A reduced mileage week with my eye on the weekend’s 10-mile road race. The aim would be to do approx. 75 miles and I only came up half a mile short so I can live with that:
AM: 6mi recovery
PM: 8.5mi easy
PM: 11.5mi – Strength: 4 x 1mile with 0.25 recovery + 3 warm-up + 2.5 cool down
AM: 4.4mi Recovery XC
PM: 8.3mi – Base mileage
AM: 7.5mi – Base mileage XC
PM: 9.1mi – Speed: 4 x 1k, 5 x 200m off 400m recovery plus warm up and cool down
PM: 5mi – very easy pre-race day
AM: 13.9mi – 10mi race plus warm up and cool down
The first key session after I had recovered from previous weeks fast long run was on Wednesday. A shorter strength session easily managing well under 6:20 per mile. All the miles are starting to pay off.
By Friday I was a little short of miles, ideally, I would have done a lower overall total but I did keep the reps fairly short and only 3 miles for the hard part. The target time of 3:30 per kilometre and 35 seconds per 200m rep. I was a little slow but not by much so I’ll take that. Plus with only two days to race day, I didn’t want to overdo it.
Come race day and I felt pretty sluggish. I won’t go into too much detail as I’ll have a full report but to summarise, a 10 mile PB by almost 3 minutes says it all.
AM: 20mi – 3mi up + 15mi @ MP pace (6:30 per mile) + 2 mi cool down
After the previous week’s long run I expected the Monday strength session to be hard work. Obviously it was but actually felt pretty good which is reassuring.
The next key session was the hills workout. This is a club session with whoever turns up running up and down one side of a flyover in East Hull. Each loop is about 0.25 miles. I hadn’t done this session since the start of December and I could tell my fitness as improved massively. The 15minute section wasn’t much faster but felt more comfortable and the other two sections were much faster.
After that a couple of easy sessions before the mammoth LSR @ MP pace (or I should say hopeful MP pace). I can’t argue with 15 miles at 6:28 average, 2 seconds under MP pace. Yes it was hard and I couldn’t have done that much more but I won’t be doing 100 miles marathon week and the 5 loop I used is fairly rolling, technical with lots of divots etc. A nice smooth road will make a massive difference.
Next week is a recovery week with reduced mileage. I’ll do a couple of recovery weeks to coincide with races. This one is the Ferriby 10 (report to follow).
AM: 3mi recovery XC (as getting the bus to work)
PM: 12.4mi – 6 x 1mi @ 6:20 with 0.25 recovery (plus 3mi warm up and cool down)
AM: 5mi slightly snowy half run, half bus to work
PM: 6mi steady
AM: 4.2mi Recovery XC
PM: 10.8mi – 8 mi Club Cross Country Champs 2016/2017 + 2mi warm up + 1 mi cool down
AM: 16mi LSR
The key sessions are Monday’s cut-down, Thursdays mile repeats and the club championship race.
After a fairly light weekend due to the 5k race and being away Mondays cut-down felt surprisingly good. However, I still didn’t quite hit 6-minute mile pace at the end. As a side note, the run to work Tuesday felt shocking as usual. I was hoping to do closer to 12 miles but I couldn’t get much under 9-minute mile pace.
Wednesdays were all very much run of the mill therefore onto Thursday. The mile reps were done running back from work. They felt pretty hard and dodging pedestrians, dog walkers, traffic always adds to the difficulty. Happy to hit the 6:20 pace even if they were harder than I’d like.
Onto Saturday the clubs cross country was a war of attrition, to say the least. Anyway I’ll have a full report on the race on the blog, therefore, I hung in there and for cross country posted a fairly decent time of 53:18
Sunday was a good gentle run with a couple of club mates. Legs were pretty heavy but after a massive week, it was good to get another one in the bank.
