Thursday, 28 July 2011

Mile Magic

When I first started running (run-walking, if we're being precise, back in those long-ago days of, er, 2009), a mile seemed like a long way. Running a whole one seemed like a distant dream. Nowadays, of course (now that I'm a super-duper experienced runner *ahem*), a mile sounds like nothing much, but it can still on occasion feel like a long way when you're in the middle of it, and it certainly looks like a long way when represented by four laps of an enormous outdoor track at the Aberdeen Sports Village.

The third Aberdeen Fetch Mile was chilly (where is the summer?) but had a great turnout, with several excellent newbies attending (many of them lured in by Mrs Shanksi, who wasn't even there!) and PBs galore. Due to the numbers and the logistical issues of having enough people to time, etc, we finished up having three mile races. (That's "3 x mile races" not "three-mile races", obviously.) Having knocked 49 seconds off my previous time at the last mile for a PB of 7:30, I knew there was no chance of doing that again, and was hoping just to more or less equal my PB or, hopefully, shave off a second or two. I haven't been doing a lot of "fast" running lately, though, and having attempted some 400m intervals on Thursday at 7:30 pace, had found it pretty arduous, so I wasn't very confident of a good time.

After some cracking running in the first and second miles, we were off in the third one. I got off to a hesitant start as I fiddled with the button on my Garmin. Hamster 1207 and Nywanda were off like rockets, with the rest of us a bit slower - I slotted in behind weekatiepea and plodded along the first couple of laps at around 7:15-20 pace, I think. Woodland Warrior came zooming past at one point quite early on - no idea what took him so long! The wind was strong along the back straight and it did slow me - and everyone - down a bit. I managed to get past Katie near the beginning of the third lap, then noticed my shoelace was partly undone, oops. Well, I wasn't going to stop and fasten it, and I wasn't actually tripping over it, so it just had to stay that way. Nywanda was slowing down by now (no wonder, as she'd done a hellish sounding hill race a couple of days earlier) and I managed to overtake her around 100m into the fourth lap. Hamster and Woodland Warrior were way ahead! Although I was huffing and puffing and generally feeling like I was about to drop dead, I managed to finish the final lap strongly and clocked a time of 7:11 - a PB by 19 seconds - which I was delighted with. It also boosts my WAVA up to over 63% - pretty meaningless really, yet strangely satisfying.

The 100m relay which we finished up with was fun, although my baton-handling skills clearly left a lot to be desired. Mother Duck did manage to get it off me in the end.

A successful morning all round, with lots of excellent running, but special mentions for Duckinator who logged the fastest time of the day with 5:41 (a big improvement on his previous time), Halfpint who knocked an astounding 1 minute 9 seconds off her previous time to win the "most improved" trophy, and Corrah who deservedly won the prize for the best sprint finish with a heroic final 50m.

Now turning my attention exclusively to HM training..... well, after Sunday's 10 miler at Ballater... I have a score to settle with that race.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Sub-2 RW schedule experiment, week 2...

Week 2 of my RW sub-2 half training schedule experiment is done, and I've been following it to the letter... well, kind of. I've been doing the speedwork and the long runs (oh, and the other runs) slightly quicker than designated, but I'm hoping that's OK, as long as the long runs and easy runs are at a conversational pace, which they are, or would be, if I had anyone except myself to converse with.

Tuesday's 5 miles easy was OK, but I really didn't feel like going out to do some one-mile intervals on Thursday night, because I felt tired, so tired in fact that I fell asleep while putting the little one to bed and only the discomfort of being squashed into a toddler bed unable to stretch out my legs forced me to get up again. Even though I didn't want to go, I followed the time-honoured tactic of putting on my kit anyway and of course it worked, as it always does, and I headed out of the door at 9pm to run 5 miles including 2 x 1-mile intervals at 8:25 pace. Actually at 8:06 and 8:07 pace. I was quite pleased with this, particularly as the second one was on a slight uphill gradient.

