Monday, 16 March 2009

I feel good

Its been a pretty good week. A couple of niggles, some things to ponder and an imperfect diet (again) but its also been a confidence boost.

No run on Monday but I did have a sports massage to help try to keep the legs in rude health. Not as painful as a fortnight before with correspondingly fewer knots.

By Tuesday evening's club run any lingering aches and pains were gone and once again I felt quite springy. Some early Garmin problems aside it proved to be a useful run too. Went with the usual group along the ring road, up the hairpins of the hill into Meanwood, up to Far Headingley and back along Otley Road. In terms of the run itself I was pleased with how the hills went - I managed them well enough and seem to be getting used to them again. For the last section we did a timed mile and whilst I probably got the pacing wrong I was pleased enough with 7:19 at the end of a hilly run particularly as I didn't go all out at the end.

No aches and pains the following day, aside from a bit of soreness in the left leg mainly due to walking and running 'funny' to avoid aggravating the blister - something I'd had to concentrate on stopping during Tuesday evening.

Thursday's 2 miles, for the second time, didn't happen. I'd hoped to sneak in 20 minutes into my Thursday morning but work was fairly busy. In truth I'd probably told myself it was expendable too. I'll make sure I do it this week.

Thursday evening I was due to give blood. Its something I've been meaning to do for a while as its a good, socially responsible thing to do but its also something I dislike doing as I tend to feel faint and sick a couple of minutes afterwards which is quite embarrassing. By the time I got to Adel War Memorial club I wasn't far short of feeling hysterical - fear of passing out, worried of looking a pratt, concerned that giving blood a day and a half before a 20m run might be unwise, conscious of the sore throat I seemed to have woken up with. I haven't been like that before and I wonder if it was something to do with general marathon anxiety - certainly my blood pressure readings (taken each morning) are generally a little higher than in previous weeks.

Long and short was they de-registered me! Apparently a record of feeling ill after giving blood on 3 occasions means they consider you a risk - probably in terms of litigation as much as health - as people have died afterwards. Disappointed but relieved. I can now not give blood with a clear conscience.

Anyway, back to running and this week's 20 miler. I'd been a bit concerned as the previous 20 miles had really tested me and I was sore for a few days after too. As a result I decided to deliberately slow it down to about 10:10 a mile so that I could finish and still feel there was something left in the tank - psychologically that's the feeling I wanted to take from the final peak LSR into the marathon. I also added on a 2 mile loop at the start so that my final mile before turning around wasn't going to include Bingley's 3-rise and 5-rise locks and decided to include a road section for a couple of miles on the way back just as a change from the canal.

All creative planning that paid off!

Weather wise the forecast of heavy rain and high winds that I'd seen on Thursday didn't transpire. It was very windy (and largely straight at me on the way out) but there was no rain at all, allowing me to do a LSR without a gillet or tights.

The opening 10 miles were all done slower than 10 minute miles. Some a few seconds over but for the most part they were around 10:30 a mile. That was fine and allowed me to feel fairly fresh at half way. It also disguised another change I'd made for this week's run - the timing and resting rules.

Normally I've stopped to take gels and water or to stretch, and whilst I may have paced up and down during this period they have constituted short breaks and they haven't been included in the Garmin timings - I only measure elapsed running time. That's all fine for training but its not the approach I'll take in Paris and it isn't how a chip time will be calculated.

In Paris I plan, for the most part, to walk through the water stations so on Saturday I practised this. I left the timer going all the way through and tried to take gels on the run and drink while walking. That reduced the overall pace by making every 3rd mile or so after 6 miles slower than normal. Sometimes the walking was only for about 10 seconds, other times it could have been 30.

From about 9 miles the blister began to give constant pain - more so if I turned and 'twisted' my foot on it - but it proved not to be quite as bad as the previous week so I'm hoping it is slowly healing and that the taper will allow it to do so more fully.

Mile 11 was faster, at 9:45, and the remaining miles, for the most part, were between 9:30 and 9:45 as has been usual on my LSRs to date. There was one at 10:29 where I took a gel walking up a hill and then had to fiddle to get water from the 2 bottles behind me in the belt, the penultimate mile at 9:58 as I sensed the finish approaching and a final mile at 8:45.

The quicker final mile hadn't been planned but when I realised the penultimate mile had slowed I speeded up a tiny bit and then when I reached half a mile to go I pushed harder still. This was partly because I didn't feel 'done in' as I had on the previous one and a fast last mile would underline this point to myself - that I could have done more.

Afterwards I felt good, and whilst the cold bath didn't completely alleviate any soreness or stiffness it wasn't far off - another pleasing difference to 2 weeks prior. Better pacing, the benefits of previous training and a positive mental attitude before and during combined to great effect for me and have left me feeling confident.

Weight loss wise its a carbon copy of the previous week. Stick well to the program for the first 4 days and see the weight fall (by Friday morning I was down to 12st 8.2lb) but then vague carb loading on Friday followed by severe over eating on Saturday & Sunday put me back to square one by Monday's weigh in.

Saturday & Sunday were binge style. On Saturday we went again to Agraah where I ate alot but then inexplicably followed it up in the hour or so when we got in with 4 pieces of toast, a couple of biscuits, a packet of crisps and a piece of chocolate. By 9pm I was really tired but was so bloated and suffering stomach pains I couldn't get to sleep until about 1am. Yesterday the stomach eased during the morning but then in the evening I ate a huge meal at a Persian grill house and followed that up with 2 packets of M&Ms.

Including today I have 12-14 days left to lose a little weight before I need to maintain weight and then carb load pre-marathon. I don't have the distraction of mini-carb loading sessions before LSRs and nor will I have the feeling of justification for bingeing that longer LSRs provide. Lets see what I can do with that time. I'd still like to be under 12st 7lb a week before the marathon but that means 4lb loss in that time. Fingers crossed.

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