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Thursday, 29 March 2018

Running Roundup # 12

Saturday was a very easy day for me, I drove down to the Riverfront Parkrun and joined my C25K group for their run.

It was the start of week 7 which meant a 5 minute warm up walk, followed by 25 minutes of non stop running, and in fairness, most of them just carried on running past the 25 minute mark and finished the course running.

Most of them managed to improve their speed and were really pleased once they'd seen that they had a new PB, and that will continue now for the next two weeks, as that will be the end of this course for this particular group of runners. But I think that most of them will go on to join the 5210k group afterwards, and I know that some of them have already entered 10k races.

Sunday saw me traveling to Quedgeley in Gloucestershire with Liz, Vanessa and Yangi, all from Caerleon RC to take part in the Gloucester 20 mile road race.

The day began quite chilly and a little overcast, but that was to change and we would end up finishing the race in glorious sunshine.

My race began fine, and I'd started with a plan and hoped that I could keep to it as I wanted to try and improve my time of 03:28 from the Fission 20/20 a couple of weeks ago.

I set my Polar M430 watch for a 20 mile distance to give me an estimated finishing time, which is a great way of keeping a track of my time during the run, but I was really following my heart rate and trying to keep it at about 145bpm, which equates to a pace of about 09:40 per mile, or at least until I hit the 15 mile mark anyway when I found that my pace was getting slower but my heart rate was climbing to a little over 150bpm.

The race is a 6.6 mile loop and there are 3 laps of mostly flat roads but with a couple of small hills. I got lapped during my second lap by the lead runners, (no surprise there), and I believe the winner came in to finish in a time of about 01:54. I bet he had 3 Weetabix for breakfast 😉

The first 2 laps for me were fine but my pace did slow on the third lap, and the hills were about 2/3rd away around the course, but I didn't have the strength in my legs then to run up them, so a brisk walk it had to be, until I reached the brow of the hill anyway.

With about 1.5 miles to go, my watch was estimating a finish time of 03:22 and so I dug deep and tried to increase my pace a little, and just a few minutes later I finally crossed the finish line, and my legs were totally shot.

It was at this point that the thought occurred to me that had this been a marathon distance, I would still have had another lap to go, and I did begin to wonder if I would have had the energy left in my legs to do that. I know I had paced myself for 20 miles and not 26 miles but, had this been a marathon, and I had run at say a 10 minute mile pace, would I have been in a better position strength wise at the end of the 26 miles? I'm not so sure. The 09:40 pace was comfortable, my breathing was easy, I was able to talk if I wanted to, my legs felt good. If I had run it a little slower I'm not so sure that I would have saved any energy for later. I guess I probably just hit "the wall"!

So I'm thinking that my final 6 miles in Manchester are going to be the toughest 6 miles I will ever run and that all I can do is to try to keep my legs turning over as best that I can and try to think beyond the pain and look forward to a hearty meal and a couple of beers in the evening with my friends.

So that is my training phase now complete and I have now entered the tapering phase, and time to begin resting my weary legs.

By Tuesday my legs were still feeling a bit achy, and I decided that I wouldn't do the club run that evening so, I went along for a very slow and easy 2 miles with the C25K group and was pleasantly surprised how good my legs actually felt, but I think I really needed to rest my legs anyway, I am in the tapering phase of training and I should be resting and storing energy in the bank.

Wednesday evening I went along to the Farmers Arms in Goldcliff, which is where Run Wales were holding a seminar about the ABP Newport Marathon, which is only about one month away now.  This was headed up by double Olympian, Steve Brace with other guest speakers, who were all there to tell us what to expect and how to prepare in these final few weeks, but first we headed off along the flat lands to run either 4 or 6 miles, and of course I chose 6 miles.
The route

Pre run briefing
The leaders pace was a bit quick for me so I just let them get on with it and zoom off ahead, but I did want to run this at about a 10k race pace, and as it turned out, I was pretty consistent although once or twice I did have to slow my pace a little as my heart rate was creeping up to my maximum limit, but I averaged a 08:32 per mile pace, which I was pleased with.

Steve Brace addressing the runners
I'm now going to enjoy two days resting and give my calf muscles a well earned break. On Saturday I shall run to Parkrun, an easy paced run along the canal path and home again for about 10 miles, and then I may not run again until the Tuesday club run. I will then have to start thinking about getting my kit sorted out to take to Manchester as I hate leaving things to the last minute and then finding that I have forgotten something vital.

Only 10 days to go to the big M 😲

Friday, 23 March 2018

Running Roundup # 11

After a week with no running due to a calf muscle niggle, I'm back at it with no injury worries, hooray 🙌

On Saturday I went out with my C25K group, in bitterly cold weather, and not intending on extending that mileage as I have done in  previous weeks because I was due to run in the Weston Super Half the next day. Unfortunately the weather had other ideas and with very cold temperatures, snow and ice, the organisers made the decision to cancel this event, as did the organisers of the Newport half marathon and many other races across the country.

