Archive | June, 2021

I’m Going Up A Yonder

27 Jun

I started the week with 5 miles easy on Monday morning and then 9 miles with 10 sets of strides on Tuesday. With my earliest start scheduled for Wednesday morning I took that as my rest day, and also managed to squeeze in a massage in the afternoon. I’ve now reached the stage of marathon training where it’s not always possible to fit my midweek training runs in before work, and Thursday was one of those days. It was actually quite nice to have to run in the afternoon/early evening, as my choir master’s funeral was Thursday lunchtime. I know that far too many people are now aware of what a funeral by Zoom feels like, and I’d expected to feel quite distant, but in fact felt quite emotionally involved. Perhaps it’s because music always has quite a strong memory/emotional pull, especially as they played what I’m pretty sure was a recording of my old girls’ choir singing, and a recording of one of the male voice choirs singing, too. Suddenly, I felt like a teenager sitting on benches at the side of a church, listening to the rich harmonies of a male voice choir before it was our turn to sing again. There were smiles at quirky memories, and tears at the thought there would be no more new memories. It was then back into work mode until I was able to lace up my trainers and head out for a fairly humid 11 miles, mostly off road.

On Friday morning I did 5 miles, and then on Saturday it was time for a belated Cotswold Way Relay recce. I have run leg 8 a couple of times, but a long while ago (I think 2013 and 2014), so a reminder of the route was definitely needed. I’d hoped to recce it a couple of times because I know I lack ‘hill’ fitness right now, but the ankle sprain put paid to that. I met up with my two team mates, and we set off. We took it fairly steadily, but even so with my hayfever still really bad and humidity none too great it felt like hard work, even if my legs weren’t too trashed as a result. That just left my long run today, and I tacked on an extra mile as the CWR recce wasn’t quite the 14 miles my schedule had required. I could feel that I’d done some decent climbs and descents yesterday, and that I was a bit tired (somehow I lost track of time and ended up staying up late last night), but with a faster clubmate to tag along with my 19 miles on the relatively flat Bristol/Bath path ticked along nicely, averaging 7.45m/m (even with the climb back home). 62 miles for the week.


Half Remembered Names And Faces / But To Whom Do They Belong?

20 Jun

This week started with a gentle 5 mile recovery run. The ankle finally felt recovered enough from the sprain that I could run off-road in my new trail racing shoes and they are super light and super speedy, so it didn’t end up being at recovery pace. But I love those shoes! (Adidas Terrex something or others. But not the carbon ones, obviously.)

On Tuesday I thought I was going to have to run home from work to get the first of my medium long runs in, as I was supposed to start a 4 day trial that day, but – as is sometimes the way – it rather fizzled out, and so I walked home instead, safe in the knowledge I would at least be able to run Wednesday morning rather than having to battle with late afternoon/early evening heat and humidity (bearing in mind the heatwave didn’t really break until Thursday). Annoyingly, as I dawdled my way home on Tuesday evening I somehow tweaked the ankle a little, but by Wednesday morning, with a bit of placebo tape in place, it felt ok, and I did 11 miles including 3 hill loops.

On Thursday I did 13 miles, with another decent climb in it, and then on Friday I did my ‘long’ run for the week with 4 decent climbs in it. (The Cotswold Way Relay is in a fortnight’s time, and I’m a bit conscious that I need to squeeze in a bit more hill running to activate the muscles I’ll need to use on the day!)

This left 2 runs for the weekend: a 5 mile recovery run on Saturday (although wearing the super lovely trail shoes again – more Cotswold Way prep – was a mistake, as yet again it was not at recovery run pace!) and then on Sunday 9 miles. My schedule said the 15 miles was supposed to be on Sunday, and the 9 miles earlier in the week (and to include 4 miles at half marathon pace) but I’d swapped things around because I’d been told that – somewhat to my surprise – I was needed for the 3,000m race in the Midland League. I figured that 3,000m as fast as I could manage was probably something like 4 miles at half marathon pace for overall effort, or certainly close enough for jazz.

When I arrived I discovered that a much faster clubmate now wanted to run as a guest, but that the team managers had decided it wasn’t fair to deselect anyone who had already been selected. I very much disagreed: although Midland League isn’t as competitive as the national league is, it is proper racing, and supposed to be about winning, so I very happily suggested I ran as a guest, and popped off to do 5 miles to warm up. Although my legs felt pretty ok warming up, it became clear during the race that the cumulative effect of 11 miles followed by 13 miles followed by 15 miles was definitely still there, and that I can’t casually knock out 90s/lap pace any more without some specific training, especially when my hayfever symptoms are at their worst. And that when I’m not running for points, I really can’t force myself to hurt too much! I plodded round in something like 11.54, hanging off the back of the race. I’m pretty disappointed, bearing in mind I did 8 x 1km averaging faster than that quite recently, but I guess that was in better conditions, and I was probably more emotionally invested in something that felt more marathon specific. Still, even if the race was terrible, it was very nice to see some clubmates I hadn’t seen for the best part of 18 months (some of them maybe even longer than that). I can’t say I feel I have missed track racing, but I do miss road racing.

