Friday, 30 April 2010

One race and a lumpy lunchtime pootle

First of the Harrogate Road League races last night at Ilkley.  These are friendly (but competitive) inter-club races, hosted by different clubs with food and beer afterwards.  It's called the Harrogate and District League because some of the clubs are in the Harrogate area, and some (Ilkley) wish they were :-).

The Ilkley race is a mixture of grass (2 laps of the football field at the start and a length of the rugby field at the end, track (half way up the big hill it goes all gravelly) and road (the rest).  It goes up-tiddly-up-up past Middleton then down-diddly-own-down Carter's Lane.  I was still feeling Mallorca Miles in my legs a bit as we went up the hill, but knoew I had to keep going because I realised I'd sandbagged Hinsley again by teling him that "once it starts going down, that's it for climbing" - which, after we made a 100yd descent only half way up, I realised was bollocks.  Oops - Otley 10 all over again...

I was running a few yards behind Steve Coy and Henry, both of whom are around my standard, as we went over the top, so I must've been doing ok, particularly considering the monumental snot build up I was carrying in my nasal passages.  I was, however, passed by Mark Iley who I've beaten a few times, so my only conclusion is he must've been training!

Down the descent everyone else, as usual, seemed to go miles faster than me, with Henry, Mark and a couple of other Harriers drawing away to what was going to be an insurmountable lead unless they slowed dramatically.  Once we were back on the flat I decided my marathon stamina was going to come to the fore, and in truth I did catch three or four people, including Steve Coy about 100yds from the finish, and could probably have caught another runner but the effort of sprinting flat out on dewy grass wasn't tempting enough to move up one place.

The course was just under 5.1m, and a time of 31:55 was good enough for 28th place out of a field of 284.  An average pace of 6:19, which is pretty good when you think there's a 7:35 in there for the big climb.  Look at the cheeky little 5:23 mile coming down Carter's Lane!

Today's effort was slower, but still felt pretty tough.  The Herb and I went out at lunch, and did a route we've not done for ages - down to Bingley, through the park then up a long steep climb to the Harden road, before a drop back to the canal and the joys of 5Rise.  5.65m at 8:20 pace, with legs feeling a bit stiff.  Gentle parkrun with Lils, shortish bike ride on Sunday and hopefully a decent run at Rothwell on Monday - but I'll need to have cleared some snot out first!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

A day off and back to running

Took today off today, partly to assuage the guilt of being away enjoying myself (apart from the last 5k of Puig Major) and also because it's Karen's birthday and we thought it'd be nice to do something togevvah.  She got to choose, and thankfully it wasn't shopping - it was a bike ride, as part of the build up to the Northern Rock Cyclone that she's riding the 65m route in with my sister-in-law, Kath.

We set off over Halton Heights as usual (it'd seem rude not to - this picture shows how much climbing there actually is - Embsay's the 2nd village back, just above the farm you can see with a green and a grey elevator) and zoomed down to Barden Bridge.  I must've hit high 40's mph down here, which was worrying as I'd decided that if this was to be a wifely pootle I wasn't wearing a helmet (not even remotely logical, I know...).

At the bottom we regrouped and on Karen's instructions headed left to Burnsall and on to near Linton where we turned right to Grassington.  We'd reached this point in well under an hour so I suggested heading on up to Arncliffe, but K preferred to go up to Conistone then get home.  This proved to be a wise move as she struggled a bit on the way back but after heading home via Hebden and App'trick we stopped off at the Cav Pav for some nourishment.  I went for the athletes' snack of a massive sausage butty, whilst K had some soup - and no cup of tea as the prices are so astronomical and I'd nearly run out of money.  Shame Dunnies can't open a Bolton Abbey branch.

Back up past Halton East for a very pleasant 30 miles at a pedestrian 10.8mph average, but with a couple of thousand feet of climbing and a HR struggling to get over 100bpm (averaged 85!) a good work out in K's build up and a pleasant leg stretcher for me.

After we got home I realised that next week is coming up fast so nipped out for a quick 5 miles before picking Maisie up from school.  Usual Halton East run, not knocking my pipe out but it felt reasonably effortful.  Ended up with 7:14 pace, HR averaging 133 and a couple of 6:50 miles to finish.  Feels like a reasonably productive day off, so off to eat pizza tonight.

Monday, 26 April 2010

A few days sin blogging

That's "without" in Spanish, I think.  Sorry I've been away and letting the side down Blogwise, but here's a bumper edition of what I've been up to.

Last Thursday was my last day at work before a long weekend off, so Rich, Tim and I knocked off work at 4:30 and went out for a nice steady 10 miler up on the canal.  Tim was running late, so just did 6, but Richard and I carried on and did the full 10.  It felt very comfortable, but the curse of the "into the wind noise" buggered up my HRM so the average is looking way high - suspect it was actually low 130's, apart from the first mile when the lads thought it'd be a giggle to push the pace after I got waylaid by a phone call - had to run at about 6:05 pace to catch the buggers!

