Thursday, 22 September 2011

Great balls of fire..............

My Great North weekend....

It`s the Great North weekend - which is something I have planned since early January - flights, accommodation, day plan, car parking etc etc. Normally I fly up from Heathrow T5 on the Saturday afternoon after racing around Bedfont parkrun in the morning but this year I booked up a Friday afternoon flight - meaning I could give the Newcastle parkrun a bit of a go (so the `different event / location` rule of a sub 23 mins run applied).

When I arrived in Newcastle it was so different to the sunny & warm conditions I have just left down South - raining & with skies of solid dark clouds - but as the metro station is linked to the airport it wasn`t much of a problem. I had already booked the Travelodge for the Saturday & Sunday night (an amazing deal - read a mammoth error on their side - of £1.00 per night) & thought is was best I didn`t disturb that deal. So I booked in a hotel in Osbourne Road (1.2M away from the parkrun), which despite getting soaked in the evening (forgotten a brolly) was OK - had amazing fish & chips from Jesmond Hotel & Brassiere & had a fairly early night.

Jesmond Hotel

Up and about early on Saturday & breakfast came in the form of a pot `Oats So Simple` & black coffee and checked out before 7.30 am. I had left my main bag there so I only had my small rucksack with me - I found the underpass, a quick scoot around the band stand & the old museum and out unto the Town Moor where I met the famous Town Moor cows in my warm up (2.7M in 27 mins). A quick chat with Kelly & 154 Rob, Pestomum & 2 Flat Feet we made our way to the start. Newcastle parkrun is a flat course, mainly on solid path with a small section of hard trail & a couple of gate (which are nicely held open) - so my goal of sub 23 mins.

I didn`t want to look at the mile bleeps so I thought if I looked at the Km markers I`ll be able to work out if I was slowing down too much....good plan eh.... 1st Km = 4:14....... 2nd Km = 8:33.......3rd Km = 13:16 (I had slowed down - what are the chances of that)....... 4th Km = thank goodness I had only 1 more Km to go - lets give it some - come on I can see the finish flag & no runner is getting past me......... 5 Km = finished & why am I not on the floor being sick???

An incredible time of 22:14 - my fastest 5 Km since I think April 2010 & only 21 seconds away from my PB (& I still managed to say hello to the kind marshals out on the course). Afterwards I managed a quick word with Tom Williams (of Marathon Talk) & out for a cool down (i.e. run to the coffee shop with Kelly - who managed a super time of 19:49). Had coffee & grabbed my bag from the hotel & made my way to Newcastle...

Race data;

Split Summary
1) - 1m - 6:53(6:53/m) - 126cal
2) - 1m - 7:28(7:28/m) - 131cal
3) - 1m - 7:33(7:33/m) - 130cal
4) - 0.06m - 21(5:37/m) - 7cal

Pace Zone Summary

Pace Zone: 6:00-6:19/mile: 2.7%
Pace Zone: 6:20-6:39/mile: 7.6%
Pace Zone: 6:40-6:59/mile: 24.6%
Pace Zone: 7:00-7:19/mile: 25.4%
Pace Zone: 7:20-7:39/mile: 18.8%
Pace Zone: 7:40-7:59/mile: 10.3%
Pace Zone: 8:00-8:19/mile: 3.6%
Pace Zone: 8:20-8:39/mile: 1.8%

I got to the hotel early & managed to check without fuss & after a quick shower & change I made my way (basically opposite the hotel) to the Quayside to watch the City Games - Mo is super quick - then a quick wander over to the Expo. Dinner was not as exciting as the previous night but I did have a walk down by the Tyne.

Morning of the race day I was up quite early (4.00am) - opps - but at least I wasn`t rushed. Again breakfast was oh so simple with coffee. I do like running through the streets before everyone else at a big race - time to enjoy the peace and quiet. I made my way to the starting area and looked back up the dual carriageway - it was so empty.

I grabbed a drink started to people watch - some of their faces were real pictures - talk about shock and awe. I made my way down to our footbridge & met up with MrSJ for a pre-race chat. As time moved on other arrived too - Mandie, Steve, RLTW, Stringy, James & Emily, Dasher Dart & GP (I`m sure others were there too). Just after the start of the wheel chair race I made my excuses and made my way though to my pen (B - same as last year). I must of started a bit more towards the back of the pen this year - as I crossed the line in just over two minutes. (I did also high five Mo).

