This week’s running – 13th to 26th August 2018

up_to_date

Updated and all’s right with the world again!

And we’re now all up to date!

5k recovery

Boy, oh boy. I really could have passed on this recovery run for a rest day instead, but I was dead set on getting back into a rhythm for some consistency in the three weeks ahead of the Lake Vyrnwy Half Marathon.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

10 miles from work

This was horrendous, where a poor choice of clothing (t-shirt instead of vest) and the combined humidity made for an incredibly difficult post-work run.

Upon returning home, all of my kit was completely sodden in sweat and I was wiped out for the rest of the evening.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5 miles run-commute

Learning my lesson from the previous day’s suffer-fest in the humidity, I purposely put the brakes on to keep the pace and effort in check. Even then at such a pace, the humidity was still unbearable and made for a challenging time.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

11 miles from work

And just like that, the humidity disappeared, allowing for 8 out of 11 of these miles to come in at 8:00 or faster.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Running Stories podcast

I very recently became a podcast interviewee!

A number of months ago, I volunteered to participate in a running podcast project. Orchestrated by Tom Charles, he wanted to speak to and record the accounts of a variety of runners and why they decided to take up the sport-come-hobby.

The angle for me was, unsurprisingly, this blog. In all there was well over an hour of recorded material, though this was distilled and edited down to just under 20 minutes. We all have little ticks and cues that we’re largely unconscious of in day-to-day speech and interactions with others, though these become glaringly obvious when captured for playback. Tom performed some black magic on the recording; upon my first listen of the finished episode, I had none of that, “Is that me? It doesn’t sound like me?” that so commonly plagues us when we hear ourselves recorded.

Without further ado, here are the links to the episode and others in the series on iTunes and Spotify. The podcast should also appear in the search function for those that prefer dedicated podcast clients like Overcast etc.

Cannon Hill parkrun

It’d been four weeks since the last time I ran at Cannon Hill, purposely going out of my way to avoid the off-road course.

I was in no mood for anything fast, so keeping the pace down to under 20 minutes was more than sufficient for that morning. Keeping the pace controlled at the start allowed me to continually reel people in for almost the entire duration, making for a pretty comfortable effort even in humid conditions.

With nobody in a rush afterwards, I partook in one of the longest post-run coffees I’d experienced in a very long time – one of the things I’d missed whilst busy visiting other parkruns.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

15 miles – to Brindley Place and back

Cooler conditions made all the difference, making this long run feel spectacular.

I settled into pace early on, which is often an indicator of how recovered I am, or not. Beyond halfway, I was able to steadily push the pace on whilst continuing to feel comfortable.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5k recovery

The cooler temperatures stuck around, helping to make this recovery run stay very easy.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

9 miles fartlek

*Sigh*

The temperature decided to yo-yo upwards after several days of cooler climes. I wanted a more structured run with some focused effort at pace, though the warm and humid conditions would have taken far too much out of me, so a fartlek run was swapped in.

Bridges and tunnels marked the beginning and end of fast sections, allowing for some stretches at effort to come at decent lengths.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5 miles run-commute

I felt the effort of the previous day’s fartlek run, forcing me to really drop the anchor and keep my heart rate below 70% of maximum on this run-commute from the city centre.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

11 miles from work

Lis and I signed up to a series of NCT (National Childbirth Trust) classes, requiring I scheduled some time off from work to be able to get my planned runs in before the course.

Running along the canals on a work day afternoon was rather peaceful, with most still clocked in. I did however bump into long-time running buddy, Ed Barlow, who like me frequents the canal towpaths for their convenience.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5k recovery

Proving what a small world it is we live in, Lis and I met a couple on our first NCT class who belonged to Kings Heath Running Club, and were also Cannon Hill parkrun regulars. Another lady on the course, due to give birth at the beginning of October, is still running regularly!

Sadly, there was no way to get a parkrun in before Saturday’s all-day class, so I had to make do with an easy recovery run around the neighbourhood.

I will promise you all now that this blog will not devolve into a parenting blog, though I will write about how I will balance running and being a parent once the little’un comes along. I’ll be the first declare that I switch off when the Marathon Talk podcast presenters open each episode with what their kids have been up to – they could at least try and link it up with running, though very rarely is!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Great Run Local Edgbaston

It’d been absolutely ages since I last ran at a Great Run Local event, made even more difficult with The Vale on summer hiatus due to its student organisers returning home for the break. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s room for both Great Run Local and parkrun to co-exist, and I’m grateful for both, especially as I needed a faster 5k fix after going without the day before.

Almost timed to perfection to coincide with the bank holiday weekend, the heavens opened up for a damp start to proceedings. Lis kindly dropped me off at Edgbaston Reservoir so that I was able to avoid public transport or the monstrous mileage required to run there and back. A warm-up lap of the reservoir was enough to get me into the groove and was just enough to keep the cooler temperature at bay. Dave Carruthers of Cannon Hill parkrun regular attendance also appeared to give me a familiar face to speak to; the two of us were referred to in the organisers’ briefing as fine running specimens (not word-for-word accurate), so there was pressure that morning!

Unsurprisingly, it was Dave and I straight off the line. I had the smallest of leads with Dave just nipping at my heels, confirmed by the sound of his footstrike. The pace wasn’t really coming to me with having to lead into the wind on the rough terrain underfoot. About a km in, the sound of Dave drifted further and further away until I was completely alone.

As the rain persisted, my t-shirt grew heavier and heavier to add to the effort. Passing through halfway, the timer gave me some feedback; I had 09:45 on the clock, so only had to keep the effort consistent or better to guarantee a sub-20 finish.

Somewhere around the third km, the pervading feeling of needing to piss haunted me again like it did back at the inaugural event in April! The cooler temperatures and standing around before the start had worked their magic once more… This was at least motivation to get things wrapped up as quickly as possible!

I began to encounter lapped runners with a km remaining, giving me something to chase down. Dave was at least 20 seconds away, so I would safely finish in first place, though it was still dicey whether I would slip under 20 minutes or not. Glancing at my Garmin, the timer ticked over into 19:00 territory and I knew I had to get a move on – easier said than done on the reservoir path’s broken surface!

Sprinting for the finish, the organisers cheered me in and then all quickly rushed around me to register my wristband. Here’s where the Great Run Local timing system comes across as a complete mystery, for I registered 19:42 on my own Garmin, the timer officially clocked me at 19:45 (confirmed by the results), and the official text message had me at 19:50?!

The run for home from Edgbaston Reservoir was a solitary affair. I encountered very few people on the canal towpath, and only one other runner. A hot shower upon reaching home was never more welcome!

Here and here’s the Strava data for these runs.

