Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Day 80 - Tuesday 31st August: LBT + Recovery Run

Class: LBT
Time: 1 hour

Run: 2.01 miles
Time: 18m43s

Away on holiday last week, busy this week & next, I thought a whole month without a gym class wasn't ideal, so I extended my hols by another half day so I could get another hour-long LBT core fitness session in. Although having decided to do this, I regretted it when I realised that I'd be doing my long (18-mile) run just yesterday afternoon. However my long hot bath last night (and the good long walk at the end of the run itself) meant my legs were decidedly ache-free this morning!

There were just the two us us doing the class again this week, and as usual Amy made some of it hard just for my benefit! The worst bit was leg raises - lie on your side one leg on top of the other, and lift the upper leg & down for eight. On the 8th, keep it up and hold, then lift it up higher from there for another eight. Sounds easy? Try it with ankle weights at the same time!

Other than that we did donkey kicks, squats, single leg lunges (they burned), and loads of different ab crunches. I made the whole hour with only a few wobbles. And when I got home instead of jumping straight in the shower, I nipped out for a gentle jog round the village for a couple of miles, for a recovery run.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Day 79 - Monday 30th August: Charney 18

Run: 18.00 miles
Time: 2h53m26s

Back home and back to normal training. Today saw my delayed weekend LSR - a distance of 18 miles. Last time I ran this route, I kept going all the way home, covering about another three-quarters of a mile. Today I stopped at 18 miles, and used the walk back through the village as my warm-down.

I tried to run this at a ten-minute-mile pace, but I still find it hard to run that slowly now. I wasn't far off though. The first half was good, with no problems to speak of. The weather was good, sunny, not too hot, with a light breeze.

The second half was harder work though, my legs were definitely tired after about ten miles, and knowing the full route was almost 19 miles was not a thrilling prospect. However once out of Southmoor, I decided that I'd do what I did when I first ran this route, and stop when I'd reached the required distance, and just walk the last section back home. This cheered me up, and spurred me on.

In fact rather than slowing to a 10+ minute mile pace (as I had started to do), I sped up considerably for the last 4 miles, and made them in ever increasing times:
9m15s - 9m13s - 8m52s & 8m10s. I think that was pretty good, to be able to run just outside an 8-minute-mile having just run 17 beforehand!

York City Walls

Running round the outside of the city walls (almost, I was inside between Bootham Bar and Lendal bridge), I stopped every minute or so on the way round to take a snapshot of the points of interest:

07.07am - Micklegate Bar

07.08am - Victoria Bar

07.09am - View of wall from Price's Lane

07.11am - Baile Hill (site of the original motte & bailey castle)

07.12am - Clifford's Tower (York's second castle)

07.13am - York Castle Museum

07.13am - Water Mill (part of museum)

07.14am - Fishergate Postern Tower

07.14am - View of wall from Paragon Street

07.15am - Fishergate Bar

07.17am - Walmgate Bar (the only one in the country with a barbican intact)

07.19am - Red Tower

07.21am - Footbridge over River Foss

07.22am - Jewbury (with Minster behind)

07.22am - Jewbury

07.25am - Monkgate Bar

07.25am - Advert for Bile Beans (popular from about 1900)

07.26am - View of Minster from Lord Mayor's Walk

07.29am - Clifton Bootham (I'm now inside the walls)

07.30am - Bootham Bar

07.31am - York Minster

07.31am - Lendal Bridge (I'm outside the walls again)

07.35am - River Ouse (as seen from railway bridge)

07.37am - Cedar Court Grand (once LNER headquarters)

07.39am - Old Station entrance - before the new station was built in 1877
(on Queen Victoria's only visit to York, she never left the station)

07.40am - Micklegate Bar
(One complete circuit of the walls in just over half an hour)

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Day 78 - Sunday 29th August: Without the city walls

Run: 3.81 miles
Time: 38m56s

The city centre of York isn't that big. Having seen most of the walls over the last few days, I decided to run round them for my last holiday run.

A gentle jog today, not too far as I've planned my LSR for tomorrow's bank holiday. I made it even slower this morning, by stopping several times en route to take pictures of the bars and other interesting sights on my way around.