This was the second time that the Newport half had been cancelled due to the weather and since then the organisers have made the decision to totally cancel the event for this year, but it will be back on March 3rd 2019. But they have done totally the right thing in giving runners options to defer their place to next year, (which I have done), get a refund, or donate their payment and still receive their medal and T shirt. I can't see that the organisers could be any fairer than that and I applaud them for it. I am waiting to hear from the organisers of the Weston event to see if they are going to reschedule their race or not.

Tuesday evening is club night, and this evenings run was the Yewberry Yomp, a run along the Caerleon cycle track, then up the steep hill which is Yewberry Lane, followed by the downhill section on Brynglas Rd going over the M4 motorway, turn right and up the hill on Malpas Rd, then right again by CJ's fish & chip shop and home the way we came.

I was pleased with this run in every respect, with good pace, and I even ran non stop all the way to the top of Yewberry Lane, which is pretty steep. And when I checked my stats on Strava, it showed a marked increase in my speed compared to when I last ran this route back in July 2017. However, my heart rate graph was off the chart in some parts and I daren't post it here because it's just too scary 😅

The comparison between yesterday and July 2017

I have been struggling with sleep deprivation for about the last two months, and my intention was to run with the C25K group on Thursday evening and follow it with the club speed/interval/hill session, but after a terrible nights sleep on Wednesday, which made me suffer terribly in work, I decided that I was just going to get out with the newbies and then get off home and try to get a better nights sleep.

So this was day 3 of week 6 for the C25K group where they had to run for 25 minutes non stop along a path on the Celtic Manor golf course, and boy did they do well. They all did it, one or two did struggle a little, and others felt that they could have gone on longer.

Saturday will be day 1 in week 7 and the group will be running the same 25 minutes non stop at Riverfront Parkrun.

Now I have been running to Parkrun and back to extend my mileage as part of my marathon training, however this week I will be driving there and only running the 5 miles as on Sunday I am running in the Gloucester 20 mile race, which will be my second 20 miler and my final  long run before I begin to taper back the mileage. I can't believe there are only two weeks left to go before the big day 😲.

Wish me luck guys and girls and I shall write up a report on this race in next weeks Weekly Running Roundup # 12.

Until then, keeeeep running 😃

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Running Roundup # 10

Last Saturday was my biggest test of my fitness as I took on the Fission 20/20. This is actually two races using the same course, one race is 20km and the other is 20 miles, hence the 20/20, and I was competing in the 20 mile event.

I managed to grab a lift there with a few of the girls from Lliswerry Runners, and as we drove along the country lanes to the start at Berkeley Power Station, we could see that there were some huge puddles in the roads from the previous days heavy rain, and one of them was just before the start line.

After the race briefing we proceeded to the start line and we all had to negotiate that puddle somehow. Some removed their trainers and socks and paddled through, but most of us took to the verge and made our way in single file.

Now, the organisers could see what was happening, and so they could have delayed the start by 5 minutes to ensure that everyone had got to the start line OK, but no, they started the race at 9 AM and I was then 3 minutes late crossing the line, and our times were on gun time for the start and chip time to finish. Oh well.

So off I went and I had previously decided not to keep to a minutes per mile pace, but to go by my heart rate instead, which is what I have done for my last few long runs, where I have tried to keep my heart rate to a maximum of 145 bpm, this way my pace would be fine without me huffing and puffing for over 3 hours.

The route was a big loop, which for the 20 milers we had to run two laps of, and it was on the return leg of each loop where the biggest puddles were, and most of the puddles were over ankle deep, apart from one which by the time I came to it the second time around, the reen next to the road had burst its banks and the water came to just below my knees. And of course with every puddle, my trainers would fill with cold water and then it would take a little while for my feet to warm up again.

Teej & Trudy splashing about in the puddle

I had no dramas, nothing out of the ordinary or unexpected happened, apart from those puddles, and I completed the race with an enormous sense of satisfaction and now feeling more confident about completing my marathon, even though it is a further 6 miles. I only have to tell myself at that point that it is only a Tuesday evening club run and to keep turning my legs over for another hour ish.