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This week’s running – 19th March to 1st April 2018

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At the inaugural Great Run Local Edgbaston Reservoir event – photo by Great Run Local

Apologies, folks, for the tardy post. I’ve rolled two weeks into this single entry, with a pending post for my week away in Hong Kong to follow shortly!

5k recovery

Almost as quickly as the snow arrived on Saturday-Sunday, most of it had melted come Monday. Only a few patches of ice remained as I plodded around on my 5k route, making me shake my fist in anger at the situation – if only the snow had arrived two days earlier or later…

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

11 miles with 2 at marathon pace and 1 at half marathon pace

For those of you that don’t frequently use the Edgbaston tunnel on the canal towpath, you may not know that it’s been out of action for some 2 months whilst work is carried out to widen the towpath – a regular frustration with runners, cyclists and walkers and our mis-matched paces. Sadly, I have some bad news to share – the closure will overrun by another 6 or 7 weeks, due to some issue with galvanized steel being needed. Roll on late May…

Mentally, I wasn’t ready to take another lashing of 3 miles at half marathon pace in the middle of my run-commute for home. Softening it to 2 miles at marathon pace and the final mile at half marathon pace made the whole thing more bearable and achievable; 6:47, 6:44 and 6:22 came out of the other side, agreeing as much.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5 mile run-commute

It’s joyous running through Cannon Hill Park without the need for a head torch and feeling like you’re going to be robbed by somebody jumping out of every bush…

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

11 miles from work

I have a few friends who love trail and fell running and I’m always scratching my head over the amount of kit they’ll wear whilst out on a run. “Sweat kills,” is a statement I’ve oft heard bandied around, along with the need for multiple layers, especially ones that sit close to draw away any moisture.

Whether running easy or running hard, I’ve historically felt warm. Not so of late, where I’ve almost exclusively worn tights and long-sleeve tops since November, outside of racing. For the second time this year, I came to experience why sweat can be so hazardous in cold conditions. Problematically, I’d found myself in a middling effort; not slow enough to cut out sweating entirely and not fast enough to generate significant body warmth to make use of the sweat. Running into the headwind for home made for a particularly unpleasant time!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Cannon Hill parkrun

Kings Heath Running Club took the reins and provided a full roster of volunteers for the morning, including pacers. Wishing to save myself for the big effort the next day, I took advantage of Chris Callow, the 20 minute pacer.

Barring Chris moving off a little too quickly for the first half, the run was largely uneventful and by the numbers. Dave and I ran together for much of it before he burned me off in the remaining few hundred metres.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

15 miles inc Great Run Local Edgbaston Reservoir and The Vale

Whether by coincidence or design (a bit of Column A and Column B, me thinks), the new Great Run Local at Edgbaston Reservoir meant a double run, akin to the parkrun New Year’s Day doubles, was possible. As a former proud denizen of the Jewellery Quarter, I could often be found nearby at the reservoir, running laps in the pursuit of speed or bulking out a long run. Consider me pleased to see my former stomping ground play host to an event!

Dave and I were kindly driven to Edgbaston Reservoir to avoid mileage overload. Running from home to the reservoir, participating in their 5k event, running to The Vale, participating in their 5k event, then running back home would very likely see me hit 22 miles; no bad thing if marathon training, but not ideal when my longest run this year has been 15 miles.

Arriving early, we were definitely in the right place judging from the various Great Run Local direction signs there were attached to lampposts and pillars. A single lap of the reservoir served as our token warm-up but left me wanting more; the jogs from home to Cannon Hill parkrun have spoilt me! We soon identified the familiar face of Rob Dowse from BRAT and Cannon Hill parkrun, along with Carl Stainton dashing towards us on the horizon for fear of being late – he was incredibly lucky as we started almost 10 minutes behind schedule.

Assembled on the start line, it wasn’t exactly clear when the run actually started as we all jerked forward at different times. Carl took the lead as anticipated with me in second place. I’d concluded all I wanted was a sub-20 finish, factoring in the parkrun 24 hours prior and another Great Run Local only an hour later.

During our warm-up, Dave and I established that the terrain at Edgbaston Reservoir wasn’t actually as optimal for fast times as we’d nostalgically remembered. On the wooded section of the reservoir with shelter, lots of puddles had formed along with accompanying mud. Throw in plenty of dog walkers and cyclists doing their normal Sunday thing, and some careful timing and line taking was necessary. Not far behind me by some 20m was Vicky, a friend of Rob’s, to keep me on my toes.

Annoyingly, I had the pervading sensation of needing to piss. Due to the delayed start and standing around, my body had cooled down and wanted to shift the excess liquid inside me. Every few hundred metres, I would re-evaluate the situation and scope out a tree or a bush to dive behind and relieve myself! I decided to keep going…

Pace-wise, I continued to hover on the boundary of a 20:00 minute 5k and went through halfway in 9:50. Carl had pulled away for an even bigger lead whereas I was still being chased down, though had increased the gap by perhaps another 10m.

The reservoir grew even busier on the second lap with particularly nimble feet required to get through the crowded and muddy southern-most point.

Throughout all this, I still needed to piss and the temptation to stop persisted. Reaching the third but last corner, I spotted the ideal opportunity but a quick look behind me confirmed my lead wasn’t big enough to pause and piss without losing second place or a sub-20 finish. It’s all motivation, right?

Turning for the penultimate corner and I’d gained another 10m on my pursuers. The straight and paved dam wall prompted me to begin upping my cadence and surge for the finish. Crossing the line, I didn’t bother to check my time and dashed over to a secluded spot to finally relieve myself! When I did eventually check my finish time, curiously I had recorded 19:36 versus the official time of 19:42; I chalked this down to the start line confusion and the timer being prematurely activated.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

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Including the top 5 from Edgbaston Reservoir, also tackling The Vale – photo by Great Run Local

Out of the 25 or so runners that partook in the inaugural Edgbaston Reservoir run, only the top 5 (Carl, me, Vicky, Dave and Rob) went on to also tackle The Vale course. We were also joined by Kings Heath Running Club and Run Birmingham member, Ian Mackenzie, as we gallivanted across the Hagley Road towards the university for another dose of 5k.

Unsurprisingly, Carl took the lead with me in pursuit once more. I was joined by Ian, which prompted me to dial down the effort and to just hang back and let him do the leading on the climbs. Whereas the pace felt perfectly serviceable for me, Ian was clearly not as relaxed as I was but continued chatting. I wondered how long he could possibly hold on for… I charged down the ascent on the other side of Mason Way and it became obvious he was nearing his limit.

With a bit of coaxing, Ian regrouped with me. Embarking on the second lap, he continued to keep up with me, both physically and conversationally. Once more, I opened up my stride on the other side of the climb and Ian drifted further and further behind me. Carl was still visible on the horizon, prompting me to begin chipping away at the distance between us.

