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Virgin Money London Marathon: Training Analysis

Well, I’ve started writing this in week 16 and will edit it right up until it eventually gets posted – and I’m scheduling the post to go out the night before the race so that its not skewed by any potential bias based upon my finishing result.

It’s my 4th time using P&D and I’ve had somewhat mixed resuts in the past. In 2015 I ran Manchester, and ran a 40 minute PB. That doesn;t tell the whole story though – I cramped a lot in the last few miles and had to do some walking in the last few miles. I attribute this to a decent amount of goal creep in the build up to the race – a 40 minute PB shows that I improved a lot during a 1 year period, but I really didn’t have a good handle on how just how much. I went out too fast, and paid the price in the last few miles. It was a PB, but later it was discovered the course was short – so it actually wasn’t a PB at all as I hadn’t completed the distance, but sill a good yardstick. I couldn’t attribute that issue at the end to the training regime.

Manchester 2016 was a lot better, not to mention the course was accurately measured. Same training plan, different result. I managed a 3.13 after a difficult year plagued by plantar fasciitis. To come away with a sub-3.15 was massive to me. Yes, the last 6 miles were tough and I did slow measurably, but it was nothing compared to 2015. I felt like the training plan had really played it’s part here thanks to being able to spend the autumn of 2015 re building my base mileage.

Bournemouth 2016 in was a different story. Training started well but was always destined to fail. In the middle of the training we moved house (relocating 60 miles up the road) and had a baby. There was an awful lot of upheaval and I suffered from the lack of consistency, sleep and mental change that this brought on.

So we have a pattern. Manchester 2015, bad (ish). Manchester 2016 good. Bournemouth 2016 bad (worse than that – horrific). And now, London 2017. By the pattern it should be good, but its not about the pattern. Its about how well the training went, and for this spring campaign, it really has gone better than ever.

I seem to have coped with the volume much better than previously. My General Aerobic runs have been faster, as have my medium-long and Long runs. This was deliberate – I wanted to condition my legs to handle the fatigue better, by running faster for longer and it seems to have worked. The major test being the Bramley 20 back in February, where I was able to maintain my target marathon pace for the full 20 miles. This was so pleasing and provided a great indicator that training was going well.

More than this though, despite the long mileage, my legs felt like they recovered better than ever before and I was able to nail more of the quality sessions than I have before, struggling only with a couple of them.

Historically, the sessions I had difficulty with were the long intervals. The 5 x 1k session was particularly difficult, but this was because of my HM PB at Silverstone two days previously. Conversely though, the 3 x 1mi session, which I have always struggled with, went brilliantly this year at a pace I would have DREAMED of last year.

Threshold sessions have always been difficult for me. There was one in particular when I was in Birmingham that I just could not maintain. But this was 9 days after my Bramley 20 race. My legs felt pretty beat up after it, so that’s hardly surprising.

One pre-training target I didn’t quite hit was a sub 18.30 5k time. I had to “settle” for 18.39 at Blandford, which isn’t too far away! It reminded me that I really hated running a hard 5k! I ran Newbury a few weeks later on a slightly tougher course and only managed 19.09 but where I was in my training, again, I kind of expected it.

The weight loss in this campaign has also been hugely successful. I’ve shifted over a stone and I’m going into the race some half a stone lower than I was for Manchester 2016. If weight really is worth 2 seconds per mile, per pound, I’m not far away from that target pace!

All being said, I’m moving into race day feeling confident. The training has worked. I know I can run the pace for 20 miles, and I know the London crowd can carry me home.

I’m ready.

 

 

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 18 of 18

Its the last taper week and its been far from perfect preparation. I’ve been suffering from a cold, which, thankfully seems to have cleared up though it did have an affect on my running with my legs feeling fatigued. I’ve also been suffering from a wisdom tooth trying to sprout through, which has had an infection in its retaining sac. So I’m on antibiotics.

To top that off, on Monday I had a horrific stomach problem that felt like a cross between trapped wind and constipation. This made life very uncomfortable!

Now most antibiotics they say not to have with alcohol. I was told in no uncertain terms that I must NOT CONSUME ALCOHOL whilst taking these or I will be very sick. Thats not the worse news in the world,. I’ll take my last one on Sunday morning.

