Thursday, 1 September 2011

End of summer, another birthday, and a new running campaign

Sorry that it has been a long time since my last post. Over the summer we welcomed another baby boy into the family - making 3 altogether(2 boys and one girl). Although this is a fairly short term fostering arrangement the commitment is identical to your own children and therefore time was limited to go out running.

For me another birthday is coming and next Thursday I will be 47. This will put me virtually mid point between V45 and V50 - race wise it is a difficult place to be. I've noticed lately that a lot of races don't have a V45 category and so just have V40 and V50 etc. This can be somewhat awkward when you have to compete with a 'young' just turned 40 year old.

Over the summer I have continued to train at a lower intensity, doing the occasional short road or trail race. Also cycling and walking to maintain some sort of reasonable fitness base. The last week I have stepped up the mileage to about 40 miles a week, with a long run of about 17 on Sunday.

It has helped reading the blogs from other runners and the problems they have. I don't mean that in a nasty sort of way. It's just sort of soothing to know that this is a difficult sport for everybody and therefore this stops me wasting time moaning or grumbling.

My next race maybe mid September for a 10k.


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Leeds Half and another 5k

Last Sunday(8th May) it was the Leeds Half Marathon, which i'd hastily entered, not quite realising it was sandwiched in the middle of a series of 5k events. I did the same silly thing last year and somehow forgot just how silly it was.

It was humid conditions last week which suited me well for the race. My plan was to set of steady and try to have something left for the last 4 mile section along Kirkstall Road. The course is hilly for the first 7 miles. Last year I 'overcooked' the first half and then really struggled along the final section. I planned to use this as a tempo session and a 'train through race' therefore no tapering for this one. I 'locked on' to Duncan Clarke after a few miles and managed to then overtake and gain some ground.

The Leeds Half has now turned into a large event with approximately 3500 runners taking part. The absence of 'serious' club runners helped my cause with a 25th placing and second vet45 - missing out on first v45 by 13 seconds. Setting off with the frame of mind not to race was probably the right thing to do and made fully sure I didn't suffer too much and saved at least something for the Wednesday night.

Last Wednesday nights race was the second of 3 x 5k races at Esholt. This one was not the Yorkshire Vets 5k Champs so there were some different runners to before. Calm and humid conditions were perfect. I set off steady and hoped to gain ground on Rob Gray at the 2.5k mid point. Just losing out by a few seconds at the end but dipping just under 17 minutes at 16-59, with one second between me and Rob for second v45 over the two races.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Race for fitness.

A week on the Isle of White seemed like a good idea - with a planned mix of family pursuits and training. I'd set off with the intention of an active rest and recovery break - sometimes called the family holiday! The Rothwell 10k was entered on the Bank Holiday Monday and something had to be done to stop the fitness decline. I have to admit to catching the lazy bug and only ended doing a few short morning runs. This meant that the Rothwell 10k produced a below par performance (36-41) and nowhere near the V45 prizes.

The next race was the first of a series of 3 x 5k races run on following Wednesdays from the village of Esholt, with the first one on the 4th May. Surprisingly, I felt better at the start of this race than the Rothwell one and very nearly managed a sub 17 minutes. This was helped by a hard fought tussle for the finish with Wetherby runner Rob Grey. The time was 17 minutes and this will hopefully provide a guide to any improvements of fitness after the next 2 races.

On Sunday it's the Leeds Half Marathon and I will using this to build fitness and to gain race stamina for a mid summer key race - possibly Eccup 10 mile.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Wakefield 10k

Not the ideal prep for this race; it was a preplanned meal on Saturday night at Red Hot Buffet in Leeds with a group of friends. This place has probably got the largest selection of performance inhibitors gathered in one place, but it would be silly to spoil things, avoid all the puddings and munch on salad all night. It's also been a hard week of training, the Thirsk 10 mile last Sunday and a hard speed work session Thursday night. The only good thing was the race was local and less than five miles from my house to the race start. I had my number so I didn't have to get up too early.

It's an 'out and back' course but certainly not flat. The race start is elevated and there is a short distance of downhill until it meets the main road. Some runners can get carried away with this downhill bit and then suffer later in the race. I was happy to set off steady and increase the pace later if I could. Kevin O set off fairly quick and I tried to dig in and 'claw him back'. One of my main rivals at V45 class, Duncan Clarke, was a good way in front of me in the first two miles. I did wonder if I had set off too slow. I then noticed I was gaining ground on him and overtook in the next mile. Tricky Ricky Balshaw looked to be going good and was with a group of other runners. They were just a bit too far to zero in on and I was just hoping that they would fall of the pace on the back 5K - they never did. First Lady, Helen Singleton, was shoulder to shoulder at 6k and provided a useful pace maker as my legs were hurting. Near to the finish two other runners caught up and tried to pass. I found the switch for race hell mode and gave it everything for the line. I later found out that one of the runners was Donald Kennedy from Longwood who is a V45 and I beat by one second to claim first male V45 and a time of 35-26.

