What have you done today to make you feel proud

I was tempted to title this as “dummm dubby dum dubby-dubby dum dummm” but feared that only about 2 people might get the reference. That is (obviously) the start of the BBC’s F1 theme tune, taken from Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”. A match made in mixing heaven, and a short burst of notes that I have known for as long as I can remember. I’m from a family of F1 fans, and so today’s half marathon at Silverstone (the home of Formula 1) was a joy to run – both as a run and as a motor racing nut’s chance to take to the track.

The traffic into (and out of – more of which later) is always a bit iffy, sometimes you’re in with no issue, at others you can queue for hours on the A43. Todays wasn’t too bad, a bit congested, but not really awful. Not me driving, a car full of us from the club had met up and merged into one vehicle. So we arrived in good time and now had about an hour to kill before the race start. That meant the usual preparation took place at a leisurely pace. Loo stop, banana, fire up the Garmin, get all the kit on, stash the bag, team photo (I wouldn’t mind skipping this bit!) and a final, just-in-case loo stop were achieved in good time.

I also met up with another running friend, Tref. He’s running 12 different events in 12 months for two charities that work with Autism, and you can read more about his mad quest here. I’ll be seeing him again at Brighton. We hung about on the start line, wondering at the sanity of the man carrying a pylon and the two stilt walkers who were lined up near us. As the start approached, I said bye to Tref & headed forward to the 2:30 finish bracket. I was aiming at faster than this, but I find it easier to keep the initial pace under control if I start a little bit back.

And we’re off. Shuffled forward until the crowd in front launched into a run, for once actually before the start line. Set the Garmin to go and set off. Tried to focus and not get carried away, and didn’t do too bad a job. There’s something very inspiring about seeing a great mass of humanity heading along in a ribbon; as I entered Stowe, I could see them disappearing behind the new Wing and there were a fair few people out today. I could see the 11 min/mile pacer ahead of me, and caught them as we went through the Vale for the first time. That seemed reasonable, I’d started behind them and was heading along within the target pace fairly easily. Ran up the new start/finish straight, alongside the Wing and round onto the new extension loop. Interesting little loop, with some elevation change as you head into one of the corners. Then it was back onto the old track, in the Complex, where I finally passed Andy (having been shadowing him for a while) and a water stop. I drank some, but a considerable portion of the bottle ended up being poured on my face, neck and back.

Then round the pits and onto the infield. The addition of the new extension loop has meant that there were fewer up-and-back section in the infield, which made for a better race, 180 degree bends are tricky and energy sapping. The most exciting bit was we ran up the new pit lane. The F1 geek in me was thrilled! Somewhere here the winner finished. I think I’d just cleared half way, but it was tight! But, it is worth noting I arrived at 6 miles in 1:02, faster than my (out of date) 10k PB. Once Brighton’s done, I will be having a serious crack at the shorted distances…

After this, we headed up to the two bridges over the track. It was noticeable how many people were spectating, and the support was quite considerable in easily accessible places. These two track crossing bridges are the steepest hills on the course and I managed to steam up the pair – I like the challenge, up on the toes and get them over and done with! And so out onto the perimeter road. The second water station was not far down here and I again drank some and wore the rest. Even took my cap half off and poured some on my head – golly, that felt good!

It's a bit of a scribble when viewed like this!

This is a long way round, but there was a fair amount of support, especially as we headed back up towards the outside of Copse. It’s at this stage that you can see the track and the runners finishing – and I’ve still got 3+ miles to go. Slightly concerning, there were several people obviously struggling and an ambulance heading back towards the medical centre. I can understand how it could all get a bit much – it was rather hot. But I didn’t resort to pouring Lucozade on my head – unlike one particularly sticky chap not far in front of me. I can’t imagine that felt terrible pleasant once it evaporated!

Back onto the track and past the last water station. About here I passed Mary, who was beginning to struggle in the heat. We had a shorter run back, not having to go round the new loop, instead it was along under the bridge at Bridge and back to Abbey. Down past the Wing again, and the tune from which I’ve taken today’s title came on. This has a habit of getting under my skin, because it isn’t often in life we can point to something that makes us glow with pride, but today was going to be one of those days.

