Saturday, 2 March 2013

Marathon Training: Week 2

It's certainly been a good running week this week, helped along by a nice bit of sunshine to see off an uncharacteristically joyous February with an early hint of springtime.

There wasn't a trace of springtime in sight last Sunday, however, when I was scheduled to run a 14-miler to get some distance in ready for tomorrow's Haweswater Half Marathon. My plan was to run the Brass Monkey route, a rather lonely circuit heading out through endless flat countryside towards Tadcaster, with a couple of miles through the ceaselessly windy Acaster Airfield to add to the fun. It's one of those routes that seems to go on forever: even when cycling it there's always that wish, somewhere along the route, that you had stayed at home today instead, and home feels like many miles away when running or cycling into winds that sweep across the farmland plains all year round. Sunday was no different, and I set out like a bag of nerves in a high-vis, airtight wrapping. I was wearing a lot more gear than I normally would, but it was really cold, and there was no point on the run when I was tempted to take any of it off - I surprised myself by being glad of my Pocket Rocket, as normally I can't get a mile down the road without feeling as if I'm wrapped in cellophane. I ran really steadily, sticking diligently to my marathon pace of 10-minute miles. At first I felt like I was going way too slow, but it's always nice to look at my watch to find that this easy pace is actually just the right pace. And it was easy, for the first 10 miles, as I was just glad to be out on a Sunday, to feel free of that Sunday feeling that usually hangs over me from the moment I wake up. Plodding along to the sound of my footsteps and breathing is such a nice way to forget the world and space out for an hour or so. Ten miles in and it started to feel quite difficult, especially as I realised that the route was going to take me further than I had originally intended; by thirteen miles I still hadn't got back to Bishopthorpe, yet my pace was slowing and my lungs were aching from the cold. I promised myself that once my Garmin beeped at mile 15 I could walk the rest of the way, but that beep came with a nice downhill slope to enjoy, so I decided to run the rest of the route with the last dregs of my energy. I picked up the pace (which is always a good morale booster, I find, even when it hurts) and gave it everything I had left, clocking in at just over 16 miles at the bottom of the street. My pace was 10;03 a mile, which was just about what I had planned though I was disappointed about how difficult it had been. I couldn't help but think of my Dad's amazing feat for charity last year: he would have had another 70 miles to go at that point!

After last year's Brass Monkey
I was already up on my planned weekly mileage, but kept going a bit over my planned distance and had clocked up 38 miles by Wednesday. After a really good interval session on Wednesday morning the Wednesday evening run was a bit of an effort, made easier by a beautiful sunset over York Knavesmire during a lovely off-road route. I finished off the week with a great hill session on Friday lunchtime, complete with sunshine, frolicking dogs and cheery walkers to make the burning in my arms (why do my arms always ache so much?!) a little less troublesome.

So, a good week with a slightly higher than planned total distance of 41 miles. I'm looking forward to the half marathon tomorrow - it will be my first this year since the Brass Monkey was cancelled due to snow in January - though the tiredness I've been feeling recently after 9-10 miles means I'm not expecting to get a good time. Still, with energy gels at the ready and little short shorts keeping me cool, who knows what might happen!

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