Sunday, 2 August 2015

The Next 17 Months

So after the disappointment of DNF'ing the Outlaw Iron Distance race, I have had a week to mull over what my future exercise plans might be. I have registered an interest in both the Outlaw full and the Outlaw Half next year, but having given it some thought I don't want to commit. The hours I need to dedicate to do myself justice, particularly for the full are too high and so the remainder of 2015 and all of 2016 will be dedicated to beating all of my significant running PB's.

I broke my 10k PB in May this year, but have since let my run fitness go, and so I don't expect to PB for the remainder of this year. The five months that remain of 2015 will be used to build up my mileage and have me in tip top shape come January 1st. I have already booked some races for the tail end of 2015, namely:

Sept - Grunty Fen HM. Running with my Dad, looking to get him round in sub 2.5 hours.
Oct - Southend 10k. Will see what shape I am in here. Will look to run this hard and use it as my start point.
Oct - Bristol to Bath Marathon. Have a 12 week block to get myself in shape. The way I feel after today's 9 miler I will be happy just to break 4 hours, but funnier things have happened.
Nov - St Neots HM. Have heard great things about this race, and I love the Half Marathon Distance. It's far enough away that I could run well there.

May try and get in a parkrun or in two as well. 5K's are a good measure of my run form and don't take a lot out of me.

2016 depends to some extent whether I get into the London Marathon. But even if I don't, I think I will enter a spring Marathon somewhere in the UK. I do have some races in my mind, but aside from the BUPA 10k, I don't think I have parted with any money yet. More specifically I have some time targets that I want to have reached by the time the clock strikes midnight on the 31st December 2016 they are:

5K - 18:59 - Current PB 19:21
10k - 39:59- Current PB 41:44
HM - 1:29:59 - Current PB - 1:30:05
Marathon - 3:19:59 - Current PB - 3:34:28

All of these are challenging some of them more than others, but I have generally averaged 20-25 miles in the 6 years I have been running and to hit these targets I need to be running 40 miles plus a week. As well as the PB's above I would like to tidy up some of my other times, namely 10,15 and 20 milers and I think those will come naturally if I hit the other targets.

It's a big ask, but I've put it out there and my team will do all they can to keep me on track. In the end though it's on me and I'm ready to hit my stretch goals. Let's go!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Outlaw 2015 - A Premature End

So after a 1:49 swim and a transition of nearly 11 minutes I was on my bike and pedalling with 2 hours on the race clock and it was only 8am. A pirate lady had got on her bike just before me and we played a little bit of cat and mouse on the way round the lake. I have never got on very well either running or cycling with company, enjoying my own space. I finally broke away and was free to fly/potter along. Once round the lake I saw my raucous support crew cheering me through the tight corners and out onto the open roads.

I wasn't feeling especially good, my stomach felt bloated as it was in 2012. I'm still not sure if it is ducky lake water or air that I'm swallowing and I felt very uncomfortable at the start of the ride. I was making decent progress, the wind was light and the weather good. The course was very similar to that of 2012 but had undergone some tweaks. First off we headed out to Car Colston, this was only maybe 12 - 15 miles in and in the previous edition I had been greeted by Luke and then the rest of the gang, but with the reroute I thought I would beat them there this year, which I did. Through I went, staying relaxed and seated wanting to conserve my energy. I was being passed by the odd biker who had come out of the swim behind me, it didn't knock my confidence, more pepped me up because there were people around me. In 2012 I stopped at a portaloo after 30 miles and barely saw a soul afterwards.

The first official split came at 16 miles and I was through in 1:02:44 and averaging 15.4mph. Very early days but well in excess of the 14mph needed to make the cut off. I wasn't feeling quite as strong after the first go round the southern loop and 38 miles in, just over a 3rd of the ride done. I was already trying to break it down, a quarter done a 3rd done. Although enjoying my own space, this far back in the race was a little too lonely even for me.

I was now heading out on a pretty busy road on the way to the Northern loop. During the ride there were quite a few of those speeding warnings 'Thankyou 14mph.' I did manage to hit a downhill one at 24mph which was a bit more like it. As I headed down this long busy road I was seeing plenty of the fast boys coming the other way having done the Northern loop but thankfully there were still a few of us trucking on for the infamous Oxton Bank. I had done it in 2012 but didn't remember it as particularly scary and even managed to take a guy over going up it, but that year the Bank was much earlier in the ride when I was riding strong. This year it came around 50 miles in when there was some fatigue in my underprepared legs.

Memories do fade and Oxton Bank was actually quite a tester. I brought out the granny gear though and spun my little hamster legs around, I did have to get out of the saddle in my lowest gear just to keep myself moving. Strava has a segment on the steepest bit of 0.4 miles and an average gradient of 7% I make it having 11.1% at its steepest. I averaged the meagre speed of 6mph. I still found Leonard waiting for me at the top, we had been bouncing back and forth through the ride, me and granny a little stronger on the climbs. Leonard stronger on the downhill and flat.

