Monday, 4 November 2013

2013 so far!

I admit I'm not to great at writing this blog, I've decided not to promise to be better but to hopefully post something as and when I get the chance!

I realise the last post was at the start of the track season and a lot has happened since then so I have summarised as much as I can below.

Track Season review
Considering the time I had had out following the trip, the season seemed to be going well until I suffered a hamstring tear in early June, it struck on the last water jump of the British league in Manchester, but I was still able to hobble home to win. Following the 4 week rehab I came back hoping to recapture the form I had shown prior. The last 3 races didn't really show this, including a BMC 3k at Oxford, the last BAL in Barnet and the BMC 3k chase at Streford in close to monsoon like conditions. Although the last BAL required me to double up in the chase and 3k which helped the team win the league for the second time in 3 years.

Northern 6 Stage
For the 6 stage I went off first leg and within the first 200 meters of the race I had to make a decision about the race tactics. A group of 4 had already formed a small gap and I had to choose to go with them or hope that the chasing pack would keep in touch. I decided to close the gap. The first mile was a very brisk (4:41) and during a twisting section of the course in the woods I lost contact and was on my own until the last mile of the course when I was joined by the chasing pack. I held it together to come home in 9th and set up the team for the rest of the race, going into the last leg we were leading but unfortunately our last leg runner was just back from his break and found the race a shock to the system but still managed to hold on for Silver. 

South Manchester Triathlon
Transition 2 of the triathlon
I took part in the Triathlon based in my home town of Wilmslow, I had competed in this race last year finishing third. The aim was to improve my overall time which in turn would lead to a higher placing. I certainly pushed myself in the race, being a little ill while out on the bike, and I managed to finish second only 17 seconds behind the winner. Although in hindsight I struggled in my transition from the bike to the run and also suffered from cramp and a stitch during the run (a little down to poor pre race nutrition planning). However I improved my time by over a minute from the previous year and had I not had these issues I feel I could have come away with the victory. At least this gives me something to aim for next time. 

Northern cross country relays
After winning the event last year, as team manager, I wanted to ensure we retained the title. In the 4 leg team I was out last leg; I had the luxury of a fairly large lead thanks to Niall, Simon and Charlie and brought the team home to retain the title. A welcome start to the cross country season.

Oulton park Duathlon
The following day I had my first Duathlon at Oulton park. In the first run I started with the leading group only to push on towards the end of the first lap when the pace dropped. I built up a 1 minute 20 second lead going into the bike. Unfortunately this is where I ran into problems, upon mounting my bike I knocked the back wheel but did not realise I had also knocked the rear brake. I then proceeded to ride the next 38km with my brakes effectively on. Needless to say I struggled, whist I thought I was just having a bad day on the bike, I dropped quite a few places on the ride picking up around 10 on the final run to finish 23rd!! It was only after returning to the bike did I find the mechanical problem. It was certainly a lesson learned.

National 6 stage relays
AW front cover
This was the highlight of the year, the Sale team managed to win the National 6 stage for the first time and I had the glory of crossing the finish line after being put in an almost unassailable lead by the rest of the team. It was great that everything came together the team was the best we could have hoped for. To top things off I was lucky enough to have a picture of me crossing the line on the front page of Athletics Weekly. The interview I gave after the event to Athleticos can be found HERE

British fell relays
I was asked towards the end of the track season if I would like to take part in the fell relays. Although I had never raced in this type of event I thought I would give it a try. After racing the previous day in the Manchester League, finishing a conservative 7th, I was unsure how I would cope with this event. It was typical Welsh mountain autumnal weather with driving rain and gusting wind. Out on the first leg, I was in the top 15 on the way up (400m of climbing over 2 miles) however it was on the decent I struggled. With a wet surface, steep descents and unsuitable footwear my technique compared to the seasoned fell runners showed as I dropped quite a few places at the same time as falling twice in quick succession. I finished 30th out of the 182 people who started on the first leg, but I don't think I will be returning to this type of event in the near future.

National Cross Country relays
As this was a 4 man team event I was in the B team, which I was grateful for as i'm not a huge fan of the course at Berry Hill. I had a mediocre run and the team finished in 15th place, the 2nd B team behind AFD who were in 14th. The A team however kept the rich vein of form for the club going finishing in 2nd place again behind AFD.

The last few months have been an unbelievable time not only for me but for Sale Harriers. The results mark the most successful period in the clubs history winning the Track league, National 6 stage title and Northern cross country relays along with silver medals in the Northern 6 stage and National cross relays. The future is certainly bright in both the short and long term.

Next up for me will be a few road races including the Stockport 10 and Ribble Valley 10k. Then the big cross country events will start in the new year.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

It's been a while...

The last time I posted anything, 2011 to be exact so in that time we've had a Diamond Jubilee, an British winner of the Tour de France, the small matter of the London Olympics and a few other things along the way.