The third lap was trickier without a companion. The sun also came out to add a few additional points on the exertion scale when it was needed least, but the pace came to me and I did indeed gradually reel Carl in. Whilst I was never going to be a challenge for him, I was able to reclaim some 15 seconds or so to further convince me that I could have, and should have, gone out harder for another sub-20.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

A warm-down with Carl and Dave, both peeling off at various points, rounded off an enjoyable, if tiring, morning.

10k recovery

Due to being away from home on a work trip to Basingstoke later that week, I opted to beef up this recovery run to avoid my mileage quota from dropping too low.

Running through Cannon Hill Park, it was a who’s who of the local running scene! I bumped into Matt Gresty, Dave Broome and Andy Young on my two laps.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Aborted run

That work trip to Basingstoke? It included a team building exercise of an endurance go-karting match towards the end of the day. I was placed into a team of 3, coincidentally including a colleague from my own office, along with a random. The random, whilst being very good and managed to set the second fastest lap of the day, had to bail after only 20 minutes into the 2 hour race. My colleague and I were forced to split the remaining 105 minutes between us, making for a pretty gruelling time. Whilst we did end up winning with a 3 lap lead on our nearest rivals, I was t-boned by a woman failing to stop in time, after I’d stopped in my tracks to avoid a pile-up in front. I was jolted from left to right and back again with no time to anticipate it, thus bruising or even fracturing a rib or two. Needless to say, I was in a lot of pain after the adrenaline of racing had worn off!

The following day, I began my run for home from the office as per usual. The first 2 miles felt perfectly fine, but then the wheels began falling off. Tightness and aches from go-karting bubbled to the surface and I knew I couldn’t complete the distance. My sights moved to perhaps reaching Selly Oak for 10k and then getting a bus for Kings Heath. Making it to 4 miles, I knew the game was up and I called it quits by catching an Uber home! I was very specific to share with the Uber driver that this was an emergency and under normal circumstances, I’d have gone all the way!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Penallta parkrun

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Me and Ben at Penallta parkrun – photo by Lis Yu

Whereas the aches in my arms and legs had disappeared, my ribs were still tender. Every time I sneezed, I felt like I’d taken a blow to the chest! This subsequently caused my lower back to ache as I had to compensate for my left with my right. As such, the week became a low volume one anyway despite my best efforts…

Running resumed with the continued tourism of parkruns of South Wales, this time settling on Penallta parkrun, near Caerphilly – my 26th different event. Our friend, Ben, who’s decided to embark on the alphabet quest by visiting an event for all letters, joined Lis and me. He is aware there’s currently no event that starts with an “X”!

As parkrun grows more popular, new events that spring up become more unconventional, at times even eschewing the need to be held in a park. Whilst the Penallta event does take place in a park, the support facilities and the car park are that of the nearby council building. It was rather odd passing the morning duty security guard to use the building’s toilets; Ben and I reasoned the local council to be a big supporter of the event as a fitness initiative, which is refreshing to see when councils are so often the antagonists of parkrun.

My warm-up with Ben suggested I was capable of running without pain. Conveniently next to the start line is a map of the park, helping to facilitate the new runners briefing. Unsurprisingly for the Easter weekend, there were plenty of visiting tourists. The route takes place entirely within Penallta Park, with two switchback sections. Elevation charts online suggested there would be some significant climbing for the first mile, though our warm-up concluded it was more of a false flat than anything.

Assembled on the start line, I identified a few of the likely big dogs of the morning. Do they look lean and fast? Check. Are they wearing racing flats? Check. On the starter’s orders, they inevitably tore off.

I decided to hang back due to unfamiliarity with the course and its nuances. Going with me were a number of runners that were putting in an early sprint, so I guess some things are universal regardless of the event! As anticipated, the subtle climb was still able to shake the field up slightly to leave me in sixth, tailing the fourth and fifth place guys. I hovered on sub-20 pace, banking on the second half being faster with a downhill finish.

Approaching the first switchback, I surprised myself by being able to enter and exit it faster than the guy in front, allowing me to quickly gain on and surge past him. My next target was a youngster who began fading from an exuberant start. Realising that I would have run out of people to follow if he drifted too far backwards, I gave him a few words of encouragement to hold steady and remain with me.

Exiting the second switchback, I wrongly assumed we were to head straight and were instead sent on a sharp left for a lap of a muddy and wet path around a pond. Swift foot placement was needed to avoid sodden feet! Returning back to Bea’s Hill, I urged my comrade to stay with me, but alas, he’d reached his limit and began haemorrhaging pace. I began cruising for the finish, and would likely skim sub-20 by 10 seconds or so, when I clocked a runner behind me by no more than 30m. He was closing in so before he had any more time to make a bigger dent, I kicked things up a notch for a faster finish than originally anticipated.

I was pleased to see 19:34 flash up, especially as I went through a spate of visiting new events and failing to secure a sub-20 finish by only a few seconds.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Ben returned to be only a number of seconds outside of his PB set on a pancake flat course, so it boded well for his then upcoming half marathon. We’ve agreed to try our hand at Bryn Bach parkrun as our next spot of tourism.

14 miles inc Great Run Local The Vale

Seeing as Lis and I were due to fly out to Hong Kong only 12 hours later, I should have perhaps skipped Great Run Local, given I was still feeling pretty banged up from go-karting and the previous day’s faster than intended Penallta parkrun.

Setting out slightly later than planned, I tried to better time my warm-up run to The Vale to coincide with Dave’s. As luck would have it, I could see him in the distance from Selly Oak onwards, though my attempts to call out his name literally fell on deaf ears; this continued for another mile before Dave finally took notice!

Numbers were very low at The Vale, as one would expect for Easter Sunday. Once we finally got going, it became clear that I couldn’t muster anything more than what could be considered a slow tempo run. My ribs continued to ache and the steep ascents of the course did nothing to help.

21:36 was all I could manage; a time almost 2 minutes slower than my course best under optimal conditions and health.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

The warm-down run for home allowed me and Dave to discuss a number of sites and locales in Hong Kong that I needed to consider visiting.

Congratulations

Shout outs to my friends, Ben and Vince, who both managed to PB last Sunday.

Ben, after just two half marathons, went under 2 hours for the first time with 1:50:18. It took me 6 attempts before I finally cracked 2 hours…

Vince, after just 2 marathons, went under 3 hours for 2:59:32 at the Greater Manchester Marathon.

Excellent achievements, gents!

One last thing…

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Strong legs already on this one!

So, aside from being busy with work and being away on holiday, something else has taken up a chunk of my time.

Expected mid-October, he/she was very clearly running on the spot during the ultrasound scan to be just like their old man!

