Total Pageviews

Monday, 8 October 2012

Chester Marathon - Week 10 of 10

Chester Marathon - Week 10 of 10

Week 10 (Mon 01/10 - Sun 07/10)

Mon: 10K Easy @ 8:45/mile
Tues: Rest Day
Weds: 7.0 Miles inc. 4.25 Miles @ (6:50,6:20,6:35,6:23...)
Thurs: Rest Day
Fri: Rest Day
Sat : 5.0 Miles incl. Dewsbury parkrun 27:48  (8:58/mile)
Sun: 27.0 Miles incl. Chester Marathon 2:55:36 (51st/8th V45) (6:43/mile) [Comeback PB]

Total Mileage: 45.2

So this was the final week in the lead up to the marathon and it started off with another 3 days of carb depletion from Monday to Wednesday.

Wednesday Track Session

The aim here was to do around 5 miles at something close to Sunday's race pace but it is important to be realistic about what to expect when doing this session in these circumstances. Paces seem pretty hard compared to what they normally would simply due to the fact of having consumed minimal carbs for three days.

So after miles of 6:50, 6:20, 6:35, 6:23 I then came to a grinding halt after 400m of the 5th mile, a bit like when a car runs out of fuel. It wasnt a case of not being able to struggle on for another 3 laps to complete the session but 4 days before a marathon is no time to be struggling on just for the sake of completing some arbitary distance.

Dewsbury parkrun

After messing up VLM in 2011 by getting a wee bit carried away at Pymmes parkrun the day before I was happy to volunteer for pacing duties of something around 23, 24, 25 minutes. When Nicki Dawson said 'but I've only got a 28 minute sign' it took about a nanosecond to respond with 'That'll do' :)

So 27:48 followed by some good old marathon banter with Event Director Jonny Cartwright who was hoping to improve his 3:04 time at VLM down to sub 3 at the Mablethorpe Marathon while I was over at Chester.



On the way over to Chester Racecourse on Sunday morning we called in at the services just before Chester and the first person that we bumped into was Harrogate parkrun Event Director, Adam Prentis. I got a distinct impression that he was being pretty coy about how much effort he was going to be putting into the race stating that his main focus was on other events. I immediately pedicted a PB for him, more of which later...

The venue itself all seemed to work really well with everything being in close proximity within the infield of the racecourse, car parking, start, finish, tented village etc.


Conditions could be summed up adequately in one word - Perfect! :) About 6-7c at the start, rising to maybe 10-12c through the race with no wind at all. No excuses at all in there.

The Race

My approach to this race was always going to be an effort based one, the time would sort itself out.

So breaking the bulk of the race down into 5K blocks, the aim was to roll along for the first 6 sections of 5K absorbing whatever the course presented in terms of challenges whilst keeping the effort level constant, and then hopefully conserving sufficient resources to then get stuck into the 7th and 8th 5K sections to produce a strong finish. The last 2.2K is just something that you deal with as best as you can when you get there.

0-5 Km 20:36
A slightly unusual start to a road marathon in that a big chunk of the first mile was on the racecourse itself .... and it was soggy! Nonetheless a nice steady start that included a few minor undulations up and around the walled city.

6-10 Km 20:34
Now out of the city and time to get into an appropriate rhythm on the country lanes around Chester. I just looked at the time every 5k to see if it was roughly corresponding to how I was feeling and I was quite happy with this opening roll out over the first quarter of the race

11-15 Km 20:36
When I saw this split it quite amused me that, despite a fair few undulations along the way, the 5km splits had only varied by 2 secs so far. And I also seemed to remember that Jocelyn  had run two 20:36 splits in the first three 5Ks when I had followed the Berlin tracker last week.

16-20 Km 20:00
I was starting to nudge the effort level along just a little bit now that it was into the second hour and approaching halfway but fully aware that this has often been the area of the race in the past where I have started pushing too much too early.

So nice and controlled was the order of the day even when going through some of the small villages where the enthusiastic support could easily have led to a picking up of pace if not careful.

21-25 Km 19:54

This section  had a loop of about a mile including the halfway timing mat. As I went into the loop the leaders were just coming out of it and I was interested in seeing how Phill Taylor was getting on since he had appeared to be looking very confident (although downplaying it well ;)) when I spoke to him before the race.

There was a group of 5 leaders and he wasnt with them and nor could I see him down the road either. It didnt mean he wasnt having a good race, just that he wasnt likely to get one of the bigger cheques.

After going around the loop and coming out of the other end I was then greeted by a cheery shout from Adam Prentis going into the loop. A quick mental calculation and I was satisfied that my original prediction that he was going for a big PB was undoubtedly accurate ;)

Always look for the ones downplaying their prospects for the big performances :)

26-30 Km 20:47
I was quite happy with this split as this section had included a couple of significant drawn out inclines and I was very much on my own now. I could see maybe 2 runners in the 400m up ahead and wasnt aware of anyone in near proximity behind. But I was feeling good and when it actually registered that I had now completed the first six 5km sections with no dramas I was actually looking forward to getting stuck into these last two 5km sections. What me? Looking forward to the closing stages of a marathon? Well, I never.......

31-35 Km 20:42
It has to said that the support around the course was great, not vast numbers as you get in the big city marathons but small pockets of very enthusiastic supporters as you passed through the various small villages en route. It really helped that every runner had their first name displayed prominently on their number or at least it really helped most of the time.

It was in this section that I was running next to the kerb when a young 14-15 year old whipper snapper leaned over and said very calmly directly into my left ear 'Eat shit, Steve'. Charming!! I spent the next half a mile rotating between thoughts of 'Did he really say that' to 'Is it worth adding a minute to my time to go and give a youngster a gentle lesson in manners? :p' to 'That was actually quite funny'. The end result was that the 21st mile had passed without me hardly noticing it, so maybe he did me a favour!

36-40 Km 21:27
So on to the 8th and final 5Km block and my thoughts revolved around starting a big push for the finish. It felt like there should be a sub 20:00 5K in the legs with a little persuasion.

But then someone with a warped sense of humour put a pretty steep hill that probably lasted for a good half mile around the 24 mile point. Reading accounts since the event it would appear, not surprisingly, that this was the undoing of many participants.

I was quite happy going up it but it was clearly costing time. Never mind, I was here to race the course and maximise my finishing position so the hill was irrelevant really.

The Final 2.2K
I knew that this section held no surprises so just had a straight run to the finish now along the flat riverside section called The Groves that led back to the racecourse.

This was a pic captured by on course supporter Dawn Broom during the 26th mile:

The picture above gives a good idea of the length of gaps in the second half of the race. However, what I didnt know at this point was that just out of sight behind me there was this chap who could definitely see me and was closing:
To say that I wasnt expecting him to be there is a big understatement!

This was Kelvin Dickinson, who was one of the three people that I was following on the Berlin tracker last week as he landed an impressive 2:49. This is nothing new, he often appears out of nowhere in the closing stages of long races, including this year's Spen 20 and VLM,  to make me have to look for another gear that I dont really want to go looking for.

On this occassion I was blissfully unaware that he was there and finished with just over a minute to spare but what was he doing there? A 2:56 the week after a 2:49? Bonkers!

The Finish
The last 400m was back on to the soggy racecourse so it was just a case of tying to pick out the driest line to the finishing gantry.

Over the line and the clock showed 2:55:38 and there was a couple of seconds to come off that for the chip time.

The Garmin splits dont add up to the overall time because the Garmin measured about 500m long so they are just approximations but useful nonetheless.

My immediate thought on finishing was that it was a really good performance, that the time was worth a little bit better on a fast course (in fact I reckon it was worth say 2:53:29 just in case Joss reads this ;)) and that the execution couldnt have really been much better.

But more than anything else the big thing for me was that the feeling of conquering a marathon for the first time at VLM back in April, rather than it conquering me as had happened 20+ times before, was no fluke and I had been able to repeat the process here at Chester.

