Monthly Review: September 2014

Well, that sure flew by. What an incredibly fast month. For me it was dominated by tapering and racing with seemingly little actual training. Certainly when it come to “Quality Sessions” they were distinctly lacking, but the race results were just delightful.

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I missed one planned training session. Truth be told, I was abslutely exhausted after a long work week. It was just an easy run and it was the week before the Bristol half, so I justified it b the fact I was tapering! The things we tell ourselves to get out of a run!

So lets take a look at the goals I set for the month.

  • Run Sub 1h40mins at the Bristol Half Marathon
  • Run Sub 21min at the Yeovilton 5k
  • Complete 22 runs in September

I am delighted to have set two very big PBs this month. Yeovilton was always part of my strategy – I knew if I could go fast at Yeovilton I’d go fast at Bristol. I knew I’d put the training in and if I’m honest I would have liked to have gone a little quicker – but I can’t have it all! The time was 20.46 which, if you’d have told me I’d get by the end of the year, I’d have laughed in your face at. So now is it realistic to get to sub 20 this year? I hope so.

Bristol was more of a surprise. I went out at a comfortable pace for the first 8 miles and then just managed to hang on. On effort it was about right, and was a good example of when to ignore our Garmin. It just felt good. 1.35.57 was beyond my wildest dreams! And it’s made a sub 3.30 marathon in spring, which I thought would be a stretch for me, look much more achievable. Hopefully I can go sub 90 minutes at some point next year, one of my major lifetime targets.

I didn’t complete my 22 runs – but then again, my other acheivements were so satisfying I don’t really mind! Though in October I’ll be shooting for “100% Attendance”!

Here’s the progress report.

septembersummary

So, what are my goals for October? Well, I have my first 10 mile race, the Great South Run. It’s another mass participation race organised by Bupa. These are great fun and I have a target time in mind for that. However that said, I’ll also be looking to have a mini taper for it too.

I’d like to get my average elevation back up as its always good training, and I’d also like to ensure I remain consistent in my training frequency.

This week, I have started running in my new training zones too. I thought they would be a lot tougher than they have been (Though that’s easy to say, I’ve only done two of them, and neither have been real “Sessions”) So I’m going to try and focus on hitting my splits at consistent paces, within the right training zones. This is more difficult to analyse, but I’m keen to get them right.

Goals For October

  • Run the Great South Run in Sub 1:13
  • Run 24 times in the month
  • Achieve an average elevation gain of over 100m
  • Run consistent paces in line with training zones

 

McMillanRunning.com – Predictor extraordinaire!

If I ever need a reason to trust in the race time estimates and training paces at McMillan Running, I just need to look at this.

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My half marathon PB I set on Sunday is almost perfectly in line with the 5k PB I set on the previous Wednesday! (Ok so it’s 3 seconds out – more than forgivable!).

But this trust thing is a double edged sword. It also suggests that I could improve my 10k time (which means a serious fast long effort), and scarily, a 3.21 marathon!

One thing is for sure – using the calculated training paces the site has given me has delivered success. Countless PBs this year now, every race it seems. So if I stick to the paces they say, maybe 3.21 isn’t so scary after all…

… And if that’s not scary, how about sub 3.15?

Race Report: Bristol Half Marathon

It’s the evening of Sunday 21st September 2014 and today I, along with Jodie and Simon, ran the 26th edition of the Bristol Half.

This was a target race for all of us. We’d all focussed our regimes around this race and we all had different goals going into it. Additionally, YTRRC had over 50 runners taking part, so it was a big club event too.

Jodie and I had stayed locally with family the night before, and parked with ample time to spare. Which was good as I was having ‘digestive issues’ and needed a loo stop! Simon was less lucky, and had car issues getting to the start but thankfully he got there in time!

It was a wave start, I was in wave 1 and the others in wave 2, so without much fuss I made my way to the start pen after wishing Jodie the best of luck. As it was her first I was nervously excited for her, with a little fear. I really wanted her to enjoy the experience, but I also knew she was capable of a good time if she wanted it.

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The weather was perfect. A clear day, with no wind and the sun was shining. Walking to the start pen, I saw Danny, who I know from parkrun and chatted with him while we waited to get going. This was the first time I’d put a fast time into a race entry form, and I wasn’t used to being so close to the start. It only took 2 minutes from the gun to cross the start line!

