Thursday, 30 June 2011

An odd distance.....Part 2...smashed it!

On 10th May I wrote in my blog about the "odd distance tempo" that I use...3.94 miles.   I recorded my best time of 22.03 then and five days later ran a very pleasing Half Marathon in Chester!  Job well done...

I seem to have stepped up a gear since then and have concentrated on some shorter distance stuff.

Tonight I smashed the "odd distance tempo" with a very controlled 21:25..average of 5-26 miling. 

Am I on the verge of something good!    Running 5km on track on Sunday as a decent training run - the longer term aim is the Great North 10km in Gateshead on July my number today...happy to be classified by NOVA as a "fast club runner" but even happier with the personalised number....classy!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Coasting on the Coast Road!

After a few days of feeling a bit sluggish I decided to kick start my intervals again with a 6 x800m on the Coast Road.  By doing this session tonight I was confirming to myself that I would not race in the Summer Coast Road 5km but would opt for the Track 5000m race on Sunday in York. 

The coast road is a bit of a love it hate it training session...somehow the climbs, turns and downhill start and finish at the usual Saltburn circuit seems a much easier way to do 800s rather than a long straight road that seems to go on forever and gets longer as the legs get tired.

Redcar's very own coast road leading to Death Valley!

Session went rather well and I managed to get all six under 2.40 with a 2-38, 2-33, 2-34, 2-34, 2-36 and 2-36....hopefully this will put me in good form for another blast at the track on Sunday...who knows I might be tempted by a leg in the 4 x 400m as well if the team need me!

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Me and my Virtual Partner!

On this mornings run there were three of us.   A lethargic me heading out on my usual Saturday morning run to Lazenby and the energetic me who turned an averagely steady run into a great tempo run.   The third person was my "virtual garmin partner" - a strange little fella who has to be told what pace to go and he wont deviate from it...he doesn't talk at all just beeps every now and again oh and he doesn't wait for you if he goes past you.

I stopped at my usual set of ralings half way out and stretched having only managed a relatively slow 6-40 pace out for the first four miles or so.   It took a few minutes for me to work out the technology needed to activate my "virtual partner" but I challenged him (or is it a her?) to 4 miles @ 6 mins per mile.  That should blow the cobwebs away on an early saturday morning.  The first three miles saw me leave my virtual partner for dead as I clocked a 5-44, another 5-44 and a 5-43 leaving the last mile to hang on to my lead - surely I was home and dry from the VP!  I pushed on and waited for the final beep - if my virtual partner was real he would have faded badly by now but he never gives up!   A solid 5-33 on my last mile saw me claim victory by a minute and 14 seconds....22.46 for four miles.

Its great having a virtual partner - he's just not great at conversation!

Beat ya!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Dont get lost! Dont get lost!

Ok the last time I did the Tees Forest 5km at Preston Park I got lost...well not quite lost just disorientated!  Tonight I was determined to finish the race in whatever position - just finish!
The weather was not summer like - very muddy and very very wet...

Enjoyed a good first lap tussle with Mike Jeffries and Rosie Smith of Durham with Chris Rumsey making up the lead group of four.   On the second lap the group split into two with Mike and Rosie stepping up a gear and pulling away.   I managed to lose Chris and resigned myself to 3rd but watching the race ahead as Mike was pushed all the way by Rosie, fresh from a great run in the Blaydon Race.  Dont think MIke was expecting that!

Finished 3rd overall in a time of 18.35 for the 3.25 mile course.  Happy with an average pace of 5-43 overall on a challenging muddy course.  Even happier considering I raced on Sunday and have enjoyed a quality training week so far as I build up to some summer races.

Maybe people had forgotten my mishap in my last Preston Park race and tonights performance would be enough to erase the memories....not so it seems as someone shouted out at the presentation as I stepped up to get my 2nd Male Prize....."You managed not to get lost this year then!" Doh!   Seems people will never forget that Bl**dy night!

Yeah Yeah I didnt get lost!


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Need for Speed!

My race on Sunday seems a distant memory.  No aches, No pain, No stiffness and straight back into some decent sessions.   The clocking of 35:00 could be seen as a solid run...not for me!  I'm never satisfied and have had one thing on my mind - Speed!   (No not the drug!).   The official definition of speed is  "Distance travelled per unit time. Speed is the scalar quantity that is the magnitude of the velocity vector" - clever stuff!

