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Monday, 28 January 2013

VLM 2013 - Week 2 of 14

VLM 2013 - Week 2 of 14
Week 2 (Mon 21/1 - Sun 27/1)

Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 10.0 Miles Easy @ 8:13/mile
Weds: 20.0 Miles @ 8:17/mile
Thurs: Rest Day
Fri: Rest Day
Sat: 9.0 Miles incl. Malahide parkrun 19:07 (6:09/mile) (8th)
Sun: 20.5 Miles incl. RunSunday 3.0 Miles 20:56 (6:59/mile) (1st) (Overall 8:44/mile)

Total Mileage: 59.5 Miles

Not the week that was expected this week due to snow and ice resulting in a couple of additional rest days. Nonetheless, a week that includes two 20+ mile runs and nearly 60 in total keeps things moving in the right direction.

Malahide parkrun weekend in Dublin

What a weekend!

Arranged by Jason Newell, this was an eclectic bunch of about 12-15 parkrunners going off to enjoy the delights of an overseas event. As it turned out timing couldnt have been better as most of the local parkruns at home were cancelled.

The Outbound Flight

Attempting to fly to Dublin right in the middle of a severe weather warning always had the potential to be a bit of an experience and we we certainly werent disappointed on that score.

The plane had to be de-iced prior to take off but the first snag came because they couldnt de-ice it quickly enough to prevent re-icing and it therefore needed doing a second time. Meanwhile a blizzard was piling the snow up on the taxi way and runway.

It came as no surprise later to learn that they were in the process of deciding to close the airport....but only after one more flight departure. Ours!

That was the first time that I have taken off on a runway where no tarmac was visible and it was therefore quite a relief when the wheels actually left the ground and we were airborne.

Friday Evening

This consisted of a predictable Guinness  fuelled few hours of nonsense in the company of Nicky Best, Hannah Oldroyd, Geoff Render, Jason Newell, Matthew Kelly, Gary Holliday.

The most relevant fact in terms of parkrun prep was that because our evening didnt start until after 11pm the last Dublin brewed black stuff was still flowing after 5am!

Saturday Morning - Finding Malahide parkrun
Less than 3 hours after the evening before I made my first mistake of the weekend - asking for directions to Malahide parkrun. I couldn't fault the helpfulness of the person involved but 20 minutes later, and several attempts by my eyes to go back to sleep, this was the result:

Sorted! What could possibly go wrong now?

Lefts, rights - if you do a few of them in random combinations you do tend to end up getting to your destination eventually. And all was looking good as we trotted along and started noticing structures that looked a bit castley in nature. This was easy.

Or it would have been if we had headed towards the right castle. Apparently Swords Castle is not quite the same thing as Malahide Castle.

Never mind, whats a 2 mile detour for a parkrunner of my reputation? Standard practise, thats what it is :)

The amusement of all this was added to by the fact that the actual directions from where we were staying were 'turn right and then right again and its in front of you'.

We got there eventually and joined in the mingling of the other runners as they arrived between 9 and 9:15 (its a 9:30 start in Dublin).

As the start time approached Matthew Kelly, obviously a bit more awake than the rest of us, started to suspect that the group of people who we were hanging around with might not actually be parkrunners. And he was right!

A hurried hobble across the park later and we did eventually reach....

Malahide parkrun

We were led to believe that this was a nice flattish course, so potentially quite quick. Flat and quick were not the first two words I was particularly interested in though. Survival and coffee were nearer the mark.

Off we went and after a steady dry first part of the run, we were then confronted by this:

It was long, deep and freezing - lovely!

A couple of weeks earlier, when Hannah Oldroyd set a new course record at Dewsbury parkrun, she had challenged me to a smackdown at Malahide. But since she was one of the 5am Guinness drinkers surely she would be opting for a gentle run instead, wouldnt she?

Erm, no. The gauntlet was thrown down from the by 400m I conceded and accepted the defeat. But as we got into the second half and with about 150m to close I thought it might be worth a push just to see. Maybe Guinness is quite a good fuel as the legs started to respond and by the 4.8km mark the gap had closed to 2m.

So I loitered waiting for some evidence of the last corner approaching. But as I loitered the right shoe starting feeling loose and as I looked down there was the inevitable flapping about of undone shoelaces. Oh bugger!

Ah well, no time to stop and tie it so may as well go for the final corner surge past the prey. So thats what I did and overtook Hannah in what I thought was a decisive manner. Just two problems - a) In doing so, the left shoelace also decided to come undone and b) It wasnt the last corner!

I was therefore toast from that point on as she found more gears to go on to record a huge new parkrun PB of 19:04 compared to a previous 19:50. Impressive.

