Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's nearly July....

I'm getting to used to this "recovery", the heavy rain, heat and humidity lately hasn't helped I have to say.

I had a fantastic evening MTB ride last Wednesday, my riding is so much more relaxed now I don't have a big event looming and am not worried about falling off onto my knees - that's not to say my riding was capable, just relaxed! Dry dusty trails and back on my On One again, hardtails are ace.

Thursday I tootled over to the running club on my bike. I did actually manage to tootle, picking a route through Cuerden Park which meant lots of people dodging. The upshot was my legs transferred to running mode a lot quicker than when I hammer it (bit obvious really). The run was faster than I was expecting and stupidly hot though quite short at just over 4.5 miles. I felt it at the end, I ran 26.2 miles a few weeks ago, you'd never guess. Left quad and vmo were making their presence felt, not sore but not normal either.

I took a rest day on Friday for my left leg, think its shocked at having to do some work. I ended up not doing much over the weekend, a combination of being busy and the weather not being conducive to the utility cycling I could do on Saturday (no way was I putting on full waterproofs) meant a lazy weekend. So...my lazy month is nearly over!

I got my act together and rode to work yesterday, a humid morning with little wind meant it was quite stifling at times, even on a bike. I was surprised to arrive in my fastest time ever of 57.30, an average of 18.2 ! That included getting tangled up in traffic in Warton so I was chuffed. Not so chuffed to find the showers out of order in my building though. By the time I'd walked back from the other showers I was all sweaty again it was so warm.

I had hoped to get out the door at 16:30 for a nice ride home, the wind had gotten up a bit but I though the head wind would be refreshing. I finally left work at 7pm. Not ideal but did mean a fairly quiet ride home. Headwind was by then actually quite strong but for once I was glad of the airflow.

I solved the mystery of a the difference in route measurement last week, I stop my Garmin at the front gate of site in the morning due to finding pass/getting in amongst the queueing cars then I tootle to my building. In the evening I just start it when I get on the bike....I started it at the front gate on the way home last night and distance almost the same.

So rest of this week: running with Jez tonight offroad, MTB ride tomorrow, at least one other run and find something else to train for once the Swiss trip is done!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Less than two miles from work

..before the rain lashed down. I was drenched and could barely see for a while never mind ride the rain was pounding my face. Though it was quite dry when I got to Warton until the rain caught up with me.

A damp ride home but at 1:05 not a bad time. Oddly I took the exact same route home as I did on the way in but the Garmin records a 1/3 of a mile difference, the ride home was longer. Even accounting for the right turns and stuff its still quite a difference.

My left leg now has a touch of DOMS from Monday's weight session, right leg fine which just adds more evidence that my left leg doesn't do its fair share of work!

Looks like I'm going to get wet

Glorious sunshine in St Annes at the moment but I can see the very black clouds lurking over Preston and coming this way...just wondering how far I'll get.

Getting Back Into It

I'm taking this resting thing too far I think....though I was pretty tired last week which may have had something to do with a hard MTB ride on Sunday the 14th. My legs were seriously unimpressed with inching a mountain bike up some steep hills.

I had planned a very easy June but July is just round the corner so its time to start picking things up again. I have been making a couple of trips a week to the gym and my left knee is progressing along, still does some crazy wobbling when I'm doing split squats though.

I had a gym trip at lunchtime yesterday and a good 5 mile run after work. It was a bit warm and managed to be breezy and airless at the same time. My legs felt really fresh, mentally I think I'm still not quite back, I felt some fatigue lurking but I did enjoy being out. About half way round I was treated to a fantastic flying display by swallows in a field. Wheeling and diving all over the place, was worth getting out to see that alone.

Today I have cycled into work on the road bike. It wasn't a promising start, I put the rear race blade on as its forecast rain later and then had to stop a few times to move it as it was rubbing on the wheel. I felt really tired but its always a shock to the system getting up to ride that early when I haven't done it for a while, its why I try to keep the commute ticking over regularly.

I had to stop to take my glasses off after 2 miles as they were fogging from the outside due to the mist in the air. About 6 miles the sun had come out and I had to shed some layers but I finally seemed to get into it after that as I had someone up ahead and I decided to see if I could catch them....which I did.

