Monday, 17 February 2014

Stamford Valentine’s 30k Road Race 16th February 2014

I had entered this race prior to Christmas but had no real expectation of doing it as 30k this early in the year is always going to be a stretch. The race always sells out with it being so well placed for those wanting a test for a spring marathon. For those of us wanting simply to test our resolve at getting out of bed on a Sunday it hold slightly less appeal. However, I had told a couple of friends I would be joining them and so on that basis the die was cast.

The race conditions were almost perfect, a little over 5oC and a lightish wind, my bag of excuses was looking decidedly bear. I had done my normal week of training, including an inadvisable imbibition the previous evening. I found myself on the line, as usual, wondering why.

OK, so I was there so I may as well crack on. I quickly settled on the shoulder of a couple of runners who looked like they meant business and a couple of others dropped in on their heels. After a couple of miles it transpired they were training for a sub 3 London marathon and so were aiming to pace round at that sort of level – the first two miles were 615ish. I quickly made the decision to stick with it to the half way mark if I could then drop back to a more normal pace. I planned to try and get under 2:10 as this would be the same pace as Folksworth. 15k came and we were at 59:43, so, predictably I thought bugger it, wonder how long I can hang in for reasoning that the longer I hang in the slower I need to go to hit my goal once I let them go.

Once we got to 20k I was in IM world, I can pretty much muscle my way through 10k no matter what state I am in. Ironically, have stuck like glue to my two pacers, I ended up pacing them in for the last 5k to pull us through in just under 2hrs.

Rather irritatingly I am 50 this year so in triathlon terms I am 50-54 but in running terms your birthday is the cut off. Whilst being 31st out of 700+, I was only 8th in MV45, in three month time I would be 1st MV50, but that ain’t the rules so I was 8th.

This result has given me some confidence that this year I might be able to have a good crack at a sub 2:50 marathon in Edinburgh and qualifying for Kona is on the cards if I can work on my swim and bike. I have been working away from home a good deal during the last year but with that set to change in the second half of 2014 I might be able to start to string together a little more consistency. It’s time to commit, reckon I am in.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Folksworth 15 Road Race 19th January 2014

I completed Ironman Florida in November and enjoyed an extended break up until New Year. No cunning seasonal periodization, I just felt like doing nothing or at least nothing of any consequence. My only rule was that if the run or bike or swim moved from recreational to something feeling like training then it was time to stop and go grab a cake and coffee. I fully embraced the training regime and stretching my belt to its final notch, a notch showing no signs of wear and tear. So, all set for 2014 with a physique verging on Clydesdale proportions but at least I was well rested.

Folksworth holds no mystery for me having done it more than a dozen times. It’s a brutal 15 miles of lung bursting hills offering no place to hide, sometimes described as an ‘honest’ course. It’s always the first race I enter for the new season, a great benchmark of where my fitness is or rather isn’t. This year it was panning out to be more isn’t than is.

The start is always great fun, the first mile gently downhill, encouraging runners to race from the gun fuelled by unbridled delusion. I approached the race with my usual self talk, you are out of shape, your calf niggles, you did a big ride Saturday blah blah, positioning myself mentally in the ‘it doesn’t matter’ zone, carefully managing my own expectations.

So, BANG, we are off and I got swept along for a 6 minute first mile, twit. OK, check the legs, all good, right, keep comfortable but ‘on it’ until the wheels fall off. Mile after mile ticked by, I even hit the hills like I was doing reps, pushing up and over the top. I purposefully hadn’t started my watch (no HR to run to either, mind games) so I had to ask fellow runners from time to time what the pace was, around 645s. Lap one down and I still seemed to be in a good place so I kept at it and tried to keep my cadence high. I had secretly thought 7min miles would be a good result and had set that as a loose goal but it was looking like I would be well inside that. In the last few miles I reset my goal to be sub 645s and pushing along I slipped just inside this, averaging 637s.Very satisfied to come within touching distance of previous times, 1:39:03 29th overall, although it must be said conditions were as good as I have ever experienced.

Happy with that, now to dial back the cake and dial up the miles.