Another 6 days later and another road trip, this time to Edinburgh for the Great Winter Run 5k. For those that don’t know this is one of the now many Great Run events (the clues in the title). This one is the mass event on the roads around Holyrood Park in Edinburgh before the elites take on the XC live on the good old BBC. You may have heard of a certain Sir Mo Farah was taking part. Personally, I was looking forward to seeing Callum Hawkins and Laura Muir in action.
Sensibly I had recce’d the course the day before, however not so sensible was not checking which direction the loop of Holyrood Park the course went, therefore, I had ended up doing two laps the wrong way round!
Unseasonably mild conditions for race day making vest and shorts the order of the day. Runners started in waves and being one of the “Faster Paced Club Runners” ensured I started at 10.
The first quarter of a mile is flat before the race goes uphill to over 300ft by the end of the first, therefore, it’s critical to get a fast start. I made sure I did my best greyhound impression shooting out the blocks.
I don’t view myself as a very good uphill runner as anybody who has raced with me will verify. However, something strange happened. As the race went uphill I kept passing other runners. I had expected the exact opposite but apparently, I had entered a parallel universe. First mile in a not too shabby 6:37.
The course flattens out after a mile and I already knew from the day before that once you’re at the top you get a spectacular view of Edinburgh and the river. However, even during the race, it was still equally as impressive as the day before.
Approaching 2k (the course is marked in kilometres) I could hear the distinct sound of bagpipes. A nice touch by the organisers is that at the 2, 3 and 4k marks the air was punctuated by bagpipers in the full regalia giving you a little boost as you knew another k was approaching.
Taking advantage of the flatter section the second mile passed in 5:57 – it’s always good to be back in sub 6 territory. Something which I need to do in all races and especially those of a longer distance.
“What goes up, must come down” is a well-worn saying in running circles but it’s so often apt. Today was no different and in a reversal of the uphill section it was me that was being passed by a few other runners. My short stride just couldn’t up the cadence to take as much of an advantage as the other runners.
However, the combination of downhill, chasing other runners and the crowds along the finishing straight meant the last mile was covered in 5:23. Job done in a fairly respectable 18:43, as ever I’d like a little more.
To finish off, I’d recommend a trip up north as it’s a well-organised race, with great crowds and a brilliant setting of Holyrood park plus the benefit of watching the elites in the afternoon. And not forgetting all the tourist things to do in Edinburgh.
Just 6 days after the EHH Boxing Day 10k , Katy and I were on our way at just gone 8 am on New Years Day to Cleethorpes. I’m sure most of you know I’m mad but this must be new levels of lunacy even for me.
However, the case for the defence is Katy (wife and also EHH member) is pregnant with our first child, hence I thought I’d take advantage of this fact. Unlike previous New Years Eve’s Katy wouldn’t be drinking, therefore, I stuck to a couple of glasses of wine allowing me to take on the New Years Day 10k at Cleethorpes.
Race day rolled around and the forecast had me questioning this decision. We arrived at The Beachcomber with plenty of time or so I thought. The car park was full but with plenty of side streets, parking wasn’t an issue. It was obvious once we got inside most people must know how busy it is as with almost an hour and a half before the race there was plenty of runners already there.
After a good strong coffee, it was time to warm up. The start is a mile away, therefore, I left Katy to run to the start and get my 2 mile warm up in.
After de-layering, it was time to get near the start line which is down a nondescript residential side. Although the race is on New Years Day the race pays out some decent prize money up to and including tenth place ( If I only I could find a 2 minute 10k PB!) therefore I was expecting it to be busy at the front end.
After a short residential section, the race takes in a short two loop, section. It’s worth noting that this can cause some confusion as the faster runners start lapping and finish loop two they go right. Make sure you go left if you’ve only done 1 loop.
On each loop, once we got back to the sea front I lost time going into the wind. Thankfully this section finished just before 3 miles (5k in 19:07) therefore I was hopeful I could claw some time back in the second half.