For me speed means three things:

1.  It means the difference between a sub 35 min 10Km or a 35 min something 10km
2.  It means being closer to the lead group and not running on my own for 6 miles
3.  It means pb's and good race results!

I'm not naturally blessed with speed so need to buckle down and try and reinvigorate fast twitch fibers that may be lying dormant (there is a risk that they dont actually exist!).   To do this I have decided to do a weekly session which involves fast efforts of running for 30 seconds. 

So after a four mile hard run at just over 6 minute miling I set up the Garmin for a mini speed session.

8 x 30 seconds on grass with 1 minute jog in between.    The aim of each 30 second blast was to cover 30 secs @ an average of sub 5 minute miling.   When I hit these 100% I will add an extra interval until I reach 20 x 30 seconds.  By that time I hope to look like this fella!

Go Andy!

First session...8 intervals of 30 seconds...4 achieved under 5 min miling!  50%

Must Try Harder!

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Newton Aycliffe 10km

Results from Newton Aycliffe 10k today.  More like a tempo session than a race...struggled to get going and then found myself in a group of one behind the lead group of four.   It stayed like that for the whole race and I finished in 35 mins exactly.    Found the course to be decent but the incline at the back of the lap, which had to be tackled three times put paid to any thought of a fast time today.

As this was my first 10km as a Vet I am claiming a pb!   Finished 5th Overall and 2nd Vet 40 behind Terry wall of Morpeth who was exactly 100 seconds in front.  

This was always a "B" race for me so not too bothered about the time but good to get a starting point with my 10km time as I build up to the Great North 10k and Middlesbrough 10km during the summer.

Enjoyed the two days of athletics on the TV over the weekend...even the kids took a break from X-box to let me watch some this afternoon...must be Fathers Day or something!

Performance of the day (and wackiest interview) must go to Charlene Thomas who ran a fantastic race to win the womens 1500m!   Superb stuff and highly entertaining all round!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Taking the Medicine!

Tonight I was undecided what to do...a) steady long run...b) 800s at my usual haunt in Saltburn....c) 400s on the Track or d) Tempo run.   I opted for session b).   No real reason other than I have not done a decent speed session in a few weeks and it was sometime since I took the Vic Terrace medicine!

After a very lethargic warm up I questioned my judgement and thought the track might have been a bit more forgiving but here I was at our very own theatre of dreams!   The plan was to do 8 x 800m with a 2 min recovery.

It was one of those weird sessions where you struggle to get going on the warm up then hit the first interval and things just fall into place.  After a 2:42 first interval I managed to crank it up to complete the rest of the set with interval times ranging from 2-36 to 2-38.   More importantly I felt relaxed, strong and seemed to hold my form well.   Great session but a real mystery as to how I can go from feeling so tired and lethargic to having such a good session!  Who knows but am happy with the outcome especially as I was on my own :)

Have decided to race at Newton Ayecliffe on Sunday in a 10k.   As it hasn't been a race that I have particularly targeted I am just going to run hard and see what happens...hopefully my legs will have recovered in time from tonights session.

There has been continued great feedback on the Half Marathon this week and some great photos doing the far my favourite photo is this one....

Monday, 13 June 2011

Redcar Half Marathon

Congratulations to all those who completed the Redcar Half Marathon on Sunday.   In difficult conditions the race was a huge success....instead of my normal race report I am going to give you an insight into my day as Course Manager!    I think I expended more nervous energy than I do in a dozen races!  Here goes:

0530 - started on course putting out mile markers.  The excellent and very comprehensive race report and the markings on the road made the job easier but the first decision was - put the mile marker on the exact spot using a wooden stake or put it about 10 metres further on using a lampost....I opted for a stake until I realised that no amount of hammering would get the stake in the ground...revert to plan B and see if I got any moans from Garmin-ites who would know the first mile was "long".  

0600 - met the Course Health and Safety Manager to put the remaining signs, mile markers up along the Trunk Road.    All going well so far and according to plan when we had our first issue of the day...the guys unloading the water and tables for the Trunk Road had delivered them to the wrong location.  After persuading them that I wasn't joking I offered to help load the van back up.   4000 bottles takes some shifting!

