July for an Autumn marathon is the February for a spring marathon without the dark nights, cold winds and occasional "I know the weather is terrible but I've got a 20 miler to do!" sort of dilemma. Instead it's been hot and dry most of the time so running has been mostly a pleasure. My February for the Manchester Marathon was a case of building up some mileage after a disastrous January where I suffered most of the month with sciatica. 241 miles in cold and miserable February compared to 302 miles in July. I've also managed to hit three runs of over 20 miles and raced just twice. All in all a very positive month as I progress towards Chester.
The races were a mixed bag if you look at them in pure racing terms and times. Sunderland 5km has become a regular for me over the past few years and it would be easy for me to be disappointed with
my slowest race there and not quite breaking 17 minutes. I felt a bit flat and not quite able to produce any real speed but looking back on this it was probably a result of some big mile weeks (75 and 80) and coming just three days after a 20 mile effort. The next race after Sunderland and the opportunity to "put things right" came just four days later at our own Victorian 10km. I've tried to really focus on the marathon and made a late decision that a long run would be more beneficial to me than a 10km so decided to run a long warm up (13 miles) then change into race gear and hit the 10km. The aim 6 minute miling (2:37 pace) to replicate the latter stages of the marathon with tired legs. It was a bit surreal and took some discipline to do this but the splits tell the story...5:58, 5:56, 5:52, 5:51, 5:53 followed by a 5:41 to finish 10th in 36:20. A two mile warm down completed a very satisfying 22 miles.
One of the challenges of the Autumn marathon is the family holiday. A week in the West Country with the family meant a change of running scenery and an opportunity to ease off a bit. I ran each morning once I found a decent circular route (without getting lost!). The 5.8 mile run was a pleasure with lots of country lanes, a few hills and lots of breathtaking scenery. A feature of the run was the opportunity to see buzzards flying above. A couple of days into the run one made an appearance down a lane just a few feet from my head. A quick search on the internet back at the cottage revealed a dark side to this experience. It seems that the buzzard may not have been simply checking me out but more likely warning me off. The internet was full of stories of runners being attacked by these birds to the point that it was recommended that hats be worn! Thankfully that was my only close encounter but it certainly opened my eyes and made me run a bit quicker down those lanes!
So the holiday week was a 45 mile "tick over week" but the rest must have done me good as I knocked out a Redcar parkrun pb of 17:01 on Saturday. With another long run (20.7 miles) in the bag its still all on track for Chester. 9 weeks today until race day so still plenty of time to hit some more long runs. From here on the longs runs will start to get a bit more specific with a few marathon miles thrown in.
At least they warned you about the hills!
certainly built up a thirst on them lanes!
The locals thought I was crazy! But then I am marathon training !