run

Snowy Sunday afternoon run

I was in two minds whether it was sensible to run today - certainly if the recent ice hadn't improved I'd have had to look to some kind of indoor training. However, it looked like it had thawed a bit, so I set out for my planned 90 mins run.

My plan was to run up to Richmond Park and then head back after 45 minutes - wasn't quite sure where this would be. At the start of the route just after Colet Court finally runs out of land, there was a fork in the path. Normally I stick to the river but the left hand fork was so snowy and inviting, I decided to explore. After not too far I came to a gate, and this took me onto a more elevated path - to my left, probably 10 feet below, was a totally icy lake. I was able to run along the path by the lake for a good while, before it finally ended - and then I got to the sign - it was in fact the Leg O' Mutton Nature Reserve. Carrying on towards Barnes, I noticed I was running through Small Profit Dock Gardens - what a fantastic name. I've been running that route for 18 months now, and this was the first time I'd been through either. Just goes to show what a little snow can do.

Much of the rest of the run was uneventful, although Richmond Park itself was gorgeous, very snowy. I stuck to the road past the White Lodge, and then onto the Tamsin Trail to get the most of the run. Saw a few deer at the Robin Hood Gate end, and then headed back out of Roehampton Gate, down past the Priory, across to Barnes Station then along Castelnau back to Hammersmith.

In the end it was a 16km run in 1:35, which is as fast as I normally manage in normal conditions. The snow was reasonably fun to run in (not too deep, mostly not too icy), thankfully.

Grand Union Canal Half Marathon

It's nice to be prepared for a run for once. I've been concentrating on my running fairly solidly for the last few weeks, even going so far as to work on my technique. I accidentally managed a 25km run three weeks ago, after I chose a route without thinking about just how far it would be. My tapering in the last week has been reasonable, with a 13km run last weekend and an 8.5km run mid-week.

I got up in good time, had breakfast and got to the tube at the planned time. Apparently you can get to Uxbridge in 40mins from Hammersmith on a Sunday morning, but not on the trains I got - I had to change twice. I arrived in Uxbridge half an hour before the race, and so did the 2km to the race start as a run/walk. On arrival at the site, I took off my jacket, pinned my number on and then put my bag into the van taking bags from start to finish, and was ready to go.

After a short wait to allow everyone to get their bags onto the truck, there was a minute's silence and we were off. A quick lap of Cowley Recreation Ground preceded the run along the towpath (I guess in the hope that it would thin out the crowd a little). I started off quite deep in crowd, and there was a lot of movement for position, and a few stops as we all milled through the bottlenecks, but I was quite happy with a gentle start off, my first km was around 5:45.

I found the traffic reasonable after the first kilometre, I was still passing and being passed, and my pace soon settled into a steady rhythm. I chose people who seemed to be going at a reasonable and steady pace, and followed them until I was feeling strong and passed them, moving through the field slowly but surely.

I greatly enjoyed the scenery, I love running by water, and the many bridges and locks along the way broke it up sufficiently. As we were running up-river, all of the locks were uphill, so I used those as attacking points to pass other runners.

I was very pleased that I was overtaken by just one person in the second half of the race, and not because my pace deteriorated, so I'm not sure where he came from - a late starter, or a loo break? My pace seemed to improve towards the end of the race - indeed my final three kms were the fastest of the day!

The last kilometre was a killer - a small hill going into Cassiobury Park, certainly took a lot of effort to maintain a decent pace, but I managed to pass a couple of people walking going up the hill, and two more at the top. As I rounded the final corner about 300m from the finish, the person I was just about to pass noticed me and picked up his pace - we didn't quite have a sprint finish but it was much faster than the rest of the race! I couldn't quite take him in the end. I noticed Peta as I was coming into the final straight, but I was in the shadow of the other runner and so she saw me quite late, but it was great to see her there in support.

I picked up my medal, had some water, had a hug and then we waited for the bags to turn up - I'd beaten the luggage, go me! Luckily didn't have to wait too long before we could get my bag and catch the train home again.

This was probably my favourite running race yet (difficult to compare it against a triathlon), perhaps mostly due to the autumnal weather - I only used one water stop in the end as I just didn't need more. It was very picturesque, an interesting course (my off-road shoes probably helped - it wasn't tricky terrain, just muddy and a bit slippery in places) with bridges, locks etc, and in conditions that suited me very well.

Going backwards?

I did another T30 on Tuesday. I finally got around to entering the results in my spreadsheet (I occasionally miss the button when counting laps, so some of my laps take twice as long as others). The end result was quite depressing really - just 50 laps this month (after 53 last month).

I've tried to consider where I might have gone wrong. I haven't done much swimming recently, after a week of skiing (I'm coming around to the idea that, actually, skiing is no exercise at all once you get alright at it, although shaking your way down a red mogul run certainly uses the quads!). So perhaps it's just a lack of practice. Taking on new techniques, particularly my new pull, might not be immediately effective. Anyway, I'll crack on.

Yesterday I went for a run - it was supposed to be a recovery run in preparation for the weekend, which was just as well as, after a reasonably heavy weights session after the swim, my legs didn't seem to want to do any pace other than sloooooow. With an average lap time of 5:48, compared to what I consider to be a fast run pace of around 5:00, it was certainly a gentle pace.

Had a good swim today, using a plan from swimplan.com for the first time. It was a good plan, although the endurance and aerobic sets were a little slow for me - 1m15 with 20s rest would have been glacial, given I was managing 1m00 with the same rest. Similarly the aerobic set of 1m15 with 10s rest became 1m with 10s rest. But I can tell the planning software that I thought it was a little easy and it should adjust for me next time.

On Saturday I have the fun of Mudman. Which I've realised is like Hellrunner, but half way through you stop and do a 15km bike ride. I don't feel prepared (and I'm not prepared, I need to do a lot of work tomorrow night changing tyres over and checking the bike is ready to race), my aim is to complete. Hoping for three hours (1hr run, 1 hr bike, 1hr run), should be doable.

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