3 long roads make up the majority of the second half, not the most scenic but very flat. My only complaint would be a marshal standing next to a path pointing left and then shouting at us for cutting the course short meaning I had to detour back to the road. I know it’s sometimes a thankless task, therefore, I wouldn’t normally complain but all they had to do was stand away from the racing line and at the T junction 2 metres further along.
Anyway working hard to try and keep sub 6:10 pace before the final three-quarters of a mile back into the biting headwind. I managed to raise the pace for this final section, however, the second 5k was slower covered in 19:27 for a 38:34 fishing time.
Overall considering the unfavourable conditions happy to once again finish in the 38s and only 3 seconds difference between this race and the EHH Boxing Day 10k showing excellent consistency (if a little slower than I’d like!).
After a 6-month blog hiatus, I’m back. I’ve been training and racing but for some reason, I’ve neglected writing about it. I’ll rectify that and talk about my racing and training plans for next year in a separate post.
However, for now, I’ll focus on my club’s annual Boxing Day 10k. What better way to burn off some of the Christmas excesses than a 10k right on my doorstep.
An unseasonably mild day greeted the 250 runners making vests the order of the day. The sting in the tail, though (as it often is with this race) would be the headwind down the track leading back to Hull. Having done a couple of miles warm up I knew which direction the wind was coming and therefore decided to go out as quick as possible anticipating the wind holding us back once we turned the corner at Ganstead and starting heading to swine. Also, the Hornsea trail is very exposed and generally as a headwind.
Back to the start and after a short race briefing, we were off. Having been penned into the side a little I managed to find some space and catch up with the second group behind the leaders.
A rapid first mile passed in 5:53, maybe a little fast but knowing this course it was ideal as I knew I’d slow down.
Although the course isn’t uphill, the end of the first mile and second mile does have a slight ascent meaning you have to make sure you carry on working hard to stick to the pace. At this point, we had a group of 5/6 with me leading the bunch. The second mile passed in 6:10, a little off pace with the more difficult sections to come.
As suspected after the turn at Ganstead we were greeted with a wall of wind hence a 6:14 mile and the break up of our group. 5 became 3 with Steve Remmie, Darren Edge and myself.
Running down the Hornsea Trail Track is never my favourite and today’s race was no different. I was trying to share the workload with the aforementioned two however somewhere towards the end of the track I was a good 5 metres back. 6:27 and 6:25 for miles 4 and 5 respectively won’t have helped.
The last mile skirts past where I live therefore I know this area well. Also, the wind was now in a favourable position meaning it was time to put the hammer down. The final mile covered in 6:13 with the 0.2 in 5:14 pace with the help of a great downhill towards our clubhouse and a battle with another runner to the finish line. I never did catch up to the two ahead.
However on reflection a solid 38:31 for 14th place out of 249 runners is a good way to end the year.
Before I get into the training lets back up slightly. 2017 will be a year of transition for me with my partner expecting our first child.
Talking of which the due date is the end of March and the target is Manchester Marathon, which for those that don’t know is on the 2nd April, eeeek.
There is a plan B as I’m also in London, I’m still hopeful that I can do Manchester as I believe it’s a faster course. Many of my club mates have done it and got some good times (inc. when it was the right length!).
Whatever happens, I’ll be getting the miles in and will do a very short sharp taper, allowing me to increase the mileage if baby arrives beginning of April and I do end up missing Manchester.
