Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Tempo Time

Had intended to run after work but due to a Board meeting in London most of the team were out of the office so I decided to take a slightly extended lunchbreak (as recommended by Terry L) and get a tempo session done.

The pace of "tempo" is always slightly confusing, and even more so now I'm a bit out of practice at running briskly, so I engaged Debi in conversation this morning as to what tempo might be.  Now how I expected a non-running, "well built" lady in her '40's to know about pace I don't know, and indeed the conversation proved fruitless.  I started off with "what's 10k pace + 10%"? That gave an answer of 7 minute miles (assuming my 10k pace is currently about 40mins).  So I decided on 6:40 - being 10k pace + 5%.  Deb agreed, so off I went.

I decided that perhaps on of the reasons for my susceptibility to calf tweaks has been that I've run effort sessions after only half a mile or so of warm up, being very keen to "get on with it" - so I determined to run a full mile before speeding up - it felt interminable, but after about 8:15 I put the foot down and ran at what felt "comfortably brisk".  This proved to be 6:35 for the first mile, with my HR sticking around the mid-140's.

The second mile to the turn was also 6:35 and felt ok, although Garmin did its stuff and showed a HR spike up to 187.  Grr.  The third felt like harder work, and looking at the half mile splits I did speed up to 6:26 pace in the first half before slowing a bit to give a 6:31 mile.  I passed a colleague, Sue Wilson (known henceforth in Blogland as Wizzlon) on the way back and this gave me a little boost to do my last effort in 6:21.  I turned back and met Sue then ran back to work with her, giving a good 6.25, session with a pleasingly brisk tempo section of 4 miles.

I was running without my trusty compression socks, and whilst both calves are a bit tight there don't seem to be any after effects.  However assuming I have a clean pair I'll take some for my run in Newcastle on Thursday night.

Good sesh, today - pleased.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Zoooooom (ish)

Monday and The Herb had suggested cycling in.  I normally can't be arsed on Monday as I like to have a slow/easy start to the week, but the temptation of having someone to ride in with, coupled to a decent forecast, persuaded me.  It also gets the horrid early get up out of the way.

So at 7:15, in far worse weather (breezy, dark, overcast) than the met office had promised we set off.  Herb said that yesterday's run had left his hamstrings feeling tight and crampy, and as we left he said he wasn't sure he was going to be able to ride in.  Sympathetic and caring chum that I may be, I was buggered if I was going to turn back and drive in, only to have to do it all again tomorrow - so we carried on.

I did leave him on the Halton East road but he shook it off and was soon leading the way every time the road headed upwards.  The ride in was tiring but we still got under the hour despite a bit of a headwind in places.

On the way home we set off later than we'd have liked as it's very definitely gloomy any time after about 6:30 now, so without saying anything we went up the East Morton hill about a minute and a half quicker than I've been doing it.  Holden Lane was wet, slippy and scary, but we got down there unscathed and set off up past Swartha towards Cringles. 

I noticed last week when I did my "season's best" of 56mins that I was at the end of Swartha Lane bang on 30 minutes - tonight it was about 28:30, so we were definitely going quicker.  My other checkpoint is the top of the lane above Draughton in 40 minutes (which I was getting to last year when I was flying) and we were there in 40:30.

I found the A59 tough as my legs were feeling the pace, but then we absolutely flew down Low Lane at about 28mph on the flat and got home in 54:38, a new season's best and perhaps a sign that things are on the up.

Herb (who described tonights mixture of effort and chatting as "like a spin class"!) couldn't believe that I'd almost broken 50 minutes for this ride last summer, so I made us of Rubitrack's clever "compare activity" feature and had a look - the lighter columns are the fast ride last year, the darker ones are today's).  The key difference seems to be the downhills and the ride up through Swartha - I wasn't a lot quicker going up East Morton or on the flat (indeed Herb and I were quicker on the last bit) but the downhills, particularly Holden Lane, were a lot quicker - I suspect an effect of the wet roads (and me being a bit of a girl these days).

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Sunday on the Fell

Inspired by drmackem's tales of off-road running (and also having enjoyed it enormously last time) I decided to run on the fell today, and The Herb came along too.  K had baggsied the morning exercise slot so we had the choice of an 8:30 start or leaving it til after lunch.  Herb voted for morning, so after a swift crumpet and a cuppa we were away.

Along to Halton East with Herb grumbling about running on the road then up the green lane to Halton Heights.  This feels easier each time, and as it's split into two uphill sections with a flat bit in-between it's mentally not too bad either.

