Week 16, day 2 (T-26) – Aztec West fast 5k 2016/17 series – race 6

Back to the Aztec West fast 5k again tonight. My plan was to aim for around 21 minutes, but if I really pushed I thought I might be able to get to 20:30. Pete was also going for 21 as he’s tapering for Rome and so was Harriet at her first Aztec race. We went off a little fast and I was surprised to see the first km at 4:01. It felt pretty manageable, but I was aware that I didn’t want to push flat out for the race, not wanting to risk overdoing it when London is less than 4 weeks away (there will be plenty of time to try for a pb at the May and June races). I eased it back a bit and focused instead of getting Harriet around to the end, and she had more in her legs and lungs than I did in those final few hundred metres, coming over the line a couple of seconds ahead of me.

Importantly for me for the series, my main competition was not here, which means two missed races for them and they are out of contention for the series prizes. This means I can calculate how slowly I can run in the April race (which will be two days after London) without losing the lead I have built up. I currently have a lead of around 27 minutes over the next person, which should hopefully be enough with 3 races in the series left and one time able to be dropped.

Week 15, day 7 (T-28) – sunny Sunday long run

Today could have been a very tough long run. It was scheduled to be the longest I have attempted in training to date, lasting 2 hours and 45 minutes. It was going to have the longest amount of marathon pace in it (75 minutes). It was also taking place on Mother’s Day (my mother died in 2008) and on what would have been my father’s birthday (the 7th anniversary of his death is next Friday).

As it turned out it was one of my more enjoyable long runs. It felt better than last week’s long run, which was shorter with less marathon pace in it. My full marathon playlist hadn’t copied over to my ipod, but the tunes that were repeating were good ones. It was lovely and sunny, but not too windy for a change. Best of all I kept seeing people I knew along the way. First it was Robbie and Mark just after the Staple Hill tunnel, then a regular parkrunner (sans his ubiquitous German Shepherd) as we waited on opposite sides of the road for the lights at Warmley. On the way back I crossed paths with Helen just before I tackled a cattle grid and a nasty hill, then just before I hit the Fishponds fish there were Martha and Daryl (Daryl riding the support bike while Martha ran).

It was great to see so many familiar faces whilst out on another solitary long run. Not too long now until I can see them more regularly back at my usual training sessions. Only two more proper long runs to go.

Week 15, day 6 (T-29) – Springlike parkrun & core

Another Saturday and another parkrun. This one was wonderfully Springlike, beautifully sunny if a little chilly and I was grateful for my new lightweight Asics jacket. Another nice and easy one (is there any other kind these days?). Alas I couldn’t stay for cake to celebrate Cecilia’s 100th parkrun as I had some errands to run before my midday core class.

They hadn’t moved the bikes out of the room from spin class, but luckily it was only me for this virtual 30 minute core class (though the disco lights mean that there are always people looking in through the windows in the doors). Boom, another 30 minutes of core work done, all working towards being strong for London.

A big run tomorrow. 2 and three-quarter hours with 75 minutes at marathon pace.

Another gentle #parkrun #bigmarathonchallenge #vmlm #asics #ukrunchat

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Week 15, day 4 (T-30) – intervals

I’m going to rationalise my slow speed in my first two efforts today by putting it down to the cold I have been fighting off from developing over the past few days. You know that tickly feeling you get at the back of your mouth when you’re getting a cold? I’ve had that and have been fighting it off with all of the vitamins I can throw at it. I did feel better this morning, as if I might be on the winning side against it, but just couldn’t get any speed into my legs on those first two efforts.

The second (and slightly downhill) efforts were considerably better (4:03 and 3:58 min/km pace compared to 4:17 and 4:11), so maybe this is a sign that the pendulum has swung over to stamina from speed (which is probably a good thing with 30 days to go).

Week 15, day 2 – sunny threshold run

It is less than 5 weeks to go now (eek!) and recovery runs are a thing of the past. Instead I get a full day off on a Monday (with stretching), so my first run of the week is 20 minutes of threshold effort out and back along the railway path.

A gloriously sunny day for it today, though still a little bit nippy, so it called for sunglasses plus buff to cover all of the bases. I didn’t give it full welly, sticking to the middle of the heart rate zone rather than bashing up against the limit, which meant it still felt comfortable coming off of Sunday’s long run. We are now approaching the full maranoia zone of attempting to stave off all possible injuries and illnesses.

Sun's out for a spot of threshold running #bigmarathonchallenge #ukrunchat #vmlm

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Week 14, day 7 – long long run

Back to the long run again after a couple of weeks off for the Bath Half. I wanted to watch the finals of the ski slopestyle which meant getting up early in order to be out and back before they started. I get up a lot earlier at the weekend to go running than I do the rest of the week.