The first mile or so was really well supported, but congested. I was bobbing and weaving a lot to make my way through and find a bit of space. I think with hindsight this helped me with my pacing. I had an ‘A’ goal, which I set as my top end pace on my Garmin, and a ”B’ goal for the low end. The first 3 miles I managed to stick with this quite well. It helped that the mile markers matched my watch ‘laps’.

As we left the city on the A4 Portway the crowd started getting sparser. Still quite congested but the road widened and was manageable. After 4 miles or so I saw the lead pack of East Africans running back towards us. And for me, this was when the funniest part of the race was! Though the ‘out and back’ was long and straight (though I have to say I think the ‘out’ was slightly uphill for 3 miles…) there was so much camaraderie. I cheered anyone I saw in a Yeovil vest, and the same was reciprocated back. This helped miles 2-8 fly by! I even saw Rich from the RW forum who spotted me and gave me a yell. Great fun!

I spent a good deal of this portion passing people, and that didn’t really stop happening until about mile 11 when everyone seemed to be similarly paced and the runners were spread a bit thinner.

Anyway, with all this fun I got a bit of a shock as I saw Jodie! Somehow she made it into wave 1! As I passed her she was in great spirits though so I was very pleased for her. Pace wise, I knew I was ahead of even my ‘A’ target by about a minute, and coming back down the partway I managed a sub 7min mile. I felt strong. Then I started seeing wave 2 runners coming down the other way too so I kept my eye open for Si, and sure enough I saw him looking good too!

Not long after this I reached the 8 mile mark and the route deviated from the 10k route. We crossed a bridge and did a long double, double-back going up an actual hill! Wasn’t expecting that! But managed to get through it pretty unscathed, and meant a nice bit of downhill to rest the legs. All in all, the course is not as flat as you think. Ignoring the spikes in the elevation chart below – these occurred when i run through the tunnel under the Clifton bridge, there were 3 or 4 noticable climbs as you progress the course.

bristolelevation

As my watch beeped for the 9 mile mark, we came back into the city and I knew the family support would be there. Sure enough they saw me coming and gave me a big cheer! Now, at this point there was a loop around a mile long and I’d see them again. It went around queen square and there was a drum band and some hot air balloons. The problem was, my Garmin went a bit mental. The tall buildings and trees meant my pacing a went a bit wrong. This, along with the fact I was clearly reaching my limit being around 90s up on my ‘A’ goal, meant when I passed the family the second time I wasn’t nearly as comfortable. I had to hit lap on my watch when I passed the 10m marker to reset my pacings.

bristolsplits

Mile 11 was my slowest. 7.45. At this point I had 2 options. I could go for it, smash my goal, and hurt in the morning. Or, I could let the pace ease off and make my goal by a whisper. Needless to say, my ego won!

Credit to Steve Membury, posted on the YTRRC Facebook page
Looking in pain at the 10m mark. Credit to Steve Membury, posted on the YTRRC Facebook page

11 to 12 was the toughest mile. Not only was I digging in, but there was a slightly slippery cobbled section, and what can only be described as a totally isolated industrial section. (There was no-one but a string of runners, and it was eerily quiet, save for the panting of runners.

But as I reached the 12mile mark we were back in town. The crowd was back. It was just the city centre ‘one way system’ to go. At this point I had to get my maths head on. I thought this section was the same as the 10k. Looking at my watch, I though sub 95 was on, so I picked the pace up. Unfortunately the course was a bit longer, but I decided to give it everything I had anyway. I’d trained hard and wanted to get the absolute best time I good. I passed the 13m market and sub 96 was on. I dug deep. It was going to be close! The crowd were magnificent and as I rounded the last bend to see the finish gantry I looked at my watch. I had 20s to get there… I gave it a sprint and just dipped under! I couldn’t believe I made it, but I didn’t have chance to enjoy it as I had to lean over the rail to throw up!

It felt amazing, but it was short lived as I wanted to get over and cheer Jodie on. I made my way through the funnel, picked up a nice medal and a medium (yes MEDIUM! Go me!) tech tee. The goody bag however, was rubbish. A Freddo bar, cereal bar and electrolyte tabs just didn’t cut the mustard.

I jogged to the meeting point to greet the family who were all very proud. They’d seen Jodie once and we were expecting to see her again in the next few minutes. And low and behold we saw Simon! I gave him a cheer, he looked good. Jodie was a few minutes behind him and also looked good! The look of focus was in her eyes and I’ve never been so proud!

