Today I was making a big push from Haucho to Chancay. The total distance turned out to be 67km and was pretty much all in very isolated desert. I am getting quite used to running these distances and have formed techniques that keep me going. In this blog I will touch on a couple of aspects that I think about when running and a mistake I make on a ridiculously routine basis.
But before we get into that I will give a quick description of the terrain. When I left Huacho there was an immediate hill up to the right that then cut back to the left. As soon as you get to the town limits the desert takes over and there really is very little else. Once round the corner I hit a straight section that went on for about 30km. On the right the sand stretched out to the sea and on the left it climbed up to the foothills. The road ahead was arrow straight and undulated over the hilly dunes. At the beginning of the straight there were small makeshift house dotted along the road. as I progressed these where replaced with huge sheds where they raise chickens.
At the end of the straight there is a hill that then dives down to the left and continues down into a valley. The hill in front is part of a national park and there is a surreal dusting of young grass growing on the hill top. The green seems very out of place in the middle of the desert.
The road then snakes through the large dunes until it straightens out as it reaches the small triangular hills. The road then makes its way through various small settlements until it arrives in Chancay.
When I woke this morning I was determined to be healthy. I set up my cooker and prepared some porridge with jam, a cup of coffee and a cereal bar. Once everything was packed and I was ready go I realised I was still starving. I popped to the bakery round the corner and bought a couple of rolls, a pastry and a biscuit. This was the start of me building an avoidable barrier. I then made my way to the highway and while on the phone popped into another bakery and added a couple of small croissants filled with dulce leche to this horrendous bread dominated breakfast. During my running I also snacked on cereal bars, some biscuits and a couple of bananas. For lunch I had a can of tuna with a piece of brioche. At 58km I stopped for a packet of crisps, an Coke Zero and a small bar of chocolate. I think anyone who understands nutrition, and even those who know nothing, will spot this is not a balanced diet for a athlete. The problem with this diet is that it makes you crave more. The bread makes you feel lethargic so you eat sugar, the sugar then picks you up and then you crash prompting more sugar. All these ups and downs turn an already hard run into a real test of mental strength. Luckily my body is sort of used to this and as the day progresses the sugar balances out and the body gets in a grove. For some reason I normal find the end of the day stronger than the beginning.
I am abundantly aware I need to address this nutritional problem but it is so hard. On this expedition I have given up smoking (just before I started) and alcohol and neither presented any problems and I have had no cravings from going cold turkey. Sugar is a different beast. It’s has no age limits or health warnings but to be honest it is probably as, if not more, harmful that the other two. I will combat this addiction but it is going to take a lot of work.
The other battle to address is convincing yourself that you can run 67km in the first place especially when you did about 52km the day before and have to do another marathon tomorrow. It can be disheartening when you see a sign saying 55km to go when you have already run 15km. What I like to do is set a walking target, a sort of worse case scenario. I look at the day and say to walk 67km I would need about 13 hours and in reality I only have 9 hours of day light. I then continuously work out my averages to see where I am. Once I reach the point where I could walk to the end I can relax. At that point I change it into a personal competition and try and see how many hours I can take off the worse case scenario and tell myself that the faster I run the more time I have to relax at the end. It may not be perfect for everyone but it keeps me running for a full day.
After all this I arrived and am now trying to write blogs! So if there are huge typos please be generous and imagine how you would feel writing a blog after completing a marathon. Today I did one and a half marathons! 🙂