Training for: CTS Dorset Ultra (53k)
Runs: 4 (Hikes: 1), Total Distance: 72.4km, Total Time: 6:30
I wanted to make this week a usual 6 from 7 deal with the Thames Meander Marathon being a no-taper race masquerading as a long run. I say I wanted this to happen but during my road speed workout on Tuesday I started to feel that I wanted to race properly at Thames Meander and by the end of Wednesday’s marathon PR paced effort in the rain it was on, it was settled in my mind!
Tuesday I decided to do three laps of my block amounting to 7.1km. I ran each 2.3(ish)km lap at a different pace starting out at a 10 seconds faster than marathon pace, heading into tempo pace which is around 20 seconds faster than marathon PR pace before finishing with a threshold effort which amounted to about 26 seconds faster than marathon PR pace. The whole run felt amazing and I felt strong and comfortable from the get go even on a loop that has a pretty short and steep uphill towards the end! I immediately turned my thought to Wednesday’s session afterwards and decided to run a 10km at marathon PR pace.
Little did I know that the heavy and cold downpour I ran through on the road on Wednesday evening would be a precursor and good training for the heavy and cold torrent that I ran through for almost an entire trail marathon on Saturday! There isn’t too much I can say about this run because it went off without a hitch, even with the sudden downpour. I felt comfortable and relaxed. Towards the end of the run I had already started to think about tapering over Thursday and Friday and then going for a PR on Saturday! I know now that this was a foolish idea and I should have stuck to my original plan of running a comfortable and measured 3:30/3:35 effort but, well, you live and learn in this sport.
So with tapering and race preparation in mind on Thursday and Friday I just kicked back and relaxed. I had an early night on Thursday and then met with a friend for a beer on Friday evening before heading home to get some sleep before race day. I can honestly say that for the first time ever, before any race, I had a very good night of unbroken sleep and I woke up on Saturday feeling great and ready to push on and race for a PR and a finish as high up the field as I could muster…
Saturday came. It didn’t go to plan. It hurt quite a bit. I learned quite a lot. I finished 98th from 338 finishers with a chip time of 3:46:57. I’m glad to have scraped into the top 100 by the skin of my teeth and, after some reflection, I’m still glad I decided to run and try to race. I am tempted to run the spring Thames Meander to see if I can do any better on the course because it has real potential to be faster in better conditions (and with fewer mistakes on my part)!
When I woke up on Sunday I felt absolutely zero pain or discomfort in my legs or around my core and back like I sometimes do after a hard effort. I think my Hoka played a part in that but I also think a year of long distance racing has helped! I got up, did my housework and then set out with my poles for a recovery hike out and then a run back with poles in hand as I figured this would be the best way to begin practicing for Dorset CTS in December. The mud was very deep, sticky and clingy and it was quite muggy out but I enjoyed every step of the hike and every stride of the run – I was surprised that I managed such a consistent and well paced effort in terrible conditions, the day after a marathon and I took it as a good omen of things to come! Afterwards I set out to meet my friend Jo for a beer and some dinner – she is running the CTS Gower Trail Marathon on Sunday 15th November and I’m intrigued to see how she goes as she has been following a training plan I put together and last year finished 3rd female at Half Marathon event…GO JO!
The week of training ahead is going to be pretty much as I left off at week 8. I plan to try and hit the 60 to 70km range for the week with a night trail run on Tuesday, speedwork on the road on Wednesday, another night trail run on Thursday and then I’ll decide on Friday’s route on the day as that’s my most relaxed effort of every week. Saturday will be a long run of between 26 and 30km and Sunday will be another hike out/run back covering about 20 to 25km. I’m really looking forward to it to be honest! Back to heart rate focused efforts and back to predominantly trail running for the time being.
I hope the roads, treadmills and trails treat you all well in the week ahead!
Peace & Blessings