Monthly Archives: October 2012

Ooh, an oh so rare race report!

Yep, it’s finally happened. I’ve managed to stay in one piece for long enough to actually complete a race.

The Bupa Great South Run, no less. A monster of a race (25,000 entry), odd in distance (10 miles sets it apart from other more traditional events), flat and well attended by the international community.

Training has been, if you’ve seen my blog before, varied. Injury was almost overtaken at the end by a cold I picked up a week and a half ago. None of the usual “5 day” affair, as it turned out, either. It never became a monster, just enough to fill my chest, stop me breathing and make me use about 12 handkerchiefs a day as my nose went from runnning to blocked as the seconds passed.

Rubbish, considering my training had been going well.

Still, Saturday arrived and Jogblog sat in the back of the car (she’s petrified of travelling in a car with me but when in the front won’t take her eyes off the road. Even to look at a landmark or something I point out.) to play with her new electronic gadget and hopefully arrive slightly less than a wreck.

It worked. We found our hotel easily, I re-acqainted myself with Portsmouth as we found somewhere to eat and the afternoon and evening spun past before trying to decide if all our electronic devices would adjust for Grenwich Mean Time or whether I needed to manually adjust them, only for the alarms to be late and we’d miss the start.

I needn’t have worried. Nerves had me up and alert at 4am (5 the day before , so not too bad in reality!).

A hassle free drive to my desired car park saw what I think the only hiccup in otherwise flawless organisation. The suggested car parks were found by luck/intuition; it might have been so easy to print a supplementary sign with the advice leaflet numbers referenced. Maybe next year. Maybe sat-nav is becoming so common I really am a dinosaur. Still, it was a tiny hassle/worry.

The crowds making for the start were slight, as early as we turned out to be. The start area was buzzing, though, as were JB and I as we went to the BUPA vip tent (I love going out with running royalty!) to find ourselves rubbing shoulders with Iwan Thomas and Sally Gunnell. A coffee and banana later and I was making my way to the start area, desperate not to be too far back in the crowd that a decent run was scuppered by traffic.

A jovial bit of banter between three of us (one hoping for 1.20, the other hoping for 1.10, me realising my cold would probably place me somewhere between) eased the worry about the cold and that I seemed to be behind millions of shirts until the gun went and we walked over the start line. Yep. Walked. Bah.

Still, we were rapidly up to speed. A bit of a slalom around the inevitable walkers/fancy dress artists found free space around half a mile in and all settled well. I selected a pace that didn’t stress my chest and ignored my Garmin (I set the screen on virtual partner, 7.15/mile pace, locked the bezel and ignored it for two miles).

First course impression? Fantastic. All Portsmouth’s landmarks in a mile and a half! Ships, buildings, the naval base. Pretty much everything of interest.

On looking at the Garmin I was amazed to see myself 30 seconds up on time. So endeavoured to see 45 seconds by mile 3, especially as I realised the route had given all it had of interest in those first two miles.

Second course impression? As the crowds wane away from the seafront, there isn’t much on offer. Dull, to be fair. I guess a big run needs wide dual carriageways and that but they’re a bit dull for me, to be fair. Good job I had a breathing rate/ease of progress/monitor the people arund me routine to concentrate on.

As mile 3 came and went I’d gained a few more seconds on targetted target. Mile 4 saw a bloke I’d been stalking slow a bit. As I came onto his shoulder I spoke up, let him know I was pacing steadily and he’d just come back to me. He thanked me and said he’d hang onto me for a while. That while was very nice. A few more banter exchanges with a few other runners and before I knew it he was alongside at the 6 mile water station. Asking how he felt, he said fine. A little surge saw him move a few yards ahead before dropping behind again suddenly; I didn’t see him again. Ah, well.

Mile 7 to 8 was the dullest. Passing 10k in a new race pb (I really must enter a 10k race sometime!), still feeling perky as hell, unstressed and comfortable, I was nonetheless worried about the “last two miles” that everyone had banged on about when asked about the race. I didn’t believe it could be as bad as the last 3 miles of the Hastings half, but was being careful with pacing in case it was; I didn’t fancy having to stress my lungs.

