As alluded to at the end of the recently written Rockingham Duathlon, two days after the event I was broken to the point that I took a full week off running, then ran two or three times with pain in the left hip, before succumbing to a bad cold that wiped me out for the rest of November.
December was a month spent very much on turbo trainer and with Zwift especially, the odd foray into running was a mostly social exercise with the running club and not particularly satisfactory, suffering during the run with hip pain and long afterwards, affecting my walking and general day to day activities with the back frequently locking up while performing the most trivial of tasks. The GRC Christmas lights run was a highlight, the Christmas Eve run, coming the day after a fairly positive parkrun (first in 17:54) a low point as I was quite clearly a hobbling mess unable to run within a minute per mile of what I am capable of.
If pre Christmas was bad, post Christmas was worse yet. In Minehead on the 28th I managed, just, seven miles which involved both the legs cramping up in a manner I’d not experienced since just after the London Marathon. Two days later I ran Minehead parkrun, something I had been really looking forward to but it turned into something of a disaster, hobbling all the way there, mustering a hard earned slowest time of the year (18:41 – good for third) which saw both legs cramp up again and forced a painful walk back to the caravan. The last run of the year on New Year’s Eve in Stroud was just a shambles – 3 painful slow miles with legs cramping and hip aching. I was at rock bottom.
I didn’t run until January 4th in the New Year – I was back on the turbo and the elliptical trainer. On the third I booked myself into Physio for the bad hip. In finding the physio I saw last time I found my notes for left hip pain (Like I have this time) which was caused by my right glute not firing properly. I thought I may try these exercises as there was nothing to lose, in addition to the exercises I got from a different physio that had eradicated the cramps I was now suffering again with. To my surprise after just two day’s exercises, the eleven mile club run on the 4th was the best I’d had in several months, with barely any discomfort in the hip.
I still saw the physio who declared the glutes as firing but just not doing their job very well and so putting huge strain on the hip flexors and other surrounding muscles. I got some more exercises to do and was told to not run for a week and come back in six days time. After six days on Zwift and another trip to the physio I was ready to run again. She said I could run a maximum of four miles for a week. I ran four miles on the first day and was so enthused by the lack of any discomfort in hips I ran 10k the following day, ten miles (Including parkrun) on the Saturday and a post ride brick 5k run on the Sunday – all pain free.
Happy that the hip was much improved I commenced with full training with the London Marathon in mind. The first set of 10 mile runs were quite hard work, the legs not used to running and more suited to cycling as well as being a fair bit overweight thanks to Christmas celebrations. The third week of January I ran 56 miles, the following week 61, and the next (including four days of February) 68 miles. The long run of 17 miles on January 28th was a fairly tortuous affair, but three days later I ran a good 16 miles on the Fraction Course and then on the Saturday was a most pleasing 20 mile run with 11 miles, a 17:34 parkrun, and 6 miles to finish at a 6:31 per mile average.
I was back in reasonable shape as I took a cut back week after three weeks of progression. I ran 5K after spinning on the Monday, a comfortable 10 mile progressive run with Stephen, who has become my Tuesday run partner of late, and 10 miles easy with the club on the Thursday. This has all been supplemented with regular Zwift sessions which has revitalised my hate affair with the turbo trainer, so much so I found myself racing online two days before the Turkey Trot, probably giving more than I intended to for the real race.
From a position at New Year’s End where I thought my running days were numbered, January and early February has gone really well. I’m quietly hopeful that although my form is a touch down on the same time in 2017, I can use the injury to my advantage and work to a peak right on the London Marathon date rather than perhaps two or three weeks before it. Only time will tell, of course. If there is one thing I know about running, it is that it is a fickle beast and you are only one run away from being totally injured and having to start all over again.
Summer 2016 is fast becoming a fading memory as the nights draw in, vests and t-shirts are slowly shifting towards the back of the drawers as the long sleeve tops look more likely in the coming days, weeks and months.
For the record I probably had the best summer holiday I ever had. Long a dream of mine, my family and I spent three weeks touring with a caravan up and down the British Isles – three nights each in seven different caravan sites. With the Robin Hood Half Marathon the target race at the end of September, I didn’t want to neglect the training (not that I ever really do), so I packed a couple of pairs of trainers with the intention of trying to run as near as possible every day while away. I had no hard and fast training plan, other than a rough idea to try and run around 10 miles each day, occasionally putting in some effort, but really just trying to bank plenty of miles.