Tragically however, I am also not allowed to drink for 48 hours after the course has completed. That means I can’t have a celebratory pint! Still, the antibiotics have cleared up a very painful and irritating problem and I’m feeling much better for it.

I have been consuming mostly carby food this week in preparation for Sunday, and also trying to take on lots of fluid so I’m feeling pretty chunky, but its all for the greater good.

So, onto the training.

Midweek

Tuesday was a 5 mile recovery run. All my ailments seemed to be at their peak which made my run feel very leggy and heavy. I certainly didn’t feel like I was recovering but my Heart Rate looked OK, which makes me think my physical condition is actually OK. Sure physically i felt a wreck but at least i don’t have flu type symptoms.

Wednesday was the “Race Rehearsal“. This consisted of 3 miles progression to 2 miles at marathon pace, and 2 miles ramping back down. I felt better than I did on Monday, and the session itself went really well. Again, heart rate was right where I would expect it to be and I found myself clicking a bit which was a good confidence booster. I figure the training has made me more economical running at Marathon Pace, which is the point of the training I suspect! Pace wise I was probably a little quick, but my MP miles were net downhill so I wanted to make sure my body felt OK at the right effort level. Thankfully, it did. I really needed this run to go well, it was a great mental boost.

racerehearsal

On Thursday it was another 5 mile recovery run. heart rate well under control despite the net VERY uphill nature of the route I took. legs feeling better afterwards too.

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Well given its the day before a big race it was a rather uneventful 3 miles at recovery pace in Basingstoke. Ran with Jodie, weather was glorious and the most important thing – my legs feel OK and I didn’t injure myself, so I should make the start line!

Summary

As I post this on Saturday afternoon, sat in the car as we drive up to Manchester, I’m quietly mulling over how the next 24 hours is going to progress. I’m not sure what I’ll eat for dinner but it’ll will either be the now traditional fish and chip supper, or it will be some pasta. I’d prefer pasta, but can’t forget that Lauren is also running her first marathon so we will probably go with whatever she wants. I’m not allowed a pre-race beer so that’s out of the window, all I can do is get an early night and look forward to my porridge and banana breakfast.

From a race strategy point of view, nothing has changed from what I posted last week.

  • 1-13 – Try and hover somewhere between 7:15 and 7:20 pace.
  • 13-22 – Try and hover between 7:10 and 7:15 pace
  • 22+ – I blew up by this point last year so it will be dependent on feel.I’m hoping I might be able to go a little quicker than 7.10 pace, but I may be back down in the 9s by then!

With this in mind I have my 3 goals.

  • “A” Goal – Sub 3.13 – This was my original target back pre race
  • “B” Goal – Sub 3.15 – This would be a Chicago marathon qualifying time
  • “C” Goal – Sub 3.20 – This would be a PB#

If I don’t PB I must admit right now I will be disappointed. I’ve trained very hard and have set various PBs at shorter distances along the way. Truth be told I’ll be disappointed not to hit my “B” goal but anything can happen come race day.

Time to see if all the training paid off! A.K.A. Squeaky bum time…

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

Epson Runner!

The other week I clicked one of those “Win a blah blah” thing on Facebook. I never usually win things so I thought nothing of it until an email arrived in my Inbox this afternoon.

I have been selected as an “Epson Runner” and am one of 100 people being sent an Epson Runsense SF-810 in exchange for submitting at least 5 video reviews.

Runsense SF- 810

Looking at some of the marketing materials it boasts an integrated optical heart rate monitor, highly accurate GPS and on board cadence monitor. It does seem to lack some of the advanced features that my Forerunner 220 has, such as the ability to program workouts which I do use all the time.

But could this be a good payoff for more accurate pace display on the watch – which would be essential in a race?

Time will tell how good it is and if I want to continue using it or not. I will of course post my videos here too.

 

Greater Manchester Marathon 2016: Week 5 of 18

Well I finally faced my Christmas weight gain! I’m 18lbs away from where I want to be, which is an achievable pre-race goal. The chocolate stash we inherited over the holiday period is almost depleted so I’m hoping that my currently weak willpower will not need to be tested much more!