The stop start nature of the run felt uncomfortable, but it's not a serious one, and when I get home I can upload
a pictorial record of my run without the walls.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Day 77 - Saturday 28th August: Rest

Last day off today before I get back into a more regular training regime again from tomorrow.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Day 76 - Friday 27th August: Cool riverside run

Run: 5.84 miles
Time: 54m25s

I dragged myself out of bed early again today. The plan, run alongside the river Ouse for 3 miles, double back to the B&B. The reality, 4 miles by the riverbank, head into the city, and run round some more of the walls...

Although I would normally have run about 8 miles on my training plan, there wasn't really time for that, and besides - I am still on holiday, so settled for a little under 6 today!

Day 75 - Thursday 26th August: Rest

Another day off running, as I enjoyed a day sight-seeing with my daughter. One of the highlights was The Ghost Hunt of York!

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Day 74 - Wednesday 25th August: Early morning run

Run: 5.13 miles
Time: 45m52s

Having missed out on a run yesterday, I'm itching to get out for one today. I awake about half six, and can't get back to sleep. So it's on with my running shoes and out of the door for a fairly brisk morning jog.

I don't know where I'm going, but run towards the Minster, and run round in circles round the city walls and back, reaching the B&B by 7.45am. I am quite pleased with myself! What a great start to the day, eh?

Day 73 - Tuesday 24th August: Rest

An unexpected day off today. Spent half the day trying to find a B&B to stay in for a few days away. The internet let me down, so had to resort to the old-fashioned "ring the city tourist office, and let them find somewhere for us". This meant staying in to await them to call back. Twice. 2 hours later and we're quickly packing for the 4 hour drive to York... I don't forget to pack my running shoes!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Day 72 - Monday 23rd August: Mile swim

Swim: 1650 metres (1.025 miles)
Time: 1 hour

For a change today - I went to the Wantage swimming pool for a lunchtime swim. And once again, I found I'd forgotten my goggles... However I bought a new pair from reception, and headed back to the pool. Not a great start, but now I have a spare - so I'm less likely to forget them again.

I set off in the "fast" lane, and managed 8 lengths, but decided since it was pretty congested, I'd try the "slow" lane instead. However although the slow lane wasn't quite as busy, it was very much slower, so I'd actually be more in the way trying to overtake everyone than I would be keeping to one side in the fast lane and letting the speedy swimmers past me. The fast lane was wider too.

So back in the fast lane, and I keep plodding on. Length after length. 20. 30. 40... After 50 lengths everyone else's lunch must be over, as I'm in the lane alone. And then the lifeguard removes the rope, so there is no lane any more. Uh-oh, does that mean I won't be able to get my mile in today either? No, I'm ok - there may be no lanes now, but there are no classes or anything either. A couple of times I have to avoid another swimmer who's using the width of the pool, but they don't really get in my way.

I reach 60 lengths in under an hour, and speed up a bit for the last few lengths, trying a bit of a "sprint" for the last two, but it's a long time since breakfast, and I don't really have the energy to do them too fast... but I do make it to 66 lengths (stopping at 64 is short of a mile), in just a fraction over an hour.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Day 71 - Sunday 22nd August: Hatford 4

Run: 4.03 miles
Time: 36 minutes 06 seconds

A gentle recovery out & back jog this evening, which turned into a bit of a speedy one. Mile 1, taking it easy on the footpath to Hatford. I sped up a little up Sandy Lane until I reached 2 miles, then turned round and headed home. Taking advantage of the downhill gradient, I upped my pace a little to begin mile 3, but my legs said they wanted more, so I sped up again and kept it up through mile 4.

This set me up for a comfortable negative split: out 19½ minutes - return 16½ minutes.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Day 70 - Saturday 21st August: Southmoor 16

Run: 16.10 miles
Time: 2 hours 42 minutes 11 seconds

After a rather late night (read early morning) at a friend's housewarming barbecue yesterday, I put off today's LSR as long as possible. The weather forecast for today has promised heavy rain showers, so I'm not relishing the prospect of being out on the road for 2½+ hours, as no doubt I'll get soaked too. Oh well, the trials of training for a marathon. I'm sure I'll be fine.

I head off towards Park Lane, keeping my speed down to 10-minute-miles, making sure I'm not tempted to run a bit faster like I did last week. You're supposed to do these long runs
slower than race pace, but I find it difficult to run much slower. Mind you since I didn't get a full night's sleep, it's not difficult to run a bit slower than normal today.