Some years ago (2011, I think) when I was traveling on the F1 circus and trying to run as much as possible, when technology allowed me to carry a portable waterproof camera, for one year I attempted to take photographs during each run to capture some of the interesting things you see every day when running. I had grand intentions to make something of them but it never really materialised, partly because I had no real medium to show off the pictures.
Fast forward to 2016 and thanks to the wonders of smart phones having cameras that can, in some situations, rival SLR cameras for clarity, and a Flipbelt to easily carry the phone, I planned to try to capture my holiday through three photos uploaded with each run that appeared on Strava. Not always very good nor interesting, nonetheless I really enjoyed capturing the different things I saw over the three weeks and thought that, some weeks later, I should really put it in my blog, for posterity, if nothing else.
We had arrived at the caravan site much later than planned on the Tuesday (AA called before we even left, nearly didn’t make it at all!) so Wednesday morning was the first opportunity to run. The two Norfolk Broads morning runs were the only two which took place ‘mid-morning’. After this run it was up at 7am and out running by half past the hour, whenever possible.
Having never experienced the Broads before, I was struck by the beauty of the area – even if it soon dawned on me that the canals / rivers were not easily navigable by foot.
I still didn’t have much of a clue where I was running on our final day in the Norfolk Broads. The site of a pleasure steamer was a bit of a surprise! I took a picture of Bewilderwood! to show the kids, as it one of their favourite days out and I wanted to show them how relatively close we were to it. This run saw the first of some Stravalek efforts on roads where I thought there may be Strava segments to have a go on or, later in the holiday when I realised how few existed in some parts of the country, where I could create some of my own.
Friday saw us travel up from Norfolk to Sutton-on-Sea, which is a stone’s throw from the better known (and much busier in the summer) Mablethorpe. Having unhitched the caravan and left the wife to try and work out how to erect the awning (This may sound harsh, but I had her blessing and I would definitely have just got in the way) I went on a late afternoon run along the promenade that runs for around 8 miles up to Mablethorpe.
I’ve had the good fortune to run beside beaches on a number of promenades all over the world. I think this was as quintessentially British as you could get and very pleasurable too, if it weren’t for a pair of quite badly blistered Achilles, which would cause me no end of grief over the coming weeks (and months, it seems).
‘Halfway’ etched into the sand? That was Whattsapped to my wife to tell her where I was. Couldn’t do that a few years ago….
A necessity to be back at the caravan early and some very bloody looking Achilles meant Run #4 was the lowest mileage day of the holiday. Turning right at the promenade rather than left took me to a beach car park at Huttoft Beach, having passed some brightly painted beach huts – of which there are hundreds on the promenade. The fisherman shot could have been wonderful with the right camera and lens, as it is it serves as a reminder that mobile phone cameras still have their limitations (It would not have been picked if it weren’t for a need to get three photos…)
Typical for the area is the reality that roads were relatively few and far between, so the promenade was used for a third run in a succession, albeit I opted to stick to the main road for the opening half of the run. This meant interesting photo opportunities were limited, but I was pleased to discover Mablethorpe’s homage to the Rio Olympics, which had begun that weekend and saw the TV bought out to try and watch as much as possible, while still enjoying the holiday (And getting sleep!)
From Sutton-on-Sea we headed north to Barnard Castle. The first six runs had been all but pancake flat – How Hill, which I ran to on the opening run in hope of a hill fix, was a huge disappointment. Having driven in to the caravan site on some very undulating roads, I was dead keen to get out and find some hills. I wasn’t disappointed as within half a mile of setting off, I was climbing a short ramp of around 20% to witness Barnard Castle itself. Another shorter run (seven miles), I was pleased to make a loop out of it rather than an out and back thanks to Google Maps. Again, something I couldn’t have done a few years ago….
The caravan site was yards from the Teesdale Way path, which I knew nothing about but figured it may be well signposted and a good opportunity to do some off-road running. For the first three miles or so it was and quite good fun until I met those Angry Cows! I was sure I was going to be chased and / or crushed by them! I counted my blessings when I escaped them, any plans of doing an out and back were thrown out of the window. Thankfully the first road I arrived at happened to be the one that took me back to the caravan site, a few miles less than the ten I had planned.
