Happy (with my) New Year

Posted on: 02 Feb 2015

There was a bit of a hoo-ha after last year’s Great Birmingham Run when some starters (including me) experienced a glitch with their chip times.


Due an issue with one of the electronic mats, certain runners were seeing a two minute discrepancy between their own finishing times and the official times logged by Bupa.  I clocked a 1hr 51, but my chip time said 1hr 49.  It was no big deal for me – I was happy to trust my Garmin time (a PB back then by quite a margin) and laughed off the official time as being well beyond my reach.


Not any more though!


My long run on Sunday was 15 miles and I had a feeling early on it was going to be a good one.  Armed with some suitably fiery music on my iPod, I took to the roads at 8am and starting racking up some decent (by my standards!) mile splits all around the high 7s and low 8s. 


Through 10k I felt brilliant and was maintaining a consistent pace.  At 10 miles the wind picked up and it was particularly biting, but I pressed on and reached the paths around Chasewater, a picturesque reservoir with a steam railway which is just a few miles from home.


As I approached 13 miles I glanced at my watch and realised, beyond all expectation, that a sub 1hr 50 for half marathon distance was on the cards.  I didn’t sprint for it because I knew there would still be two miles left to run – both of which are steady uphill climbs. 


I hit the split button at 13.1 miles, checked the time and couldn’t help but give a little cheer out loud – 1hr 48 flat.  Unbelievable!  Total time for the 15 miles – 2hrs 05, averaging 8:20 minute miles.


Considering my previous attempt at a 15 mile run last August took me more than 20 minutes longer, I’d say that’s a pretty big leap forward.  I was in good shape at the end as well.  Aching a bit, but nothing that lingered.  My feet were OK, no soreness or rubbing.  In short, there was more in the tank.


As an aside, can I just say how hugely impressed I am with the Asics Kayano 21s?  They replaced my old GT2000s in January and the extra cushioning is helping me no end with my over-pronation.  There’s a real spring to them when you’re pushing on and I think there’s more room in the toe box as well, so I don’t get any rubbing.  I’m going to keep training in them, then replace them with an identical pair about a month before London.  Sold!


And so January has come to an end and with it my first serious month of marathon training (my programme has been going since October, but only with modest mileage).  Here are the stats:

-       19 runs

-       107 miles

-       15 hours of plodding

-       Averaging 7.1 mph


Sorry if this all looks a bit self-congratulatory – I know I’m in the company of some highly experienced and talented runners on here!  But I am genuinely proud of how far I’ve come and the level of improvement in my performance and stamina compared to a few years ago when I first got back into running.


But amidst all the virtual back slapping, I do need to have a quiet word with myself about pacing and clockwatching.


Problem is, I’m still getting a buzz out of beating PBs, quickening my half marathon speed and so on.  Mentally I think I now need to move on and forget about 13.1 miles being a significant distance – in marathon terms, it isn’t.


I also need to start pacing myself better.  I don’t have a clear idea of what my marathon pace is yet – it certainly won’t be the 8:20 I’m running for half distance.  My next two long runs are both 16 miles.  For those, I’m going to try and consciously slow it down a bit and gradually build up speed throughout the run, not start quick and battle with myself to then cling on to that same pace.


I guess it’s all part of the ‘journey’ when it comes to distance running, a journey which I can safely say, so far, I am loving to bits.


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