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Monday, 25 March 2013

VLM 2103 - Week 10 of 14

VLM - Week 10 of 14
Week 10 - (Mon 18/3 - Sun 24/3)

Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 10.0 Miles @ 8:57/mile
Weds: 16.0 Miles @ 8:32/mile
Thurs: 10.0 Miles @ 8:18/mile
Fri: 6.21 Miles @ 8:44/mile
Sat: 4.0 Miles incl. Leeds parkrun 21:37 (12th)(6:59/mile)
Sun: 12.0 Miles incl. Thirsk 10 1:03:08 (50th/4th V45) (29:55, 33:13) (6:19/mile)

Total Mileage: 58.21 Miles

The three fixed elements pencilled in for this week were:
1. Sat(am) - Preston parkrun
2. Sat(pm) - 12 Stage Road Relays, Blackpool
3. Sun - Thirsk 10

As can be seen from the summary above, it didnt quite turn out that way after the worst snow dump of the winter put a random spoke in the works.

Nonetheless, a decent enough week:

Wednesday - 16.0 Miles

Another midweek hilly long one with Hannah but, in keeping with the last 2-3 weeks, keeping the distance a good bit short of 20 miles to allow speed development at the weekend to be the main focus.

It was a flowing, no drama run at 8:32/mile and felt just how these runs should feel at this stage, ie nothing aching and no real sense of having done a long run the next morning. Somehow though I always manage to get outkicked at the end, no matter what devious tactics I try to employ. We certainly dont need to worry about Hannah's 0.21 miles down The Mall!!!

Saturday - Leeds parkrun

The idea of nipping over to do Preston parkrun on Saturday morning on the way to the 12 Stage Road Relays at Blackpool were scuppered from the outset when seeing what the overnight weather systems had decided to deliver:

One of the few events to survive the weather demons was at Leeds, so that is where we ended up at 9am.

Since Jocelyn Payne was also there we decided to bring forward the planned attempt on her 5K PB from 13th April. 17:30 was the plan, 21:48 was the result. I thought that was a decent pacing effort....but she has now sacked me :p

In all seriousness though, the uppermost thought was just to have a run round without getting too sore from all the slipping around. That was achieved but I still managed to leave Leeds parkrun with stinging soreness. Apparently I was just 'in the wrong place at the wrong time' as Hannah's arm swung around at almost terminal velocity and connected perfectly with my left cheek. I never realised that parkrun post run coffees were such a dangerous activity!!

Dr Ken Fox surveying the Kirkstall Harriers team setting up the course:

Sunday - Thirsk 10

This was the scene that we left on Saturday evening, with 3-4ft deep snow, and yet 45 minutes later we were in Thirsk where there was almost no sign of any snow at all.

An excellent evening of pre race top notch cuisine and quality ales was provided by Dan Holdsworth, along with overnight accommodation a mere 200 metres from the Thirsk 10 race HQ. This made for a very relaxed race morning.

It might have been relaxed but as Hannah and myself went to do our first recce of the outdoor conditions, the iciness of the air hit you immediately. Furthermore, although it didnt appear too bad initially, once we had run up and down the last mile of the race it was clear that the wind was going to be horrible.

Thirsk 10 is always a good race for bumping into people that you havent seen for a while with its catchment area naturally extending up into the North East. As such, it was good to bump into Kelly Dodds on the start line, for whom this really represented a comeback race after a protracted period of non racing. It was even better to see that she probably had one of the best runs of the day, finishing mere seconds outside her PB of 74:12.

Also, as we were chatting with Dan in the car park pre-race, a chap ran past, gave the thumbs up and shouted 'Love your blog'. Since everyone was well wrapped up I have no idea whether it was someone I knew or not. Who were you? That made my morning :)

As the race got underway it was sunny and conditions were actually pleasant, in fact not far off being perfect.
I'm in the light blue Barnsley AC vest, with white long sleeved shirt with Hannah, to my left,  showing me a clean pair of heels in the early stages! Despite our wimpiness, there were plenty hardy souls, such as Ian Ogden and Martin Sanders, quite happily running in just a running vest in these sub zero conditions. Mad or hard?
I was looking to potentially be in comeback PB shape in time for this race, which would require a 59:52 or better.