So Let Me Fly / Let Me Fly / Won’t You Lead / And You Know / That I’ll Follow You

13 Jun

Another 2 weeks has flown by, and despite my best intentions to blog last weekend, work rather got in the way of most aspects of life.

Two weeks ago I did an easy run on Bank Holiday Monday (5 miles), and then 9 miles steady on the Tuesday as part of week 1 of my London/Dorney build-up. I rested on Wednesday, partly because of work, but also because having run 6 days in a row on the still weak ankle it felt sensible to do so. On Thursday I did 6 miles with 10 sets of strides: my first faster running since the ankle sprain, and it felt pretty ok. I followed this up on Friday with 9 miles (well, 9 or thereabouts: having looked at my GPS trace I can see that my Garmin had a bad signal patch, and seems to have made my run about 25 metres away from where I was actually running!). On Saturday, it was time for some gentle speedwork: although the schedule said to do 4 miles at half-marathon pace, I figured it was probably sensible to err on the side of caution and aim for a fraction faster than marathon pace, but not all out. It came out at 6.46m/m, when half-marathon pace is probably more like 6.35-6.40s at the moment. And then T and I were off to London to spend the day with his family. Apparently the weather had been awful the day before, and wasn’t great the day after, but we were blessed with gorgeous weather and could spend the whole day in the garden. It was lovely to have a break from work and see the whole family again: we hadn’t seen some since Christmas 2019, if not before! I rounded the week off with a steady 15 miles, although I risked a route which had a hill at the end of it (even if most of it was flat). 55 miles for the week.

This week started with a steady 5 mile recovery run, and then the sad news that the fabulous Gwyn Arch, who conducted choirs I sang in as a child and teenager for 6 wonderful years, had passed away. When I was younger I took for granted quite how great some of the musicians were who taught me and ran the groups I played and sang in. Gwyn was not just a fantastic conductor and arranger (he used to ‘trial’ some of his choral arrangements on us). He was also someone whose love of and enthusiasm for music shone through. In my teens I suffered from pretty crippling stage fright, certainly in relation to any solo violin playing (including chamber music and solos in orchestral concerts), and at times it meant that concerts were miserable: I felt nauseous beforehand, and unless everything about the concert was perfect, devastated afterwards. Choir was a respite from that: Gwyn cared passionately about us performing to a high standard, but somehow I didn’t allow that to create the same internal pressure on me, and choral singing instead was about having fun and sharing music with the audience. Gwyn’s silly mimes to help us remember the lyrics probably also helped relax us!

On Tuesday I was starting a 4 day trial, and because the travel for my last multi-day trial away from Bristol had left me really tired (probably because I’m just not used to it any more!), I’d opted to stay away rather than do a 2.5-3 hour round trip each day. With T also away, my mum kindly stepped in to cat sit. Lucky, spoilt kitties! I took it as my rest day. On Wednesday I ran 8 miles with some strides, 9 miles on Thursday and then 5 miles on Friday.

Each morning seemed hotter than the rest, and I was pretty apprehensive about the longish marathon paced tempo run Pfitzinger & Douglas prescribed for this weekend. A quick squint at the weather forecast showed Saturday was going to be marginally cooler than Sunday, and so I decided to do the 8 miles at marathon pace as part of my 12 mile run on Saturday (a mere 14 degrees Celsius), rather than my 16 miles on Sunday (16 degrees Celsius). The 8 miles came out bang on sub-3 hour pace (6.52m/m) which surprised me a bit, because I generally struggle to hold tempo efforts for very long when I’m running by myself (it’s why I often choose to do a split tempo, breaking it into smaller chunks with jog recoveries, if I’m setting the session). Perhaps the last 15 months of solitary running has made me a little tougher! Today was a bit tougher: it certainly felt more than 2 degrees warmer than yesterday, and my hayfever had really kicked in. The route was pretty busy and I had to run to the far left of the path, which meant I kept on brushing against grass, and I ended up with blotches all over my left leg and arm to show for it. It was actually really itchy by the end, so I had to jump straight in the shower to wash any pollen off in an effort to try and ease the urge to scratch it. I’d been thinking my hayfever was really mild compared to normal this year, but I suspect the cool spring we had (with all those beautiful frosty mornings) simply meant plants were a few weeks later flowering and producing pollen. Heigh-ho. Anyway, tough or not, it brought up 55 miles for the week, and the pleasing knowledge of target times successfully achieved. 2 weeks down, 16 to go.