Monday, August 27, 2018

The 2018 Severn Bridge Half Marathon

Chester Marathon Training -7 weeks to go

Cotswold 100 Training - 5 weeks to go

Both of us - Blue 
John - Orange 
Kelly - Purple 

We were both looking forward to having a good blast at our first Half Marathon this year - the Severn Bridge half. It's a race that's really special to us because we've ran it every year since it began in 2014. 

2014 - This was the first race. We'd both just started running. 
John = 1:39:46
 Kelly = 1:38:29 

2015 - We met Sir Steve Way this year! 
John = 1:26:05
 Kelly= 1:45:58
 John's men's team won the team prize.

2016 - This year was a different course. 
John =  1:23:16
Kelly = 1:35:50
Kelly's women's team won the team prize!  

2017 - Back to the original course this year. It was a beautiful sunny day. 
John = 1:30:13
Kelly = 1:30:20
Kelly finished as 3rd Lady. 

What does the 2018 race have in store for us? We'd find out on Sunday. 

Here's what this last week of training looked like...

Monday 20th August 2018

A rest day for me today so just a yoga class at pure yoga in Wapping Wharf. 

Today I also picked up a new prescription of iron tablets. I've not been on them for over a year and my Gluten-Free diet should really have solved my anemia. However, recently I've been feeling 'low' it's not an easy feeling to describe but I feel it especially when I am running uphill. When I was last on iron tablets, I was able to run uphill without completely getting out of breath. My legs felt like they had the energy and oxygen they needed. Whereas, recently, I've been lacking that feeling. I booked myself into the doctors for a blood test which concluded that, as I suspected, my iron levels are low. Hopefully, the tablets can get my iron levels back up and hopefully it will help my running too. 

This is going to get a bit repetitive from me... 5K Recovery run. Keeping the running every day streak going and genuinely having to recover as best I can as 2 x 40+ mile runs in 8 days is really taking it's toll - I am knackered!! 

Tuesday 21st August 2018

Speedwork today. After 2 weeks of attempting 2 x 4 mile efforts at sub marathon pace, I was getting a bit frustrated with myself for not being able to do it. How was I going to run 13 miles at 6:45 mm pace on Sunday if I can't do two blocks of 4 miles in training? I decided to try for a change of scene today and use the Towpath. It is quite undulating and a bit rocky but it's more interesting than the Portway. 

My aims for today (other than trying to hit 6:30mm pace) were to run a more controlled effort and try to get into a rhythm. I set off and quickly realised that I could still feel Saturday's 18 miles in my legs. I tried to put it out of my mind and focus on getting the speed up. The first mile came in at 6:44. Not as fast as I'd have liked but I felt more comfortable and I felt like I could keep going for longer. The next few miles were similar pace despite me feeling like I was putting in the effort for 6:30 pace. I think that's due to the bumpy nature of the course. 

Mile 1 - 6:44
Mile 2 - 6:55
Mile 3 - 6:43
Mile 4 - 6:46 

I stopped at the end of mile 4 feeling pretty tired but not exhausted. I wasn't feeling especially pleased with my speed but then a middle aged man came past me on his bike and yelled out "Cor you're quick, I couldn't catch you on my bike!" Now I don't know who he was or anything about him but it was nice to be reminded that, even if I'm a few seconds off my target time, I'm still running pretty quick! Thanks random stranger! 

I was feeling rather thirsty and wished I'd brought some water with me. Then I spotted a blackberry bush...natural sugar and energy! I had a couple and it felt like a magic elixir! I was ready for round 2. 

The first mile of set 2 felt pretty hard after stopping for a few minutes. It didn't take too long however, for me to get into a rhythm again. No, it wasn't a 6:30 rhythm but I was working hard and managed (for the first time in the last 3 weeks of speedwork ) to keep of my miles under 7:00. 

Mile 5 - 6:48
Mile 6 - 6:57
Mile 7 - 6:53
Mile 8 - 6:42 

I finished feeling pretty pleased with myself. It was the closest I'd come to my target and the most comfortable and controlled of all of my efforts so far. I even managed to run the mile home rather than walking it as I had the last few weeks. 

In the evening, John and I went to Yoga together. He's not been for a while so it was lovely to have him join me.

An early morning pre-work recovery run with the lads! Fellow Ring of Fire racer Gary and streaking enthusiast (running every day) Steve joined me running round the block. In the evening a very beneficial yoga session with KD. An hour of stretching which helped a lot.

Wednesday 22nd August 2018

Another lunchtime yoga session for me today. Flexibility is really increasing. 

John was still recovering from last week's night run so I went to club by myself this week. Initially, I'd just planned to run 10 miles as I figured I'd be feeling pretty fatigued from yesterday but actually, my legs felt alright so I decided to keep going! 15 miles in total with an average page of 8:32 and 1320 feet of elevation. Not bad for a Wednesday night. 

I'd planned on running 10 miles with the guys at club... not to be! I found myself getting more and more tired through the week. My body has always tended to wait a few days before punishing me for what I've done on the weekend.. I opted for another steady 5K plod around the harbourside, finishing up at the shop where I bought tonnes of food to help me recover some more :-)

Thursday 23rd August 2018

A little 2 mile run this morning with John and our friend Steve who has recently moved back from America. Nice to stretch the legs out and catch up. 

I went to see Jenny, my physio, for a sports massage, this afternoon, to hopefully get me ready for the Severn Bridge half on Sunday. 

Another pre-work 5K with Steve and this time KD joined us half way round. Legs starting to feel normal-ish...

Friday 24th August 2018

Last run before Severn Bridge today. Just a gentle 5 miles. My legs felt pretty good. I had to keep reminding myself to slow down - which is always a good sign before a race! 