This week’s running – 5th to 11th March 2018

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How embarassing! Guess we didn’t get the memo… Photo by Dave Duncan Williams

One big over-reaching week before tapering, again…

11 miles from work with 3 at half marathon pace

With the Coventry Half Marathon the following week, and suffering from tapering for a race that didn’t happen, I opted for a few days of over-reaching in a last minute attempt to squeeze the last few drops of training potential from my body.

Conditions turned out to be pretty damn favourable on Tuesday evening with little to get in the way of my planned miles at pace. Whereas I’d packed tights, shorts were the logical choice for the return to March temperature normality. The positive conditions had me feeling good, especially after a faux taper week and no recovery 5k the evening prior; I was surprised to see my pace sitting firmly in the 7s after an equally unexpected, faster than usual, opening mile.

The planned three miles at circa-half marathon pace (6:20 to 6:25) were daunting, to say the least. It’s a pace I frequently cover at parkrun with little difficulty, but that’s with other people around to work off and follow. Once at pace, I almost instantly regretted my decision and the effort quickly escalated to something that felt incredibly unnatural to me. I began willing my Garmin to signal the end of the first mile, but was pleasantly surprised to see 6:26 for the split. Fully warmed up, I anticipated the second mile would drift to 6:18 as it’s historically done over the past few months, but nope – it sat steady at 6:28 and didn’t want to budge. The effort continued climbing and I felt like I was in the second half of a 10k rather than the second split at half marathon pace! I came so close to ending the pace work after 2 miles, but the monkey on my shoulder screeched away at me to keep going for all 3 miles. I reluctantly obeyed my imaginary simian-friend… In spite of giving it everything I had, steady 6:27 pace was all I could muster whilst trying to keep feelings of nausea down. The relief I felt when my Garmin beeped to signal the end was incredible! I slowed to a jog as I gasped for huge lungfuls of air.

Not entirely satisfied with what I’d been through, I then opted to bulk up the route for home by adding on additional distance for 11 miles in total. Guess I wanted to be sure I was genuinely over-reaching!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5 miles run-commute

What a pleasant evening Wednesday was! As the nights grow shorter, I was able to get away with not wearing my headtorch as it only became dark once I was a few streets away from home. I’ll probably be able to do away with it entirely by April.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

11 miles from work

After several weeks of feeling good on runs from the office, I suppose it was only a matter of time before I had one that felt off. Whereas the pace was still one of my faster runs after work, the sensation of running straight into headwind for almost the entire duration kept my spirits low; I cursed every time a strong gust slammed into me! Further adding insult to injury, the wind robbed me of body heat to leave me feeling cold and listless.

Be careful what you wish for, Mr Yu…

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Cannon Hill parkrun

Traditionally, I like to fit a fast parkrun into the week before a big target race, where I find the effort helps to wake up any slumbering speed inside me. Equally, I was told recently that I should, “make hay when the sun is shining;” I know full well the disappointment of not seizing the moment when it presents itself, only to then ponder when the next occasion would appear.

Jogging over to Cannon Hill, it was near impossible to believe that the event was cancelled due to snow only a week prior. Adding to the incredulity was the amped up temperature for the morning; I was sweating profusely in my long-sleeve top and jogging bottoms once I’d reached the park bandstand.

From the line, I went out hard. I felt alive and allowed myself to get drawn along by the swift Kings Heath Running Club member that remained just a few steps ahead of me. I did raise an eyebrow periodically as I glanced at my Garmin displaying a pace in the 3:30s… The opening km settled on 3:37.

With a climb in the second km, I lost 10 seconds or so but continued to draft behind the Kings Heath runner. My breathing grew more audible and laboured as the effort ratcheted upwards. 3:47 for 2km.

I began crashing at 3km as we became more exposed to the headwind. The freshness was long gone and I was still only halfway at an experimental effort that I came to realise was unsustainable. The rot made itself known with a 3:57 split.

Reaching the triangle for the turnaround, the brief but not insignificant slow-down killed any chance of recovering any speed I had in mind. Exiting the narrow path, it was not long before I was overtaken by several including Andy Young. He gave me some encouragement to latch on to him, but it was to no avail and I could not generate any more from my lactic acid-saturated legs. At least I managed to steady the ship for a 3:58 4th km!

With the final km remaining, I had no appetite left to push any harder because I was certain to go under 19 minutes. Just in case there were any residual hunger pangs left, the final km of the Cannon Hill course is another speed-killer, further dampening any remaining desire to speed up towards that hairpin turn and final climb. 18:49 was my spoil for the morning; conclusion: I’d somehow equalled my fastest 5k in 18 months, set several weeks ago, but with far more effort and less comfort.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

The morning took an unexpected turn as Dave and I jogged over to the Mac to meet Simon for a coffee.

Whilst chatting away, I clocked a dog jumping into the lake in the middle of Cannon Hill Park for a swim. The mother, with her young son on a bike and another dog on a lead, went over to the water’s edge in a bid to coax the rogue dog back to shore. The next thing Dave and I knew, the kid had ridden straight into the water!

We dashed over to help. The mother was in a blind panic, unsure of who or what to rescue first. I calmed her down and helped pull her crying son out of the water, then the bike, with the dog taking care of itself.

The kid was clearly distraught, crying and coughing up water, but otherwise OK. Whereas the dog on the lead remained with us, the other dog had run off into the park; I tasked Dave to retrieve it, whilst I got the mother and son into the Mac’s first aid room. A fellow runner had spotted the incident and alerted the Mac beforehand, so they were prepared for the kid’s arrival with towels, space blankets and heaters. Less encouraging was the jobsworth site manager, who insisted that the dog on a lead be tied up outside irrespective of the situation unfolding! Returning outside with the dog, Dave returned with the other one that triggered all of this only to release him too soon… We gave chase again – all that was missing was some Benny Hill music! Thankfully, we got hold of him again pretty quickly and tied him up before he could cause any more havoc.

Debriefing with Simon, he couldn’t quite believe our tall tale from that morning. Naturally, many references to Baywatch accompanied our coffees.

15 miles including Great Run Local – The Vale

On paper, I’m not so sure a long run with 5k of target half marathon pace work was necessarily the wisest choice the day after a race effort parkrun, but if that’s what I had to do to over-reach, then that’s what I had to do…

Trotting over to The Vale along the canal towpath, I came to regret my clothing choice very quickly for the warmth and sun came out to play. The positive conditions brought many others out, some no doubt making up for the previous week’s white-out.

Reaching The Vale and re-grouping with Dave, we quickly set about identifying who the big dogs of the morning were likely to be. There was one swift looking student, adorned in a Birmingham University track t-shirt. Two other speedy looking students were likely to vie for the podium, so at least I was likely to have company in my pursuit of pace and a sub-20 finish.

