Wednesday, 24 April 2013

London – where the streets are paved, no I mean lined with gold…….

Yeap the Virgin London Marathon – my No. 2 target race of the year – opps sorry didn`t I mention that earlier J ok I may of mislead a few of you.

 second appearance at London. I ran in 2010 and while I was pleased with how I ran that day & improved my `pen 7 time` by 30 mins - I ran a solid 4:00:08 but I knew I could do so much better….at least 9 seconds better minimum.

After returning from my two week running break at the middle / back part of March I felt I had lost some of my endurance speed so I accepted that maybe a sub 3:30 was slightly out of touch, I would aim for a sub 3:35, then a sub 3:39:40 (PB = 3:39:41). The bombing at Boston also affected me - I wasn`t going to allow myself to be seen by anyone who came out in support of us running London and me not giving anything but top effort.

My taper was about 10 days – ok it was meant to be two weeks (after the Alice Holt Half) but basically I couldn`t resist an extra mid-week speed session J During race week I managed a slow-ish 7.5Miler,  & 2 ½ hrs of yoga (inc 1 ½ hrs of Bikram yoga), trip to the Expo, trip to theatre, even a social parkrun the day before - all meaning I felt nice & relaxed. On race day Cove Joggers runners are very fortunate as we are helped out by Sandhurst Joggers & use their London coach – saves a lot of hassle. We met at 6:30 for the trip up – imagine going on an exciting school trip when you were younger & you will not be far wrong :-) boing :-) Anyway we get to Blackheath nice and early & split into our various starts – I was in the blue start along with Pete, Garry, Richard – we managed to find Hannah soon after. Those two hours or so just disappeared – soon it was time to apply the sun screen & chuck the bag in. Before I dropped the bag I listened to one pre planned track on the iPod….

I made my way to pen 4 & sat down quietly for about 10 minutes just getting my thoughts together, practicing those meditations techniques. As I got up I looked over the barriers & saw Ultra Sparkly Bridget & chatted to her for a while, which was great as I`d not seen her for a long while… It was nearly time to go.  I had set the Garmin on 8:22m/m pace (just under 3:40 hrs) but wore a 3:35 pace band.

We stood in silence for the 30 sec - I didn`t quite hear the hooter but felt the surge towards the start. Just before the start by that mini roundabout I heard that Fat Boy Slim song - "Right Here, Right Now" blasting out - this was `my` song from my first, really pleasing run of the year at Stubbington Green 10Km in January - this brought back such a great feelings . I did start slow but as it happened it was only for one  mile.  Maybe half / ¾ mile in I saw Fay – an Andover runner come whizzing past me, I knew from an earlier conversation she did say she wanted a good time so I let her go on her way. I was quite happy running a bit behind schedule at that stage.

As the race went on I seemed to be quite fortunate & found a bit of space to run it. For some reason during these big & crowded races I always seem to run on the left hand side of the road – London was no different. I didn`t feel too cramped or get blocked too many times. During those first few miles the crowds were just amazing – I got so many `shout outs`. In fact the crowds throughout the race were just brilliant – instead of 2 deep they were 4 deep, where it was 4 deep they were 6 deep – the noise was more deafening than last time that was for sure. An excellent response to the bombers of Boston.

y gel plan was one every 5 miles - with a couple of jelly babies thrown in later on & water every now & again. 5 miles in (around 42:xx) I have the 1st gel, I felt I was about on race pace now & feeling really good, looking around appreciating the crowds, the other runners, the landmarks. As I came up to the hour point I noted the distance  – just over 7 ¼ miles – great almost on back on track. At around mile 8 an amazing thing happened – despite there being 34,500 or so runners in the race, also on the left side I ran into a friend which was great – we chatted for a bit, we wished each other well I off I went. I was just loving this race. Unsure if I got this from the crowds or the fact the sun was out - or indeed both - but I felt strong & full of energy.

Ten mile in (just over the 1:23) & time for another gel.  This one went all over my hands…lucky a water station was nearby. This it happened was a bit of a blessing as I felt so much better after `washing` my hands & wrists. I grabbed a few jelly babies to compensate for having half a gel. :-)
Going across Tower Bridge is simply just amazing, then turning right along `The Highway` & seeing the fastest runners coming on the other side - I didn`t quite see the leaders but did give a shout out to Phil Wicks (2:19:xx). Along here is the halfway point - 13.1Miles in 1:50:09 (cutting it very close to PB pace), the other great thing along here was the `Fetchpoint` - despite wearing my club vest I managed to get a huge roar (thanks guys) - just shortly after here I went past Iwan Thomas (who just beat me in the Stubbington Green 10Km). Just along here I got a shout out from Brian, Louise & David from Frimley Lodge - sorry guys I was on the left but thanks guys. Just after the 2hrs 09 point I was around the 15 1/2 mile point - another gel - I was still feeling very comfortable.

