As a youngster, I would get home from School, get changed and go out to play with my pals.
Now I'm older, I get home from work, get changed and go out to play with my pals, but now I call it training.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Doctor doctor.....

Sometimes I feel like a teepee then other times I feel like a wigwam....
Ah yes I can see what the problem is, the doctor said....
You're two tents

Following Sundays half marathon race, on Monday I felt I should do nothing or just go for a jog.  So I just went for a jog of about 5 or 6 miles.
Tuesday I didn't feel like doing owt tough so I jogged with Scamp for about 75 minutes.
Wednesday I felt I should be doing something a bit harder, like reps, but I wanted to do them on Thursday really, so Wednesday I ran my 5 mile loop. I thought I was going to record a decent time but a timecheck at half a mile of 3:15  then one mile at 6:36 suggested something wasn't right. I guess it was just the remnants of the half marathon in my legs and by the second half of the run I was much nearer 6 pace than 6:30.

Thursday I met up with Darren at the track for 5 x 1mile.
1) Eased myself into the session - 6:02
2) steady effort without pushing -5:45
3) real good effort throughout - 5:34
4) as rep 3 and hoping to match it - 5:30
5) took it very steady - 5:44
Again faster than the previous week but then so it should be compared to the Millcroft mile with its corners and climb (and its 9 extra metres compared to 4 track laps)

On Friday I was  enjoying my walk with Scamp so much that we stayed out for ages and I decided that the extra walking could be in place of the steady 5 miles I had planned.

Saturday was long run day. 3 full laps of the hilly Talkin circuit was the plan. The best laid plans should allow for last minute changes though and after sleeping late I opted to save the travelling time and just run 20 miles from home instead. I could probably have found a 20 mile circuit on my old Garmin log from previous years but that would have also have meant carrying my drink and gel for 20 miles too.
The easier option was to run my 10 mile circuit twice (Two tens).
One tent,  one van, one marathon veteran

Without any hills to speak of I figured 7 minute miling would be the pace to aim for but I also wanted to run faster for the second circuit. Twice during circuit one I timed a two mile section at about 7:00 to 7:05 pace - spot on. My time for 10 miles was just over 70 minutes and I felt like I had scarcely done a thing.

I didn't run much harder for lap two - just a bit more concentration throughout. At 15 miles I still felt very fresh indeed and I had knocked a minute (12 secs/mile) off my time to that point compared to lap one.
At 18 miles I was feeling fairly tired and was sweating liberally with the effort required to run miles 17-19 in 13 minutes. The final result was 2hrs 18mins  and a few seconds or about 6:55 pace.

I hadn't exerted myself to any huge degree doing the 20 miles so today (Sunday) I joined my pal Popsy for his 10 mile effort run. He was aiming to run 6:50 miling and actually managed about 6:40. I decided not to be silly and risk injury by overdoing things so at 4 miles I stopped, stretched out a bit then walked and jogged around slowly until Popsy had got to the turnaround point and then ran back to where I had stopped. Without this run I would probably just have jogged in the park with Scamp and that would have been a good recovery run, but 8 miles easy is even better I think.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A weekend of two halves

The term 'brass monkey' meaning cold weather, is derived from the phrase - it's so cold it could freeze the balls off a brass monkey.

I opted to steer clear of the Half marathon event of the same name, preferring to run instead the Shell Four villages Half marathon in Helsby, Lancashire. Next year I may give the Yorkshire race a try.

I travelled to Helsby the day before and checked out the start/finish area for a good spot to take some photos from (as I was planning to race, change quickly then get some shots of the later finishers). Speaking to some of the helpers setting up the tents etc at the event HQ I was amazed at how helpful they were. When I explained that on Sunday I needed to park as close to the finish as possible to hasten my quick change and grab my photography gear, one of the chaps offered to let me park in his own driveway across the street from the finish. The next day, whilst racing, another of the local lads I had spoken to introduced himself again and we chatted briefly about our target times.

The race itself was a big one. 2000 pre-entrants and about 1600 finishers (shame 400 didn't turn up as it was oversubscribed I think). I had an idea that I should be able to run 1hr 20mins for this, even though it was a supposed hilly course. Based on the 2010 result this would see me about 50th place - plenty of time to photograph the last 1200 -1500 runners.