My race plan wasn`t too clear in my head - I just wanted to have a good feeling afterwards knowing I had run well - no PB or not even a course PB (if there such a thing) or even close but just a good run would do. I had gone down the left (apparently the fun side) - Mile 1 = steady I resisted the fast first mile routine, 2nd, 3rd & the 4th Mile I steadied the ship. Now at this point I had a plan - I tried to run 8.00/m at the New Forest 10 in July & failed at mile 8 so I thought "right let`s try again.....but without taking gels or water" Mile 5 I seemed to get boxed in a lot (what a rookie !!). Mile 6, 7 & 8 I put my foot down a bit - looking at the profile it is the downhill section. Mile 9 & 10 - I slowed down as I knew all about the uphill part. Just after John Reid Road I saw MrSj - he was doing really well (he too had move over to the `fun side`) - he said he was dying - I just said `"die at the end as there`s more medics around". I`m sure he said something I cannot type but did say Jovi Runner was just ahead. At this stage the rain which was quite gently before came pouring down - which I must say was quite nice. I saw Jovi Runner in front and just after after the last roundabout I said "Come on" and pushed on.

I wanted to re-live that thought I has a couple of weeks ago - running down the last mile in a great mood, high five`s all round & sprinted towards & through the finish.

Now as I came past the 200 sign & towards the line the finishing area marshals decided to open up the far hand lane - and so it was just me and this other runner to go through first. As we got closer we sped up, closer & closer, faster & faster - as we got unto the grass we were shoulder to shoulder - I was living that dream. Side by side we neared the finishing line...despite it not getting any closer.

The finish line did of course come but I think the other guy was half a shoe in front. We crossed the line & shook hands - see photos & more importantly the video - I met with Jovi Runner & MrSJ (ok I was too knackered to move after that finish) & after 6 attempt in different buses I found my bag & made my way to the pub.

Marathon Photos Link

Was I pleased with my run - then yes I was and as it happened my pace was 7:59/m (13.19M @ 1:45:19) Fastest Half for 12 months

Race Data;

Split Summary
1) - 1m - 7:51(7:51/m) - 126cal
2) - 1m - 8:05(8:05/m) - 133cal
3) - 1m - 8:05(8:05/m) - 130cal
4) - 1m - 8:04(8:04/m) - 130cal
5) - 1m - 8:12(8:12/m) - 129cal
6) - 1m - 7:43(7:43/m) - 131cal
7) - 1m - 7:42(7:42/m) - 132cal
8) - 1m - 7:50(7:50/m) - 129cal
9) - 1m - 8:12(8:12/m) - 130cal
10) - 1m - 8:06(8:06/m) - 130cal
11) - 1m - 8:18(8:18/m) - 129cal
12) - 1m - 8:12(8:12/m) - 129cal
13) - 1m - 7:37(7:37/m) - 131cal
14) - 0.19m - 1:23(7:07/m) - 24cal

Pace Zone Summary
Pace Zone: 6:40-6:59/mile: 1.3%
Pace Zone: 7:00-7:19/mile: 4.5%
Pace Zone: 7:20-7:39/mile: 17.5%
Pace Zone: 7:40-7:59/mile: 24.6%
Pace Zone: 8:00-8:19/mile: 23.9%
Pace Zone: 8:20-8:39/mile: 13.7%
Pace Zone: 8:40-8:59/mile: 5.7%
Pace Zone: 9:00-9:19/mile: 2.6%
Pace Zone: 9:20-9:39/mile: 1.5%

In the evening had a cracking night spent new & old friends catching up with their day..

Now it seems I cannot go through an airport in a straight forward way.....I am pleased to say that Newcastle didn`t disappoint. I booked the early flight (11:50) so not to waste the whole day travelling back, I made check in plenty of time (so I thought). When I checked in the nice people at BA said I was on `Stand by` but I could qualify for £200 compensation if I wanted to. They said the next flight was 13:40 ish so I said yes - I`ll move to the later flight....Now I am totally lost by the next bit as I didn`t get on my stand by flight nor did I get the £200 but when I went to the Information desk to ensure I was booked on that next flight I was flagged & got compensation of £216 (time on ground delay ???!!!??? ) !! I caught that later flight - the world went mad for 5 minutes I seemed to be in the middle of it (again).

BTW - I have put the money to good use - by entering a couple of races.

Next up - After this week`s recovery week (including a sports massage) the JW Ultra. A nice 30 mile trip along a Canal counting Ducks, Swans, Bridges, Barges, Fetchies & Pirates....

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Top Gear...nah, more like Top Event.....

Autumn Spitfire 20

What is it about this event I like...the two undulating laps, the sling-shot cornering, the close location, the numbers of runners I know on race day, the easy parking, the friendly marshals & recently the terrible weather??? I don`t know but I do. So to run laps 7 & 8...yes my 4th time here.