As I run towards Denchworth, I notice that the sky over to my left looks pretty grim & grey. Where I am it's blue with patches of cloud, but otherwise warm & sunny. There's a strong breeze to help keep my cool, but no immediate sign of the threatened downpour. I reach 4 miles, a quarter done already. I'm feeling good, but there's still a long way to go.

On the way to Hanney I take my first of two gels to keep me going. I'm juggling my drinks bottles, decanting the one that was half & half Lucozade Sport into the larger one with just Lucozade in it, so I can ditch the empty in the bin by the bus stop, along with my empty gel wrapper. I'm not paying attention to my feet and hit a pothole. Oops. Luckily I bend my ankle easily, and no harm is done. Perhaps all the gym classes I've been doing this year have paid off, and my feet are stronger and more flexible as a result? I should be more careful though.

Northward bound now, and Winter Lane usually lives up to its name, but not today. The wind which has picked up is behind me. Phew, I was dreading a headwind along this 3-mile section to Southmoor. It's a bit of a plod this bit, although passing the halfway point is pleasing. But I don't get complacent. It'll still be an hour & twenty minutes until I'm back in Stanford.

Still, I reach Southmoor, and I'm feeling quite good. Not great, but touch wood, today's run seems to be going ok. I certainly don't feel I've got any excess energy to pick up the speed, not that I want to. No matter, I just need to keep up this steady gentle pace. I reach ten miles and start planning my second gel. Maybe I'll leave it until I approach the straight North of Charney. There'd be abut 4½ miles to go then. However it's not long on this mile, and I feel myself flagging a bit, so opt for my gel straight away as a much needed pick me up.

Charney Bassett is in sight, but it feels like I'm running through treacle. Well, ok not as bad as that, but it does suddenly feel quite tough, and instead of feeling good knowing I've reached the three-quarters point, it feels like the next 40 minutes are going to be long ones. Mind you, there's still no sign of the soaking that I was expecting. Maybe I'll make it back in the dry after all?

Blip. Nearing the woods between Charney & Gainfield, and my Garmin tells me there are just 3 miles left, having completed 13. A bit further down the road and I notice the Half Marathon distance clock up. In about 2h13m. Part of me wants to quicken up at this point, there's not far to go now. That'll be my brain then. My legs, however, say no way. At Gainfield I start to feel a bit better, as there's less than 2 miles left now. And on the downhill, I do speed up here.

Back at Stanford, and I speed up again, I find some energy reserve that didn't appear to be there half an hour earlier, but I make the most of it, and run back home in order to get a huge pile of brown pasta on the go, with some mixed veg, a chopped chilli and pesto sauce. And five whirlpool poached eggs. I think I've earned a big dinner today, plenty of protein & complex carbs to help repair my overworked muscles...

Friday, 20 August 2010

Day 69 - Friday 20th August: Rest

I was planning a quick 20 minute jog today, but stresses at work kept me back later than planned. In the pub already, now on holiday for a week, so hope to get some training in!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Day 68 - Thursday 19th August: White Horse Hill

Run: 8.61 miles
Time: 1 hour 16 minutes 55 seconds

Today I had the morning off work, so I could plan a different route for my scheduled 8-miler. The beginner's training plan calls for a comfortable 75 minutes, but since I'm now above the level of "beginner marathoner", I'm upping some of the runs by either adding 5%-10% to the distance, or upping the intensity. Not by too much, as I don't want to risk injury by over-training, but hopefully by enough to make my training regime challenging enough to help me get a PB in Inverness.

Initially I was thinking of running through Hatford, along Sandy Lane, as this is supposed to be a bit hillier than my usual Gainfield - Charney loop. However I have to fetch a parcel from the Faringdon sorting office. I could start my run there instead, so I fire up Map Your Passion on the realbuzz website and start planning the route.

How about run towards Clanfield, turn left through Kelmscott to Lechlade.... nope, hold on. That's too far. Start again. Faringdon - towards Lechlade, turn left after Eaton Hastings (where I'd just have to sing the wrong words to a Jam song), cut across to Great Coxwell and back to Faringdon. The distance is about right, but hold on - the A417 is a pretty busy road. How safe is that to run on a weekday? Maybe I should leave that for a quiet Sunday morning.

