Sunday, 27 March 2011

Let the Taper Begin!

I'm going to start with an apology. This post is going to be a bit self indulgent but its designed to help me get my thoughts together from this morning's run. It was the last run before the taper truly starts so I'm going to cover:

  • The Run in Numbers

  • The Run in Words

  • Learning Points

Though I will leave the final part until tomorrow.

The Run in Numbers

The plan called for:

  • 2 miles warm up at about 9 minute mile pace

  • 12 miles at marathon pace of 7:55 - 8:00 a mile

  • 2 miles cool down at about 9 minute mile pace

What transpired was:

2 miles warm up at 8:33

  1. 8:10

  2. 7:58

  3. 8:01

  4. 7:53

  5. 7:55

  6. 7:49

  7. 7:53

  8. 7:56

  9. 7:56

  10. 7:54

  11. 7:52

  12. 8:03

  13. 7:45

  14. 7:15

Average for the last 14 miles: 7:53.

The Run in Words

My plan for today was to try and run as a bit of a trial run for Paris - same kit, similar fuelling, and obviously similar pace. That meant a first outing for my new (very, very short) race shorts but as it was 3c I opted for a t-shirt ahead of the club vest I'll wear on the day. It also meant I left behind the water bottle belt in favour of a marathon belt and hand held 'doughnut' bottle.

Before and during the warm up miles I somehow didn't feel 'up' for the run. For one thing I felt bloated and had stomach ache from the high carb diet yesterday but more than that I just felt a bit negative and even in the first mile I was thinking of reasons why it wouldn't matter if the run went badly, that it wouldn't provide any real reason for doubts etc. I also felt awkward in my running form.

However, I got through those first 2 miles, had a swig of water while re-setting the Garmin and off I went at what felt like the right pace. I was probably right too, but after a couple of hundred yards the Garmin disagreed telling me I was running at 7:03 a mile, and foolishly I took note, deliberately slowing my pace. Unfortunately that meant that at half a mile the Garmin was telling me I was doing 8:16 but this time I practised a bit of 'marathon approach' and only let myself speed up gradually in response. That gave the 8:10 opening mile.

Then, in mile two I took a break. That wasn't in the plan - I'd hoped to run straight through - but it was quite rural and quiet and I needed a pee! I also took the opportunity to take a gel and rearrange the marathon belt.

In mile three I stopped again, this time when I met Isaac, who used to run with our club. Bless him he gave me a bit of a lift as, having not seen me since September, he remarked that I looked 'really fit'. I was quite chuffed and gained a bit more positivity.

Mile three and four and five clocked on the button but in mile five I had two slightly surreal stops. First when I passed a guy I'd seen before, doing Tai Chi in some woods a mile from the nearest roads. He always looked very intense and was talking to himself as I approached but I thought I'd say hello anyway, but just after I'd gone past he called what sounded like 'Hey mate' or 'Hey Mick' so I stopped and turned round. He apologised for stopping me and called me Mick as if he knew me. Slightly strange exchange followed with me pointing out we'd never met and him saying I was the double of a Thai Boxer he used to train with called Mick Tobin and apologising profusely in the way that only very, very hard people do. Even more strange than last week's referee comment.

Second stop was another loo break just before 6 miles. I could see there was nobody ahead and as I stopped and took a step into the trees along the side of the towpath I looked back and the towpath was clear for the half mile I could see. Seconds later, once the, er, flow had begun I heard a female voice say 'Eugh no, is that man having a wee?' and a few seconds after that two ladies leisurely cycled past. I've no idea how I missed them.

At 6 miles I was clocking 7:58 a mile, partly because of a faster than planned mile 6.

The next 5 miles were all cock on, ranging from 7:52 to 7:56 and that's the sort of consistent pace and running I'll be looking for in the opening 20 in Paris. Little to report from these.

Mile 12 was a bit more of a challenge though. From here on I was certainly feeling it in my quads and maybe because of that my mind wandered a bit, and with that the pace. At the beginning of the mile I knew I was running at 7:56 pace overall, then I noted it drift to 7:57, pulled it back to 7:56, saw it drift again and pulled back again all within the mile but the split was 8:03.

According to the plan I was then due to drop to recovery pace but in recognition of the unplanned breaks I'd had I opted to carry it on at marathon pace; plus I didn't want that slightly slower mile to be the last one. I wanted to feel the mental and physical challenge of pushing on when it was beginning to hurt a bit.

Mile 13 had me trying to push a bit to make sure I stayed at pace and though somehow I missed the split, from the overall average knew I was running below 7:55. At 7:45 it was a bit quicker than I'd have wanted.

In the last mile I decided to speed it up a bit hoping for something like 7:30. It felt hard but I pushed onwards and did 7:15 despite allowing myself to ease a little in the last 200m or so.

Quads remain a bit sore but overall not too bad.


Laura said...

Nice recap I enjoyed reading it, sounds like you're completely ready for Paris, nice to start the taper on such a strong run :-)

~Jessica~ said...

That sounds like an epic and rather surreal run. Right on target for the Paris pace though, yes?

The people you encounter on your runs really belong in a Monty Python sketch as opposed to the English countryside (canal-side?) Glad you're there to represent the sane blokes of the area!