Thursday, 30 July 2009

Thursday Tempo(ish)

With the training emphasis moved firmly away from speed to endurance joining the Rocket’s for fun with intervals was out of the question. So instead went for a five-mile Green Park tempo. Well, when I say tempo there was tempo effort going in but only mid-tempo (if that) speed coming out. And yet again the wind was against me on the way out and thankfully behind me all the way home. Ran mainly at 7-minute mile pace but with having to slow down to cross roads and get past pedestrian blockages the average was a tad slower.

Started off from the gym in glorious sunshine, however, it quickly deteriorated and spent most of the tempo running through a grey drizzle. Went round Green Park the wrong way (i.e. clockwise) which seemed (and probably is) easier. On the way back picked up a free can of Orangina (with real orange pieces!) from some nice people outside St. Paul’s which made up for getting wet.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Easy Childwickbury Loop

Another nice easy run today.

Headed down to Harpenden and threw in a loop of Rothampsted Park before setting off for Childwickbury. Despite, or maybe because of, yesterdays rest day legs felt quite heavy and didn't really loosen up until a good 25 minutes into the run. Unexpectedly, despite going in the opposite direction from Saturday, the wind was again against me on the way out and with me home. Which was nice.

Could easily have plodded on for another couple of miles to make it up to ten but time was getting on and my stomach was telling me it was past lunch o'clock. So it was home via the recently trimmed common and up Crabtree Lane which was closed while new speed humps are being installed.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Someries Revisited

Today I fancied a return to the area between Someries Castle and Airport Way (previously visited on 21st June) to see if I could find a better route. Headed north along the Lea Valley Walk which bit-by-bit, week-by-week, gets better and better. This week I even managed to get through the section behind East Hyde sewage works without getting stung by nettles - something unimaginable but a few weeks ago. With the wind against me I was happy to take it easy and pump out the miles at 8:05 pace.

At Airport Way had no problem finding the steps leading to the path back to the Someries. Unfortunately once at the top and through the kissing gate I was faced with a field of very prickly looking crop (so much for not getting stung earlier) and little evidence of a footpath. In retrospect, looking at the map, I should have stayed close to perimeter fence. However, at the time the path didn't look too promising so I cut over to the field. Anyway suffice to say what followed wasn't very enjoyable, with some pain, much walking, and a mile times of 10:42! Once at the castle (or should I say what's left of it) it was a straightforward on-road gallop home. With the wind (and the aircraft noise) now behind me the return leg pace averaged a more respectable 7:30 min/mile.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Mid-Week Mid-Tempo

Had originally planned for this to be a recovery run. However, by yesterday afternoon decided a mid-tempo would be more fitting. Chris had stated his intention to come but instead came up with a barrage of weak excuses (too busy, meeting at 1pm, didn't like the look of the weather, blah, blah, blah). If I didn't know better I'd say he was put off by the e-mails warning of only cold showers in the gym - nesh or what?

So it was just hard men Guy and me that ventured out. Over to the Wapping steps for the usual debate on what to do. Quick decision was reached to do a 25 minute tempo run - as far as you like in 12.5 minutes, just make sure you can get back again before the big hand gets round to the five. Ran out at 7-minute mile pace which was fine. However paid the price on the way back where 7-minute mile pace was a real struggle thanks to the strong headwind (funny how I hadn't noticed the tail-wind on the way out!). Guy was distracted by the opening of the Limehouse Basin swing bridge and so didn't turn round on time. He then stopped for a chat mid-way back and so managed to turn his tempo into three reps.

I just about made it back to the steps in the allotted time, clocking my 3.58 miles bang on target pace.

Oh yes, the gym's boiler was patched up while we were out so showers were fine.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Tuesday Rocket's

Another Tuesday, another Rocket's session. Rolled up to the meeting point to find Chris already there and accompanied by his buddy Jozef (he's "quite good" - apparently).

Up at the canal there was some muttering and a few sharp intakes of breath from the back bunch when it was announced the session would be six reps of four 4 minutes with 90 seconds recovery. And they're off. With tired legs (rest days seem to have been replaced with spin/cycling) I had no hope or intention of keeping up. Took it steady/hard out to the turn, which given the length of the reps was down to Victoria Park. Joined up with Chris and Jozef for the back three. Jozef was wasted having gone out too fast (maybe not that good after all) so just Elbows and me. Elites caught us towards the end of rep five which was slightly disappointing. Chris kicked at the end of rep six - I didn't bother.

