Wednesday, 30 March 2011

What have I done?

As the gorgeous golden labrador, Greg Mitchell, would have said... "my wife's gonna kill me...".

I've only gone and agreed to do a 100km run/walk thing in June...

It's a charity event called Trailtrekker that Call Credit, a company we deal with at work, has entered a number of teams in, and they've invited Rob T and I as we did the C2C with them last year.  However riding 130m over two days at a relatively slow speed is a different kettle of fish to running 60 miles through the Dales.

Anyway - at least I'll have some marathon miles still in my legs.

Back from London, and a nice taper-type run last night.  I was staying near Marble Arch, so with Hyde Park outside the front door and daylight available it seemed rude not to.  A lap of Hyde and Green Parks at a very steady pace, then another lap of Hyde Park doing 4x1km reps.  Now I know the bit after the Albert Memorial towards Hyde Park Corner is downhill, but I was pleased with a 3:41 km at the end of almost a 10m run.  Ended up with bang on 10m in just under 80mins.

No niggles yet, but the Taper Madness will doubtless kick in soon.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Taper time...

When I first trained for a marathon I imagined "the taper" as two or three weeks off, doing no running and eating a lot of carbohydrate.  Well it's not.  What it is is a reduction in mileage but no drop off in intensity - so for the next three weeks my mileage will be around 80%, then 60% then 40% of my "maximum" mileage of about 50-ish.  Had I managed a 60 last week, which was kind of what I had in mind, then the drop off would have been more dramatic, but I'm still intending to do about 40m or so this week.

This week started with a delightful 5 miler on the canal at lunch, with the last of the present sunny days meaning I was overdressed in tights and l/s top.  No pressure to run fast, and still with the last vestiges of Friday's long run making their presence felt, I ran a consistent 7:40 pace, with the HR hardly hitting 130bpm.  All very comfy.

Off to London tomorrow and the hope of an earlyish finish and longer evening light means I can hopefully get a parks run in in daylight - off to check the Serpies' site to suss out the route!

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Not quite done, but nearly...

Well that's the last long one done, and the last week of high(ish) mileage.  It wasn't the 60 miles I had thought I might do, but a decent combination of speedy stuff and long stuff means I'm confident of at least getting another 3:15 and a GFA for 2013 if required (doubtful looking from here, but I said never again in 07...).

Monday saw me heading out onto the canal rather later than I'd intended, and realising that I wasn't going to manage my 10 miler before dark.  I decided that MP miles were important though, so decided that I'd do "6 in 8" instead.  I started the effort after about 3/4 of a mile and ran 6:44, 6:47, 6:35, 6:35, 6:42 and 6:41 - so all well inside even BHAG MP, and not too uncomfortable - still think sub-3 is going to be a bit too tasty come 17/4.

Then Tuesday was a steady 5 miler run a bit quicker than 8 min pace, then Wednesday's run started off as a steady 10 miler, again on the canal.  I'd gone out too late again (thank goodness for the hour going on - no worries about darkness from this week!) so when I turned at 5m I upped the pace a bit, without really meaning to.

I then found I'd run  a 7:14 (having gone out at 7:40) almost without trying, so decided to see how a progressive acceleration would feel.  The next mile was 6:37 and again felt "comfortably hard" as they say, then a 6:23 and finally a 6:04 before a mile or so warm down.  The last mile, despite being quicker than I've run for a while, didn't actually feel eyeballs out, so maybe I've got a bit fitter after all.

Then Friday was Last Long Run Day - with a different approach to previous long ones.  I really wanted to get a run in that went over the 20, and I've been finding the mental effort of my usual out-and-back course pretty tough.  So the plan was to run to Leeds along the canal - I'd hoped the prevailing wind would help, and the thought of all the locks being downhill somehow helped too.

So I parked the car at Steeton station, having decided at the last minute that I wouldn't want to walk the mile or so back to my usual parking spot.  Good plan.  I then set off at a steady pace, not feeling any pressure to push on as this was all about time on feet.

