fairweatherrunner

running blog


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I’m Back

Really back this time.

I’m running a marathon tomorrow.

Yes I know I should have blogged about it earlier.  I did get a nag from Cathy for not updating my marathon training and mentions from Sharon and Alma which nudged me back to my blog but I felt a bit of a fraud having a running blog when I wasn’t really running.

I have dabbled during Juneathon and Janathon, writing  a bit about my excuses for not running and the odd BMF class, parkrun or classy plank.

I’ve had false starts, comebacks and ‘return’ races.  I managed a 2 week run streak during Juneathon this year and a comeback 10K at the end of Janathon but I have not seriously run or trained for any event since the London Marathon in 2014.

Then two things happened.  I stood on the scales at Easter to weigh my son’s suitcase and I went to cheer this years London Marathon.  The mean old scales told me the truth I didn’t want to hear and watching the marathon made me think that maybe it wasn’t as bad as my memories were telling me.  I set about losing some blubber and my subconscious started thinking about running another marathon.

Facebook and wine don’t mix.  On May Bank Holiday Sunday evening I found myself entering a marathon with Cathy, Helen and Cassie.  It’s a flat one and the medal and goodie bag (beer and cake) are fantastic. (We’ll worry about the strong winds on the Kent coastal sea wall tomorrow!)

Fast forward to this Autumn and after a slow start I finally got into my marathon training.  I said I would run it –  so I had to grit my teeth and get on with it.   But I started to enjoy myself.  Regular running and being 12 pounds lighter have done wonders for my pace and stamina.  In October I ran a good HM at the Exeter Great West Run and felt really strong on a hilly course.  If I hadn’t had to make an unplanned loo stop I would have pipped my HM PB by a few seconds.  Mojo returned.

My previous attempts at marathon training have felt like a chore, hating the really long, long runs.  I can’t say I love them now,  and I could do with running a few more of them, but for the last weeks of my training I have had a new business like attitude to training and focus on my plan.

The icing on the cake was running a 10K PB of 49.06 two weeks ago.  I ran 50.38 in 2010 and have been trying to get back there, or under 50 minutes ever since but 52  is the closest I’ve managed.

Marathon training rocks!

We’ll see what tomorrow brings!


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London Winter Run

Janathon might have technically finished on Saturday but I ended it in style on Sunday running the Winter 10K with Alma and Giselle.  This was my first race since September and the longest I have run since then.  A comeback run.

So far this year I’ve not run further than 5K so I had planned to get a 6 mile training run or two in before the race but that didn’t happen for numerous reasons.  In an exchange of texts with Giselle about pace I thought an aim of 9 min mile was realistic for me although running under 55 minutes would be a good goal.  Giselle’s aim was to get as close as possible to 50 mins (I said I’d love to be back there and would be with her at that pace for a mile or two tops!) or practice pacing at 8.50, to which I agreed I should be able to manage for most of the race.

The start of the race wasn’t as organised as it could have been and the published ‘start waves’ were more a ‘guideline’ about what time to shuffle out of the loo queue towards the start. We joined the queue aiming for the latest of the times we had together at 10.02  but in the crowds up the embankment it was a matter of first come first served, all participants mixed up together.  While waiting to start and trying to keep warm we all began to worry about the race being a bit chaotic. I suggested it might be hard work to try and run together in the crowds.

Fortunately it all turned out better than feared. The crowd was good-natured and there was music and a warm up to keep us motivated. Although we didn’t finally start until 10.17 we were fortunate to be close to the front of the start pen and so when we finally got going the 8 minute gap between waves meant that the race was spaced out and we had a lovely clear run up the embankment.  I caught up with Giselle and joined her to run at her pace after all.

