18 Miles is a Long Way

Last weekend I discovered that 18 miles equates to 28.9 kilometres which concurrently equates to a really long way. I also discovered that 30 kilometres is even further and that your thigh muscles really, really hurt if you run that far. Prepare yourselves for a bit of bragging, my friends, because I am about to get on my pedestal of “Look at me” and declare that I RAN 30 KILOMETRES LAST WEEKEND!

I joined a group of 20 or so runners who are all planning on completing the Manchester marathon in four weeks’ time. We met at the sports store Up&Running and after signing up, doing some nervous stretching and asking each other what on earth we were doing this for, we headed off. The planned route had been split into two parts – a 10 miler which returned to the store where we could refuel before completing another 8 miles. At the start this seemed like a great idea as it would split the run into two manageable parts. It was two short runs instead of one stupidly long one. But then we started running.

It was a remarkably beautiful day in Manchester – the sun was shining, the birds were singing and it was weirdly hot. When it has been below seven degrees for the past six months and it suddenly reaches temperatures around 12, it’s as if you have just walked into desert and forgot to wear a hat. It’s remarkable how 12 degrees can feel like 35. And this sudden heat wave made it significantly more difficult to run long distances. We were sweating.

I managed to complete the first 10 mile run fairly easily, sticking close to a group of three guys who were setting a steady pace. It was good for the ego to be one of the runners in the front third of the pack. And I wasn’t dead yet. Excellent.

Stopping at the store was both good and bad. They had a toilet; that was good. We stopped running; that was bad. We had lost momentum and starting off again felt similar to stabbing multiple forks into my legs. Luckily my new running buddies were very supportive and stuck with me. I really needed it when we were two kilometres into the run and discovered that the first half of the run was predominantly up a hill. The second half was then back down aforementioned hill. Having already run 10 miles, when faced with an endless upwards slog, your legs are not happy chappies.

It hurt and at one point I felt all of the sugar rush out of my body and I resulted to walking. But thoughts of eventually being able to go back down hill and the support and encouragement of my fellow runners, I made it to the turn around point and could head back for home. Unfortunately the homewards journey wasn’t a walk in the park as running downhill really hurts tired muscles. And basically I just wanted to stop running. But I continued on and made it back to the store with a miraculous time of under three hours. I amazed myself with my time and am now quite pumped to see what time I can get for the marathon. But I just need my thighs to stop hurting. It didn’t help that I moved apartment the following day.

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