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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.

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