Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 16 of 18

After the bulk of training was completed last week, this week was the start of the taper, with the key sessions being a set of Intervals and a target Half Marathon race.

Midweek

The first run on Tuesday was 8 miles with 5 sets of 600m intervals. Last time, I nailed the session, and despite running 22 on Sunday, this time was the same. A little slower than last time out but they averaged at 5.30 miling, so I was delighted.

5x600

Wednesday I went for a nice recovery run with Jodie, trying to let the legs recover for the race on Saturday.

On Thursday we went to Cardiff for the weekend for the Cardiff World Half Marathon Championships. I needed to get a run in, 4 miles with a set of strides. Whilst out, I saw the Canadian team out on their own recovery run, cruising along barely breaking a sweat!

Saturday

Well as we had a race on Saturday afternoon, it was our first Saturday morning without a parkrun for a very long time! So that was a bit strange! But it was all because we competed in the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. I’ve written a full report on the event here.

My race was a mixed bag. I was targetting 1.27.xx and went out at a pace to achieve that. But after about 7 miles I realised that the pace was too quick and my legs started screaming at me. The awful conditions hit and I was unable to maintain close to the pace I wanted. My heart rate showed I couldn’t go any quicker as my effort was right up there.

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I think a combination of the afternoon race which meant my fuelling was well off, plus the weather, plus 22 miles last week all contributed. I think if I had tapered properly and if it was a morning race, I’d have been able to hit that 1.27. As it was I came in at 1.29.27, which was still a 40s PB which I am obviously pleased with – I just wanted to go faster. With this slightly slower time, I’m not sure what goal to set for Manchester now.

Sunday

Given that I raced on Sunday, I only ran a 5 mile recovery run. The first mile was agony but it got progressively easier, and I certainly felt better at the end.

Summary

Well, I am obviously pleased with a new HM PB – I’ve wanted to go sub-90 for a very long time, but I can’t help feeling a little deflated that I didn’t go quicker. But given the stage of the training plan, I haven’t done any threshold/tempo work for 4 weeks – which could also have contributed. The race really didn’t sit well in the plan and if it was 2 weeks earlier it would have been perfect.

My training has been geared around the Marathon, and not a Half Marathon. I still think my original target of 3.12 is viable and achievable. I’m less sure of a 3.09.  One thing I was pleased about with Cardiff was that in spite of the state of my legs for the last 6 miles I still kept my pace above the 7.14 per mile that a 3.09 would require.

I think I need to give things a week to settle, let my legs recover (As I write this on Monday, they are still pretty sore) and will reassess next week.

To be honest, I probably won’t make a decision until 8.59 on the morning of the race!

 

Race Report: IAAF World Half Marathon Championships

Back when it was announced that the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships were announced to be in Cardiff, Jodie and I immediately signed up. Cardiff is a city close to our hearts, as Jodie studied there, its where we met, and its also where I graduated with my MBA.

sign

Thursday

We were keen to make a weekend of it, and as it was Easter, I took Thursday off to get up good and early. Much like the London Marathon, the event had an “Expo” where you pick up your number and goody bag in advance of the race, and there were stands/booths for major brands and events to advertise their wares. We won a couple of tee shirts from the Cardiff University stand for beating their buzzer game, and I ate a whole lot of Clif bar samples! The expo wasn’t as large as London but then it is only a third of the size. One thing I was glad of was that we went on Thursday. It was very quiet and we got to see all the stands in relative peace! This also meant picking up our numbers took seconds.

After getting our numbers and having a look around we headed to our hotel as we wanted to get a run in. Whilst we were out, we saw the Canadian elites out on a run which was pretty cool!

One of the most interesting parts of the expo was the guest speaker programme. The main highlights were, Paula Radcliffe on the Thursday evening, and Mo Farah on Friday Lunchtime. We decided to head down to see Paula, and got there good and early, only to find out that she was delayed (eventually, by an hour and a quarter) but whilst we were waiting we heard some inspirational stories I wouldn’t have ordinarily gone to hear.

Steve Jones, former Marathon World Record holder and welsh running legend spoke of his times at the peak of the sport, breaking records, and stopping for a sh!t on the way to winning the London Marathon.

