On a rest day today as the heat invades Lyon once again. The temperatures are up above 30°C again and we’ll likely hit 36°C by the end of the afternoon. It’s hard to run in such weather though, as the live feed from the UTMB reveals, some people manage it well and even seem to enjoy it. I’ve had the CCC feed on since the start of the race and the UTMB proper kicks off in about three hours. Running 170km in this heat? Chapeau.

As well as keeping an eye on the runners I am spending some time reading and re-reading my guidebook for the Thames Path run now only about three weeks away. It’s going to be something in the order of 50 miles or 80 kilometers and, while the route is close to dead flat, the distance and the hydration/nutrition will be important challenges to overcome.

Planning the Route

The route is simple: follow the Thames Path from Windsor Castle to the Tower Bridge in central London.

As the crow flies it is only about 37km or 23 miles from the castle to the bridge. However, via the meandering Thames Path trail is is closer to 50 miles – and perhaps even a little bit more once getting a little lost and having to find water and food along the way are factored in.

I’ll be leaving Windsor Castle early in the morning – the trail is actually about 200 meters from the castle but I figure I can get a nice selfie if I start with such a grand structure behind me instead of on the trail proper – and making my way along the national Thames Path into the city. It’s supposed to be well marked and it is meant to be straightforward to follow (in the “if you can’t see the river you’re doing something wrong” style) and I hope that I’ll be able to manage the run without getting too lost.

I say “too lost” as I assume I will get turned around at some point or another and have to find the trail again. Luckily I’ll be running in an English speaking country so, fingers crossed, someone local I run into might be able to point me in the right direction should I miss a turn, a bridge, or something important.

Planning for Pace

I hope to be running at an average of about 6:00 kilometer splits, at least for the first half of the run. If I can bank 10km an hour I’ll be happy, and the longer I can keep that up the more confident I’ll be feeling. I think this is a reasonable goal considering I’ve managed that or faster in training up to the marathon distance in the last couple of weeks. Indeed, yesterday I got out and ran essentially a marathon distance in four hours including a fairly significant climb and I did something similar a couple of weeks ago with lots of ascent and a sub-four hour +40km run. At least in terms of planning the pace for the day, I’m working off this 6:00 kilometer split as the basis for my day, for my rests, and for my nutrition.

Planning for Waypoints

In terms of timing, here’s the plan:

  • KM 0 – Windsor – 0 hours
  • KM 19.5 – Chertsey Bridge – 2 hours
  • KM 39 – Kingston upon Thames – 4 hours
  • KM 61 – Putney Bridge – 6 hours and 30 minutes
  • KM 77 – Tower Bridge – 9 hours

The kilometer distances are a little imprecise and don’t include getting lost or turned around. As well, the final 40km is timed out at an hour longer than the first 40km. This is on purpose as I think I’ll be slowing down as I go and probably grabbing something more substantial to eat in the second half of the run, too.

More Planning to Come

As well as everything above, there’s the issue of planning nutrition and hydration along the route. There’s a limit to what the Camelbak can carry and I’ll need to refill with water and reload with food along the way, too. The planning for both is still underway though as the Thames Path runs through one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas, I’m hoping it will be easier than when I’m running through villages around Lyon.

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