Traffic in Warton seemed to be very light and I arrived at work in less than an hour, I had taken a slightly longer route than normal and was pleased my average speed was actually 17.9. I've never broken 18, if I hadn't faffed so much at the start....

Hopefully I'll manage to dodge the rain on the way home.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Marathon Aftermath

I lived in my compression tights for three days! On the Monday I could walk downstairs with bannister assistance, Tuesday much better and on Wednesday was bouncing down the stairs so superficially my legs recoverd quite quickly. I did get a bit of a sniffle but as I took a full 7 days off anyway it didn't matter and I quite enjoyed not having to train. I seemed to have picked up a bit of plantar fasciitis on my rights foot too which was a bit worrying.

On Monday 8th I did something I haven't done for about 5 years - I set foot inside a gym. I have a few muscle weaknesses that I have known about for a long time, they made their presence felt during the marathon training so I decided it was time I hit the weights and I sorted them out. I had an induction for the YMCA near work at lunchtime and the leisure centres near home in the evening.

The YMCA has by far the best free weights area and at lunchtimes is not overrun by barrel chested men on chicken legs grunting out bench presses. I usually struggle to be comfortable using upper body weight machines (and lower body sometimes too) so prefer free weights. I cycled to the evening induction, only a couple of miles but I headed off to one of the other centres to check out pool times and swimming lessons. I ended up doing 13 miles on the shopping bike and it felt great to be out.

Tuesday I decided to try a short run at lunchtime, 3 miles only as Jez had asked me to take him running in the evening (glad I was sat down when he asked!). My legs felt a little tired still but I had a flyover from the Red Arrows to liven up my run. My foot was ok to start with but not happy at the end, I thought it may be the shoes. The evening run was another short one but offroad. I suggested we run out of Abbey Village on a short route round the woods. It was to be a run walk as he hasn't run in ages, the route would be hilly so we could use the hills as walk breaks.

Of course he managed to run up them fine! A bit of a recovery at the top but he seemed ok and will be faster than me in no time if he keeps it up, boo. Foot felt ok once warmed up though stiff again later.

On the Wednesday I had a proper gym session. I have weak hamstrings, the left in particular but they have different weaknesses. I also have a very weak left vastus medialis which causes problems when running down hill and is not a great muscle for a cyclist to be weak in either. If you look at pro cyclists that muscle is usually well developed. The other quad muscles are much stronger and override it and my knee can flop out to the left a little. Those are my target areas as well as some upper body work. However it would appear that both VM muscles are rubbish, so I will be working on them quite a bit. Hamstrings need strengthening but are not so stupidly weak as the vm's.

Thusday ended up being a rest day as I felt quite tired and on the Friday I got out for another run, only 4.5 miles but my legs felt much better than Tuesday. A run out to the prom and a loop round Fairhaven Lake dodging the geese. Short runs are great. I wore my Wave Rider 11's which have a lower arch support and the sore foot whilst still there was lot reduced.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Edinburgh Marathon Report

Sorry this has taken a bit longer than it should have..

I've been trying to get my thoughts together about Sunday's race but it would all appear to be a bit of a blur (oops), even before the heat really took its toll I was just focussed on my own race and my own running.

The official results:

Overall - 4:16:24
10k - 00:55:44
Half - 02:02:07
30k - 02:55:47

3632 out of 8257, which I think is possibly the first time I have ever finished a race in the top half of the field.

An early night at 10pm, which in Scotland was broad daylight rather than dusk so felt a bit weird. I had set my alarm for 5:50 am on the morning, I can't remember the last time I voluntarily woke up at that side of 6am. I actually had a pretty good nights sleep getting all the tossing and turning and missing the start nightmares out of the way on Friday night it would seem. Jez made me breakfast and made sure I ate it! (He's seen me try to miss breakfast before). Then it was into the car and off to Edinburgh.

The plan was to park up at Castle Street car park just off Lothian Road. Staying at the West End on Princes Street should hopefully avoid any problems with the tram works. We would then walk to the start at the other end of Princes Street then Jez could either get the bus/train or drive out to the finish at Musselburgh. However the tramworks destruction has advanced somewhat since I was last in Edinburgh and we just couldn't see how to get to Lothian Road at all from where we ended up, with hindsight we maybe should have tried to get to the Western Approach or come in via Fountain Bridge (assuming they haven't dug all that up too).