My `training plan`* is been coming along nicely, with the long runs getting a bit longer each time but this was the 1st continuous run that would start with a “2”. The plan was to run a progressive run – idea given to me by Gobi (thanks). The plan was 5M @ 9.08/m pace, then 5M @ 8.53/m, 4M @ 8.38/m, 4M @ 8.23/m and then the last 2M at whatever pace I had left.

There was only 2 little problems with this – a) the latter part of the course is where the lumps are so not easy to increase the pace there and b) the last time I had done thins plan I had done a number of 20M+ runs. These two issues were countered by 2 advantages – as I said I had done this plan before at Bramley 20 & it had worked a treat, the 2nd was I had been practicing my progressive runs – even at parkruns – where my 1st 3.1M run pre 9.00am parkrun were slower than my actual offical 9.00am start parkrun.

Come race day I collected Dave & off we go to Dunsfold Aerodrome (just over 20 miles away), we get there early. Park up & before a grab a tea we bump into the Andover crowd (Matt, Mark & Martin) & then the Chineham Park runners. As the start time moves closer as move towards the stating area – I bump into Ben (who is flying at the moment) & wished him well. Even thou I wasn`t fully racing it today I went with my race kit (inc a pair of sunnies – what a complete waste of time those were). So a finishing time of 2:54:04 in mind & completing the 1st 10M in exactly 1:30:00 pacing was the key.

The 1st 3M of the course is now completely flat and all within the aerodrome (start / finish is at the back of the aerodrome) so it was good to control those 1st few miles, Mile 3-4 was a bit lumpy, 5M was generally flat, 6M was now off unto quieter country roads, but just before the 7M there was a sharp incline that made your lunges work overtime, Mile 17 is I guess one of my favourite miles on the course, however it does end going uphill & with the 18M in sight – then only two left. Then the final corner before entering the road to the pub & the gates – all but over then or half the fun gone depending on your race distance.

We kept it steady in the 1st few miles & not being drawn along by other runners racing off into the distance. Just outside the gates Dave disappears into the bushes so I drop the pace a little so he doesn`t need to sprint to catch up – 1st part nearly spot on. Second 5M I increase the pace a touch, knowing Dave longest run since London but is generally going well. About mile 8 I just get in front but I can still hear him. At the pub (around 9.5M) I wait for him as he has dropped back – another trip to the bushes – anyway he says to carry on – so I did.

I go through the start / finish mats at I think spot on 1:30:xx but I feel I`ve slipped back & start to push the pace. Mile 11 bleep went off – 8:16 – OMG – I wonder if I`ve ruined my race for the sake of 1 fast mile – stupid, stupid, stupid... I dropped my speed down but my pacing is all over the place – was it due to the undulations of the course or me? Had I gotten away with the a fast mile 11????

Now starting the last 4 miles (I do not count miles 19 & 20 as that`s nearly the finish I can run free pace – yippee), anyway this last 4M is where I struggle – I need 8:23 – disappointing 1st mile – too slow. Crazy 2nd mile (what a muppet) – way too fast, 3rd mile about right, and the lay of the land getting me in the last mile of the four.

I see the mile marker & I`m free of the garmin – I try to give it legs & run for home....ok not too much left. Ok the last 5 or 6 miles were in the rain & I could feel the legs tighten up but I push. Some guy at 19M comes flying past me and the group I`m tracking so I try to go with him – he is too strong but I increase my pace & take this group....maybe I was paying the price for those fast 11th & 16th Miles??

I head around the corner & through the gates & around the final corner – I get a couple of shouts (thanks) & through the finishing mats. I see Ruth who had a really good run & Joh just finishing behind. We grab a coffee as we are getting really cold. I get changed & wait for Dave to come through – he does shortly after. So that`s his first long run done. We grab another coffee & watch the weather clear a bit!!!

Garmin Splits :

9:11, 9:07, 9:08, 9:22, 9:06,
9:01, 8:51, 8:56, 8:57, 9:21,
8:16, 8:34, 8:29, 8:36,
8:39, 8:11, 8:26, 8:30,
8:22, 7:15 (0.88m @ 8:13/m).

*I`ve had to modify a standard Marathon plan as it`s so hard to find a decent plan that includes 6 x 10Km off-road laps being the Thunder Run & a 30M canal run (JW Ultra), a marathon on foreign soil (Amsterdam), a 30M fun run that starts at Midnight (Midnight 30) and a couple of half marathons thrown somewhere in.

Next up – something I`ve planned for about 10 months – the Newcastle parkrun......oh and the Great North Run the day after :-)