Heavy week of running

What a week!

It’s been another good one of intensive running and I also finally got my hands on a shiny new Garmin Fenix 3 which I had been waiting for for ages. The fact that the courier company failed to deliver it for 4 days in a row made it even more desirable. But now I have it, it’s a fantastic piece of kit and I cannot wait to record all my runs with it.

Here is what I did this week after I took the day off running on Monday to rest.

Tuesday I ran an easy recovery run of 15k at 4:34 min/km. I was very nice, foggy, Bushy Park was at its best with the low rising sun, the deer, very bucolic.

On Wednesday I went to Richmond Park for some hill training. I did 5 repeats of 400mt uphill and rested on the way down. I took the smallest trail on the right, just after Kingston gate, the one that is not very steep except of a couple of places where you have almost to run on the balls of you feet. I like it as it feels a bit wild, you have to jump a couple of fallen trees and lower you head to avoid branches. I ran a total of 11k including warm up and cool down.

On Thursday I did the same route I did on Tuesday, but slightly shorter. The weather was warmer and I ran with shorts! I did a 12k easy run. Finally in the afternoon the Fenix 3 was delivered and I spent hours tweaking the settings in the evening and went to bed very late.

On Friday I woke up very tired but very keen to try the Fenix 3. I did 11k at 4:27 but I mostly spent the time looking at the various reports and data on the watch.

IMG_5987On Saturday I went out for the first long run of the week end. The plan was to do anything over 40k and to do it in “ultramarathon race mode”, so going slowly, thinking about keeping enough energy to keep on running. I was also very careful to eat something every 30 minutes. I alternated jelly blocks and gels. Basically eating a gel every hour and twenty minutes and blocks in between. Drinking as much as I felt like it. I went all along the river towards Putney bridge and back. I ran at a pace between 5:00 and 5:30 min/km. I felt great. I never had a moment of crisis. Not even my usual pain at around 32k. It was a real confidence boost. I felt like I could run at that speed for a lot longer, but then when I was in Kingston I had to make a choice. Continue and try to do 50k or go home. I had been running the last 2km behind another guy who looked like it was training like me and when I caught up with him we chatted a bit. He was preparing for the Thames Path 100, he knew what he was doing. I was tempted to follow him and break 50k for the first time but I had not eaten a gel for a while as I thought I would go home soon so I was very weak and said goodbye.

I regretted it. I got home and I was not dead, I could have run more! Now I have to try and do the long 50k run next week end and it will probably rain, I will not have a guy to run with etc. Silly me. Anyway it was a very good run, 43k at 5:24 average. At the end I was going mostly at 5:40. That’s what I want to try and do at the North Downs Way. Keep above 5:30 for as much as I can, avoid doing the usual silly quick start, slow down uphill even more, speed up downhill and run until I cannot any more and get to the end.

To make the week end more useful for long distance training I went out again on Sunday. The legs were quite sore, especially the ankles, but after warming up a bit (it took a while as it was below 5 degrees) I was running ok. Not fast at all, but not crawling. I completed a run of 26.5k at 5:14. Not bad considering the run of the day before. I got home pretty proud of myself and it was not even 9:30am!

A very good week, 118km in total. Very happy with my training and the consistency I managed to put in in the last 5 weeks. I averaged more than 100k a week for 5 weeks in a row. That’s more than I could have asked for. One more long run next week end, 50k hopefully, and then I will start tapering a bit.

I cannot wait for the NDW50, it will be epic, whatever happens.

Garmin Kingston Run Challenge

Sunday I took part in my last race as an under 40 runner. The Kingston Run Challenge. 16 miles.

As mentioned before I have done this race more than once. It takes place twice a year with different names and sponsors, but the route is basically the same and I love it. Most of it is on the river on the Hampton Court Palace side where I run most of my mornings, when there is enough light (so not now). Plus it is always very well organised. Humanrace events always deliver. This time it was as good as ever if not better as the market square in Kingston is finally open and looking great. The only issue I had was that I could not find the bag drop.