This run was notable on two accounts. Firstly it was the shortest run, albeit highly technical off-road, with plenty of obstacles made it a harder effort than the 3.7 miles suggested. Secondly, the picture of High Force wasn’t taken on the run, but a couple of hours earlier on our trip out. This cheat was partly because I didn’t have three decent photos, but also because I was particularly impressed with High Force and felt the need to show it off in all its glory!
Having secured two pleasing photos, I was rapidly running out of opportunities to take a third photo of note on my mostly flat 10 mile out and back run. As chance would have it as the fifth mile clicked over I found myself hurtling down a steep hill, complete with alpine style switchback, and at the bottom a rare site of a wooden slatted (Whorlton) suspension bridge – which I ran across and then swiftly back as I commenced a Strava segment busting five miles of continuous tempo.
It was the shortest drive from Barnard Castle to Ingram, near Alnwick, but high winds, steep hills and some lofty elevation made the journey with caravan in tow the hairiest of the holiday. Whether this was the cause for some severe calf pains during the run I will never know, but it cut short what I’d planned to be a ten mile run, and I feared that my running adventures for the holiday may be over.
Photographically this run promised more than it delivered, I wasn’t really happy with any that I took. That is a shame because the three days spent at the River Breamish Caravan Site was a real delight. We had only really gone to see Alnwick Castle (Harry Potter) and found it to be extremely scenic, yet not that busy. The run though I was happy with. Having had the first day off running on the Friday, some massage and stretching had more or less fixed the dodgy calf by Saturday.
The middle Sunday of our holiday and of the Olympics, it had been a pleasingly easy journey from Alnwick to Killn. This was inadvertently the longest run of the holiday. It had meant to be around 10 miles like many of the others, but running alongside the stunning Loch Tay my tummy began to feel a little dodgy and I reckoned that if I ran a few miles to the Hotel that was being signposted I may be able to use their facilities. So many thanks to Hotel Ardeonaig, you saved me! This was the first time I ran on National Cycle Route 7. It turned out to not be the last.
This was possibly my favourite run on a holiday full of enjoyable runs. Almost the entire route was devoid of traffic noise, or any other human interaction. The scenery was stunning, amplified by the mist hovering in the valley as I ran up a big hill then came back down it. It made me want to go back and ride National Cycle Route 7 in its entirety.
I had been, and was, really lucky with the weather. Most days it was sunny, and even when it had been cloudy, it had often enhanced the photo. This was the first day when the cloud and mist made photo opportunities difficult, but there was still a couple of unexpected sights on a run down a very long no through road (I never got close to reaching the end of it!)
We drove from Killin to Ayr on the Wednesday. The caravan site is next to the University in a residential area and it came as something of a culture shock having enjoyed the tranquility of the previous destinations. The opening miles of this run were perhaps the most frustrating of the holiday as I dithered over where to head and was frequently let down by poor footpath signage. Once I headed back from my ‘out point’ the run was saved by some of the quickest miles of the holiday.
For this run I explored Ayr some more, and after seeing the racecourse headed to the sea where I found an unexpected esplanade. The Lang Scots Mile was a brilliant idea and a good opportunity to put my foot down and see how quick I could run. National Cycle Route 7 did itself proud once again.
My first proper parkrun tourist event (not that I mentioned the fact that I was at the time) happened by chance as I had been looking at Alnwick as a possible parkrun event, and only found Ayr had an event when I was looking at Strava segments. Having had the Friday off, I was fairly fresh for the run. I used Google Maps and earphones to direct me to the start. I soon took the lead and ended up finishing first, although would have preferred company as the course had plenty of opportunities to take the wrong turn!
It was fortuitous that I took part in parkrun. At all the other travel days I ran at the destination rather than run before we departed. As soon as I got back to the caravan in Ayr the heavens opened, the wind picked up, and it rained relentlessly for hours and hours and hours…
The Wild Rose Caravan Park was our final stay on our three week holiday, a place I had stayed at as a child some 29 years previous. The place was unrecognisable but Appleby remained much as I remembered it. The reward for 24 hours of heavy rain was seeing Rutter Falls in all their glory early on in the run. I’d only ventured down the quiet road because I could hear a roar of noise from the main road and was curious!