Friday we took the little one swimming and I ran back 4 miles from the pool, which felt like much harder work than it should have done, given that I did far more splashing around pretending to be Nessie (under instruction from the little one, I should add, not by choice) than actual swimming. My swimming is hopeless anyway. I can just about manage the world's slowest breaststroke but I'm not even sure I'm doing it properly. "Learn to swim better" is on my to-do list, but if I'm honest I've never liked it much, although maybe that's largely because I've never learned to do it properly...

Sunday's long run - a mere 8 miles at this stage - was much better. I got him indoors to drive me to Drumoak and ran back along the old Deeside line. It was lovely, if a bit hot in places. I barely looked at my watch and just tried to keep my pace at a slow, comfortable level and later found I had done the 8 miles at 9:53 pace rather than the plan's 10:30. Oh well. The first mile was the slowest at 10:19, but by about mile 4 I was well and truly warmed up and had that lovely feeling of being able to run forever. I had to stop once, on a narrow bit of path when a whole load of cyclists came past, but otherwise plodded on very happily with remaining mile splits of 10:00, 9:38, 10:00, 9:58, 9:49, 9:43 and 9:36.

I will get this sub-2!! Although even more than that, I want to get the coveted 60+ half marathon WAVA to go with my 5k and 10k, which in my case I think is about 1:58:something. Hmmmm, better check that....

Sunday, 10 July 2011

RW sub-2 half training schedule experiment

I'm running my 4th half marathon, the inaugural Crathes Half, in 10 weeks, and, as if by magic, this month's RW has a 10-week sub-2 training programme which is, it assures me, failsafe, foolproof and WILL get me to 1:59:59. (Faster would be nice. But 1:59:59 would do.) I'm not sure if this plan will really work, but it does look eminently doable so I might as well give it a go.

So, my cunning plan is to stick to RW's allegedly failsafe foolproof sub-2 schedule to the letter and see if their claims prove true. Place your bets now. (Not literally, it's obviously far too early....)

The same article has a little table with indicators as to what you should have already achieved to stand a good chance of breaking 2 hours... a current PB of 2:04-2:06 (favourable conditions) or 2:08-2:12 (not so favourable conditions), a 10k time of 52:51-53:56, etc. With a HM PB of 2:05:50 set in March on a warmish day on a hillyish course (we'll draw a discreet veil over my most recent attempt at the distance in Stonehaven) and a 10k PB of 53:16 set in June, I should, in theory, be on track.

Anyway, that's the first week done and dusted. Two easy runs of 4 miles each on Tuesday and Friday (Friday I went to the gym first and ran home), 5 miles on Thurs with 3 at 8:54 pace (I did them just slightly quicker in 8:52, 8:49 and 8:38) and an 8 mile "long" run today at 10:30 pace. I was determined to stick to this pace as best I could, because I do often tend to go a bit quicker than I probably should on long runs, and accordingly set up my Garmin to show average pace only. After a slowish uphill first mile, I pulled it back to 10:30 in the second and tried to stick to that, finishing with an average pace of 10:24, so not far off.

It being the first Crathes Half, I don't really know what it will be like, though they maintain it is "quite" flat. Of course, "quite" flat could mean almost anything. There are also a couple of off-road bits, apparently. So it might not be the absolute perfect choice for a PB, but then again it can't possibly be worse than the others I've done so far (Stonehaven twice and Garioch once). Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Personal Worst

Before running the Stoney Half for the second time (the first having been last year), I was blithely telling anyone who asked, or even didn't, that it really wasn't that bad and the hills weren't as awful as they were cracked up to be. I was hoping for a PB, but at the very least I was hoping to beat my 2:10:20 from last year, when it was my first half marathon. I'm a good bit fitter now than I was then, so it seemed a reasonable ambition.

I should have known that misplaced confidence would come back to bite me on the backside. I can only assume that either the hills have grown since last year, or (and this may be the more likely explanation) that my memory had conveniently blocked out the reality. Rather like childbirth - if you actually remembered what it was like, you'd never do it more than once.

