Monday, 6 September 2010

Weekend woes to weekend wonders

It occurred to me on Saturday morning that a subtle change in approach had taken place.

When weighing daily the results on the scales would warp my self image so that, for example, if I appeared heavier than expected I would look in the mirror and see a flabby physique whereas if the scales suggested loss or that I was ahead of target I'd be happy at how lean I looked. To some extent the mirror maybe did reflect the scales but not to the extent I felt.

Now, starved of weight feedback, I have to look more carefully but perhaps what clues I find are all the more reliable. So, on Saturday morning I felt my stomach certainly looked pretty flat, I felt I looked a little less flabby and was pleased to find when putting on jeans that I've gone back to the tightest notch on the belt.

Mind you, the second half of Saturday might have undone some of that!

I did a short (2.6 mile) jog with a few strides thrown in on Saturday lunchtime and found even that to be tough, but again I suspected that I was poorly hydrated despite making more of an effort to drink more water rather than the Rooibos or 7up Zero that had been mainstays of previous days.

Late afternoon I headed to Bradford to meet the family as Charlotte's dance club had been putting on a show at the Alhambra theatre and with Saturday having both a matinee and evening performance she had 2 hours off in which we'd all eat and then watch her in the evening show.

I knew this would mean high calories as we'd agreed to walk up the hill to one of Bradford's many curry houses but wasn't too concerned as I was happy to have plenty of glycogen in the muscles ahead of Sunday's relay race. In the end I ate more than planned though - Charlotte wanted a starter so we all had (unplanned starters) then she couldn't eat much of her curry so I felt obliged to eat some of it and finally the others wanted to order a naan bread (that the particular curry house is famed for and are the size of 5/6 ordinary naans put together) and then ate very little of it so I again felt obliged to eat until full to make more of a dent in it.

The theatre also contained challenges. Its custom to get sweet and/or an interval ice cream and I ended up with my very own over priced box of Smarties, though mercifully no ice cream. On getting in I had 2 pieces of unnecessary toast.

Yesterday, I needed to meet at the running club at 12:30 so Peter (my team mate) and I could sort out transport and logistics, and then was due to run about 1:50pm. I had a bowl of Special K in the morning along with many, many drinks of water and was thankful that it appeared to be breezy and overcast outside.

By 1:30 that had changed to sunny with occasional breaks and it felt warm as we stood and waited.

Bang on time the preceding pair came in, I took the baton and off we went.

I knew the route very well for the first 3.5 miles and by the end of that section, and for a half mile beyond, we averaged 8.0 minutes a mile. I was pleased with that. Not that it was particularly fast but I hadn't run much, it was an undulating route and it was hot and sunny (with all clouds now having gone). Moreover, I'd seen the team's performance from the last 2 years and knew that our leg had taken 1:28 and 1:25 and so an average pace of 8.30 and 8.50. We seemed well ahead, although Peter my team mate had warned that the second half is tougher than the first.

He was right. As we crossed the Harewood estate at the 4 mile marker we left some shady woods and set off through a gate and up a steep rough track. I'd ran the reverse in a trail race and thought there would be 1/4 mile uphill followed by 1/3 mile flat before we reached the road. In the end it was a full mile of uphill by the end of which Peter was a fair way further back.

As part of the relay rules the pair have to finish together so there's no point in one getting too far ahead of the other. For the most part I'd ran 5-10m ahead so far acting as a sort of pacemaker and Peter, who hadn't done too much serious training for a few months, was able to hold on to what, at that stage, felt a comfortable pace to me.

The end of the uphill was marked by the busy A61 and sod's law being what it is we arrived about 2 seconds too late to run straight across and had to wait well over a minute eventually finding a half gap to sprint through in the two streams of traffic.

The hill and the crossing, along with the 2 gates meant we'd lost a fair chunk of time but mile 5, along a trail once more, wasn't far from 8.0 minute pace despite containing 3 more gates.

The gates became a very regular feature from there on and one of the reasons why we steadily lost time. If running together a gate would mean 10 seconds lost in stopping, opening and closing but typically I was a little ahead so I'd stop, open and wait but the net loss would be about the same. Some gates were more difficult though. There was one that had been tied together with twine half way down so we spent 10/15 seconds working this out and then had to climb over (probably losing half a minute), at another a horse rider had opened it and left it for us to close but having not opened it we couldn't see where it closed again giving an additional 15 seconds or so before we figured that it just hooked onto some barbed wire.

As well as the gates there were a few stiles to clamber over and all these obstacles (I'd guess at 4-5 per mile from mile 6) took time and disrupted rhythm.

They weren't the only challenge. By mile 6 we had other problems. The heat, for me, had become quite oppressive and whilst being fully hydrated when we set off and getting a cup of water at 7.5 miles I flagged a bit in the last two and realised later from colour and frequency of toilet trips that I'd got dehydrated again. Navigation was also an issue. Peter knew the route but I didn't so he tended to shout an instruction for where the next turn was but there were times when I'd need to stop and beckon back for guidance and two occasions where I took a wrong turn in one case assuming a gate was the one we wanted and another where I turned left about 5m too early and merrily headed off on the wrong track before being called back.

The other issue was the hills. There were some downhill sections but the uphills seemed longer. There were two uphill road sections that were steep and baking, including 1/4 mile to the finish, but two that skirted recently ploughed, rocky fields stick out for their length and gradient, and by the end of one of these I felt shattered struggling to get back into rhythm quickly on the short flat section that followed.

The downhills too seemed difficult. Firstly there appeared to be fewer and they were shorter but they frequently seemed to take place over rough ground or on narrow twisting paths regularly punctuated by stiles or gates and so giving limited opportunity to speed up and make up some time.

By 9 miles I felt less able or inclined to be a pacesetter as the lack of recent running began to take it's toll on me and in the last mile we were often running together again and in the end we finished in 1hr 27 mins - pretty much on track with the last 2 year's performance. Bearing in mind the weather and our recent running history I think we did OK.

Immediately after I felt fine but after an hour I was shattered - very much like the aftermath of a gruelling long run feeling tired, hungry yet not hungry (difficult to explain that one)and by 7.45pm I was struggling to stay awake as I lay on the bed reading.

Happily though I felt no groin pain during the run nor since and even the back/piriformis pain and Achillies pain that have greeted me on getting out of bed most mornings of late don't seem evident today. That being the case I feel pretty good about things.

1 comment:

Alison said...

Fingers crossed that you stay pain free into tomorrow and beyond.

I have to say, those gates sound annoying. The way they puncture your race report gives a sense of how they kept breaking the run up! Were you not just tempted to climb over all of them?

Totally got you on the hungry thing too. I figure it's your body that wants food but your stomach can't handle it. My brain definitely sends conflicting messages: "feed me!" "vomit! "feed me!". Etc.