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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!


  1. Fantastic stuff Steve and very funny..
    I can think of certain coaches who would have a fit at a lot of this, esp the 26 mile snow run lol but then again they clearly don't have as much fun or the same level achievements as yourself!
    On the weekend of the 22nd March when the Coniston 14 was called off, we headed to a nice hotel near Norwich for a relaxing weekend instead..
    On the morning I decided to have a 10 mile snow run but got lost coming back so it was 11 and then Lisa decided she wanted a run so did another 10 with her straight after, later on whilst discussing plans for the next day I said we could do a 10k recovery run, so she suggested we should do it that night, so my relaxing weekend started with 3 runs totalling 27 miles, but have to say loved every minute of it!
    Good luck with the VLM mate, you deserve a great race with all this effort!

  2. Thanks Matt and yes, you're right, you should be able to look back on the training afterwards and think ...... that was a lot of fun :)