Busy busy

I thought weekends were supposed to be relaxing?! I seemed to dash about like a mad thing. There’s an element of being out of routine, which always makes things seem different. Started with a more relaxing early morning,  not having to be out of the house quite as early as usual. Ringing was for the Remembrance day service, so we didn’t need to be there until 10:15, rather than the usual 8:45. Half muffled ringing sounds lovely, but we don’t get to practice too often.

Home, then a bit of a potter about until the Grand prix started at 1. Lunch during the preamble, so we were ready for the off. It wasn’t a cracker, but had moments of interest. Would have been interesting to see if Hamilton could have stayed with Vettel, but the puncture at least gave us a different winner. Then, as soon as they’d finished, I started sorting out to get off for a run. Downed a pint of squash, but didn’t have quite as long to let it settle as I normally would; what with needing to get the joint in the oven for dinner and the darkening evenings I had to get on with it.

Went out in short-sleeved top, as I need to save the three long-sleeved versions for the evening runs in mid-week. But I did add my new lightweight gloves to the ensemble. I did think that was a mistake initially. For someone who always has cold hands, they seem to overheat very quickly when out running. Within a mile they were sweating, and I did think this was going to be uncomfortable. But they seemed to stay at that state, and not get any hotter, in which case that was bearable.

Set off aiming to do 10 miles. Down to the sailing club lake and round there as usual. However, the last 3 or so miles of the usual route are along a fast back road with no lights and no pavement. I’d not put the reflective vest or head torch I would usually wear in the dark on, as it hadn’t been dark when I’d left, but it was getting dark now. I decided to change plan, and headed back towards town. I figured that I could run around town, keeping to footpaths in a bit more safety than a dark road. And so the last few miles were a bit made up as I went along, and I got back to the end of our road with 9 miles showing on the Garmin. Made a decision to call it quits at that point – not as far as I’d have wanted, but far enough.

 Facts & Figures
Distance – 9.03 miles
Time – 1:50:54
Average Pace – 12.17 minute miles.

Which is reasonable. Brings me to what I’d be prepared to bet is my highest weekly mileage, at a grand total of 23-24 ish (a bit ish due to 2 Garmin-less runs). The intention for this week is to try and run 5,6,5 during the week and 8 at the weekend. It’s my next half in 2 weeks and I want to have an all out go at that before knuckling down to Marathon training as of the 28th November. It’s getting awfully close now!

PGER race report

9th October 2011, Perkins Great Eastern Run.

After my fretting about the weather, the forecast on Sunday morning was overcast, not too hot (16 degrees) a bit breezy (11 mph) and dry. Well it managed to be not far from the mark, with cloud cover all the way and no rain. It was a bit muggy initially, but not dreadfully hot. The wind caught a few times, especially a head wind on one or two of the return stretches, but it was better than the midweek forecast had looked!

Laid everything out Saturday evening, clothes to run in, club vest, extra layers to keep warm initially and put back on afterwards and my race bag; complete with number, chip, towel, water, map, car park permit, some money and cereal bars to refuel afterwards.

Number pinned on vest.

Race day dawned and we’d decided not to watch either the rugby or the Grand prix live, it would all be a bit too tight for time, so a lie in until gone 7 am. Porridge & coffee for breakfast, with a pint of squash to hydrate properly. They say don’t do anything new on race day, but I’m certainly not dressed and ready to leave 2 hours ahead of a training run! Left home just before 9 am, to make sure I got there in plenty of time – hate being late, even a bit. Parked in my usual Peterborough carpark, not nearest to either start or finish, but knowing where you’re going is worth the extra few minutes walk. Plenty of parking spaces, so was fretting for nothing – as usual.

Walked into the Cathedral square and managed to locate a bunch of people from the club, all loitering with intent near the loos! Jigged about nervously, with the best part of an hour to kill until the start. After pinning my number to shirt, and sorting out chip, garmin etc and what I was going to wear, (pink T-shirt with green club vest – maybe not the most stylish combination ever) it was time to strip down to the running gear, stash the spare clothes in the bag & hand in to the baggage truck. Then the ritual queue for the loo and a last-minute pee. Avoided the mass warmup, they strike me as a waste of time and energy! I’m about to run 13 miles, I’ll be quite warmed up enough after jogging the first half mile, thank you very much.

