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Monday, 28 March 2011

Heads, Shoulders Knees & Toes, Knees & Toes.......

A tough week post Rhayader 20. I expected everything to ache a bit so wasn't surprised when my body stubbornly refused to function at the start of every run last week.

To be honest, after a couple of miles, everything loosened up and I was back to almost normal again, until getting home, when within minutes of resting, everything would sieze up once again. Must stretch more!

I've taken lots of advice from various runners this week and have decided to taper early. I know from previous that I can perform when a tad over rested, but will have no chance if overtrained, and I am on my knees at the mo. So maybe one more fairly long run now, in these last three weeks mixed in with much shorter outings to get the spring back in my legs by London.

Back to the week gone by, the main plus has been the weather. Running around Aberystwyth these past few evenings has been a joy. It all came to a head on friday night, which caused both myself and Dan Burgess to ponder what on earth we are doing. The sun was out, students were on the beach and in gardens having BBQ's and beer as we ran past house after house of people relaxing. I'd had a bad night of stomach problems and hadn't been able to eat all day and was dying on my legs. Dan was mumbling under his breath about where he would rather be (anywhere but running) and we both ended up walking up Consti, but luckliy made it over the top without turning left ;-)

I've found out I'm allergic to the chocolate recovery drink that I take and so I'm gonna have to ebay the lot and buy a different flavour! Thats right, I've been off chocolate since December and even the powdered flavouring is now out. I'm clinging onto the hope that I can sneak chocolate sprinkles past without my stomach noticing...? Here's hoping.

Dan's trainiers now resemble a prop from Spartacus but he is stubbornly refusing to swap them this close to the big day.  My insoles are at least two years old with bits falling off them, but I'm keeping the faith! No blisters are good blisters.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Do the Ickey Shuffle

Well, the Rhayader 20 miler is done and dusted. My first run at a distance over half marathon which I thoroughly enjoyed, but from a performance perspective, I had a bit of a 'mare at the start mixed with bits of good running and lots of mental torture as the miles went by.

The day began with a pick up of Ian and Gron from Plascrug in the morning. Fearing a ban from Aber AC due to the state of my car interior, I gave my shed-on-wheels it's bi-annual full valet on Friday night.

I didn't quite realise the scale of the race - over 400 runners and lots of carnival style activity in the town itself. We still managed to find seats in a decent cafe pre-race where the Aber contingent talked about the upcoming punishment.

As the starters horn sounded, they say it's all in the head, but the first 6 miles were unnecessarily hard and i ended up walking a part of the big hill. Hills are usually my strong point and so I was so annoyed that my legs just didnt work properly at the time when I should have been passing people. Every now and again the fronts of my calves scream with lactic acid in the first few miles of a training run, a very locallised but quite uncomfortable pain which usually goes away with a bit of a breather. You can't really stop in a race so I just slowed and walked a bit as my right foot was also going numb, and then the descent restored full power and I was away.

I'm hoping more warm up and stretching will sort the problem in the future!

As for the race, its was a great ding dong betwen myself, Dan & Louise all the way to the line. After the big initial hill, my early lead over Dan was wiped out by the top and Louise was up ahead but within view.

Dan & I crested the hill together but his superior descending skills (or is that superior weight advantage?!) meant he had caught Lou by the bridge at the bottom. The descent had sorted my calf problems out and I was feeling good and clawed my way up to the other two. This set the tone for the remaining 13 miles, yep 13 miles which Lou pointed out as we passed the 7 mile marker!

The scenary was stunning in this 'Welsh Desert', not a bush in sight much to the annoyance of Brian Ashton who was speaking from experience back in the cafe before the race....

After around 8 miles the humps began again and whilst I tried to climb ahead on the raises, Dan escaped past me on all the downhills, to the point that he had carved out a 50 metre gap between 9 & 14 miles. Lou was also closing in as we navigated the hairpin bend descent.

As we hit the feed after the hill at around 14 miles, Dan seized up, time for his body to throw a hissy fit. As I neared he got it back together and we then ran the next four miles in serious discomfort. This was the business end of the race for us and Barker was about to scalp!

As our strides shortened, we struggled to maintain pace and I suggested that from behind, we probably looked like a pair of more mature ladies at the back end of the Race for Life field rather than runners in the Rhayadetr 20! Louise later confirmed this to be true.

We were caught at around 18.5 and the three of us ran together until, fortunataly for me, there was a great big hill at 19 miles (they seem to give my cycling legs a breather!). My legs came good and I managed to carve out a small lead. Dans cramp returned and he had a bit of trouble in the last mile. I caught a few more runners on the outskirts of town and with one more runner in the distance, Jos literally 'seargant majored me' from the sidelines to catch the guy. "One more place!!!!" he kept shouting. It certainly worked and I came into the home straight feeling tired but thoroughly satisfied with a time of 2.32. I'm not sure what this would equate to in London, its hard to tell, but now i know how hard the marathon is going to be. At 18 miles, myself and Burgess could easliy have curled up and died, so we're gonna have to beat these thoughts and pains on the big day!

