A few weeks ago I ran my first 10k since I started long distance running. As soon as the race started I felt quite stressed, like I needed to chase the front and I never got into a rhythm which was the vast difference to when running a marathon. But despite that I am super happy with my time of 43.40 and getting an Alex Monroe necklace instead of a medal. Thanks Nike.
Next race is the Hackney Half, my training hasn’t been quite on track, but we have had a million bank holidays but the sun has been shining. Everything in moderation.
Last Sunday I ran my third marathon and second time in London, unlike the first time I ran in London, this year I was starting in the good for your age start line which meant getting over the line in less than two minutes and having a lot less people to run around and avoid. This advantage provides the opportunity to set a pace from the outset and focus on settling into a long 26 miles rhythm, although I want to be clear it was still quite a stressful experience with so many people around you all the time and I did find it a little aggressive. But I think this in large part was due to me staying with a 3.30 pacemaker and being around lots of other determined people.
So I was feeling good and determined to pace at 8minute miles and not shoot off to fast, I wanted to run under 3.35 because that is the Boston qualifier time, but my snowboarding holiday three weeks before the race had started to feel like a bad idea. I had gone away when I was at the peek of my fitness and come home to start the taper. I felt both physically and mentally like achieving under 3.35 was unrealistic. Despite this though I thought sticking with the 3.30 pacer at the beginning would force me to start on 8minute miles instead of 7.30 (which my long training splits seemed to be) and it would at least give me a chance to finish sub 3.40.
It was hot from the outset which was a little worrying but I knew I just needed to keep my fluids up, run in the shade when possible and not stress out about the heat (and choosing to wear all black). The first three miles went so fast and we were joining the other runners in no time, it sounds silly to write this as we know exactly how quickly the time went but for me but the first 14 miles seemed to fly by. It was a beautiful day, the crowds were amazing as always and I was anticipating the high of Tower Bridge and the hope of seeing friends at mile 13.
Despite missing my friends at mile 13 I was still feeling good, the noise at tower bridge is deafening and you feel like a superstar for 5 seconds as you run across, sun blaring and strangers shouting your name. As we settled into the highway the realisation that i was already halfway made me so happy, i had one headphone in up to this point and my phone was beeping as friends in my whatsapp group were arranging cheering spots, I decided to send them an update letting them know i was coming up to mile 14 and snap a quick selfie. I put my phone away and then came an almighty roar and I turned to my left in time to see Mo Farah flying past.
As mile 14 approached I still felt pretty strong, I was running alongside the pacemaker, drinking water and had my first gel. It was only after finishing my gel as mile 15 approached that it hit me how far there still was to go, despite it feeling like time was going fast the ability to actually clock the miles felt impossible. I tried not to think about the number 26 and focus on the number 16 – I was determined to try and stay at 8 minute miles.
From mile 19 I knew I had to concentrate on my race and not keep thinking about running with the 3.30 team I had surrounded myself with. It was becoming more stressful to run together as we moved around people. I put both my headphones and decided to focus on me. I had my watch and I knew that I was doing well, I just needed to stay focused. I was excited about seeing friends at mile 22 and mile 23 and knew exactly where to look. I set those as my goals, never the full 26 – that seemed to far.
As I went past mile 22 I didn’t see my friends, the pacemaker I had been running with was long gone, my iphone overheated so my music had gone and my mouth was clammy from gels. I wanted water but there wasn’t a stand for a while and I knew my next opportunity for a drink would be lucozade before the underpass which would only make me crave cold water more. But just as I thought my chance of sub 3.35 was over and I was losing my focus I saw my friends – that lift it gives you is beyond special and hard to explain. It just makes you so happy and as I turned back to the road after waving determined to see Pippa at mile 23 I also found a different 3.30 pacemaker.
I was hoping that he was a little further back because of the staggered pens and figured if I could do my last three miles with him I might still come in under 3.35. My watch had messed up a bit from the tunnel at mile 15 so was out my a few minutes so didn’t want to rely to heavily on this. I saw my running partner Pippa at mile 23 and despite being in so much pain i was determined and so happy I had seen everyone. Next it’s embankment, the thames, London eye and for the first time I thought about the number 26 and how close it was. As soon as I saw the 800 metre sign I knew I had made it, I just needed that last kick. I went for it, in my head I was sprinting, or at least giving it everything I had left.
I crossed the line and my watch said 3.32. I was so happy, I had beaten my Paris time, it was over and I ran a consistent race. My legs hurt like they had never hurt before – I had never ran that hard consistently before and my quads were feeling it. I hobbled through the finishers section trying to eat the apple from our bags, I knew I hadn’t eaten enough before the race and that it was important to eat now despite having no appetite. My phone was still overheated and not working but I could hear all my texts coming in and people trying to call but I couldn’t answer. I finally made it to my meeting point G just as my phone started working. My brother had been watching my race at home and text me to ask me if i was happy with my time. At this point I didn’t realise there was a tracker and so it was my brothers text that alerted me to my actual time of 3.30.46 !! I couldn’t believe I had done it. I had ran 3.30 and knocked 7 minutes off my last PB.
Next my long term sights are on Boston and short term Nikes We Own the Night, i’ve not ran a 10k for years so i’m keen to see what my time in a race is now. I also have the Hackney Half and I am looking to do a triathlon. At mile 22 I swore to myself never again and in terms of times i’m not sure what my goal is, I thought 3.30 was a long way off so now I am happy to set some faster half marathon times, and run some more races all around the world.