But let’s start from the beginning. I woke up pretty early to have breakfast and spend enough time getting my stomach ready (if you know what I mean). I left home 45 minutes before the start. That should have given me enough time to get there and warm up for 20 minutes. Instead not finding the bag drop I wandered in the wrong direction for too long and ended up only having 10 minutes to get ready. Not too much of a problem.
I placed myself just behind the 6 min/mile pacer and got ready to start. It was a beautiful sunny morning, cool and perfect for running. There were a lot of runners. Around 900 people, but mostly doing one 8 mile lap, two third I think. The atmosphere was very exciting.

I had decided to run it at a steady pace around 4:20 min/km as I thought that my last weeks of training were not really geared toward speed and I was not ready to run as fast as the last time (4:07 min/km). I was wrong.
I started fast as usual, excited by having other fast runners around. For the first time in a race I decided to keep an eye on my heart rate. I looked at it after 500 meters and it was 180 bpm. Obviously wrong as usual. It is always off at the beginning (either that or my heart is crazy). I ignored it and tried to get into the pace I had planned to stick to.

After less than 4 km a guy (number 2265) caught up with me and we started chatting. That’s the reason I never run with headphones and music. I like to interact with people, especially in races. He asked me what my target pace was, I told him 4:15 as I was not sure I was going to be as fast as last time (I felt a bit stupid saying it, as if saying: I am very cool, but today I will take it easy). Anyway we agreed to run together. Last time I did that I attached myself to the wrong runner in a 10 miles race and after 4 miles at 3:45 min/km I was dead and it ruined the whole race. So I was a bit cautious, but joined him. Every 2 or 3 km we swapped. It felt like when he was in front we were going faster while when I was in front we were slower. It also felt like I spent more time in front. I think it is just that when you are leading you suffer more I guess.

garminkingston2014

We finished the first 8 mile lap strong. We did not say much apart from “you OK?”, “cool”, ” nice one” etc. Going through the market square was a nice boost with all the people cheering. Plus it feels good to keep running and skipping the exit for the one lap finish line.

We ran a bit more and then I started losing my new friend. We where on the off road bit on the river. That part is my Bermuda Triangle. I have no idea why, but every time I run there, that particular bend, in any direction, I slow down. I cannot help it. I saw him adding meters between us and I was a bit desperate. I did not want to see him disappear in the distance and do more than one quarter of the race “alone”. Then something strange (but cool at the same time) happened. At km 18 in front of Hampton Court I accelerated to stick to him, overtook him to do my bit in front and kept running. Without realising it I accelerated and kept going until after 2 km I realised I was going at a pace under 4 min/km. I turned around and felt a bit guilty. I left him behind, exactly what I was hoping he would not do to me! But it felt too good for me to slow down. I was at around 20 km in the race and I felt like I just started. I was going at 3:50 and my heart was going at less than 160 bmp. I silently said thanks to the training plan I am following, I understood how wrong I was in thinking I was training too slow and just smiled and kept running. Feeling elated and indestructible. I overtook everyone I saw. If I spotted someone in the distance I aimed to reach them as fast as possible. It was probably the most enjoyable race I ever did. I admit the last km I was happy to see Kingston approaching. Then the crowd cheers, a final acceleration to look good and bam! crossed the line with the same average pace than last time. 4:07 min/km. Wonderful. My family was there which was super nice too. My daughter took the video below. We later found out I finished 10th. My best ever result. I could not have been happier. After a couple of minutes number 2265 arrived. I thanked him for helping me keep a good pace three quarter of the race. Without him I would have been a lot more conservative, so thank you again!

 

So overall I am extremely happy about the result. I am now even more confident in my training plan and I am looking forward to waking up at 5 am every day until the next race! And then do it again. Here is the Strava page if you are interested.

What did I eat before and during the race:

  • Breakfast: tea with one toast and jam plus one scone with jam (very British)
  • While walking to the race: one HIGH5 Energy Bar
  • Just before the start: one HIGH5 Energy Gel
  • At Km 10: 1 CLIF Shot Blok
  • At Km 16: another HIGH5 Energy Gel

I had a bit of water at km 9 and 22, but not much. I also tried the PowerGel Shots that were distributed at Km 16, but found them too big and could not chew on one while running.

A big thanks to Human Race for organising the event and to the wonderful marshals. Thanks to my family for coming to cheer me up and to number 2265 for helping me a lot. See you next time!