Strike a pose, there’s nothing to it.

A little random musing on the subject of race photos. Most races of any size offer this as a service – and I have mixed feelings about it.

I'd love to look this good!

 I suppose I understand why you’d want one of you crossing the finish line, it’s certainly proof of finishing, of having achieved something. Although that’s hardly going to show you at, necessarily, your best – depends on how good the run was, I suppose. I know a number of people who use a finish photo as their image and they all, without exception, look ecstatic – frequently knackered, but ecstatic. Take a look at Linda on the right (thanks to her for allowing me to use this – it’s just such a fab shot!) The pride, triumph and a certain amount of exhaustion are plain to see, but it’s a brilliant image of a magical moment.

Good, that's done...

I wonder how much planning it takes to look that good at the finish? My face usually shows tiredness and relief! I’m beginning to wonder if training plans ought to include training sessions concentrating on how to finish in style, as well as just cover the distance – although I suspect some of us may well be beyond hope…

This is just so true; I feel great, I (most probably) look like an idiot!

There’s the mis-match between the sensation and reality. This is possibly best summed up by the picture to the right. It has done the rounds, and I have no idea who created it, but they’ve got it to a T. When a run’s going well, I feel ike it’s all under control and I’m running smoothly and neatly. OK, gazelle like is possibly stretching it a bit much – I’m not that thin and fast, but you get the idea. So why do I always manage to look like a lumbering wildebeest?

Ohhh, that hurts...

Or why do I look in extreme pain? Either that or I’ve got some slack jawed gormless look on my face (no, I’m not posting one of them – you’ll just have to imagine it, then double the stupidity). This one brings home the real depths of pain that running can cause. I wasn’t enjoying this one little bit – it would have been kinder to not take it.

 

Flying - and smiling!

Look, Mum, no feet!

 

It doesn’t help the running is very much a dynamic activity, whereas photography is capturing an instant in time. And that instant may not be a very good representation of the activity as a whole.Take running – the very definition of running is that, at some point in the stride cycle, both feet are off the floor. But that might only be for a short period, and so it’s not surprising that the feet are usually attached, or look welded, to the floor. There are a few mid-air shots, and those always make me smile – that’s proof of real running, that is! 

It's half a smile and a silly (ear warming) hat

Hiding under a hat

 Then there’s running kit – what to wear. My club’s choice of lime green was never going to be my best colour, but at least it doesn’t clash with my rather red face (other local clubs have scarlet with a yellow sash or pink & purple quarters – all equally fetching!). You want to be comfortable, but that doesn’t always make for a good picture. Me in a baseball cap and I’m distinctly hiding under the brim. Or take a look at me in my beanie hat. It was cold, OK? I wanted my ears to be warm. But what do I look like?! Doesn’t help that it’s uphill although at least I’m smiling. The photographer had just cracked a joke, he’d said “Doing well.”

Cool acknowledgement of the camera.

And that’s another thing – do you try and smile, or gesture or just leave them to take a picture of you – which they’re going to do regardless. I like the quiet confidence in the thumbs up, as displayed stylishly to the left by Karen. But I haven’t quite got the timing and distances sorted out.

What do I think I'm doing here?!

I’m either waving at them too early or too late. And a wave might not be the wisest choice of movement either – it’s another gesture of which a picture captures only an instant in time. Something static might be more sensible. I can think of a few gestures I could make…

However, this link has to be one of the best things I’ve seen with respect to recording the race – a head cam. This was taken by Marc Stokes, and the charity he was running for likes to have someone take some footage for a montage – absolutely ace. And I love the way he was obviously as excited running up the new pit lane as I was! But you can certainly see quite how nice (and unseasonable) the weather was. It’s a runner’s eye view of the world, and gives me goose bumps watching it again.

He was a bit swifter than I was, and a good foot taller – my view would be somewhat more busy! But it certainly gives a very different perspective from the static, onlooker’s view. It’s one I think I prefer – captures the movement and fludity of running in a way the still shot never can. Not that I want to see myself on video – I imagine I’d find something else to complain about there!

Done and dusted…

I am now the proud owner of a 20 mile personal best and a blue hoodie. It was guaranteed, being a first time racing the distance, but it’s nice to have got that under the belt. Although I’m not sure what a respectable, approaching 40 year old, is supposed to do with a hoodie! It’s not an item of clothing I’ve ever owned before I started running – and now I have two. I feel the urge to hang about on street corners, drinking cheap cider and getting an ASBO!

