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Sunday, 28 April 2013

VLM 2013 - Race Week

VLM  - Week 14 of 14

Week 14 - (Mon 15/4 - Sun 21/4)

Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 6.21 miles @ 8:48/mile
Weds: 6.0 Miles incl. Sth Yks Road League Penistone (4.23 miles) 28:40 (6:39/mile)
Thurs: Rest Day
Fri: 2.0 Miles (No Time)
Sat: 4.0 Miles incl. Rotherham parkrun 23:17 (7:30/mile) (15th)
Sun (very early am) : 1.0 Mile (No Time)
Sun: 26.21 Miles VLM 2013 3:11:29 (20:48, 20:46, 21:12, 20:44, 20:43, 21:12, 23:55, 29:03, 13:06 )

Total Mileage: 45.41 Miles

Weds - Sth Yorks Road league, Race 2 Penistone

This 2nd race in the 5 mile road race series was very well timed. With it being run for the most part on the flattish Trans Pennine Trail it was ideal for a 5 miles @ MP type session, which is a typical session four days out from a marathon.

There was a reasonably steep hill in the middle section before returning to the TPT but it was still a nice run for tapping out a controlled rhythm. I intended to stretch the legs out a bit more over the last mile but just after the 4 mile mark a marshall declared that the finish was only about 400m ahead.

This was a bit confusing as these races are accurately measured but it turned out that the entire field had taken a wrong turning very early on in proceedings, thus cutting off the missing three quarters of a mile.

Nonetheless, 4.23 miles @ 6:39/mile avg. represented job done.

Sat - Rotherham parkrun

Saturday morning had perfect sunny weather for the inaugural Rotherham parkrun at Clifton Park.

It is another of those undiscovered gems of the parkrun world. Venues always look more attractive in sunny conditions but this is certainly a park that surprised and is highly recommended for a visit if you get chance.

The run itself was a relaxed pre-marathon leg stretcher. The idea was to get as close to 24 mins as possible so as to keep the legs intact for VLM but since my Garmin battery seems to be dying a very quick death, it gave up the ghost after a mile and we ended up with a satisfactory 23:17.

Hannah, Tacey Healey, Sam Healey, Jess The Dog and myself pre-run:

It almost seemed inevitable, even when we had 6 foot snow drifts a couple of weeks back, that by the time we got to the weekend of 20th/21st April there would be bright sunshine and thoughts would be quickly shifted from frostbite to sunburn, and so it proved.

So, after getting the day off to a very pleasant start it was time to have a relaxed journey down to London, with the aim of picking numbers up after all the fuss had died down towards the end of the Expo.

The advantages of doing it this way are:
1. Literally 1-2 minutes to get the registration and tags sorted out.
2. Much easier to see what is on offer/display at the Expo stalls.
3. Goody bags are piled on you in a desperate attempt to get rid of them before the doors close. I think we ended up with about a dozen, each with a beer voucher worth upwards of £4 inside. It is just a pity that they expire on 5th May!

On the way out a VLM official politely enquired 'how many have you got?' My reply was 'not sure, about 8-10 I think'. I thought he was going to take some off me but instead I got a 'well have another couple then' :p

It was now 5pm on a sunny pre-marathon evening, so plenty time to go for a nice stroll around the finish area of Birdcage Walk, The Mall and Horseguard's Parade to give Hannah a feel for how things would work in the morning and, much more importantly, how to quickly get out of the finish area and get to The Red Lion on Whitehall.

And since we were there anyway it would have been rude not to.....

VLM Race Day
Sun - 4:30 am:

Some runners like to do a very early morning short jog on marathon morning whereas others think it is a waste of time. It is difficult to know for sure but I get the impression that the legs feel looser at the start as a result. So at 4:30am we popped out and had a very slow jog of no more than a mile before tucking into the last input of carbs and a bucket of Costa coffee. 

Although it was completely empty we drew the line at taking our warm up jog onto the M4:

VLM - The Start

After taking the usual empty route to the start from Victoria to Lewisham we sauntered up to Blackheath in the morning sun with lots of time to spare. Once in the GFA compound the first little snag was that the usual free flowing coffee wasn't available due to water supplies running out. Ah well, good job the huge Costa was had earlier.

After milling about to use up the time before the start I got a tap on the shoulder from Kev Ogden. As we chatted and walked towards where I'd left my bag it became apparent that my bag (the one in the picture above) wasn't where I'd left it.

However, I did find it pretty quickly - in the possession of stern looking security personnel! It had been rifled through to the extent that it now contained mushed up bananas and squashed jaffa cakes amongst the rest of the resulting mess.

This was very OTT, it was a secure area that had no general access and bags were left all over the place while runners did a bit of jogging warming up or went to the loo, just as in every other year!

Anyway, onto the race:

The Race:

No specific times target were laid down for this race. I just wanted to execute it as well as I could on feel and see what came out of the other end. A sub 2:55 to deliver a comeback PB would be very pleasing and anything quicker even more pleasing.