As anticipated, the guy in the Birmingham University track t-shirt hared off whilst I remained with the other two guys. As we gave chase, our positions chopped and changed, though I mainly stayed back to take advantage of their draft assistance. Hitting the hill for the first time, I continued to be patient having learned from a previous outing that the best strategy is to drop down a few gears and remain steady on the climb, taking advantage of the steep descent on the other side. Surprising myself, I was able to keep up on the downhill with the other two guys as we entered lap 2. The ground was bone dry, convincing me to give it even more on the next lap’s descent.

The pace continued to feel about right for a sub-20 finish and translated well into my target half marathon pace. Three became two as one member of the group dropped back. Nearing the hill for the second time, I could see we were gradually chipping away at the distance between us and the lead guy. I asked the other chap if he felt we could reel him in; breathing laboured, he gasped, “No”. Moments later, the lead guy stopped and pulled over off the course! My companion changed his tune and gasped, “Yes” for perfect comedic timing. Checking if the lead guy was OK, his breathing was effortless and he ushered us to continue. I took advantage of the situation and upped my cadence ever so slightly to gain a small lead on my companion, who had suddenly become my opponent. Reaching the brow of the hill on Mason Way, I took a quick glance to my right and I’d gained around 10m. I threw myself down the hill on the other side to create an even larger margin between us, bounding from step to step to minimise any slowdown from my high cadence.

Entering lap 3, I began encountering lapped runners from both the 2km and 5km courses. The gap between me and my pursuer had increased again to some 20m and was likely to grow again as I approached the Mason Way hill for the final time. A strained look formed on my face, with the marshal at the top of the climb offering me some relief and encouragement to keep digging to the end. Another glance to my right and I easily had in excess of 30m to my advantage, though I was still not deterred to hurl myself down the hill one last time.

Reaching the bottom, I was disappointed to learn from the marshal that we had to negotiate the hairpin turn once more. Returning to the lake, my Garmin registered a time in the 17:30s; I was confident I could pick things up to cover one last lap of the lake and still go under 20 minutes with change to spare. Mentally, it was difficult to pass the finish line only to keep going. Thankfully, I had the opportunity of a first place win and a sub-20 finish to keep the pressure applied and coax more out of myself! End in sight, I took one final glance behind me and I had around 50m on the next guy, though I still kicked for the line to finish the job properly.

Hunched over and hands on my knees, I gulped down fresh air. Whereas the previous day’s parkrun provided seemingly little in terms of fitness feedback, checking my Garmin revealed a 19:40 finish and that all my training had come good; my previous best on The Vale course was 20:09, so I absolutely have to take no prisoners at the upcoming Coventry Half Marathon based on this. I cheered the next guy in, who I was surprised to see had come back from fourth place when I last left him. Next back in was Dave, finishing in third place, once again, but pleased with his performance having chosen to race it tactically.

Jogging for home with Dave, we took things nice and slow given what we’d been through on both mornings of the weekend. That and I had another 5.5 miles to cover, feeling quite hungry and tired…

Here’s the Strava data for this Great Run Local.

This week’s running – 20th to 26th November 2017

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Great Run Local at The Vale – photo by Great Run Local

Ye gads! A blog post out on time?!

5k recovery

Bizarrely for a cold Monday evening, there were definitely more runners out and about than usual; normally, it’s just me but I counted no fewer than five of us pounding the pavement in the darkness.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

22 minutes at LT pace (14, 4 off, 8)

Whilst I’m most definitely lacking in out and out speed that I get from VO2max runs, I do feel I’m reclaiming some aerobic strength from these lactate threshold sessions; whilst I wouldn’t go as far as saying I enjoy them, I do find myself relishing in the satisfaction of the hard work.

Oddly, I’m finding I can only maintain the same paces in these sessions as they’re being pushed out by 1 or 2 additional minutes each week. I’d have expected my pace to modestly increase, along with going further at the same time as I become stronger each week. The table below better illustrates this quirk.

17 mins @ LT pace (12, 4 off, 5) 6:30 per mile & 6:17 per mile
18 mins @ LT pace (12, 4 off, 6) 6:30 per mile & 6:17 per mile
20 mins @ LT pace (13, 4 off, 7) 6:31 per mile & 6:17 per mile
22 mins @ LT pace (14, 4 off, 8) 6:31 per mile & 6:17 per mile

There’s only minimal pace throttling going on, especially as I’m gasping for air in the final few hundred metres of each section. Averaging the two paces out, looks like I’m targeting the Brass Monkey Half Marathon at around 6:23 per mile!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

5 mile run-commute

Eugh. Running from the city centre on the windiest of days in recent memory was pretty unpleasant, even at recovery pace; with a bag on my back acting as a sail, the gusts sent me zig-zagging as I headed for home.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

9 miles from work

Despite me having completed this session for the past 18 months or so from the office, my colleagues seem to regularly forget the near-10 mile distance I cover twice a week. Nonetheless, I still do get a kick each time I reveal my plans to see their eyes bulge with awe!

There was an awful lot of debris on the canal towpath from the strong winds the night before. Making matters worse, many of the fallen branches blended in seamlessly with the leaves that littered the ground, with my headtorch not being able to pick them up. I’d have hated to be a cyclist that evening, with more limited room for movement on the narrow towpath.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Cannon Hill parkrun

Whilst it was bleeding cold on Saturday morning, I don’t think anybody could knock the glorious blue skies and dry conditions we also had on our hands.

Looking at the bigger picture, my P&L half marathon plan commanded I cover 13 miles on Sunday, with three of those miles at half marathon pace; things had to be kept reasonable at parkrun to better give Sunday the most chance of success. Marathon pace felt like the best compromise, where it stopped the morning from becoming just another plod, whilst offering some minor stimulation without over-taxing my body.

Marathon pace at circa-6:50 per mile was rather strange to cover, in spite of spending months focusing on it ahead of the Yorkshire Marathon. The effort, whilst perfectly manageable, felt rather alien – guess it doesn’t take long to fall out of favour with a particular pace!

Props to my friend, Iain, who decimated his 5k PB by a few minutes.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Great Run Local – The Vale

Also known as 13 miles with 3 at half marathon pace!

As this week drew out, I discussed my idea with a few others of running to The Vale at the University of Birmingham, participating in Great Run Local, and then running for home afterwards. Everybody agreed it was a logical idea and favourable to completing 3 miles at pace alone. My only reservations were those damn hills… Previously attending Great Run Local in April, I still had vivid memories how challenging they are over 5k!