I did have a bit of a scare towards the end of last week with what felt like a slight muscle strain, but it didn't affect me at all during this run, and on Sunday it felt fine also, but on Monday morning I was feeling it. Fortunately I had a massage booked for Monday evening with Daniela, and it was feeling significantly better the next morning, but I have decided to rest it this week totally and not run, which won't do me any harm at this stage of my training I'm sure. But I'm running in the Weston Super Half on Sunday and so I need to be right for that.
Just 4 weeks to go to Manchester now and counting 😲

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Running Roundup # 9

Last week saw me doing no running whatsoever! Actually, that isn't exactly correct. The Saturday saw me running to Parkrun, helping with the C25K group, (who actually completed the full course length with a mixture of running and walking), then I ran home for a total of 10 miles. I did a quick turn around at home and then I was off to Haweswater in the Lake District for the weekend.
The Haweswater Hotel

I'd managed a couple of 6 mile walks whilst I was there, in bitterly cold weather with the occasional snow flurry here and there, and then on our final morning we awoke to about 1" (25mm to you metric people) of snow on the ground.

After breakfast we began our journey home along the narrow, snow covered, winding roads towards the main road at Shap, when driving conditions improved and the sun made an appearance.

The rest of the journey was fine although I did drive through a couple of blizzards on the M6 motorway in Staffordshire where visibility was so short I had to turn my fog lights on.

So it was back to work and normality again on Wednesday, and I did think about going out for a run, but the outside temperature was - 4°C and I don't like the cold at the best of times, and I was thinking that I would be stupid to go out running in that, particularly as I usually get a bad, chesty cough at this time of year which keeps me off work for a few days, and at the moment, I can't afford the time off work or running, so I went to the gym and I ran 5 miles on the treadmill.

I don't particularly enjoy running on treadmills, and gyms I find are a bit warm for distance running, but it was better than enduring that cold outside, and particularly as I was running I could see through the window the Lliswerry runners on the track at the stadium, and I didn't envy them at all.

The weather forecast for the next day was for significant amounts of snow beginning in the afternoon until the early hours of Friday, so the running club made the wise decision to cancel that evenings run along with the C25K session. I had to leave work by 2:30 PM as the snow was coming down quite heavily and I had a 30 mile journey home.

And so the snow came down, and my alarm woke me at 05:45 AM as usual and I got out of bed to check on the snow conditions outside, already knowing that there was no way I was going to be able to drive to work that day, and in fact there looked to be about 5" -  6" ( 125 - 150mm) of snow on the road, so I climbed back into bed and checked Facebook to see what others were experiencing.

It snowed for much of Friday and I just watched it through my window, as well as others who had decided to try driving in it but only ended up wheel spinning a lot before giving up trying.

Saturday came and following some on line chat with friends, it appeared that the main roads were now clear but side streets still had lots of snow, and so a few of us decided to walk into town and meet for coffee. The 6 mile walk on the slippery pavements wasn't easy, but I felt I needed the exercise, and walking was better than no exercise at all.

Once home again I decided to clear the path leading to my front door and it turned out that it was approximately 18" deep (450mm ish).

The big melt began on Sunday when the sun made an appearance and the temperature rose to a whopping 7°C. So my running program was now able to resume with the Tuesday evening club run.

Tuesday's club run was titled, "The Estates Run", as it does exactly that, the route takes us through many of the housing estates in the village, and this route also includes the two big hills on College Glade and Trinity View before becoming more level for the rest of the 6.7 mile route.
The Estates Run Route

After having not run properly in over a week, it felt good to get out there and stretch my legs again, and most of my other club friends were saying the same thing.

Due to last weekends snow, the Newport half marathon had to be postponed, as it just wasn't safe to run in those conditions, although a few people did go out and ran the course on that Sunday morning.

The race has been rescheduled for Sunday 18th March, but unfortunately I'm already booked to run in the Weston Super Half, so I have contacted the organisers requesting that my place be deferred to 2019.

Wednesday evening saw Jenny and I back together again for another speed session, and this week it was back to hill reps.

Just a bit hilly 

This coming Saturday morning I was going to run my first of two 20 milers, including the C25K course in that. However, at the weekend I was chatting to Roni of Lliswerry Runners who said that she thought there was a place going at the Fission 20/20 race, and she and a load of others from Lliswerry were taking part in that and did I want her to see if she could get me a place. And so as it happened, there was a place going and it was mine if I wanted it. Well running is far more enjoyable, (for me anyway), as a group and so I agreed to take the place.

My reputation for baking is well known among local runners and so I know that if I don't turn up with cake, I'll be in big trouble, especially with one Lliswerry runner particularly, (she knows who she is 😉 ), and so I'm making a Coca Cola cake, which proved to be a firm favourite at Caerleon RC last year.

Another thing I'm going to make and try are Peanut Butter Energy Balls, a recipe I found on The Running Bug web site. I will let you know how I got on with these, and the race, in next weeks Running Roundup.

And so, until next week guys and girls, keeeeep running.

P.S. Only 4 weeks until Manchester 😲

Autumn Catch Up

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