With Oxton Bank done, the rain began to come down in earnest. I was slowing noticeably now and the rain and traffic was in marked contrast to the dry, quiet country lanes of the first loop. I was just keeping my head down into the wind and rain and using my low gears way too much. My big gear only getting some use when I was on a downhill, showing you where my bike fitness is. Strava has helped me out again and has the Southwell loop measuring at 18.4 miles and I averaged 13.4mph.

Off the loop and onto the busy road heading back towards Car Colston, I didn't spot any landmarks on the way down and so the road seemed to go on forever. I lost it mentally here in quite a big way. The culmination of lots of different things just got on top of me. I was cycling pitifully slowly, the rain was coming down harder and I was soaked through, the rain was washing the sweat into my eyes and I really didn't feel too safe riding in the gutter with fast moving traffic going past. A number of riders I had seen earlier went past me and a new one called Amanda. These guys had all whipped out the ponchos and my poor lightweight yellow jacket was waiting patiently for me back in transition. I just wanted it over and Car Colston couldn't come fast enough!

Analysing it afterwards it was actually a gradually downhill but I wasn't feeling the benefit in my own little world of my discomfort and self pity. Finally, mercifully familiar points appeared. More smiling marshalls, absolute troopers each and every one of them. Every feed station was noisy and enthusiastic, all my water bottle grabs went surprisingly well. The marshalls on their own at lonely roundabouts were smiling and just a few kind words really roused my spirits. But my heart had gone out of it now and the 'keep smiling' 'well done, keep going' were outweighed by the demons telling me I'd done it before, telling me I had 8.5 hours more exercise in the rain before I got to become an Outlaw a second time. Do you really want to go through all of that? I spent the hour or so in the lead up to Car Colston weighing it up and the answer that I kept coming to was no I didn't. My cheer squad were in position and in good voice when I passed, but I gave the signal that it was all over. I talked it through with them, and a few cyclists passed as we were chatting which was nice as I wasn't last but I just couldn't face the 2.5 hours needed to get me round the southern loop and home again.

My bike splits from my Garmin look like this:
10miles - 38:23 - 15.63mph (section), 15.63mph (overall)
20miles - 40:46 - 14.72mph, 15.17mph
30miles - 42:05 - 14.26mph, 14.87mph
40miles - 43:41 - 13.74mph, 14.59mph
50miles - 39:20 - 15.19mph, 14.71mph
60miles - 41:22 - 14.50mph, 14.67mph
70miles - 47:19 - 12.68mph, 14.39mph
77.34miles - 34:43 - 12.69mph, 14.17mph

It looks worse than it is, obviously not showing wind, rain or gradients. I think the last loop would have suited me better than the northern loop, but there was definitely a fade be that mental or physical.

Lauren my wife was worried I would have regrets and I told her I didn't. Even now two days later I don't regret my decision. My only regret is that I failed myself so abysmally in my training. I could have made it to the end of the bike, I think I would have made the cut-off and been allowed to begin the run but I was pleased to go out on my terms and still in one piece.

I love the enormity of the challenge of Ironman, but I just haven't found the commitment to train for one properly, and when you don't they come and take a great big bite out of your butt. I will get all the pieces slotting together and produce an Ironman training and race performance I can be proud of it, but it might not come for years. I intend to stay fit be that with running or something else physical and when I feel ready I will fully commit to the monster that is an Ironman. Hats off to all those who have completed an Iron distance race, you are all mental and especially well done to the Outlaw class of 2015, it was a toughie.

Thanks to my wife Lauren, Mum and Dad, Luke and Amber, Jan, Dan and Henley the dog. You were all great supporters, sorry I couldn't finish the task and really give you something to cheer. Also thanks to all the Facebookers and texters who have helped pick me up when I've been feeling really flat. I have done over 100 races and this was my first DNF, it hurts, but it's not over. We go again.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Outlaw 2015 - The One With the DNF - Part One

Just a quick bit of background before I dive into how my day went at the Outlaw on Sunday. I completed this in July 2012 in a time of 16:05 and even made it onto the Channel 4 coverage for my 5 seconds of fame, unfortunately it wasn't a speaking part, just me running down the finishing chute. In the 2012 instalment I had swam half distance in the pool a couple of times, never swam in open water and only cycled half race distance over a rolling route once in my build up. I had done LEJOG in 13 days the previous year, but that fitness had most certainly gone a year later. I had a few years of running behind me and this was by far the discipline I was most comfortable with. The day was epic and a day of firsts, my first wearing of a wetsuit, my first open water swim, my longest swim, my longest cycle, my first triathlon, my first Iron distance race completed. Lots of boxes ticked but not a time I was particularly pleased with.

A few years later, having watched my brother Luke perform well at the Outlaw in 2014 and with my brother Joe in Australia really throwing himself into Iron distance racing I thought it was time for me to throw my hat back in the ring and go long. You have to book a year out due to the popularity of the event. Lots of time for me to knuckle down and do all the training I should have done last time. It didn't happen.

Running - 763 miles - 20 mile PB and 10km PB. In very good shape in May, Have taken my foot off the gas since June.

Bike - 311 miles
73 miles of commuter riding in 9 trips.
10 miles of gentle riding home after swimming in 2 trips.
228 miles of road biking on mainly flat terrain over 7 trips. Longest ride of 56 miles with little to no hills.

