It’s the final countdown!
Week 21 of the 22 week marathon schedule. We’re so very nearly there…
3x 800m at 5k pace
We all have a particular run or session that gives us a big confidence or training boost; for me, it’s 800m reps. Last week left me hankering for more and this particular week’s lot had me feeling supercharged. Working at a higher intensity and trying to maximise each stride to eke out as much power as possible. Love it.
The three splits came in as:
Here’s the Strava data for the session.
8 miles from Jewellery Quarter
I resisted deviating from my training plan for much of the summer, yet this taper period has been played pretty casually and run to feel. There’s no point over-doing it now and I would rather reach the Yorkshire Marathon start line slightly under-prepared than over-cooked!
That being said, I couldn’t get the niggling feeling out of my head that it had been weeks since I last completed a mid-week medium-long run of any significance…
Here’s the Strava data for this run.
For as long as I’ve been Parkrunning, I’ve always tried to incorporate a swift one the week before any major race for confidence but also as a VO2max workout. Seeing as Lis and I were in Wales for the weekend to see family, it would have been plain rude to not attend Cardiff’s event.
Looking back through my training log, I was shocked to learn the last time I ran the Cardiff course was way back in April! With the Cardiff Half Marathon taking place the following day, I wasn’t sure how many at the sharper end would be present to work with towards a potential new PB… The weather wasn’t on side, either, with lashing rain and definite gusts of wind in the air.
I was really out of sorts during my warm-up. The effort felt insurmountable for what was simply a slow jog with 200m of strides at the end. My heart rate monitor wouldn’t stay put on my chest, so off it came to prevent any further distraction.
Off the line, the pace felt breakneck but my Garmin disagreed and was sitting tight at 4:05 per km. I then remembered this was the first outing for the Fenix 3 at the Cardiff course and its dense tree-lined opening. I pushed a little harder and gradually, the speed increased but I topped out at 3:42 for the first km.
I latched on to runner that came past and then decided to sit steady in front of me. The pace remained pretty steady, but I always felt like I was working just a touch harder than I should have been even if I was stalking a PB. 3:45 came out for the second km, when I really needed it to be 3:40 or under…
The runner in front began drifting backwards at the turning, whereas I pressed on in a bid to chase down the next guy some 20m ahead. I managed to get as close as 10m at one point, but he had just a bit more welly inside him to regain the gap. Another 3:45 came in for the third km.
I couldn’t keep the momentum going and slowed a touch to 3:50 for the fourth km; not bad by normal accounts for what was still pretty steady running, but 5 seconds here and there during each split slowly eroded by PB chances away.
Reaching the final km, I needed to see 14:XX on my Garmin to be in with a chance of a new PB. 15:03 flashed by at the marker to leave me with just a new course best opportunity with 18:35 to beat… I was working hard, but I couldn’t shift into any higher gears due to all the slower pace endurance work I’d embarked on for months. Even conscious pushes at the 800m, 400m and 200m markers wasn’t enough to make a significant dent, leaving me with a 3:32 final split and an 18:34 overall finish.
Here’s the Strava data for this run.
Whilst the 1 second course improvement was still welcome, my attention quickly shifted to a potential runbritain handicap improvement. With many of the runners in attendance taking it easy for the next day’s race, the course condition score received a bump up to 1.8, whereas my performance was boosted to an artificially strong -1.1; this translated into a -0.2 improvement to take me to 3.8 at long last! Result!
Cardiff Half Marathon 2016
I was green with envy looking at the conditions that were bestowed upon the Cardiff Half Marathon. The wind had died right down, almost as if especially for the event. Whilst entry registration was still live, I did toy with the idea of just jogging the 13.1 miles seeing as I had 12 miles on the schedule to cover (bumped over to the next day).
With several friends running the race, Lis and I wanted to spectate out on the course and offer our support. Strategically and conveniently, mile 8 was only a short walk away from the start and provided a good vantage point away from the overcrowded mile 7.
The performance of the day easily goes to my buddy, Vince Nazareth. He finished with a fantastic 84:13, though what was even more impressive was how metronomically steady his pacing was. Through the 5k timing mat, his estimated finish was 84:10 to give you an insight into how well paced his race was.
The road to the Yorkshire Marathon
The VO2max workout on Tuesday coupled with Saturday’s hard Parkrun will hopefully have quite a potent effect on pre-race sharpening.
The cupboard is fully stocked with carbohydrate-rich foods and drinks for some heavy-duty carbo-loading during the immediate days ahead of the race. Pasta, rice, bread – I love carbs, though ask me again after several days of the stuff and then let’s see how keen I am!