Legs are feeling good - lets break them again! 

5 X 400M @ HMP with 100m rolling recoveries
(1:29, 1:34, 1:29, 1:30, 1:30)

Wanted to make sure race pace felt OK before Sunday. They did! Running at pace felt good and fun. I finished the workout feeling positive and excited about racing on the weekend.

Saturday 25th August 2018

No running for me today. Just a really nice relaxing day with my feet up ready for tomorrow! 

A slightly hungover 5K plod after partying with friends at fellow club mates wedding party the night before - Congrats Phil and Jemma! 

Sunday 26th August 2018

Race day! 
My alarm went off at 5:30 am. I found that John was already awake and had started preparing my breakfast for me (how kind). My pre-race breakfast is always home made egg fried race with mushrooms and cheese. Yum! After I'd eaten a small portion and had a pint of water, I went back to bed for an hour until we had to get up at 6:30. 

We packed our bags, drove to pick up Marcus and then headed to the race. John's work colleague Ami lives near the start of the race so we parked at her house - this was fantastic as we avoided the pretty hefty queues. 

We collected our race numbers, payed a visit to the porta-loos before checking our bags and getting ready for the start. The weather was pretty hideous so I'm really glad we packed some bin bags to keep warm in. The start is on the very middle of the Severn Bridge. I did a half mile warm up while wearing my very fashionable bin bag. We took up our usual start position right on the line and, after a quick count down from Nick Rose, we were off. 

My goal for today was to finish in sub 1:30. I knew I had to keep my average pace below 6:50 mm. 

Tim, Woody and I had already realised that we were aiming for similar times so we started off together. The first two miles are downhill and I'd made the mistake in the past of going off too fast so I got into a comfortable rhythm and had a bit of a chat to the people running around me.

The first 3 miles flew by and I was feeling great. I felt pretty confident at this stage that it was going to be a good day. I had one women in front of me (I'd spotted her at the start; she looked pretty speedy) but I couldn't see anyone behind. I'd love to finish in 2nd place, I told myself. 

I really like knowing what's coming in a race so I did some strava revision last night. I looked up my pace from last year and analysed each mile. It was really helpful because I knew, for example, that mile 3 and 4 contained more uphill than downhill so not to worry when my pace slowed in those miles. In about mile 5, I dropped off the pace a bit and ended up running on my own. I don't really mind this - I've learnt to run my own race and not try and keep up with others. 

Mile 1 - 6:37
Mile 2 - 6:33
Mile 3 - 6:52
Mile 4 - 6:45
Mile 5 - 6:40
Mile 6 - 6:48

I knew that mile 7 contained 'the hill' the whole route is pretty undulating to be honest, but this hill is really quite tough. Up until mile 7, everything was feeling great. My legs felt amazing and the pace felt comfortable. I reached the hill...I still felt great. Yes, my pace slowed, but I was still running strong. I even overtook 2 men! I felt like my iron tablets had kicked in and I was feeling strong and full of energy. 

Miles 8 - 10 are downhill. I was feeling amazing. I picked up the pace and just focused on getting to the bridge where the next challenge lay. 

Mile 7 - 7:47 (quicker than last year)
Mile 8 - 6:18
Mile 9 - 6:38
Mile 10- 6:48 

Mile 11 is where I struggled last year. I felt sapped of energy (I think partly due to the heat) and my pace slowed dramatically. This year however, I felt great. The rain was keeping me cool and my legs felt like they'd just started. I caught up with Woody who gave me loads of encouragement to push on. Only 2 miles left and I had 15 minutes until my 1:30 target - easy! With a huge smile on my face, I picked up the pace again, I passed about 10 men as I ran back down the bridge and towards the finish line. 

Mile 11 - 7:14
Mile 12 - 6:11
Mile 13 - 6:21 

I crossed the finish line in 2nd place in a time of 1:28:54 absolutely delighted. I was given £80 cash as prize money and a beautiful wooden trophy. Even the pouring rain couldn't dampen my spirits! 

I had a similarly positive race to KD! In light of running speedy efforts a couple of days before and them feeling OK - I set of with a target of Sub80... 3 miles in I decided this was STUPID! Months and months of running off road and up hill averaging 5MPH tops - there really was no need to try and run my third fastest ever half marathon less than a week before taking on the Ring of Fire! I changed to screen on my watch to show just my heart rate and ran with a couple of guys who were running strong but comfortable, promising myself to back off if ever I was uncomfortable... Very sensible taking the pressure of but also very rewarding! Although I didn't know what pace I was running through the mile, my watch would beep at every mile stone and I was surprised every time - running very comfortably at 6:05 - 6:15 pace! By the time I'd got through half way, I'd have had to work really hard to throw away a Sub85! Well chuffed with how the race was going, I got to mile 11 and felt similarly to KD - awesome! I changed my watch screen back to pace and decided to work a little bit harder - if anything to make sure I finished ahead of the mini group I was part of. I managed to take over a couple of runners, improving my position and was cursing myself for not making an effort earlier... I really could have ran a Sub80 after all...

13th Place with a time 1:20:37! It's amazing what 3 months of no speed work and running 5000+feet of elevation work can get you when you decided to take the pressure of an run to feel!

Celebratory double burger followed and realisation that there's to be no more double figure runs until the big race - the Ring of Fire - next week. We've spent the rest of the weekend packing - everything - and we're really excited to be heading of to Anglesey tomorrow :-)

Massive congrats to KD for getting 2nd lady but more excitingly is bagging a comfortable Sub90 on a hilly course in tough conditions at this stage in the marathon training. Sub3 at Chester is looking good!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Night Running!

