Sunday, 25 July 2010

Serious Training - Lessons learnt

So almost at the end of week 15 - and starting to feel the lactate heaviness in my legs now.. but a week-end of serious 'recy'ing' the Snowdon route and do my long run on a 19 mile section of it, incorporating the first two hills. Travelling along the winding mountain road early on Saturday morning, I was concerned about my running on these blind corners, being exposed to the traffic as well as the elements... and this was a typical Welsh drizzly morning. Wearing my racer-back vest top and capris - I looked nervously at the fully weather-protected walkers, covered in Gore-tex jackets and hoods, large rucksacks and over-trousers! I did have my thin Montane ligthtweight luminous jacket in case the wind was too harsh. The plan was to do 19 miles and I was dropped off just before the point of the actual start of the Snowdon marathon, a mile or so just outside Llanberis... I started off quickly.. best plan is just to do it (as Nike says!) So started up the first incline which was a really pretty route through Pen y Pass winding through rolling fields of very bemused looking sheep who seemed to be staring at my mad little scurry through their Country.. also the odd cluster of tents just off the road with hikers just awaking to the smell of coffee and camp-fire bacon smells wafted over in my path.. as the incline was starting to get steeper but a gradual creeping up steepness, and I could only see up to the next bend and then beyond where the road curved back around again - but not how high the road climbed as anything further was shrouded in mist... it was just a case of letting the pace slow and digging in. It was getting tougher and tougher despite the very inspiring views.. but then a beacon of hope after around 8km a shiny white YHA which seemed to be the top of the road as I could see the cars parked opposite were disappearing down the other side. YES - the top.

Here is my biggest lesson... for this race... dont get carried away at the this point...its a MARATHON. I let my legs go full steam ahead as I have done in shorter races with a steep descent, trying to make up for the slowing pace up the hill before. Big mistake, and this caught up with me later on... so although I enjoyed this (a lot!) Especially as I was passing walkers at some pace... I knew there may be some serious runners out on the road - making their own way to the Fell Race which was happening later on in Llanberis.. I had to show them what I had! (What show offs we runners can be! :)) So this downhill went on and on for around 12km in total and as it flattened... so did my pace. My buttocks were starting to ache and I thought the downhill pace may be in there.. but this section of the route was the prettiest of all - looking down on a very pretty lake then making my way through a woodland covered section of road, with twisty tree trunks.. the breeze which had been quite cold on the steep decline was now evening out to a very pleasing cloak. I continued with only the odd car passing, and started wondering where Pete would catch up with me wasnt long before I saw a very familiar looking runner coming the other way (thank God I was starting to drive myself mad with my usual musings and struggling with the running now).. but he said 'hiiiii!' and carried on!!! What?!? I thought he was going to run with me! I carried on a bit annoyed at this... but then heard his familiar breathing behind me.. as he caught up the time now went a lot quicker - up to the village of Beddgelert, and then out on the second long slow hill... which really caught my pace by surprise! It really slowed.. despite not being the steepest hill I had ever faced, but Pete who was quite fresh and encouraging kept me pushing into it. We got up to the village of Rydd Ddu and the road flattened out as we made our way out to the Snowdon Ranger and lake beyond which the car was parked... my pace returning (thank God!) I even did some strides at the end... but there were definite lessons to be learnt on this run! My fuelling seemed to work fine - and no stitch which was the BEST thing!! But I think I really need to ease up on that first downhill.. and the race really seems to comprise of a number of distinct sections. It will be easier with a field of runners around me - and more training in the legs, plus the taper.. and I will have to save something for the final hill... but I feel a lot more confident.

My pacing on this run - not quite as even as Amsterdam... this is not going to be the same sort of marathon in any shape or form.. I will have to really think about this..

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Back on a plan...and it feels good!

... a bad patch with running, an unfinished race, stitch, feeling what is the point with these tough goals, I mean what really is the point. Friends gained and lost and the real ones, my fellow Kenilworthians, always there, always supportive. I feel I lost my way a bit... the harsh heat recently, a skin rash from heat, a fall in nettles and stinging sweat in grazes... just an exhaustive business and the rewards for it... were not coming. The mileage going up, building up the ever important base for the plan to start, so I could build in more sessions with different benefits... it was hard going. My hydration levels were probably not good either, it teaches you to be on top of the game... respect the conditions and prepare. So a couple of 'not so good' races... a 6 mile in heat with several strong ladies after building up in my head that I could be in a strong finishing position...only knocking a minute off last years time. People saying knocking any time off is good - but not to me as I knew I had raced better. Then another race where I get stuck behind a pack - the frustration of not getting out strongly enough - but it just didnt work for me on that day... again high expectations and the delivery was poor. Then the third and final blow... evil stitch at the 7km point on a race I thought could ease the wounds of the previous two.. I was going well - encouraged by a voice behind me... someone pushing me on, telling me to pass others and as I did I found the strength - the racing strength I had buried down inside my aching heavy-miled legs, to pass more and then more.. The stitch almost took my breath away and I groaned as I couldnt fight it.. it slowed me to a stop and I stood on the side bending over - another voice behind passing my sorry stopage, said 'you're better than that!' It really hit a nerve... I knew I was. I had never stopped and given up - but I walked over to the Finish to cheer in a fellow runner and good friend... and that was my justification - stitch had stopped my chance of redemption of another PB. It was what I thought would make it all better...but it taught me something. I needed more time and I needed to do it properly before taking another shot... then the rewards really would come. It was almost at the best time as well - just as the Jack Daniels 16 week marathon plan started. At last a PLAN - I can take a plan as gospel - I mean almost religiously follow a plan and get the confidence from doing everything in it. It was starting to all settle my mind. A good week at work following a tough time and sresses there too... and I was on the plan. WEEK 1 - involved the 3 key ingredients I will be building in every week now... TECHNICAL, TEMPO and LONG RUN. Technical this week - km intervals.. tough and not quite at pace (only 10 seconds or so short - and can put that down partly to obstructions on the path)... Tempo... a 7.5 mile club run.... very encouraging as I was able to push at a good pace the whole distance, and tomorrow the long run which has built in different paces. It feels like it really is the start of something strong again.. my affair with running is resumed and feels right. Made more exciting by a run in almost tropical rain conditions in the week - one of the most enjoyable recovery runs I have ever done... waves (literally!) splashed over me from cars on the road - drivers laughing as I raised my arms up and enjoyed the total submergance in water 'wooping' like an excited cheer-leader! I have never been wetter or with as big a grin on my face.... enjoying the fact maybe the car driver that thought he had annoyed me could see me almost ecstatic from the shower he gave me and the ankle deep splashes along the road. Then tonight - new tunes on my I-Pod (which I thought had shorted out from the rain in the week!) I was really enjoying my new music downloads and singing out loud along to them - not caring - not caring if I was heard (probably out of tune!!) I'm ready for the next week, if it is half as good as this one!