Saturday, 13 April 2013

Marathon ranting

I had a marathon moan a few weeks ago, and now I'm going to tell you about my marathon rant!

Yesterday I had the chance to bore the pants off my classmates about my marathon training. It was (for me) brilliant.

As part of the HNC course, we do a unit called Personal Development Planning. We each select five goals (academic, professional, or personal) and track our progress towards them. Theoretically it's a helpful skill to aquire, but it's impossible to make people achieve goals if they're not motivated towards them - which frankly is the main problem with the course. "You WILL achieve your goals, or else!" - it's not the best approach.

So anyway, part of the course was treating our classmates to a five minute presentation on the progress so far we'd made towards one of our goals. Looking at my goals and realising that there'd been a distinct lack of progress on four of them, I sighed deeply and opened PowerPoint to write about my marathon training.

My goal is to run this year's Edinburgh Marathon in a personal best of less than 4 hours.  Cue a SWOT analysis of the goal, photos of last year's race and details of my training programme.

The truth is that once I got going, I really enjoyed telling everyone how I was getting on. Perhaps all I really wanted was the chance to share how my training was going - I don't really have anyone to bore with the facts of my training, and these guys had to listen - or at least, they had to not fall asleep. I finished off by giving them a jelly baby each - after all their are the secret of my training success. Why was I surprised to get the bag back afterwards to find all the black and red ones gone?
(red and black ones still shown)

It also gave me the chance to look at my statistics and realise that I'm making progress.
  • My average speed for my easy runs has increased by 36 seconds per mile
  • my average speed for my long runs has increased by 18 seconds per mile, and 
  • my 20 mile run time predicts a marathon finishing time 3 hours and 55 minutes.

Got my running mojo back!

I think what I needed was a break!

I was just worn out. I've had a couple of easier weeks - the Easter holidays have meant no college and no dancing, and have coincided with a 28 mile week and a 30 mile week (a bit of a drop down from the previous few weeks) and I feel a lot better than in my last post.

Kim responded to my last blog post by suggesting that I try running somewhere nice, just for enjoyment. She told me she sometimes goes out with her camera and has been known to stop mid-run to take pictures of flowers. I reflected on this the next time I was out, on a frosty morning round Arthur's Seat, and tried hard to notice the icing-sugar trees and grass, and how muted all the colours were in the pre-spring chill. It was pretty and I can still remember it when I close my eyes.  I rarely appreciate the scenery - perhaps because it's only April and I've been so used to running before sunrise! - so it was good to do this. Thanks Kim.

Additionally - there's nothing like a race to focus my mind!

I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's Rock and Roll Half Marathon, having been lucky enough to win a free place. I didn't compete in the first Edinburgh Rock & Roll race, last year, because for me it was just too darned expensive (I think it was £45 when I tried to enter), and to be honest I don't really find the idea of local bands dotted around the course much of a motivator, since I'll have my iPod on anyway! But this afternoon I spotted one of the stages out on Leith Links, virtually at the bottom of the street where I live, and felt quite excited.

Last week I tried out the course of the race during my long run - having the race pass the bottom of my street makes it very easy to try it out! It has a couple of steep gradients, and I finished in 1 hour 52 minutes - a pretty much an average 13.1 time for me. Perhaps with a bit of race adrenelin and the knowledge of the course, I can shave a bit off that tomorrow - or on the other hand, perhaps the other 5,499 runners might slow me up a bit.

The race has pace groups. I've never run with a pace group before and I'm thinking of popping that cherry tomorrow. It would be 1 hour 45 minutes, so I'd really need to have a great day and a bit of Felix Felicis to complete with the pace group - but I can't think of a good reason not to try. My PB is 1 hour 45, in the Meadows (half) Marathon last year, which was flat, but I hadn't done any speedwork for that. I've done 10 weeks of speedwork now. Surely that'll improve my time?

I bought a new running vest this morning - I can't believe I bought something as skimpy as a vest, after all I do live in Scotland - but the shop must have been warm, and it's a lovely shade of blue. I've painted my nails to match, so I will wear it tomorrow regardless. Perhaps being cold will make me run faster?

I don't remember feeling this positive about a race before. The start line is a 20 minute walk from my house, with any luck my kids will cheer me on, I've got my kit ready, I won the place - and oooh I nearly forgot, I entered a Facebook competition this week and I won a pair of compression socks at the race Expo tomorrow! All good omens I think. I'm gonna go for it.

BTW I don't really have any Felix Felicis, and besides, it would be illegal. Just before you point it out.