Chester Marathon Training -8 weeks to go

Cotswold 100 Training - 6 weeks to go

Both of us - Blue 
John - Orange 
Kelly - Purple 

This week posed very different challenges for team Jelly; John was planning a night recce of the Cotswolds at the weekend while Kelly's focus was to keep upping the length of her runs and working at that sub marathon pace speed. We did, however, both have the final Towpath race (5k), on Friday, to think about. A busy week ahead! 

Monday 13th August 2018 

Having ran 30+ miles on Saturday, I had planned to give myself two days of rest. Today was rest day number two and I decided to try another new yoga class called 'yin and yang'. I have experienced a 'yin' class before - it's a slower paced style of yoga where postures are held for longer. I figured (rightly as it turned out!) that 'yang' would be the opposite - a more dynamic style of yoga to build strength. I was really looking forward to a class that encompassed both elements. The first half of the class was 'yang'. It was really challenging; we spent a lot of time holding different forms of 'downward dog' and my arms were definitely feeling the burn! The second half of the class was a wonderful contrast as it involved lots of deep stretching - always important for a runner! I learnt a new pose - double pigeon! 

A recovery run for me - 5K plod around the block. With the weekends long miles and another weekend planned - I do not need to run too much this week. 5K @ 9MM

Tuesday 14th August 2018 

Today was attempt number 2 at Coach Cox's mega speedwork session - 2 x 4miles at sub marathon pace. After failing at interval number 2, I wanted (and was told to) have another go. I wanted to do everything right this time. I got up at 8am and cooked my favourite pre-race meal of egg fried rice. I finished eating at 9am so planned to leave the house at 12:00. I drank lots of water and did some stretching. Having done laps last week, this week I wanted to try and out and back. The only problem would be the hill...

I started off with a very slow warm up mile. When I reached my startline, at the beginning of the Portway, I stopped for a few moment, took some deep calming breaths (thank you yoga!) and tried to picture myself succeeding. I really wanted to nail this session. I shook my legs out; they felt alright. Probably better than last week but it's hard to tell until you start running...

I set off. My aim this week was to get into more of a rhythm so I didn't have to keep checking my watch and altering speed in a panic! I got into a rhythm. The only problem was that my rhythm seemed to be at 6:40 pace. Not the required 6:30. I tried to focus on keeping the rhythm but increasing the pace...It sort of worked. The first 3 miles felt hard but controlled. I was starting to feel positive but then I approached the hill. Those of you who know the Portway, will know that it's pretty flat but does have a couple of uphill sections in the first 3 miles. Then, at the point after the Rugby club there is a steeper section. This was the point that I was at. I knew I only had 1 mile to go in this set and I was desperate to keep my pace close to 6:30. I pushed and pushed as I ran up the hill but my pace was falling...watching my watch go from 6:40 to 6:50 to 7:00mm was really frustrating so I dug deeper and pushed harder. I crested the hill and had 0.2 of a mile to pull some time back on the downhill. My watch beeped and I stopped; head spinning and breathing heavy. 

Mile 1 - 6:38
Mile 2 - 6:38
Mile 3 - 6:38
Mile 4 - 6:52 

1 interval done and 1 to go. I was really exhausted. I spent a good few minutes resting, getting my breathing to come back to normal and shaking and stretching my legs. I wasn't really happy with mile 4 but, considering it was almost entirely uphill, I concluded it wasn't too far off target pace and would still count as a success. Just 4 miles to go. Four little miles I told myself. And I'd done all of the hard work. The uphill was done. I only had to run downhill now - easy! 

With my breathing back to normal, I started the second and final interval. The first 0.2 was of course uphill but I knew I had lots of downhill to come so wasn't too worried. Initially, I felt great. The downhill meant that I was hitting a good pace. When the downhill finished and the ground leveled out, the problems began. I simply wasn't able to increase the pace any more. It was like my legs weren't connecting with my brain. I finished mile 6 in a pretty good pace but I knew I was struggling. Mile 7 was really hard. My legs were simply empty. It was incredibly frustrating. I only had two miles to go...COME ON! I was telling myself. But no. It was just not happening. I guess I must have put too much into the uphill section. As I was contemplating this, I looked up and spotted a bike (on a very wide stretch of pavement) about 1 meter from me coming right at me! I darted out the way in shock and the rider braked suddenly, mumbled an apology and carried on leaving me rather shaken - that was very close!  

Mile 5 - 6:32
Mile 6 - 6:32
Mile 7 - 7:02
Mile 8 - 7:33 

I finished feeling pretty deflated. John came to my rescue and pointed out that we did run 30 miles just two days ago. It was a more controlled effort than last week and I'm sure that, despite not properly completing the session, I am gaining benefits at running these miles quicker than  marathon pace. I'll just have to try again next week. 

Great work from KD after a long weekend of running. How the Portway is hilly I'll never know but still, a good effort and I'm sure she'll smash this session come next Tueday - third time lucky!

MORE recovery for me... 5K @ 9:20MM

Wednesday 15th August 2018 

I started today with a sports massage from Jenny at Comfort Health in Clifton. Legs were fairly tight but Jenny confirmed that both of my feet felt good - no sign of the Plantar Fasciitis returning. I drove to physio and then dropped my car (with changes of clothes and wash things for me and John) off at the running club and walked home. 

I rested for the rest of the day. 