Anyway, I was about to regale you with how I acquired this item. In the run up to an April marathon, there are a few 20 mile races about that act as practice marathon runs. It’s a chance to run a long way with water stations, fuel stops, lots of people and the atmosphere of race day – all of which does make a difference to performance. Of those local(ish) to me there are Ashby & Oakley. For a Brighton marathon, the race at Oakley was too late, so I entered Ashby. In fact either of these two races would earn me a hoodie – seems to be the in thing!Ashby-de-la-Zouch is a bit over an hour from home, so for a 10 am start, I set of before 8, having had porridge & coffee for breakfast. The journey was sightly complicated by the closure of the road and an unforseen diversion, but I managed to arrive and park in town. The race HQ was at the leisure centre, with the race start being to the south of the town. I chosen to park between the two, saving me too long a walk at the end. As I was getting myself sorted in the car park, I heard the bells at the church start ringing. Only 5 (they’re a 10), but I decided not to go & help out; if I remember correctly, Ashby are ground floor with very long ropes – and I didn’t need that sort of adrenaline rush ahead of a race!

The weather had been quite grim on the way up, raining and the temperature gradually dropping. I was pleased that in my bag I had a spare long sleeved top, just in case. I made the decision to switch, and had my club vest over the top. Also swapped the baseball cap for the beanie hat – extra warmth for the ears. At the leisure centre I joined the rather long queue for the ladies, changed shirt and got myself dressed. I then retrieved my banana & dropped the bag for transport to the finish. It was a reasonable walk down to the start, during which the banana vanished and we congregated in a rather draughty field. I was seriously wondering if gloves would have been a good idea, but it was a bit late for that. At this point I met up with a few ladies from the RW forum, by pseudonym, DL, Far-Far, Spence & J. It’s a bit strange, this accosting complete strangers in a field, there’s an element of risk that you’ll embarrass yourself, and be looked at sideways by the wrong person. But this bunch identified themselves and we grouped ourselves at the slow end of the corrals.We were called forward to the start and I positioned myself firmly at the back of the pack. As the hooter went off, the entire field seemed to disappear at a million miles an hour: I’ve never seen anything like it! They all shot off like it was a 100 m dash, not a 20 mile race! It was downhill to start, but even so, that seemed extreme. I held back, but even so, started slightly too fast. Within a fairly short distance, I’d guess less than half a mile, I was last; accompanied by a lone lady and 2 slightly elderly gents in front of us. Bless the small number of Pocklington villagers who were stood watching the entire field go through their village for the first time, and cheered and waved us with enthusiasm.

I was happily keeping to a little under 12:00 min/miles for the first 3 miles, all according to plan. However, just before the end of mile 3, there was a downhill, and I’d sped up so that, without really noticing, I was running nearer 11:00 min/miles. This was due to be the pace I picked up to at about 5 miles, but I figured I’d stay there or thereabouts. I passed the two chaps on the hill at 2 miles, and dropped the lone lady when she had to dive behind tree to water the scenery before 4 miles. From there onwards, it was me on my own, gradually catching the people ahead of me. I had to keep the brakes on that, as it’s too easy to be encouraged into going too fast by trying to catch someone and pass them. The pace fluctuated a bit, but it’s not the flattest course, so maybe that’s allowable.

As this is all about practising for the marathon, I had a gel at 5 miles,  and was caught by a photographer shortly thereafter. Oh joy! The weather had started to cheer up, such that it stopped raining and the cloud started to break and I no longer was wishing for my gloves. I was nicely on pace, and was at 8 miles in ~ 90 minutes. Unfortunately for my ego, the leader was at 16.5 miles in pretty much the same time – he had a few minutes start on me, but not by much. As ever, I’m in awe of the fast runners. It looks so efficient, almost effortless, until you listen to them and they’re breathing hard, it’s just all so much under control. I applauded, politely, if through gritted teeth. Before we parted and I set off on my second lap, I was passed by the top 7 men. However, the chap in third blew my mind. He not only had the manners and spare capacity to say thanks, he also wished me luck in my run too. Awesome! Mr Ed Banks, of the Birmingham Running and Triathlon (BRAT) Club, take a bow!!

The route, round twice.

Second lap followed much the same as the first, although instead of being last, I was gradually picking people off. Gels at miles 10 and 15 followed, as well as water at the numerous water stations. The weather was still improving and the sun came out, although I’d not go as far as to say it was warm! At about 16/17 miles I passed some of the ladies I’d met up with earlier, and they wished my luck as I passed them and the photographer. That shot’s not one for the album! I just kept to a steady pace, trying not to let the hills get to me. It wasn’t that there was any one big up hill, more that it was continually short ups and downs. The downs were noticeable in two places, but somehow the ups felt more spread out. I’d been told it was hilly, but it was a form of hilly I felt I could deal with – it’s the ones where you can see nothing but uphill for the next mile that make me want to cry.

