After 5 dark wet months of winter, spring arrived today in England with a whoop and a holler. It was a stunning day. Unbroken sunshine and 18 degrees.
I ran the East Hull 20 mile race today. Originally, I hadn’t planned on doing a 20 miler only four weeks out from the marathon. I thought it might be too hard and would send the body into the red zone, thus requiring a few days of recovery which might be better spent training.
However, a few of my team-mates were running and having thought it through, I entered, but told myself this shouldn’t be approached as a race but as a catered training run. It would also be a good way to honestly gauge whether I can realistically run the Manchester marathon in under three hours – if I couldn’t run sub 6:52 pace per mile for 20 miles then it would be pretty unlikely that I would run it over 26.2 miles.
I could also rehearse my marathon day preparation – have the same breakfast and wear the same kit etc. After ingesting my porridge with honey, blueberries and sliced banana; cinnamon and raisin bagel and a large coffee, I picked up my team-mates John, Sarah and Sean and drove over to East Hull.
John and I planned to run together with fellow Valley Strider Kevin for the first 10 miles and then to see how we felt. Our plan was to run at around 6:52 pace and for the first few miles this felt comfortable and we were chatting away as we steadily picked our way through the field. Unfortunately John dropped off at around 8 miles and it turns out he has aggravated a hamstring injury and it looks like his marathon is not going to happen this spring. I felt for him.
It was great running with Kevin, he’s a fellow MV45 and we paced each other well, reaching halfway in 68:24 and going through the half marathon point in 1:28:58. The route is lollipop shaped and despite running into a breeze on the way back, we managed a negative split – coming home in 67:31. I ended up running the whole distance with Kev. The last 4 miles felt hard, but I thought this would be good practice for the last 6 miles of the marathon, digging in and maintaining the pace when it starts to feel tough.
Overall I ran 2:15:55 for an average pace of 6:48, which is great – just what I wanted from the day. My legs felt tired at the end, but with 20 miles at marathon pace, that is no wonder – that is a hard run in anyone’s book
So mission accomplished – a 20 mile marathon pace run done without the benefit of a taper and great practice at running at target marathon pace. The added bonus was a lovely day out with some good mates.
24 hours earlier I had gone for a really hard 5K effort at Leeds parkrun – I ran my second best ever time at Leeds – 18:05 for 7th place. I didn’t plan to run quite that hard, but a young whippersnapper engaged me in some racing on the third lap and my testosterone kicked in. He passed me then I passed him, then he passed me and finally (so I thought) I went past him near the last corner with 300m to go. The little scamp tried again near the finish so I unleashed my best sprint and finally saw him away. I can run pretty quickly for an old man when I want to.
The hard training is 90% done now. I’ll aim for another 60+ mileage week, it’s my favourite club session on Tuesday night (at the track) and I’ll plan another steady long run next weekend, probably around the reservoirs again.
M – 4 Weeks / 75 miles. Longest run 20 miles. Parkrun (Leeds) 18:05 (7th). Weight after Sunday run 11 st. 2.8 lb