Then it comes to me. I can park in Fernham, run to Uffington, up White Horse Hill, and back again. No, that's no good either, it's getting on for 10 miles. A bit too far. So I opt for Baulking instead, about 8½ miles, just about right. It'll still be less than 80 minutes - but I get a great workout by running up the road to
White Horse Hill and down again!

I want to get some hills in to my training, as I've checked the elevation profile for Loch Ness. Initially it hadn't looked too much harder than Edinburgh, or even London. But then I spotted the scale for the profile is about 5 times larger. Where there was a 30 foot hill in Edinburgh, there's a 150 foot hill to look forward to this time. So what better way to prepare than attempt my local hill which has an elevation gain of about 450 feet?

I park up (by the Church), set my Garmin (which starts suspiciously quickly), check the weather (fine, if a little breezy, but no sign of rain), and set off. I make the first half mile well under 4 minutes, and it annoys me that this means I set off too soon (before my Garmin had properly located me), because I know full well I'm not running under 8-minute miles. Ah well, too late now.

I can see White Horse Hill over on the left of the horizon. It doesn't look too big. On the way out of Uffington, however, it looms up in front of me and looks
huge. Luckily I'm on the upward incline already, and the overhanging trees obscure it from view, so all I can do is worry about the hill my feet are on, not the big green monster up ahead. When I reach the crossroads, and the hill is there in front of me, it's now so close it no longer looks so threatening.

I steady my pace as I head ever upward, speeding down my breathing to two-in two-out (instead of three-in three-out that I normally stick to). My legs are complaining. My mind is telling me I'm mad to attempt to run up this hill without being properly used to this kind of incline. Naturally I slow down, but I'm still running, not quite plodding, and certainly not giving up and walking. I'm chuffed to see I've done the last mile in 10:14 - in spite of how much height I've gained.

As I pass Dragon Hill, I can feel the worst is over, there's a slight breather which feels great, but there's still a way to go. Up round the corner and the Horse itself is just obscured from view up on my left; I gaze out over the Valley to my right, wishing I could pause to enjoy the fantastic view you get from up here. But I'm not here to sight-see today, I'm here to work. To stretch my muscles and stress my heart. And anyway, the Hill is beaten. It's all downhill from here.

Click to enlarge

I take it easy along the top road, catching my breath, and preparing myself for another 5 miles back to the car. Then it's downhill, and this is harder in some ways than the uphill. Going up is perversely easy, because you just put one foot in front of the other and work hard to get up. Down means having to watch your footing, check your speed, worry about loose gravel or rough road, as it would be all too easy to slip and fall. The last thing I need at this stage is a sprained ankle!

Down into Woolstone (16% downward slope according to the road-sign - in an 8:14 mile), and the road flattens. This feels like hard work now even though I'm still going downhill, but this is probably because I'm still running so fast. Into Uffington and my average is coming down towards 9-minutes per mile for the whole run. The next couple of miles and I'm still running under 9 minutes, and my average is still dropping.

I pause briefly having passed under the railway line, I hear a train and the wind disguises its sound. I turn to look, but it's just an Intercity 125 (common as anything along the Swindon - Didcot line). I turn back to the road ahead, and kick up a fraction, knowing there's only a couple of miles to go.

Past Uffington Station and the end is near. I rejoin the road from Uffington to Baulking, and I can't help but increase my pace again, risking blowing out before I finish the last half mile back to the car. I check myself, and steady my pace a bit, and I get back to the car in under 77 minutes, which is rewardingly faster than I thought I'd make such a hilly run when I set out!

This is a great run, and I'm sure I'll be including the 3,000 year old iconic landmark in my routes again.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Day 67 - Wednesday 18th August: Rest

Another complete day off all exercise today.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Day 66 - Tuesday 17th August: Gym class + Stanford 5

Gym class
LBT: 60 minutes

Did the hour-long LBT session at the gym this morning, to make the best use of my time off this week. Just the two of us doing the class, and the instructor really made it count since I was there (she likes to see me in pain). I survived though, and even the "killer" stability ball exercise was easy (but don't tell Amy!)

Run: 5.09 miles
Time: 44 minutes 56 seconds

A steady 45 minute run this evening with splits of 9:12 (warm-up), 8:59, 8:39, 8:18 & 8:55 (warm-down). I set off to do a couple of "outer" laps of the village in about 40 minutes, and ended up doing three and a bit laps in 45, with a good steady run speeding up on each lap, until the last where I took it easy to wind down to finish...