She was an excellent pace maker.  I watched the mile splits clock by at very consistent pace just under 8.40/mi.  Giselle told me to stop looking at my Garmin and just stick with her.  It’s true, it is all in the mind and when you just have to concentrate on running with someone your mind can’t contemplate the pace and pass on ‘I’m tired’ messages to the legs.  Her cunning plan was to slowly up the pace in the second half.   I lasted until mid way between the 8 and 9km markers.  The combination of an 8.08 min 5th mile, the slight slope back up to the embankment and the lack of miles in my legs were finally showing.  I convinced Giselle that she needed to keep pushing and I really did have to just hold average pace to the end. I followed her up the last km of the embankment at an increasing distance and managed a modest sprint past a few others at the finish line half a minute behind her.

I was very chuffed to have run 52.52. With a little help I proved to myself that I’m not so out of form after all. Come back race an enjoyable success. Big thank you to Giselle.

So I’m signed up for next year, and a half marathon while I was at it. I’ve decided winter races suit me because apart from a few shivers waiting to start I find the cooler temperature kinder when trying to up the pace. I also don’t have the hassle of carrying water and on Sunday nor did we have to pause to grab water en route.

An excellent race. A little disorganised towards the start but the 8 minute staggered starts worked well at spacing out the race. We coped ok starting further back than planned and having to weave through runners when we caught up with waves in front.

There was a good atmosphere, a perfectly organised bag drop and a lovely bit of Bling at the end. Plus hugs and photo opportunities with polar bears if you’re into that sort of thing. At the start we were more interested in stealing a polar bear suit to keep warm!

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A duathlon of sorts

 

I was up and out early again this morning (wah! I want my lie in!) to cycle to Hyde Park to meet Alma (@plustenner)  (but unfortunately not Carla (@-fit-flo), we missed you!) for the Hyde Park 10K.

 

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With no train or parking issues (which we had at Regents Park last month), we collected our race numbers and negotiated the loo queue well before the start.  A two lapped course on very familiar paths around the Serpentine.  I started well on target pace but struggled to get into it today and enjoy it.  There was a cold wind and I’d taken off my second layer to avoid over heating so I felt the cold for the first mile or so. I warmed up, but was then wishing it was only a 5K because my stomach was growling with hunger, bits of my legs ached and my mind was weakening.

My marathon plan gives me targets for each 4 week period.  This month it was to complete a sub 54 minute 10K.  No problem I thought, I ran 52.49 at Regents Park in December.  But finding it tough going between 4 and 6K today I was doubting being able to run under 55 minutes and had to grit my teeth and battle on.

I was eventually very happy to cross the line in 53.00. Job done, target achieved. It obviously wasn’t so bad a run as it felt at the time!

Alma and I were then met my Louise (@abradypus), after another long run for her, and we all went off for an essential part of marathon/ultra training…  Brunch.  Eggs, coffee etc and a catch up before I cycled home.  In fact as brunch was such an important part of the morning I think it should be seen as a training discipline in its own right and therefore my Janathon effort today was probably a triathlon not a duathlon!

Janathon day 19.   3.25 miles cycled, 10K run,  Brunch eaten, 3 miles cycled.


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Regents Park 10K

For the second day in a row I went without my weekend lie in and was up early for a race.  Yes this is very unusual, and new Juneathon participants might be right in  thinking that I’m showing off and pretending I’m the sort of person who jumps out of bed early every Saturday and Sunday and pops off to run a quick race.  Don’t worry it won’t last long.  It’s just the coincidence of Juneathon starting at a weekend and me actually getting organised for its start.  Normal service will be resumed sooner than you think.

A lot of people were out for the Regents Park 10K today, it looked like twice the number of people than I’ve seen for the winter races.  There must be lots of runners who are even more fair-weather than me.  Alma and I just about managed to get through collecting our race packs, dropping off our bags and the loo queue to join the start with seconds to spare.  It wasn’t however too busy on the course and some of the paths up by the Zoo have been resurfaced and widened since I last  ran this race .