14 miles on the plan for today. The 'medium-long' run is a great Marathon Training tool. Over the years, I've really noticed the benefits of having two long runs a week. As John was stuck in traffic, I ran to club alone. 4 miles done. I then joined the 10 mile route gang - an especially large gang this week which is brilliant -  and we headed off towards Leigh Woods. John managed to escape the 
Bristol traffic eventually and met us at the entrance to the woods. It was a great, social run. I finished on 14 miles with an average pace of 8:44 mm and 1623 feet of elevation gained (hilly!). 

A hilly and woody 10 mile club run for me, breaking in my new trail daps: 
They're cosy and offer great grip and support across the trails without being too heavy and bulky. Legs still feeling the effect of running 40 miles on Sunday.. So a steady plod at the back of the club group for me. 9.6Miles @ 9MMs

Thursday 16th August 2018 

Rest day for me today so I did another yoga class. I'm really starting to notice an improvement in my balance and coordination - especially doing poses on 1 leg. 

More recovery... trying to get fresh and strong for the upcoming weekends long run and tomorrow nights race! 5K @ 8MM pace

Friday 17th August 2018 

John had a day off today - hooray! With the final Towpath 5k race this evening, we had a pretty chilled day. We had a bit of a walk but generally rested and John caught up on missed sleep. 

After a sports massage and a rest day, I was feeling pretty good for the 5k race. I set myself a challenge of sub 20 which is a pretty decent time on a slightly undulating course. As it was the last race in the series, I knew I had to put in a good performance to be in with a chance of a prize. This year, the competition has been fierce; a much stronger field than in previous years which is great- there is nothing like being beaten to encourage you to want to get faster! 

The horn sounded and we were off. I started at the front and was initially right behind the first two ladies but quickly realised that this pace was un-sustainable and decided to run my own race. I focused on my body position: run tall, lean forwards, drive with arms. I felt light and my legs felt strong. It was going to be a good race. Mile 1 went by really quickly. I love 5k races - only two miles left - brilliant!

Mile 1 - 6:11 

Mile 2 had the turn in so my pace dropped a little but I still felt strong and knew that I was in with a chance of sub 20. 

Mile 2 - 6:32 

I picked it up again in mile 3 as I knew it was nearly over! I managed to overtake a Southville runner but I could hear someone (I guessed it was him) right on my shoulder. Just before the line I saw a flash of blue - Will (a GWR rival!) stormed passed me. I tried to push back but didn't have anything left. Grrr...I'll get him next time! 

Mile 3 - 6:25

Total average pace - 6:21 and a time of 19:44. Really pleased with that. A solid run and my fastest every time on that course. 

I finished as 3rd lady for this race and for the series! Woohoo! 

A surprisingly good race for me! Being off from work and on holiday I treated myself with a massive fry up.. and not much else, so I wasn't well prepared or expecting much from tonight's race.

I started as usual, too fast, and banked a 5:31MM. Feeling strong and in a good position whilst within a strong group of three, we worked together and kept the pace going; mile 2 was 5:33 - well chuffed and enjoying myself, so far. Going into mile 3, myself and one other from the group broke away. I led for most of the last mile but then lost my rival with about 400 mtrs to go. There's a short, sharp incline at the end of the mile just before going into the finishing straight, I told myself to hold back until then and I'd get him on the hill.. It wasn't too be. He had an awesome last mile, much quicker than mine; 5:42.

Official result: 5th place with 17:21. Considering the way I'd eaten today and the previous weekends long miles, I'd of taken a Sub19 let-alone a Sub18. A great result on the night which landed me with 3rd overall for the race series! :-)

Saturday 18th August 2018 

I decided to do my long run today rather than tomorrow as I would be up for quite a lot of the night, supporting John and Marcus on their night run, so would probably be rather tired. 18 miles on the plan with 3 miles at marathon pace. I wasn't sure how I'd feel having raced yesterday but hoped I'd be alright as it was only 3 miles. 

Despite having a mega long run to do tonight, John agreed to cycle with me to keep me company, motivate me and pass me water. My aim was to run at a good pace with most miles under 8mm and for my 3 miles to be at sub marathon pace of around 6:30. 

I used the Bristol to Bath cycle path because it's easy for John to cycle with me and because it is  relatively flat. The first 3 miles of the cycle path are the hardest because they are the most uphill. The rest is slightly undulating but mostly flat. 

The first half of the run passed pretty quickly and felt really comfortable. I was great having company and useful having water passed to me without me having to carry it! 9 miles came and I turned and headed back. Most of the miles were between 7:15 and 7:45 mm pace depending on the gradient.

 I waited until I was on the downhill section before attempting my sub-marathon paced efforts. As I exited the tunnel, I kicked and managed to hit 6:40mm pace surprisingly quickly. As I said earlier, I think 6:40 is the pace that I find a natural rhythm in - bodes well for the marathon! I wanted to get closer to 6:30 so I tried to push a bit harder but couldn't drag the pace down for this mile. Never mind, still sub marathon pace so all ok. Mile 2 was more downhill so felt easier. 6:33 pace felt hard but do able. I felt pretty tired by the time it came to mile 3 and was quite looking forward to finishing to be honest! I dug deep and managed a 6:24 to finish my efforts. 

Finishing the marathon paced efforts felt great. What I really wanted to do was stop and rest before continuing the last two miles to home. In the past, I would have stopped here but I managed to keep going (progress!). I did slow down massively but I think that's ok. 

18 miles in total with an average pace of 7:32 mm. Really pleased with that. 

It was lovely to spend a couple of hours with KD and pretty straight forward keeping up on a bike. We finished her workout (she did a great job) and I wasn't too concerned whether or not it was sensible to cycle 20 miles the day you're gonna run 40...