Monday, 16 August 2010

Day 65 - Monday 16th August: Long swim

Distance: 1550 metres
Time: 55 minutes

I got to the pool earlier than usual, to give me plenty of time for today's swim. En route I realised I'd just about have time to swim a mile (64½ lengths), and wish I'd set off five minutes earlier. I set off at a comfortable pace, in a rather narrow "fast" lane, since a third of the pool was roped off for a lifeguard lesson. There were about three others swimming in the fast lane, one of whom was quite speedy indeed.

I did my best to keep going, only pausing briefly every two lengths, turning and kicking straight off the wall in between. After a while all the others got out, leaving me alone to complete the last 20 or so lengths alone. When I reached 50 lengths, the lifeguard told me to change lanes, as the training session had ended and they were removing the lane I was in. His timing wasn't great as I was just about to kick off for my 51st length.

With less than 15 minutes to go, it would be close to get another 14+ lengths in, but I kept going, hoping to make it. I know I can usually do the last couple a bit faster, but in the end, it wasn't to be. I'd set off on my 61st trip up the pool, and the ladies waiting for their aquaerobics class started to get things ready, and invaded the fast lane. On the return length I could barely get through... which was a bit annoying as there were still a few minutes to go until the clock said it was 8. I sprinted the last half and got out. Just 2½ lengths off swimming a mile. Oh well. Next time...

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Day 64 - Sunday 15th August: Hanney 15

Run: 15.01 miles
Time: 2 hours 26 minutes 46 seconds

This weekend sees the beginning of the end of my training. The first of the "big five" training runs: 15, 16, 18, 20 & 22 miles. Then a couple of shorter ones during the taper zone before I attempt another 26.2 miles in October.

Today's run began well, I was trying to convince myself to keep my pace down to about 10-minute miles so I could easily cover the distance, but by mile 3 I was feeling really good, and had naturally sped up a bit. Southmoor came & went and I was still feeling good. The wind was behind me on the southerly road to Hanney, by which time I was feeling a bit tired, but still pretty good. It was only on the road out that the run seemed to get harder, but I told myself there's "only 5 miles" to go.

I kept up a reasonable pace, just dipping over the 10-minute miles, but I was getting low on water, and at one point my legs really did feel like they didn't have the energy to run all the way back home, in spite of having taken two lucozade gels on the way round to keep me going (at miles 5 & 10). So I dug deep and kept going, and even managed to convince myself to speed up a bit, on the reasoning that the sooner I got back, the sooner I could have a long cold drink and a post-run strawberry flapjack.

That seemed to do the trick, and I made my fastest mile at the end of the run, which was doubly good considering how tired and mentally run down I was feeling by then. I think the problem is that I haven't got back into the habit of eating lots of pasta yet, which is what I've always done before by this stage in my training. I shall remedy that over the coming weeks as I enter the toughest stage of my preparation for Loch Ness.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Day 63 - Saturday 14th August: Stanford outer lap

Run: 2.07 miles
Time: 19 minutes 47 seconds

Just a gentle evening jog to bring my mileage total since the Edinburgh Marathon to 222.22 miles. My total for August is already over 58 miles. I was going to do my long run today, but given the hit & miss nature of the weather again, I've opted for the promise of better conditions tomorrow. I felt I couldn't have a complete rest day, so took it very easy to run round to Mum & Dad's, pause my Garmin, and then jog home again later.

To check out my runs in more detail, click on the "View Details" link at the bottom of the map object above. This takes you to the run on the Garmin Connect website. You can then change to the "Player" tab (instead of the Details tab), and then you have video-like controls to "play" the run so you can see where I went.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Day 62 - Friday 13th August: Treadmill

Distance: 4.11 miles (6.62km)
Time: 40 minutes

I couldn't decide whether to run indoors or out today. There were heavy rain showers off and on. I was tired & feeling unmotivated having been to a friend's wedding yesterday (and perhaps having indulged in one or two glasses of wine too many, oops).

Since I was lacking in the get up & go, and didn't relish getting soaked too, I decided to let the gym do the running for me, all I had to do was stay in one place and keep up.

I chose the Faringdon gym for a change, to re-familiarise myself with the equipment there, as I'd quite like to do the "10k Gym challenge" there soon.

