November was the month the season changed. One of Hope_Mountain_Runner's recent observations on being a runner was 'witnessing the changing of the seasons, and feeling it more keenly than those who don't really play outside' (1).
Well, this year I'm playing outside and I certainly felt that change from summer to autumn. I'm still running, but now I'm wearing long sleeves, hat and gloves; heaven knows what I'll be wearing when winter comes! November was also the month I got properly wet; those heavy rains that flooded much of the Midlands left me with no choice but to get soaked, splashing through deep puddles and swearing at the passing heavy vehicles that inevitably dumped those same deep puddles all over me! November was also notable for new shoes, new lights, the Silverstone Half Marathon and, most importantly, continued steady progress towards London 2020!
Part of that steady progress was that I didn't just hit my target training distance, I galloped right past it:
Training target last month: 125 km
Training distance last month: 140 km (112% !)
Training distance to date: 494 km
I was tempted to raise my target for December straight up to 140 km, but I have to be realistic. November contained 720 hours and I struggled to fit in the 14 hours that my training took. Really? That's only 2% of the entire month! December may be 1 day longer (744 hours) but, as we all know, it's also even busier, with even more demands on my time, so I'm only raising my target to 130 km and hoping that all things Christmas will dovetail together to allow it ...
All that distance meant it really was time to retire my old running shoes. I've had them three years and by my own reckoning I have done more than 1,000 km in them. It's difficult to gauge exactly when you should retire your shoes, but my ankles and knees have been protesting the recently increased training, so I treated them to a new pair of ASICS with the emphasis on the cushioning and immediately felt the difference. Aaah ...
November was also when I started to notice the dark evening's. One particularly 'interesting' run down the canal tow path in the pitch dark sent me scrambling to Amazon for lighting. Head torches have previously given me headaches, so I plumped for a chest torch and I have to say I'm amazed at the difference it makes. The perils of such lighting, of course, is that you are one step closer to bra-changing incidents in the woods in Dorset (2), but one thing at a time ...
The culmination of the month was the Silverstone Half Marathon. Silverstone is on my doorstep, so it seemed like an ideal opportunity to me but when I talked to running colleagues, they rolled their eyes; it seems that on the right day it is fast, flat and offers PB potential (old airfield; YAY!), but on the wrong day it can be cold, bleak and miserable (old airfield; BOOOOOO!). Luckily for me, on the day, it was the former, not the latter!
It's certainly a big event: 2022 finishers in the half marathon and equal or more runners in the simultaneous 10K and 5K races, but the whole race was expertly organised and as a venue, Silverstone swallowed all the runners, all their supporters, all their cars, all the race paraphanalia and a 13.1 mile half-marathon course easily!
Silverstone was all about discipline for me: I was determined to improve my second half performance by restraining my 1st-half, big-event excitement (and, for me, Silverstone is VERY exciting!). So before the start, I found the 1:45 pacer. When the race started I dropped 10 meters back (to avoid the tight group around him), then stuck with him all the way.
And it WORKED - I was consistently stronger and my pace only dropped off slightly at the very end when we running back up the gentle but oh-so-long incline of the famous Hangar Straight. That consistency reflected in the result: I was 2 minutea and 15 seconds faster than last month's time at Rugby for a total (chip time) of 01:45:56. YEE-HAH - Delighted!
Did I mention that I'm turning 60 in January? Silverstone was, I suspect, my last race as a VM50 and I finished with a PB. I'm leaving my fifties lighter, fitter and faster than I entered them!
So what next? Actually, in terms of races... a bit of a lull; there's nothing on the immediate horizon, but I am aiming to do the Draycote Water 20 at the beginning of March, just to measure progress and preparation. In the meantime, training, training and, err ... more training. I'll see you out there in the dark!
If you want to support me on the way to London 2020 and the amazing work that Macmillan do, then please visit my fundraising page and make a donation! And remember - Gift Aid your donation if you’re a UK taxpayer!
(1) If you want to read Hope Mountain Runner's other observations on life as a runner, read his post here:
(2) If you want to read how not to run a night race but still enjoy it (including the bra-changing incident), read LibbyLaird's post here:
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