0730 - Time to prepare for the Marshalls briefing - the race has involved recruitment of many marshalls...well over 40 on the course plus drinks stations and start and finish personnel.We opted for two briefings and I needed to get to the finish area for my briefing at 0830.  Got there about 0745 and the playing field had been transformed into the event field, loads going on, lots of people starting to arrive for the Half Marathon.

0830 - The army has arrived...after issuing marshalls kit, drink and energy bar, T-shirts, ID badges, instructions I briefed the army of fluorescant heroes trooped away to take up positions on the course.  

The next hour of the day was the busiest of them all as Road closures were brought into operation, marshalls took up position and the start and finish areas were constructed. With less than one hour to go it is this point that runners start to focus on the race ahead and go through pre-race rituals...for me I was juggling radio calls from various places on the course,   briefing my mobile marshalls who would accompany the wheelchair races and then visit key areas of the course that were primed with marshalls, cones and tape ready for the onslaught of runners.

Finally after many months of preparation, a frantic morning of activity the time had come for the race to get underway.   It was a fantastic sight to see 1000 plus runners leave the start area and head towards me - the eerily silent Coast Road would soon be a mass of runners heading out for 13.1 miles.

Next task was the wheelchair start..we had deliberated long and hard over the wheelchair start as the nature of the course is such that we needed to ensure no clashes of wheelchair athletes with oncoming runners at the very last roundabout....the race here was about the running masses vs the elite wheelchairs!   And the winner was the running masses who all managed to clear the three mile point (albeit with a 5 min head start!) before the first wheelchair came onto the roundabout....phew!!

With all the wheelchair athletes safely home we awaited the first runner and didnt have to wait long as Graham Taylor from Jarrow and Hebburn brought home the field of 1191 runners home....I opted at this point to be on hand to greet runners as they crossed the line and work alongside the Race Referee (Dave Parry) Start and Finish Manager (Graham Hall) and the Race Director (Ian Donley).   This was the most satisfying part of the whole day as the atmosphere was fantastic at the finish and it was clear that there were many first timers ecstatic at completing the event and others who were celebrating personal bests, completing personal challenges or pushing themselves to the limit!  Fantastic....After months of preparation I felt both a sense of pride but also a great relief that the event had gone off with only one or two minor issues to deal with.  

There has been loads of really positive feedback about the event which is fantastic - I've made a mental note to always thank the marshals and volunteers who have given up their day to help at the event - I dont think enough runners do this often enough but it is an absolutely crucial element of all events.

Now I can get back to my own training again - my motivation has certainly been boosted by my experiences on the other side of the fence!

A happy course manager!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Tees Forest 5km

As it was a nice summer evening I opted for a trip to Pinchinthorpe for the third of the Tees Forest Trail races this week instead of a session at the Track.   I've been busy all week getting ready for the Half Marathon so a race on my doorstep was a welcome break from Half Marathon preparations.   I should say at this point that I am not running on Sunday but will be busy most of the day as Course Manager.

After a delayed start due to technical issues the race got underway with a group of three of us establishing an early lead up the hills into the woods.    Mike Jeffries, Dan Middlemas and I were the early leaders and this stayed the same for almost a mile until Mike put in a good effort on the small descent and managed to stretch this advantage for the next mile or so to break clear.   This left Dan and I fighting it out for second place.  I thought I had done enough in the woods to break clear but realised on the downhill at Hutton Village that Dan's fell running experience would mean that his descent was skillful enough to overtake me (note at this point I am not a natural fell runner!).  Once back on the flat though it was time for me to use my speed on the flat to get back alongside Dan and push him to the finish.  I soon gained an advantage again over Dan and without any major descent I knew that if I continued to work hard I would be home and dry.  

So I finished 2nd overall behind Mike Jeffries of Billingham Marsh House with Dan Middlemas of Loftus and Whitby 3rd.   The course was slightly shorter than a 5km but near enough.  Enjoyed a good chat with Mike and Dan as we retraced the course again...this time at a much more leisurely and enjoyable pace!