Then it was off to Mallorca Friday morning for the long-awaited (and almost screwed up) Duva Classic sportive.  I went with my brother, Rick, and had an uneventful journey to the Duva Hotel where the event's based.  We then whizzed off to Pro Cycle Hire to collect our bikes.  The other lads who had come out on Wednesday had brought their own bikes, but for 3 days the hassle of dismantling bikes and rebuilding them seemed too much, so we hired a couple of carbon framed beasties for about £20 a day.

We were out and riding by 2:30 or so, and rode the cracking little 40 mile loop up to Lluc via Campanet that Angry and I rode last year.  We saw the Bingley lads looking (we thought) determined and speedy on the Campanet road, but when we saw them later it turned out they were pissed having spent lunchtime in a bar drinking beer, shots and taking snuff!  We were soon onto the climb up to Lluc, with the resurfaced road being a joy to ride up.  This was Rick's first taste of continental hills and he was pleasantly surprised by both the surface and the gradient.  This was a nice warm up, and with an average of 14mph we didn't burn ourselves out.

The Bingley/Barnsley crew were all a bit too pissed to get out for a beer on Friday night, but Rick and I had a few to settle the nerves before Saturday's event.  Possibly a mistake, as I suffered with a bit of dehydration later.  The route followed the Campanet road again, but this time kept heading south towards Alaro, where we turned onto the first timed climb.  The event has a rolling closure apart from on the timed sections when it's every man for himself - the fast lads were off at the front gunning for glory, but Rick and I rode steadily and arrived about half way down the field.

We then had a long, long descent before the next climb of the Col du Soller.  This was shorter than I was expecting at 5.5km, but the descent was enormous, almost back to sea level in the town of Soller.

As the bunch sped through the town there was an Aussie guy taking pics, and shouted "Good luck, guys - it's a really long climb!" - and bugger me, so it was.  The brown sign at the start said "13.5km" and I was suffering by the end.  So much so that Rick almost caught me, and I turned out to be almost 25 minutes slower than Rob.  Only taking one bottle was a mistake, as I was having to ration it by the end.  Once over the top we carried on past the Gorg Blau reservoir and then before long we passed the turn off to Sa Calobra and we were back on familiar ground.

On the run-in to Pollensa I was caught by a Spanish club and managed to hook onto the back, and got a tow for a few miles before feeling sufficiently guilty to head up to the front and do some work.

83 miles in the bag, 8,000' of climbing and a respectable average speed of 13.6mph.

More beer and silliness from Rob and friends on Saturday night (as they weren't riding Sunday) meant I was again not on sparkling form on Sunday, but fortunately it was a much easier day.

Mostly ridden in a big group, it was easy enough to sit in the bunch and enjoy the flat ride south via Alcudia and eventually to a stop at the velodrome at Sinau.  We'd got 35+ miles on the clock by this time so past half way, and the ride back was another fast, flat bunch ride.  By the time we got back to the Pollensa to Porto Pollensa road the bunch was flying along at about 25mph+, so when a couple of guys touched wheels it was carnage - I was far enough back to avoid it, but there were bits of broken bikes all over the road and at least one guy who stayed down - Rick passed a few minutes later and reckoned he'd sat up but was looking like he's broken his collarbone.  Scary.

Overall a fantastic weekend's cycling, with the hotel being great value at only £90 each for 3 nights half board.  The event is superbly organised with motorbike outriders stopping the traffic and enabling us to do things like ride round roundabouts the wrong way.  Not sure whether I'd go back for that specific event, but I'd love to ride some more sportives abroad - just need the passouts...

I also spent part of Sunday afternoon slobbing about cyber-stalking various people in the London Marathon.  Sounded like a bit of a hot one, and The Afterburner suffered in the second half, but the good news is he enjoyed it and fancies another crack - so I could have a chum to chase my sub-3 with!

Day off tomorrow so a more gently bike ride with K on her birthday before I need to get some running in before next week's overload of 4 races in 7 days.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


Went for a run with no point today, and it was great!  Took my stuff into work, lovely day, being asked to apply for my job, so I thought "let's go for a run".  But then I realised I'm not particularly training for anything (though a sub-80 in the Chester Marathon Half-Relay that me and Hinsley have entered might be nice), and so I didn't have a "session" in mind.

So I just...well...went for a run.  Down the canal to the Fisherman's, up the muddy track thingy then back up the hill and back past 5 Rise - never pushing the pace, and HR was mid-120's (if you ignore the bit where it went mental - I now have a theory about that.  It always seems to happen running into the wind, so I wonder if the wind blowing my top gets amplified and converted to HR beats?  Just a thought...).