From a running point of view though, its been a mixed bag, but generally positive..

Run 1 was 9 miles with 5 at tempo. Pace wise I was just where I wanted to be. Unfortunately, and what has become a bit of a theme on my tempo runs, I tend to get GI issues, usually after about 3 miles. I had to stop in my tracks at 3.5 miles  this week and just wait for it to pass which took a couple of minutes. That unfortunately meant I had a bit of a rest mid tempo, which isn’t ideal. Other than that it was fine.

Run 2 was a nice recovery run with Jodie. Nothing much to write about there.

Run 3 was a 10 mile general aerobic run. I managed all of my miles at sub-8 pace despite all the climbing I did and felt really strong throughout. Unfortunately though, going down Cavalier Way i clipped the curb and took a hard tumble. I did manage to roll partially, but still took a mean scrape to my arm, hip, and leg.

Run 4 saw 5 recovery miles on a parkrunday visit to Exeter Riverside parkrun. It was a really lovely course but didn’t quite have the same buzz of a parkrun, and I’m not sure why. it was all a bit quiet. There were people talking during the run briefing and when they asked if there were any tourists we were pretty much dismissed as we were “only from Yeovil”! I’m sure they didn’t mean any offense. There wasn’t much of a fuss made for the volunteers either – and I do like applauding the volunteers at the start of a run.

The course itself is about a mile out on tarmac cycle path, then a mile loop around the university playing fields (mostly grass though it was a bit of a mudfest with all the recent weather) and then a miles drag back. The marshals were in good spirits as ever and I have to say the course was very picturesque. It was lovely running along the river.

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What was strange was that they did the token scanning inside the cafe. Which is OK, but it was a 400m walk to the cafe, past the car park. I’d be very surprised if they didn’t lose a lot of tokens from first timers due to this.

Run 5 was a key session, a 16 miler with 10 at Marathon pace. This was 2 miles longer than the previous version of the session, which I felt I ran too fast to be sustainable. This time I reduced the pace a touch and ran it at a 3:11 average pace (targetting 3:12 pace with sub-3:15 as the end goal). I’m not going to lie, it was hard. It will be easier when I’m a stone lighter though!

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Next week is a recovery week, so I’ll be running all my runs at the low end of my pace zones. Its also the last week of the “Endurance” mesocycle. Where did the time go?? The recovery I hope will help my legs rest a bit before I start running a weekly threshold sessions in the next mesocycle.

On the whole though, despite my shameful weight gain, I am actually feeling really strong. I have no injury niggles (famous last words) and my legs are only feeling an amount of fatigue I can class as “normal” given the mileage I’ve been running. Mentally, I feel focused and I’m keen to get out and do the next run. As I am running the paces a stone overweight I’m feeling confident that when I shift the weight I should be well on track.

Now I just need to lose the weight…

 

 

 

The Sweatshop Experience: Gait Analysis

Following my departure as Yeovil Montacute parkrun Event Director, the team surprised me by awarding me the “parkrunner of the month” for my services to the event, which I was chuffed as nuts about! The prize was a free pair of professionally fitted trainers.

mattsweatshop

This past weekend I finally got a chance to redeem the prize and visited my “local” (45 miles away) Sweatshop in Bristol, where I fully intended to make the most of the gait analysis and fitting experience.

My first “Gait Analysis” took place some time after my first half marathon. I visited Go Outdoors in Basingstoke, and it wasn’t the most thorough experience. Quite literally the bloke just looked at the sole of my shoes and decided that I should wear Salamon GTXs. Hardly scientific, no treadmill running at all to look at my gait cycle, and it felt a bit like I was being rushed or not treated seriously. Either way, the shoes themselves didn’t do my any damage, and I continued in them until I ran the Paris Marathon.

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Paris turned out to be their last outing (I went through 2 pairs), as they’d all but fallen apart by the time I got back to the hotel, and I left them in the room on departure. I would have liked to have kept them but they really smelled and needed the room in my case… so much for sentiment!