Swim - 2 swims. One 25 minute swim, one 35 minute swim.

All of this meant it was going to be 2012 all over again, lots of suffering and a race to beat the cut off.

To add insult, to being hugely unprepared was the weather forecast for Sunday of rain starting at 11am and not ceasing until 11pm. My legion of supporters were warned of the weather and told not to worry if they wanted to skip it but they all came back positively and they would be there ready to cheer me on my quest to become an Outlaw a second time.

Lauren and I got through the process of registering me, servicing bike, racking bike, preparing kit bags, attending mandatory, dull, long, rehashing all the things I had read and reread in the information booklet. But finally we had done the formalities. One good thing to come out of the day was I got chatting to a guy called Ian and we exchanged some tri stories whilst having an alcohol free beer as we waited for the briefing to begin. We did also get to spend some time with Jan and Dan before we headed back to the hotel for dinner and an early night.

Race morning we were up at half 3 and after some fun and games with temporary outlaw tattoos we were out the door at 4:15. Finally got the car parked and began to make our way down to the start. I put my last few bits into my kitbag and got my 2second water bottle on the bike, checked the beast was racked alright then headed back to Lauren. Everyone else seemed very relaxed, some were in their wetsuits but rolled down to their waist. Others were in their casual gear and didn't have a care in the world. Lauren and I on the other hand were doing our double act trying to get me into my wetsuit. We had found a few minor tears in it the night before and used the wetsuit glue to attempt to close them up. I think we did a pretty good job of it to be fair, but as soon a I got the wet suit on and heaved it into position a whole new set of 4 holes popped open. Glorious! We elected against gluing them as they wouldn't set in time. Now fully in my wetsuit, but not at all comfortable I gave Lauren a kiss and headed for the start area proper.

Once there I bumped into Ian and we wished each other luck and said we would look out for each others results then headed for the water. I was nervous but just pleased to be getting going. I warmed myself in the lake and waited anxiously for the starting hooter. Off it went at 6am, 17 hours to get this thing done! I probably picked the wrong pen and position again this year, 3rd pen and midpack. Knowing I was on for a 1:40-1:50 swim. I paid for this choice with wacks around the head. I make quite good time in the first 500m as I get pushed along by the masses. When I was still getting hit after 1,250m the novelty had well and truly worn off, but at least people were still around me.

I was trying to check my time at every 250m marker, the only way I could do this was by stopping swimming, putting my arm under the water and waiting until the murk cleared for me to read the time before setting off again. I was aware that this may have given anyone watching me the impression that I was dead, face first in the water, but I did try and do it for just a few seconds before going back to the business of swimming. One highlight of the outbound leg was a swam of ducks/geese going overhead only for one of them to divebomb a poor swim 10 or 20 metres to my right. I hope they were ok, that would have really put me off my swim!

Finally mercifully I saw an orange buoy ahead of me. I had got quite lonely by this point and it was nice as I turned right to find some company. We had all spread out across the lake and having to go around the buoy meant we all came back together. Across the lake we went and then we were heading back to the finish, an incredible feeling. Now I was on the homeward leg and I was checking my watch as the markers were getting ticked off. I thought I might be on for 1:42 - 1:45 and my 2012 effort was 1:50 so I was very happy. Just keep on trucking. I felt a noise was following me, but my sighting skills are appalling and I was doing all I could to stay afloat so couldn't locate the sound or respond to it. I was still managing to find people to bump into, and I was convinced at the time that I was swimming straight and true and it was my fellow competitors going off line. But my wife took great joy in telling me it was a bit of both and that I probably swam 4.2km not 3.8km with all my zigzagging around. She did also spot my timechecking / play dead act and said the canoeist were keeping a close eye on me. I was oblivious and was convinced they were further over looking after other people.

The finish line seemed to take forever to come into proper focus, and even then 250m was taking me nearly 8 minutes and so it really was an age away. Finally, ever so slowly I was pulled ashore. My legs were giving up on me and I grabbed a barrier for support. My lovely crowd of supports gave me a huge roar and the announcer got my name, I guess off the chip time flashing up. My legs finally got the message that they still had 14-15 hours of work to do and got moving. I was helped out of my wetsuit by the wetsuit strippers, even if I did resist their advances.

Into the transition tent I went, way down deep into the transition tent. Grabbed my bag, laid it on the bench and got to work on taking what I wanted and discarding what was excessive. Finally after what felt like forever I managed to get off my tri suit, put on my cycle shorts, top, heart monitor, Garmin, helmet, socks, shoes and with failing hands managed to get some nutrition into the back of my top. The tights, jacket, chamois cream and sun tan lotion were all left in the bag. Then I was out, more cheers from Lauren, my parents, Luke, Amber and Jan. I think by this point Dan had taken Henley back to the camper van. I was off bike hunting, and what a straight forward hunt it was. The one advantage of taking 1:49 to do the swim and nearly 11 minutes to get through transition is that your bike is one of the very few left in the lot. I grabbed my trusty specialised allez with my much loved granny gear and headed for the exit. Over the mount line and we were off. 112 miles in 8 hours please sir. To be continued tomorrow.