I started the first of the 3 laps at the same sort of pace as my 10K last week,  overtaking people as I moved up the field.  By the second lap my pace was dropping.  I was too hot, my legs were feeling less than fresh, I wanted my lie in and I was hungry. (Excuses already, just what Juneathon is really all about!)  I  had a chat with a guy, who had obviously not read the race description, and asked if he really had to run 3 laps.  I congratulated the lapping front-runners and thought about pushing myself to correct my falling pace as people began to pass me, but I couldn’t be bothered.   I ran past the Zoo for the second time and saw a camel. I heard a Lion roaring, I think he was telling me to move my butt a bit faster but he was behind bars so I didn’t bother.

On my third and final lap my pace dropped further to my default ‘just run’ pace and more people overtook me than I passed.  I had a conversation with (I think it was) the same guy again, who was trying to remember how many times he’d  ‘passed Go’ and ‘was it all over yet?’  I explained that as long as he’d not stopped and had been running the whole time at his current pace he could stop in one kilometer.  I also told him if he sped up he’d beat me, so he did (such a gentleman).

In the final 400m I looked at my watch and realised I was in danger of finishing over 55mins so I finally picked it up and then, encouraged by the organiser, yelling ‘Sprint Finish!’ and ‘Race!’ through a loud hailer, my body stopped complaining and I ‘wellied it’ down the last 200 meters overtaking a number of people.

Not a brilliant race for me today, but 6.18 miles run (in 54.40) for Juneathon day 2 and a fantastic breakfast of poached eggs hoovered down, all before 11.30am.


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Bupa London 10K

On Monday I ran the Bupa London 10,000m for the 6th time. I’m very pleased with myself, even though it wasn’t a PB, because I ran with my head and it was one of my better races.

I think I’ve finally grown up (running wise) and learned from my countless mistakes. Like following an 11-year-old round a parkrun. (Flat out sprint which gradually slows to a plod and leaves your lungs on the first corner!)

Last week’s 10K race was a good practice run where I ran a too fast first mile and then struggled by half way. So older and wiser, on Monday I was determined to run a more measured race. I wanted to enjoy it and not struggle with ‘mind over-matter’ during the last miles after trying too hard at the start.

My friend, and usual Bupa 10K running buddy, had been unwell the previous week so planned an easy run/walk strategy and left me to go off on my own. She has paced me and encouraged me in the past (and is responsible for my PB in this race in 2010) so I was given strict instructions not to go off too fast (she knows me well). And I did, (do what I was told). I knew from last weeks race and from my fitness and training (what training?) exactly what I was capable of and told friends at the start that I would probably finish (all being well!) in about 53 mins (same as last week).

So I set off. It was busy and I maintained a steady pace aiming for around 8.30 min miles. It become a little slower than that and I worried about starting too slow but I was moving with the crowd and determined not to over tire myself by dodging in and out of the pack to try to run a slightly faster pace. We all slowed slightly around 3km to cheer on Mo, Scott and the front-runners passing in the other direction and then went though the congested water station where, although I didn’t stop, had to take care because of discarded bottles all over the road.

After half way I started to make myself pick off runners ahead to hold pace. My new Garmin 210 gives a lot less information than my old 450cx model and I am finding this is a good thing! I was less distracted by it, looking at it only occasionally to see average pace and check that was falling but otherwise I am getting better at running by feel. For the rest of the race I just concentrated on holding pace. I was comfortable and happy to see my average pace slowly drop back to 8.30 and then below. The fact that I didn’t have a flat-out sprint left in me for the end suggests I paced it about right and hadn’t taken it too comfortably. I felt strong the whole race and enjoyed it.

My prediction was spot on! With a very good negative split to boot. I’ve finally got smart and learned how to run a good race. Now if I can just add in some smarter training and put in the miles….

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As always the race was impeccably organised and well staffed with volunteers/marshalls . Other race organisers should see how this race works and take note! The baggage drop always impresses me with no queues on the walk through system with 11,000 runners. It is a busy race, but if you’re in the right start pen (and hopefully so are most other people) you don’t get held up too much. Plus you really can’t beat running through the streets of London on a sunny Bank Holiday Monday.