From the start of January, I plan to do 1000 miles (or more) in the lead up to the marathon. One of club stalwarts said he always did that in the lead up to London and with a marathon time of around 2hour 45, who am I to argue. Each week would consist of:
two long runs – one at the weekend and one midweek with the weekend one being longer. Also, I’d look to do a long fast run at marathon pace every 2 to 2 weeks
strength workout, for example of repetitions 3 x 2 miles, 2 x 4 miles
tempo/threshold run of anything from 6 to 10 miles or maybe more (see long runs above)
And then lots of easy runs on the road and cross country
Of course, that isn’t set in stone and I will do shorter speed work, hills and the occasional Parkrun and race. Anyway without further ado onto the training:
Week 1 – 79.4 MI (10H 42M)
AM: Easy 7 mi
PM: Easy 6 mi
AM: Recovery 3.7 mi
PM: 10.5 mi inc. 4.1 mi warm up + 5 x 800m, 2 x 400m + 3.4 mi cool down
AM: Easy 9 mi (commute)
PM: Easy 6 mi
PM: 14.3 mi midweek LSR
AM: Easy 6.6 mi – Holyrood Park Recce as racing the 5k the next day
AM: Raceday – 2.5 mi warm up + 3.1 mi race + 1 mi cool down
PM: Easy/Recovery 9 mi
The target for the week was 90+ miles, however, with a Cleethorpes New Years Day 10k race on Sunday 1st plus the Great Winter Run 5k (while on vacation), it was always going to be hard to get the miles therefore 2 good races in 7 days, speed work and a midweek long run I have got to be happy. One final thing I should add is that after a couple of weeks off at the start of November I was averaging 70+ miles coming into the start of the year. And covered over 2500 coming into 2017, therefore, I had a strong base before trying to do even greater mileage for this block of marathon training.
Not many people will realise that although I was born in Nottingham I actually for my sins grew up just south of the river in Grimsby and Cleethorpes. Therefore when Tape2Tape announced a 10k in my previous hometown, it was one I wasn’t going to miss.
Over 1200 runners lined up for the inaugural 10k with plenty from EHH and the other local clubs. In addition the merry band of supporters had made the trip to support the runners along the route.
The race starts at the town hall in the town centre before quickly turning left to sweep past the council depot and right at a a mini roundabout to offer us our first glimpse of People’s Park (where we would be finishing). It was around this point I had settled into a group including Danny Wilson and Keri Pearson (CoH). Danny started to gap us, so should I stick or twist. As I was still feeling pretty good I decided to twist and follow Danny hoping he wasn’t going out to fast (I wasn’t sure what pace we was doing as I wouldn’t look at my watch until 5k).
This race was always going to be a trip down memory lane and first stop was a left turn onto the first major road taking us past the Wheatsheaf, this is the pub I drank in as a student at Grimsby College. Talking of which, the route then goes past the aforementioned college, the second stop on memory lane before a left turn onto Scartho Road (drop the h unless your posh).
Myself and Danny were keeping a decent pace past the now closed Swimming Pool and the Nunsthorpe Estate (the main estate I live in, in Grimsby). At some point along here we past Eddie Rec who had gone off like a rocket. Also in the distance was my namesake Darren Edge (BEV), in the back on my mind I thought I’d try and close the gap. Knowing that Darren usually “edges” me in races and if I can get close to him I’m having a good day.
Next stop on the whistle stop tour is the entrance to the hospital. I spent many a mis-spent youth jumping on the back of the food/laundry carts (we use to call them yellow coaches) to get a lift before the route then passed the big houses which were good for a apple foraging. Up next is a left turn at Scartho past one of the many places my parents used to show rabbits (yes, rabbits!).
At the 4km mark up the only real incline Danny started to gap me. Unable to bridge the bridge the distance on the descent the route goes left onto the new road (admittedly built when I still lived in Grimsby so hardly new anymore!). Just before this I passed through 5km in around 18:50 – a little off what I’d have liked but still on target for a low 38.
After a short section the route then goes left onto the very straight Peaks Parkway. Thankfully I had been joined by a Sheffield Strider runner and could still see Danny in a group of 5 ahead. I tried to bridge the gap but I thin it was much bigger than it looked. By this point it really was hurting and as we passed through the “mad” mile it was a case of digging in and trying to maintain pace to hopefully finish in the low 38s or sub 38.