Once I hit the canal I seemed to be miling pretty consistently at just below 7:40 and then once I hit 5 Rise (nice to think I wouldn't be going back up it!) I was nearer to 7:30, still feeling very easy.  Past Shipley I was into new territory - I've cycled along this bit of towpath, but that was years ago, and it's hard trying to work out where you are relative to the roads as the canal stays remarkable rural right into Leeds.

I hit the half marathon point with the watch on 1:40, so only just outside 3:15 pace and feeling very easy.  The only indication I had of how far to go was the milestones by the canal, which were indicating I'd be running about 23 miles to get to Leeds.  I'd sort of hoped for 24, but anything over 20 was going to be a real confidence booster.

I passed through a marina at Rodley, when I knew I must be somewhere close to the Leeds ring road, and that I'd soon be seeing some more familiar landmarks.  I was having to stop to drink as I had a small rucsac on rather than my more usual bumbag, which meant that I was able to take a few photos, including this one that told me I was within 45 minutes or so of finishing.

I never really started to feel it in my legs til about the last mile, which is reassuring given that I was running only a little way outside 3:15 pace.  I finally hit the end of the canal and headed off past the "dark arches", stopping the watch on 23.3 miles in 2:58 - so almost bang on 7:40 pace and feeling pretty easy.

I joined the Friday evening commuters in M&S to buy a monster bottle of banana milk, then hopped on the train back to Steeton with my last proper long run in the bag. 

So how do I feel now that taper time is here?  Well I'm heavier than I want to be, and have done less really big mileage weeks than I would have liked - however I'm not injured (calves are a bit sore today, and I've just done a 18m loop on the bike instead of a recovery run), and I'm very confident that I can go out and run a fairly comfortable 3:15. 

I'll think about what pace to run the race at once I see a weather forecast and the taper has done its magic, but right now I think a PB of 3:05 or just under would be about the best I can hope for -a nd will hopefully not see me too battered for the 3 Peaks a couple of weeks later!

Monday, 21 March 2011

What a good weekend (apart from the rugby)...

Well young Lils is the 18th fastest 8 year old in North Yorkshire.  She did well over a testing 1km on Catterick racecourse - about 60 kids in her final and she was well up there, although not really challenging for the medal positions.

I managed a steady 5 miles that morning, then off to York with K on Friday.  I was bored of shops by 3pm so left her to it and got out for a run.  I found myself in Bishopthorpe on the Brass Monkey HM route, so at the 3m point I speeded up to something a bit faster than marathon pace and did 5m with splits of 6:37, 6:38, 6:22, 6:24 and 6:26.  3m back to the hotel for an 11 miler, followed by beer, food and a weekend off.  Very pleased with the speed there as it never felt eyeballs out.

Then today it was back to the canal feeling fresh, but as I was a bit later than I'd like my "6 in 10" became "6 in 8", but the 6 were at an average 6:41, and my HR was high 140's, which is below HM rate and not far off what it was at Blackpool last year.  Still think I'll be nearer 3:10 than 3:00 come 17/4, but I'll see how these next few weeks go.

I'm injury free, although I'm not sure if I'll ever run again without one calf or the other feeling a bit niggly.

Onwards and upwards...

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Much travelled man

Newcastle for a couple of days then London, so the only running has been a spooky and dark 10 miler from Newcastle coastwards along the river. This is a nice path for a while, then cuts inland near the docks and becomes really a bit grim - basically a path through some housing estates. 10 miles done in about 1:17 without it ever feeling remotely tricky.

Got home to discover my race pack has arrived from Virgin - my running number of 32,000-odd confirms I'm off the Fast Good for Age start, so nicer toilets and a clear run at the start. Nice.

Off tomorrow to take Lils to the xc finals, so will get a few miles in the morning, and will take my clobber to York and try to get out on Friday afternoon - I'll probably not even hit 30m this week, but the hardest work is now done, just a higher mileage week to get done next week then it's taper time.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Easy does it

After Friday's efforts I decided to slip in a short recovery in between swimming and horse riding (the kids, not me) so I plodded off up to Halton East and back to get 5 miles in - all very easy at about 8 min pace, with my HR bobbing around the 120bpm mark.