Save for a couple of minutes at the end of the parkrun run in Ayr, I had enjoyed 18 rain free runs. The running gods saved all the precipitation for my final run of the holiday! Heavy rain from beginning to end, I had considered not taking any photos, but settled on taking the barest minimum while trying to protect my phone from the water. A pity, but at least the final photo showed one of my favourite stretches of running on the holiday – the long hill into and out of Asby, which I think was made all the more enjoyable for the bad weather, the sense of solitude, and the sense of purpose that this training in adverse conditions may help when it came to racing a month or so later.
This has been written entirely in the third person for reasons I’m not entirely sure about. This is a true story, but some scenes have been made up embellished for dramatic purpose.
The inaugural Grantham Running Club parkrun tourist trip began with a short forty minute trip up the A52 and A6097 towards Nottingham and the 47th edition of the Gedling Country Park parkrun. Whether it was the rumour of hills aplenty, it being a bit too far away for just a parkrun, or I’ve got Belton House parkrun on my doorstop it turned out that the GRC group trip became just a couple’s getaway as Messrs Limmer and Kingston-Lee (MKL) set off on a fine late Spring morning to the former colliery, closed as recently as 1991.
Where there is a colliery there are usually hills and the transformation from coal pit to parkland has not reduced the abundance of (quite severe) elevation. MKL in stipulating the T&C of the tourist trip demanded a three mile warm up before parkrun itself, so Limmer duly obliged in parking at the secondary car park around a twenty minute walk from the start. Limmer thought about wearing his GRC vest on this tourist trip, but decided that breeze was a bit too chilly and thought better of it. MKL, staunch believer in not wearing club kit in anything other than a race, reminded himself and no one else that a parkrun is not a race but a ‘free-to-enter-timed 5k run’ and so went for the debut outing of the voluminous 2016 London Marathon finishers’ t-shirt.
A little stiff in the legs following Ben Smith’s marathon #247 in Grantham on the Wednesday and a couple of bike rides in between, MKL soon regretted the notion of an extended warm up as he staggered up the first 10% plus hill less than three minutes into the run. A mile or so later and the ascent of an even steeper, longer climb, he declared it a good time to stop and stretch. Feeling better for the five minute rest stretching routine, the intrepid duo headed to the start line via a couple of wrong turns and in so doing a couple more hills. Keen to let his GPS click over to 3 miles, thus having accurate mile splits for the parkrun without need to reset his Garmin, MKL made Limmer run back and forth somewhat aimlessly for a bit before the third mile was hit.
At the start, a good 20 minutes before the off, MKL was most relieved to see the promise on the Gedling parkrun website of there being no toilets was in fact a lie, for there were two Portaloos at the start line. Having feared an alfresco trip following a hefty portion of fish and chips the night before, this was as welcome a sight as water is to a man who has not had water nor a drink of any kind in a very long time.
Five minutes before the off and there was the usual playing down of expectations: Matthew ‘I ran two marathons in less than two weeks and had a stinking cold’ Kingston-Lee went for a happy to finish prediction; Chris ‘I’m running the Bosworth Half Marathon tomorrow’ plumped for happy to ‘jog’ around in 22 minutes’. they headed to the first timers and tourists briefing. The course was a single lap figure of eight which essentially circumnavigated a pair of large mounds with, for want of a better description, a cleavage to dive down. Twice. There were two main climbs on each mound, the marshal gleefully announced. The first is known locally as the Beast, the second is known as the Cobra!’ With that expectations were down graded accordingly to let’s see how it goes and 23-24 minutes will be fine.
The start came moments after the main briefing (Another Race Director having a Freudian slip, wishing everyone a good race, before hastily retracting and using the correct protocol of have a good free-to-enter timed 5k run). The opening 400 meters or so was all downhill and off shooting into the lead was Erdinger tri-suit man, who Limmer and MKL, using their well tuned who is the competition? eyes, correctly assessed was the man most likely to head to victory a first place finish.
The path was mostly gravel but it was in immaculate condition – not a rut nor pothole to worry losing your footing on. So it was that Erdinger Man (Later revealed to be Tom Vickery of Cambridge and Coleridge AC, taking part in his first ever parkrun) who covered the first half mile or so in what looked like sub 4 minute mile pace, already miles ahead of man being dragged along with manically over-excited canine assistance; man in yellow vest; man in orange vest; someone else, and MKL in sixth as the field turned sharp left to take in the Beast.