A left turn onto Weelsby Road and a relatively short section before entering the park for the final stop (and finish) down memory lane. People’s’ Park has happy memories for me having spent many a happy hour playing hide and seek and feeding the ducks there. Thankfully the happy memories will continue as after a sprint for the line I finished in 37:58 getting under the elusive 38 barrier again. It’s only taken over a year since Leven 10k 2015.
I wasn’t the only one to have a good day. Roared on by the great support Danny Wilson finished 1st harrier in 37:31 for 34th place. Not to be outdone there was pb’s for Kirsty Wilson – 43:32 (on the back of a 19 mile long run the day before!), Keith Conkerton – 44:25 and Mandy Davison – 52:34. I’m sure there were other therefore sorry if I’ve missed them.
Impeccable organisation, great support and atmosphere particularly at the start and finish, a decent good bag if that’s your kind of thing plus a fast and flat course, what’s not to like? It can only bolster Tape2Tape’s reputation as a top quality events organiser. I for one will be back as I’m sure will be many others.
I’m writing this almost a month since race day, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on the race but first let’s back up a bit.
The training started about 10 weeks before (of course I’m always doing somewhere between 30 and 50 miles a week), however with 10 weeks to go I had renewed focus and started to plan each weeks training again. By focusing on a race and planning my training this way I find it helps me stick to the schedule and ultimately run better.
The idea was to do a rolling three weeks over a 10 week period (each 3rd week would be a recovery week) as follows:
Wk 1 – 60+ miles
Wk 2 – 60+ miles
Wk 3 – 50 miles
WK 4 – 70+ miles
WK 5 – 70+ miles
Wk 6 – 50 miles
Wk 7 – 80+ miles
Wk 8 – 80+ miles
Wk 9 – 60+ miles
Wk 10 – 30 to 40 miles inc. the half marathon
Most weeks consisted of a tempo/threshold run up to 10 miles, some sort of speed work (reps), a middle distance long run midweek week, a weekend long run and then some easy miles to make up the volume.
For the most part training went well. This was confirmed with better race results (discounting Leven 10k when I was clearly poorly) including a 5k PB (18:19) at the Phil Johnson 5k.
Right, enough about training. Race week arrived and as Katy was doing the full Marathon we had decided to travel down the day before. The idea being to arrive at the hotel by 5pm giving us plenty of time to eat and chill out for the evening (it was the same time as the Euro’s so we’d have football to watch).
However things don’t always go to plan and barely out of Hull something came of the back of a truck as it turned up the Humber Bridge slip road off the A63 resulting in a very cracked windscreen. Luckily I was able to pull into the next Petrol Station. After several calls, and an hour and half wait we were towed back to Hertz on Anlaby Road. Another hour later and another hire car we were finally back on the road. After leaving our house at 12pm and although driving down at rush hour (which we had hoped to avoid) we arrived in Milton Keynes just before 8pm. On the plus side we got there in times to for the football (and to watch Wales beat Belgium).
After a decent night’s kip we had a short drive to Caldecotte Lake arriving at 8am which meant plenty of time to set up camp and chat to all the local runners while waiting for the 9am start for the marathon. I wouldn’t be racing until 2.30pm so I was on Team White duties for the next 4 to 5 hours. I won’t go into the details of Katy’s race as you can read her write-up. All I will say is I was extremely proud of her completing her first marathon.
Ok fast forward to 2.30pm, after 600 miles over the last 10 weeks it all came down to this. I had two targets:
A new PB and sub 85 minutes
Preferably sub 83
I knew the loop well after doing 8 and half laps last year. These races never have a deep field therefore it would probably be a lonely run and I’d have to run it like a time trial.
I made sure I was at the front setting off at 6.20 per mile pace. A 2.5 mile section would bring us past the support area and the start of the loop. So far so good, pace was pretty much spot on but as suspected I was out on my own.
