Sunday, 17 March 2013

42 races to go to my Century

So I have been in the running game for nearly four years now and in that time I have managed to amass 58 races (including parkruns)

22 - 5K's - Parkrun's at Middlesbrough, Southend, Cambridge, Brighton and Bromley. The highlight being my PB of 19:21 at Middlesbrough back in March 2011.

9 - 10K's - Races at Southend, Leigh, Billericay, London. The highlight being a run in London with Amy for Cancer Research.

1 - 10 Miler. Great Run at a great race finished in the top 5% at the BUPA Great South Run and saw Ben Fogle. Made Lauren very happy.

15 - Half Marathon's. Southend (4 out of 4), Bristol, Great Bentley, Silverstone, Great North, Norwich, Bath and Cardiff. My favourite distance and lots of good races. Including 4 of sub 1:35. Highlight being the PB of 1:30:05 at the Great North Run and my 2 seconds on BBC TV.

2 - 15 Milers. 2 times Benfleet 15. Miserable cross-country. Not really my bag.

1 - 20Miler. My one and only 20miler near Colchester. Ran fairly well given my condition at the time but a weak PB and a distance I would like to revisit.

6 - Marathon's - Runs at Brighton, Rutland, Stratford-upon-Avon, Chester, Berlin and Edinburgh. A distance I have consistently failed to get to grips with, particularly with the need to run long and slow in training. Keen to improve but still not keen on training.

1 - Ironman - Incredible experience at the Outlaw in Nottingham off very little training. Having only swum half the distance in training, never swam in open water, only cycled half the race distance in training. I did manage to run well though and came home in just over 16 hours.

1 - Ultra Marathon - At the Two Ocean's in Cape Town. Rained for most of the 6 hours I was out there. Ran well early but the hills and fatigue at the back end cost me dear so final two hours was huge effort.

All that in 47 months. Not a bad little body of work. My PB's at 5K, 10K, 10 Mile and HM are all pleasing although I would like to improve on them all. The three of concern are my 15 mile, 20 mile and Marathon PB's. The 15 miler was cross country and so I need to find a road 15 miler to get that where I need it. The 20 miler is soft and should be bettered fairly easily, whereas the Marathon needs a concerted effort on my part to follow a structured programme to get my PB in line with the other distances.

As discussed in previous blogs, a method to compare times across different distances is WAVA which is expressed as a percentage. I would like to get all of the main distances to a minimum of 60% and so for the distances we are talking about I need the following:

15M - 1:53:00 (Current 2:06:41)
20M - 2:34:20 (Current 2:50:28)
Mara - 3:28:10 (Current 3:34:28)

I hope to achieve all of these in the spring of 2014.

By the time of the 5 year anniversary of my first race at Southend Half Marathon which will happen in June 2014 in addition to the 60% WAVA target I would also like to have run in 100 events. So in addition to my 58 races I need to find another 42. These look to be as follows:

- 28 parkruns to get me up to my 50 run parkrun t-shirt.
- 1 Ultra (The Thunder run 24hr race already booked)
- 2 Marathon (Brighton 2013 already booked and probably Shakespeare Marathon in 2014)
- 1 20 Miler (Probably Essex 20 in spring 2014)
- 1 15 miler (Road 15 miler in spring 2014)
- 4 HM (Southend 2013 & Great North 2013 booked and then Great Bentley 2014 and Southend HM 2014)
- 4 10Km (BUPA 10K 2013 & Canterbury 2013 booked and Billericay 2013 and BUPA 10k 2014)

All of which leaves one race still to be decided. I think I will probably engineer it so that Southend HM 2014 is the 100th race. The one big unknown is if I can run 28 parkruns which is about 1 in 2. I think after that it will be a case of reassessing what I want to achieve and the challenges and goals that I set myself. So all in all I have a busy 15 months to get me through to summer 2014 but the fitness and motivation are slowly returning.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Silverstone Half Marathon Report

Sorry for the lack of blogging. It has gone the way of my training of late. Jan and Feb have been record low mileage months compared to the previous 3 years a combined mileage of just 64 miles. With this inadequate prep my expectations headed into the Silverstone Half Marathon were low. I wasn't quite sure where to set my targets off that training but after a gentle 10 miler with Luke and Pete the week previously at around 9 minute miles I felt sub 2hours was the slowest I should go with a target of 1:50 being my ideal.

Lauren and I set off at around half 7 only for Lauren to realise she had forgotten her phone and so we did a quick about turn to retrieve it. This was a first for me and Lauren, I was driving myself to a race! With the added bonus that Lauren would drive back post-race when my legs were shredded. The trip up there was easy with it being so early there wasn't a huge amount of traffic and we arrived at half 9 ready for our 12 O'clock race, another very unwanted record, 2 and a half hours early takes some beating!