Called to the start line and we headed down the road en masse. I stopped first, having an estimated race time of 2 hours 30. Various other people had a fair old walk towards the front of the start funnel. And then it started. Towards the back this never happens in the sudden way it does at the front; it’s more a walk forward, then a shuffle before breaking into a slow jog, hopefully before the start line! Started the Garmin at the start line, and set off.

I’d like to think I’m an intelligent person, who can learn from mistakes, so why is it I can’t seem to start a run at a sensible pace? I mean, I was planning for 11:30 minutes per mile, so what on earth made me set off at 10:45 for the first mile? I tried to slow, but the next mile wasn’t much better, at 11 minutes. And that’s about the pace I stayed at for the first half. It was feeling OK, and there comes a point where trying to run slower just starts feeling unnatural; so I went with it, knowing the wheels were going to fall off sometime, it was just a matter of when. Went through 6 miles (just under 10k) in under 65 minutes. That’s barely outside my 10k PB pace! That is seriously insane!!

From somewhere in the first mile, I’d been running near another lady running on her own, wearing a Run London (North) shirt. Not necessarily with each other, just alongside. It was quite companionable, exchanging the odd word – most noticeably when one of the Macmillan fundraisers in green net tutu and bright green thong ran past – hairy male bum isn’t what you expect to see in a race! I made half way in 1:11, a good 4 minutes ahead of target schedule. At this point I saw Karen. She runs at the club in a much faster group, but I’ve met her at the ladies’ runs & know her by name and hobby – baking cakes. She said she’d recently had a cold, and was feeling ropey, so rather than plough round for a poor (by her standards) time, she waited for me, to run me in. Awww, how completely sweet was that!

So then there were 3, me, unknown lady & Karen, all going along at about 11 minutes per mile. Somewhere about mile 8 we had a faster mile, and it just about did for me. From there on it all started to hurt quite a lot. The lady I’d been running with went on at her own pace, and very good she was looking too when I last saw her. Not long after mile 9 I stopped and walked just after an underpass. grrr. Not impressed with myself, but I was feeling hot, faint, dizzy and slightly sick – almost certainly with hunger, as I could feel my stomach clapping together. With Karen cajoling, encouraging and doing a very good sergeant major impression, I kept going at a much reduced pace. Having gone to half way ahead of target, I knew I could afford to slow, but not by too much. Walking too far will quickly add many minutes to a race time.

So, keeping half an eye on the Garmin, I tried to keep it all going. The clock tells the tale, mile 8 – 10:46, mile 9 – 11:31, mile 10 – 11:52, mile 11 – 12:52.

 The Garmin's verdict

Just before the 11 mile marker was the last water station. At the other stations I’d been mainly throwing water at my face and neck/chest to cool down, just swigging a bit to wet my mouth, but here I slowed to a walk and drank the entire bottle. Don’t know if this made a difference physically or just psychologically, but I did start feeling better from here. Not to say it was easy, but the last 2 miles were certainly better, and speeding up, 11:59 and 11:04 respectively. With Karen doing a spectacular job of chivvying me along, I didn’t stop again. In fact she even encouraged something I might actually describe as a sprint finish out of me! Last 0.1 mile was at 8:33 pace! The finish comes through an avenue of trees, then a slight bend and the finish chute opens up down a field. I’d started speeding up before the avenue, so that it was full steam train mode down the finish chute and about half way along I could hear those of the club that had already finished shouting and cheering me on. At that point I was very pleased to have conjured the finish out of myself, as to have been walking in the face of that support would have been dreadfully embarrassing.

Crossed the line with a gun time of 2:30, and a chip time of 2:27:28. Personal best by almost 10 minutes, which was astounding! I certainly wouldn’t have knocked that chunk off without Karen’s help in the second half. Second half was 3 minutes longer than the first. Some brilliant data available on the RunPix website. In case that doesn’t work, I’m number 341 and it’s the Great Eastern Run 2011. Despite how poorly I thought the second half went, I overtook more people than overtook me between half way and the end. Find that surprising, as it didn’t feel that way!