At the end of the first loop, “Foxy” said something along the lines of “you’ve got this”. However I wasn’t feeling great and struggling to stay on pace. I was unsure of my gap to second and didn’t want to take anything for granted. Anyway the real race for me was against the clock.
The original idea was to try and get faster each loop. the reality was I was progressively losing time, instead of increasing my pace by 5 to ten seconds the opposite was happening. It didn’t help that the second half of the loop takes you past the Watersports Centre. This section was particularly windy and I now why they do windsurfing there!
By the final loop I knew any chance of sub 85 was gone. Now it was a war of nutrition and just try and keep a decent pace.
Thankfully I was only doing the half. A gruelling last loop and I was done in 1 hour 25 minutes and 53 seconds later. At the time I was disappointed, however having plenty of time to reflect it was my 3rd fastest half. Also it was run entirely on my own which is never the easiest thing to do.
The best thing about the race was seeing all the support (especially Katy enjoying a well earned rest) every lap, the stunning scenery and watching the other runners come in. A special mention to Sara Morrow and Helen and Jamie Penn from KuHAC who were also racing.
For me the focus now shifts to the Manchester Half in October with the small matter of the Gilberdyke 10 and The Major Stone Half as key build up races in my preparation.
After a summer league hiatus (due to running other the Phil Johnson 5k and Doncaster Open 5k) I was back for the final race in the series. Last year we had monsoon like conditions and after the recent good weather I was hoping for a hot one. Alas it wasn’t to be but the rain held off until after the race and it was even just about good enough for me to race in the customary shades.
Last year Katy and myself biked to Hedon in atrocious conditions (so much so that my left calf started cramping). We wasn’t making that mistake again and instead got a lift off a couple of club members. We all arrived in good time to get parked at the pub (bonus) and chat to some other club mates.
Summer league races start at 7.15pm and this particular race the start is about half a mile from the pub. After some dynamic stretches and with 20 minutes to go I made my way to the start. The legs felt pretty good on the warm up but this isn’t always indicative of a good race, many times they feel great and I race badly or vica versa. Anyway the main thing I noticed is as usual there was a decent headwind on the way out to Paull. This isn’t that surprising as the race starts in Hedon and goes to Paull which sits on the bank of the River Humber. I think it’s a very rare occurrence for there to be no wind.
Onto the race and as usual I found myself in the second big pack along with club mates Eddie Rex, Lee Alcock and I think some Bridlington runners. The first mile felt good with me trying to shelter behind some of the other runners. As gaps started to appear I decided to try and drop Eddie and Lee as in particular I could see Danny Wilson just ahead. However Lee is not a man that gives up and he came with me with a small gap to Eddie. We caught Danny Wilson around1 mile when you turn left to go through Paull.
Unfortunately during the route round and through Paull Danny and Lee dropped me, I maintained the gap through the next mile but wasn’t able to close it. This meant running the next mile to a mile and half on my own. Before the finish the course take you over a flyover before going back into Hedon. At this point a a KuHAC runner and COH runner caught me. Being a particular bad uphill runner they did start to gap be on the ascent but after running and doing the work on my own for so long I was adamant I wasn’t going to get beat. That meant keeping in touch until the final corner which is just before the finish and only a couple of hundred metres to the finish.
It’s one thing having a plan though, another to actually execute it. Myself and Andrew Hemmings (CoH) gapped the KuHAC runner but I was still 1 or 2 metres behind Andrew coming into the finishing straight. I launched my sprint but worryingly still only managed to get onto his shoulder, I thought I didn’t have any more pace, however I made a split second decision to give it everything I had, from somewhere I managed to find a but more and finish I second ahead. I think it was my fastest ever finish as the graph below shows.
I finished in 16th out of 188 runners in a time of 24:32 for 4 miles. I’d always want to be lower 24 or sub 24 for 4 miles but after a couple of dodgy races and Parkrun I was very happy with the my performance. Hopefully I can keep it up for a another two miles at the Great Grimsby 10k on Sunday.