Sunday, 30 November 2014

November - Month 1 on the road to Stratford Upon Avon

A really great first month in my cunning plan to master the Marathon distance and rediscover some running form. After a couple of fallow years where my running has been going backwards and I have suffered my first proper injury I wanted to apply myself properly. November is the first of six months to take me up to the Shakespeare Marathon at the end of April. The bare bones of my plan are as follows:

1) Run 5 times a week.
2) Run between 30-45 miles a week.
3) Run at least one parkrun a month to monitor progress
4) One quality session, two easy runs, one parkrun or steady run, one long run each week.
5) Good time management, run commutes or early morning runs to be most time efficient.

Prior to this month, in the 6 years I have been running the most miles I had managed in a month was 119 miles. This month I managed to achieve 136 miles in my 20 runs an average of 6.8 miles a run. The runs I did were as follows:

4 races ( 1 x 10k and 3 x parkruns)
4 runs in excess of 10 miles (15 miles longest)
4 commutes 7.5 miles a go
6 easy/steady runs of 5-6 miles
1 Tempo Run
1 Progressive Run

Also did 22 rides on my bike, almost exclusively commutes totalling 170miles.

The pace isn't good at the minute with the fastest parkrun being 21:22 and the 10k at the start of the month being 47:27 but a base is there to be built on. The holiday month of December will be tough and January is mad at work but I've got into some good habits in November and so am confident I can keep the momentum going. 1 down 5 to go.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Washington DC - Marathon Corp Marathon Report

Sorry for the long lay off on the blog front, I have been almost as quiet on the running front of late. My first proper injury in 5 years of running scuppered any chance of decent preparation for the Marine Corp Marathon. A grand total of 12 runs in 12 weeks, total running mileage of 56 miles in that period and a longest run of 12.5 miles a week out just to test how stupid an idea running a marathon would be.

The test run went as well as I could have hoped as I was on for a Half Marathon around 2 hours and I felt fresh and strong on the run. The previous injury and on going niggles all seemed ok and so I finished the run knowing I could drag myself round the 26.2 miles some how some way. We were all booked for Washington and so would be enjoying the City regardless, but having travelled all that way I wanted to attempt the race and with the dire amount of training the sole aim was that of completion and with a little luck some enjoyment along the way.

In my previous 8 stand alone Marathons I had achieved 4 sub 4 hour times and 4 in excess of 4 hours with a PB of 3:34 and a slowest of 4:39. My aim was for somewhere between 4:20 and 4:30 with a 4:25 achieved at Manchester earlier this year and the personal worst of 4:39 at Edinburgh both race times I was thinking of as the Marathon approached.

The pre race prep was good, me and Lauren arrived Friday lunchtime, we had some nice trips out on Friday and Saturday, and managed to pick up the number, a nasty looking free shirt and a nice paid for technical T-shirt. We were now ready for Sunday.

Race day was an early start, up at 5am out of the room by half 5, onto the tube at 6am. Even with this early start for the 7:55 race start we were still rushed and having got through the joke security I said goodbye to Lauren and made it into my start pen with about 10minutes to go. Just in time to see the Parachutist with the flag and the helicopter flyby both of which were spectacular. Then off went the gun and within 10 minutes I was over the start line and into my stride.

It was a lovely bright morning and I was enjoying the start of the race, the majority of the climbing was in the first 3 miles but I had seen that on the course profile and so was happy taking it gently. There were a lot of slow moving runners though and I didn't want to lose tonnes of time so picked my way through the crowds as best I could.

Once the climbing was over we went through Georgetown and there were some great crowds here, I particularly liked the Tomato Ketchup Bottle with the sign 'Catch up' and his friend the relish bottle with the sign 'Relish the challenge'. There was great support throughout most of the race and all of it was enthusiastic and there were some brilliant signs that had me chuckling as I ran.

Once through Georgetown we found some more hills to run up and then alongside the river. I watered the plants in the 6th km but I wasn't too worried by the lost 20 seconds or so. I managed to get a shot on the run as we went past a pretty building on the other side of the river. I've not taken pictures on the run before but with enjoyment being the key goal I thought I would try to capture some moments.

The next picture I snapped was of a runner ahead of me with a great quote which I will use to fuel my training for Stratford in 6 months time. "The pain of discipline is far less than the pain of regret." The pain of regret is something I may feel quite acutely if I don't nail my preparation for my 10th Marathon. I'm really keen to apply myself and to do myself justice over this brutal distance.