0-5K 20:48

As last year I ran without a Garmin/stopwatch and just wanted to relax into the race and get into a metronomic rhythm for the first 15 miles and then take stock from there. The first 5K was used to just let tendons and muscles warm to the task.

6-10K 20:46

The run down to Cutty Sark at around the 10K mark is probably the easiest section of the race and, as such, it is important not to get carried away. It was still feeling like the legs were warming into the race and felt relatively effortless, as it should at this stage.

11-15K 21:12

The next two 5K sections between Cutty Sark and Tower Bridge used to be a very quiet area of the race where you could really switch off and let the time to halfway just fly by. But this year this section was as noisy and packed as anywhere else. Of course, with everything nicely warmed up this is the time when you're itching to get on with it so it takes some concentration to keep a lid on things with all the crowd noise going on.

16-20K 20:44

The 20K mark is actually very close to the centre of Tower Bridge before you start coming down the other side. I was feeling very comfortable through this section but have it ingrained in my hardwiring not to fall foul of the 'Tower Bridge Surge', which you see on the pace graphs every year. So still nice and controlled.

Halfway 1:28:01

With no pre-set idea of what the halfway time was going to be but having run two half marathons recently in 1:22 on testing courses, the time of 1:28 correlated pretty well with how it was feeling.

The thoughts now were turning to a negative split but not to start doing too much too soon. Mentally I wanted to get to 30K before starting to have to grind it out, so for now more metronomic patience was the aim.

21-25K 20:43

We were now in the Docklands loop and the route is completely lined with 6-10 deep spectators. At the same time the streets are narrower than in the previous sections so there is a noticeable heat build up as you get into this section.

Still going well though so the heat was very tolerable.

26-30K 21:12

Thoughts now turned to upping the effort level as the 30K mark approached. The current pace projected forward would deliver something around 2:55 so whatever increase in pace I could find was going to start getting the overall time into very pleasing territory.

31-35K 23:55

The 31st km was the fastest of the race so far by about 10 secs in 3:55 and felt like a good launch pad for kicking on. It was shaping up nicely as a result of getting in a group of about 6-7 runners moving at bang on the pace I was wanting.

With confidence growing and the circumstances going in my favour I just had a general feeling that this was going to be my day, one of those where everything clicks.

However, then the drama started.

As a result of the depth of the crowds and the relatively narrow streets mentioned earlier discarded water bottles were staying on the course as opposed to being thrown clear. Add into that the fact that the bottles discarded by the runners that had gone before us were pretty full, and were therefore solid, and a potentially dangerous situation existed.

Because I was in the middle of the group I got no warning when a bottle bounced off a kerb and came spinning back into our path. My right foot landed right on top of it resulting in a painful twisted ankle.

After a few of these $%^%£"$&&^s and a few more of these *$&***^&*% the automatic reaction was just to get straight back into it. Although the ankle was ouchey I managed to get back with the group and just hoped it wasn't too bad.

We were still moving at just under 4:00/km and the ankle was easing off so at around 34K it felt tentatively as though the bullet had been dodged.

But not for long! There was now something resembling a limp in my right leg with the weakness being somewhere in the quad region. Presumably this had been caused when my ankle turned over and the result was that I was now struggling to lift my right leg properly. The left leg was fine but I was reduced to a shuffling action to nurse the right leg.

36-40K 29:03

I was hoping that, as with the ankle, whatever this strain was might work itself out over the next few minutes but alas that wasn't going to be the case.

At the 19 mile mark I didn't have any choice, the leg just wasn't lifting. I could still keep running, or rather jogging, but it was taking a long time to eat up any ground. 7 miles of this was going to be a complete pain when any reasonable result had now gone out of the window.

But what was the alternative? Taking a tube or walking wasn't going to get to The Red Lion any sooner so I may as well just relax and soak up the sun.

At least it could still serve the purpose of securing a place in VLM 2015 so it was worth getting to the finish as long as no serious damage was being done.

41-42K 13:06

It was like being a spectator for the last few miles, as indicated by my being shuffled back around 700 places through the field.

Going past the 25 mile mark in 3:00:00 brought a wry smile, I like round numbers :)

But probably the weirdest feeling is to be doing the last few miles of VLM without working hard. There is an automatic mental connection between these miles and suffering but on this occassion it was the exact opposite.

Helplessness was the overall summary, so there was nothing to be disappointed with. The training build up had been good, the pre-race arrangements had been absolutely spot on and the execution of the race was just how I had envisaged ..... but it hadn't worked out due to another factor.

This can happen any time of course, whether it be weather, illness or one of a host of many other possible gremlins. So it is just a case of enjoying the parts that went well and moving on.......

