Sunday, 26 April 2015

So Near and Yet so Far

This is my race report for the Shakespeare Marathon. My 10th stand alone marathon since I began running back in 2009. My 10 efforts to date are varied as you can see below:

1) Brighton 2010 - 4:02:26
2) Rutland 2010 - 3:50:10
3) Shakespeare 2011 - 3:37:41
4) Chester 2011 - 3:34:28
5) Edinburgh 2012 - 4:39:43
6) Berlin 2012 - 4:07:26
7) Brighton 2013 - 3:55:42
8) Manchester 2014 - 4:25:43
9) Marine Corp Marathon 2014 - 4:40:24
10)Shakespeare 2015 - 3:40:48

My goal before the race was to run somewhere between 3:30 and 3:34. I was really keen to get a PB and had worked hard in the 6 months since the injury hit and slowest of all my Marathons at the Marine Corp Marathon last October.

I took a week off post Washington and in the 25 subsequent weeks I have run 778 miles at an average of 31 miles per week and an average of 4 runs a week. In each of those months I have run the most mileage compared to the same month in previous years. So lots of positive signs. The one big thing lacking in my prep were those runs in excess of 18 miles. In the 6 months since Washington I have run a HM or longer 13 times as follows:

5 - HM ( 1 race - 1:35:18)
2 - 15 Miles
2 - 16 Miles
3 - 17 Miles
1 - 20M ( 1 Race 2:38:51)

Also out of these, in Feb and March there were just the 15 mile training run, the 20 Mile and HM races and 2 HM distance training runs. It was this lack of long runs that came and bit me in the butt at the end of today's Marathon.

Overall the weekend was fantastic, Lauren and I went up Saturday afternoon and met my Mother In Law. We had a nice afternoon in Stratford before going for a pleasant dinner, pasta for me as usual and then on to see Death of a Salesman in the evening, a play I knew nothing about but it was a fantastic performance. Then back to the hotel ready for the main event.

Woke up at 7am and went and sorted out topping up the car parking to see us through the afternoon then got ourselves checked out. Time got away from us and it was probably a little tighter than I would have liked, but Stratford is small and so I still made it to the start with a little under half an hour to go. Said my goodbyes to Lauren and headed for the start line after the mandatory portaloo stop, hardly had to wait, so kudos to the race organisers for that.

There was no seeding and the Half Marathon and Marathon both set off together with the red numbers being for the full and white for the half. This lead to me setting off too fast even though people were streaming past me and I was trying to hold myself back. Took my first gel at 5 miles and dropped one of my four gels, gutted!

1) 1m - 7:33 (7:52 PB split)
2) 1m - 7:46 (7:34)
3) 1m - 7:41 (7:48)
4) 1m - 7:54 (7:53)
5) 1m - 7:56 (7:49)

6 seconds ahead of PB at Chester Marathon.

Nothing too remarkable about the next 5 miles, nipped into a portaloo in the 10th mile and felt much more comfortable after that.

6) 1m - 7:51 (7:54)
7) 1m - 7:58 (7:55)
8) 1m - 8:05 (7:57)
9) 1m - 7:48 (7:47)
10) 1m - 8:22 (7:57)

34 seconds behind in this 5 miles and 28 seconds over the first 10 miles. There 20 seconds or so lost on a loo stop in the 10th mile, so pretty even through 10 miles.

Onto the Greenway after the loo and I really enjoy running this section, very similar to the bridle track and I sped up through this section, swept along by the excitement of the Half Marathoners approaching their finish. They went right around 12 miles and the Marathoners took a left heading out for their second extended loop. Saw Jan and Lauren soon after 12 miles and was all smiles and waves. Didn't feel fantastic at this point which was a concern but also struggled with the much reduced field as it was just the hardcore Marathoners left. Took my second get at 12 miles. Passed my orange gel on the floor as we looped that way again, opted not to pick it up.

