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

A post shared by @fakoriginal on

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

A post shared by @fakoriginal on

Week 13, day 1 – railway path recovery

The start of another week of training and this time I am back in Bath, looking after my nephew while my sister is away working. This morning’s post school drop-off recovery run allowed me to scope out some locations for my interval session tomorrow (since the university track is booked up during the hours I could use it).

It looks like I will be back on the railway path again, but this time the other end of it (the Bristol end of it being very familiar to me). It’s good to see that it’s still called the Bristol & Bath railway path at this end and they haven’t switched it around to the Bath & Bristol railway path. I deliberately wore my Bristol & West AC jacket out for my run (knowing that one of the other parents always wears their Team Bath kit for drop-off and pick-up). Representing for Brizzle!

The other end of my old friend #bigmarathonchallenge #ukrunchat #vmlm #mondaymotivation

A post shared by @fakoriginal on

Week 12, day 7 – blustery HMP blast

I really couldn’t categorise today’s run as a ‘long run’, even though it was my longest run of the week as it only lasted an hour. With next week’s Bath Half in mind the session was 10 minutes easy to warm up, then 40 minutes at half marathon pace (HMP) and 10 minutes easy to cool down. Richard had set me a half marathon pace of 7:10-7:15 minutes per mile (which I had to convert to 4:25-4:30 minutes per km as I only deal in metric).

The weather wasn’t forecast to be particularly great, but I only got rained on for about 5 minutes, the worst bit was turning around to find out that I’d actually had a tailwind and it had just picked up. Keeping to pace into a nasty blustery headwind was hard work, and I was glad the effort was only 40 minutes. Once again I am not sure how I would sustain that pace for a half marathon (though I have run faster for a Half I haven’t been training for it this time). But, race day is always different, and running with people is often easier than running on your own, so we’ll see.

Week 12, day 6 – parkrun & core

It was such a lovely day at parkrun this morning, but also so busy that I may have gone round a little bit too fast (weaving through people who would stop dead because there was a puddle). It may have been particularly busy because the Green Man Ultra had started from Ashton Court earlier that morning (resulting in an almost full car park, so I had to park properly). Not something I am tempted to do.

There was just enough time for a quick coat of paint around the fireplace and to watch a bit of the indoor athletics before heading off to the gym for 30 minutes of core work (still tough). Came home the long way via the bank and got some extra steps for the day ahead of copious eating at a friend’s games evening tonight.

Super sunny Ashton Court recovery #parkrun #bigmarathonchallenge #vmlm #ukrunchat

A post shared by @fakoriginal on

Week 12, day 5 – soggy sprintervals

This morning’s session was a repeat of last Friday‘s session: 6 reps of 3 minutes as fast as I can with a minute’s recovery between each rep. I wore my I ran with Ben shirt and a hat because it was raining and I hate getting water in my face and eyes when I’m running.

Overall the reps were a little bit faster than last week (a couple were slower) which I’m happy with given the conditions, it can be tricky to get purchase when the surface is wet, but glad to get back into the warm and the dry for a stretch and shower.

Week 12, day 3 – Tae Bo + recovery run

After yesterday’s race the schedule just had 30 minutes of strength and conditioning and 30 minutes of easy running (with the option to delay it a day and take my weekly rest day today). I was still feeling pretty good, so did my Abs & Glutes Tae Bo DVD for the strength and conditioning and then headed out along the riverside for my recovery run.

The legs felt a little bit heavy, but nothing was sore or painful and I just had a lovely little bimble, not bothering to take the chest strap heart rate monitor out but just using the wrist based one instead. I met up with a kitten on the way back, so was able to bring my own a new smell (on my gloves). A whole day of rest tomorrow then back with the fast intervals on Friday (wish Garmin would get on and fix the bug that stops the calendar being copied to your watch, just the individual workouts).

Week 12, day 2 – Aztec West fast 5k

Last month’s running of the Aztec West fast 5k did not go so well. I was therefore not expecting great things from tonight’s race. The conditions were also not great, blustery with a bit of a chill in the air (and slick roads from the rain earlier in the day).

I put myself towards the back of the pack, which seemed a bit smaller, understandably so on such a nasty night. I had not activated the ‘predicted finish time’ feature on my watch and had no laps set up (either miles or km) so just took a brief glimpse as I passed the km markers. It turns out I had gone out a bit faster than I thought I had, but was able to maintain a fairly decent and consistent pace.

This was the race I would have liked to have had last month. There were none of the problems breathing or maintaining the pace and it didn’t hurt nearly as much (plus my heart rate was lower even at the faster speed). This lends weight to the proposed explanation of that result and the training session that followed as being hampered by my body fighting off some sort of bug (successfully). I’m going to take that as a confidence boost anyway (and the bottle of wine as a spot prize).

A much better result tonight at #aztecfast5k #bigmarathonchallenge #vmlm #ukrunchat

A post shared by @fakoriginal on