Leaving with plenty of time to spare unlike last time, I was able to leisurely jog along the canal towpath to the university. It was a stunning morning and everybody I encountered was in high spirits; dog walkers, cyclists and fellow runners either smiled, waved or wished me a good morning! It was bitterly cold, however, so I donned a pair of tights, a long sleeve top and some gloves. I hoped this ensemble wouldn’t come back to haunt me during the 5k…

Reaching The Vale, I chatted with a few familiar faces, including Afshin from Kings Heath Running Club, James from Tipton Harriers (first place at the first Sandwell Valley parkrun) and, of course, Craig who beat me to first place back in April. Third place was the best I could hope for, also factoring in that Craig had brought his speedy daughter with him. The organisers were thrilled to see so many of us after several weeks of very low attendance (only five runners, three weeks ago).

From the line, those expected to take the lead, took the lead. I found myself in what could be considered the chase pack, along with Craig, Rob Dowse from BRAT and a student from BUAC Cool Runnings. We all traded places almost constantly, helping to keep the effort reasonable, especially on the initial climb. I was particularly conscious not to overstretch myself on the climbs, noting that tactic as the downfall of my previous visit.

Working our way up the hill for the final time as a pack of four, I noticed the chap in third place ahead of us gradually coming back. “Third place is fading. We can reel him in!” Everybody agreed and our collective cadence increased a notch to carry us over the hill that bit faster. Reaching the brow of the climb, we noticed the guy in third place turning his neck to look back at us and we all knew we had him.

I charged down the hill on the other side for joint-third place. I couldn’t hear any footsteps immediately behind me, so I took a moment to encourage the other guy on, in the hope that we could work together to increase the gap behind us. “Keep at it, fella. We’ve got three guys chasing us down!” He was spent and began drifting back from me, leaving me to run around the lake alone. I laid on a kick and I was confident I had third place in the bag, until I came to the final corner and became unsure of whether to cross the bridge or not; I couldn’t see an arrow and there was no marshal, so I concluded it was the next corner for the turning. From behind, I could hear Craig calling out to me and I knew instantly that I’d gone off course. Backtracking, I rejoined Craig as we hit the bridge in unison; I urged him to kick on as I’d ballsed things up to give my lead away. Like the original third place guy, Craig was also spent and had nothing more to give, so I kicked on for the second time after the interruption to finish in third place.

Recovery was very swift and I thanked Craig for his sportsmanship, whilst also chastising him for not taking advantage of my wrong-turn. I’d have not lost any sleep over losing third place and I can tell you now the course is well and truly committed to memory! I had a whale of a time racing and it was probably the most fun I’d had running since the Yorkshire Marathon. I have a similar session in store three weeks’ time and me thinks I’ll pay The Vale another visit!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

This week’s running – 10th to 23rd of April 2017

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Well, hello Edinburgh!

With a lack of time and connectivity in Scotland, I’ve got a bumper two weeks’ worth of updates into this one edition for you good people!

10k – 1 off, 2k on etc

So nice, I’ve done this twice.

Whilst the first outing of this session was a bit harsh on the system, I did notice it beginning to elicit some positive change. The second outing confirmed as much with lower average and peak heart rates for the same paces (157 versus 162; 180 versus 186).

Here’s the Strava data for this session.

9 miles from work

These days, I wouldn’t normally pair hard and long runs back to back with each other, especially during the middle of the week when recovery comes at a premium. Given my travel arrangements, I had no opportunity to get a long run in for the rest of the week, so it was a case of make do, or do without. Whilst I did have just a half day at the office to contend with, this also brought the previous day’s session and this longer run even closer together; I figured I’d tackle the 9 miles at a fairly sedate 8:30 or so pace to avoid tempting fate.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Glasgow runaround

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We burnt off the previous night’s deep fried and battered Mars bar…

Ah! Some running tourism!

Dave, Lis and I were in Scotland recently to attend the wedding of our friends, Elsa and Iain. Scotland being Scotland, nowhere is particularly easy to get to unless they’re Glasgow or Edinburgh, so that’s where we began and ended our trip, with a whole load of driving in the middle.

Whilst Lis did less silly things like having a lie-in, Dave and I got better acquainted with Glasgow’s city centre, namely the Glasgow Green. With a planned bit of parkrun tourism the next day, the two of us took this run incredibly easy by keeping it conversational whilst we discussed Dave’s marathon plans and training. We also stopped for the odd photo on what was a very quiet Good Friday morning with few other souls about.

Never having visited Scotland before, let alone Glasgow, I was mightily impressed with the city and took to it quickly. I feel I could have done with an additional day perhaps to get a better feel for it, but I certainly enjoyed what I saw of what is often considered Edinburgh’s poor relation (no offence to any Glaswegian readers!)

I had planned to visit the city’s premier running store, Achilles Heel, to scope out some merchandise I probably didn’t need, but also because it’s where I originally ordered my signature yellow vest from all those years ago! What scuppered it is how spread out Glasgow can be, with a lengthy jaunt not worth the time or effort, especially with Lis and Dave in tow.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Ganavan Sands parkrun

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Iain, Dave, me and Eric at Ganavan Sands parkrun

Raise your hands if you’ve ever needed to be somewhere away from home on a Saturday morning and checked to see if there’s a parkrun nearby, or at least within reasonable driving distance? Yep, I thought so – guilty as charged!

It turned out Ganavan Sands parkrun (just on the outskirts of Oban) was a mere 40 or so minutes away from Elsa and Iain’s wedding venue. With the ceremony at 14:00 and Scottish parkrun events kicking off at 09:30 due to lack of light in the winter months (check out some of Ganavan Sands’ photos of runners setting off at dawn), this was plenty of time to get there, run and return to get ready. I rallied several of the runners in the party together and off we went into the wilds of the Scotland’s west coast…

In attendance was Dave, Iain, Eric, Stuart, Ruth and Stuart’s father. Dave and I were positively thrilled by the prospect of an unfamiliar course with unfamiliar faces, whereas Eric was about to pop his parkrun cherry (no parkruns in Hong Kong). Iain just wanted something to do to pass the time before getting hitched.

After driving through all manner of variable weather conditions, we finally arrived at our destination to be warmly welcomed by the run director, Doreen. Exchanging some dialogue earlier in the week, she was expecting us and passed on her knowledge of the event. The course is an out and back configuration, with a few mini switchbacks in the middle to make up the 5k distance. Run entirely on paved but undulating paths, the course is not for the faint of heart because greeting runners from the very beginning is a near 200m uphill stretch, clocking in at around 17%, gradient-wise!

