Saturday, 12 March 2011

I'm sitting here looking out of my window - the burn at the bottom of the road's rising, it's pissing with rain and there's a high risk of snow.

I'd firstly like to extend my condolences to all those in Japan - I've been watching the footage the past few days with horror, and I saw the power plant explode this morning. I can't begin to imagine what they're going through out there, with the survivors having lost everything personal and basically having to rebuild their lives from scratch. Words don't mean much in these situations, but my thoughts are with them.

Somewhat closer to home. After Tuesday's track session I did 16M over the next two days - 10M on Wednesday (which I was out the door for at 6.57am) and 6M on the Thursday. Thursday was tough with high winds forming a few walls I had to almost crawl past (the met office reported 40mph winds for Fife).

Friday was slightly calmer and I took the opportunity to go to the track again. It wasn't the plan but I wanted to try extended sessions with the Mushas and I also thought a 5k tempo on the track might focus me more.

So the session was 3*1200 @ 10k (~4:55/rep) and a 5,000m tempo (aiming for ~22:30). 10k reps were 5:01/4:59/4:51 and I somehow got into my head that 1:40 was the pace I needed to hit for the tempo instead of 1:50/lap.

So an unintentional 21:05 5k tempo run but felt great during it (never above aerobic threshold aside from the quick last lap). Laps were in the range of 1:40-1:42 which was excellent pacing.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Testing times at the track

Following Saturday's race I had a good opportunity to enjoy running from the sidelines. Sunday was Arbroath Smokies 10 and I travelled up the coast to support Mum, Nywanda and Lotte32 from RW.

Still 8 to go, stop smiling!
Me and Dad set up camp at the 2M maker and before long the leader was on us, striding past like she wasn't even trying. Mum came by soon after with Lotte hot on her heels. It was freezing cold and to be honest I'd have done a Caster Semenya to get in the race (before the hate mail, I fully support her!) and just to BLOODY WARM UP.

Ny came past after 20 minutes or so looking happy. She's been suffering from food poisoning the last week from her husband so even to make the start was a great success for her. After the final runners had gone through me & dad headed back to the start.

Shanski, Maz, TQ, MD, Me, Erin, Mrs Shanski, WW and Ny
We met up with the rest of the Fetch support crew (the Shanksi's and their kids, Torry Quine & Woodland Warrior, Maz & Mr Nywanda) but decided to hang around inside until the last minute as it was still freezing outside. Chatted to Mrs Shanski about the D33 for a while before the winner came over the line in 63:xx (can't for the life of me remember). Mum was over in third finishing in just over 67 minutes for a massive pb. 

Nywanda showed great spirit and even managed a smile at the end to finish in under 1:40, excellent considering her problems the past few days. A brief chat with the winner confirmed the course was quite slow, with a few nasty hills and a bad headwind in places.

Afterwards we headed inside to wait for prizegiving and the free food. Ended up eating too much (mostly due to WW forcing me to eat muffins) but it was worth the wait for mum to pick up 1st FSV even if it was the wrong trophy! 

Took Monday as another rest day (no problems there, it normally is) and back to training today on the track. St Andrews was/is extremely windy today so any times from the track were going to be out by a number of seconds. 3M warmup before the following session:

4*800 @ 5k w/45 sec rec, 3 min rec, then
4*400 @ 2k w/45 sec rec

Times came out at 3:06, 3:06, 3:08, 3:08 / 88, 86, 87, 88. Considering the gusts of wind that were howling around keeping to those kinds of paces was excellent and I left the track feeling tired but not exhausted.

HR analysis shows I was hitting around the right effort levels - 93% max for this kind of session is about right and I'd be hitting around that in a 5k race at this time (Saturday had me on 94% after 1M which is right).

4*800 @ 5k
  Friday's session will probably be MP and from now until then will be 10M/7M easy tomorrow/Thursday. Also been coaxed into a 6-a-side football match tomorrow night, although I'll be in goals so hopefully I won't get bashed around like the delicate flower I am.

4*400 @ 2k

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Glasgow Combat Stress 5k

An alcohol-less Friday night (first in a while, I'm out of money!) in preparation for today's 5k. Was hopeful of sub-19:30 to make a good start to the year.

Made the 8:10 bus out of St Andrews (£11 for a return, WTH) and got to Glasgow at 10:40 after surveying the best of Fife and the central belt (not, Dunfermline's hardly a holiday resort). Made a decent walking pace to Glasgow Green & dumped my stuff & got warming up.

It's easy to get lost warming up.
2M easy @ 8:26/m before changing into the Mushas for a final mile of 5k intervals. Averaged 6:20/m for them so I was confident of a good race.

This was termed a 'fun run' so there were tons of runners doing the aerobics 'warmup' as I finished mine (warmup, not aerobics). Got myself to the front as I knew there wouldn't be many serious runners so I'd be somewhat high up the field at the end.

