Archive | March, 2021

So Don’t Give Up / Don’t Look Down / ‘Cause Your Time Is Gonna Come Around

28 Mar

T and I both had this week off, which meant that the 7am runs could take a rest this week. Obviously we couldn’t go away, and still followed the ‘stay local’ guidance, but it was lovely to have some time off together and be able to potter around taking it easy, even if the things we did do (cleaning the kitchen cupboards? Going through the filing cabinet?) weren’t always exciting (but the cooking was better: all the slightly faffy things I never have time to do during the week, and am generally too knackered to do by the weekend :)) We also foraged for wild garlic, and have plenty of tasty wild garlic pesto in the freezer for quick midweek meals once we’re back at work, and had some lovely walks. I’m not sure the cats approved of being taken to the vets for their booster vaccinations, but they definitely approved of the treats they got afterwards.

On Monday I did a steady 6 miles, and on Tuesday I did 8 miles with some strides. I did 12 on Wednesday (plus some strength and conditioning) and 7 on Thursday. Nothing very exciting, but good, steady base-building for the autumn continues.

As an athletics fan, I can’t let this week pass without writing about the British Olympic Team Marathon Trials, which took place on Friday. Although it was unclear for a while if the race would be televised at all, ultimately both British Athletics and the BBC streamed it, which was great. I scheduled Friday as my running rest day, and by 8am (race start time), was sat on the sofa with a pint of tea, good to go. The men and women started together, although obviously the men were quickly ahead. There are 3 spots on the team for men and 3 for women, but one spot had been ‘pre-selected’ on the men’s team. British Athletics had announced a selection policy that the first 2 men and women in the race would be selected, provided they had the Olympic Games Qualifying Time (OGQT: 2.11.30 for the men, and 2.29.30 for the women). In the women’s race there was a brilliant display of controlled, high-quality running from Steph Davis, who ran 2.27 and bits to knock a little off her PB and win, booking her seat on the plane to Tokyo, but heartbreak for second-placed Natasha Cockram, who was just outside 2.30, and so missed the OGQT. But it was the men’s race which had us on the edge of our seats, struggling to believe our eyes, but beaming from ear to ear.

Fairly early on a small group of men settled in behind the two pacemakers: Ben Conner, Dewi Griffiths, Mo Aadan and Chris Thompson. By 15km in, Chris Thompson had dropped off the pack. As the commentators kept on reminding us, Thompson is only a few weeks away from his 40th birthday, and as Jason Henderson wrote for Athletics Weekly “Everyone, including myself, simply thought he was dropped. This was Thommo‚Äôs last dance and he seemed to be going out the back door and en route to a probable DNF [did not finish]”. I thought that, too. The coverage cut away to the women’s race for a bit, and by the time they cut back to the men, everything had changed: in those few minutes, Dewi Griffiths had dropped back, and Thompson was back in the lead group, looking strong, and about to flow past. It turned out he had taken the decision that the pace from 10-15km was a little too fast for comfort (something like 2.09/2.10 pace, if I recall correctly), and that if the pace he could hold (2.11 pace) wasn’t going to get him a place in the top 2, so be it, but it was what felt right, and he was going to gamble that the other guys weren’t actually in 2.09 shape. He’d gambled smartly. The final 2 laps (just under 7km of running), saw Thompson pull away to win comfortably, dipping under 2.11, running a qualifying time and booking his place to Tokyo. But what made it special, for anyone who has had their own battles to win and setbacks to overcome, was the display of raw emotion in the finishing straight, and as Thompson breasted the tape. After all those years, a runner euphemistically described as ‘fragile’ by many a commentator (= gets injured a lot), had had one of those races where everything clicks, where you feel strong, where you feel in control, and where your race strategy plays out to perfection. As he said in an emotional post-race interview, given his age he probably should have retired 5 years ago. But thank goodness he didn’t. For runners of a certain age, it reminded us – as Jo Pavey did so magnificently in 2014 – that although life may not begin at 40, running success doesn’t have to stop there!

Suitably inspired, I did a marathon pace session on Saturday (3 x 4km): I slightly over-cooked the first one (16.48), undercooked the second (17.04) and nailed the third (16.54). I finished the week with 18 miles on tired legs, on a breezy day, to make 63 miles for the week.

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A Year Is A Long Time In Running

21 Mar

On Monday I did a steady 6 miles in the morning, and then a strength session in the evening. On Tuesday I did a steady 7 miles. Although I had planned to run on Wednesday, I slept very badly: I took ages to go to sleep, then T’s on-call phone went in the middle of the night, and then the boy-cat decided that he needed to tell us he was quite hungry at about 5am. Perfect. I felt absolutely exhausted, and took it as my rest day from running (although I did do a strength session late afternoon, just at the point where I was ready for a break in a very hectic day).

On Thursday, after a much better sleep, I met up with a friend for a steady 11 miler, although the classic thing of pushing each other on a little happened, and I ended up doing the 11 miles under 7.45m/m, which is way faster than I would usually manage for a lumpy 11 miles early in the morning. Friday’s 12 miles, alone, was at a more typical 8.11m/m.