As we lined up for the start I made sure I was fairly near the front. It was a right old jostle as the organisers tried to fit the last 20 odd runners behind the start mat when there were already thousands behind unwilling to step back a metre. Next thing we were off and I took it very gingerly around the rough muddy track  that eventually led us to the tarmac and then main road.

Settling into my stride I had no idea what pace I was running, my CV system was well within it's comfort zone as were my leg muscles but I'd eaten too much breakfast (even though it was 3 hrs earlier) which gave me a bit of trouble with a stitch feeling like it wanted to come on properly.

Mile 1 was quite flat and 6:01 on my watch seemed a perfect pace to realise my target time
Mile 2 featured a small rise and fall. 6:07 was again fine by me
Miles 3 and 4 were again more or less flat and I recorded 6:01 and 6:02. So far so good, 4 mile covered and only 10 seconds over 'evens' (6 minute miling)
But then I took 6:15 to run mile 5 even though it didnt seem to be very hilly. This continued and I took 6:10 to 6:20 for the next few miles. I was rather disappointed  to be honest as I knew to expect the bigger hills at miles 9-10 so expected to lose A LOT more time then too.

Up to mile 6 or 7 I had allowed many runners to pass me - I was keen not to push myself too hard in this, my first proper road race in 6 months or more. To be honest I was very conscious of my full belly and was also unsure of my ability to 'race' for such a long distance.

By mile 8 (ish) I was feeling much better and stayed with a small group of lads who seemed to be going well. We were catching odd runners who must have set out a bit too fast. After a little uphill bit there was a sign that said 9 miles and another (road)sign that said beware, 10% downhill. Unfortunately the 10% downhill wasn't on the race route! Instead we ran UPHILL some more. At 10 miles my time was 61.48 and I although I hadn't felt great I certainly hadn't extended myself to any real degree either.

I decided that the last little bits of uphill and the ensuing downhill miles were worth 'going for it'. I was feeling pretty good now and able to push hard. I began to catch people up and drop them easily. Because the hills were nothing like what I expected, I hadn't lost as much time as I imagined doing, so at 12 miles I realised I could still make my 1:20 target as I had just over 7 minutes to run 1.1 miles. There was some more downhill still to do and I actually ran the 1.1 in about 6 mins 15 secs.

My final time was 1:20:08 and 60th position. I really can't complain about hitting my target almost bang on. If I ran the race again next weekend I reckon I could do it 90 seconds faster because a) I would eat a bit less and a bit earlier, and, b) I would have the confidence to run harder sooner.

Helsby Half Marathon race organiser - Steve Riley
After finishing I got my gear together and took nearly 1500 photos, 1300 of which I uploaded to my my website as soon as I arrived home.

I have decided that last years plan for long runs every OTHER weekend is a good one. Running 19 miles at about 7mm pace next weekend then 14 miles very quick the weekend after that will then fall nicely in with a 22 mile race the one after that. This avoids ever having to try to do marathon pace runs in the evening cold/dark after work dodging cars and pavement edges. I need to get some kind of structure into my midweek training now though.

Friday, January 21, 2011

TW3 (ask your dad)

With Saturday being slow but long(ish) and Sunday being short(ish) and fast(ish) I was a bit tired on Monday and couldnt even be bothered to go running after id been to work all day and walked Scamp.
But by about half five I was feeling guilty about not going so I went along to the Sands leisure centre with the idea of tagging along with whoever turned up for the usual 6 oclock run.

Only 3 there. My pal Milly (a bloke). Ali (a girl) and Millys sister (also a girl). Unllike the popular 5 piece singing sensation, girls aren't allowed so it was just me and Milly. What I hadn't considered that this might not be an easy jog. Millys plan was 5 miles in 30 minutes. This would definitly not be an easy jog!

I wasnt sure if I would even be able to stay with him so we chose a route with a U turn, giving me an option to stop, rest and rejoin. I managed it though, and we were quite a few seconds inside the 30 mins. A good start to the week.

On Tuesday there was no way I was going to train hard so jogged about 7 or 8 miles with Scamp.

Wednesday I ran mile reps again. Four of them, same as last week but instead of treating number one as a warm up I ran all four at decent effort.

1) 6:02 - nowt flash - just getting into my stride
2) 5:52 - good relaxed effort throughout
3) 5:41 - well warmed up so really pushed hard throughout this rep
4) 5:45 - Really enjoyed this one - could have done another

So as I  predicted, I ran faster than last week when doing these for the first time in months.
I was a bit concerned that I managed about 5:55 pace for 5 miles non stop and "only" about 5 seconds a mile faster for these four one mile efforts. I think I am a bit stuck in one speed mode, and its about 10mph!
Still, run that fast on 17th April and all will be well.