The first 5 miles seemed very comfortable with splits of 6:06, 5:57, 5:51, 5:57, 6:01 for a first half of 29:55.

On the basis of how everything was feeling at this stage, it seemed entirely reasonable that I was in shape to run a negative split from here, which I usually do at Thirsk, and therefore in shape to run a comeback PB.

However, the only way that was actually going to happen in this race was if the gale force winds from the warm up had miraculously dwindled to a mild breeze for the closing stages. It didnt take long to find out that that wasnt the case. As the corner was turned just after the half way point, so that we were now running in the direction of the finish, there was an immediate slowing as the headwind did its best to push us back in the direction of the A1.

The remaining splits were 6:36, 6:17, 6:21, 6:48, 6:42 for a second half of 33:13 and an overall 1:03:08.

That sort of tailing off would normally indicate some kind of spectacularly inept blowing up but on this occasion I was quite happy at the finish that this was sub 60 fitness.

To show how the wind affected others:

Kevin Ogden - 26:55, 31:27
Kev Doyle - 28:59, 31:33
Hannah Oldroyd - 35:16, 39:24
Kelly Dodds - 35:45, 38:41

Usually you think of wind as being worth a few seconds here and there but on this occasion it was worth minutes.

So did it fulfil it's purpose as the next in the series of 'bringing to a peak' races? Definitely. As with the hills in last week's Sth Yorks HM, it was pleasing that the average pace into the strong headwinds wasnt much outside 2:50 marathon pace.

Post race refuelling started with a humongous carvery and continued on to include McFlurries, Guinness etc etc So it is a bit of a mystery as to how at the end of the weekend weight has actually dropped just below Chester Marathon weight for the first time. Clearly these must be slimming Yorkshire puds:

Next Week:

There are a few things pencilled in for this next week:

1. Potentially a couple of attempts at a 26 miler. This all depends on feeling up to it on one of the two days that I could fit it in and on the weather clearing up to allow it. If it doesnt get fitted in this week then that will be it because it will then be getting too close to VLM.

2. Thursday - Club Championship 3,000m, Cudworth

With this being open to guests as well it should prove to be a good evening of racing.

3. Saturday - Dewsbury parkrun

4. Another race - There will also be another race in there as well, probably a 10 miler, but still currently weighing up options.

VLM Prospects?

There was nothing in this last week that has changed my optimism, so just four weeks to go now and it is still looking good to be ready right on time. Just have to avoid trips, slip and other calamities now which could prove quite a challenge with some of the company I keep!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

VLM 2013 - Week 9 of 14

VLM - Week 9 of 14
Week 9 - (Mon 11/3 - Sun 17/3)

Mon:  Rest Day
Tues: 10.0 Miles @ 8:47/mile
Weds: 16.0 Miles @ 8:44/mile
Thurs: 10.0 Miles @ 9:31/mile
Fri: 6.21 Miles @ 8:54/mile
Sat: 6.0 Miles incl. Dewsbury parkrun (5th) 18:40 (5:48,5:48,6:13)
Sun: 16.0 Miles incl. Sth Yorks HM 1:22:08 (6:16/mile) (16th/ 1st V45)

Total Mileage: 64.21 Miles

As indicated at the end of last week, this week was intended to be pretty straightforward with mostly slow, steady running midweek.

It wouldnt really have been sensible to do anything else between a big 20 mile session at Spen last Sunday and a hard run half marathon seven days later. It is when feeling good at this stage of the build up that you are at most risk of overcooking things, so caution is still the name of the game.

