Pass me the beans

A new year and new goals.  With a fair wind, in 2017 I’ll run two road marathons – London on April 23 (15 weeks from now) and an Autumn marathon wearing an England vest as an age group competitor.

Since returning from my Indian holiday, I haven’t felt great – I contracted the regular Christmas time lurgy in mid-December and felt yucky and chesty and didn’t run much at all for a fortnight.  I tried to maintain fitness on the rower and turbo trainer, but my heart wasn’t really in it.

I had planned to run races on consecutive days over the festive break – the Chevin Chase, a local 7 mile hilly trail race, on Boxing Day; and the Ribble Valley 10K on the following day.

Having missed the Abbey Dash in November, my intention when I entered Ribble Valley was to break my 10K PB. Clearly that wasn’t going to be possible because of the respiratory illness, so I decided to duck that race.

I did turn up at the Chevin Chase – its a great fun event, the course passes  within a couple of miles of my house and the support is always amazing. No doubt many of the spectators were hoping to see one (or maybe both) of the Brownlee brothers.

I can’t say that I enjoyed the race. It was a brisk chilly day and I was still feeling grotty and snotty.

There is a lung bursting steep climb at about 5 miles  up to Surprise View. It takes a huge effort just to run the whole way up and I didn’t manage it. I succumbed to a little walk near the top when I couldn’t catch my breath and my heart rate resembled a drum track on speeded up Hi-NRG  Euro disco music.

After the climb there was a half mile road section along the top of the ridge straight into the teeth of a brutal wind.  Still unable to catch my breath, I’m slightly ashamed to say that I had a little sulk and mini internal tantrum.  I stopped and walked for a minute or two and dozens of runners streamed passed me.

The sight of team mate Nobby passing me (in a Santa Suit) on the final descent shocked me out of my grouse and I sprinted the last  mile in just over 5 and a half minutes. Still, my time of 51:58 was pretty crap really – more than 3 and a half minutes slower than my best time on the course.

Jonny Brownlee won again (Alistair didn’t run), but apparently not by much, with only a handful of seconds gap over Tom Adams of Ilkley.

The illness has been slow to shift and even now I still feel that I have a bit of infection lingering in my chest. Consequently my running has all felt a bit ‘meh’ – just lacking in beans.  As I’m now the ‘wrong’ side of 50, and suffering a few aches and pains, I have had thoughts that maybe age is getting to me and perhaps I have run as fast as I ever will.

That could well be true for some of the shorter distances – 5K in 17:30 and 10K in 36:06 might just be as good as I will ever do, but I still feel that my 2:55 marathon PB is a bit soft and I should really be able to run at least two minutes faster. That’s what I aiming for in 2017 and if I achieve my best ever marathon whilst wearing a National vest then so much the better.

On New Year’s Day, I ran the traditional (OK, it’s the second year we have done it) double parkrun jaunt with a few Valley Strider chums.

This entailed a 22 mile run from Roundhay to Woodhouse Moor parkrun for the 9:00 event; then on to Temple Newsam for the 10:30 event and then the run home.  It was very enjoyable to run it with Myra, Tim and Joel and Ian (a few other Striders ran part of the way) – apart from being completely soaked by a tw*t of a car driver who swerved into a large puddle to drench us early in the run.

Yesterday, I ran in the Yorkshire Cross Country Championship at Lightwater Valley near Ripon. The course was much drier and quicker than last year.  Despite telling myself to go steadily at the start and save something for the final two laps, I got suckered into running much too quickly and suffered in the second half of the race, conceding a few places.

Although I enjoy the craic, I’m not great over the country and my target for these championship cross country races is to finish in the top half of the field.  This year, I failed miserably, coming home in 156th position out of 287.  Still, I think I tried as hard as I could, as the Strava heart rate chart testifies:


A heart rate of 156 for me means I’m pretty much on the rivet. A heart rate in the 160s means get ready to call an ambulance…so that was one hard race! I felt disappointed to concede so many places, but I couldn’t have tried much harder. More training and less moaning is required.

There’s 15 weeks until London. My basic plan is to average at least 60 miles per week, with a minimum of six runs of 20 miles or longer (hopefully more) and at least one speed workout per week.

I’ve entered a few of my traditional build up races plus a couple of new ones – 10Ks at Dewsbury and Salford, 10 mile races at Snake Lane, and Vale of York (maybe Thirsk as well) and half marathons at the Brass Monkey in York and Bath. That’s quite a lot of racing and I really ought to fit a 20 mile race in there as well, but I haven’t worked out which one or when yet – we’ll see.

The long road to London starts tomorrow.

LM -15 weeks

47.1 miles longest run 11 miles

Weight 11 st 1.6 lbs


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