Very surprisingly for a treadmill run (especially one of 40 minutes), it wasn't mind numbingly tedious. Or maybe it was and it was my run-down mood that meant I failed to notice?

Anyway, I took it pretty easy, and covered a reasonable distance on a hilly profile (flat / 2 / flat / 4 / flat / 6 / flat / 6 / flat), running about 10-11 km/h.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Day 60 - Wednesday 11th August: new LBT class

Gym class
LBT: 45 minutes

Since the beginning of August there's a new timetable for the gym classes. Out goes Stability Ball. Out goes Body Burn 50/50. LBT is extended to 45 minutes, and brought forward to 6.15pm. All to make way for a new Body Pump class, which sounds a bit too intense for me. So now I'm down from 4 classes on a Wednesday evening to 1, if that. Getting to the 6.16pm class is a bit of a pain, as it means I have to leave work during the busy rush-hour period and travelling to Wantage & getting changed in under half an hour is a bit of a squeeze. And because the class finishes at 7pm, I'm not hanging about for over 1½ hours to go to Yogalates too. I'm not a happy gym bunny.

I may try Body Combat just to see what it's really like, but the classes I go to have been chosen to improve my core, invaluable as a runner. Body Pump strikes me as a bit too much cardio and not enough core fitness. I could try aquacise instead? That might be more suitable - doing a zero impact class.

So, the new LBT is actually quite good, but seems I'll have to book ahead if I want to go again. There were six of us, plus the instructor, and that's the maximum the tiny room will hold. It was still a bit of a squeeze as it was. Amy did her best to break me, as usual, and, as usual, was happy when she did. I failed on one of the squats, as I couldn't get straight up & down into the next one, having just held the squat for a count of eight. I do like the new class - the extra 15 minutes means we have time to really get a good workout - normally the half hour flies by, especially with the warm up and stretch down time.

We did loads of ab crunches too. 8 normal ones (knees bent, feet on floor). Then one foot crossed over the other knee - 8 twisting up to meet the opposite knee. Swap legs. Three repeats of 8 each, and a fourth repeat of 4 each.
Next 8 normal, 8 with knees bent at 90ยบ, 8 with legs straight up. These were hard. I had to rest my feet back down on the floor instead. Three repeats of each type. Then lastly lower abs with legs out straight on the floor, toes pointed. 8 of these then 8 lifting one leg up and down. 8 with the other leg. Another 3 repeats of each. She worked us hard!

Overall a good class, but a shame I don't get the 2¾ hour workout I used to on a Wednesday.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Day 59 - Tuesday 10th August: Stanford 8 laps

Run: 8.44 miles
Time: 1 hours 5 minutes 20 seconds

Another speedy run this evening. The plan was a "brisk 60 minutes". Having run 7.62 miles in an hour last week, I thought I'd go for it again, but this time carry on for 8 laps (of the slightly shorter variety - just over a mile each). If I matched last Thursday's pace, I could run 8 miles in about 63 minutes.

A slight spanner in the works - it rained today. All day. The thought of going for a fast run in the rain was not appealing. Luckily it had stopped and was quickly clearing up by about 6pm and by the time I got home it had brightened up a lot, so I got changed, and set off with my sunglasses into the evening sun. The pavement was a bit slippy when I set off, so I took it carefully to begin with, but was soon running at a comfortable sub 8-minute-mile pace.

I'd set off counterclockwise again (despite thinking I'd change direction this week), so was putting in the fast sections in the same places as before - but not quite as distinct as last time. I kept my overall pace faster, and the "sprint" sections not quite as fast as last time. This was a deliberate choice to make sure I could keep up this "10k" pace for the full 8+ miles. I didn't want to burn out on the sprints, or worse - risk an injury by slipping on the wet pavement if I was going too fast.

By the end of mile 4, my average times have drifted from 7m45s a mile down to 7m48s. Can I do a negative split to get the average back down? Or will the second half prove tougher? As long as I can keep it under 8 minutes a mile I'll be happy. Once mile 5 is finished, however, I can feel I've got enough in me to keep pushing through miles 6, 7 & 8 to beat my 63 minute target.

The sun is low in the sky, and I ditch my shades as I pass my car, now I don't need them to blot out the glare as I run directly into the light. I up my pace, just a bit, I still have three miles to do, and I know I'm tiring. I don't want to blow up too soon, but I do want to run as fast as I comfortably can.