 The top of the moor, with the signpost pointing the way home

We were quickly up at the road and onto the fell, with nobody but the occasional startled grouse to disturb us.  There was a bit of a breeze, but it was mainly helping as we hit the long climb to the top of the moor.  Having run this way a few weeks ago I could remember how long this goes on for, so was able to helpfully tell the Herb there was still loads of uphill to go each time I heard a grumpy "bloody 'ell!" from behind.
An interesting cairn on the way down

It actually felt easier than last time, even though my HR was high, and were soon turning for home after a few photo stops.

An interesting Herb on the way down

I always love the descent down to Embsay Crag from here as the view changes with nearly every step, although it was a great deal wetter than last time I ran down here, and we had to be careful where we put our feet.

"You can see my house from here..."

We paused on top of the crag then got the descent line right (which, as there's a 3' wide path isn't too hard...) then ran back to the Eastby road and home.  8.5m, 1:20 and a grand morning's work.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Decent week at last

After a decent session in Newcastle I had Thursday off to work, drink Landlord and eat curry, but Friday dawned with me feeling better than I would have expected after a night with Phil T and Colonel Sanders.

Took my stuff to work with thoughts of running at lunch, but an over-running Risk Committee put paid to that, so it was after work or nothing.

I had my instructions from Guru Terry L, one of which was to extend my longest run by 10% or so each time (normal advice) but (less normal) to cut back every other week. So the plan this week was to run a shorter "long run", and so I decided on an 8 miler along past Riddlesden and back.

I started off very steadily with a 8:12 mile, but speeded up as I went and ended up running just under 7 min pace. The 8m took just over an hour so an average pace of 7:45. No calf pain to speak of.

Decided to give the legs a day off being hammered today so after K brought the girls back from not-swimming (absent teacher) I set off on my bike to do the Burnsall loop.

Whilst I'm a long way off bike fit, things are getting easier each time, and I got round the 18m loop in an hour and ten minutes, which isn't far off my quickest time for that route - averaged about 16mph.

Assuming I do the expected 8m off-roader tomorrow that'll give about 26m of running and 45m of biking - so not a bad week.

Then this afternoon was spent visiting our new puppy, Izzy, who'll be coming to live with us in a couple of weeks. Very exciting...

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Thursday, 23 September 2010

Running in the Rain...

Newcastle last night, and as I'm now "back in the saddle" I decided I'd better find myself somewhere to run as I'm likely to be here most weeks foir the foreseeable future.

I was staying on the quayside so I set off up-river on a nice riverside path. Google Earth suggested it went a fair way up, so I was hoping to run for 2 miles or so. Taking Martyn Speight's advice to do speed efforts but less of them in the early days, I'd decided to do 3x1/2 mile efforts at about 80%. This proved to be about 6:30 pace for the first one, and 6:20 for the second (steady, Tiger...). The path, it tirned out, only went for 1.9m so I was going to have to run back past the hotel to get my 4m in.

By this time it was lashing it down, but it was nice and cool, so after my 3rd effort passed at just under 6:10 pace I decided to carry on to do 5 miles, keeping he pace down at 8min mile pace or so.

Due to mathematical dyslexia I arrived back at the hotel with 5.4m on the watch so caried on to make it a round 6.

A nice run, pleased with the efforts that didn't feel too "eyeballs out" and glad to have broken my "running-in-Newcastle" duck. Legs feel pretty much fully recovered from Sunday now, so a day off to eat curry and have a beer tonight, then a longish run after work tomorrow.

Happy days...

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

And the tired legs go on and on...

Away tomorrow, out for curry Thursday so bike it had to be.  Went to sleep promising myself that if I still felt stiff and achy I'd ditch it - but knowing that as I ditched cycling in last week I would be cross with myself if I did - after all, I've started marathon training, haven't I?

So - I woke up achy and stiff, but neverthless hobbled into the spare room to pull on my biking stuff, and rather later than usual, set off.  The first decision is at the bottom of our road - right for the flatter, busier main road route down the valley, left for the lumpy way.  Irritatingly the flat way now feels like cheating, so I turned left and headed off towards Draughton and the first climb.

My legs didn't feel too bad - certainly better pedalling than they were walking down stairs - and I hit the bottom of the climb in something around normal time.  I'm not sure whether I was trying harder, but I became aware as I went over the top into Airedale that I seemed to be a bit quicker than usual. It was quite thick fog, and I was glad of my lights, but as I dropped into Silsden the clouds parted and I stopped to take the shot at the top of the page - lovely.

