Returning from the Tour of Britain / holiday on Wednesday 21st August any thoughts of a relaxing couple of weeks with little or no running soon dissipated with the continuing good form compelling me to get out there and keep on running. The day after getting home I did a club run which included 4 miles of threshold pace which wound up being 5:43 mile average with the final two miles run at 5:25 and 5:23!
There was finally a day’s rest on the Friday before I headed to Belton House parkrun on the Saturday. With seven miles already in the legs I had little expectations of a fast time. However with a rabbit just ahead of me for much of the run and not paying any real attention to my lap splits (I don’t tend to reset the Garmin at the start of a parkrun) I had little idea until I got home that I’d run something quite quick and saw that I was one second off my parkrun best on Strava. The official time of 17:01 was indeed one second off my Belton House parkrun PB and again frustratingly close to that sub 17 clocking!
The next day I ran the Newton’s Fraction Half Marathon course with a mile and a half or so either side of the course. Pleasingly and with not much effort (Z2 HR on the flat Z3 on the two big hills) I averaged 6:37 for the 16 mile run. There was though some warning signs in a bit of a tight left hamstring which led to a tight calf so the following day it was a Zwift session only on the new Inssbruck course. The Tuesday saw the Witham Wheelers Hill Climb Championships. I rode 24 miles getting to Harby Hill and warming up, before going full gas for the three quarters of a mile effort. I went out far too hard too early and died a thousand deaths at the end. Slower than my effort a couple of years earlier I wound up third and a bit disappointed. The 19 mile ride home with Stephen was quite fun as the light rapidly disappeared and we raced as fast as possible to get back to Grantham before darkness totally fell!
After an easy run and Zwift on the Wednesday, Thursday saw more easy Zwifting in the morning followed by the Grantham Running Club Handicap 10K in the evening. I have no chance of winning, so I treated the event as a solid run – 5 miles at marathon HR and the final mile at half marathon HR or thereabouts. The result: 35:55 and 35 seconds quicker than in 2017. Pleasing! Friday and work saw an enforced rest before Belton House parkrun on Saturday. Again there was seven miles before doing the parkrun itself. Buoyed by the quick time seven days earlier I made more of a concerted effort to break 17 minutes. Despite a fair crack I fell a little short, clocking 17:06. I think this was partly due to coming first by around 90 seconds and having nothing to run or chase down. A steady three miles home and I clocked a half marathon distance in 1:24:03.
The following day was the Newton’s Fraction Half Marathon, rescheduled from it’s postponement back in March when the Beast from the East swept through Grantham town. Despite having an entry I was unable to officially take part – work on the Italian Grand Prix had to take preference. Thanks to the race organisers at GAC I was able to pick up my number and set off to run the course at 8:45, well ahead of the 10:30 start time. I ran the course steadily, picking up the effort a touch in the final miles but never putting in a full effort. I clocked 1:23:40 which, largely due to the rapidly rising temperatures, would have seen me finish in the top five in the race itself. I was somewhat grateful I was unable to race!
The week prior to the Two Counties Half Marathon did at least have something of a taper in mind, although I went into the race with the mindset that the target races would be the Great Eastern Half in October and the Leeds Abbey Dash 10K in November – so the mileage didn’t really drop much, although the intensity of effort did. There was Zwift in the morning on Monday, followed by a 12 mile club run in the evening, five miles run at a steady lick along the canal. Tuesday saw an easy ten miles in the morning with a Zwift race in the evening. Wednesday morning saw me running up the toughest climb in the area – Minnett’s Hill – in preparation for a hilly half. I didn’t go full gas, but it felt pretty easy, inspiring some confidence. Thursday had more Zwift racing in the morning followed by a 11 mile club run in the evening, where I ran hard down Casthorpe Hill to practice the start of the race on Sunday. Friday saw a day off and the beginning of a mild cold. It wasn’t severe enough to stop me doing parkrun on Saturday, which I ran progressively after a very easy start, picking up the pace and the places to finish third in 18:40 or so. I would have liked the heart rate to have been a touch lower and the chest a little less tight, but I was fairly confident the cold wouldn’t hinder me too much.