11) 1m - 7:50(7:54)
12) 1m - 7:53(7:59)
13) 1m - 8:05(8:06)
14) 1m - 7:57(7:56)
15) 1m - 8:02(7:53)

1 second ahead in this section and cutting the deficit to 27 seconds.

Working hard now, took the last of my gels at 18 miles, a little group of us seemed to be forming, all hoping for sub 3:30 at this point. The hill in mile 19 meant a big slowing in pace and people were walking up it, I kept trucking but it took far more out of me than I would have wanted. The steep downhill afterwards was ok but I would have preferred a longer gentler descent to the bottom.

16) 1m - 8:02 (7:59)
17) 1m - 8:01 (8:15)
18) 1m - 8:13 (8:38)
19) 1m - 8:43 (8:20)
20) 1m - 8:18 (8:10)

5 seconds ahead and reducing the overall deficit to 22 seconds.

Onto the Greenway, so long, so straight, just trudging along trying to get this thing done. 8:30's to the finish and we get a precious PB.

21) 1m - 8:20 (8:26)
22) 1m - 8:27 (8:48)
23) 1m - 8:32 (8:53)

48 seconds ahead in this section, 26 seconds up on PB and in the PB I faded, just hold it together man!

I didn't hold it together. I exploded quite spectacularly. Run, walk, repeat for half an hour.

24) 1m - 10:33 (8:42)
25) 1m - 11:21 (8:54)
26) 1m - 10:56 (8:37)
27) 0.32m - 2:40(2:37)

6 minutes 40 seconds lost and a 26 second advantage turns into a 6 minute 14 second loss + rounding comes to 6 minutes 20 seconds short of my PB from Chester in 2011.

Main feeling is one of disappointment, I know I had neglected my long runs but I nearly pulled it off. This is still considerably faster than my 5 previous marathons and my fastest for 3 and half years as well as the 3rd fastest of my 10 Marathons. I have a really good base now and I can see plenty of room for improvement in my training. There are different types of 3:40 marathons and I think this one is more encouraging than an even paced one because I know I am capable of so much more. I know I will achieve so much more in the Bristol Bath Marathon in October once I get past that little thing called the Ironman!

Sorry for wittering on, just wanted to get all my analysis and thoughts written down before they disappeared. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Weetabix Breakfast and gone off gels.....

are the key to any good PB!

A very pleasing run at the Essex 20 today. Nearly 12 minutes quicker than my previous go over the course, and faster than my 2:40-2:45 pre race target. Was in the car mulling over mile or km splits whilst my wife wittered on about cuticle oil. We like different things :-) I opted for mile splits in the end.

Tried to rein myself in early on as instructed by Luke and Pete. Did pretty well at that for the first 2 miles and then the big hill in mile 3 definitely kept me in check. The average pace for those first 3 miles was 8 min mile so 2:40 and as a general guide that was going to be my target. I wasn't too particular though as I knew the undulations would make knocking out bang on splits impossible.

I was feeling strong through the first lap, a few people around me all gassing away. A little too much chitter chatter and not enough pitter patter of feet for my tastes. But as the miles piled on people drifted away and it was quite a lonely race but I enjoyed the peace and quiet and lack of pressure.
I saw Lauren at the end of lap one and she got a prime spot for some photo snapping. Am yet to see the results, I might add them to this blog if they cut the mustard.

The second lap was the toughest mentally not the first lap excitement or the finish line feeling of the last lap. I was pretty upbeat for pretty much the entire race though. I had a couple of Bishop Stortford guys near me as well as a couple of Great Bentley runners and we all ran pretty even paced races, although we weren't running shoulder to shoulder it was nice to have some familiar faces/backs as the race wore on.

I did get lapped by the race leader just after he passed the 19 mile marker. Going like a train! Finished in under 1:46 and with an 8 minute winning margin! Thankfully nobody else lapped me before I made it onto the 3rd lap.

