500 miles run since the New Year, and now less than 6 weeks to go.
After the last slightly downbeat blog where I was worried about my pace, I was nervous about how I would do in the Cambridge half. I had come agonisingly close to 90 minutes in the Oxford half, and hoped that the marathon training would be enough to sneak me under. This nervousness translated to fretting about how to keep warm at the start in the forecast cold rain and wind and worrying about forgetting something important.
I can’t improve on Dominic Wallace’s excellent race report. It was the first time I had tried wearing a bin bag, but it did take the edge of the wind chill. Kieren sniffed out the urinals – a few long gutters at a height that catered for most behind some modesty screens. He was taken with the design he almost took a picture, which might not have gone down well. Fortunately it is much warmer in a crowded starting pen, where I started with Kieren who was also targeting a similar time. The rain slowly soaked my feet as we headed out through the city centre, and the wind was generally against us, but we managed to get to half way out in Grantchester about a minute up. With a more favourable wind we made it back to the city centre in good time – we still hadn’t seen the pacers who started behind us. Near the finish there was mile or so heading back into the wind, where Kieren pushed on ahead, which was hard work. Fortunately wind and slope then made for a fast finish. Official time 1:27:28; all the training had been having an effect, I’d posted a PB I would be happy to take to my grave. The sun cream in the goody bag was a bit random given the weather, but there was a nice unfussy weighty medal. Maybe it was the PB, but the weather didn’t seem dampen the event for me as I had feared, though as Dominic will attest, make sure you bring the right bin bag type to fit your shoulders in, a towel, plenty of dry clothing and dry shoes for the journey home.
I was in Sweden with work the next week, and just about squeezed my running kit into my hand luggage. The weather turned out to be colder than forecast, so my evening 12k in sub-zero had to be quicker to stop my toes getting cold. Fortunately I managed to pick a simple route heading out North on the seafront from Helsingborg, passing plenty of Swedes out running in high viz and lights. It would be perfect for Sweden’s second parkrun.
Back in the UK I needed to make up the miles for the week. It was just getting light enough to run back from work along the canal, which I much prefer to running in, as I reminded myself the next morning. I was going to do a long run on Sunday, but the weather forecast was for rain all day, so I switched to Saturday morning taking in Wimbledon Common parkrun. Slightly tardy timekeeping, but a nice intro by the run director and a friendly feel with several milestone cakes on show. There was an odd comment about stopping to help fallers, which made sense shortly into the first of the two laps as the path turned into deep mud with the odd tree root and puddle obstacle. Following someone too closely was decidedly risky, but great fun. As usual I ended up pushing hard all the way round, but running back on tired legs must be good marathon training. The rain wasn’t so bad on the Sunday morning, and I took the opportunity to round off the week with the Sunday club run.
The route I took included the unpaved ‘road’ parallel to Putney Park Lane. It is like the road that time forgot. I love exploring London on longer runs and finding hidden gems. You can smell the history round some of the old streets and lanes near the Thames. The north circular aqueduct has reopened on the Grand Union Canal with a wider re-laid path leading up to it; I remember the surprise the first time ran over it as you don’t see it coming.
This week I got the miles in early with a long run into work. This time I had a second breakfast when I got in, and felt much better. I find I need to eat straight after a long run. This was followed the next day by a long run back in the warm weather, at almost exactly the same pace. The pace, I later discovered, that would give me the time given by the marathon time predictor based on my Cambridge half marathon time. This was tantalisingly just under 3:15, which would be ‘good for age’ for a vet man and earn a chance to do it again. Anything could happen in those last few miles on the day, but it could be worth a shot. I’ll be running the Fleet half marathon, but I feel I can take it a bit easier now with a time in the bag which should get me on the bus to Wales.