This time last week, I had missed a whole host of runs, I’d had a great time with the little miss, but I was ready to get back on it.
Monday’s easy run was just that; easy, simple, delightful. Four miles of jogging bliss.
Tuesday’s session at the track was a toughie. Not only was it long 5x (600, 1200) off 90s recovery :- that’s 9000m running in circles in one direction – but it wasn’t made much easier by the size of the group and getting a little caught up in the excitement and going a little too quickly on the first reps. So, having run seven miles by this point including my warm up etc. I was now asked to run two ‘bonus’ miles at 7min/mi pace. The idea here is that they should feel easy given that it is slower than I have been burning round the track, but faster than marathon pace. As I had been at the earlier of the two track sessions, I decided to get out of everyone else’s way and head off to do my miles out and back along the main road. It definitely wasn’t as flat as the track is, and felt like I was working harder than perhaps I usually do for these mile efforts – but I finished that session with a real sense of accomplishment. I was pretty chuffed.
I was a little nervous about Thursday’s run, and probably with good reason. At this stage of the plan leading up to Frankfurt I did a similar session (7 miles at 8 min/mi pace) and I reported that I felt pretty good, I was happy with the effort and my pacing went well. Fast forward to this week and I was asked to run 9 miles at 7:15 pace – that’s a sign of the leap I am taking between Frankfurt and London. I was left buzzing that I nailed it. I felt strong throughout the run, tagging along quite nicely at the desired pace and slowing only in the final mile as the wind picked up and fatigue started to set in.
Bizarrely, I had no instructions in the plan for Saturday – I think they were just overlooked, rather than I was supposed to rest. So for the first time in a little while I had to think for myself and decide what to do. I had already given a little thought to some parkrun tourism and decided in the morning to head over to Horsham for my first time there as it is mostly on paths. The route itself is a nice three-lapper (who’d have thought that was possible) with only a couple of minor undulations on each lap – certainly no significant climbing. The paths are narrow, so the second and third laps led to a lot of overtaking which wasn’t always easy, but thankfully I was following closely behind someone who was doing a lot of shouting to move people out of the way, so I didn’t have to.
I got the impression that there was a pretty good turnout on the day – perhaps one of their bigger crowds – and the RD delivered the welcome etc. before setting everyone off.
I didn’t know what to expect other than that I wanted to run strong. I was amongst the front runners fairly quickly and tried to hold on to a few chaps just in front of me. Over the course of the run I think I checked my watch twice to see that I wasn’t dropping my pace, but aside from that I pushed as hard as I could. At the northern end of each loop was a small section where we crossed a muddy bit between the footpaths. This section was so slippery that it stripped all speed from the runners, and probably accounted for a number of seconds off the final time. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes when I stopped my watch 19:26, and a huge new PB. I figured that the GPS was never going to stand a chance on the twisty course over three laps, but I was still pretty surprised to see it registering just 2.92 miles – way short of the required 3.1!
When you look at the course on the parkrun site, you can see where the problem lies – the plotted start and finish points are much further along their paths than where we ran, and by cutting out the section at the top by the skatepark to avoid the mud even more distance is stripped off. I was so excited to have earned a massive new PB, but I fear I am going to have to work bloody hard to wipe this short course off of my achievements!
Anywhoo, I was still pretty pleased with my achievements as it has been a while since I have run a parkrun, and after a hugely successful week I was looking forward to nailing the long run.
I was up in good time this morning, ate some breakfast, chilled with the girls, got ready, and headed out of the door in pursuit of 16 miles. The plan called for 11 ‘steady’ (8min/mi) and then a strong finish for five at 7:15 pace. It was a big leap, but following the success of Thursday’s session I had confidence in my ability. I had planned a four mile loop to keep things relatively flat, and I set off on my anti-clockwise trajectory.
Pretty much from the get-go I could tell I didn’t feel quite right. I wasn’t sure if I was hungry or thirsty (shouldn’t have been either, I was well fed and watered) or if I was tired from the parkrun exertions. I settled into the desired pace like a metronome, albeit one that was slightly fast (more like 7:50-7:55 than 8min/mi) and although I wasn’t comfortable, I wasn’t hurting too bad either. On the second lap the wind had started to pick up, and by the third it was stronger still. If you are doing the maths then you’ll know I had to pick up the pace in the final mile of the third lap. I was feeling pretty naf by about nine miles, and as the watch beeped for the end of the eleventh I upped my cadence and asked my body to churn out just a little more speed.
A little more speed was delivered, but that was all it was. Some sick was also thinking about paying a visit, and the wind was awful as I faced a long west-bound run along the main road. I passed not very far at all from my house and as I struggled to get below 7:30 and knew that this would result in four more miles from hell, I decided to give up. It wasn’t even a fight; my watch chirruped to tell me that the twelfth mile was done, and so was I. I stopped it, and I stopped my legs, and together we plodded back to the house with my tail between my legs and my morale in tatters. How could one run have such a profound effect on what was a very good week?
Oh well. I was heartily cheered by a brilliant time at the pool with Delilah this afternoon as she got in with very little fuss and very quickly settled and enjoyed herself – kicking and splashing all over the place, and even sticking her mouth in the water, though she didn’t quite get the hang of ‘open above water, closed under water’.
Onward and upwards – tomorrow starts another week. Only 62 days to go apparently. Eek!
Please don’t forget, I am running three marathons this year, and hoping to raise £315 (to match my 3:15 ambitions) for the NSPCC – I would hugely appreciate your help in anyway you can by visiting http://bit.ly/ChrisMercerRuns