Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Race Plans

Race plans for 2014 are starting to take shape.  The main focus over the winter will be the next step to mastering the marathon.  Entries are in for the Helsby Half Marathon in January, Pocklington 10 in February and the Manchester Marathon on April 6th. 

The only other possible race will be the Thirsk 10 although this comes two weeks before Manchester so it may be used as a tempo race pace effort or a full out 10 miler.  the jury is still out on what the best way to do that particular race may be.  I'm keen to do it as I have done it for the last two years and its a good indicator of what shape I'm in.

I feel fully recovered after Chester Marathon now and have managed some great sessions in the last two weeks.  I feel a bit guilty though when I put on the lighter shoes and put a bit of a speed session in.  The guilt is because in the back of my mind is that nagging voice.....You've just done a marathon you should be taking it easy!   I haven't pushed myself too hard in any session and have limited speed work to 10km pace or half marathon pace only so not quite firing on all cylinders yet.

I actually haven't felt overly fatigued since the marathon other than the first three or four days post race.  I know from reading about marathons over the years that sometimes there is "hidden tiredness" that stays in the legs for about a month post marathon and can come back and mug you when you next race but in all honesty I feel great!  Maybe I didn't put enough effort in on the day! 

It will be four weeks on Sunday since the marathon and once past this milestone it will be all systems go for the Abbey Dash in November.  Last year It was a sub 34 on that notoriously fast course and I feel in better shape this year than last year so watch this space!

There will be no getting away from some hard miles this winter and Ive promised myself an easy few weeks after the Abbey Dash to recuperate and get ready for the marathon training which will begin in earnest in December.

On the subject of marathon training a massive congratulations to my club mate Shaun O'Grady who clocked a fantastic 2:30.19 at the Amsterdam Marathon which is a New Marske Harriers Club Record and places him 68th on the Power of 10 rankings for 2013.

Power of 10 is a great motivational tool for me and as the years tick by its a great way of seeing how you are faring against other athletes of your age group.

Since turning 40 in May 2011 my rankings have been fairly consistent....

2011 - Ranked 67th over 5km,  102nd over 10km and 55th over the half marathon.

2012 - Ranked 86th over 5km,  85th over 10km, 33rd over 10 miles and 102nd in the marathon.

2013 - Ranked 58th Over 5km, 100th over 10km,  50th over 10 miles,  89th over the half marathon and 67th over the full marathon distance. 

It looks like I need to pull my finger out at the Dash to stay in the Top 100 Vet 40 across all the classic road distances!  I reckon a sub 34 should do it!  No pressure then !!!!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Chester Marathon 2013

Its been quite a journey.  I entered Chester in 2012 but due to some hamstring issues I didnt make the start line.  The build up last year wasnt great with some injury issues and a lack of marathon focus.  In the school report it would say something like "Andrew is easily distracted!" or "Andrew has potential for the marathon but he lacks a consistent approach!". 

2013 has been a different but equally challenging build up to the marathon.  My build up started around Mid June with a few long runs thrown into the usual training plan.  Nothing any where near marathon pace but long enough to put a decent marker in the sand.   The more specific stuff with marathon pace sections started in July, continued into August and early September ready for an experimental four week taper throughout September into early October. 

To be honest I couldnt ask for a better build up, that is until the final week when I raced a 5km around the Coast Road.  Although I finished 4th in 16.36 I struggled for a good week or 10 days post race with hamstring issues.  The knock on effect of that was that the last  long run planned to be a 22/23 miler with the last few miles at marathon pace became a 14 miler struggling to get anywhere near marathon pace.  The final week of 80 miles became a 60 mile week and there was a general feeling of the taper just not being a taper but actually about rehab and trying to overcome niggles.   To give me the confidence back I opted for a 2 hour run two weeks before the marathon.  Recovery from this coupled with a few decent paced runs and a couple of light 10km based interval sessions meant that despite the taper issues (Im sure every marathon runner will get these!) I would start on the line at Chester with the best possible chance of a personal best. 

And so race day...

Fantastic day, couldnt ask for better weather and the event was run like clockwork.  Chester was Number 1 marathon in the UK last year and it is easy to see why!

The aim for the race was to get under 2 hours 45.  This would be an all time personal best and open up the opportunity of racing at london next year through the championship entry route.


10km - 38:28 29th Position
20km - 1:16.56  28th Position
Half Way - 1:21.10 - 27th Position
30km - 1:55.12 24th Position
40km - 2:34.35 20th Position
End - 2:43.42 20th Position.

My fastest 10km split was between 20 and 30km where I posted 38.16.   My fastest (Garmin) mile was mile 15 with 5:58.  The slowest mile (6:43) was mile 26.   I wasnt overtaken at all during the marathon and went from 29th place at 10km through to 20th place at the finish. 

Compare this to Sunderland in 2012 where my fastest mile was mile 9 with a 5:53 and the slowest mile being Mile 26 again with a 7:39.

In fact the major difference between Sunderland in 2012 and Chester in 2013 was the fact that in Chester I felt more in control of pace for longer and actually found myself holding back in the middle section of the race.  The middle section at Sunderland where I got myself too involved in the "race" meant five consecutive miles at sub 6 minute pace - too quick by far and I paid for this in the last six miles.

Direct comparisons of the last 6 miles :

Sunderland   vs   Chester

6:18               vs   6:17
6:17               vs    6:16
6:41               vs    6:20
7:13               vs    6:17
7:18               vs    6:29
7:39               vs    6:44

Whilst I was certainly slowing at Chester in the final few miles I certainly wasnt slowing as rapidly as I did at Sunderland last year.

What are the key learning points for future marathons?

-   Stick to the plan and commit to the training.
-   Be confident in your training to stick to race pace on race day

Chris and winner
Race Winner Marius Ionsecu with Race Director Chris!