As I did Chester last year its easy to make comparisons with how I felt then and how I feel now but to be honest I feel different mentally this year. Last year I came straight out of marathon training determined to bag a decent 10km at the Abbey Dash (finished in 33.58) but this year my focus has been more of a longer term plan with the aim over the winter to simply "Winter well". What does that mean?
For me it means putting myself in the best possible position to build a solid base of miles to start marathon training on. Last year I ignored the long runs until December but did manage to get three decent long runs in before being dealt a massive blow withe the onset of an unexpected bout of sciatica which meant January was a write off. Although on paper the Manchester Marathon build up went ok and the race went very well (a four minute pb) I did feel that the build up became rushed and ended up with long runs being crammed in last minute and tune up races being used as long runs instead of sharpeners.
So the plan for the winter will be to do the odd race here and there starting with the Maltby 7 next week and then the Abbey Dash the following week but other than those two it will be a case of getting some base miles in over December and January before the more specific marathon training in February and March. As Manchester is slightly later this year I am going to have a serious attempt at lowering my 20 mile pb as I feel that this is a race distance that suits me.
So the Abbey Dash will be a case of pushing as hard as I can and getting as close to the sub 34 goal again. I've enjoyed a few decent 10k specific workouts in the last few weeks including 3 x 10 minutes @ 10km pace and earlier this week a session that was a 2 mile effort @ 10km pace followed by 4 x 1 mile. Recovery was a very slow jog of the track. Although I was probably a second a lap off the kind of 10km pace needed for a Sub 34 it was enough to convince me that the Dash would be worth a crack at. I had done a session of 800s the night before so doing a back to back session was never going to be easy.
Saturday I had the latest attempt at the elusive Sub 17 Locke Park run. My 17.16 effort on my own making my way past the ghosts, ghouls and witches of the Halloween run was a valiant effort but it wasn't to be. Then again it probably reflects where I am at the moment. Plenty of strength just lacking the speed.
Last week was the inaugural Locke Park 10 mile race. It's always nice to support a new race on your doorstep so I decided to give it a go. I felt good before hand but on a windy day it was never going to be a race that would be my fastest of the year and I finished 5th overall in 58.36. The Locke Park 10 was a multi lap race so there were plenty of opportunities to see people. My attention soon turned from being competitive at the front end to "best make sure I keep running hard so I don't get lapped!". In the end my fifth place was enough to get me promoted to 4th place on the age graded prizes so came away with a decent voucher to get some solid mileage shoes for the winter miles. Well done to Graham Hall and New Marske Harriers for yet another superbly organised event.
On the world marathon front it was inspiring today to watch the New York Marathon on TV and despite the wind affecting times the quality of Wilson Kipsang (2.10.59) and Mary Keitani (2.25.07) shone through at the finish as they timed their finishes to perfection to take home the prizes. Whilst Kipsang's time may be slower than the usual finish time in a marathon major it still represents 5 minute miling which in the windy conditions that the race was run in was a phenomenal effort. I think the marathon record will once again be lowered next year if he regains the form that brought him the world record at Berlin last year. I think the mouth watering contest between Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto should be very interesting to say the least! There is an interview with Kipsang on the IAAF website which makes for some interesting reading. In particular the fact that he loves the long easy runs and hates speed work! That is something we both have in common!