Mile 6 is good, mile 7 whizzes by in a blur and then I'm still going for it - I'm on my last mile.
I reach 7.73 miles in an hour; 8 miles in under 62 minutes; and the full 8 laps in 65 minutes.
According to the
Lucozade Sport website, this kind of pace could mean a Half Marathon in 1h44m and (get this!) a Full Marathon in 3h37m

Monday, 9 August 2010

Day 58 - Monday 9th August: Short swim

Swim: 400 metres
Time: 15 minutes

I managed to forget my goggles this evening, so even though I remembered my new "Zoggs" nose clip (which I hope will be more snugly fitting than my old "Speedo" one), I was not properly prepared for my swim. Oh well, I was there - I'd just have to see how I got on. The first few lengths were ok, and if anything I was swimming faster as I didn't like having my face under water. However after ten lengths I could tell I was struggling.

I switched from crawl to breaststroke to save my eyes, but I'm rubbish at breaststroke, so tried alternating 1 length of each, and after three of each was still really struggling with my eyes. Not so much the stinging (the chlorine wasn't that strong), but with my breathing. I don't know why not being able to see comfortably made breathing less comfortable too?

So I gave up after 16 lengths, got showered and dressed, and when I got in my car I noticed how red and bloodshot my eyes had become in just 15 minutes. I suspect if I'd persevered to my usual 40 lengths, that I'd have been in danger of not being able to see to drive home safely!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Day 57 - Sunday 8th August: Hanney 12 + 2

Run: 14.06 miles
Time: 2 hours 17 minutes 00 seconds

I left my weekend long slow run until this evening, and set off towards Hanney planning to run 12 miles (6 miles there and back), followed by a couple of miles running around Stanford when I got back. I chose this instead of picking a 14 mile route, as I knew dusk would be approaching after a couple of hours, and I didn't want to still be out on the road when the light started to go, so I needed to be back on the safety of the village pavements. Well it seemed like a good plan at the time...

Everything went well for the first 6 or 7 miles, I was averaging about 9m40s per mile, perhaps a bit faster than planned, but still feeling good. Once I'd passed the half way point, the wind against me picked up, which only served to make the second half feel a lot tougher, as now I was mostly running due west, so hit the wind on each exposed section of road. I also had to contend with the odd psychological barrier I'd set myself, knowing that on a normal run - at 7 miles I'd have just 5 to go. But today I know I need to run 2 more before I get home, which may not seem like much, but since I hadn't planned exactly where I was going to run these extra couple of miles, it made it harder work than otherwise it would have been if I was still out on the road.

When I got back to Stanford, I turned right, and it felt wrong. I felt tired and could quite easily have called it a day and headed straight home, in about half a mile, but I kept going. And going. And going. I ran all round the village to make sure I chalked up the necessary distance, and even put enough dogged determination into the end of it to clock my fastest mile of the run (after having not long run the two slowest miles too). Overall a hard run, but a good one all the same.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Day 56 - Saturday 7th August: hatford half hour

Run: 3.14 miles
Time: 29 minutes 46 seconds

A gentle 5k loop to loosen my legs up after the speedwork I've done this week.

Followed by the daily 100 sit-ups, bringing my total to 860 in 12 days.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Day 55 - Friday 6th August: Dry Tri

"Dry tri" gym challenge
2k row: 8m 03s
5k bike: 9m 11s
3k run: 14m 56s

I couldn't decide what to do today. Originally it was supposed to be a day off ending with a curry - but that fell through. So what exercise should I do instead? First I was going to cycle to work and back. Then I thought I'd drive to work, and run home the long way (14 miles), and then cycle back to fetch my car. However after yesterday's super speedy run, I didn't feel quite up to so much exercise, so opted for a quick gym challenge instead.

The first time I did this 10k, I managed it in 33 minutes 43 seconds. Then a couple of weeks later I went back and did it again. I rowed faster, ran faster, but cycled slower, so my time was 34 minutes 33 seconds. Today, however, I went for it! I rowed 3 seconds outside my previous best, but cycled over a minute faster than last time, and then ran almost a minute quicker too! So on my 3rd attempt, I've set a PB for this 10k of 32 minutes 10 seconds.

