I would be lying if I said that hills were my favourite thing. But living where I do, about two-thirds up the valley wall of the southern half of the Forth Valley, I have to get used to them.Continue reading “Doing The Hills”
So, I’ve been away for a while. Quite a long time, to be honest. I have been running, I’ve just not had a huge amount to say since the Alloa Half.Continue reading “Been away for a while!”
The 2018 Alloa Half Marathon was originally scheduled to be run on 18th March, but bad weather caused the organisers to postpone the event – and today was the new date.
Okay, this was it. After eighteen weeks of training, five hundred miles of running and who knows how many hours, it was time for the Stirling Scottish Marathon.
After last week I was keen to get started again. The snow was melting and the training plan called for the longest week of the entire plan. That is, the greatest number of miles in the week of any week. Clearly this was going to be an important week in the plan. Even if I wasn’t 100%, it was time to pull on my big boy tights and get on with it.
That’s not a sentence I expect to write very often.
Anyway, Monday was – as usual – a rest day.
Tuesday called for five miles. The weather wasn’t great at lunchtime and I knew I was going to have to go to the gym in the evening, so once again I decided to use the treadmill. I had bought a fancy new running vest when I was in London, so I wore that. I don’t think that this photograph of me from the display of the treadmill really flatters me or the vest, but you can at least see that it’s blue!
After that, it was the Wednesday middle distance run. I had been in Aberdeen during the daytime, taking my daughter to a University visit. By the time I got home, unpacked the car, and got the house sorted out it was much later than I usually go for runs – but I managed to get out and had a little visit to the town centre in the rain!
Max elevation: 111 m
Min elevation: 23 m
For some reason that I can’t quite remember, it was even later on Thursday. I didn’t get out until almost 10pm, and decided to re-use part of the route I had taken the day before. Not much to say about this run, it was a straightforward five miles in the dark.
Max elevation: 111 m
Min elevation: 27 m
After a rest day on Friday, it was time for an eight mile medium distance run on Saturday. The training plan says that this should be run at training pace, not marathon pace. I guess that this is because it’s a long week. My route took me west along the canal to the Glen Burn, then I retraced my steps back as far as the Wallace Stone Brae. Up the hill, turn left and head for home.
The weather wasn’t great to start with, but when I was coming back along the canal, it really took a turn for the worse. I don’t know if it was hail or rain hitting me in the face, but it was nasty and it stung! It’s not often I would turn onto the Wallace Stone Brae and be glad for it, but this time I was!
Max elevation: 152 m
Min elevation: 74 m
And then the long one. Sunday. Eighteen miles.
I have memories of eighteen miles being my nemesis back when I was training last time. Eighteen miles is the point where I started to fall apart. Eighteen miles is where I fell apart during the marathon itself. I have baggage about eighteen miles.
Anyway, I drove to Stirling Uni, trying to get to my usual starting point – only to find that the road was blocked because there was some work being done on the aerial walkway between buildings. I parked in a different car park and found a loo where I could pee and change.
Not only that, but change into shorts! The weather, while still cool, was a lot better than yesterday!
My route was to be similar to the route I ran for the fifteen mile route I did a couple of weeks ago, but with an added lap of the Loch and a wee extra bit to make up the distance.
It was strange starting from a different part of the campus, but I set off round the loch, going down to the University entrance then swinging back up the route through the University that we will be taking on the day.
I had fuelled myself very carefully before leaving – porridge early in the morning, a nice burger roll and another tub of porridge at lunchtime. It was now about 1330 and my body wanted rid of some of that. So I had to stop at the public loos in Causewayhead park to do that.
After that, just straight out through Tullibody to Alloa. Where again I stopped at the loo, this time in the Leisure Bowl. I’m not gratuitously talking about bodily functions here; my point is that I need to get control of my bladder before this race.
At the other end of my body, I had a bit of a nutrition strategy on the go here. Checking the current Stirling route map, it appears that the rest stations are at miles 4, 7, 10, 13, 15.5, 19, 21 and 25. I plan to walk through each rest station, for a self-counted 30s. During that time I will take a gel and some water. I was practising the gel consumption today.
There were times through the route that I felt quite cold – I don’t know if that was down to the shorts. Maybe long tights would have been better. But the main point is that I never felt exhausted, and I never felt despairing. I was, perhaps, running a bit faster than I should have been, because I was frankly bored and wanted the run to be over!
