Taper time has begun; it has gone well.
I eased my weary limbs on Monday with a handful of easy miles as I sought to breathe some life back into my legs after the 22 miler on Sunday. Most importantly, I was able to then do a couple of stretches that I had somewhat neglected the day before in my eagerness to simply stop.
Tuesday called for a lot of driving and as such I didn’t get round to doing the track session as per my training plan. I only missed the Cooper Test, so instead I went out on Wednesday for five steady miles which were pushed along a little quicker than planned as I laced up shiny new shoes which will be my London Marathon shoes so it is important to break them in. They are the exact same size and model of New Balance Fresh Foam Zante that I reviewed here, so I know they work for me and indeed I probably could just lace them up and run the marathon but it’s better to be safe than sorry and get them worn in a little over the coming weeks.
I chose to do this run rather than emulate the track session, so that my Thursday session wasn’t impacted. This session was my standard threshold and this time I was tasked with running seven miles at 7:15pace. The North Sea often blows in unhelpful ways, and Thursday was no different. The first few miles went well enough, supported by my genius choice of music to power me through: Hell is For Heroes- The Neon Handshake
I turned at Saltburn to run back towards Marske and on towards Redcar and it was at this turning point that the wind pushed me backwards. The second half, at least, was difficult to say the least, but as the first album I listened to ended it was replaced by the incredible pace of Dragonforce which immediately increased my cadence and pushed me onwards to the end of the session.
Friday is, as ever, a rest day and this was enjoyed at the farm with the family. We had a great time in the mud, and saw a wealth of lovely animals.
For the first time in ages, I was allowed an all-out assault on parkrun. I had it in my mind to go to Middlesbrough as I know it is a nice flat course and less circular than the local one at Redcar which is so loopy all pace is removed at every bend. Interestingly, when I first signed up for parkrun, Albert Park in Middlesbrough was set as my home course as it would have been at the time the closest to where we lived. As it so happens, I never attended a single time as either life, or my nervousness of new things, got in the way so we moved south before I ever even tried a parkrun.
With 417 runs now completed, Albert Park is one of the oldest parkrun courses and there are a few things that make this abundantly clear. Firstly, the number of runners and volunteers that are around suggest that it is well supported despite other local parkruns popping up now. Secondly, the number of club tshirts on the finishers list implies that a lot of people do this very regularly. Finally, I have never yet been to a parkrun where the start and finish lines have been officially painted onto the footpaths of the park by the council, quite literally cementing this parkrun legacy.
I had driven over to Middlesbrough in some horrendous rain and questioned my sanity for doing so. But almost as soon as I parked the car the skies cleared and the rain stopped. I set off for a warm up lap to get the lay of the land. Flat, I thought, and maybe the sub 20 was on after all. The pre-race announcements were brief and perfunctory before we set off for the start line; just as the rain started spitting again. Before I knew it, we were off, and the mad chase began. I settled quickly into a small group of maybe three or four runners and interchanged places with one guy in particular a couple of times over the first lap. As the second began he pulled ahead slightly and as we started lapping the slower runners I focused all my attention on not letting him get to far away. The average pace on my watch was remarkably high, and I wasn’t sure I could hold the 6:17 that it was telling me I had achieved so far. I pushed and pushed to try and hold onto the guy in front of me as he finished just four seconds ahead of me. I didn’t care though, I was already buzzing as my time was clocked in at 19:29. Not only had I gone sub 20, but I had broken 19:30 too, and definitely not on a short course (my watch had 3.098 miles, and surely you don’t go to the effort of painting the start and finish lines permanently and then get them wrong.)
Today, after a exceedingly pleasant 13 miler to start my day in the sunshine, we headed to Kirkleatham Museum. Initially we were going to mooch in the museum and then take the little one to the p a r k (you have to spell it so she doesn’t get too excited – it’s like taking a dog for a W A L K). In the end, we spent ages in the owl centre which actually had a tonne of amazing birds and even a flying display including the Great Grey Owl, Burrowing Owl, Caracara, Sacred Ibis’, Ducks, and a reluctant Pelican. Then we saw them feeding the meerkats and mongeese (mongooses? mongi?), and finally we were treated to a quick stroke with a baby owl.
Don’t worry, we still made it to the park though!
So, a great week of training rounded off there. The result from parkrun has given me some much needed confidence that I might actually have not lost too much fitness from the illness debacle.
Remember, I am not running the marathon for the goodness of my health, rather to support the wonderful work that the NSPCC does for children and young people who need their support. You can help with the fine work that they do by sponsoring me through Virgin Money Giving, here: https://bit.ly/ChrisMercerRuns