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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.


  1. Love the training diary mate. Such a shame we weren't in the same heat, like you say though it turned into such a great story!

    You'll be well under 1:20 on Sunday. One tip though if you haven't done it before, the low point is around 9 miles I think and you climb steadily from there and MUST leave something in the tank for the climb from 11 miles and the long final mile into a headwind ;-)

  2. I cant wait for your account on Marathon Talk this week.

    At least we can have more attempts at some point - can you imagine what it must be like for an Olympian to miss out on a medal by a similar margin after working for 4 years towards a goal and then knowing that it will be another 4 years before they get another chance.

    Thanks for the GNR reminders, I have run it several times but long enough ago for me to have forgotten the topography. I do remember that that last mile is never ending though.......

  3. Interesting that you run a 26 miler before the marathon. Do you do this more for the psychological or physical benefits?