We then moved on and managed to cheer her on at 2 more points, and she even had a strong finish. Meeting her at the finish funnel was emotional, I was so happy for her! Best of all she didn’t hate the experience!

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In the funnel we saw Joe Thomas, of ‘The Inbetweeners’ fame. Not convinced it was him, we shouted ‘Joe Thomas!’ And he looked round and waved! Wish we’d said something cooler and got a photo, instead of sounding like a run wanker!

After the race we wound down. Spent some time with the club and went to Za Za Bazaar for some well earned food. We were all very proud of our achievements in a great, well organised and decently supported race.

YTRRC milling around post race. Credit to Simon Eadon, posted on the YTRRC Facebook Page
YTRRC milling around post race. Credit to Simon Eadon, posted on the YTRRC Facebook Page
Team photo. Credit Steve Membury (I think) from the YTRRC Facebook Page
Team photo. Credit Steve Membury (I think) from the YTRRC Facebook Page

 

Race Report: Yeovilton 5k (Summer Series – Event 6)

The Yeovilton 5k Summer Series is a group of 5k events that take place on the 2nd Wednesday evening of the month from April to September. They are organised by my club, Yeovil Town Road Running Club and is very much a local race. It wouldn’t be fair to compare this with some of the bigger events I run, but it is still an excellent race. I ran the May event which gave me my 21:59 PB, before I joined the club.

Chip timed, the course is a single 5k loop on flat local country roads. It runs essentially around RNAS Yeovilton and is based at the Fleet Air Arm car park and the social club opposite, which is where Race HQ is.

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Getting to the race was very easy, there was loads of parking. Registration was a bit painful. I’d pre-registered and though there were two places to register (One for packet pickup, the other for on the day entries) they were right next to each other and there was seemingly only one queue. Once identified, I soon jumped it and got my number.

I arrived at the race confident of a PB. After running sub 44 at the Battle of Sedgemoor 10k, I knew my 5k time would be able to come down, if I put the effort in. According to McMillan and Daniels conversion charts my 10k time converted to 21 flat. I thought however, a sub 20 could have been on the cards, but the more realistic target (And the one I actually wanted) was a “Mere” sub 21. Anyway, I set my Garmin to KM, and set my pace zone to be 3:55km – 4:10km. Unfortunately I neglected to change the Auto-lap, so it only beeped after each mile! So the splits are in miles.

yeoviltonsplits

I ran the first 2 kilometers on Sub 20 pace, but it soon started falling apart from there. I got gradually slower and slower, as you can see above. Poor race strategy! Next time I am going to set out with a time in mind and try an even split race. Not sure I have the bottle to try a negative split!

Most of the race I had run on my own. But at 3 and 4, a couple of people caught up and I was overtaken on the 5th KM. The 5th KM was so tough, but I used the guys in front now to hang on to. As I rounded the last corner I had a little sprint in me and managed to just edge over the line in front of 2 people. A bit sand-bagged perhaps, but I didn’t want to leave anything out there.

I ran the race very hard as my HR chart shows. I literally couldn’t have given anymore, but watching the race clock with a 20:xx as I rounded the last corner I knew I’d PB. And I took a glorious 20:46.

yeoviltonhr

Its a great confidence booster going into Bristol next week. On the downside, all my training zones need to go up and I need to run faster!

Next target, sub 20 – The question is, can I do it in 2014?

As always, heres the Garmin Activity. Feel free to connect with me on there and follow my training.

 

Return of the weigh in…

It would be fair to say I’ve been rather more relaxed about my weightless since I broke my previous goal. I’ve found myself feeling much less self inflicted pressure to carry on shedding pounds, have been relying far less on MyFitnessPal, and generally just been a bit more relaxed about my eating whilst still training.

As such, I’ve not really been weighing in on a regular basis. A couple of weeks back, before I went on holiday, I weighed in at 14st10, so a net increase of 3lbs. But after a solid weeks graft I’ve been able to gain that back, and then some.

Weight: 14st5lbs (-2lbs, 12lbs to go)
Body Fat%: 21.7% (-0.7%, 6.3% to go)

So I’m now exactly 1 stone lighter than my Paris weight! With 2 weeks to go until Bristol Half Marathon, I’m hoping I can get that down to 14st flat.