First Half  - 1:28:01

Second Half  - 1:43:28

Total  - 3:11:29

5K Splits - 20:48, 20:46, 21:12, 20:44, 20:43, 21:12, 23:55, 29:03 and 13:06 for the last 2.2K

Performances of the day:

In a nutshell there were lots of great performances so I am bound to miss people but a selection of the very impressive ones were:

1. Kev Ogden - 2:39:48 A superbly paced 1:19:34, 1:20:14 run for a 5 minute PB.

2. Jason Cherriman - 2:29:31 A grafted out 2 second PB to finish 41st overall (incl elites)

3. Caz Hall - 3:11:44 A well deserved 3 minute PB

4. Phil Sanders - 2:35:54 After a long injury lay off a superb run to land the 2:35 he had been looking for. And a run that meant he was one of the three counters in the overall winning team. Now a national champion!

5. Hannah Oldroyd - 3:16:29. Last, but certainly not least, was Hannah's superb performance. After being unable to run about 6 weeks ago, the emphasis had to be on a steady start. 

With a previous PB of 3:36:36 the first half of 1:42:26 was intentionally well constrained but all the same a second half of 1:34:03 for an 8 minute negative split was way beyond expectations.

5K splits were: 24:48, 24:16, 24:06, 24:06, 23:44, 23:05, 22:05, 21:11 and 9:08 for the last 2.2K
But the most impressive stat was that the pace over the last 7Ks resulted in her passing 906 runners with 0 passing Hannah! Not many people achieve that!

The finishing straight before the masses arrived:

Hannah with Kev and Ian Ogden in the Baggage Reclaim area;

The best bit of any VLM weekend, the post race relaxing outside The Red Lion on Whitehall:

This was Tony Burgin after suffering the same mishap as myself of treading on a discarded water bottle:


What comes next is a very good question.

I was going to spend the next few weeks targetting the mile towards the end of the Summer but that may now change after reviewing what I will potentially get most satisfaction/enjoyment from over the second half of the year.

Another marathon may now be on the cards but we will see.........

Monday, 15 April 2013

VLM 2013 - Week 13 of 14

VLM - Week 13 of 14
Week 13 - (Mon 8/4 - Sun 14/4)

Mon: 8.0 Miles @ 8:50/mile
Tues: Rest Day
Weds: 5.0 Miles incl. Sth Yorks Road league 32:29 (6:24/mile) (6:52, 6:36, 5:37, 7:02, 5:55)
Thurs: 3.1 Miles incl. Pontefract freedom parkrun 28:00 (9:00/mile)
Fri: 6.21 Miles @ 8:47/mile
Sat (am): 4.5 Miles incl. Peter Pan parkrun (4th) 18:06 (5:56, 5:58, 5;49)
Sat (pm): 7.0 Miles incl. National 12 Stage Relays 17:49 (6:10, 5:37, 5:49)
Sun: 7.0 Miles @ 9:30/mile

Total Mileage: 40.78 Miles

On the face of it the content of this week looks okay, ie mileage at about 2/3rds of  previous weeks while keeping regularity and intensity in the mix.

However, what is disguised in the middle of the week was that I was unable to walk or even put any weight on my right leg on Thursday morning and with that in mind the recovery since has been nothing short of remarkable and everything is back on track.........

Wednesday - Sth Yorks Road League, Lodge Moor

Wednesday evening saw the first in the series of  four Sth Yorks Road Leage 5 mile road races.

The races are being run in a very different order to that originally planned due to courses still being blocked by snow. Although it isn't apparent from the picture below, the Lodge Moor course also had plenty of snow around but not enough to make it unrunnable.

I was planning to use this as a 'slightly faster than MP' session, so maybe 6:15-6:20/mile with the emphasis on smoothness and not straining anything.

Things didn't start out too well though due to someone turning their minibus into a bonfire on the M1 just at the time I was approaching the same section of road. The end result was arriving at 6:55 for a 7:00 race, just enough time to pin the number on!

Not being one to underestimate the injury risk of such situations I stuck myself way back in the field and took a very cautious start to the race. However, no matter how cautious the pace, I wasnt prepared for having to climb a mountain like incline in the early part of the race. This was far too steep for entertaining the original purpose of the run, ie smooth evenish pacing, and what was to follow was even worse, even steeper downhill followed by even steeper uphill.

Getting to the end of this having averaged 6:24/mile without feeling like it had been pushed too hard was actually quite pleasing but it wasn't very long before I realised that all was not well as my right hip began collapsing when trying to stand.

Thursday - Pontefract freedom parkrun

By Thursday morning the hip wasn't taking any weight at all and it was quite painful to just move the right leg at all even without any load bearing.

On the face of it, it would seem quite serious to be in this situation so close to a marathon but because it was something that was strained rather than snapped/broken it didn't really cause too much concern. I remember saying to Hannah that even though I couldn't walk in the morning it would hopefully be just a few hours before a slow jog would be back on the agenda.

And that is how it turned out as we popped over to do a freedom parkrun at Pontefract.

I would have been happy to manage a mile slow jog just to confirm that nothing was broken but in the end got the full 5K done, albeit slowly, and suffered no worrying consequences as a result.