7:15Pm and our night run commences! The Maestro and I headed out to run Legs 3 - 6 of the Cotswold Way. Cleeve Golf Club to Dursley. 40+ miles. We started steady and made sure to run within our comfort zone throughout. The fist 20 miles flew by and the only surprise was how early we had to put our head torches on. It was VERY dark before 11pm. At this point we were half way, feeling ok and at the start of Leg 5 of the CWR - a leg I have recced and raced just a few weeks a go. We took on some food (a pork pie and a snickers bar) and got on with it. Throughout the leg I surprised and impressed the Maestro with my (unusually) amazing navigational skills... We reached the point where you come to a canal path and I remembered this vividly from racing earlier in the year as this was the finishing straight... as it turns out, this path is only used for the relay. When running the whole thing, you go straight past the canal path! D'oh! An extra mile added on which was energy sapping but didn't spoil the day as it was pretty much our only mistake. The miles ticked by nicely and come 30-something we're starting to feel a little tired and in need of a pick me up. Our favourite ultra recovery drink, chocolate milk! Usually extremely refreshing and semi-elixir like, we were left with a sour taste in our mouths... 6 or so hours of the milk shake, shaking, and shaking... on my back... it wasn't great, it certainly wasn't rewarding. Oh well. Single figure to go and not long until we'd be confirming with KD our ETA.  At mile 35, we'd decided that we'd had enough accent and hoped the rest of the course would comply and reward us with an escalator like long, sow and lazy downhill pootle into Dursley... no such luck! The last few miles just went up and up and up and up and... We kept going, not as chatty as the previous hours but together and getting on with it. We finished! Greeted by Kelly with much needed water, snacks and a warm ride home.

42 miles with 6000+feet of accent! We were knackered and we'd had enough but we'd finished feeling glad to have banked a night run in preparation for the impending Cotswold Way 100. Two 40+ milers in the space of 8 days - surely this is good ultra training?

Home to bed!

Sunday 19th August 2018 

I wasn't planning on running today but I joined John for a slow 3 mile plod around the block. Really nice to be out running together. 

I'm running every day this year... starting at 7pm and finishing at 5am yesterday/today, technically I was still streaking... BUT.... I couldn't bare to look at a day on my Strava calendar and not see the little circle with a distance in it... so I ran... another 5K plod and that's 231 days of running 5K+ every day - my OCD and Ego sorted for the day!

It's taper time for me now. I'm not really sure there's much more I can do. It's 2 weeks until the Ring of Fire. 135 miles over 3 days running around Angelsey and only 5 weeks until the Cotswold Way 100. We've got the Severn Bridge Half marathon next week which I'm gonna have a blast at, if anything else to make sure I earn my roast dinner but otherwise, between now and the big 2 races my runs are gonna look mainly like this: 5K at Recovery Pace... It's scary how close the big challenges are but I do feel ready. I've got no idea what that means but instead of being scared I truly am excited about challenging myself to see what my body can achieve over 3 days and 100 miles respectively! Whilst the recovery miles are boring, I will have KD's impressive road marathon training antics to keep me entertained!

Total Miles for the week

Kelly - 47.4 miles 

John - 67 miles (including 1 night run of 42 miles!!)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

The Gromithon!

Chester Marathon Training 9 weeks to go!

Cotswold 100 Training 8 weeks to go!

Both of us - Blue 
Kelly - Purple 
John - Dark orange!

Monday 6th August 2018 

A rest day for me today so I went to pure yoga at Wapping Wharf at lunchtime. A nice, gentle class which was great for stretching out my legs after a solid week of running. 

Tuesday 7th August 2018 

I went to yoga again today. A slightly more challenging class where I did my first attempt at a headstand! Amelia (the teacher) helped me to get into position 1 - where my knees were hugged into my chest. I think I will need a LOT more work on this posture but I am determined to improve. 

In the afternoon, I had my second speed work session of this training block. After last week's session of 2 x 3 mile efforts, this week Coach Cox had set me the challenge of 2 x 4 mile efforts at sub marathon pace. I was feeling more confident this week after the success of last week.

I did a mile warm up to run to the Portway. To avoid the steepest hills, I decided to turn at 2 miles rather than 4 miles and repeat the same section twice. The first few miles felt ok. I was working pretty hard and struggled to get into a rhythm (this is something I'm really going to focus on next week). As is typical for the Portway, the wind was CONSTANTLY in my face. Every time I was running into the wind I thought 'it's ok because, when I turn, it will be behind me'. Nope. Every time I turned, the wind was, once again, in my face! I was aiming for 6:30mm pace. 

Mile 1 - 6:29
Mile 2 - 6:32
Mile 3- 6:34
Mile 4 - 6:27 

Miles 3 and 4 were super hard. I was struggling mentally and contemplating not starting my second block. My legs felt tired and achy and I was working really hard to keep the pace. I finish mile 4 and was exhausted. I collapsed on a bench and lay there for a while. I then realised that I was really hot. I didn't want to carry on. I could just walk home...

I walked to the pump house (local pub nearby) and had a glass of water and went to the toilet. I started to feel a bit better. I really didn't want to do another 4 mile effort but I kept telling myself 'This is how you improve. This is how the PBs come' Eventually, I convinced my brain to start the next set. I walked to the start and took a few deep breaths. 

As soon as I started set 2, I knew it was going to be really hard. My legs felt like jelly - almost disconnected to my body. I was putting in the same amount of effort as in the first set but the pace was way off. A few times I considered stopping and calling it a day. Miles 5 and 6 hurt. But then in mile 7 and 8 I found my mojo again. My legs felt better and I was able to pick up the pace a bit. 

Mile 5 - 6:48
Mile 6-7:00 (oh dear!)
Mile 7- 6:45
Mile 8 -6:36

I was overjoyed to have finished but completely shattered. I walked slowly home - desperate for some water! 