Friday, 22 May 2015

My 100 Races - Blog 3 of 5 - The Half Marathons

This is where my running started back in the summer of 2009. Newly engaged to my now wife of 5 years I ran my first race, the Southend Half Marathon on 14th June 2009. Having watched the London Marathon I looked for a local race and found the Southend HM in just 6 weeks time. I managed a longest run of 5 miles before the big event and paid big time! Crawling round the 2nd half and so finishing in 2:17.

I applied myself a little better before my 2nd HM at Bristol and managed 2:08. My brother Luke and friend Pete both ran well at this. Lauren and I enjoyed this race, with the ideal hotel location and the course was a good one.

Next we visited Cardiff and I managed to shave plenty off my PB here as I ran just under 1:51. My first look at the city, and definitely somewhere I'd like to return to. The race has got a bit big now, so not sure I'll run it again.

More time came off the PB at the Great Bentley HM, my 4th Half and a time of 1:39. A good club race, on quiet country roads, and not many crowds which suits me well. Return to this race again and will continue to do so.

My 5th HM was the first where I didn't PB. This was at Bath, a very pleasant weekend and a good course but I just wasn't firing and walked for parts and came home in a time of 1:42.

2010 and I'm back at Southend for my 6th HM and my second at Southend. Ran with my arm in a plaster cast, in roasting hot conditions as is tradition for this race.

Bristol HM the return and a new PB of 1:36. Always loved.

Great North Run. My first go at the Great North. Only two weeks after Bristol and so could only manage 1:40.

Into 2011 and a 2nd Great Bentley running another PB. 1:35. The big time gains are long gone!

HM number 10 was the rearranged Norwich HM. Was meant to happen in the autumn of 2010 but due to the snow it didn't happen until the spring of 2011. I ran a PB of 1:34 whilst Ross ran his own PB of 1:19! Another world!

Southend HM number 3 and the PB's continue to flow, 1:32. My IT Band decided to give up 3 steps after the line, so I hobbled around for an age until I gave my Sister a ring to come up and rescue me.

Bristol HM number 3. Pete came and found me about 3 miles in and we then ran 10 miles together, he really pushed me on and we ran 1:33. Such a lot of fun even though a PB wasn't forthcoming. Felt really strong though.

A week later I ran the Great North Run and achieved a PB, and still my PB 1:30:05. I wasn't unhappy at not going sub 1:30. I was getting faster and faster. The PB's would keep coming.... Wouldn't they?

Southend HM 2012 my 4th running of it and a very disappointing 1:58 with Luke. I had run the two Oceans this year and Luke and I had run really badly at Edinburgh Marathon a month before. I don't think my body had recovered, so we just trudged around the 2nd half.

Silverstone HM in 2013 was 1:44. More than a minute a mile off my PB, but a pleasing run given the shape I was in at the time. Luke ran well at this race, and I will definitely return to this race. Half Marathon number 15 done.

Southend HM 2013 my 5th successive running of it. 1:43. Warm. Not too much else to report.

Great North Run number 3 and a pleasing run of 1:39. My times coming back down from the nightmare of the 1:58.

16.02.2014 was my 30th Birthday and what better way to spend it than running a HM in Barcelona with friends and family. Ross and Luke both ran well. I wasn't very fit so decided to run it with my Dad for his first HM. We avoided the sweeper and made it round in 2:41. Massive achievement!

Southend HM done once more in 2014 my 6th running of it and 19th overall. A disappointing 1:52.

Back to Great Bentley for number 20 and very happy to run 1:35. My fastest run since Sept 2011 when I ran my PB. Feel in good shape in 2015 and may sneak a HM PB before the end of the year. If not, I would hope to break 1:30 in 2016.

So there you have it. 20 very enjoyable Half Marathon's. A really good distance, a good challenging 1:30 - 2 hours of effort and my favourite distance by far. Tomorrow I'll talk you through my 10 Marathon's.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

My 100 Races - Blog 2 of 5 - The 10k's

So following on from yesterday's blog, here are the 10k's I have run as part of my 100 races. The 10k is a fun distance, you can really hurt yourself but still need to keep yourself going for 45 minutes or so. They are a little short, so I haven't often travelled very far for these races. My 15 10k's are made up as follows:

Southend 10k - 1 Run
My first 10k. A nice flat seafront course. Think the course has changed since I did this in 2009. A little too close to my wife's Birthday but a race I would definitely like to go back to.

After Adoption 10k - 1 Run
A well run charity race through Hyde Park. Got a PB at the time and Joe ran this with me.

Cancer Research 10k - 1 Run
Nice run with Amy. Helped her round to her sub 1 hour target.

Billericay 10k - 4 Running's
A tough local, hilly 10k. In November so have had some horrible weather. Love the flat, straight, finish. One of my favourite. Always run the last km well here. Was the site of my PB until very recently, set when I ran with Luke for 7km's before moving away late on. Have also run with my Dad when he PB'd.

British 10k - 1 Run
The poor man's BUPA 10k. Too crowded, long walk to the start, too expensive. Won't be returning to this one. Had a disappointing run on my one attempt.

Canterbury 10k - 1 Run
Nice flat course, some interesting wooden boards protecting the cattle grids. Wind against on the way out and then flew home wind assisted. Really good race where Luke was also in attendance.