The gun went and instantly 20 chavs who were running sprinted off like they'd done from the police the night before. I exchanged glances with the guy next to me (who ended up winning) before we set off in pursuit.

I was able to reign myself in and not get caught up in the over-enthusiasm and managed to get my effort going well off the bat. I use terms like '2-2 moderate', '3-3 hard', '2-1 easy' for racing efforts and 5k is a '2-2 moderate' kind of race for me. Went through 1k in 3:53 which was perfect timing, by which point I'd passed numerous gasping chavs at the side, probably throwing up their chips and gravy.

I think it's because of the river
It was this point that things started to unravel. I was still working hard and still at the right effort level but 2k was 4:01 and that was NOT part of the plan. It was flat and calm yet the legs didn't want to know. By now the lactic acid was starting to accumulate but less than 2M to go and I told myself to man up.

3k had a u-turn and a short drag up a dirt path which made life very difficult, by now the legs were starting to complain something awful. Was now running back the other way to focused on the other runners to take my mind off of things. 3k in 4:00 and accumulative 11:54.

4k had a nasty, short (30m) sharp uphill which I took the kamikaze option to power up like I was ascending Everest and this HURT. Looking now shows I hit my max HR during this portion and that is not a smart move with 0.6M to go. Now we could see the finish in the distance but there was still a short loop to complete before the final straight. 3:59, a pb was on but sub-19:30 was gone.

Final K had me facing off with the last remaining chav (how the hell did he do that?). I refused flatly to lose to someone who has probably been smoking before the start and did a 75-second last 400m to beat him, before  doubling over and almost retching (as I tend to do after 5k races).

HR trace from the race
Final time was 19:45, so an 11-second pb. Not exactly what I was hoping for but as I said the legs did not want to know about it today at all.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Pre-race motivation

So tomorrow is my first 5k of the year and while I'm going into it with only a general time in mind my competitive juices have been fully stirred into action.

For those of you who don't know, mum is also a runner and since I started focusing on running we've taken great delight in trying to best each other in races. Mum's 54 this year so you might think being beaten by a male 20 year-old runner is a forgone conclusion.
Oh god, GO AWAY

I wish.

Mum ran the Metro Aberdeen 3k Proms Race #6 this afternoon, in preparation for the Arbroth Smokies 10M on Sunday (which I'm heading up to support). Despite it being 'very windy' in her own words, she still managed to run a PB of11:14. That's 90% WAVA.

Bearing in mind we're roughly the same fitness levels right now, an 11:14 3k translates into an 19:29 5k by my books, which in our little inter-family competition means I'll be going hell for leather for that tomorrow. 6:17/m pace (94s/lap) is the magic target which I was comfortably hitting during 8*400 @ 5k (92s/lap) so sub-19:30 is very much on.

Extending the rivalry over all race distances we've both done shows how I might just be pulling ahead:

1M - Me 5:56, Mum 6:07
5k - Me 19:54 (hopefully soon to change), Mum 19:28
10k - Me 40:27, Mum 40:28
10M - Me 69:55, Mum 71:19
HM - Me 93:45, Mum 93:57

Needless to say, tomorrow will be interesting. 2.8M @ 9:33/m today, meeting a friend at halfway on his way back from 11M (he's training for Edinburgh Mara). Everything felt very good and 'floaty' which is how I should feel before a race.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Out of the mist... a revival?

May 18th? Are you serious? The break between blogs here would have Kathleen Lindsay turning in her grave. With the start of a new year and a new running season I intend to blog semi-regular now, at least once a week if not more frequently.

A bit of the last 9 months before I go any further. No, I haven't given birth. What has happened is 3 Pb's, 2 race wins, a complete and utter self-destruction, knee issues and a whole bunch of new friends.

Chasing down #83 at Forfar (image belongs to
Summer went well - plenty of miles, plenty of good-quality sessions - July had just one rest day and a record 248M in just 31 days - 8M per DAY. I was able to fit it in around a full-time summer job (frequently starting work before 7am), the heat and my girlfriend who was now back in America. With Forfar 10k in the horizon I was confident of a good result and based off of the quality I had been doing a sub-40 10k seemed extremely possible.

Unfortunately race day proved hot, the course unfriendly and the late end at work the day before tiring. I ran 40:27, and I maintain to this day had I ran at a better venue and on a cooler day I could have run ~ 45-60 seconds quicker.

Still not to worry, a 2 week break in America beckoned and I needed the time to recharge my batteries. 8 days of no running passed by and when I got back I was looking forward to the Moray Half Marathon at the weekend. There was one small problem - I had a virus.