Ended up a relaxed bunny (although still very worried we won't be going to Mallorca on Friday - feckin' ash!) with 5.75 miles in a gnat's under 45 minutes - about 7:45 pace overall, but 7:35 or so on the flat with HR way down.

Check out the ridiculous HR spike at the end - if it was doing that I think I'd be in hospital!

Looking at the weather outlook for London on Sunday it's looking like it might be a hot one for the marathon - this seems to be becoming a bit of a trend - maybe I'd best chase my sub-3 at Abingdon and do London for fun next year!  Hope it all goes well for my blogging, foruming and running chums on Sunday though, specially The Afterburner who's really put in the miles - all the best, guys and gals.

Edit: The Powers That Be have decided that it is ok to fly through ash clouds - so it looks like we will be off to Mallorca after all.  Yay!!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Herb Toasting

An Etape du Dales recce ride today for me, The Herb, Rick and Wood.  The other Harrowgays didn't turn up, so Wood had to represent the world of ladies' cycling (and slapstick comedy - more later) alone.

We met up in Hawes to avoid the first and last section of the EDD - it starts in Grassington and comes over Fleet Moss the "easy" way to Hawes.  We were therefore straight onto Buttertubs, which was a relatively mild introduction (if 3 miles of climbing can be described thus), and followed by a descent that left all of us glad we weren't coming up from Swaledale.  We then had a lovely ride down the valley to Low Row where the road went very steeply upwards over to Arkengarthdale.  Part way over there's a ford which riders in the EDD are warned about in dark terms, but we all seemed to manage to get across if without mishap.  Immediately afterwards is a steep couple of hairpins.

The Herb was clearly on form, as he was first up all the hills, and when we turned left after the descent we headed into the wind and he was a lot stronger than all of us.  I'm not sure if my problem was lack of cycling or a bit of marathon still in my legs, but whenever it got uphill or hard going I found it really tough to stay with him.

Eventually after 7 miles of climbing into the wind we reached the Tan Hill Inn, the highest pub in England.  Slightly depressingly we were only 24 miles out of a projected 61 miles in and I was feeling a bit jaded already.  I soon cheered up with a piece of pork pie and a gem of improvised comedy from Wood who glided slowly up to us, unclipped and fell slowly off his bike to our immense hilarity.

At least we turned south and downhill for a bit as we headed towards Keld.  This is a bit of the Dales that I've never been to, and it was certainly wild - more like Scotland in places.

At the bottom of this road it was another turn to the west and into the wind, and another episode of Herb chasing (and another comedy pratfall from Wood, this time when his chain got jammed as he went for an emergency gear change).  Never steep, this was another climb that went on for 5 or 6 miles and led us to a massive panorama across to the Lakes in the west and Hartside to the north.  A whooping descent, also of the "glad we're not riding up here lads" variety led to Nateby, a place that definitely counts as "North Pennines" to me rather than "Dales".

We then headed back towards more familiar territory, following the Settle-Carlisle railway south to Garsdale Head.  Another bit of road that's new to me, it was definitely gentler than the high  moors we'd been riding across and the wind had decided to leave us to ride for a short while without harassment.

At the Moorcock Inn we had a choice - left to Hawes and a shorter ride back to the car, or the joys of the Coal Rd and the climb out of Dentdale if we turned right.  I did make a half hearted attempt to see if someone would opt for the easy option but I think there was too much testosterone in the air, plus The Herb was gleefully waiting to kick our arses again. so right it was.

I've only ridden over the Coal Rd once before, and found it fairly easy, certainly not as tough as its reputation would suggest - but that time I didn't have a marathon and nearly 50 miles in my legs.  It was hard - not the hardest I've ever worked, but certainly top ten, and I was comprehensively dropped by the Herb.  This picture's about the last I saw of him:

At least my male pride was salvaged slightly by leaving both Wood and Rick behind, but by the time we descended to Dentdale my thighs were burning - and I knew we had one more climb to go.  We rode together to just below the railway bridge and then The Herb just disappeared - I've often wondered how TdF cyclists lose 5 minutes in the last 3 or 4 miles of a mountain stage, but he seemed to be moving twice as far as I was for each pedal stroke - Chapeau, tall chap.

I managed to stay ahead of Wood, who declared himself "gone", and Rick, who as usual rode steadily up without any histrionics.

All that we had to do now was ride 6 miles downhill to Hawes and the car - well that's how I remember it - in fact, whilst generally downhill, this road is undulating and requires (for me in the state I was in) several bottom gear grinds to get to the next relieving downhill stretch.

We finally hit Hawes and a well deserved pint with 61.6m on the clock in 4:45 riding time, an average of just on 13mph.  Quite how we'll manage the same ride with another 50 miles tagged on in 4 weeks' time I don't know - but I'm sure a decent rest and a weekend in Mallorca will help!

