It's springtime in London. The sun has come out, friends are running races, and I'm running out of time to get ready for the Thames Path 100. The good news is that my "hamstring injury" is in the past. I've used quotation marks because although I felt it in the hamstring, the actual damage was to the popliteus, at the back of the knee. Anyway, I can now run without pain which is a massive relief.
Having missed the best part of a month's worth of proper training, I've been putting in some 'active rest' i.e. walking on my rest days and in addition to running. This is a bit of a gamble as I don't know what works for me. Some people advocate total rest on rest days. Others reckon that keeping moving but not actually running is better. But since I'm reckoning on walking at least some of the 100 miles I figure I might as well get some practice in. This might sound odd - everyone knows how to walk, right? - but I'm not used to walking as far as I am running so those muscles need developing or at least preparing.
Yesterday, I managed my longest run since the injury - 20 miles along the Thames Path and through Richmond Park. I tired a bit towards the end but I had forgotten my electrolytes and it was definitely warming up by the end. This is why we do practice runs - so that on race day we don't forget something crucial that could end our race before barely getting started. I also learnt that I need to slow down. Running 20 miles in just over three hours isn't going to be sustainable for me with 80 still left to do.
Even though I've done an 86-mile race before, those additional 14 miles are beginning to loom large in my mind. Everyone I speak to is confident I can do it, which is both reassuring and worrying in equal measure. If it seems like such a foregone conclusion, why do I have such moments of panic? I know what to do; start slowly, eat regularly, keep moving, try not to fall in the river. I know it's going to be exhausting - physically, mentally, emotionally. That's why I'm doing this, to test myself in all those ways and see what I'm capable of. Equally, I don't want to let myself down. As my own harshest critic, this could be the biggest challenge of all.
Maybe what's worrying me the most is how I'll feel once it's over. Happy? Sad? Relieved? Empty? Having signed up more than six months ago, it's been such a big part of my life, it will be strange not having it to look forward to. And despite my concerns, I really am looking forward to it. First though, time for a last few training runs and a nailbiting taper. Fingernails are carbs aren't they?