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


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.

Week 13, day 7 – Bath Half

Marathon training was temporarily suspended (with six weeks to go) to run the Bath Half marathon. My coach thought I could get a PB and had me training at around 1:33 pace, but I wasn’t convinced. I hadn’t done any half marathon specific training and while I feel pretty good about my marathon pace, I didn’t have a clue about my half marathon pace and wasn’t feeling it.

Still, I took on board the pace he wanted me to run (I deal in metric so was looking to stay around 4:25 min/km) and toed the line with that in mind. I very nearly did toe the line too, this was the furthest forward I have ever started the Bath Half, having finally made it into the back of the white (first and fastest) pen.

It was the most congested I have seen the first mile or so, there was a lot of dodging around slower people and people running together taking up space, but I managed to get into a nice rhythm eventually and was having to hold myself back (especially with the downhill start). Coming along the A4 at around the 9km mark I almost got taken out by someone walking across the road with a bag of cans shouting out ‘Stella, Stella’, alas the marshals were on the other side of the road to him and I can only hope he didn’t actually take anyone out.

While the first half felt pretty comfortable, the second half of the race was more of a struggle. About 14km in I had a 4:32 minute km (though I was going uphill and if you look at the GAP it was a 4:23 minute km) and it was a struggle to get back on terms in the next km, then it happened again and once more I had to push to get back on target. With 6km to go I was just working on getting to the next km split on target, and kept going like that to the end of the race.

The weather was warmer than it should be for mid-March and I was glad I had opted for crop top and shorts (good to test them out ahead of London too in case it is similarly warm, though I will have to see if the red hair dye washes out first), but I was very glad of the final water station about 800m from the finish. Most of the water went over my head as I pushed to try and get home faster than my time from Bristol last year (1:34:20). If you look at my heart rate data you can see how much of a struggle the final kms were compared to the first few and I think some of that was probably heat related (must remember to pack a visor and sunglasses for London where there are mericfully more frequent water stations).

I managed a half-hearted sprint for the line after that nasty final hill, crossing it with a chip time of 1:33:04, a new PB by just over a minute (I guess coaches do know what they are talking about). This put me in 813th position overall and 14th in my age category. This was 6 minutes and 53 seconds faster, 816 positions higher overall and a 22 place improvement in my age category over last year. Job done.

Well that went a bit better than I expected #bathhalf #bigmarathonchallenge #ukrunchat #vmlm

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Week 13, day 6 – post-parkrun pootle

I was run director at parkrun this morning, and only allowed an easy 20 minutes anyway (what with Bath Half tomorrow), so after a fair amount of general running around, including a trip to B&Q) is was out along the river for a nice easy run.

I almost got tripped up by a small black dog (that looked a lot like a teddy bear), but stayed on my feet and took in the views, thinking about not much at all.

Week 13, day 4 – gentle 30 minutes + strides

Bath Half is only a few days away now, so runs are short and easy, just keeping the legs ticking over. I am experienced enough now not to worry about the feeling of heaviness and lethargy that you can experience at this stage of the taper and it was nice to pick up the pace with some strides at the end (though it got some odd looks from the dog walkers).

Very unusually I had a zero return rate on acknowledgements to other runners on my way out on the run this morning, but as soon as I turned for home that switched to a 100% return rate. What it is about going East-West rather than West-East? Probably others are also thinking about races coming up and inwardly focused. It meant that some graffiti on the route was particularly apt today.

Week 13, day 2 – riverside reps

Today was my last ‘hard’ session before the Bath Half, 4 reps of 5 minutes as fast as I could, with 60 seconds recovery between efforts. Having scoped out the possibilities for uninterrupted paths (no roads to cross, no cars to dodge) I decided to head back down to the river and shuttle back and forth on the path there. This confused at least one of the other runners (who I think was jogging to work) as I sped past him in one direction, then a few minutes later hurtled past in the opposite direction.

It was hard getting up into the top heart rate zone on the first effort, mostly because I had stopped once I jogged down to the path from the school drop so that I could take off superfluous layers and tie them around my waist, and my heartrate dropped. I’m pretty happy with the pace, I was aiming for around 5k pace and hit 4:06, 4:05, 4:09 and 4:04 minutes/km for the efforts, covering just over 1,200m each time.

I also got a nice wash from a tiny Cavalier puppy on my warm down, I am so very tasty (i.e. salty) after a workout.

Riverside reps on the way back from the school drop #bigmarathonchallenge #vmlm #ukrunchat

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