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Our first parkrun

Lily and I went to Bradford to do the first ever Bradford Parkrun this morning.  For those unfamiliar with the concept, parkruns are a series of free 5k events run in parks (which is handy, given the name) all over the country.  You just turn up with your personalised barcode, run, then get scanned afterwards.  The volunteers then produce the results which are on the website that afternoon.  The participants range from some very speedy athletic types to people taking their first steps in running - a great inclusive and friendly idea.

We went on the train at Lily's request, and warmed up by walking up to the park.  We met Linz, who was running, and Hinsley, who was doing a marketing exam (not in the park, silly - at Bradford Uni).  We set off with me carrying various items of clothing for Lily, and quickly realised we were going to be a very long way from last.  The course is three laps with a steep little climb at one end, and we covered our first lap in under 9 minutes.  Lily slowed a bit for the second and third laps, but did fantastically well to come 49th out of 82 runners in 28:29 and first in her age group (which bizarrely is U14!).  I was a second and one place behind her.

We then went for cake and coffee, before getting the train home.

I mooched around a bit looking at the glorious weather, and realising I still had my running stuff on, decided to make it my second ever "double" and nip out again.  A brilliant, briskish 6 miler over past Halton East, looking at the lambs and the wonderful views over to Langbar.  All very uplifting.  6m in 44:24, average pace 7:24 with a couple of sub-7 miles to finish.

Getting slightly concerned that we're not going to get to Mallorca next Friday - not content with buggering up our banking system the Icelanders are sending plumes of volcanic ash over that's grounded all aircraft.  It should hopefully be out of the way by next Friday - bloody hope so because the weather looks perfect!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

A turn of speed

Went to see John Fizzy today, more out of a desire to get some value out of my BUPA claim, and as expected he didn't really know what to do with me.  Physiotherapy patient.  Just run marathon.  In a 16 minute PB.  No pain from the affected limb.  Hmmmm...

So he put me on a clever machine that showed me my left leg's a bit weaker than my right one, gave me a few exercises and told me (very nicely) to bugger off.  I asked him whether/when I can get back to some more intensive running, and his response was "well, now, really...".

So off I went to the canal for a quick few miles before introducing my lovely daughters to the delights of Indian food.  Lils - tandoori chicken - good, chapati - very good, fudge cake (traditional Indian) - excellent.  Maisie - onion bhaji - ok, korma - good, chapati - very good, ice cream in a plastic cow - stupendous.  Lils first Parkrun Sunday - I think I'm more excited than she is!

Anyway - back to the canal:  I was thinking a 4 miler with the middle 3 at 6:30 pace, but as I accelerated along the towpath I realised I was running at 6:15 pace, so the objective shifted.  By the time the watch beeped the first mile I'd done 6:08.  The gauntlet was down - I didn't want to slow down.  I've just run a marathon, for goodness' sake.  But then again, I have just run a marathon.  Ho hum...

2nd mile 6:07 - but feeling tired towards the end and the HR over 156bpm.  Last mile of effort and still feeling tired, but not slowing particularly.  An effort over the last 400m gave me a third mile of 6:04, and the HR back up at 160.

Actually very pleased with the effort - suggests there's still a reasonable amount of both speed and endurance there, and with John Fizzy's blessing I can get back to the track soon.

I think my programme for the next few weeks (bike rides permitting) will be a track session (maybe shorter reps now the weather's a bit warmer), one 6-8m briskish run midweek and a LR of maybe 12-15 if I can fit it in.  I'll keep doing some slower stuff in between too.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Back to it and a few reflections...

After a couple of days of eating voraciously and walking carefully downstairs (as well as a few brisk inter-meeting walks in London yesterday) I woke up this morning feeling less stiff, although both achilles are really tight.  I had the choice of biking into work or taking my running stuff and grabbing a few lunchtime miles, and as both Hinsley and The Newmanator were up for a run I went for the latter.

It felt odd to be going out without a particular objective in mind, and I'd said to the lads this was going to be very steady, so we pootled up to the canal and jogged along towards Riddlesden.  My legs actually felt ok, but a few niggly bits that I'm sure are a reaction to those last few miles when I started to tire.

The pace was appropriately steady, at well over 8 min miles, but the HR was gratifyingly low, bumping along not much higher than mid-120's.  This was a perfect recovery run, and I even toyed with the idea of picking the pace up a bit for the last mile, but in the end our acceleration was to no more than 8:05 pace or so.

5 lovely, slightly achy miles in a bit under 42 mins, average pace 8:19, average HR 120.

