Monday, 6 February 2012

My 70km walk/run

I don't always stick to my plans, but yesterday I did.  I started off around 10.30am and jogged down to the lake and then did one complete lap of the lake.  To make it more MDS like I ran/walked with a rucksack on my back.  The rucksack weighed 5.5kg, lighter than it will be in the race itself, but less risk of injury.

One lap of the lake is just over 65km, but with the additional jog down to the lake to begin my lap the total distance was close to 70km.  My GPS ran out of battery around the 60km mark, but the roadsigns indicated it was another 10km to Zurich, and this fits with the GPS readings I got from a previous cycle ride round the lake.

I decided I would jog the first 21km and then do a large section of walking, followed by another 11km jog and then walk the final section.  I was quite happy to see that I was going to complete the first section, a half marathon, in under 2 hours.  Not that impressive by itself, but considering I was carrying a weighted pack and was conserving my energy for the additional 49km I knew lay ahead, it seems a rather satisfactory result.  After that initial run I walked until kilometre 40, when once again I started jogging until I reached kilometre 51.

The temperature was hovering around minus 8 and each time I stopped jogging I had to delve in my rucksack and get out my ski jacket and ski gloves.  I am glad I packed them, and if I hadn't I wouldn't have been able to complete the full route.  Even with the ski jacket and ski gloves I was shivering a bit during the walking stages, because my inner layers were wet from sweat.

As the day went on the fronts of both of my shins became sore.  The PT03 winter shoes are pretty rigid and despite feeling I had the energy to run even at the end of my route, there was no way that I could bear the pain of doing that, and having the rigid tongues poking in my sore shins every step.  On top of that my right foot seemed to swell a bit, and it felt like my foot was a little squashed into the shoe in the latter stages.  I will definitely go with one European size bigger for the MDS to allow for swelling.

Despite my sore feet and shins, I was mentally strong throughout the route.  I knew what I had to do and I was focussed on doing it.  The only way I was going to quit early was if I thought I was risking hypothermia or if I thought continuing would do me some serious damage.  Neither of these were the case so it was clear I just needed to keep going.

Something that surprised me during the walking stages was the distance that could be covered.  I had imagined that whilst walking I would be able to average no more than 5km/h, but actually sometimes I was able to average 6 or 7km/h.  Walking part of the route on a very long race seems like not such a bad strategy as I had imagined it would be.  At least it gives you some time to recover before running again.

As I saw Zurich coming into view I was elated.  Ten hours or more had passed, but I had accomplished my goal for the day and proved to myself that when I set my mind to something I can follow it through.  It also gives me comfort to know that however tough the long stage on the MDS feels, it will be doable if I just manage to keep going, putting one foot in front of the other and not giving up.  The factor that I can't allow for however is heat. I have no idea how it feels to run in that kind of heat, and I shall not underestimate that unknown.

Last night walking around in the house was not that comfortable, and I have picked up several blisters on my feet, but already by this morning I was starting to feel a little bit better.  I feel pretty sleepy and it will probably take my body a couple of days to recover, but I don't think I have injured myself touch wood.  My legs and knees are not aching at all, but the bottom of my right foot is a little bruised.

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