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Monster Hunting

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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  MartinD on Tue Sep 20, 2011 2:37 pm

The plan going into my holiday was to try to do my last long run before the marathon on one of the days before I went back to work on Wednesday 21st - ended up getting this run in this morning. I wasn't sure how I would be feeling after flying back from the US on Sunday night into Monday morning (got about 90 minutes of sleep on the plane, so was pretty tired (unsurprisingly!) when I went to bed yesterday), so headed out for the run with no fixed route in my head and the thought that it would be a good idea to make sure that I gave myself some options for the distance that I was going to run.

After the first few miles, it felt like I might be needing to use one of those options to cut the run a bit short - while I was getting through the distance, the legs just didn't feel very good. Things did improve as the run went on, though - managed to settle into a better rhythm in time, and ended up feeling a lot better in the second half of the run.

The aim for today was simply to get a decent long run in, with pace not really being of much importance - to emphasise this, I used the 'race screen' on my Garmin (have set it up so that one screen displays only heart rate and distance - tend to use this in races so that I don't start to get too involved in the numbers as I'm running). It was a bit of a surprise when I checked on the time near the end of the run to see that I was running at a sub-8.00/mile pace - honestly thought that I had been ticking over more in the 8.20-8.30 range. On looking at the splits afterwards, every mile from 6 onwards was done in 8 minutes or less, which was a bit of a shock - didn't feel like things were going that well. (The run ended up being just over 16 miles in 2:07.46.)

As I've had an interrupted training cycle because of injury, I'm making things up as I go along a bit at the moment - think that I've got to the point where I should be going into taper now (a bit closer to race day than normal, because I haven't been putting in anything like as much mileage as I would ideally like to in preparation for a marathon), but haven't really thought much about what I want to do! I think that I'll probably do one more long run, though (which will probably be a run home from work next Monday - in the 10-12 mile range).
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  MartinD on Sat Sep 24, 2011 6:53 pm

A few runs to catch up on, starting with the running club training session on Wednesday - while I could have played it safe and gone with an easy 5 miles (the club has a decent-sized group running in Berlin on Sunday), I remembered the advice to cut distance but maintain intensity during taper and went with something a bit more challenging. This ended up being a hill repeats session - 9 times round a half-mile loop starting with a pretty steep little climb for 200 yards or so, then a recovery jog round the rest of the loop. It was probably a bit of a risk doing something like this, as I don't do much in the way of hill training, but it went reasonably well (although I did feel a few aches and pains afterwards). Add in a couple of miles of warm-up and a mile to cool down, and I ended up with just over 8 miles of running - pretty much what I was looking for out of the day.

Those aches and pains eased off by Thursday morning for the most part, but there was a bit of residual tightness in my left calf - have worked on this (stretching, massage and foam roller), and it has eased off quite a lot.

Friday's run was an easy 4 miles - was intending to do this at recovery pace (around 9.00/mile), but this was one of those runs where everything just ticked over very nicely. The end result was an average pace of just inside 8.30/mile, but the effort felt right for a recovery run.

The good vibes carried into today's run - the plan going out was to do 8 miles at a reasonable pace (which I was thinking would be in the 8.00/mile range, or possibly a few seconds inside that), but I got into a really nice rhythm right from the start of the run. I had my Garmin set up to show only heart rate and distance (something I've been doing quite a bit on the longer runs - have found it useful to have only the heart rate and how I'm feeling to work with, as I find it very easy to get too analytical if I have too many numbers to play with...), so was just seeing that I was getting through the 8 miles at a reasonable heart rate (working up from low 140s early on into the mid 150s through the middle of the run, and up near 160 towards the end - pretty much what I'm looking for on this type of run). When I paid a bit more attention to how I was running, though, it was a different story, as I felt like I was turning the legs over pretty quickly, and stretching out just a little bit on each stride. The data on the Garmin backed this up - ended up doing the 8 miles in a few seconds over an hour, with most of the mile splits in the 7.30 to 7.45 range (and the little matter of a 6.46 on the last mile - about half of that mile is downhill, yes, but it didn't feel like I was going that fast!)

