I have not written about my training progress for a while but it has been quietly proceeding in the background. My social life has gotten in the way for the last few weeks but this last Saturday I managed to squeeze in a Park Run at Temple Newsam. One of my targets for this quarter was to get a Park Run PB there so I really had my sights set on it.
On the morning I was feeling ok but the rain was coming down hard. I could feel the grip on the tarmac was going while I warmed up so conditions were not ideal. My previous PB was 21:10 so I knew what I had to beat. I was fortunate for the presence of a 21 min pacer who I could use to my advantage.
Started off in the middle of the pack, struggling to get around other runners. By the time we had descended the first steep hill I had let loose a bit and managed to make my way to the top 10 group, and I was actually ahead of the 21 min pacer.
Towards the end of the first lap, going up the big hill, I was really starting to feel it. I am usually strong on hills and try to take advantage of that, but today I really felt like I was plodding and was overtaken – crucially by the 21 minute pacer.
Disheartened but not yet ready to surrender, I gritted my teeth and fought to stay with him. Every time he seemed to get away from me I found the force to regain the lost ground. Coming to the end of the second lap I was frequently checking my watch and I could tell it was going to be close. The 21 min pacer was about 10 seconds in front of me, which put me exactly at my previous best time.
Passing through the rhododendrons the 21 min pacer, still ahead of me, shouted back that he was ahead of time and if we pushed we could beat 21. This was exactly what I needed to hear and I put in all the power I could for the last hundred meters. Collapsing over the finish line in the rain, I stopped my watch but was nervous to check it. When I finally looked down I saw 20:55, beating my PB by 15 seconds!
I woke up very early on Monday so just set out on my long run at 5am – did around 7 miles. It was nice being out so early when it was quiet. Put in another decent run on Tuesday (5 miles) and a shorter one on Wednesday and Thursday (around 3 miles).
On Friday I did 10 x 1 minute intervals over a 4 miles route and worked pretty hard. Did not Park Run on Saturday due to hangover, but did put in a hill session in the afternoon. Did about 5 miles over a route containing around 5 or 6 significant hills. Put in a lot of effort on the hills to try and make the training session count.
Had Sunday off as a rest day.
Yesterday evening the weather was quite good for racing, warm but not too warm with a bit of drizzle in the air. I arrived in plenty of time and had a good warm-up. Felt fine before the race, and had in mind the lessons I’d learned a month ago at Tempsey Torture. I needed to not push too hard at the start so I had something left in the tank to push at the end.
The race began with a steep decent followed by a similar climb back up the other side of the arena. I was getting overtaken at this point but had in mind to run my own race. AS planned I was not competitive on the hills, letting those who wanted overtake and hoping I would catch them again alter when they tired. 10 mins into the race I had fallen into a small pack as we left the lakes behind and headed into the woodland in the north of the park.
I was following the leader of the pack for a long way but his pace began to drop off and I knew I needed to overtake. This was facilitated by another member of the pack moving to overtake and I followed. We left the group as a pair and moved further into the woods.
The new runner I was chasing kept up a good pace that I felt I could hold. Unfortunately as the terrain underfoot got worse I lost him in the forest (and never saw him for the rest of the race!). For the next five minutes I didn’t see another runner but felt strong and tried to put in some work as I moved through the uneven woodland.
I caught the next guy ahead of me as we were leaving the woods. A navigational error on his part enabled me to overtake and he never came back. This brought us to southernmost point of the course at the south end of the lake. One of the marshals kindly pointed out that I had a 30% gradient back up to the lake – although I stayed strong and did not walk.
Overtook a couple more on the final straight back to the finish, and managed not to walk on the final hill up to the end. I was a bit disappointed as I thought the course was longer than it was and still had some energy left at the finish.
Crossed the line 49:23 with 47th place. This is fine but I feel I could have gone harder. I took my own advice too much and held too much back. This is a lesson to be learned for the final race in the series.
I was away in Cologne this week but managed not to miss a session. Got a long-ish run (6.5 miles) in before my flight on Monday, then had a cool run along the Rhine on Tuesday morning. Got lost in Cologne and I’m not sure about distance but it was something like 45 minutes of running. Used up my rest day on Weds due to hangover and tiredness (we had done a lot of walking around the city the day before). Flew back on Thurs but sneaked in a short run in the evening. Friday I ran 5 miles with Mum at a slow-to-medium speed.
Saturday morning saw the Park Run in Temple Newsam back to its usual route. It wasn’t raining at the time of the run but the ground was wet, which is not favourable to me because my ankle is still weak from the break. I wasn’t feeling especially strong before the run either.
Started off ok but has a lot of the pack in front of me, including the 22 min pacemaker. Overtook him about 2/3 of the way around the first lap of the two. On the big hill at the end of the first lap I didn’t overtake as strongly as I usually do.
Down the hill at the beginning of the second lap I was overtaken again by the 22 min pacemaker who was blasting it and appeared to be putting in an inconsistent run. Used this as motivation and overtook him and started laying down as much power as I could in the latter half of the lap. Overtook strongly on the final straight past the rhododendrons, passing one guy that I had targeted when he passed me on the first lap.
Came in 15th overall, 9 seconds off my PB. A PB was clearly achievable as running buddies Lisa, Lucy and Pete all got PB’s (and it was Pete’s first run on this course!)