All really good numbers and I am of course delighted…

… But not as delighted as I was to buy new jeans at the weekend… In a 34 inch waist! THIRTY-FOUR! I’ve not been this slim since I was 16! They are the first jeans I’ve bought since Christmas, those being a 38 waist. Jodie kept telling me they were hanging off me, but I was scared to buy new ones. I don’t really know why, but I felt like I’d be disappointed if I didn’t get into a 34.

Still this is only one brand of jeans. Some others I could get on, but they weren’t what I’d call comfortable. Hopefully by the time I reach my final goal weight I’ll be comfortable in any 34s that are going. I shouldn’t think I’ll fit into 32s ever, just not got that build!

Either way, I am absolutely over the moon. Now time to try a final push for that dream goal weight.

Monthly Review: August 2014

You may have noticed my weekly training reviews have stopped. I found that regurgitating the data from Garmin Connect isn’t really necessary on a week by week basis, and with work and wedding activity ramping up its not actually beneficial to do it weekly. its that sort of micro-analysing that might drive me mad!

So August. What a month. The weather went from heat to storms to cold to warm again. My job changed and I’ve been doing a lot more travel and as such my training plan had to be remodelled somewhat. Some runs were missed but thats just life. It was no good beating myself up about it.

august

I set myself 2 goals for August in last months review.

  • Further increase in Month-on-Month Mileage to > 200mi
  • Increase the Average Elevation Gain

Using the summary report makes it nice and easy for me to see if I achieved it or not.

progressaug

As I knew, I did not manage to exceed my monthly mileage. I can’t be too hard on myself with this. As mentioned, I had to work away from home, had a trade show and had a weeks holiday. To have ended the month only 2 miles short of the previous month is actually quite pleasing.

The elevation gain however has been achieved. This has been to two factors. Firstly, an increase in the reps of my Hill Repeat workouts. Secondly, I have ben deliberately running inclines on easy runs my legs ARE fatigued, just in time for the taper in the coming month.

A stat that was pleasing to see is that my average speed is on the increase as well. Yes, I know I set a 10k PB, but for my general training pace to be increased on the whole is very encouraging.

My target race for this training cycle is in 3 weeks time at the Bristol Half Marathon. So setting targets for September is a bit trickier. I have a time target for the race, but with tapering, easing back on training and having a couple of days off Post-Race I am moving the goalposts a bit. I am however running a local 5k flat road race as a fitness test too.

Goals for September

  • Run Sub 1h40mins at the Bristol Half Marathon
  • Run Sub 21min at the Yeovilton 5k
  • Complete 22 runs in September

Race Report: Battle of Sedgemoor 10k

The Battle of Sedgemoor 10k is run around the somerset lowlands of Langport, Drayton and Muchelney. Organised by Langport Runners, it sported a field of about 300 runners from far and wide as it formed both part of the Somerset Series, and was an ARC Championship race.

It was actually on Sunday 24th August, but I’ve only just had time to write this up!

Access (5/5)

Access was excellent, with the main routes into Langport well accessible. Parking wasn’t advertised, but was plentiful and suited the size of the field.

Race Village (4/5)

Registration was a bit strange. Whilst Simon and myslef had pre-registered, Jodie hadn’t. So we had to go into the Langport Arms for her to register. However, this was about 300 yards away from our race packet pickup which was near the finish line! Bit strange and confusing but we left plenty of time.

There were loads of helpful marshals, and everything was very well signposted. There was water available before the race. Unfortunately no bag storage, but we left ours in quite a public place near the finish funnel and there were no issues.

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The Start (3/5)

Before the race there was a well attended race briefing, though unfortunately the Race Director had lost the crowd halfway through as the dull noise of people talking grew louder and louder. He was excellent at explaining the start arrangements though – we couldn’t line up until immediately before the race as the roads were no closed. So ahead of the start, everyone lined the pavements until we had the all clear.

No start pens or zones, which was fine for the size of the field, and we were away very promptly. Despite there being no start pens, the footfall filtered down quickly and allowed everyone to run their own paces quickly.

