End of March.

Last time I reported in I was due to go on a long run with my Prague Marathon partner, Alex. I say partner because he shall be there running it too, but he’ll be running off away from me, making my time look feeble. The original plan was to do 20 miles, but when I planned the loop it came up just short of the 20, so I added a short loop in. 17 miles into the run, I had forgotten about this loop so we fell short of the target. Not to complain, I got a 18 mile run in with no water, no gels & ran it at a pace that was just a tad slower than my target marathon time. Very happy. A few things I learnt from this race: do not set off at “Alex-pace” when I’m in Prague, settle in at my target speed & stay at that. My legs were fatiguing earlier than I wanted and this won’t be helpful come 22 miles! Never eat a curry the night before a long run – race or training. I did not feel well throughout the run, or for the rest of the day!

During the week I managed to squeeze in a gym session, as well as a short, but good interval session on the Wednesday. I also finally settled on a bike session that I shall be doing indoors from now until Zurich in July.

Using the WattBike, there is a test called Sub-Max Ramp. You can set it up depending on your fitness & strength – starting power & increase in power per interval – and then away you go in one minute intervals. The normal setting is started at 100 watts and increase 25W every minute. This continues until you fail to achieve that average wattage over a minute interval. You then start again. On this occasion I did two of these tests back to back, but I will aim to do three in most sessions. As time goes on I will either go on for longer as I am capable of achieving higher averages over time, or I can increase my starting wattage to enable the time to be shorter.

This lead me through to my second race of the year – Salomon Richmond Half Marathon. This started at the same place as my half marathon exactly a month before, but instead of being two loops it was one loop & took a slightly different approach to the area – albeit, still a lovely part of the city! We managed to turn up just in time for me to open up the barriers and squeeze in ahead of the patient people who had arrived early to get their spot. I got as far forward as I could, which turned out the be the 1hour 40 pace maker. I didn’t want to stay with him, so the first 5km or so was spent weaving in and out of people trying to catch the 1h 30 marker. My plan was simple – I started behind them, so if I could catch them and run with them, I would be sub-1.30. I managed to catch them on the Thames toe-path, and after having a little chat with them I realised that my legs felt good and they wanted to go quicker – so I let them. As I pushed on, I completely lost the 1h30 markers and felt really good. The thought of sub 1.28 came into my mind and I was spurred on by this a bit. Then it started happening – I had gone too quick. My legs started feeling it and everytime I stopped concentrating on going quicker, my pace settled in at a slower pace than I wanted. This was around 9 miles – on the turning point of the loop out South West of Richmond. Before I knew it, the 1h30 markers had caught me – now don’t get me wrong, I was still going a lot quicker than I expect my average on the Marathon to be, but half marathon wise it was slower than I wanted. I tried to stick with them but my legs were just not working. Metre by metre they snuck away from me to a point where I had half given up on the hope of a sub-1.30. We turned a corner and then I realised where I was, we had done this pathway on the way out and my body had a reference point to how long was left. My km splits started speeding up again and I was then catching them up, metre by metre.

Now they still beat me over the line by 14 seconds, but I had started 28 seconds later. So I was delighted, a new PB. A Sub-1.30 PB, something that a year ago I thought would have been impossible for me when any time I tried to run quicker, my back tensed up (Thanks Ricky for the chiropractoring!). I went into a bit of a daze when I stopped, I was dehydrated and it took a lot out of me – to the point my sister was a metre away from me, shouting my name and I had no idea. I stood still, settled myself and then recovered from it once I had drank the various items (tasty and not tasty) that they gave me me in my goody bag. I took a spot by the finish line to watch my girlfriend, brother-in-law and his best man complete the race.

This week has been a bit of a fragmented training week again though – two late nights at work stopped me from being able to do my planned sessions, but I got a gym session and an interval session around Green Park. I like running around there, every night there are various of fitness classes being run – fair play to those people. I think it gives me a bit more energy when I run past them.

So the first marathon is now two weeks and 1 day away. Tomorrow is my final big run, 25km (roughly 15 miles) and that gives me Easter weekend to do small sessions and also gives me a chance to take Bonnie (my bicycle) out for a spin on the roads. Hopefully the weather shall be kind to me, as I am the ultimate fair weather cyclist. I fail Rule #5 massively on that front unless I have an event right around the corner.