There actually was a way through a convoluted diversion (I spotted it on the walk to the start) but none of the diversion signs gave a clue as to how to get anywhere. We ended up near Frasers and were about to do a u-turn to see if we could find another way to Lothian Road when we saw some runners parking up in some on street parking and thought we would join them. It would be a simpler walk to the start from here anyway. As the parking wardens in Edinburgh are legendary I headed over to the meter but found parking there was free on a Sunday, fantastic. I didn't think free parking existed in the centre of Edinburgh.

It was just after 7am ish, I think, I really didn't have much grasp of time all day. I was relieved to find it was really cold in the shade, I put my spare t-shirt on for the walk to the start. We were just off the start of Princes Street so it was an easy walk along the ruins of Princes Street. What a mess the tramworks have made, I hate to think how bad it is when the construction machinery is giving it laldy.

Most people out and about seemed to be runners, it was still quite cool, particularly in any shade and the breeze had the familiar fresh from the North Sea nip to it. I hoped the breeze would make its presence felt for the race but it didn't. Milled around the start area for a while, stood in a very slow moving queue for the loos though I had plenty of time. As the loos were in a sheltered courtyard the sun's strength was becoming obvious and I could feel it burning the side of my neck and it wasn't 9 am yet.

Jez took my bag off me and dumped it in the truck whilst I headed into my start pen and milled around drinking some fluid. I had made up some drink for this part but left it at my folks so had picked up a freebie bottle of Lucozade Sport instead to spare the water I was carrying. I hoped it would settle ok as I really don't like the stuff. I had a rucksack on with a litre of water in, all my gels and some jelly babies. I saw quite a few other people with bladders too. My plan was to miss out most of the first water stations then start picking up water later when things calmed down a bit. I was going to take gels at 5 mile intervals. I changed the water station part of the plan quite early.

The elite race kicked off at 9am on the dot and I think I crossed the timing mat at the start at about 5 or 6 minutes later. I was able to run straight away and as it was downhill I took it nice and easy. I had picked my place to start well as I was running at the pace I wanted to, not passing many people or being passed. I ignored the first water station and kept on running. Temperature was still reasonable at this point.

As we arrived at Portobello prom there was another water station but I passed that one too. The breeze was pretty good here and really cooling. I could see Cockenzie power station and it looked miles away. I knew we had to run past it twice. Not long after passing the water station I realised the temperature was really climbing and decided I would pick up water at the next station, drink some and pour some over my head to help keep my head temperature down. I had my first gel at five miles and it went down ok.

Instead of pace I was keeping a close eye on my heart rate, it was sitting around 170 at the 10K point which was ok, a bit higher than I really wanted even allowing for the fact it always sits higher in an event but I didn't want it to go much higher so decided to keep an eye on that rather than my pace. I ran on, staying fairly comfortable effort wise and enjoying the breeze. I started picking water up from the stations, they were only 250ml bottles which I have to say was smaller than I was expecting. I drank half and wore half. I really settled into my stride around the 10K marker.

I passed Jez at about the 12 mile mark, he said I was looking comfortable.

The course is an out and back from about mile 9 so I knew I would see the elites coming in and sure enough as I was just about at the half way point the two lead men came steaming past. They were way out in front of any one else. Worryingly some of the very fastest runners heading back were stopping to take walk breaks - it's not something I expected to see and I didn't think it was a good sign of things to come. I passed half way in just over two hours, I knew for definite I wasn't going to be chasing 4 hours.

I continued on in much the same vein until about 17 miles, passing the power station for the first time. The course turns round at 18 miles, before that it does a little loop round Gosford House. It was on this little loop that the temperature really seemed to take its toll. The temperature had obviously been really climbing all day but on the outward leg there was at least a little coastal breeze but this loop moved in from the coast and it was like running in an oven.

People started walking, it didn't help that it was a gravel track. I slowed my pace down even further but managed to keep running without the tell tale pounding in my head which means the heat is getting to me. Back out to the coast and along briefly before turning round and seeing how far away the power station was again!