My total for the week ended up being a little over 39 miles, which doesn't sound too bad for the first week of a two-week taper until I checked back and noticed that it's the highest mileage that I've achieved in a week since the middle of June... I will be cutting back on mileage next week, honest! Laughing (The plan is to do a 'long' run on Monday, but that's only going to be in the 10-12 range (which works nicely for a run home from work), take the bike to work on Tuesday (making sure to keep it nice and easy for a recovery day) and a relatively easy run with a bit of faster stuff (some strides, or a couple of miles at MP) on Wednesday. I have physio on Thursday, so will probably take it relatively easy on Thursday and Friday. I'm travelling up to Inverness on Saturday, but will probably try to get the legs ticking over for a few miles in the morning before I go for the train.)
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  MartinD on Mon Sep 26, 2011 5:00 pm

Today's run was the last long run before the marathon on Sunday, and it went pretty smoothly - felt very comfortable throughout, to the point where I was having to tell myself to take it easy. Even so, I wasn't expecting anything like the numbers I saw on my Garmin at the end - 11.10 miles in 1:26.21, for an average pace of 7.47/mile with average heart rate below 150 (at 147). OK, the route I chose (running home from work) is a couple of hundred feet downhill, and it was an ideal day for running (temperature in the low 60s, broken cloud and a little bit of breeze at my back), but I wasn't expecting to be able to maintain that sort of pace while feeling like I was just keeping the legs ticking over. (For what it's worth, my pace was pretty consistent even after I got through the downhill part of the run - every mile split was sub-8.00, and the only ones that were outside the 7.45-7.55 range had a bit of elevation change.)

This run, and the other ones I've done since getting back from holiday, give me a problem... It's a nice problem to have (being in better shape than I thought that I would be at this point, given the relatively low mileage I've been able to manage during this training cycle, and not being sure how to approach the race on Sunday), but I'm not sure if I should continue to be very conservative with my approach to the race (taking it very easy at the start, walking through the drink stops), or if I should go out at the sort of pace/effort that I was running at today, even if that means that I'll end up running at a sub-8.00 pace from the start.

An aside - I've succumbed to the temptation to have a look at the weather for the weekend. We have some unseasonably warm weather heading in on Wednesday and hanging around for a little while (in that the temperature is expected to get up into the 70s - that's a pretty warm day for July round these parts!), but the current forecast is that it'll start to cool down on Saturday, and be pretty nice for running on Sunday... It's still early, though, and there's plenty of time for that to change - will be heading up to Inverness prepared for a hot day in any case!
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  Jim Lentz on Mon Sep 26, 2011 7:07 pm

Very nice run, Martin. Good luck on Sunday.
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  MartinD on Thu Sep 29, 2011 3:53 pm

@Jim Lentz wrote:Very nice run, Martin. Good luck on Sunday.

Thanks, Jim - much appreciated Smile

The last couple of days have gone pretty well in terms of getting ready for the weekend. I took the bike to work on Tuesday (mainly because I had a meeting in another office in the afternoon, and it's a lot quicker for me to get home from that office on the bike than if I take the bus), and got lucky with the weather - a little light breeze into my face in the morning, picking up to a reasonably strong wind at my back for the journey home. This was very much a recovery day, though - made sure to keep the effort level nice and easy, to the point where it felt like I was one gear down from 'normal' most of the time.

Yesterday was surprisingly warm for the end of September - felt more like a July or August day than the sort of thing that we usually get at the start of autumn. It wasn't too bad for running once the sun went down, though - ended up going to the running club training night and doing a pretty comfortable 6 miles in the company of two other members who are taking a trip up to Inverness for the marathon at the weekend.

The warm weather of Wednesday continued into today, and is forecast to hang around tomorrow as well - the high temperature each day has been in the low 70s with relatively high humidity, which would not be much fun for running a marathon in! It is meant to cool down a bit for the weekend, though - the current forecasts are suggesting a high of around 60 for race day, with light winds and only a small chance of rain (although it is still early enough for the forecast to change...)

One bit of news affecting my plans for next spring - got my rejection letter for the London Marathon ballot today. It wasn't a surprise, to be honest - the chances of getting a place through the ballot are of the order of 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 - but it would have been nice to be able to run London again. (That said, I watched the BBC coverage of the Berlin Marathon on Sunday, and am seriously tempted to enter next year's race - the early reports from the big group of running club members who took part in the race on Sunday definitely make it sound like a race that I want to do...)
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  Kenny B. on Fri Sep 30, 2011 10:13 am

Martin wishing you the best of luck this weekend at the race!
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  MartinD on Sat Oct 01, 2011 10:44 am

@Kenny B. wrote:Martin wishing you the best of luck this weekend at the race!

