Mile End parkrun (10/09/16), a new bike and thoughts on Berlin

I’ve got a fair bit to cover in this post, so will try not to waffle on too much as always. I’m always amazed when I see my friends and family and they say ‘Oh, I read your blog the other day’. My initial reaction is usually, ‘I’m so sorry you had to trawl through that drivel’, making a mental note to remember people are actually reading this, so try not to ramble on so much next time.

Anyway, I’ve been putting in some decent run sessions over the last few weeks in the build up to the Berlin marathon, which is just 14 days away now. Last weekend I had a really good marathon pace session in Bushy Park, where I attempted to run a number of miles (12) at the pace I hope to run in Berlin, after a ‘short’ 10 mile warm up, taking the total distance of the run to 22 miles. The numbers suggested I may have a chance at a personal best in Germany, so in all likelihood I will throw caution to the wind and just go for it.

I wanted to run a race a couple of weeks out to give me an idea of where I was at fitness wise, so decided to give parkrun a good crack this weekend. We had Katie’s birthday brunch at a fancy restaurant in London, so the only way I could run would be to head to the closest parkrun to Liverpool Street – Mile End, in east London.

Armed with clothes and some deodorant for a quick ‘dry shower’ after the run, I met with my good mate Paul Brown (featured in various posts on this blog) for a quick warm up. Unfortunately, I decided that I needed the loo before the start so had to run over a mile to the ever reliable McDonalds and back, meaning that any proper warm up was out of the question.

After resisting the temptation to grab an egg mcmuffin, I was back at the start line with 5 minutes to spare. After a few announcements regarding the new partnership between parkrun and goodgym (an excellent new initative), we were lined up on the start ready to go. I’m always nervous before a 5km, as I know I’m about to put myself through an immense amount of pain in a short space of time.

As usual, I went out fast, but actually felt good – this may have been a result of a couple of days easier running in the build up. The course at Mile End is two laps, and each time around you have to climb the same hill twice – once on the way out and once on the way back, albeit climbing up the other side of the hill on the way back.

I’d said to Paul before, I’d much rather have a good group to run with than place highly but have to run solo, and fortunately today was my lucky day. A good group of 4 of us formed during the first lap, and when the pace dropped someone would go to the front and continue to put the pedal to the floor. I seemed to be stronger up the hills, so I ‘drove’ us to the summit, before a couple of the other lads took on some of the work on the flat.

Through the first mile in 5.27 – I think probably my fastest mile ever in a race. From this point I knew I was all in, I’d committed to a hard pace now and it was going to hurt massively. Reaching the end of the first lap, I was really working, but hadn’t quite tipped over the edge yet, so I was hopeful for a strong finish.

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The hills were a real struggle on the second lap, and it was just a case of gritting the teeth and driving up them as hard as I could. The 3rd climb was really tough, and the 4th was absolute agony, as I reached the top absolutely gasping for air, trying to fall down the other side as quickly as possible. Once over this I knew the worst was over, and I started the long ‘sprint’ for the line.

The group had broken up by now, with me and another chap sitting in 4th and 5th, with 3rd about 10 seconds up the road. I pulled onto the other guys shoulder, and we both kept increasing the effort until we were pretty much maxing out. He broke me with 50 metres to go and started to move ahead. I didn’t think I was on for a PB, but was hoping to go under 18 minutes. I was shocked when I glanced at my watch which said 17.03, and I only had a few seconds left. I sprinted with everything I had left, and crossed the line in 17.18, a 13 second PB on what is arguably not a fast course.

Strava activity

I thought I was in reasonable shape, but definitely not PB shape, considering I’d not been doing much ‘faster’ running, and am currently half a stone heavier than I was back in March. Still, I can’t argue with the numbers and this has been a real confidence booster with Berlin looming.  

I got out for an 18 miler on Sunday, again throwing in sections at marathon pace which felt pretty good. I’ll now start to taper down, giving the legs a bit of time to recover before marathon day. I do have another race next weekend, but is again only a 5km, so shouldn’t do significant damage to the pins.

The other big bit of news is that I have a new bike! Before I go on, I want to state that nothing will ever replace ‘Norah’, my old bike and first ever proper road machine. She took me all the way through my first ironman, and her efforts will always be remembered, and I’ll still be using her to train through the winter on. However, I’ve now got a shiny new Cervelo P3 (yet to be named). I took her a spin this afternoon, and she’s an absolute dream.

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I’ve also started to form a plan for next year. I think I’ll be taking on 2 full distance ironman races, the first being the Outlaw in Nottingham, before racing again in September time (potentially Ironman Wales). I want to build up more experience over the ironman distance, which will hopefully allow me to be more competitive in the future.

The last thing I wanted to talk about, was injuries. I’ve been incredibly lucky over the past couple of years, as I seem to be able to train pretty hard without breaking down. The same can’t be said for Katie, who must be the most unlucky person I know. She’s suffered set back after set back in the last year or so, whether it be viruses or creaky joints.

The potential she’s got as a runner is massive, and it’s really horrible to see her getting into to really good shape before running into trouble just at the wrong time. Running is a thing we share, and not being able to do it with her quite frankly, sucks. However, I know that when she’s fit and raring to go, she’ll be flying and running times she’d never have dreamed of a few years ago. I don’t just say this because she’s my partner – I genuinely believe she’s got real talent.

 

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