The Beast was pretty tough, twice as long as the hill at Melton and about as steep, far harder than anything at Newark, and certainly something to bring your average pace back down to reality after the lightning fast start. MKL loves a good hill almost as much as Limmer does, so it was no surprise, despite weary legs for the double barreled one to quickly take fifth and close in on the fourth placed runner. It was less of a surprise for MKL to turn round and see Mr ’22 minutes Bosworth etc..‘ close behind and patently not going to run 22 minutes, as the first mile was covered in 5:54. Once at the top of the hill there was pretty much the only section of flat on the course which was tempered by the stiff and somewhat chilly breeze. It was here that MKL took fourth place, which quickly became third when the over enthused dog lost all appetite for running when it spotted a small stream it could have a paddle in.
Parkun isn’t and never will be a race, but there was definitely no way MKL was going to let Limmer beat him at another parkrun following the let’s run together and then bugger off into the distance controversy of the Belton parkrun they both ran at back in the wintertime. So it was something close to full gas for MKL as the pair plunged back down the cleavage and traversed across the second mound. The second mile split came somewhere near the start of the second hill, a 5:42 for MKL showed the pair weren’t exactly hanging around.
The second hill was at least twice as long as the first hill, it began on a bearable ramp, then kicked up to around 12% for around 100 meters before briefly hitting a plateau. Normally you’d expect this would be the end of the hill but, around the corner, came another ramp up then, just when the legs were begging for mercy, there was a final short sharp climb. MKL was hanging by a thread but was relieved to maintain the gap on Limmer. The second placed runner was someway in the distance, Erdinger man had long since gone. He’d probably finished by now, happily quaffing away on his 0%, so you can drink it guilt free at 9 am, beverage.
So the final half mile was a case of letting gravity take over and falling down the hill, past the start line and to the finish, which nestled nicely at the top of the cleavage. MKL came home third in a time of 18:38, which is not that remarkable but is the 20th fastest ever time over the course. Limmer came home fourth in 18:57 (27th fastest ever). Erdinger Man, on his parkrun debut, lest we forget, ran 17:02 – the second fastest ever time at Gedling parkrun. Wait until he finds a flat course and sub 16 awaits! The second placed runner was just the wrong side of 18 minutes, the fact he ran 2:48 at London and was looking for a 2:38 performance shows this parkrun is no Ferry Meadows.
As is customary at the end of parkun there was chat among strangers, united in nothing more than having just spent no money at a timed 5k run. It turns out that Gedling parkrun, despite the very scenic surrounds and surface that is good underfoot all year round, rarely attracts that many runners as it just a little too hilly. Locals prefer to run at Colwick, which is just over a parkrun’s distance away and is apparently fast and flat – when it is not underwater.
With at least five minutes spent reflecting on the increasingly popular pastime among runners of where is the fastest parkrun? Limmer and MKL headed off for their warm down, which Matthew Kingston-Lee had stipulated, in writing, should be no less than four miles, so as to make the trip worthwhile. However the hills had taken their toll and Limmer was happy to call it a day with 2.3 miles covered. MKL was more bloody minded and ran around in circles around a field, then around a football pitch, then around a small car park before his Garmin told him that exactly 15km had been run in total. Less than the planned amount, but a special clause was invoked to declare it exactly the right amount for the training plan he had in mind.
Gedling parkrun is comfortably the hardest parkrun MKL and Limmer have ever run. Those who moan that Newark is too hilly need to head to Gedling and see what a hill really is. That said, it was arguably the most enjoyable parkrun for the GRC pair who both have a sadistic passion for steep gradients. The park is a joy to run at and the Gedling parkrun would be particularly recommended if you were training for a hilly race or just fancied a hard workout.
Course type: single lap, figure of 8.
Surface: Mostly wide gravel paths, some concrete path.
Toilets: Officially no. There were two Portaloos at the start.
Cafe: No. There is one nearby apparently.
Parking: No problem. If double the number turned up then it may become one.
Ratings (Out of 5):
PB Potential: 2
Accuracy: 3 (Limmer measured it as 3.2 miles) MKL declined to measure the course.
Congestion: 1 (Single lap course – 115 runners, happy days, no need to get the elbows out).
Beginner Friendly: 2 (Because it’s a tough course, not because the parkrun hosts aren’t friendly).