Then, unexpectedly Dave Bedford was asked to speak on stage to fill in for Paula in the meantime. What an absolutely top bloke! Dave Bedford is the former world record holder over 10,000 on the track and became the race director of the London Marathon for 20 years. His most famous story was that he actually ran the first London Marathon as a bet. On the Saturday night he went out, had a skinful, had a late night (early morning!) curry and then dragged himself round in less than 4 hours. His witty repartee was excellent entertainment and he really seemed like the sort of guy I’d like to have a beer with, and could have listened to him for hours!

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Eventually, Paula Arrived and she was as inspirational as I expected. She spoke so eloquently of her experiences as a runner, as a running mum and I’m sure she struck all the right chords with Jodie. It was a real honour to see her in person and rounded off a great first day of the event.

paula

Friday

I slept in, but Jodie went for a walk to casually bump into team Kenya! Lucky girl, shame she didn’t get a photo! As today was “Mo Farah Day” at the expo we headed over there at about 10.30 to get good seats – and we weren’t disappointed, we got into the second row. We arranged to meet Nikkii and Steve and they joined us on row two as we waited the guest of honour.

The seating area filled quickly, and then there were people standing 4 or 5 deep all around the seating area too – it was crazy!

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When he eventually got on stage the crowd went wild! During his introduction he walked behind the projector and project a mobot onto screen to the delight of the fans.

When he was on stage I was so impressed with how he spoke. He was so enthusiastic, passionate and dedicated and clearly appreciated all the people that came to see him. Often when I’ve seen him with the media he seems a bit closed, or a bit “stiff” but this was the opposite – he was in his absolute element, and was thoroughly entertaining.

mo

As he left the stage he was totally mobbed by people trying to get his autograph and if he had is way, he’d have stayed to sign every single thing. Unfortunately he had to be dragged away for other commitments.

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We then left the expo to go for a walk and have a picnic. We walked past the start area into the park, ate, then walked back down the finish area to see the finish gantry and grandstands they were building. It was quite exciting!

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We chilled out for the rest of the day before having our usual pre-race ritual dinner – Fish and Chips – and watching telly.

kitcheck

Saturday

Race day was a weird day. With a 2.10 race time we had an awful lot of anxious waiting around to do. We went for a wander to find the start area and take some snaps. At the time, the weather was good, almost perfect conditions for running. If only it stayed that way!

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I really struggled trying to work out what to eat. I had a porridge pot at about 9, and another at about 11. Other than that I was just drinking lots of water. We were literally in our hotel room bored, waiting to check out and head to the start.

Chris came to meet us at our Hotel, as did Nikkii and Steve. We got a good club photo before heading off to the baggage areas.

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This is when things started buzzing. The atmosphere was great, and organisationally the whole race was fantastic. From the runners village, baggage storage, signage, access to all the right areas, road closures and start pens were all superbly managed.

Unfortunately, the sky got darker. Thankfully the temperature was OK and the wind was quite low, so putting on our free ponchos we deposited our bags and headed for the start pens. Chris and I were in White near the front, so had to leave Jodie quite early on. Again, the marshals getting people to the right pens were superb, even to the point where when Chris and I got separated they were very strict. I was meant to be in the pen ahead of Chris – we tried to get Chris forward one, but instead they offered for me to go back one… Sorry to Chris, but I chose the forward pen!

There was plenty of room so I managed to have a bit of a warm up as I got there so early, but the pen soon filled up. The pre-race entertainment was quite emotive, with the Cardiff Arms Park Mens Choir singing welsh hymns with Rhydian off of the X Factor and after some speeches from the Chairman of the organising committee and Lord Sebastian Coe, the elite ladies were paraded out (that sounds kinda wrong…) and off they went, lightning fast as you’d expect.

Nervously we waited for another half an hour before the men got their big announcement and we were ushered toward the start… After a good amount of fanfare and some giant flames coming out of the castle… we were off.