It was all fairly uneventful, really. Back into Pocklington for one final time, then over the A42 and a hump-backed bridge. Which had grown during the time I’d been out to enormous proportions! I was starting to wish this was all over, but kept my head down and just kept the legs moving. Saw several runners, wearing their hoodies, heading away from the finish, all of them offering encouragement. The last 400 m were across a field, that same draughty field we’d started from. It was still draughty, only now it seemed to be soft and felt like running on treacle. That sprint(ish) finish got sucked out of the bottom of my feet and ended up in the mud. I was slightly distracted to hear my name called as I approached the finish, but managed to keep going, despite the slight surprise.

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 20.03 miles
Time – 3:41:23 (official time)
Average pace – 11:03 min/miles

Split times and figures.

Yes, I know there aren’t 20 split – I like to use manual laps for races and I managed to miss hitting the lap button 3 times. Twice it was at water stations, the third time was just brain fade! But you can see the pace has a bit of a slope upwards through the race, and is fairly even.

Finished and made my way towards the tent where I received my hoodie, in a size that fitted, then the goodie bag, and towards the chaps sat taking chips off shoes. Took me a moment to work out which foot had the chip, then even longer to manage to raise that foot onto the crate provided! The collected my bag & put my prize hoodie on, as it was quite chilly once I’d stopped. I then made my way over towards the finish shute & identified DL as the random voice calling my name as I’d finished. 

Where's that ASBO?

I stayed with her until the rest of the girls had finished, and we slowly waddled our way back towards the same car park in town. Through a most inconsiderate hail storm! What the weather was playing at today, I have no idea! After investigating the contents of the goodie bag, I discovered that most of it was edible, and I started making inroads into it before heading off back home.

I am pleased with that performance. I kept to the pace I should have been running, and finished in under my target time. I wanted to finish in 4 hours, with a happy target of 3:45. I took on water and the gels without too much difficulty, and (apart from the odd burp) had no ill effects from them. I’m not sure I could have run another 6 miles at the finish, but I do think that the extra 6 may well be lurking in there somewhere. That’s the last really long run, they’re all shorter now until I get to Brighton – and that’s my next race…

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!

Halfway…

It was pointed out to me that Sunday marked the half way point in my 20 week plan. Not the best way to mark half way, not running.

But I have moved on from where I started. I’ve run 20 miles, which is 6 further than I’d ever run before – and that brings me to within spitting distance of finishing the marathon – “only” 6 more to find from somewhere.

However, with the countdown now in single figure weeks, it’s all becoming awfully real. Such that the nerves have started to kick in. I’m not much of an optomist, I’m always preparing for what might go wrong rather than expecting it all to go well. I’m prepared to be pleasantly surprised, but would rather be prepared. Some might say pessimist, but I prefer to think of myself as a realist. I don’t think I’m going to fail in this quest to run a marathon, but there are a lot of things that are not really in my control. I am trying to mitigate against what might go wrong in the process though:

  • I’ve selected a training plan that suits me and the way I run
  • I’ve been following it (pretty much)
  • I’ve been practising taking on board energy and food
  • I’ve entered some long distance practise races
  • I’ve got my race shoes sorted and have an idea of race day kit
  • I’ve sorted transport there & back (booked mum’s taxi!)
  • I’ve taken advice on what to do before, during & after

But none of that can stop the awful sick feeling in the pit of my stomach from just sitting there and churning away from time to time. Any pressure I’m feeling is self inflicted – everyone I’ve spoken to about has been supportive and encouraging (if a little shell-shocked at times). My family have said they’ll come and watch me; which is sweet – but has an unintended side effect of making me feel even more that I can’t get this wrong – I can’t let them down too.

I suspect that the nerves will only get worse between now and then. But that’s me and I ought to be used to something that I’ve had as an accompanying buildup to important events my whole life. And this is important – talk about taking me outside my comfort zone! And that’s just the turning 40 thing (joke!). But, looking on the bright side, at least I’m unlikely to have to sit on stage with a bucket under my chair for this one.

9 weeks, 5 days and counting…

Being blown away

Crikey! That was hard work. But I’m back, 15 mile race completed successfully.

First surprise came when I get dressed this morning. The capris I was going to wear were the same one’s I’d worn on last week’s long run. As i was putting them on, I discovered something in the back pocket. on closer inspection, it was a gel pack. I took 4 with me last week, but only had 3, this must have been the spare one, which has since been through the washing machine and been dried in the airing cupboard! It looked a bit battered, but intact, so I decided I may as well take it and use it today.

