Sunday, 19 February 2012

TP100 training update

Its been quite a weekend of running in the continued build up to the TP100. Friday I decided to sleep in (which with two kids means a lay in until 6 if i'm lucky!). Instead I went for a night run out and back from what is fast becoming my long route of choice. Along the Two Ridges Link to Ivinghoe Beacon. 

I wanted to test out some gear for the race including the petzl headlamp to make sure everything was worked. My dad had just fixed a faulty wire in the battery pack so it needed to be put through its paces. It was a tough run... I left at 8:30 and wasnt back til 23:45. 19 miles in total so a very slow pace although it didnt feel like it. Running in the dark definitely plays tricks on pace. I was pleased that I gotg through it. At one point early on all i wanted to do was loop around and go home to bed. However I battled through the mind games and fought the negativity and once on my fav bit of trail everything was good again. The highlight of the run was an encounter with a very startled badger on the trail. He was as surprised to see me as I was to see him! We both run our separate ways fairly swiftly. Lovely creatures! Far better alive and not squished.

Saturday was a rest day, if you can call putting together Ikea furniture all afternoon rest! My back didnt thank me for it thats for sure. I gingerly arose from bed on Sunday but it seemed a lot better so no harm down. Today was the MK marathon Training Run. An official run hosted by the race organisers open to entrants of the marathon (the one I've now ditched in favour of the Fellsman). Nevertheless this training run (14 miles) would serve as ideal 'speed work' and test the legs with 19m in them from Friday.

I went into this run with NO intention of doing anything special. I wasn't going to get carried away and was gonna go easy and stick with the 7 minute mile pacer. I really should know myself by now shouldn't I! With a 3-2-1 GO I was off and stuck with the pacer for all of 100 yards before shooting off and decided I wanted to set my own pace. I never saw him again.

Its a quick course all along the 'redways' of Milton Keynes. BUT not totally flat. The constantly underpasses are deceiving and you can certainly feel the small inclines of each build up. But I was going to hard to care or for them to slow me down. It seemed that from nowhere I was now a man on a mission. This wasn't even a race but it might have well of been. From the start one guy quick shot away that left me in 2nd for the first mile. One other then passed me but from here this is as it stayed for the entire race/run (or so I thought).

On route I decided that as this was a 14 miler I may as well go after my half marathon PB (1:27.51) then warm down in the final mile. This was my mission and I stuck to the plan all the way with no dramas except one - my garmin! I hadn't even started the damn thing doh.... I find this out just after the 13 mile mark as I pull it from my waist pack ready to hit stop at 13.1. Oh the despair!! All that effort and I hadn't even recorded it. No splits, no finish time, no unofficial PB! But hang on a minute the run started at 10am on the dot so quick thinking prevailed (even after 13 flat out miles) and I checked the actual time (yes garmins can actually tell the time too although you do have to hunt around for it leading to more precious seconds...) By heck it was 11:26!!! Haha. It was gonna always be an unofficial PB anyway so I will take that... 1h26min...and 'something' seconds. 

I was well out in 3rd place at this point and had already wound down to a leisurely jog with all the other Sunday morning runners looping around Willen Lake. Just a mile left but the drama was not over. The course was well marked with chalk arrows all the way around but the vital one off Willen Lake to the finish had be rubbed away. I unknowingly missed the turn and run another half mile in the wrong direction before conceded that I had just balls it up. Turn around and back I went spotting where other runners were turning. I added a mile to make it 15 in total and still managed to come in 4th. But this was no race of course so lets just call it 4th fastest on the day.

To run a PB for the half with 19 miles in the legs was the biggest bonus for me here. It shows that the training is paying off and I'm stronger than before. I haven't done any major long runs going into the TP100 in two weeks time. My longest will have been 21 miles yet I feel that with the combined mileage and back to back weekend runs over the past month that I going into this Ultra in good shape.

But I'm not looking to do any special and I'm going into this race cool and conservative which I guess in Disco Stu's lanaguge actually means all guns blazing. 

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Wing Chiltern League XC fixture

LBAC Senior Men

Pushing hard

Pete in my sights!!

Saturday was the last fixture of the chiltern league cross country season. It was our club's home fixture too in Wing, Bucks. A great course with a few nice climbs along the way. Three laps for the senior men - 10k in total. The start is a mad dash down hill for 200-300 metres which certainly gets the adrenaline going. 