Thursday was a very gloomy, misty, cold day. Walking home with Scamp I was not relishing the 7 mile pace run I had promised myself I would complete. I had a bit on at home too so promised myself I would do it on Friday instead. So, Zero miles for Thursday.

Tonight I was late home from work and the weather wasnt much better. I cut the run short from 7 to 5miles but ran my fastest time of 31 mins. (I'm not counting the 29:45 with Milly 'cos that was a completely different session/effort from the beginning).

That was the week that was
(never mind your Dad you maybe need to ask your Gran)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

5D Mkll and a 400mm f2.8L when you're ready please barman

...... so next thing I know it's Friday. Usually Friday is a non training day. Not currently being in 'marathon training mode', or certainly not training according to a pre planned schedule, I decided to run on Friday gone. Just the same five mile loop as I had covered twice already that week but with the improvement in weather/temperature I felt good and clocked my quickest time so far of 31:40.

Friday night I arranged with Penrith Stu to meet up  early Saturday to run a couple of laps of my famously hilly Talkin circuit. Just afterwards I saw a local weather forecast - 70mm precipitation due to fall on Cumbria over the following 24hrs - up to 150mm on higher ground.

An out and out fellrun would have provided less favourable conditions than those we encountered on the Northernmost Pennine fringe, but only just. About half an hour into our 15miler I noticed a couple of runners coming toward us. 'Very unusual' I thought, as theres scarcely even a passing car most times I come here. As we each closed in on one anothers position I realised it was actually just one runner - my pal Mike Scott with the 'other runner' being his laal babby Will, snuggled up tight in his streamlined racing pushchair. Mike lives very close to the Talkin circuit and I had let him know I was coming out to run there. To see him out in such awful conditions 'con bambino' was utterly hilarious. I should have realised that such a well known successful race winner would never let a small thing like paternal commitment stand in the way of a workout, and I listened with incredulity at his stories of 'sub 7 pace' around his hilly four mile loop and how one week earlier he had completed the full 6.5 mile loop (which includes 600ft of climbing - some,VERY steeply downhill) despite a fresh thick layer of snow.

Amazing! Hilarious and amazing!

Theres no babby inside - when Mike gets to the top of a hill he gets in  it himself

The 15 miler itself was largely interest free. Same as on 3rd January, Stu bombed off ahead with a couple of miles to go. I resisted this silly behaviour this time and slowed down to an easy jog in an effort to spare my muscles a downhill pounding. I was thinking of the following days training, even though I knew Stu would henceforth refer to the days run a his latest 'victory'

Sunday morning dawned very fresh, ie rainy and windy. I had planned to run very late morning to allow a bit of a lie in. I had also planned to complete my Crosby circuit which goes through Rickerby Park. However, upon reaching the park with Scamp after breakfast I was greeted by rather a lot of water. Last September the Cumbrian Run went right by the Cenotaph. Today scarcely one third of the 4ft railings surrounding it were above the water level. 

Cue route change!

I was slightly apprehensive of completing 10 miles anyway so opted for 8 instead. The Houghton route is marked (in my head only, now that the paint has worn off 10 years after I marked every half mile). The route is also a tad more lumpy than the Crosby loop but nothing long or steep involved. I wanted a brisk run and 6:20 for mile 1 seemed perfect. Four miles later I was still on 6:22 average and at the end of 8 miles exactly the same. It had felt brisk but not excessively hard at any point so I decided to add one more mile.

Final result. 9 miles at 6:21 per mile. 

That's quicker than I ran for the Brampton to Carlisle 10 mile race in November and on a generally tougher course (the 'hill' many people dread at 8 miles in the B' to C' is the same one I ascended x3 within this 8m)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

But who is Base Don?

Runner 467 was certainly surprised
Based on last years times for mile reps I now know exactly where I am in fitness terms.
A loooooonnnnnnngggggg way down the track - that's where.
(I'm not counting those daft hill reps I did twice with Border Harriers in December so) tonight was my first proper session of reps in many many months. 3 times one mile.

