Project Sub 1:16:47 – Last Week of Training

With the last post ending on a sore throat developing, Friday was a scheduled rest day when I felt pretty rubbish. Saturday morning I awoke, still the throat was rasping, but not feeling any worse, so I headed out for a very easy six mile run. The first mile felt terrible, thereafter I felt okay, but fairly weak. The hours after the run I felt no worse so I agreed with the guys at Grantham Running Club taking part in the Equinox 24 hour race that I would help them out with a last minute appearance on the Sunday morning to substitute for an injured runner. Assuming I was healthy all parties would benefit, I’d get an early morning long run at reasonable pace in the bag before working on the Singapore GP and they’d get a couple of hours of rest having run through the day and night whist I put in a triple stint.

Up at 6am on the Sunday morning, I headed to the Belvoir Estate where the sun was rising after a night of rain then mist and fog. I set off for 3 laps of the approximately 10k course – a multi terrain affair with one long drag, one steep downhill section and one steeper,  but shorter, uphill section. The first lap I took easy as I let the legs wake up, made sure the sore throat wasn’t turning into a chest infection, and got the lie of the course.

The first lap run in around 40:04 (the self created Strava segment clips the start and end of the lap) I slowly wound the pace up over the next two laps, trying my best to make it an honest run without losing sight that it was just a long run with the half in a week’s time the goal. The second lap was 38:45 and feeling better by the mile, I completed the third lap in 37:32, averaging a healthy 6:38 for the 18 mile run.

An easy 7 miles on Monday was followed on Tuesday by the final hard session before the big race. It being my birthday and not wanting to run in the evening, I went out in the morning for an eight mile run where the final three miles were run at my planned half marathon HR of around 172. The splits: 5:49; 5:34; and 5:43 were pleasing as I rarely run that fast in training. The Nike Frees, which I’d decided to race in on Sunday rather than the lighter, but troublesome with blisters, Lunar Racers, were knackered however and Wednesday’s easy paced 10 mile run and the Thursday club jog were used to bed in the replacement Nike Frees, which were slightly different than the old ones but ran just the same.

The Thursday night run was the last before Sunday, a slow steady affair, a little off-road in the dark to bring some unnecessary pre-race stress, but the legs felt good, the sore throat and cold a now distant memory. Everything looked rosy, but on Saturday morning I awoke with sciatica in the right leg, and I spent most of the day trying to massage it away. Surely I wouldn’t be hindered by this last minute problem now!

Project Sub 1:16:47 Weeks 4-7 (Ish)

Week 4 was a mixed affair: intervals upset by a dodgy tummy; dizzy spells on a recovery run forcing an unplanned day off; a lovely run around Belton House and then some inconclusive Saturday morning intervals. The highlight was undoubtedly Sunday morning’s lap of Rutland Water (Not forgetting the all important Peninsula). In theory it was a club run, the reality was it all solo and very enjoyable – excellent running terrain and superb views. The lure of saving a couple of quid on the car parking meant I covered the 22.6 miles in dead on seven minutes per mile.

Week 5 saw a somewhat odd club hills session on the Tuesday where, with nigh on everyone racing on the Thursday night, the focus appeared to be on putting in as little effort as possible, which I managed with great efficiency save for the final rep when the lure of stretching the legs proved too great. The race on Thursday was the Club Handicap Ten KM, reported on elsewhere here. Fastest time on the night, but a bit slower than yesterday, plenty of questions over form. A stomach upset induced double short run on the Saturday was followed by a long Sunday run that was more pleasing than the handicap race – the Newton’s Fraction half course plus three miles – run at marathon pace plus 30s and feeling very comfortable.

Week 6 began with a long 10 mile recovery run with Minnett’s Hill thrown in, which is never easy even if you are taking it easy. Tueday’s pyramid session at the club threw up an alarm when the left foot flared up midway through the session. Thankfully some massage during and after the session cured the foot of its ills, a lesson learned, the injury curse of Dysart Park avoided. Thursday was meant to be a hard fast run but I felt fairly lethargic so I changed the plan – taking part and coming home first at Newark parkrun on the Saturday (Six seconds outside my course PB) as part of and 18 mile long run.