At around 17M point - I switched sides to see the `Runners World` support crew - somewhere I had completely missed in my previous London - opps. I clapped them as I went past. So under just 10 miles to go. (2 hrs 21 mins) - Ok I was behind on 3:35 pace but hadn`t lost anything to 3:40 pace. As we headed around this section I knew the underpasses would cause a few problems with the Garmin - lucky what had beeped at mile 19 (9:27m/m) - I did see the time at 20M - 2hrs 46min . Still cutting it close - I pushed on not allowing myself to fade - maybe that 2 week break had given my legs a chance to feel fresh!.

About 21.5 miles in you get to run past the runners who are around 13 / 14 mile point - which is great - the roar of the crowds is certainly louder. I moved to the right as I knew the `Fetchpoint` would be coming up but before that I saw one of the most inspiration things I have ever seen - I went past a charity cheering point (I wish I could remember what charity it was) & I saw this guy who had no lower arms but using his elbows to clap with - I caught his eye & thanked him - from this point on I had no right to feel any pain. I picked up the pace. I made a bit of a low past at the Fetchpoint - shouted out to HOD - sorry I didn`t stop. :-)

I h
ave to say I loved `Blackfriars Underpass` - all the motivationally posters - I wanted to go back & read them all again - excellent idea. As we popped up on the Embankment I knew I hadn`t got that much further to go. I saw Big Ben in the distance & thought right it`s a just a half mile from there…I dug deep along this section - I grabbed water to cool myself off. I kept pushing that pace, maybe too fast but I wanted that PB - I knew it was close. I used the crowd, again so many shout outs. I looked at the Garmin at the 25.Miles point - 3hrs 27 mins - I knew from the underpass I couldn`t rely on the Garmin for an accurate distance - blimey this was going to be close…….

I got to Big Ben - right two more sections to go……I saw the first sign - 800 metres to go - despite passing loads of runners I started to feel like I was running in glue, 600 metres to go - COME ON it feels like minutes since the 800 sign. I saw the `3 Marathons in 3 Weeks` guy - Paris, Boston & London - I went past him & cheered him. I came to the 385 yards to go sign…..

I looked at the Garmin & saw 03:37 - I didn`t know if it was 03:37:59 or 03:37:01 - I `sprinted` down the Mail - and I can confirm I am not a sprinter :-) Each time someone went past me I gritted my teeth & took up the challenge to chase them down…."Come here you bugger` I remember thinking..

I came through the finish - my legs & lungs were shot - I stopped the Garmin, it said 03:39 - I changed screens… I couldn`t believe it……I was smack on my predication…….it said 03:39:29 - a 12 second PB, also a 49 second negative split race.

I bumped into Ali from the club, she had managed a 03:27:xx - I did say I wanted to be within 10 minutes of her but I didn`t really care - we had both run well. I chatted to other finishing area marshals I knew - Margaret, Ali`s Mum & Dad, Maurice, Darren Woods, then got my chip snipped from Debbie & got my medal from Julia - again from the club - which rounded off a brilliant race.. I saw Dennis & chatted to him for a while - at this point I was getting cold. I got my bag & got changed. Despite finishing 2nd Cove Jogger runner home & I did managed to grab 1st CJ runner down the pub - yeah - no medal there but the pint made up for it (thanks Lou).

What a fantastic day. I have to say & I know this one is fresh in my mind but I would say this is my best ever race…the support before race day, the superb crowds, the great weather, how I felt thought-out the race, my mile splits, my finishing time, cheeky PB, my negative split, the club mates in the finishing area, the club mates in the Pub…….. what a great day :-)

Well done London - the streets were indeed lined with gold.

(Lastly big shout to Hannah & Garry & Richard who completed their 1st (of many??) marathons & to David who knocked a huge chunk off his PB. ).

Splits - 9:00, 8:21, 8:08, 8:11, 8:13, 8:18, 8:13, 8:14, 8:07, 8:27, 8:27, 8:22, 8:07, 8:03, 8:06, 8:16, 8:09, 8:04, 9:27 (*), 8:05, 8:25, 8:22, 8:13, 8:50 (*), 7:12, 8:07, 3:50 (0.48M @8:05)

* I guess the underpasses effected these splits.

Next up - maybe this Sunday at the Bracknell Half - this will be a jog round just to get the legs moving - maybe a bit of pacing if not too fast.

Happy running folks.

Edit - look what You Tube clip I found - I loved this underpass....

Monday, 8 April 2013

If you don`t ask you don`t get…….