The Race

The course itself was advertised as “fast, flat and iconic”. The course itself is similar to the one which is run in the regular October edition of the race, which is held annually. The course has changed slightly from that but not too much. I’m not too convinced on the “flat and fast” part, though it is certainly flatter than most – though not as flat as I remember! There were some tough longish climbs which to be honest, I wasn’t expecting. The elevation profile below shows that the second half seems to be most uphill!

cardiffelevation

The route takes in Cardiff’s biggest landmarks. Starting in front of Cardiff Castle, you run past the Millenium Stadium, Cardiff City Stadium, Penarth Marina, The Barrage, The Doctor Who Experience, Roald Dahl Plass, the Millenium Centre and Roath Park before finishing in the grounds of the university. Aside from a few industrial areas, the route was varied and interesting – not that I was able to take much of it in! The crowd support in places was amazing, which, considering the weather was testament to the people of Cardiff.

cardiffmap

Speaking of the weather, it was a hot topic of conversation throughout the weekend. It was just destined to be a torrential downpour at some point with reported 41mph winds. The first half of the race for me was relatively weather free. But at the 6/7 mile mark, the wind kicked in and the heavens opened. Within seconds, I was drenched and the howling wind, no matter what direction we ran in, seemed to be in our faces. The worst of it passed in a few minutes, but it was still rainy and windy for the second half.

The grandstand finish was excellent, it was fantastic hearing the cheers of all the magnificent supporters as we rounded the last corner onto the wide finish straight. It was quite an experience crossing the line of such a big event, with sponsor board and TV cameras lining the funnel.

Additionally, the bling and finish tee shirt were superb!

shirtmedal

My Race

My race itself was a tale of two halves. The first half I went out a little ahead of pace. I felt like I was in control to a degree, I was running with people of a similar pace and tracking quite nicely towards a comfortable 1.27. After about 6 miles it started to feel a bit of a struggle, but this was expected. I hoped I had built enough of a buffer to continue slightly behind pace and still come in at 1.27. But then there was a long uphill which I really struggled with. My quads started to burn and I started thinking about revising my goal.

This became inevitable when the weather hit me and really took the wind out of my sails. I struggled on for the rest of the race. Roath Park was really hard and another seemingly endless uphill to the far end. I had to walk a few steps at 10 miles and I at that point I knew I’d have to fight for every second to try and come in under 1.30. As we turned at the end of Roath Lake it started gradually going back downhill until the 12 mile marker which was a short sharp uphill that I just had to walk up for a few steps. After this it was pretty much downhill as I puffed and panted my way through to the finish. As amazing as that finish funnel was, I wish I could have enjoyed it more.

Looking at the race analysis below you can see it all fall apart during the second half.

cardiffraceanalysis

Yet my heart rate maintained a steady pace. This meant I literally couldn’t have put any more effort in – my legs just couldn’t keep up with my heart rate.

cardiffhr

I’v been annoying Jodie trying to analyse where it “Went wrong”, even though it didn’t really. My finish time was 1.29.27, a 40 second PB which I am really pleased with – But I was hoping for a bit faster.

The conditions obviously didn’t help, and I do think I went out a bit quick. I think a few seconds per mile slower in the first 10k probably would have helped. My legs feeling dead though was purely fuelling. I needed more to eat in the morning. If it had been a 9am race, I think I would have been just fine as I’m used to that routine and what to eat pre-race. With hindsight, I probably should have taken on some gels. Additionally, a 22 miler 6 days before probably affected things too.

Jodie finished in an amazing 2.01 – faster than Yeovil last week, and 5 months pregnant. So very very proud of her!

Summary

We had a brilliant weekend. Cardiff were the most welcoming hosts to such a big event as you can ask for. It is a shame the weather tried to ruin the party but everyone seemed to enjoy it. It was a brilliantly organised race and the crowd support, considering the weather was excellent.

Thank you once again Cardiff. You were ace.

 

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 15 of 18

It’s over, I’ve reached the peak week and its downhill into the taper from here! Aside from my knee taking a little while to warm up on cold days I am free of injury and niggles. The weeks training has been solid if unspectacular.

Midweek

Tuesday was 7 recovery miles with a set of strides. Given the exertions of the weekend I went for form rather than speed and tried to concentrate on high knees and a lengthier stride which I think I managed to crack by the last rep.