Jozef "won" the warm down back to the gym - yeah like anyone cares.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Once Round The Block

With a belly full of beer from Saturday night an early Sunday morning start was never on the cards. In fact it wasn’t until just after midday and multiple infusions of coffee that I finally managed to drag myself over the doorstep.

Walking up the road muscles felt as stiff as the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz and my knee was aching thanks to multiple falls while out on the MTB yesterday (doh!). Headed over to the Nicky line "Poli, Poli", as our Kenyan friends would say, with thoughts of doing a five mile loop round the back of Rothamsted Park. However, legs eased up after a mile and churning out eight-minute miles felt comfortable.

Just after turning left off the Nicky Line diverted through Knott Wood thereby fulfilling the contractual requirement to include at least one new path. A quick rain shower later and I reached the top of Rothamsted Park. Felt fine so decided to push on extending the loop round to West Common with a view to spending an hour on the feet. The GPS did well to keep track through West Common woods but surprisingly had problems with the railway bridge on Southdown Road. Back to Harpenden for a quick comfort break and then up Station Road detouring round Elliswick Road to ensure the trip meter ticked over to eight miles.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Green Park Tempo (Hare & Hounds Route)

Thursday’s run was replaced by spin so out Friday lunchtime instead. Conveniently Niall was also free and looking to run so we arranged to do a mid-tempo round the Hare & Hounds route. He also brought along a few of his JPM running buddies just in case we were tempted to take it too easy. Julian looked "normal" but Alan and Mark where built more like elites. I was beginning to wonder what I’d let myself in for.

We set off along Victoria Embankment at a reasonably steady 7-minute/mile(ish) pace. Alan and Mark upfront; Niall and Julian gassing behind; and me somewhere in the middle. Waiting to cross Whitehall I looked back to see Julian joining us but no Niall. I assumed his dodgy foot had forced him to stop and so stuck with the JPM3 as we crossed the road, went through the arch and onto the gravel parade ground. So you can imagine my surprise to then see Niall hot footing it some 20 metres ahead. It turned out the crafty sod had taken a "Kenny Special" shortcut that allowed him to hit Whitehall higher towards Trafalgar Square and cross while we stood round at the Horse Guards Ave junction like lemons waiting for the traffic to clear.

Heading up Birdcage Walk we were all pretty much together. However, ever conscious of Niall's superior road crossing technique, I made sure I hung in close as we came up the short sharp incline to at the top end of St James Park to The Mall. The tactic worked a treat allowing us in but a few strides to catch Alan and drop Julian and Mark. Round Green Park anti-clockwise I stayed with Alan on the drag up to the tube station but not wanting to blow-up so early eased on the bumps to Wellington Arch.

Back down to The Mall, Alan was tanking and it was all I could do to keep him in sight. Across Horse Guards Parade, over Whitehall and in no time we were back on Victoria Embankment. Less than a mile to go and with the wind filling my sails the pace stayed high. Fearing Mark and Julian were catching I daren’t look back and just kept going knowing "The Bollards" couldn’t be that far away.

Finishing time was 32:56 which Niall graciously conceded was pretty good. Alan finished about a minute ahead while Julian was only about 15 seconds behind and catching quickly having stopped when Mark pulled over with an injury. Niall hobbled in perhaps a minute later – I can’t remember. On any other day I might well have finished 5th but today lady luck was on my side.

So much for mid-tempo - that was full on flat out - I was whacked.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Rockets with Chris

Surprisingly low turnout for Lockett's Rockets today. Not sure if the Standard Chartered Great City Race this Thursday is a factor, however, we struggled to break into double figures. With Dave N's departure, the running group at work seems to be falling apart so Chris joined me for his first session with the fast boys. Except not many fast boys turned up.

Session today was two minute reps with a hardly noticeable 30 seconds recovery. I assumed my customary position to the rear and was able to keep up with a couple of slowies. Okay so Niall is still injured and Chris was sensibly taking his first session steady. However, having not had a rest day since Friday (running or cycling/spinning) I was expecting far worse.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Easy (Like) Sunday Morning

Despite the horrendous weather forecast Sunday morning broke merely overcast. The light drizzle cleared by 7:30 for the start Harpenden Running Force's Regular Sunday Run (HRFRSR).