8 miles in total in an average pace of 6:39mm. Not bad but not as good as I'd hoped. I'll have another go at this session again next week and see if I can improve on set 2. 

Wednesday 8th August 2018

Ultra training! A few weeks back, the Maestro and myself recced Leg 1 of the Cotswold Way - Chipping Campden to Stanway House - a stunningly beautiful and relatively straight forward 12 miles. This time round was Leg 2 - Stanway House to Cleeve Common - we had friends: KD and fellow Ring of Fire and Cotswold Way 100 entrant Gary. This leg was (is) tough! Lots more elevation and less rewarding views than on the previous leg. This was some more realisation of how hard and different each mile of the Cotswold 100 is going to be, both technically and mentally. 12 miles, 1500+ feet of elevation and a justified reward in the pub after. A great way to spend an evening and great training for the upcoming events.

Despite loving the roads, I did really enjoy tagging along with the boys and doing some trail running. It helped that the hayfever wasn't too bad (as that's a major reason why I don't like off road running) and the ground was dry. A fun run and nice to do something different. 

More yoga again today - Dynamic Yoga for the first time. Really enjoyed it. Hard work in a similar way to power yoga but it's great for a rest day as I still feel like I've done a workout. 

Thursday 9th August 2018

Another rest day for me today. No running but I did have a PT session with Jules at Oakfield personal training. A super hard session: 

10 exercises
10 reps
10 times

Mountain climbers
Squat jumps
Clean and press 12:5 kg bar
Press ups
Bench straddle sit jumps
Squats plus 15kg dbs
Split lunge jumps while holding a weight overhead.  4kg ball
Crunch n throw 4kg ball...feet under bar
Down n ups.

1000 reps in total! 

I went to yoga again today. Power yoga was super hard after PT. I really hard to focus on my breathing to hold the positions for the required amount of time. 

Friday 10th August 2018

The alarm went off today at 5am in the hope that we would be able to see the mass balloon lift as part of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta. We ran up to the observatory but no balloons :( it was nice, however, to run with John. 

Yoga again today but, after struggling a little with power yoga yesterday, I was delighted that today's class focused on yin yoga - really slow postures with lots of stretching - just what I needed after PT; I was feeling pretty achy. 

Saturday 11th August 2018 - The Gromithon! 

Today was a really exciting day. Our friend Leo has organsied a Gromithon (running a marathon while seeing gromits!) For those of you not from Bristol, every few years, Bristol and Aardman organise a tour of giant figures around the city. The aim of the day is to visit as many Gromits, Wallaces and Feathers as possible. 

Marcus, John and I started in Thornbury by running Thornbury parkrun for the first time. I had a sneaky look at the results table and noticed that the first lady often comes in with a time of around 21 mins. My plan - to finish as first lady without taking too much out of my legs so I could continue to run for the rest of the day! 

The course was 3 laps of a park. Mostly on grass with a few little hills. I actually quite enjoyed the route and found myself in first position without too much effort. I finished in a time of 20:51 still feeling fresh and ready for the rest of the day. 

I then left John and Marcus to run to Bristol (I'd chosen to drive back to Bristol as I didn't want/ need to do as many miles as them). My Gromithon properly started in Bradley Stoke. From there, we ran to Cribbs, Blaise and into Bristol where we were joined with Nat and Kat as well.

The figures are all decorated in different ways and some are really imaginative. The people from Rolls Royce at the concord  museum made a Gromit fly! Others light up and move in different ways. The ones in the M-shed were especially good. 

I managed 28.7 miles for the Gromithon plus 3.1 for parkrun so a total of 31.8 miles for the day - the furthest I've ever ran! 

An awesome day and great training! 40 miles of start-stop, up-down, different paces and terrains etc A truly fantastic day of fun summarised by KD above. With the Maestro and I doing parkrun and then running to the start of the Gromithon in Bradly Stoke, we ended up doing 40 miles and 2000+ feet of elevation. A tough day of miles but there was never a point when I thought I wouldn't make it to the finish. Great progress and training. More week on week improvement: miles and elevation gained and more to come next week!

Sunday 12th August 2018

The day after running 40 miles, who'd consider running again? I did... I've ran every day this year (a minimum of 5K) and hope my body sees me through to the end of the year so I might complete 365 days of 5K+! A steady plod round the block ending up at ASDA ot pipck up ingredients to make some fudge and re-coup some calories!

A great week for both of us: 50+ and 70+ miles for KD and myself respectively. Speedwork sessions and elevation gained targets hit. So far so good!

Sunday, August 5, 2018

John takes on the hills while Kelly starts Chester training

Chester Marathon Training 10 weeks to go!

Cotswold 100 Training 8 weeks to go! 

Blue - both of us 
Black - John (apparently orange was difficult to read?) 
Purple - Kelly 

For the first time in our history, we are training for very different races. This means that not all of our runs will happen together :( luckily, we both understand each others respective goals and (most of the time!) manage to plan our runs to suit both of our needs. 

This blog will explore the highs and lows of our training over the next 10 weeks. We hope you enjoy reading it! 

What we've been up to...

In the few months since our last blog, I've been working on building up a really solid base. The first, and most exciting piece of news is that I'm heeled; my Planar Fasciitis has completely gone and I'm running pain-free! It went pretty much over night - one day it hurt and then the next it didn't! It took almost exactly 3 months to heal. During that time I did a number of things which (I hope) sped up the recovery process. 