Snuck in a couple of long runs this week, Monday and Thursday. Thursday was particularly challenging as it was very warm and took a hilly route. Tuesday and Wednesday were shorter faster runs and Friday was a rest day as I wanted to be fresh for the Park Run on Saturday.
The Park Run was an alternative route due to an event in Temple Newsam. There was confusion with parking but the run began only five minutes late with 160 in attendance. Weather was hot from the get-go and I had been warned in advance that the route was tough. It was two laps of a route with each lap containing two or three moderate hills.
After the first half-lap I had fallen in with a group who I stuck with for basically the remainder of the race. Learning lessons from the 11k race I did a few weeks ago I wasn’t too competitive in the first half, which paid off when I had fuel left through the second half to fight the group I was in. Annoyingly I hadn’t worn my watch so didn’t know what pave we were doing and also had no concept of where I was In the pack.
On the final straight past the rhododendrons there were 3 runners in front of me so I increased my pace. I knew I could take the nearest two, who were running as a pair, and hoped to catch the third. I overtook the pair easily and engaged with the third but he he was stronger than me and beat me by a couple of seconds (so not even close).
I was happy with the effort that I put in and asked the guy who beat be what time we did, and he said 21:35 which is a good result for me. The results were released later that day and I found I had come 5th overall and 1st in my age group which is by far my best positional performance and the Park Run, and very satisfying. The time was also good but not comparable to other runs due to the alternative route.
Overall a good performance and encouraging that the training is paying off. Based on the other times posted, gaining another few places is very achievable in the coming weeks.
Taking on board the difficulties I’d had on the race last week I incorporated some longer runs and hill sessions into this week’s training. On Monday I ended up running two separate sessions because a friend asked me to go out when I had already run, making a total of about 10 miles that day. The hill session on Thursday was around 4.5miles with 4 large hills. Today I ran 5 miles with 9 x 1:30min intervals. Planning on doing a longer run (~7 miles) tomorrow or Sunday.
The race was last night, on the evening of the 21st June. It was the longest day of the year, and one of the hottest. The start time was 7pm so things had cooled down a little but it still wasn’t as cool as I would have hoped.
I was feeling good before the race, arrived in plenty of time and had loads of time to warm up. I didn’t know exactly what the course would be but I was naive about two things: I thought the course was only 10k and I didn’t appreciate just how hilly it was going to be.
I started at the front of the pack and probably let them drag me a long too fast. I was too competitive going up the first hill, fighting for positions it didn’t really matter if I kept and using precious energy in the process. 10 mins in the hills were really starting to bite but I kept my head down and fought through the struggle.
The hills were continuous, constantly up and down, but around 20 mins I regained some strength and was feeling good. There were no mile markers so I had no idea what pace I was doing really. Between the 20 and 40 minute period I was roughly holding position with the guys around me but losing strength all the time.
By the 40 minute point I was really struggling but at this point still thought I was only doing 10k and was nearly at the end. As the course kept coming though and it was obvious it was going to be longer than that I was really mentally defeated. The last kilometre was a steep downhill, at the bottom of which you turned around and ran right back up it, and I took it at what was basically a slow training speed.
Eventually finished in just under an hour at 59:38, and in 33rd position out of 160.
I think there are two main takeaways for this for me – I need to train more at longer distances. Although the course was slightly longer than expected, I should have been able to handle that (some more hill training probably would have helped too!). Secondly, a lot of my collapse in this race was mental. I need to work on fighting off the negative thoughts.
When I was done I felt good even though I hadn’t done as well as hoped. The course was very tough and I’ll be better prepared for the next race in the series in 1 month’s time.
The big gap in posts was due to a trip to Barcelona to Primavera Sound festival (which was excellent, by the way). I didn’t run while I was there but according to my phone did more than 25,000 steps per day – festivals can be very active! – so I didn’t feel too bad.
Returned from Barcelona on the 6th of June and took running back up straight away, building up to my longest run of the year on Friday. It was a 10 miler which actually went fine, felt good throughout. Also sneaked in a 10k on Monday night so I’m doing ok for miles.
This is good because my first event of the year is next Wednesday, a 10km race called Tempsey Torture at Temple Newsam. Looking forward to competing again because I haven’t been able to do any park runs for over 2 months.
As an aside, I also fasted for 24 hours on Monday. I have read about the health benefits of fasting for a while (most notably from Tim Ferris) but the real inspiration was one of my students who was participating in Ramadan. To understand her better and as an act of support I decided to fast for just one day (out of her 30!). I actually found it not to be too bad – I felt that my mind was very clear and wasn’t crippled by hunger through the day. I was looking forward to breaking the fast by the end of it though. I would recommend and probably will do it again myself.
Was not going to run today but had a bit of free time in the evening when the heat had died down so thought I might as well. Took my usual 3 mile route pretty gently while listening to a podcast. This way I will have run 6 of 7 days this week. It was a very pleasant evening, took some photos too.
Wanted to do a fast run on Friday afternoon, but the weather was extremely hot. Found running fairly hard, and struggled to get any decent speed. Breathing was hard in the heat and humidity. Pace ended up averaging out at 8 min 34 sec/mile.