Leigh 10k - 1 Run
Another tough, challenging local race. Very hilly early on, but then the second half is along the seafront. Ran very strong in the second half in a pleasing performance.

Notfast 10k - 1 Run
I lived up to the races name and was not fast! A disappointing personal performance, but fun to race with Luke and Dad.

BUPA 10k - 3 Runs
2 very pleasing runs round the capital by myself and a 3rd running round with Amy to a sub 1 hour 10k. Always enjoy my runs with Amy, shame she's half a world away now. I am running the BUPA this Monday, and it is definitely my favourite of the 10k races. Fast and great to see London, generally nice warm weather too.

Colchester 10k - 1 Run
My latest 10k and where I achieved my PB of 41:59. A good race, a little bit too much on pavements, but a great finish on the running track. Had an exciting finish and won a sprint + the PB made me a very happy runner.

So there you have my 15 10k's. Only a few stinkers of runs in there and a couple of classics. Tomorrow, the Half Marathons.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

My 100 Races - Blog 1 of 5 - The 5k's

I ran the Great Baddow 10 the Sunday just gone, and this marked my 100th race/event in the 6 years since I started running. I have decided that this deserves 5 blogs and they will be as follows:

1 - The 5k's
2 - The 10k's
3 - The Half Marathons
4 - The Marathons
5 - The Rest

So on to today's blog, the 5k's. They make up 46 of the 100 races (I know they are 'time trials') All of them parkruns. I have run parkruns in 6 different locations.

Middlesbrough - Albert Park - 15 Runs
The venue of my first parkrun and also the place where I have run my PB of 19:21. I have run under 20 minutes 4 times and 3 of them occurred here. A fast and very slick parkrun venue.

Southend - 26 Runs
I ran the first Southend parkrun and 6 of the first 7. I haven't been able to run it quite that regularly since, but still get there when I can. Am yet to break 20 minutes, with my fitness not quite being there and also with the seaside location, wind plays a big factor in slowing me down.

I have reached the dizzy heights of 5th place before the quickies found the parkrun. Other highlights are my brother Luke and friend Pete both winning the event, and my 29th Bday when I managed to get myself and 8 friends and family down to run it. This was also the location of my defeat by my other brother Joe as we went toe to toe.

Have also paced my friend Amy and my Dad to PB's at Southend.

Brighton - 2 Runs
A friend lives in Brighton and I have enjoyed a good couple of weekends down there. Both included a parkrun on a Saturday morning before the drinking really began in earnest. I finished behind Ross and Matt but managed to beat Graeme and Jane.

Bromley - 1 Run
Travelled a crazy amount of miles to this parkrun, before Southend had been created. Managed to pace my brother Luke round to his sub 20 target. He got 19:59 and I got 19:58. A tough course with much of it on grass.

Cambridge - 1 Run
Took my wife away for a nice romantic weekend but still managed to fit in a parkrun at a very muddy off road Cambridge parkrun. One of my slower runs and was also beaten by a guy pushing a buggie.

Paramatta - Australia - 1 Run
My first and as yet only overseas parkrun. Run in bucketing rain on a waterlogged course. The worst conditions of my 46 parkruns and we were in sunny Australia! My brother is more used to warm Aussie conditions and so the British style weather suited me. I levelled the series at 1-1 with victory here.

So there you have it. 46 very enjoyable parkruns. I hope to grab myself a 50 t-shirt before 2015 is over and will also look to tick off a few new parkrun venues. Come back tomorrow to find out how I faired in the 10k's.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

So Near and Yet so Far

This is my race report for the Shakespeare Marathon. My 10th stand alone marathon since I began running back in 2009. My 10 efforts to date are varied as you can see below:

1) Brighton 2010 - 4:02:26
2) Rutland 2010 - 3:50:10
3) Shakespeare 2011 - 3:37:41
4) Chester 2011 - 3:34:28
5) Edinburgh 2012 - 4:39:43
6) Berlin 2012 - 4:07:26
7) Brighton 2013 - 3:55:42
8) Manchester 2014 - 4:25:43
9) Marine Corp Marathon 2014 - 4:40:24
10)Shakespeare 2015 - 3:40:48

My goal before the race was to run somewhere between 3:30 and 3:34. I was really keen to get a PB and had worked hard in the 6 months since the injury hit and slowest of all my Marathons at the Marine Corp Marathon last October.

I took a week off post Washington and in the 25 subsequent weeks I have run 778 miles at an average of 31 miles per week and an average of 4 runs a week. In each of those months I have run the most mileage compared to the same month in previous years. So lots of positive signs. The one big thing lacking in my prep were those runs in excess of 18 miles. In the 6 months since Washington I have run a HM or longer 13 times as follows:

5 - HM ( 1 race - 1:35:18)
2 - 15 Miles
2 - 16 Miles
3 - 17 Miles
1 - 20M ( 1 Race 2:38:51)

Also out of these, in Feb and March there were just the 15 mile training run, the 20 Mile and HM races and 2 HM distance training runs. It was this lack of long runs that came and bit me in the butt at the end of today's Marathon.

