I started this week as I finished the last – in the North East with family. My Monday run was a pleasant, if a little dull, recovery run that was probably all the more boring because I wasn’t really recovering from much exertion over the weekend.
Soon after this we headed to Saltburn and Delilah had her first proper experience of playing on the beach. The tide was way out and she was mostly interested in moving the water from one shallow pool to another. She appeared to have an absolute blast!
On Tuesday we headed out to see some friends and I went to the track again at 5pm to get my session done before the local club turned up. the planned session was the ‘Cooper‘ and I ummed and ahhed all day as to whether I would do my own thing or go with the proposed session. In the end I did the Cooper after a warm up of three 400m efforts. When I finished my tough 12 minutes – much harder on your own with no one to either try and keep up with, or to push you around the track – I walked back to the start finish straight and, as per my instructions, completed a mile at 7:45 pace. This felt remarkably easy thanks to the preceding effort. I managed to travel 1.8miles (2896m) during the 12 minutes which puts me in the ‘excellent’ category – but it’s not as far as I have run in the past on this test. There is definitely a psychological advantage if nothing else, to doing this with other runners around.
We drove home on Wednesday, making the obligatory stop at Ikea on the way home to jump on mattresses and decide whether to replace our nine-year-old one or not: the problem with buying an Ikea-sized bed, is that you need an Ikea-sized mattress! Driving has been really bothering my hamstring/glute on the right hand side recently and this continued during the long drive south. I just can’t seem to get it to switch off.
This possibly made the run on Thursday feel a little more difficult than it perhaps should have been as I tried to maintain five miles at target marathon pace (plus a mile each of warm up and cool down. My knee began to feel a little bit niggly during the last mile or so, but I am unsure whether that was down to the new Asics Gel-Indicate shoes or the hundreds of miles that I drove the day before. I’ll keep an eye on it and see.
Friday saw me attempting this brilliant (but insanely tough) yoga for runners routine that I found on youtube from a lady called Cara. It is hard work, but achievable, and in the small heatwave we enjoyed over the last few days I got a little sweaty!
There was no time for parkrun on Saturday, in fact by the time they started I had already opened and closed the aid station at Puttenham and driven to Reigate to help there for the North Downs Way 100. Those of you who remember me attempting this race two years ago will remember that my car broke down on the way to the start. Louise informed me at Puttenham that this has now become an actual thing as she didn’t want to ‘do a Chris Mercer’ when considering whether to drive down or stay locally on race day! It was terrific to help out for the day and see some folks I rarely get to see, as they did battle with the cruel mistress that is the North Downs Way. Louise nailed it, Sam looked comfortable whenever I saw him and ended up with a terrific 30th place. Bryan gutted out another finish, though sadly Dan wasn’t able to as he twisted his ankle and had to take the very wise (but probably incredibly difficult) decision to drop out and therefore lose his chances of completing the Grand Slam this year. Local runner Phil Wilson took an almighty tumble on the staircase that I found myself sitting on during the 2013 50mile race and was apparently passed out for a little while and needed a speedy trip to the hospital. I believe he is OK now, but not sure of the cause just yet. It was an incredibly hot day and I managed to muster up five steady miles before being pretty sick due to insufficient fueling so to all the people who completed even some of the course, I salute you.
After the setback on my Saturday run I was a little nervous about heading out on Sunday. I felt better, but I didn’t leave until soon after ten which meant the last few miles would be in the epic midday heat. The first few miles felt really good as I tried to settle into my target ‘steady’ pace. In fact I made it to 11 miles without too much bother at all. But by about 11.5 my right knee had really started to tighten up and I even needed to stop and stretch out my hamstrings. I was maintaining the pace, but the effort was ramping up. By the time I got to 12 miles I was sorely tempted to throw in the towel and call it a day. But what would that solve? I gave myself a bit of a talking to, ran in the opposite direction to home, sucked it up a bit and got the final two miles ticked off whilst only slowing slightly. I was annoyed that it had been quite so difficult, but the weather over the last few days had really not helped and my legs were tired from an accumulation of driving miles.
What I did achieve this week was another consistent week of training and my highest weekly mileage in a VERY long time at a little over 36 miles. I cruised past 700 for the year and that feels pretty good given how few I ran last year.