On Sunday, I was scheduled to run 25km with a 1 hr jog/walk tacked onto the end. With 1 month to go to the Western States, the training load was increasing once again. I had had a tough couple of weeks, burning the candle at both ends and in the middle too, what with a hectic social life, family commitments, work and training! I went into the weekend absolutely exhausted, although other than taxi-ing the kids to various activities and some home jobs there was nothing on the agenda at all. Perfect. Mrs R and I had had a bit of wine on the Saturday night with dinner, and a bit more whilst watching the pre recorded Lions game, and to be honest I may have started the run a little dehydrated. Even at 7am, it was warm in the sun. This made a nice change, because to date the weather had been pretty dreadful.
I started out slow, using my Camelback to rehydrate, and jogged up the steep hill - 4km or so, of steep hill. Then on the more gentle slope from Vence up to Tourettes Sur Loup - a gorgeous citadel famous for the violets that are cultivated around the fringes. Cresting at TsL, and then down the hill towards Pont Sur Loup, descending into the gorge. It was a gorgeous day, and at 12.5km I pressed Garmin lap button on 75 mins, and then carried on - trying to use the slope to speed up and help achieve the negative splits.
At 16km I turned around - unfortunately back up the hill to TsL. In order to get the negative splits I was going to have to push up the hill - all the time doing little calculations in my head as to what speed I needed to average. There were heaps of cyclists out - perhaps because of the upcoming Ironman in 3 weeks, and the route I was on was the IM course. As a part time cyclist myself, I am aware that without exception cyclists always acknowledge each other. Runners always acknowledge each other. Cyclists and runners....well, it can be hit and miss. I always acknowledge everybody, and was doing so despite suffering, as I was pushing on the uphill.
I still had about 4km to go before I crested the hill at TsL, and had about 7km of my scheduled run, and I was suffering. The mind started playing tricks on me, and I was finding all sorts of excuses in my head for not pushing, and not achieving the negative splits, and my head drooped, and all the time I was slowing down. Then the aforementioned cyclist came past me and offered me the one word of encouragement - probably all he had time for before he shot past me at 50kmh. It was all it took. My head lifted, my mouth turned up at the corners into a smile, and all my limbs tingled with adrenaline. I pushed up to TsL, crested the hill, and made full use of the other downhill to finish the 2nd lap of 12.5km in 69 mins.
I then jog/walked in a 3:1 ratio back home - an extra 7.75km, and arrived home knackered, but happy, and hot!
Mrs R and I spoke about the Western States, and I think she is going to crew for me. One carefully placed word from her will be amazing during the race as a morale booster, and clearly the body goes on for a lot longer than the mind!