All these indicators suggest I'm in similar shape to last year, but I sure as hell don't feel it - 6:50 pace (when I run any) feels much harder, and speeding up to 7:20 on Friday felt pretty tough - so I think the sub-3 is probably not a goer.  If the next couple of weeks go really well then I might have a crack, but to be honest I think an enjoyable 3:05 or even 3:10 will be more likely.

Herb and I nipped out for a leg stretcher on the bike this morning - he rather unsportingly turned up on his summer bike, which meant I had to work hard to keep up.  We just did our "3 Peaks" circuit over Halton Heights, Langbar and Addingham Moorside.  Just a couple of hours and 23 miles or so, but my cycling mojo is definitely back.  Looking forward to some long days in the summer.

Cutback week this week, which is just as well as I'm in Newcastle for 2 days, then London, then away with K on Friday celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary.  Blimey...

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Number 5 done...

As usual I ended up leaving work for my "afternoon off" about 2 o'clock, so was slightly late starting my long run from Silsden, so I decided to press on a bit more than I have previously.  I realsied that meant I might not get my 3 or 4 fast miles in at the end, but anything under 2:30 would mean that 3:15 should be fairly comfortable come 17 April, what with a number pinned on my jumper and everything.

I ran the first couple up to the canal at about 7:40 (which is quicker than normal) then tried to run at or just below 7:30 pace.  This proved pretty easy to Shipley as there was a reasonable following wind.  I also enjoyed it more than last week's 20 - maybe because I know it's the second to last one, or maybe because I've not got a cold, or maybe because we got our bonus letters this week (banker bashers will be pleased to know that the total number isn't very big, and lots of it's deferred so not much cash for people to get cross about).

Turning at Shipley made things a bit tougher, but the encouraging thing was that I was still feeling strong despite hitting the turn a couple of minutes quicker than normal.  On the way back there were a couple of slower miles around 5Rise, but I did manage to press on a bit from 15 to 18 running just under 7:20 pace - and that didn't feel like I was eyeballs out.  I do think sub-3 is going to be beyond me though, but I think a PB should be achievable given reasonably cool weather.

I finished off with a couple of slower miles to finish in 2:29:30, which is about bang on 3:15 marathon pace  - and this is in training, carrying water and not pressing too hard.  Satisfying to get it done, and to see the "5 Longest Runs" total hit the magic 100 miles.

After a meal out with Karen's aunt and uncle we dropped the kids off at home and went off to see Dave Spikey at the cattle mart theatre - very, very funny - 2 hours of belly laughs.  Go see him if you can...

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Mojo still with us - just not blogging!

Keen readers (well, me) will have noticed it's over a week since I recorded anything here - but this time it's not the Can Not Be Arsed Fairy visiting - it's just I've been busy doing other stuff (which includes running).

After last week's tough 20 I decided I needed a recovery on the Saturday, so set off into the teeth of the wind towards Halton East.  I turned at 1.5m and ran home, as Lils has decided she'd better do a bit of running in preparation for the North Yorks XC finals in a couple of weeks.  Bizarrely, Maisie also decided she wanted to come, so off we set, me and Lils in running kit, and Maisie in jodpurs, having just got back from nag bouncing.  We did 2 miles, and Maisie was probably the stronger of the two of them, which is a turn up as she's usually too busy moaning about her legs to run.  Still - 5m recovery to take the week to over 40 again.

Then Sunday it was a very worried andy from embsay who set off  to pick up The Herb and drive to Otley for a (wait for it...) bike ride!!!  The first of the year, and I was very nervous about crashing and burning horribly.  My only hope was Dave Andrews from work, who's recently bought a road bike having done a fair bit of mountain biking.  The full team was Dave and I plus Rick (now known as "Gramps), Angry, Gym-Bunny, Herb and another new boy, Rich Bright.  Rich clearly has too much money as he turned up clad head to toe in posh clobber (including white overshoes) and riding about 4 grand's worth of bike.  His nickname as "The Dandy" was decided before 10 miles were up...

