Operation Big Smoke: Week 10, Session 1 – 20mi Long Run inc Half Marathon @ MP

It’s amazing how much content for a training session blog post you think of whilst running along – then the sum total of how hard the session is, combined with how long after the session the blog post is written will ultimately dictate how much of that content is actually remembered. In this case the session was exhausting – so drained was I by the end of the run that even walking was exceedingly uncomfortable and I relied on the patented McCarkiss AutoPilot to drive me home, several night’s sleep later and my memory of the session is somewhat blurred… although I do has a pulsating strong aching sensation coming from my right lower leg/ankle area to remind me how hard the session was, and that aside I always manage to write an essay to describe the most basic of sessions.

The session was originally planned to be a weekend half marathon race (15th/16th March) at Marathon pace with additional mileage to make a total 20mi session, but a dash clash with the Midland Road Relays meant pulling the session forward into the week was the only feasible option (that, or forget the session entirely). Bizarrely, ‘marathon pace’ in training is still 5:42/mi (2:30 pace), which seems a little overkill for the planned 2:40 ‘Big Smoke’ jog – however more closely resembles the sort of pace we should be working towards, and truth be told, the original ‘Operation Big Smoke’ target. With approximately 2hrs of daylight available after work, I calculated the session would take approximately 2:00:36… and I decided I could probably survive the final 36seconds without daylight thanks street lighting in the car park.

The session started with a 5mi easy pace jog being a slight downward slope I’d targeted 6:45/mi for this, but struggled to slow the pace sufficiently without running unnaturally and the first section of the 5mi was completed at 6:21/mi pace, which brought me to the lowest elevation point on the entire route… the next 13.1 undulating miles would eventually bring me to the highest point on the route. Given the gradual climb, target pace early on wasn’t reached, and the hip area seemed to begin tightening similar to during the Reading Half, but persistence/ignorance paid off and gradually I settled into a rhythm closer to target pace.

The route took me over my old stomping ground – encapsulating much of the route that used to be my standard 5-6mi ‘easy’ run. As my lungs were engulfed in the potent air from agricultural slurry it was pleasing to think I was wombling along on a 20mi marathon pace training run at pace as fast as (if not faster than) I used to bust a gut at when training at threshold pace or half marathon pace efforts – This MCKEP malarkey really has developed me as athlete and brought me to the fittest I’ve ever been*

*subject to confirmation through being reflected in race results.

Heavy legs continued throughout the session and the final miles saw a climb past my old house and running towards a glowing orange setting sun whilst taking in lungfuls of the pesticide being sprayed in the adjacent crop field. Finally on some flat ground the pace picked up to finish the 13.1mi in 1:15:14 (5:45/mi pace). I flopped to the floor such was the relief at being able to ease off from the target pace, and after a few moments respite, set about getting my sorry ass back to the car. Every footstep was now incredibly uncomfortable – even at walking pace, and this continued all the way back to the car.

Session done… I’m incredibly satisfied with the effort… though fear legs will now be destroyed for the rest of this high mileage week,a nd likely into next week too (this has so far proven to be the case).

It’s at this point I’d like to publicly apologise to my training partner McCarthy, no, bollocks – I’m not apologising, just being grateful… I would like to show my appreciation. McCarthy has been most tolerant of my relentless references to how well my sessions have been going, and how pleased I am with my current training paces and mileage, and has he been incredibly gracious with his responses. All whilst he’s been battling with the realities of what he refers to as “the real world”, which thankfully I’m yet to experience.

That said… the barrage of subliminal taunting seems to have made him pull his finger out – he’s putting in some reasonable mileage. Good lad.

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