After Paris and after a week off running I thought it was time to get re-analysed. I’d progressed a lot as a runner, and thought I’d best get checked out at my most local store, Tri UK. This experience was much better than it was at Go Outdoors. I actually ran on the treadmill, they showed me the video and we tried out various shoes to correct my overpronation. The downside here was they were exclusively Asics. Not a problem really, they are a great running brand, but due to the limited options there was no real way to check the ones I tried on really were the best across the market.

Either way, I’ve been wearing Asics Gel Kayanos for the last 18 months, and I love them. But I wanted to make sure the shoes I was wearing were the right ones and weren’t causing my underlying injuries, so the visit to Sweatshop would have been well worth the visit, rather than just buying the same old pair online.

It was a bit odd walking into a David Lloyd Leisure Centre in order to find the shop, but once inside it was just like any other Sweatshop. In fact it actually seemed a bit better stocked than Reading, and has a wide range of brands, unlike the Nike exclusive shop in Exeter. Finding it wasn’t easy, as there was no signage for the shop itself at all. If I hadn’t checked on the website, I would never have known it was actually inside the leisure center.

ssbristol

The chap that served me was extremely knowledgable. He asked me all about my running background, if I’d had any injuries etc before getting my on a foot analysis machine. The purpose, it seemed, was to sell me custom insoles – obviously a value add/upsell service that they are trying to punt to customers in order to help prevent foot related injury.

What he was saying made sense. As a species we evolved as front foot walkers, which meant the foot arch and plantar fascia were stretched and exercised while walking and running. Nowadays, we are heel walkers and (generally speaking) runners, so the foot arch doesn’t get stretched in the same way which leads to your foot rolling inwards – overpronating. This can lead additionally lead to tension in the Plantar Fascia which can also lead to other problems in the achilles and calf, and of course then you overcompensate in the other leg. It was a pretty compelling argument. The long term cure was to run with your toes in an elevated position. This should, over time, stretch the muscles in the foot to counter the tightness and correct your pronation and be the cure to all of your running ailments!

The sale itself was for custom insoles moulded to your foot with the toes elevated that you slip into your trainers. But at £45 quid it seemed a bit steep and I figured I’d go and research them a bit (which I’m sure I’ll get around to at some stage… maybe). He did mould the soles anyway (Apparently they can get remoulded) so I could see what it was like running in them during my analysis.

The lad in the shop when to get me a pair of neutral shoes to run in and came out with some adidas Ultra Boosts. WOW. They were so lightweight and so comfortable running in them felt effortless (Well, as effortless as can be given my awkward running on a hangover on a dreadmill).

He then showed me the footage, as well as explained each stage as we cycled through my stride and showed me where my foot was rolling in. It was clear as day that I am definitely still an overpronator!

We then looked at the stability shoes on the market which are typically recommended for overpronators and we looked at the Nike Zoom Structure (I think), adidas Sequence Boost, and the newest model of my old favourite, the Gel Kayano 22. These were largely my own selections, purely because I a) liked the Nike brand and wear Nike clothing all the time, b) I’d heard great things about the Boost technology. I’m sure I would have been able to try Brooks, Mizuno, New Balance if I liked but I wanted to try these three.

The Nike’s were so comfortable and looked fantastic. I loved them, however I made the decision going into this process that I’d go with the shoes that made the best correction to my overpronation. They did a very good job but there was still a small roll to my foot. The guy said that they looked pretty good, but said we are best to try all three, which I agreed with.

We then went to the adidas. Even lighter than the Nike’s and even more comfortable, but noticeably less support than the Nike’s.

Finally, we went to the Gel Kayano 22s. After going through the 20s and the 21s with barely a change between them, the 22s are a big departure from the norm. A completely remodelled upper, different material and different build to the structure of the upper too have made them hug the foot much better and also seem to be a lot lighter (10 grams according to the literature). They look much more modern and seem to have learned from their competitors who have similar technologies in place. But the most important thing was the treadmill test. Bang. it was immediately obvious that this totally corrected my pronation.

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So I ended up with the same shoes as I always get. But I wear them now with a renewed confidence that I am in the right shoes for the job, and confidence as a runner can do wonders from a psychological point of view.

I have to applaud the chap who served me who was patient, knowledgeable and experienced and know exactly what he was doing. It was an incredibly pleasurable shopping experience, made even better by the fact that I wasn’t paying!