T shirt & nice shiny medal for the collection

Had my chip removed, as there was no way I was going to be able to reach my ankles, by a lovely volunteer who let me lean on her for a minute or two. Then collected a lovely cotton goody bag, water, bottle, T-shirt, medal (I do love a good medal), more water and a banana! The water and banana didn’t last 5 minutes, and certainly went someway to making me feel better. Collected my bag and we wandered down to where the club had gathered. At this point the legs cried “enough” and I just had to sit down. Took my time having a stretch, then a slow hobble back to the car, another stretch and then drove home. Once home we watched the Grand prix (which was really good), while I had yet another stretch on the carpet in front of the TV – inviting several strange comments from the beloved!

Today I’ve been feeling dreadfully stiff in the hip, and my left ankle was hurting badly this morning. I may have left for work in shoes, but I soon resorted to a pair of comfy trainers, which looked really stylish when worn with a skirt & tights! But I’ve kept moving all day and it’s all beginning to feel a bit less of a struggle – although stairs are still not my friends.

And I get to do it all again in 6 weeks time at St Neots. hmm, what pace would I have to get sub 2:25…

Just a quickie

Thursday’s usually club night, but I had a prior engagement with work for a meal out. We’re always here, there and everywhere, such that getting us all in one place is usually impossible. And so it proved tonight, despite the very long lead time on the booking.

That being the case, I thought I’d better get out for a few miles between finishing work & heading off to the pub for the meal. I changed at work and went out to do a lap of the country park. Having looked at the map I thought I could work out where I was supposed to go, but I did get a tiny bit lost on the way. Nothing drastic, just a deadend and a fence I had no intention of climbing over, but it didn’t take me too far out of my way. Took another minor detour to explore a path that headed out towards the dual carriageway. I have considered trying to run home, so wanted to see where this went. Having discovered it goes under the road (phew) I turned back to the country park.

Got a bit distracted here, as there was a balloon in the process of preparing for launch. I bet that was a good ride, clear blue skies and only gentle breezes must have made for great views as well as a comfortable trip – or as comfortable as you can be in a picnic basket dangling in the air! Was paying rather too much attention to the balloon and not enough to the track beneath my feet – which soon made an effort to be the track beneath nose when I caught my foot on a hollow and very nearly landed flat. That’ll serve me right for being nosy.

Managed to forget the Garmin, so no reliable record of distance, but a nice easy 32 minutes plodded and back to work to shower and change back into something more respectable before going to eat. Meal was very good – even if I wasn’t. I couldn’t quite resist the dessert menu and had a Praline, chocolate & amaretto Torte with ice cream. mmmm. Well worth every calorie…

In the cool of the evening

Another day late posting – this was Tuesday night’s effort. Working away from home sure does mess up my posting…

After a really foggy start, the day brightened into the gorgeous indian summer we’d been promised. I never have that much faith in the weather forecast, but clear skies and sunshine was promised and duly arrived. So come end of work, I do a quick change and head out. It’s still nice and warm at 6 pm, so short sleeves were the only possible choice. Come 7 pm and the end of the run and it’s an entirely different matter. The temperature dropped really obviously as the sun dipped below the horizon, in a blaze of crimson clouds streaking across the darkening sky. At that point I did begin to wonder if long sleeves wouldn’t have been a better idea – just a tad chilly!

Beginning the run in to my next half marathon, so not going out for distance, but this one was intended to get into the habit of running at my intended half marathon pace. To get round in closer to 2hours 30, I need to be running 11:30 min/miles, so that was the intention.

Figures:
Distance – 5.76 (yes, I overshot the 5.75!)
Time – 1:07:13
Average Pace – 11:41 min/miles.

On the surface that looks pretty good. However, if I look at the run, I can see that each time I stop and have to start, I set off too fast, pace down in the 10:xx min/mile range. Having said that, I do tend to settle down into a steady pace after a short time, so maybe I just need to make sure I’m not stopping & starting. At least in a race scenario I’m unlikely to have to wait for the lights to change or for the level crossing to lift – both of which got in the way of a consistent run last night!

It actually felt fairly easy. I was getting a bit concerned about pace and, at least to start with, spent  some time checking the Garmin and its pace readout – both instantaneous and lap average. However, as I settled down, I checked it less and just went along with the feeling. Steady breathing at 3 strides for inhale and exhale seemed to work for almost the entire distance, which is a useful piece of information. I felt I could have gone on quite easily, although if I’ve got the capacity to run more than the distance again at that pace, I’m not sure. I’ll just have to set out and see where the wheels fall of the wagon – and hope it’s not at mile 7!