7-8 was, in fact, horrendous. Dull; featureless; too much time wondering if I might surprise myself with a reasonable time overall; bland.

All too soon we were on the seafront and at mile 8. Splendid! A slightly gusty head-ish wind but not too harsh. Not enough people around to tuck in amongst them, I simply jogged it out. The BUPA motivation station was something to run towards with the sea of blue banners and jackets and the music being carried on the wind was a nice touch.

Mile 9 saw runners around me start to speed up. I resisted until 800m when a little spurt saw the timeclock come in to view. 1.09.11 with 400m to go. 49 seconds to run 400m if I was to dip under 1.10. Except I walked towards and across the line at the start. And my Garmin was locked on virtual partner. And I hadn’t taken the shortest route…how far over distance was I…how late over the line was I…was the 3.03 ahead of pace I was showing enough to be under 1.10 on corrected time?

Not wanting to miss out on a decent result by a few seconds, I decided an uncool sprint was better than a life of disappointment. So I kicked. Those around me did, too. So I kicked harder. An unseemly lunge for the line and I stopped my Garmin. A more unseemly wobble on my legs as I coughed up a lung, a focus on unlocking the watch and swapping screens…and a time of 1.09.53 was revealed. Phew! Were it not for the push, I reckon I might have been down to the last second.

And do you know what? Despite the accomodation being ace; despite the weather threatening to be evil but really being ok; despite the race going well and pacing myself sensibly considering my health? I wouldn’t want to have missed out on a little landmark time and threaten to come back next year; the race isn’t really good enough, I don’t think.

My memory might change it, I suppose. It was a good day and a fun enough race. But boy, oh boy would it benefit from being run in reverse; put the bands on the dull beginning bit where you’re in traffic and fresh and not in need of something to take the mind off the run; give something to look forward to in the middle; give a massive boost at the end from the naval base, the ships and the Spinnaker Tower.

Ah, well.

Overall best bit? Not a hint of an injury. Fresh(ish) muscles; perfect feet (my New Balance 890V2’s are unbelievably good.); happy countenance.

I’ll have a few days off running now. Then settle in to keeping my fitness with some fun runs around the house. Dark evenings will prohibit some of my country lanes but I’ll find a way around it somehow.

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Ailing. A bit.

Why am I, once again, suffering under a cloud of less than ideal health?

Fot the past three weeks I’ve had a succession of builders coming into the office moaning about how ill they are only for them to decide two days later that they’re too ill to continue and have a couple of days off. Then to return and come in to announce that while they’re still ill they’ll happily spread their contagion.

Well, on Wednesday, my immune system decided someone had just the ideal strain to accept into my body and now I have a cold. I’ve been fighting it with inordinate quantities of vitamin C and raw onions and so far I’m carrying a running/occasionally blocked nose, a sore throat (two days worth so far and counting) and permanently sore eyes.

Hopefully I’ll kick enough of it over the course of today to put in a slow jog tomorrow to end my Great South Run training before a gentle jog on Wednesday before the race. Not the final prep I wanted and if the cold lingers (in fact, even if it doesn’t if recovery is as usual and I’m a touch slow for a couple of weeks, struggling to get air in fully) I’ll surely be a bit slower than even my revised target time, but hopefully not a disaster.

In fact, I guess a positive spin would be that at least I’ve something to add to the excellent Facebook page rather than simply lurking, looking at other people posting their info! I’ll add that there’s to be a Q&A session on Friday 26th…I’ll be seeking advice on running with the cold before this, but it will be fun to take part. I still don’t know what happens on Twitter…JogBlog uses this and I fear what she might be saying about me so I guess it’s simply better not to know!

I guess I knew something was amiss on Tuesday. Finishing work late, I got to the car and changed into my running kit and waited for my Garmin to get a signal. This took longer than usual and, frustrated by the day as I was, I simply got in the car and drove home. Couldn’t raise myself for an outing at all. This was remedied by a hills outing on Wednesday when I realised my eyes and throat were sore and this wasn’t too bad a jog, to be fair, but I am now at least a run down. The run I was going to use to swap shoes for my hoped for race trainers rather than my slow training shoes.