Wednesday was a session I wanted to do well in. It was 10 miles with 4 x 1200m Intervals. Last year, I bombed out of this session as it was 2 days after my big Reading Half Marathon PB. 2 weeks ago, I bombed out of my 5 x 1km session. So my relationship with the longer intervals is not good! Despite running a quick 5k time on Saturday, I really wanted to try and get this session right. And I just and just managed to get all my reps under current 5k pace – 6.05m/m. Rep paces were 5:56, 5:55, 5:55, 6:04 (Just!) for an average pace of 5:58 which would equate to an 18:32 5k. Good confidence booster though I feel like I have reached my maximum top end speed for this training cycle and can’t see myself getting any faster without another block of structured work, with some more tempo running.

4x1200

Thursday ended with me thanking my lucky stars that there would be no more midweek long runs! They are my least enjoyable runs due to the slower pace and increased distance meaning that I just seem to be out for ages, in the cold and dark. I decided given yesterdays tough session to keep this 12 miler at a sensible pace and not perform any heroics. Despite nearly tripping over a few times I managed a good consistent relaxed run, despite the hills – I just took it very easy on the way back down! Knees are starting to feel the fatigue. No injury, they are just knackered and need a rest.

parkrunday – Volunteering!

As it was the day before a big local race, as a new club we held a parkrun takeover where we provided a load of marshals. It was the first time we’d been back for AGES and it was nice not to run it. I took on co-Run Director duties training up Jason and it was a blast.

I did need to run 5 recovery miles of course, which I completed running to parkrun.

Sunday

As I already mentioned, this was the biggest local race of the year. As a club we had 19 members and another 19 members of our Facebook group take part – Not bad for a new club! We got a great photo of those who were able to make it in time to the modified photo location (though it required some liberal photoshopping thanks to a minor error by our passer-by-photographer who couldn’t squeeze us all in!

I have written a race report for the club and you can find it here.

For my run, as this was peak week I wanted to make sure my time on feet exceeded my target marathon time whilst also peaking mileage wise with 22 miles. This meant being out for 3 hours 15 minutes and would need to average 8:45 miling.

I decided to pace the Yeovil Half at that pace for anyone that wanted it – I wasn’t going to deviate on my plan! I managed to bring 3 people in in sub-1:55, even though I paced it to 1:54 by accident! Great work from Becs, Simon and Vanessa!

There was an absolute classic moment when I saw a videographer on the course. I ran up close and shouted “Running For Time, Woo!” which was captured in all its glory by the local press photographer!

Credit to @snapperlen on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/BDL6nI7pRnF/
Credit to @snapperlen on Instagram
https://www.instagram.com/p/BDL6nI7pRnF/

When I got to the finish I hand my goody bag to Becs who passed it on and I had it for me at home as I motored straight on to do the extra 9 miles. I wanted to go straight away, as last year I felt my broken up long runs contributed to my detonation at 21 miles.

Recently I have been toying with the idea of 3:10 pace, so I ended up running the second half faster so I could stay on my feet for that long instead. I hope this negative split will train my legs a bit to run the second half of the marathon a bit faster.

What I was most pleased with was that at the end of the run my legs felt strong, like they were conditioned well and well trained. I hope I’ve peaked at the right time!

Summary

As I said in the Intro, the main work is now over. Any training I do now is simply to maintain and keep the legs ticking over, whilst remaining sane through the dreaded “taper madness” where I’ll undoubtedly go through numerous crises in confidence and worry I’m going to inexplicably fall over and hurt myself!

Most importantly I need to remember my mileage is dropping so I need to eat less food or I’ll pile the weight on. Not what I’ll need!

Like I said earlier, I’m toying with the idea of “manning up” and going for sub 3:10. Next week sees my last tune up race in the IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff. My target for that race is 1:27:59. If I can run that, then it’s game on.

 

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 14 of 18

Really getting down to the business end now, and following last weeks marathon paced beasting I seem to be riding along on a crest of a wave…

Midweek

The first run of the week was another interval session. 8 miles with a set of 5 x 600m. Last week, my legs just couldn’t carry me through any sort of speed at all. Given Sunday’s performance I wasn’t massively confident going into this one. I didn’t feel up for it and felt pretty tired. But, the lengthy warm-up seemed to work, and blasted through the intervals like I’ve never been able to before…

intervals

Average of 5:19m/m per interval. Now I only did 5 not the full 8 for a 5k session, and I’m not sure if I could have continued with any more, but lets so I could, that would equate to a 5k average of 16:31! Still a long way off that level though, ha ha!