Now I was ready to put the foot down a little more and it was nice going past landmarks knowing that was the last time you were going to see them. I worked through the first 3 miles of the lap passed the Water plant with the "Oxygen Delivery Entrance" could have done with some of that! Then left up the significant hill, have just checked on Strava and went up this fastest on my final lap. Got my breath back at the top and began to lap the occasional runner as well as picking off the odd runner on my lap. From 18 miles I think the wind was helpful and it might be a touch down hill and I wanted to finish strong. My form started to falter a little here but the pace was good.

Left turn at the finish and onto the field, power through the line and stopped my watch inside 2:39 exhausted! Saw Lauren and got to the car a few metres away, elated at my efforts. Right up there with the BUPA Great North Run in terms of performance. I have now spent the afternoon either in the bath or eating my way through the cupboards. Will sleep peacefully tonight.

So there we have it, my first genuine PB in years and a well paced race with me finishing strong. Sets me up for a small Marathon PB at Stratford at the end of April. Buzzing!

Finished 153rd out of 423.

Split Summary===
1) 1m - 7:52(7:52/m) 153/181bpm 91cal (includes 1st hill)
2) 1m - 7:53(7:53/m) 165/187bpm 117cal
3) 1m - 8:21(8:21/m) 178/190bpm 109cal (2nd bigger hill)
4) 1m - 8:04(8:05/m) 178/186bpm 122cal
5) 1m - 7:57(7:57/m) 180/189bpm 118cal
6) 1m - 7:53(7:53/m) 179/188bpm 71cal
7) 1m - 7:54(7:54/m) 175/183bpm 112cal
8) 1m - 8:04(8:04/m) 180/189bpm 81cal (1st hill repeated)
9) 1m - 7:53(7:53/m) 181/187bpm 90cal
10) 1m - 8:26(8:26/m) 182/189bpm 91cal (bigger hill again)
11) 1m - 8:01(8:01/m) 181/189bpm 116cal
12) 1m - 7:52(7:52/m) 171/190bpm 22cal
13) 1m - 7:55(7:55/m) 153/170bpm 64cal
14) 1m - 7:45(7:45/m) 151/169bpm 98cal (1st hill final time)
15) 1m - 7:45(7:45/m) 163/184bpm 126cal
16) 1m - 8:00(8:00/m) 184/191bpm 114cal (bigger hill final time)
17) 1m - 7:53(7:53/m) 183/187bpm 85cal
18) 1m - 8:01(8:01/m) 182/191bpm 135cal
19) 1m - 7:59(7:59/m) 185/191bpm 92cal
20) 0.98m - 7:25(7:34/m) 184/192bpm 117cal

Sunday, 1 March 2015

February Month 4 - Motivation Waning

Something was missing in February, just couldn't get myself up for some runs, particularly anything over 10 miles. There is some lingering illness in the background which might it explain it, but I'm not totally convinced. Had a really good start to the month with a 1:35 at Great Bentley Half Marathon but didn't really kick on after that. I did manage to run on 16 of the 28 days so meeting my 4 a week minimum run target.

Managed to achieve:
1 x Hill Session
2 x Intervals both 10 x 400m
1 x 5K parkrun
1 x Half Marathon
4 x Commutes home at 7.5 miles a time
5 x General / Steady/ Easy runs (5-9 miles)
1 x 10 Mile
1 x Half Marathon distance training run

Total of 118 miles so my highest mileage for the month of February ever, and my 5th highest mileage month in the 70 I've been doing this game. So not all bad. I now have 8 weeks until Stratford Marathon and when my racing really starts to ramp up. Hoping the mojo is returned to full force in March putting me in good shape to crush my existing PB's into the ground.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Great Bentley Half Marathon 2015

Well that was a tough but successful half marathon. Pete set a target of 1:35-1:40 and I fancied something sub 1:38. In the end my Garmin has me at 1:35:19.

