Those of you out there who are beady eyed may well have noticed that it has actually been a while since my last blog, which now means I have a few to catch up on. So here is instalment number 1.
Last weekend I struggled really to find a reason to blog. I had a very similar week to the previous one; training went well, I knocked off another 10secs and set a new PB at parkrun, I went for a 16 mile long run. Everything seemed to go well, and I was pretty happy, but I didn’t want to rehash the previous blog for the sake of it.
So this week, with Silverstone looming it was a bit of a taper week – and one that I maybe took a little too seriously. On Tuesday, for whatever reason I simply couldn’t be arsed to go for a run – so I didn’t. Instead I did Tuesdays HM pace session on Wednesday evening. I managed to set up Eduardo wrong and so after my warm up he started beeping at me to hit 7:30-7:40 min/mi. Dammit, a full minute quicker than I was thinking about. Well it meant that for the whole run it kept bleeping every few seconds, but that just meant that I kept an eye on my pace and managed three good 1 mile splits at about 8:40 min/miling. It was a good opportunity to turn my legs over and I got home feeling confident and raring to go.
On Thursday though, with nothing but my old (holey) running gear clean I decided again that I couldn’t be bothered to go out and so another run was pushed back. This time on Friday I headed out for about 4 miles and a steady pace. Again I felt comfortable, and my legs felt good. But I woke on Saturday and there was a sense that my legs didn’t feel right.
With a race the next day I had already decided to volunteer at Banstead Woods parkrun, and was all geared up to be a registration person. So I arrived at the woods bright and early, to be greated by volunteer coordinator Gill with a big smile and a quick briefing on my duties. It all seemed pretty easy, and despite the importance of the role in relation to the production of results I was keen to get going. I headed up to the registration area and met race director Chris who is so friendly. Frances, the other registration person was also new to volunteering so it was good to have a chat to her whilst we waited for the first runners to come through. This took about 8 minutes, and it is interesting to see quite how quick the front runners are. It was also interesting to see those with whom I am usually running, and how slow they actually appear to be moving. Now this is all relative of course, it’s not particularly slow – it’s just that when I am doing 7:30-7:40 minutes per mile I feel like I am really really going for it, flying down the track, but evidently it doesn’t look quite like that :-)
As it turns out, scanning bar codes and number disks is a great job, and a nice opportunity to talk to fellow runners about their race. Before I knew it, we were done and the super-speedy operation of decamping was underway and we dropped everything back at the car.
All through the morning though, my knee had felt uncomfortable and when walking up the hill even a little painful. It hadn’t gotten any easier by the time I got home, and it was a little concerning that on the day before a race I was unable to complete the easy 20 minute leg stretcher, and instead had feet up on the sofa with a bag of frozen peas on my knee. Not ideal race preparation.
As it was though, I woke up on Sunday morning feeling good and knee issues seemed to have gone completely. One good thing about a midday race start is that it allows a reasonable wake up time and a nice drive to the event. What it doesn’t cater for is an easy nutrition plan.
I picked up Alma at 8am and heading north for Silverstone race track. Traffic was almost non-existent and we made great time, arriving at the race track at about quarter to 10 ready for our big tweetup. It took some time, but eventually the group started to grow, and it felt like such a nice atmosphere meeting people whom for the most part I have spent a year or so twittering back and forth with, but whom until Sunday had never met. It took my mind off pre-race nerves with which I would usually be consumed.
Race day was hot, the beautiful clear blue skies provided a glorious backdrop to the circuit based race as we headed to the start/finish straight and the sub 2:00 hour holding pen before working our way slowly to towards the front. The group continued to splinter a little until we all felt we were about where we needed to be for race pace.
I never even heard a gun or heard a ‘GO!’ but soon the crowd seemed to be moving, and we jogged to the start gantry and pressed the “We’re OFF” button on Eduardo. It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment at the start of a race, and it’s well documented as a ruiner of races. I kept an eye on Eduardo through the first mile and although I felt good, 8:16 was a little speedier than planned and I had a quick word with myself to slow down a little. This resulted in a slower 8:forty-something mile. From there on in, everytime I looked at the watch my average pace remained at 8:32min/mi and I was feeling terrific.
As the race wore on, the heat grew and it was taking its toll on runners. I saw a number in various phases of flaking out and even spralled in the middle of the track at one point. As I approached the 8 mile mark I was back in the range of the track side loud-speakers and heard the commentators announce Scott Overall as the winner crossing the line. Not long past this I started to see Martin and his cousin in front of me again and caught them at about mile 10. Neil was struggling, and as I hello’ed Martin he asked if I was feeling good. “Yes, feeling great” I called back as I ran past. Within half a mile I was rueing those words as my head started to really flake in the heat.
Just stick with it I thought as I pour a bottle of water down my back to cool me off. The famous Silverstone winds seemed non existent despite the wide open spaces on the track in the final few miles. Having not hit every apex perfectly, Eduardo was reading out the miles earlier than the mile markers and I knew I’d be running more than the half marathon distance. In the 13th Mile my pacing started to slow a little to 8:33, then 8:44. As people all around slowed to a walk, and ambulance/red cross teams swarmed around picking up runners littering the track and verges, the temptation to slow down myself was so excrutiatingly tantalising that this was my real battle for the day. I plowed on, and before I knew it, the 13 mile marker loomed into view and I gave it my all to sprint for the line.
Well, I say ‘sprint’. It felt like the fastest run I’d ever done. Turns out that it was about my 5km pace. Either way, it clawed back some valuable seconds and my official chip time is 1:53:26. I was absolutely ecstatic with this – my target before the race was sub 2 hours, and my Marchvellous aim was 1:55. So to beat both was brilliant for me on what is really quite a tough course. I think I’ll probably write up a blog post in the next few days about the race review itself, but in short: I had a brilliant day, mostly thanks to the amazing people that I was fortunate enough to meet.
Getting out of Silverstone took almost as long as the race, but once we were out it was a nice drive home. All in all though, a long day (10 hours out of the house) and I earnt myself sausage and chips for dinner :-)
I had a brilliant day meeting some really lovely people (that was never in doubt though, surely). Set a PB (having never raced the distance before), and got a bit of a tan (once the sunburn dissipates).
This weekends run was sponsored by:
Mazymixer (aka. Simon Walkden aka. Longest Day run)
MartinBown (aka. Martin Bown)
MrNimby (aka. Stephen Auker)
Plustenner (aka. Alma Boates aka. my parkrun buddy)
Campbell_Bear (aka. Super charity fundraiser Campbell the Bear)
Mrsbedders (aka. Catherine Bednall)
Fairweatherrun (aka. Rachel Bedford)
SueCurley30 (aka. Sue Curley)
RuggedRadnage (aka. Dennis)
and anyone else I have forgotten. I am really sorry if I have, but the whole thing was just a little overwhelming I think
Training by numbers:
23 miles this week
274.1 miles this year
42.58 total hours of running
184 donuts burned
86% Marchvellous score
1570.9km remaining in 2012
Oh & I have been offered an exciting opportunity that I hope to be able to share with you soon. Cryptic, I know!!!