Overall: 4 (A must do parkrun for those who like a little challenge at a scenic location and also relish the opportunity to clock some hard pre and post parkrun miles).
Taper time! For me the worst period of marathon training. Nervously completing each session hoping not to get injured. Reducing volume when the body wants to keep on pushing. Two weeks to get through before the big day.
Monday 11th saw a pair of hour sessions on the elliptical trainer. I wasn’t really planning on beginning the taper until Thursday, which would be a natural time to begin it as I was working on the Chinese GP, which was another four days of early mornings and long days. The first hour I felt really strong, the second hour a little tired, but still feeling a lot of power in the legs.
That evening I took part in another spin session. Feeling strong again I went for a measured performance, which saw an average of 254 watts.
Tuesday morning and I was out for an eight mile easy paced run, which was unremarkable other than it being quite humid for an April morning. That lunchtime I got an unexpected email from the British Triathlon Federation informing me that I had, after all, qualified for the World Duathlon Championships in June! To be honest I’d totally forgotten I’d got a qualifying time and was on standby in the event of any drop outs. I’d even gone and booked a half term holiday the night before, which I was thankfully able to cancel without penalty.
With this new event on the horizon in mind, my planned debut on my new TT bike at the Witham Wheelers time trial took on a new importance, as I now had just six weeks or so to get used to the bike, adapt to the time trial position, and get up to speed.
The 10 mile TT was more an exercise in getting used to the bike. It clearly has potential for speed but I found it hard to maintain the aero tuck position for more than a minute at a time before the upper arms screamed enough! I’m not blessed with any upper body strength, it’s no disadvantage when running, but clearly i have to do some urgent work to address this. It’s planks and push ups for me for the foreseeable future!
The time 26:30 was not too bad considering the time spent in the upright position and the cadence being far higher than I found to be my optimum when time trialing last summer. It was fifty seconds outside my course best when I gave it full gas, almost collapsing at the end from the exertion. Today I was as fresh as a daisy and cycled home without duress.
Wednesday saw a ten and a half mile marathon paced run in the morning – six miles at marathon pace with the final mile at marathon heart rate. The legs took a while to warm up, but the pace wasn’t bad when they did, peppering six minutes per mile, with the marathon heart rate mile at 5:37. That afternoon I ran to the school to pick up my daughter; she paced me home on her scooter, hitting close to ten mph at times. That was cool!
Thursday I was working through the night. I had to take my daughter to school so again literally did the school run. I did that again in the afternoon, albeit with a diversion to the bike shop which made the run a ten km effort.
Friday was, as planned, a rest day with a 2 am wake up call and 11 hours of being sat behind the desk – with more hours later on in the afternoon.
I was hoping Saturday’s final long run would be an easy effort. It turned out to be something of a near disaster. I’d planned to run eleven miles, then changed at the last minute to make it 13. I set off okay, the pace dropping down to 6:40 or so by the third mile. I then began to feel an odd ache in the upper right hamstring, followed by some glute discomfort. Then that spread to the left quad and the left glute in the form of cramp. It receded a little after some stretching so I continued, hoping to run around 11 miles. At eight miles however the cramp in the left quad became a searing affair, and I was left virtually unable to walk. Still two miles from home, I, in desperation, began jogging backwards. This seemed to help the issue somewhat and I was able to jog slowly home.
It seems this issue of cramping is tiredness related and probably due to dehydration. As with the previous bouts of cramp the pain receded over the course of the day and was feeling good enough to consider running on the Sunday. However I decided discretion be the better part of valour and so, in gap in work, put 90 minutes on the elliptical trainer. I was tired, and the left quad still had some aches, but it was a strong session.
Monday morning and I decided to risk a 10k run. As it turned out things were fine save for the pretty high heart rate, which I am hoping was just down to tiredness. That evening I put in a very easy effort in the spin session, reducing the FTW so that periods in the red zone were actually fairly comfortable.
Tuesday was my last run in anger before the marathon. Three miles warm up, then 5k at marathon HR, then a mile at sub 2:40 pace and a final mile at sub 2:45 pace. The marathon HR 5k was covered in 18:02 which equates to 2:32 for the marathon. That I don’t think is sustainable, sub 2:40 pace felt very comfortable.
I had another crack at the TT in the evening with Witham Wheelers. The week of planks and push ups had a good effect as I was able to stay in the aero tuck position for the majority of the ride. I lowered the cadence but was mindful to avoid pushing the legs beyond any period of discomfort. I clocked 26:00, ninth on the night and just 20 seconds now outside my PB.