For those more comfortable with mile splits:

1. 6:45
2. 6:32
3. 6:37
4. 6:34
5. 6:38
6. 6:34
7. 6:42
8. 6:40
9. 6:28
10. 6:28
11. 6:24
12. 6:24
13. 6:31
14. 6:26
15. 6:17
16. 6:33
17. 6:51
18. 6:41
19. 6:40
20. 6:31
21. 6:49
22. 6:45
23. 7:06
24. 6:54
25. 7:06
26. 6:56

As always times dont really mean a lot unless put in context so this is the updated list of attempts at marathon distance since the comeback:

Apr 2009: Blackpool Marathon 3:24:17 [Age 43]
Oct 2009: Fleetwood Marathon DNF [Age 44]
Apr 2010: Blackpool Marathon 3:08:13 [Age 44]
Oct 2010: Amsterdam Marathon 3:04:27 [Age 45]
Apr 2011: London Marathon 3:18:30 [Age 45]
Apr 2012: London Marathon 2:57:04 [Age 46]
Oct 2012: Chester Marathon 2:55:36 [Age 46]
Apr 2013: London Marathon
Oct 2013: Amsterdam Marathon
Apr 2014: Boston Marathon

Has 2:45 become less or more probable as a result of this effort?
Undoubtedly more probable :)

Other Performances at Chester

Dave Crossley  - Clubmate who ran a 4 minute PB with 3:15:32. Dave had been targetting 3:10 for a GFA place but to go 4 minutes quicker than VLM on a significantly tougher course is a very big improvement in the last six months, probably much bigger than he actually realises.

Adam Prentis - Mr Adam 'I'm just going to take it easy today' Prentis ended up taking his PB down from 3:29:18 to 3:21:41. And with splits of 1:42:38, 1:39:03 I suspect one of only a handful of negative splits on a course which is certainly tougher  in the second half.

Phill Taylor - Bearing in mind the situation at halfway, when I saw Phill at the end I was expecting him to say that he had finished 6th or 7th maybe. But, oh no, the wily campaigner had timed his efforts to perfection and worked his way up to 3rd by the end to land himself a nice little £250 bonus and a bottle of bubbly. Theres nothing like experience and patience when it comes to tackling a marathon.
2:32:40 (1:15:45, 1:16:55)

Caz Hall - As with Kelvin Dickinson, Caz defied all known logic by running 3:17:58 just seven days after a 3:14:15 in Berlin.

Summary of 10 weeks of training
Not bad at all really. Overall it consisted of:

595 Miles (incl. the taper weeks) so not huge mileage.
9 x runs of 18+ miles
18 x races (800m,1500, 2 x 1 Mile,3000m, 8 x 5K, 10K, HM + 3 others)
7 x Comeback PBs (800m (2:20.05), 1500m (4:47.30), 1 Mile (5:00.2), 3000m (10:05.57), 5K (17:25), HM (1:18:41), Marathon (2:55:36)

An eventful and very enjoyable 10 weeks.


Next comes a month of injury proofing, aka laziness :)

Then November and December will be quite a relaxed period racing anything and everything that I fancy doing with no great logical process involved.

From January onwards it will then be time to repeat this 10 week process going into VLM and hoping to move closer to that 2:45 benchmark.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Chester Marathon - Week 9 of 10

Chester Marathon - Week 9 of 10

Week 9 (Mon 24/09 - Sun 30/09)

Mon: Rest Day
Tues: Rest Day
Weds: 6.0 Miles (incl. 1 mile @ 6:41)
Thurs: Rest Day
Fri: Rest Day
Sat : 6.0 Miles incl. Hull parkrun 17:53 (3rd) (5:45/mile)
Sun: 11.0 Miles Easy @ 8:58/mile

Total Mileage: 23.0

I almost forgot to blog this week due to there being so little running going on!

It became more of a taper week than I had initially intended with only 23 miles covered but in the great scheme of things it should work out okay.

Aborted Track Session

The plan for Wednesday was for a 2 x 5 mile session on the track at about 6:15-6:20ish pace.

However, after a 4 mile gentle warm up it became apparent that the calves were too stiff, any stiffness would usually loosen off with a reasonable warm up but not on this occassion. I still gave it a go but after a single mile at 6:41 I called it a day on the basis that it was just too risky at this stage of the game.

But it was no great surprise that the stiffness was there. I had just had a hard period of 8 days that involved 4 races (including GNR) and then followed that period with 2 rest days. I usually find that it is after 1 or 2 rest days that stiffness is at its worst, without the rest days the calves would probably have been fine.

Hull parkrun

I had targetted this for a serious attempt on a sub 17 clocking, which would have been a sizeable chunk off the current comeback PB of 17:25.

With a fresh pair of legs it felt like there was a reasonable possibility of getting close.

However, on Saturday morning conditions werent really suitable for fast times, 17:30 would probably have been more realistic. But on the basis that I had gone to have a go at sub 17 I decided that I may as well have a go anyway. Whats the worst that could happen?

So off we went and it quickly boiled down to three of us as a leading group, with the other two guys being  16:42 and 17:03 runners. Perfect pacemakers!

At halfway we were all still together and bang on 17:00 pace but I had worked far too hard to that point to overcome the conditions and I had to drop off the back as things unravelled pretty quickly.

It was worth a bash though and it will be a nice target to keep for later.

Ready or Not Ready?

Regardless of what training has been done I tend to find that there is just a general feeling of either readiness or a feeling of trepidation in the lead up to a marathon.

Well on this occasion I am pleased to say that I am chomping at the bit, I just cant wait to get on with it.

It was great to have the Berlin Marathon a week before Chester and be able to follow the progress of several people on the live tracker. All three people that I was following produced superb performances with excellent pacing:

Dan Robinson
18:44, 18:08, 18:20, 18:34, 18:42, 19:06, 19:09, 19:58 - 2:39:30 (PB by 40 secs)
Jocelyn Payne
20:58, 20:36, 20:36, 20:45, 20:41, 20:36, 20:22, 20:08 - 2:53:30 (PB by 7 minutes)
Kelvin Dickinson
20:21, 20:12, 20:13, 20:05, 20:20, 19:57, 19:34, 20:03 - 2:49:38

Apart from the fact that these three made running a marathon look incredibly easy from the view of a tracker screen it was very inspirational to witness the hard work over the last few weeks and then see that work translate into such impressively executed races.

Certainly hard acts to follow but if anyone is interested in tracking progress next Sunday, the live tracker is here:

and the running number is 1575.

Next Week.......

The final week will see another 3 day period of carb depletion, Monday to Wednesday, followed by normal diet thereafter. Hopefully that will produce the same situation as on previous occassions of feeling fully fuelled but without the bloating.

In terms of final week running I'll be looking to do a midweek 5 miler at 6:15-6:20ish pace and a couple of very easy runs of 10K just to keep the blood flowing around the system. Saturday will then see a parkrun in about 24 minutes.

The next post will be after a 26.2 mile run around the streets of Chester :)

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Chester Marathon - Week 8 of 10

Chester Marathon - Week 8 of 10

Week 8 (Mon 17/09 - Sun 23/09)

Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 10.0 Miles Easy @ 8:36/mile
Weds: 18.0 Miles Easy @ 8:18/mile
Thurs: 5.0 Miles incl. Ron Hill's 74th Birthday 5K 17:59 (7th/1st Vet) (5:47/mile)
Fri: 10.0 Miles Easy @ 8:38/mile
Sat (am): 6.0 Miles incl. Marple parkrun 18:24 (2nd) (5:55/mile)
Sat (pm): 6.0 Miles incl. Northern 6 Stage Road Relays (3.8 miles) 21:35 (5:41/mile)
Sun: 22.0 Miles Easy @ 8:18/mile

Total Mileage: 77.0

It could well have been a struggle this week after the big effort at last Sunday's Great North Run but even though the legs are now feeling tired I am pleased with how they have dealt with this week, the last full week of marathon training.

In the seven days since GNR there have been two long runs of 18 miles and 22 miles along with 3 shorter distance races where there has still been a bit of speed under the bonnet despite the tiredness.

Ron Hill's 74th Birthday 5K

Well what can I say? The start of this race scares me!

After a minute's silence it was time to risk life and limb by charging towards a blind corner littered with street furniture, posts, electricty/telephone/post boxes etc etc. It really is a wonder how 250ish people get through without serious injury to someone.

In the name of self preservation I tend to be ultra cautious around that first corner but it is still terrifying. As we got out onto the road I was outside the top 30 but at least I was still in one piece. Uphill for the first mile in 5:55 and now in 28th place.

Now time to start working through the field during the 2nd mile and after getting up to 12th and then to 8th a little spanner was thrown in the works as a level crossing barrier with its flashing lights came down to block our way.

As you're going uphill anyway at this point breaks in rhythm are not overly welcome so to get directed down into an underpass and then up some pretty steep steps was a bit of a shock!