Without pushing it, I tried to just keep the speed up down into Silsden and the climb up Holden Lane.  I definitely pushed it a bit up the first section, getting out of the saddle rather than grinding it out, and reached the corner feeling tired but not as much as normal.

I kept pushing until I realised that as I hit the last steep section I was within spitting distance of my fastest time to climb this hill (nothing impressive - 6:30 for a 0.6m stretch!) and so really drove the pedals round to pass the tree that is my "done it" point about 5 seconds quicker than my previous best - but with my HR well in the red zone.

I got to work in under 57 minutes, which I think is the quickest I've ridden in this way.

The ride home was fun - again without pushing hard I realised I was only a few minutes slower than last year when I used to get home in just over 50 minutes instead of the current hour, so I pressed on down through Draughton and got to the A59 in 48 minutes - no record on the cards, but a definite possibility of a respectable average speed.

The horrid climb up the A59 takes, I can now report, a touch over 2 minutes when you're trying hard, so I had a fair bit of time in hand to do the 2 miles home - in the end the watch stopped on just over 56 minutes, so today was two mystifyingly fast rides on tired legs, and the first time I've got home quicker than going in the lumpy way.

Maybe I should ride tired all the time?

Monday, 20 September 2010

Recovery pootle

Achilles both stiff, hamstrings tight, legs generally not in the best shape this morning. Work was busy so no chance of a lunchtime run, so Newmanator and I went out after work.

Wasn't sure how my legs would be - was this stiffness or injury? Sported my Nike compression socks to guard against any tweaks, and was pleasantly surprised to feel my legs easing off as we ran.

We turned at 2 as I felt I'd probably have done enough with 4 miles, and we did actually speed up slightly on the way back, from high 8's to just under. As we got back to the road Tim decided he'd do a couple of extra miles, so after a brief consideration I abandoned him and finished with 4m in 33:13.

Tim carried on - and later texted to say he'd done 13.1m in the end in 1:43 - so not a bad effort for after work on a Monday!

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Sunday, 19 September 2010

Great North Run - well it was ok, I suppose..

Top Tip, runfans - training almost certainly helps you run faster.

A satisfactory day out at the GNR but much, much harder than running at that pace should be.  The start was pretty horrid - as I (think) I put an expected finish of about 1:25 down I was in what I thought was a decent pen - but actually it was HYOOOOGE and the first mile was slow and involved lots of weaving round people running really very slowly.  Got into my running after about a mile and a half but then my Garmin went a bit wonky in the underpasses and was reading about 0.2m short, but after what it told me was a 5:47 second mile (it wasn't - nearer 7:30) it was showing 6:30 per mile til the road went upwards when I slowed to just under 7's.

The adjusted target for my injury (and pie) wracked body was sub-90 so I reckoned with a few 6:30's I could afford to slow a bit on the uphills, and sure enough I hit 5k in 21m, 10k in 42 and 15k in 63m - so "even paced" was the name of the game and as sub-90 requires 21:20 per 5k so I had maybe a minute in the bank.

But at about 10miles I started to really feel the lack of training and/or the surfeit of food - and whilst I didn't slow too much it just got really, really hard.  The top of the last climb is just after 11m and that section was really hard, with a 7:08 mile, and even the amazing support on the sea front didn't produce a significant acceleration although I did dip down below 7's again.

The finish seemed to be getting no nearer, and as my Garmin said 13.1m before it was properly in sight I got momentarily grumpy and wished I was somewhere else.

In the end it was 1:29:08 for 489th place (and amazingly for such a big race, 36th MV45) - so definitely in the "satisfactory" camp but far too much like hard work.  In the "race a celebrity" stakes I took a scalp I've been after for a while, passing Tony Audenshaw (or "Bob off Emmerdale" as he's known in our house) on the Tyne Bridge, but I'm sure Nell McAndrew will be pleased to have taken revenge for the kicking I gave her in the Dewsbury 10k in 2007.

Here's a clever thing from the Nike website that shows how Bob off Emmerdale was left trailing in my wake...

Friday, 10 September 2010

Now where was I?

Seems a long time since I blogged, and just as long a time since I did anything active.  A couple of days in Newcastle (including a night on the beer with Thackray) felt a loooong time, but was in fact just Wednesday and Thursday.  But today is another day (Friday to be precise) and Friday is run home day.

I've not felt less like running home for ages - not sure if it's the vestiges of the hangover from Wednesday or just general lethargy, but I was not the most enthusiastic little bunny as I set off in my new Nike ridiculous compression socks. 

It's been a bit rainy and muddy towpaths aren't my thing so it was off the canal at Ridds and then up-tiddlyup-up at Silsden.  The big hill over to Kildwick is, I can report, only half a mile, but it feels long and quite gnarly.