Wednesday morning saw an hour on the elliptical trainer, then a final four miles of running that saw me naturally progress down to 6:10 for the final mile as I warmed up and felt more comfortable. The last session before London was an hour on the trainer. As with Wednesday’s effort I didn’t push hard but the legs felt a little heavier than I would have liked. I’m hoping it’s of no concern and just still the effects of working the weekend on Chinese time. I do though have what is either a slight cold or hay fever (the pollen count is high), which may be effecting me slightly. I have no concern over that.
So – no more can be done other than some pre-race stretching. My main concern is definitely cramping, but if that can be avoided, I am hopeful of a strong run, hopefully another sub-2:45, maybe a PB, maybe something a little more special. Time will tell.
The Monday following the long 100 mile plus bike ride was just an hour on the elliptical trainer in the morning as family occupied the rest of the day. I was out early on the Tuesday for a recovery style ten mile run. Feeling very tired there was to be no heroics, although the legs felt better during the end of the run and I was able to put in a 6:30 final mile. The legs were stiff, the left thigh buzzing like I had a phone vibrating near the bottom of my thigh. It felt weird, a couple of days later though the buzzing stopped and nothing more came of it.
It was just another hour on the elliptical trainer on the Wednesday as Easter holidays restricted the volume of training I could do with a big family bowling trip taking up the remainder of the day. I was meant to run later in the evening but when push came to shove I was just so tired I talked myself out of it. I wasn’t particularly proud of this moment of weakness and vowed to make it up later in the week.
Thursday morning saw another hour on the elliptical trainer and was still feeling really pretty tired. Clearly the efforts of the weekend were still in the body. That evening I headed to the last GRC marathon paced run for those taking part in the Manchester and Rotterdam marathons. The right glute and calf ached a bit but otherwise I saw no issues on a good confidence boosting run for the guys hoping to run 3:20 or thereabouts, with most of the ten miles miles comfortably under 7:30 as we headed out to the canal path and quiet country lanes for the first time since the clocks went forward for the summer.
Friday I had expected to be an enforced rest day working on the Bahrain GP but with the timetable and the small time difference (just two hours) I was able to put in a bonus 90 minute session on the elliptical trainer, which saw no issues other than a headache hindering my efforts a touch.
Saturday I had planned on running the marathon paced run I bottled out of on the Wednesday. As a bonus with the later than planned start of work, I was able to combine some marathon paced miles with an appearance at Belton House parkrun. It was a bit of an effort getting up to marathon pace after two miles run at 8am but after a couple of six something miles, I was able to run the next seven miles at sub six minute miling. The parkrun itself was a steady effort compared to some of my parkrun efforts. I reckon I was outside the top ten after the opening couple of hundred meters and was definitely in fifth after the opening lap, run at marathon heart rate. I allowed the heart rate to rise to half marathon HR for the second lap and as a result I was able to pick off a few more places, winding up second in 18:19 on a course made longer by the Belton Horse Trials preparations.
After a chat with some club mates and a very slow couple of miles back into town with a couple more of them, I ran the last couple of miles at an easy pace as I headed round town trying to find a bike shop that could repair the bottom bracket that was creaking during the last bike ride. The run ended up being 16 miles at an average of 6:27 per mile. A solid effort.
Sunday and I had a late start before working on the Bahrain GP but not quite late enough to get a bike ride in. So instead I headed out for another run. I had no real idea of what I was going to do on the run but after four miles or so I felt reasonably okay and so headed out up South Parade Hill and onto Gorse Lane, before coming back down Swine Hill. The sun had come out and it felt spring like as the pace came naturally down to around 6:30 per mile. At the mid point of the Drift and with 29 miles covered over the weekend I decided to take on a Strava segment I’d not attempted before and emptied the tank over that one mile up hill segment and continued on into town with a marathon paced effort. The reward was a segment in the bag and the second 16 mile run of the weekend covered at an average of 6:43 per mile.
As weeks go, it ended very well but the opening days of the week were definitely a little light on quantity and quality, but sometimes life gets in the way and I was very tired, so the reduced training load was probably a wise move. Just three weeks now until marathon day, hopefully, I can stay injury and illness free over the coming weeks.