Week 7 to date has been another mixed bag – easy run on Monday followed by what felt like ridiculously slow club hills on the Tuesday which turned out when I uploaded the run to Strava to be comfortably the quickest I’ve run them. Hopefully there’s something to be said for feeling rubbish but running quickly. The supposed easy run on the Wednesday felt so easy it turned into something quite swift by the end. Then on Thursday when I’d hoped to put in a hard threshold run, I came down with a cough and sore throat which resigned the efforts to a gentle paced run with the club and a day off on the Friday and see what happens in terms of the weekend.

The half marathon a week and two days away, I’m hopeful of being in shape of getting that PB, I think it’s going to be closer than I’d like and I think we’ll have to see if I’m on a good day or a bad day. We shall see.


GRC / GAC Club 10k Handicap Race–Thursday 4th September 2014

A fun event hosted by Grantham Running Club, who invite members of Grantham Athletics Club to take part in a 10k Handicap Race. The idea is simple – all the runners are set off at different intervals with the intention of them, based on recent race performances, all coming home at exactly the same time. The winner is the runner who finishes furthest ahead of their predicted time.

With my 35:36 set at the Sumer Solstice used as my handicap time, I was due off last, around 50 seconds after the penultimate runner to set off, the incorrectly assigned #1 road runner in the Grantham postcode Josh Lord. No offence intended to young Josh, who is more sprightly than I’ll ever be over 800 meters and more impressively the 3000m steeplechase (where my hips wince in the mere anticipation of clearing a hurdle), but ‘We Are Road Running’ RunBritain have declared him #1 in Grantham when he has a 17:30 parkrun and a slow 10k run a couple of years ago as a 15 year old to fill his road running palmares. Although I had little intention of running this as a full blown race, a little bit of me at least wanted to run a little bit quicker than young Josh.

There was always a bit of uncertainty as to whether I’d actually make it to the start in time, coming on the Thursday of the Italian GP weekend. Thankfully paddock activities ended sufficiently early for me to hot foot it to Long Bennington in time for at least half of my intended warm up. Not for the first time in recent times I had issues with my intended footwear for the race – the new Lunar Racers again feeling as though they would inflict some blistering on the Achilles. Deciding it was not worth risking days of pain for a club race, I reverted again to the trusted Nike Frees, which with over 800 miles of road running in them, are beginning to feel distinctly second hand. The last time they were used in anger though they helped deliver a 5k PB so I thought they’d be good for one last race.

Essentially using the same course as the Summer Solstice, with only the start and run into the finish slightly different, much of the course would be fairly familiar having raced here a couple of months earlier and also having taken part in the same handicap race a year earlier. On that day I had a surprisingly good run to clock 35:53; I was hoping for something similar this year, but was going into the race with the intention of running it at half marathon HR and more or less perceived effort for the half marathon.

Setting off alone on what was essentially a time trial, the immediate difference between this event and a normal road race was apparent. Pacing is hard when alone, keeping motivation up when you cannot see anyone is tough. It took around a mile before I began to get Josh into my sights. I went through the first mile in 5:41, which is roughly what I want to be doing in the half marathon. I then began to struggle a touch, tiredness in the legs from plenty of miles of training and a tough strength and conditioning session in the morning. The second mile was 5:48, the next mile a second quicker. By now I had caught Josh. We ran together for a bit, but turning left into the Col de la Staunton In the Vale, as it is known on the Strava segment, I was able to ease ahead, thanks in part to setting a Strava CR on that slight rise.

All Alone at 5 Miles

Thereafter it was a case of keeping the effort in check as I began to pass more and more runners. The final 400 meters or so saw a more concerted effort as I reckoned it may be worth practicing a race finish. No quicker had the race finished and I was off on a mile warm down. The final time was 36:09 a little down on time and, based on respective HR, a little down on performance from last year. A little downbeat initially, I had to remind myself that training has been heavy recently and that one slightly slower than planned race does not end a career. Plus I put over 90 seconds on second quickest finisher Josh. Whether RunBritain will use this as evidence to change their stance on who is the #1 runner in Grantham, time will tell, but it was nice nonetheless to set fastest time on the night.

Slower though than my handicap time, which was always going to be the case, I wasn’t the winner of the Handicap. That though was never going to happen, I would have had to run 30 minutes on the night, which had I done so, would see me elevated to top 100 in the country. Instead I’d contend myself with a moderately pleasing performance which will hopefully help me on the pursuit of the half marathon PB in a few weeks time.