A handful of PBs

I felt quite good after the High Weald 50k, but I decided to rest for a couple of days.

Wednesday I did a relatively easy 10k run at 4:35. It’s starting to get cold in the morning! On Thursday I did a bit longer run, 13k at 4:42 and then on Friday a super easy 11k at 5:03. Saturday I fully rested.

On Sunday I went to run the Royal Borough of Kingston 10 mile race with the intention of doing my 10 mile PB. I don’t remember what it was before but I decided to aim for 1:01 which meant running the race at an average of 3:50 min/km.

The day was beautiful and sunny. The route was the one I usually do in the morning when I run 15k, plus a little loop at the beginning, so I was playing in my ‘hood. The race started at the Kingston market square, which is really nice. It’s the first edition of the race but there were quite a lot of people.

At 8:30 we started. I accelerated straight away to overtake as many people as I could and place myself in the top 20 group. From other local races and from the way I saw people warming up I had a good idea who was going to be in front so once I had only those people ahead of me I started running at my 3:50 target pace. I did not always manage to keep it but I was not too far.

From the 5th km I found myself running with another guy and we basically ran the whole race together pulling and helping each other. We managed not to lose any place and in the last mile he accelerated and I stayed with him only enough to overtake one guy, but then he went on his way.

I did not manage to cross the finish line in the time I had hoped and finished in 1:02 which is still very good and I am very pleased I also broke my 10k, 15k and 10 mile PBs. Plus I finished 14th overall which I am very happy with. Check out my Strava of the race here.

My wife was waiting at the finish line, which does not happen very often so it was a nice surprise. She took this video of my final sprint:

Overall a good week, recovered well from the 50k and achieved quite a nice result on Sunday. In the next couple of weeks I will increase the mileage again to get ready for the Druids Challenge.

See you on the road/trails!

Adventuring (part 2)

At the beginning of the week I was not feeling too well so I took it quite easy. Rested on Monday, ran 13k on Tuesday (with no energy at all) and then rested again on Wednesday.

On Thursday I was feeling myself again and went to do some uphill repeats in Richmond Park. I first did a 3k warmup and then five 400mt uphill and then rested 400mt downhill. Quite intense. On the way back home I also did some sprints instead of just doing a cool down.

In the evening I went to another Like The Wind event where The Montane Spine Race movie was shown. I liked it a lot. See the trailer below and if you get a chance to see it do not miss it. The film makers were there to answer questions, one of the runner was there too to tell us about his experience. All in all a very nice evening.

On Friday I took it easy. I ran 11.5k at 4:48 in Bushy Park. Very strange morning, very foggy. At one point a white stag ran out of the mist and into the bushes, quite spectacular.

Saturday I finally managed to go for a run with Craig. We have meant to go for a run together since last year, preparing for the NDW50. We never managed to until this week. We ended up doing 32km from Kingston to Mortlake and back. We did not go too fast but I was very tired at the end, maybe it’s because I am not used to talk so much while running. We then went for a cold beer on a river pub, in the sun, it went down really well (I had a killer hiccup in the evening, but that’s nothing new). Craig: nice one, let’s do it again.

Then on Sunday I went to explore new trails. I have never run on the South Downs Way. I have walked part of it, but had not seen enough. So I woke up very early, 5 am, drove down to Eastbourne, left the car there and then took a train (2 actually) to Falmer and then looked for the SDW. The plan was to run the second half of the SDW50 which I will race next year. Falmer is perfectly halfway and the train station is close to where the SDW meets the A27.

I started running straight outside the train station but after less than 2k I stopped as my watch had all the settings reset from the previous firmware update and it was in miles and showing me data I did not want to see etc. I did not want to run 40k+ without the right settings so I stopped, fixed the issue and started again. What I did not notice was that where I stopped I should have crossed the A27 and go into the SDW, instead I kept running on the side of the road until I arrive to Kingston Near Lewis where I asked a friendly lady how to find the SDW. I was not too far, I only had to climb a hill and I would cross it.

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The sun was shining and it was quite hot. I knew it was going to be a long run and I was still a bit tired from the day before so I forced myself to take it easy. I also knew I was not going to cross much civilisation and there was no point in going back or taking shortcuts. The car was at the end of the trail, I had to run it all. It was quite a good exercise in pacing and I am very happy I managed to be consistent. I never felt like I was going to crawl. I ran well on flat and downhill and run most of the climbs.

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The view from the top of the various hills was amazing. I have to say, I like the North Downs Way, but on a day like Sunday, the SDW is ten times better.

I steadily kept on going. I did not force myself to eat too many gels and my stomach was happy. I might try not too eat gels every half hour during races like I always try to do. 45 minutes, an hour is probably good for me.

It started getting cloudy and windy and at times it felt quite chilly. I had a jacket with me in case I needed it, but I did not use it. I felt that if I kept on moving I was not going to get cold. Another reason to keep going. At times I felt very far away from everything. I met people walking around but it felt very lonely at times, me versus nature. I listened to some music and loved the whole feeling.

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At the 24th km I arrived at Alfriston. Looking at the map the days before I had planned to stop here to refill the water bottle and maybe get some quick food. The village centre is really nice and tiny. I went into the only little shop I saw and bought 1 litre of water, a packet of crisps and a box of jaffa cakes. I had run out of water half an hour earlier so I was quite thirsty and drank half a litre straight away and ate the crisps in two seconds and then started running again. I think I stopped for 5 minutes but it was enough to give me strength. I knew I was over the halfway mark. While running I ate some jaffa cakes. They work really well for me. I carried the packet almost until the end and I ended up having an orange hand at the end.