I managed to get up into 7th after the diversion and that was it in terms of position. The second mile had taken 6:07 and I'd managed to go from 28th to 7th....which tells a story in itself.

It was then just a case of having a strong run for home at 5:22/mile pace for the last mile and a bit for an overall 17:59.

7th overall and 1st vet was about as much as I could have hoped for so not bad at all in the end.

This is a photo of me receiving my prize from the legend that is Ron Hill, the marathon world record holder in 1970. However, the photo is from last year's prize giving, it would have been this year's but lets just say that John Broom makes a better runner than photographer :p


Marple parkrun

I got this one all wrong by not looking too closely at what terrain the course consisted of!

So after a few days of heavy rain I turned up to a predominantly grass/mud course with just a pair of racing flats on my feet:

Suffice to say I spent as much time going sideways as forwards but did actually end up getting to the finish without hitting the deck at any point, a minor miracle.

The time at the end of 18:24 came as a bit of a surprise. How that run came out as sub 6 minute miling I have no idea and to only get beaten by 7 seconds by another 1:18 half marathoner, who was equipped with far more appropriate footwear, will be deemed a good morning's splish splash sploshing :)

Northern 6 Stage Road Relays (Leigh)

My legs are starting to feel on the heavy side now after the efforts of the last 7 days but I figure there should still be a good strong run in them as long as sufficient warming up is done.

As the name suggests this is a team relay event consisting of 6 legs of what turned out to be 3.8 miles. However, for a road relay event there was a distinct lack of road. It could more accurately be described as a confusing, twisty, convoluted multi-terrain (track/trail/mud/road) course with an identity crisis.

There were several disqualifications for 'going wrong' but luckily due to some advance course reccying the Barnsley Harriers A team survived the confusion, our B team was not so fortunate.

I enjoyed the run, which in contrast to the morning's parkrun, was run in bright warm sunshine.

The overall time for the 3.8 miles was 21:35 with splits of 5:48, 5:36, 5:52, 5:22 (0.8) for a 5:41/mile average.

I have to be happy with the pace at the end of a tiring 7 days especially considering the twistiness of the course which included three points each lap (six in total) which involved coming to a virtual standstill.

However, the nature of these events is such that you always feel slow in comparison to those around you but it is still good to get a direct comparison with the fast boys on a like for like basis.

Next Week.............

Training for Chester is now complete so it is just a matter of ticking over for the next couple of weeks.

Tues/Weds: I'll be looking to do something like a 2 x 5 mile session on Tuesday/Wednesday at 6:15-6:20 ish pace but with the emphasis on feeling relaxed at pace rather than being too concerned about the actual pace itself.

Sat: As long as the legs are feeling strong again I think I'll have another crack at the all time parkrun PB of 17:25 at Hull on Saturday. Of course the last time I had a go at it I ended up with another 17:25 but that was only 7 days after the 20 x parkrun Challenge so the big goal will be to have an all out attempt on sub 17.

It was nice to have a 16:59 on my Po10 listing for a few days in August before it got well and truly discredited, it would now be nice to have a genuine version of the same thing. A tough task though......

Total mileage for the week will be around 45-50 and based on last week's experience I'm going to have a double carb depletion experiment in the lead up to Chester, ie 3 days this week and 3 days next week, just to see what happens.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Chester Marathon - Week 7 of 10

Chester Marathon - Week 7 of 10

Week 7 (Mon 10/09 - Sun 16/09)

Mon: 10 Miles Easy @ 8:29/mile
Tues: 14.5 Miles incl Progressive 10.0 Miles (track) @ 6:32/mile
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: 10.0 Miles Easy @  8:59/mile
Fri: Rest Day
Sat: 8.0 Miles incl. Leeds parkrun 18:25
Sun: 16.0 Miles incl Great North Run 1:18:41 @ 6:00/mile (126th/7th V45)

Total Mileage: 58.5


 This week was about stringing together some decent sequences of strong miles, something which I havent done too much of so far in this build up.

I've found in the past that I have done too much of this sort of training and ended up feeling as though I've peaked too early, leading to a disappointing marathon thereafter.

Progressive 10 Miler

This was planned for Tuesday but everything was telling me to postpone it for a day, I really wasnt feeling up to doing this kind of session, in fact I didnt really fancy doing a short easy run either.

So I decided to postpone it and just went for an easy run instead. After about 3 miles though the thought of a strong 10 miler had become a little more palatable and on the basis that getting it done on Tuesday rather than Wednesday would give an additional recovery day before GNR  I bit the bullet and got on with it.

So 40 laps of Spenborough track and the legs felt better the longer the session went on:

7:06, 6:49, 6:38, 6:33, 6:31, 6:24, 6:19, 6:20, 6:25, 6:11 - for an avge 6:32/mile

The same session a day later would probably have produced an average of 6:15-6:20 for the same effort level but there was something very promising about producing that sequence of miles on tired legs.

Leeds (now renamed to Woodhouse Moor) parkrun

Saturday was set up to for pacemaking duties for Jocelyn Payne as she attempted to smash her parkrun PB of 18:19.

It really shows that someone is feeling confident when they set a target beyond anything previously achieved (and by some way), tells everyone about the target and then goes on to rise to the challenge.

So Joss set a target of sub 18:00, 20 seconds is a big chunk of time to take off in one go but she wanted to give sub 18:00 her best shot with a PB of some sort as a plan B.

The key at Leeds is even effort rather than even pace due to the undulating nature of the course and  you need to be at 4km at 14:15 to hit a sub 18:00. That is exactly the time we arrived there and then it was down to pure guts for the final uphill km, how deep could she dig?

Well the answer to that question was the final time of 17:59!

A brilliant effort and taken together with the mile PB of 5:14.7 a week earlier means that the Berlin Marathon tracker is going to be an entertaining watch in a couple of weeks time.

Great North Run

This was the first chance to see how the training is shaping up in terms of speed endurance.

After the progressive 10 miler @6:32 avge on Tuesday it felt like there was every chance of a good run on the road from Newcastle to South Shields.

But Saturday's pacing at Leeds parkrun put a bit of a different slant on things. 5:45 miles were feeling hard enough to cause questions about whether averaging 6:06/mile for 13 miles to go sub 1:20:00 was actually realistic.

So while sinking the 3rd pint of Boddingtons in the hotel on Saturday night, in true Alf Tupper fashion, I mentioned to Dan Holdsworth, who was also looking for a sub 1:20:00, that I had no gut feeling one way or the other how it was going to turn out.

However, at 5:30am on race morning I went for a SLOW jog, and by slow I mean 14+ mins/mile, and strangely on the back of that I then got the feeling there was a good run coming.

On to the race and the plan was just to flow through the first 5 miles without too much concern for the pace, work hard through the next 5 miles and then a kitchen sink job at the last 5K.

Miles 0-5
This section had to be comfortable if a sub 80 was going to be achieved. Trying to keep everything smooth with no sudden changes in effort levels the miles went by in 6:07, 6:12, 5:57, 5:57, 6:08 for a 30:22 opening 5 miles.

6:04 average for the first 5 miles was inside what I had expected but it was now time to start grafting.

Miles 6-10:
The rain was now coming down and was very welcome. It was also now down to a very sparse strung out field so it was easy to get your head down and get into a zone.

It was nice to see familiar faces along the side of the road at about 10K in Liz Jones and the Hyde Park Harriers, an unexpected boost at just the right time!

This section went by in 5:44, 5:40, 5:43, 6:04, 5:56 for a 29:07 2nd 5 miles.

I was determined not to let the fact that I'd just thrown in something like a 17:46 5K in the middle of a half marathon convince me that I was tired.

Last 5K :
The time for the 10 mile mark differed between the Garmin reading and the roadside clock. The Garmin said  59:29, the roadside clock 1:00:00 - the difference being that we got nowhere near the racing line in the early stages.

So at least the mental arithmetic was easy, a sub 20 5K for a sub 80 HM.

Time to get down to business. It was getting hard now but one mile at a time.

The 11th mile felt tough but when I saw a 6:03 come up that was an immediate 'job done' moment. I wasnt going to lose the sub 80 from there so it was now time to start thinking about sub 79.

The 12th mile included the sharp downhill but it was definitely feeling like a 'going to the well' moment now. A 6:09 told me that I was slowing but only 1 mile to go, it was now man or mouse time.

