Saturday, September 21, 2013

Four weeks to go

Distance covered this week: 27.33km

Distance covered yesterday: 16.18km (10 miles) in 2hrs 07mins 20secs.

Temperature at finish: Forgot to check until a while after we got home but it was 44C.

Today's orange picture: It's a repeat of our running gear, to "celebrate" the fact that there is four weeks to go until the half marathon as of yesterday... (pause while I vomit a little with nerves). The plan is to post some pics of us in said running gear at some point and I had hoped it would be cool enough by now to go outside and pose for pictures during daylight hours without immediately pouring with sweat. I have now accepted that that's not going to happen so expect some sweaty pics coming your way soon.

We set out on our second run with the Dubai Creek Striders yesterday with a lot fewer nerves than last week and managed to complete the full course of just over 15km. We actually needed to complete 16.09km to fulfill our training plan, so, after finishing, we walked the remaining distance up and down a grass verge on the side of the road, which was handily shaded by date palms. I find it's psychologically important for me to complete the required distance, even if I have to walk some of it, because not doing so gives me extreme nerves that I won't actually make it around on the day.

Although I have a bit of a twingey left knee at the moment, which is perhaps not surprising how much further I am running these days, I find that the biggest hurdle that I have to clamber over when it comes to running is psychological. Before that it was the early starts, and now I've pretty much conquered that  Although, I wake up for each early morning training session thinking: "Oh, for f***'s sake, who's stupid idea was this? What the f*** was I thinking? Why on earth did I think I could do a half marathon?" I usually manage to drag myself up as soon as the alarm goes and into my running gear while stuffing half a banana down my throat. It becomes automatic.

But the twin obstacles of psychologically overcoming the heat and long distance are very, very tricky. I tend to find, that having run three 10km races, I feel fairly ok during the first 10km. But, once I go past 10km, my body starts to tell me it's time to stop, and it's a matter of will to keep going after that. Unfortunately, the point at which I get past 10km is usually long past 7am, meaning the sun is starting to climb higher in the sky and the temperature nudges up into the late 30s or early 40s.

On yesterday's run, that also coincided with the our arrival at Jumeirah Open Beach Running Track, the scene of a rather disastrous 8km run in August, which I talked about in this post, so quickly found myself in psychologically shark-infested waters and wanting to give up. The combination of heat, lack of breeze, and the sun getting higher in the sky, and the memories of a rather unpleasant run, made me start justifying stopping to myself. "I need to stop, this is dangerous. I'm dehydrated and the frozen bottle of water I started out with is now melted and rapidly heating up to bath water temperature and my knee hurts. I'm probably injuring myself and I'll probably faint," I found myself thinking. My head was telling me it was time to stop, when in actual fact, my body was more than capable of keeping going, as was proved by the fact that I did in fact manage to complete the distance, and, by the fact that I was not lying on the floor unconscious.

I suspect Striders members have their own monsters lurking on this path, though, as thankfully we only ran half of it before a water stop, and then we set off on the run home. What helps, in this situation, is arriving at the water stop and seeing lots of people who are clearly feeling the heat just as badly as you are, but who are determined to carry on. After that, I had to make a couple of stops to walk, because I do find it particularly hard to keep going when the sun is properly hot and beating down on me, and, I'm already tired having done 12-13km. I'm usually fine during the shady patches. I know it must be possible to keep going when the heat starts to get extreme, as runners in hot climates do it every day. But I haven't cracked it yet. The key to not giving up altogether yesterday was telling myself that on the day of the race, it won't be that much cooler, and there will more than likely be periods in the second half when there is no shade, so, if I have to walk, so be it, but I need to keep going in order to have prepared myself for the race.

On a brighter note, a long-term Striders member told me yesterday that while many people think July and August are the worst months, September is actually worse because of the humidity. It's certainly true that on my Monday night run, it was so bad that I came back not just dripping with sweat as I usually am, but with a running vest that looked like I was about to enter a wet t-shirt contest at a naff holiday camp. Not attractive. Once October comes, it should be better, hopefully...

If you're wondering what on earth could prompt us to undertake this lunacy, click here to find out more and sponsor us. We're rocketing towards our target, thanks to one particularly generous anonymous sponsor, but if you can find a few pennies or fils to spare, we would be hugely grateful.

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