It may have rained a few times over the last few weeks, but it never crossed my mind that summer was almost over until the GGAC email came out on Tuesday: it claimed that cross-country season is just eight weeks away! Eeek; nothing says cold weather more than XC racing.
With this in mind, the session moved away from the track and onto the grassy delights of Stoke Park where we aimed more for time than distance on our reps. The premise was simple : two minutes hard, one minute jog – 10 times. So as to not get too spread across the park we re-congregated during the one minute recovery and set about blasting off around the undulating route for the two minute efforts.
I was channelling the catch-phrase from the Sufferfest videos as I repeated “I will kick my ass today to beat yours tomorrow” over and over again in my mind as my mantra and tried to keep up with some of the guys who are usually way ahead of me on the track.
With A Level results released this week I had to be back in the office during the second half of the week and on Thursday Lyndsey dropped me off bright and early and took the car so that I could run home. As I turned my Garmin on to find satellites at the end of the day it immediately beeped a low battery warning at me, and I hoped it might make it home as I really needed to keep track of my miles at target pace. At the end of the school drive I remembered that I had the Strava app on my phone so I switched that on as a failsafe to record my run – remember, if it’s not on Strava it doesn’t count! The 6 miles at target marathon pace went really smoothly and my watch held out nicely for this section to record six miles at 8:01, 8:00, 7:58, 7:57, 8:06, 7:58. It finally died about half a mile into the cool down.
On Saturday I was feeling pretty good for a parkrun effort and headed down to the park. Not many runners this week as I suspect most were off on their holidays. Gavin was there though so we had a quick catch up – he was hoping for an ‘easy’ run but none of the regulars were here so he might have been the lone leader. As it turned out he went off with someone out front and I tucked in just behind another first timer at Cranleigh before passing him on the hill. He never really let me go though and I was always aware of him pushing me along behind. He never made it past me and the official time had me 8 seconds ahead at the finish; it felt so much closer. The official time also had me two seconds off my PB at the event. I set off almost immediately afterwards for a ‘steady’ two miles – getting the legs used to solid running once they are already tired.
In the afternoon Lyndsey, her mum, Barbara, Delilah and I headed over to Nymans garden in Handcross to have a potter around and look at the house. We were lucky with some lovely weather and really enjoyed our afternoon there exploring the colours of the gardens.
All week I have been trying to decide what to do today with my long run. Lyndsey and her mum had planned to go and visit the big city so I was on daycare duties all day. They had proposed an early start and probably a late finish. So was I to run at the start or end of a long day? After last weeks diabolical finish I was cautious of running early and slowing down and being late, or just generally feeling awful whilst also being aware that a day of chasing Delilah around would not amount to a particularly pleasant evening run. On Saturday I decided the best thing to do was early start and be out and back before the ladies went out just after 8. I set the alarm for 5:20 and was under strict instructions not to wake anyone.
The alarm chirruped beside me and I quickly turned it off and lay back in bed to briefly question my madness. I pushed the thoughts aside, climbed out of bed and grabbed the pile of clothes and accessories that I had laid out last night. In the quiet of the bathroom I got ready before sneaking downstairs hoping not to wake Delilah and into the kitchen hoping not to wake Barbara. I wolfed down a mule bar and swallowed it down with 500ml of Torq drink and packed a couple of gels in my shorts for later. I closed the door behind me just after 5:40 as I stepped out into the cool, still morning.
I had planned my route to largely follow the Cranleigh 15 route, but with the first half in reverse and I set out feeling really good. I had MarathonTalk on the phone and enjoyed the rising sun slowly bring life to the world around me. I saw only a handful of cars the whole time and whilst I might have liked to have seen some more wildlife I can be pleased at seeing a bird of prey in full flight ahead of me across one field.
The troublesome twelfth mile that I experienced last week did not materialise and as I climbed the hill on Knowle Lane for the second time this morning I was feeling really strong. I clocked up just over 15 miles at bang on 8:30min/mile pace and walked back through the front door before 8am.
I showered and dressed quickly, kissed the wife goodbye and settled into playtime with Delilah. Mum and Dad called in on the way back from the rugby at Twickenham last night and we went to lunch in the village (which was harder to come by than I expected as everywhere seemed to be closed!) and I cooked tea ready for the return of the intrepid arty explorers.
I topped 40 miles for the week for the first time since June 2013!!! Maybe it’s time for an easy week :-)
How did your running go this week?