I don't like to do something without testing it first from every angle so I assessed the five months of running already in my legs. Then I examined the published results for last year's event and discovered I would need to run quicker than two and a half hours not to disgrace myself. I have been running for fitness since May this year and have built up to twenty-five miles a week. I keep meticulous records for times and distances so my performance is not a mystery - I know what I should be capable of.
But until I've run the actual distance - 13.1 miles - how do I know I can go that far? My longest run to date had been ten miles. So to answer the nagging inner voice I mapped a route of precisely 13.1 miles and headed out to test myself. I ran at a modest pace which I guessed was around 6mph, covering a mile every ten minutes. My only "way marks" were points I had made a mental note of (like the halfway point, which I reached in an hour and five minutes) so I kept my pace on track. Luckily the early morning, weekend traffic was light and half my run was on the Confederation Trail, a great rural trail on a former railway line.
My heart and lungs were holding up well after an hour and a half but my legs began to feel very heavy whenever the road went up. Even so I managed to keep going without stopping and reached the twelve mile mark just after two hours. The final mile to home is downhill and I knew I was going to make it. My time? Two hours and twelve minutes. I was well and truly spent though.
Because I kept the pace sensible I wasn't out of breath, just physically exhausted. During the day I ate a lot and drank pint after pint of orange juice and water to replace the six pounds I lost in weight. Oh, and I slept like a log! Inevitably muscle soreness hit the next day and I was hobbling whenever I had sat still for too long. Two days later I was ready to hit the road again, on reduced mileage of course!
So I proved I could last the distance and I know what my approximate time should be in October. However, it ain't over till the fat lady sings and she isn't exercising her tonsils until 19th October! The Prince Edward Island Half Marathon is a modest but prestigious event with a small field. There will be hundreds of runners not the thousands we are used to seeing on TV at London or Boston. In other words there will be nowhere to hide!
I will be returning to England later this year, after a lot of consideration, plenty of talking and much sadness, so the run will be a kind of finale for me in Canada.