Saturday - Dewsbury parkrun

This week's Dewsbury parkrun was significant for a couple of reasons.

1. On a personal note it clocked up my 200th parkrun, which is no more significant than the 122nd, the 173rd or the 187th but nonetheless it does refocus on what a great concept this is.

To have had 200 5K events at something like 89 different venues all free of charge and to have met so many interesting like minded people along the way makes you realise just what a great addition this is to what was available previously.

2. The young man wearing white with green hoops in the pic above, Jack Hallas,  achieved something yesterday that seemed highly unlikely to ever happen at Dewsbury due to the difficulty of the course. That achievement was to run the fastest parkrun of all those run in England yesterday , probably 100+ events and 15-20,000 individual runs, with a 15:55 clocking.

My own run was intended to be a strong but not flat out effort. With a course PB of 18:04 I would have pushed on if I thought that was going to be achievable but after the first two miles both at 5:48 it didnt really feel there for the taking so I backed right off in order to save the legs for Sunday's half marathon. A final 18:40 with miles of 5:48, 5:48 and 6:13 is still a good leg turnover session.

And this was Tom Howard who finished just a few seconds behind to equal his Dewsbury PB of 18:46 just seven days after running his all time PB at Hull. Not too shabby for someone who was convinced things werent going too well........:

And thankfully after last week's key incident at Hull, this was a relatively incident free parkrun morning :)

Sunday - South Yorkshire Half Marathon

As mentioned last week, anything around the 1:21:xx of last year for this race would represent a decent effort and keep things on track.

The outcome was officially 1:22:08 (6:16/mile) for 16th place (1st V45) but this is a good bit better than it first looks.

A course change from last year added significantly to the difficulty by adding in an extra loop on each of the two laps. This new loop involved a pretty stiff climb just to come straight back down again to meet up with where last year's course came out.

So, being realistic, this must represent 1:20 fitness, which I am delighted about with 5 weeks to go.

The splits were: 6:06, 6:07, 6:06, 6:10, 6:28, 6:11, 6:08, 6:16, 6:30, 6:12, 6:34, 6:30, 6:08

It isnt difficult to see where the hills cropped up in the above splits but it is actually the slowest miles that I take most positives out of. Considering the steepness and length of some of the climbs it is comforting to see that the pace didnt really slip outside 2:50 marathon pace even on the toughest sections.

Big performance today came from:

Lee Smith - 1:19:59, his first sub 1:20 clocking and on a course like that is some achievement.

Next Week:

Again, the focus will be on the 'bringing to a peak' races at the weekend, so nothing other than steady running midweek and then:

1. Saturday (am): Preston parkrun - a fairly relaxed effort to act as a warm up for the next event.This is a really nice venue so it will be good to pay another visit.

This was the start of the inaugural event at Preston on a lovely sunny morning last May, I am over to the left in all black with the famous Peter Woodward to my right. We still remain the only two people to have run a 5+ mile  parkrun at Worsley Woods after getting a little lost. :p

2. Saturday (am/pm): Northern 12 Stage Road Relays, Blackpool. I think I have a short leg allocated for this (and, yes, I know short legs are something I am very familiar with before the jokes start :) ) so should be a short sharp effort.

3. Sunday - Thirsk 10.
If conditions are favourable this could lend itself to be the first genuine attempt of the year at a comeback PB. That currently stands at 59:52 so will be a tough call but even getting somewhere close will mean a decent confidence boost for VLM.