Saturday (am) - Peter Pan parkrun

The original intention for Saturday morning was to pace Jocelyn Payne to an attempted 5K PB at Leeds parkrun, where she was looking to beat 17:43 and hopefully get close to 17:30.

However, after the midweek strain whatever I was going to do on Saturday morning needed to involve:
a) A very steady start
b) Flatness, so as not to put too much strain on the hip if it wasn't 100%.

So a trip to the inaugural Peter Pan parkrun in West Hull, with it's completely flat course, seemed more appropriate.

It worked out very well with splits of 5:56, 5:58, 5:49 for 4th place in 18:06 off a very steady start and confirmed that there was no residual problem. For a course that consisted of 3 laps with half of each lap on grass this was a good outcome.

There was also a welcome return to sub 20 territory for Hannah with a 1st place in 19:36.

Saturday (pm) - National 12 Stage Road Relays, Sutton Park, Birmingham

After Peter Pan it was straight down to Sutton Park in Birmingham for the National 12 Stage Relays.

The event consists of 6 long legs of about 5.3 miles and 6 short legs of about 3 miles. The last time that Barnsley AC had qualified for this event a few years ago the overall time for the 49.8 miles had been 4:51.

The combined efforts this time around were:

52 Barnsley Athletic Club 4:50:39

David Thompson (59) 30:12 Tom White (64) 17:01 Darren Middleton (51) 28:25 Christian Shaw (53) 17:31 David Driver (55) 30:49 Keith Littlewood (55) 17:44 Paul Altree (61) 32:52 Steven Darby (60) 17:49 Shaun Dimelow (61) 32:47 John Broom (58) 17:44 Gavin Felten (53) 30:25 David Brooksbank (52) 17:20

I make that something like 5:48/mile average over the whole event and yet we ended up being about 8 miles behind the winners, Belgrave.

It was quite a testing course, especially in the first half, so splits of 6:10, 5:37, 5:49 were pleasing enough.

It is a bit unfair to those of us with short legs to put some pretty lumpy sleeping policemen on the long uphill finishing straight:

Some of the team at the conclusion of the event in Sutton Park:

Sunday - Baitings Reservoir, Ripponden

After racing twice on Saturday it was time for a gentle amble on Sunday. Hannah and myself went over to Baiting's Reservoir and had a run around some of the very challenging hills above Ripponden as well as through the Scandinavian type woods surrounding the reservoir. A very pleasant relaxed 7 miles:

 This was followed by the last meal of significant carbs for 3 days at this scenic venue:

The Bad News:

It looks like the trusty pair of Green Silence have expired just before making it to their second VLM. They had a good innings and it was good while it lasted:

Next Week:

So the final week arrives and a nice easy week lies ahead.

The idea will be to have two complete rest days, probably Monday and Friday with the overall week looking something like this:

Mon: Rest
Tues: 10K easy
Weds: Sth Yorks Road league, Penistone 5 miles (@ MP ish)
Thurs: 10K easy
Fri: Rest
Sat: parkrun (about 24 mins)
Sun: (very early am) 1 mile v. v. easy
Sun: VLM + Beer

So, about 22 miles plus the race.

Mon to Weds will be a carb depletion phase as per last week followed by re-introduction of carbs for the rest of the week to get ready for Sunday.

VLM Prospects:

Nothing has changed so really looking forward to getting to the start line on Sunday, relaxing into the first few miles and then building the race step by step to hopefully deliver something satisfying by the time this sight is reached:

But ultimately this is the final destination where lots of salt encrusted marathon runners will be swapping stories deep into Sunday afternoon:

The next blog will be after the event so if anyone is interested in tracking progress, the running number is 31891.

I am not thinking in terms of specific targets but would like to make some more progress and dip inside the comeback PB of 2:55:36. Anything quicker would be a bonus but the general approach is to build the race with the right effort levels and come out of the other end feeling as though I've given it my best shot, regardless of the outcome.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Week 12 of 14 (Part 2) - Carb Depletion

Since posting yesterday's summary of Week 12 there have been several questions about what sort of nonsense thinking is involved in doing a carb depletion this week as opposed to the more usual marathon routine of final week carb depletion/carb loading?

So, instead of answering the same question more than once, this is the nonsense thinking employed:

Carb Depletion followed by Carb loading:

Carb depletion followed by a carb loading period used to be the modus operandi for years but then fell out of favour because of the bloated feeling that people were experiencing on the start line as well as doubts about whether carb depletion actually did any good.

The theory on the carb depletion was that it would make the body hungry for carbs and lead to a super compensation effect when carbs were re-introduced. The thinking was was that this would lead to a greater capacity for energy storage for the start of the marathon.

However, despite plenty attempts there has been no evidence to suggest that any super compensation effect actually exists at all.

The chances are that it doesnt, you have a certain number of mitochondria as a result of the training, each with a certain capacity for fuel storage, it isnt very likely that a carb depletion/carb loading routine is going to do much to change that total storage capacity.