I also took the oportunity to muse on a few lessons from the marathon campaign.  I don't want to focus on the injury, as I'm not sure what I could have done to avoid that - it wasn't overtraining (it happened at the end of my lowest mileage week for 4 weeks), and I don't really think it was too much that week - if anything I think race shoes and a dusting of snow caused it.  However I do think I've learned some lessons this time that I'll apply to future marathon campaigns:

Andy's Marathon Training Rules

1. Do the bloody miles.  I ran 415 miles in the first 3 months of 2010 - and only 45 of those in March.  In 2007, my last marathon campaign, I ran 203 in the same period.  Had I not had the injury I think I'd have done approaching 600 miles in the build-up.
2. Do lots of the bloody miles slowly.  There's three key sessions in the marathon training campaign for me - a midweek tempo/MP run that builds up to about 12 miles, the LR (more later) and some kin of intervals session.  I now don't believe in "junk miles" - they all count, so another 2 or 3 sessions run at MP + 60s (at least) all help to build your endurance and strength.
3. Do most of the bloody long miles slowly - but not all.  Apart from the midweek MP session the biggest change I've made to my training this time is to run the LR at a very comfortable pace (for me MP + 50s, but I don't think that's crucial) but then run 4 miles or so at MP near the end.  This gave me practice at running hard when I'm tired.  The confidence from knowing I'd knocked out 4 6:30-ish pace miles at the end of a 22 mile run was brilliant - and really helped when I started to feel it on Sunday.
4. You don't need to race 20 miles at MP in the build up. really don't.  Really.  You don't. I was worried by missing Trimpell 20 - best thing that could have happened (well, apart from not getting injured).  The benefits are entirely mental, and you can get that from sticking to rule 3 - and the risks are material.  So don't bother.

Andy's Marathon Race Day Rules

1. Plan the race - and stick to it.  Absolutely the best thing about Sunday was knowing what I was going to do and then doing it.  Because of the injury my biggest worry was blowing up at 16+, so I adjusted my target from sub-3 to 3:15 (which had always been the goal) and ran steady.  Leading to rule 2:
2. There is no feeling better than passing shagged out people when you're tired yourself. I was fine at 18, which is the point in the previous 3 marathons I've started to really struggle (having known from half way the game was up).  At 20 I was tired but still moving easily, and had started to pass some people who'd been a long way ahead.  At 23 I was knackered - but still passing people who by this time were generally in a really bad way.  Leading to rule 3:
3.  You can never, ever bank enough time by going out quickly.  I saw people who may have gained several minutes by putting the hammer down in the first half or even 15 miles.  Those same people will have lost all that and a lot more by running at 10 min mile pace + for 5 or 6 miles at the end.  Just do the maths - run 30 seconds quicker than target pace for 20 miles and you're 10 minutes ahead of schedule.  Very good.  Then walk for 2-300 yds out of every mile to the finish - and lose maybe 3 minutes a mile.  You're 8 minutes down on the deal.  Don't do it, kids.

So there you go - how to run a marathon in 7 easy lessons - to be applied in the later summer and autumn as I build up for Abingdon. 


Monday, 12 April 2010

Seen it, done it, ticked it...

Well that's it done - Blackpool Marathon is over and I can get back to riding my bicycle and running shorter races.  And it was bloody fantastic!

I got picked up at silly o'clock by the bus at Skipton bus station and after an uneventful journey to Blackpool we were deposited behind the Hilton with lots of runners milling about.  No need for a warm up before a marathon, so I wandered about saying hello to a few people I've chatted with on the RW forum, including a couple of guys I was maybe going to run with.

We were away bang on time, and despite trying to start steady as the plan dictated, I went through mile 1 in 6:52 (that'll be sub-3 pace then...).  By this time I'd met up with Helen, a fellow Harrier doing the half, and I ran with her for a couple of miles, dropping the pace back to the schedule of 7:15ish (7:12 and 7:17 to be precise...).  On the way we caught Keith W who'd gone out a bit quickly, and then I hooked up with one of my RW chums, Woody from Horwich.  We kept the pace nice and steady around 7:15 until a slight climb up past the Tower, where Woody dropped back and I accelerated slightly.  My HR was comfortably down below 150, and I was feeling good, so I thought there was no harm in speeding up a bit.

Just past the start again the plan was for The Afterburner to hand me a bottle of energy drink, and it worked perfectly - Paul and a host of noisy Ilkley supporters were there, and handed me a bottle of drink with a gel fastened to the side.  This was a great boost both physically and mentally, as I now knew I'd be getting my fuel in properly.

The northern loop is the same as the GNW Half where I damaged my calf in February, so the route was familiar.  I started to pass a few people here, and went through 10 miles in 71:38, with the pace averaging 7:10 exactly.  On the way back along the lower walk I caught a couple more Harriers, Richard and Adey and we had a brief chat and ran together for a mile or so.  Very quickly we were back at the start area and the half marathoners turned off to their finish.