Monday, 14 March 2011

6 Nations disease

Not a great weekend of miles!

A trip to see friends up north meant a rushed 10 miler on Saturday morning and a hangover on Sunday...
The problem is the six nations rugby, and watching Wales games with friends. It's a great evening out and although I've managed this very well so far this campaign, the wheels fell of slightly for the Irish game.

Sunday's mild hangover meant a rest day, and so Monday becomes long miles night this week.

'Luckily' the french match is late on this coming saturday, and more importantly after the Rhayader 20. I'm hoping to make it to the pub but all will depend on whether i can walk or not after 20 miles of tough terrain.

I've had some advice to 'just get around' this daunting race and some who say that I should tackle it head-on. It's a long enough gap until London, but going flat out may harm the ability to do some decent training next week. Decisions decisions, but fact is I'm still at 15 miles for the long runs and so I simply have to do this race!

Weekly mileage is around the 40mile mark these days. A bit low compared to some, but I am getting out almost every day now and am feeling pretty good with a bit of spring in my legs..

Luckliy Burgess also succumbed to a few beers aswell which perked me up no end. I'm also plucking up the courage (gradually) to see the physio again. I need a full leg massage, problem is that I know this could well be the single most painful experience of my life (including walking on an upturned plug) , and I'm paying for it.

Time to train.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Ouch, pass the Vaseline...

Only half a weeks running these past seven days, due to the annual Ystwyth Cycling Club Bunkhouse weekend. Wouldn't miss that for the world and so it was; four hours a day for three days in the mountains of Snowdonia, basing ourselves at Betws y Coed.

The Swallow Falls YHA comfortably accomodated all 20 or so Ystwyth riders and I wasn't the only runner taking a break from the dreaded trainers...Phoebe Webster was also in attendance, still on her road to recovery from a hamstring/sciatica problem. It didn't seem to stop her, especially on the climbs where she competed pretty much on equal footing to the lads.

Anyway, it was hardly a holiday as the Ystwyth lads are only a week away from the racing season and so the pace was pretty serious. After many weeks of purely running I was pedalling squares on the Friday and lost touch with my group between Bala and Cerigyddrudion (we faced a stiff headwind both ways on the upward and return legs). By saturday I had recovered well and enjoyed the ride which took in Llanberis, Caernarfon, Pwllheli, Cricceth, Tremadog, Bethgelert and back to Betws. Sunday's return through Blaina Ffestiniog was another hard yet stunning ride with the weather being very kind to us all weekend.

Pics will be available on later this week.

The last thing Dan Burgess said to me on our Thursday night suffer session was 'don't fall off your bike'. I kept to my word, although the same could not be said once we stepped into the cafe in Bala. On approach to the toilets, i didn't see the subtle transition from carpet to painted concrete floor around the side of the counter. My cleated shoes couldn't cope with the camber either and I then did a good imitation of the bad guys in Home Alone 2 when they stepped on the marbles. Luckily I landed on my windjacket which was packed up in my rear jersey pocket - result = soft landing & releif /embarrasment all round.

Not riding for so long had left some areas a tad unprepared for the rigores of riding in the saddle, and left me cursing the fact that i had no chamois cream or vaseline!

Last weeks runs were generally ok apart from the Thursday night 9 miler at marathon pace. Burgess opened up his secret turbine which he'd been hiding for the past few weeks. It blew myself and Ian away on the prom. Impressive stuff and so I was somewhat releived when his text the next day mentioned something about not being able to walk properly :-)

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Super Kev!

Last weeks massage did the trick. I can now run fairly normally, as in not 'like a geriatric'. Dan may disagree, but in all honesty I've been feeling alot better over the past few days. Kevin the physio's mastery at his Pain Factory certainly seems to be working!

I smashed out a speed session on the hotel treadmill in Milton Keynes last Tuesday then some enforced rest due to work & travel meant I had to put in a heavy weekend to make sure the week wasn't a complete washout. Saturday's 8 miler brushed away the cobwebs and Sunday's long Llanilar run was difficult for altogether different reasons.

Being that the previous day/night was Mr Burgess' 21st birthday AND Wales v Italy...both of us were a tad worse for wear and totally under motivated at 10am on Sunday morning. This was thanks in part to Dan's birthday celebrations at the Farmers in Llanfihangel where the wine did flow, especially as it was on the back of an afternoon at the Castle Hotel watching Wales hold out in Rome against a tough Italian team.

Another discovery this week - SiS Rego Nocte. Although it sounds like a fuelling system for NASCAR, it is a nightime recovery drink designed to aid recovery by improving sleep and restore all the usual protein, vitamin & minerals. I haven't bothered with too much sports nutrition so far, just a bit of protein after long runs and the odd gel during, but I woke up this morning feeling much better than usual. No hobbling off to brush my teeth, i walked normally for the first time in weeks, and the spring in my step is returning!

So far so good, and so I'll keep using this stuff for as Mark Cavendish says - 'Marginal Gains'!