Equally impressive runs from the rest of the party:

3rd John Broom 18:01
5th Matthew Kelly 18:58
6th Hannah Oldroyd 19:04
8th Steve Darby 19:07
27th Dawn Broom 20:44 (although probably 20:27)
61st Gary Holliday 23:51
128th Les Bradshaw 29:44
164th Geoff Render 32:35 (this was the first 100th parkrun to be completed in Ireland)
175th Sara Newell 34:40
187th Nicky Best 35:32
195th Jamie Newell 38:22
196th Jason Newell 38:23

5th, 6th and 8th looking a good bit better than they deserved to...........

The Rest of Saturday in Dublin and the Return Flight

An afternoon of taking the tourist bus trip around the sights of Dublin, including being amazed at the size of Phoenix Park, with John and Dawn Broom, was followed by what appeared to be a straightforward journey home........

Yeah right! :p

The 17:40 bus pulled away just as we approached the bus stop at 17:35! The next was in an hour which was too late.

Time for a back up plan - what other buses went to the airport? Lets ask a nice helpful local person. On second thoughts, lets ask two and see if their advice coincides ;)

Okay, a No.41 bus at 18:00 just around the corner.

The driver turned up at 17:55 to advise us that we had 'the wrong sort of euros', what he meant was paper money wasnt allowed, only coins and it had to be correct. You couldnt overpay and forsake the change, it had to be correct. Cue a mad dash up the road to find a shop while time quickly disappeared.

A John Broom 'foot in the bus door' technique saved our bacon and we finally got to sit on a bus going in the direction of some aeroplanes.

The return flight was straightforward enough.....until it came to time for landing!

Most people on the flight were very experienced fliers, so it was very telling the way that people were looking at each other during this landing. It was not exactly textbook. On the approach the plane was swinging about much more than usual and then we seemed to touch down too early, thereby hitting an uncleared ice patch rather than the cleared tarmac.

It then seemed like quite a struggle to get the plane under control and just when you expected the revs to die down, the exact opposite happened as the engines were revved hard to try to get some more reverse thrust. Were we struggling to stop in time?

A few sighs of relief were heard as the plane did finally pull off to taxi but definitely not one that will be forgotten in a hurry.

This is a 3 mile run around Otley Chevin.

Apparently, this week's run was in the worst conditions so far of the 24 runs to date.

That wasnt hard to believe as I could hardly stand up on the slush and ice, especially as I only had racing flats on my feet.

It was a hilly 2 lapper and on the first lap it was a case of watching the rest run away into the distance as I lost all hope of even staying upright for a full lap.

However, after a while things changed, a bit like when you start driving cautiously on ice but then get to a point of enjoying the slides and just get on with it. Gradually progress was made towards the front four, the leader being Hannah Oldroyd.

Despite the conditions there was the motivation of revenge for the previous day at Malahide. Happily revenge was indeed had. The traumatised 2nd placer went straight into attempting the second big challenge of the day - trying to buy four bacon sandwiches in a vegetarian cafe!

3rd was Matthew Kelly and 8th Jason Newell.

17.5 Miler

To clock up another 20+ miler, a meandering 17.5 mile run was added on, a challenging route around Bramhope, Yeadon and Guiseley. With this being the 5th 20+ miler in 17 days it feels like a good base has been laid down for the crucial next 8 weeks, a period that will involve gradually increasing intensities.

Next Week:

The fixed elements this week are:

1. Weds - 2 mile track race at Cudworth (delayed from last week)
2. Sat - Dewsbury parkrun
3. Sun - Dewsbury 10K

There will be enough intensity in there for the rest of the week to consist of just easy running. There will be no tapering involved, so total mileage will hopefully come out in the 70-80 mile range.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

2013 Begins......VLM Week 1 of 14

As I outlined in the last post back in October the period between then and now was planned to be a very relaxed period of extended downtime after an intensive racing season leading up to the Chester Marathon.

Well that is exactly what happened as I slobbed to my heart's content :)

But now it is time to start getting ready for VLM, which is now 13 weeks away on April 21st.

More of that later, but just to fill in the gap between October and now:

Races Completed Since Chester Marathon in October

There is no need to go into any great detail about these, but this is a list of races and parkruns with 2012 best times in brackets just to show how relaxed this period has been:

21st Oct - Cabbage Patch 10 1:06:20 (1:01:04)
18th Nov - Leeds Abbey Dash 41:34 (36:19)
2nd Dec - Guy's 10 1:06:07 (1:01:04)
16th Dec - Telford 10K 39:34 (36:19)
30th Dec - Ward Green 6 37:14 (N/A)

5th Jan - Yorkshire XC Champs 45:27 (N/A)
9th Jan - Dorothy Hyman Winter 3,000m 11:03 (10:05)

and parkruns (2012 best 17:25 (twice))........

