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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A tale of two 20’s

I am now officially celebrating the start of my pre marathon taper.  The worst is over, I’ve reached the peak of my training and (hopefully) the hard work is done so I’ve just got to keep my head on, taper my training wisely, eat and rest right  (the best bit) and then turn up on the big day!  I spent Sunday afternoon celebrating the start of my taper after the second of my 20 mile runs.  On the sofa, feet up with tea, hot cross buns and then a glass or two of wine and a huge dinner.

So what about these 20 mile races? One week apart, one hot and hilly, the other, endless laps with a scattering of hail stones.

Both were organised marathon training races. An essential part of marathon training for me without which I would have struggled to run that distance. Entrance fees well spent.  I find any run over 2 hours a tedious slog and can just about muster the will power to run any further than that every few weeks when training.  Fortunately in both these runs I wasn’t alone as plenty of other crazy folk were out plodding the same path wearing race numbers.  People overtook, I had others to overtake and could look back and still see people behind me. Safety from complete boredom in numbers!

The first was the Surrey Spitfire 20.  A regular fixture, well organised race. Nice scenery of the surrey hills starting from an interesting base at Dunsford Aerodrome. However it was hot and there were great big (for softy Londoners like me), hills!  I did not have a great run. I find I do not like 2 lapped races.  The first lap feels long enough…. and then you have to do it ALL again Ugh!  I ran the first lap just slower than target pace (to take account of the heat and hills.) Fine, great.  On lap 2 I decided I don’t like races on race tracks either. The first part of each lap might have been flat but 2  miles on hot black tarmac seeing a line of runners going on forever in front of you! Headphones are banned for this race, understandably, because much of it is on open country roads with traffic, and at times the quiet, hearing only birds and runners feet hitting the Tarmac was energy sapping. I weakened early and walked a hill at mile 13 and that set the pattern for the second half.  At one point walking uphill on a busy road I harboured thoughts about mugging a passing cyclist for his bike!

The good, (yes it wasn’t all bad) was a great sense of community. Without music, passing runners actually talked and encouraged each other with marathon chat and dreams of ice-cold Pimms!  I have to thank one club runner who I chatted to at mile 18 and kept me going to the end before I sent her off for a sprint to the line to beat a fellow club member!

I did not enjoy the run, my  mantra for tough times (counting one, two, three, four) became expletive, expletive, expletive, expletive! I won’t meet hills at the London marathon but I suppose they’ve made me stronger and practise racing in the heat might prove useful for marathon day. Not least to remind me the sunburn hurt more the next day than my legs. I didn’t feel great that I’d had to walk so much but was happy to finish in 3.25.

This Sunday it was the Hyde Park 20. A newer, smaller, well organised, marathon training run with 16 mile and (for the very speedy) a 24 option. The race is made up of 4 mile laps so it was 5 times round for me. I thought I knew Hyde Park well, I certainty do now.

A cold start where I needed a lightweight jacket.  Then my sunglasses came on and off over the run as we went through the seasons and as I removed my jacket we got to hail. During the first lap I felt as though it was going to be a tough run but I settled into it and got stronger. I had music which helped and found that multiple shorter laps were better than two long ones.  Each time I reached a point I thought about only having to run that bit 4, 3 or 2 more times etc.  By the time my wondering mind came back to the thought I’d be practically back there again. Some fun young Marshalls, dancing to keep warm, also kept my spirits up as I said hello each time I passed.

I did think I was dead at mile 5 when I was overtaken by Elvis but began to doubt it when I overtook him back at mile 13!  It was only going past the start for the last time at the start of lap 5 that I started to flag and the relatively flat course developed hills. My pace dropped over the final 4 miles but I was very happy not to have walked apart from one or two steps through the water stops during the second half to gulp water.  A good 20 mile run, I was delighted to beat last week finishing in 3.19.

Surrey Spitfire gave me respect for the distance and strength to face a tough marathon.  I learned that sometimes target paces have to be relaxed for the conditions and not to beat myself up and give in, but to dig deep and keep going as best I can (plans b, c and d). Hyde Park restored my confidence in myself because I ran the whole way and felt stronger. I even managed to wobble home (through the park) on my bicycle afterwards!