Nothing devastating but nothing that could be pinned down and nothing I noticed either - I never knew I had it until it hit with a vengeance during the race! My HR was high on normal runs (nothing untoward with that after 2 weeks off) but aside from that I was perfectly normal. I put it to the back of my mind and even during my warmup before Moray I felt better and forgot about it.

The first 10k went well and I was comfortably hitting 6:47/m pace with no real concerns. I don't tend to look at my heart rate during races, but this was one of those times I wish I had. Post-race analysis showed even after 10k I was hitting 97% MHR.

The wheels came off in spectacular fashion less than a mile later. It started first as just a general slowdown, but I didn't feel in any past my LT and it was more of general fatigue. The pace dropped like a stone: 6:53/7:05/7:16/7:35/7:50/9:07, and by this point I could hardly stand up straight let alone run.

I finished - somehow - in 1:35 but I spent 30 minutes in the medical tent before being able allowed to leave, by which point of course I felt fine and was more than slightly embarrassed. It turned out later on I had been leading the U21 category by over 5 minutes before my blow-up, and I finished second by 3 minutes!

2 weeks of cautious running followed and by the last week in September I was recording normal HR levels and started by 18-week base programme, with an emphasis on aerobic endurance via MP runs and aerobic power sessions. At least, that was the plan. 3 weeks in a fairly innocuous knee-to-bar-stool incident in the union one night reduced me to a hobble and for a week I could hardly bend my knee. I did the natural thing and diagnosed myself via Google, after which I was told I had cracked the cartilage in my knee and would be out for up to 6 months.

Obviously that was complete crap, and after some sensible advice on The Middle Ground (which, by now was one of the most viewed and informative threads in the training forum on RW) I settled with the slightly less disastrous ITB syndrome. A three-week rehab ensued, of roller therapy, stretching and rest was entailed and afterwards the knee hasn't peeped once.

It was during the latter stages of my rehab, while browsing Fetch I noticed out of the corner of my eye "Aberdeen Fetch Mile - Anyone interested?" on the forum. I jumped straight in, enthusiastic to meet the Fetchies from my home area. Their race date was set for a time I was home for the weekend - perfect. I recognised a few of them (Shanski & Mrs Shanski) from a few local races and I knew Sheri3004 from RW so I was hoping for a good occasion to meet some new runners & make friends.

The first 'deen Fetch Mile - hot on Mike's shoulder
The Mile was a great occasion on a wonderful day. I was in the faster mile group and instantly it was a race between myself and MikeR. I stuck to his shoulder like a little shit for 1400m before out-kicking him to win the race in 5:56.

For my efforts I won a shiny trophy to keep before the next mile and soon after I headed back down the coast to St Andrews.

It was around this time the snow descended, which funnily enough was fine with me as I was still cautious about the knee so enforced rest was probably the best thing for me at that time. I was ensuring I was still getting out regularly, if only for 3 or 4M at a time to keep the routine there but the dark winter is never fun.

'deen beach race, and the sand...
December was my return and I was able to get some decent miles before heading home for Christmas and back into the snow! Most of my training was fighting with mum for the treadmill (and I did manage 13.1M on the damn' thing) but I was able to get out once or twice on the roads.

Did a beach race on the 27th which involved jumping over the groynes on Aberdeen beach. Being a handicapped race I was constantly chasing people down and I really enjoyed it. Also got the honour of being passed by Robbie Simpson like I was standing still.

Nywanda, Mrs Shanski, Me, Mum and Sheri3004 + random Fetchie
6 days later, and into the new year for the Lumphanan 10k and my first race of the year. Didn't expect much on a really hilly course, and finished in a respectable 44:11 on a course that's probably 3 minutes slow. Met up with most of the Fetchies again and we had a great time.

Starter's orders for the second mile. I'm furthest from the camera.
Over exams it was more a case of building mileage to somewhere normal levels and I got a considerable amount of low-medium intensity running done over the exam period. Headed over the water again afterwards to see the girlfriend and managed to get a small amount of running done, mindful of what happened last time with the virus I made sure I went prepared to combat any illnesses that might come my way.

Thankfully I managed to get by with no ill effects and have now spent the last 3 weeks in a 'pre-mesocycle' phase of 5k training. Track sessions have included 400s @ 5k, 300s/150s @ 3k and 200s @ 1500m in varying volumes since the start of February.

2 weeks ago was the second Fetch Mile, which took place in crap conditions in Aberdeen once again. This time it was a straight head-to-head between myself and my mother, and despite a slow time of 6:07 I managed to beat her and win the second Mile.

So that's the current state of affairs. I have a 5k race in Glasgow on Saturday, which I think sub-19:30 is a definite possibility. After that 2 and a bit months of solid 5k training before the Dunecht 5k and the Aberdeen Baker Hughes 10k, after which I switch to 10k mode, building towards a hopeful sub-39 later on in the year.

And I'll try and update more.