To warm up I ran the mile circuit at a slightly elevated pace to the pace I had ran there from home. This took me 6:20 and felt pretty easy. Based on my experience of many years I then shed a layer or two and a hat in preparation for some hard work.

Mile one - 5:56 - no huge effort involved. Relieved to see it was under 6
Mile two - 5:50 - put a real effort in  for the final one third of a mile straight headwind finish
Mile three - 5:45 - Concentrated on putting in a continuous hard effort all the way round including the tricky downhill twisty bit

So, even if I counted the soft mile warm up I ran under 6 pace for 4 miles (and 5:51 for the 3 real reps).
Whilst this seems a gulf from the 5:30 average I was verging on last summer, it's probably quite acceptable for my first time. And in the crappy winter weather cold and dark, and on a (ok not very hilly but certainly not as flat as a track circuit), and on my own (training companions ALWAYS eek out more speed)

Next time I will run four times a mile and I see no reason at all that I will not average inside 5:50. Based on 10 years experience I reckon whatever pace I can run 5 by one mile at, I can run a 10K race at the same pace. And based on that I reckon I could run a 35 minute 10k right now. (it's easy to make bold claims when there are no races ahead to fail in)

There is a race looming large - the Four Villages Half Marathon. It is under two weeks away and I have been wondering what time I might realistically run. Now then, based on Martin Andrew (former teammate in another life) running 6:05 pace for a flat half marathon in early January, I reckon I can do the same in the more hilly event I have entered. This supposition is based on the fact that after initially pulling away from me in last weekends 8k cross country event - I then reeled him in as he struggled from lack of long training runs.

Before we get to that race though we need to go back just one day to Wednesday evening. Very little to report really - 5 miles steady effort. 32:27

Before that was a day off due to being a bit worried about my dodgy left leg. It had ached a bit after Mondays run (5 miles in 32:30)

Before that was a ridiculously easy half hour jog with Scamp on Sunday, and before that was the Cross Country race. I went through nice and early so I could take photos of the first three races. This went very well with good sales considering how few runners there were. I had put myself in for the last group. The supposed greyhounds. I didnt feel very greyhound-like as I started plum last of about 15 seniors. Within a couple of hundred metres I was into my stride mid pack and trying to get people to chat. Within 400 metres we went up the first small hill and my CV system was experiencing long forgotten depths and my legs were hurting very much please thankyou.

This moment of struggle allowed a couple of lads I was hoping to beat to pull away from me a little. The leaders were already forging a big gap to us 'midpackers' but I knew they were irrelevant to me at this stage of my comeback (and probably will remain irrelevant forever if I am honest).

As we passed the start/finish area for the first time I realised I didnt have a clue how far the race was. We had done about a lap and a half when I asked a lad just ahead of me how many laps the race was. I was hoping he'd say two and a bit. He said 'four' and I had a mild panic. Could I press on this hard for four laps?

Ahead was Penrith Stu and my old mucker Martin A. But they weren't far ahead and weren't really  pulling away any more.  I caught Penrith Stu with about half a lap to go. I was amazed how easily I passed him on a tiny rise. Some people say you should run uphills with at the same intensity as flat so you don't tire too quickly. I don't say that though - I say this -

Run hard along the flat then when you get to a hill increase the effort a little to avoid a drop in speed (and maybe pass some people) Presuming a downhill follows then even the best runners will struggle not to take a tiny bit of 'rest' as gravity takes over. Then once flat again you feel able to get back to the original speed due to the wee rest you just had. I can see the reasoning behind running same effort up and down but if the race is less than 10 miles then I say eyeballs out, go for it. Road racing on a bike features such ups and downs in effort. One minute cruising along comfortably in the slipstream of the pack, the next minute your lungs are searing as you more or less sprint to remain within the bunch as it reacts to an attack. Or a climb is encountered and the non-natural climbers have to go to 100% to avoid being dropped.

I caught Martin with a minute left to run and we chatted briefly about how knackered he was and I wasn't. Then he outsprinted me. The bastard - he was always better at cycling than me but I'm not happy while he remains  apparently a better runner.

Oh I nearly forgot to say who Base Don is. Well, based on my extensive knowledge of organised crime I can reveal that the top boss of a crime ring is known as the Top Don.  Some well known examples of Top Dons are Don Quixote, Don Attello and Don Perrignon. The top Dons give out orders (for example to give somebody a horse or part of one for a surprise). The Middle Dons carry out the orders but they don't like to get their hands dirty so they have a group of lads they can call upon to help out with the messy bits. And these lads are known as the Base Dons.