Dave was recovering from his stellar performance in the Three Spires Challenge 13 the previous day so it was just me and Niall. The lesser spotted Kenny was missing having dutifully supplied a lame excuse.

Unconfirmed rumours circling the club claim Kenny has actually eloped to an elite training camp high in the Kenyan mountains. Here he is subject to a strict diet of ugali and twice daily training sessions. His contact with the outside works is via a battered Nokia 3220 only capable of sending text messages to Niall. These texts are screened by his captors trainer, while incoming texts and all voice calls are barred. Of course he could just be relaxing on a beach on holiday, I guess we’ll find out next time he rolls up for a HRFRSR.

Anyway, conspiracy theories aside, Niall was still recovering from his dodgy foot so short and easy was the order of the day. But being a HRFRSR we still included the now almost mandatory new footpath, field with of long wet grass to soak our feet and a path through a field of wheat. The only thing really missing (other than Kenny) was Dave's "so where are we now?" as we turn into Harpenden High Street.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

More Of The Same

The day after the Corporate Challenge so not many Rocket’s out. On reaching the canal muster point we had eight of which two went off to do their own thing (one tempo one recovery). Session was a repeat of Tuesday i.e. six reps, each 3 minutes with a minute recovery plus an extra minute recovery at the half way point. Rather surprisingly of the six runners only two were elite so for once the rear guard were in the majority. The first rep was run at a palatable six minute mile pace, however, subsequent reps were run a little quicker, not much, but enough. Hence a similar pattern to Tuesday emerged: kept-up on first two reps, lost touch, but not by much, on the third, OK on fourth, blew up on fifth, tempo pace home on sixth.

I might have come last again but enjoyed it more than Tuesday. Realistically six minute mile pace is all I can hold on this session; if I go quicker on the first few reps I'll pay the price later.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Intervals Atrocious

Last week while waiting for the Grand Depart from the Lockett’s Rockets meeting point I was doing my best to keep out of the sun; today it was the rain. However, despite the miserable weather a healthy crowd turned up for their usual Tuesday lunchtime treat. I, on the other hand, turned up for some more humiliation and was duly not left disappointed.

The runners I had been able to keep up with on the shorter intervals a few weeks ago simply left me for dead on today’s three minute reps. I didn’t think I was running that badly, however, by the third rep I’d lost touch with the back of the ‘slow’ group and from then on was running in free air. Martin was there but, saving himself for Wednesday's Corporate Challenge, turned back after two reps. I can kid myself I might have just keep in touch had he run all six but I doubt it.

Got back to the office thoroughly demoralised and wondering just what I need to do to raise my game. Drinking lots of chocolate milkshake might help and even if doesn't at least it tastes good.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Solo Sunday Plod

All on my lonesome today: Niall managed to get injured cross training (ho-hum) and David fancied doing some proper mileage (22 miles at sub 7:30 pace no less). So left to my own devices the good intentions of doing a semi-decent distance quickly evaporated and I ended doing a decidedly local off-road trip down to Wheathampstead and back.

It was quite warm but overcast and nowhere near the temperatures of the last couple of weeks. So you’d think I’d have been able to run a fair bit quicker than 8:30 pace. However, running so slowly gives you plenty of time to think and it was on the slow trudge uphill between the three and four mile marks that I had the eureka moment. After running I always do a few minutes stretching – you know the usual thing: hamstrings, quads and calfs. But I never stretch after my Saturday cycle rides – could this be why my muscles regularly feel so tight on Sunday mornings? Well it sounds like a fine theory to me that I intend to test next week.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Humble Pie

The Wapping canal path was closed again today which made intervals a touch trickier. Now I didn’t technically get lost as such, however, despite Dave barking instructions from the rear I still managed to take the wrong turning (on more than one occasion). So I’ll take just a small portion of humble pie thanks. But hey, at least I didn’t end up on The Highway.

Just the four of us turned out for Dave’s last ever lunchtime training session which I think speaks volumes about his popularity. I suggested longer reps so we went for four sets of five minutes with a two of minutes’ recovery. It was scorching hot again and the five minutes seemed to last a lifetime. Not having similar ability runners for company made pacing difficult and as is par for the course the first rep was run too fast and the remainder too slow.

Dave took great pleasure accusing me of being unethical for loosing losing track of time on the final rep and stopping a minute early. I fear my end of term report will be of the “could try harder” variety. Please Sir, let me off: the dog ate my running watch etc, etc.