Note to self for marathon. Don’t be an idiot, don’t be a wimp!
;


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Bath Half Marathon

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My ambitious marathon training plan (the one I follow when things are going well and I’m feeling good) called for a sub 2 hour half marathon last weekend.  Fortunately my other plan (which I refer to more often when I’m feeling exhausted and a little fed up with marathon training) only required 14 miles of me so I had a back up plan if I needed it!

But I was also keen to run under 2 hours again for myself (even if only by seconds) having done so in all 4 Half Marathons I ran in 2012 but not in any I ran in 2013.

So after a lovely day on Saturday with lots of good company, shopping , eating and all round fun, race day arrived.  We had a leisurely start having treated ourselves to a hotel only a short walk from the start so we were not out in the cold rain for too long before the off.

It was busy at the race start and I wasn’t too happy to find myself in the crowds stuck towards the back of my start zone where there were also people wearing the coloured race numbers for the zone behind.  I also overheard someone around me discussing her planed pace and my heart sank. I realised I would have some work to do to weave in and out and get ahead if I wanted to stick to my planned pace of 9 mins per mile, a whole minute faster than that. (Note to self on my honesty and accuracy of predicted finish time for mass, popular races!).

I had decided not to be an idiot and try for a PB or a fast race, but to start out at a good solid pace and stick to it. That should take me round just under the magic 2 hour mark, to give me confidence in the eyes of my ambitious marathon plan and be a good even paced test of how my training was going.

As feared it was very busy and In the pack I had to really work at settling into and maintaining my pace without wearing myself out from weaving in and out in a sort of fast-slow race interval run. The Bath Half is ‘Bath flat’ as I found out last year . I was disappointed not to be able to take the opportunity of the downhill just after the start and bank 30 seconds or so of faster pace for later as the first few miles were very crowded.

It eased a little and I was able to keep close enough to my plan for the rest of the two lapped course.  At mile 10 I was smug in overtaking a couple who had been ahead of me until then and had annoyed me by ignoring the marshals always running outside the cones on the right hand side of the course reserved for the overtaking front-runners as they lapped us.

The last 3 miles felt like a marathon in themselves, not just ‘a parkrun to go’.  I was still having to overtake and squeeze through gaps of people running three abreast.  The uphill before the last turn to the finish didn’t help either.  On the turn to the finish I glanced at my watch and realised I was dangerously close to 2 hours. I was a few seconds over target average pace plus because of garmin inaccuracy  and/or too much weaving in and out of the crowds I was going to run a bit over 13.1 miles so needed a good sprint finish to duck under 2 hours.

It was close, but I did it with 15 seconds to spare!

A big, well organised and supported race in a lovely city.  This year was a bit too crowded for my liking so although it’s a great race I think I’ll be giving it a miss for a few years before I come back again.

bath2014


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The ups and downs

My marathon training continues with many ups and downs.

This week has been hard going.  Janathon is over and it continues to rain.  I’m now in week 7 of my training so the initial enthusiasm has gone but the end is not yet in sight.  The miles and intensity are increasing and it’s getting tough.

After 14 miles last weekend I rested at the start of the week but then couldn’t get going again.  It was cold and wet and apart from BMF I couldn’t get myself out the door for yet another loop of the same old routes. It doesn’t help that I am totally in love with my new bicycle and would rather be out riding it than running.  But then I remembered my un-cancelled gym membership and compromised.  I cycled to the gym, ran intervals on the treadmill and recovered with 20 gentle lengths of the pool before cycling home.

Today was even harder.  I was out and about (yes on my bike again) but couldn’t muster the motivation to go out and run.  Looking at my stats and what I’d left myself for the weekend I had a last minute pang of guilt (fear!) as I was about to pour a glass of wine.  I threw my kit on and dashed out the door for a quick 30 minutes.

Yes, it turned out to be one of the good ones. Avoiding one street from my loop, because of the busy pavements at 6pm, I took a parallel poorly lit private road which was darker than I thought  it would be.  One way to keep up a good pace! Feeling good I kept up the effort.