After my concerns earlier in the week about the weather, it had been clear and no more than breezy all day. So it’s ironic that the only time I really noticed a breeze was when it was a head wind as we returned up Hangar Straight (neither straight nor anything like as flat as it appears on the TV). I was trying to pick up the pace, and still hadn’t quite given up on a 2:15 time, but it had been tight at 10 miles, which came up at 103 minutes. That left 32 minutes for 3.1 miles, which is quite quick, especially after 10 miles.  I knew I’d need a sub 10 minute final mile and it just wasn’t happening.

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 13.1 miles (Garmin 13.27 miles)
Time – 2:16:44 (official time 2:16:41 – even better!)
Average Pace – 10:18 min/miles

Splits times - not too bad!

Pleased to report that the splits look pretty even. Aim was to set out at between 10:20 and 10:30 per mile and try to speed up after 10, aiming for an optomistic 2:15 finish. The pace is pretty much there, with no more than 17 seconds between fastest & slowest mile up to 10 miles. But there was not quite enough left to up the pace towards the last few miles. I did try, but it wasn’t quite enough. Still, that’s a 3 minute PB and I managed to knock 20 minutes off the time I posted here last year in my first half marathon. That’s not to be sniffed at in 12 months.
Crossed the line, after having mustered the requisite sprint(ish) finish and stopped the watch. had my chip cut off and collected the goody bag – with the bottle of water which lasted about 30 seconds! And my race medal – I do like a good medal. Found the rest of the club and was most pleased to make acquaintance with my milkshake (still quite cool) and banana. Having flopped on to the floor, I did have to get on all fours before I could stand up again, but a bit of a stretch made everything feel a bit better. Swapped my sweaty top for the finisher’s T-shirt, because I knew that I’d soon cool down being that wet. Actually I was quite pleased that I managed to walk to the car without too much trouble (although I did step carefully on and off each kerb). Tim negotiated getting us out of the car park and then it was back to the meeting point to collect the car. It was very nice to not have to drive straight away, instead I sat in the car and shuffled about a bit, able to move the legs freely in the spacious back seats.

Several learning points to take on board for the next warm race. I need to either get over my hangup about wearing a vest – or get some sleeves added to it. Wearing 2 layers on a hot day is asking for trouble. Also,  pouring water over your front doesn’t cool you down too much, due to the multi-layered iron-constructed undergarment that holds everything in place. It also has a tendency to make the tissues stuffed into said garment rather damp and ineffective as nose wipes.

So mission accomplished: one shiny PB achieved, in a good, confidence boosting style. I’m sure 2:15 is achievable, but maybe on a less hot day. Plugging that into the training paces calculator shows that MP should now be about 11 min/miles, which is where MP training runs have ended up – maybe the body did know what it was doing, all along!

It’s a beautiful new day

This week has mostly been concerned with taking things a little easy, and getting prepared for the Silverstone half marathon this weekend.

After Tuesday’s run got canned, I did go out both Wednesday & Thursday, and both were alright. Nothing too fast, and the niggles in the legs have worked their way out – although the foot still has a tendency to creak a bit. Maybe that’s just age…

Wednesday was a run from home this week, so I took advantage of the lighter evenings to head out for a lap of the sailing club, then a loop round town to finish. After Sunday’s extreme weather, there was at least no rain and the skies were clear, but it was still rather blowy. Cold when you were in the wind, but OK otherwise. 2 layers plus windproof meant that I didn’t suffer like Sunday as well. It was quite surprising how firm the ground was, a few puddles, but I was expecting a lot worse after the amount of rain that fell. but there’s been very little rain recently, so it’s probably just gone straight into the ground. Got round the lake in good time  and was back onto tarmac before the light failed completely. That coincided with the 5 miles easy, meaning that the 3 at MP were at least on tarmac and not mud. Picked the pace up Ok, but drifted up in speed for the last one. Last miles were in the gathering gloom, with the street lights coming on.

Thursday was a loop with Janet, then another, shorter one, on my own. Not quite as fast as usual, which suited me fine – an easy run being just the ticket. I got back to work to be greeted by someone asking how the run had gone. When I said 5&1/4 miles, they pointed out that I’ve got to go 5 times that distance at Brighton. That’s not exactly a comfortable thought, but it’s not totally scary either. We then had a discussion on the art of pacing, and somehow a half marathon became a boys day out to the rugby with a selection of ales on tap. A marathon being a whole weekend stag do – it’s all about pacing – not letting anyone get more than one pint ahead, and sticking to a good session beer, not starting on the Stella!

