Sunday, 5 October 2008

One long hard challenging season.... DONE!

I've just sat down at my desk.... and having left the house a 5am on Saturday morning for an easy 8 mile run, then gone straight to the Hyde Park Time Trial's first birthday event before catching a lift (thanks Joe Jnr & Snr) to Newcastle on Saturday afternoon and running the Great North run this morning, following which Hels and I spent a good few hours in heavy A1 traffic this afternoon before rounding the weekend off with dinner at Viva Cuba... it gives me great pleasure to declare this amazing season.... over!

For the next few weeks we'll be resting a recuperating whilst making sure everything is in place for the start of our Ironman Lanzarote training on November the first. I'm thinking I'll probably write the odd extra post during this period as things will be changing, plans and schedules will be forming and goals will be stated... for tonight an extremely simple race report from this morning's 13.1 miles...

With the impending period of rest and no serious importance placed on the Great North Run I'd decided to change my normal approach a little, partly for the fun of experimenting and partly to cram those last few hours of decent training in before being unable to challenge myself physically for 28 days. So, on Thursday Tony B and I went out for our weekly 'long' run but whereas on race week we'd normally take it a little easier we decided to have a bit of a go at our reasonably hilly 10 mile out and back route. The first mile, aside from being the first mile, is slow for a couple of reasons... it's mostly uphill and there are lots of twists and turns, normally it's about 45 seconds slower than the average pace for a run so when we our Garmin's were beeping after 6:39 I knew we were in for some serious work. Prior to the run we'd agreed to back it off for the final 2.5 miles but even though we slowed by about 45 seconds per mile still came in bang on 64 minutes including stopping for traffic etc. By the time I finished an easy 8 miles early on Saturday morning, the week had seen very little in the way of a taper but my only real goal for this morning was to go as hard as possible and that certainly wouldn't be a problem!

Arriving at the start about two hours before the gun we had plenty of time to hang around and get cold so H and I decided to do a decent warm-up. About an hour before the race we did an easy 20 minute jog over the first mile of the course followed by about 20 minutes of race pace strides over about 40 metres broken up by various dynamic stretches. Once we'd cheered the wheel chair athletes and elite females on their way it was time to take our place on the line and hammer the final 13.1 miles of the season.

I really didn't know what to expect from today and as I'd said last week, my long runs had been as good as ever but I was seriously lacking top end speed over the shorter distances. With my half marathon pb at 6.05 per mile and my marathon pb at 6.29 per mile I would much rather have been facing 26.2 than 13.1 miles... still it would soon be over, and I felt that a good day might see a pb for the course...

You can normally tell a lot by the first mile and hitting my lap button for the first time at exactly six minutes I was already seven seconds down on last year and with no other memorised splits until the ten mile mark (61.44 in 2007) it would be nearly an hour before I could once again check my progress. As the early miles ticked by I was feeling strong though and the fact that Tony was barely pulling away from me gave me confidence that I was having a good race. By the ten mile marker T was well and truly out of sight, having disappeared up the first decent hill to mile five, but at 61.44 I was exactly (to the second) level with 12 months ago and ready to put in a good 20 minute effort all the way to the finish line. There is quite a bit of climbing in mile 11 & 12 of the Great North but where I'd lacked speed on the earlier downhills I was now feeling strong on the uphills and dropping down to the seafront at the start of the 13th mile I knew a solid six minute push would see me pb the course and possibly break 81 minutes... motivating myself by remembering last week's photo from the Vit I was determined that no-one would pass me over the final 1600 metres and the effort required to achieve this saw me cross the tape at 1.20.55 and my fastest GNR in five or six attempts!

Interestingly my lack of top end speed was well demonstrated with my five fastest miles being 31.4 seconds slower than last year (30.16 v 29.44), however my improved strength and endurance more than compensated with my slowest five miles being 49.7 seconds faster this year than 12 months ago (31.38 v 32.28)...

Anyway, that's it for now... see you next week if not before,


p.s. nearly forgot... just wanted to say a massive thanks to everyone at the Leukaemia Research Fund for looking after us so well as always (see today's pic - from 2007). H and I have raised money for them in various ways since my first marathon in 1999 and have in the process been fortunate enough to hang out with some of the most inspirational and generous people you could ever wish to know.


Jevon said...

Well done mate. A great season. Looking forward to seeing you soon for a bit or R and R.

Russ said...

Congrats on a great season. Good to finish on a new PB too. Enjoy the off season, but don't relax too much ;)

I'll look forward to following your prep for Lanza. I'll see you out there next year!