The run continued alongside the river, and for some reason the crowds seemed to have been banned from this section as there were lots of signs just stuck in the ground. It must have gone on for 2 or 3 miles and I did chuckle to myself as I ran along reading the signs. I was starting to flag a little coming up to halfway and they did lift me. Something else that got my attention was a runner clipping my ankles and nearly tripping me up. I was fuming! It had been busy, but the race was settling down and it was just so unnecessary, if our paces are that different at that stage and I'm running evenly, then it's you that's the prat. He waved an apology and I managed to settle myself back down again. There were still 22km's to go!

I saw Lauren at 11 miles as planned and I felt great, I had my headphones in but she shouted loud enough and I turned right into her smiling face and it was a lovely boost as the temperature rose as did my effort level. Our next meet was at 16 miles and now I was fading, I hadn't meant to slow myself down, but where once I was running 5:30 - 5:50 km's with staying below 6min km's as the backstop. Now the splits were nudging over 6 minutes and I couldn't up the effort any further. I walked through the water station just before 16 miles to make sure I got my Gatorade and water in but was back running again when I saw Lauren at 16 miles. She was smiling but I'm sure she had a worried look on her face, but when we spoke afterwards she said I was still looking good.

We were now running close to the Washington Monument and then right in front of the Capitol building. It was at this point just as we came up to the official 30km point that I crumbled and walked properly for the first time. I had managed the fade from 25-30km. 30km to the finish was the explosion phase. It was warm and my lips were so dry, there is a great shot in the official photos of me touching them.

Initially I thought I could manage the walking and I would get a second wind, but I couldn't bring any structure to the walk breaks and was just running as and when I could. There was then a very desolate part of the race along the motorway and a bridge. There was no support out there and every km and mile were now being ground out so slowly. There was little protection from the sun and even though I had taken water and Gatorade from most of the water stops I was still so thirsty. There was a shady spot on the motorway and I was so tempted just to curl up and have a nap before soldiering on again, I managed to drag myself past the shady spot though and finally made it over and back to the masses of supporters.

With 4 miles to go I managed to kick the base holding a flag in place, I had been walking and running almost in the gutter just trying to stay out of peoples way and when you are that tired bad things can happen. I actually got away pretty lightly from the incident and it didn't effect me on the rare occasions I had energy to run at this late stage. I used the portaloo with 4 km's to go and text Lauren to let her know I had half an hour to go. I then said no to the cookies and doughnuts, an interesting sugary pickup approaching the finish, but I was struggling to stomach the Gatorade let alone that kind of stuff!

I was feeling stronger and running a little more often but I was keen to leave something for the finish I wanted to run over the line and had also read before the race that the finish was uphill. Lauren had text back to let me know she was on the corner at 26 miles and she was just where she said she would be as I smiled and waved before slogging up the steep uphill finish. It keep winding upwards all the way to the line, and it was done 4:40:24!

Official Splits:

5Km - 28:46
10Km - 57:39 (28:53)
15Km - 1:27:45 (30:06)
21.1Km - 2:03:33 (35:48)
25Km - 2:27:40 (24:07)
30Km - 3:00:33 (32:53)
35Km - 3:41:25 (40:52)
40Km - 4:23:20 (41:55)
42.2Km - 4:40:24 (17:04)

The splits to 25km were very satisfying and even to 30km were ok. At the official 30km point I was just over 6min km average which would have translated to something like a 4:12 Marathon so as you can see I lost 30 minutes in that final 12 km slog to the finish.

I wasn't sure of my exact Edinburgh time and I think if I was I may have been able to muster the 42 seconds needed to beat it. In the grand scheme of it though I really did give what I had on the day and my condition immediately after the race and in the days following have let me know that I didn't take it easy. There are ways and ways to do Marathons and no training is not a strategy I would recommend. I'm really pleased that I did it, and the first 3 hours were a useful training run on which I can build. The subsequent 100 minute slog in the sun was definitely less useful but I got it done.

We are now home from our trip and Lauren and I had a lovely time, lots of post Marathon walking/hobbling to keep me on my toes. Billericaey 10km should be interesting this weekend!



Sunday, 10 August 2014

Countdown to Chelmsford Marathon 2014 - Week 10 of 20 - Definitely Injured and isn't cycling great!