I'd wondered how I'd feel at this point, seeing so many others with their day nearly finished and the hard work about to start for me - and I must say I felt pretty good.  I knew I'd run within myself, as my HR was only just creeping over 150, my support team were there with more bottles and I was confident that as long as I didn't go silly then I would at least get to within spitting distance of my 3:15 target.  The half marathon point was reached in 1:33:54, almost bang on 7:10 pace.

The pace back down the promenade was down near 7 min pace for a good 6 miles, only slowing when we climbed back up past the Tower again.  My HR was climbing as well, but seemed to be stabilising around the 155 mark, which is my half-marathon HR, so with under 10 miles to go I was reasonably comfortable I'd survive.  I'd set the "virtual partner" on my Garmin to run at 7:20 pace and I had the reassuring sight of being 4 mins and over half a mile "ahead".  As I passed the 18 and 19 mile markers I realised I was within an hour or so of finishing, and that I could afford to slow fairly significantly and still hit my 3:15 target.  Back past the support team for the last time with 20 miles done and under 10k to go.  By now I was passing a lot of people, many of whom had been a long way ahead.  The benefits of a conservative start were clear to see, as there were some very tired looking runners out there.

At about 22.5 miles I started to feel the effects of not having run my long runs, but I now knew I could slow dramatically and still hit my target.  I was still miling at about 7:10 pace, but as we turned for home for the last time with 5k to go for the first time I started to wish it was over.  I passed lots of runners on this last section, many of whom looked in quite bad shape, with several walking.  I also passed a few people still on their first lap, which shows an amazing amount of resilience if not athletic ability!

I was now down to about 7:25 pace, which whilst a lot slower than the average pace for the rest of the run is still about 3:15 marathon pace.  Around the corner with about half a mile to go I saw the ramp leading back up to the middle walk and the finish.  A last wave to the Ilkley supporters and a sprint finish to make sure I finished ahead of the woman I'd been running behind for most of the last mile stopped the clock on 3:07:19 - job done.  28th place out of 621 finishers is also very pleasing, but I think the best thing about the race was the way I started conservatively and picked it up later - it would have been so tempting to try and blast it from the start, but the boost you get from passing people when you're tiring is immense - must remember that next time...

Do I have a sub-3 in me?  I think so, with a full training programme and a following wind - it's only just over 15 seconds a mile quicker than I ran yesterday, and I've missed 4 of the highest mileage weeks.  Will I have a go at sub-3 at Chester in 7 weeks' time?  Will I bollocks!  Bike time now...

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Last minute preparations...

No running since Thursday, as I decided the benefits would be zero and the risks, though slight, are material.  K wanted me to walk to Gargrave and back today and I declined, saying that a 10m walk the day before a marathon isn't a good idea.  So she's taken M & L on her own, but has left me with a significant list of jobs in the garden to do - not sure which is less strenuous, a stroll along the canal or raking the vegetable patch and mowing the lawn!

Anyway, that's all done so I've now just got those last minute things to do - the ones that for a normal 10k you do in the morning (or at the start!) - number pinned on, warm up gear sorted, Garmin charged, socks selected...

I've just filled 4 500ml bottles with my favourite Powerbar energy drink, and elastic banded a Torq gel to each one.  The Afterburner, who was to be my "cornerman" has had a family bereavement so may not be there tomorrow, but Emma, his wife will be there and has stepped into the breach.  I'm also taking a spare bottle and gel and will hide that somewhere near the 7 mile mark just in case they miss me - I'm also going to carry a bumbag with 4 gels in - I can always dump it after the first half lap if the Harriers' table etc is set up by then.

So - that's it - probably the last post til after the race - wish me luck...

Thursday, 8 April 2010

All back together again in the sun

Hinsley and The Newmanator had planned a sneaky speed session after work tonight (they don't fancy going to the track without their dad, apparently) but they didn't take a lot of persuading to go out with me at lunchtime in the decidedly spring-like sunshine.

I'm obviously in full on taper mode but keen to get a few MP miles in, and as my MP miles are a tempo session for Tim he was happy with the idea.  Hinsley wanted to do more of an intervals session but we agreed we'd do a few miles at &:15 or so and then he could thrown in a quickie or two to test his knee out.

We set off, sporting shorts and t-shirts no less, and jogged slowly up to the canal.  We were remarking on how long it is since we've all been out together, and even longer since we've been out in short pants!  Once at the canal I set the pace as I'm the one racing at the weekend.  We ran to the 2 mile point, so 1 1/2 miles of effort, and I managed to keep the pace fairly steady at about 7:10, and my HR down in the mid-130's.  It was definitely warm, but not unberably so, so as long as we don't get a sudden increase in the expected temperature on Sunday (they're currently forecasting 15º and sunny) then I should be ok.

We turned and held the pace, with Hinsley running a brisk sub-6 min mile on the way back and meeting us back at the road.  He was a tad purple by the time he finished, and he rediscovered the joy of large sweat patches on a light grey shirt after his shower - spring's definitely here!

