Total Pageviews

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.