Challenge accepted, completed and smashed!

fullsizerender-15This time last week I embarked on a mission to mark the end of Ben Smith’s mind-blowing and amazing 401 Challenge. The idea was to run either 10k, a half-marathon or the full 26.2 miles over the course of the next seven days.

Perhaps foolhardily I choose to do the full marathon option. On paper it wasn’t a sensible decision, I needed to run 26 miles in the space of a week when I’d only managed 34 during September, half that in August, barely over 20 in both June and July, and a paltry Baker’s Dozen in May.

And after the total and utter disaster of last Sunday’s run, a seven-miler to kick off the challenge, there were times I’d wondered just what the hell I’d taken on.

But, slowly, during the course of the week I got stronger and stronger. I’d gone out on four separate occasions doing two or three miles or so at a time to leave me with eight miles to do today to complete the total.

fullsizerender-16I’d been training doing eight minute running segments all week but, for today’s run, I decided to drop that back to four minutes at a time, followed by 90 seconds walking, just so I could get the distance in.

I bloody well smashed it! Knocked it out of the park!

Deciding to start at the top of the Antrim Road, I ran down the hill then turned to go back up again but felt so good that I did this, back and forth, up and down, for the first three miles. I was delighted with how my legs responded with the inclines, they usually give me so much trouble but not today. I powered my way up them.

fullsizerender-17Bored with that I then decided to head on down the road, then off towards Tesco’s, down to the old Town Hall and then turned back, down the Larne Road and back up Queen Street towards home …. and all the while maintaining the 4/1.5 splits, more or less, save stopping for traffic and so on.

For 5k I was four minutes faster than last Sunday, at 10k I was eight minutes quicker and my average pace per mile for the entire run improved by a massive 1 minute 11 seconds.

I felt quite strong throughout and, based on today, would be reasonably confident of giving a decent account of myself in Portsmouth in a couple of weeks.

In many ways, today was a rehearsal for the Great South Run. I ran with my new flipbelt for the first time just to see how I’d get on with it and, apart from one or twice, it felt perfectly comfortable and I was barely aware of wearing it.

Also, instead of listening to music, I decided to try listening to podcasts for the entirety of the run. It was unusual but, at the same time, kept me interested and distracted which possibly contributed to the success of the entire run.

401trans-copySo that’s the 401 Challenge completed:-

Sunday 2nd October – 7 miles
Tuesday 4th October – 2.1 miles
Wednesday 5th October – 3.7 miles
Friday 7th October – 2.1 miles
Saturday 8th October – 3.3 miles
Sunday 9th October – 8 miles

Now my focus turns to Portsmouth, although at the minute I’ve no real plan in mind. Do I push on for nine miles before then or just do a series of regular shorter runs in order to keep my legs ticking over? No doubt I’ll come up with something but, for today, I’ll bask in the glory of having completed the 401 Challenge.

Advertisements

Boom!

fullsizerender-14On paper today was my most challenging run for quite some time. I was  following Ballymena Runners week 4, day three schedule which called for an eight minute run followed by a two minute walk repeated three times.

I was quite apprehensive about it. It was mentally challenging to know I’d have to keep going for so long. I mean, I can run/walk for a long, long time but knowing I’d have to run for 80% of the time was quite daunting.

As I said, the schedule meant I had to repeat it three times ….. so, being something of an ambitious and stubborn bugger, I did it four times.

And you know what? It wasn’t *that* bad. Yes, I was tired but never really did I think of stopping. If those thoughts did creep in – and they did from time to time – I just pushed through them.

It helped that there were three football matches being played on the pitches beside me so I ran round there for a while knowing that I couldn’t stop for fear of being seen giving up. If I can’t run with a group then run around a gathering of people, same thing really.

Wait! Hang on! Me deliberately run where I’ll be seen? What is this? Where has ‘run in the dark so no-one will see him’ Martin gone? I’ve still got the podgy belly and the stumpy legs but I’ve got a confidence I never had before.

I was slightly disappointed that I didn’t dip below the 40-minute mark for 5k but it was my fastest time out of my last ten attempts so I suppose that’s something. It’ll come, I know it will, especially as I get stronger doing longer running segments.

401trans-copyAnyway, 401 Challenge update …..

I haven’t really decided what strategy to adopt tomorrow. Do I attempt the eight minute blocks as I did today or do I tone it down a bit given I’ll be out for a lot longer?

Sunday 9th October – 8 miles

401 Challenge update – 18.2 miles done, 8 miles left

Sunday 2nd October – 7 miles
Tuesday 4th October – 2.1 miles
Wednesday 5th October – 3.7 miles
Friday 7th October – 2.1 miles
Saturday 8th October – 3.3 miles

Ballymena Runners 4.2

fullsizerender-12Whisper it … but I might actually being getting used to this running lark.

Today was the second run of Ballymena Runners week four and, as with Tuesday night, it was a 3-8-3-8 split with a two minute walk break between each section.

I always get quite worried doing these runs on my own in case I walk before I need to which would then instigate a huge sense of failure. It hasn’t happened to me yet and it didn’t happen today.

In actual fact, it went quite well today. Granted, I did go quite slowly at the start but did start to speed up as the run went on and, perhaps as a result, didn’t feel the burn in my legs that I usually do.

The run was interrupted just before the last eight minute segment when I bumped into an old friend. We stood chatting for a while (I remembered to stop my watch!) and, amongst other things, discussed fundraising activites that he’ll be able to help with so it was quite a productive chat.

I still had an eight minute run to do which I completed with relative ease. Fair enough, I did have a few minutes break in my legs before I started it but even if I hadn’t stopped my legs felt quite good so I would have managed it anyway.

Run three is three eight minute splits with two minutes inbetween. I’ll just do that at home rather than even thinking of parkrun.

After a few enquiries, it seems that the people doing their third run at parkrun do that and only that, whereas I’d want to carry on and do the full three miles – and doing it with them and then breaking off to join the main group will badly skew my time.

401trans-copyAnyway, with another 2.1 miles done today I’m now up to 14.9 miles in the 401 Challenge Virtual Marathon, leaving me with 11.3 to go:-

Saturday 8th October – 3.3 miles
Sunday 9th October – 8 miles

401 Challenge update – 14.9 miles done, 11.3 miles left

Sunday 2nd October – 7 miles
Tuesday 4th October – 2.1 miles
Wednesday 5th October – 3.7 miles
Friday 7th October – 2.1 miles