Overall the weekend was fantastic, Lauren and I went up Saturday afternoon and met my Mother In Law. We had a nice afternoon in Stratford before going for a pleasant dinner, pasta for me as usual and then on to see Death of a Salesman in the evening, a play I knew nothing about but it was a fantastic performance. Then back to the hotel ready for the main event.

Woke up at 7am and went and sorted out topping up the car parking to see us through the afternoon then got ourselves checked out. Time got away from us and it was probably a little tighter than I would have liked, but Stratford is small and so I still made it to the start with a little under half an hour to go. Said my goodbyes to Lauren and headed for the start line after the mandatory portaloo stop, hardly had to wait, so kudos to the race organisers for that.

There was no seeding and the Half Marathon and Marathon both set off together with the red numbers being for the full and white for the half. This lead to me setting off too fast even though people were streaming past me and I was trying to hold myself back. Took my first gel at 5 miles and dropped one of my four gels, gutted!

1) 1m - 7:33 (7:52 PB split)
2) 1m - 7:46 (7:34)
3) 1m - 7:41 (7:48)
4) 1m - 7:54 (7:53)
5) 1m - 7:56 (7:49)

6 seconds ahead of PB at Chester Marathon.

Nothing too remarkable about the next 5 miles, nipped into a portaloo in the 10th mile and felt much more comfortable after that.

6) 1m - 7:51 (7:54)
7) 1m - 7:58 (7:55)
8) 1m - 8:05 (7:57)
9) 1m - 7:48 (7:47)
10) 1m - 8:22 (7:57)

34 seconds behind in this 5 miles and 28 seconds over the first 10 miles. There 20 seconds or so lost on a loo stop in the 10th mile, so pretty even through 10 miles.

Onto the Greenway after the loo and I really enjoy running this section, very similar to the bridle track and I sped up through this section, swept along by the excitement of the Half Marathoners approaching their finish. They went right around 12 miles and the Marathoners took a left heading out for their second extended loop. Saw Jan and Lauren soon after 12 miles and was all smiles and waves. Didn't feel fantastic at this point which was a concern but also struggled with the much reduced field as it was just the hardcore Marathoners left. Took my second get at 12 miles. Passed my orange gel on the floor as we looped that way again, opted not to pick it up.

11) 1m - 7:50(7:54)
12) 1m - 7:53(7:59)
13) 1m - 8:05(8:06)
14) 1m - 7:57(7:56)
15) 1m - 8:02(7:53)

1 second ahead in this section and cutting the deficit to 27 seconds.

Working hard now, took the last of my gels at 18 miles, a little group of us seemed to be forming, all hoping for sub 3:30 at this point. The hill in mile 19 meant a big slowing in pace and people were walking up it, I kept trucking but it took far more out of me than I would have wanted. The steep downhill afterwards was ok but I would have preferred a longer gentler descent to the bottom.

16) 1m - 8:02 (7:59)
17) 1m - 8:01 (8:15)
18) 1m - 8:13 (8:38)
19) 1m - 8:43 (8:20)
20) 1m - 8:18 (8:10)

5 seconds ahead and reducing the overall deficit to 22 seconds.

Onto the Greenway, so long, so straight, just trudging along trying to get this thing done. 8:30's to the finish and we get a precious PB.

21) 1m - 8:20 (8:26)
22) 1m - 8:27 (8:48)
23) 1m - 8:32 (8:53)

48 seconds ahead in this section, 26 seconds up on PB and in the PB I faded, just hold it together man!

I didn't hold it together. I exploded quite spectacularly. Run, walk, repeat for half an hour.

24) 1m - 10:33 (8:42)
25) 1m - 11:21 (8:54)
26) 1m - 10:56 (8:37)
27) 0.32m - 2:40(2:37)

6 minutes 40 seconds lost and a 26 second advantage turns into a 6 minute 14 second loss + rounding comes to 6 minutes 20 seconds short of my PB from Chester in 2011.

Main feeling is one of disappointment, I know I had neglected my long runs but I nearly pulled it off. This is still considerably faster than my 5 previous marathons and my fastest for 3 and half years as well as the 3rd fastest of my 10 Marathons. I have a really good base now and I can see plenty of room for improvement in my training. There are different types of 3:40 marathons and I think this one is more encouraging than an even paced one because I know I am capable of so much more. I know I will achieve so much more in the Bristol Bath Marathon in October once I get past that little thing called the Ironman!

Sorry for wittering on, just wanted to get all my analysis and thoughts written down before they disappeared. Thanks for reading.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Weetabix Breakfast and gone off gels.....

are the key to any good PB!

A very pleasing run at the Essex 20 today. Nearly 12 minutes quicker than my previous go over the course, and faster than my 2:40-2:45 pre race target. Was in the car mulling over mile or km splits whilst my wife wittered on about cuticle oil. We like different things :-) I opted for mile splits in the end.

Tried to rein myself in early on as instructed by Luke and Pete. Did pretty well at that for the first 2 miles and then the big hill in mile 3 definitely kept me in check. The average pace for those first 3 miles was 8 min mile so 2:40 and as a general guide that was going to be my target. I wasn't too particular though as I knew the undulations would make knocking out bang on splits impossible.