The rain arrived minutes after I got home and the smug feeling got even better when I looked at my stats.  A perfect progression run with miles at 9.35, 9.00, 8.24 pace.  Couldn’t have run it better even if I’d planned it!


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Just another day…

Yesterday was the last day of Janathon.

Time to round up my running mileage from 99 to 100? Or  110 as suggested by @abradypus!  And what do I round up my 61 miles cycled to?

But this isn’t the end for me. Far from it. I’ve got 2 more months of marathon training so will be carrying on exactly the same.  Plus some, as I get into the peak of my training and on to very long runs .

I will still blog on a regular basis but won’t be blogging everyday, which is the hardest bit of Janathon.   It will actually be good to spend less time trying to think of something to write, getting it down on screen, corrected, re written and have more time to read other people’s blogs.  I have a big backlog of Janathon blogs to start with.

So yesterday, it not really being the end,  but just another Friday I did the same as I usually do on Fridays.  I pedalled to Hyde Park where I did a BMF class.  It was a normal BMF class (as far as any BMF class can be normal)  with rather too many burpees, a lot of squats and many laps running around a triangle (a big one, it was about 400m,), all finished off with a couple of sprint races  My team won both,  I’m good a chosing fast team mates! Then I cycled home with a very cold wet bottom (blooming V sits) and freezing hands (press-ups and planks in a puddle which soaked my gloves).

It was also another typical Friday because I failed to blog. Last week I was feeling blah and fell asleep.  Yesterday I spent a lovely afternoon visiting a friend in hospital with two other friends but by the time I got home (horrible dark cold wet evening and slooooow tube trains), cooked and ate dinner and sat down with a film and glass of wine it was already late and my mind was even blanker than usual.

Janathon day 31.  5 miles cycled, 1 BMF class (3 miles running)

Janathon 2014.  102 miles run, 67 miles cycled.


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Coldest Wettest

Run yet…

Plan A was to run first thing and then get on with work all invigorated and smug having got my run over with.  But it was raining and cold this morning so I moved on to Plan B.  According to my iPhone weather app the rain would clear or ease by mid day so I would work until then and have a lunchtime run.  It continued to rain and I did get some work done but started to get  thoughts about plan C, to run this evening. However the thought of dark and wet run didn’t appeal one bit so I ended up with plan D.  I went out when there was just enough daylight left for my planned 8 miles.

It was raining when I got out the door, it rained all through my run and it was still raining when I got home.  It was cold, the rain stung.  Any target pace or need to do a couple of intervals in the middle of my run fell by the wayside.  I pressed go on my Garmin, put my head down and just got on with it at whatever pace my legs would do (give or take up hills. slow pedestrians and down hills).  It wasn’t one of those nice “I didn’t look at my pace but it turned out pretty good” runs but it wasn’t too shoddy either.

I followed the same route as a previous run (8.21 miles) but must have cut a half mile corner somewhere or other because I got home at 7.73 miles. Today was not a round-up sort day. Once in sight of my door I was heading straight in for a hot drink and to get warm and dry!  Unfortunately that shortcut was at a price –  I assumed today I would reach 100 miles for the month but once logged it for Janathon I have had to settle on a nice round 99!

Janathon day 29   7.73 miles run

Janathon totals; 99 miles run, 61 miles cycled.


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Not a rest day

After a long run yesterday I, not for the first time, rather madly went to BMF for my recovery work out. I did however take the car because although my legs felt fine they drew the line at cycling in the cold. I thought it would be good to give them a chance of trying BMF without the warm up cycle to see if they fared any better. They didn’t. But I really think that a BMF class after a long run is very good experience of what it feels like to try and run on absolute empty. And when we were having that final sprint to the end I told myself it was like the last 6 miles of a marathon as my eyes went blurred and I came over dizzy. Fortunately today it was only a few hundred yards dash to a lamppost. I did get there first, but then all the faster runners had a handicap of having to do twice as many burpees than me before the dash to the line!

The good bit, as well as the hot chocolate afterwards, is that tomorrow is a rest day (from running) to look forward to.

Janathon day 27. 1 BMF class (3 miles run plus a few other forms of overexertion)