Other Spen runners had a good day; Kevin O did 34-42, Gerard Skippings 37-46 and Ian Ogden(Kevs brother) 40-42.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Thirsk 10 - Maybe a lesson in pace judgement?

It was a drive up to Thirsk Sunday for the rescheduled 10 mile road race. Perfect weather conditions also provided a useful wife and kids picnic opportunity. We set off in good time and arrived in Thirsk about an hour before. A quick jog to the well organised entry desk and I was all 'numbered up' in no time.

Thirsk race course provides a perfect venue for the race - with ample car parking, toilet facilities, refreshments and off road areas for warming up. Perhaps the only thing missing would be shower facilities, which I find are most useful when you are spending time after the race shopping and sight see-ing etc.

A quarter mile jog to the start was a useful pre-race warmer. In the line up were a mix of runners, some preparing for Spring marathons, some recovering from injury and others who are just very friendly and seem to be at every race that I do. I noticed Andrew Pearson from Longwood Harriers in the line up along with Spen team mate Kevin Ogden, local runner Gary Dunn, Sarah Jarvis(Bingley), Marc Teasy(Bingley)Marc Hall(Otley), Martin Firth(Queensbury), John Broom(Barnsley), Tim Midgely(Bingley), Mike Burrett(Leeds) and Will Kerr(St Bedes).

The race started steady and even Andrew Pearson didn't bolt off. This allowed for a fair size group to form. Those that I recognized in the group were, Kevin Ogden, Gary Dunn and Marc Hall. After approximately one mile Andrew Pearson opened a gap with Mike Burrett giving chase. I was aware of Gary's injury and wasn't sure whether this was an 'ankle tester' or a serious race for him. Either way I was happy with the pace at that point. Team mate Kevin was slightly in front and we were gaining ground on him. Marc Hall was slightly in front of him and not gaining on us. The group were holding together at 5-25 mileing and I was quite surprised then how easy it felt. I think it was at about the five mile point that the group split up and I was running alongside Kevin after that. The early fast pace was now beginning to tell and after getting to the five mile point in 27-51 the legs were hurting. We then caught up and passed Tim Midgely from Bingley who tore off his number, probably after realising it was an off day and runners were passing him in droves. I think the race turn round point was about 7 miles and that's where Kevin gained the advantage and I didn't have the legs to respond. Closer to the finish Will Kerr charged passed me and I got to the finish in 57-27 - identical time to 2008. A bright T shirt, small trophy and £25 cash. Then a picnic nosh up, a walk round Thirsk town center and a drive up to Ripon. All in all a good day out.

Mile splits; 1= 5-24, 2 = 5-31, 3 = 5-34, 4 = 5-40, 5 = 5-41, 6 = 5-47, 7 = 5-50, 8 = 5-53, 9 = 5-57, 10 = 5-57.

Well done to the wheelchair athletes too.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Nort on for a PB this time.

Cool and perfect running conditions this Sunday saw a good turnout for the annual Norton 9 Mile Road Race. I like doing this one because although it's all on the road it's mainly country roads and very scenic. The only drawback is that it's only 9 mile(as apposed to 10 mile) and not usually recognized on the ranking pages. It reminds me of parts of the Ackworth Half Marathon course or the Askern 10 Mile - both good courses. I wasn't sure what time I was going to get this year. I thought I was probably slightly less fitter than last year - due to the interruptions to the winter training. I have been doing some reasonable long runs at tempo pace(8-10 miles at marathon pace) and I think this as helped my endurance , although still slightly down on the fitness scale compared to last year.

In the line up at the front was Andrew Pearson(Longwood), Pumlani Bangani(Salford), Darren Newbould(Hallamshire) Carl Ryde(Doncaster) . As expected Andrew set off quick and Carl Ryde tried to follow but soon had to ease back. That's the last I saw of those two and it was solo running for me in parts, until I was joined later by Paul Collingwood(Askern) at about 3 miles. A young chap joined us after he fell off the pace from the group in front(about 8 miles). The pace felt good for me and I thought that I would be able to maintain this pace all the way hoping that some of the others runners from the group in front would fade. I was expecting Pumlani to charge past at some stage in the race going by his other results here. This didn't happen and near to the nine mile point I surged forwards and a gap developed between me and Paul Collingwood. My tactic was to try to develop a gap to avoid a very painful sprint finish. This worked out and Paul eventually broke down and drifted backwards. I finished the race in 9th, with a respectable time of 52-18, first V45 - with an average pace of about 5-48 per mile. About a minute down on last year but I enjoyed the run and was well pleased with it.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Short fitness and training update.

I can't quite believe another month has passed since my last blog update.

On the fitness front I've not yet got into serious training. Using races as really hard tempo runs has helped maintain a reasonable level of fitness.

Dipping just under 36 minutes at the Dewsbury 10k was acceptable to me given the interruptions to training(snow and ice).

