Sunday, 23 January 2011

Monkey Business

Another year and another Brass Monkey done. This fab race is a fast and furious half marathon, tracing a lollipop route of winding farm roads from York Racecourse and back. It's my PB course and a true test of any proper road runner's mettle.

After getting up at silly o'clock, our bellies pregnant with porridge, we sleepily bundled ourselves into the car. By 8am we were ready for a fine morning's running. Conditions were perfect, certain to be a PB outing and with the race mix tape on at a fine volume we gathered ourselves for the battle ahead;  pacing plans fixed in our minds ready for some monkey business. 
A good warm up preceded a delayed start as race organisers managed the crowds over to the new race start. I huddled behind some big lads for shelter, feeling all cosy and  relaxed but hovering near M and Tricky trying to transmit lucky good run vibes...and then we were offski!

It was a weird thing to be running at less than full pelt. The plan to stick to 6'18'' pace is all well and good before you see your competitors stretching off into the distance, knowing you'd be leading if you were letting rip. It took a mile or two to get my head right and slip into the threshold groove. I eased off after 6'10'' for the first mile and was hovering between 6'17'' and 6'19'' very happily for the next ten miles. The pace felt relaxed and easy, made all the more so passing through the race field feeling strong and in control. By mile 11 shouts of 3rd lady caused me to wobble with the chance of chasing down 2nd. An internal battle ensued but I remained focused until mile 12 where I decided a fast final mile wouldn't hurt. I crossed the line in pretty much perfect pacing and with some confidence for my 20 miler next month. 
Crossing the finish to find M had enjoyed a smashing run, a PB of 77.26 and a few more scalps to add to his collection was the icing and big shiny cherry on the cake. His run brought him first Vet 40 prize too and a fine return to road racing after a long gap. 

One of the most enjoyable events of the year; this event is filled with friends and local club mates and a chance for a proper catch up after Xmas. A nice touch was the event video playing in the bar post race as we awaited the presentation (though I did look a bit post Xmas chunky). Numerous PBs followed for our finest local runners including running pal Richard B (AKA Tricky) in 78.04, Kevin O in 74.53 and Jane B of Ilkley in her first sub 90 min HM by a very comfortable margin. Well done to all for some superb runs today. I must also add a special hello to Erin P of New Marske (who also ran a PB by 3 mins!!) who very sweetly came and said hello after recognising me from the blog. Results here, race pics here.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Oh Weary Me

Somehow I've got to Saturday without falling asleep at the wheel or something equally daft happening as a result of a hard and tiring week at work. The pending cuts are requiring signficant agility and creativity to deliver services with a lot less money. Everyone's stressed out and piling on the work as a result. Poor me us.

Intense days at work are followed by the too long 90 minute commute home followed by a wonder woman whirl into kit and out again to run marathon mileage. As a result I can't seem to get to 3pm on a Saturday without feeling the urge to drop unconscious nap. I'm avoiding any time sitting on the sofa today; as soon as I've parked my behind I'll be off with the fairies, snoring through Eurosport and dribbling on M's shoulder.
Energy levels will soon be restored with some good night's kip and lots of good food, starting nicely with home made pizza for lunch (yum). I've also got to get perky for my race paced effort in the Brass Monkey tomorrow. Instructions are clear; keeping  strictly to marathon race pace will provide a taxing training session, test my fitness at  target pace without detracting from the training week ahead. 6.18-6.20 is the plan and all being well I'll be able to repeat this in the 20 miler next month. It'll also be another week of 80+ in the bag. M on the other hand has some more serious running to do.

Sunday, 16 January 2011


A full week of no blogging or blipping again; a sure sign  that life's brimming with too much stuff. Another mad busy week of work and marathon training has swooshed by. I'm feeling less guilty about the absence of posts or pics though as the time's been well spent with a second week of the most excellent training. Volume and quality have been achieved in fine balance and I'm feeling back on top and in the driving seat. 

The woes of 2010 are now behind me. I've now clocked two full weeks of 80+ miles and still managed to fit in long intervals, a tempo session, some zippy reps and my LSR today. The plan to run an early marathon in 2011 was in part to give myself less time to faff and worry and instead focus on a solid 12 week build up with the aim of just getting round. Fast times are postponed for marathons 2 or 3; just getting to the start line and experiencing the distance would be a fine kick off to my marathon career after last year's disappointments. So, up to 21 miles this morning leaves me confident that my remaining 9 weeks are time still to consolidate, get comfy with the long runs and build more threshold strength as I adjust to the mileage once again.  