Dan Holdsworth has kindly offered to provide accommodation and fuelling for this one before he assumes the responsibility of driving the lead car. So, depending on how his navigation skills stand up, we could end up running any old random distance during this race :p


With 5 weeks to go, this is about where I wanted to be at this stage. All the 8:30-9:00/mile stuff back in Jan/Feb has started to translate pretty well into sustained speed. There is a little way to go yet but right now it is all feeling good for an enjoyable run around London.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

VLM 2013 - Week 8 of 14

VLM - Week 8 of 14
Week 8 - (Mon 4/3 - Sun 10/3)

Mon: 10.0 Miles @ 8:27/mile
Tues: 8.0 Miles incl. 3 x 1 mile (400 jog recov) 5:50, 5:44, 5:46 (Avg. 5:47/mile)
Weds: 11.0 Miles @ 8:18/mile
Thurs: 10.0 Miles @ 8:01/mile
Fri: 6.21 Miles @ 8:46/mile
Sat: 8.0 Miles incl. Hull parkrun 17:54 (6th) (5:50, 5:46, 5:47) (Avg. 5:45/mile)
Sun: 21.0 Miles incl. Spen 20 2:18:02 (1:12:29 (7:15/mile), 1:05:33 (6:33/mile))

Total Mileage: 74.21 Miles

This week turned out pretty much as scripted.

After all the weeks of very relaxed slow mileage, it was time to start encouraging a bit of speed development to come through in the final 5 weeks of full training and I was very pleased with the response.

Tues - Track Interval Session 3 x 1 mile (400 jog)

The aim with this session was just to liven the legs up a bit to get them ready for having a go at landing a 17:xx 5K at Hull parkrun four days later.As such, it wasnt really about running each rep as quickly as possible but concentrating on accelerating the final 400m of each one to experience some faster paces.

The rep times were 5:50, 5:46, 5:47, nothing spectacular but there was enough in the way they felt to convince that a 17:xx was very realistic and probably with a bit to spare.

Saturday - Hull parkrun. After the mile reps on Tuesday this run was approached with plenty confidence that the first 17:xx of the year would be there if I could execute it properly.

However, that was on the assumption that conditions would be reasonably kind. What we were actually greeted with was a pretty grim, wet and windy East Park, which was clearly going to cost some time.

But that doesnt affect the execution of getting the effort level right, so it was just a case of getting stuck in and seeing what came out of the other end. As long as there was some sign of speed coming through I was going to be reasonably happy.

It turned out well, feeling strong and controlled but certainly hampered by the wind and wet feet. So got to be happy with 17:54 with splits of 5:50, 5:46, 5:47. The splits are almost identical to the rep times on Tuesday, so it was effectively the three reps strung together.

Considering the overall 5K comeback PB is 17:25, which was run twice on this same course, and considering that the conditions were easily worth 20 seconds,  I am delighted to be back within touching distance of it already. It feels like a potential 16:xx isnt totally out of the question in the coming weeks. Dawn Broom actually managed to achieve the near impossible by getting a picture of me actually putting a decent amount of effort into a run :p

But the drama of the day was nothing to do with the run, it was more related to this second picture above.
That is a car key which travelled to Hull without its associated car, then decided it wanted to stay in Hull, unbeknown to me, while we returned to Leeds.

It was back in Leeds when ready to get back in my own car that this key was suddenly reclassified as 'whereabouts unknown'.

There then ensued a period of several hours that involved phone calls to the RAC, locksmiths quoting £300 for a replacement, and a very lucky break that finally resolved the matter about 9:30pm (more than 12 hours after the parkrun) at a place called Walkington, just outside Hull, where the above pic was taken.

The lucky break involved a rare good idea from Hannah Oldroyd, some exceptional helpfulness from Hull parkrun volunteer Peter Rodmell and a brilliant effort from Jason Newell, who readily volunteered to drive the 140 mile round trip to Hull for the second time in the day in order to save my bacon!

Many thanks to the rescuers :)

Sunday - Spen 20

Surely after yesterday's events, the day of the Spen 20 had to be a little more incident free?

The idea for this race was to start breeding some marathon confidence and, as such, what was intended was to take the first half of this very hilly 20 miler steadily, ie no faster than 70 mins, and then start upping the effort level over the second half but without feeling like I was hanging on for the finish. Something around 65 minutes, or 2:50 marathon pace, would be ideal for the second half.