We met up with Luke and Amber who had set off even earlier than us for their longer journey. It was good to have some company and the girls got coffees as Luke and I tried to stay warm. There was plenty going on as we prepared for the start but not a lot that Luke and I could enjoy with just a few hours to the race. The beers and hot dogs would have to wait.

The time went pretty quickly as we chatted away, and with race time approaching we headed over to the spectator area to drop the girls off. There was a rather odd Marshall there who seemed to panic when we told him we were racing, and that we had to get over to the red balloons and the start immediately. There was still over half an hour till the race start and there were loads of runners all around us. We said our goodbyes though and then dutifully headed for the start. Luke and I got into the start area with plenty of time to spare and so had a walk around and found our way to the 1:30 and 1:45 pacers. Luke had his eyes on the 1:30 pacer and me on the 1:45. We talked running and were then spotted by an organiser of the Southend Parkrun and so had a good chat with him.

The sun threatened to come out as we began the race, and conditions were pretty much perfect for a good time. The race started and I was over the line quickly and into my stride. The race track was nice and wide and so there was no fear of congestion. Some runners were keen to hunt the inside line but I was happy to take it easy and so found open space when I could. My early pace was around 4:30 minute km way in excess of my 5:10ish km splits for 1:50. I felt comfortable and tried to slow the pace gradually.

In my wisdom I decided to wear a base layer under my running shirt as there was a bit of a chill in the air when we set off at half 7 but I soon realised I was going to get far too hot. So for a few lucky runners they got a strip show from me half way round the lap as I took both shirt and base layer off, put the shirt back on and tied the base layer round my waist all whilst running at my race pace.

I went through 5km on my Garmin in 23minutes dead, and it was only a few weeks ago that I run that in a stand alone 5km. It was still going well at 10km as I went through in 47 minutes exactly, again only 30 seconds slower than the last 10km race that I ran in November. It was at this point that it really began to get difficult. My pace was slowing, and I was settling into around 5min km and so my chances of the 1:40/1:42 that I thought might have been on early in the race now changed to holding it together and finishing in under 1:45. I had seen Lauren and Amber a few times already and they had given me a real boost. The race was good but there were definitely quiet spots out on the course. As I went through 10 miles I saw the girls a final time and gave them a smile, a wave and a sweaty base layer and got myself ready for the final stretch.

The last 5Km of the race were a real drag, quite literally. My feet that had been so light and bouncy in the first half of the race were now heavy and I was in a shuffle to the finish. I had done the 3rd 5km in just over 25 minutes so at least my fade was consistent, a minute every 5km to that point. The next 5km I managed in 25:45 and that just left the 1.1km to go. I was overtaken coming down the finishing straight by the 1:45 bus and it was then that I saw Luke, Amber and Lauren cheering me on and I tried to give them a final push. I managed to get past the pacer who was easing down to hit his target time and I went over the line in time to hit my revised 1:45 target. Official time 1:44:31. Really pleased!

It was great to be doing a proper race, and Lauren really enjoyed herself after our break from serious racing. Silverstone had its faults but it is definitely a race I will return to. I was pleased with how I gutsed it out, as I really was hanging on for much of the second half of the race and had ample opportunity to walk but didn't. My lack of training in January and February may have robbed me of a lot of my fitness but the more often I am racing the more I see improvements in my mental toughness which was definitely a weakness of mine. My biggest weakness at present is my inability to motivate myself for training particularly the long runs necessary for races over 10km. I'm not sure exactly what the answer is to remedy it.

One trend that I have blogged about previously, but I noticed again on Fetch for this race is how I perform well relative to my level of training. In the 10 weeks leading up to the race I ran a touch under 90miles a pathetic 9 miles a week. Fetch has some great data, and based on 539 race results the average 10 week mileage to achieve a 1:44:31 Half Marathon time is 225 miles and the bottom 10%, most work shy runners manage 126 miles on average. So I’m on the low side even for the slackers. In one sense I think it’s quite an impressive stat, and in another it’s a waste. Distance running is something that I have some natural ability, and so I am keen to do myself justice. Those are sentiments that I am sure you will find in previous blogs I have written and so I just need to apply myself to training in the hopes of doing myself justice in 2013.

A big thanks to Lauren and Amber for being such great supporters and a big well done to Luke on a great time managing sub 1:33, well deserved. Thanks for reading my lengthily race report, and if you come back soon there should be a blog on my plans to reach the magical 100 race mark by the summer of 2014.