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100-mile challenge: Week 7

December 11, 2011

After last week’s relatively poor show, I was back on the mileage wagon this week. And having benefitted from unseasonably warm weather, spending more time outside coincided with a distinct turn towards the chilly scale.

Rather than running last Sunday, I spent the evening trying to fix an annoying slow puncture on my bike. Bike oil, banging around and foul language ensued until the inner tube had been removed, the hole located and patched up, the inner tube slotted back in, the tyre returned and the rear wheel knocked back into place. So it was a little more than irksome to get back downstairs in the morning to find my rear wheel fully deflated.

So, although Monday morning meant reacquainting myself with the rush-hour tube, it provided a good opportunity to run a looping 11.75 miles first along the Thames before cutting back at Vauxhall Bridge, heading inland at St Pauls to Bank (briefly considering whether to pop by the Occupy London movement, if they were still there) and then heading up through Shoreditch, Dalston, Stoke Newington and Stamford Hill before arriving back in Seven Sisters.

A bit of forward planning meant that I’d left a few spare changes of clothes at work on Monday, so Tuesday was a double-run day, with an extension over Tower Bridge and back up the long, straight road to Seven Sisters, clocking up a day’s total of 15.6 miles. A good start to the week, then.

Wednesday was always going to be a rest day as I was in the valleys around Cardiff for some filming. I could have run that day, but my legs felt like they needed a rest, and the kind of hill-work I’d have found in that environment would have been killing.

And so to Thursday. While Scotland was being battered with 60mph winds, London was being dusted with relatively sedate 18mph winds. No matter the relative clear weather in the capital, the outward stretch of my 10-miler along the Thames, through Battersea and back to Holborn through Chelsea and Westminster was brutal. With considerable effort I was able to keep my outbound mile splits around 6:52, but the moment I had the wind to my back the splits dropped to around 6:35. I got back to the office soaked, though, after a short, sharp, cold downpour hit me on the final mile. (Not that it mattered, since my inner tube had miraculously healed itself and I was able to cycle home… only to find that I’d put my bike wheel on slightly wonky so my tyre was rubbing against the bike frame, giving me an extra resistance workout.)

For the sake of simplicity, I opted for a commuter double-run on Friday, feeling the burn in my legs on the way to work and running alongside my cycling girlfriend on the way back. (That is to say that my girlfriend was cycling, not that I have multiple girlfriends defined solely by sporting activities.) I clocked up 12.85 miles to add to my week’s total.

All of which left me with 30 miles to run at the weekend. A sunny-but-chilly Saturday presented a perfect run down to Limehouse and back, clocking 17.5 miles at 6:51 pace. Having felt particularly pleased to both bust the 2-hour mark for my regular long run and sustain sub-3 marathon pace for that distance, I woke the next morning feeling a little stiffer in the legs than would have been ideal. My Sunday 12.5 miles (all I needed to cap off the week’s total) was a rather slow and hard affair back down the Lee Valley Towpath.

So, in summary, 80 miles in the bank this week. Next week I’m taking it easy to rest my legs and prepare for the one last push. Speaking of which, I realised today that Christmas falls on a Sunday. I need to work out how I’m going to get enough runs into the week to make the total, which may involve moving the boundary of the final week so it starts next Sunday. I also need to improve my recovery after long runs to make the combination of long runs more manageable.

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