The first half was run with John Broom and felt very comfortable in 1:12:29 (7:15/mile).

From the 10 mile marker it was then time to starting asking the legs some questions and seeing how they responded. Suffice to say, I was a little taken by surprise at just how well they did respond. Following the 10th mile in 7:12, the tough 11th was covered in 6:09! I was expecting something around 6:20-6:30, but it was feeling good so there was no real concern that there was going to be a price to pay for this acceleration.

The remaining miles were ticked off in 6:30, 6:31, 6:20, 6:25, 6:37, 6:59, 6:59, 6:35, 6:17.

The two 6:59s were slowed quite significantly by a freezing wind picking up strength on the top of the moor, so an overall second half of 1:05:33 (6:33/mile) was very pleasing.

The last part of the plan of not feeling as though I was hanging on for the finish was also achieved to the point that, if push came to shove, a 42 minute 10K could probably have been tagged on the end to complete a sub 3 marathon today. Off such a steady start that is a really nice position to be in 6 weeks out from VLM :)

It also earned a small trophy for becoming Yorkshire Vets V45 Champ. Now, that isnt the same as saying that I was first V45 in the race, which I definitely wasnt, but we'll quickly gloss over that bit ;)

This is moi, Dawn Broom (ladies V45 champ) and Dave Thompson (2nd overall):

Much hilarity and calorie laden huge desserts were had during the post race refuelling (with Hannah Oldroyd valiantly trying to avoid being photographed, Dawn and John Broom and photographer Jason Newell) :

And following on from the shenanigans with the missing car key yesterday, it now looks like the trophy pictured above has been taken as hostage against its will to some secret location. The kidnapper has issued a photo to show that it is safe and well but hasnt yet entered into negotiations for its safe release:

Next Week

Quite a straightforward week coming up consisting of plenty mid week steady miles and another overall 70-80 mile week.

There may be another interval session but not as a main priority, if I feel up for it I'll do one, if not I'll wait for the weekend for the next chunk of speed development.

1. Saturday - Dewsbury parkrun. This will actually clock up the milestone of my 200th parkrun and therefore the last metre before the finishing line will be the 1,000,000th official parkrun metre - that sounds a lot!

This will be a strongish effort but certainly not flat out because the emphasis will be on Sunday's race:

2. Sunday - South Yorkshire Half Marathon

This will be the next of the 'bringing to a peak' races. It is an undulating race with some decent climbs involved but the benchmark will be getting somewhere close to last year's time of 1:21:xx. Anything around there will be a pretty decent effort.

As for progress towards VLM, it is a very fortunate position to be in where I'm looking forward to it more and more the closer the race gets, which tends to suggest that things are going pretty well. Six weeks feels just about right to get to the start line feeling ready for the challenge. Fingers crossed of course, plenty can happen in 6 weeks.....

Monday, 4 March 2013

VLM 2013 - Week 7 of 14

VLM - Week 7 of 14
Week 7 - (Mon 25/2 - Sun 3/3)

Mon: Rest Day
Tues: Rest Day
Weds: 10.0 Miles @ 7:56/mile
Thurs: 18.0 Miles @ 8:12/mile
Fri: 10.0 Miles @ 8:53/mile
Sat: 6.0 Miles incl Delamere parkrun 18:54 (10th) (5:54, 6:01, 6:14)
Sun: 16.36 Miles @ 8:50/mile

Total Mileage: 60.36 Miles

This week was  a good example of being flexible with the training after taking account of feedback from the legs.

As mentioned last week, the outline for this week was to get roughly 80 miles in including:
1. A 20 miler
2. A 15-18 miler
3 A progressive 10 miler finishing around 6:00/mile
4. A parkrun.

But in the early part of the week I was very cautious about the delayed effects of running hard three times in two days totalling 20 miles on various surface types, ie Dewsbury parkrun, National XC and Snake Lane 10 all within about 27 hours.