So that leads to two questions:
a) Is there any point in carb loading?
b) Is there any point in carb depletion?

a) Carb loading -  There isnt much doubt that most runners really overdo this aspect. Normal eating will get carb stores filled up, especially with minimal exercise going on at the same time. Because carbs attach to water molecules, it isnt surprising that piling excess carbs in leads to an uncomfortable bloated feeling. If the body is giving off discomfort feelings then surely it is trying to say something?

b) Carb depletion - If carb depletion doesnt cause a supercompensation effect then why bother with it at all? On the basis that I have always felt stronger and rejuvenated in some way after a carb depletion I am convinced it is a beneficial process for some reason. What that reason is doesnt really matter but it is entirely possible that leaving carbs out of the diet for 3 days forces you to consume nutrients that may have become a bit deficient during the weeks of training. Getting these topped up and consuming plenty protein to strengthen muscles and connective tissues seems to be where the benefits are.

And if that is the case, is there any need to leave it until the last week to get strengthened up? If it is going to work in the last week then it is going to work in the penultimate week as well.

It may be way off the mark from what is really happening but because it has worked for me a few times now the Double Carb Depletion approach, without any excessive 'carb loading' is worth pursuing again in my books.  :)

If I crash and burn at VLM it may be time to reevaluate!

Also, because the carb depletion benefit isnt related to storage capacity it doesnt apply just to marathon build ups. Full strength muscles and connective tissues must be a good thing for all race distances, not to mention for injury prevention purposes. I used it to very good effect before last year's GNR and have never felt better

Monday, 8 April 2013

VLM 2013 - Week 12 of 14

VLM - Week 12 of 14
Week 12 - (Mon 1/4 - Sun 8/4)

Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 10.0 Miles @ 8:37/mile
Weds: 9.0 Miles incl. Spencer's Dash (4.8 miles) 29:22 (6:05/mile - 12th)
Thurs: 10.0 Miles @ 8:48/mile
Fri: Rest Day
Sat: 11.0 Miles incl. Colchester parkrun 18:02 (5:48/mile) (2nd) + Chelmsford freedom parkrun, Canvey Island PUP
Sun: 14.0 Miles incl. Friskney HM 1:22:27 (6:16/mile) (8th)

Total Mileage: 54.0 Miles

Three races this week which cumulatively amounted to around 21 miles of effort at an average of about 6:00/mile with a bit lower overall mileage. Happy enough  with that three weeks out....

Wednesday - Spencer's Dash

Spencer's Dash is a 3.7 mile hilly race series that takes place on the first Wednesday of each month from April through to September.

It has been going quite some time now, in fact I was reminded this week that my own PB for this race is 20 years old next month!, and it has always been run over the 3.7 mile distance. But that all changed this week as 3.7 miles became 4.8 ish miles. The reason being that the one bit of the course that is usually off road was impassable because of snow drifts so instead of cancelling, a longer all road course was used as an alternative.

As a result there was not really anything to judge the time against but my legs felt strong enough albeit with not much in the way of zippiness, pretty much as expected with a 26 miler and a hard 10K in the previous 7 days.

A decent run. The start:

Saturday - Colchester parkrun

Saturday was time for a visit to the very scenic inaugural Colchester Castle parkrun along with Hyde Park Harriers, Vicky Megson and Chris Taylor, Dawn and John Broom and Hannah.

Bright sunshine greeted the 128 runners to what is sure to prove to be a popular event.

After an initial run around the course it appeared that the course could be quite complicated and technical, the sort of scenario that has often delivered up fun moments of going off course at previous inaugural events.

Plenty concentration going on while the course description was being delivered:

As such it brought a wry smile to my face as just after the start it appeared that the zippiness had reappeared in the legs and and I found myself with no runners to follow:

My thoughts now revolved around when rather than if I was going to go off in the wrong direction.

But ironically, it all went smoothly until the moment when Tim Ballard went into the lead just as we reached this point:

He didnt realise that this was the 180 degree turn point and carried on in the direction of the houses up ahead. Memories flooded back of Worsley Woods and our 5.5 mile inaugural parkrun so, being the kind soul that I am, I called him back as soon as I realised. He didnt lose too much time and was able to go on to get first place with a time of 17:48.

My own 18:02 was very pleasing on a course with three stiff climbs up to the castle:

Anne Gould made a short video about 'parkrun tourists' during our visit, which included some of my waffling:

Saturday - Chelmsford parkrun

After suitable refuelling, it was time for Hannah and myself to go and explore more of Essex. First stop, Chelmsford parkrun for a bit of freedom parkrunning.

Chelmsford parkrun is a bit unusual in that it is run in two parks, Central Park and Admiral's Park:

 However, despite copious studying of the course map, our version of Chelmsford parkrun involved two parks plus two towns. Somehow we managed to leave both parks, leave Chelmsford and end up in Writtle!