Wednesday was a strange one. We had my grandfathers funeral in the morning, and the wake at about lunchtime and I ate a lot of food and had several pints. I did get a one hour nap in before my 11 mile medium-long run, but I felt the effects of it. It had some pauses, I felt really ill (probably drunk) and I really shouldn’t have gone out. But still, it was miles in the legs.

Thursday was a recovery 4 miles with a set of strides. Strides were decent but my legs were a bit knackered!

parkrunday – Poole parkrun

Jodie was off on a hen weekend and I was due another tune up race. I was originally going to do Blandford, but Simon was off to Poole so I thought I’d join him.

I’d not run Poole parkrun other than the day after New Years Day, when the conditions were awful. This time though, conditions were perfect. It’s already regarded as one of the fastest parkrun courses around, so fresh off the back of my PB, I thought I’d have a crack at an even faster time today and optimistically set my watch to pace me to 18:59. I figured with 20s leeway I may at least get another PB even if I didn’t dip under.

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We got there early, parked up at the far end of the lake and jogged in as a warm up. It was pretty cold first thing, though it did warm towards the end of the run. Conditions were absolutely perfect, not a hint of wind, dry, cool… After a run brief which was barely audible we headed to the start. It was back on the “main course” compared to last time. We were quite near the front and aside from a dog runner right near the front (why oh why…) we got away pretty cleanly. I immediately found a stride and rhythm I felt comfortable with, though looking at the watch it was a tad fast.

The first mile ticked over in 6.01 – my new fastest mile PB if nothing else! I knew I was working hard but was still hopeful I could sustain. As we rounded the lake the the first time we were at halfway. One of the great things about a fast 5k is that they don’t take long, so you can hold on! Mile 2 came and went in 6.09 which meant I was jsut and just on pace. It started getting tough and the back end of the lake was a bit of a blur the second time round. I had to take the racing line when we reached the road and by now I was clinging on.

As we tantalisingly reached the pavilion we still had a 400m loop of the cricket pitch to round… I looked at my watch and I was 1 second behind target pace. I kicked on a bit but felt like I kicked to soon – with 300 to go I felt like I wanted to be sick, but I clung on and somehow found another gear. As my watch ticked over for mile 3 in 6:08 it was on – close, but on! I was worried that I’d end up with 19:00 flat, or that my watch was mis reporting something, or the official time would be a bit behind so I gave it absolutely everything I had for the last 100 meters and crossed the line, stopping my watch without looking at it…

I heard someone say “well run” to me as I heaved in the funnel, I was ushered forwards and then I looked at the watch… 18:54! I’d done it! A 26 second PB, and the official result confirmed the time. I was absolutely chuffed as nuts and can’t believe that after a year of trying to break 20, I bunny hopped in the 19s and into the 18s!

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Simon also run a brilliant 18:28 which he was delighted with, only 18s off his PB at Blandford last year. We are on fire! It made for a very happy drive home!

Sunday

On Sunday a few club mates were running the local Sherborne 10k. I had to do 16 miles so I decided to run the race at an easy pace and then run home which was about the right distance.

Though it was a small, local race it was a lot of fun thanks to my club mates and the fact that we paced 3 members to PBS! I wrote the club race report about it here.

The remaining 10 miles were a bit of a slog, we got a bit lost and my new short shorts started chafing but the pace was decent and brought the average down.

The biggest challenge with this run was the weather – it was so bright and sunny! I was too hot by the end – that’ll teach me to wear long sleeves instead of a vest!

Summary

Well with that week out of the way it’s the last tough week ahead before tapering. A set of long intervals, a midweek long run, and my longest long run as time on feet (3.15 hours) resulting in my peak mileage week.

Just one more week… Just one more week..

Greater Manchester Marathon: Week 13 of 18

Halfway through the “Race Preparation” mesocycle, my body has really started to feel like it has been well trained – in more ways than one. Following an amazing weekends running I came back down to earth with a bang!