So on both Monday and Tuesday it felt that rest was the most appropriate use of each day. The Tuesday would have been used for the progressive 10 miler but that would have been a struggle to complete, and with the potential training stimulus not being that far removed from the Snake Lane 10 miles @ 6:30/mile two days earlier, I was quite happy with opting for a rest day instead.

In a nutshell the week became one of consolidation with predominantly steady running, which is actually well timed with a series of longer 'bringing to a peak' races lined up over the next 3-4 weeks.

Saturday - Delamere parkrun

This was the inaugural event in a scenic setting in Delamere Forest in Cheshire.

The chances of running this at all had been completely written off at about 8:30am when the sat nav info was indicating an arrival time of 9:14am. This was due to a very awkward bit of new roadworks around Hyde which was causing ridiculously lengthy delays for what it was (but nothing compared to the problems that it was going to cause for the poor people trying to get through the same spot later in the day).

So backup plans involving going to one of South Manchester, Wythenshawe, Heaton Park or Bramhall were formulated, all within easy reach within the time available. Heaton Park was most likely as Dawn and John Broom hadnt actually run at that venue before.

However, we then decided that we would go to Delamere anyway based on the logic that even if we were 15 minutes late we should still be able to get around without holding up marshals etc.

To cut a long story short we actually arrived at 8:58am (dont ask!) just as the run was about to get underway:

This now ranks as the third latest arrival at a distant parkrun after Gorleston 9:01am (after a 4.5 hr drive) and Gunnersbury 9:03am (after a 3 hour drive).

After numerous quick hellos to plenty familiar faces we were off with no warm up whatsoever and, with that in mind, it was satisfying enough to come away with an 18:54 on a 100% trail course.

The hardest part was still to come though when faced with the choice of a bacon baguette, a bacon butty, a toasted bacon butty or a bacon bap!!! At least the coffee was straightforward :)

Considering that the last time I took part in an inaugural parkrun on a 100% trail course it involved a 2 mile detour at Worsley Woods after being led astray by Peter Woodward,  this one has to go down as a resounding success despite the tight arrival time.

Mingling post run in the glorious morning sunshine with Jason Newell, Hannah Oldroyd and half of John Broom! :
And contrary to rumours this was not me running in the opposite direction to the other runners again, it was actually a warm down:
 As you can tell from the pics above the setting is hard to beat and so a visit to Delamere parkrun is to be highly recommended if you get chance.

Sunday - 16.36 Miles

This was shorter than most Sunday runs recently but fitted the bill in terms of keeping the 20+ milers more spaced out coming into the last 7 weeks with just a planned 26 miler 3-4 weeks out going much beyond 20.

This is to let the speed development start coming through and to allow the upping of the volume of batches of 6:15-6:30 miles.

The 16 miles also represented a very positive run for Hannah Oldroyd in her recovery from a damaged ankle after a bad twisting during a XC race three weeks ago. Keeping the pace steady and stopping before it became too much of a struggle this acted as a very significant step in terms of getting VLM back on her agenda.

Next Week:

This coming week is a week when it is time to start getting a feel for where the training is at and to begin the focus on London.

The fixed elements are:

1. Saturday - Hull parkrun. The aim to is to finally get the first 17:xx of the year on the board but, more importantly, to feel strong in the final mile and try to get somewhere close to 5:30.

2. Spen 20 - A hilly 20 miler which will be used to breed confidence more than anything else. The plan will be to have a very comfortable first 10 miles and then get to work. As long as the legs keep responding I'll keep upping the intensity but not to the point where I'm hanging on for the finishing line. A strong final 10 with something left in the tank is the overall aim.

The overall mileage this week should get back up around 80 and there will probably be a rare interval session added in, probably on Tuesday, to liven the legs up ready for the 5K attempt on Saturday. This will be a 4 x 1 mile (400 jog) session.

Still no concerns about VLM, 7 weeks to go and very much looking forward to it :)