8.2 miles to go and what little wind there was was now a tail wind, it seemed to have really warmed up a lot but I kept my pace for a while. I was starting to get a little of the pounding but up ahead I could see the road descended slightly so I thought I would keep going and use it as a break. I could see a lot of people walking up ahead....then I passed a lad unconscious at the side of the road, the first aider trying to get a response out of him...I had a walk break.

I calmed down really quickly and started running again, I decided to run to the next water startion and take a good walk break through it then run to the next one etc. I had a little water left of my own but I was saving that for the 20 mile gel. I got to the water station at mile 19 and drank most of the water with only a little on my head as it was boiling. I did wish the bottles were bigger but decided against taking two.

I had to do a bit more run/walk than I wanted but at this stage it seemed more people were walking than running anyway. As this was my first marathon I had nothing to compare it with but I wasn't expecting to see so many walking. Keeping a pace going running involved a fair bit of dodging! I had my gel at 20 miles and used the last mouthful of water I had to wash it down. I hoped it was enough to avoid any stomach problems, not that the Torq gels have ever given me problems even when I take them without water but this was a bit out of the ordinary.

Any teensy bit of shade was hunted out by the runners then I realised we were getting near the power station again and hopefully a water station at about 22 miles. I passed a few more runners by the side of the road, some in much worse state than others but any bad cases were thankfully being attended to. The next water station came up and it was dry! This kind of messed things up for me, however, this was the only station that didn't have water when I got to it a lot of runners behind me were not so lucky. I was out of water completely and I felt like a wrung out sponge.

Nothing for it but to keep moving on. A lot of run/walk like everyone else and I could feel my abs threatening to cramp??? All the things that had bothered me on my training runs - tight hamstrings and glutes and left knee were absolutely fine, I was having no problems getting running again after walking but the abs thing was a new one (guess who needs some core work?). In fact I was quite pleased at how my legs felt and I was almost enjoying the event, it helped I was getting close to the finish and the crowds were building up.

I got to the last water station and it had water, hurrah!! I drank all of my bottle but really wanted to put some on my head but due to the last station running out I didn't think it fair to take another. Lucozade sport was on offer but I knew that would make me sick so I declined it. As I was moving off I saw lots of people dive over to the other side of the road and come back with water, one of the water stations from the outward leg still had water on it, all the runners were through so I took a bottle and dumped most of it on my head. That really helped perk me up, as did the 24 miles marker. I was able to start running again then it was the 25 mile marker and I passed Jez around here somewhere:

The crowds were fantastic all the way into the finish, I ran all of the last 1.2 miles lifted by the crowd, the last sting in the tail was the temporary surface they had put down on the race course. It felt like running on a trampoline, not what my legs wanted at all.

Over the line in 4:16, glad to be finished. I got some water, more lucozade sport, the marshal made me take two? I drank all the water whilst another marshal took my chip off then I shuffled over to the queue for the goody bag. I didn't feel well at all so found a place on the grass to sit and get myself together. I drunk some of the Lucozade, yuck, good plan not to have it whilst running and watched someone being stretchered away. I did wonder where the first aid tent was as if I didn't start feeling better soon I may have to make my way there.

After another five minutes I started to feel better and ten minutes later I did the queues and picked up my bag and headed out the race course to find Jez. He looked a little concerned and asked me what I had to drink, apparently my lips were grey. I knew they were dry but didn't realise how dry. He had brought the car to Musselburgh and it was parked about a mile away so we started walking. He had some plain water and I remembered I had some Nuun tabs in my kit bag as I was still struggling with the Lucozade. I dug some out and chuked it into his water bottle, conveniently it had 500 ml left.

The Nuun was fantastic, I felt a lot better after drinking it. The walk to the car wasn't too bad really, got my legs moving. The A/C was cranked up full then we drove back to my folks. It was quite an easy drive really, not much more than half an hour and I was glad I wasn't having to wait on a bus or train.

Back in the house I had some recovery drink, then up for a shower and into compression tights then I really wanted a bacon butty (salt?) which Jez sorted out for me, then I had a full roast dinner and some pudding, lots of water and a bit of wine. An early night, taking a couple of ibuprofen meant a good nights sleep.