The last mile along the sea front went on forever (as usual) but I could see the gantry in front and thought that was the point to turn off onto the grass with about 400m to go. However, as I closed in on the gantry it then dawned on me that we were still in the elite window (up to 80:00) and so the gantry was the actual finish.

A final surge saw a last mile of 5:59 and a last bit at 5:38 pace for a 1:18:41 finish. (6:00/mile)

I couldnt have given it any more on the day, it was one of those rare races where there was nothing to pick apart and I just felt totally satisfied with the whole thing from start to finish. A very nice feeling :)

One of my favourite stats is the conversion from a 5:00.2 mile last week to a 6:00.3/mile Half marathon this week and identical age gradings of  82.2% for both events. I'm normally rubbish at converting up the distances!

To put this race in context, the half marathons on the comeback trail have been:

Feb 09 Brighton HM 1:33:22 [Age 42]
Jun 09 Freckleton HM 1:27:46 [Age 43]
Aug 09 Hackney HM 1:33:41 [Age 43]
Nov 09 Lancaster HM 1:25:50 [Age 43]
Feb 11 Liversedge HM 1:30:57 [Age 44]
Sep 11 Budapest HM 1:26:38 [Age 45]
Oct 11 Gt Eastern HM 1:23:11 [Age 45]
Oct 11 Bridglinton HM 1:24:36 [Age 45]
Nov 11 Norwich HM 1:23:21 [Age 45]
Jan 12 Brass Monkey HM 1:24:28 [Age 45]
Mar 12 Sth Yorks HM 1:21:56 [Age 45]
Sep 12 Gt North Run 1:18:41 [Age 46]

So still going in the right direction, at least for now. :)

And, as strange as it may seem, I have now been invited to a presentation to pick up an award on the back of this The Houses Of Parliament. I kid you not!

So why did it go well?

I have a theory :)

Back in April, John Broom and myself had noticed that a few of us that followed a similar final week routine into the Spring marathons had all had pretty strong runs, especially in the closing stages.

That routine had been to carb deplete for 2-3 days, as per the traditional approach, and then just eat normally in the final 2-3 days, ie no attempt to carbo load. It appeared that just normal eating was enough to get back to full glycogen stores and to be feeling raring to go on the start line without all that bloating that is assumed to be necessary.

Since there has been no evidence to show that a 'super compensation' effect actually exists, ie whereby carb depletion leads to an increasing capacity to store carbs afterwards, it is fair to question what exactly does the depletion phase achieve?

What if the reduction in carb consumption for 2-3 days is beneficial simply because it allows the body to get properly stocked up with protein and other minerals and goodies that it may have become slightly deficient in through long bouts of training?

It seems logical enough.

But if that is the case, then I couldnt see why it should be restricted to marathons.

Getting muscles up to full strength and topping up any deficiencies is likely to be beneficial to other distances as well........ and so that is the routine that I followed this week and felt stronger than ever during the race.

It is interesting enough to encourage me to try it again anyway :)

Next Week...........

Because the speed endurance now seems to be in pretty good shape this last full week will be used to get a big mileage week in.

There will be 4 races, which may seem a bit daft, but they will be at varying effort levels:

Thursday 20th : Ron Hill's Birthday 5K - This was an excellent evening last year and since Ron is getting concerned that he may end up running it on his own soon if numbers continue to fall it will be good to put in an appearance.

Saturday 22nd (am): A parkrun somewhere, possibly Marple.

Saturday 22nd (pm): Norther 6 Stage Road Relays, Manchester.

Sunday 23rd: Greenway 10K (either an all out effort or part of a long run)

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Chester Marathon - Week 6 of 10

Week 6 (Mon 03/09 - Sun 09/09)

Mon: 10K Easy @ 8:23/mile
Tues: 7.0 Miles including Stretford Open 3000m 10:05.57 [Comeback PB]
Weds: 10.0 Miles including Spencer Arms 3.7 Miles 22:09 (4th/1st Vet)
Thurs: 10K Easy @  8:58/mile
Fri: 10K Easy @ 9:06/mile
Sat: 9.0 Miles incl. Leeds Golden Mile 05:00.2 [Comeback PB]
Sun: 18.0 Miles @ 8:49/mile

Total Mileage: 62.6

Last week I mentioned that there would be two stretching targets this week, a 5 minute target and a 10 minute target. Well I missed both......but not by much! The combined times for both events was 15:05.77 compared to the targetted 15:00, a mere 0.6% out.

Stretford Open 3000m

Just one previous attempt at this distance, at the same venue 6 weeks earlier resulting in a 10:25.22 clocking.

I remember feeling pretty tired going into that previous effort so thought that a crack at 10 minutes might be realistic. Unlike last time when there was two heats, this time there was just one involving 24 runners. Not a great problem but I now have to be aware during the race that I'm going to get lapped.

Lining up at the start I was directly behind a 2012 Olympian in Eilish McColgan, who went on to run a PB in this race at what is, in effect, her Olympic distance. That is a measure of the quality of these races.

I was looking for 80 sec laps to hit 10:00 but I got stranded in a pretty big gap for most of the race. Nonetheless no laps were slower than 81 secs and the final time came in at 10:05.57, a comeback PB and I suppose an all time PB to boot (having only ever having done two) :)

Spencer Arms Dash

The Spencer Arms Series is a 6 race series throughout the summer consisting of 3.7 miles of very hilly mainly road, but with a 600m track section, Barnsley countryside.

This week saw the last in the series. A summary of the year:

April: 22:16 (5th/1st Vet)
May: 23:35 (7th/3rd Vet)
Jun: 22:46 (5th/2nd Vet)
Jul: 23:12 (4th/1st Vet)
Aug: 22:26 (5th/2nd Vet)
Sep: 22:09 (4th/1st Vet)

Throughout the series conditions vary so much that you really arent comparing like with like but still pleased to get the fastest time in the last race and come first in the overall vets series.

Leeds Golden Mile

We received notification of the heat line ups on Thursday evening and as such I was looking forward to a good old battle with Tom Williams, Dan Holdsworth and John Broom. All of us had predicted 4:59 on our entry forms although, to be fair, it was unlikely that John was going to be wanting to push too close to the limit on a recently problematic calf.

All well and good except on arriving at Leeds Carnegie an immediate spanner was thrown in the works as I was not in the race that I expected to be in. I was now in a heat where I had the slowest predicted time amongst a group ranging from 4:30 - 4:55. This would have scared the proverbial out of me just a few weeks ago but at least the knowledge of the recent track races meant that I wasnt expecting to get too embarrassed.

So a bit of recalibration of how I expected the race to pan out was needed.

But first I got to watch the race that I was supposed to be in. This was the big day for Tom Williams and his attempt to break 5 minutes. It was a superb attempt, evenly paced as near as dammit, cheered on by all the onlookers and as he crossed the line we still didnt know whether he had done it or was that close. It was either 4:59.xx or 5:00.xx.

Just have a look at the photo (courtesy of Jeff Parkinson):

Before finding out one way or the other it was time for my race and I was surprised to find myself comfortably in amongst the leaders early on. Through 809m in about 2:31 I was starting to drift a few metres off the group but that was fine, time to dig in. 1209m was passed in 3:45 So a final 400m in 75 secs was needed....I dug as deep as I could and crossed the line............and didnt know whether I had done it or not. It was either 4:59:xx or 5:00.xx!

So both Tom and myself had run our races and we didnt know whether either of us had broken 5 minutes or not.

After a bit of a wait, the official results came in as 5:00.2 for me and 5:00.3 for Tom.

 So if you think the photograph above was close..........I was agonisingly  a little bit closer still.

After being seperated by 0.2 secs in the 800m race two weeks ago these were spookily similar outcomes in separate races.

I cant be disappointed in any way though with my fastest ever official mile, my fastest actual mile for at least 19 years and a UK V45 ranking of 6, it would have been no.5 but Greg Hull was about 6 seconds in front of me to take the no.3 spot.

Dan Holdsworth ran a new PB of 5:01.9 after leading the first couple of laps in the Tom Williams race at exactly the right pace. Again, so close you could almost touch the sub 5. And another huge performance by John Robson saw him going bravely into new territory to land a 5:03.8.

The concept of these events is brilliant though and they have got to grow in number, there is clearly a massive appetite for mile racing. And the one thing that you notice is that nobody at all leaves anything out there, the determination levels are infectious.