Thanks Kenny - much appreciated Smile

I'm typing this from my hotel room in Inverness - have just been down to register (which also served as a bit of scouting for the last mile or so of the race - a pretty flat finish). The journey up was pretty uneventful - bus into the middle of Edinburgh, train to Inverness - although I did cut it a little bit finer than I had hoped (I went out for a short easy run to get the legs moving before leaving to get the bus this morning, and had to hurry a bit to get what I needed packed up in time!) I have all of the essential stuff for tomorrow, though, so no harm done.

The weather today can best be described as 'dreich' - lots of low grey cloud with a few bits of mist, and the sort of light rain that doesn't seem like very much but does a very quick and efficient job of soaking you completely... The forecast for tomorrow is a bit better, although it's probably going to be humid, and is looking likely that we'll get rained on at some point during the race - apart from that, it's pretty much ideal, with a reasonable amount of cloud cover and temperatures in the mid-50s.

It's just a case of taking it easy for the rest of the day, now, and trying to get a decent night's sleep to set me up for tomorrow...
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  MartinD on Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:43 am

Race done - finished in 3:16.05 (based on the Garmin - the official time might be a few seconds different), which is a lot better than I was thinking that I would do. The weather forecast was right on the money - overcast and misty before the race, some light but steady rain for the first 10 miles or so (as someone who wears glasses, this made being able to see a pretty big issue!), then clearing up as the day went on (to the point where the sun came out for the last couple of miles).

I don't have the cradle for connecting my Garmin (a 305) to the PC, so will post a race report (with a few more details) once I get home tomorrow.
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  KBFitz on Sun Oct 02, 2011 11:49 am

Well done Martin! Looks like you're back in form and were able to slay the beast handily.

cheers
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  Dave Wolfe on Sun Oct 02, 2011 12:17 pm

Great race.
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  MartinD on Mon Oct 03, 2011 11:53 am

@KBFitz wrote:Well done Martin! Looks like you're back in form and were able to slay the beast handily.

cheers
@Dave Wolfe wrote:Great race.

Thanks guys - it's much appreciated Smile

So it's now the day after the race - am feeling a bit creaky today, which doesn't come as a surprise (it was inevitable that I'd get a pretty good case of muscle soreness after the race after not being able to get as much training mileage in as I would have liked). I've started to think ahead to what I want to do next already - I realise that it's a bit early for that, but I am planning on taking it relatively easy for a week or two! I already know that I have the Edinburgh Marathon next May as a target race (and am thinking that sub-3 might be a realistic target), but know that I need to work on a few things before getting back into serious marathon training again - in particular, I do need to work on my core and upper-body strength, as this is likely to be a big help in being able to train injury-free (which has been a big problem for me in the past).

That's for the future, though - for now, it's time to rest up and recover.
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  healdgator on Mon Oct 03, 2011 2:46 pm

@MartinD wrote:Race done - finished in 3:16.05 (based on the Garmin - the official time might be a few seconds different), which is a lot better than I was thinking that I would do. The weather forecast was right on the money - overcast and misty before the race, some light but steady rain for the first 10 miles or so (as someone who wears glasses, this made being able to see a pretty big issue!), then clearing up as the day went on (to the point where the sun came out for the last couple of miles).

I don't have the cradle for connecting my Garmin (a 305) to the PC, so will post a race report (with a few more details) once I get home tomorrow.

Awesome. Congrats on what must have been a great experience.
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  MartinD on Thu Oct 06, 2011 5:08 pm

@healdgator wrote:Awesome. Congrats on what must have been a great experience.

Thanks - it was a lot of fun to be part of the race (it's something completely different to the marathons I've done before), and coming away with a time way better than I could have reasonably expected was just a bonus.


The last few days have been about getting over the fallout from Sunday - I didn't feel too bad on Monday, but Tuesday wasn't much fun (particularly the bits where I had to go down stairs!) and I ended up leaving work early on Wednesday (it was getting to the point where I either went home early or started to use my keyboard as an improvised pillow...) A decent night of sleep made a big difference, and I'm feeling a lot closer to normal today - weather permitting, I'm probably going to try to cycle to work tomorrow. (That said, I'll need to see how I'm feeling - have felt like I'm on the edge of starting a cold for more than a week now, and it wouldn't be much of a shock if that vague feeling that something isn't right turns into something a bit more serious soon.)

