So I’ve started to taper slightly this week with an extra rest day and a slightly shorter LSR. Weirdly this has made such difference as I felt amazing on my LSR and this has given me a lot of confidence.
So after the New Forest 20 miler, Monday was a welcome rest day. I was a bit concerned how much hamstrings tightened post race so I really worked my legs on the foam roller that evening. My quads especially were really tight and my calf’s around the top of my achilles was quite tender. No surprise really with the rugged terrain and elevations.
Tuesday as always is club night, I normally join the pink session which is high intensity but with my legs still hungover I decided a steady run was more appropriate. I joined the blue session for a steady 9 miles instead. This started at the Littledown Leisure Centre, we ran down to the front and along to Bournemouth Pier before heading back Littledown through Boscombe.
With it being a nice easy pace it gave me the chance to check in with a few runners and see how their marathon training was going and so on. That’s the great thing about Marathons, where other race distances are spread throughout the year, Marathons have tshort event windows in either spring or autumn so there always someone to share experiences with. Another nice thing is to see what races they have done in their preparations, two which have really interested me for next year is the Yeovil half marathon and Larmer Tree half. Yeovil’s atmosphere was supposed to be amazing, with it really well supported and the Larmer Tree half was meant to be beautiful and the medal is unbelievable so will look to do either one or both next year, hopefully in preparation for London.
Wednesday I did some speedwork, I headed down to the prom again and did 4 x 8 min efforts with a 90sec recovery. It was planned that the efforts would be at threshold but my legs were still tired and the fourth dropped slightly to tempo. It was a tough workout and I did have to dig deep running solo, so pleased that I ran hard.
Thursday and Friday were rest days. Although I do have a confession to make. I decided to abscond from alcohol in February until after the marathon as while I’m not a big drinker, I didn’t want the effects of dehydration and so on through training. But….they’re is ways a but….it was Good Friday and while I had every intention of not drinking, the father in law opened a bottle of Port and well I just couldn’t say no! Which then led me to a couple of glasses of Prosecco and a few beers. I did however have lots of water when I got in to try and counter the affects. What is it with Christian holidays and the need to stuff ourselves and drink till we’re merry?!
On Saturday I had a 45 minute easy run planned so I put Barney on his lead and headed out, it was only when I got to King’s Park that I realised it was Parkrun that morning and it must be on soon, just before I got to the corner I heard the klaxon go off so while a tad late we were just in time. Me and Barney ran to the tail runner about turned and joined in.
I’ve never run Parkrun recreationally before, while I’ve run with my boys this has always been after I sped round with lungs bursting, finished and then joined my wife and boys for the last lap (2.5 lap course). So this was new to me and I loved it, the atmosphere was great, with everyone enjoying themselves. We came 106th overall and Barney I think was 2nd dog behind a Collie, I did tell him that he missed an opportunity by needing a poo halfway round but I don’t think he was that bothered. The other great thing was that I pushed a lady on the final stretch at the end and she got a new PB, while I take no credit for this what so ever it none the less gives me a big smile.
Sunday – My training plan called for 60 mins at easy pace and then 60 at marathon pace which I calculated would be about 17 miles. I went on to Google and mapped out an 18 mile route, taking into consideration the strong winds that were forecasted. My friend Dave decided to join me and we headed off at 08:30 in beautiful sunshine. We headed through Throop and ran past the donkey sanctuary along the river and through the Stour Valley Nature Reserve, there were a few muddy patches which I tried to avoid as best I could as I was sporting new trainers which I’ll running Manchester in. We then headed South West and were greeted with the wind and it certainly made it harder. To make things worse it then decided to start with the hail stones, this was not pleasant especially as unlike Dave I didn’t have a coat. At mile 7.89 averaging 7:36 /mi I hit 60 mins and the marathon pace began. Now I hadn’t thought this through when mapping the route as this was the beginning of the hilly bit of the route!!! I suppose this is all good training but I did let out a little curse.
Dave continued with me until mile 10, where he told me to go on as he’d done too many miles (ended on 63 miles) that week and the pace was too much. I briefed him on the rest of the route while we climbed another hill, said are goodbyes and I cracked on. The wind and rain was quite something now but I felt good so pushed on, running through Canford Cliffs towards Branksome. The hilly and windy parts I clocked 7:35, 6:52, 6:56 then wiyh just the wind I clocked 6:44 and 6:40. Once I hit mile 13 I was on the front and running East with the wind on my back, oh what bliss it was and my pace with no extra effort dramatically increased to an average of 6:22 /mi to mile 17. I really enjoyed the 4 miles along the front, the sun was shining, I had the wind on my back plus I enjoyed seeing all the others runners faces going the other way battling that wind!!! I felt I needed to provide a excuse though, tempted to shout out I’ve had the wind already plus rain and hail stones but I didn’t I just giggled to myself at the the gurning faces and wild hair 😂 I finished the 60 minutes running 9.12 miles at 6:35 /mi which totalled 17.1 miles.
If I can run Manchester at 6:35/mi I’ll be absolutely ecstatic but I’m aiming for 6:40 /mi to reach my goal of a 2:55 marathon. I felt great throughout this run physically and mentally and it was a real test, this again has given me a huge boost. I am however remaining realistic, knowing that this is my first ever marathon and anything can happen. This is why completion is the ultimate goal and anything else will be a bonus!!