It's a bit of a change for the training plan next week with a race pace injection  to replace the Sunday run. The Brass Monkey Half Marathon will provide a great quality training run and a welcome break from 20+ lonesome miles of long slow running. With a fair amount of training left to do there'll be no easing down or hard racing for me; this is a race paced session in preparation for the Bramley 20M in February. I'm both focused and being sensible and making sure neither the miles or the pace get me carried away. It'll be a real test and probably a struggle not to run hard or race it this year, especially when the leading ladies press on for home. But this is about the bigger picture (as both M & coaching guru B remind me dutifully).

I can at least vicariously enjoy the post race glow as M is set to test his fitness at last after a long succession of cancelled races. He's looking lean and mean and did an awesome 400s session on the track yesterday. He needs a race and some feedback is well overdue. Just how fast can Mr RB go...?

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Space Cadet

Blog followers will have gathered that I safely survived the interval session on Tuesday night. It was by all means tough to be back running 1k reps especially with the ghastly uphill finish. The puzzling thing has been the continued difficulty in getting my heart rate into the right zone for these efforts; 90% I can just about do but 95% seems unreachable right now. I've been pondering the problem all week; I'm wondering if my efforts to build the quality through the training week are being inhibited by my old lady legs. 

The heart and lungs are happy and 'up for it' but the leg muscles just can't seem to go as fast as my lungs want them to. I'm beginning to assume this is a natural result of the last few months of patchy training. Though I've been keeping aerobic fitness topped up with steady running, I've missed so much of the tough stuff that the legs have some work to do to restore the muscle strength they once had. A steady 14 miles on Thursday saw my legs die well before my lungs as I desperately tried to reach threshold heart rate levels on the run.
Anyway, I'm not gonna be disheartened and will trust I'm building back race fitness, session by session, brick by brick. The adjustments to marathon volume will be taking their toll. 

A cheeky 5k cross country on Saturday morning was a welcome return to race pain; the Open Kross Challenge organised by fine local club Keighley AC is a great little event, held every second Saturday in the month. These are well organised and very friendly races offering a low key alternative to a speed session at the weekend. The event costs only a quid a go and gets the lungs working hard around the new permanent XC course at Cliffe Castle, Keighley. I knocked 40 seconds off my time from a month ago so felt some satisfaction as I struggled through the stiff early miles of the long run this morning. Another 20 miles logged in crazy windy weather. I'm now feeling very spaced, ready for a large bowl of curry and a Sunday telly marathon. Every session counts.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

And It's Kick Off

I've just nicely started colouring in the squares on my training spreadsheet; week 1 of 2011 was kicked off yesterday with an easy-steady 10 miles under dull grey skies. Mr Runningbear was my trusty companion and shared my fatigue following the efforts of Tricky's magical mystery run on Sunday. The 'undulations' over 20 miles nearly did me in.
I'm hoping the last 24 hours are recovery enough to face this first intervals session of the New Year. The 1k intervals; half flat, half uphill should get the legs and lungs burning with a return of sub zero temperatures. I always get nervous on tough days, not sure why... I'm probably just anticipating that sicky, lung bursting feeling that follows running at near enough full throttle. I've got butterflies in my tummy at the thought. Wish me luck.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Flat Out

Woohoo it's 2011! A very Happy New Year to all mates, fellow bloggers and random blog visitors. Here's hoping you've enjoyed some fine food, family time, fun and frolics and are nicely set up for the New Year. As for me, it's time for a fresh start with a fresh pair of trainers out of the box and a lovely new training spreadsheet to tinker with. All those little worksheet cells ready to fill up with marathon miles and track sessions; I'm almost salivating at the prospect. 
After sliding around town for a couple of weeks in snow clogged trainers and slush-filled socks we're back to some bare, naked tarmac. Oh Yes. My last dreadmill session on Tuesday saw me ready for anything as long as it wasn't another session on a flippin' machine. I've had enough of running on the spot staring at a wall. Thankfully it was back to the roads by Wednesday after a major thaw and some fine firm ground to run on. It felt great. 

Work has been sleepy and dead quiet creating a bit of space for catching up on projects and getting home at a reasonable hour. I even stretched the mid-week long run up to 15 with some tempo from mid way. The old leggies have since felt a little mashed and were not quite as fresh for today's tough 20 with company. A change of scene was most welcome as running mate Tricky planned a loopy, undulating route starting from Yeadon, taking in Leeds-Bradford airport at least 3 times I think, [or could that be the double vision?]. Another long one in the bag though with only 12 weeks left to go before the taper...result.

So, it's been a bit patchy 2010; punctuated with illness, iron deficiency, a far-too-busy-new-job and then a poorly camera to top it off. I'm hoping 2011 will see better things. I'm now over two bouts of lurgy, the snow has thawed and I've been very naughty and splurged on a new camera (just to be absolutely sure). 2011 should see a very fit and hungry Runningbear, ready for hard racing with a very fine DSLR by her side. Sweet.