The Scribbler

30 August 2010

Approaching the final furlong

Filed under: Great North Run,run,training — The Scribbler @ 18:32
Tags: ,

My countdown to the Great North Run is now being measured in long runs and after this weekend’s effort there are only two left. Two more chances to test myself against the miles and see how they run.

I’m starting to think about all the things I still want to fit in. Like a run along the end of the route to defeat the demons of the John Reid Road before race day. Like a session with hills in it and another one with at least a few miles at race pace.

There’s also a sense of ending, of the summer turning to autumn, of winding down the cross training. My last PT session finished with the triumph of perfecting the snatch with a 12kg kettlebell, but also a sadness that it won’t be part of my Thursday morning routine for a while.

I have a sense of time speeding up, pushing forwards to race day, and there still being much to fit in – a friend’s wedding; my nephew’s birthday; someone coming to stay; our wedding anniversary and a number of runs that can now be counted on fingers.

But in truth, I am well prepared, I think. My danger, as always, would be a tendency to do too much. I kid myself that I’ve got this planned, that I know how it’s going to go. But in truth it will be a race like other races, where I just have to roll with whatever happens on the day.

I battled against the wind at the start of my long run this Sunday. Three miles that felt like ten out along the coast, working hard for a slow pace. I turned to the trails. They have been a real find this year. Slowing me down when I’ve been tempted to speed, giving me shade from the sun and now relief from the wind.

The peace and stillness without the wind buffeting my ears came as a relief, but my head was still pounding from the efforts to get here. For once I’d brought water and took regular sips to fight off the tension. A couple of cyclists directed me down a new path and I headed off exploring.

At the half way beep I had the choice to carry on and see where it took me or turn back and retrace my steps. I ploughed on, rewarded with some downhill paths and finally a road I recognised leading back to the sea.

All along the sea front I was accompanied by cyclists taking part in the Great North Bike Ride and, like me, taking advantage of the wind at my back. My nemesis turned turbo boost, feet back on tarmac and charge to the finish. Another 10 miles in the bag and feeling remarkably well at the end – probably because I was forced into a sensible pace.

Stats and stuff: 10.6 miles/ 17.06 km in 1 hr 40.48
mile splits:
1. 09.33
2. 09.48
3. 10.09
4. 09.38
5. 09.34
6. 09.40
7. 09.14
8. 09.05
9. 10.10
10. 08.54
11. 04.56 (0.6 mile)

And so to back to back runs. The lure of a free day, rather than an early morning, run, shower, dash to work and the prospect of company was enough to tempt me from my beloved plan and the Rendezvous was on.

Once again into the headwind on the beach, running alongside Anna and struggling to catch every word of the chat. Grey waves pounding the shore line and cormorants huddled on the rocks. Thoughts turn to winter running. Long sleeves, hats and gloves will be here before you know it. But today it’s the first outing for my Fetch Everyone top.

Once into the dene, we’re sheltered and the sun comes out. It’s like a different day through here. This time I power up the hill that had me the last time I ran this route and we regroup ahead of the last run down back towards the coast.

On the home straight, but the stops, though welcome have taken a strain on my legs and my calves are tightening up. So I do the opposite of what I’m feeling, stretch out the strides and pick up the pace to run with Dave and Adam up front.

Back onto the coast and I’m beginning to regret my speedy pick up as we turn once again into the wind. But this is my turf, my much trod route, and the waves greet me like old friends as we head down along the promenade. So from somewhere I pick up a sprint finish. No clock watching, no attention to pace, and technically around 0.5 miles shorter than what’s on my plan, but what’s half a mile betwen friends? Today it was just good to be out.

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