There we go!

There we go!
Pushing the Nitro Button

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Brithday Run July 15th 2011 – Llandudno Prom

Only a few months ago I was a member in a monthly run challenge on Buckeyeoutdoors. It included several runners who have many years of experience, and I as a novice was very much a listener rather than a talker. I’m not sure who mentioned it first but the subject of a “Birthday Run” was raised.
A Birthday Run is a run where the individual runs the same number of miles/km as their age, on or about their birthday! For this reason I decided to run 45km (28miles) on or near 15th July.
I am in the middle of a marathon training schedule so I didn’t want to cause myself any injury or unduely hinder my training by doing the run. So, for this reason I decided to do the run on the easiest terrain I have available locally. The Llandudno Promenade is where I do most of my interval training as it is flat and only suffers with a strong seaward camber. As it is very open it often suffers with the strong easterly winds we have in this area. My main concern was to avoid injury but if I could run a PB on the way then all the better!
During the previous days I had been checking the weather forecast. The forecast had gone from full sun – 20-25C to 15-20C with showers. In the event the day was more the former than the later.
After dropping my kids off at school I parked the car just by the prom and loaded up my sports drink. I had planned to take just 2 bottles at a time – which should have done me for 3 laps (7.6 miles). I had already prepared a single bottle loaded with 300mg of caffeine which I planned to take on the next section after the 2hr mark. Then off I went! My plan, to keep my HR below 130 for the first 2hrs then move it up to 130-140 for the next 2 hours, was going pretty well to plan. I needed to average just over 9 min miles in order to break the 4hr marathon distance.  My first 13 miles were completed in exactly 2hrs. This was a little outside the target but I had kept my average heart rate down to 127 for the whole 13 miles. I was happy to try to push the pace a little now as I knew I just had 2hrs to go and I was on course for a good new PB. As I pushed on my speed increased from 9.15 pace to 8.45 pace. My HR jumped from 127bpm to 137bpm. It was around this time that I spotted my friend, a local runner who is much quicker than me, but whom I had come within 50 seconds of catching in a race earlier this year – see Nick Beer 10km 2011. As he approached he slowed and turned to run with me. We ran on and chatted for about 5 miles, which saw my pace solidly under 9 min pace and my HR rising towards 147bpm. As he left me to complete the run I had been running for 3hrs and I had completed 20.7 miles. I had just 5.5 miles to go and 60mins to complete the sub 4hr marathon.  My Garmin shows how the harder I pushed I only managed to maintain my 9 min pace. My HR was rising and I was very tired. On top of this the weather had been very sunny and I had forgotten to drink all my drinks as planned. I had taken the caffeine drink but still I was getting very tired. As the 25th mile was completed I had 10mins to go to get in under 4hrs. By this time I was looking at my Garmin constantly and my HR was of no concern to me. I had planned to walk the final 1.8 miles, if I had to, in order to complete the 28 miles. So I tried to push as hard as I could. Unfortunately, as hard as I could was not hard enough. What I experienced was a sort of loss of control of my legs! My cadence had dropped to 77 and I just couldn’t get them to go any faster. I now believe this may have been due to a lack of electrolytes. The sports drink I take does have electrolytes in it but I think I might need some more! Next time I will definitely take salt tabs during the run. My HR at no point went above 153, it’s just that my legs wouldn’t move when I wanted them to. In the end I completed the marathon distance in 4hrs and 51 seconds. A 14 min PB for me and some more lessons learnt. I did get very hot but I countered this with a hat, some factor 50 sunblock and some strategically positioned ice packs! It would be very useful if I could find some of these in smaller sizes. One inside my hat would have been VERY useful. After I completed the first 26.2 miles I took a half mile recovery walk and then completed the 28 miles in a total time of 4hrs 25 min. Well my first over marathon distance run and how did it go? Well, I’m back out running now – just 2 days after the run – with no apparent ill effects. I’m very happy to have improved my marathon time and I’m really looking forward to my marathon in early October 2011. 

