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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 :)