On Saturday I was conducting pupillage interviews all morning, with an 8.45am pre-interviews meeting, so I only had time to squeeze in 5 miles with 6 sets of strides. It’s always a bit weird running at weekday time at the weekend: you see a very different crowd!

I rounded the week off today with a steady 20 miles, which made 61 miles for the week. Base building for the autumn marathon campaign continues!

It’s funny to think that this time last year we were teetering on the edge of entering lockdown. Life was about to change enormously, and I don’t think any of us realised quite how significant those changes would be, nor how long those changes would endure for. Even now, there’s no real clarity as to when life will return to something approaching normal. But I guess those of us – like myself – who have come through the last year healthy and able to work pretty much throughout, have been luckier than we realise.

Like Only A Woman Can

14 Mar

This week started with a round trip to pick up a letter from chambers, so 5.5 miles plodded early doors on Monday.

On Tuesday it was more running to do chores, dropping off an entire rucksack full of cat food sachets for recycling. With a bit extra tacked on, 6.5 miles.

Wednesday was not a beautiful day, but it was the best time to do my medium long run, so a windswept 11 miles it was. I then did a strength session over Zoom.

Thursday the weather was grim, which was why I’d scheduled it as my rest day. Maybe total rest – not even a walk or some stretching – was a mistake, as I felt super lethargic on Friday. More rain and wind didn’t help: clubmate E, who I met up with, both agreed we’d have snoozed a bit more had we not agreed to meet for an easy run. Although I’d planned to do 7, I cut it short and did 6 as my legs felt so heavy. Friday evening was nicer: a Zoom strength session with some more lovely team mates.

On Saturday it was very windy, so I opted for a hills session, doing 6 continuous loops of the course we sometimes use for club sessions. It was less sheltered than I hoped, so I focused on form rather than speed, but it was definitely still a good workout for calves, hamstrings, glutes and quads.

The blogspot title comes about because of the events at Clapham Common Saturday evening. Unless the police bodyworn camera footage shows something exceptional, it is hard to understand how a vigil – even if not as socially distanced as vigils should be right now – ended up with what some footage suggests were pretty violent arrests of women, by Met officers. It’s still playing on my mind now. I can’t say I’ve organised my thoughts into a particularly coherent form as yet, but I don’t feel I can ignore it, even in what should be a blog about running.

Finally, I did my first 20 mile run for about a year today. A reasonable pace (8.05s) in slightly blustery but mostly sunny conditions. 59 miles for the week.

Here Comes The Sun, Little Darling

7 Mar

I started the week the easy way, with a rest day. Well, I had to cycle to and from chambers, but I had a rest from running! On Tuesday I did a slightly sluggish 5 miles, and on Wednesday an incredibly sluggish 7 miles. Every now and then you have an inexplicably bad run, and Wednesday morning’s run was one of those runs. At least it wasn’t on a race day! I did a strength session with a clubmate on Wednesday evening over Zoom, by which time I felt a bit perkier. On Thursday morning I felt so much better than I had 24 hours previously, and my 10 mile run was pretty good. It helped that it was a nice day, albeit the wind was a bit fresh and so my decision to ditch the gloves was foolish. On Friday I met up with a clubmate for a steady 6 miles, and even with a 7am start there was proper daylight, so that we could run out to Ashton Court and back (we were also lucky with the Suspension Bridge, which has a one-way system for pedestrians to enable social distancing, but does mean that you sometimes have to walk across, as entirely understandably there is a no-overtaking rule in place. But lady luck smiled on us – doubtless assisted by the early start! – and we were able to run both directions).

On Saturday morning it was another sunny, cool start, and I decided to do a mixed-pace session again, but this time to do the fast stuff first and the marathon pace stuff second. Slightly at random I settled on 10 x 1 minute at 5k pace with 1 minute jog recovery for the faster stuff. Either my Garmin was struggling with being on the Portway at the bottom of the Avon Gorge or I was running very erratically, because it claims that my pace varied between 5.53m/m and 6.20m/m. I’m pretty sure it was former, which just goes to show you shouldn’t trust GPS too much, kids. The marathon pace chunk felt super-cruisy and steady after that, and I nailed sub-3 pace feeling very comfy. Hurrah! 10 miles including warm up and cool down.

This morning the weather was glorious again, and I did a 17 mile route with a few decent climbs thrown in, plus one super decent descent (down through Ashton Court). The pace was pretty respectable given the route (8.12s) so I’m starting to tentatively hope that my fitness is gradually returning. If marathon pace is now in the 6.50m/m ballpark, that does mean I’m still about 20s/mile shy of my absolute best, but seeing as I’ve rarely got within 30s/mile of my absolute best in the last few years, it definitely counts as progress. 55 miles for the week, so a steady start to March, but I was definitely ready for a slightly lighter week.