To top it off, I did another 100 sit-ups for the #absofsteel challenge.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Day 54 - Thursday 5th August: Stanford - 7 laps

Run: 7.62 miles
Time: 59 minutes 59 seconds

This evening's plan was a brisk 60 minutes, so I decided to run 6 laps of the 1.1 mile circuit round the village, thinking at about 9 minutes a lap I could add an extra 5-minute loop at the end to clock up the hour. To make sure I did brisk laps I thought I'd run a couple of sections a bit faster than the rest - the first up the short stretch of "hill" up Glebe Road, and then a longer section from the turning of Joyces Road down along the A417 past the Horse & Jockey to the High Street. I took the first lap "steady" and was pleased to run the first mile in 8:08, so tried to up the pace, with the faster sections on the next lap onwards.

Could I make all 6 laps at an 8-minute pace? At this rate I can also easily run another half lap and cut through the new estate to get back home in the hour and that would be over 7 miles. As each lap passed I expected to need to slow down - having only run this kind of pace over 5 miles before. Or I'd have to stop when crossing a side road to give way to a car coming in or out, and this would throw my pace right off, but luckily the only car I saw, saw me in good time and stopped to wave me on, so I barely missed a beat.

Things just got better and on the "last" lap, number 6, I worked out if I cut through the footpath and up Church Path, then I should just about be able to make most of a 7th lap too, so I went for it. The 7th lap was hard to start with, I could feel I was flagging. The sprint up the short hill knocked me for a bit, I could feel myself wobbling as I was running further than planned (and faster), but I ignored my inner doubt, and just told myself to get on with it, it wasn't far to go. Keep it up and I'd make 7½ miles in an hour. So I kept up a good pace to finish, and managed another sprint up Church Path, less than 30 seconds to go to get home... and I made it all the way back home, with 1 second to spare, even avoiding being run over by my brother-in-law.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Day 53 - Wednesday 4th August: Rest

Another day off all exercise today, and instead will be enjoying Toy Story 3 instead. Back to it tomorrow...

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Day 52 - Tuesday 3rd August: Steventon Hill

Run: 3.71 miles
Time: 34 minutes 10 seconds

Tried out a new route today - out of Milton Park, along the railway line into Steventon, up a steep hill, down a fast road (luckily with a pavement along it) and across the busy A34 dual carriageway roundabout (pausing at the lights). This makes a refreshing change from the Milton village route, which is pretty much flat all the way around. I like this new route, and will definitely be going for it again.

Then when I got home, I did another 100 sit-ups as part of a 4-week "abs of steel" challenge that was laid down by a friend on Twitter.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Day 51 - Monday 2nd August: Swim

Swim: 1000 metres
Time: ~35 minutes

Another 40 lengths in the pool this evening, and I did it in under 35 minutes because for the most part I only stopped every other length. After a few lengths I felt I didn't actually need a breather, and was only stopping out of force of habit, so for the remaining half hour I swam up the pool and back down again straight away. If only I knew how to turn - I'd be even better at it...!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Day 50 - Sunday 1st August: Stanford in the Vale Half Marathon

Run: 13.18 miles
Time: 1 hour 59 minutes 07 seconds

Today's training run called for 13 miles, so I did a half marathon distance, knocking off about 3 minutes for this route. I wanted to do it in about 2 hours, and made it fairly comfortably.

So far then, in 50 days of training I have spent 51 hours doing the following:
Run 27 times
162.82 miles
Cycle 7 times 91.21 miles
Swim 6 times 4900 metres
Row 2 times 4000 metres
Squash 1 time 5 games 1 hour
and been to 21 classes at the gym

There are 63 days to go until the Loch
Ness Marathon, which will mean another couple of hundred miles before the big day.

Running 13.1 miles in memory of Carl

I ran the Silverstone Half Marathon on 15th March 2009. I managed the 13.1 mile course in 2 hours and 4 minutes. Not a bad effort for my first Half Marathon! I returned in 2010 to run it in 1 hour 54 minutes, and plan to do it again in 2011. I decided to run this in aid of The PSC Trust and PSC Support in memory of my brother Carl, who died from liver failure in November 1997. If you'd like to sponsor me for this - please email me at pscrun@ulen.me.uk PSC Trust
PSC Support Or visit my Justgiving page for PSC Support at PSC Support - Justgiving
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