This has been a tough week. The Loch Ness Marathon is just a bit more than 3 weeks away, and at the start of the week I was very aware that I needed to do a lot more training than I had in the previous few weeks. To be frank, the last few weeks have been fairly dismal, due to my hamstring injury and a general lack of motivation. I was keen to sort that out and make sure I did at least 50 miles running this week.
I'm pleased to say that, so far, I have stuck to my plan. I did a hard 8 mile run on Monday, followed by another hard 7 on Tuesday, then two relatively easy 5s on Wednesday and Thursday. However I knew I needed to do a 20 miler at some point if I was to be in good shape for Loch Ness. Today was the day for doing it, as I was on holiday - number 2 son was moving into his halls of residence at Glasgow university in the late afternoon, and I had taken the day off to help him move.
I set out around 1.00pm, and headed along the back roads towards Comrie. I had felt sluggish all morning - getting in from a dinner at 1am last night might not have been the best preparation, although I made sure I stayed away from the drink - but despite that I made a good start. The first few miles were downhill but I knew it wouldn't last and, sure enough, at 5 miles I hit a major climb. It was a real struggle to get up and over the hill, but I made it, then worked well on the descent down to the river. I reached Comrie (10 miles) in just under 1.15, and was going quite well. The next few miles, however, on the road back towards Braco, were an absolute killer. The road just kept going up and up and up. I've driven that section many times and never noticed it being especially hilly, but I learned all about it today - in fact I looked at the map afterwards and reckoned I must have climbed around 160m in a 2 mile stretch.
After what seemed like hours I reached the top of the hill, having run around 16 miles, but I was starting to find it hard going. I was a bit dehydrated, and my water had run out. I stopped to fill up my water bottle at a farm around 18 miles (many thanks to the farmer's wife - she even asked if I would prefer bottled or tap water). I pushed as hard as I could down the hill to 20 miles, then somehow made it up the hill for the last 2 miles back to my house. It was a real struggle. At the end I was completely shattered - it was probably one of the hardest training runs I have ever done. Or maybe they always feel like that when they are still fresh in your memory?
Well, it's now a few hours since I've finished my 22 mile run. Number 2 son is in his new accommodation. I've had a fish supper for my tea, washed down by a very pleasant bottle of Pino Grigio (goes well with fish, I'm told). And you know what? Today's run doesn't seem so bad after all!