Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Best do the old running round up for last week now!

It all started rather painfully. Two races in two days had taken it's toll and everything (almost!) south of my waist was stiff and painful; particularly my glutes and calves. I couldn't even walk properly.

All that meant that Monday was a rest day and on Tuesday I booked for a massage for the following day. I did manage to run Tuesday evening with Abbey. A shade under 7 hilly miles. Felt stiff at the outset then it slowly eased through the run, though running downhill I could feel it in the glutes and when faced with a short steep hill my calves felt absolutely dead.

The massage the next day wasn't pleasurable - the pain on massaging the knot(s) in my glutes was strong but hopefully it did some good and I did just over 7 equally hilly miles with Kirkstall that evening. That was done slightly slower, with a couple of stops en route, though my legs (and me in general) felt tired and not up to speeding up.

Rest was the plan for the remainder of the week though I did go out for an hour's bike ride on Thursday which also seemed to help the legs feel better.

I had thought of taking Beth out for a short run Saturday as she's only ran twice since July but other plans for her and the rest of the family precluded that, so the next run was the Harewood 10 mile trail race on the Sunday.

I did this race in 2006 and it was fairly tough - with a fair amount of climbing and downhills, 2-3 stiles, lots of narrow trails and a final mile that was almost entirely up a steep climb contributing to a course with a net ascent of about 120ft.

It was good running weather - bright, breezy and cool - and there was a good showing from Abbey with a dozen or more running it.

The first mile is pretty much flat overall and the second has a good descent and this, combined with my finding myself nearer the front than I intended led to the first 2 miles being over 40 seconds ahead of target pace (having used the road PB from Wistow as the target even though this was an appreciably tougher event).

Mile 3 was all uphill barring a very brief drop at the end and that immediately wiped out the time in the bank and put me about 7 seconds down overall. It also left me pooped for the undulating 4th mile as we headed across fields to the flatter environs of the reservoir and after 4 miles I was down by 22 seconds.

Theoretically that should have been the cue to speed up a little and claw that back - a couple of flat miles that would allow me to get some sort of rhythm going - but the legs still didn't feel quite able. Not sure if it was still after effects from the previous weekend, the early hills or the pace but I had dropped a further 30 seconds by the time I reached the 6 mile mark.

I lost more time in mile 7 as we left the reservoir across undulating fields before joining a narrow track where I spent a bit of time boxed behind a tiring runner. I'd felt very fatigued at the beginning of that mile but the slower pace on the trail allowed me to recover a bit, and whilst I lost another 30 seconds in that mile (now 83 behind) I felt good going into the friendly mile 8.

Here there was a gentle downhill for the mile and I was able to claw back 10 seconds. Then, in mile 9, there was a steady and occasionally steep downhill that I could fly down and in the process pull back another 35 seconds.

Had it been a flat last mile I'd have then had a chance at hitting the target but immediately at the beginning of the final mile you're faced with the first of two steep climbs going straight up ahead of you. Mind you, I'd used the road PB as a target but realistically I just wanted to be vaguely close - maybe within two minutes - as that felt like a reasonable comparison bearing in mind the gradient and terrain differences, and I was well on course for that.

The last mile consisted of the first steep rise for maybe a third of a mile, then 100m or so of flat, before another equally steep climb that's a little more than a third of a mile and then the final 400m that's at best flat or at worst a very, very slight incline.

The first climb was tiring but for the second I was able to pass a couple of runners and still have enough breath left to speak to another runner who laboured past me - presumably she didn't have enough breath as she completely blanked me and my compliment about her hill running skills!

I speeded up a little to the finish - enough to keep the runners behind at bay without wishing to pass the ones in front or go all out. Final time was 40 seconds slower than Wistow 3 weeks previously. That felt good and when I looked at other Abbey Runners times (who had done both races) they were all between 3.5% and 9.5% slower whereas I was less than 1% slower. Whether that showed that I could have done more at Wistow or that Harewood was particularly good I can't be sure but I guess its good news either way!

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