Mostyn Mile and Llandudno 10 miler 2011 - Sunday 22nd May 2011

I went into this race with the hope that I could regain the form of my training sessions during April. During some of my sessions I had broken 8 miles in less than 60 mins but as I look back the weather conditions for these runs were almost perfect. The weather on Sunday was by no means the same.The primary issue for me was the wind. Living on the North Wales coast is a wonderful experience. One of the few downsides is the wind! As I approached the start area on Sunday the 25mph westerly wind, gusting to 35mph, was fully in evidence.  The few showers that were forecast managed to avoid the actual running of the race. In fact the primary condition was clear and sunny for about 90 mins. I had previously used 6 proplus caffeine tablets, with 4 sports legs tablets, to help with my stamina. Recently I read some research on caffeine usage for endurance activities which suggested I might do better with 8 tablets.
So as I left the house at 9.45am for the Mostyn Mile Fun Run with my wife, Lesley and daughter, Emily, I was as ready as I could be. The fun run started at 10.36am after being moved from the previous course.  As the hooter went my daughter Emily ran off with the other older children. My wife and I started off nice and easily. My wife hasn’t run for many years and suffers with her heart and asthma. I was tremendously proud of her as we made our way round the course. She spent most of the route saying hello to the onlookers – I do believe she knows EVERYONE in Llandudno! As we approached the end we were presented with our medals by the Mayor. A fitting end to a lovely run. The wind, which had physically stopped us during the mile was just a sample of what was to come later.
Making our way back to the car, I got dressed for the 10 mile run. Parking in an area much closer to the start line I left my wife to go shopping as I approached the Starting area. There then followed a delay of 26 mins due to damage done to the signage of the race by the weather!
As 12.26pm approached the starting line. The announcer did his thing and we were off!
There was some congestion during the first half mile which probably was as much a help as a hindrance. This mile was run almost straight into the wind and so the crowd would have protected me from quite a bit of buffeting. As mile 1 ended the course turned exactly into the wind. The second mile saw my pace stabilize around 7.40 and my heart rate slowly climb above 160 – this was a hard mile! Mile 3 saw a 180 degree turn and now with a tail wind my heart rate dropped slightly, and even with a 30 sec walk break and a sip of sports drink, I completed the mile in 7.37. Mile 4 was pretty strong with the my average HR climbing to 159. It was during mile 5 that the course turned again into the wind. My average HR climbed again to 161. I was starting to feel the pressure and so I took a 50 second walk break to drop my HR. This helped get my HR back down to 152 but the average was still 161. Mile 6 was also back into the wind as we made our way back past the prom and into the town. I kept trying to keep the pace up but I was starting to suffer with the heat. I had poured 4 cups of water over my head at the water stations but I was still feeling very hot. I managed to get back to the pace but I was paying for it in terms of my heart rate which was stuck between 159 and 164 for the whole mile. Mile 7 was going to be straight into the wind. It felt like pushing through a series of curtains, constantly pushing me backwards. The attrition rate on this mile was pretty heavy. Many people who had past me in previous miles were pulling over to walk and stopping with cramps. I thought it couldn’t get much worse – I was wrong. Mile 7 in 8.26 with a 60 sec walk break which brought my HR down to 148 from 164 – I still averaged 160!! Mile 8 was VERY VERY hard. Easily the toughest in the race, next year I’ll keep something for this mile. Not only were we running into the wind in the completely open West Shore coastline, but the sand was blasting into our faces just to help with our exfoliation!! Another 161 heart rate average, this time with a 167 maximum, and the slowest mile of the race at 8.31. Mile 9 had to be easier. After the 60 sec walk break at the end of mile 8 my HR was down to 151. Again it swiftly returned to the 160-164 range even at a pace of 8.07. Is should say this mile has the added interest of a pretty long hill in the middle of it. As I spotted the final mile marker I knew I could look forward to the wind behind my back on the finishing straight.  The final mile saw me pretty much on my own with only a few runners in the distance. I felt as though I had a small push left in me before the end so I thought a sub 80 min time might be possible. I took the opportunity of the decent to get my heart rate down a little with a 40 second walk break. This got me down to 155 from 164. It felt hard to break down below 8 min pace but once I was on the prom I managed to get down to 7.35. This was partly due to a natural drop at the start of the prom. It was now my job to keep the pace up and hold on for a final push at the end. I was keeping the pace in to the 7.30 region when I saw my daughter Emily of in the distance. She started running by the side of the course and so I had someone to chase!  I managed to keep my pace below 7.30 for the rest of the run, achieving 5.35 for a few seconds as I crossed the line! My heart rate was climbing constantly during this mile and I finally peaked at 174 with an average of 166. My final finishing time was 1.20.30. I had missed my time by 30 seconds but I am happy I could knock another few minutes off in better conditions.