-Dropped down to 20 miles a week.
-Ran every other day at first and then gradually increased to 4 or 5 days a week running.
-Rolling my foot with a golf ball (Graham) every day and before every run.
-Rolling my foot on an iced bottle of water after every run.
-Regular physio sessions with Jenny Buckley (who is brilliant!) 
-Lots of yoga sessions at Pure Yoga Wapping Wharf 
-Regular PT to improve strength and conditioning with Jules (who is also brilliant!) 
-Not running in shoes that have done more than 300 miles. 

I don't think that 1 of those things alone could have cured me; it was the combination of everything. 
So, I'm obviously delighted that I'm recovered and running pain-free again. The only problem is that I obviously lost some fitness. I still haven't had a single PB this year (which mentally is tough given that I PBed in every distance last year). Consequently, I'm putting all of my efforts into getting one PB that I really care about  - in the Marathon. 

Despite not getting any PBs yet, I have had some successes since the London Marathon. I've won the Eastville Park series (it's a small, local event but it's always nice to get a trophy!) and been first lady at a few parkruns in recent weeks. I feel that I'm getting stronger and I'm learning to train
cleverer (!?) so that I don't get injured during this next build up. 

I have decided to do an intensive 10 week block of training for the Chester Marathon with my goal being sub 3 hours. I'm more determined than ever to reach this goal and prepared to really work for it. I prefer Autumn Marathons because, being a teacher, I have 6 weeks off. This means that I'm effectively a full time athlete! Woohoo! Based on his excessive reading and knowledge of marathon training, John has drawn me up a plan which I am going to follow. Read on to find out how week 1 of training has gone. 

As KD has said, we are training towards different goals this summer. In the next couple of months I'll be taking on the Ring of Fire - running the 135 mile coastline of Anglesey over 3 days and the Cotswold Way 100 - running from Chipping Campden down to Bath along the Cotswold Way. I don't really have timed targets or aspirations of PBs. I just want to finish these races and in doing so really test my endurance and true grit! I've been training properly now for four weeks, focusing on accent over distance and slowly upping my height gained goals by 10-20% week on week, the stats look like this:


Week on week increase for time on feet and climb. 50 miles a week seems to be a good number for me at the moment. Happy that my economy has stayed low - Economy is heart beats per mile - I'm usually 950/1000 when in peak marathon fitness and running flat road miles. The less beats per mile the less your heart is having to work!

Monday 30th July 2018 

One new element to this training plan is that Monday is going to be a 'rest day'! Initially I didn't like the sound of this. I find it hard to not run and I used to feel that it was a day wasted. However, coming back from injury has shown me that it really is important for me to let my body recover after the weekends hard efforts. I have also found that I run better when I've had a rest day the day before. 
Rest day doesn't mean that I do nothing however! 

Today, I did Yoga at lunchtime. It was a really gentle session focusing on stretching which was ideal for me. Later, I had a 1:1 PT session with Jules (as John was at work). It was a pretty full on session with lots of squats and core work. The only problem is that it left me wondering how on earth I was going to do my speed work session tomorrow!

Tuesday 31st July 2018 

Sometimes there are sessions that I just dread. Today's was one of them. John had planned for me to run 2 sets of 3 miles at 6:30 min mile pace. Technically, I should be able to do this as that's my current half marathon pace. However, at the last towpath 10k race I couldn't sustain 6:30 mm and ended up running closer to 7mm pace for most of the race. This was slightly worrying as my target marathon pace is 6:45! 

I spent half of the day worrying. My legs felt really achy after PT and I didn't think I'd be able to do the session. John was at work and I really didn't want him to come home to me saying that I failed at the speed work. I really wanted to have a successful first speed work session of this training plan and I really wanted to tell John that I'd done it and nailed the session. So I focused on that. It became a mental training session as well as a physical one. 

I headed out at 4:38pm. It was pretty hot but I just put that out of my mind. I did a 1 mile warm up to the start of the Portway. I stopped. Psyched myself up and then began. 3 miles out along the towpath. The first 3 miles would be slightly uphill and the last 3 more downhill. Luckily, the wind was really strong and helped up on the uphill sections. It hurt. It was really hard but I focused on that feeling of tell John that I'd been successful and pictured his face beaming with pride (I hoped!!!!). I tried to ignore pain in my legs. 

mile 1 -  6:32
mile 2 - 6:30
mile 3 - 6:30 

wow! I couldn't quite believe it. I'd reached halfway and done the harder half (due to the uphill nature of the route). I was exhausted but elated. I also needed the toilet....luckily, I'd stopped right by the Rugby Development Center which our running club uses so I popped in, went to the loo and splashed my face with cold water. 

Walking back to the half way point, I was super tired but also full of adrenaline. Keen to get it done, I headed back down the portway for the last 3 miles. Once again it hurt but I took my mind off it by singing to myself! I often find that singing (in my head) helps to distract me from pain! Although it was downhill - which I was loving- I hadn't thought about the fact that the really strong wind, which was helping me uphill earlier, was now blowing right in my face! Battling through it I managed to keep pretty my at my goal pace. 

mile 4 - 6:33
mile 5 - 6:36
mile 6- 6:34 

Total - 6 miles at an average pace of 6:32. BOOM! I'd done it. I couldn't quite believe it! Such a mental boost to know that I can hold that pace. The only problem is that John says I have to do it again next week...but for even further! 

Great speedwork from KD - a tempo run - who knew we'd see the day?!?

Wednesday 1st August 2018 

I made the most of being on holiday today with a sports massage from Jenny in the morning. I then spent a lot of the rest of the day relaxing and resting alongside doing a few little jobs around the house. This meant that I actually felt pretty well recovered for our evening run. 

