This week’s running – 14th to 20th of November 2016

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The St Andrews Walk Climb – over 800m of Strava segment hell…

A scheduled cutback week with a little less running than usual.

9 miles with strides

With the schedule dictating that I take it easy, and a planned visit to Cardiff Parkrun on Saturday, who was I to argue about dialling efforts back?

The pace was purposefully easy, but interspersed with a number of strides to get my legs turning over at a faster rate in preparation for Saturday.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Cardiff Parkrun

The plan was to hit Cardiff Parkrun hard. Conditions decided it was a fool’s errand to try and outdo my previous best… It had been a while since my last sopping wet and cold Parkrun, so this outing more than made up for the deficit. Within minutes of my warm-up jog, my racing flats and the long-sleeve top I wore had become completely sodden to further weigh me down.

Vince and his son, Dylan, made a guest appearance. Vince, like me, felt there was a gap in his 5k pace training; Dylan was confident of a new PB and I guesstimated he was in the region of 17:30 to 17:40 based on his recent track and cross-country performances.

With such poor weather on show, the start was free of congestion to facilitate a speedy getaway from the line. Dead leaves littered the path and made for a hairy opening few hundred metres! I tried keeping Dylan in my sights for benchmarking purposes, though he had speed and youth on his side to quickly pull away; by 1km, he was a mere dot in the distance.

I was able to nestle into a group of three for much of the middle portion of the run, taking advantage of the shelter on offer. Positions chopped and changed periodically with the group ultimately falling apart by 3.5km, prompting me to push onwards alone.

By 4km, the effort felt completely devoid of familiarity. Once more, like several weeks ago, I wasn’t able to shift into higher gears, exposing my wider training’s lack of VO2max work in favour of lactate threshold and tempo pace.

With roughly 800m to go, I was overtaken by a faster runner that was clearly taking it easy by chatting away with supporting marshals. I was on the verge of a blowout based on my laboured breathing; he gave me a few words of encouragement and pulled away slightly to give me a target to chase down. At the 400m marker, I had caught up to him but was very much at my limit and had nothing more to give. I was a couple of seconds either side of a new course best for myself, but still some 20 to 30 seconds away from cracking a new PB to ultimately finish with 18:37.

Vince finished about 10 seconds behind me, whereas Dylan landed his PB for 17:36; pretty much exactly where I estimated he would be!

Here’s the Strava data for this run. Strangely, I also clocked 5.02km on the Cardiff course, which has never happened before. Historically, I’ve always registered 4.96 or 4.97km, with the odd 4.99km here and there. Looking at the GPS trace, there aren’t any obvious tell-tale signs and I usually run the cleanest line available to me; only conclusion I can draw is the stormy cloud cover played some part.

10 miles – out and back to Usk

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Joint-first on the St Andrews Walk Climb Strava segment!

Still licking my fresh wounds, I embarked on an out and back run to the town of Usk, with the intention of a stab at reclaiming the top spot on a Strava segment that ends near Lis’s folks’ farm.

The St Andrews Walk Climb segment is an 800m climb with an average gradient of some 5%, peaking at 11%. I lost the title much earlier in the year; the person that took it from me fully deserved it, proving himself worthy of the title during a 22/23 mile long run!

With the knowledge that I’m certainly faster now than when I last set my record in December 2015, and when I lost the title in May, I gave it a bloody good go and quickly remembered why I decided to leave it for so long before having another crack!

To reclaim the top spot, I had to beat 3:37… I ran 3:37 to become joint leader on the segment! My excuse for not finding that extra second is I had to sidestep an oncoming car about halfway up the climb, clearly costing me dearly. Grrr…

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

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