It isnt't often that you meet signs like this during a parkrun:

Apart from that it went well :)

Saturday - Canvey Island PUP

After completing our slightly deviant version of Chelmsford parkrun we decided that it was time for a Pop Up parkrun aka a PUP.

And what better place than Canvey Island. For those that dont know, Canvey Island sits below sea level and is protected by a 14 mile sea wall. When we got there mid afternoon the sun was shining brightly, the sea was calm and it really did feel like Summer.

In just over a week we had gone from running in 6ft snow drifts and sub zero temperatures to this:

We really enjoyed our 5K along the sea wall here and there is no reason why it wouldnt make an excellent regular event, should anyone in that area fancy setting it up!

Sunday - Friskney Half Marathon

Sunday saw a trip up to Friskney, a quiet little village about 10 miles from Skegness.

This race had a really relaxed low key feel to it as indicated by our relaxing next to the start line not too long before start time:

A few more runners turned up in time for the start, including eventual winner Matt Pyatt in all white in the centre of the shot:

The course was completely flat around country lanes that were pretty much traffic free and it appeared that there was going to be very little wind to be concerned about.

However, once under way, it became clear almost straight away that due to the field being so small there was going to be some lonely running to do.
It also turned out that due to the exposed nature of the course there was some significant wind on fairly long stretches of the course, not strong winds but enough to start nibbling at times.
The first 5 miles were  5:53, 6:00, 6:07, 6:13, 6:11 for an overall 30:27 (6:05/mile)

Miles 6-10 then followed in: 6:24, 6:18, 6:10, 6:16, 6:21 for 31:29 (6:18/mile)

and to finish off: 6:27, 6:38, 6:31 with an overall time of 1:22:27 (6:16/mile)

I enjoyed the first 5 miles but after that it became increasingly difficult to keep concentrating and remembering that there was a race going on. I would often be on my own with nothing to be seen either in front or behind that suggested that a race was going on, no other runners, no signage, just me on a quiet country lane.

And in those circumstances I just couldnt keep the tempo high enough for an attempt on a sub 1:20 time, even though it felt possible in the early stages.

I recalibrated to make the purpose of the exercise to be to show how comfortable 2:50 marathon pace could feel even without all the usual race day stimulii and, in that sense, it went very well.

The finishing position was 8th but remarkably only 7th vet as 9 of the top 10 were vets!

The organisation and friendly relaxed nature of the event was excellent and I would happily take part again.

This was
Hannah's  loot for finishing as 1st Senior Lady although, as she would readily point out, that was actually 4th lady overall due to the vets again dominating. She picked up a significant 10 mile PB en route of 71:xx before hitting what was the toughest part of the race, the final 5K.


The standout performance of the day though was undoubtedly Matt Pyatt's who certainly had no problems keeping his concentration levels high as he managed to slice a whopping 3:50 off his PB to land a time of 1:15:19 and 1st place. A big breakthrough performance.

Next Week:

Week 13 of 14 will be time to start doing a bit less.

At the moment it is looking like:

1. Weds - Sth Yorks Road league 5 miles
2. Sat(am) - Leeds parkrun (pacing Jocelyn Payne)
3. Sat(pm) - 12 Stage Road Relay, Birmingham

It is very likely that the Saturday morning parkrun pacing will now be redundant since Jocelyn managed to smash her 5K PB of 17:59 down to 17:43 this last weekend, so there will be nothing left to prove to herself on that front.

On the nutrition front, Monday to Wednesday will be used as a carb depletion phase before returning to normal diet for the rest of the week. Then the same routine will be followed next week as well, a routine which seems to have paid dividends each time it has been used previously.

VLM Prospects:

It feels like the training is now done.

The legs are feeling a bit tired as a result of the various 'bringing to a peak' races, which is to be expected at this stage, so it is just a case of letting them get back to full strength now over the next couple of weeks and then they should be hopefully in good condition and raring to go on the VLM start line!

Monday, 1 April 2013

VLM 2013 - Week 11 of 14

VLM - Week 11 of 14
Week 11 - (Mon 25/3 - Sun 31/3)

Mon: Rest Day
Tues: 26.0 Miles @ 8:40/mile
Weds: 6.21 Miles @ 8:53/mile
Thurs: 6.21 Miles @ 8:28/mile
Fri: 12.4 Miles @ 7:11/mile (parkruns x 4 Pennington, Worsley, Wythenshawe, Oldham)
Sat: 4.0 Miles incl. Dewsbury parkrun (8th) 20:01 (6:27/mile)
Sun: 14.2 Miles incl. Tulip 10K (7th) 36:49 (5:55/mile) + (parkruns x 2, King's Lynn, Barnsley)

Total Mileage: 69.2 Miles

In terms of places visited, this week certainly didnt turn out as expected. Early in the week, the outline was looking something like:

1. A 26 miler on either Tuesday or Sunday
2. Thursday - 3,000m track race, Cudworth
3. Friday - Calder Vale 10 Mile, Garstang
4. Saturday - Dewsbury parkrun
5. Sunday - Crewe 10K

By the end of the week,

a) 3 of the planned locations had disappeared for various reasons - Cudworth 3000m, Calder Vale 10 Miles and Crewe 10K.

b) 7 unplanned locations had been visited - Pennington Flash parkrun, Worsley Woods parkrun, Wythenshawe parkrun, Oldham parkrun, Spalding, Kings Lynn parkrun and Barnsley parkrun.