The day was a hot one, which did not bode well. However, I told myself hopefully that I'm better at running in the heat than I used to be, having forced myself to do it on the rare days when we get the sun. I was a bit worried, but not that worried. After all, there's nothing you can do about the weather. Apart from apply sun lotion in plenty of time. Oops.

I reached the park about 10.30 for an 11.15 kick-off, and met up with lots of Fetchies, including the Shanksis on the organisational side (Mrs S was doling out the numbers), Torry Quine, Halfpint, Maz 1974 and Erin on the Fetchpointing side, and Holburnmum, Redwinerunner, Woodland Warrior and MikeR on the running side. (Sorry to anyone I have missed. Brain may be suffering sun damage.)

We lined up for the start and once again the gun going off took me by surprise, but I set off fairly smartly and ran the first two miles in a not quick, but not too bad given the undulating-ness 9:45 and 9:15. The only "issue" I had at this time was that I was still carrying the water bottle I'd set off with - it was nearly empty and it was getting on my nerves, but I couldn't find anywhere to dump it. I disposed of it at the first water station, though only to replace it with a full one. Actually I was lucky to get water from that station, as apparently they ran out shortly after - I can only surmise that either there weren't enough bottles for all the runners, or thanks to the heat some people were taking more than one.

The hills proper started around this point and things began to go a bit pear-shaped. I did a bit of walking. Actually I did a lot of walking. I palled up around this stage with a girl in a red top called Susie, and we ran together for a bit until I decided to do a bit more walking and she went ahead. I kept her in sight for most of the way but didn't quite manage to catch up. It was REALLY HOT, and flies were buzzing around my head - very irritating. A man came past in a van checking people were OK and asking if anyone needed water (given the lack at the water station) which was nice. By this stage I was going so slowly that I knew unless I made up a hell of a lot of time in the second half, there was no way I was going to PB or even beat my last year's time. I got to 10k in 1:06:10 - that's the slowest I've run in quite a long time!

The 6 mile point was however enlivened by arriving at Fetchpoint :-) with water sprays (heaven), jelly babies and Eye of the Tiger! It gave me a boost but unfortunately all too quickly receded into the distance and I was left to my own devices again! However there was a bit more shade for a while, and running felt easier when I wasn't in the full glare of the sun. We then turned onto the main road and a long downhill stretch, where I didn't manage to make up quite as much time as I'd hoped (I ran even this stretch quicker last year). The road was open to traffic and quite a lot seemed to be coming past. I got to 10 miles in 1:43:58 - pretty slow. There was downhill but also some uphill (nothing major, but it felt like it) and the Run Walk Strategy again came into play.

Finally we were heading back into the town, past the Academy and across a roundabout. I began to feel slightly better and overtook a few people who had overtaken me earlier. At last we turned a corner to see the sea ahead and a kindly marshal assured me it was all downhill from here. "I've heard that before!" I said. No, she promised, it was true this time.

I caught up with Susie with about half a mile to go. She was struggling a bit, and we stuck together to the finish, managing to encourage each other to keep going! We ran into the park and along the path and when the finish line was in sight I said "race you to the finish" so we both managed to put on a bit of a spurt. I think I finished one second in front! And promptly got my medal draped round my neck by Mrs Shanksi :-)

My chip time was a disappointing, but unsurprising, 2:14:01 - 4 minutes slower than last year, and 9 minutes outside my PB! However my hopes of sub-2 had evaporated in the heat very early on, and even sub-2:20 was starting to look unlikely at one point, so I was relieved the time wasn't worse! I think there were a few DNFs and I know at least one person who collapsed after 10k and had to be taken off in an ambulance (she's OK), so I'm glad I finished.

My next attempt at this distance will be in 10 weeks time at Crathes in September (since we'll be away for Dyce in August) and as luck would have it this month's RW has a "10-week sub-2 hour half marathon plan" in it so I might just give that a go....

Well done everyone :-)