This week’s running – 3rd to 9th of November 2014

5:55am get-up for the Brass Monkey Half Marathon

Up before 6am to register for a race?!

A fairly standard week apart from one pre-6am get-up for positive reasons…

10k along Hagley Road

Brrr… It was cold as anything on Tuesday and a little damp too, so I threw on the running tights and a long sleeve top for a jaunt up and down Broad Street-Hagley Road. Fired up the head torch on strobe mode too and almost as if by magic, people on the street could see me and made room accordingly.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Easy 5k from work

Yep. Still keeping up with the Wednesday run home from work. I am tempted to start doing an easy run home on Mondays as well for six runs a week.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Jewellery Quarter hill reps

I had to be somewhere pretty sharpish on Thursday evening, which didn’t leave me with enough time to get much of a run completed. I opted to go with 4x reps of the nearby hill here in the Jewellery Quarter for something short and sharp. Despite the short reps, they were uphill and into strong headwinds to leave me shagged for a mission accomplished.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Softly, softly, catchee monkey

Brass Monkey Half Marathon 2015 registration

All systems were go for the Brass Monkey Half Marathon registration process

Back when I struggled to break 2 hours for a half marathon, I did some research into pancake flat races; one event regularly appeared in lists of PB-friendly events and that was the Brass Monkey Half Marathon in York.

Taking place in mid to late January, the name is certainly apt. The 2013 race was called-off due to snow and last year’s race, whilst it went ahead, was a bit of a wash out. But the race still manages to sell out, thanks to its 7.5m elevation gain between the start and finish to make it one of the flattest half marathons in the UK (does anybody know of a flatter one?)

Anywho, I was determined to get in and tick this race off from my bucket list. The organisers (York Knavesmire Harriers) scheduled the registration to begin at 6am on Saturday… I’d had a tiring week at work, a late night on Friday, and despite setting the alarm to go off at 5:55am, I was already more or less awake beforehand.

Logging onto the registration site, there were already at least 396 other people with the same idea as me, trying to bag one of the 1700 or so places on the start line. After a few minutes in the very efficient online queue system, I was a fully paid up entrant with all available places sold out within a few hours. Looking at the race participant list, it reveals that I was the 20th person to register, so I can only guess that setting up my username and account beforehand saved me a few precious minutes in the process.

I know I won’t be in peak condition by the time the race rolls around on the 18th of January. I’m fairly sure I’m not alone on this one but the quality of my training takes a nosedive in the winter in exchange for more endurance and volume. The race will serve as a good fitness benchmark to see where I will be in the run up to the Silverstone Half Marathon. Finally, the Brass Monkey should also keep me on the straight and narrow through Christmas and the New Year, where temptation is rife.

Cannon Hill Parkrun

The weather was predicted to be a very wet one for Saturday, with the rain due to hit just as Parkrun was due to take place.

I felt more out of sorts than normal during my warm-up, no doubt due to the lack of sleep during the previous 24 hours. Like the previous week, there were plenty of notable absences from the field of regulars, but also plenty of newcomers to make up the numbers. Just as we were due to head to the start line, the heavens opened up right on schedule…

Similar to last week, I was unsure about how I wanted to run the course. I felt great last week and was confident I could push a little harder without much more discomfort – the lack of faster sessions has left me soft!

The run went pretty much by the numbers. Only in the final km did things start to get interesting when a young Sparkhill Harrier lad started to fade just ahead of me. With 800m or so to go, I had all but caught up to him and just as he started to slow again, I gave him some encouragement to keep going and stay in front of me. He picked the pace up and went with it until 400m when he started to fade once more; I spurred him on again and told him there wasn’t much more left to do. We managed to take a few people down on the hill and crossed the line 23rd and 24th for 19:37 and 19:38 respectively. The lad thanked me for my help and then proceeded to throw up only metres into the finish funnel and continued to throw up a further two times… I prayed that he at least PBd to justify the torture I put him through and a bit of stalking shows a 13 second improvement – massive in 5k terms.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

Heading back to the bandstand, somebody stopped me to reveal he was a reader of this blog – Carl, here’s your shout-out! I had a nice chat with him and I was left in awe when I found out he’d run 18:31 as part of a long, soggy wet run. Carl also had similar ideas to me earlier that morning and had registered for the Brass Monkey Half.

Oh and this piece of info is hot off the press – I just found out there will be a new Birmingham-based Parkrun, due to take place on the 22nd of November at Perry Hall Park. I’ve said for a while that the exponential popularity of Cannon Hill is not sustainable and I for one am pleased as punch to see another event springing up. You can bet I’ll be there on the 22nd!

11 miles out and back to Stirchley

Skipping last week’s long run meant my feet were positively itching to get out and go long. After several days of miserable weather, things bucked up and there was nothing but blue skies and light winds on Sunday.

The entire stretch of the canal towpath was re-paved, though some sections still didn’t have the stone chips in place.

Largely, the run went by without incident bar two things. The arch in my left foot tightened up a few times and I’m almost convinced it’s because my Nike Pegasus (both pairs) are pretty much at their limit. Both have well over 300 miles on them and whilst they were fine through the summer, the recent lower temperatures seem to have stiffened up the already diminished cushioning properties of the shoes. Both have served me well for over a year but alas, it will soon be time to move on, probably to the Pegasus 31.

Here’s the Garmin data for this run.

And as ever, here’s this week’s entry from Mark Remy’s The Runner’s Rule Book:

(It’s a bit short so I’ll throw in a bonus entry to even things out)

Don’t complain about the race entry fee

Hey. No one is holding a gun to your head. (And if they are, you’ve got bigger problems.) Don’t like the fees? Find a smaller (read: cheaper) race. But whatever you do…

Pay your way

Bandit a race, and you’re stealing, pure and simple.

If you’re preparing a spirited defence – a laundry list of all the rationalizations you’ve dreamed up to justify running a race without paying for it – save your breath. I’ve heard ‘em all. And they’re all nonsense.

Staging a race costs real money. If you can’t afford to pay your share, there are plenty of other roads for you to use on race day.

Running is free. Racing is not.

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