Facts & Figures: (Weds/Thurs)
Distance – 8.02 / 5.25
Time – 1:36:30 / 1:03:04
Average pace – 12:02/12:01

So that’s a respectable set of figures. Just got Silverstone to race now. I’ve been told to try and race it hard, as that will be a good indication of where the training has got me. I ought to expect a good PB simply based on an increased training mileage. However, there would be nothing worse than heading out too fast and then slowing as I’ve run out of energy – that would not be a good for the confidence. My PB time averages out at 10:40 pace. So I’m going to go out at something  between 10:20 and 10:30, with the intention of trying tp pick that up after half way. If it goes to plan, I ought to PB by 3-4 minutes, which would be pretty good if it worked. The weather forecast isn’t looking too bad. Silverstone’s an ex airfield, so it is rather exposed and very bleak if the weather’s bad. But the wind is due to drop and temperatures are in double figures. Should be OK. Just need to pack everything and make my way there… Wish me luck!

St Neots Race Report

It was cold & foggy as I got up to get ready for todays half marathon. I’d decided on short sleeve shirt, with club vest over it. I added cap (to keep hair out of my face) and my longest shorts – a mid calf length pair. At the last minute I threw in my new light gloves, thinking that with short sleeves the hands might get extra cold. To keep warm before and after, I also wore some tracky bottoms & my club hoodie. The one item of clothing you’d think it impossible to put on back to front would be a hoodie, but, this morning, I managed it. Not sure how, and it took me an embarrassingly long time to work out why it all felt quite so odd!

Breakfast was porridge, coffee & a pint of squash, just to keep the liquid levels well topped up. And off I went in the car. Really heavy fog most of the way there, but, fortunately, very little traffic until I approached the race HQ. Here there were an assortment of cadets directing traffic to parking places, so I parked up and followed the mass of people towards the HQ. Collected my number and found some other club people. Gradually sorted myself out, including having my pre-run banana, getting clothing on and putting the bag in the baggage store. We had a short walk to the race start, and I hung about at the back of the pack in order to not get distracted into going off too fast – for I had a plan…

The plan was to run at 11 min/miles until one of three things happened:

  1. The wheels fell of the wagon and I walked/ran to the end
  2. I reached the finish in a (hopefully) new PB of 2:25 ish
  3. I got to 10/11 miles and picked the pace up.

1 shouldn’t happen, 2 was my probable scenario and 3 was going to be all my Christmases come at once.

The gun went off and we gradually moved forward to the start. It was still rather foggy at this stage, although the sun was threatening to break through. I set off at approximately my planned pace and it didn’t take very long before I found myself pretty much last. I can’t say I spent a lot of time checking to see if this was the case, but I was certainly not aware of anyone behind me for easily the first 3 miles. This race has a 2:30 cut off, and there are very few, if any, times beyond this in previous years. But I tried not to let it bother me, and just to concentrate on my race.

At 2 miles I dug into my shorts pocket for the first of the jelly beans I’d bought along for energy. One a mile until they ran out at mile 10. Realised that I couldn’t open the packet in gloves, so these were removed & tucked in the bra for safekeeping. Yet another reason why running is not a fashion statement sport! The hands were warm enough by this time, so it wasn’t a hardship running without them.

It was very strange to see people spreading out into the distance and disappearing into the murk! It was very still and quiet, with no breeze to shift the fog and no bird song. All in all a rather odd sensation.

I tried to keep going at about the same pace, ignoring other people, but, sometime after 5 miles, I noticed that I was starting to catch & pass people. This doesn’t usually happen to me! I tried not to get carried away, and overtake them fast, rather to just creep up on them and then overtake gradually. It’s a major mistake to speed up in order to overtake fast, as it ruins the rhythm and uses energy that you’ll need later. At about 6 miles, I caught Andy, the first of the other runners with my club. Just before 7 I caught Maria. This was her first half, and it sounded as if she’d gone out too fast, so she ran with me for the next mile & half, but was starting to slow and so I carried on. She came in with a good 2:30 time, a respectable time for a first attempt at the distance.  These weren’t the only people I caught, but the club do support each other.

As we headed past 7 miles, the sun finally came out and it was a beautiful day. Blue skies and clear, but still breezeless. Very nice to run in, actually. At 10 miles I realised I was 2 minutes ahead of my 11 min/mile target, and thought that if I picked the pace a little, I might stand a chance of 2:20, rather than just breaking 2:25. So I sped up a little, trying to get down to 10:30 min/miles. I carried on catching people, concentrating on one at a time, and not trying to speed past them, but just head down and reel them in. It seemed to be working.