I’ll update on the rest of the weekend as time goes by. Fingers crossed for a decent run in and positive weather on the day.

A training goal looms

And as it does, a gert big hiccup occurs in my training schedule.

Since my injured legs started recovering from Janathon I’ve had half an eye on this, the later part of the year, and achieving some longer term goals. I was planning a several pronged assault on a 10k, a half marathon and finally a run around a race that JogBlog has been looking towards since the earlier part of the year. That race was the Bupa Great South Run.

I’m sure many of you know about it; it’s big (25 odd thousand entries), fast (proper athletes like Olympic Gold Medal winners have a go and complete it in under 50 minutes – that sort of fast) and hopefully fun. I’ll find out in a few weeks. For worriers, people  who like to enjoy an event build up and the like an active series of media links exist, two being the Facebook running page and Twitter. Not sure which category I fit but I don’t Twit so it’s fb for me!

So my hiccup in training is this week. I should be at the peak of my training but I got involved in a slow jog with two joggers from work last night (3.5 miles at slow pace instead of 4.5 miles of hilly sprints) and tomorrow, I’ve only just come to realise, I have a complicated car service/work commute and return home along with a dinner out at an earlier than usual time so JB can review a restaurant in her other identity. I might not get a run at all instead f the 5 miles of intervals (on undulating roads) that I targetted. And with 11 miles planned for Saturday, putting it off until Friday isn’t sensible. Nor running again tonight. Nor running Sunday to allow a Friday jog since I won’t recover for next Tuesday’s hilly plan. It seems so complicated. And I haven’t even mentioned my fear that I’ll be held in a slow group from the start and not be able to run freely at my own target pace. Or that my target pace is 30 seconds slower than I wanted following my broken ribs in through June putting my fitness back a few notches.

So many fears, one small (in the scheme of things) event.

But I won’t be tempted into injury. Better to underprepare and enjoy it than blow out before the run even starts. I’ve put the big preparation in, I’m sure this week won’t ruin me. Just wish it was planned as a cut-back, not planned as a peak!

Patience. And then hopefully a fun run as a round up to a frustrated year of injuries (again!) and some good jogging outings. Yes. Forget target times; enjoy the run.

Once again getting there

But where?

Mainly back where I started, only now the pace is occasionally a trifle quicker.

I’ve been dodging the worst of the wet weather on my forays into running improvement having only got properly wet once. Had to decide on a location change a couple of times (It amazes me the difference 14 miles and being at the foot of the North Downs instead of on top of them makes, but two dry runs have come my way as a result) but I’ll not grumble too much.

The style of run has been for longer or harder outings. The mid-week runs have been hard. I messed up this Tuesday in that I realised when I got home I hadn’t pushed as hard as I might have but my lungs over-ruled my brain and I settled for a hard pace instead of a ruinous one. Last Saturday was one of my favourite outings yet. 10 miles to Mersham and back, predominantly flat, all reasonably even-paced, the odd and nice bit being my superb energy at 8 miles. I felt superb and had to ease my pace to make sure my calf (which felt sore through to 3 miles) wasn’t overly strained.

And tonight’s run was again excellent. I wasn’t sure whether to do intervals or try a longer burst of more evenly spread effort. The first half mile was easy in both pace and effort but I didn’t think I had a lung bursting run in me, so opted for a longer duration pace. The undulating route seemed to fly past as I enjoyed a rare sun drenched evening and I felt fine as I turned for the car and tried to maintain pace. Which I managed and enjoyed.

The first outing for ages with a pace I’m happy with and is consistent.

The only sad bit is that I’m only now back to where I was at the end of May when I broke my ribs.

Ah, well. I’ve accepted that my time at the Great South Run will be a few minutes worse than I was hoping for earlier in the year, I’ll just hope for a pleasant run and hopefully enjoy the surroundings now instead of possibly exploding in my efforts to feel quick!

Happy running as the autumn closes in.

Things could be worse.