If you need a gait analysis, I recommend Sweatshop. Great range, great service, great knowledge. Thank you for a fantastic experience.

 

 

 

 

Patience is a virtue (that I don’t have)

Have you every tried to explain to a child that if they perform “action x” then the consequence will be “consequence y” which will usually result in tears?

That could be a metaphor for my injuries…. Only I am both the parent and the child.

I know that its a bad idea to increase intensity and volume at the same time – So why did I ramp up the mileage and run sessions at speeds in excess of my current fitness?

I know my body reacts badly when I don’t have 2 rest days a week – So why did I insist on running 20 days in a row?

Answer to both: Because I am one impatient bastard!

All I’ve wanted since getting back from Honeymoon is to be back to where I used to be, so I’ve been trying everything I can to regain that fitness. What a stupid idea.

My insistence on running further and faster to try and some how shortcut the route back to fitness unsurprisingly resulted in injury.

There just are no shortcuts. Lesson learned.

In positive news, my runs have been coming back together. Sure, I’m way behind where i want to be, but I think I may be able to just about be back in line with where I was last year, thanks to looking at my Strava Training Log.

Last nights intervals were a little slower than McMillan thinks I should be doing but I’m a little “speed rusty”. I finished feeling tired but not too shattered today, so I do have a bit more to give there.

With any luck I’ll be able to run the Great Birmingham Run at a pace similar to that I ran Bristol Half 2014.

I also hope to lose a good few more pounds (It’s heading in the right direction) which should equate to a few extra precious seconds per mile come race day.

If I manage some time around that I’ll be pretty happy.

First race back, time to tweak the plan

I went to last nights Yeovilton 5k knowing that I wasn’t going to PB, nor come anywhere close. It was a bit of a shock to the system running 3 miles at a hard effort but got around in 22:18 or so. I had initially targetted sub 22, but after 4k knew it wasn’t going to happen, and ended up walking a bit. Looking at the heart rate data, I can see I was giving it a good effort. I probably had a bit more in me but with “nothing to play for” it seemed silly to blow myself up.

yeoviltonhr

Ultimately I was using this as a test to see where I am, and it explains why some of my sessions have been tough – I’d been trying to do my reps at a pace I just am not capable of at the moment, and all my other runs have been too fast as well.

So in essence its acted as a reset switch. I’ve popped the times into my favourite McMillan Calculator, and set my training paces.

Comparing this with where I was last year, I am a bit behind. If I review my race history, I ran Yeovilton in 20:46 last September, and then ran Bristol Half a week later in 1:36. I have to consider that my aim for next months Yeovilton race.

I set my 5k PB this year at Newbury parkrun in February (20:22) and ran Reading Half a month later in 1:30, with Reading parkrun in 20:24 a week after that. So by that logic, if I can set a 5k PB in October before the Great Birmingham Run, I could still be on to break 90 minutes there.

Lots of “Ifs” right there, but I am hoping that over the next few weeks my body remembers it was fitter not too long ago and catches up with itself. The improvement curve should be steeper than it was last year as I am trying to regain previous fitness as opposed to breaking new ground.

progress

As I was changing my Garmin workouts I also reviewed what I did last year and tried to analyse what worked and what didn’t. I quickly identified volume as being something that seemed to really help. It appears that around 50 miles a week is my sweet spot to peak at, so I adjusted my plan to increase the volume a bit, increasing it week on week whilst not breaking the 10% rule.

Another thing I know works for me is more hills. I know I have some hill specific sessions, but I am going to run some hillier routes on my easier runs to build some strength through my legs. I have to admit I’d been avoiding them since we got back, but now my paces are properly reset I think i can handle them with a bit more confidence that I’m not going to end up blowing all the way round!

I’ve still got the weight to lose too which will help, but its being stubborn. I’m finding it tough to keep up a consistent calorie deficit, though I must admit I’ve not been as strict on MyFitnessPal as I should be, and its partially because we have been doing a lot of post-wedding socialising.

I think the major adjustment recently is that I am enjoying running again. My mojo is back and that is more important than anything. Time to get my head down and work hard!