When I got to the Uni I very deliberately added a few hundred yards – enough to get me over 18.5 miles. I wanted to prove to myself that I could go beyond 18 miles. So my final distance was 18.54 – maybe I should have gone on to 18.56 so I could round it up rather than down!
Anyway, I was very heartened by this training run. I was able to go as far as I wanted, and I wasn’t too tired to continue. I was never forced to stop (other than for the loo!) and my walking stretches at the pretend rest stations were all planned.
I’m beginning to have some confidence for this marathon. Not for my time – right now I cannot see how I can possibly manage round at 9 min/mile. But I do believe that I can finish it. So I’ll probably damage myself in the next few weeks and end up unable to compete!
If nothing else, I ran forty-five miles in a week – that is the most I have ever done (probably the most I shall ever do, too). So all in all, a good week!
Max elevation: 50 m
Min elevation: 4 m
This was the week when the wheels fell off my training. I guess it happens to everyone, let’s just hope that was the one time and I’ll be fine from here on in.
The week started off okay on Tuesday with a four mile run. I did this on the treadmill because I was at the gym anyway, taking my son for his weekly PT session.
Then on Wednesday, things started to go a bit wrong. A weather system dubbed “The Beast From The East” struck. This was apparently a result of “sudden stratospheric warming” over the Arctic, which brought cold, cold weather down to us here.
I did go out for a short run, but conditions were such that I wasn’t comfortable running on my own. So I made do with a three mile run in the wind and snow – it certainly had quite an effect on my hair!
Max elevation: 111 m
Min elevation: 69 m
By Thursday there was no way I was getting out of the house to go for a run. And even if I did try it, every step would be into deep, soft snow – hardly ideal conditions.
Friday was lost in an effort to clear the street and my driveway of snow. By the end of that I had done quite enough exercise – and something else was wrong. I was excessively tired, and I was feeling lousy. Everything I ate went straight through me, and I had no energy. Something just wasn’t right.
On Saturday I was determined to do something. I still didn’t think that the roads were all that safe, but I could at least get out to the gym. And it was true, the weather conditions didn’t impede me there, but I was still feeling awful. I went to do eight miles, I lasted just over four before going home and spending much of the rest of the day in bed.
And then Sunday wasn’t much better. I was still unwell, and didn’t make it out. So my totals for the week were pretty uninspiring.
This was a “step back” week, where the distance dropped back a bit to give me a chance to rest. In truth, I’m not quite sure it worked out that way.
My first day of running – Tuesday – saw me do just over four miles on the treadmill. I could have gone at lunchtime, but things were busy at work and I knew I would be going to the gym later, so I decided I would just wait until taking Cameron to the gym in the evening.
That was pretty much where normality stopped.
Wednesday saw me travelling to London with my daughter Jenni, who had an interview for a University course there. We travelled on the train, Leaving home quite early, so I didn’t manage a Wednesday mid-length run.
I tried to make up for that on Thursday by going for a decent run near my accommodation in Bethnal Green. I went out around Victoria Park, and parts of Regent’s Canal. Conditions were pretty reasonable and I got in a decent run, which made up for missing Wednesday’s run. Though in truth, it was as much a photo-walk as it was a run!
Max elevation: 19 m
Min elevation: 12 m
Friday was another day of travelling, as there was an Applicants’ day at Nottingham Trent University. So we drove down on the Friday, and back home on the Saturday after seeing the University’s presentation. That kept us very busy, with no time for running.
And so we got to Sunday and the long slow run. I really was not feeling ready for this after the week I had had. But I managed to get myself up and out, and went out past Tesco, then picked up the canal to head eastwards along the canal.
I went east as far as the far end of Linlithgow Golf Club, then decided to try a little detour. There was a road that went south round the golf course, before returning to the canal at its western end. I do wish I had looked at a contour map before starting off, as this was a sudden and unexpected hill!
The road went past a field that appeared to have some kind of standing stone in it, but I can’t find any reference to it in the literature.
The road eventually returned to the canal towpath and I was able to finish my run off with a gentle easterly wind pushing me along.
Max elevation: 149 m
Min elevation: 60 m
So, that’s the end of this “stop back” week. If the past three weeks were “we’re getting serious now” then the coming three weeks are “are you serious?” The distance increases quite substantially and it is going to be a tough journey.
Let’s see how it goes!