So half way through my 20 week plan and my Marathon prep just keeps getting worse. My injury isn't magically going away, I have just returned from a run of less than a mile, shin and ankle pain and running with a limp throughout meant I returned home with my tail between my legs. I had enjoyed a 5 mile run on Thursday with each km faster than 5min km's but that was all on the running front.

Got out on the bike again and managed 25 miles at better than 15mph which as it was only the 2nd ride I have done in the last 2 years I was pretty pleased. Out to Wallasea Island on flat roads and with the wind on my back I felt like a champ going out at 17.5mph before turning tail and managing 13.5mph or so on the return with the wind against me. Really pleasant cycling conditions and not much traffic, I even managed to navigate my way out there by myself. Have definitely got a taste for cycling again and with the injury seeming to only flare up running it's even more reason for me to get out on two wheels.

If Lauren and I can sort out the timings I may even go for a swim this week. Anything to keep myself active, I hate injuries!

Friday, 8 August 2014

Countdown to Chelmsford Marathon 2014 - Week 9 of 20 - Bikings back, and injuries

Just a quick catch up on last weeks training. 3 x 5 mile runs all very steady. 1 x 12 mile cycle.

I watched my friend Chris at the London Triathlon on Sunday and so was inspired to get in the garage and sort out my bike. After 2 years off the bike, it was covered in dust and with 2 flat tyres. After an hour of blood, sweat and pretty close to tears I successfully changed both inner tubes.

I then spent 45 minutes going on a local hilly loop I like and back home. It was such hard work, but I was really pleased to get it done. It's now a case of sorting out all the dull stuff like finding lights, charging them up, find keys for locks so that I can begin commuting into the office once again. It makes a nice change from running and hopefully the extra cardio should see my feeble running efforts improve again.

The running was less this week after a midweek trip to my physio. I have a tibalisis anterior strain/tightness which is causing me to limp around the office. It seems to behave itself when I run though. The advice has been stretch, half your mileage and come and see me again soon. Some of that advice I may take, other bits I might not.

So it's just a case of wait and see really, hope it won't put my marathon training back too much.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Countdown to Chelmsford Marathon 2014 - Week 8 of 20 - 2 Outstanding performances neither of them mine.

This week was a poor training week for me personally. Only 3 runs and 19 miles.

1 x Easy paced 10k
1 x Easy paced 5 Miler
1 x Slog of a 7.5 miler.

Body was tired and aching this week. Busy week at work and I had a drink and dinner offer Friday night and was unavailable for training Sunday so my opportunities to run were more limited. My right leg isn't quite right, and can't quite put my finger on it. I think it is a tight right calf, but I'm limping a bit, particularly the morning after a run day. Think I need a trip to the physio! So a lost week of training really, but hopefully I will have recharged my batteries somewhat and can hit some good mileage and sessions next week.

The focus of this week though were the Thunder Run and the Outlaw Iron Distance Triathlon. I had Pete at the Thunder Run running solo and unfortunately with the nature of not being able to be in two places at once I was unable to cheer him on. He performed brilliantly in my absence, thankfully having better weather than we got last year and did 20 laps, 200km (125 miles) in 24 hours. Dealing with injuries as well as all the other things that come with a 24 hour endurance race to finish in 2nd place as he did last year. A victory for him will come one year soon I'm sure.

The other event namely the Outlaw Triathlon was the event that I got up close and personal with. I didn't have to do much myself apart from sleep very little and drive quite a lot and cheer. Luke performed brilliantly in all 3 disciplines, a 1:17 swim, a sub 6:30 bike and a 4:50 marathon along with some transitions he made it home in 12:50, in excess of 3 hours quicker than my effort from 2012. It was an epic performance and just a massive day, thankfully I had booked Monday off work to recover but even after spending two hours in the medical tent Luke still found the energy to get himself to work the next day. Puts us mortals to shame!

Plenty of inspiration and motivation gained from watching Luke perform so well and dig deep when it really got tough. Hopefully use that as fuel going forward with just 12 weeks to go till Chelmsford Marathon.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Countdown to Chelmsford Marathon 2014 - Week 7 of 20 - Corner Turned?

Very pleasing weeks training. 30 miles run in 4 runs.