Shortened 26 Miler

A steady 26 miler was planned today, a session I like to do 3-4 weeks out from a marathon in true Charlie Spedding fashion.

However, after around 8 miles it was starting to feel too much of a struggle too early for the lower legs, nothing else just the lower legs. By the time I got to 18 miles that was it for the day. No problem though, there could well have been as much training benefit from that 18 miles as a 26 on fresh legs or at least that's my story :)

Next Week.........

There is the opportunity on Tuesday evening to have another crack at going sub 5 for the mile. Although it is sorely tempting I have decided to leave it as a tantalising 0.2 secs short for the time being in favour of getting a 10 mile tempo session in.

Next Saturday's parkrun will be at Leeds, attempting to pace Jocelyn Payne to a new parkrun PB. After running a big new mile PB at the Leeds Golden Mile of 5:14.7 she is clearly in great shape leading up to the Berlin Marathon, where she will no doubt strengthen her hold on the U23 UK No.1 ranking.

Then it will be up to Newcastle to watch the Quayside Games on Saturday afternoon, which will now include an appearance by Mo Farah, before having a full tilt effort in the Great North Run on Sunday. Dan Holdsworth and myself will be hoping to push each other to sub 1:20:00 times.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Chester Marathon - Week 5 of 10

Chester Marathon - Week 5 of 10

Week 5 (Mon 27/08 - Sun 02/09)

Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 10.0 Miles Easy @ 9:15/mile
Weds: 10.0 Miles Easy @ 8:59/mile
Thurs: 10.0 Miles Easy @  7:59/mile
Fri: 10K Easy @ 8:41/mile
Sat am: 9.0 Miles incl. Hull parkrun 17:25 (5:36/mile)  [Comeback PB]
Sat pm: 10K Easy @ 8:18/mile
Sun: 22.0 Miles Progressive @ 7:44/mile

Total Mileage: 73.4

This week was mainly about cautiously recovering from last weekend.

There was every chance that the recovery would be of the same order as the recovery after a marathon so the plan for midweek was to do nothing but easy running and let the legs come back to strength at their own pace.

Hull parkrun
At the end of last week I mentioned that if I felt up to it I might have a crack at an overall parkrun PB but I didnt seriously expect to be recovered enough to get too close to it.

The mark to beat was 17:25. As we got underway I was surprised at just how lively the legs were feeling and it soon became apparent that it might be possible to get pretty close. Well, after a good old battle with my good friend, Dan Holdsworth, (which he won) I did get close, very close. In fact I couldnt have got closer as the old mark was equalled with another 17:25.

The legs did feel the effects of some of the residual tiredness in the last mile, so that gives hope that something much closer to 17 minutes is just around the corner :)

22 Mile Progressive Run
The main aim with this run was to try to feel strong towards the end of the run if possible.

Run in the warmest part of the day on a hilly course, resulting in 9lbs weight loss from start to finish, it went very well. Roughly broken down:
First 8 miles @ 8:12/mile
9-18 miles @ approx 7:30/mile
Last 4 miles @ 6:40/mile

This run in conjuction with the 15 miles yesterday, which included a bit of speediness, show that things are coming along reasonably well at this stage.

National Stardom
Thanks to Helen Durrant's efforts at getting some excellent publicity for York parkrun, and parkrun in general, a few of us, notably John Robson, Darren Naughton, Luke Bryant and myself were pictured in a feature in today's Sunday Telegraph. Will we be able to walk down the street again without being mobbed.........?

Next Week.......

Next week is going to be interesting involving a 5 minute target and a 10 minute target.

Firstly, on Tuesday I'm thinking of having another go at a 3,000m. The only other effort at this distance, 6 weeks ago, resulted in a 10:25 clocking. That was run on pretty tired legs so there is a chance that something around the 10 minute mark could be possible.

Then, on Saturday, is the big Magic Mile event in Leeds. This is the culmination of Tom Williams's summer training to try to land a sub 5 minute mile. It is going to be close but I have every confidence that the mission will be accomplished. To add a bit of spice to proceedings, both Dan Holdsworth (recent 2:20 800m/5:04 mile) and John Broom will also be predicting  4:59 finishing that will make four of us all potentially battling to the line. Should be a whole lot of fun :)

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Chester Marathon - Week 4 of 10

Week 4 (Mon 20/08 - Sun 26/08)

Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 9.0 Miles incl. Stretford Open 800m 2:20.05 [Comeback PB]
Weds: Rest Day
Thurs: Rest Day

Fri: 35.0 Miles incl.
Pontefract parkrun (freedom) 23:26
York parkrun (freedom) 22:20
Hull parkrun (freedom) 21:40
Sewerby parkrun (freedom) 21:15
Redcar parkrun (freedom) 20:55
Albert parkrun (freedom) 20:53
Tees-Barrage parkrun (freedom) 20:52
Stewart parkrun (freedom) 19:10
Harrogate parkrun (freedom) 22:03
Pontefract parkrun(2) (freedom) 24:02

Sat : 35.0 Miles incl.
Barnsley parkrun (freedom) 29:07
Concord parkrun (freedom) 27:07
Graves parkrun (official parkrun - 6th) 20:40
Hallam parkrun (freedom) 25:32
Huddersfield parkrun (freedom) 23:00
Bradford parkrun (freedom) 22:31
Dewsbury parkrun (freedom) 21:15
Roundhay parkrun (freedom) 23:03
Leeds parkrun (freedom) 24:52
Leeds parkrun(2) (freedom) 24:40

Sun: Rest Day
Total Mileage: 79.0

I dont think this kind of week will be found in any published marathon training schedules but it was certainly a lot of fun and even included 4 rest days. The summary of the week was my fastest ever (for 'fastest ever' read 'only') 800 metres and highest ever 2-day mileage total at 70 miles.

Stretford Open Meeting
This was my first ever attempt at 800 metres and the next stage in Tom Williams's journey towards a sub 5 mile on Sept 8th.

Tom, myself and John Broom wanted to be in the same heat so we all put down 2:25 as the predicted time. Such is the quality of these meetings that 2:25 qualified us to run in heat 9 out of 9. As it turned out they eventually realised the level of our talent and promoted us all to heat 8. Or then again, maybe it was a case of heats 8 and 9 being merged to try to speed up proceedings. I prefer the former explanation :)

I ended up in the outside lane, which is not what I wanted as I couldnt see anybody from there. Off we went and I was immediately overtaken by the runner on my inside which led me to believe that I was going way too slowly. At the break I was surprised to find myself in 2nd place. This probably meant that sooner rather than later I would be treading water and getting shuffled backwards.

At 300m it was feeling reasonably comfortable so I decided to just go for it, after all how painful could the ramaining 500m be? I was in unknown territory no matter what so I may as well give it my best shot. In the lead at the bell I imagined that everyone was just biding their time to kick for home and make me look very slow. All I could do was resolve to stay at the front for as long as I could and see what happened.

With 200m to go I could hear Tom right on my shoulder, it was very unlikely that I was  going to be able to hold him off but I may as well try. Down the home straight and he was right there but somehow I managed to hold on 0.2 secs! The final time was 2:20.05 to Tom's 2:20.25....times that we were both delighted with and should put a 5 minute mile well within reach.

The race can be seen here:

And Tom's view of the race:

Yorkshire 20:20 Challenge
These kind of challenges, ie to complete 20 Yorkshire parkruns in 2 days, are a bit odd in that they make no sense whatsoever but once you have decided to take it on it becomes impossible in your own mind not to complete it.

Just as a reminder, Simon Newton was attempting to run as many consecutive parkruns in sub 20:00 as he could manage. The entire 20 was highly unlikely as that would involve running 62 miles at 2:45 marathon pace over two days.....a massive task.

To add to this, John Broom also set his stall out at having a go at completing the entire set of 10 on the first day in sub 20:00 times.

My own ambitions were not so lofty as I still had vivid memories of completing 10 in a day last December with Guy Willard and Tom Williams and the lesson learnt from that day was that how you are going to hold up towards the end of one of these days critically depends on how much damage you have done earlier in the day.

Day 1
Friday morning at Pontefract at 5:30am and we're ready to go (Georgie Newton, Steve Darby, John Broom, Simon Newton):

After Pontefract, York and Hull it was on to Bridlington for Sewerby parkrun.

Throughout the two days there was to be many times where the start of runs coincided with torrential downpours, Sewerby was one of these. But when we did get started I got to race the train....but lost!


