, I couldn’t exactly turn back, so took a swig of Lucozade and plodded on. By kilometre 7, I think the fresh air and sunshine had worked a little magic and I didn’t feel quite so rubbish. Running-wise, all was groovy too and butterflies flitted around brightly coloured wildflowers in the midday sun. I was passed by quite a few cyclists who were also out enjoying the weather (although sweating significantly less than I).

Just before I reached the 10K mark, I turned onto a busier road that looped around back to Haxby, leaving the fields and flowers behind. In hindsight, running on this road wasn’t a particularly good move and I wouldn’t do it again (but I had mapped it out as 18K exactly and wanted to hit this distance milestone). Before then, although I felt a bit churn-y, my legs were still fresh and I wasn’t particularly out of breath, despite the heat. Now my legs were starting to feel the distance but running down that road was SCARY and to be honest the adrenaline kept me going and not wanting to get squashed by a car kept me alert. A couple of kilometres into this bit, Gem came to meet me and I swapped my bottle for a fresh one, rather like handing over the baton in a relay race.  Just after the woman in my headphones informed me that I had run 13K, I arrived back into civilisation and off the B1363. Before I reached the end of my run, however I had to make a detour to run ‘the Moor’ to make up the full 18K before I arrived back home. It was a bit depressing, as this route is my usually 5K jaunt and I was running quite a lot slower than I’d normally run on it. Saying this, it was also reassuring that I knew exactly how much further I had to run and I finished at a decent pace.

After downing  some water at home, I set off on a cool-down walk around the block to try and get rid of some lactic acid so my legs didn’t hurt too much the next day (this is a good habit to get into after running). Even though I was tired, I wasn’t in too much pain, which was good, but there was a throbbing sensation coming from my left big toe as I walked. Lo and behold, when I removed my shoe, blood had started to blossom under my nail, turning it a deep purple to match the adjacent toenail that had already gone black. Unfortunately, your feet often have to suffer for your running. I had to enlist the help of my Aunt Fiona to release the blood from under the nail to ease the pressure that the nail was under (as it was actually quite painful to walk – it didn’t help that I’d worked an 8hr catering shift after my run). She cheerily informed me as she did so (with a sterilised needle I might add) that they used to do this by poking a red hot paperclip through the nail. I count myself lucky.

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