My calves were a bit niggly all the way tonight, specially lefty, but it feels like tightness rather than tweakiness, and as I'll have an enforced fairly easy week this week, that might be the best prep for GNR next Sunday.  The 13.2m back to Herb's took 1:43, which is pretty much in line with the time I was taking last summer.

I've not really been thinking about GNR but when my pack arrived this week to tell me I've got a decent start position just behind the elites (and presumably the Slebs as well) I started to think about what might be realistic.

I've done very little speed work (well, "very little" as in "none"), but whilst I've not done a lot of miles I've run home a couple of times and done a few decent bike rides.  I'm a bit porky (but not as porky as I was three weeks ago), so I reckon I'll be satisfied with sub-90 and pleased as punch with sub-85.

There - I've said it...

Off to Winchester for a family wedding this weekend, so apart from a possible leg-stretcher on Sunday after we get back it'll be an unhealthy, lazy weekend of sitting about on trains and drinking beer.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Tired legs go to work and back

 Not a bad commute - pic from above Draughton tonight on the way home, Embsay Crag and Crookrise visible

Well, blogfans - I did it.  Woke up at 6:30 expecting to hear torrential rain battering the Velux window on our landing (I'd considerately moved into the spare room to allow K her beauty sleep as she's not working Tuesdays) but instead there was silence - no wind, no rain and therefore no reason not to get on my bike.

I'd assembled my biking stuff with an air of wintry resignation - proper waterproof jacket, roubaix arm warmers, long-fingered gloves and a cap to wear under my helmet.  But when I went out to get my bike it was not only pretty still, it was positively balmy!  So it was short sleeve order for the ride in (with a proper waterproof in my pocket in case things got nasty).

My legs weren't happy - HR was down, breathing felt easy but my legs just ached.  The climb up through Draughton was hard, and even the short undulations over to Cringles felt tough.  I was worried how Holden Lane was going to be.

In the end it was hard, long and felt like I was hardly moving - but in fact I was faster than last time I rode up it on my own - 7mins bottom to top.  Ironic that I'd always reckon to be able to run a mile in 7 minutes without too much effort - this hill is only 0.6m long and feels desperate!

A blast down to the valley, with another scare on a wet right hander in East Morton saw me at work in the fastest time yet over this route - 58mins door to door.

The ride home began with me being thankful I'd brought my jacket as it was proper raining.  This stoped as I got onto the top of the moor, but there was plenty of surface water to soak my arse.  No big-ring heroics tonight - easy gears all the way and a very scary descent of Holden Lane, with me convinced (but not worried) that this would be a very slow ride home.

In the end the sun came out and I was quicker than any of the rides home in this recent batch getting home in just over the hour.

My only question is - how the hell did I ever do this 10 minutes quicker?  I almost broke 50 minutes last summer - how???

Monday, 6 September 2010

Long bike, short run, all good

Manchester 100m bike ride yesterday with a brace of Harrowgays (Gym-Bunny and Angry), Gym-Bunny's mate Leigh, the Herb and Rick.  Stupidly early start from Embsay fuelled only by 2 crumpets and a peanut butter sarnie, then a HUGE queue to get into the parking in the park.  By the cunning ruse of missing the junction we parked on a road the other side of the park, saved ourselves a quid and got to the start without queueing.

Leigh and the Gym-Bunny were trying to out-Herb the Herb by steaming along at about 23mph on the flat, and both Angry and I expressed our concerns about what that would do to us later.  This received the expected lack of any serious consideration and the pressure stayed on...

The boys, flying at the start...

We hit 20 miles in a gnat's over an hour, and at about 30 miles the pressure started to show as Rick fell off the back for a while and took ages to catch up.  I stayed back with him (glad of the rest - no fraternal chivalry here!) but then we caught The Herb and we lost him again.  We assumed that he was having a bad day so set about catching the rest of the team, which we did as they were having a quick wee in Delamere Forest.

We kept going to the lunch stop at 56 miles, which we reached in just under 3 hours from the start.  A quick butty and a coffee and we were off again, and I was glad the stop was that crucial 6m beyond half way, so we were now into "counting down" territory.  At about 65m Angry hit his usual wall and dropped off with Gym-Bunny staying back with him, whereas me and The Herb managed to stay with Leigh, who was proving to be the strong man of the group.

Gym-Bunny eventually came back up, according to him he'd got sick of Tim whinging!  Shortly before this we'd come across Rick, who'd obviously been not having that bad a day and had only lost 10 minutes or so, had a short stop for lunch and got out again in front of us!  Leigh by this time had got sick of waiting for us and had buggered off into the distance - so now there were 4.