This is what makes it my favourite race. See you all next year!

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Ealing Eagles 10K

Sometimes, even when you know you’re not on PB form, you just can’t help having a punt at it. Seeing that Xempo were offering pacers at yesterdays race I couldn’t resist having a go at keeping up with the 50 min pace makers.

And so I found myself rattling off a sub 8 min mile at the start of the race until my head caught up with me and, always the party pooper, started telling my body that it was under trained for a 10K at this pace, had just got over a cold, and this was not a bloomin’ 5K! I eased off and the 50 min pacers pulled away from me and I worried about being caught by the 55 min team. By halfway I was regretting my fast start and feeling a bit weary so was very happy to be rescued by someone who I’d chatted to before the race and joined her and another girl to keep up a decent steady pace for the next mile or so.

It’s a funny thing about runners, that you share the camaraderie of the race, chat and know that someone is contemplating a first marathon and their 10K PB but not their name. After 4 miles my head finally got with the flow, helped by thinking about Abradypus 3 hours into her 50 mile ultra. ‘A bit tired halfway round a 10K? Man up!’ I then found a good rhythm and a steady 8.30 pace and pulled away from my rescuers as we started the last lap of the park and managed a decent sprint finish to duck under the line just as the clock (gun time) clicked 53 minutes.

52.48 (garmin time). Not a PB but I was very happy to discover that it was my second fastest 10K by a whisker!

After finding and thanking my rescuer, I grabbed my bag and a drink before I made my way out of the park. Walking the last part of the course in reverse I joined with the marshalls to encourage the last runners coming through. A Marshall offering her water to one runner, others congratulating me on having already finished and the back cyclist sharing a joke with the last 3 runners summed up this race nicely for me.

Well done and thanks to Ealing Eagles for a great race. Small, well organised and marshalled race with no queues. Run on the paths and grass of the Gunnersbury parkrun course. It was friendly and supportive to all runners from the front-runners to the first time 10Kers at the back.

And you can’t beat a great bit of bling!

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I ran!

I know that that, in itself, shouldn’t be too much of a surprise seeing as this is a running blog but I’ve been off in the wilderness so my 4 mile plod on Thursday and today’s 10K were my first proper runs since Rutland Marathon 4 weeks ago.

Whilst I haven’t been running (as in, put on my garmin and plod out the door), I have gone to BMF classes 3 times a week so I’ve not been completely idle. It’s been nice to get a bit of speed back and enjoy some sprints free from heavy legs and marathon injury worries but the peak of my endurance is now 400m!

It’s not that Rutland Marathon finished me off it’s just that as well as some rest and recovery and down time from running I’ve had to reconnect with the rest of my life and put in a bit of time to catch up with family, friends, work and domestic stuff having been somewhat marathon obsessed for a few months. I’ve also had to sensibly give myself a good recovery to get over my Achilles problems and the past month with low mileage has meant that I am now free from ankle/heel pain when I run.

I also found myself post marathon at the top end of my normal weight range having fully embraced the fuel and carb loading part of my marathon training. So have used the past few weeks whilst taking it easy to experiment with intermittent fasting.  I’ve restricted myself to 500 or so kcal 2 days a week which so far is working as I’ve lost a couple of pounds.

So having rested and recovered I then found myself without the will to run (or blog).  I tried and another week passed.  I bought some new longer running tights and ran a 4 miler on my own earlier this week and wrote half a blog.  I signed up for some races, filling next years calendar and added the Regents Park 10K’s for December and January to get me started.

Today was the first and I fortunately met up with Alma so I had no excuses that it was too cold, too early and not turning up, but instead had a very enjoyable run with company, not looking at time or pace and running a fresh route.

Our breakfast afterards was good too.  Thanks Alma, Mojo restored.