Guernsey, Newham and a lull in the running

It’s been about seven weeks or so since my last post here but I’ve still managed to squeeze in a couple of races in that time.

Training went ok. After Liverpool I did a couple of gentle runs then a ten miler on the Sunday after the half marathon. Then a few more little runs including an aborted effort at trying to beat #mymile record and the following Sunday another great long 8 mile run.

A couple of days on from that I had another go at my mile record and achieved it getting a 6:49 – a brilliant effort. Which pretty much takes me up to the Guernsey Milk Run.

In the build up to the run, my wife and I had decided that we’d try and run this one together, ideally in order to get her a best for the half marathon, but probably just to enjoy ourselves. While we were in Guernsey, we stayed at this lovely pub with rooms, the Longfrie Inn. The staff there were just brilliant and I really hope we find a reason to go back next year, although if I do the same run next year I probably wouldn’t stay at that hotel.

The first couple of miles in Guernsey were great. We both had lot of fun.

But as the race got on the heat took its toll on Jean so we didn’t do as well as we wanted too but the 2:54 time was perfectly ok in what were actually horrible, hot conditions.

After Guernsey I had only a couple of runs before running the Great Newham London Run two weeks later. Work had got really busy so training ended up taking a lower priority.

I think my wife and I had differing views about Newham. I thought it was an amazing event and I hope to be able to return one day, but again it was very hot and there wasn’t a lot of shade out there on the course.

Again we didn’t really meet any speed objectives but we had a good run. I really enjoyed finishing in the Olympic Stadium and while yes there could have been bigger crowds it still had a great atmosphere.

Then since Newham I’ve done very little running at all. Work has still been stupidly busy so running time hasn’t been available. But the Jersey Marathon is still a fair while away yet.

Before that though we have the pleasure of an all inclusive week in Greece and after the past couple of weeks I can’t wait.

Sub 2 done. What’s next?

So as we discovered in my last post, I might have just done something which for me was a little bit special during my last run.

This left something of a dilemma though. More about that later.

Firstly, let’s cover the last day of our trip. As would now appear to be traditional / compulsory for a trip we have in Liverpool we had one day of rain, but I suppose I can’t really complain that it was the Monday after our runs.

After a rather excellent breakfast – can’t really go wrong with a Premier Inn all you can eat breakfast – we wandered into the city center and before long we found ourselves in the Cavern Club. I’ve got to say I was surprised it was as quiet as it was but that was to our benefit – nicely priced booze, no queues and great live music on a bank holiday in a great venue. Could have stayed all day really but sadly we had to catch our bus up to the airport.

The trip back involved ropey looking weather around Jersey airport but we landed unlike most people flying back today so that was good.

Now my next race is in just 20 days time on Father’s Day in Guernsey for the Dairy Milk Run Half Marathon and having achieved something I’d been hoping to do for a while (let me know if I haven’t mentioned what that is), I’m left to consider what the next target is. Do I keep chipping away at a PB? Do I look at longer distances (clue: no, they hurt and have boring training)?

I’ll also be going from a mass event with 8,000 runners down to one in Guernsey with a couple of hundred. Possibly. But I guess my 2:06 training run a few weeks back tells me that I don’t need the crowds to run fairly well. Then after that it’s the Great Newham London Run in July then onto the Jersey Marathon.

I’m not sure how I’ll approach Guernsey now because somehow I can’t see another improvement but who knows. Maybe I’ll give it a go. Still plenty of training between now and then too.

Running into form

There was a time – shortly after December 2015 to be reasonably precise – when I could, and occasionally did, bore anyone within earshot about how good my running form was.

I would babble on about how I’d got myself into such good running form that I broke just about every personal best I track in a period of a couple of weeks. What was (slightly) interesting in the preparation of this very blog post was that this was a complete fabrication – lots of PBs were broken but not all. And it took a couple of months too. But evidently my brain has re-worked this period as a golden age of my running.