The weather forecast was not promising. not cold and no rain predicted, but very windy. 20+ mph is gale force. Yikes!!

The weather forecast looked blowy.

That leaves me with a clothing dilemma, you don’t want to overheat, but windy conditions do make you cooler quite quickly. I opted for long sleeves under my club vest. The legs don’t notice temperature quite so much, so capris as usual. Packed up hat, garmin, gels, milkshake for after, pre and post run bananas and all the usual paraphernalia for a race. Pinned the number to the club vest and set off.

Had arranged a lift with two other ladies from the club, so had to be ready to collect at the services just round the corner for 9 am. A later start than sometimes, for an 11 am race start.  Arrived OK, and were directed to pack in a rather lumpy bumpy field.It was blowing quite decidedly, so we quickly made our way to race HQ and met up with the rest of the club. This race has the unusual routine of giving out race shirts before the race. It does mean that I got a size that fits, rather than the tents that are left at the end. Everything got stowed in then bag, warm layers stripped off and ready for the rather long walk to the start.

I headed for the back of the pack, in order to not get carried away too early. After discussing how to approach this, the plan was to run the first 5 miles easy, then pick up to marathon pace for the next 10. So easy to say, but how very difficult to actually do…

Gun went off and we headed for the start line. As usually, I got that first half mile far too fast – something about the start of a race that completely throws me. So I made a conscious effort to slow down. It was quite breezy, but it wasn’t exactly a headwind at this stage. It became a full on head wind when we turned the corner. Blimy! It was hard going! The road wound through a small village, then headed up hill to the radio transmitter. It was at this point that I rapidly began to loose the ability to run to pace. It was just so very difficult to keep going at the required pace uphill and into a very stiff headwind. I was amused to hear the marshal at the top say “not far to go now” I shot him a surprised look and he corrected himself, “to the top of this hill”. Ok, I will let him off that extra description, but I’d barely gone 2 miles! The next stretch was downhill and it was a remarkable experience. I lean forward going down hill, trying to relax and let gravity help me out here. Long strides, arms flapping – I must look bizarre in the extreme. With the strong headwind, it was easy to lean even further forward than usual, and it felt remarkably like flying. I didn’t land with a bump at the bottom, but this rather fast patch, along with the slow one before it, mucked up the idea of running to pace. I felt I was continually trying to run faster on the difficult bits and not taking advantage of the easy bits. I won’t say I stopped looking at the watch, but I did worry less about it. 

See: they've marked the hills just to make them obvious!

After the downhill, we turned a corner, such that the wind was now marginally following wind, then up another hill – not quite as steep this time and onto a plateau. Turned another corner and it was magic – flat, and a really strong tail wind. Apart from the annoyance of the ponytail whipping round and trying to get in my mouth, this was quite fun. About 4 miles I had a gel and water station, and decided that I was just going to pick the pace up and aim for something about 11 minute miles, where I could and accept that some of the stretches would be slower. Went OK until around 6 miles, when there was a lovely long, shallow downhill, followed by the corresponding up hill. At the top of this, I was at about 7 miles, the leader came past. Blimy! He was going some, 1:16 ish and he had ~ 0.5 mile left. I applauded politely, while gritting my teeth. The marshal ahead said that I musty be in second place, seeing I was following the leader. How nice to dream of such a thing. He did break the course record, so good going.

Lap 1 down, and lap 2 commenced. Gel again at 8 miles, just to keep the energy levels up. I suspect it’s probably a mental boost, but they do help me keep going. The route hadn’t changed any, although it was, if anything, even harder to get up the steep hill. I passed Sue & Heather through the village at the bottom, and emerged round a bend into a phenomenal headwind. You know how cartoon characters sometimes run, head down, into a wall/obstacle – the legs keep turning, but the body goes nowhere? It felt an awful lot like that as I headed up the hill. Head down, like way down, trying to head butt my way through the wind and up the hill. The marshal at the top remembered me from the previous lap and promised me I didn’t have to run that hill again. Downhill was exhilarating again though.

One of the nice things about having a slow race start is that you catch people and pass them. This is always good for the competitive spirit. Going up the next hill, I passed Rob, who was trying to run to a heart rate, which the uphills certainly weren’t helping. Passed another runner towards the water station, then a group of girls strung out across the road (grrr – keep left signs were there for a reason) and turned the corner onto the fast section. I’d kept going at a reasonable pace. I won’t say it was really comfortable, but neither was it exhausting. Final gel at 12 miles (I did debate this one’s usefulness, but I figured I need to get into the habit of having them, so I may as well). Then past 13 miles, and down the last hill. 14 miles at the bottom and it was half a mile up hill, then turn the last corner and half a mile flat in to the finish.