 After a nice sunny run around Redcar parkrun it was then on to Albert Park in Middlesbrough. Since my last visit they have gone to quite some effort with their permanent start and finish markings along with km posts.


 From Albert Park it was then onto Tees Barrage parkrun, where I got lost but we'll gloss over that!

And then Stewart parkrun (8th of the day) where they had kindly marked out our three starting points.

 A trip to Harrogate for the 9th parkrun of the day was then followed by a return to where it all started some 15 hours earlier, Pontefract:


At the end of Day 1 we were all still standing. I had managed an overall average of 21:45 for the ten parkruns with a fastest time of 19:10 at Stewart.

This equated to 31 miles at 3:03 marathon pace.

But both Simon and John had remarkably managed to string together complete sequences of ten runs in sub 20:00.

The question now turned to how we were going to be feeling in just a few hours time to attempt to do it all again?

Day 2
Barnsley at 6am. There were no particular expectations of speed for day 2, completing the full twenty would be a big enough task. But that didnt stop Simon wanting to keep his run of sub 20:00 clockings going, so here he was ready to attempt number 11:

Of course he was successful, as he was at the next venue, Concord.

But the big challenge that he had set himself was to come at the next venue. It was now 9am, it was Saturday was parkrun time. Our one official run was to be at Graves and Simon had declared that he was going for an all out effort to be 1st. This after already having run twelve sub 20:00 parkruns in just over 24 hours!

This was Ollie Hart delivering the pre-race briefing and a very friendly welcome for the three nutters standing to his right. You will notice that the official club t-shirts have to come out for this one:

Because it was the official one I wanted to have a decent crack at it. Despite it being a tough course, 6th in 20:40 was very satisfying. This photo is taken just after running through the animal yard where you get funny looks from all sorts of creatures, a couple of llamas seemed to be making the most unusual noises of encouragement. Did Simon win? He did indeed and took the sub 20 streak to 13.

After completing Sheffield Hallam, where Simon went sub 20 yet again (14), it was onto Huddersfield. The weather now was horrible and this is us waiting for some sign that the downpour was going to ease off. There was a river running though the park where there should be tarmac.

 We did finally get going and pretty much had the park to ourselves, quite a contrast to the last time we were here for The Longest parkrun in June when our visit coincided with 20,000 people descending on the park to greet the Olympic flame. This was the 15th sub 20:00 for Simon, which meant that he had now completed 46.5 miles at under 6 mins/mile.

Next was Bradford for the 16th which is a nice course to switch off and just get into a rhythm, just what was needed at this stage. Not surprisingly, Simon now slowed slightly and clocked his first time in excess of 20 minutes with 20:40. But a streak of 15 was more than anyone but himself had expected and is quite mind boggling.

Dewsbury next and I started getting a spring in my step as we came into the closing stages of the challenge. A 21:15 around a challenging Dewsbury course for the 17th run made me smile.

Roundhay was the 18th venue and we were joined here by John Robson, a man who likes multiple parkrun challenges so decided to join us for a run around his home course. John had also been at Graves in the morning for the official run, finishing 3rd behind Simon.

That just left the 19th and 20th runs which were both going to be at Leeds Hyde Park. We decided before arriving at Leeds that we were going to have a quick turnaround between the last two runs, basically consisting of a 5 minute walk back to the start.

It was getting tougher mentally now but despite that I dont think any of us entertained the idea of not completing. I could still feel every stride that I did around here in the pitch black last December and I was expecting to have to call on similar mental stubborness again this time.

But, to be honest, it wasnt too bad. Considering that total mileage now was way beyond what I had ever accumulated in two days before I was quite surprised at how strong my legs were still feeling...not necessarily pacey but strong nonetheless. The last two runs were completed at just under 8 minute miling and a huge sense of accomplishment followed as that final finishing line was crossed.

This was the very last corner of the 100 km challenge. Nice to see that there is still a bit of knee lift going on :)

As with the 10 parkruns completed last December you dont need a big cheering crowd or huge support to a) drive you on and b) to get an immense sense of satisfaction from completing whatever it is that you've set out to do. I think John and Simon will readily concur with that.

Day 2 totalled 31.0 miles at 3:23 marathon pace

Whether this makes for good marathon training or not is a matter of opinion but it is certainly different and  more enjoyable than you could imagine before doing it.

Many thanks to Dawn Broom for providing fantastic support, and taking all the photos, over the two days. Just getting up by 4am each morning is tough enough.

Next Week.......

Next week is actually going to resemble something close to what might be considered a normal training week.

There wont be any races as such but if the legs recover from this weekend swifly enough then I may have an attempt at an all time parkrun pb of better than 17:25 next Saturday at Hull. But that is just a maybe at this point.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Chester Marathon - Week 3 of 10

Week 3 (Mon 13/08 - Sun 19/08)

Mon: 10.0 Miles Easy @ 8:25/mile
Tues: 7.0 Miles incl. Millenium Bridge 5K, York 17:19 (5:35/mile) [Comeback PB]
Weds: 7.0 Miles incl. Hyde Park Summer Mile 5:11 (5:11/mile) [Comeback PB]
Thurs: 18.0 Miles progressive @ 7:27/mile
Fri: 10K Easy @ 8:40/mile
Sat am: 6.0 Miles incl. Dewsbury parkrun 18:04 (1st) (5:48/mile)
Sun: 11.0 Miles incl. Birchwood 10K, 36:58 (5:56/mile)

Total Mileage: 65.2

A good strong week  this week that included  four races. It might seem a bit odd to be doing four races in a week during marathon training but I dont worry too much about the contents of any particular week, I'm more interested in looking holistically at blocks of, say, 4 weeks and seeing that each such block contains roughly the right constituent sessions in roughly the right proportions. Everything else is mere detail....

Millenium Bridge 5K, York
A bit of a saga surrounding this race. I have listed it above as 17:19 which represents a comeback PB and the fastest of 200+ 5Ks run since 2008. However, when I crossed the line I had it timed as 16:59 and that was the time that I was recorded as by the officials.

It was a stunning time but not quite out of the realms of believability. But, to cut a long story short, it appears that due to marshalling errors several groups of runners were misdirected and ended up running 100-110 metres short, worth about 20 secs. It wont be recorded as 17:19 because clearly the full 5K wasnt run but I'll keep that as a personal benchmark to get past as soon as possible.

Hyde Park Summer Mile, Leeds
This is a super event put on by Hyde Park Harriers consisting of 7 waves of about 20 runners. The entire event fits snugly into a one hour time slot so within that time you get to run your own race and support 6 others.

The aim for this was to run close to 5:10 if possible. This was based on 5:19 for the same event last year and 5:25 when we had a benchmark session back in May to see where Tom Williams was in his progress towards his sub 5 mile (he ran 5:31 in that test).

We were in wave 6 of 7 so ran the course in reverse a couple of times while watching earlier waves. It is not the easiest of miles with a long uphill middle stint that finds a lot of people out, so pacing is key. In the early stages I settled in about 10th with Tom just sitting in behind (and I suspect, John Robson also employing the same tactics).

You just have to be very patient in the early stages but as the incline started that was time to start working through the field, 10th at the bottom became 2nd at the top, and then there was just the flat last 500 metres or so to kick for home. This is where I expected Tom to start coming strong and putting his shorter distance training to good use, as we'd discussed before the race, but it didnt mean that I wasnt going to make it as hard as I could for him ;)

To see Tom's take on the race, see week 16:

The final scores were 5:10 and 5:11 so I think that was job done in terms of increasing confidence levels for a sub 5 on a flat track on Sept 8th. There was also a stonking 5:16 PB for John Robson after employing some excellent pacing tactics :)

This was the start of wave 6 (I'm in blue on the left):

And just over 5 minutes later, happy smiles from (left to right) Bartosz Lewandowski, John Robson, Tom Williams, Chris Corcoran, Steve Darby

18 Mile Progressive run
After the efforts of the previous two evenings I wasnt expecting too much from Thursday's 18 miler in terms of pace and wouldnt have been at all concerned if it had been sluggish because running decent distance on tired legs is a key part of marathon training. However, it went very well, the first 9 miles ticked by at 7:50/mile (compared to 7:55/mile a week earlier) but then the progressive last 9 miles were covered at an average 7:04/mile (compared to 7:33/mile a week earlier). The last few miles were solidly under sub 3 pace without feeling that I was making the legs do something they werent happy with. A good session.

