The Scribbler

24 August 2014

Pacing myself on a last long run before race day

Filed under: Great North Run,run,training — The Scribbler @ 18:08
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Aside from last weekend’s tri, I’ve been focusing more on running recently, building up my long runs week my week to get ready for the Great North Run.

I didn’t run it last year, preferring to focus on triathlons instead. And for most of the summer, I didn’t miss those long runs at all. But as the event approached and I heard friends talking about doing it, and reports on the local news, and the excitement building, I did start to feel a bit left out. And when I stood on the Tyne Bridge, just after the first mile to see the elites and then everyone else come through, I did feel like there was a huge party going on, and I hadn’t replied to the invitation.

So, yes, I know, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s expensive, crowded and not pretty. But it really was my first big challenge. It’s in my home-town and yes, it means something to me. So this year, I’m back in.

I’ve found it quite hard to increase the running mileage, and often struggled to fit in the longer midweek runs, which for me, mean waking early and getting the miles in before work.

This week  I’ve made an effort to get all the weekday runs in too. I ran 12k (7.4 miles) before breakfast on Wednesday and then another 14k (8.8 miles) on Friday, and today, I managed 12 miles – which I’m very happy with.

I opted for a route I haven’t run in years. It takes in the coast, then heads inland along trails through Holywell Dene, to emerge on a long straight stretch of a former coal waggon way, before emerging out on the coast again.

Today there was no pace, just easy, easy. This was all about time on my feet after a week of long runs. I listened to music again for the first two and last two miles along the tarmac I have run so many many times before. Then I let my ears free in the woods and trails, greeting every runner and walker I passed on my way.

My feet felt tight at first, with a worrying pull in my right calf that I hoped would ease as my muscles warmed up. Easy, easy, easy I kept telling myself. You have a long way to run today. But I kept thinking of my friend Susan Lynch, doing Ironman Copenhagen today. I’m sure she’d have loved  only to have to run 12 miles!
The sun shone and I was glad of the sunglasses, that later sat atop my head as I drifted in and out of the trees’ shadows and sun drops. Some of the paths needed my full attention to keep sure footing as they undulated up and down, with a couple of styles and gates forcing changes of rhythm at regular intervals. I ran all but the last climb out of the Dene, which came at about 7 miles.

I’d made the switch to miles for distance and pace on my watch, and taken jelly babies to give me a sugar boost. I  tried to anticipate my usual dips in mood, at around 3, 6, 9 and 11 miles and they seemed to work very well.

When I hit the coast again just short of 9 miles, I knew I’d calculated the route distance well. At 10 miles, I was in unknown territory, at my furthest distance since 2012, but I felt good. Yes, my legs were aching, but my head was in a good place, and I was ready to finish a good week’s running. I pushed on a little beyond the 12 miles to reach my favourite stretching spot by a shelter overlooking the beach, and congratulated myself on having achieved what I’d set out to do.

I do still have that focus and determination that marked my early runs if I choose to apply it. And I’ve added to that both my own experiences and the collective wisdom of my running friends. Right now, I feel much readier and more confident than I expected to be.

Of course, lots could happen in the next couple of weeks. And you never really know until race day how you’re going to feel, how the weather will affect you. But I’m starting to get a bit excited, and a bit hopeful that I could have a decent race after all.


10 July 2011

Back back back!

Filed under: run,training,travel — The Scribbler @ 16:09
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Waves on the west coast of Scotland

A lovely spot on the West Coast of Scotland

Well I’m back after a week off training and work, enjoying some fine food, rest and relaxation in beautiful Scotland. Just the right kind of break, with no timetable to keep, no set plans, just seeing what each day brought and enjoying the landscape and surroundings whatever the weather.

I had planned to ease back while I was on holiday, but took things even easier than planned when I hurt my finger. I did manage a wee run one morning, 4 miles over some trails and up a geet big hill near Port Appin. It was lovely just to run and explore the countryside, although it reminded me that I don’t hit the trails often enough. While I could still run, I really missed my cross training.

I’m hoping the rest will have done me good. It certainly won’t have done me any harm. In the big scheme of things, I’ve missed one long run, a couple of interval sessions and some cross training. So, not much really.

Otters at the Scottish Sea Life Centre

Otters at the Scottish Sea Life Centre

I love Scotland. The landscape changes from day to day, hour to hour and even the skies seem bigger. I’ve inherited Gary’s old DSLR camera as he’s had an upgrade and really enjoyed getting out to take some photos, especially as we were lucky enough to see lots of wildlife, including some very photogenic otters at the Sea Life centre.

We ate well too. Lots of local sea food, including divine scallops and oysters. Even a bandage wasn’t going to stop me getting stuck into a grand platter. But fantastic 3-course meals, big breakfasts, late starts and lie-ins have left me feeling rather lazy.

Oh, the finger’s fine by the way. I had my stitches out on Thursday and it’s healed really well. I’ll still keep a dressing on it for a while to protect it, but I really am very lucky I got off so lightly. A break would have put paid to my next triathlon and tendon damage could have meant long term trouble. No more boxing for a couple more weeks though!

Today I enjoyed a really lovely long slow run with my friend Penny. She’s training for the Marathon du Medoc, so really building up the mileage a bit more than I am, but it worked out well for us to run together today. We opted for the Run for Bob route, a lovely route that takes in the seaside, cliff top paths and some up and downs through a woodland glade and finishes back on the coast.

With a gorgeous sunny day, we kept the pace conversational and just enjoyed getting some miles in the legs and easy chat. We were out for over an hour before I looked at my watch or started to wonder how far we’d come. As we peeled back around to the coast, Penny continued for a little longer to complete 11 miles, while I stopped at just over 9 – my longest run of the year to date and definitely one of the most enjoyable.

I enjoy my solo running for the space and freedom it gives me to think or just clear my mind, but with the right company the miles just fly by on the long run. And today 9 miles was a real pleasure topped off by a ’99 with monkey’s blood.

It’s given me lots of confidence ahead of next weekend’s really long run – The Northumberland Coastal Run, which could be up to 14 miles depending on the tides. I shan’t be racing, but I am looking forward to a scenic run along the beautiful coast of Northumberland and meeting lots of my running buddies. I’m hoping there’ll be ice cream at the end of that one too.

Stats and stuff:

9.2 miles 1:34:01
1) – 1m – 10:30(10:30/m) – 103cal
2) – 1m – 10:24(10:23/m) – 105cal
3) – 1m – 10:25(10:25/m) – 103cal
4) – 1m – 10:33(10:33/m) – 104cal
5) – 1m – 11:05(11:05/m) – 105cal
6) – 1m – 9:22(9:21/m) – 105cal
7) – 1m – 9:47(9:47/m) – 106cal
8 ) – 1m – 10:04(10:04/m) – 104cal
9) – 1m – 9:58(9:58/m) – 103cal
10) – 0.2m – 1:53(9:36/m) – 21cal

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