I was feeling strong through the first lap, a few people around me all gassing away. A little too much chitter chatter and not enough pitter patter of feet for my tastes. But as the miles piled on people drifted away and it was quite a lonely race but I enjoyed the peace and quiet and lack of pressure.
I saw Lauren at the end of lap one and she got a prime spot for some photo snapping. Am yet to see the results, I might add them to this blog if they cut the mustard.

The second lap was the toughest mentally not the first lap excitement or the finish line feeling of the last lap. I was pretty upbeat for pretty much the entire race though. I had a couple of Bishop Stortford guys near me as well as a couple of Great Bentley runners and we all ran pretty even paced races, although we weren't running shoulder to shoulder it was nice to have some familiar faces/backs as the race wore on.

I did get lapped by the race leader just after he passed the 19 mile marker. Going like a train! Finished in under 1:46 and with an 8 minute winning margin! Thankfully nobody else lapped me before I made it onto the 3rd lap.

Now I was ready to put the foot down a little more and it was nice going past landmarks knowing that was the last time you were going to see them. I worked through the first 3 miles of the lap passed the Water plant with the "Oxygen Delivery Entrance" could have done with some of that! Then left up the significant hill, have just checked on Strava and went up this fastest on my final lap. Got my breath back at the top and began to lap the occasional runner as well as picking off the odd runner on my lap. From 18 miles I think the wind was helpful and it might be a touch down hill and I wanted to finish strong. My form started to falter a little here but the pace was good.

Left turn at the finish and onto the field, power through the line and stopped my watch inside 2:39 exhausted! Saw Lauren and got to the car a few metres away, elated at my efforts. Right up there with the BUPA Great North Run in terms of performance. I have now spent the afternoon either in the bath or eating my way through the cupboards. Will sleep peacefully tonight.

So there we have it, my first genuine PB in years and a well paced race with me finishing strong. Sets me up for a small Marathon PB at Stratford at the end of April. Buzzing!

Finished 153rd out of 423.

Split Summary===
1) 1m - 7:52(7:52/m) 153/181bpm 91cal (includes 1st hill)
2) 1m - 7:53(7:53/m) 165/187bpm 117cal
3) 1m - 8:21(8:21/m) 178/190bpm 109cal (2nd bigger hill)
4) 1m - 8:04(8:05/m) 178/186bpm 122cal
5) 1m - 7:57(7:57/m) 180/189bpm 118cal
6) 1m - 7:53(7:53/m) 179/188bpm 71cal
7) 1m - 7:54(7:54/m) 175/183bpm 112cal
8) 1m - 8:04(8:04/m) 180/189bpm 81cal (1st hill repeated)
9) 1m - 7:53(7:53/m) 181/187bpm 90cal
10) 1m - 8:26(8:26/m) 182/189bpm 91cal (bigger hill again)
11) 1m - 8:01(8:01/m) 181/189bpm 116cal
12) 1m - 7:52(7:52/m) 171/190bpm 22cal
13) 1m - 7:55(7:55/m) 153/170bpm 64cal
14) 1m - 7:45(7:45/m) 151/169bpm 98cal (1st hill final time)
15) 1m - 7:45(7:45/m) 163/184bpm 126cal
16) 1m - 8:00(8:00/m) 184/191bpm 114cal (bigger hill final time)
17) 1m - 7:53(7:53/m) 183/187bpm 85cal
18) 1m - 8:01(8:01/m) 182/191bpm 135cal
19) 1m - 7:59(7:59/m) 185/191bpm 92cal
20) 0.98m - 7:25(7:34/m) 184/192bpm 117cal

Sunday, 1 March 2015

February Month 4 - Motivation Waning

Something was missing in February, just couldn't get myself up for some runs, particularly anything over 10 miles. There is some lingering illness in the background which might it explain it, but I'm not totally convinced. Had a really good start to the month with a 1:35 at Great Bentley Half Marathon but didn't really kick on after that. I did manage to run on 16 of the 28 days so meeting my 4 a week minimum run target.

Managed to achieve:
1 x Hill Session
2 x Intervals both 10 x 400m
1 x 5K parkrun
1 x Half Marathon
4 x Commutes home at 7.5 miles a time
5 x General / Steady/ Easy runs (5-9 miles)
1 x 10 Mile
1 x Half Marathon distance training run

Total of 118 miles so my highest mileage for the month of February ever, and my 5th highest mileage month in the 70 I've been doing this game. So not all bad. I now have 8 weeks until Stratford Marathon and when my racing really starts to ramp up. Hoping the mojo is returned to full force in March putting me in good shape to crush my existing PB's into the ground.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Great Bentley Half Marathon 2015

Well that was a tough but successful half marathon. Pete set a target of 1:35-1:40 and I fancied something sub 1:38. In the end my Garmin has me at 1:35:19.

Conditions were pretty perfect, more wind than forecast and it is quite an exposed course but very flat, with a few bridges and inclines in the second half but nothing much. Roads open to the public so always wary of cars but generally just a very quiet and laid back half marathon down quiet country lanes. My favourite type of course for running well.