Dewsbury parkrun
Dewsbury parkrun was the place for one of the big significant parkrun milestones this week as Chris Cowell returned to his town of birth to clock up his 100th different parkrun venue, the first ever parkrunner to achieve this (Chris is in the middle in black holding the finish sign):

The run itself went very well. I have completed Dewsbury twice before, 18:38 at the pre-launch test run and 18:24 at the inaugural event. So it was nice to get round a tough course like this in 18:04, which confirmed the 17:20 fitness suggested earlier in the week.

Birchwood 10K
This was entered as a last minute thing but I was looking forward to it as maybe a chance for a 3rd comeback PB in the week after how lively the legs felt at Dewsbury. The time to beat was 36:19 and it looked entirely possible as the race unfolded but a bit more twistiness and a bit more hilliness in the 2nd half meant that an increase in effort resulted in roughly even pacing. Most people seemed to be about a minute down on what they might expect on a perfect course in perfect conditions so nothing at all wrong with a 36:58 for the 4th race of the week.

Next Week........
With roughly 140 miles completed in the last two weeks it might appear that the mileage is a little on the low side for the task at hand. However, next week is likely to be the highest mileage week EVER, possibly as high as 120 miles if everything goes to plan. So holistically, as I mentioned earlier, over a 4 week period the total mileage is likely to be healthy enough..

So what will the week involve?

On Tuesday there will be a first ever attempt at 800 metres on the track at Stretford.

And then on Friday & Saturday comes the big Yorkshire 20:20 Challenge. This will be an attempt to repeat the brilliant experience of last December when all 10 Yorkshire parkruns were completed in one day. That is on Friday.......and then on Saturday we're going to do it all again :)

There are currently 18 Yorkshire parkruns so 2 will be run twice. With bits of warm up etc this will involve running something like 70 miles over the two days.

I will be looking to do maybe the last 3 on each day at sub 20 to replicate the trying to inject a bit of speed on tired legs at the end of a marathon but, amazingly, Simon Newton (the man who ran all 7 legs of The Longest parkrun in sub 20:00) is going to be attempting to run all 20 parkruns at sub 20:00. This seems almost impossible to me but I wouldnt rule it out having seen his previous exploits.

If anyone wants to join us for one or more legs, John Broom has put together the following schedules :

Friday 24th August:

05:30-06:00 Pontefract
06:45-07:30 York
07:50-08:30 Hull
09:50-10:30 Sewerby
13:00-13:40 Redcar
14:10-14:50 Middlesbrough Albert Park
15:10-15:50 Tees Barrage
16:20-17:00 Stewart Park
18:30-19:10 Harrogate
20:10-20:40 York (2)

Saturday 25th August:

06:15-06:45 Barnsley
07:15-08:00 Concord
08:30-09:30 Graves
10:00-10:45 Hallam
11:45-12:30 Huddersfield
13:00-13:45 Dewsbury
14:30-15:15 Leeds
16:00-16:45 Bradford
17:30-18:15 Roundhay
18:45-19:30 Leeds (2)

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Chester Marathon - Week 2 of 10

Week 2 (Mon 06/08 - Sun 12/08)

Mon: 10.0 Miles Easy @ 7:59/mile
Tues: 7.0 Miles incl. Stretford Open 1500m 4:47.30 (5:08/mile)
Weds: 18.0 Miles, gently progressive @ 7:44/mile
Thurs: 10K Easy @ 7:58/mile
Fri: 10K Easy @ 8:15/mile
Sat am: 7.0 Miles incl. York parkrun 17:39 (5:38/mile)
Sat pm: 20.0 Miles @ 7:54/mile
Sun: Rest Day

Total Mileage: 74.4 

As expected, last week's food poisoning or bug was short lived resulting in a decent full week of training this week.

There was a bit of shuffling needed because I wanted to get a good 70-80 mile done but, at the same time, have a reasonably good crack at both a 1500m and a 5K during the week. On top of that, Sunday was likely to be a write off due to travelling to and from London for the Olympic Marathon.

But it all worked out fine by using the novel approach of fitting both Saturday and Sunday's sessions into one day.

1500m at Stretford
I didnt really know what to expect over 1500m as I hadnt run one for 25 years! The only benchmark was a  club championship mile a few weeks ago completed in 5:13, which pointed towards something like a 4:54 1500.

So very pleased with splits of 59, 79, 76, 73 for a time of 4:47.30.

Should you have 4 minutes and 47 seconds of your life that you really dont need for anything else then the full race can be watched here:

I'm in orange and Tom Williams is in red and white just in behind for the first 1200m before haring off to a 0.43 secs victory by the end.

York parkrun
This was an opportunity to have a strong parkrun outing in the company of regular parkrun sparring partners including Luke Bryant, Dan Holdsworth, John Robson, Darren Naughton et al

It is always good to visit York as the ever smiling Helen Durrant goes out of her way to give visiting parkrunners a special welcome.

17:39 was the fastest parkrun since VLM, so pleased enough with that but will be expecting some faster times in the next few weeks.

Rest Day
Although nothing to do with training, The Olympic Marathon was a superb experience not least because of how close you could get to the action. This was a pic I took of Kiprotich just as he was coming into the last 400 metres:

Next Week....
More of the same but with a lengthy tempo run, probably 10 miles in the mix somewhere.

There will be a couple of midweek races, York Millenium Bridge 5K on Tuesday and the Hyde Park Mile in Leeds on Wednesday. Nothing like a bit of variety.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Chester Marathon - Week 1 of 10

Since the training for the Chester Marathon is going to take up a fair old chunk of the second half of the year I thought it might be worth blogging the 10 week run up to the event.

I have given myself the improbable task of ducking under 2:45 at some point in the next four marathons. These will be Chester 2012, London 2013, Amsterdam 2013 and Boston 2014.

So how improbable is 2:45?

If I had to put a figure on the chance of success it would probably be in the region of 10-15%.  A 2:45 would mean a London Marathon Championship entry and only 26 V45s qualified to apply for one of those in 2011. So chances are pretty slim but that will make it all the sweeter if it happens. And, as I always say, at least I'll get fit trying :)

Since starting again in 2008 this is how the marathon efforts have gone:

Apr 2009: Blackpool Marathon 3:24:17
Oct 2009: Fleetwood Marathon DNF
Apr 2010: Blackpool Marathon 3:08:13
Oct 2010: Amsterdam Marathon 3:04:27
Apr 2011: London Marathon 3:18:30
Apr 2012: London Marathon 2:57:04
Oct 2012: Chester Marathon
Apr 2013: London Marathon
Oct 2013: Amsterdam Marathon
Apr 2014: Boston Marathon

So they're going in the right direction if you ignore the 2011 London time, which was effectively a DNF, and that offers at least some hope that there are more time improvements to come.

On to the training:

Week 1 (Mon 30/7 - Sun 05/08)

Mon: 10.0 Miles Easy 1:19:23 (7:56/mile)
Tues: 10.0 Miles Easy 1:18:07 (7:49/mile)
Weds: 7.0 Miles incl Spencer Arms Dash (5th of 6 in series) 22:26 (5th/2nd vet)
Thurs: Rest
Fri: Rest
Sat: Rest
Sun: 10.0 Miles Easy 1:23:22 (8:20/mile)

Unfortunately, the first week included a pretty rare event in that I was struck down with a bug, probably food related. Because I rarely fall foul of these things when they do get through the immune system you can bet your bottom dollar that they will be nasty little sods and so it proved this week.

It was a shame really because I had a weekend lined up consisting of a 10K race at Battersea on Saturday morning, where I was hoping to have a good bash at getting a sub 36 minute 10K under the belt, followed by some Olympic viewing, including the Women's Triathlon and Women's Marathon.

By Sunday morning I was feeling better so felt up to having a bit of a run. As expected, the legs felt strong after their 3 days of rest but there was still something a bit off with the oxygen transportation system. Another day or two and things should be back to normal. I hope!

Ah well, probably better to get a week like that out of the way fairly early on and leave the path clear for a good solid block of training in the coming weeks.

What does Week 2 hold in prospect?

Week 2 will be fairly unusual in that it will include a 1500m race, something which I have only ever done once and that was a 4:30 effort at Crystal Palace in about 1987, a mere 25 years ago.