(If I do, I have a new toy to play with - the paperwork for the cycle scheme at work finally got through, and I picked up my new bike this evening. I ended up getting a Boardman Road Race (http://www.boardmanbikes.com/road/road_race.html) - it's nothing special compared to some of the high-end bikes out there, but I think it'll be a pretty big improvement over the Trek hybrid I've been using for the last couple of years.)

Looking ahead, I'm probably going to get out for my first run since Sunday at the weekend - will keep it short, but am looking forward to getting the legs moving again.
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  MartinD on Mon Oct 10, 2011 5:06 pm

I realise that, now that the Loch Ness Marathon is past, the season for hunting monsters is over for another year - it seems a bit of a waste to finish up this blog so quickly, though, so I'll keep posting here for a bit longer (probably until I make a start on my training for spring races - haven't finalised what I'm going to do yet (other than another try at the Edinburgh Marathon at the end of May - the most likely options are to go for another marathon earlier in the spring, or to do two or three shorter races), but it's likely that I'll be starting that training cycle towards the end of the year).

Friday's weather was pretty much as good as it gets at this time of year - nice clear skies meant that it was close to full daylight when I got on the bike to go to work at about 7.15 (which is a bonus when the sun isn't coming up until after 7.30...), and the little light breeze into my face on the way into work picked up into a pretty decent wind at my back by the time I was heading home. I did have a couple of issues with the new bike (the chain came off a couple of times when I was changing from the big ring to the small ring, the 'stock' pedals aren't particularly good, and it's going to take a little while for me to get used to the racing bars rather than the straight bar I had on my previous bike), but I like what I've seen so far - definitely feels faster and more responsive than the hybrid.

The promised 'first run since the marathon' turned up on schedule on Saturday afternoon, in conditions that were very different to Friday - it basically rained all day (although it was relatively light for the most part). While my legs were feeling a lot better than they had earlier in the week, I could still feel a bit of tightness in the calf muscles - not enough to stop me from running, but enough to make sure that I didn't push too hard. I ended up doing a fairly comfortable 4 miles - probably a little faster than intended (average pace of 7:51/mile), but it felt like the right sort of effort (just nice and smooth and comfortable).

I picked up a new pair of shoes a couple of weeks ago - too late to be able to break them in in time for the marathon on the 2nd (which was probably a bad thing - I have a feeling that the tightness in my calf muscles during and after the marathon was partly due to me using a pair of shoes that were on their way out), particularly as they're the newest version of the Adrenaline GTS (11 - my previous two pairs have been 10s). Sunday evening was an ideal opportunity to give the new shoes a try, with a recovery run on the treadmill - conditions outside would have been fine, but I was playing safe with the shoes (I would have been able to take them back to the shop after a treadmill run, but not a run outside). The run went pretty smoothly, though - just a nice easy 3 miles at a comfortable pace (11kph - while I could set the treadmill up to use imperial measures, going with metric means that the 'quick set' buttons are a lot more useful (in that the kph versions are faster than the mph - the fastest on each measure is 14kph (about 8.8mph) against 7mph)), and no problems at all with the shoes.

I was intending to cycle to work this morning, but the weather put paid to that - I don't mind most parts of cycling in the rain, but it can be a real struggle for me to see (as someone who needs to wear glasses), particularly under streetlights. The alternative was to get out for a slightly longer run in the evening - took the opportunity to use the last of the light to head out to the east (as we get later in the year, my choice of routes for an evening run becomes pretty limited if I want to stay in the areas with streetlights). I didn't feel all that good early on in the run, but there was a gradual improvement through the run to the point where each stride felt very smooth over the last couple of miles. The splits (8.05/7.51/7.57/7.47/7.49/7.43) back this up, particularly when you consider that miles 4 and 5 were into the wind, and 6 was a little bit uphill.

I've also been making a start on introducing more core and strength training - nothing too serious yet, but getting used to some of the exercises that I'll be doing on a regular basis. (The link that Randy posted on Facebook a little while back - http://www.bicycling.com/training-nutrition/training-fitness/core?page=0,0&cm_mmc=BicyclingNL-_-676422-_-09012011-_-core - looks like it'll be very useful - I've had a bit of bother with my lower back, particularly after cycling, and these exercises look like a pretty good fit for targetting the problem areas. (There's also the issue of working on the things that will be helpful for my golf swing, so I'm definitely looking at more general core and strength exercises rather than just running-based routines.)