Conditions were pretty perfect, more wind than forecast and it is quite an exposed course but very flat, with a few bridges and inclines in the second half but nothing much. Roads open to the public so always wary of cars but generally just a very quiet and laid back half marathon down quiet country lanes. My favourite type of course for running well.

I set off feeling strong and the pace was looking way too hot, 1:35 is 4:30's and 1:40 is 4:45's. Tried to ease off after 5km and thought if I could just keep chucking out sub 4:30's I was looking at 1:32-1:33 managed that through to halfway but then had my first split slower than 4:30 through km 12.

Body then seemed to settle into 4:40-4:50 pace and I then gave myself sub 5min km through to the finish to give myself a time I could be happy with. Where I had started strong and not worrying about the watch, now I was checking the watch 3 times a km and just digging in.

Last 5km were a real effort and people were now drifting past me, a few little uphills weren't too welcome either but having run this race twice I could picture the final km and that keep me trucking on.

Probably need to work on my core strength as I felt myself losing form as the fatigue began to bite. Managed to hold the pace together and found some strength on the grass finish to take over 4 or 5 of those runners that had taken me over on the run in.

Crept over 1:35 but that was ok, once the pain came after halfway I knew the time would be what it would be. A good marker for my Marathon and my other races this year and I will be attacking my PB at Southend and if not the Half Marathon in November.

Sore throat and runny nose didn't seem to affect me too much today. Am absolutely shattered now. Bath and some proper food will see me right.

Section splits
5km - 21:27
10km - 21:52 (+25)
15km - 22:59 (+7)
20km - 23:53 (+54)
21.1km - 05:07

Heart Rate:
Endurance - 1%
Moderate - 2%
Tempo - 15%
Threshold - 60%
Anaerobic - 22%

Split Summary
1) 0.62m - 4:10(6:43/m) 145/170bpm 17cal
2) 0.62m - 4:13(6:47/m) 175/179bpm 23cal
3) 0.62m - 4:15(6:50/m) 183/188bpm 76cal
4) 0.62m - 4:22(7:02/m) 180/185bpm 65cal
5) 0.62m - 4:27(7:09/m) 169/176bpm 46cal

6) 0.62m - 4:16(6:52/m) 164/172bpm 14cal
7) 0.62m - 4:23(7:03/m) 173/177bpm 58cal
8) 0.62m - 4:26(7:08/m) 172/176bpm 61cal
9) 0.62m - 4:28(7:12/m) 173/177bpm 74cal
10) 0.62m - 4:19(6:57/m) 185/191bpm 77cal

11) 0.62m - 4:20(6:59/m) 181/187bpm 76cal
12) 0.62m - 4:34(7:22/m) 180/189bpm 64cal
13) 0.62m - 4:38(7:27/m) 170/175bpm 81cal
14) 0.62m - 4:46(7:40/m) 167/173bpm 83cal
15) 0.62m - 4:41(7:31/m) 174/181bpm 81cal

16) 0.62m - 4:43(7:36/m) 179/183bpm 83cal
17) 0.62m - 4:40(7:30/m) 180/188bpm 81cal
18) 0.62m - 4:49(7:45/m) 183/186bpm 84cal
19) 0.62m - 4:47(7:42/m) 191/195bpm 83cal
20) 0.62m - 4:54(7:54/m) 194/202bpm 85cal

21) 0.62m - 4:43(7:36/m) 195/200bpm 82cal
22) 0.07m - 24(5:27/m) 191/191bpm 6cal

Saturday, 31 January 2015

January - Month 3 - Work, Running and Mileage Near Miss

Another good month on the road to the Shakespeare Marathon and hopefully a 2015 PB filled year. January is always a tough running month for me, with lots of work pressures and hours in the office combined with short days and generally pretty uninviting weather. We were lucky with the weather this January in the main, but I did have a fun run in freshly fallen snow on Friday. I managed to get out running on 19 of the 31 days and for a combined mileage of 156. Made up of the following runs:

3 x parkruns (21:37, 20:35, 20:17)
4 x Long runs(12, 16, 16 and 17 miles)
1 x Hill session
4 x Commute
1 x Tempo
2 x Intervals
4 x Easy/General/Recovery runs

Got back into the Nellers training group and did the 10 x 400m session and the hills, but had to miss the 6 x 800m after finishing work too late. Enjoy the group environment and really pushed myself in both sessions. May have over done it a little in the hills session, because I then had to take a couple of days off to let my body heal up and all from 13 minutes of hard running!

