Week 8 and the return of the snow...

Posted on: 12 Feb 2018

Half way to Manchester and quite a nice week (in terms of the long run at least, just 13 miles), from now on things start getting full on, no more long runs beneath 15 miles until taper. And the strain is beginning to show. Jenny and I have both been feeling battered a bit by the process. Jenny will tell you of her injury problems, but I’ll just say I have really felt for her this week. Marathon training can be so cruel; we invest so much in terms of time and effort and the stakes are raised as each week passes, so when a training run is missed it is a real blow.

The flip side to that negative intro is that of course as the plan unfolds (if you can keep injuries at bay) in general our fitness levels go up and performance improves. This is what makes the training so exciting when it’s going well. I’ve been lucky enough to see my own performances improve quite rapidly over these eight weeks, back in week one I was more than happy to run a 10-mile tempo at average 9.04 min miles, but I felt that was my limit. This week my 10-mile tempo was comfortable and averaged 7.45 min miles. I then did a trail half marathon for my Long run and I wanted to see if I could comfortably sustain a similar pace, although this was in snow and running through huge puddles for 50% of the way I managed 7.50 pace. This gives me a lot of cause for optimism; if I can stay fit and keep improving, then my Marathon target pace of 8.00 just might be attainable…

I skipped my speed session this week, it was supposed to be 3x 1mile. I just struggled with fitting it in so decided to substitute it with a parkrun, although we chose perhaps the muddiest parkrun in the world! (I know there has been a survey done recently and Cheadle Hulme wasn’t declared the muddiest, but this is something that is hotly disputed in this neck of the woods!) I have never run through so much mud in my life, I fell over once and almost lost a shoe several times, my time was 5 minutes off my pb. It was so hard! So hardly a speed session, but I felt it was a good workout! Just what you need the day before a trail half marathon! In fact it was great as whatever the half threw at me, it couldn’t possibly be as bad!

The race was a local one, last year or perhaps the year before I blogged about getting caught up in a race while on a long run along the Middlewood Way (dubbed the ‘Piddlewood way’ by Jim as I was rather desperately in need of relief on that run! It must be something about that course because again needed to answer the call of nature in the middle of the race!) As we drove out to Marple on that cold Sunday morning the streets were mostly empty, not many people mad enough to leave the warmth of their beds. But when we got to the pub where registration was happening it was packed with runners. Outside in the drizzle and biting wind a doughty bunch of people were queuing by two portaloos in the carpark. We were in the right place! Most of the runners were well wrapped up but as we walked to the start line I was amazed to see some people in shorts and even one woman in a vest! There were around 400 runners and a very cheerful bunch they were. I said goodbye to Jenny who had kindly driven me even though she was so disappointed not to be running herself. And off I set. The worst thing about running in a bunch is that you get no warning of the puddles! But then I soon realised that trying to avoid them would be futile, so I just ran straight through them, freezing as they were. Being quite bunched up the first mile was just over 8 minutes and felt fine, after that space began to open up and overtaking became easier so the pace picked up. I guess the race was quite uneventful really, apart from the problems people were having with their timing chips which were looped onto shoe laces but obviously couldn’t cope with the wet conditions, I managed to rescue mine and carry it when I noticed it hanging by a thread, many weren’t so lucky as I passed quite a few timing chips lying in puddles along the way.

At the halfway point we joined a canal path and I remembered that it was on this exact same stretch of canal that my last Manchester marathon came a cropper when I turned my ankle on a large stone during a 20-mile training run, and that was in the dry. Now I was running in hail and snow and the path was covered in huge puddles! I took it very easy and managed to survive without any trouble.

I felt comfortable and even managed to speed up for the last couple of miles but was very relieved to see Jenny waiting for me at the finish line with the promise of a warm car and a flask of hot coffee! All in all, I was very happy with the run… Since then my knee has been a little sore but nothing a bit of icing and rest won’t fix.

Onwards to week nine!

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