I ended up with 4 miles at an overall average of 7:28 pace, but with 3 miles of effort at 7:11 and an average HR for that section of a pleasing 136 (see below).

I think 7:15 is going to be my starting pace on Sunday, but if it pushes down to 7:10 as long as my HR is 140ish I'm not going to worry.  I'll reassess at half way and if it feels very easy maybe look to push on at some point.  The ideal would be a nice comfortable negative split and a finish time of something under 3:10 - watch this space!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Bit of a tempo session

After a bank holiday day off yesterday I decided to have a steady 4 after work tonight.  However buoyed by the excitement of another successful session with John Fizzy (that lad can certainly find the sore bits - he gave my calf a proper going over but it was better after some ultrasound) I decided to do a few quicker miles.

Half a mile jog up to the canal then saw me trying to run to c130bpm heart rate - rather gratifyingly that translates into something around 7:20 pace - boding well for Sunday.  I held that pace, very comfortably, for a mile and a half, then edged the pace up to 6:55 which had my HR at about 140bpm - again comfortably low, and if I didn't know better one that would have been fine for a sub-3 attempt (no no no no no no no!!!).  Then for the last half mile of towpath I put the burners on to see what running fast would feel like, and satisfyingly that proved to be a fairly comfortable 6 min mile pace.  Now it's only for half a mile, but that at least gives me some hope I might run a respectable 5k in a week or two at the John Carr races.

So, a pretty satisfying day all round.  Roll on Sunday...

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Easter Sunday Crowd Avoidance

Embsay and its environs do tend to get a bit horrendous at Easter - Thomas the Tank visits the steam railway leaving people carriers parked on every spare bit of tarmac containing innumerable small boys, many with odd haircuts and earrings and names like "Kylon".  Skipton itself becomes even more crammed with the "tea and wee" brigade as every coach trip in the land entitled "Bronte Country", The Beauty of the Dales" or "Magical Mystery Tour" basically does the same thing and parks behind the Town Hall and disgorges hordes of pensioners to have fish and chips at Bizzie Lizzies and walk very, very slowly up, down and (particularly) across the High Street.  Best to bugger off elsewhere - but where?

This weekend last year I took my bicycle for a trip over Fleet Moss (beautiful) then back via Ribblehead (utterly terrifying due to the myriad nobheads on racing motorcycles - did you know that if you die on a motorbike in the UK there's an 85% chance you will be over 35 and live in the north west of England?  And there's a 65% chance you're called Derek, are a fat assistant manager from Burnley and have always found it quite hard to get a girlfriend?  Actually I made the second one up but the first one's apparently true).  So - not the Dales then...

At times of extreme busy-ness and when you want to get some lumpy miles in there's nowhere else to go other than the Forest of Bowland - so me, l'Herb and Rick set off from our favourite car park in Clitheroe and set off to go on our own Magical Mystery Tour - only with less incontinence and chips.

First off was Waddington Fell, then Cross o' Greet - both ridden recently but not into the beast of a headwind that dogged us for about 35 miles today.  Cross 'o Greet in particular felt long and tough, but having looked at the photo I took of Rick with it looming ahead it looks pretty tough.

If you look carefully you can see the stripe of road muck up Rick's arse too - a man who's taken his mudguards off too early...

After the descent we turned left towards the Lune valley instead of our more normal route - fast, but still windy, roads led to Wray, then we crossed the Lune at Gressingham and made our way to Crook o' Lune via a slightly odd route, which appeared from the GPS track to have involved a 3 mile long hill - not surprising I was ready for my butty.  Now one is used to a bit of a wait at Woodies, as it's busy - but 45 minutes to make sausage and egg butties?  Too long, Woodie - you're off the list.

Cold and desperate to get the wind behind us we shot off down towards Quernmore and the turn for home - and for once the "Curse of the Wobbly Wind" didn't get us and we did indeed have a helpful breeze shoving us up past Jubilee Tower and the spectacular views of Morecambe Bay, and onwards to the Trough of Bowland.

All done, thought the Herb and I - but there was a sting in the tail so stingy it could have won first prize in the Portuguese Man o' War Stinging Competition for Particularly Stingy Jellyfish.  We pootled gently down to Whitewell and then turned left up an absolute monster of a climb - only a mile or so, but nearly 450' of ascent and absolutely no respite - every foot of it is uphill and makes you earn it.