Warmed up and ready, there were plenty of other tourists at the event, including a chap who’d done some 380+ runs. Proving what a small world it is we live in, I even bumped into a Pistonheads forumite I’ve frequently conversed with in the past. Being one of the smallest events I’ve attended, Dave, Stuart and I fancied our chances of placing highly; scouring previous weeks’ results indicated a 1-2-3 finish between us was not unrealistic. Then we saw some swifter looking runners and realigned our outlook to simply sneaking into the top 5…

Starter’s orders and we were off. And I mean like 5k PB pace off, ignoring the sharp climb we were all aware of. That’s what all the amped up adrenaline and unfamiliar surroundings will do you to you!

After a bit of chopping and changing with the 380+ runs guy, I found myself firmly in fourth place. Halfway through the opening climb, I realised the folly of my way and regretted letting the red mist get the better of me so early on. My legs quickly saturated with lactic acid as I began to thrust my arms forwards in a bid to not lose too much momentum.

Beyond the brow of the hill was some opportunity for recovery with flat and downhill sections.

Holding on to fourth place, I made it all the way to the first switchback whilst witnessing the fella in first place with his massive several hundred metre lead. He appeared to be so calm and controlled, almost like he was simply out on a tempo run. Third place continued to creep away from me, settling my mind that fourth place was now firmly mine to lose.

I began to see faces from the wedding party approach the turnaround, giving them all some encouragement. Eric, Dave, Ruth, Stuart’s father and Iain all looked pretty composed. Stuart looked just like me – we’d both gone out too hard, too soon, and were paying the price for it.

Approaching and exiting the second switchback, my knackered legs gave me a turning circle not dissimilar to a cruise liner. It was at this point that I lost fourth place to the 380+ runs guy, who had clearly paced the first half of the run far more sensibly than I had; I gave him some encouragement to keep pressing in the hope that he may tow me along. Stuart was now perhaps just 10 to 15 seconds behind me based on our relative positions rounding the cone.

Making my way to the final switchback, the guy in first place now had several minutes’ advantage on second place and continued to look as fresh as a daisy – we later learned he’d bagged a new course record, so clearly knew what he was doing unlike the rest of us chumps!

Final switchback navigated, I did what I could to stop my pace from haemorrhaging any further and to keep Stuart at bay. He was still some 10 to 15 seconds behind, but I knew he had far more of an edge on me, thanks to his fell running experience and the largely downhill remainder of the course. With just a couple hundred metres remaining, a few glances behind me confirmed the gap between us remained as I opened up my strides to make it to the bottom of the hill as quickly as possible without stumbling and making a fool of myself.

20:35 recorded and fifth place in hand, I proceeded to hunch over and avoid throwing up from all the pooled lactic acid. Stuart came back in shortly afterwards for 20:47, and Dave for 20:51. Both Stuart and I wished we’d adopted Dave’s approach, where he looked far more comfortable than either of us for a finish time not all that different.

Eric was next with 24:05, followed by Ruth for 25:56, Stuart’s father with 33:04 and Iain for 36:07.

Incredibly, 4 of the top 5 finishers were first timers on the Ganavan Sands course. Taking one step back, the top 7 of 10 finishers were also comprised of first timers to the course. Taking an even more holistic view, 41 of the 73 recorded runners were first timers on the course or to parkrun!

I thanked the organisational team before we high-tailed it out of there to get our man Iain married off. I’m not sure I’ll be in a rush to head back to Ganavan Sands, or that I’ll ever find myself in that part of the world again, but one thing’s for certain – the Scottish hospitality was in full flow that morning and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more welcome at a parkrun.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Edinburgh runaround

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A run around Holyrood Park to burn off the Scottish breakfasts…

Before leaving home, I’d mapped out what I hoped would be a scenic route from the hotel on Princes Street to take me around the outer perimeter of Holyrood Park. Well, it certainly didn’t disappoint, what with the imposing sight of Arthur’s Seat to keep me company.

The primary objective of this run was to get my bearings of that part of Edinburgh, along with some photo opportunities whilst most slumbered.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Edinburgh runaround II

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Worth getting up early to avoid other tourists!

-3°. -3°! What the hell was I thinking packing just t-shirts, vests and shorts for running in Scotland?! I’d already sacked off the idea of running in a vest at Ganavan Sands parkrun in favour of a t-shirt… I actually had to buy a pair of gloves whilst out and about later on this particular day!

My legs were destroyed from the previous day’s 10k and sightseeing, including Edinburgh Zoo and Holyrood Palace. 3 miles, not even 5k, was more than enough!

Setting off even earlier than Easter Monday, I paid a visit to Edinburgh Castle whilst it was quiet – so quiet in fact, there were just two other souls in front of the castle at circa 07:15!

A detour around the Newtown area added to my growing working knowledge of Edinburgh’s streets – look, no map required!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Edinburgh runaround III

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The climb felt a lot longer…

Lis and I previously climbed Arthur’s Seat, unwittingly choosing one of the more challenging hiking routes, and only discovered a far gentler climb when descending back down. Observing a few runners making their way up to the peak via this route, which is still a challenge in its own right, I had the idea to make this the highlight of my final run in Edinburgh…

En route, I stopped off at Calton Hill to grab a few photos of the city from above whilst it was still quiet.

Once at the opposite side of Holyrood Park, I began my climb towards Edinburgh’s highest point. Even with the easier to navigate route, I was still blowing at times and opted to cover a slightly less direct path to give me a few short opportunities for recovery – a slight run-walk strategy was certainly necessary at times!

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What a view! And all to myself!

At the peak, I had Arthur’s Seat entirely to myself for a few minutes. Lactic acid cleared, the tranquillity and views were worth the effort. Then came the challenge of descending… Wearing only road shoes, I wasn’t confident at all navigating the rocky paths and even considered if it would have been easier to descend backwards temporarily. A sideways shuffle gave me the stability and braking effect I needed until I was back on grass.

If you’re heading to Edinburgh, certainly consider taking your running shoes with you – you won’t regret the extra space they take up in your bag after getting out there.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

Great Run Local sandwich

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No barcodes to lose, get soggy, or steal at Great Run Local!

Despite a weeklong break in Scotland, I returned to work more tired than ever; meetings and preparations for a trade show meant there was little time or desire to run until the very tail end of the week.

Several weeks ago, Dave, Simon and I had planned to incorporate the Great Run Local event at Birmingham University’s The Vale into a long run. In principle, Great Run Local is just like parkrun, and here’s a list of similarities and differences for those curious:

Similarities

  • 5k distance
  • Free to register and enter
  • Volunteer organised
  • Timed

Differences

  • 2k option offered
  • Times recorded via RF wristband (free; not technically chip timed, since finishers are still manually timed)
  • 10:30am start on Sundays – events appear to be free to choose a time and day of their liking

I’ve seen a lot of heat thrown at Great Run Local online, and whilst some of it is of their own making (their website originally claimed they were “like parkrun, but better” – thankfully, this has been taken down), we need to remember that the local teams are entirely volunteer led. Yes, it may be a doppelganger of parkrun from the Great Run behemoth, but I’m of the belief that anything that gets more people running can only be a good thing – and there were faces at the event that I’d not seen at Cannon Hill parkrun before, despite both events being relatively close to each other in terms of travel time.