As I passed 12 miles, I saw I had just about 11 minutes to get to the finish in 2:20. I thought that had to be worth a go. All the information about this race proclaims a downhill finish, so I started to really wind it up and make the most of the slight gradient. I was slightly surprised that I was able to find this in myself, and it really did start to hurt here. But that last mile went by. I hope you’ll forgive me if I didn’t bother trying to hit the lap button on the Garmin as I went through 13 miles, saved the energy for what was, by now, something approaching a steam train in full flight. No, it wasn’t pretty, but it did exactly what was required, and I stopped the watch at the finish in 2:19:58.

I can’t pursuade the picture of the garmin data to upload, so hopefully you can see it here. Doc2 As you’ll be able to see from the splits, not too bad. Certainly not for me, anyway!

I can’t decide which I’m more proud of, the fact that I ran to the race plan, and executed it so well, or the time. 2:20 is 7.5 minutes off my last PB, and this time I did it all by myself.

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!

Time is relative

And not just in Physics, it seems.

Since saying I’m going to run a marathon, people have asked me how long I think it’ll take. I don’t have a target time in mind – for this the aim is simply to finish. If I can finish in a time faster than I could theoretically walk the distance in (about 6.5 hours) I’ll be happy. It’s also a question that is asked when you signup for a larger marathon, in order to allocate you an appropriate start pen. I went for 5:30 to 6:00 as a conservative estimate.

But for training it’s important to have a time in mind, in order to know what pace to train at. It becomes a bit of a circular argument; in order to know what pace to train at, you need to know what time you’re capable of, but knowing that before having completed is always going to be open to a bit of guesswork. So there are a number of race time calculators available, all of which use a recent race time and then produce an estimate of your likely time for another distance. They will tend to be more accurate when using distances that are closer – calculating a marathon time from 5 k is open to larger distortion than using a half marathon time. To that end I used my recent half marathon PB of 2:27:28 to see what range of marathon times were produced.

Runworks   5:02:06
Runner’s World UK     5:07:27
McMillan    5:11:00
Running Times 5:13:24
Liebreich 5:21:18
Running Free – anything from 5:01 to 5:33

All of which leaves me really none the wiser than I was before! 30 minute spread in marathon times is a minute per mile difference, which is not inconsiderable. I may as well work on the simple half to full converter of “double it and add 20 mins”, which comes in at 5:15. That has the advantage of being in the middle of the spread and a nice round number, it works out as a smidge over 12 min/miles. Easy to remember at least.

I’m slightly surprised to see that all bar one of the predictions are under 5:30; which seems to suggest that 5:30 should be achievable. Let’s not get carried away though, finish is the goal. You never know, I could leave going for a good time for the next one…

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…

D-Day minus 1

All the books & advice on running suggest that the day before a race should be a relaxing experience. You need to sort out the things you need for the race, but generally just chill a bit and not over stress either mind or body. Be sensible about what you eat and have an early night, so that you’re raring to go tomorrow.

So far today I have:

  • got up stupidly early to watch an excellent rugby match between Wales & Ireland. And while my soft spot is for Ireland, Wales did play out of their very attractive tight tops and were clearly the better side.
  • got rather stressed watching England loose at rugby to France. Expletives were shouted, it was that bad. The French obviously had their one exceptional game and will now slump back into the completely dismal form they’ve displayed so far this tournament. (Yes, I’ll be supporting the Welsh in a week’s time)
  • got a little hot under the collar watching the F1 qualifying from Suzuka, which got a little eventful at one or two moments
  • dug out my winter coat & been shopping
  • managed to find my race number, which was more complicated than it sounds, seeing it arrived über efficiently 8 weeks ago and I had carefully put it “in a safe place”… 
  • not yet sorted what I’m going to wear, as the forecast seems to change each time I look at it. See here, that looks cold, wet & windy. Although it’s looking up, with now only 1 raindrop for 10 am, not two.

So, thus far, the day before a race has not been that restful experience it should be. Will it improve? Later today, I have a quiz night with fish & chip supper to look forward to, with indeterminate finishing time. Not only do I get overly competitive at quizzes; this one has been known to go on a bit late, depending on the tendency of the quizmaster to waffle (not a tendency that lowers my blood pressure any). That doesn’t promise to be a restful experience either. 