The weather for tomorrow morning looks better for cycling - with running club training on Wednesday, though, I will need to take it a little bit easy on the bike tomorrow, as it's effectively going to be a recovery day. (Mind you, I'm probably going to be doing mostly recovery sessions for a little while yet, to make sure that I'm completely over the marathon before I start to get into more intense training again...)
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  MartinD on Thu Oct 13, 2011 5:20 pm

A quick update - things have gone pretty much according to plan over the last few days (other than losing my security pass for work when cycling home on Tuesday night... Embarassed ) Yesterday's running club session ended up being 12 x 400m (with about a mile of easy running at each end for warming up and cooling down). I took the first few intervals relatively easy, and picked up the pace a little bit once I realised that my legs felt up to the challenge - times for the intervals were 94/92/91/89/90/89/88/89/87/87/85/86, with maximum heart rate getting into the mid-170s for the last few intervals. Even with the faster pace towards the end, I felt that I was running pretty smoothly - was just a case of stretching the legs out a bit more and picking up my cadence a little bit.

Today was a rest day - was thinking about taking the bike to work (the weather was ideal for it today - reasonably warm for the time of year, and as close as makes no difference to flat calm), or fitting in 3 or 4 recovery miles in the evening, but decided against it as I had either run or cycled for six days straight. (This gave me a chance to go to the golf course for about 90 minutes after work - this didn't have anything to do with the decision to take the day off, honest! Laughing ) Tomorrow's likely to be a bike day, with some running to follow on Saturday and Sunday - will probably be a slightly longer run (in the 7-8 mile range) and a recovery run.
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  MartinD on Tue Oct 18, 2011 5:41 pm

Catching up after a few days - things have gone pretty much to plan in terms of what I've been doing, in that I cycled for my work commute on Friday, then managed 8 miles on Saturday, 6 on Sunday and around 4.5 yesterday.

That doesn't really get into how the runs actually went, though, and that's the big story from the weekend. I was intending to do a 'long' run of 7 or 8 miles on Saturday, at proper long run pace (i.e. on the high side of 8.00/mile), but this was one of those days where everything clicked into place - the first mile (at 7.58, uphill) was by far the slowest, as my pace went from 7.30s to 7.15s and almost down to 7.00s in the last couple of miles. The end result was 8.07 miles in 58.57 (average pace of 7.18/mile, with average heart rate of 154 - admittedly, my HR was into the 160s for the last couple of miles, but I still felt pretty comfortable), which was completely unexpected, but definitely welcome...

The idea for Sunday's run was to do a cross between a GA run and a recovery run - effectively a fast recovery run. The 'good legs' from Saturday carried over, though - even though I felt like I was just cruising all the way through, my pace kept on creeping down, from 8.15ish early on to 7.40ish for the last couple of miles. 6.09 miles in 48.02 on this run (average pace of 7.53, with average HR of 146) for probably the easiest sub-8 average that I've had...

Monday's run was one of those that make non-runners just shake their heads, thinking that you must be mad. I was working in a different office in the afternoon - it's not the easiest for me to get home from by bus (I have to get a bus back into the middle of town, then change to my normal bus home, which normally takes about 90 minutes), so I decided to try something different, by running the first four or five miles, then getting a bus for the second half of the journey (for a total of around 75 minutes, with the added bonus that I get a recovery run in as part of the deal). All well and good so far, until I saw the weather forecast - fine in the morning, but the sort of weather that leads to demands for ark builders in the afternoon. Even so, it actually ended up being a pretty good run - got the clothing choice right (I saw the forecast before I left for work, so made sure that I had a waterproof jacket - ideal for the chilly and wet conditions of the afternoon), and managed to get into a decent rhythm, even with needing to weave around a bit to avoid the worst of the puddles. (I was intending to run along the seafront, but changed my mind when I saw that a drain had blocked - would have had to wade for a little bit to get through that stretch, so taking an alternative route became a pretty good option at that point!)