1 x Yasso 800 intervals
1 x 5 Mile Tempo
1 x 10km easy
1 x 2 hour run (13.34 miles)

I have got a new structure to my training, namely 3 x hard sessions a week with one and if I'm very lucky 2 easy paced runs. I've felt for a while that I am training too easy a lot of the time, hoping for monster mileage and to get quicker that way. The big mileage has never quite come and the effort has still felt quite high as I often run at the end of a long day at work and not properly fuelled.

The hard runs can be intervals, tempo, hills, parkrun or a long-run. Also in weeks where I have a race I may not do any other hard sessions and focus on easy paced stuff to get me to the start line fresh and firing.

My first go at Yasso 800's had me doing 6 sets and I managed to hold 3:35-3:45 with the same amount of time to recover. I will look to build this up to 10 sets. It was a really tough session, but with the constant clock and distance watching the time flew.

The tempo run was also a success, needed sub 5 minute km's at least and hit 4:45 or quicker through the 5 miles.

The easy run was anything but and felt like a struggle for large parts, but I got it done.

The most successful run however was my Sunday evening long run. After a busy weekend and waiting till the storm had passed I went out at gone 7pm and made a point of keeping my efforts steady. Managed to keep it pretty relaxed throughout and average heart rate was 149 bpm which was pleasing. Pace hovered around 9minute miles but I wasn't too worried I just wanted the run to feel comfortable. Just over a Half Marathon in 2 hours was a very pleasing result, and I felt I had plenty more in me.

Another busy work week and weekend coming up, so think 4 runs will be the maximum I will squeeze in. I think it might just be a tempo run and a 15 miler with the other runs being gentle recovery runs.

So perhaps some progress being made, but we will only really know when I race next. Which might be a parkrun in a fortnights time, watch this space.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Countdown to Chelmsford Marathon 2014 - Week 6 of 20 - Not Fast 10k In More Ways Than One - Kick up the Butt!

Disappointing race today at the notfast 10k. Managed to walk for 30 seconds or so which is never encouraging in a 10k race.

The course was good and the event well run. Made it down nice and early so could get our number and settle in before the off.

The race wasn't chip timed and so the official time was going to be the gun and if I was to stand any chance of chasing down Joe's 43:40 I was going to need every second and so plonked myself in row 2 at the front of the race.

I went out fast as is my norm, the course also meant I wanted to be near the front as I feared the path would be narrow and so make overtaking difficult. In the event the path was wide enough to easily run two abreast and so there was a steady flow of runners easing past me as I tried to slow myself down from the initial 3:45km to finally end the first km in 4:04.

I was looking at 4:20's to run it in 43:20 or so and I settled myself down and managed to run at that pace for the next 3 km. I was working too hard though and the route was gently downhill and I think probably wind with for that period.

The effort stayed high in the 5th km and the pace dropped significantly, the wind now in my face as we ran on the busy main road. Up the one big hill on the course to top out at 6km and thus another slow km.

I was fried now, my ambitious target pace and early efforts left me shattered at the top. I gave in and walked for 30 seconds or so to get my heart rate down and to give my heavy legs some time to recover.

We then turned left and thankfully there was a good downhill to get me running again. The running managed to bring the pace down to just over 5min km and it was then just a case of hanging in there for the return to the rugby club for the final 3km.

All thoughts of time were well out the window and it was just about getting myself to the line in one piece and I did manage a sprint of sorts for our travelling supporters.

Picked up my bandana/buff and a cup of squash and waited for Dad to bring it home. Was really pleased that he got himself a surprise PB and he can now tell anyone that will listen that he is a grizzly bear :-)

A disappointing day for me personally, but 45mins on an undulating course is probably about right at the minute.

The event was great and the course did feel net downhill for most of it (starts and finishes at the same place so obviously its net flat), but with the wind, the one significant hill and some other undulations it broke me.

Hope this race is the kick up the butt I need to get me out the door 5/6 times a week and to hit 40+ miles regularly. 14 weeks till the marathon :-s

Km Splits:
1) 4:04
2) 4:21
3) 4:17
4) 4:20
5) 4:34
6) 4:52
7) 5:02
8) 4:40
9) 4:38
10) 4:23

Aside from today's race I managed 3 other runs and a total mileage for the week of 21 miles.

The other 3 runs I did were as follows:

1 x Steady 5 Miler
1 x Steady 10k
1 x Rubbish 4 miler day before the race.

So a disappointing week in my Marathon prep, but hopefully the low point before a steep positive climb all the way to the big one at Chelmsford in October.