I set off feeling strong and the pace was looking way too hot, 1:35 is 4:30's and 1:40 is 4:45's. Tried to ease off after 5km and thought if I could just keep chucking out sub 4:30's I was looking at 1:32-1:33 managed that through to halfway but then had my first split slower than 4:30 through km 12.

Body then seemed to settle into 4:40-4:50 pace and I then gave myself sub 5min km through to the finish to give myself a time I could be happy with. Where I had started strong and not worrying about the watch, now I was checking the watch 3 times a km and just digging in.

Last 5km were a real effort and people were now drifting past me, a few little uphills weren't too welcome either but having run this race twice I could picture the final km and that keep me trucking on.

Probably need to work on my core strength as I felt myself losing form as the fatigue began to bite. Managed to hold the pace together and found some strength on the grass finish to take over 4 or 5 of those runners that had taken me over on the run in.

Crept over 1:35 but that was ok, once the pain came after halfway I knew the time would be what it would be. A good marker for my Marathon and my other races this year and I will be attacking my PB at Southend and if not the Half Marathon in November.

Sore throat and runny nose didn't seem to affect me too much today. Am absolutely shattered now. Bath and some proper food will see me right.

Section splits
5km - 21:27
10km - 21:52 (+25)
15km - 22:59 (+7)
20km - 23:53 (+54)
21.1km - 05:07

Heart Rate:
Endurance - 1%
Moderate - 2%
Tempo - 15%
Threshold - 60%
Anaerobic - 22%

Split Summary
1) 0.62m - 4:10(6:43/m) 145/170bpm 17cal
2) 0.62m - 4:13(6:47/m) 175/179bpm 23cal
3) 0.62m - 4:15(6:50/m) 183/188bpm 76cal
4) 0.62m - 4:22(7:02/m) 180/185bpm 65cal
5) 0.62m - 4:27(7:09/m) 169/176bpm 46cal

6) 0.62m - 4:16(6:52/m) 164/172bpm 14cal
7) 0.62m - 4:23(7:03/m) 173/177bpm 58cal
8) 0.62m - 4:26(7:08/m) 172/176bpm 61cal
9) 0.62m - 4:28(7:12/m) 173/177bpm 74cal
10) 0.62m - 4:19(6:57/m) 185/191bpm 77cal

11) 0.62m - 4:20(6:59/m) 181/187bpm 76cal
12) 0.62m - 4:34(7:22/m) 180/189bpm 64cal
13) 0.62m - 4:38(7:27/m) 170/175bpm 81cal
14) 0.62m - 4:46(7:40/m) 167/173bpm 83cal
15) 0.62m - 4:41(7:31/m) 174/181bpm 81cal

16) 0.62m - 4:43(7:36/m) 179/183bpm 83cal
17) 0.62m - 4:40(7:30/m) 180/188bpm 81cal
18) 0.62m - 4:49(7:45/m) 183/186bpm 84cal
19) 0.62m - 4:47(7:42/m) 191/195bpm 83cal
20) 0.62m - 4:54(7:54/m) 194/202bpm 85cal

21) 0.62m - 4:43(7:36/m) 195/200bpm 82cal
22) 0.07m - 24(5:27/m) 191/191bpm 6cal

Saturday, 31 January 2015

January - Month 3 - Work, Running and Mileage Near Miss

Another good month on the road to the Shakespeare Marathon and hopefully a 2015 PB filled year. January is always a tough running month for me, with lots of work pressures and hours in the office combined with short days and generally pretty uninviting weather. We were lucky with the weather this January in the main, but I did have a fun run in freshly fallen snow on Friday. I managed to get out running on 19 of the 31 days and for a combined mileage of 156. Made up of the following runs:

3 x parkruns (21:37, 20:35, 20:17)
4 x Long runs(12, 16, 16 and 17 miles)
1 x Hill session
4 x Commute
1 x Tempo
2 x Intervals
4 x Easy/General/Recovery runs

Got back into the Nellers training group and did the 10 x 400m session and the hills, but had to miss the 6 x 800m after finishing work too late. Enjoy the group environment and really pushed myself in both sessions. May have over done it a little in the hills session, because I then had to take a couple of days off to let my body heal up and all from 13 minutes of hard running!

The long runs were eventful at times, had to go exploring on one run as I run out of street lighting on my planned route and on another of my runs I just bonked completely and had no energy so had to make an unplanned Lucozade and Wine Gum stop in order to get myself home. Will look to stretch the long run out after my Half Marathon in February so I start to hit 20 miles and hopefully sort out the nutrition issues I've had.

Ran home from the office 5 times, 1 of which I pushed the pace and made it home in well under an hour so have shown that as tempo run. Also tried out a new longer route home and I can extend that out if needed and that made a nice change from my regular route.

With work being tough I opted for the train as my main form of transport to and from the office but did cycle to and from the office on two occasions for a combined 30 miles.

Aside from that it was just some steady runs. I did miss the odd run in the month which would have meant a record high mileage month but I fell 2 miles short of last months 158. Not too disappointed as I am sure the record will go soon and this January has seen me run more than 50 miles further than any of my previous 5 efforts. So January's running is in the bank and I hope that I will enjoy the benefits of it next week at the Great Bentley Half Marathon.