The Liversedge Half Marathon last Sunday proved tough and I needed a few days a slow running to fully recover. A time of 1-21-41 was enough to win first V45 prize there, and considering it's only just over a minute slower than my time at the Brass Monkey is a confidence boost.

I intend to try do another half marathon in March . I do consider the half marathon perfect for over distance 10k and 10 mile training, although I think you need to be actually training for a marathon to run them well and competitively. By that I mean training over distance with some long stuff(17-22 milers). There is also some flat local 10ks coming up Rothwell and Wakefield which I should be thinking about entering. So there no hint of retirement just yet!

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Brass Monkey Half Marathon.

It was ideal conditions for the race today and I was prepared to give it a go. Cancelled races and bad training weather created self doubts early on - even before race day. This was only to be a hard pushed tempo session but still as close to max as I could go without blowing up; often called threshold pace. Everybody was in the same boat with the bad training weather so I really couldn't use that as an excuse today. Runners were telling me that they were clocking 60 miles a week on treadmills and others out running on the snowy pavements in trail shoes. No bad weather, just bad excuses.

The early race pace felt good and I seemed to be averaging about 5-45 minutes per mile and still within site of a group, which included team mate Kevin O. This was very close to recent 10k pace and with hindsight was too fast too early on. I stayed with this group for approximately 3 miles. After 5 miles runners were passing me in droves and then it was a case of hanging on to the end. After 8 miles the legs were starting to hurt, my pace then slowed and more runners were overtaking, Some I recognised including Marc T who stormed on for a Vet 40 prize and PB. Will k coasted past me late on too. Fellow blogger Simon A stormed passed just on the line to pip me at the end - well done to him.

I finished in 1-20-28, well down on last year but a useful session and something to build on for the coming season.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Pennine 10k: Slow start to 2011

Seven weeks since my last race - which was the Abbey Dash. I knew I'd lost some fitness even though I was regularly going to the gym and using the treadmill. Four cancelled races wouldn't help things. I needed to do a race to get 'race fit'.

The Pennine 10k seemed ideal, fairly local and an early starter. I entered on-line so it was just a case of turning up and collecting the number. I was a bit worried because last night there was a touch of frost at home. No signs of a cancellation this time, although I joked to some of the other runners that it was cancelled and the look on their faces was quite something.

It seemed like there was not as many runners this time. I just wondered if runners were deciding not to take the risk and abstain from entering because of the unpredictable weather. No entries on the day meant that it was a fairly low turnout for this race. Among the few runners that I recognised were: Shaun Dimilow(Barnsley)Andy May(Abbey Runners), Andy Whitworth(Meltham), David Thomson(Barnsley), Keith Williams(Rotherham), Martin Firth(Queensbury)

With no serious training for quite a few weeks it was a case of easing into the race and seeing how the legs and lungs held up. Shaun set of at a steady pace with a chap from Halifax giving chase. I was happy to follow and run alongside Andy W until I found out just what pace my legs could take. I seemed to cope well with the up hills and gained the advantage over Andy W. Andy M and David Thomson ran ahead and made a small group. I quickly realised I didn't want to join them this time and decided to run my own race. It was a solo effort for me from then on with Andy W falling some way behind, although I got the feeling that he may make a late charge and catch me. I think my time was 37-28 ish, some way short of last years PB of 33-49 but it's a hilly course with a touch of headwind today.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Recovering from rest.

Adapting to rest seems hard for me. The festive period of long lie ins, large breakfasts and lack of endurance work doesn't suit me and is noticeable as I hit the pavements once again. On the way home from work on my regular 7 mile run I was having to slow down to jogging pace in places due to aching legs. The obsessive runner doesn't take to rest and the thought of other rival runners out there training is torture.

Looking forward into 2011 I will continue the successful regime of late 2010; which I would describe as 'batch training' and 'batch racing'. This consists of a full season of hard training(about 13 weeks of 60-70 miles/ week with 1 long run, 1 speed session per week), then reducing the training and doing about four to six races of 10k, 10 miles or half marathon, with a weeks rest between 10k's and two weeks between 10 miles and half marathon. I prefer to train for a season(or part to part) ie spring, summer, autumn and winter. I feel this idea will compartmentalise the training and make it appear to have a definite start and end, where a peak should be reached at the end of the season. The same idea would be to have a key race to aim for and therefore a date to aim for a peak. I personally find this difficult when doing so many races in a short time. It can reduce other options available and also be a massive disappointment if it doesn't pay off and you have no plan B. Last year I misjudged where the peak would be and managed to hold a reasonable fitness level in the 5 races of Horsforth 10k(34-40), Brid Half(1-17-17), Guy Fawkes 10 mile(59-54) Barnsley 10k(34-40) and Leeds Abbey Dash 10k(33-49). The only disappointment was the Brid Half, where I needed a rest and it it didn't feel like it(I felt good on the day), but it was still useful training for the other races.