Right. Enough soapboxing…

I arranged to meet Dave at The Vale ahead of the 10:30am start. Due to misjudging the distance from Kings Heath to The Vale, I definitely did not give myself enough time to run to the venue. What originally started out as a jog gradually became a progressive run as I realised I was likely to miss the start! I really didn’t need the pre-run anxiety; my heart rate was already amped up by some 5bpm before setting off due to just feeling a bit run down of late, and the -4 condition score from my Garmin confirmed as much despite not having run for 3 days.

Arriving at 10:29, I was at least already warmed up and anticipated a rolling start to keep the momentum going. Thankfully, the organisers were running a few minutes late to give me a short breather beforehand. Talk about cutting it close!

From the line, it was incredibly civilised with none of the crazy sprint antics from parkrun. I found myself in a group of five, letting others set the pace whilst I followed. The first of three climbs split the pack apart, leaving just an older chap and me leading the field. His breathing on the hill was far heavier than mine and it was obvious he was putting in more effort to maintain pace. Unfamiliar with the route, I drafted behind him; he began zig-zagging to shake me off and that’s when I knew he probably had some race experience in him.

Descending the other side, Dave unexpectedly joined us; originally only wanting to jog around the course, he was fed up of running alone to join the fray. Dave and I continued to let the third member of our group pave the way, though reaching the hill for the second time, he fell back by a couple of steps and settled in behind me to run with Dave. I only caught snippets of their conversation, but it seemed the guy knew of me. Was he a blog reader? Or perhaps a Strava follower? Or maybe I’d pissed him off previously in a race and he’d done some sleuthing? Anyway, Dave began spilling the beans and shared that I was completing the 5k event as part of a 14 mile run. Never give away more than you have to!

Opting not to look backwards (sign of weakness), I continued to pull away on the hill to play to my strength. The gap increased to the point where I could no longer hear footsteps or breathing behind me for much of that km.

Third lap and final run of the hill, I continued to press on and maintain my lead. Descending on the other side, I was suddenly able to hear breathing and footsteps again. I reasoned it wasn’t Dave and must’ve been my pursuer.

Entering the final and short lap, he was nipping at my heels and I easily lost a few steps due to my unfamiliarity with the course. In the blink of an eye, he drew level with me and gapped me by a few strides. Whilst I fully expected him to increase the distance between us, I was able to hang on and prevent any more rot from setting in; that being said, the 15 second or so deficit was too much for me to make up. He would have been running on adrenaline in the firm knowledge that 1st place was his to lose from that point.

I finished in 20:36 and second place, whereas the chap in first place clocked 20:22. He revealed that he wanted to get a fast final km in the bag of around 3:30 or so, regardless of our race, which undoubtedly pushed him on for the win. Whereas I didn’t set out to be in contention, I’m kicking myself that I didn’t hold back on the second climb to instead take him on the third run of the hill. Silver ain’t to be sniffed at, mind, and Dave made it on to the podium, also, for bronze.

Impromptu race finished with, I had 5 slow miles to chew through for home… Yay.

Here’s the Strava data for this run, along with the ‘warm up’ and ‘warm down’.

This week’s running – 20th to 26th of March 2017

 

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Know just how you feel!

The previous week’s stag-do hit me harder than I thought to result in yet another incomplete week of training…

General malaise and feeling out of it

I’m a lightweight when it comes to drinking (almost exclusively teetotal) and I’m a lightweight when it comes to sleep. Saturday night/Sunday morning’s stag-do shenanigans from the previous week ensured I was suitably sleep deprived, netting only 3 crappy hours to leave me feeling pretty rotten for the days that followed – God help me when/if I become a parent…

Tuesday and Thursday hit me hardest, with low-level cold-like symptoms and lethargy. Wednesday was really the only day where I felt like I could handle a run, so I made the most of the already narrow window of time available to me, which leads us neatly on to…

5k fartlek

I’m really digging the 5k fartleks of late. Short enough to be back at home within 25 minutes, and taxing enough to keep the system ticking over, if not eliciting some small gains from my current low volume situation.

I am aware that at some stage, soon, I do really need to pull my finger out and stop accepting this as being satisfactory…

Here’s there Strava data for this run.

Cannon Hill parkrun

After the 19:35 from two weeks ago, I quite fancied stretching myself a little more. Lis volunteered as a marshal again, setting herself the soft-goal of attaining a 25 volunteer t-shirt.

My warm-up jog to the park was a touch too exuberant and I feared I’d left it all out there before even toeing up on the start line. In reality, this was anything but! Due to how amped up I felt from the fast warm-up and strides beforehand, I charged off with my Garmin registering sub-6:00 mile pace a few times during the opening km! For comparison, that’s basically PB pace for me over 5k…

In the past, I’ve read interesting pieces about “crash and burn” workouts, where the uncertainty and anxiety from not knowing the outcome when at your limit can prove to be a useful training aid. Well, I was certainly crashing and burning, with my splits looking somewhat ghastly:

  1. 3:47
  2. 3:54
  3. 4:01
  4. 4:00
  5. 3:42

That final split is a bit of a red herring, due to it measuring shorter than normal. I still finished in 19:23, which is my fastest 5k since early January; with tighter pacing, I’m pretty certain I would have hit 19:15 or so.

Here’s the Strava data for this run.

12 miles – to Brindley Place and back

This was supposed to be my inaugural visit to Great Run Local’s 5k event at The Vale, near the University of Birmingham. It was to be called The Great Run Local sandwich, with the plan to gently jog to that part of the campus along the canal for approximately 5 miles, run the 5k distance, and then jog back home for something in the region of 13 miles.

After getting everything prepared in the days preceding, such as finding my registered RF wristband and studying the route layout, the event was sadly cancelled beforehand due to lack of available first aiders in attendance. Dave and I reasoned that majority, if not all, of the volunteers for the event must be students to coincide with the end of term exodus. My calendar’s pretty full until the end of April, so Great Run Local will have to wait a little while longer – expect a full debrief of my experience, along with how it compares to parkrun.

Rather than deviate from plan too much, I headed out towards Brindley Place for almost 13 miles. As commented on previously, I found my legs constantly wanted to go faster – such is how fresh I felt, even factoring in the 5k sufferfest only 24 hours prior. First run of the year in sunglasses, too!

Here’s the Strava data for this run.