Sadly, our hopes of "all the gear, no idea" were dashed as he spanked us on the way up to Leathley and Norwood.  My best hope for not being last, Dave, decided to head off on his own, leaving me as potentially lantern rouge.  As it happened as we headed up Norwood, my legs recalled Friday's efforts but also decided that as I've been doing a bit of running so I managed to hang onto The Dandy's wheel most of the way up.  A blast along Pennypot Lane and through Clint, then down towards Pateley led us to the bottom of Peat Lane, the hideously steep (and currently muddy) lane parallel to the main road to Greenhow.

We came round the corner, having seen The Dandy disappear upwards to find him off his bike.  He's cracked! Sadly not - he was just in the wrong gear and soon ground past Angry and I on the painfully steep straight section.

We blasted down to Blubberhouses and set off up the last climb of the day back to Otley.  I somehow found myself in front on the last section, closely followed by Brighty - when suddenly he did actually conk out - I heard a sort of deflating sound and then I was alone - he'd had to stop for a breather!  happy days - a fat bloke on a heavy bike with mudguards can eventually prevail over a whippet on some carbon.

40 miles in just over 3 hours, and my cycling mojo is back.

This week's been a couple of 5 milers with a hard session last night.  Arranged to meet the Herb at Silsden after work, so I ran along the canal and did some 1km reps at about 3:50 per km (so c6:10 pace) off 400m recoveries - hard going into the wind.  Managed 6 of them before I met Herb, then ran a nice steady 6 with him to give me just over 11 miles - a decent midweek session.

20 miler number 5 tomorrow - which in most marathon campaigns would be "it" - but I think I'll squeeze one more in before taper.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to go out at 7:05 pace whch would give me a decent PB - if the next 2 weeks' training goes particularly well I might have a go at sub-3, but to be honest a comfortable PB would be just fine too.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Still here, still running

Seems an age since I wrote anything here, and I must confess I've been going through a bit of a "can I still be bothered with this" period when it comes to running (well, marathon training more specifically).  I think it's a combination of having to do virtually all my running alone (Hinsley's had his op, The Newmanator is coming back from injury and The Herb and I never seem to be in the same place) and having to travel a lot with work meaning no lunchtime running.

Still - I've managed to keep going.  Last week was a cutback week after 3 higher mileage weeks, so I just managed a couple of laps of Hyde Park (9m), a 5m steady run to Halton East and then a briskish (1:40) run home from work.

Then it was off to Edinburgh with the lads for beer, pies and rugby, meaning this week started with a hangover.  I got out on Wednesday down in London, and ran from Bloomsbury where I was staying all the way along to Hyde Park, where I found myself running along with oodles of people.  I reckon I'd strayed in to the Serpies club night, but whatever it was it spurred me onto running round Hyde, St James' and Green Parks before running back to my hotel - 11m with a few miles at 7:2x.

Thursday saw another 5 miler to Halton East in the dark, before the next 20 miler reared its head yesterday.  I got less than a mile in and seriously considered turning round and retiring from marathon running - but then decided that would be a waste of a couple of months of running, so carried on.

Partly because I wanted it over, and partly to compare with how I'm going with last year, I pushed on a bit more than of late, with quite a few miles coming in around 7:30, instead of the 7:50+ I've been running at.  This felt like harder work, but part of this is down, I'm sure, to the rather stinky cold I'm carrying.

Turning at Shipley after just over 1:16 suggested that I was going quicker than previous 20 milers, but my legs were feeling it.  Could be the effects of the cold, but whatever it was I'd decided against a 4m effort.  I did decide to kick on at the Tesco road, and ran 3m at 6:57, 6:47 and 6:37 - with the first one feeling the hardest by some distance!  It was tough though, and on the last couple of miles to the car my thighs were feeling tight - so either I'm short of fitness or the cold had taken its toll.

Assuming I get a recovery of some sort in today that'll at least take me past 40 for the week, and I have a slightly less bonkers week at work coming up, so may even manage a run at lunchtime.