Yes I know it's DoM Perrignon but I couldn't think of any more well known Dons - Oh I just though of one - Don Keykong

Monday, January 3, 2011

Surprise Surprise (Cillar 'ere)

Ha ha, only joking of course - Cilla will surely have been enjoying a New Years Day feast with Dale, Doddy and Tarby. No, the surprise was at the Nine Standards fellrace in Kirkby Stephen.

I had thought about going to the race as photographer but then decided against that idea as there would surely be only 60-70 runners so little chance of many sales. I decided to run the race, my first since the Rydal Round two days before I got married in July. (yes, those paying attention will recall I also ran the Brampton to Carlisle in November but that was just to keep up my attendance record and I only jogged round)

Penrith Stu was competing and insisted on perpetuating the ridiculous idea that, despite missing 8 weeks of training, I would be way ahead of him somehow. Dismissing his crazy talk I lined up nowhere near my usual spot at the front and as the gun went I made no attempt to jump clear of the crowd as people jostled to get through the narrow gates, alleyways, tight turns, bridges and steps as the race wound it's way out of the town and onto the quiet country lanes. I genuinely thought I would do no better than finish halfway down the field and would probably struggle with racing the 8 mile distance, so a mid pack start seemed acceptable.

Once we were on the wider road though I found the pace much too slow and set about steadily moving up the field. It was quite a steep hill and after a mile the leaders were still clearly in sight. Penrith Stu was about 10th and I was about 20th. I gradually picked off those ahead of me and left behind those I had been running with as the route climbed ever higher. After about 2 miles the tarmac ended and the fell road began with large patches of snow and ice to be negotiated.

Penrith Stu - he beat me fair and square
After about 25 minutes I caught Stu and settled in by his side, annoying him with banter as he struggled breathlessly to gain the summit. I saw little point in pressing on ahead of Stu as the summit was close and it would have turned a hard but comfortable effort into a seriously tough beasting session as I know he would never have willingly allowed me to leave him behind.

Once we began descending it was Stu who left me behind, his superior skill at 'dropping' off a fell far outshining my own. At the tarmac again, about 2 miles to go, I was perhaps 250metres behind Stu. I'd passed two runners on the fell descent and got one more on the road descent and was in 9th position. A lad dropped out for some reason so I was in 8th. Finishing about 15 seconds and 2 places behind Stu - I needed another mile of tarmac to have caught him.

To finish inside the top 10 in a field of about 90 was a huge surprise to me. I still can scarcely believe it in fact. I think Stu was equally surprised, as despite his pre race spouting I think he was hoping to give me a several minute drubbing.

The next day was Sunday and a 15 miler was due to be completed. Work in the morning dragged on a bit and by 11oclock I still had Scamp to walk. I decided to bin off the 15 miler and go for a jog through the park which would allow Scamp to join me thus killing two birds with a single stone (an unlikely scenario with the odds clearly stacked against it ever happening but then who would have placed a wager on six double yolkers in one pack of eggs?) By mile 5 of my jog, which had included stopping to throw sticks and chat to folk I know, my legs were complaining in a big way. Missing the 15 was a good plan!

Today I ran the 15 miler. Penrith Stu joined me. We set off a bit too fast for an 'easy long run'. A time check two miles in revealed we were doing 6:45 per mile - 30 seconds per mile faster than I ran last week -definitely too fast! Stu was constantly edging ahead of me. I was constantly telling him to ease up. With  just a couple of miles to go Stu insisted we push on to try to beat 1hr 30 mins. With a mile to go Stu initiated a racing effort to ensure we were WELL UNDER 1hr 30mins.

Final result 1:28 and some seconds, or 6:48 per mile. Much too fast. This kind of pace is as fast a me and Milly ever ran for our long ones (admittedly we ran 20 + miles) Next time I will be on my own and the pace will be more sensible. The good news is that again I felt better than last week and the week before despite adding a mile to the distance.

Tomorrow is the first full day at work so I mightn't be arsed to run in the evening. I think a day off is due anyway, will be the first in three weeks or more.

Forgot to say in original writing of post
Many thanks to the chap who approached me before the race in Kirkby Stephen to say how much he enjoyed reading this blog. I should have asked your name, sorry. Hope you are enjoying the latest drivel to trip off my tongue (fingers)