For what it’s worth, I should have been talking about what was actually a two-and-a-half month period from the final leg of the Jersey Marathon relay where I set my 5 mile best as part of a sightly longer run to Jersey Parkrun #13 during which I broke every best from 2km up to 5k, and took in the Poppy Half and my first Regent’s Park 10km on the way.

Anyway, the point of all this is that i seem to have run myself into some pretty excellent form again just in time for some big races. It’s about time too really. I’ve had a few too many races spoiled recently by injury or illness so I’m determined to make the most of a good run of success. Up until very recently all of my personal bests were set in 2015 with the exception of all those longer than a half marathon, mainly because I’d not run beyond a half until 2016.

That’s all changed in the past couple of weeks.

I’d previously mentioned breaking my 5k / Parkrun best with my first time under 24 minutes but I’ve followed it up with much more. On Tuesday I set out to have a crack at my one mile and 1km bests. I broke both of those plus every other shorter distance best as well. 6:55 for a mile was just brilliant.

At Parkrun on Saturday I had resolved to run steadily, like a threshold run I guess, keeping my heart rate under good control. I did that well but evidently my basic steady speed has increased to such an extent that I could still run a 24:22 without really thrashing myself. I was really happy with that effort.

For today’s long run, I had originally planned to run 8 miles but decided this morning that I’d make it 12 miles. I used an unusual route combining the seafront promenade with a more inland path, just to make up the extra distance without finding too many hills.

Then on the way back home I still felt strong albeit starting to slow up a little, and I’d decided I could add a loop around the harbour to find an extra mile or so to take me up to an unplanned half marathon. I continued to slow up but kept a pretty reasonable pace and ended up finishing the GPS measured half only eleven seconds slower than March’s Reading Half Marathon. I think with proper race day preparation and tapering I’ve definitely got a really special run in me.

So it’s the Durrell next weekend. I’m feeling a little anxious about all of the hills but I’ve run it before so at least know what to expect. Then two more weeks to Liverpool. Certainly exciting times!

Greenwich, Southend and a new Parkrun best

My last sort of catch up post was reasonably thorough about the number of runs I’d done in the past few weeks since Reading – and boy doesn’t that feel like a long time ago now. But what it did omit was a rather lovely trip to Greenwich and Southend.

We went over on the back of one of my fairly regular trips to London so met up on a Friday evening in our favourite Premier Inn hotel around Gatwick. We headed over to Greenwich in the late morning and aimed to get out pretty quickly for a run. Having been to Greenwich Park last in December we knew it would make a pretty fair site for a hill interval session 

but it was loads tougher but better than we thought. With the hills of the Durrell Challenge in mind we knew it was important but we did well. A nice pint or two was consumed in a sun-trap garden of a pub just down the road but we feel pretty spent at that stage.

We went back to the park the next day to have a look around the Royal Observatory, a really lovely walk around the park and a wonder down to the Cutty Sark to get the river bus across to North Greenwich by the O2. From there we took a ride on the cable cars which was something we’ve wanted to do for a little while. I was quite surprised how close City Airport is to them really.
On Sunday afternoon we went down to Southend and discovered a pretty fantastic Chinese on that first night which I’d seen good reviews for but which if I’m honest didn’t look up to much from outside. It was really well worth it though.

Monday morning saw us go out for our long runs. Mine was 8 miles and I enjoyed it. The fog was pretty thick so the views weren’t what they could be but it was fun – and even better it was followed by a great breakfast. We had a great relaxing break, had some fun and did a bit of running too.

So bang up to date then and today saw us going up to Parkrun. We weren’t definitely planning to but this morning we felt good so got on with it. On the first lap I went out strong but felt fresh. I faded a little over the second half of the run but still came in in a PB time of 23:55 – my first sub-24 race ever, although my Strava time had me down as low as 23:37. I set three other records on the way round so it’s fair to say it was a great run.

Tomorrow morning brings us another 10 mile run, with the Boat Show in the way of where we’d normally run to but I’m sure it will still be fun.