Midweek

Tuesday was 8 easy miles – or “General Aerobic” as P&D call it. And they were in my easy pace zone, and it felt easy, I felt comfortable, I felt on top of the world! I ended up going too quick though….

…as Wednesday’s 5 x 1k interval session was MASSIVELY compromised. I went out knowing that I didn’t feel right. The 3 mile warm up was comfortable enough, but as I got towards Ninesprings I needed the loo. The cafe toilets were locked though, so I decided to use my first interval to run to Morrisons. The problem was, the legs weren’t interested! I managed about a 6.40m/m pace which was disappointing. 2nd rep was much better, where I needed to be, and then half way through the 3rd rep my legs just told me they’d had enough. Totally out of juice. Hardly surprising given a 5k PB, a tidily paced 22 and 8 miles faster than I should have done the day before. So I shan’t be too hard on myself about it.

Given Wednesdays performance I went into Thursdays 12 mile medium-long run with a very easy pace in mind, keeping it right at the low end of the zone. Despite some tough climbs, including the “bunford bugger” I came through it “OK”. It was definitely high time I had a rest day.

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On Saturday we visited Guildford parkrun. It was about a 40 minute drive which is close enough, and near where Jodie’s sister Lauren goes to university. Despite some navigational difficulties finding the car park we eventually got there, though it was FREEZING. I needed to do 5 recovery miles so I trotted off on my own and met them at the start line, as they also met Lauren’s friend Imogen who was doing her 2nd parkrun, though her first with a barcode!

I tried to hear the first timers briefing but it was quite quiet and wasn’t helped by people disrespecting the RD and talking over her!

The park itself was right in the middle of open streets, and consisted of 3 out and back “legs” as this was the winter course. Each of them had their own undulations and it was much tougher than I thought it would be!

Volunteers were as fantastic as ever. I helped to pace Lauren who was trying to push her boundaries a bit and a great time and would be worth much, much more on a flat course – probably a PB at Newbury. Imogen ran a time quicker than she did last time and Jodie was pleased with her time too given her pregnant condition and the inclines!

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The only downer was the length of the scanning queues. They were mammoth and slow moving. They had 3 scanners but something just wasn’t working and the queue length never went down until the last runners came in. I’d never seen a queue that big – and that includes Bushy!

Sunday

The big session for this week was Sunday. The biggest marathon paced run in the plan, and from a confidence boosting point of view I really needed it. Last time out I tried to do 18 with 12 at MP, around Basingstoke and just didn’t have it in me at all. Usually I like to do my Marathon pace runs in Yeovil along a nice flat road to simulate the race conditions.

Unfortunately as scheduling goes this week we ended up in Basingstoke again, and I was filled with Trepidation. I really didn’t think I was going to be able to do it. I was mentally already lining up the excuses – “I drank too much yesterday”, “I’m not using my own Garmin” (I’d left my charger at home) and “It was too cold”.

I went out gloved up and just got on with it though. Progressed nicely up to Marathon Pace, and aside from one mile (which was ridiculously uphill) I managed to get all my splits on pace. The average pace for my MP section was 7:17 per mile (7:16 using Strava’s GAP…) which would put my just below 3:11 for the marathon.

This is well in line with my primary goal when I set out on this training plan of sub 3:15, and also in line with my adjusted goal of 3:12:30. It’s also tantalisingly close the 3:10 though…

Are these my Bronze, Silver and Gold targets? Are they too close together and I’m setting myself up for a fall? I can;t help but think that on tapered legs I won’t be far away…

Once again I need to remind myself that I will see how Cardiff goes and I’ll assess it from there.

Overview

Next week is a mini-cutback (Is not cut back by a lot!) and I have another 5k race pace effort which I’m going to Poole for with Simon. I’m hoping to PB as it is a fast course, but anything sub-20 I’ll be happy with for consistency purposes.

Only 5 weeks until the race and only 2 more weeks of hard training before the taper. Getting exciting now!