After 4 more kms and a couple of tough climbs/step I arrived at Exceat. A place I know well as I walked there a couple of times. It is very touristic and was packed with people.IMG_6725

Knowing the area made me fell like I was almost at the end, but the toughest 10 miles were waiting for me. Running up and down the Seven Sisters is really hard. I walked 2 climbs but ran all the others. Very tough after 35k, I cannot imagine how it will be at the end of the SDW50.

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The view from there, even without the sun, is amazing and it makes you forget how tired you are. I finally ran into Eastbourne. Did a couple more kms in town and then stopped. I had run 43.5k in total and I had enough. I wanted food. Unfortunately the town was over crowded due to an airplanes show or something. I was hoping to get a shower on the beach and then go for some fish and chips, but you could hardly walk around. Too many people. I bought a massive cappuccino (proteins!), had a banana and some snacks and drove back home. Happy.

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Overall a very good week. Two nice long runs in the week end, one in good company and one in beautiful settings. I ran a total of 105km. Next week I will rest a bit and then start the build up for the next race in September: the High Weald Challenge 50k.

See you!

Before the festivities

It has been another good running week. The weather has been relatively good and I felt good the whole week. It was the last week of serious running before the rest and all the crazy eating for Christmas.

I started easy on Monday with a recovery 11km run. It was the first winter day cold enough to wear the full thick winter gear.

On Tuesday I did some interval training. The usual warm up and then five 2′ run at around 3:30 with 2′ rest. Quite tiring. Strangely it was around 10 degrees at 5am. I ran with no gloves and hat with my medium gear and was still sweating like crazy.

On Wednesday for the easy recovery run went on a new route on the other side of the river on the Kingston bank and then up to the Teddington lock on the road instead of the usual towpath which was too dark. It’s nice to change once in a while. I was very happy after 11km. Again super warm for December.

Thursday was cold again and it was time for interval training again. Warm up and then four 6′ run with the heart at 155/158bmp and 3′ rest. A lot of fun but at the fourth I was ready to go home.

Friday unfortunately the alarm clock did not wake me up and I slept until the second alarm, the one that says it is time to go to work.

This meant that Saturday I was full of energy and very keen to go out. I did 30 minutes to Richmond Park and then 5 one minute repeats on the hill going uphill as fast as I could. Then when I was tired enough I went all around the park and then back home for a total of 25km.

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It was a good run. The hill repeats were a killer and until I had a gel I could not really get some speed back in the legs. I tried a new flavour, banana. I loved it. I have a big stash now and I am trying different flavours. So far I have to say that my former favourite, green apple, has been beaten by the banana ones.

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Overall it was a good week. I ran a total of 70.5km and now it is time for some rest. I will run a bit during the holidays next week but not much. The last week of the year I will start seriously again.

Have fun and have a nice Christmas!

Steady diet of running

Another solid week.

Monday was an easy recovery day. I did 10Km at 4:33 min/km. Nothing special but I felt really good. Running long distances during the week end (38km was a lot for me) really adds to my confidence and going out for a short run where I do not have to worry makes it really fun. Also running more kms per week has definitely made me a lot stronger and I can feel it in my legs. I am not as tired as I used to be the first month of waking up at 5am every day. Now it is a routine and the body is ready. Whether it is ready for a trail marathon in a month time we’ll have to wait and see.

Tuesday was again an easy run day. I decided to do more kms than I usually do in the week days. I’ve read somewhere (I think in this old Roberto Albanesi’s book) that a training session needs to be at least one hour long. Most of mine are 10/12km during the week so they last less than 50 minutes. On Tuesday I did 15km. For an exact total of an hour. It was a good run but it was extremely cold, below zero. I could hear the crick crick that the shoes did on the ice on the road. I challenge my friends @unknowndest and @manuontrail to run in shorts in those conditions! (We have an ongoing discussion about long tights and pants).

Wednesday was the interval training day so after the usual 20 minutes warm up I did 4 x 4′ at 3:40 min/km with 4 minutes rest. 4×4+4. The day of the 4s. I ran a total of 14km in exactly an hour (Albanesi would approve).

Thursday I again went out for an easy recovery run. It was a bit of a suffering due to cramps. I went really slow, accelerating only at the end to go to the toilet as quickly as possible. 10km in total, but not much fun. Wind and ice did not help either.

Friday I woke up, saw that there was a storm outside with horizontal rain and decided to be lazy and went back to sleep. Obviously regretted it as soon as I woke up 2 hours later.

Saturday I was supposed to do around 60% of my longest run of the previous The Cool Impossible training plan part one, but as I skipped the day before I decided to do a bit more. I left home as the sun was coming out: beautiful clear sky, frozen ground, very few people around, a light fog on the river, perfect. Having rested the day before I felt really good and did a relatively fast 30km run (my new 30k PB) through Bushy Park, the Hampton Court’s river side, around the whole of Richmond Park, Kingston to Teddinton Lock and then home. When I stopped I still had a lot of energy. I am really proud of myself. In less than 5 months I went from running 21k to 30k with the same effort. Running 30k now seems really easy.

A good week then, 79.2k in total. One more normal training week and then I will rest a bit during the Chirstmas week. The first marathon is approaching!

Go outside and have fun!

Ciao

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.

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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!