 

Plymvalley parkrun

We were in Plymouth for the weekend to take part in Hope24, a charity 24 hour running relay where I’d be running about 30 miles in 24 hours. So whats the best way to prepare for such an event? Rest?

No, it was parkrunday and the law dictates that on parkrunday we must go to parkrun!

Myself, Jodie and a bunch of other people from the event, many of them fellow Yeovil Town RRC club members, descended on Plymvalley parkrun, a National Trust parkrun in the Plymvalley woods.

Matt's Nokia Lumia 930_20150509_003

I led the troops, following my SatNav to get there, but when we arrived where it said we were meant to be, there was nothing there! it was just a narrow country road! I became a bit concerned that I had led our merry club convoy on a wild goose chase. We pulled over so we could strategise as I felt a bit lost.

Thankfully a car with a driver donned in hi-vis (A sure fire way to spot a runner) drove past, so we followed them. Turns out the carpark was literally 50 yards around the corner! Very glad we didn’t do a U turn!

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Before long we were gathered around for the first timers briefing. There were a LARGE proportion of first timers (Maybe 30?) probably about 50/50 split of parkrun newbies and parkrun tourists. This was a large proportion of the 124 runners. So quite a small event. I like the small events though, there is always a good community feel to them.

Matt's Nokia Lumia 930_20150509_001

We took in the run brief and listened to a description of the course… It was complicated. Basically its a figure of 8 with the start/finish being at the middle, but after completing the 8 you do a shorter version of the first loop. The first (South) loop was all on meadow/field.

plymvalley map

 

The terrain was rough, potted, puddley and quite uneasy underfoot. It was however very flat. The second (northern) loop took you out along a canal in the woods which was very pretty and on stony path. It was flat until the turn at the end where you climb a short steep hill before it levelled off along some road (Not sure how they got that through the risk assessment, unless the road is closed on Saturday mornings?) and you run level back parallel along the canal, with the canal below you. Then you dropped down back toward the start finish before a smaller loop of the fields.

Thankfully, the route was well signed and marshalled so you can just run from stake to stake and follow the guy in front of you!

plymvalley elevation

 

As we had Hope24, I took it very easy and was able to take in some of the very picturesque surroundings. It was undeniably a very beautiful parkrun, as all the NT ones I have visited are. Though there was no amazing National Trust cafe, there was a coffee wagon on site. I had no need for the toilet so I’m not sure if there was one or not, though I think not!

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Jodie and I cruised round in a little over 30 minutes in bright sunny weather. The above photo was taken by a friend, not a volunteer – I would never think to be so rude to a volunteer! I think everyone from our club who attended enjoyed it.

Scanning was a breeze under a bridge, though my token didn’t scan (One of the sticky replacements which are notorious for not scanning too well) so I was manually recorded.

Unfortunately we had to get back to the Hope24 site so we weren’t able to have the usual post run coffee and cake, that will have to wait until next time.

This was run 45 for me and my 19th different event, which means I am only 1 away from the “Most Events” page on the parkrun.org.uk website! Where shall I go next?!

Thanks to all the volunteers at Plymvalley for another brilliant parkrunday.

 

Race Report: Glastonbury Road Run (10k)

The Glastonbury Road Run is a series of races from a fun run through 3k, 5k and 10k in the town of Glastonbury, home of the Abbey, the festival and the Tor. The 10k flavour we were running is essentially a large undulating loop around the mystical Glastonbury Tor.

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I wasn’t exactly feeling fresh, the marathon still ringing through my legs but I thought I’d give it a decent crack nonetheless. There was a medal and a tee shirt, so what wasn’t to like!

We arrived in Glastonbury and parked up at Tor Leisure, a local leisure centre where we were recommended to put the car, as it was only a short walk to the HQ. It wasn’t exactly well signposted, and it advised of the road being closed ahead – which strictly speaking, it was… But it added an element of confusion. a “Race Parking” sign might have been useful next to the “Road Closed” sign.

One of the things we noticed headed to the start was all the “Millfield” students in different coloured tee shirts. There were hundreds of them! Millfield is the local private school and it turns out each Millfield boarder MUST take part in one of the races. I guess “house” pride and personal glory is at stake. We witnessed the start of the 3k – testosterone fuelled teenagers sprinting the first 50 yards – no doubt they blew up early on and ended up walking most of the race!