It is a week which could be summarised as mainly bonkers, random and pointless but, at the same time, immensely enjoyable and successful :)

Tuesday - 26 Miles

The idea was to get a 26 mile LSR in roughly 3-4 weeks out from VLM. However, it would have been easy to develop strains and niggles which could have persisted through to VLM if anything had been forced or had become too much of a struggle in the later stages.

So, it was a case of setting off, seeing how the first 8 mile loop felt and taking it from there. To make things a little more challenging, most of the course was unrunnable in it's normal form due to pavements being piled high with snow, up to 6 feet in places.

But because there were virtually no people or cars around, running on the road was perfectly reasonable. It was a bit eerie though being out between 5:15pm and 9pm on a normal weekday and seeing so little activity.

After most of the first loop was completed I was joined by Hannah, who was looking to do her longest ever continuous training run but not quite as far as 26 miles!

It was an unfuelled run, as has also been the case for all the other LSRs of the campaign to encourage fat utilisation as a fuel source.  In this case it meant that the last food consumed before the run was at about 11am.

The run progressed well at a nice relaxed pace and seemed to be over in no time, feeling as strong and controlled towards the end as any other part of the run.

Hannah was also untroubled in completing 21 miles, and 23.5 miles for the day, her longest continuous training run.

The overall pace was not really relevant on a hilly, snow covered course but averaged out at 8:40/mile. All in all, a case of job done and nice to get it completed nearer to 4 weeks out rather than 3 weeks out.

Friday - Random parkrun tour

A very straightforward bank holiday excursion over to Garstang for the Calder Vale 10 was the prospect on Friday.

What's more, with a 1pm start time a very relaxed start to the day was on the cards. What could possibly go wrong?

Hmmmm, well it all went well until getting within 20 miles of Garstang about 90 minutes before race time and then everything came to a halt on the M61. Time ticked away and ticked away some more so we decided to have a bit of a meander, via Blackburn and Chorley-ish, exploring alternative routes. We kept hitting long looking queues no matter what we tried.

Unbeknown to us the race had actually been delayed because of the traffic problems but at about 12:40pm it dawned on us that we werent actually that bothered whether we got to the race or not, so instead of sitting in more traffic queues we went for a bucket of coffee, served by a 6 foot gay rabbit, somewhere on the M6 and started thinking up a creative way to fill the day. The result was:

Friday - Pennington Flash parkrun

I had been to Pennington before, a visit that resulted in me grovelling about on all fours in some undergrowth after taking a wrong turn, so clearly it wouldnt be difficult to find. It was after all just a right turn off the straightforward A580.

Or at least it would have been easy..........assuming travel in the right direction along the A580. As it was, an unexpected visit to Liverpool appeared on the agenda as Aintree racecourse came into view :p

Ah well, we got there eventually and our first running stride of the day was taken some time after 4pm despite a 10am-ish set off. The Flash was looking very scenic and relaxing in the late afternoon sun as we went about our first freedom parkrun of the day.

Both Hannah and myself were quite happy to have a gentle run enjoying the scenery but it became a bit progressive as we started to get into the flow.

Splits were 7:32, 7:10, 6:39 for a 21:54 starter 5K

Friday - Worsley Woods parkrun

The next random stop was another venue that I know only too well.......for getting lost during a parkrun! :p

This was the place where myself and Peter Woodward went slightly off course whilst leading the inaugural event and ended up running a 5.5 mile parkrun!

The main obstacle this time was a handful of random drunks hanging around on the old railway platform.

Nonetheless the run itself was fun and with the outward half being a bit uphill the return turned into a good strong training effort.

Splits were 7:49, 6:52, 6:25 for a 21:43 second 5K of the day.

Friday - Wythenshawe parkrun

It was now a toss up between Guinness and the next Freedom parkrun but because we were really enjoying the runs in the evening sunshine we decided to crack on and visit Wythenshawe for our third parkrun venue of the day.

It was a bit of a task remembering the first part of this course, despite various markings on trees, so we ended up doing a bit of Benny Hill like random running around any old trees we came across to get this one underway.

As was now becoming the patterm, a progressive run was had with the following splits:

7:37, 7:07, 6:47 for a 22:11 third 5K.

Friday - Oldham parkrun

Although it didnt take long to get from Wythenshawe to Oldham there was just enough time to go from full daylight to pitch black nightime by the time we pulled up at Alexandra Park.

The park was empty except a group of drunk teenagers, who must have been hardy because the air was icy at this point, and some angry sounding geese that didnt seem overly pleased with our presence.

