As I’ve finally finished my series of long runs and tapering is starting I thought it was a good time to reflect over the last three months. An amazing amount of running related things have happened. January was for me, like I imagine everyone, a damp slog, just a time to get the head down and the miles in. I was going to attempt the Stonehenge Stomp, a 20, 30 or 40k off roader that I have walked in past years but was going to run this time. Torrential rain in the days leading up to it made me rethink. There are a lot of ploughed fields to run round and I didn’t fancy a fracture just yet; or at all.
Watford Half Marathon
My first half marathon of the year was in Watford on 2nd February, made more appealing by knowing that the Runners World pacers would be there. I’d not run with a pacer before and found it a fantastic experience. Having the ability to switch off and just keep the man with a flag in my eyeline allowed me to concentrate on just doing the miles and not worrying about pace. I overtook him with about 3 miles to go and came in with a PB at 1.42:53.
Marathon Talk Spring Run Camp
The following weekend was the inaugural Marathon Talk Spring Run Camp (this one time, at Run Camp…) at the exquisitely named Sandy Balls Holiday Park. I was pretty nervous going into the camp as a pretty inexperienced runner and expected to be left behind pretty quickly. However, Martin and Tom had thought it all through and everyone, of any level, was well catered for. The weekend started off with a parkrun and interval session (6 x 3min) in the afternoon. The next day was the long run, either 11,16 or 19 miles of trail running on soaking ground and in parts, massive headwinds. My jantastic goal was 15 miles so I did the 11 mile circuit then a 2 mile out and back. Luckily I didn’t attempt the 16 miler as the extra 5 mile loop apparently was nearer 7 miles! I was a great weekend with some good talks by Liz Yelling, Steve Way and Louise Damen and great to talk running with people whose eyes don’t glaze over or snigger at the mention of a fartlek.
Liz Yelling and Louise Damen
Martin Yelling and Steve Way
Hampton Court Half Marathon
This was notable only for two things. Firstly it was an 18 mile run day for me so I planned a route 2.5 miles from the start of the race so I could run there, do the race and run back giving me a total of 18.1 miles.
Secondly, the organisers either mucked up the distance or a marshal directed us the wrong way but the HM actually came in at 12.8 miles. I was taking it fairly steady around the course as I was treating it as a long run, sorting gels and drinks etc but still nearly PB’d! I knew something wasn’t quite right.
Luckily for me my in and out distance to the car was 2.6 miles so the total was a perfect 18 miles.
Silverstone Half Marathon
A great race. Freezing and windy (Silverstone is and old airfield after all) weren’t the ideal conditions especially as I’d done my usual trick of getting there ridiculously early. Also the start time was a real pain. 12pm for me is a tricky time having been used to fuelling for a 9-10am race. By 11 I was pretty hungry and hadn’t prepared for that. Took a gel and hoped it would be OK. I positioned myself between the 1.30 and 1.45 pacers and hoped I’d stay there for the race. My only aim was to PB so needed to keep well ahead of the 1.45. The race went well though with the constant turns on the track you were facing a headwind at some point. Why does a headwind slow you down more than a tail wind speed you up!. At 9 miles I did a bit of fatigued mental maths and thought I was on for a sub 1.30 HM. For some reason I figured at 9 miles there were only 3 to go. It wasn’t until the 10 mile marker I realised I STILL had 3 left.
Finished the last mile strong and ended up with a PB of 1.38.59
Could have had a shave.
Since them it has really just been a matter of getting the long runs in, checking fluid and carb intake during the runs and trying to stay in one piece. Weather has turned better, finally, and we’ve had some great dawns and dusks.
I did my final long run with the newly created adidas26rs running club in London last Sunday (23rd March). I really nice 22 mile run from their base (in the basement of Sweatshop, Bishopsgate) over London Bridge along the Southbank to Putney Bridge then back to Tower Bridge on the North side and up to the shop again. There were about 15 of us though pretty quickly we spread out over various paces. I was lucky to run with a fantastic chap, Ollie, and we chatted the whole way round keeping easily to our 9 min mile marathon pace. It’s given me massive confidence that I will sub-4 my first marathon.
Bring it on.