13th Oct - Dewsbury 22:49
20th Oct - St Albans 20:05
27th Oct - Dewsbury 19:31
17th Nov - Dewsbury 23:05
24th Nov - Hull 19:18
1st Dec - Dewsbury 20:49
8th Dec - Mansfield 18:46
15th Dec - Dewsbury 19:47
22nd Dec - Congleton 20:51
25th Dec - Dewsbury 21:49
29th Dec - Dewsbury 19:51

1st Jan - Southampton 19:13
1st Jan - Netley Abbey 20:50
5th Jan - Dewsbury 20:36
12th Jan - Dewsbury 19:28
19th Jan - Dewsbury 20:06

It wouldnt take a genius to notice that Dewsbury has appeared prominently in the above list. This is largely due to becoming Event Director there since the last posting. There will, however, still be plenty visiting of other venues in the coming weeks and months. We have a really good event team at Dewsbury with plenty capable Run Directors so that means that everyone is free to engage in a spot of parkrun tourism when the fancy takes them.

So onto 2013 -

As with the start of 2012 the challenge is to try to beat the ageing process. I define that as running at least one comeback PB at one of the standard distances. If that is achieved I win, if not the ageing process wins. Lets do battle :)

And these are the comeback PBs that have to be attacked:

800m 2:20.05
1500m 4:47.30
1 Mile 5:00.2
3000m 10:05.57
5K 17:25
10K 36:19
10 Miles 59:52
HM 1:18:41
20 Miles 2:15:03 (but this doesnt count as its too soft !)
Marathon 2:55:36

The trouble is that by having a pretty good 2012 it is going to be a whole lot tougher to clock up comeback PBs in 2013. Then again, where would the fun be if it was easy?

The main aims for 2013 are going to be:

1. VLM in April and
2. Leeds Golden Mile in September

........... the latter being a surprise even to me :p

If you'd told me at the start of 2012 that I'd be actively targetting a mile race I would have out chuckled the Chuckle Brothers!

But that all changed when Tom Williams made a chance comment, suggesting that I might want to join him in a 1500m track race at Stretford last July. My immediate thought was 'Yeah right, me a 1500?' but by the time that thought reached my lips it had become 'Okay, go on then'. 

And as a result a fun Summer of track racing was had. :)

I know a few people who got involved with track racing last year who surprised themselves at how much they enjoyed it, so I am not alone in getting sucked into this strange world of trying to inflict as much pain on yourself as is humanly possible.

But the most intriguing thing was that by the end of the Summer I had clocked up UK age group rankings of No.6 for the road mile and No.7 for the track mile. My first reaction to this was amusement as we all know that not many people actually run mile races any more.

But then came the next thought of wondering just what might be possible if I gave it a concentrated effort for a few months, ie a bit like the question that each Marathon Talk interviewee is asked.

5:00.2 off the back of marathon training suggests that specific mile training should deliver something a bit quicker. Sounds logical enough but then again not all things to do with running turn out to be logical, so it will be more of an interesting experiment just to see.......

But before then it is VLM:

The aim for the next 14 weeks is just to get plenty good training under the belt, enjoy the journey and get to the start line at Blackheath feeling ready to put in a good performance. Hopefully that will mean closing the gap a bit more between the 2:55 at Chester and the 2:45 required for a Championship place at London.  There are other milestones of interest along the way, ie sub 2:50 and  the small matter of my 20 year old PB 2:48:58. For now though that means getting some decent mileage going:

VLM 2013 - Week 1 of 14

Mon 14/1 10.0 Miles 1:26:47 (8:40/mile)
Tues 15/1 Rest Day
Weds 16/1 20.0 Miles 2:49:17 (8:28/mile)  (1st 10 @8:51, 2nd 10 @8:04)
Thurs 17/1 10.0 Miles 1:34:41 (9:28/mile)
Fri 18/1 10.0 Miles 1:33:48 (9:23/mile)
Sat 19/1 5.0 Miles incl Dewsbury parkrun 20:06
Sun 20/1 23.0 Miles 3:18:21 (8:36/mile)

Week's Mileage: 78.0 Miles

Just about all this week's mileage has been run on snow and hills so I reckon there is additional training benefit due from the harder work involved.

This was Dewsbury parkrun to give an idea of conditions:

And next week.......

It will be a case of just getting another decent week of solid mileage in but in amongst the miles there will be a 2 mile track race at the Dorothy Hyman Stadium in Cudworth on Wednesday evening and the first bit of international parkrun tourism when visiting Malahide parkrun in Dublin on Saturday.
There is a group of something like 15, arranged by Jason Newell, going over so it should be a fun trip.

There may be some of this involved:

There is also some added interest to this particular VLM build up as I am publicly mentoring Keir Williams on the Runner's World forum. Keir is looking to break 2:50 at London so if you want to follow his progress, here it is. I have plenty confidence that he will achieve his target :)