I was a little bit worried I’d forgotten how to run slowly and how to cope mentally with being out on my feet for so long and my heart rate monitor was playing up for the first ten minutes or so, it seems to take a while to catch up to my actual heart rate at which point I am pushing too hard and have to slow down again.

I passed one of my club mates on my way out, and managed to come back through a race on my return journey. I was a little worried about hitting marathon pace (and for so long) since it had been a while since I’d last run it, but it started off feeling pretty easy (particularly compared to half marathon pace), but last week’s half came back to bite me a little towards the end. I didn’t drop out of my desired pace zone, but the quads were making their presence known, along with my feet. I’m looking forward to having a day’s rest tomorrow (with stretching).

No time for tea for Sunday is #longrun day! #bigmarathonchallenge #ukrunchat #vmlm

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Week 14, day 6 – regal running

It was dress up time for parkrun as Emma was running her 250th parkrun, the first female runner to achieve this milestone at Ashton Court. The theme for the day was Kings & Queens (or rather Queens and Kings) so it was on with the fancy dress and up the hill.

The plateau was a bit breezy to be wearing a robe, and it got tangled up in a couple of other people, but a quick rap with the sceptre got them out of the way and the inflatable crown stayed on nicely.

Back to the cafe for lots of cake (mostly chocolate) and some fruit courtesy of Alan who was running his 300th parkrun.

Emma's 250th parkrun

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Middle class home improvements, woodburner style

I have started running out of things to do to my house (apart from a very expensive loft conversion). I have replaced the bathroom, the kitchen, fitted new windows, redone both the front and back gardens, fitted solar panels (and a charger for my EV), and had wood flooring put down in the two main downstairs room. The carpets are in decent nick and replacing all of the internal doors seems a pain. I even managed to get the front of the house repainted after a chance encounter.

After spending a lovely afternoon in front of a friend’s woodburner at New Year’s, I struck upon installing one myself as my next middle class home improvement. When I say ‘installing one myself’ I obviously mean getting a professional in to do it. Several local friends have had this done and I took their recommendation of the delightful Andy Griffiths (who has a Cavalier king Charles spaniel, the best kind of dog).

Andy came round and emailed through a quote the same day he did his initial (free) inspection, and I booked him in to first remove the old (and to my eyes hideous) gas fire, and then to install a lovely new woodburner.

He arrived nice and promptly at 08:00 on rip-out day and was done by 12:00, leaving me with some parts to hawk on gumtree/ebay and a few bags of rubble to take down the tip (as I had a car rather than a van, so could go in as a residential user).

The ‘fireplace’ had gone from

to

over the course of just 4 hours.

Andy was back a couple of weeks later for the installation. This started with chopping out a few more bricks to be able put in the fireboard, then dropping the flue liner down the chimney, attaching the proper top (and actually sticking the chimney pot down – apparently it was just balanced up there), fitting the hearth and finally hooking up the woodburner. Once again he was very efficient and after setting the first fire to show us how it all worked (and check that it did) he was gone by 16:30, leaving this:

Some fixing up work was left for me which I did over the next couple of days, generating clouds of dust as I sanded back various fillers.

Before finally finishing up with some coats of paint for the walls and coats of wax polish for the oak beam. All finished just in time for Spring.

Week 14, day 4 – speedwork intervals

It was back to marathon training with a vengeance this morning, and back to the railway path for 4 reps of 5 minutes at as fast as I could go. There was still a bit of fatigue in the legs and in the upper back (from driving my arms at the weekend to keep my pace up), but I gave it everything I had, even into the headwind on the way back.

This is the same session I had just over a week ago, so I’m able to do a direct comparison of the two sessions (even though they were run at opposite ends of the railway path). Somewhat surprisingly, particularly after the weekend’s efforts, this session was faster. Whereas last week I managed an average pace of 4:06, 4:06, 4:09 and 4:04 min/km for the reps, this time I managed 4:06, 4:07, 4:06 and 3:58 min/km. I’m not sure where that last one came from as I was all in at that stage. I’ll take the improvement though.

Week 14, day 2 – recovery run

I got an extra rest day this week because of the Bath Half on Sunday and looking ahead I’m going to be getting the Monday after my Sunday long runs off every week. This means a slight rearrangement of my schedule and I’m now probably going to be confused as to what day of the week it is.

A gentle jog along the railway path to get the legs moving again, no niggles just a slight soreness in my quads (there must have been a bit more downhill than I realised on Sunday), followed up with a good stretch to get everything back in line. Now my strength and conditioning is moving from Tuesday to Wednesday I have the opportunity to do Body Pump again, but I think it’s going to be too much on my legs so have decided to stick to body weight exercises and do Body Balance instead. Looking forward to getting back to it.