And tomorrow morning might not be much better, with dilemmas about watching the Grand Prix before I leave for the race, or having to wait until I get home to watch the recording, by which time I’ll probably know the result. Conversely, I hate being late and will only get even more nervous about rushing and finding a place to park the car if I do watch the race to the end. Oh decisions, decisions. Someone remind me, why do I do this?

Feeling the heat.

Well it wasn’t quite as hot today (this is Monday’s run, posted Tuesday – Tuesday’s been colder and distinctly autumnal) as over the weekend, but it was still unseasonably warm. Clear blue skies again, but with a breeze that helped take the edge off the heat. I set off for a run at nearly 6 pm, and it stayed really warm all the way. In fact, as the sun dropped, so did the breeze, meaning that it didn’t cool off by much in the time I was out.

Nothing very long or fast this time, just a restful run ahead of Saturday’s half. Actually managed to keep myself in check on the first section, and plodded about round the lake. Had to get out of the path for a pair of cyclists – the hierarchy seems to be pedestrians get out of the way of me running, I get out of the way of cyclists riding and dogs just do their own thing regardless!

Distance – 5.75 miles
Time – 1:10:45
Average Pace – 12:18

Have to say that felt like harder work than it should have been. I’ll put that down to the heat and hope it’s cooler on Sunday.

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.

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!

Not a lazy Sunday

Well that worked out better than it might have done. Sunday is long slow run day. But, having run twice in two days, I wasn’t going to stick to that rigidly if the legs weren’t feeling up to it. A plan’s all very good, but there’s no point running myself into the ground if it just isn’t working.

Up early again, breakfast with the first half of the Scotland/Argentina match – tight and horribly nervy – not at all easy viewing. I gave up watching  the Berlin marathon, as the pixellated image was truly annoying, as was the lack of coverage of the women’s race in the early stages. The men ran through 5 k in less than half the time it takes me to cover the same distance – only they’ve got 35 k to go, whereas I collapse in a heap! 2:03 for a marathon is unbelievably fast to me.

I was still in two minds about running, as I could feel both calves felt a bit tight. Not painful, but just letting me know they were there. But I decided that if I went out aiming for a slow long run, I could always cut it short if it started to hurt too much. That settled the route, down to the lake and loops of that area. It means that I can build up the distance without ever being more than ~ 3 miles from home. Certainly a better option than the out & back I had planned – at 7 miles out you’ve got 7 miles to get home again…And no chance of calling for a lift, as the taxi driver’s not in.

So off I plodded. It was intentionally slow, aiming at high 12:xx to low 13:xx minute miles. As ever, I completely failed to stick to that for the first section. I took my drinks belt with me, and some jelly beans for energy. I’m going to need to take on energy for the marathon, and it’s obviously best to know which type you can tolerate best ahead of the day. I don’t bother taking liquid for less than 10 miles/2 hours (unless it’s awfully hot) but over that and it does make a difference.

Sunday morning must be dog walking time, as they were everywhere! All sorts of shapes & sizes. No expert in dogs, but there appeared to be a fair number of exuberant young dogs out. As usual, they were mostly under control or not at all interested in me! Only Tango made an effort to chase, and all I got was a wet nose on the back of one leg. That led to a small burst of speed, I can tell you!

Distance – 11.0 miles
Time – 2:28:37
Average Pace – 13:02 min/miles
Pace varied from 12:40 to 13:20, which is nicely consistent and shows no real tailing off towards the end.

If that looks like a suspiciously round number, yes, I did run past the end of the road just to round that up. 11.00 miles looks so much better than 10.89! I will admit to having taken out the minute or so I spent at mile 7 having a drink & jelly bean, but that strikes me as reasonable.

The jelly beans didn’t go brilliantly. I decided on one per mile, but after mile 7 I was feeling very heavy in the stomach, and had a fair attack of the burps thereafter. Suspect I’ll try these again, as it’s a nice neat option, but maybe at a slightly lower frequency of consumption. I’ll no doubt come back to this as the subject of a separate blog entry, as there’s all sorts of options and variations available.

I’m happy with the way that felt, the legs were fine and it’s good to have done a run of over 10 miles in the lead in to my half marathon in a fortnight. I won’t go over 8 miles next week, so that I’ll be fresh and rested for the 13 the following week.