The first lap was a bit of a shivery one but once in the flow it was again another enjoyable progressive one, albeit a bit slower than the previous ones due to not being able to see much of the course.

8:07, 7:27, 7:10 for a 23:14 fourth 5K

Still keen to carry on, despite the dark and the cold, we then moved on to Heaton Park. We were prepared for this one with headtorch at the ready. But when we arrived to find the park gates locked and an 8ft steel fence around the perimeter, it seemed that the dead batteries in the headtorch were a sign that it was now time for pub refuelling. So that is what we did :)

In summary though, what appeared to be a day of just messing about and having no end of laughs along the way, the day actually turned out to be a decent block of training. We were both quite happy with the way the day had turned out as opposed to tackling a 5 mile continuous climb in the middle of the Calder Vale 10.

Saturday - Dewsbury parkrun

There was still lingering snow and ice dotted around the park, but despite this, this week's parkrun was run in bright sunshine and had a definite Spring like feel to it. At last!

I tried to keep it to a relaxed effort with a view to having a good go at a flat 10k the day after. The result was 20:01 at 6:27/mile.

Sunday - Tulip 10K, Spalding

The intention for Sunday was to have a crack at a flat 10K at Crewe.

That would have required entries on the day to be available, which they weren't, so as a result Crewe was replaced by Spalding on Saturday evening and the Tulip 10K became the target instead with a travelling party of Dawn and John Broom, myself and Hannah.

We knew this was quite a low key race but the words 'flat and fast' lured us down into Lincolnshire.

What an impressive array of tulips:

Dawn Broom getting cuddly with the 2km Tulip marker:

The warm up consisted of running up and down in the car park of a bulb processing factory trying to trigger the lorry speed limit  sensors. I was feeling rather chuffed with my 13mph until someone topped it with a 15mph clocking. That is 4 minute miling warming up!

It did indeed turn out to be a flat, out and back, course but the outwards 5K was into a bit of a headwind. It certainly wasn't anything remotely resembling the strength of what was encountered last Sunday in the Thirsk 10 but it was still nice to get to halfway with the prospect of tackling the return 5K with no wind obstruction.

Splits of 18:32 and 18:17 for an overall 36:49 for 7th place was very pleasing just 5 days after a 26 mile run.

Mile splits were: 5:46, 6:01, 6:07, 5:54, 5:56, 5:48

To give context, these are the 10K/10000s since last October's Chester Marathon:

18th Nov - Abbey Dash 41:34
16th Dec - Telford 10K 39:33
3rd Feb - Dewsbury 10K 38:12
6th Feb - Track 10,000 38:29
31st Mar - Tulip 10K 36:49

And this was even more satisfying because it was pretty much a solo run, in fact for the last 5K there were long stretches during which I couldnt see another runner, so to keep the concentration consistent was a good sign.

The other performances were

8th John Broom 37:31
14th Hannah Oldroyd 39:35 (1st lady)
29th Dawn Broom 42:38

The performance of the day was undoubtedly Hannah's with a time something like 90 secs quicker than her previous PB!

Sunday - King's Lynn parkrun

After the Tulip 10K it was time to get back into some freedom parkrunning, for no other reason than because it was there.

The unique feature of King's Lynn is that you get to swing around a lamppost on each of the three laps. Some people are easily amused :) But it was well worth the 60 mile round trip.

It was good to have a pair of legs that were showing no sign that they had just run a hard 10K.

Splits for this one were: 8:45, 8:20, 7:30 for a 25:10 post McDonald's session.

Sunday - Barnsley parkrun

After dropping off John and Dawn we then went and squeezed in a final random freedom parkrun of the weekend... at Locke Park, Barnsley.

This one was a relaxing way to get a few more miles in the bank without straining anything.

Splits were: 8:20, 7:59, 7:49 for a 25:08 last parkrun of the week.

I am advised that the important stats for this somewhat unusual VLM training week are (for two of us):

McFlurries -  8
Miles Driven - 600+ ( some of them were even in the right direction!)
Occurences of travel in wrong direction - The fingers on one hand wouldn't suffice.
Miles Run - 135.04 Miles
parkrun courses run - 8
McDonald's coffees - 25
Costa Coffees (buckets) - 2
Counties visited - 11
Lost phones - 2
Minutes of Stress - 0
Impromptu Fits of Laughter - 792 (approx :) )
Guinness - 23.5 pints
Raisins - 0 (an obvious area to work on........)

Next Week:

Week 12 will be the last week of full training before VLM.

The first fixed element is already starting to look decidedly unfixed due to remaining weather problems around Barnsley.

There will be plenty slow, steady miles and then the weekend will consist of a parkrun somewhere and a longer race somewhere, but as is the way of things at the moment race scheduling is fluid! (and that isn't just the Guinness :p )

VLM Prospects:

Three weeks to go and, as has been the case for the last few weeks, the nearer it gets the more ready the legs feel. Really looking forward to it.