My single goal for this race was to stay close to fellow LBACer Pete Mackrell who has been consistently faster than me all season (and a 2:52 marathon runner!). I've tried in the past to stick with him but to no avail as he strides away. I knew that the first lap would be crucial. If I let him get too much of a gap early on then there would be no coming back. The start was the mad dash as expected but because I arrived on the line so late I wasn't standing near any LBACers including Pete. At the bottom of hill is a sharp right turn which spreads out the runners. I was looking out for Pete and spotted him 30metres ahead. Damn this would take some doing to close down as he wasn't hanging around. I decided to go hard in the first lap and close the gap. Digging deep on the hills and slotting past other runners on the turns. I was getting very good traction in the inov-8s 295s. I think those that decided to wear spikes weren't getting on as well due to the slush.

I was blowing hard already by the end of lap 1 with 2 longer laps still to complete. The pattern continued into lap 2 as I refused to take the foot off the gas and slowly closed the gap. All the other times in other races it would be Pete pulling away!

Fast forward to the final lap and there was just one runner between Pete and I  now and the gap was less than 10 metres. This sounds short and easily made up but with the effort being exerted even making up 1 metre was hard fought.

The final push to the finish was a steady hill that really zapped the legs. I decided early on that I wouldn't attempt to pass Pete until the last moment until after the hill and the final straight. He's very strong so an early pass would probably play into his hands and leave me exposed. I got closer and closer in the final 1/2 mile blowing harder than I have ever in the Chiltern League but at the same time being rewarded for my efforts. 

Pete and I pushed up the final hill. I didn't know if he knew I was behind him. The only clues were the shouts of 'come on Pete... come on Stu' as we run past fellow LBACers spectating. I waited and waited until the finish line approached and then sprinted for the line. We recorded the same time 38.21 as I just edged it. 

To be clear this was not about beating Pete but using a faster runner to help my cause and keep me pushing harder than I would usually. That was the most pleasing thing... I didn't crack, I kept the pace up and pushed harder when I really needed to. 10km in 38.21 on that course was a real workout - 6.11 mpm pace. Ouch!! :-O

And we were all rewarded with some yummy flapjack made by some of the girls! Thanks  :-)

Saturday, 11 February 2012

2012 - the year of 100s....

A quick post to tell you news of my new goals for 2012.

With the dissapointment of not getting into UTMB this year I've taken my time to decide what to do with my year. The original focus for winter/spring training was the MK marathon at the end of April with the goal of a sub 3hr (extremely ambitous but I thought I was keen to give it ago). However since then my focus has returned to Ultras!! Its been far too long! My first decision was to enter the Fellsman which falls on the same weekend as the MK marathon. The fellsman is an awesome event in the Yorkshire moors. 61 miles with 11,000ft of climbing. I thoroughly enjoyed it in 2010 and am returning for more.

But what else to do... I'm extremely impressed with the passion and commitment of race director James Elson and his new venture Centurion Running - he put on their first Ultra event and my first proper 100 last summer - North Downs Way 100 (NDW100). It was an awesome event and I want more of that!! So just 3 days ago and after seeing a Facebook post from James on the Centurion Running page I've decided to run their first 100 miler of the year - Thames Path 100. This is just 3 weeks away!!! haha. Some spare places have come up in this race (I presume a few of the 250 registered runners have since dropped out). So I've gotta be real quick and grab one of these places when they become available.

This then got me thinking about the other two 100s that Centurion Running are organising in June - South Downs Way 100 and in August - NDW100. Wouldn't it be cool if I entered and run all three!!!! And less than 15 minutes later this is exactly what I did!! So that's what I've got on my plate over the coming months. With also the possibility of a fourth 100 miler sometime later in the year. oh and a return to the Snowdonia marathon at the end of October.

So in summary my 2012 race calendar looks like this:
03/04 March - Thames Path 100 (Richmond to Oxford)
28/29 April - Fellsmans (Yorkshire Moors)
30-1 July - South Downs Way 100 (Winchester to Eastbourne)
11-12 August - North Downs Way 100 (Farnham, Surrey to Wye, Kent)
29 October - Snowdonia Marathon
??? - 4th 100 miler somewhere......