In terms of me and my running, 2012 was looking good with my highest finishes in the Northern and National cross, a PB over 10k (30:36) and some promising runs in the road relays. Then the track season came around and things seemed to go a little haywire. In my first 3k I felt as though I was running with the brakes on and a couple of further early season races I felt the same. Then in early June I was diagnosed with shingles so had almost a month off. Upon my return I had lost a lot of my endurance and I was battling through races until the end of the season. I then experienced my first triathlon, a local low key pool based one in Wilmslow. After 6 weeks of training I finished 3rd, I'll admit my swimming could have been better but my endurance background helped on the bike and especially on the run. After that there were a few cross country races, 6 stage relays, which put Sale back on the map, and a 10k in Leeds.

Then I had a little life event, my girlfriend and I went travelling for 3 and a half months. We took in south east Asia, the east coast of Australia, Fiji and New Zealand. We have overused the superlatives to describe our time and I am glad I had the opportunity to do it! I did a fair amount of running while I was out there, I started with a fresh pair of Kinvara's and these shoes are certainly well travelled. They covered over 500 miles in 6 different countries, trekked through jungles, navigated cities, climbed mountains, jumped out planes and helped save lives (well helped a boy with a broken leg). If they were a person they would have some stories to tell. I recently had to 'retire' them from running after 700ish miles of use. I'm not currently sure what to do with them I'm sure i will think of something in the next week or so.

So that brings us almost to present day. I've been back in blighty for just over a month and have just about brought myself up to speed with life, work and training. I was thrown into the deep end at the national 12 stage running 1st leg and, unsurprisingly, I found myself down on last year. Staying positive, I know that things are only going to improve as I am currently in a winter type training regime and will be until the end of May before I start to focus on races towards the end of June and July.

Hopefully I will try and a bit more frequent with my updates but below is my last weeks training including the races in the BAL in Lee Valley.

After running 73 miles the previous week this was going to be a slightly shorter week with the BAL on the Saturday, however as the plan is to keep the volume up to at least the end of May it was still going to be close to 60 miles.

Sunday: Out with Chris Warburton and Simon Horsfield from Parrs Wood down the River Mersey and back through Didsbury. I did 15 minutes before as the plan was only for 65-70 min. We clipped along at a good pace getting down to 6 min/mile, although I pulled it back when I saw that popping up on the Garmin. We averaged 6:34 for the whole run but the last few miles were certainly a lot quicker than that.
Daily Total: 12

Monday: (Am) Went out for a 3.5 mile run with the plan on doing some gym work after but got my timings wrong as i turned up at 9 and the gym did not open until 10. As it was a glorious day I went for a ride on my bike in the afternoon although looking back maybe should have taken it a little easier.
(Pm) At the University Playing fields for 2k, 2k 1.5k although it was timed rather than distance so 5.5min and 4.5min. Chris was flying and set the pace, some of the younger members also set off quick. I settled in and worked through, running around 4:55 min/mile pace for the 2k reps. For the final rep we set off considerably quicker and I ended up averaging 4:47. Pleased with the session overall but the legs were tired.
Daily Total: 10.5

Tuesday: (Am) a steady 3 miles from home where I was feeling a jaded after yesterdays efforts.
(Pm) Ran 5.5 miles to the bike shop where I had dropped the bike for a service. Then went for a ride with the group, I was expecting a leisurely ride around the Cheshire plains instead I had a slog up the Peak District hills, the thighs were burning a little but enjoyed it none the less.
Daily Total: 8.5

Wednesday: (Am) another 3.5 to shake the legs out after the day before.
(Pm) Down to the track for 7*300 with Charlie Hulson and Gavin Hill, kept them all inside 47 with a few dipping down to 45. First real speed session in spikes of the year and was a bit of a shock but need to keep the fast twitch fibres alive (the few remaining I have!)
Daily Total: 9.5

Thursday: Ran just under 4 during my lunch. Wasn't feeling it today so just did the 25 minutes rather than the 35 I had planned.
Daily Total: 4

Friday: A busy friday at work meant I was only able to get out after so just ran a steady 3.5 to keep the legs awake before the trip down to Watford.
Daily total: 3.5

Saturday: BAL Lee Valley. The plan was always to run the 3k Chase at this meet but due to various injuries and unavailability I also put my name down for the 5k. The chase was reasonable but I was a little disappointed with the time of 9:23 also being out sprinted was a bit of a shock in the last 50m. This was always going to be a marker and I know things are only going to improve. The 5k was just over an hour later, the plan was to work through the pack as best I could. A lead group broke away after a 2:56 first k and 3min 2nd. I was a little off the pace and went through 3k in about 9:04 while tracking the B runner from Herne Hill. I was hoping to up the pace in the final k, the lungs were willing but the legs were not and I finished with 15:17. Overall I was pleased with the 5k especially so soon after the chase however I would like to see improvements for the next race.
Daily Total: 9

Weekly Total: 57

As expected for the week in terms of mileage, races went ok but I know better things to come.