The `ask` was a challenge both in terms of timing & performance on the day. The challenge was to run a parkrun then at 10.00am start the `Bolt Round The Holt` 21KMs at Alice Holt. The travel time (without speeding) between the two venues was 26 mins - can you see the 1st part of the challenge?? Just to add a bit of extra interest not only did I want to run both events (nearly called parkrun a race…that was close….phew) but I wanted a to beat my previous 21 KMs best (set in 2009) of 01:48:49….now my thought process was that if I needed to be in a hurry why not try to get a parkrun PB there too.
That was the challenge - run a sub 21:05 at Frimley Lodge parkrun, then get to Alice Holt in time, then run a sub 01:48:49 - like all good challenges not easy but `do-able` :-)
Also running both events was fellow FL parkrunner Richard Boese, we were quite fortunate that registration for the Alice Holt was open at 07:45am, so the plan was hatched. I would collect Richard from his house (@ 06:45) drive to Alice Holt, get our numbers & chip timer, drive to Frimley Lodge parkrun. Run the parkrun, jump in the car & drive back to Alice Holt - with all timings of a Military Assault Operation.
Just before 09:00am we all assembled on the start area of parkrun - looked like a full house which meant very busy in the 1st half mile or so on the towpath. I set off fast, hoping to hit some space - I had set my PB the week before - at Basingstoke - and ran a first mile of 06:33 - I didn`t think I would hit that pace again but if I did I knew I could just about do it. I wasn`t too worried when loads of folks passed me just before the end of the canal stretch on the 1st lap - I kept pushing the pace. I didn`t look at the Garmin when the 1st beep went off. The `mud` section wasn`t too bad - the course had firmed up. Through unto the 2nd lap - I managed to tag myself on the back of a group of runners inc the 2nd lady. A couple of this group had dropped off half way down the canal - I heard a couple of shouts from runners coming out the mud section on their 1st lap - I was so tempted to see what time it was but didn`t. Second lady had moved ahead - we went around the dog walking field for the last time I had closed the gap & stuck right behind her. Onto the last field - I pushed forward & took them both just by the goal - I pushed again. I saw Dennis on the stones, I managed to gasp a `well done, keep going` to him before I pushed for 2nd to last turn, I knew someone was right on my tail. I got caught within meters of the line….as I finished I looked down & stopped the Garmin…..

It read 21:09 - darn missed it by
5 seconds but hey I gave it my best shot so whilst a bit disappointed it wasn`t that bad….
Splits - 6:37, 7:09, 7:10 (0.04M @4.52)
I waited for Richard to finish his run before freshening up a little - pining the race number on & driving off to Alice Holt.
The Sat Nav said - arrival time 09:56….

We arrive there & park up - we are 500 metres or so from the start line. So a bit of a jog to the start whilst fluffing around with the race belt & arm warmers.. We get there for the start only to be told the start was delayed by 30 mins. This gave us chance to say hello to fellow Cove Joggers Debbie & Jacqui who were doing the 5Km race (there was also a 10Km race too). The course was a 5Km lap so what the organisers planned was for the canine runners to go off first, then the 21Km runners - who had to do an extra 1Km lap, then the 10Km & then finally the 5Km runners went off. This meant we had to do this particular climb a total of 5 times !!!!

I had planned to run around 8:00 m/m (01:45:00) pace, which should be me a bit in the bag if the wheels came off a bit. The main course was undulating - steep descents & sharp climbs with a bit of flat - I had forgotten how undulating it was !! I went through the 5Km & felt comfortable (24:26 ish) - passing quite a quite runners in the process & out unto the 2nd lap. I grapped water where I could remembering I had already ran a speedy 5Km & it was warmer than usual. The 2nd lap felt more comfortable - the legs didn't complain as much, we had more space to run in - I could say thanks to the marshals (49:53 ish).  I did like the 3rd lap as not only did it feel we had the course to ourselves but it felt you knew you were only had one more to go so you could relax even more.  Towards the midpoint of this 3rd lap - Matt King came whizzing past enroute to his victory in 1:16:22. I guess I still had a mile to go on the 3rd lap before the 2nd guy came past (he finished in 1:18:23). I hit the final lap in good sprit, however I do recall at around mile 10 / 11 feeling really exhausted - I thought this was very odd as I don`t normally feel this `bad` at mile 10….I guess it took me a little while to realise / remember the parkrun beforehand - opps. After I realised that I seemed to pick myself up. Several runners caught me before the last climb - I knew the time was close - I didn`t really want to `just` miss out again so I hung on the back of them which wasn`t easy on that last incline. We came around the final corner & through the finishing gantry. I looked down - the Garmin said 1:46:11 - yes I beat my pervious 21KM best.
Physically generally ok, my legs were a bit tight but no issues with the ankle which was good - it was a bit obviously that I`ve lost a bit of fitness but very pleased I did 16 miles in just over 2 hours 7 minutes. Richard had a good run too.
I am pleased that I managed both runs, yes it would have been nice to get a best in both events but not too disappointed - I`m glad I asked myself the question thou.
Results - Results link
Splits - 7:52, 7:51, 7:38,  8:21, 8:09, 7:50, 8:31, 8:25, 8:04, 8:42, 8:52, 8:01, 7:50 (0.86M @9:05)
Next up - Taper time then `The Marathon` on the 21st.
The plan there is still unknown - I don`t think a sub 03:35:00 is on the cards now so really looking at;

Plan A) = A PB (sub 03:39:41),
Plan B = A Sub 03:45:00,
Plan C) = A Sub 03:50:00,
Plan D) = A Sub 04:00:08 (course best) - yes I missed the sub 4hr by 9 seconds in 2011