Once the mileage got into the 80's the wind that had been an irritant all day got stronger and ahead of us, and remarkably I found myself taking the lead quite a lot as Herb and Peter were feeling the pace.  We went past the last feed (well, "feed" is stretching it as you have to pay for anything you have) stop at 77m without pausing and here Rick dropped back again - so now there were 3.

The last couple of times I've done this ride the last 20 have been purgatory, but whilst I wouldn't say I felt fresh, I did feel ok this time.  The nasty little hill at Styal was conquered in the big ring (so big ring all the way for 100m!) and then it was the usual nonsense from Gym-Bunny and Herb as the lads with big thighs started to push the pace in the last couple of miles.  Fortunately there's quite a few sets of traffic lights to slow them down, so eventually we all finished together with 5:25 on the clock for an average speed of 18.6mph, which is very pleasing given my lack of mileage.

My legs were fine when I got up this morning, but there was no way I was getting up early enough to cycle in (although The Herb did, the loon).  However I decided I'd better get out so I set off at lunchtime for a 4 miler with a 3 mile effort.  It was clear as I set off on my effort that whilst my calves were fine my legs generally weren't, so it quickly became a mile effort which passed in 6:42, so respectable pace - however my legs weren't keen to keep going at that rate so I slowed to about 7:30 pace and ran to the 2.5m turn at Riddlesden.

From here I did another mile effort in 6:38 then ran back to work - 7:35 average pace, HR behaved, no calf pain but decidedly tired legs!

The plan is to bike in tomorrow despite the crap forecast - so hopefully I'll be back tomorrow to report that I stuck to my guns and did it!

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Just a short one

I'm pretty sure that in last year's marathon campaign I didn't do enough slower running, so on the back of yesterday's longish run I decided to take advantage of a quiet day and do a slow recovery.  130bpm HR seems to be a pretty easy effort for me, so I set that as my target and ran to Halton East and back.

The HR did pop over the 130 a few times, but the average was 125 and that meant a fairly pedestrian, though very comfortable, pace of 8:15.

Unconvinced by my Nike Lunarglide shoes - I wore compression socks to be careful, but I still got a tiny tweak of so high up in my left calf - which hadn't been there at all yesterday, so I think they're now officially disco shoes.

Saw Neil Maloney whilst out - running along grinning cheerfully - wearing a woolly hat!!

Why, Neil, why????

A better week

After the joy of my fell run on Monday it was back to work and a couple of days with no running, then Thursday was the appointed bike-to-work day.  I was with Herb this week, and determined not to be quite so battered as I was last time.

The ride up through Draughton and past the stables felt easier with familiarity and we actually managed to chat most of the way up there, then a steady ride over to Silsden and the main event.  Robin Hood Hill, or Holden Lane or whatever it's called is still a challenge, but I reckon I was up it a minute and a half quicker than last time, and only 5 yards behind The Herb which is far better.

We were actually a tiny bit slower than last week, but I think chatting as you ride makes a fair difference.  The ride home was good, and I was back to my "big ring ride home" form which suggests my legs are getting stronger even if my belly isn't getting much smaller (though 4lbs off in a couple of weeks is ok).

Then yesterday (Friday) was the day I'd decided to see if my calves have really improved by running home from work.  This was a bit "shit or bust" as I'd lent Herb my car to go for his physio appointment so I wasn't really sure if I could bale out if I needed to.  I popped a twenty quid note in my bum bag in case of emergency taxi requrements...

I put my compression socks on as a back up, although left them rolled down, and set off to the canal.  Past Ridds I cut down onto the lane as I've decided I really don't like that stretch of towpath, but in Silsden I went back onto the canal, as hills seem to put a bit more strain on my calves.

 A pretty stretch of the canal near Kildwick

My socks were back up by this point as I could feel a slight tightness in my achilles, but no pain anywhere.  The miles were ticking past at a steady 7:50 which felt very comfortable indeed, even though it was hot, and I actually quite enjoyed the 2 1/2 miles along to Kildwick on the canal - so much so that I stayed on the canal all the way into Skipton, then cut up through Skipton Woods.  This was delightful - cool, quiet and peaceful, and it gave a really nice end to the run, depositing me as it did on the Embsay road just where it goes under the by-pass.

Half a mile of pavement and I was back at The Herbs to pick up my car - 14 miles in 1:51, so slightly slower than last year but possibly a bit longer, and a bit of nettle bashing at the top of the woods.