The perfect ten … and a bit

Tonight I really stepped up my training … or at least my distances. Having not gone further than nine miles since the Belfast Half last September I finally broke into double figures this evening with less than a fortnight to go until The Big Half in London.

I needed to do it but with the Saints & Slimmers commitment taking up a lot of my time recently it was difficult getting the opportunity. However, the chance arose this evening to go out for ten miles with Parveen, Iverene and Bronagh from the club so I grabbed it with both hands.

I’ve been running well lately, getting progressively faster but tonight wasn’t about speed. I badly needed at least a 10-miler in my legs so this was all about time on feet and not pace.

It was a route I devised myself and, if I’m honest, I deliberately made it a bit challenging. It was literally a loop of the town, starting at the Seven Towers Roundabout, going to the top of the Grove Road and back again.

Of course there were detours thrown in like the Toome Road, Galgorm Road (and a very late addition of Princes Street!) etc. and included a few notable ascents although there were a few welcome downhill sections too.

I’m happy to report I felt comfortable throughout. Because the four of us are at different stages in our training and run at different speeds there was plenty of opportunities to fall back to keep the back marker company as well being able to stretch our legs at other times.

I’ve run this distance – and further – many times so I knew I could do it, I just needed to remind my legs that they could! However, for my three running buddies, it was their first time going as far as this so I was really pleased for them when we got to the 10-mile mark. It’s a huge psychological battle to get into double figures and I recall how I felt when I first managed it.

Overall, in terms of pace, I was quite pleased with the final outcome even though that wasn’t my objective as I said earlier. Also pleasing was running the vast majority of the route in HR Zones 3 & 4, with very little in Zone 5 – something I’ve been attempting to do recently but not quite managing.

That suggests to me there is a lot more leftin the tank, and that when I do need to up the tempo I have it well within my capabilities to do so.

All told it was a good workout, bringing me up to 15 miles in two days. I’d like to get another double figures run done before London but, even if I don’t, tonight was an important confidence booster.

Relive my run

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Fit for five

As has been happening a lot lately I’ve split my run into two parts – the run to a class, and the return leg back home.

Tonight’s ‘class’ was dance practice ahead, the venue was Tullyglass House Hotel which is approximately 2.5 miles from my house so the theory was to run there, and then go the opposite direction on the way home to complete a five-mile loop.

I hadn’t danced in Tullyglass since my wedding day over 25 years ago so it was a bit weird to be back on the floor tonight … but the less said about my dancing the better!

The run there started off going in the direction of the town centre before turning away at the bus station onto the long drag that is the Galgorm Road. Normally this run bores me and breaks me but tonight it wasn’t too bad … indeed, I got faster the more I ran which was very pleasing.

Returning home I was immediately treated to a downhill section but this was soon cancelled out by another long drag, this time the Tullygarley Road which rises deceptively before turning onto the Toome Road and a bit of a descent.

However, approaching the Toome Road from this direction means facing the very steep kick halfway along. I’ve always struggled with this but I conquered it last Wednesday and I beat it tonight as well. That’s real progress in my book.

In fact, the whole run was a success. I took it easy throughout, never really feeling anything resembling a struggle at any point which is especially good considering I’ve done this route quite a few times and found it quite difficult in places.

It feels great to be a lot fitter nowadays – long may it continue! Ten miles planned tomorrow, let’s see how that goes.

Relive my run

Chippenham parkrun 17.02.18

Today I had my first taste of ‘overseas’ parkrun tourism when I lined up at the start of Chippenham parkrun in Wiltshire.

I am over visiting Dawn – it’s her birthday this weekend – so I thought I’d make the most of the opportunity of competing in a different event, taking care to remember the 9am start, half-an-hour earlier than home.

The run starts and finishes in Monkton Park, it’s an area I know a little having walked through the park on previous visits. Before coming over I watched videos of previous runs so I kind of knew what to expect – half tarmac, half trail – and also from chatting to Dawn who has done the run in the past but when we got there we noticed part of the path had been closed so we guessed the route would be different.

As it turned out it was different, although not massively so. It still remained essentially the same ie: two loops of the park and two loops of the trail.

I joined in with the visitors briefing, given by a lovely Scottish lady. She asked where everyone was from … I had secretly hoped to be the furthest visitor but it turns out some chap had come all the way from Queensland!

She then explained the detour to us, mentioning mud and rabbit holes. Interesting.

As I said, the first two loops were on tarmac. Setting off I felt quite good. There’s a hill just past the first bend, which I zipped up comfortably enough, followed by a long straight section before a downhill. We did this twice, before having to go up the hill a third time to turn off for the trail section.

I was going very well up to this point and, indeed, halfway through, was nine seconds faster than my pb time last week, despite stopping to tie my shoelace at one stage.

But I knew the trail would slow me down, and so it proved. The first loop, in particular, was a bit of a slog because I was trying to find my feet and pick out the best way through. On the second time round I was 25 seconds faster than that initial loop which was good.

The last kilometre was a little bit mud, a little bit stoney path but mostly tarmac and it turned out to be my second fastest km split of the run which was very encouraging considering my legs had to work harder dealing with the mud.

All told, I was happy with my time and performance. Yes, no pb this week but a quite challenging course. I felt I acquited myself well, and that’s all I can really ask for.

I enjoyed myself this morning. Thanks to core team at Chippenham for a friendly event and to the marshals dotted around the course for their encouragement as I passed them. I’m looking forward to coming back in May (I hope) to give it another go.

Relive my run