Given how well things have been going over the last week or so - don't know if it's because of the marathon or if the weather cooling down for the autumn has made a difference, or if there's something else going on - I decided to give the half-marathon at the end of the month a try, and put in my entry yesterday evening. I won't be doing a full taper, but will probably end up easing back on the mileage next week to give my legs a chance to freshen up for the race. If conditions are reasonable, I think that I have a decent chance of taking a bit of time off my half PR (1:34.45, from September 2009) - this is a bit on the soft side, though (particularly taking other races into account, particularly the second half of London 2010, which was inside 1:36) as I haven't run a half in a couple of years.
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  MartinD on Thu Oct 20, 2011 5:29 pm

I had a choice at the running club training session yesterday evening - the 'easy' option was a pyramid session (with a total of 3 miles of fast running - 4 200s, 4 400s and 3 800s), but I went with the longer session (advertised as 4 1/2 miles and 4 miles (alternating), but the half-mile was a bit long and the mile a little short - ended up being more like 0.6 on the short loop and 0.9 on the long loop, with 60-90 seconds recovery in between). After a relatively easy first loop (4.04 for the 0.6 mile), I got into a nice rhythm - got some good pace on the short loop (3.52/3.46/3.47 - roughly 6.30/mile pace on the faster loops), and some solid consistent running on the longer loop (6.03/6.11/6.03/6.14 - all sub-7.00/mile pace). There were around a dozen of us doing the session, and we ended up in three small groups - this helped a lot, as it's a lot easier to maintain pace when you're trying to hang on to someone, or you know that there's someone pushing you from behind.

While I hadn't felt all that good during the day, something that I've found that helps me quite a bit before the running club training session is to have something decent to eat when I get in from work (usually just after 5 before the session starting just after 7) - the 'usual' is a bowl of porridge, which is solid enough food to keep me going through the training session, but not so heavy as to cause me problems when I'm running.

Today was a bike day - a little bit different, as it was the first time I've tried the journey to work with 'proper' bike shoes and clip-in pedals. It's definitely a bit different, particularly on the parts of the journey in town - found that I was needing to think ahead a bit more, and making sure that I was ready to unclip a foot if there was a chance that I'd have to stop at traffic lights or junctions. While the cycling was fairly comfortable (if a bit on the cold side in the morning - was clear overnight, so in the high 30s for my journey into work), I did have a bit of bother staying awake at work - definitely a reminder that I need to get plenty of sleep, particularly after the harder training sessions...
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  MartinD on Sat Oct 22, 2011 6:19 pm

With the half-marathon next Sunday, I had been thinking of doing something in the 7-8 mile range today, then running home from work on Monday (for 10 miles) before easing back on the mileage on a 'mini-taper' - that plan changed pretty quickly once I was out and running this afternoon! I didn't feel all that fresh starting out (a tough round of golf in windy conditions in the morning didn't help...), but got into a nice rhythm after a little while, and just kept that going all the way through. Conditions were a bit better in the afternoon - while it was still windy, the direction (from the south, rather than the more normal westerly or easterly) meant that I could avoid the worst of it, and it was nice for running apart from the wind (mid-50s and dry).

I did the majority of the run with the 'normal' long run setup on my Garmin (showing just distance and heart rate), so it was a bit of a surprise to switch to a timing screen to see that I had been ticking over at somewhere around 7.30/mile pace - while I felt that the run had gone well, I didn't think that I was going that fast. Splits for the run ended up being 7.38/7.30/7.28/7.39/7.31/7.15/7.27/7.24/7.28/7.26, with the total of 10.05 miles taking 1:15.09 (average pace of 7.28/mile, with average heart rate of 153bpm). To put this into context, if I had been able to keep this sort of pace going for a little more than 3 miles more (which I think would have been pretty comfortable - was feeling strong at the end of the run), I would have been looking at 1:38 or so for a half-marathon distance...

An aside, with some relevance to the '2012 plans' thread - was looking at a few things online yesterday, and noticed that the route for L'Etape du Tour had been released. It's a little different this year, in that the organisers have decided to run two events - one replicates stage 11 in the Alps (from Albertville to La Toussuire les Sybelles, the other stage 16 in the Pyrenees (Pau to Bagnères-de-Luchon). Even though I haven't really done much serious cycling (and definitely haven't done anything like the sort of climbing involved in either stage - both include several mountain passes, and both go over 2,000m at least once), taking on a challenge like this is tempting...
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  MartinD on Thu Oct 27, 2011 4:18 pm

Halfway through the 'mini-taper', and I'm pretty much where I wanted to be at this point - a couple of decent runs on Monday and Wednesday, and a commute by bike today leaves me in a position to take it easy tomorrow, get a short easy run in on Saturday morning and give it my best shot in the race on Sunday...