Not yet seen the results or any photos yet but I will post them up here as soon as I get them but here is a link to the site

Im not sure when my next race is yet but think it is likely to be a 3000m track race or the next Coast Road 5km.   Both of these will be "B" races as I build up towards the Great North 10km and the Sunderland 5km.

Cant help but be inspired by Mo Farah's stellar performance in the US!   If you have not seen the race then check it out!
Go Mo!

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Tough of the Track!

Today I made a return to racing on the track after approx 15 years absence.  The Northern Track and Field League was the reason and Clairville was the venue.   Wearing the colours of my new second claim club "New Marske Harriers" I warmed up and soon realised three things:

1.     I had missed racing on the track and was looking forward to giving it a blast!
2.     The wind was going to hit me on the back straight for 12 laps so any thought of a time around 16:30 would be difficult in these windy and wet conditions.
3.       I probably should not have done a track session Thursday (more of this later).

Eight of us lined up for the 5000m and it was clear from the start who would be a clear winner as Peter Newton of Morpeth (recent winner of the Middlesbrough 5km) lined up looking like he meant business (he eventually went onto lap the whole field and finish in a storming 14.44.2).

I decided to concentrate on my own race and aimed for 80 second laps which would bring me a 16.40.   This was fine up to about half way when the wind took it's toll and I started to slip outside of this target.  My thoughts then turned to the Scarborough AC runner in front of me (Ben Mukherjee) who went off quite quickly but then started to come back to me.   In the end he proved too strong for me but I definitely closed on him in my final few laps...maybe it was the Thursday night session in my legs or more likely just a combination of being a bit track race rusty.   At least I can use the old "I'm a V40 you know" excuse...I decided not to use this when I talked to Ben after the race and this was his second event having also done the 3000m chase!  I finished in 4th place overall (3rd in A race) in a time of 16.51.8 (am going to call this a pb as it is the first 5000m as a Vet!).

Usually I would not consider doing a track session less than 48 hours before a race but to be honest I have felt sluggish over the past few weeks probably due to the half marathon recovery and felt I needed to get a decent session in before todays race.

My intention on Thursday was to do a set of 400's on my target 5K pace so set myself a target of 80 second laps.   Unfortunately I got a bit carried away and ended up with a set that looked like this - 80, 78, 77, 76, 77, 76, 76, 77, 77, 76, 76, 77.       That's what happens when you train on your own - nobody to keep me on the straight and narrow!

Next weekend my attention turns to the other side of athletics as I will be on the "official" side of things as I am Course Manager for the Redcar Half Marathon...this has involved many hours of recruiting marshalls, sitting in Safety Advisory Group Meetings and many hours looking at traffic management plans and lots of emails and phone calls.   I know on the day it will be a long hard slog but it will make it worthwhile once the start is underway and we have a race on our hands.   Athletics is a wonderful sport but without people "behind the scenes" as organisers we would not have races to blog about!

Early night for me tonight as I have a 5am diary date with one of the unsung heroes of the local running scene, Graham Hall, as we set about measuring the Half Marathon course.   I have had a real insight into how a road race is measured and believe me it is not a simple operation.....Now that I better understand this process you will never hear the words "that course was long according to my garmin!".   

Cant wait until my next track outing!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Track Racing Mid Life Crisis!

So am I having a bit of a mid life crisis?    I have just rejoined (as second claim only) my first ever running club (New Marske Harriers) to compete for them in the Northern Track League.   This Saturday I will race over 5000m on the track for the first time since...erm quite a long time ago! 

I used to really enjoy track races over 5000m and regularly ran them in the Northern League whilst running for CEPAC (Chester and Ellesmere Port AC).   Whilst I will probably never get close to the sort of times I did over in the North West (15.26 remains my 5000m track pb) I do hope to get close to or under 16:30 for the 5k during the course of the remainder of the season.  I am also going to look out for a 3000m race  or two as well.  I am hoping this will unlock some of the old leg speed that seems to have deserted me in the last few years....I guess this probably reflects my ambitions this year being pushed towards the shorter distances and away from the Marathon distance for this year.

So life begins at dreams of a sports car or aiming to learn to play the saxophone or something random I'm heading back to the track to chase some long lost fast twitch fibres!     Dont expect me to be tempted into the long jump, javelin or the 200m even if the team needs the points!