A nice steady descent and a blast back along the route of the Ribble Valley 10k brought us back to Clitheroe with just short of 58 miles under our wheels, at a pedestrian 13mph but with around 6,500' of climbing.  I'm sure 4 1/2 hours of effort will do me good in Mallorca, but I think I need a couple of days of taking it easy to make sure I've plenty in there for next Sunday.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Confidence inspiring canal fun

After my exertions this morning with Lils I went home, ate a pork pie then set off for Silsden for my last long(ish) run of the campaign.  I'd decided that I needed to get some miles in at a respectable pace, so decided to try and run 10 miles or so with 8 at marathon pace of 7:15.  In the event it turned out to be a jog up to the canal at 7:40 pace or so (weird - not much over a year ago I was pleased if my 5 mile runs were at anything under 8 min mile pace...) and then MP running to the top of 5-Rise locks and back, and I'd work out how far it was when I finished.

After some pretty grim weather this morning, and hailstorms when K went out on her bike (the sun shines on the righteous, dear...) I was carrying my waterproof, but it wasn't needed in the end - perfect weather for running, about 10º and little wind.  I went a bit faster than MP as I felt pretty good, and was trying to keep my HR about 145 - in the end as you can see it was slightly higher than that, but I think 146-148 is a level I can sustain for a fair time - my half-marathon HR seems to be something about 155.  The average pace for the MP bit was 7:07, almost 10 seconds a mile quicker than what I'm targeting, with my HR averaging 146 overall, which includes a couple of Garmin comedy spikes.  Splits 3-11 in the table are the 9 miles of effort.
I seemed to have various niggly aches from all manner of body parts (all in the lower body, although my left shoulder's sore now - must be my typing).  However the really good news is my left calf was pain free throughout - not even any tightness, which combined with the pace and relative lack of effort gives me confidence for next week.

In fact the only thing that's worrying me now is if my careful fuelling strategy goes wrong and the Ilkley crew somehow miss me as I'm going past - I'll be taking some spare bottles and maybe leaving one or two somewhere so if the worst comes to the worst I might be able to pick one up.

Anyway - apart from a lump-fest on the bike tomorrow and a few shortish runs in the week that's it - I can do no more.  It's frustrating that I missed 4 weeks of decent quality training, but to be honest if all goes ok and I get under 3:15 (I've put 3:08 on Runners' World as my prediction...) I'll feel very lucky given where I was 6 weeks ago.

Like father, like daughter...

As a warm up for today's last longish run I took young Lily over to Ilkley this morning for her first run out with Ilkley Harriers - they have a Saturday morning "drop in" fell run for families.  It was a slightly nervous pair that arrived at Darwin Gardens, not sure if anyone would turn up, and also a bit worried about the fact Lily's not yet 8 and, despite really enjoying running, not sure whether we'd hold everyone back.

In the end we had a great time - there'd be maybe 10 or 12 running, led by Neil Chapman and Alison Bennett, who both took really good care of us.  Lils struggled a bit on the first climb but apart from an occasional stitch, did really well.  We ran a hilly 4 miles and everyone regrouped for us when we got behind, with a fun descent back to the car.  Lils' verdict is that it was good fun (especially the bit in the clouds), but she'd prefer it to be a bit less muddy - so we'll go back in a few weeks when we've had a bit more dry weather.

Out for a few MP miles later - which will make this my first "double" ever!

Friday, 2 April 2010

Another one ticked.

Ran a short easy one today - switched my Garmin to the HR screen and decided to run at a pace that kept my HR somewhere around 135 or below.  Due to a massive spike that said my HR was at over 200bpm I'm not exactly sure of the correct average, but I ran the 2 miles home from Halton East at 7:35 pace and the HR was below 130 all the way.  Given that that pace would get you a 3:18 marathon I'm now feeling like I'm in reasonable shape for 3:15.  If I had a couple more weeks to do some more LRs and MP sessions I might even think sub-3 would be worth a bash, but the combination of losing maybe 200 miles of running and the fact I'm still a bit nervous about running fast on my calf (which showed a few weeny signs of tightness but nothing worrying) means that sub-3 will have to wait.

Going to try and do my last long(ish) run on the canal tomorrow, maybe 11 or 12 miles with a few at 7:15 or so.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Is that it? Happy days.

Up to Newcastle today with work and got back quicker than expected, so popped my old Gel Cumulus shoes on and went out for a run.  This was interesting for a couple of reasons - firstly I decided to go back to my Asics shoes as my new Nikes felt just a bit low on cushioning yesterday, and secondly because it's the first time I've run on consecutive days since just before Coniston and that was the run that I thought had buggered the whole jobby.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find no reaction - not even tightness - in my injured calf.  Every other bloody bit of me seemed to be tight or niggly, but that's to be expected after so little running.  Anyway - another 5 miles at a respectable 7:15 pace and a lowish HR of 141.  A bit breezy coming back, a bit lumpy on the way out, so generally very happy with the outcome.  D'you think that means it's fixed then?

Plan for this weekend is to get out tomorrow or Saturday for 10 or 12, probably on the canal, with maybe 6 or 8 at my new MP, then a fairly longish bike ride on Sunday with l'Herb and our kid in the Forest of Bowland to avoid the crowds.

Happy days...