In other news, yesterday I ran 15 miles. This is the furthest I have ever run and I did it in 1 hour, 56 minutes. This may seem impressive, but considering that I started off at a 6:45min/mile pace (ridiculously, stupidly fast) and was someone near a 8:10min/mile pace by the end, it is really not. If I were to pull the same stunt on marathon day (and succeed), I could potentially pull off a 3hr 22min marathon. Hah! So not going to happen. It was one of the most painful/difficult runs I have ever done. I had tried to map my route so that I would run from my flat across Tower Bridge, along the Thames until I reached Westminster, head towards Buckingham Palace, and then circle Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens twice, for a total of 15 miles. Unfortunately, my second trip round the Parks saw me at 14 miles - 1 mile short of my goal. This may not seem so problematic, but when you've mentally told yourself that you will hit 15 miles when you hit Hyde Park corner for the second time and that, upon reaching it, you will (mercifully) be allowed to stop, it can be quite disheartening to realize that you've actually got another mile left. I'm really glad that no one was around me as I ran that last mile as I spent the entire time complaining.
My biggest challenges in training for the marathon have been figuring out how to adequately fuel and hydrate during my long runs and for the race itself. It seems simple enough: bring a water bottle and some sports gels, right? Not quite, at least not for me. I have trouble drinking water on the go or carrying a water bottle for long periods of time. The sloshing of the water in the bottle annoys me. And I learned the hard way during the Patrick Henry half marathon that Gatorade/Powerade is not an option for me. The last three miles of that race were absolutely horrible due to the stomach cramps that resulted from taking just a few sips. As for fueling - I've not even begun to tackle this one yet. My stomach/digestive system is extremely temperamental/sensitive even during the very best of times (i.e. not running), which is why I have had to switch to a no-meat, relatively bland, whole foods nutritional plan. I can't even imagine what ingesting a sports gel like GU would do to me. Ugh.
After my 15-miler finished in Hyde Park, I decided to treat myself and take the Tube back to Borough. (In actuality, this was less of a treat and more of a necessity since my legs were unlikely to carry me the 5 miles back home). I was thirsty after such a long run and decided to grab some cash out of the ATM in the station to buy a bottle of water at a nearby stand. This turned out to be a bad move on my part. I got to as far as telling the ATM how much money I wanted to withdraw when suddenly the screen went black and the 'Windows has experienced an error' message popped up. "Don't you dare!" I exclaimed out loud, as the distinct sinking feeling that accompanies the realization that things are about to get difficult descended upon me. I frantically pressed the 'cancel' button, all the while repeating "No!", but to no avail. I watched as the blue screen of death appeared and then the ATM died entirely. In a futile attempt to get it to eject my bank card, I hit the machine a few times, prompting it to emit a low hum and blink, but no further progress was made. I spent a further five minutes standing in front of the ATM, vainly hoping that it would suddenly overcome whatever error had caused it to crash and spit out my card, but eventually realized that it would do no good. My Barclay's card was gone forever, doomed to be picked up and destroyed by whatever HSBC technician happened to come to repair the machine. And so my 'glorious' 15-miler ended with my riding the Tube back to London Bridge, running (but really hobbling) down Borough High to my flat, and sitting on hold with Barclay's customer service hot-line for the better part of an hour whilst waiting to cancel the card. The lesson to be learned here: Never buy bottled water when you can simply wait to use a tap.