Monday, 21 February 2011

A long weekend

I decided to take Friday and Monday off work to spend some extra time with The Wife and The Boy and although we haven't particularly done much it's been lovely. It also gave me the chance to abandon my usual Saturday morning 'get it out of the way early' long run and instead, I decided to go out on both Friday and Monday morning.

Friday's was quite tough and I had to stop after an hour to stretch my calves as they were so tight. A hangover from the Wokingham Half I suspect but this morning's was a little easier although hardly any quicker. The 15:36km route was done in 1:22:31 and 1:21:49 respectively.

Nothing happened of interest around the route but after really enjoying it the previous few times I've run it, I'm getting the know the hills etc now so it's a bit dull. I think I'm going to have to get the audiobooks out for next weekend's run just to take my mind off it. Well unless anybody in the Surrey area wants to run between 17-19km next weekend at a pace of around 5:20 min KM's or 8:40 min miles? Nice and early on Saturday morning? About 8am? Excellent. See you there.

Both Mrs HMC and the Boy are suffering badly with colds at the moment as as I type this at 11am, both are in bed and I will be nominated cuddler for the day. Excellent!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Wokingham Half Marathon 2011 - RACE REPORT

It's a beautifully sunny Monday morning as I look out of the office window right now and the question I have to ask myself is 'why couldn't we have had this yesterday'. Nope instead on a cold, blustery, drizzly, and quite frankly horrible day, I put on some shorts (and sensibly) a long sleeve top and aimed to complete my first Half Marathon since that disturbing Lisbon one in March 2010.

I'd avoided running the week before as I had those first snotty and sores signs of a cold and concentrated on getting myself well but I was looking forward to this race. It was going to be a push as I had only been running properly again since the beginning of the year but an achievable one.

We were running a little late and by the time the gun went off, we were still getting ready but luckily it took a good 5 mins for the field to go through to the start so we joined where we should do, near the back, and jogged on. Eatingtrees apologised pretty early on (not that he needed to) and said he was going to be anti-social and plug his tunes straight in so I got to listen to the sound of my own breathing for a bit. 1st mile was run in 8.43 and at that point I got into a little rhythm and was off on my own. Miles 2, 3, 4 and 5 all felt OK so I did a quick bit of mental calculation and found that I had mildly increase the pace to about 8:35-8:40's but I was starting to feel it.


There are many completely right angled corners on this course and as such the wind suddenly takes you by surprise. I particularly remember the 4m sign was on a left 90 degree bend and as I went round it, the wind hit me side on as it came down across the fields. I started looking around for people who were bigger than me to shelter behind but most runners are considerably thinner than me. 

Around this point was also where I found one of my personal running annoyances. 2 people running together, both listening loudly to music as I could hear the bass yet trying to have a normal conversation. BY SHOUTING. For about a mile, their voices were all I could hear. It was probably wrong but all I wanted to do was push them both into a hedge. Then point and laugh. I didn't.

At around 5.5-6 miles, a friend I used to work with came along side me and we ran for a couple of miles together and had a catch-up about work, fatherhood and the lack of disposable income and then we wished each other luck and he pushed on. That little interlude helped me forget the fear so I was extremely grateful and although slowing, was OK to plod on.

Miles 8 and 9 came and went quite quickly and as I was now heading back on the route we came out on, I knew where the 10 mile mark was and got there up the hill. Now I was coming to unknown territory as my max training run had been 10.4 miles as if on cue, suddenly my legs felt like lead.

The 11 mile marker took an age to turn up but then as I approached the second hill over the A329(M) I saw my mate from earlier having a walking break up the hill. Now I knew that if I could catch him, he could keep me going and get me to the end. I reckon it took the best part of a mile to make up about 20 yards on him once he got running again but another quick chat about how much pain we were in and I continued on.

I ran over the line, hit the stop watch and then started searching for Mrs HMC who had my hoodie. The rain was heavier now and within a few minutes, I was freezing but knew I had to stay near the finish in order to find both the Mrs HMC and eatingtrees. I ended up wandering round like a lost child, backwards and forwards but after a while, we were all together again and headed back to the cars and home.

My time... Well depends on my watch or my chip time. They've always been within a second or 2 but for this race, I have a watch time of 1:57:02 and a chip time of 1:56:37. Which one do I take?!?!?

Oh and as for running without music, it is fine of a town/city race but with one that is all on country roads, things like 'ooh, another field' or 'ooh some horses' isn't quite enough mental motivation to keep me going. Roll on CPC in the Hague where they'll be plenty going on to keep me occupied.

Friday, 11 February 2011

I'm my own experiment

It seems like Sunday's Wokingham Half Marathon is going to be some sort of experiment for me. I have been an avid supporter of running with music since I started this whole running thing a few years ago. I've even written a post about the positioning and motivation about where I put particular tracks to help me during the run.

I was reminded of this last night when I saw a Facebook post from eatingtrees explaining that he was currently compiling his playlist for the Wokingham Half but then went into a mild state of panic that I don't have one this time. At all. This will be the first half marathon I've ever run without some musical stimulus helping me get through those last few painful miles. There's a reason for it though, and that reason is Portuguese.

Last year's Lisbon Half Marathon was a horrible, horrible run. Everything that could feel bad, did. I finished over 13 minutes slower than my predicted time and my slowest ever by 7 minutes. It completely knocked my confidence and it completely and utterly destroyed my faith in music getting my through the bad times. I have not run with music since.

In a nutshell, my playlist was designed to be turned on at a certain point in a race and then by knowing the order of the tracks, I knew exactly where I should be on the course at any given time and then finish with 4 really happy and upbeat (read cheesy) songs that got me through that last stretch without any problems. This playlist worked time and time again with me hitting my predicted finish times in numerous events and then Lisbon happened...

For whatever reason, I started falling behind my pace and couldn't get it back. In fact it just kept getting worse and worse. Then the worst thing happened. The first song came back on. The song hat usually comes on with 50/55mins running left. Remaining motivation. DEAD! I tried to ignore it and then had to turn it off. Then I skipped back to my last 4 happy songs to push me through but knowing it was the second time I'd listened just felt like cheating. Then they finished again and I was back to the start. The iPod came off and the last half mile was completed with just my heavy breathing for company. By the way, I in no way blame the music for my poor performance, it had nothing to do with it but they will eternally be linked in my head.

Mind you, all my training runs have been tuneless and I've got up to 10 miles with those so it will be fine. I'm sure... Either way, I'm looking forward to this run, it's gonna be great!