There are only three long runs left until this years London Marathon and my legs are feeling it. I’ve been following the Runners World Intermediate training plan and by following I mean it in the loosest sense. Tuesdays are dictated by my Interval session at the Harriers and I’m usually running home and into the work the next day on a Wednesday and Thursday which is a decent and fairly fast eight miler each way. Friday tends to be my day off and Saturday is an easy 5k unless I swapped my long run from Sunday.
This year is the first time I have done at least three 20 mile runs throughout training, this started off really positively, I have felt unexpectedly strong on the first two and my average pace per mile has been in the 7.50/8.15 margin when running on my own – all good signs for a well timed run on race day. But my latest run felt so hard and alien I had to double check my stats form the previous runs to make sure I hadn’t made up some miles somewhere in the middle. I’m putting the bad 20 miler down to fatigue but it was a nasty reminder that no matter how much you train marathons are always hard, unexpected and anything can happen.
This Sunday I did a lovely 17 mile in the gorgeous sunshine, it was warm but early enough for me to avoid it being too hot and if the last few years are anything to go by good practice for marathon day. I did forget my water and any money though so by 6pm that evening, despite drinking throughout the day my pounding headache forced me to my bed where I had to lie down and be very still until the next day. Not my brightest move. Dehydration is no joke.
Next week I am off to Andorra to go snowboarding for a week which means very little running but I’ll be in Barcelona for next weekends long run which will be a nice change to London. Then it’s reducing the mileage and starting a gradual taper. How is it this time again already…
It’s less than ten weeks until the marathon which is madness because that seems really soon but the year still feels new. Training is going well. I’ve joined the Victoria Park Harriers and go to their interval sessions on Tuesday nights. Last year my training was heavy mileage but I tended to miss the speed work – you need groups and people to chase to do intervals properly (at least I do).
Harriers on a Tuesday has taught me about thresh hold pace and also discover I have one. And every week I surprise myself at how I get a little bit faster and then my longer runs to and from work get the bit faster or feel that bit easier.
This weekend I hit 20 miles which is the longest I have ever run this early into my training but I enjoyed it. And last week I ran 16 miles and I enjoyed it too. I felt strong and got faster at the end, I didn’t feel like I was plodding it still felt rhythmic.
One of the best things is meeting Pippa 3 miles into the long run, hitting the middle part together and separating off at the end to head to our respective houses. It give you those breaks in the distance and makes the miles seem less. This also means running parts just talking which is good practice and sign you can go faster but also times with your headphones – because running to a good song in the sunshine is still one of the best things ever.
13 miles on this beauty of a morning listening to this old fourtet mix. Feeling strong and enjoying the longer runs right now. Let’s hope it stays this way.
Since the Paris Marathon I’ve kept up running in the simplest form but my mileage and frequency had definitely declined. As much as an early morning run sets you up for the day better than anything else there is also something delicious about hitting snooze and crawling deeper under your duvet once you have completed that goal. Similarly running for longer or further than 10k can also be challenging unless its to literally get you from A to be. It can be hard to motivate yourself to go on a 16 mile run just because.
Despite that I have been running faster 5ks before work and 8 mile runs home from work once a week all in preparation for my next marathon training plan, which starts next week. In 5 months I’ll be running London again. I was running pretty much six days a week for Paris so if I want to get faster I know its about my speed and stamina so hills, fartlek and intervals are going to become my new best friend over the next five months.
Here we go.
We did it. The Paris marathon is over and the training paid off. Unlike my first marathon in 2011 which was very much a solo affair I had my boyfriend good friend and 5 time marathon runner Pippa to get through our training plan this very long cold winter.
With a time of 3hours and 37 Minutes (that’s a 30 minute PB) I’m pretty happy and it turns out the time gets me entry into London next year. Two weeks ago I was never running another marathon but now, well maybe.
With London I was always against the clock in my training and it was very much my thing. Music was my best friend and Saturday was always our proper catch up but this time i barley listened to music and it was good. I learned to listen to my body and breathing more and when I got tweak and pains I could do something about it without panicking.
The conversations and silence you achieve on a 20 mile run is something different to music and it is one of the most wonderful things about running with others. You understand each other differently after that. But don’t get me wrong a run home through the city alone with my music blaring. That one is hard to beat to. Time and a place.
So Paris although more entrants than London seemed less hectic and more spacious, there was definitely less winding at the beginning. The conditions on the day could not have been better. We arrives at the Arc de Triomphe to see the sun rising and it stayed out all day with little wind but still cool at 10 – 11 degrees.
The route looped us across the city and through parts of Paris I will probably never see again, I loved the drummers and random bands and chants of allez allez along the way and the run along the river was a welcomed distraction.
Refreshments may seem like an odd highlight but every 5k we had water stands and fresh oranges, bananas and raisins, these fresh and cold snacks were much better than the sugary syrupy drinks and gels at normal races.
For this race I only switched my runkeeper on 2 miles in so frustratingly had to wait for my time but I also didn’t listen to my splits through the run, Pippa would always laugh at my obsession with the data after our runs but it was very refreshing to run this without the runkeeper lady telling me how I was doing. This was all in my head and legs and it worked.
Next I am definitely keen to do some half marathons again and see some more cities along the way and if i get a free spot for London, it would seem silly not to use it. We will see. Thank you Pippa and Bradley. What a run, what a year so far. x