This will be at Stretford in Manchester on Tuesday evening. I dont quite know why but I'm quite looking forward to it even though I know myself and Tom Williams (in his mission to run a sub 5 minute mile by September - will be well down the field even if we get close to our target of 4:45 - 4:50.

I'm expecting something around a 70-80 mile week in total.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

2012 - The First 6 Months......

The start of each new year from now on will throw up the question of whether time improvements from getting more training into the legs will be overshadowed by the inevitable decline of another year in age, now 46.

That could sound quite depressing  but considering I went through the process of giving up all idea of being able to run decent times again a long while ago the scenario will be nothing new. And since 100% of the reason for running is to be fit, healthy and competitive there will always be a reason to run :)

So what will 2012 bring? Well, I think the summary of the first six months is:

Sod The Ageing Process - That can wait until next year, or the year after...... :)

There has already been plenty of variety, the occassional standout performance and the odd cock up or two. But above all, it is already destined NOT to be the year when the decline takes over!

The bare statistics:

Jan 1st Glasgow parkrun 18:46 (8th)
Jan 7th Bespoke parkrun (Harrogate) 18:49 (3rd)
Jan 7th Yorkshire XC Champs 45:12 (127th)
Jan 14th York parkrun 18:03 (12th)
Jan 21st Harrogate parkrun 18:29 (2nd)
Jan 22nd Brass Monkey Half Marathon 1:24:28 (95th)
Jan 28th Barrow parkrun 18:27 (2nd)

Feb 4th York parkrun 18:23 (5th)
Feb 8th Dorothy Hyman 10,000m 38:53
Feb 11th Roundhay parkrun 19:38 (1st)
Feb 18th Colwick parkrun 19:03 (7th)
Feb 19th Wombwell 5 30:26 (24th)
Feb 25th Gunpowder parkrun 18:15 (3rd)
Feb 25th National XC (Parliament Fields) 48:00 (710th)

Mar 3rd Worsley Woods parkrun 38:18 (80th) [Slight 2 mile detour!]
Mar 4th Dewsbury 10K 36:21 (52nd) [New comeback PB - 1-0 vs The Ageing Process]
Mar 10th Walsall parkrun 17:59 (4th)
Mar 11th Spen 20 2:15:03 (15th) [New comeback PB - 2-0 vs The Ageing Process]
Mar 17th Sedgefield parkrun 18:28 (4th)
Mar 18th South Yorkshire HM 1:21:55 (20th) [New comeback PB - 3-0 vs The Ageing Process]
Mar 24th Hull parkrun 17:25 (6th) [New comeback PB - 4-0 vs The Ageing Process] [Hull V45 course record]
Mar 25th Thirsk 1:01:04 (37th)
Mar 31st Hull parkrun 19:21 (7th)

Apr 4th SpencerArms Dash (1/6) 22:16 (5th/1st vet)
Apr 7th Gateshead parkrun 18:01 (1st)
Apr 11th Silkstone Sth Yorks Road League - DNF
Apr 14th Graves parkrun 19:44 (8th)
Apr 21st Colwick parkrun 24:01 (37th)
Apr 22nd Virgin London Marathon 2:57:04 [New comeback PB - 5-0 vs The Ageing Process]
Apr 28th Harrogate parkrun 20:37 (19th)

May 2nd Spencer Arms Dash (2/6) 23:35 (7th/3rd vet)
May 5th Redcar parkrun 18:41 (3rd)
May 12th Preston parkrun 19:08 (8th)
May 16th Askern 10K 38:08 (57th)
May 19th White Peak HM 1:26:34 (20th)
May 26th Gunnersbury parkrun 19:31 (25th)
May 27th Melmerby 10K 38:43

Jun 2nd Burnley parkrun 18:50 (9th)
Jun 3rd Barnsley Boundary Relay (Leg 4) 40:20 (2nd)
Jun 4th Wythenshawe parkrun 18:20 (4th)
Jun 5th Huddersfield parkrun 18:09 (10th)
Jun 6th Spencer Arms Dash (3/6) 22:46 (5th/1st vet)
Jun 9th Braunstone parkrun 18:15 (9th)
Jun 10th Woodhall Spa 10K 36:37 (15th)
Jun 16th Poole parkrun 18:01 (6th)
Jun 20th Warrington 10K 36:39 (16th)
Jun 21st Dewsbury parkrun (test) 18:38 (1st)
Jun 23rd Dewsbury parkrun 18:24 (3rd)
Jun 26th DamFlask relays 21:12
Jun 30th Barnsley parkrun 18:27 (1st)

So am I pleased with 2012 so far? You bet I am! I'm absolutely loving it.

The first 26 weeks of the year has consisted of 50 races of various kinds across every distance from 5K to marathon.

The first half of the year has delivered the fastest times for 18 years at the following distances: 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, 20 Miles and Marathon. The only significant distance that has escaped so far is my favourite distance, 10 miles, and so a major aim for the second half of the year is to try to better the current comeback PB of 59:52. There will be a good few chances so heres hoping.........

The 3 Highlights of The First Half of 2012?

1. London Marathon (2:57:04)

It was very satisfying to finally get back under 3 hours at the 5th attempt with 2:57:04.

More importantly, although not my fastest marathon, it felt like the best executed of all 20+ marathons completed to date with very little tailing off of pace towards the end. 5K splits were:

20:29, 20:32, 21:03, 21:00, 20:42, 20:30, 21:02, 21:56

Considering how I normally fall apart in the closing stages, this was a very pleasing sequence of numbers.

So what was the difference between this marathon and previous ones that didnt go as well?

It basically came down to two things:
a) Simulating the last 10K of the marathon on a repeated basis in build up races through pre-race fasting.
b) Not carbo loading before the race or fuelling mid race.

It will be interesting to see if I can repeat the same experience for Chester in October or whether I am drawing the wrong conclusions.

25 Miles and happy in the knowledge that the sub 3 is in the bag:

I enjoyed that one :)

 The evening before:

2. Dewsbury 10K (36:21)

Although I do a lot of races there are only a select few, maybe 5 or 6 times a year, that justify a full on 'going to the well effort' and the second half of the Dewsbury 10K was one of those occassions. This picture was captured at probably the hardest part of the return 5K, which was covered in 17:40. I can still feel the pain now but a comeback PB of 36:21 was the reward:

3. Hull parkrun (17:25)
The most satisfying thing about this run on 24th March was that after completing well in excess of 150 5Ks since starting running again in 2008 I had declared publicly that I was going for a comeback PB on this day. This required beating the previous comeback PB at Leeds of 17:33.

Since the V45 course record at Hull stood at 17:40 and my previous best there was 17:43, it was going to take everything to go right to get near to achieving the aim.

Just to pile some more pressure on, Paul Tremere (Hull Race director) announced my intentions to the 300 assembled runners on the start line. No hiding place now, it was a balls on the line affair.

After some excellent first half pacing by John Broom, the first mile was covered in 5:38. I was then very aware that if I could maintain a similar pace for the second mile without overcooking things then the record could be on. The second mile was bang on the money at 5:36 and it was then just a case of unleashing every ounce of training and every bit of muscle power I could find into that last mile, which turned out to be 5:38 to bring it home in an enormously satisfying..........17:25!

Another 'going to the well' effort and another result which justified it. :)

What does the second half of 2012 have in store?

Yorkshire 20:20 Challenge
A small group of us will be covering 20 Yorkshire parkruns on 24th/25th August (As there are only 17 Yorkshire parkruns, 3 will be run twice). The idea will be to see how many of the 20 can be run in sub 20:00. The full 20 is nigh on impossible but this is going to be a novel way of getting a really good weekend of marathon training under our belts ready for the Autumn marathons.

The Great North Run
The sub 80 is still sitting there as a target to be challenged. Whether it will be managed at GNR or not I dont know but I'll give it a good bash.

The Chester Marathon 
My main aim here is to replicate how I felt during VLM in April and if that is successful, hopefully some more time improvements can be found.

My main aim on the marathon front now is to achieve a Championship place as a V45. That requires a sub 2:45:00 clocking and I'm giving myself  4 marathon attempts to achieve it...Chester 2012, VLM 2013, Amsterdam 2013, Boston 2014.

Comeback PB attempts at 1 mile and 10 miles
There are going to be a few attempts at a mile and 10 miles so hopefully the 5:19 and 59:52 comeback PBs so far can be put under some pressure.

There may be a parkrun or two thrown into the mix as well..................