Monday was one of those days where it wasn't easy to get out of the door - didn't feel particularly good when I came home from work, and the weather wasn't ideal (was very windy over the weekend and at the start of the week) - but I got myself out there. The thinking when I started out was to try to do 6 or 7 miles with some strides - ended up going with 6, but it was one of those runs that felt better the longer I was out there, and the strides only helped from that perspective (don't know what it is, but I always seem to feel like I'm running more smoothly after a set of strides...) The numbers for the run weren't particularly special (7.49/mile average pace, average heart rate of 150bpm), but it was one of those days where it would have been all too easy to take the day off...

After an easy day on Tuesday (I took advantage of the extra time to have a decent session of stretching with some foam roller time), it was running club night yesterday. I was late in from work (there's a bit of restructuring at work (due to budget cuts - no jobs under threat, but we're not going to be replacing people who are going to be leaving in the near future, and there was a need to shuffle a few people around to fill the gaps), and we ended the day with a meeting to go over the new organisational structure - meant that I was getting away at 5 rather than just after 4...), so was in a bit of a rush in getting to the session. That didn't seem to cause any problems with the session, though - was a nice flexible session (7 x 5 minutes, with 3 minutes jog for recovery in between), and I think that I pitched the effort level pretty well for a run four days out from the race (tried to do the 'efforts' at somewhere around the pace I'm hoping to use on Sunday, and felt very comfortable throughout). The totals (7.13 miles at 7.59/mile, average heart rate of 152bpm) don't really mean much - the pace for the intervals (roughly 7.00/mile for the most part) and heart rates (averaging in the low 160s, maximum in the high 160s) was pretty much exactly what I was looking for.

There was a little glitch this morning - had the almost inevitable accident with the clip-in pedals (in that I was pulling up to a set of lights, and tried to put the wrong foot down (as in the one that was still clipped in, not the 'free' foot...) - inevitably, the bike followed the foot, and I hit the floor). There's no real damage done, though - was almost at a stop, so got away with a couple of scrapes and a little bit of bruising, and a few scratches on the bike.
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Re: Monster Hunting

Post  MartinD on Sun Oct 30, 2011 2:44 pm

The little trip to the ground during my cycle to work on Thursday did cause me a few problems this weekend - fortunately (from a running point of view), these were confined to the golf course... (There's a bit of tightness in my right shoulder and upper arm, which meant that I wasn't able to take a full backswing - it didn't stop me from playing, but meant that I had one of those 'make it up as you go along'-type of days with my swing...)

In terms of running, the weekend went about as well as I have any right to expect - got in my usual day-before easy few miles with a few strides on Saturday morning, then put in a solid run in the half-marathon. This was the first time I've run the Jedburgh event (they do a 10k alongside the half), but I've heard good things about it - was a bit strange to run a course 'blind', though (in that I didn't really know what to expect in terms of surfaces, surroundings and elevation changes. I managed to stop myself from falling into the trap after starting out a little bit fast - managed to tone things down a bit, and convince myself that it was OK to let a few people pass me early on - and got into a nice rhythm at what felt like a pretty solid pace (the 'practice session' on Wednesday helped a lot from this point of view - had a good idea of how the pace I wanted should feel, in terms of stride length and cadence (a nice steady turnover, and just stretching out a little more than I would for a normal general aerobic training run). It's an out-and-back route (although the first and last couple of miles are slightly different), so it was inevitable that the wind, which was helping early on, would make things tough in the second half - there wasn't anything that I could do about the wind, though, except just keep the legs turning over. The hill as we went through 11 miles was tough, and there were a couple of awkward little inclines in the last mile - managed to grind my way through these, and keep things together to the finish. It was a little bit disappointing to see 1:30 already on the clock when I took the little right-left into the short finishing straight (only about 50 yards long), but I've still taken over 4 and a half minutes off my best time for a half-marathon in a race where conditions were not ideal. (That said, it was a nice day for running apart from the wind - dry with the temperature in the mid-50s is usually a pretty good combination...)

This seems a pretty appropriate place to close up this blog - while I realise that it's a bit on the short side, this is an obvious transition point, as now that the autumn races for this year are completed, I can start looking towards next spring, and the races I want to run, the goals I want to achieve, and what training I'll need to do to give me the best chance of attaining those goals.
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