As I turned the final corner there were 2 ladies from Herts AC ahead. That little competitive spirit got the better of me and I picked the pace up a bit. after all, only half a mile to go, what’s to loose? With barely 200 yards left, I snuck past them on the inside and approached the final turn to the finish line – and heard the rest of the club start shouting me to the finish. I do love this about them. Some of them must have finished over an hour before me, but there they all were, shouting, clapping and generally encouraging me into that last sprinty flourish at the end. They also seem to be the only club that consistently do this – and I do appreciate every last ounce of encouragement.

Crossed the line in a quite pleasing 2:46:30 (or so). No, it didn’t go exactly to plan, as the splits show. But I think that elevation profile looks pretty tough too!. You can see the fast spikes line up nicely with the down hills.

The stats don’t lie

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 14.94 miles (Under reading again – must be it’s habit)
Time – 2:46:33 (but I did turn it off after the finish line)
Average pace – 11:07. (oooops, that was a bit quick)

 
Finished an headed back into the HQ to collect my bag, and get some clothes on. it was cool out and the body temperature can dip badly after a long run, so some extra warmth is essential. Then the post race milkshake and banana were consumed. Again, it helps keep the body warm and helps recovery. And I like chocolate milkshake. Went back to the finish and the last 3 of the club were all seen in safely. We all congregated, and then set off back home. Sitting in the car I managed to set a bit, such that the walk from the roundabout home was more of a waddle initially, but the legs did remember how to function eventually. After some toast, and a bath I’m feeling human again. Next run is Tuesday, club night. If I can’t manage the speed session, I did this too hard – there’s one way to find out…

I don’t think I bend that way…

I’m feeling a lot of muscles complaining loudly about the state of affairs today. Not due to running – in fact my legs are feeling fine; it’s the rest of me that’s having a moan. And the reason for the body’s displeasure? I did yoga last night.

Wednesday & thursday nights were both away, so the week fell into the usual routine, longer run on my own Wednesday, shorter run on Thursday.

Wednesday I set out for 8 miles ay easy pace. The plan has this as a mixed pace run, but I’m racing on Sunday, 15 miles. That will be run at 5 miles easy, 10 miles at marathon pace. seeing that’s a harder run than usual, the person who’s advice I’m following, said that Wednesday could be dropped down to easy pace all the way. So off I went. Started off feeling like really hard work. Not sure why, but it took a good 2 miles before i started feeling into this at all. From there, the pace picked up a bit and the last few miles raced by. I was slightly distracted in the final stretch. I needed to head down to the leisure centre and back, just to make sure it was over the 8 miles. in the sports hall there appeared to be some form of torture session going on, lots of shouts, groans and yells going on. I suspect it was Body Pump, or similar. There were some significant levels of aggression being pounded out there! I ran away a bit quick!!

Thursday and I went out with Janet, from work. This should have been a tempo 5, but wasn’t. We did the usual 3 mile loop at 11:30 pace – which is somewhat faster than we were managing the same loop before Christmas. And the real good news is that, apart from one short stop while 2 cars inconsiderately turned out of the road we were trying to cross, we ran the entire way – no walks at all. Next week, we’re going to go further – I’m under instructions to drag her if necessary! Anyway, I called it quits at 3 – not often I cut a run short of distance, but we’d both been a bit late finishing work, and I wanted to get a shift on.

Facts & Figures: Wednesday/Thursday
Distance – 8.1/3.0
Time – 1:34:42/34:34
Average pace – 11:41/11:32

After the run, I filled the car with fuel and headed down to the school for a 2 hour yoga class. I started this before Christmas, but after a break of over a month, I knew my toes would be a long reach away again… And that’s the cause of the numerous aches. I can feel it in my arms, shoulders and waist most. But I know it’s doing me good. The legs, hips and back had a good stretch and contort. I probably don’t spend as long stretching as I could or should do, in which case this class once a week will just help balance that out a bit.

This weekend I’ve got a guaranteed PB – never run a 15 mile race before! It is 2 laps, which I’m not sure how I’ll deal with. It’s very unusual for me to run laps – they’re usually out&back or complex figures of eight, where I may run the same route in both directions, but rarely the same stretch in the same direction twice. Looking at the results from previous years, there is a chance that I’ll be lapped by the leaders – not sure how I’ll handle that either! I’ll report back once it’s done.