I drove up to club and we did the 10 mile route at a good average pace of 8:32 which I'm pretty pleased with considering the route is rather hilly. I also had a bit of a go at a strava segment in the woods - a short but steep downhill segment. Success - I've moved up to 2nd lady of all time (just 2 seconds off the crown) - will have to have another bash next week and see if I can move up to first! 

I ran to club from home via Nightingale Valley - half a mile with 300+ feet of climb. Similarly to KD - I was feeling strong today so some of us decided to partake in some segment hunting. I managed to steal Dan's downhill segment through the woods - how long will I keep it? 15 hilly miles (1400+ feet overall) and feeling strong and ready for a big workout come the weekend. 

Thursday 2nd August 2018 

Another rest day today. I started the day with a yoga class. Nothing too challenging but really enjoyable. It woke me up and got me ready for the day. 

In the afternoon, I went to the gym. I did 3 miles on the cross trainer followed by some squats, core work and weights. Nothing too full on but I do want to improve my strength during the summer while I have the time. 

Friday 3rd August 2018 

I was up early today to join John on a 3 mile recovery run. Haven't ran with him much this week and I'd really missed it. That's part of the problem with training for different things alongside him working while I'm off. 

After the run, I decided to go to yoga again as it was so good yesterday. The only problem was, I didn't realise that it was power yoga! Power yoga is similar to regular yoga but more intense. You hold the poses for longer and the poses are more challenging with no rest at all during the class! I found it very hard but I could feel the benefit. It was definitely another great form of strength training. 

Saturday 4th August 2018 

As we had a wedding to go to today, we decided that we'd be in no fit state to run long tomorrow. Therefore, we planned our long runs in for today. When I woke up, John had already left and started for his 20 mile run. I only had 13 on the plan with a parkrun in the middle. The plan was to meet each other at parkrun after I'd done 8 miles, do parkrun and then run home together. 

I ran around the harbourside, up the portway and then along the towpath. My legs felt great and I was managing the keep the pace around 7:45 min miles. I arrived at Ashton Court parkrun with plenty of time for a trip to the toilet and a catch up with some friends before I was off again. 

The whole first mile is uphill and my legs felt like jelly. I was all un-coordinated and was dropping back through the field pretty quickly. I then realised that I was in 4th position with all 3 women ahead of me quite close in front. I planned an attack on the plateau! 

As soon as I reached the flat ground, my legs felt better and I was able to up the pace and overtake two of the women. Just one to go! At the half way point, after waving to the Vicar, (it was a very special wedding parkrun for some of our regulars!) I wasn't far off the lady sat in first place but I could tell that she wasn't slowing down. 

I really worked hard on the downhill and managed to close the gap. With just 3/4 of a mile to go, I caught up with her and sped past her. Convinced that she was chasing me down, I powered downhill and ran as fast as I could towards the finish line. 

I finish as 1st lady and (I later found out when I checked strava) I'd ran my fastest ever 1km! A PB! My first PB of the year! Marathon training is already making a difference! I finished with a time of 20:48 - not too shabby considering how I felt in the first mile. 

With two miles left to run, and a wedding to get ready for, John and I headed home. 

13 miles done at an average pace of 7:36mm. Really pleased with that. 

19+ miles for me with 2500+ feet of climb - all before 10AM! I set out feeling knackered - waking up early is becoming hard work, especially in the heat. A couple of steady flat miles woke me up a bit before getting to the familiar and peaceful off road setting of the Towpath, Leigh Woods and Ashton Court. Although Bristol is very hilly, I needed VERY VERY hilly and consistent trail-y terrain to emulate the future planned races. So I set out to run this Nightingale Valley loop, 5 times! I had the up hill and the downhill to emulate the upcoming race conditions but I also needed to practice racing - so I walked. When racing an ultra of 30+ miles along the coast line or anywhere really, you can't run it all. For me, to get the best from a race of 26.2+ miles and hilly challenging terrain I find it's best to walk all the uphills and run the downs and the flats. I think it helps me race faster. I was walking up Nightingale Valley roughly 2 - 3 minutes slower than I would run up it but by the time I got to the 3rd lap I was still feeling fresh and strong and this allowed me to run at good pace back down the hill to the start of the loop. Each loop was 2.5 miles and had 300+ feet of elevation - great race practice and not too boring as it was all through the woods. The only distractions I had was bumping into Chrissy Wellington and scaring someone who was taking a selfie. I got to parkrun after doing my 5 hilly woodland laps - knackered - I was being egged on by KD and the Maestro to have a race at parkrun but there was no chance. I got round and added another 300+ feet of climb to my run. We quickly said goodbye to everyone and rushed off as if I'd stopped for a coffee I don't think I'd of started again to make the 2 miles from parkrun to home!

Really pleased with this run. Although it was hard and I finished knackered, I'm running for longer and higher every week - steady progress which will hopefully continue and get me into shape for the two big adventures; Ring of Fire and the Cotswold 100.

Sunday 5th August 2018 

With the long run done yesterday - thankfully as my stomach was feeling a little sensitive after the wedding festivities! - I only needed to do 7 miles today. 

I was anticipating feeling rather tired after my first week of training but I felt really good. I ran the first couple of miles with John but he only needed to do 3 miles so he left and headed home while I continued down the towpath. 

The 7 miles went pretty quickly. I was running at a decent pace but I felt comfortable and in control. Tomorrow is a rest day so I've got time to recover before Tuesday's speed work session. 

Total for the week:

Kelly - 40.3 miles 

John - 52 miles and 4700+ feet of climb!! 

I want 5K+ feet of climb next week!!! A great start to marathon training for KD and hopefully some realisation that there's more to running structured speedwork sessions if you want to succeed rather than just churning out tonnes of miles.