Epson Runsense SF-810: Optical Heart Rate

I was selected as an “Epson Runner” to review the Epson Runsense SF-810. In exchange for 5 video reviews I’ll be allowed to keep the watch, but that’s not going to stop me being honest about the device and my experiences.
This video is 3 of 5 and focusses on the optical heart rate sensor.

http://www.100runnertesters.co.uk

Some key points from my findings on the Optical Heart Rate

  • The Optical heart rate seems very accurate compared with a Garmin with Heart Rate strap
  • It is significantly more reliable than the Forerunner 235 optical heart rate sensor
  • Good implementation of heart rate on the device

Greater Manchester Marathon: Week 12 of 18

I can’t believe it’s week 12 already! With only 3 weeks left until I start tapering (based upon the date of writing – 4 weeks as of the first session of the week discussed below) now is when the “Race Preparation” mesocycle of training kicks in, trying to sharpen my aerobic gains into speed through Interval workouts and tune-up races.

Midweek

On Tuesday I had an Interval session to do. I hate doing intervals on my own, but at least it was a short session. 8 miles with 5 x 600 meter reps in the middle and 2 minute recoveries. I was in Coleshill this week, and funnily enough I did the same session here last year, so a good comparison! When I finished the run, I felt the reps were excellent and thought I was in good shape compared to last year, but the reps weren’t a lot faster at all – I’m not sure whether to be concerned or not!

5x600

Rep 2015 2016 Difference
1 2:11 2:15 +4
2 2:12 2:12 0
3 2:14 2:12 -2
4 2:11 2:09 -2
5 2:11 2:11 0
Ave 0!

So looking at the data I’m in exactly the same shape I was in last year! A bit frustrating really, and it made me question if a sub-20 5k was possible this week, as I wasn’t able to do it last year – the PB which still stands. On the plus side, I know my new Garmin is a bit more accurate than the old one thanks to the addition of GLONASS so the data doesn’t quite tell the whole story.

Wednesday’s 12 mile medium-long run was suitably hard considering the day’s session previous. Couple this with the fact I was in Coleshill I also needed to find my way to a slightly new route, in the dark. Despite a couple of pauses and some very VERY dark alleys and crossing a couple of motorways (on bridges of course) I got around unscathed thanks to my handy printed map! What made it extra nice was progressing through to sustain sub 8s for the last half of the run including some nice segment PRs. I was on fire!

Thankfully, Thursday  saw me run 5 miles recovery (Which my legs were grateful for) with a set of strides. I ran with Jodie and my strides were of good form if the pace was a little slow. Nothing I was concerned about though.

parkrunday

On Saturday we went to the under threat Little Stoke parkrun. The full report can be read here.

To summarize, this was a tune up race according to my plan, so I went for it big style and delivered the goods! A 1 minute PB for 19:20!

Tactically it wasn’t quite perfect – my miles got progressively slower but I’m not sure how much of that was my fatigue versus having to weave around back markers in subsequent miles.

littlestoke race analysis

But sod it, I am bloody chuffed! I’m off to Blandford in 2 weeks which will be a bit less busy and no congestion, possibly a slightly faster course and single out and back. I wonder how close to 19 I can go?

Sunday

On Sunday I wanted to run 22 miles at a decent pace, somewhere around 8:15 pace which is target marathon pace + 15% ish. Thankfully Simon was doing similar. We met in the afternoon it was a lovely day and we just ate the miles up. After about half way I was starting to feel the pace and it got worse when we reached Ilchester Road for a long climb! Not nice to hit when you are 16 miles in!

We got to the top. Interestingly, despite us running it up together, Simon ran that segment 5 seconds faster than me! Its only a segment, but it got him 7th overall and me 10th overall! Hardly fair!!!

After about 17 miles, Si had to pause as he felt his knee twinge and wanted to take a short cut back. I carried on for another mile and then I felt my bum twinge. I needed the loo. Had to walk a bit for the cramp to pass then run towards the pub. After that my legs had seized a little making the last few miles a bit of a struggle, but that said, I managed to keep a pretty decent pace up. The last couple of miles I started cramping  little so needed to stretch out but otherwise a very successful long run.

22miler

I only have 1 more 22 miler to go, and that one will be slower so I spend 3:15 on my feet (8:45 pace).

Summary

A successful Interval session, a 5k PB and a successful 22 miler. What more could I ask for?

Next week will be a bit tougher with a marathon-pace long run, but that’s the last really tough one. 6 weeks til race day and I’m feeling good!