The long runs were eventful at times, had to go exploring on one run as I run out of street lighting on my planned route and on another of my runs I just bonked completely and had no energy so had to make an unplanned Lucozade and Wine Gum stop in order to get myself home. Will look to stretch the long run out after my Half Marathon in February so I start to hit 20 miles and hopefully sort out the nutrition issues I've had.

Ran home from the office 5 times, 1 of which I pushed the pace and made it home in well under an hour so have shown that as tempo run. Also tried out a new longer route home and I can extend that out if needed and that made a nice change from my regular route.

With work being tough I opted for the train as my main form of transport to and from the office but did cycle to and from the office on two occasions for a combined 30 miles.

Aside from that it was just some steady runs. I did miss the odd run in the month which would have meant a record high mileage month but I fell 2 miles short of last months 158. Not too disappointed as I am sure the record will go soon and this January has seen me run more than 50 miles further than any of my previous 5 efforts. So January's running is in the bank and I hope that I will enjoy the benefits of it next week at the Great Bentley Half Marathon.

Wednesday, 31 December 2014

December - Month 2 - Record Mileage, Visitors and Eating

The month of December is always my favourite month of the year and this year was no exception. It was the last Christmas at my parents house as they move to pastures new in the New Year. We managed to get the whole family together for it, including my brother and his wife who were over from Sydney, my other brother and his girlfriend who were down from Lincolnshire for the holidays and my sister and her boyfriend as well as my parents. We also had my wife's Mum, Brother and Dog down for a few nights and so we were either hosting or being hosted for much of the holidays. Also our friends Amy and Col were back from China and so we paid them a visit or two in Sandy and also managed to fit in a day trip to Stratford upon Avon. All in all a very busy holiday period. The beginning of December was also busy at work. This all meant fitting in exercise would require some desire and some planning.

Thankfully I made time and as well as a little cycle commuting I managed to run a fair bit. I ran on 20 days and for a combined mileage of 158 miles another big record mileage month for me. I doubled up on a few days, nothing serious a couple of warm ups for the parkruns I ran and a lovely run in Sandy with my friend Amy who has recently had her first child. In total I completed 23 runs as follows:

6 x Commutes - Run commutes home of 7.5 miles each.
2 x parkruns - 20:13 with Joe and 20:17 with Luke both big improvements on any of my parkruns in the last couple of years.
2 x parkrun warm ups
1 x Run with Amy
3 x Long Runs - 2 x 17 miles and 1 x HM with Joe really pushing the pace in the last 5km.
1 x Tempo Run - 7 Miles at 7:15 min miles. Very pleasing.
8 x Easy/Steady/General runs - Distances ranging from 5 miles to 7.5 miles.

So 6 quality sessions with the parkruns, the long runs and the tempo run. I was very pleased with the outcomes of all of these (other than losing to my younger siblings in both parkruns) I am starting to see the benefits of two big mileage months back to back. I also enjoyed running with Luke, Joe and Amy. Running is the perfect setting for a catch up.

I have a parkrun planned for tomorrow to start the New Year and then my first big race to really measure my progress is the Great Bentley Half Marathon in early February. Still not sure on time targets for that race, but the results of that will strongly influence what I will target in the Marathon in April. Another month in the bank, now a busy January at work to get through and to fit my training around that. I will be back tomorrow to write up my parkrun result and to have a run down of 2014 in it's entirety.

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.