The finish was right outside of the race HQ. The problem was, getting to the HQ meant you had to cross the course, go all the way around the back of the finish funnel in order to get your number. Not ideal. When we eventually made it into the registration area, it was a bit chaotic, with advanced entry packet pickups being separated by Surname – but no signs to indicate who should queue up where. When you did see the signs (They were on the table, which meant you couldn’t see them from the back of the queue) they didn’t necessarily equate to the packets that were there!

Anyway, we eventually sorted all of that out (I had number 111, which looked like a barcode! Which I thought was pretty cool but no-one else agreed…) and headed for the start. According to the race information there was a special starting zone for club runners, right at the front! I was quietly impressed, I’d never been invited to start from the front before! (Yes I know its hardly a GFA or champs start ha ha). Only problem was it didn’t actually exist, so there was no starting areas based upon pace. But not such a big deal really, there were only 600 or so runners.

As we lined up to the start the sun started coming out, which we thought would be a blessing! That lasted about 1 mile before I was moaning about being too hot!

Unfortunately the race was delayed as one of the Millfield buses broke down on the way to the race, and we had to wait for them to arrive. I couldn’t (and still can’t) understand why when there are 600+ people waiting to start, we had to wait for 40 odd people to arrive. it was chip timed after all! But never mind.

Before long we were off. From the start we headed down through the high street through the finish before heading out of town. The support was BRILLIANT! The streets in town were lined 3 deep, cheering people on. It really was a great atmosphere. We then progressed on a large loop around the Tor – Not that I actually saw it!

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The loop took us out into the countryside along some undulating country lanes, and despite it not being a fully closed roads race, I think I only saw two cars. It was pretty undulating though, and had 80m elevation gain, which is quite a lot compared to other 10ks I’ve raced!

glastoprofile

This did mean my pacing was shocking though. I was targetting a sub-42 (rather optimistically), and though I went through halfway just about on target, my marathon fatigued legs soon started falling apart. I had my eye on Simon ahead of me and whilst I was gradually catching him (He was also not having a particularly good race) I had nothing in the tank to catch him. I was overtaken by Chris from the running group and club after about 8k and managed to keep in in sight to the end.

As I got to the 9k mark there was the Glastonbury equivilent of “Heartbreak Hill” and my word it was tough! There was some support here as we were back in town, and someone event shouted “Come on parkrun guy!” but my legs were screaming! I gradually made my way to the top where it levelled off for a bit.

What do you need when you’ve just rinsed your legs at 9.5k? Oh yes, a photo op! But always one for a posing opportunity, did managed to do the “double thumbs” (I need a new pose) and make it look like “It wasn’t that tough!”

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This was followed by a long downhill finish into town and more magnificent support. It was the best finish for a local race I’ve ever seen, rapturous cheering, and a cheeky “After the marathon this should be easy!” from @bentimmo. But believe me, my legs were in bits. If I had anything left the finish would have been fast and enjoyable but instead it was a miserable sufferfest!

0111bbLooking at my splits you can see the gradual decline – although it looks like the downhill helped me a bit!

glastosplits

Coming through the funnel we earned a medal (Though it was the same as last years apparently, no date embossed anywhere so a bit “generic”) and walked over to get something to drink. I saw Simon, and we both agreed it wasn’t a great deal of fun! Though I think that was largely due to our own lack of conditioning at the moment.

We then headed back along the course to cheer Jodie in. She, despite running London last week and the course being tough, managed to PB – so I was very proud of her!

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Although I didn’t really enjoy the event, I have to say the race was very good. I think with a few small tweaks to make things a bit more streamlined it could be really excellent. More organisation in Registration with a couple of signs, better parking directions, and a better planned finish area to make it easier to get in and out of HQ would be a good start. I’m also not a fan of the medal and prefer something more customized year on year. Pre-registrations also received a free technical tee which was nice, though the colour scheme wasn’t to my taste, training tops are training tops!

The crowd support was amazing though sparse on the back end of the course, and the course was undoubtedly pretty. Its not PB friendly but does have some character. At the moment, I’m not keen on running it again, but they may yet change, as I think I have a score to settle with it!