The Route (4/5)

Despite it being in the Somerset Levels, there was quite the incline as indicated by the elevation chart below! (It’s not actually that much of a spike considering the scale – its no mountain!) It was all on open public roads which is why it loses a mark, as well as it not being the most inspiring course. it is however, fast and once you get over the initial climb its a net downhill all the way home, including the last Kilometer, which made for a great finish.

boselevationCrowd support was sparse out in the villages, but back in the town center and importantly for the finish, the support was magnificent, and they cheered everyone all the way to the line.

The route was truly excellently marshalled, with great encouragement from all of them, 2 aid stations (Though I still haven’t mastered the art of grabbing and drinking from plastic cups at race pace…) and brilliantly signed – you couldn’t have gone wrong if you tried. KM markers were spot on (As in a few meters from my KM autolap on my Garmin…).

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Swag (4/5)

It was a small event at a low price so this is a relative score. No goody bag or tee shirt were advertised but nor was the medal – which was excellent! One of my favourites! So the score is for the medal, relative to the cost and expectations from the race. There was water available afterwards, but something like a banana may have been nice.

Results (3/5)

Results powered by Full On Sport which is a pretty decent results system. My only niggles are that firstly, it was Gun to Chip timed – might have taken another 4 seconds of that PB! Secondly, that the results kept moving for the following hour or so afterwards. Now this isn’t really a problem, but when comparing it with the excellent services from DBMax for Frome, its not fair to not knock a mark off for this. But again, its good value.

My Race

I came into this race off the back of some strong training for the upcoming Bristol Half Marathon. Frome was a few weeks ago on a tough course and I was confident I could finally break down the sub 45 barrier which had seemingly stood in my way forever (Although in reality, it was more like 4 months…). I set my Garmin to keep me above the required 4:30min/km pace to hit that target. I was aware there was a climb a the start, and I knew the last KM was downhill. My strategy was to stay on pace for the climb, hang on for the middle portion (Which was still a net downhill) and then push on the last KM with the hill advantage.

Gathering on the start line, I knew it was Gun to Chip, and started as close to the front as I felt comfortable. I was there with Simon and Jodie, though I knew Simon was going to be faster than me and Jodie slower, so after the first 100 yards it would be a solo effort. The gun went and away we went. Somehow I immediately found a golden cadence of 180+ and felt comfortable. Going up the climb was definitely a struggle, but I kept slowly gaining on people and overtaking people one at a time. I kept Simon in sight for the first 6km, he was always about 200 yards ahead of me. As tempting as it was to try and catch him, I had a target and a plan, and wanted to stick to the strategy. The last thing I wanted was to miss my target by going too fast and blowing up.

After the first couple of kilometers and after the climb I found a good rhythm and a solid pace which I kept to. I found myself overtaking more than getting overtaken. Towards 7/8k it became more of a struggle to maintain pace, and KM8 was a wake up call. The watch flashed that Iw as off target for that KM so I knew I needed to pick it up.

Coming back into Langport there were more people which spurred me on and it came to the downhill section I was looking forward to. Looking at my watch I was on for a sub 44! Dreamland! I pushed on and came around the last corner hearing everyones favourite local marshal Nikkii Small should friendly abuse at me to try and speed me up! And it worked, rounding the bend I could see the finish line and see the clock. A bit of extra efort in and I crossed the line in a new PB of 43:36!

Simon had finished a bit ahead and saw me cross the line. he smashed a massive PB too. I grabbed some water and chatted with Simon and a few other runners after the finish before turning my attentions to Jodie.

I’d been trying to convince her that she’d be able to go around in under an hour. She wasn’t convinced but I’d given her the pace to target on her watch. As the race clocked ticked to 56 or 57 I started walking back on the course to try and catch her. I spotted her walking a bit so shouted to cheer her on. She started running again. I ran to meet her and ran along with her. Usually she’d shout abuse at me but not this time which was pleasing! I had no idea what time she had on her watch or if she was on or off target, so i just kept on encouraging. I ran with her around the last bend and saw the finish funnel. All I could see on the race clock was the second hand ticking up.

56, 57, 58, 59, 00. She’d miss her target by a few seconds, but still a magnificent run. I kept on running with her and cheered her through until more of the clock was revealed… It had only just ticked over the 59 minute mark! She made her goal!

Once Jodie had recovered and we’d all had some water, we went to the bar with some friends and had a well earned pint. Along with Steve our Langport Runner comrade, we’d all PBed.

A brilliant race, one I thoroughly enjoyed and will most certainly return to next year.

Garmin Activity